About Me

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My world is the world of: The moon; Doris Day; Rainbows; heritage; macaroni cheese; trees; chintz; Mary Poppins; lobster; Ogham; Bagpuss; fairies; gingham; fine bone china; music boxes; apple pie; nostalgia; celtic magic; Mozart; homemade and handmade; vintage; scented roses and cottage garden plants. .

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Not Flowers

I love flowers. In fact I adore flowers. I'm an old-fashioned girl and I like old-fashioned blooms; blousey, nostalgic David Austin roses with their heady, sentimental scents; delicate, fragile wildflowers like poppies, ox-eye daisies and cornflowers and the way a whole big bunch of them never seem to clash, no matter now mixed-up their colours may be.

Perhaps I love flowers too much? Cutting them down just before their prime doesn't sit well with my druid's conscience. I rarely, if ever, buy cut flowers. Give me a plant for the house or garden, or a packet of seeds over a bouquet any day. This quote from Lester Cole, the American screenwriter most noted for his screnplay Born Free, rang true for me:

The Japanese say, If the flower is to be beautiful, it must be cultivated.
Lester Cole

And it appealed all the more for its reference to the Japanese.

A couple of years ago, at the beginning stages of our wedding planning, there was some kerfuffle in the media about the business of cut-flowers and how the industry contributed towards a huge carbon footprint and unfair trade practices. Thinking about the matter of wedding flowers, it was clear to me that David Austin roses were well over our budget, and cut wildflowers would never last the day anyway. I began searching for an alternative to fresh flowers.

Standard artificial flowers didn't appear to be much cheaper than a DIY bouquet of cut flowers. And they didn't appeal to my imagination at all. Offbeat Bride Tribe threw up a plethora of ideas. Fabric flowers were the obvious choice and perfectly viable as a DIY project. I saw some funky felt flowers and some stunning fabric cabbage roses:

And Japanese Kanzashi flowers which went well with the Japanese theme that seemed to be emerging:

Then of course paper flowers were another obvious option. I particularly liked roses made from old book pages, seen here from :

Origami flowers were another obvious choice. Some of them are stunning:

More internet research revealed that you can make a bouquet out of almost anything. Feathers, crystals, buttons, brooches, shells....... the list is limited only by your imagination. I was particularly attracted to the style of Vintage Magpie bouquets.

These were way over our budget, but I figured I could make something similar myself and save a few hundred quid.

Continuing my search I came across this picture and was blown away:

Now here I'd found something REALLY different! It jumped out at me from all the other alternatives because it was the only bouquet I had found that wasn't pretending to be flowers. It was out there. Truly alternative and honest. It says 'I am not flowers!'. I loved it!!

As always, I got together a mood board of all the ideas I had collated in my search for the alternative bouquet:

Over the months of research I had collected old bits of jewellery, buttons, crystals, ribbons and remnants of fabric. I was still not entirely sure about what I wanted to include, so I just collected everything. And I bought some aluminium wire. Lots of it.

A cousin of mine, Anne, is a metal designer. She makes sculptures, strange-looking boxes and all sorts of wonderful things out of metal. She even designs the odd trophy and medal. And so naturally I spoke to her about my bouquet ideas. She was keen to help and my daughter and I made a trip down to London to see her and get creative.

Anne's flat, the basement of a big old Georgian terrace, is an amazing place. She has collections of the most unlikely objects; old oil-cans, farming implements (including a grim-reaper scythe), stuffed animals, shoe laths, teeth, dead insects pinned into frames, glass-eyes, hammers....... there's no doubt that Anne has uurmm individual taste. Now I may not be particularly into jars of glass-eyes in the bathroom, but I DO appreciate individuality. And individuality was definitely something I wanted from my bouquets. I was definitely in the right place!

Armed with supplies from the local off-licence (ahem, strictly to help get the creative juices flowing of course), we began playing around with all the wire and stuff. It was fun. I explained that I wanted an enourmous Edwardian style bouquet. Large bouquets have been very much out-of-fashion lately and I love to go for things that go against the grain. It makes me laugh.

