Thursday, 28 May 2009

On 'Bridezilla'


{Image by Max Wanger via 100 Layer Cake}

I love this photo; so still, so beautiful. A moment of calm in an otherwise busy day. Reminds me somehow of this image:

{Image of Campbell and his Bluebird at Daytona Beach, artist/source unknown}

The pose of the man reminds me of another painting or photo which is at the back of my mind but I somehow just cannot place it. Perhaps it was from one of our engagement cards.

This time in two weeks we shall leave for the wedding. This morning I logged onto to Twitter and Meg had written this:

"Here is the thing... it's not Bridezilla to cry and yell once or twice, it's human. F* the pressure to be a perfect idie bride. Eff it."

And, I totally agree. So many people have asked me if I've turned into Bridezilla yet. Reassured me that it's ok to turn that way because it's my day. Those are the comments most likely to make me behave that way, if I'm perfectly honest. I'm human. Sometimes things seem insurmountable, other times they don't. Things get done, compromises made, we feel our way along this path. It doesn't make me Bridezilla if occasionally I fall off the path and there is a moment or two of shouting or scrambling to get back onto it.

Wedding planning for me has been broken down into two parts. There is the event planning itself which is hard, wedding or not. People event plan as a full time job. It is a multi-sited event for 100 people over an entire day. There is lots to do. I should think that sometimes, just sometimes, event planners shout a little because something has gone wrong. Or they get upset. But this doesn't mean people call them Bridezilla. Because they're not. They are event planners. Which is how I have been looking at the day.

And then there is the wedding itself, the meaningful part, the why to the how. And that I have dealt with privately, with a little help from this blog and it's readers. Which is not stressful like event planning, but which is going to change our lives. The party is just the bonus.

And, just for the record, it's not my day. It's our day. And that's the way I intend to keep it.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Buttonholes

Buttonhole


{Image from Author's personal collection}

take one white carnation and
with a sprig of something from the garden
wrap together in tape
and pin

easy-peasy, looks beautiful.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Whilst at 11 months old she was attending weddings, he was laughing in his very sweet dungarees...

Dungarees
{Image from family photo album, photographer unknown}
And in 20 days, they will be getting married...

Rachel and Grandpa

26 years, 4 months and 6 days ago this girl attended her very first wedding. She was 6 days short of her first birthday.



Rachel aged 11 months


{Image from family photo album, photographer unknown}

In 20 days time she will attend her own.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Head Bands

head piece

{All photos from Author's personal collection}

Please excuse my bare face, dirty hair and distinct presence of clutter in my sitting room.

I have been creating headbands today. Above is my effort for the reception. I think I might add a peacock feather to fit in with the theme and make it look like the blue headband was a choice rather than simply one I had lying around.

The one below is for my 1920s themed hen party. It is only pinned at the moment so it might look a bit better when it is sewn together. Not quite sure that the ostrich feathers are what they would have used in the 20s but this excerise was all about recycling things from my sewing box rather than buying the perfect accessories. Teamed with pearls, clean hair, make-up and my vintage dress {which is more green than those photos suggest} I think it will look alright.

Hen Party Head Band

the kindness of strangers

this girl e-mailed a hire company a long time ago to hire items for the wedding. after numerous correspondence, she was made redundant and their wedding budget had to go further. instead of hiring matching glasses and beautiful cutlery she and her boy opted to borrow mismatched glasses from a local supermarket and use budget cutlery which doesn't look as nice but is ok and can be donated afterwards. today this girl closed her account with the hire company and received this e-mail as the final e-mail from the hire company:

{I quote her exactly, I hope she doesn't mind}

I do hope you get a job soon, it's not an easy time, I was made redundant, after 20 years in the Professional Theatre, back in January, I was lucky, after two months I landed this job here. I know nothing about catering only how to put on shows, but I love trying to make people events work.
You can still have a lovely wedding on a budget, I did many years ago, went to the registry got married, then the whole family came with us to the local Fish and Chip shop, even the customers were joining in the celebrations!
Good luck and very best wishes to you both.

this made this girl's day, yet another day when this girl had no temp work and felt that sometimes life could be an uphill battle. it offered hope, support, and another uplifting reminder that weddings are not about the cutlery or the details or the amount you spend, but the celebration of a public declaration of love between two people.

