Journal – May 2013 (Friend’s Wedding)

Welcome to another set of journal entries, which this time are about quite a special occasion, as I’ve had a lovely long weekend attending a friend’s wedding and meeting other mates in Exeter. So I hope you enjoy reading about it!

Friday May 3, 2013

I came up to Exeter this afternoon and checked in at the Premier Inn. It’s straight ahead when you come out of Exeter St David’s station, just across the street (next to the alley we walk up to get to town), so it’s perfectly positioned. I didn’t realise it had been there 3 years, but then whenever I’ve come to see AB in the past, I’ve always got off at Exeter Central, so have missed it. Whenever I’ve gone to Exeter St David’s, it’s been to go home, so I’ve been walking down the alley and across the street, facing away from the Premier Inn every time, so while I’ve probably noticed it a little bit, it’s never really registered.

TB had got there before me, so I met her in her room – I was in 317 at the end of the corridor, while she and SM were staying in 311, just a few doors down, so that was really handy. She’s doing alright, still working and doing some studying as well, to get her full accountancy qualifications. Having been to university, she was able to skip a big chunk of the exams, but there’s still a few she has to do. She should do alright, I see no reason why she shouldn’t. She and SM are still getting on very well in their relationship too, and have naturally been talking a bit about their future and when they might get married. There’s no rush on it, but SM has a few ideas in mind for the proposal by all accounts. They’re a lovely couple, so it’d be nice to see them tie the knot one day, without a doubt.

SM’s flight ended up being delayed by over an hour, so he didn’t arrive until the evening. Once he’d dropped his stuff off and greeted TB, the three of us went to On The Waterfront, the pizza place by the river. And that was delicious as always. Naturally the pizzas were pretty meaty, including the ham and pineapple, so we were very happy, even if it started to get a little chilly after sitting outside for a while. We went back to the Premier Inn and had a drink at the bar after that, before heading off to bed for the night.

Saturday May 4, 2013

After having a late morning breakfast today, we went up to town to have a little walk and to get some deodorant for SM, then came back to the hotel and changed into our clothes for the wedding. Then we walked to St Matthews Church, arriving there about 10 minutes before the wedding was due to start.

We didn’t see anyone we knew at that point, so we just went in with everybody else and found a seat together for the service. It was a lovely simple affair too, nothing fancy or elaborate. The order of service ran as follows:

It all went very well, and lasted less than an hour. I didn’t sing the hymns, given my beliefs (or lack of them anyway), but I kind of mimed along respectfully. TB had the words so she could sing along, and SM joined in as best he could. Amazing Grace was the only one of the two any of us knew in any fashion, though I later found out that one was hard for SM, as it was a hymn they’d sung at his Gran’s funeral too, so that generated a mixture of feelings in him at the time.

The organ music was played by a visually impaired friend of the happy couple, and he was pretty good, a few bum notes aside. And the vows went without a hitch. There was a bit of a scratch on the CD they tried to play during the wait while AB & DB were signing the register, but that was the only other minor mistake.

The newlyweds looked wonderful of course – DB was all smartly dressed in a suit, while AB was in a lovely blue wedding dress. The latter might sound strange, but it actually worked really well on her, it was a very good choice. The only thing missing, perhaps, was the bells, as that church doesn’t have any, nor was there any confetti, but things like that didn’t really matter.

There was a bit of standing around outside the church afterwards of course, while photos were being taken, but it was worthwhile as we got to see a few old faces. RE was the first person to come and speak to us – apparently AB had rung him up during the week to see if he could help with photos and other stuff, but I don’t think he had to do much in the end, so he could just enjoy the occasion. He’s doing fine anyway, still working at our old school, so it was good for us to chat to him. Then we met LC, a now-retired mobility teacher, now retired. Unlike RE, I wouldn’t have recognised her if she hadn’t said who she was! Then ST joined SM, TB & me while we waited for the last few photos and to see how people were getting to the reception. ST was the maid of honour, and looked beautiful in her white dress, and we got a few photos between the four of us on my phone, so that was good.

