The Most Important Thing…

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My sister got married on Friday.  She and my brother-in-law to be had asked me to write some words for the ceremony. Naturally,  I was honoured – and also a little nervous. I’m fine with public speaking, but when you are reading aloud your own words in such an emotionally-heightened situation like a family wedding, it can be daunting. For me, it was mainly the fact that I needed to make it through without crying (too much!) and to do my words – and the bride and groom –  justice. Luckily, it went well. I got tears and laughter in the right places (always a bonus!)

The Most Important Thing…

Within this beautiful setting of a luxurious wedding of classy dress, exciting atmosphere and immaculate décor, it’s easy to forget the most important component of all: the love story underneath it. As much as the outward appearance of today will add to our experience, and will be highlighted in the photographs and videos for years to come, love is the most exceptional part of today, but it cannot be seen. However, love has an empowering feeling that will stay with us for the whole of the day – and the following days and weeks and years to come.

No matter how it is dressed up, love is the same. Love is timeless. Love is everything. Love is what we all live for – and aim for.

Life will have golden days and black, dark days, but love is the one thing that keeps us all going in each of our chapters, until we reach the end of the story. To have found a person to express that love to – and to spend your life with, is an achievement in which you should both feel very lucky.

Emily has found in Patrick, a partner for life. He is a brilliant man – loyal, supportive, understanding and funny – and most importantly, for a husband of my sister: patient!  Patrick is also incredibly lucky with his choice of wife. Emily is his best friend: caring without limits, tender, loving and oh so funny – sometimes without meaning to be! I have been blessed with her as a sister for almost 27 years now  – so I know he’ll be truly blessed to have her as a wife for his happy ever after. He just needs to keep a good stock of gin 😉

Like any good love story, there will be dramatic moments, sad parts and some interesting, lively characters. But if you focus on each other and the love and respect you have, then you will have the greatest love story and marriage of all.  

Congratulations to my sister and new brother-in-law. Our tiny family is growing!

XSXS

Return of the blogger…

It’s a Saturday evening. I’m home alone…a cosy night in with myself, whilst my hubby is at a mate’s house having a lads’ night watching the footy. I love being alone at times, but there’s still that nagging feeling that it is wrong and a little sad to have no plans on a Saturday night. Part of me feels I should make plans, go and visit family or arrange to venture out and do something…anything. But there really is no need.

Firstly, Saturday is just another day like any other. My girl mates happen to be free tomorrow eve and are coming for dinner then. Plus, next Saturday I’m out for dinner with my other group of lovely girl mates. Any day is a great opportunity to connect with yourself and have some much needed “me” time.

Secondly, I think I really needed some time alone to discover the real me again. It has been a bit crazy lately. We have put our house up for sale, been viewing every suitable house in the area, whilst dealing with all the admin stuff that accompanys it.  This is in addition to my full time job, plus tutoring kids loads with the exam season starting. Additionally, there has been a lot of family issues going on and I tend to live with a daily guilt that I’m not doing enough; not seeing certain family members enough. It’s so easy to get lost in the jungle of daily life.

So I’m on my own. What do I do? I watch a drama on catch-up that I missed during my demanding week. Cooked myself a delicious curry that I particularly like. I drink my favourite wine and watch a film that I’ve watched dozens of time and still love. I shamelessly play a computer game that normally swallows up far too much of my previous time. I look up Pinterest ideas and find myself sucked into feminist posts and tattoo ideas and Buddhist quotes. Then, I remember “writing” and how I have done so little lately. The feeling of content creeps back and I have that much craved for thirst to write…in addition to the thirst for wine! Getting thoughts down soothes me and resets me. Hence, this blog.

Return of the blogger…

xsxs

 

Miss to Mrs!

Final Bride Blogger – the last time I’ll write as a Bride!

I’ve not written as many Bride blogs as I would have liked really. Wedmin has taken over …. but technically I have been writing. I’ve been writing my poem/speech for the big day. I’ve been writing the table plan. I’ve been writing messages to drag in those pesky RSVPs (the whole process of guests: writing your guest list to sending invites to getting in RSVPs to sorting where they’ll all sit  – is the hardest part by far! A wedding would be so simple without guests! 😉 ) I’ve also been writing jobs lists for the Wedding party and instructions for the venue.

It turns out a wedding isn’t just about marriage. Well it can be if you literally go the registry office to get that all-so-important piece of paper that boasts your status of husband and wife…. but as I’ve said on previous blogs, for me, it has always been about everyone we love in one room being there to celebrate the event. Our Best man said that the most important thing is that we are there are to say our vows. Even though I appreciate this sentiment (and of course it is true, if you pick one thing from the whole day that is the important bit!) we have chosen to spend thousands of pounds celebrating it how we wish, so the other stuff becomes important too.

The wedding is now in 2 days time (eeeeeeeek!) And it is an event. We are going to the venue the day before. We have boxes and boxes of stuff: favours, decorations, gifts, photo booth props etc etc. We have entertainment arriving.  We are throwing a social event – putting on a show if you will! I’ve been so finicky about typos on the ceremony reading…. particular about the decorations all being the same….funny about the photo collages being just right… and I then have to hand all this over to the venue and hope it all comes together.

I’m doing a speech, which I’m not nervous about at all. I figure if I can stand in front of a room of 15/16 year olds on a daily basis, then this crowd should be easy in comparison! People are there because they love us (or at least like us!) and I know I don’t have to win them over… so that’s all good. I am nervous about the walking down the aisle because I’m clumsy! Yes if I tripped over mid aisle, it would be funny…but I don’t really want the ceremony being remembered for that! I’m also nervous about the vows… at the minute I can’t listen to my entrance song without crying – how am I going to make it through saying all those vows aloud? Does it legally count if they can’t be heard through sobs and sniffles? Haha!

I’ll admit I’ve been a stress-head at times the last few weeks. But things have happened to cause this: guests not knowing the date, people being able to come/not come (oh and then come again!), different managers at the venue, family fall-outs, and I was also upset because a close family relative can now not make it because he has been called back to his submarine work (can’t be helped; just one of those things – but still sad)… things have cropped up, but we’ve dealt with them. (Hope it is all smooth from now on and I’ve not just jinxed it!) No matter what some friends and family say, I WILL be chilled on the day…. well maybe not calm and quiet, as that’s not my nature! I’ll be silly, excited and giddy. I won’t be stressed and worried. By that point, if things do go wrong, I won’t bother. I’m not daft – I do realise this day only comes once. I want to enjoy it! I do want the day to be “perfect” (whatever that means) and I know we have done (along with great friends and family) everything in our power to get us there… things may go wrong on the day, but it won’t matter. As I always say too, when things go wrong, it means I get a story out of it! 😉

Today is about visiting more family and having my nails done…maybe some honeymoon prep? Last few shades of Gray to paint 🙂 See you all when I’m a Mrs!

XSXS

Hunt for the perfect wedding dress – and bridal shop!

Bride Blogger Part 6

Well, I have started trying dresses on for the big day! It is now less than a year away until I become a Mrs, so figured I should get trying on some dresses. I’ve seen it on TV where future brides try on lovely, intricate dresses surrounded by a teary, enthusiastic audience – all helped along by the most helpful, friendly member of staff, oh and the glass of champagne! Now, I live in Swad, I wasn’t expecting the champagne, but I did envisage a wonderful human-being who just wants to find a bride her perfect dress. A woman whose career was a calling not just a way to pay the bills. My standard was high.

