A Wedding in Wokingham

Bearwood College

My cousin got married this weekend at Bearwood College in Wokingham, so I had a (literally) flying visit back to England: flew out on Friday morning, attended the wedding on Saturday and flew back yesterday afternoon. It was worth it though – I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many members of my mum’s side of the family in one place! In fact, the last time I saw some of my cousins some of the other cousins weren’t even born! (That includes the bride, who I hadn’t seen in at least 12 years and unfortunately didn’t really see at the wedding either, other than to say congratulations as we left the room the ceremony was held in. She had a baby a few weeks ago and by the time I went looking for her she’d already taken him home).

I can’t post any pictures of people because I don’t like to do that without permission, but I can show you few of the venue and the decorations. The location was amazing! We even saw a deer when we first arrived and were waiting outside for things to start happening! Unfortunately my camera ended up on a wrong setting and most of my photos turned out blurry or too dark, but a few are vaguely okay.

Here’s Bambi, plus a shot of the hall (yes, there are people on that one but I think they’re far enough for it to be okay).

The groom’s mum  made the cake! I was amazed – it looked so professional. And she also made the chocolate lollies that each person had at their place at the table.

Wedding cake

Instead of a number, each of the tables had the name of a place that holds some significance for the bride and groom. Ours was Bruges, which I presume is just somewhere they’ve been on holiday. The most important tables were Slough, which is where they met, and Windsor Great Park, where the groom proposed.

The food was delicious! Pork belly with Bramley apple sauce and chorizo to start, followed by steak with hand-cut chips and then Tart au Citron for dessert. The vegetarian’s obviously got something different, but I don’t remember what that was.

We continued partying until around 11:30, took a taxi back, then headed to the bar at the hotel for a night cap as it was my mum’s birthday the next day and she wanted to stay up until midnight. It was a really nice wedding, the bride looked beautiful (I’m sure I won’t look anywhere near that amazing less than 2 months after giving birth!) and it was amazing to see so many members of my family. It had been four years since the last big family gathering. Hopefully this time it won’t be as long before I see them all again!

Ireland, day 7: Kilkenny–Killarney

On Friday morning we were up bright and early so we could shower, have breakfast and vacate our hostel rooms by 10 a.m. Then it was off to the Rock of Cashel, the most visited Heritage site in Ireland. We parked the car in Cashel town and walked up to the rock, passing this ruined abbey on the way.

Random ruined abbey in the middle of town...
Random ruined abbey in the middle of town…

The ruin is literally right next to a row of houses, which I thought was pretty cool.
Aaaand here’s the main attraction itself – the Rock of Cashel:

Part of the Rock of Cashel
Part of the Rock of Cashel
Round the other side of the Rock
Round the other side of the Rock

We were told the next tour would be in 20 minutes, so we wandered around on our own for 20 minutes until the guide was ready. It turned out to be well worth the wait – our guide was excellent, providing just the right balance between informative and entertaining.

As our tour ended, we started to feel a few drops of rain, but we thought we’d still be okay to take a look at Hore Abbey (and get some photos of the Rock of Cashel from an excellent angle). We went and picked up the car, drove over to the abbey, and then this happened:

Hore Abbey... somehwre behind the raindrops
Hore Abbey… somewhere behind the raindrops

Needless to say I didn’t bother getting out of the car! I wasn’t too disappointed though as I’d had my afternoon of climbing on ruins at Kells Priory.

Here, have a better picture of the Abbey, taken from the Rock of Cashel:

Hore Abbey, also known as St Mary's
Hore Abbey, also known as St Mary’s

Next up was Cahir Castle. That word is not pronounced how you think… C-A-H-I-R is said like care. Because that’s how the Irish roll…

Cahir Castle

It was still raining, but luckily Cahir Castle is fairly well preserved, which meant we were able to spend lots of time inside, out of the rain.
Of course, Charlie wanted to get in on the fun too…

Charlie in a tower
Charlie in a tower

After looking around the castle and admiring the swans and ducks in the river (Cahir Castle is on an island in the River Suir), everyone was hungry so we headed into town to look for somewhere to eat. On the corner of a square – imaginatively named The Square – we found a place that claimed to do sandwiches, so in we went. It turned out to be a kind og newsagents that also had a kind of deli section where the sandwiches were made up. I went for the garlic chicken wrap, which was INCREDIBLE. There was cheese in it, as well as the garlicky chicken, and they warmed it up for me as well. Yum, yum, yum. I think the place was called The Heritage, if I managed to Google map it correctly. While I was there, I also bought a packet of Cadbury’s Mini Eggs because I LOVE them and I wasn’t around at Easter to eat any. I got the very last packet in the shop.

