Are You Successful?

What makes a person a success? Why does society view success in such a limited way? What is the key to true success?

This blog topic has needed more research and a longer thought-process than most. Partly, to understand the notion of what people think success is; partly to find a way to write about people’s real-life situations in a way that highlights various examples of success. This blog post is not belittling anyone’s success or life choices, just in case you do recognise a real-life example. I’m just exploring the many options that there are to success.

Imagine a successful person. What do you envisage? You would not be alone if you pictured someone in a smart, formal business-suit rushing to catch a plane, in order to complete an important job role in their busy and high-flying career. Society teaches us to think about success in this way: career, wealth and travel. If you manage those, you are successful to the world, apparently. And in many cases, this is true. But let’s open that brief case and delve a little deeper to what makes a person truly successful at life.

I’ve noticed the term “successful” be thrown around my various family and friendship groups lately – a bit like a pass-the-parcel. People are keen to pass this term “success” on to other people, but are so reluctant to keep it to apply to themselves. When, really, we all want to open that pass-the-parcel: we all want to be successful. One example at a party recently, was a comment “she’s the most successful out of all of us,” the reason being that the girl in question was a few years younger than the rest of us, and had climbed the career ladder quite high for a tender adult age. And good for her! She clearly wanted to achieve that job role and job satisfaction by that age and has accomplished it. But when did success become just about your career or job?

Many people believe that success is the key to happiness. You need to achieve great things – get that job; bring home the money; buy the house. This helps to be happy.  But what if I said happiness is the key to success? This is what I firmly believe and I will explain why… If you are truly happy with your “lot in life” whatever that may. If you have learnt from your mistakes; got a job that makes you happy; stood by your decisions and you are truly happy as a result, then I think you’re pretty damn successful.

My Dad is another example (I hope he won’t mind me mentioning him here). As he nears retirement age, he occasionally complains that he wishes he had learnt a trade, worked for himself or simply attained more of a career. Now my Dad has always worked hard  – a true grafter. He has worked his whole life, bringing home money to support his wife and two daughters. He has now paid his mortgage off and he and my Mum can now enjoy holidays whenever they like. More importantly, he was able to be a loving, dedicated husband and father who has been around for us all. If he had learnt a trade would he be any happier? Would his family? Maybe he’s have slightly more job satisfaction , but longer hours and more stress perhaps. I think my Dad’s successful at life  – and I hope he will read this when he has his next moan!

A lot of my friends have achieved jobs and moved to various big cities – or countries – as a result. They have flown the nest and gone off to be successful in the “big city”. If that is what they choose to do and want to do, then that is fabulous. What I find interesting is that a few of them have confided that they feel they couldn’t return to our small home town, as they would feel unsuccessful as a result. To me, if you are unhappy in the big city earning the big bucks (and I am by no measure, saying they are) and you want to get a different job and return closer to friends and family – and are happy as  a result of that, then that’s true success to me. It’s not about returning with your tail between your legs, it’s about making the decision to be true to yourself and doing it. Experience things and learn from it. Again, I am not assuming that people can’t be happy in addition to a high flying job in a strange city – I know not everyone is like me 😉 I’m pointing out that it’s also a success to admit that you would rather have something else in life.

Society may view me as unsuccessful. I have a below average salary that doesn’t reflect my age or education, and I still live in my small, non-eventful hometown. However, I think I am successful. There, I’ve caught the pass-the-parcel and happy to admit that I think this. I have a job that I adore and gives me job satisfaction every day (most days!) and that has led me to have small business of my own on the side. I live in my hometown because, you know what? I like it here. It’s home. And in addition to my English degree, university taught me something more important: I am a home bird. I like to live within walking distance from my friends and family. I love to travel and go on holiday, BUT my town and roots are important to me – more important than any job or any amounts of money.

Other people may view success differently and I think that’s the point. We need to define what success means to us and put it into practice. If we are doing what makes us happy in this short life, then we are making a success of it.

XSXS

 

Everyone has baggage…

Do the things we carry with us make us who we are? Do they define us? Can physical baggage change how we feel emotionally?

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I’ve just returned from one of the best holidays I’ve ever been on: a trip to Malta for my friends’ wedding. The joy didn’t arrive on the plane with us, however. Neither did my luggage! But let’s just rewind some hours previous to this…

The journey to the airport was the most stressful I’ve ever encountered. We’d already spent hours (it seemed!) discussing a suitable departure time from home, in order to get to the airport in time. I already felt I was carrying a lot of tension as baggage – as well as my large holdall. We went quite early in the end, especially since the online check-in had said there wasn’t enough seats on the plane for our party of 8 to check-in. “It’ll just be that the website’s down!” we exclaimed. “All will be fine,” we repeated, as the British do when there is no cup of tea to soothe the situation.

Additionally to this, the 2 hour drive to the airport took 4 hours due to an accident on the motorway. We had little time to check in when we finally arrived – we were the last ones. The earlier check-in warning was correct – 2 of our party had to go on a different flight. So already, we’d lost some of our friend baggage.  A quick diversion to Brussels and 400 Euros payment sweetened this for them though! My husband and I checked in our baggage – if only I’d known that my bag wasn’t going to Malta any time soon.

After check-in, I normally get that first sigh of relief – you are physically free of luggage and just have yourselves to worry about. Not this time though. We sped to security and, although our friends got through swiftly with ease, we were ages. Firstly, I got “beeped” by the metal detectors and had to have this body scan thing. I also had to wait for my turn, due to a teenage girl having a sobbing fit. Seriously could we not catch a break? She was crying because she thought she was going to get arrested I think. Don’t wear the shiny necklace and bomb shaped shoes then love!  (Okay the shoes are a joke – and I also have no idea why I get beeped every time. I must have metal in my blood or something!) I finally walked out and realised hubby was still not done. Why you ask? Oh he’d forgotten that you can’t put liquids into your hand luggage. Even though a few moments before I’d said to him “Does my Vaseline need a plastic bag you think – is it a liquid?” This still didn’t prompt him to remember that his whole toiletry bag was in his bag. Honestly, men!

