Wedding

We had such a heartwarming and uplifting time on Saturday 14th August at the ceremony and reception and again on the Sunday 15th at the garden party held at home. An amazing time full of love, cheer and laughter with our families and friends from far and near which we will treasure for the rest of our lives. Lovely cards, beautiful presents and grand company made for a truly wonderful weekend….And, thank God, the weather was good too!

And You *

And you, dearest, what should I give you?
So many things I would give you
Had I an infinite great store
Offered me and I stood before
To choose. I would give you youth,
All kinds of loveliness and truth,
A clear eye as good as mine,
Lands, waters, flowers, wine,
As many children as your heart
Might wish for, a far better art
Than mine can be, all you have lost
Upon the travelling waters tossed,
Or given to me. If I could choose
Freely in that great treasure-house
Anything from any shelf,
I would give you back yourself,
And power to discriminate
What you want and want it not too late,
Many fair days free from care
And heart to enjoy both foul and fair,
And myself, too, if I could find
Where it lay hidden and it proved kind.

Edward Thomas

* Apologies to ET for substituting ‘dearest’ for his wife’s name ‘Helen’

A lovely simple ceremony personalised with our musical choices….Kim entering on James’s arm to Pachabel’s Canon in D; Signing of the register under pianist Phamie Ghow’s Peace Song and exeunt to the tune of Hadrian Union’s Liesel.

Group photographs to follow against the impressive backdrop of Hexham House, beginning with the whole gathering….

The Reception was held in the Prior’s Hall at Hexham Abbey, a two minute walk across the green from Hexham House.

Speeches delivered by Sara Woodman (Best Woman/Bridesmaid) Simon Woodman (Best Man) and by the groom. Here are their transcripts:

Sara’s Wedding Day Speech

Thank everyone for being here to celebrate this wonderful couple and occasion. I get the honour of starting the speeches. This is the logical father of the bride, but instead it’s daughter of the bride. Rather than tell stories about the bride when she was a child, I’m going to tell you about the bride when I was a child and through the eyes of my children. Speaking in front of this many people in real life is strange. Usually when I talk in front of a group of people it’s to deliver training via video conference. But don’t worry I won’t start by making you all do a cringy ice breaker activity. Or give you a group activity to do half way through to make sure you have understood what I’m telling you! This isn’t just from me, this is on behalf of myself, Simon, Harry and Emily and the Lurati’s James, Jo, Maddy and Noah.

Firstly I want to say we are so happy to Welcome to the family Steve. You make mum very happy and it’s a joy to see you together. I’m going to talk you through some lists. As many of you will know, Mum likes a list. And so do I as if something doesn’t make it onto a list – it doesn’t get done. The first list is facts about Kim in no particular order

