Wedding

Things they don’t tell you about planning a wedding

So it’s been a few months now but I’ve finally got around to writing a blog about my wedding. I got married in August and it was a wonderful day. I was told many times that I was a pretty chilled and relaxed bride; I never wanted to turn into a bridezilla. However, inside I did feel stressed. Buying a house and getting a mortgage at the same time as planning a wedding probably didn’t help. Here are a few things I wish I’d known or listened to when it was my turn and hopefully these tips can help someone else:

  • You can easily go overboard with the spending and I can see how people do it. Put the word wedding in front of anything and the price skyrockets. Photography is a key example of this, we went to many wedding fairs and saw photography packages where you could pay well over a grand and only get digital copies at the end of it. Having a photographer stay around after the ceremony and speeches in many cases required an extra cost. Thankfully we used Bradley Wedding Photography. Ray and Sandra were fabulous and stayed there for the whole day. You can do a wedding reasonably. Set a budget, find out if you have any friends or family that can help out. Our amazing wedding cake was made by my best friend’s mum. You’ll be amazed how many people are happy to help.
  • Weddings can bring out the best and worst in people. Some unexpected people will really step up and help you in so many ways whether that’s letting you rant about something or throw you an awesome hen party. You might even find out that some people have more opinions about your day than you. Take no notice and don’t let anyone ruin your day.
  • You’ll look forward to it being over. The planning that is. You spend so long building up to this one day that you’ll be wishing yourself on honeymoon before the wedding. Try and enjoy the planning stage as much as you can.
  • Something will go wrong. In the grand scheme of things, as long as your nearest and dearest are there and your bride or groom turns up, you will not notice what else happens. I forgot my shoes but luckily my lovely driver did a detour and we were able to pick them up. If I’d had to wear sandals walking down the aisle however, it wouldn’t have ruined the day. Unfortunately, the day goes so quickly that you don’t have time to notice everything. We’d love to go back and do it again and actually take everything in.
  • You’ll spend so long worrying about other people when you really should just focus on the two of you. It’s your day and you should do what you want. Regardless of what others say or think. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what colour your table cloth is, no-one will remember anything except what a brilliant day it was.

If you want any wedding advice from someone who’s recently done it or have any other tips, please leave a comment.

 

Maldives
Our World, Ramblings

Beautiful winter’s day for a beach clean

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Yesterday, along with my mum and sister, I took part in a beach clean at one of my local beaches. I’m not going to lie, Sunday’s are normally very lazy days for me where I catch up on the mountain of TV I have to watch, take a leisurely bath and do any other chores I need to do (currently the kittens are taking up most of this time). So when my sister suggested doing this, part of me wanted to stay in bed, especially with the bitterly cold weather we’ve been having recently. We set off with a flask of hot Ribena and were wrapped up ready for the Artic.

The statistics speak for themselves

The Marine Conservation Society has been running beach cleans for years but they’ve recently taken on the gigantic project of the Great British Beach Clean. According to stats from surveys carried out in 2017, an average of 718 litter items were found per 100m across the UK’s beaches. Over 30% of this comes from us; items that we are deliberately leaving on beaches or flushing down toilets etc. The majority of the items are plastic pieces and sweet and crisp packets. As well as ruining the look of our beaches, this is hugely dangerous to the wildlife around our country. The UK has some of the most diverse natural habitats in the world and they are being destroyed due to our impact. Anyone who’s seen Blue Planet this year will know the devastation plastic especially can do to our oceans. Turtles can get caught in it; fish are eating it and poisoning their young and even us. We don’t know enough yet about the impact that plastic has on us but it’s already affecting the other residents of this planet. Plastic bags can look like delicious jellyfish in the sea and tiny colourful pieces of plastic could probably be mistaken for fish.

