Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Stuff Nobody Tells You About Weddings Part Five: The Dress

There is a myth... sometimes emblazoned across glossy wedding monthlies...sometimes whispered in hushed, reverent tones from Other Married Women....sometimes featured as a montage scene in a weakly plotted Hollywood film....

The myth is thus.

When you find your dress, the clouds will part. A golden light will descend upon you and it. You will be the fairest of them all, the angels will sing, your mother will weep pearly tears that the angels will weave bracelets from. A double rainbow will appear. Woodland creatures will frolic at your feet.

You will have found THE DRESS.


"The sales assistant told me the wings really set it off! And they're only an extra £650!"

Oh, for goodness sake. It took me three years of being in the same band with my now-husband before I even realised I fancied him. I don't have a wardrobe full of shoes because I am good at being decisive. It takes me ages to choose what I want to eat at a restaurant, and I will have changed my mind three times before the waitress comes back to take my order. And (if you are unfortunate enough to be dining with me) when the food arrives I will look at yours, decide it looks nicer and start stealing your chips.
I tell you bloody what though. I LOVED MY WEDDING DRESS. But I never had a "the one" moment with it. And from what I've heard from a metric shit-ton (actual technical measurement) of other brides, I'm not the only one. No shining light, no rainbows, no bunnies. I unwrapped the dress when it arrived (through the post, off the internet) tried it on and although I knew it wasn't very bridal, and that a lot of folk would think it was daft, I simply thought it was very, very Me.

 Look the model even looks like me! Honest! Only I'm skinnier and more sullen, obviously.
I wiggled and posed in it a bit. It felt pretty good. I then went and ordered a big pile of tulle to stick on my head just to make doubly sure I would walk down the aisle looking like nothing else on the planet (since the 80s anyway). Then the other accessories started to add up.... the heels, the pearls, the earrings.... the more I tried everything on, the more excited I became. It was a gradual thing. Like putting together a great big, giddy, squeal-inducing jigsaw.

 In the process of a mid-reception squeal

For me at least, the accessories doth make the outfit. You cannot always judge a dress on dress alone -unless you are going for an incredibly minimalist look- in which case I applaud your tres chic-ness (how do you do that? Can you hook me up with a helpline?). But there will generally be bits in your ears, and on your head, and round your neck, and your wrist.... at the very least they will do things with your hair and put things on your face. It all adds up. The isolated dress feeling is, I think, more often than not, a good, warm gut feeling. A "hmmm... yeah, feels pretty damn good. I look pretty damn good. I can work with this puppy - let's do this."

That might mean a few subtle, elegant touches. Or, if you subscribe to the Joan Collins more-is-more approach (like me) you can fling yourself fully overboard into your lunatic fantasies.


A Dress Moment? I had none. Dress Regrets? I have absolutely none either. But apparently that doesn't stop me still going into vintage shops and pulling out the most ridiculous frothy pastel confections and screaming at Sam "We need to get married again! Every year! I need to have a new dress! New dress! New dress! Ooh this one sparkles!"

 I can't find a credit for this picture of a dress that makes my eyes pop out on stalks. Please let me know if it is yours.

And this, my friends, is going to be true forever. Whatever our taste may be, we will love the beautiful dresses, and we will want all the beautiful dresses. Don't let them trick you into being pressured that there is only one The One. There will be lots of The Ones, and sometimes you will fall for a tooth-achingly expensive The One and with a little tenacity and patience you will discover it selling for 70% off elsewhere. You will see the Ones all the time, before you are married, and then after you are married too.

Don't let any of it shake your faith. Your dress will come unto you.

And you know what? If it comes unto you ...and then you get a sinking feeling that it's not quite right?

Take it back and get another one.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

The Power Of Smyth

I have put off Stuff Nobody Tells You About Weddings Part 5 (the final and BEST part...THE DRESS) for yet another day, simply to ramble at you about my Saturday night.

You'll have heard a lot about Hurricane Irene over the past few days. Well, I have been witness to another force of nature. Sam's siblings.


Sam has three little sisters. And when you get the four of them together, the resulting storm has been reported to result in any of the following... broken ankles, raucous dance routines, bitch-slapping, cat fights, out-grossing (generally involves bogeys) and  overnight incarceration for parasol theft. Actually, the last one is just Sam, but that's a story for another day.

