|This is bunny Poppy looking like a Koala|
We’ve had a lovely weekend away in Bristol with the gang for Iain and Bev’s wedding and now we’re in Acocks Green in Birmingham house and bunny sitting for Lisa, arranged through the housesitting website we’re members of. In between we’ve had a couple of days at my niece, Steph and Sam’s house in Dickens Heath, Brian plumbing in new towel rails and Jackie decorating.
Got to mention the bunnies first as they are so cute! We haven’t looked after rabbits before, didn’t know what to expect, but assumed they would be in cages and relatively uninteresting, but not a bit! Lisa lives in a three storey Victorian town house, does a lot of charity work for the church and, to make ends meets rents out rooms in the house to Airbnb, so it’s geared up for lots of visitors and guests and, as a result has a nice ‘laid back feel’ about it with musical instruments (including an electric organ) lying about with invitations to play away if you want to and plenty of chairs to lounge about in.
|Sahara and Poppy having breakfast|
She has two rabbits, Poppy and Sahara and they are very long haired, very cute and quite amusing, hopping about. Poppy occasionally likes to be picked up, turned upside down and cuddled like a baby with legs in the air almost in a trance with just a twitchy nose and looking distinctly like a Koala. They have their own room, Lisa’s study that is out of bounds to normal visitors, but not to us as housesitters, as we have to feed and look after them. She has ‘rabbit proofed’ the study, hallway and lounge, removing cables and paper that they like to chew so today, we let them out into the lounge, as Lisa said we could do and let them run around and hide in various places, which they seemed to enjoy and we definitely did.
|Monty dog being led off to his kennel for the weekend|
Today is the first full day we’ve been able to spend with them as, since we got back from Bristol on Sunday, we’ve had two full days of plumbing and decorating, so it’s been really nice to catch up on things, although the day has nearly gone and then tomorrow we’re sorting stuff out ready for our 6 week trip to Scotland on Friday. It’s still ‘all go’!
|Walking round Bristol docks on Friday afternoon|
However, no complaints as our weekend in Bristol was fabulous, a great catch up with really good friends and lovely to be at the wedding of two of them, Bev and Iain.
It started fairly early on Friday with final packing, cleaning, bed-linen washing and goodbye strokes to Sooty cat before we headed to Ian and Helen’s in Moseley to repack for travelling together with them down to Bristol.
|Phil, Sue, Jackie and Brian at Saturday breakfast|
Ian took the day off work so it would have been rude not to use the full day and, in any case, we wanted to avoid the Friday traffic on the M5, which is just ‘bad’ at that time of day rather than horrendous. Dropped Monty dog off at his kennels, got stuck in a bit of traffic on the M5 (of course), but were at the very nice Mercure Hotel in the city centre by early afternoon and in the nearest pub soon after for an afternoon beer, soon to be joined by new fellow retirees, Phil and Sue, just arrived from Poole. Ian and Helen went to the local airport to pick up Tony and Nicky who flew in from Inverness in Scotland (going to stay with them in a few weeks!), Phil and Sue went to check out the pub and restaurant for Fridays outing and we went for a walk round the docks.
|Saturday coffee stop at Bristol docks. LtoR: Ian, Phil, Sue, Tony (front), Nicky, Norman (front), Helen and Jackie|
|Dressed up and ready to go! Brian, Jackie, Tony, Helen, Nicky, Sue, Ian and Phil|
Well, last Sunday I had a stitch put in my upper lip following a biopsy at the QE hospital and it was now time to take the stitch out. Manu and Crystal had said they would do it, but they weren’t coming down until Saturday so Ian and Jackie decided they would do it in the hotel bedroom. Surgical Spirit, a Swiss army knife, a pair of tweezers, Jackie with her reading glasses on and Ian all moving in close was a bit too much. They had a tug and poke but decided it was all a bit difficult, which was just as well for my nerves! The ‘walk-in’ medical centre in Boots in the local shopping centre provided a better solution on Saturday morning, even with my hangover, but even then the nurse had a bit of difficulty as it had ‘grown over’. ‘This is going to hurt a bit’ she said as she went in for the second attempt. Yes it did! Glad Jackie and Ian decided against it!
|The 'Grumpy Kitty' purse used for our drinks kitty. It has to be taken to the bar and used to pay for the round|
|Waiting at the cemetery for the bride|
The hangover was courtesy of the pub crawl we went on round Bristol on Friday night, all arranged by Phil. I should have just ordered halves in each pub as we only had about 20 minutes in the first two. Too much talking and not enough drinking: ‘This is your 7 minute warning of our leaving’ Phil quietly whispered in my ear with three quarters of a pint in front of me. It’s going to be a long night!
|Here's Best Man John (left) and Groom Iain on the right|
A few more pubs, a meal and then finally we caught up with the groom, Iain with his best man and brother-in-law John, his sister Fiona, Norman and a few others in another pub. Iain bailed and went to his room for the night, apparently an old caravan on the roof of a hotel (!?!) - We didn’t see it. We left, me hoping we’re going home, Helen and the others wanted a final drink, but Jackie and I had had enough so wove our way home through Bristol’s streets to bed. ‘You can’t miss it’ Phil had said, ‘just head for the spire of the big church, its right by that’. It wasn’t lit up at night, so we couldn’t see it, but my sense of direction got us back!!
|The bride and groom, Bev and Iain|
I was up early on Saturday for the medical centre, having taken a couple of pills even earlier for the headache and was back in time for breakfast followed by a group wander round the docks stopping for a much needed coffee before heading back to change into posh clothes ready for the wedding.