{and if you're getting married in the Devon area, South West Event Hire comes recommended. I don't know what their products are like(!), but I can vouch for their customer service}

This is England...



{All image from FredMarcus.com via Style Me Pretty}

This is England.
Our summers
often have more rain than shine.
My wellies are these wellies.
If in 23 days time we have more rain than shine
I shall wear my wellies which are these wellies
and look forward
to photos like these photos
which I rather like.

Video Idea?!

Brian & Eileen's Wedding Music Video. from LOCKDOWN projects on Vimeo.



via Cup of Jo

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Vintage Crockery

Mock Up Table

{Image from Author's personal collection}

Vintage cake plate used as a dinner plate
Vintage tea plate, cup and saucer from 3 different sets
a knife and fork for a hog roast, salads, rolls and stuffing
tea cup and saucer for a refreshing cup of tea
a starched white napkin to lay over the lap
tied with a custom dyed blue silk ribbon to match the bride's shoes.

Project 'Bunt' & Job Centres

'Project Bunt' I


{Image from Author's personal collection}

So here is 'project bunt' as it became known in all it's full and final glory despite the bad photo.

Other diy projects were relegated to the back burner this morning: I had to make a short trip to the job centre.

I do not like job centres. They are patronising. It is humiliating. You feel a failure {even though you know you're not}. You get sent on compulsory CV enhancement courses for professionals. You must sign on at 12.16 precisely otherwise your payment might be delayed {although you might not get anything at all, because you have a partner, and the application has to go to Glasgow, and if your temp job pays more than an average of £60 a week over 5 weeks, well, they reckon that's full time work, so you don't get any money at all} Still, an enlightening experience.

---

Anyone want any wedding planning doing instead? My rates are really reasonable... or some advertising. Those are even more reasonable. E-mail me if you're interested.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Shaping Up

If the wedding magazines are to be believed, I should have spent the past three or so months grooming in preparation for the wedding day.

Have I? Well, no, not really. I have been trying to get back in shape, post operation, by doing some yoga at home and, recently, at the gym {free trial} but I am in reasonably ok shape anyway, being a size 8-10 (US 4-6).

On the day I will be having my make-up done by a good friend of mine who is a professional make-up artist and also the manager of an excellent brand of make-up at a well known London department shop. I have been to see her at work several times and experimented with various colours and so forth. Fizz and I met in the desert in Morocco so we have a shared travel past along with a love of Nars cosmetics. We still need to have the final consultation/trial but I know I am in good hands.

I have decided however that on the day I am not going to see a hairdresser. I rarely get my hair cut and my last set of highlights have grown out. I have never really had a hugely well paid job and what little money I have had has gone on clothes and shoes and socialising rather than haircuts. I have also had two rather bad experiences regarding hairdressers and big events which has rather put me off involving one on a day when I don't really want any extra stresses.

{The first was when I booked a wash & blow dry before a ball I organised as I was setting up in the day and didn't have time to go home and change. The offered various things and then tried to charge me at least twice what I'd been quoted. And it looked terrible. At least I thought it did. Everyone else said it looked very nice. But I didn't believe them... The second was before another wedding when I asked for one thing and got another. Granted the situation was a little different and included language barriers and illness, but it put me off. Again, everyone said it looked nice. But I didn't like it.}

I am going to visit a hairdresser in the week after the hen party {perhaps the one that Marie recommended - sorry unable to look up links today, will come back and add later} and if I get some more temping work will try and get it highlighted too. If I don't have the money though it can't happen.

I am also going to try and have a wax, a pedicure and a manicure plus my eyebrows threaded in the week before the wedding if, again, I have the money. Otherwise I shall do my own pedicure, forgo the wax and pluck my own eyebrows. I will do my best to have the manicure regardless as everyone looks at the bride's hands and I have only ever had one other manicure {the day after we got engaged}.

Skin wise, I have been trying to remember to wash my make-up off every night before bed. M and I use a Liz Earle hot polish cleanser which is unisex and very effective but I have also bought a facial exfoliator (which is used twice a week) to try and reduce bumpy skin round my jawline. I have also been using a Moroccan hammam soap and mitt to try and help the rest of my skin look less dull {it improves blood circulation too, which is supposed to help you feel less tired}.

