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A Country Wedding

bride and groom 2 My boyfriend’s housemates were getting married. They had been together for five and a half years when Tony popped the question in Italy at the top of a tower. If you did say no at the top of a tower you would have a long awkward walk down but no was never an answer that applied to this couple.

They had been together happily in the two years I had known my boyfriend. I had rarely seen them argue and they are both warm friendly people with a healthy sense of humour.

They had moved in officially for about a year, as before that Jess had been working nearby and visiting. But then she managed to get a dance teaching job in the same city. Tony manages a promotional film company and is obcessed with Star Wars and Lego, so Star Wars Lego figurines decorated the front room.

The first time in their house I had giggled at the bizarre collection of Tony’s former mobile telephones decorating the wall by the stairs. The oldest one was an early 1990s cordless. It is great to have Jess’s company around the house. No longer were random socks and beer/wine bottles/glasses littering the kitchen and front room. The previous housemates had moved out and got married too. There must have been something in the chilly air. Eventually it will be our turn to move out of separate houses and try living in one. Who knows, maybe we will get married.

The epic celebrations began on Friday night. As the groom was a Beaver/Explorer leader, they helped cook pie and peas. My boyfriend said he would help but unfortunately as it was in the middle of the countryside I was reliant on a lift (I am halfway through driving lessons…). He had to wait until I could finally escape from work, getting home about 6.30. So when we arrived some were obviously irritated that we did not appear “after lunch” as my boyfriend had suggested. He had just told me to leave early as possible and regrettably that was not an option. darwin lake birds eye

We arrived in the middle of the countryside where in the middle of farmers fields stood a circle of new build cottages around a lake, with a “barn” – a modern stone hall at the back. On the grass stood a massive white marquee complete with tables, chairs and decorations. darwin tent Almost everyone had enthusiastically participated in the beer-brewing competition and someone had even made a lovely fruity cider. There were beers with ginger, apple, a smoky flavour and the bride’s family homegrown honey. The beer tasting glasses had a little sticker on the base with a cartoon couple, their names and the wedding date. You could tell the bride was a teacher. Everything was immaculately planned. We had a pub quiz as a friend brought his own beer taps and questions along. This was accompanied by a hilarious game featuring a ball tied into tights around your waist. You had to hit a ball on the ground with it which involved a lot of thrusting. thrust game   At about 11 we called it a night and returned to our self-catering cottage. In the morning woke up to sunshine. The Scout boys staying with us organised their own breakfast, so we had cereal. Then we rushed out to Matlock to get a cable for the Wii, as this was to be set up in the bassment of the barn for the children.

Before that they would play a live video of the wedding for a friend with locked-in syndrome, Nick. I first met him at the end of last year at a housewarming party for him. Someone told me he was joking with me through interpretation of his eye movements and I was inspired by his positivity. It was a moving experience. There was a scene about this type of communication in the film about Stephen Hawking and it made me cry because it showed what a challenge it was. Like Stephen, Nick was an Oxbridge graduate, and was in his 40s helping to run Scouts when he randomly had a brain stem stroke which paralysed him.

After going round all the video game shops in the small town we rushed back and had one of my boyfriend’s best dishes for lunch – omelette with caramelised onions, cheese, olives and salami. On returning to the cottage I saw a glamorous slender tanned lady with blonde waves get out of a Jaguar with a man in a sharp suit. We were later told that the man was a military commander in Brazil.

We quickly changed for the main event. We got back in time to help the groom get the wedding room free of clutter. I wore a sleeveless A-line dress that was lined and navy with pink roses on. There was quite a breeze making things chilly but we stayed outside to drink quartetchampagne and listen to the lovely male quartet sing. They were wearing white suits, red bow ties. The songs were old-fashioned classics.