After a big group wedding photo, which we squeezed into the sides of, everyone went their separate ways. SM, TB & I ended up getting a lift with the vicar and his wife, who are both really nice. The reception was at The Kenn Centre in Kennford, which is just outside Exeter. There was a bit of a movie theme on some of the posters – such as AB & DB’s faces being imposed on posters for Casablanca and Breakfast At Tiffany’s and things like that, though we didn’t see all of those.

The reception started with a free glass of Pimm’s each, before moving on to Champagne for the speeches and toasts. The lack of a microphone meant we couldn’t hear everything absolutely perfectly, but we got most of it, and they were nice speeches. Then, after the first dance (to a Shania Twain number), everyone could just relax, enjoy the buffet, bar, dancing, karaoke and chatting to people. The buffet was a salad affair, so SM & I only ended up having some ham and a few little potatoes – but the slice of chocolate wedding cake we got later was delicious, and of course we got some Strongbow cider from the bar too, so we were happy!

SM & I didn’t do the karaoke, though we nearly did. TB wanted us to go up there, and was going to go and pick Bohemian Rhapsody for us, with the backing of ST & AB, but I think our playful protesting probably went on a bit too much, so she didn’t bother in the end! Someone took up that song later anyway, at which point we nearly did Ernie (The Fastest Milkman In The West) as our second choice, but it never happened. SM, TB, ST & I did get up for a brief dance though (at the insistence of a friend of AB’s, and TB herself) towards the end of the night, just before our taxi arrived to take us back to the hotel.

And we met another old face during the reception – JC, who also used to work at the school. Chatting to her was very interesting, as she’s clearly keeping busy. She and her husband (who was also there), were volunteer Games Makers at the Olympics last year, transporting officials and doing other things to help out, and they had an amazing time. Apparently the ceremonies really were as spectacular as they looked on television, if not more so.

More interesting for me, though, is that she’s in touch with a fellow pupil who was at school at the same time as me (though in a slightly different year), and lived not far from me at one stage. He now lives in London, working at a restaurant where people can have dinner in the dark. It’s run by blind people like him, and gives people the experience of what it’s like to dine when you can’t see anything. They help you to choose things and make sure you know where everything is when it comes to eating your meal. It sounds really interesting, and has attracted a number of celebrity customers (such as football stars, and the comedian Peter Kay, who booked out the entire place). So it sounds like he’s doing well, it would be good to see him again after I move to the city. JC also introduced a lady who used to work at the surgery at school, so that was another person it was good to see again. I think finding out we were all approaching 30 years of age made them all feel quite old though!

As well as the three of us (SM, TB & I), we had a few other passengers in the taxi on the way back. ST, of course, and two friends of AB & DB’s, who were staying at AB’s flat for the night (ST had the keys to let them in, while AB & DB were staying at the Exeter Court Hotel near the Kenn Centre that night). The two guys had had a bit to drink – more than us – so their jokes were quite rude, but it meant we had a good laugh on the way back. We got back about 11pm, so that wasn’t bad.

Sunday May 5, 2013

This morning it turned out that SM had a bit of a hangover, as he had a slight headache. TB & I were fine, though the lie-in granted by the Premier Inn’s breakfast time slot helped I think! So SM didn’t have a big breakfast this time. Then we went for a walk up into town. Initially the plan was to go bowling, but then we got phone calls from AB & another friend (CP) that changed that.

AB & DB had already mentioned the possibility of meeting up with us when we were chatting at the reception, so they rang us just as we were approaching the high street. So we ended up meeting outside Thorntons and having ice creams there, which are delicious as you’d expect. I had one scoop of cookies and cream, and another of toffee and fudge, with a bit of strawberry sauce and a chocolate smile on top. By the time that was done, we were then ready to meet CP as he came in on the bus. SM keeps in touch with him a bit, but I haven’t seen him since we left school. He lives just outside Exeter, is single, and is currently job hunting at the moment. And he hasn’t changed – he’s still got the same crude sense of humour, so it was no problem for him fitting into our group!

