Horseback and harmonies

So now what? After a honeymoon to B’s native New Zealand in February, then getting hitched in London in June and celebrating with friends there, and finally rounding everything off with a wedding celebration in Sweden with more friends and family late July, are we now just supposed to be… …..married? And that’s it? Nah, I’m more than content being Mrs B without having to celebrate that fact every few weeks, but let me tell ya our Sweden break was all in the name of love.

Our friends and family had arranged a stag do for B and a hen do for me, both whole day events with lots of activities.

 

And it was all a nod to days gone past. It started on a quad bike on which me and M went round a route based on a map, where I had to find various things that formed part of my survival kit for the day. Then on horseback but I’ve not been on one for about 25 years so declined the let’s-go-fast-now bit. We basically did all those things us countryside chicks do – on wheels, on horseback and with guns. I’ve said it before, but I’m very proud to be a hillbilly. I grew up in the countryside and my whole childhood was very much an outdoor adventure – these things are part of my DNA. Us countryside chicks know how to rock an evening gown and attend a ball at the royal castle, but we also know how to pull up a trout and load a gun. Those city flowers don’t have a patch on us.

Our wedding celebration was just one big love bombing. The atmosphere was warm, hearty and full of love. Foxy blew everyone away as toastmadam – I always knew it’d be great but this was beyond. My girl did me more than proud. I mean, normally I’m proud as punch just getting to stand next to her for God’s sake. The food was great, the speeches were moving, there was lots of laughter, both B and I managed to correctly identify the other’s legs, I waltzed with my dad (he is amazingly good and swung me around like I was a feather) and when most people had left at 2am there was still a little group of us singing outside on top of our lungs such classics as Stuck in the Middle with You, Mustang Sally and numerous others. Just like back in the day when bossy M told me and Foxy which harmony to belt out at her command.

20664639_351028761997191_5376203424222044365_n

And our wedding celebrations finished off with yet another mini-honeymoon at a nature village a couple of hours away from where I grew up. No electricity, no running water and if you feel like you need a shower you take your shower gel and jump in the lake. But it was the BEST and again like stepping back into my childhood and scout camps. And who needs electricity or running water when you have camp fires and water from a natural spring? Not me. We switched our mobiles off for the duration – with the exception of spending half an hour on the second day walking around to take photos – and had no idea what time it was. We made scrambled eggs and pinnbröd (a simple bread for the outdoors – wrap the dough around a stick and grill over the fire) for breakfast and generally ate when we were hungry, went fishing when we felt like it (for when we might be hungry again), sat in the sauna before jumping in the lake because it wasn’t quite hot enough to be pleasant, and enjoyed a magnificent Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough on the front porch of our treehouse gazing out over the lake below and just enjoying being alive. It was pure perfection.

…..and so now here we are and as much as it’s almost bittersweet coming back down to earth after all that magic, I have to remind myself that our life has never been boring and so why should it suddenly be dull just because we’re Mr and Mrs? And as always we have things lined up during the autumn including a short break to Spain, a stand-up comedy show and visits from Sweden. I’m so grateful I’m on this awesome rollercoaster called life – nothing beats it.

Oh, and we are now booked in to get inked on Saturday 30th September – yay!

Advertisements

Cotton wool and our true mettle

Holy cannoli. I think I can safely say that this last Saturday I experienced the most terrifying moment of my life. What IS it with 2017?! I thought spotting large fins appearing in the surf at Waihi beach less than five metres from B and our three boys was bad enough. OK, so attacks by copper sharks are incredibly rare, but I don’t want anything bigger than a harmless little Scandie herring swimming anywhere NEAR my reasons for being, thank you very much. My heart just about jumped out of my chest. You’d think nothing could top that little moment of fear. You’d think.

Monkey is growing up way too quickly and unfortunately it turns out it is not good parenting to wrap him in cotton wool, prevent him from EVER leaving the house and have him in my sights at all times. Unfortunately. So I am trying to get over myself and have done my best to give him more responsibility and freedom, little by little. And Monkey? Well, he’s grown with each little bit and shown incredible maturity, my little shining star. Or not so little anymore given how it won’t be long until he is taller than I am.

So. Saturday B and I went to see friends on the south coast so were away from mid-morning to early evening. Monkey hopped on buses to get to his mates in Chiswick, dutifully texting at each change of bus and change of location, then back home at the agreed time to let himself in. He’d got back just minutes before us and he had tidied his room and done all the things I’d asked him too. It’s moments like that when this nervous, over protective mother draws a sigh of relief and feels so much, well, LESS nervous about continuing to give him freedom.