So a little lighter of baggage once again (toothpaste, sun cream and after-sun to be precise) we went to the gate. No duty free shopping today, ironically the one time we’d needed to buy sun lotion too! We rushed to the gate and our friends exclaimed that my row had been called  – so off I went to board the plane. Checking in late also meant I had to sit alone, but I think I needed it. 3 hour flight + a book + a glass of wine and some Pringles = a much more relaxed Sammy. The tension had parachuted away.

Once at baggage retrieval, I was now truly ready to start the holiday. There had only been about 200 people on the flight, so the luggage whirred around the conveyor belt quickly – people grabbing, pulling and sliding their belongings off. Then nothing. No more bags. I knew, with the theme of the trip so far that mine hadn’t made it. Turns out, it was still in Heathrow and it would be with me the next morning.

Being an organised individual, I had a bikini, two pairs of pants and a pull-on beach dress in my hand luggage. (Oh and my husband and I didn’t mix our clothes up, because we were staying in different apartments: girls and boys.) Yet, I had no deodorant, toothbrush or anything to go out in that evening. I felt a little sad – and then I felt guilt. Why did I have the right to feel sad about material objects? Some people had nothing. Yes, we were also two of our party down, but we were all alive and well. This trip was only 4 days  long and I couldn’t afford to waste one by being depressed about by lack of clothing and toiletries. My new outfit to try on was one of freedom and invigoration. Plus I didn’t have to lug my bag into the taxi or up to our 5th floor apartment! Silver linings and all that.

I’ve never thought of myself as materialistic and I also believe certain things happen to try us and test us. It was freeing to think I literally had what was on my back (and the couple of items I mentioned above). I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon at the beach – everyone has the same baggage there don’t they? Bikini, towel and some sun lotion (borrowed by a friend!) and you’re set. I must  admit I had a little wobble just before we got ready to go out though. Reception said they didn’t have a toothbrush to give me and I didn’t have any of my essentials to get ready with: make-up, perfume, body lotion, jewelry etc. For the first time since University, I felt homesick. It was the same feeling – a yearning for home comforts. Like I said above, I am not materialistic as such. I don’t particularly have expensive brands of these things –  and I was hugely grateful for everything my friends lent me/gave me – but those things are what make you “you”. We went out, had fun and cocktails – I looked alright I had to admit, my beach dress and bra combo along with borrowed jeweled flat shoes, a friend having done my make-up, a borrowed necklace and my travel bag as a handbag – but I felt like a slightly different version of “me”. I truly appreciated friendship in that hour we got ready though. As I say, I feel it was a test and it has definitely made me appreciate things that we take for granted.

The next morning at 8am, I got straight up, bunged the same beach dress on and inquired about my case. They had said at the airport that it would arrive in Malta at 1am.  The man on reception said that with his 30 years’ experience, he had noticed that the airline normally lie about the arrival and it would more likely be that evening. I was done at playing Lord of the Flies by this point and just wanted my stuff. So, another day out in the same shorts and top and bikini. Maybe, I’d lose friends too, due to my growing stench! We also joked that I could have photos taken in various spots in the same outfit. Furthermore, I was starting to worry that I’d be going to my friends’ wedding in my beach dress at this rate!

After breakfast, we returned to the room for money so that I could go out and buy a tooth brush, some pants and my sanity… when I almost tripped over a case. First thoughts of messy, untidy room-mates popped in my mind – then I recognized the white (well not so white any more – this is also the same case that I left in Newquay 5 years ago! It has had more adventures than me!) splashed with multi-coloured patterns. My case was here! Ridiculously, we all cheered! Because it was so much earlier and unexpected, it made it even more special! I had a sudden urge to get changed every hour  – just to make each and every item of clothing truly appreciated and valued! All after brushing my teeth of course 😉

So, I think we all have baggage. We all have “stuff” that make us who we are. Whether it is clothes and shoes; mobile phones; ipads; books; cuddly toys. They aren’t what’s important of course and they don’t make life more meaningful. My holiday was still fantastic with the stressful start. But they do help us to be who we are; survive the day-to-day; be the best version of ourselves. But I do recommend going without for a bit, to make you truly appreciate them. It is true that you don’t really appreciate something until it’s gone.

I rest my case 😉 …

XSXS

 

It’ll be alright on the Wedding Day…

Bride Blogger Part 8

I’ve been absent from the Blogging world for a while. Wedmin, wedmin, wedmin! For those of you who aren’t all-consumed with wedding lingo, “Wedmin” is a very cleverly coined compound word for wedding admin, but you could probably figure that out 😉 I do wonder what I did with my time B.E (as in Before Engagement) – what did I do with those precious moments that are now spent making table confetti? Or cutting out inserts for the invitations? Or finding photographs to decorate the venue? Writing poems for nupitals? And when I get a break, I read wedding magazines in the bath!

Overall, it’s been an exciting time and I do enjoy all of the planning. We’ve had a few stressful things happen though that I’d thought I’d share with you fellow-brides or anyone else who wants a giggle:

Way back before Christmas, my Mum and I went to the florist to book flowers plus a glittery curtain back-drop for our venue. A glittery curtain? If you’d said to me years ago that we’d be forking out a small fortune to hire a glittery curtain for our wedding, I’d have laughed so hard, I would’ve spat wine in your face. But we have a massive window behind the top table in the venue room and it boasts a not so romantic looking view of the car-park. So, we need something to cover it. This one we wanted had been used at our venue loads and we thought “bugger it,” it saves anyone spending hours making something that may not look half as good. This is what weddings do to you – you spend on things you never thought you would want or need, but it is all about choosing what to spend your money on. Anyway, I digress. We went  to book this and with crossed fingers asked if the coveted curtain was available on our wedding day. She looked and said;

“Oh it’s already booked that day. At the Riverside hotel with a royal blue colour scheme!”

“What? But OUR wedding is on that date at that venue with that colour scheme!”

