Thursday, 30 June 2016

Wedding secrets.

Wow, were we tired! It'll be a while before we get the wedding photos and I wasn't taking many myself, for a change.

We spent the day going round returning stuff, getting back deposits and paying some of the bills.

We spent lots of money and it looked good as you can see;

But maybe not as much money as we could have - it's been a struggle all the way.

Our friend Sherin took this picture while I was waiting for the bus to come. I look fairly ill, which shouldn't be surprising because we hadn't had a lot of sleep for over week. We did a lot of rushing about, we collected people from airports at all hours.

We both had upset stomachs, I was on antibiotics for my toenails which have been blasted by the Chemo and last week I had yet another dose of Chemotherapy.

Worst of all, I had no idea whether the bus was going to come for everybody or not and I was a bit frantic.

But I look fairly dapper, if I say so myself.

We spent a lot of time in charity shops over the last few months, trying to find a suit that was right. We even found a charity shop in Woking full of morning suits at very reasonable prices but neither of us wanted me in tails. I tried on some waistcoats but I never used to wear them anyway.

Eventually I got this suit for £17-99p at the Oxfam in Maidenhead - the day I did the article about the homeless protest organised by 'SL5', people who had grown up in the Maidenhead postal district but couldn't afford to live there after their shelter had been shut down.

We chose a colour for our wedding and didn't realise that it was actually "Bianchi Green" until it was too late - that's the special colour of a cycling team and very difficult to find in real life.

Imagine my surprise when I walked into a charity shop in Ashford and found a brand new silk tie in its bag and exactly the right colour for £2.

I wanted a proper formal hat - mine aren't right - and I really needed a new hat.

So I got mine down for £10 off the list price, at Camden Market after a right old haggle, because I didn't want anyone to think I was just a silly tourist now, did I?

Somehow it was right to buy my Walter White hat at Camden which means so much to me.

I'm wearing some brand new Doc Martens, with steel toecaps, which I bought five or six years ago for £5-00 -  so they came in handy after all.

In real life, a button hole seems to cost £16 if it's for a wedding, less if it's not. We did 3 which more less covered the cost of all the flowers; the bouquet, remembrance flowers, corsage, centrepieces. They all came from New Covent Market in the early hours of Saturday morning and have filled the house with heady scents ever since.

Then there was the reception;

The sashes on the chairs came from a material shop in Southall, and we found the right colour nestling among the exotic colours and shimmering textures of sari materials.

We had to have candles and they were supplied by Tesco's.

The holders came from a million charity shops and kind of represent our lives over the last 6 months; usually bought while I was trying to get a suit.

Part of my problem in finding a suit is that it hurts so much trying them on in the changing room. I can really only do it once a trip - it's agony.

So most of the time I just walked on without trying out the possibles.

But each time I'd see a blue glass candlestick or a pretty vase and pick it up.

The square vase I bought from IKEA years ago when I bought a red and a blue one together because they looked like a three dimensional Mondrian painting.

There were three old bottles I found on beaches which had been sandblasted frosty by the waves and the wind but, miraculously, hadn't broken.

There were old 'Harvey's Bristol Cream' Sherry bottles that were my Mum's but I'd kept them because they were pretty.

There were bottles we bought when we went to Silchester, there was a 1930's bottle that was exposed by the floods of 2014 and a very old spirit bottle that may have belonged to my grandfather.

I wanted to put sea glass all around but I didn't have enough. But I had always wanted to work with molten glass and never had a chance. So over the years, I'd bought a number of bags of the glass pebbles people use for decoration from charity shops and there were enough to put them around everywhere.

Robyn made the place cards, just like she made the tickets for the bus. She also made coasters as a gift for everyone.

We searched, we haggled, we bargained.

We did everything ourselves.

Like I say, it's been a struggle but it meant that every part of our wedding was part of us.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Our Wedding.

It finally arrived - this is Robyn in the kitchen wrestling late into the night, with the flowers we bought from New Covent Garden Market;

This is the cooker;

This is the floor - it's flowermaggeddon;

But here's the final result;

We were up early and off to the venue at 0830 am to set up the chairs and the places.

Then home to get ready.

I didn't take many photos - I was a bit busy! We'll put some pictures together later.

I picked up people from the hotel, then we waited at the reception venue for our transport.

It was pretty nervy for me but in the end it turned up - with Robyn on the top floor so I couldn't see the dress.

Robyn made the tickets and we loved the idea of travelling to and from our wedding on a vintage Routemaster big red bus.

When the ceremony was over they took us back via a scenic route so that we could celebrate with some Asti;

And this is my wonderful wife, Robyn;

As I said, I'll put some pictures together a bit later when we're a bit more organised.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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Monday, 27 June 2016


Robyn always wanted to have 'Mehndi' for her wedding, so last night the Mehndi artist came round;

It's part of Hindhu culture, a small cone of Henna is squeezed out to make out the pattern. You have to leave it to dry or overnight and then the henna leaves a pattern that lasts for a few weeks.

