Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Winchester Wedding

Breaks from London are always welcomed and very necessary. This weekend, John and I travelled to Winchester for my friend Alice's wedding, which took place at The Hospital of St. Cross - a medieval almshouse in Winchester that was founded at some point between 1133 and 1136. Isn't that incredible?

According to Wikipedia (always handy, that), it was built on the scale of an Oxford or Cambridge college (which is very fitting, since the majority of the guests, including the bride and the groom, attended an Oxford college) but is older than any of the colleges at the universities. I was pretty in awe when I stepped onto the grounds on Saturday, but am even more awe-struck reading these facts now!

Anyway, it was an absolutely gorgeous day. It had started out with rain, but by the time we had arrived (on foot, amazingly enough - we were staying at a B&B just fifteen minutes away and I was wearing low heels!) the sun was shining in all its glory as we piled into the beautiful medieval church.

I definitely shed a little tear when Alice walked down the aisle on her father's arm, looking absolutely beautiful and radiating happiness (and maybe even a twinge of nervousness?). Although I met her through work, she's one of my best friends here in London and I couldn't be happier for her or her new husband, Matt, who I also know and love (fun fact: Matt's originally from Zimbabwe and we both wrote our theses on the Caribbean poet Derek Walcott!).

But first ... how beautiful is the grounds of The Hospital of St. Cross? These photos were taken at the champagne reception after the ceremony in the Master's gardens.

I love this photo of a mama duck shepherding her baby duckling near the water's edge. Simply idyllic! As we sipped champagne in the gardens and chatted away the afternoon, I thought about how lucky we were with the weather and took in the splendid beauty of our surroundings. It's so incredibly restorative to be present in a quiet place of contemplation - or to simply know that places like these exist and that not everything revolves around the loud, honking, churning city of London.

As we were running to the ceremony hours earlier, I snapped this photo along the way:

And it made me think (as I often do when I travel to the countryside): why do I live in London? What's stopping me from living - not necessarily in the suburbs - but in a beautiful place like this? The house prices are cheaper, the air is cleaner ...

But, you know, it's difficult for me as an expat; the answer to that question isn't clear cut. As much as it sometimes makes me a little crazy or feel like a hamster running on a never-ending hamster wheel, I also feel a sense of belonging in London that I don't feel anywhere else. And I'm not sure I would fit into country life, or even if it would bring me the fulfilment and contentment I yearn to have. But still, it's tempting: an hour commute into London and a city centre that's rich in history and vibrant in culture ... Winchester could be the answer to our future.

Who knows?

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