Life has been a little calmer since eldest sister Annie went down to Brighton to unleash her loudness on the Southern people. But this weekend she was back, like T2 ...but in Yorkshire. And without a motorbike.

ELDEST: "Come with me if you want to live"

The locals were quaking in their boots. Four siblings, cousin, step-brother and new sister-in-law (yours truly) plus numerous friends and hangers-on descended upon the neon lights of Wakefield. Wakefield is known for many things. Unfortunately the stuff that sticks in most people's mind is its starring appearance on Banged Up Booze Cop Nation Caught On Camera, and being home to hair extensioned, triple false lashed heroine Chloe Mafia.

The last train was forgotten as we barrelled around town (including a pit-stop in a dubious club with topless men playing tambourines on the bar) supping well over our monthly unit allowance, shouting very loudly and generally being swept up with The Power of Smyth.
 YOUNGEST: "Me? Unleash the Power Of  Smyth?"

What is the power of Smyth? The power to perform rap challenges on command? The power to offend without being punched? The power to take over an entire pub using only the volume of your collective voice?

(l-r) MIDDLE + MIDDLE'S BF + DEFINITELY NOT DRUNK NEW IN-LAW at notorious drag bar "Fanny & Bacardis"

It is all of the above and more... it is the power of family. Four years ago I found this group of people so overwhelming I didn't know how to act or be. Now I realise I just need to be myself, and that is more than good enough for them. I have been initiated. I am in the club. 

I am so lucky to have such brilliant in-laws, I know not everybody falls on their feet like I have with the Smyth sisters. Just like Sam, they're off the wall and sometimes wholly inappropriate, but you know if you're ever in a spot they'll be there in less than a split second, ready to wade in and fight your corner.

Anyway, I'm not the newbie these days.... eldest has finally found a lovely boy, a fast-talking Geordie who -just about- managed to keep up with the runaway sibling crazy-train. Saturday night was HIS initiation into the crew. And he made it out alive.

In fact, something tells me he will fit in just fine.


Monday, 29 August 2011

Danger In Doncaster

Potential financial hazards ahead....

EDIT: Checking remote blogging ready for NYC.... WIN!

Friday, 26 August 2011

First Dance Friday: The Crying Song


We've heard about the first dance we ended up with, and the one that got away...

...and the retrospective musical narcissism continues. It's time for the first dance we very, very nearly had. We chose and settled on this one for most of our engagement. We even practised. This is the Crying Song.

To this day I do not know why The Crying Song makes us cry. We only picked it as our first dance because one of us said one day "well, what about this...?" and then we both said, at exactly the same time, "noooo, I'll CRY!". Then the discovery that we had sat independently at different times crying at this bloody song made it all feel like *a moment* - a This Is Your Song *moment*.

But actually, Crying Song is 4 minutes long. Nobody wants to watch a newly married couple bobbling about uncomfortably on a dance floor sobbing and snotting over each other for 4 whole minutes. Or for any minutes at all, thinking about it. Because it would be horrible.

Still, it is a beautiful song. And in a way now, after the first dance debacle, it is our song, and all the more personal for not stumbling around self-consciously to it in front of all our friends and family.....

If you've never heard it before, press play. I have no bloody idea what maps have to do with anything, but that refrain "They don't love you like I love you"... oh BOO HOO look I'm off again. For God's sake.

Anyway. It strikes me that I can justify a series of self-indulgent First Dance Fridays and finally get off my chest the myriad songs that I loved and would have chosen... and maybe Sam can do his. And other people too. So (she shouts into the void) if you have a first dance story to tell, or an Our Song story to tell.... or just any suitable rambling about an amazing song that might be first dance appropriate... hit me up.

The snottier the better.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Birthday Presents

One of the slightly less brilliant things about being married?

Having to come up with original birthday present ideas for the same person every year for as long as you both shall live.

Now I LOVE buying gifts. I enter into the spirit of present shopping like a Christmas elf on pills, bouncing around the shops, merrily surfing the internet for months in advance, creating master lists of ideas, secretly noting down the latest object of the recipient's affection, all the while shrouding my activities in a moustache-twirling cloak of subterfuge building up to the final (FANFARE!) revelation and surprise.