It's very intricate;

Robyn was fairly restrained because none of us were that keen but it's a really beautiful design;

And a reminder of the wedding for a few weeks after it's all over.

Meanwhile, there's 24 hours to go. We're both ill, I'm exhausted and more than a little stressed out. The last person has been collected from the airport, everyone is in a hotel or crammed into the house.

There are still things to sort out!

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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Sunday, 26 June 2016

St. Mary's fair at Harmondsworth.

On Saturday we went to Harmondsworth, one of the little villages surrounding Heathrow Airport, for St. Mary's fair.

There's a medieval barn, a church and a couple of pubs.

The fair is tiny - an old fashioned community fair.

They usually have some wonderful cakes and we weren't disappointed.

The fair is a continuing miracle because this little village and its houses will all disappear under the bulldozers of the airport - if it gets to build its third runway.

Just behind the churchyard (which will vanish too) is an area of fields, just waiting for the concrete; 

So every fair is an act of defiance.

When we got there it started raining, which was a shame.

But we are a hardy lot - "Pimp my jazz" usually play for us and they were ready with cover;

They play a mixture of Jazz and Easy Listening, usually not my thing but perfect for a sunny summers day.

And in the end, that's what we got - the sun did come out.

Here's Elena McAulay, guesting on vocals and really giving it some;

And Robyn and me, we had a couple of romantic dances in the June sun.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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Saturday, 25 June 2016

Sunrise at Nine Elms.

We had a fairly lousy Friday; Robyn had to agree to music she didn't really want and we are having 'transport' problems which we didn't know about until it was too late to do anything about them until Monday (if we can).
I was up at hospital feeling quite ill and having another dose of chemotherapy.

After all that was over we had to struggle across town to collect our rings from the jewellers and then struggle back home.

I was exhausted and we have lots still to do.

Oh and did I mention that the plans we had to get hold of flowers went completely wrong?

So Saturday morning saw Robyn and me up at what she insists on calling "The Butt-Arsed Crack of Dawn". I had no idea what that meant until the alarm went off at 0330am.

Now I remember!

We were off well before dawn, while the moon was high in the sky and bright.

We were heading 'south of the river' to New Covent Garden at Nine Elms;

On Saturdays the market opens at 0400 am and even though we struggled to find the place amongst all the new buildings going up in the area,we were there well before 0500 am; just in time really.

It brought back lots of memories of my Smithfield Market days, only the flower people were a lot more polite and really helpful to us.

Same atmosphere though;

Lots of hustle and bustle even if the market isn't as busy as in the week.

There were lots of plants, flowers and all the stuff that goes along with it;

Plenty of these;

As well as all the blooms of the world set out before us;

Flowers from the tropics and foliage from the four corners of the globe;

We bought roses here;

We got lillies and foliage at another stall. We put them in the car and then came back for a wander and to buy some sundries.

Now all we have to do is teach ourselves a bit of floristry.


But then again, when a buttonhole is about £16 and a bouquet?

You can't imagine how much it all costs.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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Friday, 24 June 2016

Referendum result.

Didn't have the best day yesterday - I was up at hospital and made the mistake of driving up after widespread flooding and it ended up taking 2 hours.

Then I found that the second type of chemo isn't working very well - it's not failing fast but it's failing.

Then there was the referendum;

We won!

And in the face of an establishment that was united that we had to remain, the bankers, the capitalists, the financiers, the elite.......a lot of ordinary people like us told them where to get off.

Now the struggle will be to make sure that we actually get the decision we voted for and that is by no means certain.

There are a whole lot of politicians who need to be forced to accept the democratic decision of the people.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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Thursday, 23 June 2016

Jumping the Broom.

We met Robyn's mum, Cathy who had flown in from the States.

She carried a broom all the way;

No one here knew why but, as she was travelling through the airport in America, lots of people said to her; "Who's 'Jumping the broom'?".

You'll find out about 'Jumping the broom' on the 28th June!

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Solstice 2016 didn't really happen.

I was very sad on the day of the Solstice this year - it's always been something special for me and for the last two years it's been extra special.

Two years ago, Robyn and me were sitting on the top of Box Hill, having a drink, eating chocolate cake and watching the night fall. Then by accident we saw the fireworks at Glyndebourne some 50 miles away.

It was when we knew we were in love.

Last year, with a broken back, we spent all night at Stonehenge waiting for the sun to rise between the stones. It was very, very special.

We'd wanted to go back for the winter equinox last year but I was too ill.

Right now I'm struggling and we just have too much on - we couldn't go. So it was very sad.

Then again we'd already had a busy day;

These are the cobbles of Camden Lock, under water from the rain. We went there to buy a hat for me to wear at our wedding.