A great day to make a difference

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Needles found in just under two hours on the beach

The turnout for the beach clean was amazing. Apparently, they normally have around 20 people attend but there were at least 100 people there of all ages. It was great to see parents bringing their young children to help. The amount of litter we found was staggering. Cigarette stubs, a load of cotton buds, plastic bottle tops, polystyrene foam you name it, it was there, we even found a whole broccoli. Even more worrying was the number of needles found which you can see above on such a well-used beach for walkers, children and animals. It’s so sad to see, especially as one of the clean-up leaders reminded us, the tide comes in twice a day so more is washed up all the time. It felt really great to help and I would encourage everyone to do one. A bracing walk on a cold winter’s day could be just what you need and you get to help the planet too.

We need to make a change

Maldives
Angel fish in The Maldives

We visited the Maldives last year as part of our honeymoon and were lucky enough to see some amazing underwater wildlife including reef sharks, dolphins, rays and beautiful fish. The idea that in the not too distant future these habitats and species won’t be around anymore is so sad. Coral reefs are dying due to rising sea temperatures and now fish are eating the rubbish we chuck away. Something needs to be done. The Marine Conservation Society is doing a fantastic job to try and change this. They’ve already had success by helping bring in the plastic bag charge in 2015 and run beach cleanups across the UK regularly. Click here to find one near you and sign their petitions to stop the devastation of plastic.

I would like to ask everyone who has read this to do a few things to help:

  • Share the messages in this blog and those of the Marine Conservation Society
  • Recycle as much as you can. Visit your local authority’s website for more information on what you can and can’t recycle
  • Sign the petitions the MCS are running which includes banning straws and other plastic cutlery from fast food chains
  • Don’t flush anything down the toilet that’s not meant to go down there
  • Small changes can make a big difference so leave a bag for life in your car or bag so that the use of plastic bags can be reduced
Jane Austen dating
Jane Austen

How I first got into Jane Austen and what I believe she can teach us about dating

Jane Austen dating
Photo by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash

I suppose it’s finally time I do a blog about Jane Austen. Given my blog’s name where I’ve managed to get three Jane Austen titles in, you might have gathered I’m a bit of a fan. From quite a young age I’ve always enjoyed watching historical and period dramas but I think I really have Keira Knightley to thank for my first journey into Austen. As soon as I saw the first Pirates of the Caribbean film when I was about 12, I was hooked and became obsessed with seeing every film I could with Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley in (especially Orlando Bloom) When I saw that she was in something called Pride and Prejudice, we hired it on DVD. I was transfixed. The polite way they spoke to each other, the stunning costumes and stately homes. The moral behind every story and even the social conventions. Although luckily we’ve progressed a lot (although not far enough) from a woman being on the shelf if she’s not married by 21, I still think there’s something we can learn from Jane Austen and other writers of her time.

The dating system

Luckily I don’t have to navigate the tricky world of 21st century dating anymore but if I did I wouldn’t know where to start. Where do you meet someone if work, mutual friends and hobbies aren’t working? Online dating? For some, this is a scary process though I personally know quite a few successful love stories that have flourished from this. Back in the 18th and 19th century, the rules were clear; you met a suitable partner at a dance. No more than three though or there’d be talk in the morning. There were obvious flaws with this system. Your whole courtship is public and you can never be alone to fully learn about each other. A chaperone would be needed and the first time you would be able to have a private conservation would be after you’re married.

An easier time?

However, there are no worries about who makes the first move, it would have always been the man. In this age of feminism, women don’t want to be seen to let the man pay or wait for him to ask her out. However, this can lead to confusion and miscommunication. I personally like the idea of chivalry (maybe that’s why I love these types of novels so much) as long as the man isn’t being taking advantage of. I see it as meaning mutual respect for both men and women. I see no reason why a man can’t open the door for a woman and vice versa; it’s polite.