  1. Her favourite art materials are coloured pencils, of which she has over one hundred.
    1. The love of art is something she passed to me. I remember the encouragement to draw when I was a child and I’m so grateful for the gentle, practical advice and support when doing my art A-level and throughout art college.  I don’t think I could have got through that without you.
    1. and more recently our drawing days out where we have walked and talked and stopped to draw, then more walking and talking. Lovely peaceful companionship, shared love of outside, nature and trying to capture that beauty on paper.  
    1. This creativity also been passed to her grandchildren Harry, Emily and Maddy who also love art and drawing.
    1. James and Noah didn’t get the creative genes but they are both very practical, with a love of making and building things which they got from Dad.
  2. She was always taking photographs of us as kids
    1. This was when on holiday, posing for book drawings or just everyday life on the farm.  James sighing when the camera came out.
    1. She has drawers full of photos.
    1. Now James and I are the ones taking endless photos of our kids.
  3. She and Dad moved from London to a farm in Northumberland.
    1. James and I loved growing up on the farm, space to explore, nature.
    1. Mum and Dad were always busy, I remember thinking, do they every stop and sit down, but they were also always around for us.
    1. It was a privilege to spend time out in the fields learning with Dad. Always strong and calm. But also funny and chatty and silly when he was in the right mood!
  4. She tells only three jokes a year, which make people laugh as they are so surprised.
    1. I haven’t yet heard this year’s jokes, so I’m looking forward to that in the next few months.
  5. She sometimes struggles to know what to do with her hair.
    1. There was one time when James got hold of the aerolatte thing that you use to make frothy milk, and in true James fashion, thought “I wonder what would happen if….” Queue the whizzing thing being brought too close to mums hair, getting tangled and needed to be cut out!
    1. When the kids were younger, to distinguish between their grandmothers they called Mum Grandma with the Grey hair and Sue Grandma with the brown hair.
  6. She loves spaces with light and air, flowers and a view.
  7. She moves the pictures around in the house fairly frequently. Every time we visit something has moved, it’s like visiting Hogwarts where the people in the pictures move around.
  8. She is also always changing her garden around
    1. I got my love of gardening from mum, I love our conversations about plants, how they are doing, what may need moving or what else she’d like to plant.
    1. When Steve came to live at Leadgate he jumped into the country life and the garden with both feet – both feet in wellies of course.
    1. He was keen to cut back and chop stuff down. Great Kim thought but soon had to rein him in a bit before there was nothing left!
    1. His great addition to the garden has been the apple trees.
    1. Although the apple tree I grew from a pip when I was a child is outdoing them on the size and age although definitely not on the fruit production.
    1. The garden is looking spectacular at the moment – which you will get to see tomorrow.
    1. I remember the large kitchen garden at the Farm – how she managed to work full time, bring up two kids, help on the farm and tend to a large garden is amazing.
    1. There’s a quote from Alfred Austin which sums up both of our love of gardening: The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul.

I asked the kids what came to mind when they thought about Grandma and Steve and here’s their list:

  1. Grandma is kind and supportive.
  2. She is creative and good at teaching art. 
    1. One of the highlights of lockdown was the weekly art lessons with Grandma and game time with Grandma and Steve by Facetime.
    1. We are so grateful for the time they both spend entertaining and educating the kids. They seamlessly incorporate having the children at leadgate and involve them in simple, creative or practical tasks in a way that is fun and engaging.
  3. Grandma is very organised
    1. When I pressed for further info it was the organisation of coloured pencils in pots in the studio that stood out.
  4. They are captivated by Steve’s reading to them and all the voices.
    1. When I try to do voices I get lots of eye rolling and requested to please stop that Mum.
  5. And of course there’s the yummy apple juice and bread that Steve makes.
  6. They got a waffle maker before us!
    1. Pancakes were a weekend breakfast staple in our house. But when Grandma and Steve got a waffle maker we quickly had to follow suit and add waffles to the breakfast repertoire.
  7. The walks they go on in Stonehough woods.
    1. Favourite walk.
    1. And the kids didn’t want me to say this (but it’s one of the few walks they go on without complaining!)
  8. When the grandchildren were younger both sets had a name for Steve,
    1. Harry called him Stebe
    1. Maddy and Noah referred to him as The Steve.
  9. Then they said they use old things.
    1. What type of old things? I asked.
    1. Maps said Harry, There’s a satellite up there you know, why don’t they use Google Maps!

So to end, I just wanted to say we love you both, and are so pleased to see you getting married. Lots of love and happiness for your future life together.

Marriage is like a flower, give it sunlight and water and the roots will go down and the plant will go up and you will have a strong healthy marriage that will last the rest of your life.

Simon’s Best Man Speech

Thank you Steve for the opportunity to speak today and I have to offer some apologies as well. This is not going to be the normal Best Man’s speech full of tales of drunkenness and debauchery. For the juicy stuff you’ll have to wait to watch Michael’s recording tomorrow! Today I’m afraid that you’re stuck with me! I want to take you on a bit of a meandering journey through Steve’s life and what has led up to him marrying Kim today – and doesn’t she look lovely!