Then it was time for the wedding itself. We filed in. The groom swayed from foot to foot anxiously, fiddling with his watch and looking around, chatting to his best men in front of the registrar, a middle-aged lady with round cheeks and blonde cropped hair. There were about 200 guests filling the floor. There were waves of whispers and the air was heavy with anticipation . There was a small wooden trellis in the middle of a stage with ivy round it but other than that the decoration was minimal. Then the music started and the bridesmaids slowly entered, all wearing slightly different outfits but in the same dark navy.

There was a pause and then we finally got to see the dress. Normally when I see the bride it is after work so she is usually exhausted, sleepy and hardly has energy to smile, but today her face was illuminated with joy from her rosy, natural complexion and perfect plaited dark hair as she glided along with her train, perfectly poised in her strapless white satin folded gown. The groom, on seeing her, appeared to breathe a sigh of relief in his flattering dark suit and smiled broadly in return. vows and dress

They said their individual vows and the registrar spoke of the sanctity of marriage and how it was about cherishing and supporting each other. Then we were invited to sing “Stand By Me” by Ben King. It was a beautiful moment, the couple so perfect for each other, two kind, lovely, cheerful souls combined for evermore, and the music of so many voices, young and old, in harmony. I welled up with the emotion.

As we filed out I turned to my boyfriend and saw that he had tears in his eyes too. I had never seen him cry before and I was touched.

We were then seated in the marquee which was decorated with (fake) ivy and carpeted. It was beautiful with little wedding gifts for guests of the bride’s family honey and lego for the groom’s touch. lego and honey Every little detail had been planned. We had a starter of nice Italian meats and olives. Then lasagne and brownies.

There were several short speeches and the groom thanked everyone for their efforts in helping bring the wedding weekend/festival together. Then there was the longest speech from the best man. Apparently it was timed at an hour and 25 minutes and featured raffle prizes for gifts such as a bottle of Fanta that featured in the story of how the groom and his best man met. It reminded me of an embarrassing time at junior school where I did a competition which hardly anyone entered and then I presented sherbet sticks in assembly as the prize, after trying to sell them for 25p each.

After that there was a break to get ready for the evening event. I kept the same dress on and we sat and chatted in the barn. Then we went upstairs to watch the bride and groom’s choreographed dance. It was beautiful and the delivery was flawless. wedding throw The disco came on later – the wedding room had been transformed with the chairs and the stage was gone. The LED backdrop ensured there were coloured lights across the dance floor. My boyfriend sorted the children out on the Wii and showed them how to use the controls. wiiii He looked like good father material helping and chatting happily to an inquisitive boy but of course I did not tell him that. He was concerned enough by me hinting that maybe it would be our turn for a wedding at some point. You should have seen his face when my cousin and I looked at diamonds in the Natural History Museum in London and then went on to accidentally (honest) walk through the maternity and baby clothes sections of Harrods. He frogmarched us out of there when I cooed over a baby duffle coat.

We danced the night away at the disco and he barely took his eyes off me. It was lovely and it was nice to see the groom getting into it at the end of the night. Tony and Jess made sure they had time for everyone.

The lake of the venue

Wonderful shot by Martyn Miller, the retired photographer. All other photographs are courtesy of him as I forgot my camera. The lake of the venue

My main impression from the weekend was that it was completely inclusive. Everyone was made to feel special and welcomed. There were people of all ages and backgrounds there and they were so friendly and enthusiastic. We were not sure whether to stay on Sunday but we soon discovered that the toilet paper and washing-up liquid were running out and the heating and television had gone off, so it was time to make a move. It was overcast and still windy, not ideal for the summer clothes I had brought, hoping for warmer weather (you can never hope for better weather in England. If you don’t bring a coat it will be cold, if you don’t bring an umbrella it will rain). I had forgotten my coat. The Scouts in our cottage all left.

We went out for brunch at a farm cafe which was expensive but tasty. I had spinach soup and a cranberry and bacon panini and felt less sleepy. When we got back my boyfriend said he wanted to help and I was expecting there to be a team already on the case. I had told my parents we would be back for dinner. But it turned out that aside from the bride and groom’s immediate family we were it. I felt that we were fully justified in arriving too late to help at the start after our efforts packing up.

