|Cows saying hello. By my friend Kristen|
So, I should probably have posted this earlier, but I was a little distracted, what with all the BEING ON ROCK MY WEDDING and everything (more of that to come, by the way. I haven't forgotten that I promised you kazoos).
Some of you were kind enough to wish me a happy weekend after I mentioned I was going to spend it with two of my favourite ladies (the eagle-eyed among you will have spotted them on RMW as Blonde Bridesmaid and the less catchy Light-Brown-Haired Bridesmaid). I thought it would only be polite to let you know how we got on. I can confirm that it was, indeed, fabulous. Here's a brief rundown:
Walks taken: One (with bonus crazy dog, courtesy of Blonde Bridesmaid).
Cows met on said walk: Bazillions
Scones eaten: NONE! I know. I was disappointed too.
Wine consumed: Lots. (Red, white AND pink. I'm such a tart.)
Dancing: None. Sigh. There was some wrestling though.
Shots of rum taken: Several. Which is several more than I had anticipated, considering we never left the flat.
Moaning: Some (mostly connected to the after-effects of the shots of rum, if I'm honest).
Best of all, Light-Brown-Haired Bridesmaid, a.k.a. my photographer friend Kristen of What Kristen Saw, had her camera on hand to document the hilarity. Well, actually, she was too busy drinking homemade cocktails to document the hilarity, but she did document the walk, and she's popped some of the pictures up on her blog - you should go and visit. Tell her I said hi.
She also took some pictures JUST FOR MY BLOG! My first ever blogging collaboration! Ok, it's with my real-life friend who I've known since I was 13, but It. Still. Counts. I'll be putting them up later this week - exciting times.
Hope you all had fabulous weekends filled with rum, cows and wrestling (see, that's way better than scones!).
The Hubster and I are over on Rock My Wedding today!! This is the happiest day of my life!! Um, apart from that other day. Obviously.
I was completely obsessed with RMW when planning the wedding - I even had a direct RSS feed on my work intranet home page, so I could get immediate access to every single post as it went up. I'm pretty sure the RSS widget was meant to be used for the Financial Times and suchlike, but whatever.
After the wedding I wrote RMW's Charlotte this crazy, rambling email about the wedding and how so much of it had been inspired by RMW and how I never thought our wedding would be nice enough to be featured and anyway another RMW bride had already worn my dress bla bla bla - I'm pretty sure she thought I was insane. But she is far too sweet to say that, and after telling me
to stop being such a mentalist not to worry that the dress had been featured before, she writes the blog and wouldn't even have remembered, and anyway it looked totally different on me, the immortal lines were uttered:
"We would LOVE to feature your wedding. How could we NOT want to feature such a gorgeous W-day??"
"We would LOVE to feature your wedding. How could we NOT want to feature such a gorgeous W-day??"
Oh Charlotte. *Blush.* You are too kind. I heart you even more now.
Of course this is all down to the fabulously wonderful photographs taken by Cara and Nye, a.k.a. Lillian and Leonard, a.k.a. wedding geniuses of epic proportions. Thanks guys.
Also all of our amazing family and friends who helped us put everything together - and especially my lovely mum - we could never ever have done it without you, there's not even any question, so thank you, thank you, thank you a million times.
|Lovely photo by my lovely friend Kristen|
This weekend, I am going up to a place a little north of where I live, to hang out with two of my favourite ladies.
Walks will be taken, scones will be eaten, wine will be drunk. We will chatter and gossip, and admire each other's shiny new purchases and crafting triumphs.
We'll moan about our jobs, our lives, our wardrobes; there will be questions and encouragement and thoughtful observations.
There may be some dancing. There will certainly be some hilarity. Boys' ears will burn.
I can't wait.
|The ladies in question. Photos by me (Drunk. Clearly.)|
Wishing you all a weekend of gossip, hilarity and scones. See you on the flipside.
|Happiness. Via urbancitylife's flickr|
I suspect this post is going to make yesterday's look all flippant and cheap. Oh well. Hey ho.
