Christmas in Istanbul 2013

Christmas-inspired lights on Bagdat Caddesi (our street), 
ready to celebrate the New Year!

This year we spent Christmas in Istanbul, and were delighted to have Clare and Reg to share it with us. Here, on Bagdat Caddesi, everything shouts Christmas, but in reality, the lights and decorations are all for the New Year Celebrations. It appears that Turkey has adopted all the commercial aspects of Christmas for New Year. Noel Babba (Father Noel) brings presents, Christmas trees and decorations are everywhere, and the locals even tuck in to a Turkey dinner!

An enormous Noel Baba (Father Christmas), all lit up!

Huge Christmas baubles on the side of the road...

together with a huge Christmas/New Year's cake...

...a gingerbread man

...a star studded bauble

...and a Christmas tree in lights!

Father Christmas was very good to us too!

Reg opens the champagne.

Reg thought he would try slicing the top off the champagne with a sword, as he did at Catherine and Michael's wedding (see post here), but all we had was a plastic shoehorn, which unfortunately didn't have the same result. So he had to resort to the more usual method.

During Clare and Reg's week in Istanbul, we visited the Grand Bazaar...

...stopped by Sirkeci Station, famous for the Orient Express,

...visited Buyukada, one of the Princes Islands,

...and had a magnificent lunch in one of the restaurants by the quay.

The time went by far too quickly, but I did enjoy Christmas, and I am now looking forward to a wonderful 2014. Mutlu Yillar (Happy New Year) everyone.


Tricia and Tim's Chinese Wedding


Tricia and Tim thoroughly enjoyed their Chinese Wedding

A few days after their church wedding, Tricia and Tim had their Chinese Wedding. What fun we had, and what an amazing experience for those of us who were seeing this for the first time.

The guests arrived first, and assembled outside the venue, ready to welcome them.

Tricia and Tim arriving for their Chinese Wedding

Two Chinese Dragons were there to meet them, and escort them into the venue

Once inside, they were able to greet their guests

Tricia was then hidden behind a screen, and Tim had to go through a series of tests
to show that he was worthy of his beautiful bride

In the first test, Tim has to eat sweets that were strung around his brother,
without touching them with his hands

In the second test, he had to knock pingpong balls out of his groomsmen's mouths

...then Tim had to declare his undying love for Tricia, and beg the girls to let her out.

Tim was great, and managed all his tasks so well, that he was reunited with his bride, and the wedding commenced.

The dragons visited every table during the magnificent 14 course meal

...including that of the bride and groom

The dragons' reward for all their work, was a lettuce.

To everyone's surprise, flames shot up from the table, as the dragon lifted the lettuce


One of the dragon's handed a scroll to Tim

Which he unrolled, in front of Margy, Bernard, Annie, and James
(I'm not sure what it said)

Next came the Tea Ceremony. Tim and Tricia had to offer tea to all their relatives. This is a most sacred ritual in a Chinese wedding. It is the bride’s symbolic introduction to the groom’s family. 

The first to receive the tea, were Tim's grandmothers, as the oldest,
and most important in the family

All the family present at the wedding were served tea, finishing with the married brothers and sisters of the bride and groom.

Even I received tea during the ceremony, being an aunt of the bride!

The tea ceremony over, the wedding party went from table to table to raise a toast all the guests, with a very rare, and expensive, brandy!


We ended with not just one, but the cutting of three cakes!

We all had such fun. What a night to remember! Thank you James and Annie for organising everything so well. I wouldn't have missed this for anything!


A Family Wedding in Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire

The Happy Couple

We were thrilled to be invited to celebrate another family wedding in England. We got to spend time with, and meet new members of, our ever extending family. Tricia and Tim were married in Corpus Christi Church, Cleethorpes, followed by a wonderful Wedding Breakfast at Oaklands Hall Hotel, Laceby.

Tricia looked beautiful as her proud father, Bernard,
walked her down the aisle.

We weren't allowed to take photos during the ceremony, but as soon as it was over, I whipped out my camera again!

Here, Tricia is signing the register...

...and here she is getting ready to leave the church, 
followed closely by her new husband, Tim.

The Newly Weds.

They left for the reception in this magnificent old car

At Oaklands Hall, the tables were beautifully laid, 
ready for the Wedding Breakfast.

During the speeches, Tim declared his love for Tricia,
it was very romantic!

The gorgeous wedding cake.

Every guest had a stack of lucky chocolate gold coins,
to bring them wealth

The main dish was a favourite of the bride and groom,
Sausage and Mash, with Yorkshire Pudding!

All the children were delighted to receive a traditional Chinese red envelope,
containing a £5 note.

Introducing the bride and groom, and part of our new extended family

The cutting of the cake

We all had such fun on that happy day, and wish Tricia and Tim every happiness in their new life together. However, this was not the end of the celebrations. I was lucky enough to attend their Chinese Wedding as well! Fabulous! More of that in my next post.

by Elizabeth Coughlan

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I couldn't resist this one!