And finally, I decided it was time for a new fragrance. I have used the same Elizabeth Arden Green Tea since, well, forever. The last bottle M bought me for my 21st and there is a teeny tiny bit left. He offered to buy me a new one for a new stage in life and so I chose the new Chloe eau de toilette {which came with a lovely new make-up bag and mini perfume and body lotion too}. I have been wearing it for nights out and dinners and so on to get used to the new 'me' before the wedding!

My list doesn't seem to be getting any shorter...

...but we seem to be getting things done. My mother has done excellent work with logistics ensuring people can get too and from the reception. I just wish some of the guests would RSVP {in any form, we are beyond caring now whether it is done officially or not} to make her life easier.

My hen party is next week and everything has been paid for and the tea party finalised. I cannot wait to eat the sandwiches, cakes, scones, cupcakes and little bite sized pieces of chocolately goodness that are planned for the top tier of the cake stands. I just need to finish off my outfit and all the last minute logistics but I am really looking forward to it.

This weekend we are going away. To stay with M's parents. M is playing in a golf tournament. I am going to print and collate 100 orders of service which as yet have not been finalised, checked by the vicar or approved by my mother. I foresee a long afternoon tomorrow trying to get it all done in time for printing.

This week I am going to finish the bridesmaids' presents, jewellery and my hair piece for the reception. I have decided to make a hybrid headband style thing from the silk flowers, merry widow veiling and a peacock feather or two. I plan to sew it to a hairband and hope for the best. I must also make the BoyBird and the napkin labels.

We then have to buy M his shirt and BestMan's tie. I think these are chosen, they just need purchasing. Speaking of purchasing, we also now have to pay all the final amounts to the various companies. It's scary seeing so much money leave our bank accounts.

---

The advice I have for anyone one month out from their wedding is this: take some time out for yourself. Do something else, think about something else. Delegate. Cross some things off the list which no longer seem important. Get things done so you're not rushed in the last week. Pack for your honeymoon in advance.

The advice I have for anyone further back in the planning process is this: time flies. The wedding seems ages away and there seems to be lots of time. And then there isn't. Get things sorted early. Delegate early (but remind later on, so things don't get forgotten). Set a metaphorical deadline for getting diy and projects finished. You will over run. You will not want to be making whatever it is 2 weeks before the wedding. enjoy the planning process.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Champagne and ice cream

We took the weekend off.

Four weeks out and we did nothing. Well, nothing to do with the wedding, at any rate. In fact, we took a whole weekend for ourselves. And it felt good.

On Friday, we went out to dinner with a client of M's and drank vintage champagne and Australian Riesling. Wine and roast chicken at an old favourite byo restaurant in Kensington. Afterwards, M took me for gelato and coffee. We ate pistachio ice cream and drank macchiato {her} and espresso {him} pretending we were back in Florence, but actually listening to the torrential rain.

On Saturday we did no housework or washing or anything else and went to the gym all afternoon. Well, we were on the way to the gym when we passed a pub which appealed as they sold fishfinger sandwiches {her} and the football was on {him}. We passed away a pleasant couple of hours having a leisurely sit down with the papers and then another few hours in the gym before dressing and heading to a blogging friend's for supper. Which was heavenly. Great food, great conversation, great evening. Taxi home {extra cost to us £10: moonwalkers caused an enormous traffic jam around Parliament Square and along the Embankment}.

On Sunday again we headed for the gym and I did an hour and a half 'dynamic' yoga class, which turned out to be just, well, yoga. Nothing exciting about it, nothing dynamic about lots and lots of leg and tummy exercises {which my body is protesting strongly about today}. M did rather a lot of running and cycling and some kind of cross training thing because Liverpool were playing and he wanted to watch the game and the TVs on the machines play the football.

We then got the bus home, all the way across London, because, for once, we didn't need or want to be anywhere by a specific time. I don't know why people bother with the tourist buses, there are plenty of routes where a front seat on the top deck will show you everything you wanted to see of London and much more besides. It was a real treat to sit with M, drinking take-away coffee, and just chatting and watching the world.