Domo-Kun slippers!
The problem with this is, when you first start seeing somebody, you have no idea whether it's going to last. So you use your best ideas up first. Sam turned 30 in our first year together, so I made a massive village fete style tombola FULL of amazing presents. Meanwhile, he BUILT me a wine rack shaped like a guitar. And bought me unicorn pyjamas. Oh yes. Our best man Rob also peaked far too early, buying his literature loving wife the first edition of her favourite book (The Wasp Factory - good choice) in their first year going out together. Ever since then, it has been a case of paddling hard to keep up the standard.

Vegan banoffee pie - nigh on impossible to make but I ruddy bloody did it

Well, there's no point saving up ideas til next year. You might get dumped.  

Probably for buying fair to middling birthday presents.

But now a precedent has been set. Sam turns shhhty-shhh on the 9th of September and for a man whose basic tastes haven't altered much since the age of 12 (Marmite, Transformers, cars, cats, guitars) it's getting tougher to come up with ideas.

Sam's most longed-for but never owned 80s toy - the mighty Big Trak

Is it ridiculous for grown, married couples to continue to give silly, fun birthday presents which are complete surprises?

Should I be buying him something sensible now, like a nice wallet, or something (this is where my inner Christmas Elf lies down, starts sobbing and drumming its feet on the floor) he's chosen himself?

And now I have the added challenge of buying him something small enough to fit into an American Airlines regulation size suitcase...ARGH

No. Will DEFINITELY not fit in suitcase. Even if I sit on it.

Ups & Downs

In less than a fortnight, Sam and I will finally be on our honeymoon.

I feel very fortunate that we have pretty much agreed on the kind of things we want to do while we are in New York. These things are mostly beer, music, Wicked, beer, food, karaoke and beer.

But there is just one thing that I'm dying to do while we're there that Sam is not entirely sold on. Visit Coney Island and go on the world famous Cyclone, a rickety wooden track rollercoaster dating from the 1920s. This thing is a BIG deal in the world of coasters, inspiring 7 international copies and giving my friend Ellie whiplash.


I LOVE roller coasters. Sam is not so sure. He's very amicably agreed to go to Luna Park with me, as we bagged cheap tickets via Groupon, but he is not big on theme park rides. In fact, Sam has NEVER been on a roller coaster. Because Sam does not like heights, or being thrown about in a potentially fatal mechanical contraption just for the hell of it. 

Silly boy. It's only 85 feet tall.

Will Sam go on the Cyclone with me? Or will he watch me go on it by myself and live on firm in his conviction that he won't like it? 

*packs best persuasive powers*

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

On Being A Wedding Guest: Revisited

What I Learned....

-Weddings come in all shapes and sizes

-But it all comes down to love, booze, frocks and dancing

-No matter how immaculate and wonderful everything looks, there has always been frantic paddling and stress somewhere along the road

-Vera Wang = SIGH

-If you play football in the car-park in your party dress after a gallon of wine, you will probably fall over and flash your pants

And last but not least....


(sorry for terrible blurry picture... Bean was far too excited about his owners getting married to stay still!)

Monday, 22 August 2011

Stuff Nobody Tells You About Weddings Part Four: EAT


You may experience some of the following:

Headache, nervousness, restlessness, unusually fast or pounding heartbeat, dizziness or lightheadedness, flushing or paleness of face or skin, nausea, trembling, trouble in sleeping, trouble in breathing, unusual increase in sweating, weakness, and in some cases chest pain and irregular heartbeat. 

Your adrenal gland is having a freak out, and dumping its guts all over your system.

Happy wedding day!

It's inevitable that you're going to feel nervous. But you could be taking yourself to a whole new level of psychotic if you're not careful because.... guess what? Not eating properly on the day will make that panic far, far worse.

You see *nutritionist hat on* stress causes adrenalin to be released in your body. But low blood sugar cause high adrenalin in the body too, resulting in a double whammy of loony tunes. I know eating might seem like the least of your worries when there are storm clouds over the marquee, the registrar is stuck in traffic and your flower girl's got the mumps. I did not feel much like eating either, and eating is one of the things I do best of all. But you could be doubling your problems if you're not careful, making an emotional day even harder to deal with.

