I know a bank where the wild thyme blows

I had to drive across the heart of England this weekend, to attend the wedding of the daughter of one of my oldest friends. In April the hedgerows were full of white blossom, blackthorn and wild cherry, with a touch of pink from crab-apples and escaped ornamental cherry, but in May the main colour is yellow. I don’t remember ever seeing so many cowslips in the verges, great drifts of them along the roadside banks. They’re such a gentle, fluffy yellow, not as pale as primroses nor as bright as dandelions. The rape was in full flower as well, fields of vivid, fluorescent yellow, turning the landscape into a green and yellow patchwork quilt. I stayed in a Travelodge next to the town’s bypass, which should have been noisy, but was so quiet that I was woken by birdsong and the sharp calls of pheasants in the woods behind the building. More yellow here, with the gorse in flower.

The wedding? The weather was unkind, grey and overcast, with occasional rain, although it did stay away during the photographs. We went to the church in a red London bus, decked out with flowers. The bride was stunning, so beautiful she might have stepped out of the pages of Vogue or Country Life. The groom wore black and white co-respondent shoes, and the bridesmaids were in purple satin shot through with black.

The reception was a delight. Each table had a cake-stand full of sweets at its centre – flying saucers, penny chews, Love hearts and the like – and there were paper bags for the guests to take some home. The tables were named for superheroes – I sat at Wolverine – and those not in the know struggled to find Aquaman, the Beast and the Martian Manhunter. The room was decorated with bunting, made by the bride and a group of loyal friends, and there was heart-shaped confetti on the tables, painstakingly cut out of books* by the groom, which started a game as the guests tried to find rude or silly bits in the text. We ate fish and chips, with ice-cream cones for dessert. The cake was a triumph, four tiers adorned with Batman logos and silver stars (are you starting to see a theme here?). The bride and groom cut the cake with a Batman-handled knife, while the audience spontaneously sang “Dinna dinna dinna dinna, Batman!”. I had the lemon drizzle cake layer. which was gorgeous. Wish I’d tried the sticky toffee pudding layer!

I had a wonderful time. I wish Libby and Pete all the best in their married life together.


*He used three books – a Star Wars title, one by David Eddings and a Mills & Boon. I found one heart with ‘bastard’ on and another with the phrase ‘I stabbed him in the heart’.