Couples frequently ask me ”what’s your favourite wedding venue”?

It’s not a fair question – because more often than not, my favourite is the one where they are having their own ceremony. As a Humanist celebrant, I work ‘in the moment’. I value my instinct. I tend to love places that my couples love simply because I am open to being attuned to what they want their day to be like.

Because of this, it’s almost inevitable that their venue ‘fits’ them. And if we have made a connection, then it ‘fits’ me too. That’s the way it works. It’s all about a relationship.

But there is something different about College Farm in Thompson. It has history – it is a 14th Century house that was once a College of Priests to serve the local church. It is also beautiful. It has a very special atmosphere. Katharine and Richard Wolstenholme live there and Katharine is a direct descendent of the original owner. She and Richard were married here.

I spent some time with Katharine about 10 days ago. Adam and Laura are having their wedding at College Farm and it’s always good to work closely venue owners so we can collaborate and share ideas. I pulled into the drive, a faint scattering of gravel, a bright shaft of sunlight, a flash of yellow and purple crocus. Then a sharp pull on the handbrake. Then silence. No sign of the 20th Century.

Katharine threw open the door, smiled widely, ushered me into the kitchen with its gurgling Aga. Made tea. Offered cake. And there we sat for over two hours. We’d not met before but it felt as though I’d found a sister. We talked and laughed, compared notes, pondered on life. The Universe. Everything. And more.

College Farm is a fabulous place and the grounds are perfect too. I am imagining Adam and Laura there in a couple of months’ time. It will be a beautiful day.

Of course I had to meet the animals. The chickens. And the North Ronaldsay sheep. And, of course, the llamas; especially Brian who – in my opinion – must somehow find a way to feature in the wedding. I bet his little brain is working on that idea as we speak. Especially if carrots are involved!

Brian and his friends

Dawn and Katharine at College Farm, Thompson

My intention was to write to Katharine immediately I got home. To say thank you for her kindness and warmth, and for that sense of connection which will make working together a delight. Instead, we had a family bereavement which rather knocked my good intentions sideways. So this is my way of saying thank you to her – belatedly but sincerely.