Wednesday, 26 May 2010

A Month and a Ring.

Yup, (thanks Knot for bloody reminding me) it is one month to the day until blast off.
I'm half excited, can't-wait, try-wiping-that-grin-off-my-face; and half blind panic about how much there is still to do. (I daren't tell you how many things - it makes me sort of blink a lot!)

So to distract me from that, let me tell you a little story. A story about my future husband - Nick - and the ring trilogy.

chapter 1 - a borrowed ring
It was late 2008, and Nick was looking at rings.
He looked but couldn’t picture any of the millions of platinum solitaires before him upon the hand of his best lady-friend. So he stopped looking and instead he borrowed his late grandmother's old emerald ring, polished it up and, surreptitiously procuring a needle and thread, sewed into the pocket of his trousers (so it wouldn’t get lost or pinched on the journey ahead.*)After a quick word with his best lady-friend's father about his plans, Nick hopped on a plane to Brazil, lady-friend by his side. They celebrated Christmas, and they celebrated their friends wedding, and then, just before they celebrated New Year, he unpicked his careful stitching and gave the emerald ring to his best lady-friend, asking if she wouldn't mind being his lady-wife. He hastily added that this ring was just a temporary place holder but of course she was too happy, tearful, jumping over waves and dancing to really care**.

[Blurry but happy on a Brazilian beach]
(Because the question he asked and the answer she gave were what really made them so happy and a ring is just a pretty symbol.)

Chapter 2 - no ring, no pressure
On their return to cold, wintery England, they took themselves down Hatton Garden and tried on lots of rings***. Then the future lady-wife said to Nick that now he knew what suited her, the final choice should be his alone.
Well then, as you know, businesses started tightening their belts because of Crunchy Crash and Nick and his lady-friend had to do the same. So she told him not to worry about rings and things - food and bills were more important for now - remember; his question and her answer were what really made them happy.
Seventeen months went by and lots of exciting plans were made and every now and then Nick's lady-friend had to remind herself not to grow too attached to the emerald ring on her finger that was just a temporary symbolic thing for what really made them happy.

Chapter 3 - Ring-a-ding-aling
Then one sunny Monday night, while his lady-friend poached haddock in milk and butter, Nick felt a bit restless and excited. He told himself he should be waiting for a really special moment but he just couldn't. So he told his lady-friend to wash the fish scales and greasy butter off her hands right now because he was too excited and couldn't wait a moment longer!!
So she washed her hands and then held them out and closed her eyes and when she'd done that he took his Grandmother’s ring off her finger and replaced it with a new one. And his lady-friend suddenly couldn't open her eyes - seventeen months was just too long a build up and she felt a bit queasy. But open them she eventually did and was astonished to find the most beautiful, most sparkliest, glitteriest thing she had ever seen attached to the third finger of her left hand - and it was hers to keep forever!

And because she couldn't stop staring at it, nor stop being amazed that he had designed it all by himself in total secret and couldn't stop telling Nick that it was so so worth the wait, and because neither of them could stop reminiscing about the question asked and the answer given on a beach in Brazil, and how really happy they were, the milk boiled and the fish over cooked.

But, for once, I didn't care.

[just can't seem to take a picture that does it justice
and I'm aware that this looks like I have a lightsaber attached to my hand
but hopefully you get the idea - sparkly!]

*This might seem an odd thing to do - but it's very Nick, so there you are.
**Not just randomly jumping – in Brazil on NY eve you have to jump over seven waves at midnight for good luck – as if I needed any more!
***This is when I discovered that most rings, particularly platinum ones, or ones with the stones in a row, or square cut, or too standy-up, make my hands look like spiky whitchy claws. Nick has managed to design one of the only rings I’ve ever worn that give my hands anything even vaguely approaching elegance.

all pictures mine (apologies for the quality)

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

40 days and 40 nights

that's all there is to go ... holy crap!**

Although thinking about it, when I give up chocolate for lent, forty days seems like ages.

And with that tenuous link I thought I'd mention a few things about our church wedding...

[our little church where we are getting wedded]

I've mentioned before that we're getting married in the little church in our local village in Italy and because I am a Catholic we can do the whole ceremony, including all the legal bits, right there in church on the day.*

The Deacon there has been so sweet and helpful and he found us an English speaking priest based nearby who would perform the service for us.

