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Sunday, 28 May 2000

Our Honeymoon

Chichen Itza

The best preserved / restored of the Mayan sites and certainly impressive. We were lucky enough to arrive early in the day - our hotel was actually on the site (and incidently built largely from bits of Mayan ruins) but when we left at about 11am there were hundreds of people queing to get in.

The site was in active use for hundreds of years and is thought to have been a 'university town' - one of the buildings has carvings of hindus, red Indians and Greek soldiers - all dating from before America had been discovered!

El Castillo - the main pyramid at Chichen Itza & perfectly constructed for use as the civil calendar and on the solstices the light falls so that it looks like a rattlesnake is descending / ascending a stair case. Rattlesnakes are noticeable everyone on Mayan architecture.
chichen itzachichen itza
From Mexico

From the top of El Castillo the view stretches into the distance across secondary growth jungle, only a few buildings - mostly ruins peek above the tree tops.

Most buildings have been subject to large amounts of restorations, generally starting out as a pile of stones best, with someone labelling every stone - hard puzzles

The Observatory - perfect construction in alignment with stars and planets and used for the religious calendar.

Our hotel room was in an idyllic setting and a pool almost exclusively ours.

Valladolid

A pretty little town with a very big church and a well tended square in the centre but both are marred by horrendous concrete madonnas and Christs.
izamal
From Mexico
Rio Lagartos

A large, protected, lagoon area where wildlife and boat drivers alike thrive on the tourist industry. I suspect the boat drivers are doing better at it than the wildlife as the technique to make the wildlife look lively and attractive was simply to drive straight at any quiet animals until the ran / swam or flew away.

The flamingoes were fabulous, merely pale pink when wading in the sandy, blue water but intense, almost flourscent pink showing under their wings when flying.

The colour contrasts were spectacular - that deep blue sky with white streaks of cloud, washed out white of sand with sandy blue water, vibrant green, mangroves in the waters' edge and vivid red salt 'farms' on the seaward side This poor alligator was basking quietly in the sun until out of nowhere our boat and two others starting jostling to get their charges closest for photos, the alligator soon retreated and one of the boats grounded itself.
rio lagartos
From Mexico
Balankamche

Set in an interesting, tropical jungle, botanical garden are the caves of Balamkanche and our second sound and light show. 5 out of 7 people had slept at least part way through the first back at Chichen but no such luck here.

The cave system is one way, about a kilometre from start to finish and no a single puff of fresh air all the way. Sweat was pouring off everyone by the end as we dealt with the strain of walking, even such a short distance with no fresh air, that air had been breathed for centuries by the Mayan people and was just about good enough for us too.

Izamal

The largest atrium in Latin America. Now don't get too excited folks. This is an impressive nunnnery because of its size and the way it utterly dominates the surrounding town.

It's all built on the base of and from the stones of a large pyramid and it's not entirely surprising that it's big. The pyramid was reported by the Spaniards to be so large that they could see the sea from the top - a sea that is 80km away.

Merida

Merida is a modern university town reputed to have more millionaires per head of population than anywhere else in the world. Most of that money was made on the back of the sizel industry which although still active and generating incomes for many farmers is a failing industry what with modern materials like nylon.

In the town centre there are tourist police whose job it was to look after toursits and nothing else. So the stunning structure (modern) situated on a roundabout in the middle of a main road was no problem to reach with the help of tourist police to stand in front of the traffic for you.

Merida was once a small town, unlike the large town of Merida in Guatemala. Somehow the plans for the local church for either town got mixed up and the Guatemalans ended up with a tiddly chapel for a large population whilst the Meridans got a full blown cathedral which only recently have they grown into.
merida
From Mexico
Uxmal

This is a much smaller site than Chichen with less restoration having taken place so far and many more buildings packed into this smaller area.

With the air of unrestored wildness and lack of tourist hordes Uxmal had a magical quality.

The Magician's Pyramid, rebuilt from a pile of rubble but originally being enlarged for over 400 years.

