Matrimony Matters

This weekend, I went to a close friend’s wedding. It was lovely and the celebrations stretched out before and after the actual wedding day. It  was amazing and I loved it how they combined traditions from an English wedding and a Polish wedding (the groom is Polish) but they also did a lot of things their way too making it intimate and personal. That is what marriage should be in my opinion – personal and intimate. It is about two people and every couple is different, so the wedding and marriage should reflect this.

I wrote a poem for the event and it became part of the best man’s speech. One friend made the bunting and individual name places for the dinner table. One friend created the invitations. One friend sang the song for the first dance. And I’m sure there are many more personal involvements.  To me, a wedding is about the joining of two families as well as the joining of two people romantically and legally, It is also about having everyone you love and care about under one roof, which is why this wedding was just wonderful. Friends and family all joining together to help, support and celebrate!  Here, take a look at my personal contribution:

Married Life

By Sam Gray

To be together you have promised,

 Forever and beyond,

 To gaze into each other’s eyes

 Nothing will break that bond.

Lou does her silly dances,

 Pav says ‘Louisa you’re crazy!’

 She laughs and keeps on prancing,

 Saying “one day I’ll have your baby”!

Pav loves to go camping,

 And Lou enjoys it too,

 Whether in Poland or in England,

 It’s their perfect thing to do.

But, Pav’s not much of a drinker,

 Just one beer and he’s done,

 Soaked up by McDonald’s fries,

 a big mac burger and bun!

Louise is the total opposite

 And loves her New Zealand wine,

 It reminds her of her gap year abroad-

 That she goes on about all the time!

 But they’ve always got their date nights,

 Many Slices of India to consume,

 Pav gets his chops around the lamb,

 Then home for a DVD – we assume!

We know they go together well,

 Like the ring now on her finger,

 Though Pav can’t have much spice in life……

 ….he loves a bit of ginger!

Naturally, the poem means more to you if you know the couple. But that’s the whole point and how all these little touches helped to make the day so personal and individual for them.  As I said above, they combined some Polish traditions with the English. One of my favourites was where the bride and groom were given a shot as they entered the wedding breakfast. One was vodka; one water. They didn’t know who had which one, until they drank it – and the one who has the vodka shot will become the leader of the household. It was the groom on this occasion 😉

There was some Polish language during the speeches too and on each table there was Polish and English sweets as favours. There was also photographs and information about their English and Polish holidays on each table   – each table named after an English or Polish city in fact (we were Wroclaw). So it was the combining of her English family and his Polish family in many subtle, special ways.

I did a bit of research into our English wedding traditions and what they mean. Some were quite interesting!

  • Bridesmaids and groomsmen have always worn matching outfits to each other in order to trick evil spirits! Evil spirits wouldn’t be able to tell who was who if the wedding party were dressed similarly so would leave the happy couple alone 😉 (bit crazy that one!)
  • Throwing the garter (we had the groom do this at the recent wedding). This apparently originates from when guests would accompany the bride and groom to the bed chamber. Some would get too rowdy and too eager and attempt to take the couple’s clothes off (and they say we are too sexual these days!) so the garter would get thrown into the crowd in order to distract them!
  • Brides have traditionally worn a veil for centuries and in many cultures. In ancient Rome, the bride wore a veil to protect the bride from jealous rivals who may try and get her for themselves! In ancient Egypt, India and China, the veil was worn because it was bad luck for the groom to see the bride before they were married – which ties in with how we still use it today.
  • Crossing the threshold has been a tradition for years and still exists today. This used to happen to avoid evil spirits on the floor. Another reason was that it was bad luck for the bride to fall as she walked through the door, so she was lifted instead (not sure how that works if she was dropped though!) and another reason was so keep the bride’s maidenly modesty and so she didn’t look to eager to get to the marital bed!

Wedding traditions from other countries and cultures are just as whacky:

  • The term ‘tying the knot’ comes from a Celtic tradition where the bride and groom’s hands were tied together.
  • In Latvia, the engaged couple choose a married couple, usually friends, to plan their wedding for them (I feel a reality TV show coming on!)
  • In Austria, the shirt the groom wears is given to him by the bride. He then saves it for the rest of his life and is buried it when he dies (what happens if he is married more than once?!)
  • In Mexico, it is traditional for the couple to be given 13 gold coins as a symbol of trust and devotion. (not like our ‘unlucky’ 13 then!?)
  • An African-American tradition, is for the bride and groom to jump over a broom to brush away malevolent spirits.
  • Switzerland folk set fire to the bride’s bouquet to symbolise the end of her maidenhood!

