Mr. Waffle’s sister got married in London recently and we all went over for the weekend. It was extremely exciting, though, somewhat damp, all weekend. In advance the Princess had asked anxiously whether they drank tea in England and after being reassured on this point was able to enjoy a weekend of unalloyed pleasure.
The children were really very good on the journey. Not having been on a plane with them since 2008, I was astounded how much easier it was to travel with them. We didn’t even lose Michael once.
On Saturday, we had photos in advance of the wedding and arrived in time to see the bride and groom emerge from a taxi. My sister-in-law was quite delightfully relaxed about her wedding arrangements. When I asked her how she was going to get to the venue she said, “Well there’s a bus that goes right past the door but we think we’ll get a cab.” Their photographer was a friend and he did a superb job. Want to see? Alright, go on so.
The flower girls were terrific. Apparently, upon being complimented by one of the guests on her shoes, herself said, “They may be pretty to look at but they are murder to wear.” The boys didn’t disgrace us but I think Michael read “Captain Underpants” throughout the ceremony. When he was upbraided for this, the groom’s mother, who used to teach, commented very kindly, that it was nice to see young boys reading.
The ceremony itself was very short and the registrar was lovely. The bride was beautiful and the groom handsome (really, it’s true, you saw the photos) and I cried but not too much, I trust.
We drove to the reception on a London bus and the groom’s mother had saved the children seats at the front up top which filled them with joy. Getting on the bus was something of a highlight for them.
The reception was in trendy Soho and it was very trendy and the food was superb. The speeches were great and the bride spoke which I always like. Best of all, from the craven parents’ point of view, there was a special room for the children where they got chicken and chips and access to a large DVD player.
Mortifyingly, when the children started to get tired about 9, just before the dancing started, we wilted and faded also and went back to warm embrace of Jury’s Islington – we got very wet on the way wandering around Soho trying to get a cab.
The next day we threw ourselves into touring London but not before, to the children’s intense chagrin, going to mass. It was a children’s mass and it was heaving. The priest summoned the children to the altar and talked to them about the Holy Land. He asked a couple of questions which I really feel were for the honours rather than the ordinary level paper; sample – does anyone know why the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is famous? Needless to say, my lot didn’t have a clue but I could hear the answer being shouted aloud from the enormous group of children gathered around the altar. They all got a little card from the Holy Land whether they knew the answer or not. Not so Godless England, it turns out.
After mass we went to visit a friend of Mr. Waffle’s who lives nearby in the most envy inducing house (Georgian, 4 stories over basement). Very gratifyingly, she gave us a tour from attic to basement. Is there anything more appealing than exploring other people’s houses? She had very kindly offered to house us for the weekend but I felt that five of us would be a bit much – actually, having seen the house, not at all. The boys disappeared to the games room in the basement where they played to their hearts’ content with her 9 year old and were only removed from the house under duress. This remains the high point of their trip to London. When we subsequently, back in Dublin, used their Christmas vouchers to buy lego Lord of the Rings for the x-box, I heard Daniel earnestly explain to the salesman how they had played it with their Dad’s friend’s son in London and it was amazing. I was a bit put off by the 12 label and asked the salesman whether he thought it was alright for 7 year olds. “Well,” he said, “there’s nothing in it that wasn’t in the film and it’s in lego.” This was good advice. In fact when we got it home and took off the wrapping, it said age 7 underneath. Baffling. I digress.
We went to the science museum which was alarmingly busy and where we lost Michael a number of times. The children quite enjoyed it but I found it hot and hair-raising trying to keep track of them. Mr. Waffle and herself peeled off to Madame Tussaud’s and I took the boys back to the hotel on the tube which proved surprisingly stress free.
Then we all went out for pizza that night – cousins, uncles, aunts and the bride – which was really lovely.
I suppose, my predominant emotion for the weekend was surprise. Everything was much, much easier and more enjoyable than I expected. I had significantly under-estimated how much easier it would be to travel with the children; the effort the poor bride would put in to making the day great fun for them; and how handy it would be that our extended family took over the hotel. And right after surprise, was delight to see the happy couple very happily married.