Once we'd had breakfast and got on our way, sardined into the Clio, we were up in Oxford for a few hours of punting before lunch and then a drive down to East Hagbourne to introduce the parents. If you've never been punting before, it's loads of fun...especially if A) you're not the one pushing the punt, or B) you actually know what you're supposed to do when pushing the punt.
Sebastian took the first and longest turn manoeuvring us along the river. Needless to say, when we turned around and I took my own turn, it was nowhere as easy as he'd made it look. I weaved back and forth like a very slow drunk driver...or in this case a very slow drunken gondolier. The family all took it in their turns to laugh at me as I crashed our punt into tree after tree. Of course, Mom's laughter stopped when it was her turn. Everyone else's laughter was soon to increase.
There was a pub - the Victoria Arms - that had a small mooring so people could tie up their punts and come to have a drink or something to eat. We decided we'd give the place a try since it was so conveniently on our way back. Mom steered us quite well to within reach of the bank and Sebastian tiptoed his way to the back of the punt to help her get off so he could wrangle the punt around into a good position to tie it up. This was a bad idea.
Mom got one foot on the bank, when - like a scene from every slapstick comedy - the punt began drifting away from the bank. The shouts raised in crescendo as Mom slid down into a very impressive, but nonetheless, very unnatural split. Sebastian, feet in the punt, grabbed at the bank and attempted to pull us closer to avoid the inevitable. It was to no avail. He was stretched out, parallel to the water's surface, when Momma fell in. I scrambled to pull the punt back to the bank to get Sebastian in so that we could grab hold and pull Mom back into the punt. Dripping wet, but otherwise unscathed, we got the two of them on the bank and removed ourselves from our ponderous transport.
The pub was a miss, so after drinks and a trip to the ladies' room to wring all the water we could out of Mom's jeans, it was off to Nando's for lunch before scarpering off to East Hagbourne, some relaxing drinks in the garden, and bridesmaids' dress fittings. We put Mom's clothes through the tumble dryer and were off to visit Elaine, worker of miracles, sewer of dresses.
By this point, I must admit, my recent propensity to migraines and increased motion sickness had been getting the best of me. Nevertheless, and despite my high tolerance for both pain and medication, it was a grave mistake to accept the oxycotin from my step-dad. Sitting in Elaine's sewing room in Wallingford the only phrase I could think of to describe myself was out of Dumas: "[her] head vacillating like some tipsy satyr from a Rubens." I apparently - to keep up the literary idiom - grew pale apace, and looked like I'd need a fainting couch, in true Victorian fashion, at any minute. For the rest of Victoria's fitting, and part of Rachel and Felicity's I gave incongruously coherent opinions and observations from my ailing supine position on one of the dress shop's couches.
It was the car drive back to my in-laws' that was murder. By the time we'd pulled into the drive, I was hovering over the precipice of having to watch my lunch in rewind, and it wasn't a pleasant feeling. Thankfully for the neighbours, their bushes were spared, and - false alarm over - I lay on the couch while the rest of the family made introductions and entertaining conversation in the garden. After dinner, we got to listen to my brother-in-law Robin sing the piece we're planning to have him do at the wedding - Offenbach's Barcarole. It was absolutely beautiful and we got the best example ever of a captive audience when Gunnar asked him to sing "Some Enchanted Evening" from South Pacific. He smiled such a big smile, and occasionally mouthed along with the lyrics, his hand conducting Robin along goodnaturedly the whole time. It was such a good time having the whole family packed into the living room to listen to Robin sing and generally discuss the wedding and get to know each other.
The evening, however, came to a sickened conclusion when, after the hour-and-a-half car journey home, my stomach finally decided to stop playing chicken and viciously remind me what I'd eaten that day by displaying it all over our second parking spot. Yummy.
Nevertheless, orangey Portuguese food vomit aside, the day was perfectly lovely and just what I wanted to kick off the week leading to my wedding.