We collected the rubbish and heaved the sacks into a little cart. We pushed the dripping smelly things into the bins. We carried piles and piles of chairs from the big white tent into the hall. Then we started on the tables. We unpeeled the black masking tape keeping the strips of carpet together, wrapping maggots and whatever else had got from the soil into it. We took up all the nails holding down the carpets and rolled them up.

I drew the line at lifting up the muddy boards and entertained the best man’s baby instead. The mum jokingly asked whether I did babysitting and I wished she was serious. The little girl with large dark eyes looked at me in wonder. She liked my shiny purse and kept trying to chew on it, so I would distract her with the tassles on my scarf, which she then pulled into her pram, choking me, so I untangled it from her tiny fingers.

Finally it was time for the baby’s nap so I then said if I was walking on the mud with muddy boards I would need to change my footwear. Once in the car I finally stopped shivering and couldn’t face going out again. I was in a t-shirt, thin cardigan and a pashmina scarf. I sat there for 10 minutes with my walking boots on before heading back out and running through the rain. Thankfully it was done. lego wedding cake I forgot my slice of the wedding cake, so eager was I to leave the cold and get back to a home-cooked meal. We said our goodbyes to the pale sleepy couple and went on our way.

In the car on the way back I asked my boyfriend whether the wedding had made him want to have a big event if we got married.

“Are you joking?!” he said.

“Didn’t you see how stressed they got? Nah, what’s the point? Why not save it for a house instead?

I’d just go to a registry office.”

“But what about my big white dress?” I asked.

“Do you really need one?” He replied.

“It didn’t happen this time, but I’ve seen the meaning of marriage lost in a big wedding, it becomes all about that instead.”

He had a point, but hopefully we could compromise on the dress…

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My First Hen Do

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I’m coming to the age now where friends are getting engaged. After watching Don’t Tell the Bride I assumed that these always involved pink sashes, penis accessories, tiaras, tutus and competitive drinking.on-it-until-we-vomit-hen-do-t-shirt

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But this was a classy do, especially as the bride’s mum was in attendance. There were pink sashes but no phallic items here, the organiser proudly announced. We had a private room booked out in one of the most fancy places in town. The tables were grouped in an upside-down U-shape enabling conversation with more people.

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Everyone was dressed up and looked lovely. The bride-to-be is a dance teacher and her teacher friends enthusiastically complained about their ridiculous workload and the panic surrounding Ofsted (government evaluation) visits. Then the talk turned to dogs – one of the girls had brought one over from China that had lived with them while she’d taught English. He’d had to go back weeks before they did and his flight was more expensive. Then he’d had to have lots of jabs. He’s an enthusiastic Golden Retriever that we’ve seen on occasion, his big fluffy self scurrying towards us biting a slipper.

I said I would quite like a pug, a chihuahua and a cat and they didn’t seem to know what to say. I always thought pugs were ugly creatures with their wrinkles, squashed nose and scary goggle eyes. But then I met one. It looked up at me and I walked away in disgust. It trotted behind me wagging its tail. I sat down to watch TV and it looked up at me with it’s massive eyes. Then it braced itself, arched its back and launched itself onto the sofa. It sat next to me on its hind legs with its little front paws dangling in front, panting heavily and making Darth Vader noises.cute-pug27

I haven’t met a chihuahua but they look cute and cuddly and a vet told me that a dog should have a canine companion to play with.

Ok it's a corgi but you get the idea.

Ok it’s a corgi but you get the idea.

They’re also a lot cheaper than children and I won’t be ready for them for a long time. I’ll also get practice on caring for something that is dependent on me and they’d persuade me out in this atrocious English climate which currently oscillates between sleet, rain and the occasional spot of sunshine, but always with temperatures below 10 degrees, at least until late April I expect.

The three-course meal was delicious and the quizzes were a great idea. They both tested how well you knew the bride and groom with some interesting questions (what film/TV couple does the groom say they most resemble? Hans Solo and Princess Leia. What film/TV couple does the bride say they most resemble? Peter and Lois Griffin from Family Guy). The winners received rosettes.

