Category Archives: Uncategorized

Winter flowers

Today I went to see (and book) the florist 😀 I got to sit there and talk about flowers and arrangements and foliage and herbs and all the exciting things I can think of to do with flowers and making them look pretty together 🙂 Thinking about what’s in season and what will complement it, and how to make it wintery but not like Christmas all over again. It was lots of fun.

The wedding planning is pretty much 100% a joint effort, with the notable exceptions being each of our outfits, cos obviously we’re not allowed to see, and the flowers. Chris has said he would happily be involved in this too, but admits that he would be very little help, and that once we’d talked through broad ideas he was happy for me to enjoy the planning of it. And I am 🙂 Although maybe I shouldn’t have been allowed in the florists on my own..

I took a photo of a bouquet I’d seen while doing a little net searching, which I completely love, and was told by the florist that she could do something like that but that it would look a little ‘random’ with that assortment of flowers. She then corrected herself saying this wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. No indeed I thought! We have enough in the budget to get buttonholes for the fathers and corsages (how is that spelt?!) for the mothers, which is quite exciting. Very much looking forward to my random bouquet!

Difficult weekend

Apologies that this is quite an un-cheery blog. I don’t know that I know where to start. This weekend was not up there with the best.

On Friday we set off for Swansea from Reading, motoring happily down the M4. Somewhere just beyond Bath we had a tire blow out. In the outside lane of the motorway. At rush hour. We noticed something wrong with the car, rattling noises and then major swerving across the lane, at which point Chris braked, and before we knew what had happened we had spun round 180 degrees and smacked the passenger side into the central reservation. We ended up sitting in the middle of the motorway facing the wrong way, which was a tad unnerving! We’re both fine though, the only effect on us was a bump on my elbow where the bone met the car door quite forcefully. For a number of reasons, not least of which very very good luck, the accident wasn’t as bad as it could have been. The traffic was slower so we weren’t going as fast as we might have been, there was a temporary central reservation with a band of gravel next to it which slowed us down completely so we didn’t hit it at that much speed. And it all happened just between the Bath and Bristol junctions so we were near to Chris’ parents house, where we got towed once the recovery van turned up. The amusing moment was once the highways agency people had stopped the traffic and got us back to the hard shoulder, they announced they would just ‘clear the motorway’, produced what looked like large brooms, and proceeded to sweep the M4 in front of 3 lanes of traffic!! In the end, we made it relatively unscathed to Chris’ parents house where wine and food awaited us. What was still a very scary experience could have been a lot worse.

On Friday night we also found out that my Grandma was not doing well, and the doctors had said that there was nothing else they could do to help her, and the end was not far away. On Saturday morning she died. She had been taken back into hospital last weekend with pneumonia, and was retaining a lot of fluid which was getting into her lungs. She had stopped eating and wasn’t able to take most of her medication. From Friday night my dad and his siblings decided to stay with her 24 hours a day so that she would have someone with her at the end. Sometime just before 8am on Saturday her breathing slowed and she just slipped away. It was the most peaceful we could have hoped for. She wasn’t scared or in pain, and by then she wasn’t even really aware of what was happening to her, so she wasn’t terrified and knowing what was coming. She was sleeping lots that night, and each time she opened her eyes there was a face she knew. And now she is no longer in pain or fear. She was 3 months from her 99th birthday. She had 5 children, 14 grandchildren, countless great-grandchildren and a few great-great grandchildren. She knew all their names and birthdays, and enjoyed nothing more than being surrounded by her family. She lived a full and long life, and it doesn’t feel heartless to say that this was the right time. We will miss her, but I know that now she is at rest. Please keep the family in your prayers. The funeral will be next Monday.

The weekend, though extremely difficult, was made easier by some truly wonderful friends, who gave us lifts in the absence of our car, made us food and cheered us up. Wine was drunk, stories told and hugs given and received. The best place to be when life throws these things at you is surrounded by friends.

