A very cool weekend! The French sure know how to do a wedding!! Saturday morning I took the Eurostar to Lille (90 mins) where Juliette's cousins Berenice and Cyprien met me, took me home for lunch and to get ready for the wedding. Off to the old old church which was packed and overflowing and as we were a little late we didn't get seats but managed to perch fairly near the front. Of course the ceremony was all in French so I didn't understand any of it anyway! There was a lot of singing interspersed throughout the service with the old organ playing--a very traditional type service I think. After the ceremony all the guests leave the church first and crowd around the church steps to await the bride and groom emerging from the church. We had bubbles to blow at them too as they walked out to loud cheering and whistling! We then drove to the reception venue which was a very nice restaurant venue in the country with a large garden surrounding it. There was champagne and nibbles in the garden until the main reception started at 8pm. At one point a girl said to me, "Are you Dave?" It was Helene, a girl who had worked in Blenheim on the same program as Juliette in 2004 and she had stayed with me and gone down the sounds with us. So it was cool to see her again! Juliette has a very big family with many cousins. A lot of them speak some English so we had much fun talking and interpreting each other! Then at 8pm we went into the seated reception. I was at a table with some of Juliette's cousins and others who spoke good English. When Juliette and Alexandre entered they played loud music and everyone stood up and waved their serviettes around over their heads!! Lots of whistling and cheering as the couple ran a lap around the room in and out of the tables waving their serviettes! Speeches were made by the groom, brides father, and the grooms father and all were followed by serviette waving and cheering! Juliette's Dad mentioned me in his speech although I was unaware he was talking about me coming from New Zealand until her cousin sitting beside me grabbed my hand and waved it around so people knew who I was! (He was saying how people had come from far away and how good that was) Then we ate the first course which was a beautiful fresh fish with a scallop on top and a very nice sauce-reminded me of NZ fresh cod! Then Juliette's brothers and sister did a tribute with pictures of Juliette's growing up and talked about her--again not much for me to understand but there were pictures of her time in NZ and music from Lord of the Rings in the background! Dinner followed which was chicken and asparagus and potato and beans wrapped in bacon. More family member then made more tributes and comments--it is normal for the dinner part to go till about 11pm. We had dessert around 11:30 I think! Part of the dessert was a mountain of cream puffs which they stick together with toffee in a giant pyramid. They then paraded it through the room to the main table and then back to the kitchen with giant sparklers stuck in it burning and loud music and cheering and more serviette waving!! More guests arrived for the dance which began just before midnight. Rock and roll dance is the main dance and everyone seemed to know how to do it very well. Of course I don't so that along with not speaking much French were my two hindrances of the weekend! Thankfully they also played some non rock and roll music for some more normal dancing later on. However my ride left at 3am when the dancing was still going strong (they finished around 5am which is normal for a French wedding!) And the bride and groom stay all nite dancing with everyone too! Much more fun than the NZ/English wedding where everyone is in bed by midnite! So to my hosts house for the night (one of Juliette's uncles and aunts). One of her cousins lives in London and they offered to give me a ride back to London as they were driving Sunday nite so that meant i could miss my early Sunday train and sleep in and then go to a very nice lunch back at the reception venue for all the close family and those that had travelled. Again it was a very nice time--all the family were so nice and friendly. 6pm we headed off to Calais (I slept in the car), drove onto a train to go thru the Chunnel and then drove back to London and was home 5 hours later. An amazing weekend and quite possibly the best wedding I have been too!
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Friday I left work at 7pm, home on the train to do washing, eat, check emails, shower and pack up. 9:30pm and I'm off to the train and into London again where Mark met me and took me to his place. We loaded some stuff in the van, helped Mark and Gabby put a wardrobe together and then got just under 4 hours sleep! 5am we were up and soon on the road. Picked up some pop up tents and then headed south east for Margate. 2 hours later we were on the beach and setting up the courts. Margate is a quaint English seaside town--has a great waterfront with beach but everything is very old looking. There are a few gaudy buildings tho with lights all on them and inside arcade games and slot machines etc--Marvegas!! Saturday was a hot sunny day just perfect for beach vball. The students soon arrived coming from all over England representing their universities. Play kicked off at 9am, Mark and I were kept very busy all day doing the admin for the draw, tracking results, and then seeding the teams for the main draw. There were 45 men's teams and 25 women's so pretty good numbers and it was great to meet some really nice people! I also acted at DJ with my ipod but with little warning so I had no play lists prepared making it more difficult! They played till 8pm and then we went to our B&B and showered before attending the official party. Time to socialise and meet many more of the players. The free food was all gone so I went and found a kebab with Louise and Marina and from Bath. Some of us stayed out to dance and finally got to sleep for a few hours. Up early Sunday for a cooked breakfast and back to the beach to start Day 2. Overcast and dull but no rain all day and very little wind making for great beach conditions. Having so many teams meant we got behind on time and so it was another long day! I ended up doing commentary on all the semis and finals which was interesting! Thanks to my years on the NZ pro tour listening to Cowboys commentary I was able to use some of that knowledge to commentate here. And I got good feedback so must have done ok!! Men's final finished at 8pm (2 hours late) and then we packed up the van, leaving at 9:30 and arriving home at midnite! Rather tired this morning but what a great weekend. Next weekend is Skegness where I will be playing--its the first stop on the English tour. I will be blogging on www.annasbeach.com for the duration of the tour. Check out how I get on!!