It’s all based in every parent’s worst nightmare, the fear that something awful could happen. It’s horrible thoughts about various horrible scenarios my child could get caught up in from being mugged to being in an accident, get kidnapped or worse. Unlikely all of them, but they figure in my mind all the same and if I’m really honest I sometimes have sleepless nights due to my anxious mind going into over drive and me powerless to switch those frightening thoughts off.

Once we were back, Monkey went downstairs to get his friend J, a kid his age who lives in the same building, for a kick-about in the garden. I do occasionally go and have a look out of the window, just to check. I am trying to be more relaxed but I am still ME so cut me some slack here. And oh, I do still to this day go in to his room – as I have since he was born – after he has gone to sleep and only when I can see his chest rise and fall do I leave.

A bit later the doorbell goes so I go to open, assuming that as usual it’s Monkey who’s just back up. It’s not. It’s J, who is panting and looking at me wide-eyed.

You have to come, [Monkey] has fallen through the garage roof.

At the end of the garden there is a row of old garages and every so often those two climb up on them to retrieve their footballs or rugby balls. We have of course asked them not to, but there we are. They are at a guess roughly three metres in height, we don’t know who owns them, they are all padlocked shut and who knows what’s inside. Has Monkey free fallen three metres on to a concrete floor? Landed on something sharp? These were the least horrific scenarios that went through my mind. B comes flying past, telling me in a stern voice “I’ll deal with it“, before running down. I run after him and God only knows how as I think I stopped breathing altogether. I get out, round the corner of the building and run down the drive way to the bottom of the garden. As I get to the other side of the garages to where their doors are, there is J, B and three other neighbours. I don’t know what we will find but I do know this: there is complete silence. I cannot hear my child. And as awful as it sounds, in this moment it would be preferable to hear him screaming. There is not a sound.

I move close to the doors.

[Monkey]!” I call out and do my best to keep my voice calm. “Can you hear me?”

Yeah, I’m OK,” comes the answer immediately and I’m so grateful there is no way to describe the utter gratitude and relief I feel.

Are you in pain?”

Not really.”

At this point B and two of the neighbours are examining the door to see how we will get through it. It’s kicking it through or calling the fire brigade. B asks Monkey if he is close to the door. Monkey doesn’t know and now I can hear in his voice that he is crying, it’s a wail more than shouting back in reply. I’m desperate to get my child, desperate to have him out because I know he must be frightened. The doors are old and of wood, and we discover we can bend them open. Me and the three neighbours pull the doors all we can, enough for B to get through.

Monkey has fallen on to the roof of a car, which has luckily staggered his fall. He’s taken a good old tumble though as the car’s roof has a Monkey sized dent in it. As roof tiles have then landed on Monkey, he has rolled to the side to avoid them and fallen down to the side of the car, becoming wedged bottom first and legs up in the air between the car and the wall. That’s how B finds him and he cannot move.

It is in times of crisis we show our true mettle, and B does. This is why he is at the very top of a global company with thousands of employees. I would have tried to immediately get Monkey out of there. B keeps a cool head and first asks him what, if anything, hurts. Then to move his hands, move his feet, does his head hurt, does his neck feel OK and so on. Only when he has established all of this – only over the course of a few minutes but which to me on the outside feel like an eternity – does he eventually get Monkey out. I hold him close. He is covered in dirt, sand and has clearly had a real fright. His eyes are wide and filled with tears.

Turns out he has escaped with only a bump to his head, cuts and bruises, none serious. And all I can do is thank his lucky stars and mine as it could have ended very, very badly. There is no greater privilege or honour than being Monkey’s mother, no greater love anyone could ever feel. And there is no greater or more paralysing fear than the fear of your child coming in harm’s way, just like there is no greater torment than when they do. You wonder when something like this happens – something that didn’t end as badly as it might have – how people cope when there isn’t a happy outcome. And I never, ever want to find out. Perhaps it IS possible after all to keep Monkey wrapped in cotton wool and never let him leave the house?

Thank God for guardian angels.