We regrouped in the hotel foyer barely recognising each other, men in suits with ties and polished shoes, women with make-up, posh frocks, tights and shoes with high heels – wow! The taxi driver didn’t quite get the venue address right, taking us to another wedding at a hotel in Arnos Vale, no, it’s Arnos Vale Cemetery we want, ‘yes, the cemetery please and, yes, we are going to a wedding there’!
Unusual I know, but it is now not used for burials or cremations and is a Victorian cemetery in a great woodland setting containing many listed buildings and monuments. See: https://arnosvale.org.uk/
|The old scissor lift used to lower the coffins, with Jackie reading the display to Ian|
|And here's the old oven complete with T lights from Iain the groom|
The wedding was in an old crematorium, the opening in the floor for the lowering of the coffin now replaced with a concrete panel with glass lenses. Take a walk downstairs to the toilets and you can see, beneath the concrete and glass panel the old scissor lift mechanism for lowering the coffin and, alongside it the old oven for cremating! Macabre or what! Even more so as Iain (the groom) had placed a load of battery operated tea lights inside, they wouldn’t allow naked flames in there (why?).
|Sue, Ian, Tony and Helen making the cardboard Minions|
It’s a 3:00pm wedding, where are Manu and Crystal, who are driving down just for the day? Stuck in the M5 traffic, that’s where! No, they missed the wedding, but were there as we came out into brilliant sunshine after our little sing song. Bev had secretly asked us to sing the chorus from The Beatles ‘All You Need Is Love’ as a surprise to Iain just as they were to walk out so, just as we finished the applause after they were pronounced ‘Man and Wife’ Phil and Sue started with ‘Love, Love Love’, then Jackie and I joined in for the second, Nicky and Tony for the third, then Ian and Helen with ‘It’s easy’. What neither of them knew was that I&H had bought some Kazoos for us to do the chorus, which caused much amusement and excitement from the children. Must admit, I had to have a lesson from Ian in the graveyard to learn how to get a note out of it. ‘Don’t just blow, sing into it’ Oh yes, now it works! There were also some nice speeches during the service, including a bit of a tear jerker from Fiona, whose voice quivered during it and got all the girls going – even Ian we think had a slight red eye (probably got something in it!)
|The finished Minions lined up in front of Iain. Any resemblance to Minion leader Gru do you think?|
Champagne on the lawn outside, plenty of it, very nice red and white wine on the table during afternoon tea, oh yes, this is turning into another alcohol day! Afternoon tea (and coffee), sandwiches, cakes and wine were politely consumed while we built cardboard ‘Minions’ that Tony and Nicky had brought, helped by many others, including children and then stacked them all in front of Iain the groom. Something to do with him looking a bit like Minion leader Gru, from the film Despicable Me. I don’t know, take a look at the photos of Iain and see what you think!
|Walking round the graveyard with wine!|
The warm afternoon sunshine took us outside for a walk round the graveyard while they changed the room for the evening, which was really interesting. It’s not that old (Victorian), but it’s unkempt, hilly and with grand monuments and graves peeking out through the undergrowth of trees and ivy giving it a slightly scary, macabre yet beautiful scene. Winding walkways thread up through the trees past thousands of broken graves, some almost covered by greenery and there we were in our posh clothes clutching wine glasses and bottles of wine peering at long forgotten monuments to long dead important and ordinary people. Fascinating!
|First dance as Mr and Mrs for Bev and Iain|
The evening went with a swing, an Irish band had been hired (although none of them were Irish), they played fast and good music all night and we were dancing the whole time, sometimes on the edge of falling over due to the alcohol but always having a laugh and filling the floor. Much laughter, drinking and dancing and, in no time the evening was over and it was time to go back to the hotel, but as it was after midnight on a busy Bristol Saturday with several major events going on, taxis were like gold dust! We walked out to the main road in the hope of hailing one to find Bev and Iain, the bride and groom trying to hail one. Just a bit bizarre seeing Bev in her wedding dress waving a taxi down! We got one shortly after and retired to the hotel bar where everyone else had gathered for more drinking!
|Helen has a sing song with the band|
Did I see a girl walk into the bar wearing trainers with bright coloured flashing lights round the soles and coloured flashing lases, or had I drunk too much? No she was definitely there and very talkative telling us how she bought them on the internet and how they have a USB charging point in them, all this with her one foot up on a chair and wearing a very short dress! It’s a very strange evening!
Easy Sunday morning, down for breakfast, Ian and Helen took Tony and Nicky back to the airport and we strolled down to the docks to meet up with the bride and groom and everyone else in a cafe bar at the dockside for a post wedding drink and goodbye chat.
|Bev and Iain, the happy couple|
We were back at Ian and Helens in Moseley by lunchtime, for tea and eats on their patio, round to Lisa’s to get acquainted with bunnies and then a meet up at the fabulous Blue Ocean Malaysian restaurant in Acocks Green, where we ate for Jackie’s birthday. A lovely end to a lovely weekend.
Thank you Bev and Iain for the day, Ian and Helen for looking after us and driving us there and back and all our great friends that we so enjoy being with. We are very luck and happy people. Here’s to the next time….