The most annoying thing is - as soon as we get stressed, it's automatically harder to eat because our body goes into fight or flight mode (no evolutionary need for muching berries if we're getting chased by a sabre-toothed tiger). We need fuel, but our body is sending out unhelpful signals that we can't stomach it. I managed an early breakfast and lunch, and then didn't eat again for about nine hours of the booze-filled, whirlwind of a day, as my stomach had dwindled to the size of a walnut.  Couple that with an active body used to regular feeding, and it's no wonder I crashed at the end of the night and had to be taken home.

MOH points uselessly at the buffet. She couldn't eat either - we both ended up sneaking off early to collapse in the hotel bar

Your mouth will be busy talking to guests, you may not be able to imagine how to give that mouth a five minute break, but make sure somebody drags you to the buffet (or drag yourself) to get something, even if you have to put a wig and a tache on to get there without being waylaid.

Food gives you super-powers.

Do it.

You chose and paid for it after all....

All images by the Black Eye Specialist

Friday, 19 August 2011

First Dance Friday: The One That Got Away

Sam and I have a song that is well and truly Our Song.

It's our karaoke duet at every available opportunity, the song we blasted out of the open windows as we tazzed about in Sam's 18 year old Nissan Bluebird (RIP), we have moves for it, we have a matching vocal's the song that plays in the brains of our friends whenever we walk into a room together, like the slap bass on Seinfeld. If we were a wrestling tag team it would blast out into the arena as we went into the ring.

It's our theme tune....

How could our first dance NOT be Pump Up The Jam? We weren't afraid of breaking with the conventional slow dance, we didn't want a traditional wedding anyway. We'd told everybody for years before we got engaged that it would be our first dance. WE MADE A (drunken) VOW. But when it came down to it.... we bottled it. We started with Michael Jackson, and then faded into Technotronic as soon as everybody else was dancing with us.

We totally could have got away with it. Everyone was too drunk and full of feelgood to care by the time we got round to the first dance, and all the relatives who might have thought it was tacky had gone home by then anyway.

Lesson learned!

To be honest, I'm still not sure how we would have danced to it in front of everyone without looking completely insane.

In my over-imaginative head (in the fantastical land of pre-engagement where all wedding fantasies run wild and free) we were dancing behind backlit screens, with early 90s choreography, backing dancers, fluorescent cycling shorts and bumbags.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

On Being A Wedding Guest

Going to weddings as an engaged person was awesome. I found I was paying attention in a WHOLE new way. And suddenly being very impressed by previously ignored favours (Spiderman candy cigarettes anybody? WITH TRANSFER TATTOOS? I had to restrain myself from putting one on my forehead and I wasn't even drinking). It was hard not to take notes. Think people aren't going to notice the details at your wedding? Invite somebody who has just got engaged. They will DRINK it down and give you three hearty cheers.

This weekend, Sam and I are going to our first wedding reception as a married couple.

The idea of going to a big wedding party and getting to be a guest again is pretty exciting. But how will it feel different to before? Maybe we should take a pipe and slippers, and rock back on our heels with a satisfied look on our faces. We have done it, we came out alive, and now we get to be spectators as two of our friends get whizzed around in their own glorious wedding day turbine.

Inevitably it was far easier to choose a dress for this wedding than the last one I went to...

Mint green queen

..unfortunately I'm going to have to resort to washing up liquid on my hair to get the last of the pink out (sob).

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Charity Shops: Reprise

We went to our friends' house for dinner last week, and charity shop discussions continuing from this blog post lead us to be introduced to Ben....

Ben is half beanbag dog, half teddy bear dog. With a mariachi guitar. We don't know his back story, but he was purchased by our friend Chris from Oxfam in Oxford years ago as a gift for his girlfriend (now wife, also called Penny). Ben looks to have been stitched together from a number of different toys, into some sort of horrific Frankendog. He is definitely smiling, but his "Alistair Darling-esque" felt eyebrows give him an air of  silent menace.

Our first reaction to Ben was, understandably, fear. 

But then I thought about this poor, freakish creature left abandoned on the shelves while all the cute teddies got bought and given loving homes. And I thought it was sort of sweet that Chris had picked him up and taken him in. 

Penny remains tactfully unconvinced.