Wedding planning does make you a tad crazy. So after this had sunk in, I started to ponder if I had actually already booked it without remembering! But this booking had someone else’s name and they’d already picked flowers and paid their £50 deposit. I’m crazy, but not that crazy and think that even in my mad Wedmin mode, I would still remember giving a false name, choosing flowers and parting with 50 quid! So by this point, I couldn’t give a flying flip about the curtain, but was worried about our venue being double-booked! But a quick phone-call by our helpful florist solved the puzzle. It turns out this other couple had got engaged, gone straight into planning mode and ordered flowers and the curtain, paid the deposit before even booking a venue. They then hadn’t got as far as that because they broke up in the meanwhile. So the venue is ours; the curtain is ours (well for the day) and they are out £50 and don’t even have each other 😦 Sad –  but a lesson can be learnt. Don’t go booking and paying for things straight away before you even have a venue! You could break up…. or just give other future brides like myself, a heart attack!

Speaking of the venue, we still love it and are still very excited. It has caused us some stress also, however. Since booking our special day, they are now on their 3rd manager! Is it me and my incessant bridal questioning that has scared them off? Surprisingly, no! The first manager went on long-term sick – and I know this can’t be helped, but I was very disappointed because I felt like in addition to investing in the venue, we had invested in him also. I clung onto the hope he would be back in the New Year. He did get better but then left the hotel. We had dealt with a relief  manager in the meanwhile and then next time we had visited, there was another one. I know this shouldn’t matter. Our wedding will be great (the mantra I repeat with every single, piece of confetti I make!) but I just feel we have to keep going back to step one, telling the new manager everything!

Another annoying thing to bring us to the current wedding planning week, is the invitation making. I had this idealised idea that we would have a lovely evening printing off our invites to our nuptials. After the first click, the printer decided to chew up our envelopes. One by one. Turns out, in addition to our 80 guests, the printer wanted feeding too! So fingers crossed, we get those sorted this weekend! Things will go wrong, but as I say, I always get a story out of it!

As they say, it’ll be alright on the Wedding night day!

Keep posted for some Hen Do stories!

XSXS

Goodness, Actually

‘There is no such thing as a self-less good deed,’ said Joey on Friends. All good deeds are selfish because they make us feel good he believes- but so what? We need more of people feeling good. If you do a good deed and you make someone happy, it does in fact, make you happy in return – you can then spread this joy when you tell others about it. Which is what this blog post is all about.

Since starting my blog, I have done ‘A good, the bad, the ugly’ themed post at Christmas time to highlight how Christmas kind of exaggerates feelings. (links below) There are so many acts of kindness that seem even more generous during the festive period, yet people doing stupid things and selfish things becomes even worse at Christmas too.

This year – I want to forget negative stories. Not in a ‘head in the sand’ kind of way. There is no avoiding it really, especially with all the awful stories in the news. But for this post, it is going to be simple full of goodness. I’ve had a year of extreme high and lows and now, as the year draws to a close, I want to focus on the positive. And there is a lot of it in the world, even if we forget sometimes.

I was inspired when I watched Love Actually recently. Yes, its a bit cheesy (and no it wasn’t the first time I’d seen it 😉 ) but it does highlight all kinds of  ‘love’ in the world – in a variety of contexts. It ignores hate and all the bad in the world. And we need more of this… people need to focus on love and happiness. And goodness. There is always Goodness, actually 😉

As far as good deeds go, I think I have done my fair share so far this season. I was driving home from work one day and saw an elderly woman go flying – as in fallen over, not zooming in the sky!  She had another elderly woman with her, who couldn’t seem to help her up. I pulled over and attempted to help her up. When I couldn’t physically manage it, I ran for help and a man and myself helped her to her feet. She was very grateful, but insisted she was OK to walk home, after I’d offered to drive her home.

I also try to what I can for the elderly people I know. I’ve visited quite a few neighbours and friends at care homes or their houses – sometimes just a quick chat and some company is the best Christmas present they can have. I didn’t buy my friend Donald anything this year – I tend to find my gifts still wrapped in his room afterwards! So this year, I have just promised to take him out to Morrisons for lunch in the new year. He loves the place and will love that much more than a fancy box of biscuits.

Additionally, instead of giving out Christmas cards to colleagues this year, I have donated a bag of food to Hope charity food bank, which a colleague kindly organises, and also a donation of money to the charity Crisis to help the homeless this Christmas. Here are the links if you fancy doing the same:

http://www.hopecentrederby.co.uk/

http://community.crisis.org.uk/press?utm_source=insert&utm_medium=print&utm_campaign=menu

But lots of people do lovely things all the time, often unrecognised. I’m just going to blurt them all out into one big bubble of happiness – enjoy!

My friend lost her purse in town whilst shopping. Busy, festive time – she never expected to get it back. Luckily, she had no money in it and promptly cancelled her cards. She posted on Facebook and people shared it. A couple of days later, the purse had been posted through her letter box 🙂 Either the wonder or Facebook had helped this or good old-fashioned reading of the drivers licence  – but still, either way, highlighting that their are some decent people out there.

A similar story  – my Mother-in-law-to-be’s friend lost her handbag and it got handed in – fab ending once again Plus, my Mother-in-law-to-be went to a cash point recently and forgot to take her money. A lady behind her shouted after her to collect the money!

An ex-colleague of mine told me this next story via Facebook. She said that she noticed one day that her gate hinge had gone rusty and broke. The next day, she went out to the shops in order to buy a new hinge and noticed that her gate now boasted a brand-new, shiny hinge. It turns out her neighbour had done it for her – without being asked, or without want of any recognition.

Another story I read on Facebook was a lovely one (you see Facebook can be used for positivity spreading!) and made me feel very warm inside – and no, that wasn’t the wine 😉 A youth club went round to local elderly people giving them Christmas hampers. This is pure goodness in itself – but it gets better. They became very upset and disturbed by the condition one old man was living in: poor décor, messy, cold and a lack of carpets. They are now planning to do lots of activities to fund-raise money to carpet the man’s house 🙂 Wonderful.