The Nunnery Quadrangle so named because the small rooms reminded the Spaniards of a nunnery. The face of this building is covered is elaborate carvings of Chac.

The Dovecote has an unusual roof comb on top of numerous 'cells' believed to be small family homes.

The two headed jaguar throne was the traditional seat of rule. The last is at uxmal because the Spaniards struck a head off any they found to dissolve the ruler's power.

The Governor's Palace, a long imposing structure on top of a small man made plateau.
uxmal
From Mexico
Kabah

The Puuc route follows a low ridge across the Yucatan, offering both defensive height and fertile soil all the towns along the route share a similar architectural style.

Codz Poop, the main building - not cod poop, is finely carved with Chac decorations.

Armadillo is just one of the many critters which get eaten, the children catch them in the jungle and try to sell them to tourists too! (why?).

It rained there.

Labna

Again, on the Puuc Route another small town with a large stone arch which was just a part of a building between two courtyards. Unfortunately, that photo was rubbish!
sayil
From Mexico
Sayil

Once more on the Puuc Route another small town with evidence of surrounding villages. The main feature though is this 3 tier palace with many rooms.

It took a quite a while before anyone suggested to the Mayans that buildings could exist on more than one floor.

Each tier of building was constructed in a different architectural style and period.

Playa del Carmen

Our all inclusive hotel, hot & cold running food and drink. Too many hot dogs and refreshments were had by all.

Sometimes I could get a photo not covered in hordes of people.

The sea was a beautiful colour but after about 10am the sea started getting rather choppy.

We spent a day at Rancho Loma Bonita, a ranch designed for tourists in a beautiful setting with foals running around the gardens playing together and a swimming pool and bar conveniently available for guests.

Lorna went horse riding and got wet too! I went quad biking but didn't. Good day had by all (except the woman who got squashed by an overturning bike of course).

We got to play donkey polo- a bit of a hopeless task. Mine was so small that I had to plant my feet and drag it where I wanted to go. I wasn't the only one with a donkey as stubborn as a mule.
playa del carmen
From Mexico
Final score 0-0.

Click here to goto my Mexico album in Picasa

As a footnote, I can only apologise for the quality of the photos - these were taken before I had a digital camera and were not the finest before I scanned them in!

Saturday, 6 May 2000

Our Wedding Reception

Dinner went well, luckily there was something I would like on the menu - I guess that's one advantage of it being your own wedding; I even managed to resist thirds of the starter.
rear of wedding dress
Then came the speeches. Keith got the shock of his life as the MC got him mixed up with Bob and asked him if he was ready to do his speech, poor man almost had a heart attack. No, I don't know how the MC could fail to connect Keith & I.

Once that slight hiccup was sorted the speeches went well, Bob remembering my negotiations for a dowry and Paul not crucifying me, in fact being complimentary, another surprise for the day.
reception photo
As tradition demands my mother materialised some long lost, childhood memory. 'Sniffy', a blanket I would go nowhere without and Wendy had saved a square for all these years. Equally traditionally I remember none of that episode.

My speech went without nerves although I nearly forgot to give the bouquets to the mums and my ushers had forgotten to prepare themselves too so I had to bolt a bit on the end and waffle a bit; it was lucky I had asked the ushers to help because the bouquets were enormous.
reception photo
Tip for future speeches, leave out as much as possible and say the absolute minimum people will be happy with, you'll forget less that way (professionals will charge you for that lesson).

One table was actively betting on how long the speeches would last, I don't recall the eventual winner there (it wasn't me).

The rest of the evening went well although it was a bit of a blur, talking to people I both did and didn't recognise, trying to talk to people I ought to say hello to and trying to get a drink.....Barny, yes, every time I finally got a drink Barny would take it away from me and push me towards the dance floor.
reception photo
I finally got a whole pint of Harvey's but it was the last pint in the barrel and the barman did say it would be rather lumpy but I needed it. He was right so some other kind soul drank it for me.