My first shopping trip was Monday with my Maid of Honour/sister and bridesmaid/best friend. My hope for the perfect dress soon began to plummet, as the first two bridal shops we went to were closed! It seems Mondays are a popular day for Bridal shops to be closed – they have a busy Saturday and take Sunday and Monday as their weekend. Doh. But, after lunch, there was a little ray of hope. A shop that was actually in our little town called Alison Evans Bridalwear. We made an appointment over the phone and spent about an hour there. Thank you to all of you who recommended that we try there. It was brilliant and the perfect first shop to try. There were racks of gorgeous dresses to choose from and some excellent advice to accessorise the experience. I was advised to try about six dresses on to get an idea of style without overwhelming myself – and my poor bridesmaids! We were allowed to take some photographs too and I did fall in love with one dress (yet wasn’t sure about the back – so it was not the ONE!) Other little highlights of this great shop – were mirrors facing to get an all round look of the gowns, weddings shoes to be borrowed and worn and absolutely no pressure to buy. In fact, she gave me the details of the designer and model number of the dress and suggested I tried other shops to see what I thought. When you want something, set it free. And this is good business I think – because after visiting a few more places this week, I really want to return to this great shop and give them my business. So I’ll be back with the Mums in tow next time!

On the Wednesday, I went to Lincoln with my Mum. I didn’t particularly want to buy a dress from somewhere that far away, but I thought trying a few on couldn’t do any harm. And, besides, I now had lots of bridal optimism and thought I may see the ONE and just have to get it! The experience in the shop couldn’t have been more different! I was ushered into the changing room straight away. I began to wander out again whilst chatting to the woman – assuming that I was to come and look at the dresses and select a few – but NO! I was told I needed to be in the changing room and to take my clothes off. It turns out, I wasn’t to choose which dresses to try on, Miss Control-Freak was going to do that! 4 dresses got pushed onto me quickly within a twenty minute period. My mum was not allowed to take photos. I was told that if I wanted straps that would cut my choice down by 80% and as for not wanting a V neck with lace, I might as well give up now! She was very bossy about the fact that I needed to decide which style I wanted. How dare I like straight down lace ones as well as full skirted satin ones?! I quickly found out that her so called statistics and opinions were down to the fact that she didn’t really have what I wanted. She also said the word ‘appreciate’ about a million times – about the same as her dress costs – ‘You’ll appreciate that it is a busy time.’  ‘You’ll appreciate that we only stock certain sizes.’ What I do appreciate is not being treated like a moron. So, off I went to find my lacy dress with straps elsewhere!

On Friday – really getting the Craig David 7 Days song vibe now? ‘I found a dream bridal shop on Monday, took a break on Tuesday, got bossed around on Wednesday, another break on Thursday……….Well on Friday, I was insulted in another shop!

I took the Mums this time to another local bridal shop. I won’t name and shame, but if anyone does want to know more details then message me for warnings! We went in and the woman asked me what size dresses I had been trying on. I said a mixture really- some had been too big and held against me and some only partly fastened because they were too small, as I was only looking at style at the moment. I also said that I was a size 14 in normal clothing though. Now, if she was experienced at her job, she should have suggested that I try a size above or a mixture of sizes as they all vary. But, no, we picked out about 8 size 14 dresses and then she began to struggle to get the first one on me. She said, ‘Are you sure you’ve been trying on 14s?’ Well, I did say, no but that was my usual size! The next gem that followed and stood out as much as the ones on the dresses was,

‘Is losing a few pounds on the cards?’

 

Now, luckily I am not sensitive about these things. I’m happy with my weight – but she doesn’t know that. For all she knew, I could have spent the first 6 months of my engagement losing a few stone. I may lose a little before the wedding, but that is none of her business. I said through gritted teeth, ‘It may be.’ I think she then knew that she had pissed me off, as she back- tracked and said ‘Well I only said that because of this dress. If you were to lose a few pounds, this would fit perfectly.’ Well, I’m not buying a dress to then worry that I have to shrink to fit into it. I tried on other 14s and some fit, some didn’t. Some 16s – some fit and some didn’t. I tried on a 18 and it was too small. Wedding dress sizes are crazy – you think she would have known that in her line of work? She was just generally unhappy and unfriendly and I don’t get it. These people are around pretty dresses and happy people all day – if you don’t like making wedding dreams come true, then don’t do it! On the plus side (excuse the pun!), my mother-in-law to be got her outfit! She said she almost didn’t want to give her business, but I said she had found the right outfit and would be spiting herself if she didn’t get it.

So the hunt for the ideal dress is still on – but I’ve found the shop that I want to return to. (And 2 I will never set foot in again!)

Keep Calm and Carry on all you brides out there!

XSXS

Buy your Cake and Eat it!

Cake
1.)

cake2
2.)

cake 3
3.)

Bride Blogger Part 5

 

Hi brides-to-be, bloggers, readers and any other wedding goers! The wedding prep has died down a little, as with over a year to go still, there isn’t a lot to do in the present. We have the venue and the registrar. So the WHERE and the WHO bits of our wedding are taken care of – what else could you need? A lot it seems. One of those things being a cake. Cakes are used as part of a lot of English celebrations – and it seems at a wedding, not only is it a tasty treat for your guests, but it has to be a fantastic, wowing centre piece!

The wedding cake is traditionally cut by the bride and groom and eaten by the guests at the wedding reception. I have many memories of taking pieces home though – as you are usually full up of yummy wedding food. And with the price of the Wedding Breakfast food and evening food, people best be full!!!

I’ve also read that wedding cake used to be broken over/thrown at the bride as a symbol of fertility. Wasting a few hundred pound cake by throwing it about is like throwing money down a drain: who could ever afford a child?! Crazy ideas – again to me, it could be eaten not thrown about like a ball. Plus it could get on my lovely dress!

Wedding cakes are supposed to signify good luck and happiness for the happy couple and the guests. To me, it is important it is one thing: delicious! It  is a cake after all! No matter how pretty or magnificent it is, if it tastes horrible, there will be some disappointed guests.  And it isn’t good luck if you choke on some hard, dry sponge! So, yes I want it look good but it is equally important that it tastes good – and I feel I should be able to get both of these at a non-ridiculous price! Honestly, some of them can cost £1000 or more – for sponge! Crazy industry! I know, I know – you’re paying for their time and labour – but still. I was thinking a nice, simple one that fits with the colour scheme – with maybe a funny cake-topper on the top (funnily enough!) of maybe me reading/ Kenny rowing! Haha. Even though, that hasn’t stopped me looking at more elaborate ones:

1.) The first pic is hilarious and would be very fitting for our clumsiness! Love it! I imagine a lot of effort would have to go into that though.

2.) The one on the left is really cool. Pictures printed around each side of the couple. Kenny has an idea to get photos on a supermarket cake as a cheaper way of doing it! Mmmm…. will see about that!

3.) I’m not sure we would need this many layers, but I love how each one tells a story of the love between the couple! Love the colours too.

So, there are some cake ideas – will need to look at lots more and do plenty of testing I imagine too 😉 Any tips or ideas – please comment below!

XSXS

 

Dating to dates, dates, dates!