A misunderstood genre

For those who haven’t read any Jane Austen, there’s the assumption it’s all bonnets and tea. Many don’t realise that social commentary and irony play as heavy a role in Austen’s novels as romance does. She’s not writing a classic man meets woman, fall in love story. She deals with issues of inheritance, illegitimate children and slavery as well as poking fun at the clergy even though her father was a vicar. We’re determined to believe that before the modern ages of the 20th century, women were meek and mild. Austen’s heroines are nothing of the sort. Elizabeth Bennet is fiercely independent and has no issue sparring with a man seen as her superior in wealth and class. This would have been unheard of and unbecoming. Emma Woodhouse has no thoughts of marriage but spends all her time matchmaking in a time when love wasn’t seen as a prerequisite for marriage. Elinor Dashwood understands finances and tries desperately to help her mother’s situation when they have reduced circumstances.

A woman before her time

The main thing I want you to take away about Jane Austen is that she was a realist. She understood that, at the time, a woman did require marriage in order to survive. She may have tried to ensure that the majority of her characters had happy after evers but she did it in a realistic and plausible way. Her own life didn’t match this and she knew enough about heartache and lost chances.

I hope for those who are yet to venture into the world of Jane Austen, I’ve inspired you. If you’re already a fan, please let me know what your favourite Jane Austen novel is and I will review it in my next Austen blog.

You may have noticed my blog looks a little different, I’m making a real effort this year to make my blog the best it can be and I really appreciate everyone’s support. Please share if you enjoy reading. x

Ramblings

Welcome 2018

Happy New Year to all my readers and I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I enjoyed my first Christmas with my husband in our first home with our two gorgeous kittens. I hope you had a good rest and lots of fun with family and friends. I received a lot of rum this year, I think someone’s trying to tell me something. 2018 should hopefully be a good one. However you saw in the New Year, whether you had a quiet night in or you hit the town, I hope it was a good one. We went out for the first time at New Year to an alternative rock night which was fantastic. I have lots planned for my blog for 2018 so watch this space x

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

Ramblings

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas
Photo by Tom Rickhuss on Unsplash

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all my readers, I hope you have a wonderful time celebrating with your family and friends. I’m grateful to all those who spend the time reading my blog and the New Year will bring some exciting new changes as well as more regular posts. But for now, drink, be merry and have fun!

Sonic Sunrise
Music

The day I met Sonic Sunrise

I was lucky enough to chat to Bristol based band Sonic Sunrise ahead of their Christmas gig on Thursday 21st December at The Fleece. Made up of Aaron, Tom, Matt and Joe, Sonic Sunrise are a regular face in the Bristol gigging circuit and I’ve been lucky enough to catch them a few times including in the summer when they supported Green Day tribute band Green Haze at the Exchange. In a break from rehearsing, I spoke to vocalist and frontman Aaron Potter.

So, Aaron, how did the band start?

It started as something to do for a musical secondary school talent show in 2009. There were only three band members at the time, and we enjoyed that first performance so much we thought we’d give it a go.

I’ve got to ask, where did the name Sonic Sunrise come from?

All I can remember is that it was Tom who came up with it. Whenever I ask him how he did though, he’s not sure. We’re all big gamers, so I suppose that’s where the “Sonic” connection could’ve come from, and as for the “Sunrise” part, everyone loves a bit of alliteration don’t they?

You call yourself cheesy indie rock. What do you mean by this? Are there any bands you would say you’re like?

Yeah so that may have changed a bit in recent years actually. I’m not sure if the “cheesy” description is appropriate anymore. The reasons that came about was due to our old keyboard player Jed who would jazz up songs with these really light and sometimes cringe-worthy major chord sequences. We loved him, and it made sense when we were first starting out as we were young and wrote so many soppy love songs. Now though, I’d say we focus on being indie/pop rock, nothing too heavy but also not too light. If there are any bands out there we’d compare ourselves to, I’d probably say someone like The Killers.

Bristol’s a great city with a thriving music scene. Do you find this a challenge due to competition with other bands or that it gives you more opportunities?

No not at all, being in Bristol is actually a blessing. Yes, there are a lot of other bands out there, but I wouldn’t say that there’s any competition. It was tough when first starting out, but these days we get on well with most of the owners of many of Bristol’s major music venues, and they’re pretty good about letting us play when they have a slot that suits us. In terms of other Bristol bands, some of them are unbelievably good to the point that we can’t understand how they’re not signed by a label. If anything, it pushes us to want to be better as a band. Gigging a lot lets us see what other people are doing and we get a real kick out of it.