Castle Street, Cahir
Castle Street, Cahir

Having eaten, we walked back to the car through the rain and drove to Blarney. The plan had been to look at Blarney Castle, but on arriving we discovered that the price was 12 euros! That would have been fine for the castle and gardens, but for just the castle it seemed a bit steep and as it was still absolutely throwing it down we didn’t feel like viewing the gardens. If it had just been Jan and I we might have gone in anyway, but other people were on a tighter budget so instead we went in search of a hot drink (and a toilet!). We ended up going to the Half Moon Café, which was cute but when we went to pay for our drinks there was an extra service charge which hadn’t been mentioned in the menu! On the way back to the car I took a photo of this door, because it looked cool:

Cool door
Cool door

When we left Blarney, the sun was actually beginning to come out again, but time was creeping on and we needed to get moving. Our next stop was Bantry, where we took photos of the bay and located a supermarket to purchase that evening’s meal – we knew it would be late by the time we arrived in Killarney and we wanted to do the shopping while we were sure of finding something open! We still had carrots from the previous day, so we bought a pre-cooked chicken and some potatoes, as well as breakfast supplies for the next day.

Bantry Bay
Bantry Bay
This sculpture is called the Spirit of Love and was installed to commemorate people who lost their lives at and around Bantry Bay
This sculpture is called the Spirit of Love and was installed to commemorate people who lost their lives at and around Bantry Bay

We then stopped very briefly at Balleylicky Bay to take a photo of the gorgeousness below (and snigger a little at the name)

Gorgeous view at Ballylickey Bay!
Gorgeous view at Ballylickey Bay!

Our sat nav was bought in 2010 and Jan hasn’t downloaded any new maps for it since then (because that would apparantly cost way too much), so despite being programmed to take the fastest route, we were not directed from Bantry to Killarney via… oh, I don’t know, maybe a motorway? Instead, the sat nav sent us over the Priest’s Leap pass, which is totally AWESOME but I’m very glad we did it in daylight! As you drive along, the road gets more and more narrow until it turns into a single-lane track… and there are no passing places! Also, as the fact that it’s a pass implies, the road goes right across the mountain so there is really no moving out of the way! Luckily, we didn’t encounter any cars going the other way… although we did have to slow down for sheep a few times. The road goes up and down fairly steeply, and while you’re going up there’s absolutely no way of knowing what’s on the other side of the slope! Quite the adventure. The views from up there are spectacular though, and once we got to the top of the pass we stopped for some photos.

Going up...
Going up…
Somehow the road looks so much more tame on a photograph...
Somehow the road looks so much tamer on a photograph…
The view from the top was worth the drive...
The view from the top was worth the drive…

The Priest’s Leap pass runs along the border between Cork and Kerry, so once we got to the end we were officially in Kerry, but still with about an hour to go until we reached Killarney. The journey was uneventful until we reached Kenmare. We had driven through the village and were just emerging out the other side when a deer jumped out in front of our car! Jan (who was driving) swerved, so we only clipped the deer and luckily the car coming from the other direction was far enough away that we were able to pull over without any further incident. It could have been a nasty accident! Nobody was sure what Irish law says about such incidents (in Germany, you would have to call the police), so Jan made a call to the emergency services just in case while the other guys checked the car for damage (us girls decided to get back in the car as it was freezing and there was only one torch available for damage checking – by this time, it was dark). I’m pleaed to report that the deer was able to make its own way back into the trees and there were no traces of blood, so I think it was fine, as were all the people in the car. Finally, we were able to continue on our way to Killarney where we checked into our self-catering apartment at around quarter past 11! We were the last to arrive on that day and the old man we picked the key up from said he’d been starting to worry!

One meal of chicken, carrots and potatoes later (eaten at 1 a.m.!!) we were all ready for bed. It had been a very long day…