We have almost completed a series of celebrations marking our Golden Wedding Anniversary. We started back in April when Christopher, Cyndi and Samantha visited Ohio for a long weekend and, at a family dinner, presented us with a collage of photographs in canvas (we posted a blog on this previously).
Since arriving in England on June 9, we have had an anniversary dinner treat from Dorothy and David at the Blue Lion Inn in a small village in the Yorkshire Dales (June 13). This past Friday (June 19) we had our English Family and Friends celebration at Monkman’s restaurant in Ilkley. Joining us for a super evening were Dorothy and David, Fran and Alan, Robert, Keith and Eileen, Roy, and Keith and Zena. Brother, sisters, cousins and school friends, a great meal and excellent conversation. Nothing better!
On the actual day (Sunday June 21) Molly and I drove to the venue of our wedding reception in Sheffield. The church where we were married is gone unfortunately, but the Whirlowbrook Park Hall still stands and indeed is still used for weddings and receptions. After a family debate as to the actual location (fifty years had caused confusion in some minds between Whirlowbrook Hall and nearby Whirlow Grange) as we entered the park grounds on the outskirts of Sheffield there was no doubt that we were at the right place.
The Victorian home looks as it did 50 years ago and the grounds are as beautiful as ever – albeit somewhat more “established” than in 1965. There are two lily ponds across the main lawn from the house which provided a classic backdrop for bride and groom photographs. In fact, on our wedding day (and I suspect on many others) the photographer stood across the lake to capture the couple and the water, with a tree-filled rock garden as backdrop.
On our visit last Sunday we had to settle for two photographs with cameraman (a friendly visitor) and couple on the same side of the water – but we felt we had re-captured the moment rather well. In fact – without the benefit of the old black and white pictures from 1965 – we could easily think that the scene and ourselves hadn’t changed at all! If I feel it necessary, I may try posting the “before” and (50 year) “after” pictures sometime to convince others. In the meantime, we can compare Sunday’s photograph with one of Molly and I getting into our limousine immediately following the church service on June 21, 1965. Elizabeth kindly posted this on Facebook and we received many compliments.
The celebratory weekend finished with dinner on Sunday evening with our niece Joanne at the Clocktower restaurant in Rudding Park near Harrogate. It was a very pleasant meal with my late brother’s daughter and her husband Robert and another chance to reminisce and extend the festivities. But there was one more treat: our nephew Mark had booked us into a suite at the Rudding Park Hotel (“The best UK hotel outside London”) so we didn’t have to drive back to Ilkley that night.
Quite a contrast to our honeymoon spent in a two person tent!
We have one more celebration to come. In two weeks we are spending three days in Northumberland with our friends Keith and Zena. Keith (my grammar school best friend from the fifties) and Zena celebrated their Golden Wedding at the beginning of June so we decided to spend a few days together to cap off a wonderful series of family activities.