On July 10th 1965 John and I were married. Such a happy day. Many of our guests stayed with local friends in the village and nearby. The tiny local church of All Hallows, in Ringmore, South Devon, was packed to bursting. It was a joyous family/village occasion.
The only thing that didn’t go quite to plan was the fact that overnight we had the first rain after a three-week heatwave. Barnford, our family home, was opposite a farm which brought its cows in for milking twice a day. The hard-packed manure on the lane between Barnford and the church turned overnight into a very perilous slime. All morning every fit male guest staying locally was to be seen in morning suit and wellies, wielding hoes and shovels and any manure-clearing instrument to be found, trying to clear the road. Not totally successfully…
Photos of my father which should have portrayed gleaming pride, show instead a very determined and anxious man leading a very nervous bride to the church over what in effect was a skating rink. We arrived safely but my poor Uncle Kim did not, so the flowers in the church were definitely no match for farmyard smell. Selfishly I was relieved it wasn’t me in my wedding dress!
After the service everyone walked through the faint drizzle to the reception, which was in a marquee in the Barnford paddock. Friends from all over – including Ireland, Northern Rhodesia and Somaliland – had come and it was all very jolly.
Except after what seemed a very short time the MC insisted we left early as was the style in those days. We were packed off to the Clarence Hotel in Exeter (now sadly no longer). Everyone else stayed on for a party which lasted into the night and was reminisced over for many many years, leaving John and me feel rather out of the story.
What a lot has happened since then. After a honeymoon in what was then Yugoslavia we set sail for three years in India. After that we did such a lot. Inevitably we had our trials and our triumphs over the years, created wonderful memories, met and made some wonderful lasting really good friends and had our three children which I feel must be our greatest achievement!
As you all know, John died last September. This September his ashes are to be buried in the Ringmore churchyard where my parents already are and where I shall eventually be.
Meanwhile, today is the first time I have spent the 10th July without him. It does feel very deeply sad but i have so much to be grateful for, and such wonderfully supportive family and friends. Thanks to them/you all I am managing quite well. So instead of looking back and grieving for what I have lost, most of the time I can look forward, thankful always for the love and happiness we did enjoy together for nearly 60 years.
By the way, sorry about the photo.It was a photo of a photo of a photo… (Gone are the days when i could just ask John to produce one.)