I want to start off with his early life – Steve was born in Cornwall but spent most of his early years in Tavistock Devon. He’s had a lifelong love of trains and one of his earliest memories is crossing the viaduct from Saltash where he was born to Plymouth. Later in life he had the opportunity to interview another rail enthusiast, Michael Portillo, who claimed his greatest achievement was saving the Settle to Carlisle railway! This is particularly relevant as it was the Settle to Carlisle railway which Kim and Steve walked by on their first date. So I guess the moral of the story is that not all Tory politicians are completely bad!

So we know that Steve grew up in Devon and Kim is originally from Canada. Almost every Canadian I’ve ever met has a Maple Leaf on the back of their backpack, and Kim is no exception. In most cases this is so that when they are travelling they don’t get confused with an American. However, what you may not know is that Kim and Steve both have the same backpack. Given that Kim has a maple leaf, Steve didn’t want to feel left out so he has a Devon flag pinned on the back. This joke would have worked so much better if he hadn’t been born in Cornwall….

Back in 1991, which for the younger members of the audience was about the time the Internet was invented. It was also a time when a mobile phone was this size, and a laptop computer was THIS size, Steve won Mastermind. At that time there were only 4 TV channels and so a large proportion of the country watched him win it – maybe even some people here today who had no idea that one day they would grace the presence of a Mastermind Champion.

However, what I want to focus on today is the prize that Steve won. Apart from the prestige, and Wikipedia mention, the prize was a large cut glass bowl which is effectively irreplaceable. If we fast forward to 2014, Steve was generous enough to let us stay in his house in Lancaster with our two small children.  

However, when we arrived the trophy was displayed in pride of place on a small table in the living room. I have to say the first thing we did, having a toddler and an adventurous 4 year old, was to put it away as high and safe as we could, terrified that it would accidentally be broken. Fortunately it remained intact! However, during that and other stays in Steve’s house we were able to explore the North West – the Lake District (including a Zoo where Harry fell in love with Lemurs), Morecambe Bay, Grizedale and Lancaster itself. Steve even gave us a personal tour around Lancaster Castle and I really feel that this highlights his  generosity – he was happy to relocate for a week staying sometimes with friends, or sometimes with Kim to allow us to stay in his house – and we are truly grateful.

We’ve been lucky enough to travel with Kim and Steve together, and we have had holidays in both this country and abroad – Northumberland, Yorkshire and Italy. Sometimes we have had my Mum as well and when she’s been with us the collective noun for them is (Tom Gates – Fossils?) “Steve and the Grandmas”. So, if you ever want to form a band at least you’ve got a name…

During the early years of Kim and Steve’s relationship they split their time, and their lives between Lancaster and Leadgate. Whilst that was hard it did give them the best of both worlds for a while – both city and countryside. Steve could continue with his work in the Castle and with Demi Paradise Productions whilst enjoying the Leadgate for some well deserved rest and relaxation. Equally, Kim could continue her printmaking and studio whilst visiting the bright lights of the big city. Ok, well at least there was a decent coffee shop and a pub within walking distance!

Eventually Steve moved to Leadgate and I have to say he really did embrace the countryside and rural environment. As Sara mentioned earlier, both Kim and Steve share a love of gardening. But Steve has taken it to another level – he dug a pond and has nurtured marine life in the garden. Newts and frogs are now regular inhabitants. He and Kim are regular walkers and they both bought bikes… at least one of which is still being used. He has taken up air rifle shooting and is teaching Harry how to shoot – Harry loves this and it’s one of the highlights whenever he comes to stay. Steve also documents his adventures and country life in a blog on his website and that’s something I really enjoy reading whilst trying to work out who the code names refer to – he’s far too kind to name and shame the local farmers.