Of course yesterday evening and today there was washing up to be done and bathrooms to be cleaned and wedding arrangements to make. But a little time off, away from life, away from planning and (dare I say it) away from our friends*, made all the difference.

*Wouldn't want this to become a permanent state of affairs by any means...

Sunday, 17 May 2009

My Dress (again)

My Elizabeth Anne Designs column this week...

I picked up my dress last Friday. Turns out that the dress I thought I didn’t like too much I like a whole lot better now it fits me properly. I thought I would make some kind of belt for the waist but when I tried it on with the silk ribbon I had dyed to match my shoes, I decided to cut myself some slack and just wear it as a ribbon. It still looks good but I don’t have to try and work out how to make a belt. With only a month left to go, I am all about cutting myself some slack and crossing things off my to-do list.

I was a bit worried that the alterations wouldn’t work and the dress still wouldn’t fit. As I am sure I’ve written before, I bought the dress one unseasonably hot day in July last summer in a charity shop in Southampton. Turns out when it’s really hot things seem to fit a bit better than they do when it a more normal temperature. I.e. the dress was too big. At least a dress size too big, more round the lower back. So I took it to an alterations lady (which turned into a bit of a saga involving missed appointments, extra fittings, wasted taxi journeys and a final collection in the rain outside Kings Cross railway station like some kind of drug deal. Literally cash for dress) and now I love it.

So much so that I took really bad photos in the mirror in the kitchen later that afternoon with my phone whilst M was out. Want to see one? It’s the best you’ll get for the next month!

img00720-20090508-1707

from-blackberry-278

{Photos from Author’s personal collection}

I tried it on again on Sunday when my sisters came to stay. Just before they had a secret meeting with my almost sister-in-law about my hen party. I loved it so much that my sister took some photos of me in it in the garden. My neighbour popped his head over the fence to admire the dress and ask me when the big day was. Even with my veil just a piece of fabric {albeit the softest of soft silk tulle} pinned to my head, it looked good. Not sure I can be bothered making it into a veil when 2 kirby grips will do the job just fine. But I probably will. Just in case.

Just need to get some invisible knickers to wear underneath as the pair {mine are without the embroidery} I bought for later on that evening are too visible through the dress. And maybe a pedicure.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Good Luck Marie-Eve

Today is the day that my good {blogging} friend Marie-Eve gets married. Good luck my darling and hope that blossom or not you have a fantastic day. Can't wait to see the photos and hear about it when you are back from your honeymoon.

Good luck and congratulations!

xx

Thursday, 14 May 2009

So we collected our rings...

rings

{All images from Author's personal collection}

As you can see, I am new to photography like this. The images didn't quite work but I still rather like them...

Reasons I love My Almost-Husband II

On days when everything seems insurmountable he takes me to weird little organic pizza restaurants in Brixton where they dictate what drinks you are 'allowed' with your meal, buys me pizza, listens to me whine, cuddles me and pays the bill. Thanks Darling. You are the best.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Reasons I love My Almost-Husband I

When I am stressed he rings me up and leaves me beautiful voicemails which make me smile and forget all the reasons I was so cross in the first place.

T minus 1 month

And so this girl and her Boy reached the last of the monthly mile stones and with it this girl felt a little, no, a lot overwhelmed. And rather cross. Although that may have just been PMT. Yes, through some great poor planning, her period is due on the first day of their honeymoon. {I just mis-typed honeymoon as horneymoon. I hope that is not prophetic}.

Whilst it was true that the to-do list had shrunk in the last 10 months, there were rather a lot of things left. Including but not limited to: chasing guests who haven't sent back their RSVP cards or been in contact in any way; sorting out shoe issues which the bridesmaids have encountered and lots of other boring things...

*finish confirming details for the service and make the orders of services;
*finish all bridesmaids present projects (more nearly finished than they were, but not actually finished)
*Make Bride's accessories & veil.
*Make labels for the napkins
*Make seating chart and have signed off by my Mother
*Finish cake toppers.
*Scan childhood photos. Make photo display.
*Sort out glasses. Hire them?
*Ensure purchases shirt.
*Ensure groom purchases tie for BestMan.
*Flowers and buttonholes (all decisions made, just need to place final order).
*Delegate the design for the poster to advertise band and DJ.
*Ensure logistics for PA system and equipment are in place.
*Purchase presents for wedding party.
*Book hair cuts (both bride and groom) and general bride grooming including manicure and waxing.