We were pretty nervous about meeting him. The service is after all the most important part of the whole shebang and the officiating priest can make a huge difference. For example, it’s up to him whether we have communion during the service or not (we really didn’t want it as it would make the service so long). We also had another unorthodox request - we really wanted my mother’s cousin, who is a priest and knows us both well, to have a part in the service, preferably doing the sermon. Thing is, he’s a Lutheran priest not RC. Would this priest be ok with that? I couldn’t see why not since it’s all the same God after-all, but you never know. Nick managed to convince himself that our guy would turn out to be a real fire and brimstone ‘you’re all going to hell’ kind of dude, would speak with a incomprehensible drawl and generally steamroll his way over everything ... and we had no alternative!

So yes, we were nervous about meeting him.

Father Brian turned out to be an Augustinian friar based in San Gimignano. Originally from Boston but living in Italy for nearly forty years, he has a really calm and easy going demeanour - we both immediately felt we were in the safest pair of hands. He loved the idea of Mama’s cousin being involved and gave us a pretty free reign with the order of service. And my parents liked him because he was an academic and chatted about history and architecture - as we left his Cloisters my mother said ‘never mind him being your priest, I want him as friend!’

So nerves all gone and sighs of relief sighed (or excited jumping up and down in my case.) And a bit of quirkiness for our guests: an American Catholic priest doing all the weird and wonderful bells and smells stuff we do, and a German Lutheran priest, with his funny ruff collar and a very personal homily.

So now we’ve chosen our readings and our readers. We’re doing traditional vows. We’ve chosen our entrance music. We've picked a few hymns which we need to narrow down to three. Just need to find some recessional music (all suggestions welcome!)

*(Unfortunately Italian state doesn't recognise weddings of other denominations hence most English people marrying in Italy have to do a registry office ceremony beforehand.)

**OK - now it's 39. I wrote this yesterday but didn't get around to publishing as something rather exciting happened yesterday. Will fill you in anon.

Friday, 14 May 2010


Nick's off on his Stag Do. He doesn't know where he's going - it's a surprise - but knowing his best-men, a weekend of hedonism and shenanigans that I would rather not know about, lie ahead. Ah well, as long as he's having a good time and comes home in one piece!

Speaking of Stags - does everyone already know about It's that shockingly rare thing - a good wedding website for boys - woh! And not only that - it's British (double rarity!) Everything I've seen before, if not just a condescending 'corner' on very female orientated sites, is either "how to put up with the crazy Bridezilla" or has "we're Crrrrazy! beer! tits!, polyester suits!" features. Charming...

But iamstaggared is grownup without being bland, just the right side of metrosexual, has some pretty good advice, like on confident speech giving, some stuff for bestmen and fathers, and most pertinently, stag-do damage limitation control. Nick likes the site but I can't be sure he's read that last one...

Meanwhile I'm watching Audrey in a Givenchy wedding dress (she, not me) and painting my toe nails, trying to resist the chocolate pudding in the fridge* and sort of relishing having the flat to my girly self just for a little bit.

*I failed, of course
** suddenly realised this comes off as a bit of sales pitch - it isn't, I promise.

Monday, 10 May 2010

The last ten days ... achievements of a skatter-brained Bride-to-be

Friday 30-APR-10
Wake hung-over. Nick immured by food-poisoning. Fail to mop his brow or administer sympathy.
Bad future-wife.
Take train Clapham to collect invitation
. Wrong proof has been printed.
Unable to argue due to hangover.
Bad bride-to-be.
Curse heavy bag of wrong invitations, s
ick boyfriend, the chemist and Clapham station.
Bad Bad Bad.
Cause Mother’s tears when I call about wr
ong invitations. Leave message with Father begging him to dry mother’s tears and remonstrate with printers.
Bad daughter.
Provide chicken soup and some haphazard brow mopping for boyfriend.
Plan to at least address all envelopes for
Reward myself for being a bit less bad b
y watching Julie/Julia. (Possible new favourite film.)

Saturday 1-MAY-10

Sun out and everything much better with the world.
Decide to celebrate our anniversary (it’s around now, can never remember exact date) by taking a trip to Borough Market.
Spend silly money on fancy cheeses and venison and capers.
Try on wedding rings. Decide a plain gold band is "the one".
Once home, make final decisions on wedding rea
dings and hymns and order presents for bridesmaids.
Sunday 2-MAY-10
Torrential rain.
Depart in car for parent’s house (wonder if boat might be better option.)
At parent’s, eat Chicken with home-grown veg, apple charlotte, cold beers and warm fire. Mmmm.

Finally settle down to envelope writing.
Have first argument about how to address envelopes.
Have first fit of uncontrollable laughter about a story regarding one of the addressees.

