Friday, 27th/Sunday, 29th October 2006 – London, Lacock
The weekend? What can I say? Well, it was packed, hectic and pretty damn wonderful in all sorts of ways. It just doesn’t seem to have involved enough sleep!
Friday started out well, and I worked from home in the morning, while Lynne was out getting her legs waxed. When she came back we had a quick lunch of liver, bacon and onions, and then we slung our suitcases into the car and headed into London. It being a school holiday the roads were blissfully quiet, and we were in central London in no time at all. The pre-booked car park was located relatively easily (once we’d worked out how to get into the warren of one-way streets to start with) and so we parked up and walked the half mile to the Victoria Park Plaza hotel, which was where the F3 and GT prize giving was to be held.
The hotel is modern, nicely laid out, and although the rooms were a bit on the small size they were very well equipped, with very smart bathrooms. I settled back in to do the rest of the work I needed to get finished, and then around 6pm we began to get ready. It meant we were dressed and ready to go far too early. Normally, we’d have wandered to the bar in search of an early drink, but given the time we needed to haul out of bed on Saturday to get to the wedding, we decided that would be unwise.
Finally, at 7.30 we found our way to the function room, and the champagne reception, which was very well done. There were constant refills, which was nice, and for once the dinner was very good indeed (salmon mousse, nicely rare beef, cheese and biscuits – there was a rumour of tiramisu but I didn’t have any – I’m not a fan). The wine was good too – and there was enough of it, though by the end of the evening I was looking for any of the bottles of water that still had anything left in them…
Unfortunately a number of the prizewinners didn’t make it this year, but the two champions were at least present. We talked to a lot of people, and I took lots of photos. They also announced next season’s calendar, and we are – to our great enthusiasm – going to Spa, Monza and Bucharest next year. The latter should be especially interesting as it’s a shiny new street circuit. Anyway, we drank, we danced, we talked, and at 1.15, when the official part of the event finished, we resisted any suggestions that we should go and have a drink somewhere, and went to bed!
Saturday still started way too early, when the alarm went off at 7am. We pulled ourselves together, got all dressed up for the second time in 24 hours, and checked out of the hotel. By 8.20 we were in the car and headed towards Wiltshire, and more specifically Lacock. Our friends were getting married there at 11am.
The wedding was being held at the local college, which was a really good venue. The hall used for the ceremony opened into a dining room on one side and a bar on the other. They also had a lovely garden, and as the weather stayed fine (if a bit grey) there were lots of photos taken outside.
The whole event was run at a leisurely pace, with a long pause between the ceremony and the reception. There was much drinking of kir, and the waiters and waitresses kept coming round with canapes. Eventually we sat down to Caesar salad, sausage and mash and apple crumble. The speeches were fun and funny and as the afternoon drew to a close the bride and groom left for their honeymoon in the Maldives under a ceremonial arch of plastic light-sabres held by the many children there (who needless to say as soon as that part of the afternoon was over started bashing each other enthusiastically with said light-sabres).
Instead of cake, the happy couple made a donation to charity, and handed out locally-made pork pies to the guests. They also gave out cancer research badges to each guest. It was different, and I though it made a really welcome change from some of the more traditional practices. Anyway, we eventually left the reception and went to find our B&B, the Old Rectory.
We’d arranged to go out for dinner with Dave and Sarah that evening, and I’d booked us into Stanton Manor. It was about 6 miles away, so we decided that I would drive there, we’d get a cab back, and in the morning Dave would pick us up and take us back to reclaim our car.
The manor itself is a super looking building, very old Cotswold stone, and log fires all over the place. The menu was very sensibly priced, and the cooking was of an excellent standard. I thoroughly enjoyed myself with foie gras, duck and a raspberry cheesecake. It was terrifically good, and I can understand exactly why they are in the Michelin guide.
The wine list was pretty damn good too, and after a long leisurely dinner we took a cab back to the Sign of the Angel, where Dave and Sarah were staying. We sat and chatted for an hour or so over a single malt whisky, and then walked back to the Rectory.
A good night’s sleep (and oh boy did we enjoy the extra hour sleep we got because the clocks went back) was followed by a great English breakfast, before we drove to Portishead for lunch with Lynne’s parents.