She also wanted to add, that she has loved planning this wedding, their wedding, but there were some days when talk of shoes and water jugs and guest logistics just made her want to SCREAM.

Monday, 11 May 2009

M's suit

In getting married I have learnt a new skill: clothes alteration. Dresses and suits a speciality.

I was shown how to take apart the seams in M's suit trousers and then how to let out various parts (turns out M may have similar taste to his uncle but not waist size). I have then been reshaping the jacket arms to make them more slim line and to help the suit fit M's image of how he should look in a month's time.

I sat there, sewing machine illuminated in a pool of sunshine, the muted chatter of my two sisters and my almost sister-in-law floating down the hallway as they discussed my hen party, and realised how much I have enjoyed planning this wedding. Our wedding.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

T minus 5 weeks

{M - on the off chance you're reading, don't scroll any further down}

So, 5 weeks left and just a couple more things to do... mainly logistic at this point to be honest. I am thinking that if law doesn't work out, wedding planning may just be my calling. Any takers?

Hhhm. The to-do list:

*Choose readings
*Finalise music to be played during the signing of the register.
*Finalise order of service and have printed.
*Make Bride's accessories & veil.
*Make bridesmaids' jewellery (components ordered & have arrived). Finish off their presents.
*Make labels for the napkins. Make seating chart. Assemble table decorations from peacock feathers (ordered) and wine bottles (collected).
*Finish cake toppers.
*Fill in details in guestbook and arrange for someone to ensure people sign it. Scan childhood photos. Make photo display.
*Finish making bunting to decorate marquee.
*Book transport for guests between church and reception.
*Taste and choose wine, champagne and beer. Sort out glasses.
*Ensure groom alters suit and purchases shirt.
*Ensure groom purchases ties for ushers and BestMan.
*Flowers and buttonholes (all decisions made, just need to place final order).
*Design poster to advertise band and DJ. Ensure logistics for PA system and equipment are in place.
*Purchase presents for wedding party.
*Choose and purchase wedding bands.
*Book hair cuts (both bride and groom) and general bride grooming including manicure and waxing.

And just because I took these (exceptionally poor quality photos) yesterday:

Dress with ribbon


{Image from Author's personal collection}

you know, for those who may have been wondering whether it fitted or not...

My Boy Writes: The Wedding List

My Boy's 10th column for Elizabeth Anne Designs can be found here.

"Rach and I really enjoyed compiling our wedding list. It is a great pleasure to visualise your future together even from a very materialistic point of view. We both spent plenty of time trawling through household porn – glasses, pots and pans, mixers, rugs, bed linen etc. and debated / argued over the relative benefits. I was pushing hard for a list compiled solely of wine, a sneaky tactic which made my other suggestions seem less controversial. So… I have selected wine glasses, some dazzling copper pans and a selection of kitchen knives and quietly encouraged friends to buy us wine whereas Rachel has suggested a fabulous mixer, bed linen, a bread-maker and several other highly practical things. We also settled on plenty of things which we were equally enthused about including every decent cook book we could think of and a table for the garden.

gift-list

{Image credits (from top): Kasumi knife via here; Kitchenaid mixer via here and Lyonnaise frying pan via here}

As fun as the process was we both felt a weight of responsibility for our selections. In reality there is nothing selfish about a wedding list but it feels like there is. Our hope is that the majority of people will have plenty of ideas about things to buy and will not even by aware of the wedding list (we are sending it out on request). Clearly we run the risk of duplication but this is balanced by the pleasure we will get from opening the presents without prior knowledge and tracing back the thought processes of our friends and families. Even getting a sense of how they understand us or at least what we are lacking. This is one of the victories of mass celebrations; the gifts take you back through your life to shared memories and enthusiasms.

