I have been inexcusably slow in sorting out photos from Tom and Lydia’s wedding at the end of April, which meant, by extension, that I did not get round to mentioning it here. Seeing them both last weekend at Annabel‘s birthday dinner party (now firmly established as an annual event since several of her friends have now become strictly Once-a-Year Acquaintances of mine, following last year’s Wonderland-themed affair) motivated me to sort them out. As a result I am now pleased to present a gallery of wedding photos, including a range of square portraits of guests which is a new experiment.
Like Andy and Irina’s wedding last year, the ceremony itself was in the Downing College chapel. This was fitting not just because the pair met at Downing, but as choristers they both spent a significant amount of time rehearsing and singing together in that chapel. Sunlight filtered through beautifully throughout, while most of us struggled to decide on which side we ought to be seated. In the end James and I opted for Tom’s side largely on the basis Lydia appeared to have more family in tow. And it gave him a better view of Lucia who was looking rather stunning while performing her official duties (if more questionable when off-duty).
Following the ceremony we adjourned to Anstey Hall, a nearby location that is apparently a popular Cambridge wedding venue. The weather was glorious for the boldly early April date, and bright sunshine poured over the guests sipping champagne in the gardens. The wedding breakfast was served in a large marquee which was later cleared out into a large dancing area. While the bride and groom’s first dance was a traditional and well-executed ballroom number, this was followed by a céilidh in suitably Cantabrigian fashion (by Cambridge Ball standards, anyway). Traditionally something I would sit out, I was dragged up by a pleasantly inebriated Helen and enjoyed getting confused by organised dances more than I would readily admit. It was around this time that Dave, in a fit of missing us all too much, impulse-bought his plane tickets for the following weekend to attend Keggfest. Sadly, since I was not staying the night in Cambridge, I had to disappear before the festivities ended else my last train would have turned into a pumpkin.
All in all, a fantastic day and it was wonderful to see another pair of uni friends off on the road to marital bliss. As Matt D put it a few days ago, “a wedding is like a wake for two single people who cease to exist”. Only in a good way.
Saturday was a day of pomp, pageantry, overblown ceremony and eccentric costume. No, not the Eurovision Song Contest (which, I am given to understand, coincided). The Downing MA Ceremony. The event, ten terms after graduation, was treated by most primarily as a reunion, and it is the first large-scale one I have attended. Given the size of our year, inevitably there were some I would have loved to see who were unable to make it, along with a few I was happy either not to see or simply to avoid. Catching up with the remaining 95% was fantastic, though I do wish I had been able to speak more with various people — particularly several of the lawyers.
I found the ceremony itself far more enjoyable than my actual graduation. It was not, as the Master suggested, because I could not properly take in and remember it, though it is true I was far more relaxed this time around. Rather it is that, straight after third year exams, I was acutely aware of exactly what it had required and I was quite ready to escape the myopic pressures of Cambridge academic life for a while.
College put on a decent spread at lunchtime, and a fantastic dinner in the evening which instantly transported everyone back to any number of raucous formal dinners: pennying and all. The inebriated group moved en masse to the bar, which we seized (presumably to the irritation of the current students). Surprisingly I didn’t have to fend off suggestions that clubbing at Cindies was somehow a Good Idea (I had expected many would still be labouring under the misapprehension that, at some point in time, it was).
Amusingly today I discovered, during the traditional tea-making What I Did On My Weekend chat, that two other people from my department were also up in Cambridge over the weekend to attend MA ceremonies for family/partners at other colleges. The world is still shrinking.
Rules I (re)learned this weekend:
Do not drink and make speeches (no names).
Downing Gravel is always worse than you remember: do not bother polishing your shoes beforehand.
The lamb of the person sitting next to you will always be better cooked than yours, but it doesn’t matter because if you are correctly seated you will get to eat theirs as well anyway.
Be nice to nearby teetotallers: they have more wine to give away.
Posting stopped as I have been rather busy over the last couple of weeks. This may initially have had something to do with the release of Mass Effect and not very much to do with forthcoming mock exams, while last week I found myself doing the Christmas Party circuit. This included Bird & Bird’s at Dust Bar, the BPP crowd at Boardwalk in Soho, and a very Cambridge Christmas dinner in — well, you can probably guess.
In reverse chronological order, the BPP do comprised our “group” for classroom teaching. It’s a diverse but really fun bunch when we do all get together. I found the Boardwalk left a little to be desired with excessively loud music that made any form of communication difficult, particularly with such a large number spread over a long, thin table. The food was reasonable, but the highlight was undoubtedly the company and the exchange of Secret Santa presents. Lauren had decided to make this hideously difficult by imposing a £2 limit, a restriction that required much creativity. The best of the evening was a bright red, fur-trimmed Christmas cowboy hat given to Gordon, which fitted alarmingly well with his chequered shirt. The hat then proceeded to do the rounds. Lauren’s efforts in arranging the night were much appreciated, although unfortunately I could not stay later as some of the others partied into the early hours.