Bride Blogger Part 4:

wedding

It has occurred to me that wedding preparation involves a lot of dates. And we get to that point from all those dates during dating 😉

Of course, there is the date of the proposal – which we have nailed: 3rd January 2014 – in the future this will become another date to celebrate our life together, in addition to the date we actually got together: 21st January 2005 🙂

We have the wedding date sorted too now – and even the registrar is booked, giving us that oh so valuable time of marriage too. It was a right faff getting the registrar sorted – we couldn’t get in touch with them via person or phone due to our jobs. So we emailed them. They then replied with ‘please phone us to discuss further.’ Erm, what’s the point of having an email address then?! So far, people in this wedding industry are amazing me – either in terms of excitement and enthusiasm, or like that example: incompetence (or just far too much laid-backness for my liking!) I don’t want to get all ‘But’s it our wedding!’ on anyone just yet but it may be on the horizon!  My fiancé emailed another registrar to actually book it (we had to let one county know – where we live – and actually book for the one we are getting married in.) He attached a  delivery thing to it, so that he knew when they had read it. He received it, but 9 hours later they still hadn’t replied! It’s all sorted now, but from that to the cost of £400 to just actually get married, I started to wonder if we should just have a big party without the legal bit 😉 haha. I would have still had the dress and bridesmaids, naturally!

Another date that got set in shiny stone this week is my hen do date! Next May – whoop! A year to wait, but I am very proud and pleased with my sister (aka Maid of Honour) and best mate (aka bridesmaid) for being so organised and excited about it all!

Bridal Fairs are other dates that are filling my diary still – looking forward to going to one in May to actually seriously start looking at dresses. Taking Mum and Mum-in-law to be to that one. It made me laugh at a fair recently, a plus sized wedding dress company tried to convince me to use them. They start at size 16. I said I was a 14, but they then stated that wedding dresses come small, so I would their 16. Mmm – will see about that. Can’t knock their sales techniques though!

With all these dates in crazy wedding plan world, it’s important to return to the traditional ‘date’ and make sure you spend quality time together. So, that you still make it to that oh so important wedding date! 🙂

Keep enjoying planning future brides!

XSXS

Grandad

Grandad

It’s been all talk of weddings and funerals lately. My grandad passed away last week – it was expected and I know it was a blessing in the long run for him. But, with all those positive thoughts that try and drag you through these situations – it will always be sad.

We had the funeral today and my Gran asked me to write a poem. It has a funny tone – because it should be a celebration of life, but mainly because if it was too soppy and emotional, I wouldn’t have made my through the reading of it!

See what you think:

Grandad

Grandad, you’ll really be missed,

for all your knowledge and chattering,

but for me, I’m mostly upset,

‘cos you were the only one who thought I could sing!

 

A voice like an angel you said,

clearly lost your hearing-aid that day,

but it’s always been a family joke,

just like the jigsaw pieces that ‘lost their way’.

 

Yes, you always loved those puzzles,

all those pieces for you to manoeuvre,

then when it came to that last piece we’d hear:

‘Peg, you’ve sucked it up the hoover!’

 

You also loved to be in the garden,

doing the lawns and pottering in the sheds,

whilst us kids played on the grass, trying not to,

get our balls in the flower beds!

 

Always keen on numbers, you were,

Lottery ones, you were keen to remember,

You may not have won big, yet always knew,

important family dates: January to December.

 

And you always made to time to relax,

Looking at photographs; sitting in your chair,

whilst eating a dark, chocolate Bounty,

and hiding a few in your bedroom upstairs!

 

Those times Gran sang, ‘Bring your sweet lips a little closer…’,

As you both enjoyed a ‘sneaky’ drink or two,

The rest of the family singing and laughing,

And trying to keep up with you!

 

We’ll always remember your funny ways, Grandad,

And they will make us smile for years and years,

It will feel like you are still with us,

So, after today, no need for any sad tears.

 

All that needs saying really.

XSXS

A Fayre Wedding (and more venues!)

Bride Blogger Part 3:

Well guys, wedding stuff ahoy! We went to our first wedding fayre a couple of weeks ago. It has been a journey  (faster than a walk down the aisle) since then! The fayre was fun – and also funny in the laughable sense at times. We were shown, you know, all those things that you had no idea that you need. Because you don’t! But they make you feel you do. Like a caricaturist for instance. Just what I have always wanted: cartoon pictures of my guests! He joked that since we hadn’t booked a venue yet, that we could plan the whole wedding around him. Er no. Doves were another thing – doves in a cage. All pretty and calm and then you release then after the ceremony. Nah – bit cheesy for me that. And knowing me, it would be bound to go wrong. I’d release them out of time with the photographer/get pecked/or pooed on (again – worry of that white dress!) haha – so again a no, no, no!

We said yes, yes, yes to some things though. The free cake and cupcake samples, chocolates and pens! Oh and the amount of business cards and leaflets we came back with I could make a dress out of! I found it was easier to just say ‘yes’ (I’m practising for the big day you see!) and take the leaflets and move on. 🙂 Everyone wants you to buy their product or service of course, whereas I just wanted to browse for ideas.

We took my sister and partner with us too, which caused some confusion. At each station they wanted to know who the bride and groom was – I told my sis she should have pretended to be a bride too – and also get the freebies 😉 So that was the main fayre fail.

The best part of the fayre was the venue. It was the one that we had rated highest on the last blog 😉 We were excited to see it again and asked the photographers and other agencies/businesses for tips about the venue. For example a photographer told us one of the hired rooms has a view of the car park – and one of the river. So it is best to have the ceremony in the river view room. Well for my rower fiance it definitely is – others may have a particular interest in cars – or concrete!

We called in on another venue on the way home. This was one that I had my heart set on originally. I loved the website photos, the deal and the surroundings. But we had asked to book a viewing and they had been busy. We decided to call on the off-chance. Like the funeral incident in the last blog, there was another funny story to tell. We walked in on an event – maybe a wedding, but if so, the bride and groom had snuck off 😉 We asked a member of staff if we could make an appointment to come and view properly. She said she was in the middle of phoning an ambulance for a guest! Yet, she still kept talking to us for a few moments!! I said, ‘No way are we getting married there. If someone takes ill on the day, they’ll take ages to ring for bloody help!’ The piano man suggested we write our details down to be passed on. 2 weeks later and we still hadn’t heard anything.

Rating: Inept with emergencies/ not excited for you to book/ poor communication skills? 0/10 for them then!

A week later, we returned to our ‘favourite’ venue for an open eve and a meeting with the manager. The price had seemed right and we were 99% sure before we even went. We just wanted to check a few things: some numbers, room info, food details (we also had our dinner there to sample!) and general costings and info about the day. To cut it short:  we booked it! And the most exciting part:  it is next August! We decided to bring it forward a year (and no, I am not pregnant – as some people have asked!) We just decided we could afford it! I now feel, with it being next year, that I can plan the little things. We started looking into flowers (how expensive are button holes?!) and seat covers (a couple of hundred quid to cover seats?!) I guess this is where the proper fun starts 😉

 

Wedding Quote:

‘Old people at weddings have always poked me and said ‘you’re next!’

So, I started doing the same to them at funerals!’ 😉

Next time: All those little details and first, small steps of planning the big day!