Ben was £3. As love tokens go, he's definitely one of a kind.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Saying Thanks

Manchester has finally relinquished my best friend! She's coming over to Leeds today for the first time since the wedding.

We are whisking her out for Thai food and cocktails tonight, in honour of an honourable maid (of honour), and a job well done. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be a married woman now if it  wasn't for Catie. Because my head would have exploded. I am certain of this.

Since the wedding, Sam and I have spent a lot of time saying thank-you (or writing it on jolly cards):

Because there is absolutely no question that weddings have this knack of showing you who your friends are -yeahhh some other people let us down, and it was upsetting. But the sadness over that was teeny-tiny compared to the enormous giganto-rainbow of fabulosity that was everyone else. From the crack team who took time to help set up our reception venue, to those who spent time learning songs to perform on the night, those who travelled great distances to be there and those who threw crazy shapes on the dance floor...just everyone. Everyone there. The moment we walked into the evening party and everybody cheered was the one point in the day I cried.

Anyway. Fabulous rainbow friends, hark at me! I sound like a right hippy. 

Seriously. Thanks guys.

You rock.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Stuff Nobody Tells You About Weddings Part Three: Favours

You'll spend ages choosing/crafting/lovingly tying ribbon around them.

You'll be certain everybody will want to take one home.

But still, somehow there will be A LOT left behind. IT DOESN'T MEAN YOUR FAVOURS ARE CRAP.

It just means people are forgetfully drunk and/or don't fully understand the concept of favours. One of the first times I went to a wedding as an adult, all the guests got given a beautiful selection of chocolate truffles, delicately presented and boxed by hand. I could not get OVER the fact that this awesome couple had paid for an amazing party and an insanely good three course meal and were now GIVING ME CHOCOLATES. Shouldn't I be giving them chocolates? To say thank-you for such a lovely time? Obviously I ate the chocolates. They were very good. But it didn't make the concept any less topsy-turvey in my head.

Even more recently than that, I went to a wedding where the couple had scattered hundreds of miniature pots of jam everywhere for people to take home.  I took two. They  were so cute and I really didn't know if I should be taking two. Maybe I should take one. I am only one person, after all. Though, I do like jam. BUT IT FELT LIKE I WAS STEALING THEM. I had guilt every time I opened the fridge.

It was really good jam.

Maybe this says more about my latent anxiety than it does about favours, or you, or your wedding.

Still, I am positive there will be some wedding guests who have a similar "surely not for me?" bamboozlement when faced with being given a gift for coming to a party. Let's face it, the last time some of us will have experienced this will have been at the age of six, when we trotted home from Claire Riley's birthday party with a plastic bag containing mini-Lovehearts, a party blower and a Thundercats pencil.

Of course, most people will just get drunk and forget to take their favour home. We made our own wedding fanzine for people to take as a memento, and even though we made 3/5ths of what we actually needed, we still came home with the box half full. But -gratifyingly -since the wedding,  people have sobbed that they forgot to take theirs and begged to be posted one (no great surprise - there was a wordsearch in it and everything. They probably went home, realised they'd forgotten their copy and LITERALLY kicked themselves. Hard. Good, because I'm getting the postage back off them next time I see them.).

So here are some things you can do to help your silly but lovely guesticles take the favours home you spent hours making, and still have blisters from:

 Image by Greg Blomberg

-Edible favours (see above) are clearly for immediate consumption

-Place favours on or next to people's place settings at the meal to make it completely clear that THIS IS FOR THEM

-If your item is remotely decorative it is likely to fly under the "gift" radar, even if it has your guest's name on it. It may be then worthwhile recruiting a useful minion to instruct everybody that they can take their favour home with them (if you're likely to be upset when they don't)

-If the favours are in a communal area for people to take, make some pretty signs to make it obvious that you want them to be taken. People like being instructed. It gives them a clear sense that they are not stealing things.

-If worst comes to worst, just make sure your favours are something you're happy to have a house full of after the wedding...

Chocolate brownie pops for tea again tonight, my love? Don't mind if I do...

Friday, 12 August 2011

First Dance Friday

I loved our first dance song! But (shhh) it was a bit of a compromise.

