Wedding transport can be rather like the fashion business … one year limousines and vintage cars are all the rage and the next they are old hat and something different takes over for a while.
Daughter Clare got married when way-out carriages were in vogue. Some of her friends –not necessarily farming ones – were favouring tractors and trailers and JCBs. She also wanted to be different and to my surprise chose my 43-year-old Land Rover which really looked its age.
However, it had been kept fairly well up to scratch over the years and had never failed to get through its annual MoT, thanks to occasional tender loving care and the backing of my ailing bank account.
Looking at the unsightly condition of the old timer, I immediately questioned her wisdom. But she was adamant and said she viewed the historic Landy with great affection as it had towed her trailer – and horse – to events all over the country without a snag. Those trips were during her teens when petrol was hugely cheaper than it is today, I hasten to add.
It had been everywhere, said Oxford graduate and teacher Clare, so why not attend her wedding.
The cost of running the thirsty vehicle was the last thing on my mind as the wedding mileage to the 12-century village church at Wonastow, near Monmouth, would be minimal.
What concerned me was getting the mud-splattered Series 3 short-wheel-base vehicle into spick and span condition as a delicate white silk wedding gown and an oily old Land Rover didn’t mix. Or so I thought.
I accepted the challenge to get the vehicle up to scratch. After all, it was saving me a rather small fortune in hiring some rather exotic transport and its driver for the day and in any event the make-over would do the old stager a power of good as a serious service and valet were long overdue.
However, I did get carried away a little. Not only was the vehicles washed and waxed inside and out until the light blue paint started to wear thin in places but I decided to refurbish the front seats, renew the old wing mirrors, give the engine a new lease of life by skimming the cylinder head, replacing the exhaust valves and fitting new plugs and points.
All the oils were renewed and there was a thorough greasing underneath of joint after joint. And what a difference the work made to the engine, in particular. The Landy pulled stronger and smoother, started better and generally responded well to the treatment.
But that work was the easiest part. The rear of the cabin was the all-important issue in the bid to get to the church on time. Clare would simply sit on a cushion over one of the wheel arches and spread her large gown all around.
It seemed an impossible task to remove the grime of many years from all the corners and creases until we hit on the idea of applying special covering tape to difficult places. This saved the day and the gleaming Landy eventually got the stamp of approval for the big occasion. But that was not all.
Safely secured to the bonnet were wedding ribbons and trays holding flowers which gave a blaze of colour to the front of the vehicle. And they were cleverly arranged so that the driver could maintain a commanding view of the road and at the same time take in the admiring glances of passers-by.
On the day the Land Rover came up trumps and was one of the talking points at the reception. I even had an offer to buy the old stager from one of the guests but it had become part of the family a long time ago and, after all, I still need it to haul a heavy stock trailer, fetch hay and feed for animals and carry all sorts of tools – and rubbish. Little wonder it didn’t take long for that wedding shine to wear off.
Tim and Clare live on the Cotswolds and say the sight of so many Land Rovers in the area keeps reminding them of their special day.