XSXS

 

4 Wedding Venues and a Funeral!

Part 2 of the Bride Blogger posts:

 

We have now attended our first four venues – for a look round and discussion. There has been a lot of great information, advice and sights to see. BUT no canapes or free champagne  – I thought that was one of the pluses of mooching around all these places? Maybe that’s the wedding fayre….. *fingers crossed*

The first venue we turned up to view was a local hotel. We had booked the appointment but we ended up being quite early. So, I suggested we look at our guest list so we had a more accurate idea of numbers before we went in. No one one told us that this was the hardest part?! I’d heard, in fact, that the seating plan is – but surely once you have the number of guests, seating them isn’t an issue? Person + seat = done. 🙂 Yeh, I get the feeling that it isn’t as easy as that either – so look at for a blog in the future on that one!

I thought we could get 50 guests for the day. But once we add up family – close friends of both us  and then our separate close friends, then it’s easily 70. And don’t even get me started on the plus ones 😉 So that was our ‘number’: 70 plus up to 100 for the evening.

The first venue made me laugh – it could only happen to us. It was all set out  beautifully to show it’s full potential as an idyllic venue: as a funeral! Haha. So it was hard to picture our big day there, when it was very sombre and tranquil for the looming funeral wake. It was a nice place though and we got asked questions about colours, ideas and best men/bridesmaids – the woman showed a real interest (to get our money says the cynical side of me!) but I lapped it all up and thought ‘this venue searching is fun!’ This seemed a great option, until a couple of hours later, we got the very detailed, ‘interested’ and expensive quote 😉

Rating: 5/10 ‘Lottery win needed or a hell of a lot of bartering.’

We ended up going to a  local restaurant for lunch ‘The Winery’ 😉  – one of the best in town (for food, but not prices!) as we heard they did weddings there and we could kill two birds with one stone! I love this particular restaurant, and once again, the food was amazing. (Sadly again, no freebies for wedding research! 😉 ) The rooms are all very secluded and segregated  – which is great for eating out – but not so great for a wedding, where you want everyone to see everyone and be in a big, open space.

Rating: 7/10 ‘great food- marquee needed if we choose this one.’

The third place, we were also booked in for. It was at the local brewery centre – wine and beer, are you sensing the theme of these venues? 😉 My fiance, naturally, loved the idea of this one. It had some great potential and lot of different rooms to choose from, including a marquee.

Rating: 8/10 ‘good price, but no nice outside area.’

Lastly, we randomly called at a hotel that I  heard was a good option. We got some info and we were very excited by the deal they do. Not giving too much away to our guests yet 😉

Rating a hush, hush 9/10 – I knocked a point of because it seems a little too good to be true at the minute. Watch this space 😉

Kenny was so excited by the price options that he spent 6 hours at home when we got back, creating a detailed database:  of guests/groups they fall into/ their roles in the wedding and costs/budgets/prices etc.

So, Lucy, I do now have a man heavily involved in the planning! I am pleased overall yes, but there was a point at 9pm (after a full day of wedding stuff) that I had to prize him away from the computer   – as 2 years before the wedding, I just don’t know if our ‘veggie guests want cauliflower tart’ or if we should ‘have a tea and coffee option.’ Haha! It’s going to be a fun 2 years 😉

Not a quote this time, but a question:

‘How do brides- or this bride in particular –

manage all day without spilling on the perfect, white dress?!

White food/drink options?’

This is a serious worry for me!

See you soon wedding planners!

Next: wedding fayres, as we are off to our first one today!

XSXS

Four Proposals and Two rings….

I don’t know if any of you remember a blog post I wrote about a year and a half ago: https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/two-hearts-two-rings/. It is about my mate’s engagement and how she didn’t like the ring etc….. take a look.

I wouldn’t have thought that a year and a half later, I’d be sitting here writing the story of my own engagement! 🙂 Yay! Yes, in the new year I got engaged…. to my boyfriend just to be clear! Just over 2 weeks since he has proposed, and it is now 4 times in total! And there has been 2 rings…….. let me tell……

We went to London just after New Year. We had already planned to go to Harry Potter world and stay a couple of nights down in London – instead of birthday and Xmas presents to each other. What I didn’t know, was that Kenny had also booked the theatre and dinner in a nice restaurant for the following evening. He had originally booked tickets to the Apollo theater, but it was shut because of the ceiling collapsing! The seats would have been exactly where that happened too, so it’s a good job we didn’t go to London a couple of weeks earlier like we had suggested 😉 A whole of other meaning to being blown away by a great show!

Anyway, I wasn’t very well over New Year and I didn’t start to feel better until our second evening in London – the theatre and dinner one! Kenny told me later that he was wondering whether to propose still or not. I joked, ‘You didn’t want me if I was snotty?!’ He said he hadn’t wanted to if I was feeling ill. As I say, luckily I felt better. Kenny also told me later that he had the ring on him all night. But – obviously the theatre wasn’t the best time (best leave the show to the professionals!)  – and at dinner, we had seats at the chef counter. It was busy, lively and fascinating sitting inches from the chefs cooking our meal. But not a great time to propose. Fortunately, Kenny had decided this too because the ring had to stay in his jacket throughout the meal! We handed them into the cloak room and he said he couldn’t have got it out as I would have seen it/or asked him what he wanted out of his jacket! And knowing me – I would have!

So, that left the hotel room when we returned. And I’m glad that was how it happened. Just us two. I was really tired when we got back and proceeded to take my make-up off and get ready for bed – all the tubes and trains to get back to our hotel outside of the centre had exhausted me! Kenny got us a glass of prosecco each and sat next to me, as I scrubbed mascara of my eyes. Wonder if he had second thoughts?! Ha! He then took out various receipts and tickets from his pockets and gave them to me. He knows I like to save them for photo album scrap books. He then said, ‘There’s something else in here for you too…’ And he presented me with a huge, black box. Seriously, it was twice the size to how I ever would imagine a ring box. I figured it must be a necklace…

Hours went by… or so it felt. In reality,  just a few seconds.

He opened the box to reveal a sparkly, ring.

I didn’t want to assume it was that kind of ring!

This was typical of Kenny… no immediate words. He was making me work it out!

So I said, ‘er what is that?’ In a curious, gentle kind of way may I add! Not a ‘What the hell?!’ kind of way!

He then said….’Will you marry me!’

I think I said yes, but I was a little in shock. We’ve been together 9 years, so of course I’ve thought about it. But I certainly wasn’t expecting it at that moment! I then, suddenly realised: he hadn’t got down on one knee! I asked him to do it again! I was milking this proposal situation for all I could 😉 He did, bless him!

Then half an hour later, I asked him to say it again. It was still a novelty and I wanted to hear the words again! I then replied no! 😉 We both laughed – I’d just wanted to try out the negative response to make sure of how I felt about it 😉 (That idea was from Time Traveller’s Wife haha).

You’ll be wondering about the 4th proposal and the 2nd ring? Well, I loved the ring. I still do – that isn’t meant to be past tense for that reason. But the ring was too big. We went straight to the jeweller’s when we got back. We found my correct size (The typical, modern, size-obsessed woman in me was dead chuffed to have fingers 2 sizes smaller!) The ring had been discontinued. But there was one in the country. In Portsmouth. I just had to wait a week for it to be posted.

So, on the Saturday – which was the week later – I went to collect my ring. It hadn’t arrived with the courier. The manager was phoning me and checking it all morning, whilst I met a mate for a cuppa; had a manicure; did some shopping (tiring life for the engaged!) but it still didn’t come 😦 The shop couldn’t have done more though so I didn’t mind. It just meant, for our engagement party, I had to wear a jokey, chunky pink butterfly ring  – as I was fed-up of people grabbing my hand and there not being anything on it! Haha. (I lost that ring down the toilet – but that’s a whole other ring story……… 😉 )

Anyway, on the Monday, the manager of the shop personally brought the ring to me. He came into the house from the wind and rain. Stepped into our living room, opened the ring box. And it fell out. Into our shoe box and into one of the shoes! I thought, ‘I’m really not meant to have this ring!’ But then it got to where it belong s- and I’m proud to say it is still there (and hasn’t gone down the toilet!)

