Thursday, 28 July 2011

The One About the Race for Life...

Where has the time gone???  It seems like ages since I last blogged, and caught up on everyone else's blogs.  I've still been quite under the weather, and everything seems to have fallen by the wayside, blogging studying.  Hopefully I'll start to perk up soon and things will return to normal.

Back to the Race for Life.... Sunday 17th July and I'm woken up to the rain hammering down on the roof, not a good start.  The race was due to start at 11am so I hoped the rain would pass, and it would be dry while we were there.  This year we had decided to go to the Arley Hall one, (last years was Tatton Park), over by my mum's house.  So I dressed warmly and with my waterproof jacket and a hat in case of the rain.  Along with my pigtails with the pink flowery bobbles!  M drove us over to Mum's where she and R were waiting for us, all ready to go!  All I had to do was pin my number to my front and off we went.

We joined the other hoards of people, that were dressed in various pink outfits, to listen to the compere (not sure how I spell that), and to do some warm up exercises (Mum joined in with the exercises, I just watched on account of not feeling well).  Then they divided us up into runners, joggers & walkers.  It took about ten minutes before our group went through the starting gate, as we were the last to go.  Oh and it started to rain again!

The route of the walk took us back out towards the main entrance, and then we veered off into the woods.  There were marshals along the way, and markers every time we passed another km.  Luckily once we were in the woods the rain eased off, which made it much nicer to finish the walk.

On account of my still not being 100% we walked it more slowly than last year (which mum didn't mind - she said I had frog-marched her round last year!) and it only took us ten minutes longer, and we weren't last either which was good!  Mum is already talking about where we'll do next years!  We did really well with raising money, with Mum raising a huge £450!  How good is that!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The One About the Wedding...Part 2

Next day we had quite a lazy start, with M meeting up with the groomsmen for breakfast at Little Chef which was next door, whilst I had some extra time in bed.  Then, I started getting ready, first with the shower - which I nearly had a panic attack about, because the previous evening I'd had a shower and it was fine.  Wednesday morning and there was no hot water.  So I'm stood there in a towel, and telling M to ask the boys if I can use their shower (they were in the room next door to ours), when he comes back and says it's ok, one tap is the pressure and one tap is the temperature!  Well why didn't they put a set of instructions up on the wall for those of us that can't cope with complicated things???  Anyway panic over, I was able to concentrate on getting ready.  And despite having had plenty of practice with twirling tongs previously this time, I just needed a helping hand from M!  (One of these days I'm going to work out something else to do with the tongs rather than just twirl it and have my hair hanging loose - but no-one else at the wedding had seen my hair like that before, so it looked like I'd made an effort, and I know M likes my hair all twirly - he calls me curly top!)

The wedding was due to start at 2, but A wanted to get to the venue for 12ish, so we got there miles before anyone else, and sat in the sun.  

M and I took ourselves off for a walk around the grounds, and found a really lovely kitchen/rose garden where everything was in bloom.   

The staff had been getting things ready for the wedding, so there were outdoor games dotted around the place, so the boys had a game of tennis with some plastic rackets and a soft ball - in their brand new suits!

 Things started to get more interesting when the other guests arrived.  And it was fun to people watch to see what people were wearing, and how the girls had done their hair.  (Does anyone else do this, or is it just me?)  M kept going off for secret best man duties - nothing too exciting I don't think, just helping to move some tables and chairs!  Then at about 1:50pm we were allowed into the barn (which had been beautifully restored) we were allowed to go and take our seats.  As the partner of one of the best men I got to sit in the second row at the end, and had a really good view of everything!  The flowers that had been used were so so pretty, all in pinks and dark purples.  They had soft music playing as we waited, with the words 'going to the chapel, gonna get married' I'm not sure what the song was but it was light hearted and fun.

Then the curtain closed at the back, the music changed, and we were all asked to stand.  N's sister J (one of the bridesmaids) came in first with a little flower girl (who must have been between 1 and 2 years old), who didn't seem to want to be there, as she kept shouting for her mum, poor thing.  But she kept hold of her little basket with the confetti in and didn't spill any.

 Next up were two more bridesmaids M & D, all of them in dark purple strapless dresses that came to just past their knees, with matching shoes, jewellery and hair do's.  Did I mention that the first bridesmaid J was 7 months pregnant?  Well you could hardly tell with the dress, as it suited her so well!