The plans had been shrouded in secrecy, so we found out what the girls had been up to that day. They had been at a village hall making t-shirt necklaces, sushi and doing competitions. Then they’d put together a useful book of “wife advice”, from food and cocktail recipes, DIY tips, all beautifully collaged with their own photos and craft items. We wrote a message in it.

The hen looked lovely and smiled broadly all night, excitable and enthusiastic. She made sure she spoke to all the guests.

They are a lovely couple and I’m sure they will have a long happy future together. They’ve been together six years after being set up by a friend. You can see love when one of them walks in and the other’s eyes light up. They work as a team supporting each other, effortlessly co-ordinating daily life and making each other laugh.

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Attachment

This morning I did an analytic meditation on attachment. Our fancy phone, our partner, our lifestyle and many other objects, people and ideas can be sources.

I’ve often had disappointment in love and today I realised why. Previously I have projected desired good qualities onto a boyfriend and then expected him to behave in a way that I would. Just because I am chatty and physically affectionate I sometimes expect a partner to be as well. We often expect a boyfriend, girlfriend, fiance, husband to be like us. For example we might plan a big surprise party when they prefer the company of a few good friends. We need to appreciate differences in personality of those we are close to. It’s also important to recognise the difference between love and attachment, because often they feel like the same thing.

Attachment makes us behave in a way which often runs contrary to who we really are and destroys our peace of mind. We might be clingy or bombard someone with texts, thinking that the more we contact them, the more likely they are to answer. Of course the opposite is true. We develop unrealistic expectations of those we love, expecting them  to always be there and make us happy. Our mood can go up and down depending on what’s happening in our relationships. We might feel hurt by a partner’s behaviour when in fact we just need to understand. It always helps to try and see things from their perspective.

Perhaps we get into dysfunctional relationships because we don’t want to be alone, because we’re in love with the idea of love or because we try to fool ourselves that we are compatible when we are not.

We may plan our days around our partners. But really we should get on with our own lives, our own independent journey. If they want to join us then that’s great but if they don’t, don’t lose sight of who you are and what you want to achieve. Only you can shape your future.

YouCanDoIt

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The Beginning (Our First Date)

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I think it’s time to tell you about my first date. Now seems a good time as recently we celebrated the anniversary of it. I want to make a patchwork quilt of experiences that I can look back on when times aren’t as rose-tinted and to keep them fresh. You never know, I could by some freak chance (and I seem to have rather too many of them), end up like the girl in the film “50 first dates” and need reminding.

So, let me tell you about that night…

We had been messaging each other for two weeks and had found out the basics. He had two sisters, he was the oldest,  he was a Scout leader, he was an engineer. I’d seen his photographs and his description: “tall, dark and handsome, well tall and dark, you can make your mind up about the rest” and I’d told him he was tall and handsome, but not particularly dark-haired. We’d worked out that we shared some friends, having gone to neighbouring schools, that we lived in the same area and even went to the same weekend running event.

I carefully selected a knee-length light blue sleeved thin wool dress which brought out my eyes, and wore it with tights.  I straightened my hair and applied subtle make-up. I cinched in my waist with a thin leather belt. I decided on flats – I can feel self-conscious in heels and I wanted to feel comfortable. I wore my small purple leather bag. I felt classy and I liked that.

I arrived at the city bar with my heart in my mouth. We had arranged to meet at 8.15 on a Friday night. I scanned the room for him. I felt dazzled by the lights and couldn’t see him. I went straight to the bar. There was a bit of a wait, so I checked my phone. He had text to say he would be about 15 minutes late – he had been visiting a friend. So I asked what drink he would like, keen to reverse the stereotype that the man buys the woman a drink on the first date. He said “bottle of beer? surprise me”. What a wide choice, I had been hoping for something more specific, more foolproof for a girl whose only dabbling with alcohol involved Malibu and the occasional cocktail.

