Its not every day you get an invitation to play water taxi to a bride and groom!
A few weeks ago the Boaters Christian Fellowship website received an unusual request which went along the lines of "will any of your members be in central Birmingham on Saturday 21st April, and be willing to pick a bride and groom from their reception at Gas Street and take them away to the Cube?"
Now that's what I call.... a happy couple!
I was thinking about who might be in the area and up for such a challenge, when I realised that with a little bit of rescheduling we could be in town that night - and promptly volunteered. We were put in touch with Manda and Paul, the bride and groom, and a plan was hatched.
The wedding entourage arrive
And so we rocked up into town on Saturday afternoon, with a private mooring generously provided by our friends Nick and Victoria and set to preparing the boat. We rigged up some lights and created a just married board before donning our best (relatively speaking) clothes and wandered up to the reception, which was taking place at St Lukes, Gas St. At this point the timings were finalised, drinks were drunk, bride and groom met and we scurried back to collect the boat.
Dont fall in.....
Now its worth mentioning at this point that the bride is Amanda Howett (Manda) and is priest in charge of St Lukes, Great Colmore Street and this church is the other part of the newly established Gas St Church - where the reception was being held.
At 9.30pm prompt we rocked up at Worcester Bar and tied onto the working boats opposite the trip boat pick up spot, just outside the Tap and Spile pub and waited. Of course, when did a wedding ever run to time? It was therefore no surprise to find ourselves waiting till 9.45 before the wedding entourage, probably 150 strong, came storming up the towpath led by a radiant bride and beaming groom.
Causing mayhem at Worcester Bar
We slotted into the narrows and picked up the happy couple who, from the vantage of the boat, were able to say fleeting goodbyes to all the guests who lined the handrail. It was an amazingly balmy night for April but all the un-seasonal weather had set off some monster thunder storms, and our trip to the Cube was back lit with flashes of lightening. Fortunately the rain held off just long enough to see the newly weds get off at the far end and be whisked away by their best man.
One of the more unusual ways to leave a wedding reception?
I have to say that this was probably as memorable for us as it was Manda and Paul, and represented a hugely enjoyable way to start our 2018 adventure.
To round the weekend off we decided to visit St Lukes, Gas Street on Sunday and get a feel for this innovative church. This £2m project is set in a refurbished industrial building, which was originally used to manufacture gas and so illuminate the early city of Birmingham, before electricity was available. In fact, the building sits next to an oblong pond which is itself a lost arm of canal which led off Gas Street Basin. It therefore ticked my lost canal box for starters.
If you have any curiosity about things spiritual I would recommend that you add St Lukes, Gas St to your Birmingham Bucket List. It is a church but neither the building nor the style of worship are anything close to what you would expect. Maybe it is the Church of England dyed peroxide blond, where the only Anglican roots on show were the formal Banns of Marriage, which slotted slightly uneasily into a very contemporary style of worship.
Its loud, its lively, its dynamic and its youthful. Possibly not for everyone, but if you like to sample the innovative and unusual you should get down there and try it it for yourself.