Ink, forgiveness and sourdough

I am ROASTING! I don’t just eat like a trucker, I sweat like one too although today is admittedly not as unbearably hot as yesterday was. It’s just how humid it is in London that makes anything beyond 25 degrees Celsius feel like you’re in some sort of green house come pizza oven hybrid. My first summer here was a scorcher. The summer of 1995 when the order of the day was exploring west London’s pubs and bars with new friends who were mostly nannies from Australia and New Zealand, and on occasion frequenting clubs in town like the Marquee, the legendary rock club that is no more. Once on a day off when strolling around on King’s Road me and a friend spotted Michael Hutchence, one of many childhood and teenage idols of mine who departed much too soon. The drink de jour was a sickening concoction called Snake Bite, which for some reason didn’t seem so bad at the time – think it was half lager, half cider and a dash of cranberry juice or something like that. Bleurgh. Every Thursday night we made our pilgrimage to the Slug and Lettuce on Fulham Broadway. Fun times. And that sweltering heat! Funny how most of my friends that year were Kiwis, in particular lovely a Maori girl called Pare (I even ended up with a slight Kiwi twang because that accent was constantly around me and I reckon the accent you develop speaking a second language is what you get to know naturally and have around you) and then two decades later I ended up marrying one. That insane, suffocating, sticky heat along with all my Kiwi buddies was all part of that first summer in London.

Actually, it seems to have suddenly clouded over, and now that I’m at work I’m feeling human again as opposed to looking (and feeling) like one of MC Hammer’s back-up dancers. The office I’m in is possibly the coolest room in the house. Not that I’ve been in all the rooms (at a guess there must be 50+) but the kitchen area is always very warm so I’m grateful for my little oasis.

As much as I always try to take at least one moment each day to count my blessings, sometimes you need to stop and really give some thought to the things that are not quite so sweet. To be fair, although this year along with the 10 that came before it, has been really great, its proved to be challenging and there has been an enormous amount of stress and anxiety too, which I have not seen much of since I got divorced. There is nothing more painful than to see your child go through something crappy, and well, Monkey is. We’re coming out on the other side and he’s a lot more settled, but there are deep rooted issues in his relationship with his father and as it stands that relationship has broken down entirely. As a result Monkey is refusing to see his dad, is now even refusing to speak to him. It’s heartbreaking and certainly not something I want for my son. In an ideal world I’d like the two to have an amazing relationship that makes them both happy. However, life doesn’t always turn out to be rainbows and ponies, and as much as it’s been difficult I can completely see why Monkey feels the way he does.

All I can do is keep on encouraging him to forgive and to reach out, but I won’t force him. All I can do is encourage him to be the bigger person and display those very qualities he himself felt were missing, namely empathy, forgiveness and love. And all I can do is hope his dad eventually takes a look in the mirror and not only takes steps to earn his son’s trust and respect again, but also realises that I’m not the enemy and rather his ally in that ultimately we want the same thing. But hey ho. I can only be the best I can be and act with integrity, honesty and love bomb my son.

Not home dry yet, but there is no point worrying about how other people act or the choices they make. And all I know is that I have an amazing kid who sees so much further than you’d expect from a little tween. He knows it’s not his issue or problem, and to be honest the display I witnessed just a few weeks ago directed at Monkey by one of his uncles on dad’s side was probably the ugliest thing I’ve ever experienced. Some people. Monkey now refuses to use the word ‘uncle’ about that particular person. Disgraceful, but then I only need to wonder what it must be like to live your life with that kind of spite and hatred in your heart to know that those people suffer and we do not. Sticks and stones and if I’m really honest perhaps it was a blessing in disguise that Monkey discovered who they really are and grabbed the opportunity to get away from it.

So there we are, but Monkey seems much, much happier – he’s grown so much since it all kicked off in January, both physically and mentally. He’s taken up more sports and rugby is now his preferred activity. He’s still – and probably always will be – a chatty, super energetic kid who can’t keep still and therefore earns 10-minute detentions. These quite often translate into senior staff detentions of 40 minutes after school due to Monkey’s scatter brain. But he is good natured, loving and sweet, and as much as the whole dad situation has knocked him, he’s come out the other side even stronger and in two days we’re off to a little award ceremony at his school where Monkey is nominated for one of the excellence awards. He will be moving to a local school soon and is looking forward to being in an environment again where he is challenged because unfortunately his current school has not provided any of that and every parent I speak to has voiced the same concern.

It’ll all come good. Have other friends who also go through real testing times with teenage sons, it must be part of the job description.