Your gig next week is at The Fleece which is going through some issues at the moment with crippling business rates as well as a new development of flats nearby threatening its survival. How important are venues like this to you and local bands in general?

Incredibly important. We have a big link with The Fleece in that it was the first big major Bristol venue we played in that wasn’t a school hall. I think the current promoter there even went so far as to say that we’re probably the one local band who’s played there the most.

In terms of the issues going on, does it suck? Sure, but at the same time, it’s unsurprising sadly. We’ve become used to seeing venues have to deal with hardship and played many that are no longer here because of it. We have no doubt that The Fleece will pull through as they did before, they’re too important and respected not to.

All of you have full-time jobs and other commitments; how do you find the time for writing and rehearsing?

We don’t find as much time as we’d like, but we make it work. Writing is usually a process of one of us having an idea either for a riff, chorus, or hook, and then the rest of the band adding in their own layers and personality. It’s really collaborative and we think that’s really important.

What are your plans for 2018? Will you be playing more gigs and most importantly, when can we expect the Sonic Sunrise album?

Haha, it’s funny because we’ve released two EPs but never an album, but it’s something we’re always thinking about. 2018 will see plenty of gigs for sure, with hopefully one in Brighton which will be a first. In terms of the album itself, 2019 will be our 10 year anniversary, and though it may have taken us a while to get there, I can’t think of a better time to release the album. Watch this space.

Who would you say are the major influences of the band and where does the inspiration for your songs come from?

Inspiration can literally come from anything. 90% of the time I’d say it’s usually either from a past experience or something relating to relationships. It’s then the process of settling on what type of song would suit the subject, then the lyrics follow. Major influences would be Foo Fighters, Muse, The Killers, Red Hot Chili Peppers. And we have a Mancunian in the band so we’re obliged to say Oasis.

Do you all have different tastes and can this cause conflicts when say, your drummer wants some heavy stuff and others don’t?

Well, you’ve hit the nail on the head. We all have crossover in tastes as well as differences. It can lead to some heated debates about where to take a song a lot of the time, but we trust each other enough to at least experiment. If things aren’t getting anywhere, I’d say the onus falls on the original songwriter to make the right call.

The Power Ranger’s theme tune always goes down well. Why did you pick this and do you have any other ‘fun’ songs in your repertoire?

We love questions like this. So many times when we go to see bands personally – some even at a professional level – I’m so disappointed when they move from song to song during a set. A gig isn’t just about the music but the performance as a whole, and with that came our decision to interact with the crowd whenever possible.

The Power Rangers theme was one of the best ways of doing this surprisingly and was a nice way to show people that although we care about our music, we don’t like to take ourselves too seriously. We’re all children of the 90s and that song is so unexpected every time.

A few last words for anyone still undecided about seeing you?

Come and see us, we promise you won’t regret it!

With their combination of softer ballads and fun covers of Power Rangers theme and The Killer’s Mr Brightside, this is a band to watch out for. Catch them tomorrow with a host of other local bands at The Fleece from 7pm, not a night to be missed.

cider
Ramblings

Festive cider fun

cider

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a Somerset girl at heart and love a good cider. Bristol has its own cider shop which offers tastings and I’d been meaning to do one for a while. The first available one was the festive tasting last week and I’m so glad we went.

The Bristol Cider Shop moved a year ago to Wapping Wharf where a range of restaurants, bars and shops all have their own cargo containers. It’s an unusual but effective idea that really works with Bristol’s unique and quirky feel. The Bristol Cider Shop prides itself on only offering cider that has been produced within 50 miles which gives it’s a nice local feel. They also only sell cider that is made with 100% pure juice. I was shocked to learn that the minimum apple juice required by UK law is only 35%. I also learnt (although it seems obvious now) that dry cider has no sugar in it at all as it has all been removed by the fermentation process.