I’d like to finish with one more story about Steve, so far I hope I’ve managed to paint a picture of a kind and generous man but I would like to call out one more of his facets. His openness to adventure and new experiences. I don’t know if this comes from growing up in the wilds of Dartmoor, or through his career acting needing to adapt to new roles whether they be in Hound of the Baskervilles, Emmerdale or a judge for corporate training. But it is definitely there. A few years ago I got into wild, or semi-wild camping and Steve was intrigued. So, one summer afternoon we set off from Leadgate and walked to one of the bothies in Wark Forest. We carried all of our kit – mats, sleeping bags, food, water, stove, everything. It was about a 5 mile walk to the Bothy and we didn’t know what to expect. It could be full or it could be empty. As it turned we survived the walk with all of our kit and there was one other inhabitant that night, someone who visits to help maintain it. So the good news was that we got a bed – well a wooden platform to put our mats on but it was better than a bivvy bag in the nettles! We had a great night chatting in front of the stove learning about looking after a Bothy before sleeping and then walking back to Leadgate the next day. But the thing I want you to take away is that this is a man who is not only kind and generous but he is incredibly brave too. It’s not easy to walk out of the house knowing where you will sleep or who will be there. If I’m able to do half of the things that he does when I’m his age I will feel incredibly lucky!

And with that, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to raise a toast to the bride and groom!

Steve’s Bridegroom Speech            

Right folks. It falls to me as the bridegroom to say ‘thank you’ to people to whom we are very grateful for helping make this day so special for – and I can’t quite get used to saying this yet – my wife and I.

I’ll start by saying how sorry we are that some of our nearest and dearest could not be with us today. We miss them. In particular I must mention our singular friend, master of merriment, and long standing rural community champion, Michael Gee. – ‘Apple Michael’ as he’s affectionately known to many – down in north Devon. A long overdue wait meant a date from the NHS for a major operation that unfortunately coincided with our big weekend. Yet, all is not lost as Sara & Simon have facilitated a recorded video link which is billed for its screening this evening and during tomorrow’s do at Leadgate…Highly entertaining I’m sure for you lot and the party guests but Kim & I might yet tremble to think exactly what Michael will be coming out with then!

I’m fortunate to have steadfast lifetime friends in my older brother Geoffrey and sister in law Dianne. We wish her a speedy and full recovery from recent treatment for cancer. Being under consultants order to shield for the rest of the summer meant the trip north from home in Sussex was not going to happen as we’d originally planned. Meredith and Bruce are Kim’s larger than life sister and brother-in- law. Caught between moving home from Calgary to Toronto and subject to severe Covid quarantine restrictions there was no way they could be with us today. We hope to host the amazing duo in the next year or two, when they are free to fly the pond, and treat them to as memorable and enjoyable a time here as we’ve had with them when touring in Canada.

I have many things to be grateful to Simon Woodman for. Make-it-look-easy IT wizardry, car convoy leadership on foreign holidays, the culinary concoctions he’s treated us to, conversational engagement on just about any subject you can name, not to mention co-kayaking skills and getting creative with gazebos…and much else besides! Here he is in yet another role today as my Best Man. Simon is stepping in to take over from Geoff, and before that, Michael. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde’s Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest: “To loose one best man may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness” …… So Simon, a massive thank you! Because you do care. And for being there for us, once again, when it mattered.

Good things come in pairs. Thank you Sara for so graciously and effectively doubling up on the bridesmaid and best woman roles!  I know you’ve inherited your mother’s absolute dread of speaking in public so we more than appreciate what you’ve had to go through to stand up in front of us all to deliver your lovely speech today. I thank you too for your inherent generosity of spirit, unfailing inclusiveness and the warmth of welcome you have always shown me.

Likewise, thank you James – and Jo – for accepting me into your lives and hearts as Kim’s partner. James is impressed by my Mastermind achievements while I’m simply flabbergasted by his incredible mountain running achievements. I thank him for escorting his ma so proudly down the aisle this morning, and at such a stately restrained pace to the beautiful strains of Pachabel’s Canon. I also know for a fact that If we’d chosen any of his race training tracksinstead he would have instinctively got Kim to my side in under 3 seconds flat!

