The Adventures of The Chapel Hill Duo: 1

The Chapel Hill Duo, Sarah and Jaya as wedding guests.
A rare photo of us being Wedding Guests for a change! This was taken at the Carre Arms Hotel in Sleaford at Sarah’s Godfathers Wedding.

This is the first in a new series of blog posts where we will talk about our day-to-day lives as The Chapel Hill Duo. We will cover everything from our work at Weddings and other events to the joys and difficulties of being professional musicians living in rural Lincolnshire.

flying dragonfly.
A beautiful dragonfly that Jaya almost got a decent picture of! XD

Although it sometimes seems like all we do is play music, we also enjoy long walks through the countryside around our village. Jaya is also a keen amateur photographer.

dew on a rosebush.
Early morning dew on a rose bush captured while we were out for a walk around the villages.

The last two weeks have been jam-packed with all manner of events, both professional and personal. So, let’s start at the beginning…

We played at a beautiful Wedding the last weekend in August; a lovely Church Ceremony followed by a garden Drinks Reception at the Family’s farm just down the road. The couple had requested 3 special songs for their Ceremony; ‘Magic’ by Coldplay for her entrance, and ‘Close to You’ by The Carpenters and ‘What The World Needs Now’ by Burt Bacharach for the signing of the register. These went down a treat with guests and many people approached us at the Drinks Reception afterwards requesting we play them again! While we love playing recent chart hits, it was lovely to settle into something with a bit more of a vintage feel.

That evening we packed the blankets and picnic tea and headed out to Belvoir Castle for the Fireworks Champion Competition. We particularly enjoyed this display set to the music from Pirates of the Caribbean.

The event was hosted by MLE Pyrotechnics who we met earlier this year at the Belton Woods Hotel Wedding Open evening.

The next day we were up well before the crack of dawn to travel to Chatsworth Country Fair. With Sarah’s Dad, Pipe Major Billy James, being a Bagpiper the family would go every year to watch him compete with his Band in the piping competition. Despite being together nearly 8 years now, Jaya had never seen a live Pipe Band before! So, this year we all went to support Billy (and also get a good look inside the Food & Booze tent…) and Jaya was especially excited to watch all the Bands come together to play in the ‘Massed Pipe Band’. We asked Billy what it was like to play with so many Pipers, to which he responded “oh this is nothing, at the Glasgow Championships there are about 2000 Pipers…”

A cheeky wave from Pipe Major Billy James. Billy is available for hire for all sorts of events

The following morning we all sat down to breakfast, excited to spend the day in Bakewell celebrating Sarah’s Mum’s Birthday! Penny, Sarah’s sister, made this beautiful basket, flowers and all! Not only is she an incredibly talented Violinist I swear she can make anything if you give her a hand full of twigs and some wool!

An incredible wicker basket with crocheted flowers made by Penny James.
A beautiful handmade wicker basket with crocheted rainbow flowers made by Penny James.

With barely a day to repack a bag and get our heads in gear, we made our way down to Somerset to play at the wedding of a lovely Canadian couple who had booked us online. This wedding was slightly different to what we’re used to, in that the family had hired a holiday cottage (manor house more like!) for the week and had organised the whole wedding to take place there!

a manor house in Somerset
This is a holiday let people, not a Wedding venue! Just wow, what an incredible idea for a unique wedding.
Cellist Sarah James at an outside wedding ceremony.
Sarah surveying the Ceremony space in the walled garden.
avenue of trees for bridal entrance.
What an aisle, this avenue of trees was just made for an epic Bridal entrance.

They’d done most of it themselves, the only professional help they hired in was us, the photographer, a celebrant to conduct the ceremony and caterers.

Wedding breakfast laid out at a manor house orangery.
The Wedding breakfast was laid out in the orangery.
Wedding flowers for outdoor ceremony in a natural style.
The caterers did some of the decorations but most of them were done by the Bride and Groom’s family and friends. We love this natural floral display.

It was lovely to work with Sarah Baker (another Sarah, there were at least 5 of us there that day, including the Bride!) of Norfolk Bluebells Celebrant, the way she conducted the ceremony was just beautiful, it was so lovely to hear the story of how the Bride & Groom met.

An outdoor wedding ceremony with celebrant from Cellist Sarah James point of view.
A Cellist’s-eye-view of the Ceremony conducted by

It really sunk in just how much millage we do travelling to play at Weddings when we found ourselves driving past Stonehenge.

It’s weird to see such an awesome ancient monument right next to the A303.

The next wedding was particularly special, as well as playing for the couple’s Church Ceremony and Drinks Reception, the Bride had secretly booked us for their First Dance as well.

Church ceremony vows bride and groom.
The Bride and Groom make their vows.
Cellist sarah james watching the church ceremony.
Sarah watching the Ceremony in Denys Church, Eaton.

The Groom had no idea! She also asked us to learn a new song for them, ‘Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me’ By Mel Carter, which held special meaning to the couple and their family. You’ll notice at the beginning of the video the Bride giggles, apparently this was the moment when he twigged what the song was and said “ooh, you cheeky monkey” – so cute!

First Dance to Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss by Mel Carter. So much love.

At the NEXT wedding we got to be guests for a change! It was Sarah’s Godfather getting married so as a wedding present we offered to play for their Ceremony as well. The couple chose some beautiful music including ‘Perfect’ by Ed Sheeran for their entrance.

After the ceremony at the carre arms.
The Ceremony room at the Carre Arms, Sleaford.

Everyone had a bit of a cry in the middle when the Bride teared up while she was saying her vows! We had a wonderful day, which was in no way diminished by the flat tire we were surprised with on the way home (thanks Lincolnshire roads!)

the Chapel Hill Duo selfie as wedding guests.
Cheeky selfie with our G&T’s at Sarah’s Godfathers wedding.

The emotional and physical strain of so many wonderful events in such a short space of time was beginning to show, so we took a day off to regain our equilibrium.

cat helping with yoga.
Kitty reminding us to focus on our breathing (and stroke her between poses).

Yoga (with our trusty yoga instructor, Kitty) and a long walk with a break for blackberrying was just what we needed!

picking blackberries.
Sarah is slightly addicted to picking blackberries.

It was also a lovely surprise to receive a beautiful Thank You card from a couple who’s wedding we had played at back at the beginning of August.

a thank you card to the chapel hill duo
We LOVE getting Thank You cards.

It read, “Thank you so much for playing at our wedding. You both really were amazing and so many of our guests are still talking about how great you were. Thank you for making our day even more special.”

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