Actually, it was A LOT of a compromise, for several reasons:

1. We decided, after agonising, that "Our Song" (there really is only one song for us) was not really appropriate First Dance material....

2. ....we then chose another song we both loved (although had never listened to together). But we realised in the month before the wedding that at 4 minutes it was far too long to shuffle round awkwardly to, and it would make us both cry, not because we love each other, just because this song makes us both cry ANYWAY, nothing to do with the wedding, and all our guests would think we were mental....

3. ...we then ploughed through both of our iTunes and discovered that every song Sam likes is about death or break-ups, or is just silly, and all the appropriate (and beautiful!) music I had didn't really set his world on fire (pffft to that) or have any connection to us or our relationship.

So we went for a classic.....

And I love it. I love it because I got to be "The Pretty Lady With The High Heels On" (ruined it by being a sweaty mess in trainers on the day - but ohmygod in my little head I was STILL THAT GIRL IN THE VIDEO BUT WITH ADDED BRIDALNESS).  I love it because it's fun, upbeat and just a little bit flirty - no self-conscious bumbling around the dancefloor needed when you can strut. More than that, it's a great pop song - which is what Sam and I love best. And the words were actually just what we wanted. It's about that giddiness of falling in love, being totally hooked on somebody, that feeling that you've found the answer to the everything. On the day it was perfect.

It also meant we got people up on the floor and dancing with us after a minute in -PHEW-and then we could justifiably segue into "Our" actual Song...

But you'll have to wait til next Friday for that.

Dancing shoes

Thursday, 11 August 2011

The Benefits Of A Long (ish) Engagement....

.... it gives you time to collect lots of beautiful things for your mismatched, pretty vintage wedding.

Sam and I are on the hunt for the final few teacups ready to make teacup candles for our friends' wedding in November. Yay crafts!

It's harder to find this stuff than you think. Happily, the bride is also a charity shop compulsive (is there a support group for us?), and between us we're nearly at target. I've really enjoyed the excuse to go on a tour of various outposts of Leeds, although we've come back with a ton of other highly unnecessary stuff  including a Super-Ted keyring, a pair of awful pink jeans and a cat-flap. Actually, the cat-flap was a bit of a find...but, a cat flap is definitely not a teacup.

It's all made me thankful we didn't need to do too much hunting for second-hand pretties for our own wedding. Apparently, when Sam and I are placed in a room with a load of cheap tat for sale, we feel compelled to buy everything apart from the item we went in for.

If anybody sees me trying to buy pink jeans again, you have permission to drag me out of the shop by my hair.

Anyway, teacups ahoy! We'll let you know how we get on with the candles. If we don't cock it up (DEFINITELY not an option on Sam's watch) I'll post a tutorial.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011


There's a lot of people out there at the moment taking what they want, without thought for the consequences. Not just the looters and rioters, but also the government and the idiots in the banking industry who have got us into this mess in the first place.

What about the rest of us, stuck in the middle of  it all? The peace marchers and street clean-up teams? 

I suggest we have our own revolution. A revolution of biscuits. If I could come to each one of your houses and make these beauties for you I would. But as there is only one of me, I will simply assure you that these are incredibly easy and fast to make. And incredibly easy and fast to eat up, with a big smile on your face. 

Go on. Indulge without a thought for the consequences. Fill your boots. Maybe we'll get Cameron and the hoodies to join us, and national peace will be restored as we all sigh, united in our contended sugar crash.

Caramac Cookies

(you can swap the Caramac chips for your favourite chocolate bar - it also works with Toblerone, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, whatever you like)

100g soft vegetable margarine
100g caster sugar
150g plain flour (self-raising is ok too)
1 tsp vanilla essence
75g of Caramac chocolate chopped into pieces

Preheat oven to 200 degrees

Beat the sugar and marg together

Add vanilla and Caramac chips, then slowly stir in the flour

Roll into small balls and space out on greaseproof paper on two or three baking sheets

Bake for 8-10 minutes - don't worry if they look a bit wobbly when you take them out, they'll get solid as they cool and they're SO much better soft and chewy.

Best eaten within 24 hours - or seal them *tight* in a container to stop them from drying out.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Start Spreading The News....

....we're leaving todaayyyy

...Oh OK, in four weeks time. Doesn't have quite the same ring. But still....