Max and Lois, Emily and Harry, Thea and Joe, Maddy & Noah Wow! You guys all look incredibly smart and well turned out today. We oldsters are suitably impressed, are we not? And so we should be. You’re wonderful to behold, so cool, and Kim & I are honoured by it. Mandy Thompson, our old friend and neighbour, has meticulously and imaginatively crafted these beautiful floral decorations, buttonholes, posies and favours, ably aided and abetted by Sandie Gutherie. A brilliant result and they’ve done us proud, you’ll agree! Margaret. David, Kim & I know how very accomplished you are in the home baking department. The wedding cake you’ve created for us, dear friend, is fabulous and simply just – joyful! And we know it’s going to taste every bit as good as it looks. John. It would be difficult to have a complete stranger, however expert, take photographs of our wedding and party and record  events in a way that Kim & I would be truly happy with. As a close friend and as a guest you’re in the perfect position to do so.  Thank you for your innate ability to capture these special moments in such an unobtrusive and skilful way. In one way or another down the years I’ve been close to the life and work of one of England’s great nature poets Edward Thomas. Best known for his 1914 poem, Adelstrop, Thomas was killed on active service on the western front in 1917. The gorgeous poem he wrote for his wife Helen perfectly chimes with my feelings for Kim. So thank you dear cousin Quetta for reading it so beautifully for us at the ceremony. You and I had a great day out when we visited the village of Steep in Hampshire, where the Thomases lived, back in 2010 – the year Kim & I met as it happens – so you too know the background to their poignant love story.

Kim and I have been together for 11 years now. We met online, via Guardian Soulmates – as lefty lonely hearts would! Our seven years commute began then, until I could finally retire and move across to live with her at Leadgate. Our first proper date was on the Settle and Carlisle railway, on my 59th birthday as it happened. A truly memorable day, if ever there was one. I wrote what I’m calling a ‘prose poem’ afterwards, in that first flush of feeling, post piercing by Cupid’s arrow….Prepare yourselves everyone for:

August 11th 2010

Under the giant frame of the railway station trains pull in and out and passengers swarm. From the footbridge it’s the hair I recognise first before you glance up to radiate a grin. You are windswept. I am awestruck. We hug greetings then swop presents over coffee. Three gorgeous prints you give ‘Ex Libris’. My heart is caught in your cage aux folles.

We escape Carlisle’s Citadel in an old diesel unit following Eden upriver to Mallerstang, Tunnelling past Garsdale to decant at Dent. Then follow fell road to the roof of England. Dentdale stretching west lies broad and wide, studded with haybarns, farmhouses, trees. Rolling dark clouds, like cowls, cover heads of Whernside, Baugh fell and Inglebrough.

Paved course runs gutter like across our track, leading water to its fall, and by it we picnic Then continue at a pace that will not get us to Ribbleshead in time for the returning service. Suddenly we’re in each other’s arms, our dumb tongues telling of great hunger for more. This is the decisive moment all lovers know. Stepping out now, returning, see as we go.

On the crowded train back a miserable mother scolds her dulled child while the playful Older couple next to us are engaged in Indian arm wrestling and we share their laughter. I attempt calls about work on my mute mobile and catch you smiling an understanding. We are going back, yet there is no going back. Sparks, fire, steam. We too are in motion.

Well, it lays no claim to be great verse, but it was of the moment, highlights of that special summer’s day outing. And now, from the 11th day to the 11th year we’ve arrived at another station on the line, here in this first class diner, with you, our dear family and friends, witnesses to our wedding this day. We’re setting out together on the next leg of life’s extraordinary journey, as man and wife. Kim, I loved you when we met and I love you even more now. Thank you for everything. For what has been and for what’s yet to come. Finally I’d like to give Kim the last word on our halcyon railway days. She recalls the experience in her poem:

Gathered Herdwick                                                              

The train window arrests, as if planned,

perfectly framing through glass the surprise of him

In black, pale beautiful face seeking her out.

She is through the door, distant traveller in grey coat,

and they see no one else,

feel the toned matching of clothes, separately chosen, enfold, gather;

cause no bright ripple of attention on the platform,

except for the sudden light of their meeting,

should anyone look by mistake.

