Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Wetsuit worries

So I was out for Christmas cocktails in Wimbledon Village with a few of my girlie mates last night. And in between cackling over large glasses of festively flavoured alcoholic beverages, there seemed to be much mirth around the secret hen do plans. I know nothing of what is afoot, but I am aware of an awful lot of planning, plotting and scheming happening via email amongst my hens.

Worryingly, there is also persistent talk of wetsuits, and they are all implying that I will require one for the 'activities'. Now, I am pretty sure this is all a red herring that's been wafted around to throw me off a scent. But, knowing the people involved in all the plotting, a little part of me grows ever more concerned that it is a double bluff and I will indeed have to hoik myself into black lycra so that I can be flung, for whatever reason, into icy waters.

I am getting scared.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

The Last Christmas as a spinster of the parish

Thank goodness it's Christmas. We are both shattered and in desperate need of a break and a bottle of Baileys. Each.

And I think this is the last long break we'll get before the serious wedding countdown commences. In our head, once the annual mincepie-fest is over it will be all systems go on the organising front. I'm a bit scared.

In fact the bizarre wedding dreams have already begun...no makeup and a creased torn dress on the day...fiance replaced by an incredibly ugly stranger...I sincerely hope these aren't premonitions.

But before I can completely slip into worry mode, we are gonna aim for a relaxing Christmas. And as it's our last one as 'unmarrieds' we decided to do something a bit different. Because our families are scattered the length and breadth of England, our Christmas usually feels like we are on tour. 50% of it is spent on motorways and continually playing Chris Rea's 'driving home for christmas' doesn't make it any more festive. Then of course we have to take it in turns spending Christmas Day itself with each parent. And feeling a bit crap about it.

So this year we thought sod it. We hired a large cottage in our favourite corner of the Lake District and invited everyone to join us. Siblings, parents, aunt and uncle. As it turned out only the parents (and Josh) could make it, but actually, that means a nice total of 7 of us. And a roaring log fire, 3 outstanding pubs within a 2 minute walk and the most amazing scenery and the most stunningly beautiful walks you could ever hope to find.

In my head I see it a bit like Wham's Last Christmas video (without the mullets, bad jumpers, snow and iffy story line about giving your heart away to someone you shouldn't) in the sense that it will be as Christmas should be. Traditional. Drunken. Greedy. Relaxing. Happy.

In reality, the cooker will probably be too small for the turkey, snow and ice will prevent at least 2 of us getting there at all and Josh will be running around in his the new pants that he had for his birthday last week, which are emblazoned with the phrase 'monkey business'. Which is about as traditional as it gets!

Friday, 3 December 2010

The frock

I have bought my wedding dress. In fact I got it ages ago. I didn't mean to, it just sort of happened. My original plan was to get it in March - when I'd had chance to shift excess Christmas flab (yikes!) and when there were more spring-like frocks in the shop.

But that plan went out the window when I spotted a rather sweet frock in LK Bennett. And before I go further - I need to just explain. As with the bridesmaid issue, I'm not mad-keen on weddingy dresses. They are just not 'me'. Plus, we are on a budget and I can't justify spending hundreds and thousands on one dress. And really, is a big meringue dress a good idea when we are in a small-ish marquee in the middle of rural Shropshire? No. One swing of a puffball and I could take out the entire hog roast. And if I stand still long enough chickens may roost under it. Not a good look.

So as I was saying. I wasn't really looking, but saw a white dress that looked nice. My mother-in-law who was with me at the time, egged me to try it on 'just for a laugh'. So I did. And it was gorgeous. I have to say I was quite surprised at how lovely it felt to wear a wedding dress (even though it wasn't an official wedding dress, it did look and feel like one). It was all floaty and swooshy and for once in my life I felt like a lady. And trust me dear reader, that really doesn't happen very often.

There was a small problem though. You could see through it. The material was so thin and swooshy, my big flowery knickers were completely on display (as I say, it was all very spur of the moment, I wasn't prepared for trying on dresses. My bright pink bra didn't help matters either. In hindsight, I bet all the finely turned out staff of LK Bennett Wimbledon were appalled at this common ragamuffin with non-matching undies. They probably hosed the changing room down with Dettol after I left.)

Anyway. A see-through dress is a bit of a no-no at a wedding isn't it? But I did really love the style of the dress (not saying what that style is in case my husband-to-be is reading) and so I wondered if I could buy a long underskirt or maybe get a seamstress to attach a lining. Then I realised how foolish it would be to buy the very first dress I'd seen. I needed to at least try some others on to compare. And I better crack on and do that quick, in case I decided I DID want this one and they all ran out. Agh. Stress.

