Update:. The Queen was very pleased to hear about the tree planting inspired by, and now part of, her Commonwealth Canopy initiative. Recently she sent me a lovely letter in response to my sending her the story. It may not be the done thing to discuss it but I will say that I was so impressed that not only was Her Majesty very interested, she also wished Ainslie well after her injury! What a wonderful Monarch to still take an interest in her subjects at the far end of the Commonwealth. Please plant more native trees to help purify the planet and protect our wildlife.
PIRATE WEDDING AT BRANDY HILL INCLUDES TREE PLANTING
What to do you give a couple for their wedding who have just moved recently to a beautiful wooded property? Another tree of course!
This was the case when my Godaughter Ainslie Newby married Matt Hallcroft in the most fun and romantic outdoor ceremony you could ever imagine on 6 of April 2019.
The Brandy Hill property, near Port Stephens in NSW, covers 2 acres and has native trees, a 4-
bedroomed modern house, bountiful gardens, plus a huge a huge man-cave of a shed that includes a bar.
Since they would now have 6 grown-up children between them, there were no constraints on having a formal wedding. This was to be something joyous that all ages, family and friends, could get involved in,
including dressing up as pirates and maidens. The weather was perfect and it was a huge success.
But there was another story running parallel to the special day. As Ainslie’s Godmother, I was unable to attend due to ill-health, but I wanted to give the couple a gift that would signify all that the the couple had been through in the 5 years since they met through online dating.
They had only just met when Ainslie had been badly injured by a car hitting her motorbike on the way to work.
It had taken months of healing and rehabilitation that should have strained their new love, but instead made them stronger. Now they were to be married.
After reading about the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy Project which Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth has instigated to help replace native woodlands and forests all over the Commonwealth, the idea of planting a tree to
commemorate the wedding was eagerly accepted.
A tree with longevity was needed. The Hunter Valley was once populated by cedar trees, but these had long been cleared by the early settlers to build houses and make furniture.
Another idea was prompted by my being on the Facebook friends list of actress and author Carol Drinkwater, whose best-selling books featured a romantic life restoring an olive farm. I knew that olives are being produced successfully in Australia, and my own two small potted specimens are growing bravely. I looked on Google for a possible outlet where an established tree could be found and ‘voila’, the
perfect location presented itself with the Lonely Goat Olives Farm providing not only a choice of perfect olive trees ready for planting, but in a beautiful sloping location in the Wattagan Mountains.
Ainslie loved the idea, and put it to Matt, and everybody got very excited.
Olive trees are beautiful, hardy, can live over 1,000 years and provide food. Contact was made with Keith and Elisabeth Hallett for the couple to go together to choose a tree. All was set for a lovely outing away from the wedding plans. It was a week before the wedding.
Then disaster! A nasty accident saw the bride-to-be hospitalised and bedbound until the day prior to the wedding, with a nasty gash to her leg. The wound needed surgery, antibiotics and bedrest.
When the day to go choose a special olive tree came Matt set off alone, but thanks to the kindness and help of Keith and Elisabeth he came home with a very special Corotina olive tree already bearing fruit, 1.6m high and weighing 90 kilos.
“This tree”, said Keith, “is very special because it has two boughs intertwined as one.” Very symbolic. Keith said there should be a good olive crop in two years. Matt came away one and a half hours later also carrying a wedding gift of a bottle of olive oil, determined to take Ainslie back for a romantic weekend in one of the cottages on the lovely property at a later date.
Ainslie was not discharged from hospital until the eve of the wedding. Everyone had rallied round to help, and one of the guests even collected the cake on her way to the ceremony. Everything went according to plan.
Later, Ainslie and Matt held a special planting together of their symbolic tree, complete with a plaque showing their new family motto: live, love, laugh, grow.
My olive tree inspiration
Photos below courtesy friends of the couple posted to FB. Used with Permission. Photos by:
Jayde McLoy Abdilla
Lonely Goat Olives photos courtesy of Keith and Elisabeth Hallett:
More information on://www.lonelygoatolives.com.au