Monday, 11 August 2014

A Summer of Highs and Lows

It has been a summer of high temperatures and deep emotions.
Aunt Lilian passed away,
 it wasn't an easy death.
A great deal of what happened will never be told, 
the rest I shall put into another post. 
Suffice to say,  it was difficult
 and it has zapped a huge amount of our energy and emotions.

we had a joyous celebration to look forward to
and this kept us going during the difficult and emotionally draining times.

I think that I filled a notebook with all the lists I made to keep our plans on track,
even George took to list-making.
The lists grew,
even as we worked through them.
It was all worth it.

Jonny and Ming Ming were married on 14th February, in Shanghai.
It was a simple, formal ceremony,
despite the date.

We decided that there had to be a much bigger celebration when they came home.
So we planned a garden England ...always risky, given our climate.
Our beautiful day was sandwiched between two of the worst days of this summer.
Monsoon-style rains fell the day before the party,
flooding some areas
and the day following the party was not much better
with wind and rain and even a tornado hitting the coast a little further north.

The gods were smiling on the happy couple,
for we had sunshine and warm temperatures.

There was even another wedding celebration taking place just across at the fish ponds
(our village is tiny, so the chances of this happening were miniscule)
we got to enjoy all their fireworks.

It was a beautiful display,
perfectly timed for our guests!
Best of all, it was free....

Lucky red Chinese lanterns and pom poms were used to dress the car park and driveway,
the gardens and gazebos.
Everywhere looked very festive,
the hard work of grooming all the gardens,
primping them and making them presentable
was worth it.

My job was the catering ....  eeeeek!

I cooked and baked - an enormous ham, a gigantic salmon
vegetarian options,  assorted salads,
pies, quiches, breads
with a very special aged Lincolnshire Poacher cheese
(thank you Davina and Jon)
lots of puds
and plenty of

...four wedding cakes.
Red velvet for luck.
Vanilla because I love it, especially with blackcurrant running through the middle.
Lemon - yum!
... and then, the most popular one of all, chocolate orange, decorated with fresh berries.
This idea was stolen from dear friend Dom, of Belleau Kitchen.

Our guests were Jonny and Ming Ming's friends
plus many members of the Appleby family.

It was a large gathering,
no wonder I was having fits of the vapours over the catering.

Our dear friend Julia
gave the younger guests the opportunity to have their faces painted.
She was wonderful.
The girls opted for delicate flower and fairy designs,
while the boys were a little more extreme...

Ming Ming looked amazing.
She had opted to wear a traditional Chinese wedding outfit
and I am so glad that she did.
She kept the dress secret from us until the day.
It was worth the wait.

This exquisite cheongsam took a three women several weeks of intensive sewing.
The embroidery is incredibly beautiful
and the fastenings are entirely hand made.

Jonathan wore a Western suit, they made a very handsome couple.

Some friends who know Ming Ming and Jonathan from Shanghai made the effort to attend
and it was wonderful to hear them use their native Mandarin,
although both of them speak very good English.
Don't they look beautiful?

It was a opportunity for some beautiful dresses to have an airing...

...and also an opportunity for these three brothers to have a chat
and to catch up on things.

Later the happy couple changed out of their formal clothes.
They still looked gorgeous,
their happiness was contagious.
They have headed off on honeymoon and will visit three countries during their week away.
Castles are very much on Ming Ming's wish list,
so (although it will be a surprise to her)
they are staying in a castle in  Wales,
then they will visit The Lake District for a few days,
before heading over the border into Scotland
and then down
 to the beautiful island of Lindisfarne.

Before they do any of that, though,
they are heading over to visit my older brother
who is too ill to travel this far.
Ming Ming wants to show Steven and Shirley her beautiful dress
and to share a little of their happiness with them.

No wonder this blog has turned pink with all the romance.



  1. Wow! I've been thinking so much about how things were going for you... now I know. So much to cope with, think about, plan and prepare. You did it! How wonderful the happy couple look, no wonder you are a proud mum, cook, hostess. Relax now and enjoy the photographs and memories of a magical day. Aunt Lillian is sadly the past, Jonny and Ming Ming the bright new future.


