Week #8: Honeymooning

When you tell people you’re getting married, one of probably the first five questions you get asked is “So where are you going on your Honeymoon?” A valid enquiry. But when I responded with “North Wales, mate.” I met more than a few confused faces as if to say, “Oh. Really? That sounds rubbish.” And to them I say: HA! Screw you, more Places of Outstanding Natural Beauty for me.

It seems to be the thing to do nowadays is jet off to a far-flung, exotic destination and recline in 5-star luxury around a pool while you soak your post-wedding stresses away with sangria, snorkeling and trying to master a second language. Which, don’t get me wrong, sound amazing. But my wife and I have been trotting around for the last few years on holidays to New York and various places in Italy, so to up the stakes for our Honeymoon and go to posher hotels would pretty much mean doubling – if not tripling – how much those holidays cost. That, coupled with the wedding to pay for, was a factor.

Also, we have our dog, Austin the Mega Lad, so we didn’t want to abuse anyone’s good nature and have them look after him for a couple of weeks. We certainly weren’t going to whack him in a kennel, and thirdly we wanted to go away somewhere we could bring the guy.

So it was settled. We looked at a 5-star, self catering luxury cottage just outside the Snowdonia National Park. Fortunately the weather has been INCREDIBLE (had it not been, this may have been a completely different article) It’s been hotter than 20° all day, every day, we’ve managed to take Austin to the beach for the first time and seen some properly stunning scenery. All of which I’d take over having to wake up early to nab a sunbed before they’re all towel-bagsied.

So that’s why we decided to stay in the UK.

Week #7: I Love Love! (A few days late.)

So it finally happened. I went a whole week without posting something on my blog. In my defence, I had a pretty good excuse: I got married!

It was a perfect day, the happiest of my life, and all the other cliches you’ve heard which now totally make sense.

As this is a place I can share my writing, I thought this week’s belated entry would consist of the final part of my wedding speech. Enjoy.

As I thought about what to write in the next part of this speech,
the part in which I talk openly and candidly about the amazing woman I’ve just married, one word kept coming to mind: Lucky.

I keep thinking how lucky I am to have met her,
how lucky I am to have got together with her,
how lucky I am to have been able to spend the last eleven years with her,
and how lucky I am now to finally be able to call her my wife.

Lucky, because I met the sweetest, happiest, silliest, most beautiful, intelligent, loyal person on the face of the planet,
and she likes me back!
For that, I feel lucky.

Lucky, because thanks to Ade, we own our home
after she convinced me in my teenage years that saving my money
would be better than spending it all on trainers and action figures.
For that, I feel lucky.

Lucky, because thanks to Ade, we have our dog, Austin,
who sadly can’t be with us today because he would have surely pulled focus, and this is my day.
I do have to battle him for Ade’s attention sometimes,
but he’s an absolute legend and for that, I feel lucky. 

Lucky, because thanks to Ade I have now read all seven Harry Potter books … twice
and watched the entire 6-hour Pride and Prejudice saga … twice
and now I have the strength to persevere through anything,
for that I feel lucky. 

Lucky, because in the last year or so, I’ve had to a lot to juggle with work and studying,
but Ade has been the for me, believed in me, and has not let me give up on myself,
I’ve kept at it and I’m nearly there. For that, I feel lucky. 

Lucky, because I get to wake up next to her,
I get to come home to her and we laugh every day.
She’s my best friend
and now I get to spend the rest of my life making her happy.
For that, I feel lucky. 

When we got engaged, it took Ade a little while to get used to me calling her my “fiancée”,
it felt strangely odd and a bit too grown up,
but now hopefully you’ll get used to me calling you my wife
because I’m shouting it from the rooftops!
I’m so proud of you and can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you. 

So if you could all join me, ladies and gentlemen, in raising a glass… 

To my beautiful wife!

Week #4: A Man’s Guide to Organising a Wedding.

So if you didn’t know already, I’m getting married at the end of this month. In actual fact its going to be two-weeks this coming Saturday. Which has come around super fast since I proposed almost two years ago. Now, there is a lot of information out there about what to do and what to think about but they’re mainly aimed at Brides, or if they are aimed at men it basically just tells you “Don’t get drunk and don’t get sad if you don’t get lucky on your wedding night.”
Now I don’t want to sound like I think I’m brilliant, but I pretty much had those bits down as a given. So here is my guide to organising a wedding from a man’s perspective.

1.    Your job is to help your future wife
No pressure, but you are about to plan the biggest, most important event in your life. Hopefully this will be the only time you do it so you need to have each other’s backs. There is a lot of pressure on some women to have the best wedding their guests have ever been to, something which men traditionally haven’t had to deal with. Make sure your girl knows you’re there to bounce ideas off, even if she’s just saying things out loud and they’re sort of rhetorical. Just having someone there to listen to her will help.

