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..

Changing perspectives

The newest piece of news is that I have been offered a permanent job with Natural England! Each time I’ve thought I might blog this something has changed, either in real terms or at least in our thinking about it, which has complicated things. I applied for two jobs, one where I am now (East region) which I would do from Cambridge still, and one in the South East where I would work from Reading, and in the end the one we have gone for isn’t the one we started off thinking we wanted. Funny how perspectives change.

I was offered the South East job before Christmas, told them I’d think about it, and then interviewed for the other one. Having really disliked the second interview, to the extent that I wasn’t sure I wanted that job anymore, we began re-evaluating our previous assumptions, looking at the logistics again. It’s interesting when something happens that changes your perspective, you see all the possibilities which you were blind to before. When we’d thought about it previously, we had pre-conceived ideas of what would be the best, and therefore saw all the problems with the other. This one small change allowed us to look more carefully a second time, and see that the South East was possible, indeed in some ways preferable.

What was to start with awkward and annoying (that the first interview was for the job I didn’t think I wanted, so I had to wait for the second interview) was actually quite fortunate. When I returned to work I found out I hadn’t been offered the other job anyway, which was fine, I didn’t want it by then. But if I had been told that beforehand, then the South East would have felt like a second best, even if we later saw the positives in it. Or, if I’d been offered both, then we might have stuck with the East region, and not have seen what we had missed. As it is, I’ve never been less upset by being turned down for a job, I’m looking forward to starting the new one and having some new challenges (my current job has stagnated a bit of late) and to moving into a nicer, larger flat with a spare room for visitors! Not so much looking forward to the actual moving bit though!

I don’t start till early March, so I can finish my current contract, and so we have time to find a new place, pack up everything and move across London. At least this time we’re only going down the road in comparison to the last move! One of the big advantages to this move is that we will stay in London and therefore keep the connection to our church which we have begun to feel at home in, and also where we will be getting married (in fact, we’ll end up closer to the reception venue after we’ve moved, which is handy!). This opens up all sorts of cans of worms in terms about wanting to stay versus wanting to leave, how long we need to stay, when and how we want to move away etc etc. But as I keep being told, we can only worry about so much at a time. This doesn’t stop me worrying, but I can at least try!

PS Responses to comments on the previous post will follow, lots more to think about there!

Not just a wedding blog

So I haven’t mentioned anything wedding related so far. I could say it was out of an effort to not turn this blog into a wedding blog. Or that there isn’t anything to report, or that there is but I’m trying to keep it quiet. But none of the above are true, although I am planning to manage the first!

In the… *counts on fingers* nearly 4 months (am I meant to remember that?) that we’ve been engaged the plans have come on apace. We had a good many ideas before the question popping- not the big stuff (as the wedding industry might have you believe) but the bits that to us were important enough that we just ‘knew’- the hymns we wanted, who we wanted to do the service, helpful-type people who we wanted to ‘do stuff’, which traditions to keep and which to ditch (none of the ’honour and obey’ or me being ‘given away’ in that sense), and more or less when (I’ve always wanted a winter wedding, and thankfully Chris doesn’t think this is too crackers to go along with it!).

But once we knew it was actually happening, all the so far unknowns had to become known, and we had the fun task of deciding on the ‘big things’. We made the difficult decision to get married in our church in London, which was far from both our families (mine in particular), but is the first place which has been properly ours, rather than mine or his. The first place we have lived together also has special significance. So now we have the church, and the reception venue booked, which means we have a date (January 2011) and an idea of what the day is going to be like. I now also have a dress, which I have duly begun teasing Chris about with images of meringues and pink and purple stripes! So, in short, by Christmas we had enough sorted to sit back and relax for a bit, knowing that we still have plenty of time to make the difficult decisions like how to cut the list of hymns down to a reasonable number, and what flowers to have (never ask a botanist to choose flowers, very bad idea!).

