Marriage is one of life's great
adventures and Mark and Lynette were just starting out on
theirs. We had hoped to get to their wedding but events
conspired against us, so we decided to stalk them on their
After eight weeks on the road, we
were getting a little tired of each others' company and
the idea of catching up with some old friends seemed inspired.
We've enjoyed meeting all sorts of people on the road but
conversations with new friends and roadside acquaintances
lack the depth and familiarity of passing time with those
you know well. So we were keen to track down the bride and
groom and make up for missing their wedding by partying
with them for an evening. And there was good reason to party;
Christmas, New Year, Lynette's birthday and a marriage had
all come at once.
We were stalking with consent. We'd
talked the idea over with them one cold winter's evening
while they were planning their wedding and we were planning
our travels. We were in the snug of our local pub, sitting
by the fire, supping pints of bitter when we discovered
that although we'd miss their wedding, our paths could cross
on their honeymoon. Mark and Lynette were going to be touring
New Zealand at the same time as us. It was a moment of serendipity
we felt could not be left to pass. We agreed to meet for
a Kiwi wedding party and sat, supped and imagined the scene;
tents pitched against a mountainous backdrop in a wild and
beautiful camp spot overlooking a hazy blue sea; hot summer
sun, cold beers and a sizzling barbeque banquet; then, with
the kids asleep, champagne toasts in fine crystal glasses,
and speeches at sunset with cake, chocolates and a whisky
nightcap to end the day. It would be perfect. How could
innocent honeymooners resist such temptation? They couldn't.
We made sure of that by texting them almost every day of
their honeymoon. "Whr r u nw? Whn shll we mt?"
Our itineraries collided on the
last day of their trip. We met on the Banks Peninsula, a
rugged and spectacular volcanic coastline close to Christchurch.
The rendezvous was a playground in Akaroa, an old French
settlement and suitably romantic place for a romantic occasion.
Unfortunately the rest of New Zealand's touring public were
also in search of l'amour. The Top 10 Holiday Park was an
orgy of canvas. All around, kids ran wild, while parents
supped well earned holiday beers and chewed on rib-eye steaks.
We finally raised a toast to friendship and marriage in
a small patch of grass behind the bumper of the honeymooners'
The bride and groom welcome guests
to the marquee
We cooked a wedding banquet on their
small campervan stove. Then we shivered outside, swiping
at the sandflies as the children's popcorn blew into the
wind. The weak sunshine and grey sea sulked behind a wall
of canvas and campervans, as a string of wedding balloons
grated against the tent like nails scraped on a blackboard.
We all admired the bride's wedding fleece and sipped champagne
out of toothbrush holders. When the last balloon had blown
away we retired to Mark and Lynette's tin honeymoon suite
to blow out the candles on the chocolate cake. Over a game
of Scrabble it soon became obvious that while Mark and Lynette
were lucky in love, they didn't stand a chance against the
Pelling/Wickes International Scrabble Team.
Traditions upheld with the cutting
of the cake
Mr and Mrs Edwards had to leave
early the next morning to catch their plane home. Before
they left, in a final reversal of tradition, the bride and
groom gave the guests a parting present. Colourful kites
for the boys to play with in the wind and for us, a hamper
of goodies they could not take on the plane: ketchup, insect
cream, bin bags, honey, bacofoil, meat skewers, shower gel,
washing powder, coffee beans and tea lights. When we sat
in the pub all those months ago, sipping real ale and planning
the wedding party, we couldn't have predicted New Zealand's
worst summer in seventy years. But we also hadn't predicted
just how good it would be to see our old friends so far
from home. We were grateful for the warmth of their honeymoon
glow and the comfortable conversation of old friends. The
bride complained she hadn't washed her hair in days, the
cyclists smelt a bit funny, the kids kicked over the champagne,
and no one asked anyone to dance, but all in all we felt
it was a perfect wedding. As always, it's the people that
make the difference.