I have found her, he said later.

The one I have been looking for.

And later she leans slowly,

throat exposed in assent;

as he tenderly picks heather

from her wild moorland hair.

Honoured Guest Speech

Later, at home that evening, we watched a video on the laptop that Sara & Simon had set up so that Michael (Gee) could give his original best man speech which he would have delivered in person had he been able to…Here’s the transcript:

My first encounter with the small screen dates back to 1951 or 1952. Attached to the chimney of a neighbour’s house appeared some rigid metal bars in the shape of an ‘H’. ‘Television’ my father explained ‘Like radio, but with pictures as well’. A week later we were invited round to watch Muffin the Mule. ‘Where’s Michael’ they asked, clustering round the 12” screen. Well, of course, I was sitting in the garden, gaping at the metal H on the roof, expecting Muffin the Mule to be manifested there. Who would have thought that seventy years later the small screen would have become universal, even invading marriage celebrations? I’d like to thank Sara for easing me into this task.

You probably anticipated that somebody speaking from far away would start by saying that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and in a way that’s true. Indeed isn’t there an old adage that says its familiarity that breeds contempt, -so let that be a warning for newly weds. However, Mark Twain responded to that situation by saying that ‘Familiarity breeds both contempt and babies’. So I’ll try to compromise, being at a distance and close to you at the same time.

But my main task is to congratulate Kim and Steve for this lovely occasion and what it represents. I think I had a clue that something was up in September 2010. Steve had often expressed interest in joining me on one of my annual trips to Scotland that included climbing a few hills. I was living in Devon, so I drove up to Lancaster where Steve lived and next morning we headed for Argyll. I explained to Steve that once we’d crossed the Firth of Clyde we’d be in a really different country which led to a panic about adequate cash. I drew up so that Steve could make a withdrawal from a cash machine; he had a tumble and returned to the car with a limp. I don’t know what annoyed me more; that a socialist wasn’t more careful in the vicinity of banks, or that I’d chosen a walking companion who could slip on a Port Glasgow pavement, let alone the crags of a Munro. ‘What on Earth were you thinking about?’ I said in an unhelpful way. Well, Kim, only later did I learn there was more to it than I realised. The rest of the holiday went well, we got to the top of a Munro (or was it two?), but it was clear that Steve’s mind was on other things. I felt like the little boy I observed on the top of the Lake District mountain Helvellyn. He was with a large family group of walkers who had all tucked into their packed lunches, and he was the last of them to arrive on the summit, which was hardly surprising because he was the tiniest. ‘Well,’ said the leader of the group, ‘Now that we’ve all reached the summit we can all set off for the bottom.’ ‘Summit of what?’ cried the little boy, ‘Nobody tells me anything’.

I have known Steve for the best part of half a century. Living as a single man in a substantial house in Kendal, Westmorland, I was a target for the local theatre company who wanted digs for their actors, people like Jemma Redgrave (not to drop a name, just to give you an idea). So how Steve made his way to my door, (because he was living comfortably just down the road in Lancaster), I’m not quite sure. But there he was, having a drink, tucking in to the post-Show supper, and (blow me) the last bus to Lancaster has long gone, so another drink, and then (perhaps 2am) a kip for the night. Meanwhile, little did we know, up in Northumberland at that time or only shortly afterwards, a farmer’s wife was switching off the alarm for the start of a new day in the lambing shed. So when I heard that actor Steve had become attached to farmer Kim I pondered on whether just two or three hours in bed together was or was not the foundation of a wonderful relationship.

We’ve met every year since then, at Leadgate, in Devon and more recently in Somerset. The last time Kim and Steve stayed with me was a late Autumn visit, in November 2018. We visited Dunster on the other side of Exmoor; a perfectly preserved old market town, – castle, priory church, tithe barn, market cross and now a community orchard that I had something to do with. It was a golden afternoon; the sun was low but warm enough to sit outside for a cup of tea and there were still enough leaves on the trees for a golden glow over the landscape as we stood on the castle ramparts and watched the sun go down. I’ve been to Dunster many times, but it has never looked better than on that November day late in the year. A metaphor? Older age can still bring the best experiences of one’s life, so I hope that brings great cheer to two very lovely people, the bride and groom, and indeed to all of us. It’s time for me to stop and wish you well with your celebrations.

