Wednesday, 4 November 2009

A Dartmoor Polterabend - or 'from market to barn'

In the beginning was the barn...

We met at a cattle market, had an engagement-reception party in a cowshed, and will be having our wedding reception in a dairy. It would be more appropriate if we were farmers, to be honest... Ah well.

Friday: two party-throwers meet up with a handful of party-goers in mizzly rain, to prepare the barn. Exit copious quantities of cow-erm "waste", via brush, shovel and barrow. The marquee arrives, in pieces, with another partygoer and is puzzled over ('how the hell does that fit together?'); the water trough is scrubbed out for employment as a wine & beer cooler. The rain - encouragingly - begins to lift... A further party-goer arrives, the yard is brushed down, but there's no water in the pipes to hose it. Hm.

Dartmoor at its finest!

Jeremy and youngest sister Josie discuss the location of the bar. Jeremy demonstrating the difficulties of hurling from this position. Jo's keeping her placcy bag well clear, thankyou so much!

Angela and Naomi shovelling ... stuff.

Still shovelling...!

I'm driving her up the wall. Heh.

Another reveller joins the fray: Arturo - my future brother-in-law shovels ... stuff ... with Josie and Jeremy

Nearly finished. Only the marquee to put up and the yard to sweep, the cooler to scrub and the decoration, food and booze to see to. Oh, and the lights. And the tents and signs. And the tables, chairs and urn...

Phase one complete! Enter Phase two...

Saturday morning: the same two party-throwers and two different party-goers load their respective cars to the gunwales with important stuff and re-enter the fray. A bit of branch wired up here, some lights attached there... it's beginning to come together. The marquee borrowed in case of rain is erected, with guy-ropes that stretch across the entire yard (you try putting up a tent designed for a grassy lawn on a concrete apron!). Two further party-goers arrive and muck in with enthusiasm. More decorations are put in place. Tables and chairs arrive, with the assistance of yet another generous friend! Booze is cooled and more is put out on a makeshift bar... ...barbecues are built, candles in jars put out, food gathers on tables, notices go up to direct the guests towards parking, toilets and camping... ...the sun shines... ...the sun sets. Lights are turned on. Guests arrive.

Laura shows us what she thinks of not being allowed booze...

Na: "I'm marrying into this family."

Eventually, the moment everyone seems to have been waiting for arrives - and the crockery is ritually smashed, shattered and scattered. Have to say that it was very amusing watching the inhibitions break down - the initial 'not sure this is quite the done thing' turning to 'that's not broken properly - heave another plate at it!')... ...and eventually, the debris is swept by the two of us, sharing a broom in the apparently traditional manner.

Jeremy and Naomi look on as Michael gets proceedings under way. Poppy waits with ceramics in hand to the right!

UFO sightings increased substantially over the evening. From left: Poppy, Alice, Malc and Leona, Antje, Claire and Ian.

See what I mean? From left: Arturo & Basti, me, Na, Michael, Finlay, Simon, Poppy, Alice, Fiona, Malc, Leona, Rebecca and Antje. Phew!

As if we hadn't swept the floor often enough over the past day! Jo, Laura, Arturo and Basti look on approvingly as sister Naomi and fiancé Jeremy get sweeping...

Malc, Michael and Antje admire Judith's technique. Claire watches on... Ian, meanwhile, is hastily doling out the dinner service donated by Vicky - Fiona's having nothing to do with this one!

Yes folks, it's a sizeable pile of crockery. Drainage for flowerpots, anyone? Here goes: Fiona, Poppy and Alice, Leona & Malcolm, Ben, Antje, Hayley, Brian, Ian, James, Toby & Harry, Chrissy, Claire, Shona, Kim, Paul, Fiona & Paul. My fingers hurt.

Once again, the happy couple sweep on... with an audience of Michael, Poppy, Alice, Malcolm, Antje, Claire, Ian, Finlay, Rebecca, Simon, Ben, James, Harry, Hayley, Chrissie, Toby, Brian, Shona, Paul, Paul, Fiona, Amy and Tom. They really hurt.

Not again! Judith goes in to make sure that one's properly smashed... Michael, Malc, Antje, Claire, Ian, Fiona, Rebecca, Finlay, Simon, Amy, Tom, Shona, Brian, Chrissie, James, Fiona, Tim, Domi (foreground) and Lizzie... aargh.

After that, just a standard party - bit of music, food, booze, chitchat and general malarkey. Good fun!

Matt, Clare, Simon and Malc discuss whoever is in the pushchair. To the right, Brian and Shona chat with Claire, Chrissy and Toby with Antje; and Andy makes a rapid escape!

Josie eyes up the bar, whilst Roland and Sonja eye up the food. Behind, Paul, Ben, Kim and Hayley inspect the floor for shoddy shovel-work, whilst Judith fights her way into a recalcitrant bottle - and who's that with the pumpkin on their head?! 

Finally, and in the nick of time, the much-admired cake, courtesy of Sonja! Getting in some practice for a wedding cake, basically. Tasted great too!

Thankyou Naomi, Mark and Min for such a spectacular barn and campsite - the stars were superb. Thankyou, everyone who helped us set up and take down, thankyou everyone who came and made it such a fun night: we'll throw another party again. Sometime. :o)

Finally, thanks beyond thanks to Domi Jarocki and Angela Barker for the photos!

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