Wedding Update

So we’ve got less than 10 weeks till the big day and everyone keeps asking if I’m really stressed yet, and I’m not. Really not. I’ve got my book of lists, which gets edited weekly, and my guest spreadsheet which gets updated whenever we get a reply. I’m ahead of my timescale plan, so have been doing what I can towards things that I can’t do yet – like colour coding guests in the spreadsheet if they know each other, so I can start planning seating arrangements, and designing thank you cards for people’s time and gifts for afterwards. My dress is all ready for the first fitting – am just finishing buying my accessories, so I’ll get to see how it looks all together shortly. 🙂 Even when the caterer phoned to say she couldn’t do what her predecessor promised us, I wasn’t stressed. I just explained why her alternative was not suitable for us, and pointed out that her predecessor had these promises in a written quote. Fourty eight hours later, after she’d discussed it with her boss, she declared it was no longer a problem.

Maybe I’m not stressed yet because I’m still enjoying all the planning. All the lists, emails and plans get me excited and I like it when I have wedding stuff to do. Maybe I’m not stressed because work can be so intense and stressful that comparatively this feels like a walk in the park. And because it’s so different from work, then it’s a nice change on my days off. Maybe I’m not stressed because Mr B isn’t. He too has perspective on whole thing, with his line of work, so is relaxed about it all – whether the day runs absolutely perfectly isn’t important in the big picture.

It’s probably a mixture of all three, and I probably will get stressed nearer the time, but right now I’m just enjoying it!

Allotment

I’ve been spending more time at the allotment recently – it helps that we live 2.5 minutes walk from it, and it’s a nice break from both wedding planning and work! It’s a community allotment which is run by our church, although Mr B is officially the lease holder and we do a lot of the work towards it.

At the moment I’m trying to weed the strawberries. This has been an ongoing task ever since I started helping with the allotment, but now I’m really trying to get on top of it. Trying to dig up all the weed’s roots, and leave the strawberries behind. It’s quite a fiddly job and generally takes an hour or two to properly weed a squared metre of strawberries. And the patch is 3 by 4 metres. Once I’ve got rid of all the weeds, my plan is to cover the ground around the strawberries in a thick layer of bark (which is provided at the allotment) to stop the weeds coming back. Hopefully.

Last summer we dug a pond at the allotment, and we’ve been trying to get some plants growing in the pond to attract wildlife, such as tadpoles, with the hope that the frogs will eat the slugs… Our allotment neighbour kindly gave us a cutting from his pond, and we got some oxygenating plants from a local aquatics centre. A month or two ago the pond was still looking pretty dead, the plants didn’t look like they were thrieving at all. But recently, with the sun coming out, the donated plant has bloomed and the oxygenating plants look much healthier. I was gazing into the pond on Saturday, watching the pond skaters glide across the top of the pond and looking out for tadpoles, when I spotted a newt swimming across the pond! It was about two inches long and looked like a mini lizard! It’s a great sign that something is living in our pond, just as long as newts don’t eat tadpoles…

The Last Supper

Yesterday I shared ‘The Last Supper’ with two special friends. Hopefully it just marked the end of an era, not the end of one of our lives.

Two years ago I moved into a house with two people from my church, neither of which I knew very well. Another connection at church had a house to rent, they were interested in it but would prefer to split the rent three ways rather than two, so given that I was also looking to move house, it worked out well. I’d spoken to this couple at church a few times, but I wouldn’t say I knew them. So after we’d all been to see the house together, we went to the local Wetherspoons for food and to check we didn’t have contradictory personalities. About a month later we moved in together, and a strong friendship was created. I moved out a year ago now, but I still see both of them regularly. They are a very laid back couple, easy and fun to live with, not much stresses them out. Except recent events.

