Wedding bells at farm on M62

At Stott Hall Farm in the middle of the M62 Jill Falkingham looks forward to her wedding next week.

The weeks have flown by at an alarming rate and the prospect of becoming Mrs Paul Thorp next week stirs butterflies in my stomach. I’d been quite adamant about our eagerly awaited/anticipated nuptials being in May, however, exhaustion, broken nails and an aching back now leads me to question my timing.

I’d felt confident that my boundless energy would see through the long and tiring days and nights of lambing as I would have all the necessary arrangements in place come April. But as all brides will tell you, no amount of military precision planning can settle the anxious nerves that follow you around in the final days leading up to “I do”.

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This time next week I will be married, although as yet my full name still remains undecided. I’ve always thought it seems somewhat unfair that the bride should change her identity and take her husband’s.

I enjoy having an unusual name and losing that is like severing final ties with my father and becoming part of a different family. My suggestion of becoming Mrs Falkingham Thorp was met with much hilarity and ridicule from my sisters, so as yet I am uncertain.

I celebrated my birthday recently and several friends gave me vouchers to beauty salons. I was slightly if not pleasantly surprised, as I’ve never been one for fake lashes and spray tans.

However, as I frantically scrub my hands to free them of iodine stains and various colours of marker sprays, I can see a manicure might not be such a bad idea. Although our plans are on schedule and so far no major hiccup has occurred I have suffered terribly with bad dreams.

Every type of wedding disaster conceivable has entered my nocturnal thoughts. Initially my biggest fear was quite simply of missing the wedding. But as the big day approaches my dreams have left me sitting bolt upright in bed in a blind panic. After reassurance from Paul I drift back into an unsettled slumber only to discover that yet again I am knelt in the straw lambing a ewe in my wedding dress or hurtling across the moor on the quad bike with every inch of my ivory gown splattered with Stott Hall peat bog.

Being a welly type of girl, I decided to take advice from my younger sister, the Gok Wan of our family, on my choice of wedding shoe. Browsing the internet one day she sternly informed me that comfort is not a factor. “Think glamour,” she hissed, “You want to glide down that aisle looking like a Grecian goddess. You need heels.”

It seemed like a good idea at the time when I ordered four-inch sky-scrapers, after all, I thought, I can manage a day out of wellies. Now as I stagger unsteadily around the room like a toddler taking her first steps I rue taking her advice. Will anyone notice if I wear my slippers?

I made a final practice run of buttonholes in amongst feeding lambs and keeping Paul’s stress down to a liveable level. Bad weather makes for a very stressful lambing and we’ve had our fair share this spring.

In between frequent cloudbursts, Ffiona’s foal charges round the field causing her mother no end of worry. Ffiona is in her late teens and I’d worried endlessly leading up to the arrival of her foal. Whilst quickly shooing images of backward presentation or lost in the bag thoughts from my mind, I’d made a deal with the gods. Give me a healthy foal and healthy mare and I’ll gladly accept any type of weather you throw at me on my wedding day.

Ffiona is the last in a long and incredibly important line of Welsh Mountain ponies and her wellbeing and that of her foals were all I could think about.

So when my long-hoped-for filly foal arrived safe and sound I did wonder about what to expect. I’ve tried to avoid watching the weather too much, I know it can change in a blink of the eye.

Paul, being a typical farmer, likes to watch the forecast at least every hour. After watching the long-range forecast for the following week he tentatively informed me that we would be getting a good drenching on our wedding day.

I felt a slight pang of disappointment. I thought of the months, weeks, days and hours of planning and preparation, not to mention the vast expense of that all-important day. My face must have deceived me and Paul, hugging me, told me not to let it upset me, everything would be fine. In that moment all thoughts of weather drifted away and I realised our day would be blessed with the company of a supportive family, loyal friends, love, laughter and lots of champagne and as Paul pointed out; “We’ll have good tax relief once we’re wed!”