So. Midsummer this coming weekend. B and I are off to Ashbrittle, to a little farm where they hold bakery classes – a little retreat in deepest, loveliest Somerset. I love baking and do a fair bit so really looking forward to it, especially as there’s a focus on sourdough which I absolutely love. Taking a selection of Swedish Midsummer fare of course: pickled herring, snaps, Skagenröra, crisp bread and some other bits. Cannot wait! I love our little adventures out of London and this one’s bound to be awesome. It’s a converted barn we’ll be calling home for a couple of days and that sort of thing is right up my street!

the barn

The only slight worry is that the Glastonbury Festival is on at the same time and it’s basically right en route so hopefully we won’t get held up in a 20-mile tailback. Because that’s the other thing – we won’t be cruising along in B’s air conditioned and very comfortable Merc as that was collected yesterday, we’ll be tootling along in my Mini! The air conditioning doesn’t work too well and for 6’2 well built B it’s not comfortable even if he puts the seat all the way back. He looks like a Swiss knife folded in to it – I don’t know what looks funnier: when he is driving it or when he’s in the passenger seat. His new Audi won’t arrive in time but that would doubtlessly have been a nicer ride, especially given it’ll be three hours at least – and that’s with normal traffic and not stopping.

In other news we’re now waiting to receive our tattoo designs (yes, that’s right!) and the wedding photos and I don’t know which I’m most excited about!! We’ve of course already got four photos the lovely photographer sent us the next day, but there’s another 300+ that she’s picking out of thousands she took hovering around us and our guests for hours. As impatient as I am to see them all it’s also really cool to have this to look forward too after the big event itself has come and gone. And the tattoos…. Matching – no. Not having them in the same place and they’re entirely different but are linked, i.e. they share a couple of elements. By the same designer of course. Mine starts with a crown on my neck and runs down my spine about half way down my back ending in a heart that’s also an infinity symbol. All thin, elegant lines and quite dainty. It’s a string of letters and numbers incorporating things meaningful to us but will mean absolutely nothing to anyone looking at it! I reckon it’ll look so cool though. Well, others might consider it a sad expression of a looming midlife crisis but hey, bite me! Have wanted one for a long time and now’s as good a time as any! Ink me right up, baby!

So yes, life remains so wonderful I wake up with such an intense sense of gratitude each morning (even those when I wake up sweaty, like today in this mad London heat) but also does entail its trials and tribulations. But I suppose that’s what it’s all about and it’s always in darker times we show our mettle.

1heart

 

Magic and bonfires

Right, so here we are – I am now B’s wife, which means the hottest man on the planet is my husband. A magical day it was too and we had our three boys with us, which made it so incredibly special – especially given the older two were our witnesses. Everything was just perfect. My best friend in the world (nickname Lopez due to her flawless butt) was flown in from Canada to surprise me – gosh, she and B played that one VERY well indeed. My ‘borrowed’ was the Tiffany bracelet I gave her years ago when she moved back to Canada and that in itself was beautiful and I shed a little tear of joy when I opened the parcel earlier in the week. When Lopez herself – my wonderful, glorious, beautiful Lopez! – walked through the door the day before the wedding I nearly fainted with joy and bawled my eyes out!

And, of course, I got to marry the great big love of my life. It all felt like a dream, still does. My life is a freakin’ fairytale! I keep wanting to pinch myself.

So many things and unforgettable moments, simply too many to list over the course of a day filled with so much love surrounded by so many of these wonderful people we’re lucky enough to call our friends and family. Alongside Bonfire Night 2004 when I was giving birth to Monkey as fireworks ripped through the London sky, it was the best day of my life. Nothing could have worked out better, it was all so perfect and beautiful. I got to marry my best friend surrounded by the people we love and I’m the happiest woman alive.

a&b18920675_321794381587296_6919473833409883983_n

 

Stella in the sky with diamonds

Holy crap – sometimes I think God gets pissed off with me for being too blessed (although you could argue that’s HIS flaw more than mine, no?) and takes the opportunity to give me heart palpitations.

I think I may have mentioned it before, but I shop like a skinny billionaire. I’m neither skinny, nor rich, but there we are. I decided I was due some treats so went on to one of my favourite websites, BrandAlley. That’s often where I stock up on my favourite denim brands as you often get discounts along the lines of 80% – can’t argue with that, right? – and I went on to finally get that Stella McCartney bag I’ve been lusting after for YEARS. No really, I’ve been in love with it for a very long time. So I went for it. There were other reasons and circumstances, but let’s just say I felt I deserved it. I also went for a diamond necklace that was reduced from £2,800 to just under £500 – I mean, if that’s not a bargain I don’t know what is. Extravagant, perhaps, but sometimes you’ve just got to live a little.