Outfits and other fun

I just realised when I came to write this post that I haven’t been back since just after we moved house. There are photos of the new place, and of the chaos which ensued in the moving. I plan to get around to posting those this week, to show off our lovely flat 🙂 We’re very pleased with it, loving having more space, and getting used to this idea of a spare room which is handy not only for guests but also for storing all sorts of junk important and useful stuff.

Anyway, trying to think about what else has happened in the weeks since I last posted.. my new job is going really well, I’m really enjoying being in a job where the work is interesting, the people are friendly and I feel accepted, and where the work I do is valued. It’s such an enjoyable experience it makes the still long commuting more bearable! My journey to work involves a train to the main train station and then a fairly pleasant 25 min walk to the office, which is really good and actually helping me feel less tired rather than more. And the exercise is no bad thing either!

In the last few weeks I have also been shopping for bridesmaid dresses for my two friends who are also getting hitched in the next year, and happy to say that both have excellent taste so no friendships are to be tested by huge peach meringues 😉 The wedding planning madness continues as the first of the weddings approaches, and after that it feels like things will gradually gain momentum through the second and before we know it it’ll be Christmas and I’ll be wondering how much pudding I can eat and still get in my dress!!

Talking of which (shameless girly moment, apologies!), I went and tried on the dress again yesterday, just to show my parents, not for selfish I want to see it again reasons, honest. But I was able to take a couple of accessories with me which I’d thought might work, but guessing from bad phone pictures and uncertain memories isn’t very easy. Anyway, I’m absolutely thrilled cos it all just came together perfectly, exactly right, it could have been designed that way. And the shop was virtually empty so there was plenty of space to see it properly. Can’t put photos here of course, if you want to see let me know and I shall send pics!

And I wasn’t the only one trying on outfits this weekend. Chris went off to have a hunt for his own wedding attire, with the help of Never Conforming and her missus who came down for the weekend. They went off to the local suit hire shop and spent what sounds like a happy hour or so trying on various combinations of suits, waistcoats and neckware, and came back more or less decided on an ensemble which is good news. I have no idea what of course, mutual surprise outfits is much more exciting (and NC has seen my dress so can be the informed opinion!). And he’s quite enjoying getting his own back for the teasing about my dress by suggesting he’s quite keen on the toastmasters outfit.. mm gotta love those gold buttons!!

Quick hello

We don’t have the interweb installed in the new flat until next week so the nearest we can get to the outside web world is wifi in the pub down the road (shame) or internet at work.

But we are alive; we managed to move successfully with no major problems or incidents, made easier by the two places being only half an hour apart rather than 4! We hired movers to get our belongings down the 5 flights of stairs from our old flat (the lift in the block is being replaced, so is out of action for several months!), but even so we finished the day completely shattered, and even after a decent night’s sleep were still fairly out of it the day after as well. We would be getting back to normal now were it not for Chris getting over a horrid cold, and me having caught it from him.. ho hum.

I’ve had the first two days in my new job, which has involved a lot of reading information and finding my way around, although this is a bit easier having been working for them for a while already. Not a lot else to report other than the people are friendly and I think I’ll be ok here.

People have tried to get in touch by phone, and if you’re reading, I’m sorry I’ve not got back to you; I’ve had just enough energy to get through the day at work and then flake out completely. I’ll be back in the land of the living soon, promise!

Snowdrop

For those of you who wanted to see. And quite possibly those who didn’t too. There is a black and white version too, not sure which we’ll use depending on the design, but the printer wasn’t going to let me scan both without complaining.

Snowdrop

PS Hoping this works, this is the first time I’ve added pictures to the shiny new wibsite..

Endings and beginnings

So life has again moved on at quite a rate since last posting, hence the silence. We now have a place to move to, a nice little two bed flat in Ealing, which is actually not as little as our current place, and has the all important Spare Room, and is only about 5 mins walk from the station which is good for the morning commute! We pick up the keys and start the packing this weekend, and then move next Friday. All exciting, and it’s really good in lots of ways. Just have to get through the upheaval of the packing and moving and all that.