So there you go – many traditions; personal touches; ideas – you can do them, steal from other countries or even make your own! At the end of the day thought, marriage is the same everywhere and to everyone: the joining of two people in love who vow to be together forever 🙂

Congratulations to my two friends and whoever else has celebrated their big day this summer!

XSXS

To see other related posts: https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/two-hearts-two-rings/

                                                 https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/cardiff-clucking-great/

Celebrate this 23rd April!

Today is a day of celebration. It is:

St. George’s Day

William Shakespeare’s Birthday

World Book Night

And I think they all tie in nicely with us here in the UK. St. George’s Day means we should generally feel proud to be British today. Yes, people complain that there aren’t as many celebrations for that, as there are St. Patrick’s Day for example – well to those people I say, ‘Don’t complain – Do!’ Arrange something to celebrate if you feel you should. Me? I’ve just read a good work of fiction, in the British summer time, drinking a glass of Pimms and lemonade – very English and also ties in with World Book Night too 😉

So, that’s St. George’s Day taken care of. And I think you all know how I feel about books and I celebrate them very regularly anyway. (Take a look at A Book Lover’s Post in my ‘Love of Books’ section at the top, if you need reminding). That leaves Mr William Shakespeare to discuss. I am sitting here writing this drinking tea out of my Shakespeare quote mug, bought for me, funnily enough, by my friend from France. It has many quotes from his works that are well-known phrases today. It is amazing really, how much he has influenced our language. I know it is argued that many others helped him write his plays, so it is uncertain how much of the words are his own – but there is enough evidence to show he had a brilliant way with words, I think 🙂

Before I share with you some Shakespearian words of wisdom  – straight from my tea mug (nobody can say I don’t plan for these blog posts 😉 – I just want to exclaim my fascination with his actual birth date. Even though, his birth date is actually unknown – it is estimated that he was born on the 23rd since his baptism was the 26th April and this normally occurred 3 days after the birth. He then died on the 23rd April too.   I love how he died on his birthday, therefore. I just  think it made his life completely rounded off , complete, like one of his plays 🙂

Today he would have been 449 . Amazing really that we still study work of someone who was born centuries ago.  It is also the 397th anniversary of his death, as he died at the age of 52. They say his greatest achievement  was surviving his first year in the harsh, cruel Tudor period – where many new borns didn’t survive. I think some of his great words can challenge this achievement:

‘A fool’s paradise’ ‘Rhyme nor reason’ ‘A dish fit for the gods’ ‘The Queen’s English’ ‘It’s all Greek to me’ ‘in stitches’ ‘heart upon my sleeve’ ‘a green eyed monster’ ‘star crossed lovers’ ‘wild goose chase’ ‘all that glitters is not gold’ ‘fair play’ ‘make your hair stand on end’ ‘vanish into thin air’ ‘fancy free’ ‘love is blind’ ‘lie low’ ‘for ever and a day’ ‘in a pickle’

and my personal favourite, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

‘The course of true love did never run smooth’

Too true Bill!

The kids at school complain; ‘Why do we have to learn this old language?!’ I tell them, that to understand it (and they don’t need to understand it all), they need good analytical and communication skills. It is also interesting, yet they may not think that until years later. You must admit that you use a lot of the above phrases, or at least have heard of them.  Meaning, his words are still relevant today in their modern context.

Here’s to William Shakespeare, much-loved Bard and playwright  – then, now and forever 🙂

p.s – I guiltily admit that I have never been to Shakespeare’s birth place, but I am going in a few weeks and I’m very excited 😀

XSXS

More Cheese Please!

I don’t know if any of you out there have heard of raclette? I only ask because I never had until we moved into our house and were given a Raclette grill. Raclette is the type of cheese. The grill and way of eating it seems to come from Germany/France/Austria. My boyfriend first had it when he was snowboarding in France and Austria and when we were offered this grill he was most excited! It is quite good actually and a very social way of eating.