“Excuse-me”, I asked the bartender, “what’s your finest ale”? I’d heard ale was classier than beer and if I got the right one I thought I would definitely be a hit.

He looked at me sideways, frowning slightly. “Sorry?” he replied. I raised my voice a little and stood on my tip-toes so he could hear me better, “what is your finest ale??”.

He still looked a bit puzzled so I explained in more hushed tones, “I’m on a first date you see and I asked him if he wanted a drink, and he said he wanted beer or something”. He finally understood and saved me the embarrassment of repeating myself.

“Ohh” he said, brightening up. Well…I wouldn’t recommend ale to be honest because there’s too much choice, you could quite easily pick the wrong one.” “Oh.” I replied. “But in terms of beer…Peroni’s probably the best one we sell here.”

“Ok, I smiled, “I’ll have that please”.

I found half of a table in the corner that was free. There was a happy couple on the other side and they didn’t have a problem with me sitting there. I was still feeling rather anxious, and struggled to steady my breathing. So I looked around to distract myself. Damn. I’d chosen the wrong place. This was a middle-aged wine bar. Would he judge me on my choice?

It took me a while to get comfortable. Should I sit cross-legged? No, not good for the circulation and would make me look too unavailable. Or was that a good thing? Should I sit with my back to the room to look more mysterious? No that was a silly idea. I shifted about a bit, fiddling with my silver bead necklace or checking my hair was still ok. By the time he arrived some 20 minutes after we had arranged to meet, I was feeling completely relaxed. I had drunk about half of my Malibu and coke, and had decided to sit facing the room with one arm on the table, laid back but not slouchy and hopefully with an air of sophistication.

Suddenly I saw him. Time seemed to stand still as I zoomed in. All sound seemed muffled. In the room of those approaching pension-age he stood out like a sore thumb. I decided to observe him and let him notice me. Then I’d have a little more time to check him out, seeing as this was the first time we had met in person. The first thing I noticed, rather oddly perhaps, was that he had lovely skin. He looked healthy and as if he looked after himself, with a forehead that looked moisturised. Perhaps it was just that he’d been rushing and was therefore slightly sweaty. He had a nice neat haircut (he later admitted he’d had it cut that day). He had a good figure. Then I noticed his eyes – bright, intelligent eyes darting about looking for me. But what a pity about his attire – he’d opted for a hoodie and jeans. So he hadn’t put much thought into that then. Not as much as me, but then that would have been difficult.  He looked just like he had in the photographs.

He walked right past me and was about to look outside,  so I announced my presence. He visibly relaxed a little, gave me a dazzling smile and settled down next to me, gratefully accepting the Peroni. We were both a little nervous, so we got a bit more background on each other. I asked him about his work and he clearly enjoyed what he did and talking about it and I was intrigued. We talked…and talked. From there we went over the road into a square with more up-market bars and into one with a French name, with red, dimmed lighting. He bought himself a Peroni. I felt secretly thrilled, the choice was a good one then. We chatted about running and he showed me the impressive jogs he’d done on his phone.

Finally we went to a Cuban-themed bar, with salsa music and lovely cocktails. 

All too soon the night had come to an end. Neither of us wanted to stay out late and I didn’t want to miss the last bus home, so we took that together, seeing as he lived nearby. As he left, he bent down and we nearly bumped heads as he clumsily kissed me on the cheek.

I was in a good place with single life and so I thought “if I don’t see him again I’ve had a great night and I’m pleased we met.” But a bigger part of me  was drunk with excitement (the only drunk you should get on a date) and couldn’t wait to see when and where date two would be. Hopefully soon. But did he like me? Did I score enough points to make it through the first hurdle?

He answered this with a text at midnight saying he’d had a good night and throwing kisses in. Two. Things looked promising…

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How to Feel Whole Again

Isn’t it strange how when someone you love is gone you feel like you’re missing half your heart?

So it was when I lost someone dear to me, when relationships ended, when I was single and longed for someone to hold and now, with my boyfriend away on holiday these past few weeks – that feeling of being incomplete.

