If you thought that being in the Vikings was all about hitting each other with swords and then hanging around bonfires singing raucously and drinking, you’d be wrong (well, half-wrong anyway). This is an extract from a recent post about cross-bows:


“…Incidentally the Carmen de Hastingae Proelio, written shortly after the battle by Bishop Guy of Amiens, almost certainly notes the presence of crossbowmen on Duke William’s side (he calls them ‘ballistantes’, an ambiguous word that might simply mean a slinger were it not for the context in which it appears: see Carmen de Hastingae Proelio, eds. Morton and Muntz (Oxford, 1972), 113). Further a Fulk the crossbowman attests a ducal confirmation of a donation made by Richard de Redvers in favour of the abbey of St Pere at Chartres (Recueil des actes des ducs de Normandie de 911 à 1066, ed. M. Fauroux, Mémoires de la Société des Antiquaires de Normandie 36 (Caen, 1961), no. 147). In contrast, the weapon may have been unknown in England: in the annal for 1079 the D manuscript of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle calls the weapon by its French name, suggesting that it didn’t have an English one and was therefore – it may be supposed – unknown there…”


…and then he chugs a few more drinking horns of ale and throws up into the fire.

This post will no doubt be extremely lengthy and somewhat rambling (which is my style). Apologies in advance. 


So much major important stuff has happened that it’s really hard to know where to start. There’s just too much to write about. Perhaps I’ll do a photo diary instead. When I get home I’ll include some pics in this anyway.


I’m back at work now. Sitting here, ridiculously tanned and writing my weblog. They’re playing some really good music on the radio as I write – ‘Don’t you worry about a thing’ by Incognito. I LOVE that song, its so uplifting. When I first heard it I was 15 and having a really rough time and I really thought things would never get better. But things have changed so much, in ways that were better than I could have hoped and wouldn’t have believed if you’d have told me them at the time. I should have just listened to the song. Thinking of past events always puts your life in perspective; when you remember what you’ve gone through, you realise you never know what will happen in the future so there’s no point worrying about a thing. You might as well worry if/when a bad thing happens instead of wasting good time when you could be happy, worrying or being pessimistic. I’m in sentimental mode today.


Shouldn’t write this at work really, you’d have thought I’d have learned my lesson; before I went off for 3 weeks, my boss decided to Google my name at work so I had a really close shave. If she’d have found this site I’d have been in trouble. Also I was doing a blog in a really small window, when my other manager walked in and sat at my desk to wish me well for the wedding – I didn’t have time to hide the window and it had the name of the site with my pic underneath (as a child, but if you know me it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that that’s me in the picture!)… hence why I changed the name of the site.


Also that’s why some posts have been removed. I don’t talk about much of serious importance on here but I have had the odd rant about work which was stupid of me.


So… ok here I am, not talking about work. Talking about weddings instead.


Our wedding day was just perfect. I remember loads of it but every time I see the pictures it’s as if I am back there. I was gutted about the weather – at first, anyway – as it absolutely pissed with rain all day long. But when that happens you have to make the best of it and I can honestly say that it wasn’t until we came back from our honeymoon that I really wished it had been sunny. But in the end I think it was the rain that made the day.


According to tradition, rain on your wedding day is supposed to be very lucky. Hmmm. Lucky for white umbrella manufacturers? But it wasn’t just crappy British drizzle, it was torrential, which I was really glad about – if its going to rain on my wedding day, I want it to Rain Big. I even asked the photographer to take a picture of it bouncing off the roof of the car. It kind of made everyone come together like in some kind of wartime-blitz-spirit, very British. When it came to the handfasting we almost called it off but then thought no, we want to do it today and it doesn’t matter if no-one else is there but us and our High Priestess and High Priest. What actually happened when we got there was that everyone had turned up, under umbrellas or in suits and dresses but soaked to the skin, muddy around the shoes but happy to be there. I can’t explain how wonderful that was, I still am in awe of the fact that people were there to support us, smiling and dripping. I’d never have known how much people were willing to be there for us if it wasn’t for the rain.


On a practical note, it was really important that our wedding ran to time on the day because there was so much to fit in. Steve and I had decided to leave our party before the end so as to ensure there would be enough time to get everyone out and start clearing up. Also we had done 3 CDs of our some of our favourite songs and there was no way we’d be able to hear every song on them as there just wasn’t time- I really wasn’t happy about these things but we realised there was nothing else we could really do. But because it rained, everyone was eager to get back in the warm instead of lingering (if it had been sunny we would have had the handfasting in a circle of Ash trees which was in a really pretty bit) and thus they were all in the hall and we were ready to start an hour earlier than we expected. Which meant that a) we had time to play each CD in full, b) that the band could finish their set with us still there and c) best of all that we could be at our party right till the end. If it hadn’t rained, that wouldn’t have happened. And of course, I wanted a very countrified, English element to our wedding… what can be more English than the rain?