 Then, in comes the bride, which is always the best bit I think, when she first sees the groom at the altar (is it still called an altar if it's a civil ceremony?), and when the groom first sees the bride.  

She looked lovely with her hair all up at the back with a stunning hair grip on one side.  The dress wasn't too fussy, which is just like N to be honest.  Of course there were tears as she walked down the aisle, and through the ceremony too, but the service was lovely, and they had a reading from Captain Corelli's Mandolin by a close family friend.  And then... they were married.

 And we all went out into the sunshine for photos, drinks and canapes (although these were quite tricky to get hold of as they went down so quick!)  There weren't as many professional photos as we thought there would be, a few shots with the bride, the groom and the family (including the bridesmaids as they were the brides sisters), and none with the groomsmen.  We were quite surprised as there were so many spots arounf the grounds that they could have had some stunning photos as, including the hidden garden we'd found earlier, but they had obviously planned in advance that they would rather spend their time with their guests.  The bit between the ceremony and the sit down meal is always the bit of the wedding tha I like the least.  There is always a lot of waiting, and you always end up eating your meal at a very starnge time (and as I'm sure people already know - I get very cranky when I'm hungry!)  But at half past 4 we were directed into the other part of the barn for the main meal.  It had been decorated with fairy lights around all the dark beams, with sprinkles on the table, and matching purple and pink flowers around the room.  As M was best man, he was sat at the top table with the bride and groom, and I was sat with M's friends from uni, who I know quite well, and had a laugh with.

 The bit we were waiting for though were the speeches.  First up was the brides Dad, who was so endearing, and kept being interrupted by his wife in case he forgot anything, who shared stories about the bride that I'd never heard before, and told us how A & N first met!  Then the groom's turn came along, and he read his pre-written speech from his phone, but unfortunately lost his place and had to stop at one point.  It didn't matter though, it just gave the speech and the day some more character.  Finally it was the best man's speech.  M had helped C write the speech, and although I had been asked did I want to read it, I declines saying I'd rather hear it for the first time at the wedding and not ruin the surprise (I think in hindsight if I had read the speech in advance - I would have told them to remove quite a bit of it!) Anyway, C was on good form though and made a joke of when the mike stopped working properly and sounded like he was rapping!  There were quite a few risky jokes and innuendoes, and something about the magic round about that I haven't been able to get out of M!

After the final speech we were all sent outside for coffee and biscuits whilst the staff cleared the tables and chairs away ready for the dancing.  The newly married couple had their first dance, and then encouraged the rest of us to join in.  

It was really hot and stuffy with all the dancing going on, so we decided to head outside and play a game of croquet!  It was really good fun, the others were a little tipsy (I'd offered to be the designated driver to I was still fully sober!) which made it very silly, with people just hitting the ball madly rather than aiming for the hoops!  The day ended with a big send off for the bride and groom thought an archway that the guests had made, and they went off out into the night together to a song about New York - which I can't remember exactly how it went, (and they aren't even in New York on their honeymoon, they're off on an island somewhere!) but it was a big band type song and it really suited their departure.  All that was left to do was to get the boys into the car and take them back to the Travel Lodge.

It was a fantastic few days, and it was great catching up with everyone.  And if you've made it this far with everything that I've written I'm impressed! 

Monday, 4 July 2011

The One About The Wedding...Part 1

Last week M's best friend A got married, it was a mid-week wedding in Suffolk (and not Surrey as I kept telling people!)  M, along with another friend C had been appointed best man.  The boys decided between them that as C was more comfortable doing public speaking, he would do the best man speech, and M would arrange the stag do.  They went to Bristol a couple of weekends ago with just the closest friends from Uni (6 of them altogether) and had a very busy few days with go-karting, clay pidgeon shooting and nightclubs!  (A, having two best men, also had two stag do's, the second being just a day out to Ascot races and another night club out with all his other friends from London, which was arranged by his brother-in-law to be).

We went down on Tuesday, (in the car - far better for Eddie spotting you know!) and made it in really good time, despite the weather trying to slow us down with a torrential thunder storm!  (Eddie's spotted were in the 30's - not all the names could be seen, and none of the fancy trailers were seen from the TV series (did you know there is a series on Channel 5 at the moment all about Eddie Stobart - its fascinating to watch)).