Ours is like a teflon, round grill plate (some are made of marble/stone) – this is where you cook meat. Raw chicken, beef, pork etc. I know it is a bit weird to have raw meat on the table but the idea is to cook it together. Then underneath you have these heat elements and you put in little triangle trays full of the hard cheese and it melts. You then serve the melted cheese with your meat and we usually have cooked meats like salami, chorizo, parma ham etc with small, salad potatoes, salad and french stick. Yummy. If you break it down, I guess it is just potatoes, meat salad and melted cheese! But is the idea of cooking together and keep eating little bits. My boyfriend has boy’s nights and they get through nearly a wheel of cheese and have various rounds. They claim to get the cheese sweats! My boyfriend also claimed to have cheese ‘giggles’ once and he came to bed giggling uncontrollably…. it was the cheese, no not the beer of course 😉

This is the picture I found that is most similar to ours. Meat on top and cheese below!

 

You can be more adventurous too. I actually bought my boyfriend a Raclette book, which has ideas for social gatherings and different ways to use your grill. You can prepare vegetables/mushrooms/prawns and cook certain things in a pan before so they are a little cooked and finish them off with the cheese in the little trays after. Last night, I put some potatoes onto the grill to brown them and also peppers. So you can do what you like really.

We had Raclette on our French holiday in the summer. It was a little different though. you get a stand that holds the cheese (below) and then you scrape the cheese of either side. You get the cooked meats, potatoes, salad and bread but don’t cook raw meat. So not sure if that was something they added when they made these grills or what. It was still good though and nice to try it in a restaurant.

The raclette in France…. the cheese comes off either side….

The reason we had one last night, just us two, was that my workmate’s husband had been to France and bought us a pack of Raclette cheese back. So we thought it would be nice for a Friday evening. Sounds like we are getting old….. having a cheese evening! Haha. The cheese can actually be quite difficult to get. We have arranged to have 8 people come for a raclette evening before and then not been able to buy the cheese! Once, I was running round Lidl (who only seem to have it certain times of year), Sainsbury’s (who seemed to suddenly stop selling) and Aldi who didn’t have it at all! This may have been the time my friend bought some back that evening from a bigger Sainsbury’s in Conventry so the party could go ahead! At times. my boyfriend has gone to a cheese shop in a town 40 minutes away and then to Waitrose in another city! We are dedicated to our cheese!

You can actually use different cheeses in the grill and the book I bought shows this. But we just think that for how often you use it, you might as well use the proper stuff!

Hope, I’ve given you some new ideas for your Saturday tea. A tip: if you have a teflon one like ours, make sure you use plastic cutlery to put the meat on/take it off.. (my girl mates love making fun of my boyfriend who is the ‘fun police’ with his plastic on teflon!) Haha

Have a good day,

XSXS

British with extras….

Do we all consider ourselves to be ‘born and bred British’? (If we are British to begin with that is). What makes us British? I received a text recently; a  joke one. Some can be great but I hate those ones that you have to send to twenty people before midnight or you will die a painful death. Luckily, this was one of the funny ones. It goes:

‘Being British is about driving a German car to an Irish pub for a Belgian beer, then on the way home grabbing an Indian curry or a Turkish Kebab to sit and eat on a Swedish sofa whilst watching USA shows on a Japanese TV.’

definitely something to think about! We think of ourselves as pure British and moan about people ‘coming into the country’, yet we don’t moan about all these things we use, eat and watch every day from other cultures and countries. Also makes you think, what actually is made in Britain?! Well we do get British cars and other made items and another take away could be fish and chips to be fair… and British TV wins over American a lot of the time. Whats makes you think of Britain though? I think of red letter boxes, Buckingham palace (and the queen inside!), good Cadbury’s chocolate (they have it in other countries but it just doesn’t taste the same), certain writers and books, roast dinners, amazing countryside and of course the unpredictable weather! It is important to embrace other cultures though. So the above things that we do are fine yeh, but we can’t complain about other people being over here. I don’t have a problem with it to be honest. There is no physical barrier or rule saying people have to stay living in their own countries. As long as people work, give to economy, pay their way and respect the people they are with, then that is just fine.

I work in a school where being a white and British is the minority. There are black Caribbean, Indian, African, Polish, japanese, Pakistani and lots more. I love it. It is great to learn about their cultures and religions. The names were very tricky to learn though, since I was used to being in a White British based school previously. Since January, I have learnt the names and noticed certain patterns of cultures and religions and the names they have. Hussain seems to be the British equivalent of ‘Smith’ I think. Two Japanese pupils have told me this week though that they are going back to Japan at Christmas and not coming back. This is the effect I have on the kids you see! It seems some come over for work and then go back after a certain period.