    1. It has been an incredibly busy summer - but, as you said, we did it! All went well and everyone had a great time - and as far as I know, no one got food poisoning... I'll be dropping you a line in a couple of days.x

  2. Ming Ming looks absolutely stunning!
    Well done you,that was an incredible amount of hard work, I'm sure every guest was thrilled.
    Jane x

    1. Thanks, Jane. It was well worth all the effort, even though I really don't enjoy cooking! Ming Ming always looks great, but that day she really was simply stunning. x

  3. what a sweet couple and love the traditional wedding dress.

    1. Linda, I know Jonny was very proud of his wife - she looked amazing and that dress was a work of art.

  4. Beautiful, just beautiful. x

    1. Ming Ming really is, Scarlet - and she cooks pretty well too. I'll be dropping you a line in the next few days. x

  5. You made my heart sing. Thank you for all the hard work and loveliness.
    PS--Such a stunning couple of young people; head will swivel from John 'o Groats to Cornwall.

    1. Joanne, I am so glad that their happiness reached out over the pond! I hope they are having a wonderful honeymoon and that Ming Ming is enjoying her glimpses of England, Scotland and Wales.

  6. You've just made me realise how many times I've had to lie at weddings, but this time I can actually tell the truth; SHE LOOKS STUNNING.

    1. Thanks, Cro, I'll tell her. All the little girls who attended were desperate to try on her shoes, steal the flowers from her hair and would have taken the dress had they been allowed!

  7. What a beautiful couple! Congratulations to the happy couple. X

    1. Maggie, many thanks! It seems to be the trend in our family for the very tall men to marry very short girls, although my husband I were the exception.

  8. So sorry about the hardships the summer brought, but so glad for the joy. I can't believe you did all that cooking/catering. You're amazing! Jonathan and Ming Ming look stunning and so happy. But those two would I think look incredible in flour sacks.

    Oh, is there any cake left? I'm not choosy.

    1. Hi Mitch, I am such a rubbish cook, but I made a supreme effort. I now feel that I deserve to eat out for the rest of the year! ;-)

  9. beautiful times and sad times... xx

    1. Village Show this weekend, Dom...lucky for you I feel far too worn out to compete in the cookery classes! ;-) x

  10. Love your pictures. Congratulations to your lovely son and his beautiful wife. You've done a fantastic job of all the decorating and fabulous catering.

    1. Thanks, Molly. It was a real pleasure doing something so beautiful - and for once I didn't end up with a migraine!

  11. Hello Elaine
    Very sorry to hear about the difficult passing of your Aunt Lilian. My mother-in-law´s demise was also an unhappy one and so very painful for the family. My husband still wonders if he could have done more to have made her last days easier.

    However Mother Nature has stepped in to ease those bad times you have gone through! How very wise she is! I'm sure the wonderful events recently in your life have managed to lift your spirits marvelously. The happiness and joy you've been enjoying is more than reflected in these beautiful photographs ...... actually practically palpable. I adore your daughter-in-law's dress it is so beautiful but in all I think I most like the happiness of these young ones which is reflected throughout.

    keep well
    Amanda x

    1. Hello Amanda, My sincere condolences to you and your family. In situations like that we all do the very best that we can, but inevitably we begin to wonder what else we could have done better, we have to remember that hindsight is a wonderful thing. We did the best that we could.
      George and I have been on something of a roller coaster since my aunt died as we had to clear her house (40 miles distant) and also arrange this party and bring the grounds and woodland up to standard - so keeping busy probably helped.
      It was a joyful day!

    2. Many thanks Elaine for your kind thoughts!


  12. Dear Elaine,
    What a beautiful post.
    You did yourself proud.
    Jonothan and Ming, look so happy.
    Ming's dress is stunning, and she is very beautiful.
    Such a wonderful occasion for you Elaine.
    The lanterns , the wedding cakes( look divine)

    Sorry to read about your Aunt.
    Your brother will be delighted to see the happy couple.
    I wish them lots of love and happiness.
    val xxx

    1. HI Val, I am so pleased you enjoyed seeing it - i was so busy that I didn't get time to take many photographs, which was a shame. All the guests, young and old, enjoyed themselves and the weather definitely helped. Ming Ming brought the pom-poms and lanterns back with her, we spent a lovely few hours making them and chatting about this, that, and the other. She is wonderful company and conversation is never short. xxx


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