Mirabelle Classic Cars

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Wedding Belle

Judith Bywater tells of a day in the life of a Morris Minor wedding chauffeuse.

The Friday morning dawned clear and crisp for although it was late June, it was far from flaming! My husband, Andrew and I had surveyed the wedding route the previous Saturday, taking us from Cannock to Market Drayton in Shropshire via the A5 and A41. Having collected the bride and her father it would be on to Shrewsbury Castle down the A53; after the ceremony on to the reception at Hawkstone Park (the venue for the MMOC national rally in 1999) then return home, a distance of some 107 miles or so.

I planned to travel the first leg of the journey up to Market Drayton with the hood of our white Morris Minor Convertible "Mirabelle" up, as there was a keen breeze blowing, and as the ceremony in Shrewsbury was due at 10.30 a.m. a fairly early start was required. This coincided with the morning rush-hour, so I followed Andrew who was in our other Morris Minor "Maybelle" as my route ran past his place of work. To date Andrew had driven for our wedding bookings on Saturdays, but rather than him having a day off work I had agreed to drive. With a wave of his hand he turned off onto his company car park - I was on my own!

Good time was made on my planned route once out of Cannock, that and a combination of blue skies and sunshine made it a pleasant drive. Heading west along the A5, I passed Weston Park, shortly after turning north up the '41, arriving at Market Drayton about 8.40 a.m. The next 30minutes was spent giving Mirabelle a final polish to remove any dead flies, and fixing of the bows and ribbons, always easier to do when not in a rush. Presently it was time to drive 'round to the bride's house and announce my arrival. I had no sooner parked than I heard shrieks of laughter, looking up to see a gaggle of young women approaching from the local hairdresser, one of them (I found out later was the bride, Jayne), wearing a dressing gown - not quite ready! The little party let out squeals of delight as they set eyes on Mirabelle. Jayne later told me that although the photographs on our website were nice, they did not do justice to the reality, "she is much better in the flesh". I waited outside as guests arrived at the house and in due course the bride and her father emerged. After a few photographs we started out towards Shrewsbury leaving most of the guests to catch and over-take us on the 40 minute journey. We were running a little late which wasn't helped by being stuck behind an old man in a Ford Fiesta doing a steady 30 mph. Eventually we came to a straight stretch of road, and much to Jayne's delight we overtook the slower car, "we've overtaken something in a Morris Minor!" she exclaimed.

After some miles we entered the outskirts of Shrewsbury as the traffic became heavier, with the bride waving to passers-by, we entered the short tunnel under Shrewsbury's railway station, stopping at the traffic lights. As we waited at the lights, Jayne had time to compose herself before our imminent arrival at the wedding venue. Driving on up the hill towards the Castle and Regimental Museum I was careful to look out for my turning point into the castle grounds. The previous weekend I had surveyed the wedding route and realised that a tight left hand turn would be required, failure to do so would have meant continuing on the one-way system for several miles around the city with the resultant delay in arriving - potential disaster! Fortunately I turned at the correct place and delivered bride and father at the appointed time. After a few photographs the wedding party went inside.

Now that the critical part of the journey was over I was able to relax a little and tidy Mirabelle's ribbons and flowers and put the hood down in readiness for the journey to the reception. This done I had some time to take some photographs of our Morris Minor with the castle as a backdrop, receiving much favourable comment about Mirabelle from passers-by. A little later the wedding party emerged and stood in the increasing sunshine drinking champagne. A five-piece band, friends of the groom played as the photographs were taken completing the idyllic scene; as I am a musician myself, I found this particularly enjoyable.

Photographs taken, it was now time to depart the castle for the wedding reception at Hawkstone Park. With the hood now down, bride and groom waved to members of the wedding party and passers-by. The band played us out of the grounds as we drove slowly past them out to the road onto Shrewsbury's one-way system.

Progress was slow but this didn't appear to bother my passengers who continued to wave at the Friday morning shoppers, the sight of Mirabelle with bride and groom brought a smile to a number of faces. With the occasional lane change, traffic island and lights we slowly made our way out of the city on the A53 heading north. Now out of the public's gaze, Jayne and Ian were able to relax a little. The journey to Hawkstone Park Hotel was largely uneventful, other than for a few impatient motorists trying to overtake - on one occasion as we were trying to turn right at a junction with right indicator flashing!

Shortly further on we arrived at the hotel, I disembarked my passengers and the photographer took a few more photographs while we waited for the wedding guests to arrive from Shrewsbury. It was soon time for me to leave; Jayne particularly said how Mirabelle and I had made her day by fulfilling her dream of travelling to her wedding in a Morris Minor. The journey back home to Cannock down the A41 was very pleasant, with the hood still down and the sun shining. As I drove home, I exchanged friendly waves with Morris Minor owners heading in the opposite direction, and reflected on how pleasant the day had been.

Judith



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