As I mentioned before, my first stop on the train to Blogland was in the tulle-filled, bunting-laden land of the Wedding Blog. In fact, I'm still a frequent visitor to that particular area. It's all just so happy. Everyone is always gushing about the beautiful bride, the adoring groom, the wonderful family and supportive friends, the joyous act of committing yourself to another person for as long as you both shall live, etc etc. And I'm not ashamed to admit that I love it; with all the sorrow and despair in the news every day, there is something very uplifting in reading about all these loved-up young things, starting off their married lives full of hope and happiness and fruit cake.
I've also now added quite a few "married blogs" (for want of a better term) to my blogreader – women who, like me, have done the wedding thing and are slowly moving on from that place, but aren't quite ready to catch the express train to Mommyblogging just yet (I don't love that word either, but let's go with it for now). Married life isn't all sunshine and roses - it's just life, after all - but there's still plenty of happy talk among the married ladies too. Happy, happy, happy.
However. On Tuesday, as I was merrily scrolling through my usual fare of quirky bridesmaid attire, exciting married adventures and portable air organs, I came to a post from Maggie Mason, she of Mighty Girl. She had bad news, she wrote. She and her husband were separating.
|Via Bethan's flickr|
I only started reading Maggie's blog very recently, so it's not as if I was emotionally invested in their relationship, but nevertheless I felt genuinely sad as I read her post – sad for her, for her husband and her son, of course, but also ever so slightly shaken by the realisation that all in Blogland is not as rosy it first appears. So much of what I read every day is – or seems to be – built upon the perception of marriage as something to be prized and desired, an essential component of personal happiness. I suppose I had foolishly imagined that, along with all those other brides and newlyweds and marrieds, I could tick "Find person to spend rest of life with" off my life list. Done, dusted.
But of course, it's not that simple. Even back in seemingly safe Wedding Blog territory, heartache can be hovering just beyond each beautifully lit, perfectly composed shot. A friend of mine recently got engaged and I sent her my usual 10,000-word email with suggestions for blogs to check out, one of which was the inimitable Rock n' Roll Bride. My friend replied that a couple she knew had actually had their wedding featured on Rock n' Roll Bride towards the end of last year! OMG! Except, and I quote, "They have now split up. Ouch. But lovely day."
I went back and looked at the wedding in question, which for obvious reasons I won't link to here, and I remembered that when it was first featured I had thought it so cool, so stylish, the couple so glamorous. It's heartbreaking to think that even now other brides could be admiring her dress or her flowers, might have saved the link to their inspiration folder, while in real life that fledgling marriage has collapsed into nothing but recriminations and disappointment*.
|Via anniebee's flickr|
Just before I decided to start this blog (and the timing is probably not a coincidence), The Bloggess wrote a post about fellow blogger, wife and and young mum, Lori, whose husband had just committed suicide. He had what can only be described as a psychotic episode and hanged himself, right in front of her. It's impossible to imagine how this woman must have felt, must still be feeling, and I won't even try here. What struck me, however, was the immediate and immense outpouring of love and concern that rose up in response to this awful thing. As well as countless messages of support and sympathy on her blog, a fund was set up for her and her children, to which complete strangers donated. Lori's decision to keep blogging through and about her grief has, perhaps, polarised opinion, but there can be no doubt of the support she has received via her own blog and the wider blogging community. It might be hard to read, but it's honest, and people respond to that. The hundreds of responses to Maggie's post about her separation tell a similar story.
When I began writing here, I didn't make any conscious decisions about how much I was prepared to share, or where I would draw the boundaries. I suppose I thought that I could deal in generalisations, and hints, and glossing over, and wouldn't have to give too much of myself away. But it turns out I'm not too great at self-censorship. There are parts of my life that are great – romantic trips to Rome, getting involved with Fringe by the Sea – and there are parts that aren't so great – my mum has cancer, my husband's a homicidal maniac – and to write about one part wouldn't make any sense without writing about the other. I don't know whether I would feel the same if I ever found myself in a situation like Maggie's or Lori's, though. Of course, I hope I never have to find out.
|Via emdot's flickr|
In the last two days, I have received two of the nicest emails ever. Hopefully the ladies in question won't mind me mentioning. The first was from the lovely Lucy (who is starting her own wedding photography business!) and the second was from Clare, of the fabulous Any Other Wedding (who actually featured Lucy's beautiful wedding – oh it's all very incestuous in Blogland). The fact that these two amazing and talented women took the time to write me such warm, encouraging and downright hilarious emails, all because they had read my wee blog, put a massive smile on my face (two people in two days!! Best two days ever!). It also gave me some much-needed confidence to carry on with my own random combination of the pretty, the witty and the gritty (ooh! New tag line? Hmm, maybe not).