Anne twisted the wire into some beautiful shapes. They could loosely be called 'stems' I suppose, with an elongated, pointed spiral shape at the top and a long tapering tendril underneath. She bunched a few of these together and they looked amazing!! I LOVED it. Anne and Elizabeth weren't so sure. 'It's too big,' they agreed, 'It's too over-the-top.'. I wasn't convinced, arguing 'I WANT over-the-top!' They persuaded me to hold the bouquet against myself as I would on my wedding day and have a look in the mirror. I still loved it. But the other two weren't so sure. Anne explained 'Look, it's your wedding day, YOU'RE supposed to be the main event, NOT the bouquet. Everyone is supposed to look at YOU and go "Aaahhh!", not "Huh? WTF?"' Hmmm....... I got her point. As it stood, I might as well have had someone singing 'Here comes the bouquet...' as I walked down the aisle. She was right.

The spirally metal shapes were good though, and so we set about making some smaller versions. We settled on five stems for my bouquet, three each for the bridesmaids and one each for the flower girls. Elizabeth and Anne then wired on crystals and odds and ends and added a few straight stems with brooches at the end while I started making the buttonholes out of some wire spirals, beads and all the buttons (which by their very name lent themselves very well to the purpose).


Close up:


On the day they roused a lot of interest and intrigue. They're not everyone's cup of tea; my husband wasn't a fan at all. He says they look like they came out of a scrap yard! And there was much jesting (and dread) concerning whether or not I would be throwing my bouquet at the end of the night.

Not flowers. Not by a long shot. But I love our wedding bouquets and buttonholes. They're funky and unconventional, with a vintage touch, environmentally friendly, cheap and unique. And one of their greatest strengths is that they won't die. My bouquet and my husband's buttonhole stand side by side on the windowsill at the top of the stairs, and every time I pass them they make me smile.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

The Paper Chase

I love handmade paper; and how the rustic, rough texture of it extols its homespun purity. I love making paper too; both the finished product and the process of making it are so tactile that I was always eager to make the paper for our wedding stationery. I had fun experimenting with different colours and textures, including some complete disasters:

But eventually I created something I was happy with; a pale, flecked grey sprinkled liberally with silver glitter.

For the background of the main design I hit upon the idea of scanning into the computer some of the lace from the train of my wedding dress. After a little Photoshop tweaking I came up with something I really liked and the idea that I would be secretly giving away a little hidden clue to my dress made me giggle to myself inside. I know, it doesn't take much. Using an Edwardian style font, to compliment the style of my dress, I came up with a design for some Save-The-Date fridge magnets.

And I designed a monogram:

It wasn't long before I had a moodboard for the stationery. Some people find moodboards pretentious, but I find them really useful because they give me focus and direction. If I can see at a glance the whole feel and look of what I'm getting at, it helps my scatty, wandering brain to stick to the desired end-product without spinning off aimlessly at random ideas. I'm easily distracted. 'Oooooh shiny things!'.

Inspired by the thousand cranes, I had continued with the Japanese influence and came up with booklet-style invitations bound together with Japanese stab-stitching, a traditional Japanese method of bookbinding. I was also keen to include some Mizuhiki knots in the design. At Japanese weddings, the guests traditionally give the couple a gift of money in an envelope (shugibukuro) tied with these knots. I found a Japanese love knot, that seemed appropriate and was reasonably easy to tie. Traditional Mizuhiki cords were too expensive for the 100plus invitations I needed, so I bought some wax-covered cord instead and it worked really well.

As my booklet-style invitations had three pages, making the paper was no small task. Allowing for mistakes and contingencies I needed nearly 400 sheets of paper!! I had thought the thousand cranes was a strain on my hand joints but I was about to punish my lower body far more than I'd bargained for with all the standing needed to make the never ending paper. It took weeks! I don't know about patience and humility, but folding a thousand cranes HAD taught me the virtue of industrious perseverance; a skill I'd never mastered before. I was late finishing the invites, but my husband-to-be's threat to go out and buy some if I hadn't finished by the deadline he set spurred me on. There was no way I had come this far to no purpose. It was a hard slog, but I did finish the invitations, unlike the Save-The-Dates which had never materialised - but all was not lost as I used that design for the front of the R.S.V.P. cards.

I love the handmade paper; but our printer didn't. These invitations were to be its swan song and the poor old machine gave up the ghost as soon as the job was finished. This meant our R.S.V.P. cards and evening invitations had to be made on regular, shop-bought paper. If I'm totally honest, it was a relief. Whilst I still love making paper, I much prefer making it in reasonably-sized batches. Sheets by the dozen are fun; but by the hundred are too much for my body to cope with.

I did include a little sliver of the homemade paper on to the front of the evening invitations though, just to give it a small handmade touch.