2.    Be interested
“I don’t mind”, “Whatever you think” and “It’s up to you” are thinly veiled synonyms for “I don’t want to make this decision”, “I couldn’t care less” or “This isn’t important to me”. Don’t be that guy. It’s ok to be excited about lace and flowers and stuff, no-one is going to think you’re a wimp. (And if they do, they’re kind of a jerk)

3.    It’s ok to not like something 
If your significant other is all about having a Moulin Rouge themed wedding with burlesque dancers and you dressed in a top hat and tails with a feather boa on, and you think it sounds terrible, tell her. It may be a bit of a strong example but believe it or not a wedding is your day too, not just the Bride’s (just mostly the Bride’s)

4.    The little things do matter
“Do we really need to spend an extra £15 a table to have some sort of fancy centrepiece?” Sometimes, yes. Think about any wedding you’ve been to. You may not remember the individual little things that went on your table or around the room, but you’ll remember the vibe they help give off about the wedding in general. All those extra little details do go noticed, albeit perhaps subconsciously.

5.    Enjoy it
Pretty self-explanatory but the organisation of a wedding can be fun if you make it fun. Try not to see anything as a chore. The months of making little weddingy bits will fly by, and even if you’re really bad at making or sticking or folding or helping, that’s half the fun.

6.    Don’t get too bogged down in the politics
Another “This is your day” entry in the list. Uncle A might get funny if you don’t invite Cousin B and Aunty X might not want to sit anywhere near Uncle Z’s new wife. But ultimately that’s not your problem. This isn’t about them, and if they can’t be civil for one day for your sake then they need to do some self-adjustment. Do what’s best for you and your wallet. Be a little bit cut throat in your guest list. No-one wants people they don’t even know in their wedding photos.

7.    Your Stag Do should be epic – but for the right reasons
Your Stag should be a time where all your best mates and all your family bond over one, amazing weekend. Important people from all areas of your life come together and have a top laugh and are there to celebrate what a good bloke you are and how happy they are for you that you’re getting married. Don’t pick someone to be your Best Man if they can’t organise their way out of a paper bag or if you’re likely to lose an eyebrow.

8.    Make lists. SO MANY LISTS.
Seriously. If you’re anything like me you have a TERRIBLE memory. Making a Doomsday Book sized stack of notes is the best way to get the craziness out of your head and in to some sort of order. Also, spreadsheets are your friend when it comes to breaking down how much everything is going to cost.

That’s kind of it for now. I’m sure I’ll add more entries as I think of things but I’m pretty wedding-focused at the minute!

Adrienne and I had our last meeting with our Wedding Planner from the venue so the next time I go to our venue will be the time I marry my best mate. That’s kind of nutty, but also amazing. Can’t wait.

Week #5: Destiny Wields a Chainsaw.

I’m about to spend a weekend at my friend Luke’s farewell drinks somewhere in North London. It means getting the train straight from work and navigating my way through the intimidatingly complex London Underground, which I’ve done before but don’t really enjoy.

Luke – who I’ve known for twenty three years – has always been a lot braver than me. He’s travelled Australia, moved away to live in London, loved and laughed along the way and is now set to move to Canada for the next two years to do a bit more travelling and work as a Tree Surgeon. Although I prefer the much more manly and Canadian job title of “Lumberjack”.

I was never bitten by the travelling bug, I don’t really thrive on the “excitement” of not knowing where I’m going to be spending the night or how I’m going to afford anything. I’ve always been a bit more cautious. But this hasn’t stopped me from being immensely proud of Luke, and all my friends who have gone out on their own and chased something they’ve wanted. Luke worked in admin, didn’t like it, so took the necessary steps to change his life. And that’s awesome.

I guess what I want to communicate this week is that sometimes we should be a little braver. Recent events have shown me that you get to choose what happens in your life. You don’t have to settle for what you have, if you want to change what you do then it’s not too scary to try.

I don’t believe in destiny, fate or a divine plan, I belive in cause and effect. And I believe that the power to change yourself comes from within, and you owe it to yourself to make yourself happy.

This week’s post got a little deep. Deeper than I was expecting, sorry about that. Expect something mushy next week too…

IT’S A VERY BIG WEEK NEXT WEEK!

Week #4: A Man’s Guide to Organising a Wedding.

So if you didn’t know already, I’m getting married at the end of this month. In actual fact its going to be two-weeks this coming Saturday. Which has come around super fast since I proposed almost two years ago. Now, there is a lot of information out there about what to do and what to think about but they’re mainly aimed at Brides, or if they are aimed at men it basically just tells you “Don’t get drunk and don’t get sad if you don’t get lucky on your wedding night.”
Now I don’t want to sound like I think I’m brilliant, but I pretty much had those bits down as a given. So here is my guide to organising a wedding from a man’s perspective.1.    Your job is to help your future wife
No pressure, but you are about to plan the biggest, most important event in your life. Hopefully this will be the only time you do it so you need to have each other’s backs. There is a lot of pressure on some women to have the best wedding their guests have ever been to, something which men traditionally haven’t had to deal with. Make sure your girl knows you’re there to bounce ideas off, even if she’s just saying things out loud and they’re sort of rhetorical. Just having someone there to listen to her will help.

