Sunday, 29 April 2012

Only Half Responsible!!

Linda and I would like to welcome you all to the reception and to thank you
for coming.

We would like to welcome Tim to my family, even though he nearly finished
Becky and me off for good with a fancy piece of footwork on one occasion.
We were in the Cuillin Hills ...
That was on our very first day climbing in the Cuillin.  Later, in the
week, he redeemed himself by belaying the three of us as we abseiled off
the Inn Pin.
He is a great outdoors man, like me.  His mum and dad must have named him
after me!!  My love of the great outdoors has rubbed off onto Becky and my
son, Jonathan.
Becky, like husband Tim is a great rock climber and mountaineer but is even
more of a cyclist than young Tim.  She hasn't worked her magic on this Tim
fully as regards cyclo-sportive events but, did on me without wanting to
got me into long distance cycling events that bridesmaid, Charlie got her

So Becky and Tim are well matched.  But, one or two warnings for Tim about
what this young lady gets up to - if he hasn't already sussed her out.

  as a small girl, she had a mischievous streak - my black corduroy cap
  she hid and I never saw it again.  The watch she also smuggled away to
  some hiding place or other she did find, again and so I got that back.
  She would tie grandad's laces together when he was having forty winks.
  So watch out , Tim in your old age!  She would regularly hide her shoes
  to get out of coming home from grandmas.  So if things go missing Tim,
  you know why.  She would hide in the kitchen cupboard with the tins when
  she heard me come home from work.
  Becky was a great explorer - not just hiding but climbing trees, making
  dens and with the other girls of Hunnington Cres banding together into
  the Explorers Club.
  Thanks to Becky's heart for exploration and going on holiday to central
  America, the medical profession in Aber is now much wiser on tropical
  diseases, due to her becoming the unwitting host for a Bot fly larva and
  the resulting baby Bot fly.
  Part of her exploring was to find out why certain ingredients were
  needed in cake making by missing them out.   She missed out eggs and
  they came out like biscuits.  She experimented with food colouring to
  make them look much, much more interesting.  A creative streak, indeed.
  As a result, she is an excellent cook and cake maker.   Good move,
  Such was her exploring tendencies, she found the tiny pond in thick
  cloud below the summit on my favourite mountain in Wales, rather than
  the massive lake fifty feet below the summit that I wanted her to take
  me to.
  On Boxing Day 2010, Becky and I attempted to summit a major 900 metre
  hill in Snowdonia NP.  Despite the deep, soft snow she gallantly, took
  the lead, in trail blazing or, rather floundering on and up through the
  all too rare but truly magical conditions.

Anyway, I am only half responsible for my dghtr turning out like she has.
So only half an apology is due to you, Tim!!  In fact, you are totally
responsible for her now, Tim jnr.  I have finally got her married off to a
truly wonderful, practical, helpful son in law of mine - and a superb
mountaineer.  What an achievement!!!

Longest ford ever; broken bikes, and sea spewing spray, foam and froth

We loved the way you are modernising the flat, although it seemed fine the way you now have it.  The first floor gives you great views from the lounge window without too many stairs to climb.  It was fascinating to watch the crashing seas, the explosion as water hit rock, the mass of white water shooting up and the plume of spray like smoke then being blown way over the headland to the right.  A few years ago, I sat in the car, for ages, watching a similar scene on the glorious coast road near Durness.  This is the very furthest northern road on mainland Scotland.  I was waiting for the gale force N wind to abate - again one April - to climb the nearby Foinaven, a very high and very long Corbett, with four summits and one of the very best Scottish mountains.

We cycled every day except Wednesday, after my front brake cable broke on the way back on the Camel Trail.  On Friday, cycling near Trerice, Linda's rear axle broke and I had to get the car to execute a smart cycle rescue and recovery!  The first time I have ever had an axle break with any of my bikes.

You were certainly right about Carnewas.  Excellent food and a main course £2 cheaper than what we paid the next day on our way home at the Huntsman's Inn in the village of Ide, three miles from Exeter.  Ide has the longest ford I have ever seen that is signed as a ford but where cars and motorbikes are prohibited!  So what is the point of the thing?  The ford is a great length of river in front of the footway and a row of cottages.  I suppose it is meant for farm tractors only.  It is deep at one point.  Do you know it, Gordon?

Eating at Carnewas needs cash only and lunches stop at 3pm.  I very neatly penned that on your Explorer map, without obscuring anything important, for future borrowers of the map.  I hope you don't mind!  Linda and I rustled up £12 in coins for two main courses, with only 20p left and the lovely lady serving us very kindly gave us two big mugs of coffee for free.  For that Saturday trip, Linda hired a brand new Claud Butler mountain bike that was too small for her from the House of Fun in Fore Street, Newquay!  The bike, on the return trip, behaved so badly that we thought we should return it to the House of Horrors.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Dan Woolnough's best man speech

Good afternoon ladies and gentleman I hope that you are enjoying what has been a brilliant wedding and celebration today......and many congratulations to Becky and Tim on this very special day.