We all went down to a pub near the river, just along from On The Waterfront, and had lunch there (I had steak pie, chips and peas), while we had a good chat and caught up with each other. Then we had a long, hot walk back up into town. It was really like summer outside, with the sunshine beating down, and no clouds or wind to break it up. So I nearly got burned on the back of my neck, but luckily it didn’t seem to be too bad, as we weren’t out in it too long.

Anyway, we all walked off our lunch as we went back to AB & DB’s flat – and they’ve now changed address, I should add. Not far though – they’ve just gone across the hall to a flat that seems to be marginally bigger, the bathroom has a bath, and the cooker’s in a better position in the kitchen, so it’s a bit better for them in there. CP then booked a taxi for himself and we saw him off, before we relaxed in the house and saw the end of the football match that was on.

After that, SM & TB decided to move off, as they seemed quite tired, so I stayed behind with AB & DB. We continued to relax in the flat for a while longer, before deciding to go out to the pub for a drink, where DB had a baguette as he was hungry. It wasn’t a pub I knew, but it was a nice, quiet one.

While we were there, SM called me, as he and TB hadn’t gone back to the Premier Inn as we assumed (and as they had intended). Instead, they’d spent some time relaxing together on Cathedral Green. They were going to the pub to have some tea and wanted to know if we wanted to join them – which, of course, we were happy to. It was The Farmers Union, the pub by the clock tower at the end of Queen Street (which is the street where you’ll find Exeter Central station and Exeter College’s Victoria House). TB remembered the pub because of the cow hanging on the wall, and the prop of a cow eating ice-cream at the entrance!

AB, DB & I didn’t have a meal, but all 5 of us did have a pudding each. Hard to resist when they’re all £1.95! And they weren’t at all bad for that price – my apple crumble and custard was very nice, and the others all seemed happy with their puddings. We stayed there chatting until 11pm, when AB & DB got a taxi back to their flat, and SM, TB & I walked back to the Premier Inn. So it was a nice get-together.

Monday May 6, 2013

Not much to report today really. After breakfast, TB was the first to go, so I let SM have a bit of time alone with her to say goodbye – though it turns out they’re not ones for long goodbyes (only makes the parting harder the longer it takes), so I probably could have come down to check out a few minutes earlier.

The Premier Inn is a lovely hotel to stay in, and the staff have been very friendly and happy to help in any way they can. My room was nice and spacious, and the double bed was lovely and comfortable. And there were a nice selection of things for breakfast too, which was an all-you-can eat buffet, so we made sure we tucked in well every morning! The hours were generous too – 7:30 to 11:30am at weekends, and an hour earlier to start and finish on weekdays. So we tended to come down at the latter end of those times every morning (i.e. 11am on Saturday and Sunday, and 10am this morning – and they let you stay on until you’re done, they don’t rush you). So it’s definitely a place I’d be happy to stay in again.

Anyway, after TB had gone, SM & I went up to town. Because of our big breakfast, we didn’t fancy a big KFC meal, so we ended up getting a couple of bottled drinks from Wilkinson’s (Sprite for him, Fanta for me), and we sat on a bench on Cathedral Green and relaxed there for a little while. Then we did go to KFC, but not for a big meal – SM had a burger with barbecue sauce, and I had a regular sized Boneless Banquet, which was a few chicken fillets and some popcorn chicken, with chips and corn on the cob. That was enough to keep us going. Then we made our way to the bus station, so I could help SM catch the bus to the airport, then I made my way home after he’d gone.

Author: Glen

Love London, love a laugh, love life. Visually impaired blogger, culture vulture & accessibility advocate, with aniridia & nystagmus, posting about my experiences & adventures.

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