We did do a first dance (almost forgot to mention that bit), it was ... well, it was a Van Morrison track and I did recognise it. Lee the DJ was up to his usual standards and had chosen something for us which other people would dance to and predictably he was correct.
reception photo
Darren and his band did a great set and I think that for the first time ever Malc was actually there when they started.

The cake was fantastic (I lived off the remains of the bottom layer for a week when we came back from honeymoon).

Everyone seemed to have a good time (Paul and Miriam continued having a good time until about 4 am with a hen party which turned up late that evening).
being an accountant does this to you
Lorna and I hardly had a chance to speak to each other all day and didn't sit down for most of the evening. Lorna's bouquet wasn't thrown and has been sent for drying (which I thought happening naturally given time).

Lots of people stayed at Paul's house the night before - he was with me remember. Unfortunately, his kitchen ceiling collapsed so I had the job of reporting the good news. The redecorated room looks good Paul.

Click here to go onto our honeymoon in Mexico
click here to goto the reception photos on Picasa

Our Wedding

lorna at homeI was surprised to awake at about 10 am on the big day without (a) a hangover, since every sniff of alcohol since my stag do had produced the aforementioned results; and (b) nerves, even more of a surprise having been asked "are you nervous yet" about a million times over the past week.

Luckily, Paul, my best man, was present (not that present, downstairs in the lounge actually) and he shortly proceeded to make a large cooked breakfast to set us up nicely for the day. As the kitchen heated up under the strain I opened the back door to let some air in only to discover that it was a beautiful day outside and somewhat hotter out there than in the kitchen; said door remained closed.lorna, michelle, jeanette, bryony  at home

Having ensured our waistlines would hold our trousers up for the day we settled down to play computer games but just as Dungeon Keeper II was getting good people started arriving. 14 people were due to wear matching suits and half of them were still at my house so quickly every room became a changing room and the shower saw some heavy use. All this chaos amidst the on going mess of the room in the roof (yes, at that point the work had only been going on 2 weeks beyond schedule).

The bad news was that the shower started to leak through to the kitchen again but no time for fixing things like that at the moment. People stacked everywhere, men half dressed and trying to work out how to do cuff links up (if you've never tried just picture a dog chasing its tail for that one) and women standing around hands on hips waiting for other halves (their better halves naturally) to get themselves sorted out.
chris & lorna signing the register
In the fullness of time it's time for us to set off on our stroll to the church. As I hear things Lorna & the bridesmaids were up a whole lot earlier and spent the entire morning tarting themselves up. We were a a fair sized wedding party walking across Patcham on a very hot day so we drew no few strange looks on our stroll to the church.

Meanwhile, the girls were having their photos taken in the newly decorated hall and the garden at Elaine & Frank's house (Lorna's mum and stepfather).
chris & lorna married
Much to our surprise some guests were already at the church and all were sheltering in the small pools of shade - the verger had just locked the nice cool church to stop people going in (but it's a church?). It's half an hour before kick off and either the vicar is locked in there or he's not here yet.

Some of my followers had already headed to The Black Lion for a fortifying half and I dutifully chatted to friends and family - mine and Lorna's (none of whom I knew at that point so I figured anyone I didn't recognise must be one of hers, a wrong assumption as it turns out because lots of people pass by to peer at the proceedings, although neither of us remember anyone in the church that we didn't know). Mike had thoughtfully acquired drinks for us as the temperature continued to rise. Still no nerves.
chris & lorna by the horse & carriage
Shortly before kick off the vicar arrives (there's still enough time to toss the coin) to open up and the ushers begin to ush (yes, Stuart is present and Mike is on time, just another wedding day surprise).

It's kick off time and the vicar was trying to get people into the church, I don't think anyone needed my help in that task but they still almost had to drag me back in to take my place. We take our places and wait. Apparently, when Lorna and Bob, her dad, arrived in the horse and carriage they had more trouble getting the outstanding people into the church but finally everyone was in their correct place.