We also had a wander around what is still one of my favourite places and on a wet Monday morning there weren't many people about either.

Then we took a look around all the food stalls and Robyn made me try a Turkish wrap.

Now, I don't normally like wraps but I liked this one;

Then we headed up to town to buy rings - which we thought would be easy but it wasn't and we need to get back to collect them later this week. Now that's a problem because I have a hospital appointment and another dose of chemo to look forward to!

Then we got home and realised how much we still have to do - with people arriving most days.

So no night out for us on The Solstice but we did go for a walk around historic Ankerwycke to watch night fall.

The sky was amazing;

And we watched the moon rise too - it was the night of a 'strawberry moon' also known as a 'honeymoon'.

Well it was a full moon and very pretty;

And we took a look at The Ankerwycke Yew which is between 1000 and 2000 years old;

So what did we do the next morning?

We found that the wedding music we'd carefully burnt onto both a DVD and a CD wouldn't play on a CD player so we went into Egham and did all the charity shops - we found nearly all the music that Robyn had chosen on old fashioned CD's for just under £3!

We got back home and Robyn got a reply from The Registry Office, who confirmed that the 70 days notice period expired yesterday and The Home Office hasn't done anything to stop us getting married. We are legit!

We went over to the reception venue for our appointment to go through everything with them.

Then my printer cartridge ran out - no more copies.

I should explain that when I started this Blog, I tried to get a new cable for my obsolete old laser printer but I was told it would cost almost as much as a new printer - so I bought a new printer and blogged about it.

But I kept the old cartridge - somehow it seemed wrong to throw it out.

So now I opened up the old cartridge and then using a soldering iron, burnt a hole in the empty one. Then I refilled it from the old one before I sealed it up again with duct tape.

Amazingly, when I put it back in the printer it worked. I fear it won't last for long because these days cartridges come with a chip that kills the thing when you've used up the number of copies it thinks you should be allowed to have.

Anyway, Robyn then typed up the schedule of music, printed it off and we drove in to Windsor to drop it off with the discs to The Registry office - which happened to be at exactly the time we will get married in a weeks time. We also met one of the registrars who will do our marriage for us as she arrived for another ceremony.

We got home and after a rest I cut back the grass in the front garden.

Then, in a panic, we realised that the plans we'd made about flowers weren't going to work out - so we've come up with something different to deal with that.

Wait and see, it's exciting!

Wow I'm tired out now.

Lots still to do - no wonder people do this months in advance.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Saxophony at The Walled Garden, Sunbury.

It's starting to get really hectic and we are beginning to realise how hard it is to organise a wedding in no time at all.

On Sunday Robyn was out and I spent some time trying to get some work done - when I picked her up we realised there was a concert at The Walled Garden, Sunbury and we managed to catch the second half, on the way back home.

The lavender was out;

The roses were in full flower;

And the band were 'Saxophony'; a delicate precise saxophone quartet playing popular tunes in a walled garden.

I'm getting frazzled and stressed out with what we have ahead of us - but for three quarters of an hour I was chilled, listening to undemanding tunes in a beautiful garden.

Then it was back to the struggle and it hasn't even started to get difficult yet!

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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Monday, 20 June 2016

Wraysbury Fair 2016 the results!

We had a great time at the fair - this is Robyn saying hallo to a 'Skink'; 

There was a whole area reserved for veteran cars including a good range of commercial vehicles from the old days;

I particulary enjoyed the painstaking reproduction of a 'Post Office' telecoms van from the 1950's but I put the pictures of that up last year.

There was a good range of classic American cars including this Ford Mustang Muscle car;

A pink Cadillac, of course!

There were some british cars from a bit earlier;

And a 'Thunderbird' to die for;

There were plenty of 'Leave' posters all around;

And then finally, I had to go to the Craft Tent, where there were some amazing cakes and sausage rolls, 'lego' models and 'a garden in a seed tray'.

I really liked the section for model makers and here's a dream car from the 1960's;

It only got a 'third' place too.

Perhaps I'll have to have the original from the veteran cars section instead;

That was a bit uncanny.

Then I took a look at my photos;

I got a 'First' and a 'Third' for 'People' while for the 'Party' section I got a straight 1,2,3.

Which is about as good as it'll ever get for me;

I'll post the pictures in a few days, on a quiet day.

I have to admit that I put my entries into categories where I knew I had a good chance, avoiding some of the more popular ones.

I'm not apologetic; this year is probably my last show, not least because my health is likely to restrict my activities in future.

I know it's silly but it meant a lot.

There was lots more going on - steam train rides to raise money for the village charities;

Lots of silly string being fired off everywhere;

There was a Frank Sinatra type singer and Robyn and me....we had a dance.

And we had lots of cakes;

It was a splendid Village Fair, you couldn't ask for more (apart from a little sunshine!)

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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