A Wedding in Wales!

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When my friend Lynne told me she was getting married and holding the reception at her in-law’s pear farm in the countryside of Wales, I had to take to my fainting couch so I could daydream about how pretty it would be. When she sent me an invitation to her wedding, I had to take to my friend the-travel-agent’s fainting couch so I could book tickets while I was fainting and daydreaming.

A wedding in the countryside where everything is green, in a foreign country with little lambs and tea!!! Wait a minute while I google earth that. Swoon! I should take the girls, I thought. It would be the perfect adventure for them.

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And it was. Countryside and castles and pretty dresses, oh my!

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We barely made it to the wedding that was in a castle itself. I’m not sure why we were late but I’m sure there was some good reason. We did make it there all the way from California after all so I think they gave us some slack. We caught the end of their signing ceremony and had plenty of time to explore the crumbling castle walls all around after.

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This was Joon’s first wedding she’s ever attended so the bar is now set pretty high for her when it comes to what to expect at weddings. I feel bad for whoever gets married next on a boat in the Newport Harbor. We will be bored to tears in comparison. Bug also was pretty excited about the wedding because she had to miss being a flower girl in another wedding in order to make it to this trip. I’m happy to say that she did not regret her decision (phew!).

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It was splendid in every way. Monte Python jokes galore.

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Even Mr. G.Q. enjoyed himself while posing on a crumbling bridge.

I took lots of pictures of my feet (which are all lost now because I ran out of camera space on my phone and subsequently deleted everything under the sun, including my google spreadsheets with everyone’s christmas card address).

I love my fancy shoes. They are so fancy with bows and everything but get this: they are completely flat. This is very good for me and my sore-ass complaining high arches and my boyfriend who may or may not be an inch shorter than me.

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The kids were over the moon, exploring every nook and cranny. But who got lost? Not the kids. That was me instagramming every moment who forgot where we all agreed to meet up. Everyone left to go to the reception and I was somewhere over the hills and dales.

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Thankfully Payam and the girls found me before the bride and groom left so we followed them to the reception because we would never be able to figure out how to get there ourselves.

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When we arrived at Matt’s family farm we were instantly smitten by the apple and pear trees growing in the parking lot. Or maybe they converted their orchard to a parking lot for the occasion. That’s probably it. Anyway Bug was so impressed because it looked exactly like her Grandpa’s yard and the climate was very similar too. She proceeded to let us all know that Wales was basically Ferndale and I couldn’t really disagree.

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I mean, look at all that green grass to run on! And look at those little cobble stone houses! They are only 500 years or so older than Ferndale.

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Everything was charming! From the tea cups to the hanging bunting to the little purple striped packages of popcorn for the kids and the bottles filled with homemade pear champagne for the grown-ups… I was snapping away with my camera and my phone like I was paid to be a photographer because you know me, I can’t resist all these photo opportunities!

It doesn’t hurt that my friend Lynne is an artist.  Before we left, Payam was asking me what he should wear to this wedding and I had to chuckle. Was it black tie? Not really. I told him he could wear red suspenders and a bow tie and still fit right in. It was that kind of charming. My favorite kind.

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We had meat pies for lunch (very interesting and quite tasty – second picture here) and a crazy amazing homemade tiered wedding cake for desert that was so delicious I wish I had gone back for another piece or four.

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Bug ate wedding cake alone. She’s not a huge fan of Welsh food which is fine because when she is home she eats about four burgers a day. Seriously, she going through a major store-up-food-for-a-growth-spurt stage.

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Food was a huge part of the wedding but the activities were even more so! They fed us like crazy and in between eating we danced!  They had a schedule that included “ceilidh” which is traditional Scottish and Irish folk dancing.

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Everyone learned how to dance even those more resistant than others. Payam and I danced, the girls danced! It was very lively.

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There were even dances where girls got swung around and carried across the floor. We loved every minute of it. Newport Harbor Cruise Wedding, you are looking sadder than ever.

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Did I mention they played “rounders” which is sort of like baseball but with a lot less rules and way less boredom? There was ping pong and a woods to play in…and some people even camped near by!

