Posts Tagged ‘Sedbergh’

It’s Friday night in Sedbergh. The Howgill Fells rise majestically behind the town and the sun is setting over a valley patchworked by fields, fells, baa-ing sheep and sturdy stone cottages. Inside Fell House, an assortment of friends and family gather round the kitchen table. Everyone’s here for a weekend to celebrate Simon’s 40th birthday. They know we’ve arranged some sort of surprise for early next morning, but don’t know what it is. Eliza is thinking along the lines of a hot air balloon ride (‘will we need any special equipment for it?’); David is leaning towards quad biking. Pete, suffering horribly with a cough and a cold, just wants to go to bed.

Downstairs, in the kitchen of the little flat beneath the main house, nestle buckets of flowers, an enormous fruit cake and lots and lots of champagne. If I listen closely, I can hear the fridge down there emitting a painful hum as it struggles to chill bottle upon bottle of booze.

‘OK, OK,’ I say, getting everyone’s attention. ‘So, this surprise tomorrow…’

I trail off. All of a sudden I’m feeling very, very nervous. I look at Simon. Simon looks at me. He takes a deep breath and says, ‘Everyone needs to be ready to leave the house at ten tomorrow because… we’re getting married at eleven and we’d like you all to come.’

There is silence. I picture minds reeling, jaws dropping and Catharine making a mental ‘Oh. My. God.’ As the gathered group processes this rather unexpected piece of news, Simon squeezes my hand. The silence is punctured then by excited questions, congratulations, corks popping, bubbles being blown and the rustle of paper as I hand out bags with instructions, maps and orders of service. Vic takes the boys off to the Dalesman, and Eliza starts making plans to separate bride and groom before their big day.

‘But you haven’t had a hen do!’

‘And you can’t travel in the same car to the register office – you’ll have to come with us.’

‘I can’t believe you’ve denied me the excuse to spend thousands of pounds on a new outfit.’

‘If we got up at eight, I reckon we could get to the TX Maxx in Lancaster by nine and be back in time for the wedding.’

‘Or Preston. There’s definitely a TK Maxx there.’

‘So we’re not quad biking then?’

‘No, we’re not quad biking.’

‘But I quite fancied quad biking.’

‘Oh give over….’

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