Oh to tell you the rest of the text by the way, it says: ‘Only in Britain can you get a pizza to your home faster than an ambulance. Only in Britain do banks leave both doors open but chain their pens to the counter. Supermarkets make  ill people walk to the back to get their prescriptions, yet ‘healthy’ people can get fags at the door. We might be British but we’re funny.’ So it seems we are excused from these things because they are amusing! Does seem daft, especially the bank one. My pizza always takes a while to come and luckily I haven’t had to ring for an ambulance so I can’t say about that one!

We may get some things a bit wrong but as I said above, we do roast dinner riiight! This weekend ,on Sunday, My mum is making Christmas dinner. No, don’t worry it isn’t Dec 25th already… we still have what? Ten weeks? Don’t panic. My mum wants to do this for the Aussie relatives to give them a proper ‘British’ Christmas dinner before they go back. And they need showing, since when we went there in 2005, we had a BBQ for Christmas dinner. Plain weird. So that will be nice.. and we will bask in our Britishness.

Tonight though… we are being oh so tongue in cheek British and going out for an Indian curry 😉 It is the most popular take away in Britain funnily enough, so it’s important the Aussies experience this too!

Have a good evening drinking Belgian beer, eating Swiss chocolate on your Swedish furniture 😉

XSXS

Trip to the Orient

Afternoon people,

I went for a Chinese last night. That phrase always makes me laugh when people say that or: ‘I’m having an Indian tonight.’ An Indian or Chinese what? Obviously, with the restaurants and takeaways so popular, we mean a meal. But I still think it sounds like you had a Chinese/Indian man or woman in another way 😉 Probably my rude mind!

We went to one of those Chinese buffet ‘all you can eat’ restaurants, which quite frankly are more like canteens. Me and my boyfriend went with some of his rowing buddies to celebrate two of their birthdays. It surprised me as we ate that a few of them said that they didn’t even like Chinese food. It made me think that actually you didn’t need to in a place like that.  As I looked at the trays of food I saw that there was chips, chicken nuggets, a BBQ section (who knew the Chinese were good BBQers?) and also samosas, which I swear are Indian?! So yes, you can easily get by and not eat Chinese! I, myself, had some of the starter foods like spring rolls, satay chicken, crab claws – but you find it is all deep fried! I also had sushi, which I love, but again I thought that was not Chinese but Japanese?! I normally, for my main, visit the Teppanyaki section, where they cook to order for you. As much as I love food that has sat there for hours, I thought I would have some freshly cooked! I chose raw prawns, chicken, beef, veg and noodles and they cooked whilst I watched. One man asked them what their secret was and the big, Chinese chef joked that he couldn’t tell. It made me laugh because all the ingredients they were using to cook it with seemed to be labelled anyway. So I think I cracked the secret code – he used some onion water (whatever that is!), something labelled as ‘spring’, which I am assuming is also water… some wine and some oyster sauce. Right, I’m off to set up a Teppanyaki bar now…..

The meal was nice but not amazing. A highlight for me was the chocolate fountain, but again not very traditionally Chinese! Very nice over some ice-cream and other tasty bits though. I drank water with me meal, mainly because Chinese food always seems salty and I get quite thirsty. It reminded me when I went to the same restaurant with friends a few years ago. They didn’t seem to understand the concept of a ‘jug’ of water and kept bringing it by the glass. We ended up with ’22’ glasses of water on our bill, which were free because it was from the tap but it still showed up. 22 glasses for them to wash up… which I guess they wtill would have had to be fair and they saved on the jug 😉

 

I like Chinese in my house and not just the kitchen. I love all the symbols and any decor relating to it. When I lived with my parents, I had a chinese bedroom. Now it is our dining room!! I have pictures on the wall, candle holders, cushions, dinner sets etc. Love it. It always makes me wonder why I am so obsessed with it all. I have a secret thought… which I have only ever shared with certain people when drunk or feeling particularly honest…. but I think I may have been chinese in a previous life 😉 Yeh, yeh go on laugh!! Do any of you believe in that? I just seem to have some stong feelings towards the Chinese culture and I have never even been. Very weird. Shame I can’t remember how to use chop sticks though 😉

I’ll leave you with that thought as you enjoy your Chinese takeaway tonight 😉

See you tomorrow,

XSXS