We can start. Paul and I have heard somewhere that it is bad luck to look at the bride as she walks down the aisle (for the groom that is) but we don't know where that came from so we compromise; I'll look forwards until he tells me it's okay to look because she's close enough to not be unlucky anymore (!?).
chris & lorna, parents, brides maids & best man
Much to my surprise (there's really were a lot of those on that day but that's not a surprise) Lorna has a beautiful blue & gold dress on, not the half expected leprechaun green but rather something that fits with the colour scheme of all us in suits and the bridesmaids, I guess that should have been obvious.

Bob looked terrified (or was it relief). No nerves yet.

I'm told the ceremony went faultlessly, which just means no one was paying attention. I know I slipped up o¬n the words, three times, once substituting entirely the wrong word (I'll be worshipping Lorna's bonnie till my dying day, I don't know what it is but it's over the ocean so I'm stuffed there), we did our best not to laugh mostly for the vicars sake, poor love was taking it all so seriously but then I suppose he has to.
chris & lorna & polytechnic friends, andy, harsha, amanda, caroline, roland, tim, hugh, adrian
Then came the rings, Lorna's hands were hot so her ring wouldn't go on her finger, we were happy for settling for perched on the top half of the finger but the vicar wasn't having any of that, frowning at us he'd settle for nothing but all the way on. After a struggle the deed was done.

We did some kneeling, always kneeling, can't they just bring out deck chairs or something, oh no, kneel down, straight back and make sure you're in too much pain as your muscles start spasming during the interminable vicar waffle to enjoy the rest of the day. We did some singing too, well o¬nce we were reunited with our hymn books (we got separated by cunning vicar design during the ceremony). Incidentally, I know where I got my singing voice from, Wendy. Thanks mum.
chris & lorna & our grandparents, pearl, edgar, peter, doris
At last it's done and we can head back down the isle where the photographer is lurking at the far end trying to take photos - naturally I look that way and am told to look away, so there I am looking into the heavens when the shot is taken.

It's hot as hell outside (kind of appropriate I'd say - another incidentally, the freak lightning strike on entering the church just didn't happen as expected).

My efforts at smiling and squinting don't come out flatteringly on film but I know that was better than hiding from the rain which we'd been having for the previous week.
chris & lorna & chris' relatives, arthur, mick, heather, edgar, wendy, keith, june, gary, sandra
It's baking and as best as possible people are lurking the shadows so we're trying to take the photos quickly and get off to the reception.

Naturally, there's the obligatory photo with people throwing confetti over us and in our cases blowing bubbles at us, I think I had a wet but clean ear for the rest of the evening.

Everyone waited until the photos were completed to wave us off before getting on the coach for the reception, Lorna's turn to panic about people not being in the right place but these things got sorted somehow.
chris & lorna & lornas relatives
We're off in the horse & carriage which is very pleasant and sedate, lots of nice people beeping and waving and not just those stuck behind us, now I can see why royalty do their parades, if I'd had a pocket full of changes I would have thrown it for the peasantry. Our driver was a bit of a character and displayed an eagerness to whip the biker on a hog as he accelerated noisily passed us.

At the end of Preston Park we changed over to the white Rolls Royce (with white shag pile interiors!) holding up the traffic again, I'm starting to like this behaviour. It's a slow hall through town and the Roller nearly expired as it finally got into another gear having followed the horses along the London road.
chris & lorna & confetti
Happily the scaffolding had finally been removed from the front of the Norfolk Hotel and the red carpet is out for our arrival, all I could think about was with all the fuss about whether we want the red carpet out or not it's o¬nly about 4 foot long. Damn, I bet Royalty don't suffer these indignities.

Final official photos with the cake and after some standing around drinking pink or blue stuff (both tasted the same) and talking to guests we did a line up of Bob, Elaine, Wendy, Keith and ourselves to direct everyone into the reception room for food at last (what, that's not the purpose? Oh, yes, we did a line up to welcome our guests...).

Finally, onto the reception...

Click here to goto our wedding photos on Picasa