 We can see the lights from Armley.... if we squint a bit

Four weeks today we will be at Manchester airport, about to embark on our first proper big holiday together. This may seem like a lengthy stretch to you, but not to us. We can see our dream adventure in the distance now, like an enormous pastrami sandwich on the horizon. It has been four long years of no big holidays, now it is four short weeks til we get to have a BREAK.

And some fun. And lots of beer.

I'm currently knee-deep in lists of things we might want to do. But you can't beat a good personal recommendation. I'm eagerly seeking hot tips and advice.

We want to steer away from the tourist stuff (I've been a few times before and done all that to death, Sam is simply not bothered) but we like the idea of doing the more pop-culture/counter-culture cool tourist stuff (like checking out the Ghostbusters building, doing live band karaoke and going to the Jim Henson exhibition that's on while we're over there) as well as trying to live as much like locals as anybody reasonably can in NYC. We're spending four nights in Manhattan, and five nights in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Friends, readers, lurkers, whoever you may be...

...give your best tips unto me!

Small sad voice that I won't be around for a certain party though.... *cries* girls better take a ton of pictures!

Monday, 8 August 2011

Stuff Nobody Tells You About Weddings Part Two: Alcohol

I was very nervous about the fact that I would lose all dignity on our big day and be The Drunk Bride.

Put aside for a moment the concept that maybe it would be perfectly acceptable in this 21st century of ours to be a tipsy lady swinging from the light fittings in joy at the fact that she has just married the man of her dreams.

This is definitely a strong point. But, for me, it was beside the point.

I just didn't want to make a tit of myself in front of so many family members.

The thought of my lovely but very boozy friends and my slightly conservative family meeting in a This Is Your Life style gave me terrors. How was I supposed to keep up the good-little-demure-girl persona I paraded in front of relatives old and new after a full day of drinking gin and bubbles? Surely the mask was bound to slip. Every time I closed my eyes I had this terrifying image of my parents shooting laser-beam stares of disapproval as I downed another shot and bogled* to Boom-Shack-A-Lack, oblivious to the shame I was bringing down upon myself.

But -astoundingly- on the day itself I did not feel drunk once.

I must have had a drink in my hand constantly for twelve hours. But the sheer power of the adrenalin coursing through my body seemed to counterbalance every sip. That and being so bamboozled by what was going on that I kept putting my drink down and losing it.

At the end of the day, I did not feel even tipsy.  It was like I had donned a magic cloak of invincibility in the face of alcohol for the entire day. Even two extremely potent cocktails in the hotel bar just made me feel sleepy. All family members went home with mental image of an angelic -albeit slightly frazzled- bride. No robot dancing (well, only a little. I love to robot). Party times had - and no disgraceful behaviour.

So, ladies and gentlemen, take it from me -and other wedded friends have confirmed similar experiences - try as you might, you will not get drunk at your wedding.


Actually - you never know. Best put your best knickers on just in case you end up flashing them during the Thong Song. It's always kinda fun to be just a tiny bit disgraceful.

All images by BlackEyeSpecialist
 *If you have never bogled, or are unfamiliar with the concept of bogling, you need to watch Spaced.. In fact, we should all go and watch Spaced now. It's pretty much always a good idea.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

I Must Not, I Must Not, I Must Not....

...tickle my husband's feet in the morning. Even though it's not fair that I have to get up for work today and he doesn't. very tempting....

Have a great weekend, wherever your feet may be taking you....

Friday, 5 August 2011

My Mum

Only my amazing mother would get married in an Edwardian wedding dress with a flipping parasol in the middle of London in the swinging 60s. Styling!

My mum and I love clothes. I only wish she'd kept more of her incredible wardrobe from the 60s and 70s. Although I would have been able to do nothing but gaze longingly at it, as she is dinky Kylie proportions, and I am Giantessa. Sometimes she regales me with tales of awesome outfits she and her friend Bloon used to swap, or about how she shopped at Biba in '64 when it was still a tiny shop on Abingdon Road *goes into fashion headspin*

Of course we still love to shop together now, but I'm not sure Newark TK Maxx has quite the same cachet as the King's Road did in the 1960s. I wish I could time travel back and go shopping with them. It must have been amazing.