That’s where the 4th proposal came in – that evening, after dinner.

I said that an engagement’s ring’s purpose in life is to be proposed with and this was a different ring!

So he asked me again with the perfect fitting ring: and I said yes!

XSXS

Christmas: the generous, the silly and the damn right disgusting!

I was dying to write a Christmas blog in a similar style to last year. (Link at the bottom to last year’s!) Christmas is a time when things become magnified-  someone does something bad and it seems worse; something silly is even more hilariously funny; a generous thought and you might as well be one of the Three Kings. So, I’ve been collecting stories for you and again and I’ve managed to find the generous, the silly and one disgusting one. 🙂

I’ll start with the disgusting story, as I don’t want you to leave my blog with a bad taste in your mouth. I’ll get this one out of the way 😉 My aunty has a bad back. Bad enough that  she has a looming operation and is currently walking with a stick. Not one to let this dampen her Christmas spirit, she put some silver and gold tinsel around her walking stick and hobbled to the supermarket early one morning. A woman barged into her and nearly knocked the stick from under her. My aunty is six-foot tall, so not easily missed – she also has the voice to go with her build and exclaimed loudly that this woman had banged into her in a ‘watch where you’re going’ kind of way. The lovely, woman’s response was ‘Well you shouldn’t be out with your bloody stick anyway!’ This is a nice blog, so I can’t repeat what my aunty replied. But there you go: no walking sticks about as they get in the way of badly tempered shoppers. Maybe this goes for wheelchairs too. And pushchairs. So watch out! Maybe red tinsel would make you stand out more?!

In strong contrast, I heard of someone being very generous this Christmas season. Full of good will. I won’t mention who it is – and I don’t personally know him anyway. But this man put a Facebook status on Friday basically saying the usual: ‘I’m not giving cards out this year, I’ll be giving to charity instead….’ (I did the same actually this year  at work and gave food to the homeless charity Hope.) He went a little further though and asked for people to  suggest charities to give to AND let them decided the amount of money. Each ‘like’ he received by 4pm would represent a £1. I think when I looked at lunch it was already £35 – I’ll try and found out what he paid in the end. Very generous thought – and cost him much more than cards 😉

Now to end with the funny festive stories. One, I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before. It is more of a puzzling story but it makes me amused! Each year, we receive a Christmas card to our house address. Well I say ‘we’ it is actually addressed to my boyfriend and his twin brother.  It says inside ‘God bless, Gordon.’ Nobody in their family knows who this is! He must know who the brothers are and know us well enough to know where we live, yet I haven’t been able to return a card as we have no idea who he is! We are yet to receive this card this year, so maybe he has given up on  us! If anyone knows who it is, please let me know! It has become a proper Christmas puzzle! 🙂

Talking of cards, one of my closest friends has me in stitches last night. It was typical of her and made giving out and receiving cards a much more exciting experience! She had 3 cards that she had written but had forgotten who they were for! She knew they would be between 4-5 people, but had to wait until everyone arrived at the pub so someone could open a card each to see who it was actually for! A christmas card roulette if you will……. Very funny. Lots of swapping went on and I know have an opened card for my sister, who I have to explain to this story – and even write her name on the front! Just call me a Christmas card service!

I also went to the Old people’s home a few weeks ago to help my old neighbour write his Christmas cards. This is funny and sweet this one. He gets a little upset this time of year because he has no family and his brother is no longer with us. It was him who used to write the cards. So my friend says he can’t spell etc and asked me to help him. He only wanted about 5 writing so I figured it wouldn’t take long and we’d spend time chatting – no. It took over an hour! This was because he couldn’t remember anyone’s name! He had to keep toddling off to ask Fred’s daughter’s name who takes him out for  dinner; to ask the carer’s name who brings his Ovaltine. I suggested we just wrote them all from him and keep them blank to hand out, but he was having none of it! That idea would help my friend out above to! But where’s the fun in that? 😉

So there’s the Christmas stories for this year and I’m sure they’ll be more! Keep an eye out for the generous, listen out for the silly and just ignore the disgusting!

Have a wonderful Christmas and a prosperous New Year readers, viewers and bloggers 🙂

 

 

Christmas 2012: https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2012/12/23/christmas-the-good-the-bad-the-funny-and-the-damn-right-inhumane/

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/

Reunions to remember…

I am a sentimental kind of gal. Today, I have a few things to talk to you about in relation to reunions and anniversaries. I think it is important that we mentally mark these kinds of dates in our mind… and/or physically celebrate them. It is life and special things happen and we decide what to celebrate.

This weekend, I had a Uni Reunion. It had been 6 years since we had left Uni and 3 years since our last reunion! We always say we won’t leave it as long next time. But you know how it is – life gets in the way and before you know it, time has zoomed by and the 5 minutes since you were last swigging beer at the pub, turns into 3 long years!

It was great to see the gang. But these 3 years seemed to have been a vital 3 years of change, in the road that is life. I had the fridge stocked with wine and beer for the midday arrival of the gang and was greeted with responses to drink orders of, ‘Oooh can I have a cuppa tea?’ or ‘An orange juice would be nice.’ The wildest member of the gang, who spent 3 years drowning in alcohol at Uni, now doesn’t drink much,  has a fiancée and a baby on the way!  Funny how things change. But it was nice in a way that we all got on so well sober (this may be the first time we had tried this!) and we are still friends in our modern lives.

My Uni friends come from all over: one from France; one from Doncaster (now living in Leeds); one from London (now lives in Northampton); one from Milton Keynes; one from Reading  – so you can imagine the lovely recipe of accents that emerge when we are together!  Naturally, when English students get together (well most of us are – one did Construction and one did Media), we played Scrabble! Again, wild times! 😉 I, embarrassingly, came 4th – and with 2 non-English specialists and one with English as her second language, I think that is pretty appalling! Haha!

The night led to cheap and cheerful drinks and food; karaoke; dancing and more drinking! So just like the Uni days! It was great and music always helps to remember things I think. One song and you are transported back to that crazy, student night 7 years ago.

So yes, we all had a great time and even had a pub breakfast to cure the morning after feeling – the change was this time, that I actually had to do jobs and chores after, rather than lie in my lazy student bed, putting off that Shakespeare essay until tomorrow!

It is also, almost, the end of term, and I have seen many speeches today of people leaving and retiring. They were all reflecting on the last year, last ten years or last 30 years. It is emotional to move on to the next step, I think. Which is important, we revisit  when we can. This can be literally by returning to the place; meeting the people we were with; or just, simply talking about the memories we have from that place.

Lastly, a year ago today, I started writing this blog! A whole year! I started off writing a post a day, which was easy because I was off work. Now I like to write weekly where possible and I am still enjoying writing about the randomness of my life and life in general. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank anybody who has read this blog; whether one post; lots of posts; part of a post. In addition to people who have liked a post, commented, followed or recommended it to anyone. These things are great for a writer to see – but I also know there are a lot of secret readers out there, who take a gander and then go. It all counts and it is very exciting that I am writing words – stringing them together and someone is reading what spills out of my head!  So thank you. I will keep writing! And hopefully, you will keep reading 😉

Celebrate today – it may be a year since you quit smoking. A month since you went on a great evening out. A year since you saw a family member. Ten years since you left a job. Twenty years since you left school. Get in touch with people, relive a memory, get the photo albums out (we also did this at the weekend!) and enjoy a reunion – even if it is just you and a memory! 🙂

XSXS

Tell us something most people probably don’t know about you.