So in the end it all worked out for the best.


 


Walking into the library, still a ‘Miss’


I remember that I was boiling hot in my dress and Steve was boiling hot in his suit and the registrar kept telling us to hold hands so we could support each other!  I wanted to tell her that we don’t have to hold hands to support each other but it might not have sounded very gracious so we had to hold hands  The whole wedding seemed surreal. It felt like a rehearsal, so to make sure I realised it was for real I told myself to look at the clock just before we said our vows and it was 12.40. Also on our way out of the Library, Steve and I turned to look at everyone and savour the moment – those are anchor points that I really remember. The wedding was really emotional and although I knew it was serious I just couldn’t stop grinning, I had a huge smile plastered across my face for most of the day. I actually felt inside like squealing ‘Aghhh!!!!Yay!!!’ and jumping around all through the ceremony. I was really afraid that Steve would cry so much that he wouldn’t be heard but he held it together, and in the end it was me that cried. Alice and Jake read their parts really well, and I made a point of listening to the music we had chosen throughout the ceremony which I’m glad about. I’m also glad I took Alice’s advice to have the day videoed. I wasn’t going to because I didn’t want to see myself on video, but she said ‘You wont remember all the details’ and she was right. I can’t wait to see it.



Steve looks like a right bruiser in this one – because he was trying to smile without doing a huge cheesy grin.



One of my many favourite pics


We somehow ended up in a completely unplanned line-up once we were out of the room which was bizarre as it was the first tradition we decided to drop when we planned our wedding. It was quite handy though as it meant we were able to say hello to everyone. Another thing that worked out for the best. The photos were, necessarily, not very brilliant because they were all inside and they all came out quite dark. But we have the CDs and Photoshop so we’re going to lighten them all and then they will be fine (and I promise to resist the temptation to airbrush out any excess flab).




…dont remember that one…


Also had an idea – on our first anniversary we’re going to go back to Bletchley Park, Steve in his suit and I in a white dress (not my wedding dress!! see Alice’s weblog for an explanation as to why it’s bad form to wear your wedding dress unless it’s your wedding day – [Alice, that story still cracks me up!]) and a friend with a camera to take some really nice photos of us outside. I just know it wont be raining on our first anniversary…!


It all went so quickly but I loved every minute.




We got whisked off in the car and to our surprise it was already half past two. I felt almost nervous in the car with Steve like it was a first date or something, he seemed all new. He looks really grown up and manly with his wedding ring  I love looking at his hand. Anyway he told me he had bought me a gift. I was really surprised because I didn’t think he’d remember to make time to do anything like that for me. He gave me a little white box and inside it was a diamond toe ring with 7 stars on it. I loved that moment! (He bought me my first and only toe ring the first time we went on holiday, which was in Cornwall. It had a sun, star and moon on it and I wore it continuously for 7 years until last summer when, because I did so much traveling about and staying away from home, I lost it. Apparently he’s been looking out for a replacement ever since).


When we got to the reception I felt a bit down. The rain was going nowhere and we were possibly going to cancel the handfasting. Steve’s mum and dad and a few friends whom I was expecting to be there hadn’t turned up which fuelled my fear that no-one was going to come at all. We’d meant to have a picnic but instead we had 2 hours to kill and nothing to do (as some other friends had kindly told us they were doing it all, so I’m not complaining!) I was standing outside watching the rain and we were wondering what to do and had to make a decision. I think it was at that point that the decision we made turned our day around and made it fantastic again.


We decided to go ahead with our handfasting – that was when we discovered how much people rally round. It turned out that the people who hadn’t come were stuck in traffic because of the weather. All the time we had assumed that the girls setting up the handfasting had not turned up because of the weather and it turned out they had done exactly as we planned and were in fact standing at the circle in the pouring rain waiting for us to come. I’ll never forget how much that surprised me (no offence to the girls but I just hadn’t expected it).


The handfasting was really personal and meaningful to us and after all the preparation to find somewhere nice to have it, I didn’t even notice our surroundings (a manky old barn instead of a quiet circle of trees). I had that same surreal-not-really-happening feeling, partly because I knew that my beliefs were being judged  – favourably or harshly, they were still being judged – by people who’d never seen a pagan ceremony. So we felt quite self-conscious; I think our HPS Carol knew as she told us that the candle flame we lit together was a very important part of our ceremony; it was almost as if she was helping us to focus.