We agreed early on that if there was to be a wedding list it needed to reflect our different tastes and the differing means of our guests. It was important to find readily affordable gifts which we would love to be given whilst providing a few things at the upper end for those who want to spend a lot of cash. We wanted the list to be specific enough to serve its primary purpose – to guide those who don’t know what to buy without being overly prescriptive. Our hope is that some people will look at the list, get a sense of our style and select something in that style. This way we will see them in the present and the list becomes something more than a shopping list.

The monetary aspect of weddings is a big one. The whole thing is expensive and at a certain point in one’s life you start getting inundated with invites. In many instances you will need to cough up for a stag / hen do, a present, travel to the wedding, hotel and so on. This is a great thing and to me these are mini-holidays. It is however slightly difficult to balance the books and 6 holidays each summer, no matter how mini, stretch one’s budget. We were determined that our wedding would fulfil all our hopes without bankrupting our friends and the wedding list is at the core of this. We do not expect people to buy presents. If you will forgive the cliché, their ongoing support (especially in putting on the wedding) is more than enough and we wouldn’t want people to be put off attending because of monetary constraints. We have tried to find decent places to stay for sensible money and to lean on all friends and relatives who live locally to put people up. Thankfully, Devon is pretty cheap… So they will have plenty to spend on presents. Yippee!"

Friday, 8 May 2009

On procrastination (or, my life in numbers)

I am supposed to be doing a job application which is due today. I am struggling to muster the enthusiasm to finish it.


Reading wedding blogs is more exciting. Especially when you find quotes like this:


"I dreamed of a wedding of elaborate elegance, A church filled with flowers, friends and beautiful music, I asked him what kind of a wedding he wished for, He said one that would make me his wife." ~ Anonymous

5 weeks until the wedding. 3 until the hen party. 1 week of unemployment. 4 nights of disturbed sleep and nightmares. 5 hours until job application due. 4 pages of questions unanswered. 4m of bunting made. 50m of bunting left to make...

Still, on the upside, I picked up my wedding dress this morning.

Rings II

At 5 weeks to go until the wedding day, our to-do list still looks a little long. Thankfully, this afternoon we were able to cross off a big item from the list: choose and purchase wedding bands.

As I wrote before, my engagement ring was designed by M in conjunction with a rocks man and made by a craftsman in London’s Hatton Garden {the jewellery quarter of London since medieval times}. At the time I could only show you a very poor quality snap taken on the day we got engaged but here is a better photo:

duttson-rocks-diamonds-engagement-rings-Align Centre

{Image is of my ring via Duttson Rocks website}

So, we wanted our wedding bands to match my beautiful ring. We returned to the same craftsman, in his tiny studio, to discuss what we wanted. Our decision was very easy. We have opted for bands which match the band on the engagement ring but slightly wider at 3mm for mine and 5mm for M’s.

My ring was measured (and cleaned; it hasn’t looked so sparkly since M first gave it to me!) and then M’s finger was measured. A price was quoted and agreed and they will be ready next week. It couldn’t have been easier and I am so pleased that we have at last sorted them out. Really makes the wedding seem much nearer and real having ordered the rings.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Rings

Finally, we are meeting the craftsman who made my engagement ring. We are going to see him in his studio in Hatton Gardens {London's jewellery quarter} and discuss with him our wedding bands. I am so excited to see where my engagement ring was made and how, and to choose our rings to match.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Customer Service Which Makes Me Want to Scream

Finally after 21 working days, the tag hole punch people have agreed to send us another one and will claim back the lost parcel from Royal Mail.

But they are making us pay the delivery cost for the new tag hole punch...

So despite us paying £3.99 for the first one to be delivered, it not arriving, us having to go through the palaver of trying to find out what happened, them making us wait 15 working days and then not bothering to contact us, so we had to chase them, they are charging us another £3.99 to send us a replacement.

It makes me so cross I could scream.

Put it this way, I wouldn't recommend them or their customer service. Aaaggghhh. This is not what we need 38 days away from the wedding.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

My Boy Writes: The Stag-Do - Review

Click here for M's latest Elizabeth Anne Designs column...

"Last weekend was my Stag weekend. 3 days of fine food, wine, walks, football and much hilarity in a beautiful house on a Loch in Scotland.