A friend at work told me about a 26-year-old man (I think she said he was on TV about it) who chose to do a good deed every day for a year. He has managed all of the year so far and still keeping to it every single day. He does things like helping strangers when they are struggling with something, paying for someone’s lunch, doing chores for the elderly and unable. What an inspiration!  – Here’s the link if you want to read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2874858/Luke-Cameron-does-good-deed-day-12-months-people-hate-it.html

Another young lad, who is a true inspiration, is Matthew Humphreys. he completed to Rickshaw challenge this year for Children in Need. I worked with him a few years ago, which is a complete honour. It was my mate, plus then, another fantastic ex-colleague who had the daily delights of working with him one-to-one – and what an amazing job they have done to help to shape the person he has become (along with all other friends and family of course!)  With a physical disability, he found it harder than anyone else – and god knows it is a challenge anyway! I went to see him at my old school for  an awards’ ceremony last week. he also had speech difficulties, but had prepared a speech and was an absolute star of the show. It really does make you humble. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/2PkXCX63SZ1YMJ37j3xX9jS/matthew – for more info.

Please continue these stories in the comments below. There are many more to be told – in fact there are probably many more that I know, but have forgotten (especially if told to me after having wine! haha) Spread the joy. After watching It’s a Wonderful Life for the first time this Christmas, it made me realise what a profound effect each and every individual can have on another’s life. We all have a role to play and there is reason we are here.

Do what you can to help others – it will make them happy and yourself in return 🙂 To end on a quote:

‘Help others achieve their dreams and you will achieve yours.’ – but remember goodness is for life, not just for Christmas 🙂

Merry Christmas everyone – have one full of goodness!

XSXS

https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2013/12/22/christmas-the-generous-the-silly-and-the-damn-right-disgusting/

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

Dangerous Gravy

Picture this: I’m on a fast, moving train after visiting a friend from Uni; I’m checking my phone for messages every ten minutes – whilst, in between, reading a novel on my E-reader device; I have a take-away cup of Mocha; people are talking on phones; working on laptops; a Special Needs child is shouting ‘Dangerous gravy’ over and over….. is this a snapshot of crazy, modern life?

The Special Needs lad kind of made my day. He was shouting and rambling away and no one batted an eye lid. I know there are exceptions to this  – but on this train, no one cared. There was acceptance. That is one thing I love about modern life – everything is out in the open, we can do what we want – and live the life we choose. (mostly!) This is definitely true in comparison to the other time period I was thinking about on the train. You see, I was reading about the Jane Austen world. Not one of her books, or a book about her – but a modern author’s depiction of ‘what happens next’ in Pride and Prejudice.* So, this is a modern author delving into the 1800s . Some of you may groan at this idea – but it is actually very good. No, her style isn’t exactly like Austen’s, how could it be? I love the fact that that didn’t put her off writing the story she wanted to.

With the lad shouting ‘Dangerous gravy’, I started thinking of the term ‘gravy train’. Whether it was being on a train or just how my mind works I don’t know! I started thinking about how we are all on this ‘gravy train’ of life. In all honesty, I always thought the term was a synonym of the term ‘rat race’ – meaning crazy, modern life journey. That kind of idea. I’ve just looked it up, however, and it means ‘a cushy job or time’ – saying that someone can get a lot of money from very little effort. This still kind of fits with the ideas I wanted to discuss though.

Hilariously, when I told my Mum about the lad on the train, she simply said Ahh maybe he was recently burnt by hot gravy!’ That is much more realistic! How come I never think so literally?!

I’ve always joked that I belong to the 1800s – or even possibly a little earlier, like the Tudor Courts perhaps. I’d love the simple life of walking everywhere, not worrying about technology – you know, a lovely day of sewing, writing, reading and playing the piano (I’m very musical and creative with a needle in this daydream!) All I’d have to worry about is finding a husband and keeping my family happy (assuming I was in a higher class – again this is what I imagine! hehe) I wouldn’t have the day-to-day craziness like I do in Modern life – but would I be any happier?

I’d have to do what my father told me to. I wouldn’t be able to go out alone without a chaperone. I would have to get married, or be seen as some ort of leper by society. I wouldn’t even be able to blummin dance at a party without being asked by a man! All these things I get cross about now, yet I am still drawn to this time period and the idea of living in it!

In contrast, what I love about modern life is the idea of the unexpected and its freedom. Like the train freeze-frame above: totally random! In modern society, we can hop on a train or plane and go anywhere. We see people from all walks of life and have so, so many opportunities and experiences. In Jane Austen land, I’d get married and live in some big house somewhere and perhaps hardly see the rest of my family   – as it would take days to travel to them! People must have been happy then and fulfilled – but they didn’t know any different. I think the ‘dangerous’ thing here – is to compare. We need to embrace our life – as crazy as it – and appreciate the opportunities and things we get to do. I don’t have to attend a ball on Saturday night to fit into society’s ideals. I can sit in my PJs and watch X Factor; go out for dinner; pop to Paris (if money allowed!): we have the freedom to do as we choose.

As for  the lad on the train, I have no idea why he shouted ‘Dangerous Gravy’. Maybe my Mum was right – or maybe he was mourning Linda Bellingham? Bisto is being mentioned a lot lately in her honour! I just think in terms of having it ‘cushy’ and being on a gravy train, we all can really. Yes, of course we still have to work hard to attain things – but modern life has made so many things much easier for us. Life can be as simple or easy as we make it – whatever time period we live in.

Anyone else really fancy gravy now? 😉

XSXS

Georgiana Darcy’s Diary: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice continued (Pride and Prejudice Chronicles Book 1) by Anna Elliot. There are a few in the series I think.

A Fine Life

I have just read an article in Psychologies magazine that has inspired me to write this. I love it when that happens – when I read something and feel I have something to add. The article was about being ‘fine’. They always say that if a woman ever says she is ‘fine’ then the husband or partner is in trouble – as ‘fine’ can be a mask to hide true, inner feelings.

The article suggested that it is better to be honest when people ask if you are okay  – tell them you are feeling rubbish/down/depressed etc. I guess it depends on the person that has asked you and the situation. I studied spoken communication at university for my dissertation – and it does seem that certain phrases are asked out of politeness or to invite a deeper, more meaningful conversation. Women are always said to be a more ‘polite’ conversationalist and I found that from my research. That is politeness translates as being cooperative, formal and inviting. Women like to include others into conversations and a simple,

‘How are you?’