Steve’s vows to me were some of the most lovely things he has ever said. He had been going to whisper them in my ear because he didn’t think he wanted to say them out loud in front of everyone, but when it came to it he felt he wanted to say them out loud. There wasn’t a dry eye in the barn when he did – dripping with rain and sentiment, that was our wedding




 


 


These pictures were of us all listening intently to Steve’s vows (and trying not to cry in my case).


I loved jumping over the broom, that was just brilliant. Strangely, our run up to it smelt gorgeous because everyone was cheering and throwing natural confetti so I could smell lavender and roses as I ran. Steve tasted it as he foolishly had his mouth open…



I really felt married when we landed on the other side of the broom, even though we were officially already man and wife. It was amazing, I’ll never forget it.




Another favourite pic of me and my brother



Now we’re really married.


Back at the hall for our reception all fell into place too. The band was excellent, the food was lovely and we just had a wonderful time.



Following an Elizabethan custom of kissing over a pile of wedding cakes without upsetting any, thus ensuring good fortune…I haven’t got my leg up in the air, by the way, thats just my dress caught on a chair.


Richard’s best man speech was brill even though he was so nervous – everyone laughed;



Tariq’s (who took the place of my dad) brought a tear to people’s eyes and Steve’s was easy as it was mainly thank you’s so I think everyone was happy. Steve and I managed to get some time together so we could savour the moment.



I loved the fact that everyone looked so happy and enjoying themselves, letting their hair down, laughing, eating, drinking, just how we’d hoped it would be.




At one point as we had a dance together (can’t remember what song it was) I glanced at the dance floor and it was full of couples dancing and looking in love, and that was my favourite bit. I was so glad we could stay till the end of the night.



Our taxi to the hotel was a few minutes late so we got to stay till the end of the party. When we got to our hotel, they were expecting us and had all the lights on and were waving from the window. At the bar, sat another bride in tiara and meringue who was drinking – she looked me up and down from my curly hair and slightly-askew corn circlet to my red velvet cloak and ivory dress, still with a huge grin on my face and on the arm of my gorgeous husband holding the Champagne and refusing to sit at the bar, as we wanted to go go go straight to our posh room and relax; and she looked really envious – there’s no other way to describe her face – which made me feel like a million pounds. That was another favourite bit  (She looked great too though, but she was drinking alone as her husband was with others from their party. They all had the air of  ‘the party’s over’ if you know what I mean. I didn’t feel like it was anywhere near over).



The closest you’ll ever get to seeing SBT in the bath.


We’d booked a room with a 4 poster bed and loads of curved beams, it was gorgeous. We sat up all night and drank a bottle of champagne that we had rescued from the party and talked and laughed non-stop about our day. The next day I had the most horrendous hangover I’ve ever had in my life and my husband had to walk me to the garage to buy alka seltzer and drugs. Fortunately I was better by the time the hotel gave us our champagne breakfast…needless to say I wasn’t up for more champagne at 10 am…


We had what Steve called a Mini-Moon on Sunday and Monday. We stayed at Whitchurch, then drove to West Wycombe and went to the Hell-Fire Caves and stayed in the much-haunted George and Dragon (where I got food poisoning – I’m sure it was from there judging by the rest of their food which was dreadful in my opinion. And I’ll eat anything).



Our haunted room at the George and Dragon.


On Monday the weather was loads better and we went to Bradenham village to look at the view and then to Beaconsfield where we did a bit of shopping, went to the Model Village and then to the Royal Standard of England for lunch (lots of hauntings there too, although the only spooky thing we saw there was the landlady who looked quite posh but ringed her eyes in black eyeliner). I love it there.


We just sat about on Tuesday, packed our bags and the next day went on our honeymoon to Cyprus. We were going for 2 weeks and it was really, really lovely. We almost didn’t make it because we got stuck in 2 traffic jams on the motorway and we arrived 10 minutes before check-in closed…I’d rather have 3 hours to wait and get my flight then go through that agonising slow traffic again!



We spent most of our time on the beach getting a tan, and then adjourning to our bedroom before going out for the evening. Loads of sun, sea, sand, sex and sheftalia.  I’m suffering now, I’ve got terrible digestion because we ate so much nice food.



We just had such a great relaxing time. I read all my books in the first couple of days lazing on the beach; I wrote in my diary too, we played loads of bat and ball in the sea and Steve taught me how to snorkel.