This was the Daily Prompt for blogging today. Tell us something most people probably don’t know about you. Mmmm…. I couldn’t resist as the thing  I was thinking about earlier, I was considering writing about anyway.

I once had an internet relationship. It seems like a lifetime ago really and it was when I was in my late teens and quite naïve. My main relationships with the internet now are this blog, my love for eBay and amazon, and my hatred for when the internet crashes.

But no, I actually met someone online and then went on to meet them offline, after talking for a year. The whole thing seems so surreal now and like I’m talking about someone else. I started talking to this lad through MSN chat. You remember that? I used to think long and hard about my username and font colour – depending on my mood (my friends and I spent many an evening having ‘groupy’ chats, which sounds so wrong now but was so cool that we could all chat at once!) Anyway, I’m not sure how this lad ended up adding me but we started chatting. Just friendly banter, after the initial A/S/L question (Age sex location for those who didn’t use the internet in the early 2ooos!)

It was great to talk to someone online, whom I didn’t know. We chatted about everything and anything. He was funny and loved to chat like me! I hadn’t really found a man who seemed to love ‘chatting’ up to now and it was exhilarating!

It became a bit of a routine to chat every night, but a good one. It was like having a relationship but just in the early evening. At this point in time, I had started University so this fitted in perfectly. Lectures in the day, online ‘boyfriend’ in the evening and then either going out or sleeping at night. It became quite intense to be honest, like a drug. I had not met this person but I felt very attached and thoroughly enjoyed the interaction. Before, you say, it wasn’t an old, creepy man – because he used to put a webcam on so I could see him. No, I am not talking about anything untoward here – it was all perfectly and innocent and he only showed me himself on webcam as a way to prove who he was, I guess. I’m not telling you this to admit something sordid and sexual. I am telling you because I think it is interesting how human nature can form relationships without physically meeting.

We spoke on the net for a year, eventually exchanging mobile numbers. We used to text and chat on the phone then too. It was very thrilling to receive the said texts and phone calls. A stranger but someone whom I felt I knew well.

We had both broken up with partners, which was I think was why we became close. We decided to meet in the flesh. Scary though. No screen of separation. No coming up with witty online and text replies; it would all be real-life and real instant chatting.

He was local so I went to meet him in a shopping centre. I was safe and took my sister and her friends with me. We had a nice day. It was ‘nice’ and not really a lot more to be honest. We got on and I was attracted to him, yes. But it was far more exciting when it was all online and after that nothing more came of it. He got a new partner and I got with my current boyfriend. No more chats and that was it.

I don’t regret it at all. It was a fascinating experience – like a whirl wind, cyber love. That of course, I now realise was no form of love whatsoever. But simply internet banter and someone at the end of a screen to read, listen and type comforting and confidence building comments back. Something we both needed at that particular point in our lives. And something that I will never forget.

 

I invite you to do the same and tell us something that not many people know about you………….. 😉

N.B I am not advising or promoting teenagers to go and meet people they have met on the internet. I was 19 and had a good head on my shoulders. I spoke to this guy for over a year and, as I said, I managed to get proof of who he really was. If you are going to take the step to meet someone like this, then do what I did and meet them in a public place and take people with you.

XSXS

Miles of Smiles

Today it has rained. My work day hasn’t exactly gone to plan. Nothing major has happened, don’t get me wrong. I am just feeling a little blah; I don’t feel at all like smiling. But I was reading some inspirational quotes on the internet (I was actually looking for something – I don’t just do that to cheer myself up…. wine has done that!) … and  saw one about smiling:

‘I smile because I have absolutely no idea what is going on!’

I have that on a fridge magnet actually and it reminds me a lot of myself. I do smile a lot – I normally manage it even when I am in a bad mood. You know why? Because it makes me feel good/or better and if I am already feeling happy then it helps it to radiate outwards! I feel good and it may help others to feel good  too! More people should do it on a daily basis.

I like to smile inanely at whoever I pass in the street or the corridor at work. My reasoning for this: I would much rather someone think I am insane than think I am grumpy! So I smile away and take that risk 😉

A smile can mean so many things: a greeting, an acknowledgment, an agreement  – all are positive. Another one of my favourite smile quotes is:

‘Everyone smiles in the same language.’

How lovely and oh so true. Language can be a barrier but a smile can say so much and everyone knows it is a positive expression. Smiling can bring people together and by god our world needs more of it. So turn your frowns upside down (even on a rainy evening like this!) and just SMILE. Remember… as grannies often say; ‘frowns can give you wrinkles!’ And they’ve lived long enough to know how important a simple smile can be 🙂

‘One lonely person.

One other lonely person.

One shy smile,

one friendly grin.

Two happy people.’

So spread some happiness today… even if you don’t feel it inside yourself. Once you smile and someone reciprocates…

… you will be smiling on the inside too 🙂

XSXS

Cardiff: Clucking Great!

This bank holiday weekend, I have been a hen. It was my first hen do and I was very pleased to say that it was fantastic and I loved the fact that it was to celebrate the upcoming marriage of a close friend. (see previous post Two hearts, Two rings to see how the engagement started 😉 https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/two-hearts-two-rings/) We went to Cardiff for 3 days and it was fantastic, varied and mainly just filled with girly fun!

I’ve always thought the term ‘hen’ is odd. And men get ‘stag’ – I won’t go on my feminist rant and say that we get the timid, feathered, two-legged bird that people eat on regular basis and men get a four-legged, strong beast of animal. I do wonder about the origin though. And if women are called ‘hens’ then why aren’t men called cockerels?! That is way more fitting for me 😉 ………just googled it quick and the term ‘hen’ has been used since the 1800s to talk about a female gathering of ‘chit-chat’. It doesn’t say why a hen; I am getting an idea from the cluck clucking of chatter perhaps? ‘Stag’ comes from the 1930s apparently when short pornographic films called ‘stag movies’ were shown to men when one of them was about to be married. Odd. There is also a term ‘hag’ parties,’ where both ‘hens’ and ‘stags’ attend. Messy. We got into enough mischief just us hens.

We spent the weekend in personalised black and pink T-shirts with the details on the hen do and our own nickname. Mine was ‘Samubuca!’ Pink sashes completed the look and I must say now I’m home, my clothes feel boring 😉 We had Grease dances lessons where we learnt a dance routine to Grease mega mix. That was fun and I was the hen getting picked on for my lack of coordination and rhythm 😉  We then had cocktails making lessons (cocktails is another work I’ve always pondered about but I’ll leave that for another day!) and to our delight the ‘Dream boys’ were practising for a routine at the same time. Dancing, alcohol and er ‘hunky’ men – what more could we have asked for?