He is from California, and moved over here to marry her, so all his family is still over there. And his Dad has been recently diagnosed with cancer. Two weeks ago the doctors declared it terminal and said he only had weeks to live. They made the decision to pack up everything over here and move out there for a year. They’re hoping they’ll get there before he dies, be around for all the funeral arrangements and then establish some kind normality out there. They’ve always wanted to live out there for a period of time, before they settle down with kids, etc, so they’ve decided to do it now. It is just the most stressful moving house situation I could possibly imagine.

They’ve managed to pack up all their house and clean it, in the past two weeks. But they haven’t had to do it alone. On Sunday 10 of their friends spent the day packing, cleaning, and moving the stuff they didn’t want to take, to her parent’s garage. We’ve got friends who are involved with local asylum seekers, and they’ve just been given two houses which needed furniture, so a lot of their furniture was donated to them. I was working all day Sunday so couldn’t join the party of helpers, but I unexpectedly got Monday off, so I offered to come over. I got there about lunchtime so we went to a local cafe for lunch. As we were waiting for food, a mirrored comparision was made with our first meal together in the Wetherspoons. I was upset when it was called ‘The Last Supper’ because I didn’t want it to be our last meal together, but they insisted it was just a closing house meal. They will be back.

We spent all afternoon packing and cleaning, when we finished it was only the hall that needed tidying and hoovering. It was good to be able to help them out in that way, especially as when I moved out I couldn’t clean as throughly as we did yesterday because the house still had all their furniture and stuff in it. Mr B then came over and we took the stuff they want to take with them round to the friends that they’re staying with until their flights. She has to work out her contract so won’t be flying out until the end of April.

It’s been an emotional time for them, and I think everyone who has been involved with helping them has felt it too. It’s all the hoping that he gets out there before his Dad dies and hoping that he goes as peacefully as he can. And at the same time, saying goodbye to good friends. If you can, please say a little prayer for them – J and B.

Wedding Stuff

This morning I finished making all of the invites!! 😀 They’re all in their envelopes, waiting to be addressed and posted / delievered. They took many hours to make, although I decided to blitz them over the past two weeks, so have spent 2-4 hours on each of my days off making them. As you might expect, I got quicker the more I did, and it was quite nice to sit and watch TV for an hour, plodding on with them. I don’t think I’ve watched TV these past two weeks without making invitations. I have enjoyed doing it, but I’m also really glad that I’ve finished them. I finished at 11.45 this morning, and at 12.45 I was in the swimming pool – desperate to do something different!

Otherwise the wedding plans are coming together nicely… I’m currently making a shortlist for bridesmaids’ dresses, ready for when my girlies are coming to try them on, part of the cake has been baked, the honeymoon’s sorted, our wedding rings are sorted, my parents bought their outfits the other week, we’ve written an order of service for the ceremony and talked to the vicar / churchwarden. Being a Methodist who is getting married in a C of E church means I’m a bit confused by all the wedding banns stuff – all these forms that have got to be carefully filled in, and next week we’re off to see our local vicar to arrange the reading of them in our local church. And given that we attend a fresh expression church, we had to work out if legally this counted as ‘worshipping in the parish’. It all seems a bit faffy.

Looking ahead from here, a lot of what I need to do, is go shopping! My dress is going to be made by the end of May, so I’m going to try to get all my accessories by then. Then of course there’s the bridesmaids’ dresses and my going away outfit. Originally I wasn’t fussed about a going away outfit, but then found out the reception venue has a special bridal room, which got me all excited and made me want to use it! I had previously envisioned myself trying to get out of my dress in the toilets! And also, because we’re going straight from the reception to the hotel and then to the honeymoon – I don’t really want to take my dress on the train, all the way to Italy!

No Car

Just over two weeks ago I wrote off our car. I drove it into an (illegally) parked car which was sticking out into the road, and was clamped and then towed shortly after the accident. My windscreen was misted up so I didn’t see it, until I’d crashed into the back of it. I was fine, the other car just had a stratch on it, but ours had a reasonable sized dent and when I attempted to drive it again the steering was all off. So I decided it was safer to leave it at the side of the road (in a safe place), and then arrange for it to be picked up by the garage.