I now have less than a week left in my current job, which I finish officially next Friday but have Thursday and Friday as leave so we can move. I have things to finish off and make sure I’m not leaving too much work for other people, but not in a stressful way and the last week should be quite nice. And then the week after we move I start the new job. With the new flat most likely still in chaos, I start my commute to Reading, getting to know a new office and a new team of people, and doing this permanent job that I’ve been aiming for for ages. Exciting yes, but not a little bit scary too!

Wedding plans are progressing although not in a very concrete way (what with us having to move house imminently!). We’re currently trying to locate the various ‘suppliers’ (people wot do stuff) that we need to get booked earlier, the main issue at the moment being to locate a suitable (ie not costing the earth) Ceilidh band in London somewhere. Which it appears is easier said than done. The exciting development is that designs for the invites look like they might be getting somewhere. These are being done by Chris’ wonderful brother who has his own printing business, and is an absolute star! So we (or I) spent last night playing with images to make our very own mood board (I know, how professional does that sound?!) which I think turned out rather well. The other thing I managed to do was to more or less get the drawing done for the invites- I had wanted something floral, and being quite picky about getting the right kind of flower for the season came up with the idea of a snowdrop, which is in flower at this time of year and therefore fits with the time of the wedding. Chris is happy to go with my ideas on creative matters, while still taking the opportunity of mocking the botanical geek in me (“lots of brides want flowers, you want botanically accurate flowers!”). We liked the idea of having something of our own creation on the design, particularly if the rest is being professionally done. So now we have our very own snowdrop, and I’m quite pleased with it even if I do say so myself 🙂 When it’s a bit more finished I might let you see..

Thank you

Thanks to everyone for their good wishes and prayers, those in the comments and those given to me by other means. Grandma is doing ok at the moment, the internal bleeding seemed to sort itself out, at least as much as they can tell without internal examination. She’s been eating a bit better and the doctors are again talking about her being discharged once they can sort out the medical problems which are apparently fixable. She is still terrified and saying she won’t get out of hospital, but sometimes at least accepting this as a possibility which is a start.

But it looks from all of these events that she’ll be unlikely to get back into her own home again, which will be a huge hurdle to overcome. Now her children have to work out what will be best for her, and how to balance what they believe they should do with what they each can do.

We’re going home this weekend to see her. When it was looking bad I knew I had to go in case the worst happened. Things are looking up now, but if this weekend turns out to be just one of many more visits then I shan’t be the one to complain.

Prayers needed

My Grandma is 98. She has always lived in her own home until last week when she was taken into hospital, and now is quite ill. Many varied and different things which on their own or in a younger fitter person might be difficult but not life-threatening, are not so for someone this close to 100. In particular we have learnt in the last two days that she has had some bleeding in her stomach, though we don’t know how much as she’s too frail for an endoscopy to find out. This is to do with blood thinning drugs she has had to prevent clotting. These drugs have been stopped to prevent further bleeds, but this carries equally scary and unpredictable risks. There is nothing we can do or know. She may well be fine and come through this as she has through so much else. Or she may not.

At the moment, she is simply petrified, knowing quite well that she may be staring death in the face. Aside from the obvious trauma to her family, the worst part is her fear of death. She is not a woman of faith, and has never been able to believe in anything else beyond this life. Even now as she faces what will come, she has admitted she can’t believe in a God or anything similar. She is surrounded by family and yet alone with this fear which no one can remove.

Please pray. Not for us, but for her. Not for some miraculous conversion, but just for God to be with her, to give her what she needs. Comfort in the dark times, strength in the struggle and peace now and at the end. Whenever that will be. Thank you.

Un-niversary

Today is our minus one wedding anniversary 🙂 One year to go, countdown starts here! I’m feeling quite organised at the moment, and we actually have a big list now to organise all the random thoughts, so we must be ok! But this reminded me about my thoughts about the comments on the last wedding post.