We arrived a bit early so popped into the bar opposite for a drink and it started to snow which made this first Christmassy event even more festive. We were greeted by the manager Seb who gave us a warming mulled cider which was a treat after being out in the snow. A lovely spread of local bread, cheese, crisps, pork pies and apples were laid out for us. The rest of the drinks were given to us in the order as if we were hosting Christmas. These included a sparkling celebration cider, cider brandy, a cider matured in whisky barrels and ice cider. We also tried mead which was unexpectedly delicious. We had 10 in total and I’m not going to lie, I did feel it a bit at the end. We weren’t sure what to expect in terms of the portions but it was help yourself, as long as everyone got some.

The cider toasties we had were to die for. I will definitely be going back for some more. Using cheese washed in cider, this made the best toastie I’ve ever had. The shop has a fantastic range of ciders and the staff are more than happy to recommend one if you’re not sure what you want. Afterwards we went to the festive Ultimate Power club night (see my previous blog post to see what you’re missing out on.) So if you’re a real cider fan or aren’t sure what cider to have at Christmas, get down to the Bristol Cider shop. It’s the perfect place for cider lovers.

Photo by Joanna Nix on Unsplash

Ramblings

Christmas 2017: Sleet, spacemen and sausages

Photo by Charlotte Coneybeer on Unsplash

I’m very grateful for all those who are reading this post after such a long gap. Weddings and the aftermath can be stressful and take up a lot of your time (more on this in the New Year). I thought as it is the season to be jolly I’d write a festive blog post. As I write this it’s currently snowing outside which our new kittens are finding very interesting. Although due to living near the coast, the snow rarely sets which is a shame.

Christmas is a time for family and friends Well this is what we tell ourselves but nowadays it seems to be a time of buying food you don’t need and drinking too much. I am one of those who does get very excited about Christmas food, especially party food when you’re not even throwing a party! Really it’s just food you already know but it’s miniature and therefore you buy into the hype. I have seen some pigs in blanket in Yorkshire puddings that I can’t wait to try. The majority of the time you’re so stuffed after what is normally the biggest roast dinner of the year but you still try and cram in crisps, chocolate and Christmas pudding. Growing up we would always have croissants for breakfast which I absolutely loved but really you should just eat fruit in preparation for the onslaught that is to come. So what is your favourite festive food/drink? Is it warming mulled wine or a mince pie? Take my poll below to let me know what your favourite treat is.

I’m really looking forward to Christmas this year. It will be mine and my husband’s first Christmas together in our house. Since losing my Dad in December six years ago I think I make an unconscious effort to be as Christmassy as possible so that it’s a joyful time rather than a sad one. I love giving presents, that’s so much more important than receiving them. A few years ago I surprised my husband with a trip to see his favourite footballer play and I was so excited yet impatient as had booked it months in advance and just couldn’t wait until he found out. Luckily he was overjoyed (there was even a tear or two).

I like visiting as many Christmassy events as possible. This year, I went to Bath Market and Dunster by Candlelight. Unfortunately, they’re both over now but check them out next year. Bath Market is a traditional Christmas market full of local gifts and food (there’s so much cheese and I’m pretty sure I tried it all). It’s also great for the gin and ciders lovers amongst you. Set with the backdrop of Bath Abbey, it’s truly a magical place to be. Dunster is a beautifully kept medieval village and castle and for one weekend, it’s lit just by candles and has its own little market. I would recommend everyone to check these out next year.

Christmas music is also one of the first ways the festive season feels like it’s begun. Though I feel it’s a shame we don’t have many modern Christmas hits though many try. Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton’s hit though is great (big fan of country music over here).

The majority of my favourite Christmas hits come from the cassette (yes we’re going back to the 90s) that my Dad would play in the car. I have very fond memories of us driving in the sleet, sometimes snow and having Chris de Burgh’s A Spaceman Came Travelling on full blast. I was so surprised to discover that many don’t know this but I think it’s a classic.
My other favourites of course include Wham’s Last Christmas, Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s The Power of Love and The Darkness’s Christmas Time.