So where am I going with all this? I suppose I just wanted to say that my thoughts are with Maggie this week. And thank you to all you lovely people who have commented on here, or tweeted me, or (eek!) sent me an email. So far, I'm really quite enjoying this blogging malarkey. I think I'll keep it up.
*Obviously, not every marriage that ends does so acrimoniously. But this particular one sounded like a total car crash. Lies, cheating. Sad, sad story.
No, don't worry, I'm not going to try and give you advice on how to have a happy marriage. I mean, I've only been married for seven months. There's no way I have the wisdom or experience to even consider trying to advise someone else. That would be crrrrazy!
So. Let's ask a bunch of eight-year-olds instead!
|Advice for a Happy Marriage: From Miss Dietz's Third-Grade Class|
I ordered this book in the midst of a mildly irrational panic over our wedding guest book. I have a weird pathological hatred of traditional guest books, partly because it's hard enough to think what to write in a wedding card so having to think of *another* congratulatory message after a few glasses of fizzy is even worse, and partly because it really, really bothers me that you might end up with loads of empty pages left over in the back of the book (told you it was weird). I had a vague idea that people could write in the margins of a picture book, so even if there were pages left over at least they wouldn't be blank. In the end we didn't use it (one of many discarded ideas) but I found the book the other day, and it has some really quite useful advice.
See? Practical, honest and *totally* achievable. Bonus points for the helpful illustrations.
I suspect that having triplets and staying wealthy may be mutually exclusive. But how did they know the Hubster used to have sideburns like that?
Of course, some of the advice is genuinely quite sweet. Like this one:
Awww. (If you're the bride, you might also want to shave off your big red beard before the wedding. Just a suggestion.)
Some are more blunt than others:
Fair enough. I'm not that into polygamy either.
I love this one:
I would just have solved this problem by saying no to marrying someone who didn't like hot dogs (because what sort of freak doesn't like hot dogs??*).
Finally, this particular child has hit the nail on the head. If there is one tip that is guaranteed to lead to a long and happy marriage, it is this:
Some excellent advice. Thank you, Miss Dietz's third grade class, for your words of wisdom.
|Bunnies. Just because. Via captainsubtle's flickr|
This is not the only fascinating source of marriage advice I found in my bookshelves. Come back for next week's instalment, in which Mrs Dorothy Stote shall advise the modern bride on such important topics as "Should you wear a girdle?" and "Making the kitchen attractive" (not making this up)...
*Ok, I stopped eating hot dogs when I read the magic words "mechanically-recovered chicken" on the tin, but that doesn't mean I don't LIKE them...
Aww, you think. Bride and groom on a beautiful beach, sharing a special moment together. How lovely.
But - there's something weird about it. I can't quite put my finger on it...
Wait a minute. What is that expression on the groom's face? Why is he looking at me like that??
Have you ever seen a more EVIL EYE in all your life?!?
Either he's plotting to bump me off and finally get his hands on all my wordly possessions (really not worth it), or Cara has just said something seriously offensive. Like saying the new Star Wars films are better than the old ones, or saying Morrissey is not a "proper poet", or something equally heinous.
I kind of hope it's Cara. But if this blog suddenly stops, you know who to blame...
Genuinely terrifying photo by Lillian and Leonard. Thanks guys.