I’ve noticed during these few months, especially as a couple of good friends are also planning weddings, how much opinion varies about all sorts of things, and also the way in which this can lead to so many wonderfully varied ideas which make every wedding unique. And I’m not just saying that and meaning ‘well of course you could do that but my way is better’. What I like about the whole process is the way each couple creates something different. This is just our way of doing that, and I love seeing and hearing about the different ways others have and will do the same. A big thing for us has been walking the line between embracing tradition and abandoning it. And a wedding has so many ‘traditions’ associated with it which we don’t want to just accept unquestioningly, but then some we like and want to keep.

We knew that we wanted the day to reflect us and the things which are important to us, which brought us to two things. Our faith- a huge part of our lives and something we share. We knew we wanted to make this commitment with not only our families but also with God, and in the church of which we are both members. The nature and style of the service is also important, that it be not just a marriage ceremony but an act of worship, with hymns and readings carefully chosen. Secondly, and harder to describe, our firm belief that we come to the marriage as equal partners (sometimes referred to as the scary feminist streak!), which challenges many of the ‘traditions’ linked with weddings, and also challenges many thoughts and assumptions!

Some things we have decided have been easy. That we didn’t want just the men (father of the bride, best man and groom) making speeches , and so asked the mother of the groom and a bridesmaid to counterbalance (this may be a decision we live to regret ;))! That we didn’t want me to be ‘given away’ in the normal sense, and so we will both enter the church with our parents, in some way or other, and when asked ‘who gives this woman/man’ both parents answer for each of us, symbolising the support and consent of each set of parents to their child’s marriage.

However, as much as we like the idea of subverting tradition and challenging people’s expectations, there are also things which it does no harm to embrace, and which are important to others. As Miss Lisa said about her ‘handing over’, things which mean a lot to someone who means a lot to you, become important to you also. My Dad would accept my wishes if I said I didn’t want to be walked down the aisle, but I know that will be a moment he would cherish, to be there with his only child, not to give me away to Chris but to be involved in this moment as he has been with so many others. And to be honest, I might need the support getting to the front!

Anthea- I don’t keep a constant record of how many months/weeks/days its been, but I don’t think I shall ever be able to forget the actual date that we got engaged- September 11th. Because Chris is such a hopeless romantic 😉

And Jack, yes winter weddings are fab, I’m glad there are some people who don’t think I’m crackers. And I may be stealing ideas from your flowers..

It was a very good year…

Obviously I can’t be in the same place without a trip away for more than 2 weeks, so this weekend I made the trip up to Sheffield for the SCM summer gathering. This promised to be a fairly action-packed weekend, with meetings a plenty, things to organise, plan, present and decide on, and trying to ensure various people were in the right place at the right time, as well as maybe trying to squeeze in some time to relax and enjoy the company of some good friends.

The weekend went well, I might even be tempted to say very well. Meetings were successful, decisions made were (in my opinion) the right ones and had few objections, and for the most part everything went to plan. Even if I do say so myself.

In the middle of all this craziness it was inevitable that I would be thinking and reflecting a little on the past year, on everything that’s happened, and all the changes that this weekend represented and reminded me of. In the last year I have learnt so much, about SCM, about the people I’ve been working with, the job I was doing and about my own ability to do so many things. This time last year I was wondering what on earth I’d let myself in for, and yet, even though nervous at times, I managed to chair this years AGM, including presenting some rather complex ideas and leading discussions. Its amazing what a year can do! Now I’m still involved, but I’ve handed over my ‘crown’, and with it a lot of responsibility and headaches. Though I do know my successor just a little bit, so I have a feeling I’ll be hearing about those..

During the year I’ve also made some very good friends, people who I may only see once every two or three months, but who I share many things in common with, and really enjoy spending time with. I have found myself part of a community, which is unique, and very real, despite it coming together only once a term, and which has in a year become a huge part of my life. Not to mention changing it rather significantly in more ways than one.

All in all, I’m glad I did it. There has been stress and difficulties, and times when I wanted someone else to worry about it instead, but its been good, and if I could turn back the clock, I’d do it all over again!