So that’s just a few of my thoughts about Christmas and I hope you all have a wonderful time whatever you do. I will be posting a lot more regularly in the New Year, I promise. X

P.S. Don’t forget to take part in my Christmas food poll and follow me by clicking the links on the left if you enjoyed reading.

Uncategorized

Bear with me…

It’s been a while since I wrote anything but I will be back soon. I’m very grateful to all my readers. I thought it would be a good idea to buy a house and get married in the space of a few months. That’s right; in three weeks I will be married 😀

Once everything has settled down I will be back with a new blog post.

Thanks everyone 🙂

xxx

Disney, Ramblings

The day I met the Beast

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Last week I watched (for the second time) one of my favourite Disney animated films become live-action. It was truly magical and yes I did cry; pretty much the whole way through the first time around. In my opinion, the casting couldn’t have been more perfect with a range of fantastic actors and actresses. Emma Watson was a brilliant Belle, Dan Stevens, well I will talk about him later, the wonderful Ian McKellan, Ewan McGregor and of course Luke Evans, who did a brilliant job of making you like Gaston, if even for just a moment.

Some people have an issue with Disney but I think films like this will always have a place. They are pure escapism but I think Beauty and the Beast, like many of the classic Disney films, has a message. Growing up, Beauty and the Beast was a favourite alongside two others which never seem to be as popular; Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. These deal with issues of prejudice and tolerance; accuracy obviously is not always present but for a child they were great. I do think the things you grow up with have a big impact on your personality; I remember watching The Hunchback of Notre Dame in the cinema; I would have only been four or five and can still remember getting upset at a scene where Quasimodo is mocked. This has always stuck with me.

Of course I’ve always loved the ‘Princess’ ones and I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with that. True, they aren’t all brilliant role models for girls but unfortunately they are quite accurate to the times they were set in. Women were supposed to wait around to get married, and if that ended up being a prince then they would be much better off than the rest. Belle was always my favourite though and unlike the others, she shows something different. Firstly, she’s a bookworm which was obviously the big draw for me as I’ve always ‘had my nose stuck in a book’. Secondly, she wants to break the mould and go further than the small town she lives in. She doesn’t want to follow the path set out for her to become a silent and doting wife. Granted they do make a big deal of her being beautiful on the outside but I do think the film’s main message is that inner beauty is what counts overall. Shrek is another fine, although non-Disney, example of this

Of course I am a romantic, I can’t deny that and along with Disney, I love nothing more than a classic period drama or a bit of Nicholas Sparks. However, I was also (maybe wrongly?) brought up on James Bond. I used to watch the reruns on Saturday afternoons from quite a young age and unlike the majority of my friends, I’ve always loved a good action film. To go back to Disney I am always drawn to the more feisty female characters such as Pocahontas, Belle and Esmerelda who aren’t afraid to stand up for what they believe in and occasionally fight for it too.

This has been my longwinded attempt of showing the world that I love Disney and I’m not ashamed. (Still waiting on that trip to Disneyland Sam :p). I think on one level they can be seen as entertaining films that all ages can enjoy but if you look deeper, the best ones do truly have a heart and a moral message at the centre.

Oh yes, did I mention how amazing Dan Stevens is as the Beast? You may have noticed the picture. By some miracle I was sat in the same restaurant as him on the weekend. I plucked up the courage to speak to him and ask for a photo as I knew I would always regret it if I didn’t. I have loved watching him since Sense and Sensibility in 2008 and he then became my favourite character in Downton Abbey. I managed to tell him how he ruined Christmas for me the year he was killed off. He was charming and lovely and a perfect choice for the Beast who underneath all that growling and fur really is Prince Charming.

If you haven’t already, go out and see Beauty and the Beast. If you’re a die-hard fan you won’t be disappointed. Just be aware that if you’re like me you might like the Beast a bit too much.