‘I’m fine thanks, how are you?’

can do this. It did always amuse when I studied gender differences because a male conversation of:

‘Pint?’

‘Sure!’

can so exactly the same thing! So if this ‘politeness’ is more about being honest and straight to the point, then males may have it down to a tea (or a beer!) But let’s stick with this idea of being ‘fine’ – and within both genders. The article suggested ‘fine’ to be an acronym, which I thought was quite clever. Because even if we say are fine, we are really feeling a mash-up of feelings – and you could argue that we all are, all the time.

 

F *cked up

Insecure

Neurotic

Emotional

 

Is it better to be honest and say ‘Actually, I’m feeling kind of emotional’? Like I said above, it does depend on who it is and where you are. I would want a friend or family member to tell me what they were really feeling – even if it wasn’t a convenient time or location in fact. Sometimes, though, you just want small-talk though and keeps people at that ‘acquaintance’ level – and we all need those.

Lately, I’ve had a couple of neighbours confide truths to me. I didn’t ask for it or particularly invite it  – well I didn’t think I did anyway! One neighbour on Monday, confided that she had cancer and her latest check-up was yesterday. I only went outside to get my sunglasses from my car so that I could read in the sun. Irony alert – that by the time we had finished talking, the sun had gone in! I liked the fact that she spoke to me about it though, really. I feel I know her better. If she had said she was ‘fine’ and then I heard her health news from someone else, I would have felt that I wasn’t a person she could tell. The downside is, it has now gone a few notches up from general neighbour chat and I must remember to ask her how her check-up went. The pressure is on to not feel like a bad neighbour.

Another neighbour, a few weeks previous, confided in me about his wife leaving him for another man. Again, I was just  getting out of my car  – I think I had just come from work. We had the small talk about ‘glad the day was over and I could relax now’ etc. It somehow got onto the fact that he now lived alone and his wife had left him. This may have been a time when I wished he had just said he was ‘fine’ – as I didn’t really  know what to say! I mean what do you say? ‘There are plenty more fish in the sea!’  or ‘Maybe she will come back’? Awkward. But, maybe it made him feel better to tell someone and he was sick of saying that he was just ‘fine’.

It’s okay to not be fine. I always say that talking about things is human nature and we need to do it. We are social creatures and sometimes a chat – whether it be to a close friend or stranger – is all we need.

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

From the Little Black book to a Bigger White book….

Those of you whom read regularly will know that my blogs are random. They are to reflect life: random. I write about things that pop up, occur and just happen. Or perhaps topics close to my heart that I have thought about that day. From now on – up to the next couple of years – there is no escaping that the blog posts may get a little more wedding related 😉 So, I’d like to offer myself as a Bride Blogger – for those in mine (and other) wedding parties to share ideas/read of my planning/ laugh at me etc! For those not involved at all, should still get a laugh and a giggle out of my Bridezilla stress. Because you don’t realise how every little damn thing becomes magnified when it comes to wedding prep! I didn’t. (And I’m still only in the first couple of months!)

Yes, I am now a fiancee. I no longer have a little black book (not that I did anyway – you could fit my previous conquests on a napkin! 😉 ) I now have a nice, bright, white A5 wedding planner – because who needs an actual wedding planner in the form or a human, when you have a notebook?! God, I love making lists and that ‘skill’ will finally come to good use! Nothing ever may get ticked off the lists….but still 😉

You don’t realise  – or I didn’t  – how much there is to think about. I always thought, ‘Oh, I’d do it on the cheap and it wouldn’t take long to sort!’ I still think this in theory – and we don’t want a big, fancy affair but we do want lots of people. The joining of family, friends and everyone you care about is the most important thing to me . Unfortunately, this mass of people need feeding and everything! 😉 So, even though we’d love to get married as soon as possible, we seem to need the next two years to save money and sort everything out. So, the planning to me is the first exciting stage. (My fiance may not agree with this!)

After being engaged, the whole world turns into one huge wedding. I notice other people’s engagement rings now, and every place I drive past is a possible venue. I strain my neck to see if there is a suitable, cute garden or if they do accommodation – surprised I haven’t crashed yet! 😉 Every colour I see becomes a possible bridesmaid/colour theme. Every white dress is possible bridal couture for myself. Every sentimental quote I see, is a possible ‘personal’ touch to make the little things important on the big day – screw the guests, I’ll be surrounded by word plaques!  😀 haha.

I’d say that I’m still in the overwhelmed phase. In a good way. Everything seems a possibility and I’m just collecting ideas to fill those blank pages in my book 😉 I havent been engulfed by the invitations, save the dates, wedding menus – where I might just suggest we cook and eat the groom instead. No, it’s all very nice still. It will be interesting to see how this develops I think! I have a lot of friends and acquaintances getting married too in the next 24 months, so I hope they will share ideas and read this too 🙂

Next post: Venues! (We are going to see our first 2 on Friday.)  – I actually had my first ‘Bridezilla’ moment when I was booking these. One hadn’t replied to my email in over a week. I became very ‘well if they want us to get married there, then they should be efficient enough to reply!’ This was also because every other venue and immediately invited us along/emailed us/phoned us just for looking at their website! I emailed again saying ‘we would appreciate a response this time ASAP as we were seeing other venues that day.’ Cue, a response immediately with an apology and we are now booked in. I can work this Bride thing! 😉

Wedding Quote 1:

‘Marriage lets you annoy that one

special person for the rest of your life!’

See you soon wedding planners….

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/

Mad about Bridget

I wrote a couple of Bridget Jones’s style diaries about a month ago, yet I was writing as me to tell you about my holiday. (Links at bottom of page). I promised to also write the beginning (of what I think) the new Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy will be. (After doing a little research, I am dead excited that the book comes out next month; didn’t realise it was so soon!) We know that Bridget is older, still living in London and has a child by Daniel Cleaver! What about Mark Darcy? Still boy (or man obsessed) we assume, Bridget will have a male related packed diary. I am choosing for the ‘Mad about the boy’ notion to mean, her child. Her son.

