I’ve written about our great friends L and S often before (L runs the charity Heats which is linked on the side-bar). We were neighbours nearly 30 years ago in Wood Green in London when our kids were all babies and although we’ve both moved home several times, we’ve remained firm friends ever since. With L and S now living in Yorkshire and us in Italy, we are distant physically but as close as we’ve ever been, emotionally. Anyway we were delighted to be invited to the wedding of their first daughter, the delightful Dawn and top lad Jamie who we’ve come to know very well. We’ve known Dawn since she was a year old and have watched her grow into a tremendous young woman. The real delight for us though was our daughter R was asked to be Dawn’s ‘best lady’ – R was absolutely thrilled to be invited.
The wedding was held over in Tralee in Co Kerry on the west coast of Ireland. It’s one of my favourite locations. We held my 50th celebration bash in nearby Dingle and we’ve been aching to go back ever since. I have to say that it wasn’t for the weather though – cor blimey we had a bit of rain whilst there. Amazingly the weather cleared for a two hour period whilst the wedding took place. We stayed in a privately-owned B&B run by the brilliant Teresa and Jerry. We haven’t stayed B&B in all our married life so we weren’t quite sure what to expect – I was raised near Blackpool so know how crummy some of these places can be. Anyway if you’re ever over there go check out Bayview House – it was just excellent. Clean and well-appointed, the hosts T and J couldn’t be friendlier and more helpful and their breakfasts are just sensational – if you like the full Irish, you’ll love theirs.
The only unfortunate aspect was that we had to endure (well after the first day we just ignored him) this knob of an English bloke at breakfast. In the moaning Olympics this miserable prat would be Team GB’s gold medal cert. He complained about the traffic signs in Ireland (did we know it was impossible to find a route out of Dublin?), the Irish weather, the size of the breakfasts – far too much, he had to force the cereal down and all that toast and the whole plateful of the cooked breakfast like he was being fattened up for his fois grumble. Yeh every morning he just about struggled to eat it all, every bit, then moaned afterwards to the hosts. Of course he could have chosen to eat less but of course he didn’t. He complained about the doors being open when other guests were saying farewell and about his (enormous) breakfast getting cold. One morning he leaned over and actually said that you’ll get no sense out of the Irish (!) today with the semi-finals of the hurling taking place. This was whilst he was actually being served. Lovely manners. We just felt embarrassed to be from the same land mass as this prick. What must he be like when not on his hols? I hope his car broke down in a truly bleak spot, in the pouring rain and with no mobile coverage. And I hope he’s now discovered his wife’s affairs with his brother and his boss and his best mate and the guy next door and the lady from the chip shop. And that he has contracted herpes. We might as well let him have something substantial to moan about.
Anyway, I don’t know if you know the towns and villages in this area but it seems like every other building is a bar or pub or restaurant. Often the places double up so that one half is a bar and the other half a shoe shop or bike emporium; we’ve even been in bar cum saddlery before now. But the atmosphere (the craic ?) is always great with singing and local music in most places. They’re mostly singing about the hatred for johnny Englishman but we know they’re only joking now and anyway we all end up singing along to the words. We had a couple of top nights in the Brogue Inn and the Og before the wedding.
The wedding ceremony itself was held in a tiny local church outside the town in Curraheen – and it was a warm and engaging service, with lots of input from their many friends. Our grandson S was invited to help deliver the communion stuff with a couple of other youngsters to the priest and he seemed very proud to be involved. I think he quite liked all that Catholic stuff.
Dawn looked lovely and the lads were all togged out in morning suits. L and S looked esp proud. A great old 50’s Riley swept them away to the reception at Ballysede Castle back in Tralee. Here’s a shot of the happy couple cracking a bottle of champagne before driving off and a close-up of Dawn alongside her lovely sister Linsey:
So to the reception which I have to say was the best meal I’ve ever had at a wedding. A great local seafood platter starter, spring onion and potato soup, delicious lamb main course, great pud etc. And our glasses were topped up constantly throughout the whole meal. L and S did everyone proud. The highlight I guess for our family (and all of our rapidly-growing family was invited) was the speech by R as best lady – here’s a couple of shots of her (taken by grandson S) one with daughter S in the foreground and the other with an amused and proud father of the bride in the background:
There were several excellent and funny speeches but we had a lump in the throat watching R give hers – she’s been preparing it for months and it just captured the mood of the day beautifully.
So a great wedding – one of the best I’ve ever attended and we had a couple of extra days there enjoying some quality time with L and S and their family, who were, as ever, great and generous hosts. One night in their cottage will live long in the memory with S and her sister demonstrating their extraordinary Irish dancing skills, Dawn and Andrew from the US singing a duet to a Springsteen belter and Dawn’s girlfriends sporting the two outrageously awful bridesmaids’ dresses they’d bought for a fiver and brought along for a giggle. They looked like extras in a scene from Gone With the Wind. Great fun and true friends.
Next up – the return to Italy. Would it be a quiet and uneventful journey back, would our pool be OK? Well you know we don’t do easy by now…