We spent a day visiting the ruins of the ancient city of Salamis




and spent the afternoon visiting the ghost town of Famagusta, which was invaded by the Turks in 1974 (interestingly, the Turkish refer to this as the Peace Operation. Everyone else on the island calls it The Invasion). The island is divided into 2 by the war, and Famagusta which is in the UN buffer zone, has remained exactly as it was at the time of the invasion. The UN wont allow any re-development or changes of any kind until agreement has been reached by Turkey and Cyprus. The beach was really deserted, bordered with barbed wire and snipers and the hotels had had the back of the building blown out by bombs. We saw an abandoned playground on the beach; swings literally half buried by 30 years of sand dune formation. Photography wasn’t allowed – you risked warning shots being fired if you got caught – but I managed to snap one on the pretext of photographing Steve. In the background you can see the bombed hotel with it’s steel rods sticking out of crumbled concrete. Luckily no-one saw me.



Steve is in the middle of saying something along the lines of  ‘I forbid you to take that picture, you idiot, you’ll get shot’


We went on a 4WD safari into the mountains which was really fun and where we were ritually humiliated for being honeymooners. Our driver’s family had lived in Famagusta and he regaled us with ever more lurid and unbelievable stories about atrocities committed by the Turks. It was dead depressing  – he stopped just short of saying that they eat babies – and when we actually went to Famagusta, we saw that the Turks DIDN’T walk around stoned out of their minds, in pairs so that one of them can rape you with a machete while the other one shoots your boyfriend after cutting off his knob. Which is what the driver told us. Despite him he had a great time.


We also went on a VIP cruise on a catamaran (or catameringue, as Steve called it) around Cape Greco and Protaras to watch the sunset, and the full moon rise over the sea. It was really cool, just lying on the hammock slung over the catamaran, sipping your cocktail and watching your husband helping to haul up the main sail (really hard work hee hee).



The boat could go so fast (is it a boat??) that your hair whipped round your face. It was painted white and the sea was clear blue no matter how deep it got. As the sun set, it was totally like Duran Duran’s ‘Rio’ video hurrah!



Steve went out in a canoe which seemed like terribly hard work. I lay on the hammock instead, getting a tan and photographing him.



The best trip we did though was a 3 day cruise to Egypt; that was really cool.



Our ship approaching Port Said, Egypt.


I cant explain how amazing it was to get off a coach and there you were standing at the foot of the Gizeh pyramids.



I loved the road signs and could read most of the Arabic that I saw which was a bit unexpected. Note the little image of the pyramids on the sign!



It’s very strange indeed to be in the middle of a busy, urban place and then to look up to see the pyramids, all placid and serene in the distance.




We also saw the mummies and grave goods from Tutankhamen’s tomb in Cairo museum (or, ‘Tutankhamen’s Stuff’ as our guide kept calling it) – pretty amazing but we weren’t allowed to take pictures (in Egypt I did exactly what I was told; they had guns in Egypt and Famagusta but somehow it was loads scarier in Egypt) and we went for lunch on the Nile, cruising along in a highly decorated boat.



Egyptians were approaching us from all angles, desperate to rip us off, but we weren’t fleeced (that ones that were came back to the coach holding armfuls of tat). Apart from the Pyramids, the next best bit was watching Egypt go by from Port Said to Cairo – the things you saw were incredible, particularly the poverty of the people who don’t live in towns and who’s home consists of a few planks of wood topped with a sheet of rusting corrugated iron. The women crouch outside in the middle of dusty fields, scratching around in the dust.We passed roadside stalls made entirely of pots, men with donkeys in the middle of scary Cairo traffic selling watermelon from a cart and Egyptian men who spoke to you in German, and then with a Scots accent and then a cockney accent, and then back into Arabic, depending on where they thought you were from.


We went to the sphinx where some guy offered Steve both of his wives in exchange for me (my Mum has since told me that when my Grandma went to Port Said, a guy offered my Grandpa 2 camels for her!) and where, when they asked me where I was from and I said ‘England’ they all went ‘Ah! Tony Blair, Tony Blair, Tony Blair!’



Pity about me being in it but the one with Steve in is slightly worse. He had to wear a cap as it was so hot, so he looked like an American tourist.