Its taken two weeks for the insurance company to decide that it’s a write off. So we’ve been without a car for the past two weeks. It’s odd, because all through university and for my first 18 months in Bristol I didn’t have access to a car. Other than my friend’s cars. And even when I was a child we had a car but my Mum couldn’t drive, my Dad was in work a lot, so most of the time when I needed to get somewhere I walked, cycled or bused it. But recently I’ve been taking advantage of having a car – being able to go to the supermarket of your choice, rather than the one that is walking distance, being able to move house, being dropped off at work when it’s tipping it down instead of cycling in. And in the past few months I’ve even had the car during the week days when I’m not in work, because Mr B’s been cycling to work. And then suddenly it’s gone.

It wouldn’t have been that big an issue if we had finished moving house. But we hadn’t. At the time of crashing the car was full of cleaning stuff and other odds and ends that hadn’t made it to the new house yet. I managed to salvage all of this stuff before the car got taken for scrap, by doing two trips on foot – the first with a set of plastic drawers (that we use for recycling) that had wheels on the bottom, so I filled it with stuff from the car and wheeled it along the pavement. The second time I took my big 55L rucksack and filled it, and then ended up carrying a garden hose, mop and bucket, two axles stands, a tent, a garden fork and garden clippers. I did manage to strap some of that stuff to my rucksack, although I think I looked pretty silly with a mop sticking a metre above my rucksack… And even more silly when Mr B showed me how to make the mop half the size… We also had lots of stuff in the old flat that we’d planned to take the recycling centre, and then couldn’t. We had to throw what we could in the bin and apologise to the landlord regarding the rest of it. We also did several walking trips between the old place and the new place, with stuff that hadn’t been moved yet. Thankfully it was only 0.7 of a mile.

So there’s the disadvantages… On the flip side, I think it made me realise how much I took our car for granted. When you don’t have a car, you have to cycle or walk everywhere. We normally try to shop locally anyway, but ‘local’ shrinks when you don’t have a car. Having said this, ‘Ikea’ is now ‘local’, in that it is walking distance, as we’ve recently discovered. The only problem with that is, you can’t buy any furniture. It’s made both of us slightly fitter, now that we *have to* cycle to work. We’re both slightly too far from work to walk now. And it’s up hill on the way home.

Yesterday we spent about four hours on a round bus trip to the suburbs to look at a car Mr B had researched online. And we’ve bought it! It’s a second hand car which cost roughly the amount the insurance company are giving us for the old car, but the new car is better! It’s bigger and the CO2 emissions are very low. We’re waiting to hear that its service is finished, which should be in the next couple of days. I think Mr B is going to cycle out there this time – we had a half an hour walk at either end of the bus rides, so it wasn’t exactly straightforward, and then hope to fit his bike in the back of the car to get it home. And then we can buy heavy stuff from the supermarket, the bike shed for our bikes and take some bits and bobs to the tip. 🙂 But we have promised to continue cycling as much as possible.

New Home

So we moved house on Saturday. Not very far from where we were before, but I reckon moving two people’s furniture and belongings any distance is quite a task! We’ve barely stopped since we moved, and almost have everything unpacked… I was supposed to be doing nights Sunday and Monday, but luckily work was quiet so I managed to get Sunday night off, which meant I didn’t have to spend Sunday afternoon asleep and Sunday night in work, so we had a productive day.

The flat was sold as having two bedrooms with a large kitchen / living space, but we decided we’d prefer to use the bigger bedroom as a living room and the kitchen space for dinning and books etc. So consequently our bedroom is quite small, so we’ve had to re-organise our stuff, so that only bedroom essentials went in the bedroom. It’s quite nice having a whole flat to put things in – I’ve been able to do that before, but not to the same extent because I’ve always lived with other people, aside from Mr B. It just means we’re having to find new homes for everything.