Thank you to everyone for attending and on behalf of everyone here thank you to both Tims and Linda for excellent speeches and thank you to the bridesmaids Caroline, Charlie, Ella and Emily for all their hard work today. I must say that the bridesmaids look amazing and are only outshone by the beautiful bride who looks absolutely stunning in her wedding dress. [-mentioned 'beautiful' Ushers John and Rob-]

Please now join me in a round of applause. --CLAP--

I have met most of you already but for those of you who do not know me, I'm Dan and have the honour of being Best Man. I met Tim whilst at Aberystwyth University and we became great friends with our shared interest in outdoor pursuits. We lived in the same flat and have spent a considerable amount of time climbing together.

Having known Tim for almost a decade and from the bits I can remember I can definitely say that Tim has a strong-willed and kind character with a positive genuine outlook on life.

Tim also has many hidden talents, he has both musical and poetic sides playing the harmonica and fiddle, and has been known to write the odd poem when the occasion demands.

Tim is often a vital ingredient to a good occasion and partial to fancy dress on a night out. The costumes you may be interested to know have included a robot, a Red Indian, a lion and sparkling pink Lycra amongst others.

I could talk for some considerable time about what Tim got up to at university and in the intervening years.

However there is one memorable event that springs to mind prior to graduation in 2007. Tim, his brother Basil and I purchased a beach dingy and we attempted to paddle in one afternoon 20 miles along the River Ystwyth back to Aberystwyth. Little did we realise the epic the trip would become. We braved rapids without life jackets, narrowly avoided a huge waterfall only by hanging onto a rotten tree branch and later returned home in the dark and soaking wet. We never actually reached the end of the river despite our greatest endeavours but it was a thoroughly exciting and enjoyable adventure and a typical Tim Willson idea.

Now to Tim and Becky. It was of course at Aberystwyth University that they first met in March 2006. As you all know one of Tim's passions is the outdoors, this includes climbing, walking, running, mountain marathons and cycling. At Aberystwyth Tim was a member of both the AMC [-Aberystwyth Mountaineering Club-] and the AWC [-Aberystwyth Walking Club-]. He regularly led walking groups on the weekends. I am told from some of the victims that these walks were long and arduous and after Tim's Stag Do walk I can confirm this to be the case. [-mentioned Greg-]

But something certainly went right and Tim and Becky's relationship proceeded to blossom. This has arguably led to Tim's greatest achievement to date....marrying Becky.

I asked Tim what he thought Becky saw in him when they first met and rather modestly he said she was no doubt “entranced by his clothing, his riches, his wit and his intelligence”. I will let you all decide whether this is the case amongst yourselves.

As I'm sure you are aware Tim and Becky prior to becoming engaged had been an 'item' for some years and the question of when they would become engaged had been hanging around. As some of you will know proposals are a dangerous business and can hang by a thread. I am reliably informed that Tim proposed whilst rock you may ask whether Becky could doubt positioned at the end of a rope and dangling over a huge precipice somewhere in North Wales.

Having known Tim and Becky for so long I am sure of their love for one another and the lengths each will go to, to make the other happy. It only takes a moment to see that Tim and Becky are sweet and affectionate to one another and that these qualities will remain throughout the rest of their lives as they embark on their marriage.

I wish a happy marriage, a successful move into their new home and a fantastic Honeymoon trekking in Nepal, which starts on Friday.

Now Ladies and Gentlemen I am sure you will all agree this has been a brilliant wedding and a wonderful occasion......please ensure you have full glasses and raise your glasses for a toast, to our hosts Tim and Linda for putting so much hard work into Tim and Linda.

Finally please now raise your glasses for a toast to the new Mr and Mrs Willson and their happy Tim and Becky.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

30th Falklands anniversay

Falklands War: A war that Argentina should easily have won had General Galteiri been more ruthless and competent and determined to keep the islands. His exocets might have been used to sink the troop carrying 'Canberra' before our troops disembarked. Our unlawful sinking of the 'Belgrano' led to over 400 sailors drowning and freezing to death. And, then,we rejoiced at our mighty victory and gave thanks to God, in St Paul's Cathedral, for his help! We were actually very, very lucky at having a military government in Argentina that was such an incompetent and corrupt bunch.

Our UK history and politics for centuries has had the Bible at its heart with every Monarch at their Coronation, vowing to abide by its strictures. One such is, "It is more blessed to give than to receive". In fact, like the Falkland Islands, for many centuries we just took and claimed for our own whatever piece of the planet we discovered. And, we fought other European powers over theirs and our territories and dependencies. Most notably, in the 1st World War that was the grand climax of centuries of Western European empire building, piracy and warfare around the globe.

The Christian thing would have been to have admitted we were out-manoeuvred, out-smarted and outplayed in every sphere of intelligence gathering and politics and, so allowed Argentina to keep the islands. Our intelligence services failed to be intelligent and to read the writings in the Argentine newspapers that showed how things were building up to the occupation. The islanders who did not wish to stay could have been re-settled in any part of the UK they wished, such as the islands off Scotland that are similar to the Falklands. Revenge is sweet, however, for every nation and President or Prime Minister. Especially for the Iron Fisted Lady of Downing Street.