Turns out I didn’t love the necklace (Stella and I are very much in love though) and even at the reduced price I think you need to fall in love to even POSSIBLY be able to justify the cost. So I returned it. Heard nothing and called up a few weeks later to check they’d at least received it. Yes, they had. I was told the refund was being processed. Just over two weeks later it has still not been paid out to me so I rang up.

Suddenly they’re claiming that it’s not been marked as received by the warehouse and I head straight into major anxiety. It’s not like I can just throw £500 at someone just for the hell of it. I was put on hold for what felt like an eternity during which I felt so stressed I almost had a mini stroke. Finally another person comes on the line and apologises profusely. A mistake their end, all is well and good, and the refund will be paid out immediately. Peh-f*cken-phew.

In other news, I have now decided to go on a juice fast. Jesus fkn Christ, anyone reading this will think I’m rolling in it – which is NOT the case – but I’m getting hitched and so why not enjoy a few frivolous flights of fancy? Five days of fruit and vegetable juices only. I’m hopeful these will taste GOOD. The Master Cleanse, aka the urine of Satan, did NOT. Amazingly, B is still drinking the stuff and HE is the one who doesn’t much like the kick of chilli, or in this case, cayenne pepper. Still not fussed about weight but really keen to see if it really does you as much good as the reviews and sales blurbs claim. I’m half hoping I’ll emerge from the five days looking 10 years younger.

Cayenne pepper and Beelzebub

My stint on the Master Cleanse lasted all of half a day. I actually thought it sounded quite nice: filtered water, freshly squeezed lemon, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. I don’t have a sweet tooth so the syrup did concern me, however the idea of cayenne pepper giving it all a bit of a kick cheered me up and I honestly thought it might be pretty damn delicious. How wrong I was.

The small sip I tried in the evening before B and I were to start the Master Cleanse and had prepared the lemonade did not accurately demonstrate what drinking a couple of litres of it might be like. It wasn’t nice but it wasn’t gross either. How wrong I was.

Day 1, whoo!

Here we go. B handed me my glass as I was putting on mascara and I decided to apply my default drinking style and neck it. So I did. And gagged. In the interests of accuracy and honesty I can reveal that this concoction is the urine of Satan. That’s genuinely what it tastes like. It looks like it too, or would do if Satan was really dehydrated and possibly also suffered from some sort of kidney complaint. I don’t know if it’s the maple syrup or the cayenne pepper that’s at fault here, can’t quite work it out. But hey, I’m not a quitter… Actually, that’s a filthy lie – I’m totally a quitter, I quit everything, I quit so much and so often I make quitting seem committed. Anyway, that’s not the point. I was, despite having consumed the waste product of the devil himself, still pretty motivated so I just figured I’d take small sips throughout the day as opposed to gulping down large quantities.

Mid-morning at work my stomach made a rumbling noise so I reached for the bottle, as it were. Slowly, slowly, I gingerly took five little sips. Nope. There it was immediately, the nausea and I had to keep very still and take deep, slow breaths for a minute or so to stop myself from retching. In conclusion, this cannot be done – anyone with taste buds will NOT be able to do this cleanse. It’s inhumane. And I’m not even referring to the fact that you’d be starving for the 10 days.

For dinner we shared a pizza.

Day 2.

I have started the day with a Frappé that I suspect – given its sweet taste – had some sugary goo added to it but it was still quite nice. And an egg and bacon roll. So far, I’d say the cleanse thing is going so-so. I think at this stage we can conclude that I won’t be losing a few pounds for the wedding, but that was never the intention anyway. I’m actually really quite keen to do a cleanse as for this precious f*cking once it wasn’t my motivation that failed me, so I’ll pop into Holland and Barrett on my way home. There’s bound to be a palatable alternative to Beelzebub’s piss, n’est-pas?

Festivals and fallow deer

After an unseasonably chilly spring, it would now seem we’re getting some summer weather thrown our way here in Old Blighty. Woke up to bird song and bright rays of early morning sunshine flickering their way through gaps in the curtains and although I don’t need sunshine and bird song to remind me how much I love this patch of west London, the school run and drive to work were nothing short of glorious. After over 10 years there, I always thought Chiswick was the most wonderful part of London, but it’s taken me less than a year in leafy Teddington to know that where we are now is even better. Tree lined streets, independent boutiques and cafés that populate the cute high street, Bushy Park with its fallow deer and the river still within a stone’s throw we really do want for nothing. And I love our home, our bright and spacious apartment where the days of renting and ugly carpets are a distant memory, every piece of furniture ours and scope to make whatever changes we want.