Anyway...We were booked into a Travel Lodge as that was the closest (and the cheapest) place near the venue.  It was somewhere to stay, it had a decent bed, a TV, plenty of space to hang things (and an iron and board for the morning when all the boys needed to iron out the creases of their brand new shirts of yet taken out of the packets!)  We literally dumped our gear in the room and went off to meet the groom and all the other men at the venue, where the family had rented out a large seven room cottage in the grounds for the duration of the wedding.  The venue was stunning, with lots of grounds and completely secluded from the outside hustle and bustle of daily life, and because it was just their wedding and nothing ese was going on in the main house that day we had the area to ourselves, and weren't running into strangers around the place, which was rather nice.

The girls had already gone off to the next town for spa treatments to be pampered.  As I'm saving pennies, I decided to hang out with the boys while they had a BBQ, and watched Wimbledon in the lounge.  Did I mention that on the Tuesday it rained?  Quite a lot???  So the BBQ had to be moved in doors, but was still just as tasty!  And A and his two best men were able to do some last minute checks to the reception layout, and test microphones and things.

Later that evening we all went for a meal in the next town, the close family, the bridesmaids, groomsmen and their partners.  I think there were 30 of us in all, and we took up the whole of one end of the pub!  It was lovely to catch up with A & N again, as I hadn't seen them since their engagement party last June.  N was being very tight lipped about her dress, and wouldn't share any details at all!  The meal was yummy, it had all been pre-ordered (and as we sometimes do, M lets me choose two starters and mains, so that if I don't like what I've chosen there is a good chance that I'll like the other one - he's very sweet like that) but I had the leek and potato soup which was so filling I didn't manage to finish my main course!  And the main was a red onion and tomato tart with feta cheese and rocket.  No room for it all though after the soup, let alone dessert!

The bride and groom to be

A and his two best men

Me & M (who is hugging the gerbera as it is my favourite flower and seems to be following us wherever we go at the moment!)
The girls all headed off back to the venue to stay the night at the cottage at about 10:30pm, and I got the boys back to the Travel lodge for just after 11pm.  And they were really good and actually all went straight off to bed!  (I think the fact that the Travel Lodge had no bar had something to do with it!)

Stay tuned for the next instalment where I tell all about the wedding.....

Sunday, 3 July 2011

The One About The Welly Boots....

My family first moved to France when I was 7, my sister was 5 and my little brother was only 4months old.  We moved into a new build housing estate, with terraced houses which each had three floors plus a basement below.  As we settled into our new home and the village we found that there was a really strong english speaking community.  There were other families in our estate (which we called the square, even though it was the shape of a triangle! The clue was in the name 'Place Blanche de Castille'), with Americans next door to us, South Africans a few doors down, Danish over the way and a British family a couple of doors in the other direction.

My sister and I attended the British School of Paris (although it wasn't strictly anywhere near Paris!) and the school had built up an even wider network.  So each village had its appointed Welcome Mum - who was a parent to one of the children at the school, who would welcome any new families into the area, and arranged social events for the Mum's whilst the children were at school and the Dad's were at work.

That's just a bit of background... I'm sure you want to know where the welly boots come into it???  Well just next to our estate was a Park, and when we first moved there it was still in construction.  They'd put a large pond in, there was another area where they were going to put a clear pool (not for swimming, just deep enough to paddle in when it was hot) a play area, and a seated area.  They had also landscaped the park so it wasn't completely flat, but made up of lots of hills.  As it was still in construction, the grass seed hadn't been planted yet, so it was just earth everywhere.

Well, one afternoon the other children were all going into the park to play, and of course my sister and I wanted to join in.  My Mum put us in our welly boots and gave us strict instructions to stay with the other children.  We got round to the other side of the park, and were quite happily running around with the others, when my sister and I literally got stuck in the mud by the pond!  Our welly boots were stuck and we couldn't move them!  It must have rained the day before and that area hadn't dried through.  Two of the others girls had to lift us out of our boots, and carry us all the way home back to Mum!  From what I remember she put us straight in the bath as our trousers were covered in mud too!

This story was written for Sian's Storytelling Sunday, so make sure you pop over to her blog today and read all the other fab blogs!