Saturday 1st January  2013

New Year’s Resolutions

  • This year am not going to be selfish – as have a child to think about. Will be mother of year, doing educational games and thought provoking activities. Mothers will come round to learn my excellent parenting skills.
  • Stop smoking (after this last one of course – no one starts new year resolutions on first day of year!)
  • Stick to 1600 calories a day (start using My fitness Pal app – oh and figure out how to use said app)
  • Become techno savvy- using fitness app will lead to great world wide web Bridget genius and can be manager of Twitter and Facebook… as well as becoming a top follower and can then work from home and become a millionaire….
  • Stop day dreaming. Much better use of time.
  • WILL NOT sleep with Daniel Cleaver again – does not matter that he is father of son. Never again.
  • If I do sleep with Daniel… will use contraception – as now know what happens as result!
  • Will be perfect daughter and friend  – all will come to me for brilliant advice and shoulder to cry on (hope said shoulder isn’t covered in baby spit at time)

Calories 4000 – had soak up booze and being honest as some still be in system. Times glared at Vile Richard, 47 (progress!), Times missed Damien, 2 – is good have time as being woman, not just mother. Facebook messages, 13 wall posts – feel popular with new year messages (must reply tomorrow!), Twitter followers, 24. (v.g).

11.00am at home

Took little nap after wrote the resolutions. Needed to rest my hung-over head. Great party at Shazza’s last night to see in, what will be an amazing, new year. Jude and Vile Richard had yet another falling out. Not sure they will make it to end of year.. or maybe even February. Just because Jude wanted that second bottle of wine – must remind Jude of latest blog Women in Power as feel she being pushed about by the Vile Dick (not literally of course). I, on other hand was angel. Had 3 bloody Marys and 10 cigs. Oh and just the one champagne at midnight. And one after whilst fireworks went off. Oh and the shots for the I have never game we played. But not as much of a hangover as other years. Great progress. Must be growing up. Shit! Am late to pick up Damien! Am terrible mother…must go!

2pm home again

Was good of Mum and Dad to have Damien. Me and Daniel have been taking it in turns to have him for important holidays and weekends etc. but we both had fabulous parties for New Year’s Eve so luckily grand parents to the rescue! They love him though and sometimes fear he prefers them to me. First word keeps popping out his mouth ‘Grr..’ so am thinking it’s for ‘Gran’ or ‘Granddad’ or perhaps ‘grrr’ in protest to me?! or ‘Grabbing breasts’ if takes after his father. Right. Am off to play with my son as then he may say ‘Mum’ before anything else. Or perhaps ‘mother ‘and be child genius. Will just check Facebook first.

Sunday 2nd January

Calories: 3000 at least – need more when lack of sleep! Twitter followers 34 (v.g progress), Facebook status updates 23 – not much else to do at 2am when child screaming! Cigarettes 7 (not good), Phone calls from father of son/ex/loser/, sex maniac 4.

10.00 am kitchen

Coffee. Needed this morning. Damien would not blurry stop crying last night. Feel terrible mother. He asleep now (just checked he wasn’t dead) and will leave him for while. Perhaps he has temperature. I would have if spent day and evening with my mother. Calpol should do trick. Will phone Daniel to get some. We agreed to have a grown-up relationship when comes to Damien and communicate and one will fetch things for other as both have very busy lives.

11.30am

Finally got through to Daniel and is in London. Says has double hang over from New Year’s party and won’t be back til tonight! Reminded him he has a son and has responsibilities and ill son at that. He sounded half asleep and heard mutterings of a woman. Hung up. Am mad. And lonely, single mother. Must get Calpol.

5.00pm

Ahh have great friends and family. And neighbours! Simon from upstairs went to chemist for me. Damien has slept a lot today but seems ok. Still no progress on ‘Mum’ though. Will have in depth teaching speech lesson when he better. Shazza popped round – and Jude actually, thought I think that was just to moan about Vile Richard. Mum and Dad also phoned too to see how I was and if sorted childcare for when back at work tomorrow. Said not heard off Daniel yet – as his mum sometimes has him Mondays. if not they agreed have him. Hurrah!

Me, Jude and Shazza have lovely afternoon anyway. With tea and Milk Tray and spent time looking at old school friends on Facebook. Hairy Harry has lost weight – not lost any hair though (well some off head)! Much fun. And gained another few Twitter followers. Yay! The girls also helped me set-up My Fitness Pal app and put in today’s calories. Milk Tray let me down. Will need do 3 hour walk to work it all off. Just don’t have time as single working mother. Will just  start tomorrow.

10.00pm in bed

Had a drunken phone call off Daniel. Said he couldn’t shake hangover so went for hair of dog. Says feels bad about Damien and promises be better Dad in future. Is going to get me stock of calpol. Agreed to this and his Mum is picking up Damien at 7am tomorrow so can get ready for work. Doh work. Being mother is big enough job. Do I have be TV journalist as well!?

Midnight

Had 3 more phone calls off Daniel. Think must have kept having more dog hair drinks. Says he loves me and should be a family. Says can’t stop thinking about me. Told him that he is a drunken sex maniac and only boy am mad about is our son. And hope he doesn’t inherit anything from him! Daniel then started crying on phone. Does he not understand that am working mother who does not have time for silly, emotional phone calls on a work night?!

XSXS

https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/samantha-gray-the-edge-of-cornwall-part-1/

https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/samantha-gray-the-edge-of-cornwall-part-2/

Samantha Gray: The Edge of Cornwall Part 2

….continued.

Wednesday 7th August

Forts built 1, Forts destroyed by sea 1, fish found – at least 40, fish caught 0, cricket runs 1 (but got caught out mid-run!)

4 pm the house. Another fantastic beach day. We came well prepared today – you know all the usual stuff, buckets spades, cricket sets, books, chairs etc. Found some tiny fish in a pool. Me, Tessa and Paul tried to catch them with no avail. They were too damn small and moved too fast! Must remember a fishing net next time. Bloody good fun chasing them though. Like a trip back to childhood!

Another trip to childhood, well for me, was cricket. It took me back to dreaded P.E lessons and I was no better at the age of 27! I managed 1 cricket run – the one time I hit the ball – but I got caught out! Doh! Realised that at the grand age of 27, I didn’t have to endure a full hour of it like the P.E lessons at school. So, I gracefully bowed out, asking a 3 year old girl to take my place  – she seemed to have taken a shine to the ball and/or Kenny!