A spa day perhaps, which was secretly my favourite bit. I had never been to one before and I thought it was great! You walk round in a robe and slippers and dip in and out of the pool, Jacuzzi, steam room, sauna and then lie in a relaxation room! I also got my nails done, whilst the other hens mainly had massages. The place was so relaxing and it was the calm before the storm of our night out – but it did remind me a little of an insane asylum (not that I am familiar with them or anything)  but think about it. The place is full of this calm air, people walk round in white robes and everyone in smiling insanely and whispering! And I don’t think I have ever eaten a posh two course meal with pink champagne in a dressing-gown before and still managed to feel glamorous and like royalty! Crazy place and I can’t wait to go to another one!

The evening consisted of a limo ride – this time we had all clothes on – more champagne, games and dares! The limo then dropped us at a lovely Italian restaurant and our dares were to be completed within the first hour of being in the first bar. I didn’t ‘chicken’ out of mine 😉 and I proudly and drunkenly stood on a chair in the crowded bar and did the ‘robot’ dance’ haha! The two ‘pain killer’ cocktails I had helped with this! My friend also did a dare and successfully got a man’s underwear and put them on herself! But that’s all you’re getting….. anything else is wrapped up in the term ‘What happened in Cardiff, stays in Cardiff!’ 😉

I fully recommend Cardiff for a stag or hen do – or hag do! We stayed at a travel lodge on Mary Street. It was on the busiest street and it was like we had a club in our room – which didn’t really work when we wanted some sleep the first eve before our big night out the 2nd night! But the double-glazed windows did us proud and I was out like a light and had a clucking good sleep 😉 Don’t stay at this hotel if you want a nice, quiet weekend of sight-seeing though 😉 Because the only sights you will see and hear are gangs of hens and stags out in full force with pink sashes or dressed as Tony the Tiger – you decide which is which!

Here is a poem I wrote for the occasion too:

Cardiff Chaos

Lou’s hen do is upon us,

We’re meeting at half 8,

A weekend of surprises,

But where the hell is Kate?

Sarah’s got her T-shirt,

Sian’s got her willy straw,

Tore and Karen all aboard,

For laughs and drinks galore!

We’re ready for the first bit,

Lou’s got her dancing shoes,

Grease lightening time ahead,

But all Sam wants is booze!

Loz is in there getting pics,

as Sadie and Chris dance away,

The shots then keep on coming,

‘Down it’ …we all obey!

Feeling rough the next morning,

Camilla slurps her tea,

But we’re all out early again,

For Princess Lou’s next activity.

Then Monday is now here,

Fantastic hen weekend done,

Nic’s done a brilliant job,

Hope the wedding is as fun!

Writing this ahead of time was a bit of a jinx. But it did all happen and go to plan. Brilliant weekend!

XSXS

One plus one equals two….

The One…….

The one who….. makes you laugh.
The one who… hugs you.
The one who… kisses you.

The one who… understands you.
The one who… is patient with you.
The one who… thinks you are funny.

The one who…. debates with you.
The one who… has the same interest or passion.
The one who…flirts with you.
The one who….needs you.

Why must one person complete us? Does it take one person to complete another? The whole concept of just one person providing all social and emotional needs for the rest of our lives is not only highly unachievable, yet also very unrealistic. People go on about searching for ‘the one’ and may end up being married three times. Does that mean the first two weren’t important? We connect with people at certain times of our life and each one can be  ‘the one’ for you at that given time. I’m not saying that the above phrases mean that we should all be romantically involved with many people who can give us all of these qualities – but I just mean it is OK if other people meet these needs in addition to a romantic partner.

 I like to think of myself as romantic but maybe I am a short-term romantic. An in the moment romantic. I like to do nice things for my boyfriend, celebrate certain dates, spoil him sometimes etc. But all this  ‘we are destined to be together forever and ever…’ well I am not sure. Some people need to believe that in order to feel secure in the relationship. I hope that we will be together forever but I only want us to be if we are happy. Nobody can see into the future, so no point in worrying about our romantic, future destinies. We don’t need to have met ‘the one for life’ in order to be happy in the present.

‘I don’t want to be your other half,
I believe that one and one make two…’

Alanis Morrisette seems to have  hit the nail on the head, saying that as an individual we are complete and once we find a partner; there are two of us! It is quite simple mathematics really! I think we need many ‘ones’ in our lives…..made up of romantic partners (only one at a time though – I’m not saying bigamy is OK 😉 ), family and friends.

Don’t put pressure on yourself or your relationships… enjoy them all and live life to the full 😉

XSXS

Praise Song for Your Mother

Since it is Mother’s Day weekend, we all need to think of our mothers, mums, mother-in-laws and other mother figures – past and present. What they do for us all year, how they help us, how they make us laugh, support us and most of all that they enrich our lives.

There is a praise song poem by Grace Nicholls called Praise Song for My Mother which celebrates all the reasons, very personal reasons – why her mother was special to her. ‘Was’ because her  mother has passed but she still lives on in this poem all day everyday. The use of ‘mantling’, ‘fathoming’ and ‘streaming’ shows that the love goes on and on after death. A beautiful poem really:

Praise Song for My Mother

You were
water to me
deep and bold and fathoming

You were
moon’s eyes to me
pull and grained and mantling

You were
sunrise to me
rise and warm and streaming

You were
the fish’s red gill to me
the flame tree’s spread to me
the crab’s leg/the fried plantain smell
replenishing replenishing

Go to your wide futures, you said.

Grace Nicholls

I love this poem and it inspired me to write my own version for my mother. I tried it with the past tense – and like Nicholls’s I think it is more powerful like that. But I just can’t tempt fate as I am lucky enough to still have my Mum here with us today  – so for this purpose it is in the present tense. My Mum is still all these things today, as always. See what you think:

Praise Song for My Mother

You are
music to me
clear and soft and singing

You are
perfume to me
fresh and sweet and clinging

You are
tea to me
warm and strong and comforting

You are
the wendy house to me
the joy of scrabble to me
the fish in sauce/baked beans
satisfying satisfying

Always drive carefully, you say.

Samantha Gray

I think I will print a copy of this poem off for my Mum – or even the blog as a whole, since she is a techno-phone and there is no way she will see this 😉 My boyfriend’s Mum (who I suppose can be called ‘mother-in-law’ but I always joke there is nothing ‘in-law’ about it as of yet lol), will read this though, I hope, and know that she is very appreciated by my boyfriend and I 🙂

Appreciate mothers everywhere…they gave us life. So we can not only thank them, but share our lives with them and just generally celebrate life with them this weekend.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO ALL!

Miserable Cinderellas

‘There is a castle on a cloud,
I like to go there in my sleep,
Aren’t any floors for me to sweep,
Not in my castle on a cloud.’

I saw two productions over half term. The Burton Operatic Society did a production of Cinderella at a local school. (I have discussed a production in a previous blog: https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2012/10/31/good-vs-evil/) I also saw Les Miserables (finally!) at  the cinema. Both productions were fantastic but naturally they are every different in terms of context and plot. But in this case, they are both musicals and me being me, I wanted to draw some comparisons from the characters. (Call me lazy if you like for not writing two separate reviews!)

I must confess that I didn’t really know the story of Les Mis. before I went. I know, I know, English graduate who has not read it or seen a version of it. Reasons, or excuses being, well for starters the book is reallllly long! I have since downloaded it to my Nook and it is a worryingly long 4000 pages! (You may not see so many blogs lately 😉 ) Also, I just never saw a production through reasons such as money, opportunity and I never particularly studied it. It was worth the wait though!