SUNDAY 15th AUGUST WEDDING PARTY at HOME

Live music & readings were courtesy of our multi-talented Demi-paradise associates; Bekkah Sloan and Adam Emmott, Iain Sloan, Mark Alexander, Sarah Thurstan & Sue McCormick. They entertained us royally with fab songs and poems.

Steve thanked the performers for the laughter & tears engendered and everyone present for coming to help us celebrate

The young children all had a great time too….pond dipping, running the playhouse cafe, playing hide and seek and other games, racing toy tractors and trucks, rearranging rocks and gravel. It all added up a fun filled, creative afternoon

Steve’s Wedding Party Speech  

In preparing these notes I wondered which public figures or media stars could offer the greatest wisdom or practical guidance when it comes to getting married? I went looking round and round and here’s what I found, found, found….According to Perry Como, that wonderful old crooner of Kim & I’s childhood.

Find a ring and put it round, round, round
And with ties so strong your two hearts are bound
Put it on the one you’ve found, found, found
For you know that this is really love

Is that too old hat, too sentimental?  Or should one, in the modern manner, take a leaf from Beyonce Knowles songbook instead? ‘If you wan’ it you gotta put a ring on it’. Fair enough. But let’s go back to the early 1960’s…What about ‘Madmen’, one of our favourite TV box series. Roger Sterling to Don Draper over Martinis in a Manhattan bar, opines ‘Listen…You can be right, or you can be married. You can’t be both’.

As for second marriages Dr Johnson’s verdict rings out: ‘The triumph of hope over experience’. And what if you’ve been (ouch!) married twice before, like me? I turned to Alfred Hitchcock’s classic movie ‘North by North West’ where, in a reflective moment between its two stars Cary Grant & Eve Marie Saint, she tells of her love life and the questionable motives of her suitors…

’Men like you, that don’t believe in marriage.’

‘I’ve been married twice’ retorts Grant.

‘You see what I mean?’ replies Eve. 

Well, now we are wed, Kim and I, and we’re both very happy to be so. But – I remain open to advice and guidance to make sure I really do get it right, third time around. I like the wise brevity of these words of advice for a husband from that great humourist, Ogden Nash.

To keep your marriage brimming

With love in the loving cup,

Whenever you’re wrong admit it;

Whenever you’re right, shut up.

No, seriously, we do talk a lot and learn from each other. We tell it how it is, with laughter and tears. Fess up when we need to; share the ups and the downs; get to listen and be listened to. We have had eleven years together already and now we’re both properly grown up as septagenarians. We have got to know each other inside out, upside & downside, so we might just be ready for this big step forward in our lives together.

We have a mix and match approach to many things. I love quizzes – Kim hates them. She’s a lark, I’m an owl; I’m an extrovert, Kim’s an introvert, and on it goes. That’s what I’d call truly well balanced. In short, a marriage of equals. As it should be, if it’s ever going to mean anything. As the poet Walter Winchell put it:

Never above you. Never below you. Always beside you.

Leaving Lancaster after 40 years, to finally quit town for the country worried Kim a lot. Would I be able to settle? would I be bored? Well, no worries on that score. As many of you know I come from the country, from the edge of Dartmoor, and was more than ready to embrace life in the wild wide open uplands that made me. Nothing makes us happier than sharing these pleasures of our home with you – whether you’ve come from just down the road or from the other end of the country – Kim & I are very, very happy to have you with us to help celebrate our union. Dear family and friends, young and old – our deepest thanks for your cards, presents, love, laughter and plain good company.

Credits: John Mitchell took the official wedding, reception & party photographs. Others by Steve, Kim, Sue & Stephanie.