She still has the parasol shown in the picture above, and I was going to use it on my own wedding day before I chose my dress (trust me- it would have been TOO too much). I really need to get her to keep hold of it though.... just in case she ends up with a stylish little grandaughter one day.

PS. Mother of the Bride to the left of frame ALSO working her look! Chic Grandma!

PPS. Wedding dress actually from Miss Selfridge - £12. I have clearly also inherited Mum's love of a bargain.

PPS. Looking at this picture you can see I am a tall freak in a family of tiny people. As a guide, my Dad is 5'8". LOOK HOW SMALL THEY ARE!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Dear Brides

Being engaged is ace. But you'll know by now that wedding planning can also be a hurricane that comes and sweeps you off your feet, and from time to time you might forget which end is up.

So, to my awesome friends who are about to be married (eeeek), and any other engaged lovelies who happen to be reading. I just want to say....

...if you're worried the Etsy bill is getting out of control....if your fingers have turned into claws from pinking shears....if you're mother's aunt's sister's cousin has got the hump because the reception venue is too far from the church....if the dress you chose didn't make your mother cry....if the long range forecast is giving you palpitations....if your incessant reading of wedding blogs and their perfect weddings is edging you into self-doubt....if your bridesmaids are in a hissy because they don't DO strapless...if you have a thousand friends who should know better who still haven't RSVP'd.... if you're still not quite sure your shoes/jewellery/dress/table plan/DJ/centrepiece/cake/favours/caterer is The One ...

...and it just feels like time is running out....

....take a moment. Put your feet back on the floor. Look down. Are those feet on the floor? Yes they are.

Whatever your fears are, let them go. Just for a minute.

 Image from Newsabridged

All of this is tiny stuff. It really is. You are getting married.


How amazing is that?

Hang in there.

It will all be worth it in the end. I triple-promise.


Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Lustful Thoughts

Wonder how my bank manager would feel about taking a walk on the wild side....

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Under Pressure

This weekend, I went to a family (in-laws) party where a number of the gathered masses have apparently assumed that because I have married their eldest boy I am now automatically quite pregnant/very pregnant/very much trying to be pregnant. Two months - boom! I'm not sure why they think I would have the first clue what to do with a child if it came out of me, or be any sort of good at raising it. Yet still, comments ranged from the subtle, through the overt to the ridiculous.

I know we are supposed to tolerate this with good humour, but really? I know these people are my family, and I kinda knew this was in the post, but I'm still not keen. I used to quite like these folks. Now I just feel uncomfortable around them. That is a shame.

As the toddling child of a colleague of my aunty-in-law stumbled past me, I wondered if I should come up with a strategy to help the dear in-laws realise just how unsuitable a mother I am. Like....

1. If confronted with any child under the age of 2, push them into the garden pond.

2. If confronted with any child under the age of 5, teach them every swear I know and then get them to recite every one to the oldest/most easily offended member of the gathering.

3. If no children present, simply declare I am stepping outside for a cigarette, then proceed to stand on the patio puffing on a spliff the size of a traffic cone whilst swigging on a bottle of meths.

4. If confronted with any child under the age of 10, get them to join me in the above. Then, when I'm bored of that, push them into the garden pond.

Really though, ladies, is this just me? How do we deal with this? Should we grin and put up with it?

Isn't it all... well....none of anybody else's business?

 Maybe I should play them at their own gane by hiding under an exceptionally large neon orang-utan costume at all times. she.... isn't way of knowing without tickling me with a banana.....

Monday, 1 August 2011

Stuff Nobody Tells You About Weddings Part One: Throwing The Bouquet

I think the Americans got it right here. It really is a bouquet toss, not a throw. Do not think of the word throw as in "throw the rounders ball" or "throw the discus". Otherwise your bouquet will soar metres above the heads of your eager single friends and land in the very far corner of the room. Then a small child will bring the battered blooms back to you, and deposit them obediently at your feet. Like a gundog with a dead duck.

On a day full of emotion, your tearful mind will read something prophetic into this, such as "your marriage is not going to be the sort of one anybody else would ever want. Or be able to catch."

All it will really mean is, you were the best at javelin in your year.

Repeat after me:

Don't be a hurler.

Be a tosser.

Can you see the flowers? Honestly, did anyone really stand a chance?