It’s been fairly recently converted (it was the ground floor of a house), and the previous occupier was involved in this process, which I think has helped to ensure the quality. The kitchen is amazing – it has a full length cupboard that pulls out, fancy swingy thing on the corner cupboard for ease of access, a magnetic strip which you can stick knifes to and drawers which close themselves! (I get easily excited… ) There’s also a massive fridge / freezer which is fantastic because it’s all ours, although it’s high pitched squeal if the temperature gets too high inside it, is just slightly annoying… The first time it happened, Mr B had accidently left the fridge door open, and we were both standing in the kitchen trying to work out what that noise was. When we figured it out, we thought it was really cool – a fridge that tells you if it’s not shut properly! But then the next day we went shopping and put lots of warmer things into it, and it wouldn’t shut up for ages…

Yesterday morning I had great fun sorting out all of our books. When I moved in with Mr B he obviously had all his books on his bookcase, and I (mostly) left them where they were. But now all the books had been merged in boxes, I had the ideal opportunity to sort them all out. So they’re now sorted properly by subject and author. 🙂

Christmas

I’ve now finished work for Christmas, well until 7.30pm on Christmas day when I start nights, but I still get most of Christmas day to relax and a nice few days off before it. And after my nights I’m heading down south to see my family for a couple of days. We’ve got the in laws staying for the Christmas holiday days.

So I’m feeling quite Christmasy… we’ve got our real tree up and all the presents underneath, we will be going shopping for all the Christmas food shortly and I’ve got Kate Rusby’s Sweet Bells playing. We had our church’s carol service on Sunday evening, followed by birthday cake for Jesus and two congregational members. One of these congregational members is 91 and she every day she walks into the centre and protests for peace at the side of the road, which led us to have a discussion as to whether Jesus does this… Although the best carol event this year had to be ‘Beer and Carols’, an adaptation of Greenbelt’s ‘Beer and Hymns’. Our church has done it in previous years but we didn’t last year, and this year the landlord requested us back! So we took over half the pub with our instruments and singers, handing out sheets to other publicans and collected money for my work (by coincidence!). Some people obviously, moved away from us and grumbled about not being able to have a quiet evening in the pub, but others were coming up with requests and joining in. And it was good fun!

I’ve calmed down since my rant the other day, and also had a chance to think about it from his perspective a bit more. The whole thing basically means we’ve got to move house in the new year, when we were planning to stay where we are till April. So Mr B’s done some research and we’re off to see some places shortly. Christmas isn’t the ideal time to be house hunting because many estate agents have already closed for the holiday, but hopefully we’ll find somewhere suitable in the next few weeks.

Anyway, I basically came here to wish everyone a merry Christmas!!!

Turn the other cheek?

Somebody has made a very selfish decision which impacts massively on us, and what we do over the next few months. It’s very iritating and makes me almost regret doing what I assumed was the right thing to do. The whole thing has made me really annoyed and frustrated. Last night when I found out the news, I was so annoyed I was starting to think up ways to make his life difficult, as he’s made ours. But then I felt really mean for even thinking those things. And I remembered what Jesus said about turning the other cheek. Easier said than done.

I doubt if I’ll end up doing anything purposefully spiteful in revenge, but right now every time I think about it I boil up with anger, so I can’t even contemplate forgiving him right now. Jesus doesn’t ask for a lot, does he?! Maybe I’ll get there, some day. For now though, I’m going to make sure he knows the facts behind the situation and take it from there.

Wedding Stuff

I currently feeling reasonably organised with all the wedding planning. We’re getting married in July and we’ve sorted the church, reception venue, transport, my dress, Mr B’s suit, his shoes and the entertainment. Which I think is fairly good going.

The venue that I previously posted about, we rejected when I realised that even if we managed to get our disabled guests up the two flights of stairs, the toilets couldn’t fit a chair in (when we’d asked about a disabled toilet, we were informed that ‘the toilets are on the same level’, but not that they will actually fit a wheelchair in!). We managed to find a venue with beautiful gardens, a large hall with enough tables for everyone to eat at and full disabled access. Basically, it ticked all the boxes, so we went with it.