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And this barn! You know how I always complain about not having a white wall in my house to shoot my photos against? I’ve decided that now I need a barn.

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The girls spent a lot of time playing with acorns and making some kind of fairy restaurant. Bug promises to write a guest post about it later so I’ll save that for her.

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And then, as if all the above wasn’t enough, the wedding lasted all the way until dark and we roasted marshmallows in the woods. I’m not even kidding you.

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It was a kid’s dream come true. None of us wanted to leave but we had to because the next day we had to get up at 5am to start our mad-hatter trip home. Four airports, two layovers, luggage to be checked and re-checked, customs… you know the drill. So we skipped the moonlight disco dancing, sadly. But you just can’t do it all!

I say, we did a LOT.

London Day 6 | Wales Day 1 : instant love

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On the sixth day in London we packed everything up and hauled it off to Paddington Station in a single file line of wheely suitcases. Yes, the very same station that the story of Paddington Bear takes place. We were pretty excited to go visit the famous bear statue and rub a few thousand germs off his nose.paddington-station-1

I was there too!

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The girls were super excited to ride a train. It was a first for both of them. What’s funny is that we bought books from the bookstore by our apartment in London in anticipation of being bored on the long train ride from London to Wales. We didn’t get bored! I don’t think any of us cracked a book once. The same thing happened on our long flights. Between playing with phones and all the media they pack into the back of your seat, you really don’t need those journals, colored pencils, books, kindles or iPad that you packed in case of boredom. So we schlepped that stuff around for nothing.

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The train ride was really nice. We had some sandwiches from the diner car and watched the pretty countryside go by. The further and further we got away the city of London the happier I felt. I love big cities but I think six days straight in one is enough.

When we got to our station in Cardiff, Wales we were immediately greeted by strange signs that we couldn’t understand. We had no idea that Welsh was it’s own language! I thought everyone was making fun of their thick accents when they told us about the funny letters in their words but no, it’s a language! It’s like bbbibty-bobbibty-ghnoklrbbest! As Bug says, they speak in cat-on-keyboard and there are consonants where consonants should not be. It was a hoot.

driving-in-walesYou know what was not a hoot? Driving on the wrong side of the road. Seriously. I cried real tears I was so terrified as Payam veered into oncoming traffic. My passenger seat in the front where the driver would usually sit was like  a front row view of my own death. It took Payam a long time to figure out where the lines were on the road and not skim off a few layers of paint from the other cars. But I cannot fault him because he is an excellent driver and I probably would have just sat on the side of the road crying. I was way too afraid to even attempt it.

So yeah, we rented a car from the train station and drove it out of the city and onto the country roads towards our hotel in Raglan. Obviously, the city streets were very scary but the country roads were too because they are so narrow! Sometimes it felt like we were bumping along a six foot wide road with no room for oncoming traffic, not to mention the odd jogger or bicyclist along the side of the road! And there were plenty of them. Every time we saw someone along the side of the road I closed my eyes, held my breath and prayed that no one would die. It was terrifying.

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But we made it!! You know what they say about loving what you suffer for. We were so happy to be done driving for the day I think we all felt like kissing the ground. We instantly fell in love with our little town and quaint little hotel. If it wasn’t so much trouble to get there I would put it top of my list of places I want to visit again. It was that cute and charming.

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There was some mix-up with our rooms and we were worried they wouldn’t have room for us in the inn but they found us the cutest little two bedroom apartment upstairs. It was soooo cute!  Look at those tea cups? That’s not your standard issue hotel ware.

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After a quick cup of tea we headed downstairs to the restaurant inside the hotel and had the best dinner ever. It was so good! I could feel all the stress of London traffic, disappointment over not seeing everything I wanted to see and the new added stress of driving on the wrong side of the road just seep out of me.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a more relaxing, delicious dinner.  The glass of wine and sunset view of a church that looked like a castle didn’t hurt. I could have stayed there all night except we were all incredibly tired and ready to get some sleep so we could be refreshed and ready for a wedding the next day!