Really, I suppose, it was her feelings of outrage that got the better of her. The instinct to hit back overcame the advisers' caution as to what the exocets could do to bring victory to Argentina. Recklessness was the watchword for Mrs Thatcher. She got away with it. She should, but most certainly does not, have on her conscience the deaths of nearly one thousand young people to allow three thousand Falklanders to stay where they should never have been put in the first place.

In early 1982, we let our guard down, withdrew our vessel, had talks at the UN to settle Argentina's claims on the islands and, we failed to read the writing on the wall. Therefore, we were sending a clear message to Galteiri that we would not send a task force to reclaim the islands that natural justice indicates should belong to Argentina - certainly not the UK! Even the US government was, at first, astonished at what Mrs Thatcher decided to do. However, they soon came round to support us against Argentina.

Mrs Thatcher should have done the decent thing and resigned and not sent 908 young men and women, from both nations, to a very early grave. Such is human nature, that Mrs Thatchers poll rating shot up as we Brits honoured a victorious war leader. The following year she was re-elected. Nature, of which we are part is, indeed, red in tooth and claw.

Those in power always use the dishonourable option of coercion, might is right and the sword to get their way - everytime. Things never change, whether we have elected dictatorships or unelected military dictatorships. They are all the same.

Paparazzi, knees up and a Rolls Royce wedding!

The Weller/Willson/Verduyn women presented the stunningly beautiful bride and the most spectacular, seemingly no expense spared wedding and reception I have ever been to. Even the mother of the bride in her new outfit was outshone and groom, best man and bride's father were decked out in new suits, waist coats and cravats. My suit tails had to be snipped loose at the last minute when an eagle-eyed bridesmaid, just before entering the church, noticed the cotton still in place.

Ivory was the colour of Becky's sweeping dress and train; grape and clover for the four bridesmaids' dresses.

From the outset, the paparazzi were out in force in the shape of Linda's youngest brother's wife, Anna Verduyn whose camera work definitely outshone Duncan's and his official photos. Her 153 photos were on Facebook and disc in a matter of hours!

The photo on the wedding invitation of the two youngsters made me laugh out loud when I opened our invitation to "Mum and Dad! (seems silly writing your names in!)". It was far and away the funniest, the most original and best invitation card I have ever had.

Gordon Willetts rolled out his meticulously maintained 1923 Rolls Royce and was the most perfect chauffeur in his cap, with starting handle to hand. He even provided his own homemade, smoked salmon sandwiches and champagne in the hefty picnic hamper for the happy couple as the Rolls easily purred up the steep Hagley Wood Lane to take them from one photo shoot location to the next. Smoke bombs added to the photos atmosphere in the woods of the Clent Hills that, this time, our in-house, home-grown, very own, paparazzi photographer was just unable to match!

The service was conducted by our much loved pastor of 84, Leslie Hardwick, whose perfect message was a reminder to all of us, not just to love one another but to tell our spouses and partners just that - and frequently. It was the first wedding in the new building, that was packed out with guests and friends. Only now has it dawned on us that we should have asked Brian Gastinger to film the whole service rather than the snippets that he did do, without being asked, so well.

I thought that the sudoku on the wedding order of service would be so easy that it could be done by some bright spark while the register was being signed. Little did I know. Only three people have told me they have done it and I am still persevering! It was quite wicked of Becky and Tim to tax my brain like that!

Entrance of the bride was to 'Butterfly Waltz' - Brian Crain. Recessional 'Beautiful Day' - U2.

The reception was in the early 17th century tithe barn that is now the church hall in the village of Belbroughton at the other side of the Clent Hills from Halesowen. A hog roast and numerous cakes and desserts to pig out on - many prepared and cooked by Becky - were part of the celebration.

Outside the entrance, guests were offered free ices from an ice cream tricycle vendor ( a surprise known only to Becky and Tim), before entering to receive a welcome glass of Bucks fizz or orange juice. As we entered we were greeted with long tables resplendant with a huge variety of spring flowers in colours to match the theme of purple, green, white, ivory etc and a host of lit tea lights to add sparkle to the ivy and beads which adorned the length of each table runner. The room was decorated with fairy lights, bunting created by Becky and Linda and, a room for leaving a written or 'dress yourself up' photo memory/message for the bride and groom. Music from a harp and violin completed the setting.

Becky and Tim were toasted to successfully climb many more summits not to be conquered but, rather, fleetingly visited at the mountains' behest. Outside the barn, Becky threw her bouquet a great distance over her shoulder to be caught by a lucky guest who now expects to be the next bride. A barn dance, with a live band of Becky's friends, rounded off the day. Sparklers for all were also lit at the very end, to create an archway for Becky and Tim to walk through as they were driven off to Brockencote Hall for their first night.

Becky and Tim departed six days later for their Exodus Expedition honeymoon to Manaslu in the Nepalese Himalaya.

Speeches from the groom and best man will be on this blog, in due course.