Mr B sorted his suit back in October, because a high street shop was offering half price on made to measure suits, which he’d decided he wanted. And then he managed to get his shoes from the same shop, again 50% off. So he’d done very well, but it was making me feel disorganised because I hadn’t done much about my dress! Last weekend I went to London to visit a bridesmaid and had fun trying on dresses in a Barnardos shop which specialises in selling designer wedding dresses that have been used in photoshoots or as a sample in shops. Its a very good scheme, which Oxfam also offer in some shops, but you have to be able to find a dress that you like and can fit into. If it’s a bit too big, it can be made to fit you, but you can’t make the dresses any bigger. But obviously, they were good value. During the week I was at my parents house in Manchester, and went to proper bride shop with Mum, where they have designer dresses which they can order in your size, and then they adjust it to make it *properly* fit. I had thought that I would prefer not to go through all the faff of having fittings, etc, and if I could find a dress that worked (and I liked it) in Oxfam / Barnardos, then that would be preferable. But I don’t have a typical sized body – certain bits are proportionally bigger than the rest of me, so trying to find ‘the perfect dress’, without getting it properly fitted, would be difficult. And there was one dress in the shop in Manchester that I really liked. I’d decided that it was too expensive, but I then couldn’t get it out of my head. I’d look online and think ‘but none of them are as nice as that one in Manchester’. My Mum was with me then, and she really liked it too. So, I juggled my finances a little, went to this same bride shop but in my home city, tried it on again, got properly meausured and paid for it! It was very exciting! 😀

The thing is, I’m trying not to buy into the whole bridal / wedding expectations. Like it’s expected that I’ll wear heels on my wedding day. I don’t do heels. I can’t walk in them and I have never found a pair of heels that have been comfortable. I would like to be able to walk on my wedding day, without cursing my shoes, so I intend to find a nice pair of flatish, comfortable shoes or sandals. The dress can be shortened with this in mind, so I don’t see the problem. There just seems to be so many traditions that surround weddings that you’re expected to follow – why? What’s the reasoning behind it? Can’t we do it a different way?

Stamps

My Grandad was a postmaster. And he had a passion for collecting things that he thought might be worth something someday. So, as you can imagine, he owned a fairly large stamp collection. In his Will he specified that when he died this collection is to be sold and the money split between his four grandchildren. Given that my auntie has enough stuff to deal with in Cornwall, after the funeral my parents brought this stamp collection home to work out what was there and to get it valued. The whole thing intrigued me – all my life I’d known there was a stamp collection up in the attic at Gran and Papa’s house, but apart from the small fraction he’d given to Big Sis and I as children, I’d never seen it. So I offered to spend a couple of days at home, going through it all.

It was a good job that somebody did go through it before sending it off to be valued, as I also found hundreds of slides, photographs and personal family items. There were also numerous albums, 2 boxes of loose stamps, a box of old books about stamps, a suitcase full of first day covers, a fairly large number of mint condition stamps, a massive pile of unusual envelopes, a collection of postcards and a small collection of coins. Some items dated back to the beginning of last century, and some even earlier.

I have absolutely no idea how much it is all worth. But it was absolutely fascinating to look through it all – you never quite knew what you were going to find next. Reading letters which were sent over 50 years ago, and are part of my family history, was really interesting. For example, my Dad came across a postcard that had been sent from my great grandad to my great aunt, when she was 10.

Anyway, I have removed all the personal items, separated the coins and postcards which I believe will go to a different specialist, and packed it all back up again. It’s going to a friend of a friend who can value it and knows people in the stamp collecting world who might be interested in buying some of it. In a way, it would be nice to keep it for our future generations, but the practicalities of sharing a stamp collection four ways, is impossible. And none of the grandchildren have a particular interest in keeping it going, so it makes sense to sell it. We just have to wait and see how much it’s worth.