Although both fairly new and fresh, I can’t wait to get the kitchen and bathroom done. Our beautiful pink Smeg fridge freezer is going nowhere but although a lovely kitchen, whoever planned it has made a dog’s dinner in terms of utilising the space. The bathroom I believe was completely new, but the shower is over a bathtub and so the tub needs to go and sort out a shower cubicle – I quite fancy just a slight slope in the floor and not your traditional cubicle but rather just a partition so it’s all sort of open. But I am ahead of myself now. We’re getting hitched this year and also went to New Zealand in February taking our three boys, so we’ll need to build up again before embarking on home improvements. And it’s not like there’s any rush – the above is just stuff that is perfectly fine and the changes we’d like would just take it from ‘amazing pad’ to ‘dream apartment’. The only thing I don’t love about the place is the livingroom curtains, a standard, ugly magnolia coloured set that I can’t stand. Still no rush but those are the first thing I will change as soon as I can.

Anyhoo!

Driving into Chiswick to drop Monkey at school still has me noticing what a lovely area it is – it’s beautiful – but Teddington has something of an authentic, quirky charm that Chiswick seems to have lost amongst its TV presenter and posh family habitants. Nah, wouldn’t change back for the world. Having said that, Chiswick riverside remains a firm favourite and given its sentimental value (we met there and it’s where B proposed too), we’re heading back in just 10 days. In exactly that time, at around this time of day, we’ll all be getting ready to head to the ceremony. Me probably mid-makeup. The boys probably adjusting ties and cufflinks. I can’t wait! The wedding rings have lived in their box in our wardrobes for over a month and I just want to wear mine and B his! 10 more sleeps!

I think we’ve got everything done that we need to. It’s all fairly low key so it was never going to be frantic, but there has still been what seems like a staggering amount of things to organise. Doesn’t help I suppose that we’re having one get-together here in London after our ceremony, then another in Sweden late July – that little arrangement obviously meant more to sort. It’ll all be great though and between the two we’ve managed to get almost all the people we wanted there as of course like with anything it’d be rare for absolutely everyone to make it. There’s Lopez – my best friend from Canada, who sadly moved back there a few years ago – who has a young family and is in the middle of home renovations, who just can’t make it work. Sad not to have my best mate in the world there, but my ‘borrowed’ is hers so she’ll sort of be with me. My other five closest besties can between the two get-togethers all make it so it’ll be fantastic. M has already given off several evil giggles at what she may or may not include in her speech.

Good, ol’ M. As the Swedish saying goes: true love never rusts. It could have been just yesterday that she and I rode bareback on her horses, Brandy and Tanja, in metre deep snow up the mountain, singing ‘It’s Been a Hard Day’s Night’ on top of our lungs so that it echoed through the snow covered pine trees. Just like it could have been yesterday that we danced wildly, like maniacs and TRULY like no one was watching, when the Levellers performed on the final night of the Roskilde festival in 1994. Well, that’s M – unbridled, amazing, exuberant and so very real. Friends like that are the friends you hold on to, and like Lopez (nicknamed due to her gravity defying backside – I started calling her Lopez in 2004 and see no reason to change her moniker as it still accurately describes her arse), M, Foxy, Mother Hen and my sister-in-law are those people you hold on to and nurture. Others come and go, some you have to close the door on, but the real friendships don’t, well, rust. They’re as shiny as they always were. I’m so blessed to have all these amazing women in my life.

Well. Enough of happy-happy schmaltz!

Given it’s customary to diet before you get hitched, with 10 days to go I have succumbed to the curse too. B and I are doing the 10-day Master Cleanse. It’s more to detox and be good for your digestive system but if I lose a couple of pounds that’d be OK. So, this foolish and probably unhealthy fad diet CLEANSE means that for its duration, all B and I can consume is a mixture of water, freshly squeezed lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. It’s 10.30am on day one and I am hallucinating as you might in the desert after days of hunger and thirst, seeing imaginary hazelnut crossinis (that I’d normally have mid-morning at work) circle my head. Bite us, bite us! Doubtlessly, I will be very hangry before I even get to the other side of noon. At the same time I am a very stubborn girl, so who knows.

10 more sleeps…. In fact, in 10 days, one hour and 55 minutes, the ceremony will start….