2.    Be interested
“I don’t mind”, “Whatever you think” and “It’s up to you” are thinly veiled synonyms for “I don’t want to make this decision”, “I couldn’t care less” or “This isn’t important to me”. Don’t be that guy. It’s ok to be excited about lace and flowers and stuff, no-one is going to think you’re a wimp. (And if they do, they’re kind of a jerk)

3.    It’s ok to not like something 
If your significant other is all about having a Moulin Rouge themed wedding with burlesque dancers and you dressed in a top hat and tails with a feather boa on, and you think it sounds terrible, tell her. It may be a bit of a strong example but believe it or not a wedding is your day too, not just the Bride’s (just mostly the Bride’s)

4.    The little things do matter
“Do we really need to spend an extra £15 a table to have some sort of fancy centrepiece?” Sometimes, yes. Think about any wedding you’ve been to. You may not remember the individual little things that went on your table or around the room, but you’ll remember the vibe they help give off about the wedding in general. All those extra little details do go noticed, albeit perhaps subconsciously.

5.    Enjoy it
Pretty self-explanatory but the organisation of a wedding can be fun if you make it fun. Try not to see anything as a chore. The months of making little weddingy bits will fly by, and even if you’re really bad at making or sticking or folding or helping, that’s half the fun.

6.    Don’t get too bogged down in the politics
Another “This is your day” entry in the list. Uncle A might get funny if you don’t invite Cousin B and Aunty X might not want to sit anywhere near Uncle Z’s new wife. But ultimately that’s not your problem. This isn’t about them, and if they can’t be civil for one day for your sake then they need to do some self-adjustment. Do what’s best for you and your wallet. Be a little bit cut throat in your guest list. No-one wants people they don’t even know in their wedding photos.

7.    Your Stag Do should be epic – but for the right reasons
Your Stag should be a time where all your best mates and all your family bond over one, amazing weekend. Important people from all areas of your life come together and have a top laugh and are there to celebrate what a good bloke you are and how happy they are for you that you’re getting married. Don’t pick someone to be your Best Man if they can’t organise their way out of a paper bag or if you’re likely to lose an eyebrow.

8.    Make lists. SO MANY LISTS.
Seriously. If you’re anything like me you have a TERRIBLE memory. Making a Doomsday Book sized stack of notes is the best way to get the craziness out of your head and in to some sort of order. Also, spreadsheets are your friend when it comes to breaking down how much everything is going to cost.

That’s kind of it for now. I’m sure I’ll add more entries as I think of things but I’m pretty wedding-focused at the minute!

Adrienne and I had our last meeting with our Wedding Planner from the venue so the next time I go to our venue will be the time I marry my best mate. That’s kind of nutty, but also amazing. Can’t wait.

Week #3: That Was a Close One!

It nearly happened! After a SOLID two weeks of posts I almost missed updating this blog for a week. Just to be clear, I’m going for one post per week, not every seven days. So I could post on Monday, then not til the following Sunday and it would still totally count as weekly.

The main news this week is that the weather has been beautiful and me and Adrienne took a trip to Didcot to meet with the lady who will be marrying us in three weeks! Sill crazy to think that it’s come around so quickly. It was also a pleasure spending a gloriously sunny day off with my fiancée as it doesn’t happen very often.

I may even smash out another post tomorrow (Monday) because I’ve got a busy week ahead! But more on that in my next post!

Week #2: My Home Town.

Last night I went to the theatre to watch the first public showing of ‘Railway Town’. A film made by a local historian discussing the whole 175 year history of Swindon since the advent of the GWR railway.*

*Note: Yes, this does sound boring, but it was seriously interesting.

I’ve lived in Swindon all my life and apart from the fact that during the industrial revolution we made a load of trains here, I knew nothing of the town’s history. In part, that’s due to the town planners of the 1960s and 70s tearing down all the nice, old buildings and chucking up cheap tat to try and tempt new business in to the town. So in terms of our architectural history, there is little left.

I won’t give you the whole 90-minute story, but I found out that when GWR brought a load of highly skilled workers in to work on the railway they built them some houses. And that’s it. No shops. No schools. No amenities whatsoever. It was essentially a railway factory and houses and everything else was fields. What followed was the people of Swindon getting together and helping each other out with activities to do while socialising, ideas to make quality of life there better and things like taking a little bit of their wages every month to pay for a doctor.

TURNS OUT, SWINDON INVENTED* THE NHS AND THE PUBLIC LIBRARY!

*Or at least these things were heavily influenced by what the people of Swindon had created

So before you make up your mind about Swindon being a dive, just bear in mind that we DO have a rich history of world renowned craftsmanship, the celebrating of multiculturalism, the ongoing thirst for cultural and artistic expression and education and above all else: People Power.

The evening ended with a quote – which I’ve subsequently forgotten – but it went something like this:

If you’re bored of your surroundings, take a look at yourself. Everywhere else in the world the sun rises and the sun sets in the same way. If you want to do something different, make it happen where you are.