A hot weekend of lazing in parks with strawberries or by the river to watch the football, strolling by the canal and around the surrounding neighbourhood just to get out of the heat of the flat. Only truly being alert and not lazy with heat during the balmy evenings. Friday night at an end of term exhibition private view for one of London architectural schools, guests spilling out onto the pavement and into Bedford Square itself. Champagne from plastic flutes as we looked at light displays and to-scale models or mingled beneath vast plane trees. Moving on to another end of term party with friends of friends, dancing beneath the pillars of the neo-classical main building glowing purple in the darkness, BT Tower visible across the skyline. Saturday night out with M, to the most wonderful restaurant followed by the most wonderful cocktail bar, which are being awarded posts of their own as I am still dreaming of them...
Another year, another wedding in a (different) Cambridge college. Memories from last Saturday. Driving down the A14 with a car full of flowers. Arriving and laying them out as waiters polished glasses and straightened cutlery. Dark wood, white tablecloths, an exquisite cake, regal in the corner, hand-decorated by the bride. A chapel ceremony, the soaring voices of the choir, eyes prickling as the vows were spoken (hopeless Romatic at heart). The bride, stunning in a dress she'd had made from a 1950s Vogue pattern. No confetti allowed on the immaculate college lawns, so the guests all blew bubbles instead, hundreds of them, that filled Front Court and brought to mind a Tim Walker photograph. Drinks in the Scholars garden, cut short by the rain. Running for shelter under giant cream umbrellas. Dinner in the Great Hall, snapping open handmade favours - Fortune Cookies each containing a lottery ticket. Speeches and applause, the cutting of the cake. Emerging into the courtyard for group photos, the last of the evening sunshine hitting neighbouring Kings College Chapel, turning it gold. Dancing in the old wine cellars, coloured lights on bare brickwork, dark alcoves, the bride changing out of heels and into cream All Stars. Leaving finally to head back to the hotel, the scent of lavender and old stone in the darkness as we waited for our taxi ride.
The next morning, returning to collect the swans, a slight sense of loss that it was all over.
Ivory and white roses and carnations, bought in multiple bunches from the supermarket. Green-tinged chrysanthemums too, and daisy-like ones with pale yellow centres. Papery statice. Blue thistles ordered from the Norfolk florist. The rest from my parents' garden, gathered in the evening light. Love-in-the-mist with feathery fronds and fat seedpods. Silver-green poppy heads and scented lavender. Blue hydrangeas. Small shoots of mock-orange snapped from the tree, snow-white flowers with an exotic scent. Greenery from garden shrubs, and herbs gathered by the handful; marjoram, rosemary, purple sage, that released waves of fragrance as I brushed against them. Royal blue cornflowers from the Cambridge market, added at the last minute when we reached our destination.
Sitting in the conservatory until 1am on Friday night, cutting and adding and arranging. Rising early to drive to Cambridge on Saturday morning, laying out the swans on startched white tablecloths, between champagne flutes and favours (check out the crocheted booties below that the bride made for the youngest guest!).
I must admit I was slightly worried when asked to create arrangements to fit with a blue colour scheme as there aren't many readily available blue flowers, but I think we* pulled it off...
*A big thank you to Mum for all her help, and the use of her garden, and to Dad and M for their manpower at each end - trays of flower-filled china swans are heavy!
Do you remember last September when I did the table flowers for a wedding featuring lots of china swans? Well, another friend saw the photos and asked that I create a similar thing for her own wedding, so up to Norfolk tonight to do the arrangements then across to the event tomorrow.
Different colour scheme and different Cambridge college as the location, but same bevy of swans swimming down acres of starched tablecloth. Who'd have thought that my eccentric little collection of china waterfowl, which started out as a car-boot sale whim, would become so popular!?
Hope everyone has a splendid weekend, back next week with photos...
I received my 'Today I Saw' swap postcard this week - love it! Thank you to Jeremy from the US, and apologies that my humble offering pales in comparison to this fabulous line drawing. My father is an architect and always takes a small sketchbook on family holidays to fill with black line drawings of the buildings and scenery. This drawing really reminds me of them, and I get a little bit of that holiday feeling just looking at the boats and the two soaring birds.
Reading Moon Tiger yesterday, my breath so taken away by the beauty and heartbreak contained within its pages, especially those passages describing World War 2 Egypt, the sand and the desert and the vast night sky, that I return home with the desire to look at my own photos of a trip to the Sahara whilst in Morocco. Open up my external hard drive to try find them. Search and search. And search some more. Realise that photos from my second trip to Madagascar are also missing. Search more, and more frantically.
Swear a bit.
I still haven't given up hope completely, but it is looking like a couple of files worth of precious photos have disappeared into the technological ether.
Another three day weekend in three locations. Norfolk, London, Northamptonshire. Tiring, and no time to put on a wash or buy milk for Monday's breakfast, but plenty of train time to read at least*.
Home-grown salad, dusky pink lupins, poppies as big as saucers and a truly scary scarecrow. Charity shop browsing and buying far too many books. A muntjac deer, startled on the lawn.
Trooping of the Colour at Horse Guards Parade, polished brass, scarlet jackets, well trained horses, marching bands. The RAF Red Arrows at the fly by. Red, white and blue smoke streaked across a blue and white sky.
Bleeding hearts and borrowed trainers, a walk brisk walk through still-green wheat fields, a pub lunch. Excitable dogs and a nonplussed tortoise, wild poppies blazing in the hedgerows.
Home in time to fall into bed and start the week all over again.
*The Road by Cormac McCarthy, harrowing, with its vision of an apocalyptic, burnt-out world, moving in its depiction of how humanity and love can remain, even in the most desolate of situations. Turned the final page whilst sitting in the late afternoon sunshine overlooking a green field, took a deep breath and left its ash-filled pages for the lush greenery of the English countryside in early summer, and felt so, so grateful.
Then Moon Tigerby Penelope Lively, only a few chapters in, but already absorbed by its eloquence.