The Hubster is a Worrier. He worries all the time about everything, always has, ever since I've known him. I, on the other hand, am a fixer, a soother, a Positive Person. In the Mr & Mrs video my fabulous bridesmaids put together for my hen party, he said his favourite thing about me is that I am "a ray of sunshine on a rainy day". Aww. (He also, when asked what type of animal I would be, responded "a sexual animal". Which is (a) not a type of animal, (b) not particularly accurate, and (c) quite awkward to hear when sitting in between his sister and his mother.)
Recently, however, he has been uncharacteristically content, while I have been decidedly gloomy and unsunny. I find it hard to talk about the things that are worrying me, because I'm not used to it. It's not my style. I'm all about the bright side.
But *apparently* that's not particularly healthy. So, here goes.
I'm worried about my mum. I don't mean in the ongoing, general dull dread kind of way. I mean, I'm specifically worried because she's in hospital with an infection, hooked up to antibiotics, reading month-old copies of Hello magazine and sharing a room with a woman who spends the day noisily hacking up buckets of phlegm every five minutes. I'm worried my mum might start throwing things at phlegm lady if she doesn't get out soon.
I'm worried one of us is going to be accidentally crushed to death under the European Ironing Mountain that has overtaken our spare bedroom.
I'm worried that there is no such thing as a job that is fulfilling and well-paid. Hubster and I each have one or the other in our jobs, but neither of us has both. (All suggestions welcome, by the way.)
I'm worried that by the time my future children are grown, there will be no tigers in the forests and no fish in the sea.
I'm worried that I'm developing a serious addiction to Dominos pizza (TWICE IN ONE WEEK, PEOPLE!).
I'm worried that I may have just agreed to run in the Edinburgh Marathon relay. I'm partly worried I will collapse halfway through from sheer un-fitness and let my team down, but I'm mainly worried that this will not be compatible with my Dominos pizza addiction.
I'm worried I'm worrying too much.
I'm worried I'm worrying too much.
Mine tend to be pretty much the exact opposite of what I actually wore.
Well, not the exact opposite.
They're still on the ivory(ish) spectrum, still scream "I'M A BRIIIIIIIIDE!!!".
Still look good with an ice cream in one hand (very important).
I loved my wedding dress.
But some days I dream of swirling and twirling and burying myself
But some days I dream of swirling and twirling and burying myself
in a million layers of tulle.
(east side bride has a much cooler take on this game.)
3. Stephanie Allin Bardot
It's not okay.
Are you aware that your question could essentially be rephrased as, "So, having lots of unprotected sex?" or "So, you've been married for a while and still no baby - fertility problems?"
Do you *really* want to know the answer to either of those questions?
If you're my very, very good friend, and we're having a private discussion (preferably involving wine) about, say, the interaction between having children and having a career, or whether my mum being ill has affected our thinking on having children (newsflash: it kind of affects our thinking on everything, so, duh) then I'll let you away with it.
Or if you're my doctor, ok. MAYBE.
But if you're a casual acquaintance, and we're down the pub?
It's. Not. Okay.
Love and kisses,
Me, on my first day in the big proper cot that my aunty bought me. My mum says I was sort of excited and terrified at the same time. I think the face says it all. Wasn't I cute?
I could talk about how FBTS has grown over the last three years, going from a couple of days in a soggy marquee to a week-long, multi-venue extravaganza. I could talk about how, in its first year, probably 50% of the performances included a member of my family; last year, it featured everything from folk heroes to theatrical divas, half-naked dance troupes to snarky comedians, witty authors and street poetry to blues, ska, jazz, opera, ukuleles and a one-man band (and, still, members of my family. Organiser's prerogative).
But what I want to talk about instead is community. Other than the three organisers, FBTS is staffed entirely by a troupe of local volunteers who are recruited, instructed, clothed and co-ordinated by my mum. Many are retired or fit their volunteer shifts around their working pattern, but there are some (me included) who take a whole week of precious annual leave off work, just to be a part of it. Last year the Hubster and I went straight from our honeymoon to FBTS without pausing for breath, which slightly counteracted the intensive relaxation of the previous fortnight, but it was SO worth it.