It’s something we all experience. I was watching my guilty pleasure, Don’t Tell The Bride, last night and the couple were hearttearsdevastated to be leaving each other for three weeks, even though they were doing it to get married. The groom-to-be is given £12,000 to plan his future wife’s wedding, with hilarious consequences. In every episode there are tears, sometimes from both of them as they part. Because when someone we cherish leaves us we think of the space that opens up instead of rejoicing at the time we had together/looking forward to our next meeting. But it does make us appreciate them more as we realise how much they do/did for us or what an effect they have/had on our lives.

The only thing that makes my heart feel whole is when I am helping the lady I work with at the weekend. In focussing on her needs I can take the focus off myself. I can forget about the “I” and it makes me realise how selfish I am in daily life, always considering my needs before other peoples. This weekly meeting reminds me to think of others more, to be more considerate and to listen. Sometimes you can tell if someone is a carer. It can rub off on their personality.

So if you’re struggling to cope with loss, help others and keep busy.  Spend time with friends. With them you may miss that special someone less as you focus more on your current situation and surroundings. Missing someone is relating the space they leave behind with yourself and in doing so you don’t stay in the present and you don’t think of others.

carers_finances

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Valentines Day – will you celebrate it?

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As if you needed reminding, it’s Valentines Day next week. Dreading it? Looking forward to it?

There are different types of Valentines people

The “Commercial Rip-Off” person images (2)

This person would rather not celebrate Valentines at all, and sees all the hype as something created by Hallmark and emphasised by companies wanting to sell heart-related products.

The anti-Valentines person 

This can be due to a variety of reasons. One person may be disgusted at how this day becomes all about couples disgustingly flaunting their sloppy smooches and togetherness. Or they just want to celebrate being single/observe Singles Awareness Day. The person in a relationship doesn’t see why they need a particular day to celebrate it, and sit in a restaurant with lots of other couples to compare themselves with, or have their special day made less special by everyone else celebrating it with them, and not very privately either.

Copyright maddabling.blogspot.com

Copyright maddabling.blogspot.com

Hopeless Romantic(3)The Hopeless Romantic person

This person bought their partner’s gift box in January and is crossing off the days on their calendar. Or they order an exceedingly luxurious gift/outrageously big bunch of flowers – (aka Ross to Rachel in Friends). They may plan the whole evening and create the perfect setting complete with rose petals and candles. They may tell their partner they love them for the first time, just because they have an excuse.

The singleton may increase their online dating activity or go speed dating on the off-chance of finding love for Valentines. They may even message random good looking people in the hope that it may lead to something. They may post a card to someone they admire, or make a big gesture, such as shaving their chest hair into a heart.

The Conditional person

This person will celebrate Valentines with someone if they get something in return. valentines_day_sex-12562

The All-Encompassing person

This person involves friends and family in their Valentines cards/gifts, They don’t see why only people in relationships should celebrate it, or they believe that love in general should be celebrated and not just romantic love.

The Peer-Pressured person

This person feels the need to hook up with/go on a date with someone because everyone else seems to be doing something and they therefore feel they should.

The Last-Minute person

This person forgot all about it until they heard people at work discuss it/drove home/got home/got home and realised their partner was going to make the evening uncomfortable and impulse-bought.

The “Test” person

This person sees Valentines as a day where their partner will pass or fail them, and tries to find out what their ideal gift is and then deliver what their partner is expecting (if it’s in order to get top marks and therefore results see Conditional person). images (1)

The Apathetic person

This person doesn’t get caught up in the hype – it’s just another day.

Which are you? Or is there a category that needs adding?

Reader suggestions…

The Unconventional person

These people don’t see why they need to be told how to celebrate. They celebrate in any way they want. E.g. scaring themselves silly with a horror film and leaping into each others laps for “comfort”

The Self-Love person

This person takes the time to love who they are on Valentines. They may spend time loving others all year and forget about themselves. My mum falls into this category, and she always treats herself to something. This can also be people whose partners are away.

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