However, the best comedy moment over Christmas was Chris, when asked how the planning was going by someone at my parents Church, confessing “Well, it’s all kind of on hold at the moment…” Unfortunately we have no idea who this poor person was to explain that that’s not quite what he meant! Oops..

Navigation

I had an interesting conversation with a taxi driver this week. I say conversation, he didn’t really require much response, and I couldn’t really hear most of what he was saying. I realised at one point quite how much of a blessing this was. Having shared the story of his last fare- a couple who he had possibly managed to cause an argument between by suggesting that a magazine found in the back seat (which he showed me, complete with scantily clad woman on the cover) might have been theirs, he went on to explain to me the difference between men and women. For which I was understandably grateful.

Driver: “You know why men can navigate much better than women?”
Me (trying to not burst out into feminist-rant mode, and also rather intrigued): non-committal mumble
Driver: “Well its because when they finish school they just spend a lot of time in pubs…”
Me: thinking he might have a point there
Driver: “…and because they go round town from one pub to another they have to be able to find them all so they need to be able to navigate from one to the next.”
Me: another non-committal mumble as I start to realise that he’s actually not joking.

The best bit came next;

Driver: “and women don’t do that you see, cos they don’t go drinking in lots of pubs”
Me: wondering if he’s making a point about women not being drunken yobs, or being more discerning..
Driver (bursting my bubble): “women just go shopping, and all the shops are together in the middle of town, so they don’t need to be able to find their way around. And that’s why men are better at navigating than women.”

Unfortunately I was at the time too shattered to unleash the feminist wrath from within. And also too shocked for words.

This was then followed with a tale of woe which consisted of the result of many pubs closing, which is that men are losing this uncanny ability, or not learning it to start with, and are therefore forced to rely on sat-navs. The end result being that soon they will be “as bad as women”.

Priceless. The taxi I took back the day after wasn’t nearly so entertaining.

Our first Christmas

Several times over the last couple of weeks I’ve said to myself, ‘I must blog that’ but somehow never quite got around to it. Apparently life is quite busy at the moment. So, even if this isn’t a full on update on everything from the last month(s) that I’ve been away, I thought I had to start somewhere.

A lot of the business the last few weeks seems to have been Christmas related. When you have two families to buy for, who are further away and not so prompt with their requests, you have to start planning early. And then there’s the problem of trying to find something for each other (easier said than done!) and manage to shop separately so there’s some element of surprise. We ended up going our separate ways around department stores, and Chris doing some secretive shopping after work. And thats before we even get around to wrapping or writing Christmas cards!

Christmas this year is feeling very different than it has done before, for many reasons, but due mainly, I think, to the fact of us living together now. Last year was the first year we were together at Christmas, but we were also many hundreds of miles away in the African sun, so it was anything but a ‘normal’ Christmas. This year, we’re going to my parents, then to Chris’, with all the usual Christmas stuff, but together. And there’s the little things, like putting up our joint Christmas cards in our flat, rather than having to divide them between us like we did last year! Yesterday we bought our first Christmas tree! Not a big deal in some ways (Chris helpfully pointed out that in commitment terms it’s not really that permanent..) but in others, it feels like a milestone, that this place we live, while not being what we would like, is home, and more importantly, its ours. One slight issue is that we might have got a wee bit carried away with the size of tree, and it currently appears to be swallowing a bookcase, part of the coffee table and obscuring the TV.. hoorah for Christmas!

The other change to Christmas this year has been thinking about Advent from the point of view of a preacher, and challenging myself to see it differently. There are many aspects of Advent I find particularly meaningful and inspirational, but I can’t preach about these every year! Making myself think about new perspectives on familiar themes is one of the interesting and enjoyable aspects of Local Preaching, and Advent is a season so rich with potential that the whole process is quite exciting. The service I’m working on is this Sunday coming, Advent 3. I might share some thoughts with you once I’ve got them in place.