Have second argument about how to address envelopes.
Decide to stick with convention when addressing envelopes - might not be everyone’s cup of tea but you can’t please everyone and life’s too short to try.
Mother realises she isn’t so sure about Germa
n conventions; Father not totally sure about British ones.
Decide to just make it up as we go along. How long do people look at an envelope anyway? And we can just blame it on being foreign either way...
By 9pm we’ve finally finish writing, laughing, arguing, reminiscing and writing again.

Sleep all the way home in the car. Bad co-pilot.

Monday 3-MAY-10

More rain.
Book ferry to France and back as we're driving to wedding. (Should have been done months ago - oops!)
Smother our living room in maps of Italy and
other miscellaneous bits of Europe as we plan our route/routes.
Cancel previously planned honeymoon - we’re now going to Sardinia instead. (Much better - woop woop!)

Tuesday 4-MAY-10
Courier lots of very important documents to the Deanery in Italy. (Cross our fingers.)
Fax other important documents to British C
onsulate in Florence. (More crossed fingers.)
Email planned order of service to prie
st for approval.
Scan pictures for photobooth project.

Wednesday 5-MAY-10
Mother attends flower arranging course. Applaud her greatness.
Badger sister about drawing us a map to go in with the invitations.
Have what is supposed to be the final dress fitting. Ask for a few more tweaks. Feel sad not to be taking dress home.
Stress about hairstyles. (How should I have
my hair?) Stress about shoes (still haven’t got shoes!)
Relive stress by cooking and dancing with husband-to-be.

Thursday 6-MAY-10
Final and correct invitations delivered to work. Swoon at their beauty.
Ask a friend to film our wedding on Super 8 since he’s pretty professional with a camera. He’d be delighted. Applaud his greatness with some Chablis!
Friday 7-MAY-10

Make plans for wedding cake baking with aunt.
Sister sends map she’s designed. Declare it to be the best map that has ever existed in the history of maps. Nick and family concur and all applaud her greatness.
Stay at work late printing and guillotining
map.Saturday 8-MAY-10
Pick up mother’s 60th birthday surprise.
Blindfold mother - can she guess what it is? It
’s her little brother come all the way over from Berlin for the day! Hooray!!
Head to Selfridges to try on hats and possible outfits for ‘mother of the bride’. Love many hats.
Day ends with a surprise dinner in a crazy Austrian themed restaurant with more of mother’s friends. Lots more hoorays and applause for greatness all ‘round!
Sunday 9-MAY-10Stuff all the ****ing envelopes! Check and recheck.
Put right stamps on for UK, Germany, Italy, USA, Australia, Israel, Singapore, Turkey and India. Decide the taste of Royal Post Office stamps may linger on my tongue forever - yuk! And wonder why our envelopes taste of rice cakes. Hmm?

Hand deliver to all addressees living in West London.
Make more bunting.
Stress about shoes.
Confirm Hen plans with maid-of-honour.
Tweak, finalise and confirm wedding gift list.
Husband-to-be calls time out and orders pizza, movie and cuddle.

First picture found on Peonies and PolaroidsAll others from my phone so sorry if they're a bit crappy.

Friday, 7 May 2010

We took a stroll yesterday, my husband-to-be and I, to our polling station via the laundrette and under the almond trees that grow in what we locals refer to as "dog poo alley" (so twee no?)

The trees are now a lot less blossomy than they were a week ago.

After a moments silence:

him: Hon, I was just thinking about the, um, er ...

(cue frown and a weird sort of sweeping/batting arm wave motion)

me: election?
chilled west london vibe?
laundrette ticket?

him: no! (a bit annoyed at future wife trying to guess the end of every sentence)

him: you know - the um, stuff you throw ... confetti!

me: confetti? what about it?

him: don't you think we could collect some of this blossom to use at our wedding?

me: it is very confetti like

him: and there is loads of it!

me: (a moments thought - mostly how untypical a groom he is) I'm not really sold on having dogshit scented confetti ... but I like you're thinking.

him: perhaps we should have a tree like this in our garden

me: yes. perhaps we should.

Then we made some democratic Xs and went to the pub.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

The Itchy Year

Seven years ago a boy woke up on a bank holiday Monday, still fully dressed and with a hangover lurking somewhere, unsure of where he was or how exactly he had got there. However, the north London flat he found himself in had freshly brewed coffee so he stuck around and got to know the girl whose flat it was and who he had gallantly escorted home in the early hours.

Seven years later and he’s still drinking my coffee …

Thanks for seven lovely years ... the last time we celebrate this anniversary!