The lads also took a trip down memory lane – but how much do men grow up anyway?! Was great fun watching them build ‘Fort Swad’, building sand castles around it and a moat. Great watching them until the tide started to come in and me and Tahlee had to move the stuff each time it got closer – whilst men ‘strengthened defences’ haha. Never seen them move so fast! Some little boys, v. cute boys, said ‘are you building that so you can stay dry inside it?’ Ahhhh….

12 midnight bedroom. Great chilled evening with the gang. Cheese board and a film. Yes, we are in twenties But is good to be mature sometimes especially after been kids all day. Night all.

Thursday 8th August

Men met with seven wives 0, cream teas eaten (the Cornish way) 1, times abandoned by friends 1, Times fainted in souvenir shops 0 (excellent!)

3pm in car Been to St. Ives and not seen a single man with seven wives! Much disappointment! Beautiful place though. Been to Cornwall many times and not been to this part before. Is gorgeous with lovely, lovely beaches and shops. Spent the morning with Kath and Neil walking round the lovely shops.  Bought quote plaque without fainting – always be thankful of small mercies! Also had yummy cream tea at quaint little café. Kath was asking if we were meant to put the jam or cream on first (onto scone) and v. passionate woman declared that when in Cornwall you put the jam on first. You put the cream on first if in Devon. Made sure we did it right as not nice to have angry Cornish folk throwing their scones at you.

Still bloody good, even if not the ‘best’!

Tessa, Paul and Kenny went kayaking whilst we were learning the history of cream teas. Bit of ‘man over board’ at times I think but otherwise they had a good time. Had lovely Cornish pasty, which we believed to be the ‘best in the world’, only to walk further down the road and see the sign for the ‘best pasty in the world’. Oops – still tasted bloody good though!

5pm the house well not too chuffed with friends (Neil, Kath and Kenny excluded). Went to Seal Sanctuary after – we were all meant to meet. We assumed the others were behind us in convoy car situation because we hadn’t waited for them in St. Ives car park (we thought they had gone – v. confusing situation!). Anyway, we got there and waited by Seal Sanctuary door – 10 minutes went by, 20, 30 – gutted to have missed the otters being fed as their my favourites but wanted be good friends and wait. It got to an hour  – we had been phoning but no phone signal. Typical. Finally hear off Paul with text saying ‘at the sea lions’. Fuming was not the word, they went inside without us and had started going round! Look for their cars in car park and couldn’t find them. Realised they were at some other seal sanctuary and kind of forgive them then (yet if they had waited outside then confusion would have been sorted sooner!). Decide to go back to house as once find them will be too late.

6pm the house Tahlee and Dan walk in. Don’t mention the whole being abandoned incident. Makes me little madder so I say ‘Where have you been then?’ I may not handle situations the best sometimes but I never ignore them – best to confront things straight away and head on I think. Turns out they went to same place we just couldn’t see their cars. They couldn’t wait to see otters and assumed we would meet them. Tessa and Paul walk in too by this point and whole gang are apologetic and realise all been mix up. Guess is one of the problems when go on holiday as a group. Kenny wasn’t so understanding though and kept going on about being ‘betrayed’ by friends ha! Had beers to cheer himself up and kept teasing them about not abandoning him again etc. V. funny actually as do not normally see Kenny like this and is me who is annoyed/unreasonable one. Made point to him though that if this is the worst he has been treated by friends then he is doing pretty well in life!

11pm the house Celebrated last night of holiday at local Chinese restaurant. Not very Cornwally or Piratey but was nearest place so handy. Worst Chinese meal I’ve had in all honesty. Was all you can eat buffet but nothing was labelled. Was probably eating dog or horse! Tomatoes and salad were next to jelly and desserts so ended up with piece of sweet corn in my gateau! Realised as well that had stain on my dress from Paul’s bike. Bent down to pick key up earlier and got black oil on me – in terms of the restaurant, I fitted right in! Not best day all in all but have to make best of things and laugh at self!

Friday 9th August – leaving day

Hours to get home 6.5, Backstreet Boys’ songs enjoyed  – at least 15, left over food calories from house – must be thousands (do these count as free calories?!) Luggage left behind 0 (Great progress for me! As left case, over-night bag and fold-up chair behind last time visited Cornwall!)

8.30 am. Crazy morning of packing and emptying house. Really didn’t want to leave beautiful house. Would owners noticed if I just stayed and refused to go home? Would be a good lodger! Funny how this is the earliest we’ve all been up and out all week – don’t understand how people willing to get up early to end holiday but not to enjoy the holiday? Guess we can’t all be early birds.

4pm home Was looong journey home. Too much traffic and just cars in general really. Great talking about the week though and best moments. Now back home, decided to go and stay at my Gran’s. We have builders in to do our heating system and bathroom and they aren’t as far ahead as hoped. Plastering and bath not fitting problems – eek. Can’t wait for all to be done and can have very first bath in my own home!

Yep, that’s a crazy week in the life of me! Quite enjoyed writing in a Bridget Jones’s style actually. Hope you enjoyed reading and now you have a lovely summary of holiday shenanigans! 🙂

P.s – we didn’t get revenge on the boys! Next time; watch this space! 😉

XSXS

Samantha Gray: The Edge of Cornwall Part 1

I have recently re-read Bridget Jones’s Diary and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. I was a big fan when the books came out and was equally excited when the films came out (yet, I have realised how different the 2nd film is to the book after re-reading it years later!) I felt the urge to read them again as there is a third book and film in the pipeline and all ‘big pant’ wearing Bridget fans are probably just as eager as me! The idea was to write, what I thought the first chapter would be of the 3rd book, in the style of Bridget. I saw this idea in a Sunday magazine, where lots of writers have done just this. I still plan to do this – BUT, this post is a holiday diary about my recent holiday, written by me, as me but in the style of the Bridget Jones’s books.

 me bridget

Friday 2nd August

Cars to destination 3, Trains to destination 1 (London friend), CDs played in car 4. CDs that wouldn’t play in car 9 (no Britney Spears or Spice Girls for us grrrr!) Bags –  too many! Rooms in mansion 12, Potential Calories in car after food shop 2 million

12 noon. The house in Cornwall. Lovely journey really. Love my lovely friends. In our car there was me, Kenny and my friend, Kath. Lots of fun singing to silly songs and we met the rest of gang for a full English on the motorway (not actually on the road – but you know what I mean!) Service station prices are a complete rip off though! Calories consumed so far: must be over a 1000 (but now officially not counting as on holiday – hurrah!