Things couldn’t have gone better. Everyone got on (most of the time) and some new bonds were formed; across generations in some cases. Almost 40 years separated the youngest from the oldest but this didn’t get in the way. There were no strippers, nobody was tied to a lamppost (although they did throw me in the Loch) and there were no serious injuries. We didn’t destroy the house and everybody made their respective flights back.

This was a weekend of relaxed hedonism. Our aim was to leave everything except 2 big meals (Friday and Saturday nights) completely in the hands of the group. We wanted everyone to come and go as they pleased. We wanted to see people quietly reading in one room whilst in the next people downed shots over an improvised version of paper, scissors or stone. We wanted to see one group of people trying to shape vodka into lines with a coaster right next to a 60-odd year old being taught to play guitar by his son’s friend. We wanted to galvanise the core group of men at this weekend and make them a powerful collective force on the big day and after. Remembering back through the haze and smoke, I think we succeeded. Well we certainly had a lot of fun!

Myself and my best man decided not to fly back. We drove down the west coast of Scotland and ultimately on to Dumfries before slipping round the corner and down into the Lake District. We tried Penrith and Keswick (both of which were too built up for our tastes) and settled for the first night in Grasmere. We found a great pub with half decent food and incredible views. Monday was an exquisite day and the sun just dances on the hills there. It’s a photographers dream. We watched the sun go down with pints of well-kept ale.

We were up early-ish and planning a big walk. Sadly the weather had closed in and mindful of how shamelessly under-equipped we were (the only jacket I had was a suit one) we decided that discretion was the better part of valour and viewed the lakes by car. We had lunch that day in one of the finest pubs I have been to, The Drunken Duck. It wore the gastro-pub title beautifully and demonstrated that a pub doesn’t need to be rustic to be real. We continued rambling after lunch and decided to skip a visit to the dales (the original plan) and to get to know the lakes a bit more. In the spirit of adventure we tried to trace the hill path from Ambleside towards Boot. I originally led us down a somewhat slippery “road” which was clearly not designed for cars and we very nearly smashed ourselves into one of those gorgeous dry stone walls. So a swift three point turn; try to avoid the guy dragging a tractor with a tractor and back on to the right road. We drove up and up and up, amazing view after amazing after amazing view. This road summed up the lake-district for me, the style is consistent but it just gets better and better until you run out of superlatives.

We spent another very relaxed night in a cheap half-renovated house near Eskdale with beautiful grounds and headed back to London via Shropshire. This was the perfect way to wind down after the stag and a great opportunity to spend lots of time with my oldest and best friend.

“A most satisfactory binge!” – Hugh Laurie"

Saturday, 2 May 2009

April Lifestyle Challenge: Favourite Gratis Activity

I have many favourite free activities, but one I particularly enjoy is afternoons in the park with friends. Only I don't post photos of my friends here, so some of the deer which also live in the park will have to suffice for this month's challenge.

Deer at Clissold Park


{Image from Author's personal collection}

Friday, 1 May 2009

DIY How-To: Bunting

Bunting
{All images from Author’s personal collection*}

Just in case anyone was wondering how to make the bunting, some quick instructions.

Collate material from various sources {photo 2} and iron flat {photo 3}. Lay out fabric on a flat surface and make a pennant shaped cardboard template (I used a box I found in the recycling bin). You need 2 triangles per flag so work out how best to utilise the fabric. I sewed some of the smaller pieces together to optimise the size of some of the fabrics (do this by placing the pieces outsides together and sewing a seam of about 1cm, then open out the fabric and iron the seam out so it is flat).

Each triangle is then sewed together with the outsides together, starting at one end of the base, down to the point, placing the needle in the fabric and lifting the sewing machine foot, rotating the fabric and then placing the foot back down and continuing the seam. I then trimmed off the excess fabric and turned the triangle pocket right side out, using a closed pair of scissors to poke the point of the triangle {photo 4}.

Each pocket was then ironed flat {photo 5} and pinned along a length of tape. I then sewed one line of stitches to attach the flags to the tape (mine was slightly crooked but I considered that no-one will see it and I have better uses of time than unpicking and re-stitching). I will then add a second layer of stitches to make sure that the flags are well attached {photo 6}.

Then repeat, repeat, repeat until you have enough for your desired venue and hang.