On Tuesday I headed up to the Bird & Bird event for future trainees with Rachel and Tor. I only realised just how quickly the last year and a half has flown by on seeing Chelsea, whom I had last seen during our vacation scheme in the summer of my second year at Cambridge. It was great to catch up again, as well as meeting several new and future trainees. I was also able to meet my trainee “buddy” (less intimidating than “mentor”, admittedly, but perhaps too casual a word since we had not managed to get in touch yet!). It is strange that what felt so far away when I accepted the job offer now feels just around the corner. I imagine there was careful (self?) selection of partners allowed to attend, since those there did not affect the mood (or banter) of the groups to which they were chatting. Dust is a great venue with wandering staff serving impressive nibbles in quantities more than enough to fill us all. Now we just need to make sure the 2008 intake arrange something ourselves to catch up before next summer.
Finally, the weekend before last I was up in Cambridge for a wonderful Christmas dinner mostly cooked by Angie, with several dishes provided by others. The journey took forever, though bizarrely it was getting across London that took the longest due to work on the central line. Arriving late, I had a plate thrust into my hand and headed upstairs to meet everyone and share stories about the couple of months since I’d seen them at the housewarming party. The food was great, accompanied by Sparkie’s home brew (sweetly palletable since he had added additional sugar in order to ferment it to a more alcoholic strength). Several shots of vodka with the medics later, I ended up walking back to theirs for the night since space at Victoria Road was pretty tight. This meant I was able to see TomTom the next morning who had missed the festivities. Much tea and Gears of War later, it was sadly time to head home. My camera, however, was more than full. As I gradually improve with the new camera, photos actually look good full size, so these should be added to the Gallery soon.
I spent last weekend up in Cambridge, taking a look at the fourth years’ new houses and generally catching up with everyone. It was my first trip back to Cambridge since I graduated, but this visit was really more about the people than the university or the town. Indeed the location was completely unfamiliar with their houses being far off north of the town proper, once it becomes residential and real people start to exist. Fortunately the Citi7 bus travels all the way from the station to such uncharted reasons so it wasn’t too difficult to navigate.
The housewarming was in a house predominantly inhabited by the ex-K lot from last year, most of whom had also been down for my birthday in August. The house was pretty packed with Angie keeping food flowing, Rav and Sparkie rewiring the house, and Adam (whose not-very-surprised birthday party was also being celebrated) showing off his Guitar Heroics while laughing maniacally at everyone else’s attempts. Everything as normal, really.
The following morning I was up early, gorging myself on a breakfast of bacon sandwiches following by a lunch of freshly cooked mini-doughnuts — with such hospitality I’ll certainly be back soon! After helping with a little tidying I headed over the medics’ fancy new abode. TomTom and I charged through several levels of Halo 3 (getting dirty looks from Cat) before being more sociable on the arrival of Lyds’ guests. I headed home in the early evening which was fortunate given the inevitable rail works. I would have liked to spend longer, but I’m sure there will be plenty more trips to come. I also expect everyone down in London to see the flat before long, though possibly not at the same time what with it not being a house. As for the photos, larger versions may appear here soon but I’m still getting used to the 400D and its ridiculous ISO settings (up to 1600 which is great for low light blog photos but obviously very grainy at full size).
I have also received a some of Philips’ great new amBX gaming gear (apparently worth just over £200) which conceptually is a fantastic extension of the ambilight which first featured in their TVs. I would absolutely love to write you a review except that there are no 64-bit Vista-compatible drivers yet. This is disappointing given that supposed cutting edge technology like this is most likely to be adopted by people running the latest OS. They promise new drivers are on the way, so stay tuned…
To describe this post as overdue would be like saying the Crusades occasionally got a little rough. I had so much to talk about during May Week and graduation (and precious little time, it being my last proper week in Cambridge with everyone) that I couldn’t really face attempting it in one go. Then there was the actual affair of graduation (surreal, lots of hat waving and Latin that was surprisingly easy to follow, more surreality on holding an incredibly sparse certificate that apparently justified my last three years of overall thoroughly enjoyable existence) followed by flathunting in London (repeating the same spiel to almost a dozen estate agents and taking lots of photos when viewing so that Kirsten could feel what the E3 crowd would call “virtually there”).
And now I am blogging to you over the conveniently free wifi from a Holiday Inn in Philadelphia (the city, not the cheese spread). So it’s been a slightly hectic ride that resulted in me not really wanting to start an explanatory post that I could never really finish. So instead we’ll start afresh in the USA (just call me Pilgrim Father) and I’ll refer back to previous events as when I get photos sorted out accordingly! Incidentally a new camera is definitely on the cards while I’m here given the magnificent exchange rate (just shy of 2:1) so you’ll be able to enjoy the sights in even higher quality.
We flew out here on Air India which was distinctly lacking in terms of in-flight entertainment, unless one counts a large screen at the front of the cabin showing a Hindi film with subtitles placed too low for anyone behind the first two rows to read. The staff were friendly enough, despite a rudely unprofessional manager wandering around the Heathrow check-in desk. The flight was made more bearable by flying only to New York rather than inland to Dallas, chopping off a good 2 hours. Beyond marching down Orwellian hallways of one-way mirrored glass lined under the stern gaze of continuous CCTV surveillance, immigration itself was surprisingly swift and hassle-free, mostly, one presumes, given their relief in seeing a British Passport amidst a sea of Indian ones. Fingerprinting to “keep the US open” and for my security still left me somewhat baffled. Whatever makes them feel safe, I suppose.
Posts over the next handful of days will depend on friendly hotels, but expect regular updates once we reach Louisiana and a proper house.