I loved the film of Les Mis. and recommend anyone who has not seen it, to go. Or wait for the DVD 😉 It was a brilliant portrayal of Paris after the French Revolution. It focuses on the poor – or asles miserables’ can be translated as ‘the poor ones,’ ‘the miserables,’ or ‘the victims.’ Then there is the juicy part of the plot of the June Rebellion also known as The Paris Uprising of 1832. This was good viewing and really gave a depiction of this battle between the rich and the poor man. I don’t want to go too much into the story because that isn’t the purpose of this blog. But just a few more thoughts of mine about the latest film version: the singing was good overall. I was well aware it was a musical and was fine with the characters singing when there was a vital part to the plot, when they had to sing their own thoughts or sing as a group  – fine. I wasn’t so sure about them ‘singing’ conversations to each other. That was a bit odd! I know that that is the case with all productions of Les Miserables but it just seemed a little odd to me. Russel Crowe singing seriously was even odder – he was the only one that I cringed in my seat a little when he let the notes escape his mouth. My other main point that comes to mind, is the children. They were fantastic little actors and really did the characters justice. Brilliant.

Cinderella I would think we all know a little about. It was a great production by Burton Operatics and an old story with a new twist, yet it still kept the original magic. I laughed out loud when the mice came out though – as they were played by children, they were nearly as big as Cinders herself! The actress playing Cinderella was amazing and had that inner happiness to her that only resurfaced when she was with the mice, or day dreaming or when she meets the prince. She played the miserable and slave side to the character equally as well. (The other actors and everyone involved did a fantastic job too – to risk a shout out!)

I started to see the old fairy tale in a new light though last week. Possible because it was the first time I had seen it as an adult. It really is about a poor orphan girl, treated badly because of the times and bad luck of being left with an awful family. We are talking 17th century when this first was written, reflecting the role of women at the time. If women had no family or husband then they were worth nothing really. It isn’t until she meets her Prince Charming that her life becomes livable. The feminist in me, sobs at this.

This is what got me thinking when I saw Les Mis. Cosette is a lot like Cinderella. Think about it. They are both;

  • orphans and are left in terrible circumstances because of this.
  • slave like characters who like to dream and hope. The song at the top is from Les Mis. and sung by Cosette but it also reminded me of Cinderella.
  • young and beautiful
  • women in society who are not able to help themselves
  • (in the end) married to their heart’s desire who happen to rescue them from their misfortune. (I will admit Cosette was already saved early on by Jean Valjean – but again saved by a man)

So whether fairy tales or historical dramas, women were still depicted and were indeed treated in the same, awful way years ago. In terms of fairy tales, I do sometimes think why didn’t Cinderella (or Snow White, or any other) put the broom down, go out get a job, fend for herself and forget about men? But as Les Mis. shows, it wasn’t as simple as that indeed in France or England or anywhere. I was horrified by Cosette’s Mum in the film (played by Ann Hathaway) and how she had to have her head shaved to sell her hair and have her teeth pulled out for money. Definitely showing the hardships of the time. Poor women then had to resort to prostitution if they weren’t lucky to get rescued by the Jean Valjeans or the Prince Charmings of the world.

I suppose, though, the Valjean character does show us just how hard it was for men too. He wouldn’t have been able to turn his life around (well firstly if he didn’t steal a lot of silver!) if he hadn’t the run and under cover, carving and scraping a life for himself along the way. But being a hero of a story, he still managed to save Cosette on the way also. Like fairy tales, there is some sort of happy ending.

So how many Miserable Cinderellas are out there today? Women that have nowhere to turn or are so desperate that they turn to a horrible way of life. Because, unlike fairy takes, there isn’t always a happy ending in life. 😦

XSXS

A not so stupid Cupid!

A topical blog today (I do try!)… Happy Valentine’s day! That can mean whatever you choose. I think it is experienced in three different ways: the completely insufferable loved up couples who completely embrace the commercialism of it all; the single people who also then stem into two groups of the cynical and the ‘couldnt give a damn’ ones; and the people who just use it as an extra excuse to appreciate and spend time with loved ones (well just the one 😉 )

I fall into the the latter category. I didn’t always, as my boyfriend and I used to buy presents, go out for dinner and all that smoochy stuff. I think when you have been together so long then you go from the that category to just appreciating each other. My boyfriend, incidentally, is with his true love tonight (he does happen to have more than one!)… his rowing boat! No we haven’t spent the eve opening loved up pressies and having a romantic meal – he has at rowing and me? Well, I am sitting here writing about it! 😉 But, he is going to finish early – as to me ‘time’ is a more valuable gift than jewellery  – not that I wouldn’t happily accept that too 😉

Yes, a lot of people hate Valentine’s day because they think it another occasion that they have to remember, spend money and conform to. But as I say, it can just be an extra excuse to spend quality time together. I say ‘extra’ excuse because it should be in addition to other special evenings. You shouldn’t need Valentine’s day to arrive in order to have a ‘date’ or to spend some romantic time together….. love shouldn’t be an annual event! But you can receive the day with a hug and a kiss and feel blessed to have a loved one. Even if you don’t have a romantic loved one, you can still feel lucky and grateful to have loved ones in your life. Or just stick on the chick flicks/get drunk with other single friends/eat chocolate  – as you don’t have to share 😉

Let’s remember how Valentine’s Day began. Interestingly, it wasn’t associated with romantic love until the middle ages. Before this, it was a date to celebrate numoerous Christian saints called ‘Valentinus’.  The 14th of February was the day they were ‘honoured’.  Then one particular ‘Saint Valentine’ was focussed on when we look back to history and he was  thought to be imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. During his imprisonment, he is said to have healed the daughter of his jailer Asterius and before he was executed he left a note saying ‘From your Valentine.’ Which could explain why it is typical to sign your cards as that now.

But yes the romantic love idea came more into play during the time of Chaucer, where ‘courtly love’ was popular. By the 15th century, this date became a day to present loved ones with confectionary, flowers and hand-made cards. It was from the 19th Century that mass-produced cards replaced the ‘hand made cards’. Sad really, but I am sure there are still some people out there that do make their own personalised Valentine’s.

Also, don’t forget Cupid, who is a symbol or icon of Valentine’s Day. Cupid was the god of desire, erotic love and affection. Cupid carries an  arrow with a golden, sharp tip and who ever gets hit with it, experiences uncontrollable desire. What a lot of people don’t know, is that he also had a second arrow with a lead point and this was for negative purposes – it would cause the person to run away. I didn’t realise this until it was mentioned in Romeo and Juliet where Romeo says that Rosalind won’t be hit by the right arrow and return his love. I love this idea about Cupid as it has a dual effect and shows that love is two-sided. It can be  lovely and amazing but also painful and hurtful  – reflected by his two arrows!

I have to share you my favourite love poem with you today to finish off. I have mentioned it in a blog before so that may be why it seems familiar (https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/that-stinging-feeling/). I think it shows what should be important about Valentine’s Day and realising the reality of love:

Valentine

Not a red rose or a satin heart

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

Here.
It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.

Lethal.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

So there you have it. You may have flowers today. Or a necklace. Or some chocolate. But it doesn’t have all that emotion and meaning to it like an onion does it?! I love this poem as it shows that love starts and stops like the stanzas and the lines. Love clings to you, whether you want it to or not, like the stench of an onion onto your skin. It is honest about love and a brilliant metaphor for love.

There you go, we have the history of Valentine, cupid and how the day has changed, all for a modern poet to say that love is a vegetable! 😉

Enjoy your Valentine’s Day in which ever way you choose 🙂

XSXS