The Manor Hotel in West Bexington near Bridport is a venue we visit regularly. It's very popular for weddings because of the amazing sea views it enjoys over Chesil Beach (just 300 metres away), the fine 16th century building with lovely bedrooms, cosy fires and an equally warm welcome. The weather that awaited our installation was anything but cosy and warm.
Installation took place on Thursday 13th February. Strong gale force winds and heavy rain had been forecast for the following day all week (a recurring and tiresome feature of Autumn/Winter 2013/14). We therefore took preventative measures: pinning the legs with multiple stakes, four one-ton water weights, plenty of ratchet straps for guy ropes, an intricate network of gutters and infills connecting the marquee to the hotel building (courtesy of Ed 'Screwfix' Hunter) and nerves of steel. A wooden boarded floor was laid which raised the carpet a couple of inches off the floor thereby allowing water to pass underneath and not saturate the carpet. Two powerful thermostat controlled marquee heaters were provided with a third on standby. The inside looked lovely with paper lanterns, uplights, panoramic windows making the most of the view, bunting, pristine white chair covers and pink/blue sashes from 5 Star Celebrations and parquet dance floor.
Sure enough, the following day the weather was horrific as predicted. Roads were closed due to flooding, West Bay was more or less shut down and lorries blown off the road, but Team Oakleaf still got a crew on site to hold nervous hands through the weather misery. Being just 300 metres from the sea, it's fair to say the marquee took its fair share of buffeting, particularly overnight when it reached 80mph. But the marquee held strong even though two large trees within a few hundred yards were brought crashing to earth. On the way home, struggling to find a route through the battered countryside, the Oakleaf van met a ram in the road that decided to pick a fight with the front of the trusty Transit. Thankfully, neither were damaged and our behorned friend moved away into the night.
Once the storm passed in the early hours of Saturday morning, the weather rapidly improved and the couple were able to have the wedding they dreamed of with sunny spells and virtually no wind, all within a cosy, inviting and frankly miraculous Oakleaf marquee.