Our coaches had to travel in convoy surrounded by armed military guards, and there was a  chap with a sub-machine gun on every coach. It was cool, I wasn’t scared at allbut I think Steve was, a bit . The ship we travelled on was pretty yuck – it looked gorgeous on the outside but when you got on there, it was like a floating plastic prison with enforced entertainment along the lines of the typical cruise-ship singing duo, and a girl who hulaed with 10 hoops to the Redneck’s ‘Cotton-Eyed Joe’ (yeesh) and there was bingo and intense smoking by old people to be had on the main deck. Our room was made of plastic and so thin that we could hear the couple in the next cabin shagging. We think we saw them afterwards – if any of you have ever seen ‘Pat Mustard’ in Father Ted then you’ll have a good idea of what he looked like. It was terrifying. We couldn’t wait to get back to Cyprus.  


Hey ho though, we still had a great laugh and enjoyed every minute. Although it was cool to be away, it was also nice to get back to real life after 2 weeks. We got back on Wednesday, opened the post and went out for a curry – in driving rain and wind and it was FREEZING.



A Sad Suitcase.


On Thursday we unpacked, tidied, went for a walk and did the washing and lazed. On Friday I got my hair cut and dyed (but I’m going back to have the rest cut off as I really wanted short hair, but allowed myself to be persuaded that I didn’t. Now I have a lovely – but really high maintenance – haircut which will look pretty much the same as ever in a few weeks time).



On Saturday we got our wedding pressies delivered which was really exciting. We put our wedding music CD on, and sat around opening them and drinking Veuve Cliquot which we can never afford but we’d been sent from a friend in Germany as a present. Spent the evening at Michelle’s birthday party where we sat up till 3 singing and playing guitars, before we crashed out, and then had a lovely Sunday, spending the morning with Richard, Michelle and Ollie and  in the afternoon going for a walk and writing loads and loads of thank you letters. One of the best things about it all being over is that I keep remembering things that I worried about that didn’t happen. For example – I didn’t honestly think I would get jilted but I don’t think there’s a bride out there for whom that thought hasn’t crossed their mind, however briefly! Also things like hoping the band would be on time, hoping the rings would fit, hoping everyone would have a good time, hoping there would be enough food (we self catered which was really tricky to estimate despite all the help we got), hoping Steve wouldn’t cry so much that he was incoherent, hoping everything would run to time, hoping we would get our deposit back  All these things have happened.  


And now its Monday and I’m back to normal – except that its not normal at all, everything’s subtly different. As I always suspected, it’s not true at all that marriage is just a bit of paper.


 

I saw the girls today and everyone was asking me if I was excited and although it seems weird, i just have to go ahead with the handfasting. I cant cancel it, and it wouldn’t feel right to do so. Plus Lilly told me Mick would go garrotty if he could know I’ve been thinking that and I believe her


I do feel excited despite everything but also nervous. My biggest fear is that no-one will turn up. I’ve had nightmares about that from the beginning. Last night 3 people told us they couldn’t come and felt really dismayed by that. Nicky told me I shouldnt take it personally but it’s hard not to.


There’s so much still to do that its easy to forget why I’m doing it. But then SBT says something lovely and I remember who the important one is (me of course LOL) today he told me he was getting nervous. We both have tomorrow off – for me today is just a  normal day at work but for him, he now really feels his Big Day approaching.


So… since our computer at home has totally died and will not be resurrected in the near future, this will be my last post as a single girl.


!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you’re wondering why this page has been black for a few days its because of the death of a friend, Mick. I wont go into the details; suffice to say that it was one of the worst evenings of my life, not to mention what his wife and children are going through.


today’s page colour is yellow. I didnt know Mick long but I chatted to him a quite a bit on the day he died and was with him at the end too. I’ve heard a lot about the kind of guy Mick was and it strikes me that if a colour is appropriate to what I have heard about Mick, its probably yellow.


We’re still getting married after much uncertainty following this event (this time in 3 days time it will be happening, argghhh!) but it wont be the completely carefree occasion it was going to be. This will be at the back of my mind for a long time to come.

I have got just under 9 days left of being Miss. This was brought home to me today when I signed the delivery form from a courier at work. It was also brought home to me that it is already SEPTEMBER. Is it just me or does anyone else feel that the year has whizzed past?


I looked in my Filofax today at my to-do list which has been ongoing since January. I love lists and ticking things off them is great. But the best thing I ever ticked off a list was today when I ticked off ‘Design wedding dress’. My wedding dress is now not only designed, but it is made, fitted and finished and is hanging on my wardrobe door waiting to be worn. That is the best feeling in the world. Must be a dressmaker thing. I get such a sense of achievement out of that. That’s the feeling I want everyday. I feel a career change coming on. Well, not a change exactly – more a return. I’m getting there…


I can’t believe I’m getting married next weekend. I cant wait, though it seems like there is a mountain of stuff to do between now and then. Eeeek! I’m so excited!!!!!!!!!