To give you some context, the harbour esplanade in North Berwick was once dominated by an outdoor swimming pool. Sheltered by the surrounding rock and filled with salty seawater from the Firth of Forth (latterly the water was chlorinated and vaguely warmed up, but still...), the pool was the beating heart of the town every summer. In its mid-century heyday it was home to swimming competitions and beauty contests, the benches packed with cheering locals and holidaymakers. Sunbathers would clamber up on the rocks, the older members of the family perhaps going as far as loosening their ties, while the more adventurous braved the chilly waters.
|Olive Trees (1889), Vincent Van Gogh|
Maybe it's the lingering effect of all the insanely beautiful art we were exposed to on our trip to Rome. Maybe it's just because it's free and we're skint (actually, blame that on Rome too). For whatever reason, the Hubster and I decided to go for a highly out-of-character wander around the National Gallery of Scotland on Saturday afternoon. It's not exactly the Sistine Chapel, but there are some quite nice bits and bobs in there.
|Lady Agnew of Lochnaw (1892), John Singer Sargent|
My favourites, big shocker, were in the Impressionist room (I know, I'm so original). But there is something about the way these paintings evoke the spirit, rather than the detail, of the scenes they portray; they speak to my soul in a way the meticulously rendered frescoes of the Vatican simply didn't.
|Before the Performance (about 1896-98), Edgar Degas|
When I was in high school, my mum and I went on a trip to Paris. It was my first visit to the French capital and the beginning of a lifelong affaire de cœur with the city (I think that might be where the Louboutin thing originated too, actually). I will always remember the awe I experienced in the Musée d'Orsay, seeing a Monet for the first time in REAL LIFE. It was awesome. Literally.
It's so easy to forget that such treasures are kept not only in Paris or Rome, but also in that big stone building that I pass by on the bus every morning.
|Woman Drying Herself (about 1890-95), Edgar Degas. Looks like a comfortable pose.|
If you live near a gallery or museum and haven't been in for a while (or, um, ever), I urge you to go and be a tourist for a day. It was a lovely way to fritter away an afternoon, with the added bonus of not having to spend €10 on a diet Coke afterwards. Which is nice.
All images from the National Gallery of Scotland's online collection.
This is, unbelievably, the ninth Valentine's Day that the Hubster and have spent together.
The first one, back when everything was new and uncertain and scary and exciting, we were both poor students. I was sharing a flat with three other girls at the time, but somehow I ended up with the flat to myself and we decided to splash out on a Chinese carry-out (our habit of marking special occasions with the cheap thrill of an illicit takeaway was established very early on).
I can't remember what I was wearing and I suspect it was probably hideous - 2003 wasn't a good year for me, clothes-wise - but I have no doubt I agonised over it for days before. While I waited, fluttery with excitement, for the Boyfriend (as he then was) to arrive, I lined the shabby hallway with cheap tea-lights and decorated my walls with heart-shaped pink post-its. The effect wasn't great, but I thought it was pretty damn stylish. He arrived, late (another habit that has regrettably persisted for both of us), clutching the steaming carry-out in one hand and an already-wilting bunch of early season red tulips in the other.
"I've brought you roses," he said, proudly.
Now we're newlyweds and, in some ways, everything is once again new and uncertain and scary and exciting. But, after nine Valentine's Days together, it is definitely less of an Occasion. I no longer feel the need to decorate the walls with pink heart-shaped post-its in honour of his arrival (although I do, in fact, still have some, should I feel so inclined). We won't give extravagant presents or go out for a wildly expensive meal at a fancy restaurant. People seemed to like giving us heart-shaped baking paraphernalia as engagement and wedding gifts - seeking, I suspect, that elusive balance between sentimentality and usefulness - so if he's very lucky I might attempt some sort of heart-shaped excuse for a cake. But we'll see.
Honestly, after all these years, I'd still be happy with nothing but a Chinese takeaway, my boy by my side and a bunch of floppy red tulips.
Wishing you all a truly yummy Valentine's Day. (Or just a happy Monday, if you're not Valentine-inclined.)
Images: 1. Via we heart it (original source unknown - if it's yours, let me know!) 2. Almost-roses via Preconscious Eye on flickr 3. Via ScrumptiousSally on flickr. Deliciousness.