So I enlisted the help of Best Girl Claire and after work one night, in the torrential rain, we went into London. I knew of a well known shop (not Debenhams) that did some nice un-wedding wedding dresses, so that was the first port of call. With Claire's help I selected four and we both marched into the fitting room.

Bless Claire, she'd come straight from her high profile banking job in the City so was dressed rather smartly. Unfortunately that meant that girls in the changing room kept mistaking her for a member of staff as she waited for me, and were asking if she 'had this in a size 12'. Now, she's no wall flower and is known for being vocal. And as I scrambled into the frocks, I just kept hearing her loudly explaining to the world that no she wasn't a shop assistant, she was merely here to help her friend try on wedding dresses. So within 5 minutes, everyone in that small, curtained room knew what was going on.

So every time I stepped out from behind the curtain, there seemed to be a bunch of girls excitedly peering from around their own curtain to view the bride-to-be. And all the sales assistants were lining up to have a look too. I had quite an audience.

So, just like one of those cheesy changing room scenes out of any chick-flick style movie (Coyote Ugly springs to mind here) I kept popping out from behind the curtain in the different frocks. And because these were 'official' wedding dresses, it felt ever so slightly more surreal. But I quite enjoyed trying out the 'walking down the aisle' trot, listening to the oohs and ahhs from the other girls who were seemingly more interested in me than their own civilian clothes purchases.

I quickly realised that number two was gorgeous. Exactly what I had in mind. And it knocked spots off the very first one I saw - especially as it didn't reveal my underwear, which is important in a wedding dress I think. My changing room audience were also in agreement that it was the nicest of the four. But then Claire reminded me that we were only looking 'for a laugh', that we had plenty of time, I didn't need to rush and that I should go away and look at others and come back.

Thing is, I've never been a patient person. Especially when clothes shopping. Spending hours heaving myself in and out of outfits in tiny, changing rooms that are hotter than the sun and smell of dust and stale sweat has always been a huge pet hate. So when clothes shopping, if I fall in love with something, I get it so that I can get out. Then I can go home and relax in the knowledge that I have made a purchase and don't have to go through that horror again for a while. None of this fannying about by going off and trying 10 different other things just to come back to the original option.

So Claire was quite gobsmacked when I said I was getting it there and then. She was worried I was being too hasty, bless her. I pointed out that I had tried on five officially, and hey, there's always the 28 day return policy yes? So I could use that 28 days to look at others, just in case. (Of course, I had no intention of looking at other dresses. Why would I when I'd found the perfect one?!) So, with Claire reassured, off we went for a celebratory glass of fizzy stuff and to discuss nail varnish, men and makeup.

Claire then took the dress to her house so that my fiance wouldn't see it. (Our flat is far too small to hide anything. Even stashing birthday and Christmas presents is a challenge. I'm one step away from pulling up carpet and digging a small hole under the floorboards. Plus there's always a risk of the dog chewing it or using it as a blanket, like he already does with many of my clothes.)

A few weeks later, after an evening on the wine with Claire, I couldn't resist trying it on again. It was even more lovely than I remembered. And more importantly, it still fit me perfectly. But there really is no room for error. So now all I have to worry about is not piling weight on. If I overstuff on mince pies, Baileys and chocolate oranges over the festive period, come January I won't even be able to get my leg in it. Which, the way I eat, could very easily happen.

Not too much pressure then.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Going to print

With me being a copywriter and my husband-to-be an extremely talented graphic designer, it would be a poor show if we didn't create our own wedding invites. So we have.

I don't want to give anything away for the recipients, but we've taken inspiration from an artist we both like, whose prints we have scattered about our home. And the colours are very sweet and will set the tone for the day.

So after much meticulous designing and careful arranging of pictures and words, we are in the process of printing. It's a slow process, so thank goodness we only have 50, but hats off to my very clever fiance. They are looking gorgeous. I am really excited!

Before we went to print, Paul had to phone the vicar to confirm the time so we could put it on the invites. I was worried in case he'd forgotten who we were after our rather laid back meeting, but luckily he must have the memory of an elephant because he knew exactly who we were. Which eased my mind about his unique filing system. And it turns out we can choose any time we fancy because we have him at our disposal all day. So that's a big relief. Then my future husband wrapped up the conversation with a witty quip about getting commemorative plates made in the style of a royal wedding. And apparently this was greeted with a tumbleweed style silence. Whoops.