House we are staying in is wonderful. 12 rooms which include 4 bedrooms, my dream kitchen and a hot tub! Wonder if me and Kenny could buy a house like that one day… mmmm. The girls did the first food shop when we arrived, which was v. amusing. We had to fit about 23 carrier bags in the car, plus 4 boxes of alcohol, luggage and our actual friend, Neil,  who we picked up from the station on route! With sea gull poo on the car too, we felt right at home in Cornwall.

12 midnight Great first night. Girls cooked dinner of pasta and salad – with beer and wine of course. The boys sat in hot tub whilst we cooked, seemed studying Feminism at Uni didn’t pay off mmmmm. Will make sure boys cook tomorrow. Lots of fun and drinks in hot tub after. Yippie.

Saturday 3rd August

Amount of sun burnt bodies 8/8, well-hung horses 1, weird food choice 1 (basil ice-cream – strangely nice!), amount of sand grains returned to house 3 million. Ice-creams consumed 1 (just me – we didn’t all share just 1!)

2pm The beach. Lovely day at the beach. Bit of a goose chase on the way though as had to find beach. Walked for miles, all 8 of us, round a potato field and many other fields! I was regretting wearing flip-flops for this façade but when we got to the beach it was all worth it. Massive waves for us to jump about in and gorgeous sun for us to sit in.  We then all had lunch by the beach – paninis and salad that kept flying about in the sea breeze. Kind of a side of sun burn with our meal, as well felt a bit sore as returned to the house.

3pm back at the house. Turns out the others, who took the scenic route back, saw a very well-hung horse! Photographic evidence was hilarious – you can take the girl out of swad….. talk about seeing the sights of Cornwall!

10.30pm Local restaurant. V. sophisticated meal out – made less so with our oohs and ouches and flinches at our sun burn! My red arm is on fire honestly. It is burning and could have cooked the boys’ steaks on. Ouch. Must remember lots of sun-cream tomorrow.

Sunday 4th August

Times fainted 1. Ambulances called 1, Paramedics 2, souvenirs bought 0, sun rays 0, calories consumed – oh thousands (need to keep strength up!)

8am the house. It’s raining. No need to worry about sun cream or getting burnt today. Doh.

4pm the house. Cannot believe what has just happened. Been a crappy day weather wise, so we have all done our own thing. The lads have hung out together and us girls decided to do some souvenir shopping in town – after a tea and cake of course! Love souvenir shopping! Unfortunately, we didn’t get that far. I fainted in the first shop. Sparked right out on the floor. Was reading quote signs as I collect them. Hadn’t been feeling great all day but put down to lack of sleep and sun stroke.

Ambulance was called and 2 paramedics did some tests on me. Friends were bloody brilliant. Turns out when they heard the crash they exclaimed, ‘Bet that’s Sam, being clumsy again!’ Know me so well They all dropped souvenirs and ran to my side. Tahlee, who is a nurse, gave her expertise first aid and Kath held my legs in air. Was like a dramatic scene out of a soap. Woman even offered close shop! Paramedics said I need go Doctors when return home but seemed fine from the tests. The choc cake I had had helped to raise my blood sugars – hurrah! Always knew choc cake would save my life one day!

Monday 5th August

Times fainted 0 (progress!), animals seen 24, Cornish pasties consumed 1, whales seen 0

11am the last/first house. Went to Land’s End today. Great day and we had a coffee in the ‘last’ (or first) house. Is sweet, as no one will let me go off on my own in case I faint again. Lovely friends. May get a bit annoying after a few days though, being the independent woman that I am! We all thought we saw a whale in the sea. V excited we were too! Lads found it hilarious when we realised was just a rock. I wasn’t convinced for a long while after as was sure it was moving. Mmmm.

5pm went to a little farm at Land’s End too – very cute guinea pigs, sheep, pigs, hens etc. Do love animals, as long as they don’t get too close or smell! We also went to a 4D cinema and was scary. Seat jerked aside and water sprayed in our faces as part of the films. Weird.

11pm Starting to feel back to normal now – as normal as I get anyway (hurrah!) Had some wine tonight and lovely BBQ in garden.

Tuesday 6th August

Mounts belonging to St. Michael seen 1, fish eaten by sea 1 (plus many chips!), dates with Kenny 1, man seen with Lidl tattoo (by friends in scary pirate themed club) 1

11pm the house Realised people of Penzance are weird. My friends saw a man with a lidl tattoo tonight, my first thought was ‘that can’t be real!’ But then I thought… why would you even buy a fake one?! There was a v. annoying woman on the causeway leading to St. Michael’s Mount too. Was on our way back to the shore and the tide had started coming in. She started shouting at everyone coming the other way ‘Don’t you know the tide is coming in?! You’ll get trapped!’ Felt most embarrassed for her, as there is a boat for people to catch back. Ha!

The mount was good, seen it before but always nice to see with friends. Was lot culture and old things. Great views, but had be careful not to faint, as is long way down. Had fish and chips on the beach after. V. good. Me and Kenny went on a date tonight, whilst the others went on  a mad, pirate night out. Date was good. Lovely cosmopolitan and Guinness at a local pub then a meal and a pirate related restaurant. Huge fish pie and Kenny gave me his mushrooms – hurrah! Another weird woman said to me ‘You look nice and feminine in that dress!’ Strange. Does she think I am a man in a girly dress?!

Seemed the others mainly had a good time…. Lidl tattoo and gay club people hitting on them aside. One the lads also took Kath’s duvet. She was not happy. May have something to do with us girls hiding the boys’ beer last night. Oops. Must think of suitable revenge.

To be continued……

XSXS

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