I had a lovely time in Cullen the other weekend. Almost everyone reading this will be scratching their heads, muttering to themselves, "Where? Did he mention this in a previous post?" Cullen is a teeny-tiny place in Scotland, where my friend's family live, and where she and another friend got married. I stayed in the charming Norwood Guest House in the town, which is run by an absolutely charming couple. I admit I was attracted by the name, since it brought to mind Sherlock Holmes! I am happy to report no sinister lumber-yard fires occurred during my time there. I shall spare you the details of the drive. Suffice to say that on the Thursday I got up around midday, collected two friends from Manchester Piccadilly about 21:40, reached Cullen at about 07:30 on Friday morning, and finally got to sleep an hour later. I went through four cans of Red Bull.
The town itself is beautifully situated on the slope of a hill, facing out to sea. There's a lovely little harbour, and a sea wall against which the sea was epically dashing itself on the Sunday. But let us return to the Friday. After a nap of a few hours, I met up with everyone - it was quite the joyful reunion of folk from the old alma mater. I was especially pleased to see and catch up with Sarah and Jack, whom I hadn't seen since university! Jack was the Best Man, but isn't a man, and arguably her name isn't Jack. If you don't understand, you clearly aren't an alumnus/a of Lampeter! We chatted for ages, and had a grand old time. On the Saturday we all met up in the town square, where TJ, the groom, led us on the picturesque trip to the beautiful church. It lies some distance from town, I learned, because the aristocrats decided they'd move the town so the church was more secluded. Friendly bunch, eh! There was a minor emergency before the wedding, with Sarah sending her tights to the bride via Dave. I drove Dave over to save time, but he couldn't recall Caroline's parents' house, so someone got Sarah's tights through their letterbox. I think Sarah recovered them later!
The church itself is quite old. The heart of Robert the Bruce's wife is buried within, and the Ogilvie-Gordons are buried there, too. Anyway, everyone was there in good time for the wedding. I am happy to say that I recognised the tune of one of the three hymns, if not the words: the peril of being the wrong religion is that we all have different hymns. Although I keep finding myself singing unfamiliar things when I'm at the 10:30 instead of my usual 8:35 am Mass on Sundays. Digression over! The bride looked lovely, and the groom the very picture of a distinguished gentleman! The priest put everyone at their ease, and a harpist played her instrument in accompaniment to Caroline's arrival and at other points. There then followed an abundance of photography, within and outside the church. Smiles abounded!
Following the ceremony, there was a wee pause of half an hour or so, and then we adjourned to the church hall, where a lovely spread had been put on for us. So considerate had Caroline, TJ and their families been to my peculiar vegan needs, that there was more choice I could have hoped to enjoy. I was very grateful. There were little favours and boomarks for all the guests, which was handy, as I was able to slip mine into my copy of Catch-22 later on. Following the meal, there was a break while most of us got changed into more relaxed clothes and ambled up to the Cullen Bay Hotel. As befits a celebration in Caledonia, a certain amount of Scotch was imbibed, including a 1974 cash strength one, which was utterly heavenly! Around midnight, I think, we all trundled out en masse, and ambled in an approximately homeward direction, a day well spent!
On the Sunday I had arranged with Dave to go for a walk, but shortly before we were to set out, the bride and groom arrived, so we cancelled our plans, and had a nice afternoon chatting with them. Later on, Dave and Maz and I went for a stroll around the clifftop paths which Dave had earlier reconnoitred. It was very pretty, and not too cold, despite the wind sweeping in off the North Sea. On the Monday, we did get to go for the walk. What we thought was five miles turned out to be more like seven or eight, and only two of us remembered to bring water! The sun was quite hefty, and I managed to catch some despite repeated applications of factor 30. It's great being ginger, really! We saw the ruins of Findlater Castle, which left me a little confused. The castle, although it was tricky to reach on foot, was overlooked by the surrounding cliffs, rendering it not terribly defensible, I should have thought. Historically, it was taken following a siege. The castle's main purposes appeared to have been to monitor the sea approaches, and to provide a nice spot for a picnic. If only we had brought one!
On the Tuesday, we left about 9am. The bride had prevailed on me to take a few things they had no space for themselves. This meant I wasn't driving back to the bottom of Cheshire, but to Milton Keynes. There's a nice church just down the road from me. I am going to have to start persuading my friends to have their nuptials there so I'm not driving off to Wales and Scotland again. ;-) We stopped off at home so I could pop my washing in the machine and get a change of clothes for the next day. I caught up with Sam's chap, Erik, who hadn't been able to make it to the wedding, but unfortunately got caught in a foul-up heading home, adding two hours to a two and a half hour trip. I got home on the Wednesday night about half eight, having driven 1,210 miles, I think, and my brain was pretty much mush! It was a delightful occasion, but if I visit Cullen again, I'll take the train to somewhere nearby, I think! I hope you enjoy this small selection of photos.