Caribbean love in the UK

By MARGARET BROWN [email protected]

Margaret Brown is one of the Algarve Resident’s longest standing contributors and has lived in the Algarve for more than 20 years.

After a kangaroo landing at Manchester Airport a couple of weeks ago, we stepped out into a night of light rain and delicious cool which is still a cherished memory.

Back in the Algarve with the thermometer on my office wall registering 32ºC as I write and little hope of change, the prospect of flying back to Britain in a few weeks time just about keeps me going.

We went to attend the wedding of our only granddaughter, an occasion of considerable pomp and circumstance for which the engaged pair had worked all hours for many months.

They took on the responsibility for arranging everything down to the last detail and mostly self financed, but, without doubt, both families helped quietly in the background while respecting the couple’s wish to be independent. It went without a hitch.

Held in Tenants’ Hall at Tatton Park, the wedding guests filled the main room, bride’s party to the right, groom’s to the left. Not having seen our granddaughter’s paternal family since her christening, it was great not only to be remembered but also to be received with much affection.

Because we rarely visit the UK, we were meeting the groom’s family and friends for the first time: another happy experience, if brief owing to the geographical divide.

It was a very full day. The bride looked ravishing as she sailed up the aisle on her father’s arm, a stray tear sparkling on her cheek and eyes for no one but her future husband.

The two lady registrars transformed a ceremony that can be dry and formal into a something very special, lacking only the Christian dedication still loved by some but which is no guarantee of everlasting love and mutual trust.

On to the reception, lit up by an excellent steel drum band playing Caribbean music that had the Jamaican side of the family tapping their feet, however, dancing was for the evening after a supper of spiced West Indian food crying out for many libations to revive the stunned taste buds.

At 1pm, we sat down to a formal wedding breakfast accompanied by saxophone and piano, rounded off with speeches of short duration which was a nice touch appreciated by all.

Dispersing later to our hotels nearby for a much needed rest, shower and change of dress, at 8pm the partying began. During supper several toddlers took to the dance floor drawn by loud post-Rap ‘Pop’ and seemed unaware of anything but the unremitting drum beat and rhythms.

When their legs gave up some crawled or lay exhausted upon their backs, while others gathered on a narrow ledge beneath the disc jockey like young birds before migration. Later on the guests bopped around but not until bride and groom had shown us how to dance, oblivious to the razzamatazz and lovely to watch.

Then it was time for a firework display the like of which I have never seen. For 10 minutes the darkness was an ever changing palette of colour, explosion after explosion rending the cool night sky.

At the height of this extravaganza, a passenger ‘plane took off from Manchester Airport nearby and was for a moment lit by the brilliance before making a sharp change of course.

Then the Boss and I called it a night and were driven to the hotel through herds of Red Deer and flocks of sheep scattered across the lush acres of parkland.

As usual, the moistness of the English countryside was balm to the soul. Coming from an Algarve baked brown by heat and lack of rain, even the roundabouts looked refreshing, especially one by the airport where a couple of large and healthy rabbits grazed.

Maybe they had a warren beneath a clump of bushes growing there, the ever circling traffic a barrier to any urban fox.

From No.2 daughter’s home in the suburbs, we looked across playing fields to the Pennine Hills which on the morning of the wedding were shrouded by heavy rain under a fine rainbow.

This gave way to sunshine and showers, and we had time to watch a varied assortment of birds as they visited her small garden before our lift arrived.

Although we shall stay in Portugal until we pop our clogs, the pull of Britain’s green and pleasant land remains as strong as ever.

Taken for a drive through the surrounding countryside by our daughter, we dropped in to a local sailing club. Although the lake was low, several boats were out including a Merlin Rocket dinghy such as we had sailed for many years.

Then back home for supper just in time to take a photo of a neighbour’s tabby cat, curled up on the warm seat of a newly vacated motorbike.

On our return, the 10am touch down at Faro was so smooth as to be imperceptible but the heat struck like an oven.

With leg room on the ‘plane worse than that allowed in a battery house for chickens, it took me the rest of the day to stand upright in comfort.

Millie the bitch took a while to accept us back into the family having been so well looked after in our absence, but she finally came round once Muriel, friend and house-sitter, went home.