I used a heart-shaped punch to make some gift tags for our wedding favours which doubled up as place-cards.

Handmade paper - DONE!!

With the thousand cranes and the stationery all finished, I was well on the way to making this wedding happen. If booking the venue made it all seem real, sending out the invitations made it all seem very imminent.

A Thousand Cranes

I don't remember how I first stumbled across the Japanese tradition of folding a thousand cranes, but it was in September 2009, just three months after our engagement, and it appealed to me straight away.

There is an ancient Japanese legend that the crane lives for a thousand years and anyone who folds 1000 origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane. Traditionally, Japanese brides fold 1000 cranes as a wedding gift to their husband. This teaches them the virtues of humility and patience and bestows 1000 years of health and prosperity upon their husband, as well as granting the bride a wish come true.

The 1000 origami cranes has since become a symbol of world peace through the story of Sadako Sasaki, a Japanese girl who contracted leukemia as a result of radiation from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima during World War II. She died after folding only 644 cranes and so her schoolmates completed the cranes on her behalf, burying her with the full 1000.

I have some Japanese ancestory, albeit quite distant; my great-great-grandmother was Japanese. She died as a result of cancer induced by the radiation from the bombing of Nagasaki. I thought that folding a thousand cranes would be a good way to honour her (and the rest of her family who suffered a similar fate), spread world peace and to get in touch with my roots.

I also thought that it would be a good (and cheap) way to decorate my reception venue. See pics below - these give an idea of how they can be used for decoration. Cranes are often folded in many bright colours, but I decided to use all white.

After about 6 weeks I had folded 100 cranes. Then we started the house renovations and by the time I had folded 400 almost a whole year had passed. The time had flown! I got back to my cranes with a vengeance, determined to finish. I took paper with me wherever I went and folded on the fly. At one point I was visiting a friend's house and ran out of paper. She had paper, but it was red. I went with the flow, used some of the red paper and folded 21 red cranes. I figured the odd red one would add interest and it was better to just get on with the folding than worry about them all being white. Hastening forward in this resolute manner, it only took me another two or three months to reach the 900 mark - only one hundred left to go!!

I managed 50 in just two days. My hands were killing me..... and my back from all the bending over..... but mostly it was my hands that were the problem. My joints were singing. I was so close to the end, but in so much pain. I so wanted to get that final fifty folded the next day. I turned to my faithful wedding forum ladies for encouragement. They cheered me on from their keyboards as I posted the final countdown over the internet. Pom-pom waving smileys bounced about my screen with goading messages of enthusiasm, egging me to go on. And on.

At last...... on 4th November 2010, after 14 months, I folded my 1000th crane! Job done!! Being the kind of woman who is always starting things and never finishing them, I felt exceptionally proud of myself. I had a real sense of achievement. A year previously I had had big plans of a million and one DIY projects I thought I could do for this wedding, but as the time had passed by so quickly I had begun to think that I was building castles in the air. And yet here were my 1000 cranes; testimony to the fact that I COULD, that I WOULD pull this DIY wedding off.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

The Dress

Originally I set my heart on a custom-made dress and began talking with a dressmaker about my ideas. I was looking for a regency style dress with a lace overlay; something that would do Elizabeth Bennet proud. I made this inspiration board to show my ideas:

I was very definite about what I wanted and my dressmaker, Linda at http://no9bridalcouture.com was extremely helpful, enthusiastic and communicative. I was very satisfied. My daughter however, was bitterly disappointed that I was missing out on the whole trying-on-wedding-dresses-in-a-shop experience. She badgered me about this. Relentlessly! I gave in. Figuring that it could even be helpful to try a few different styles to determine what suited me, we set out with my cousin (one of my bridesmaids) to the local bridal boutiques.

I tried on every style imaginable - formal, informal, poofy, fishtail, loose, fitted, detailed and simple. I began to realise that the beautiful Jane Austen numbers did not suit me at all. I looked dumpy - more Miss Bates than Miss Bennet. I threw myself at the mercy of the experts. Bridal boutique sales assistants know their stuff. Finding the perfect wedding dress is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most women. These ladies do it every day.

Nice-Irish-lady pulled a couple off the rail for me to try on. I liked one (the regency style one), but not the other because it was strapless and I simply don't do strapless. But I went along with her fancies - trying them both on would do no harm. The one I liked looked dreadful on me. I seem to have an uncanny knack of making exquisite bridal gowns look like maternity wear. She bound me into the other. The inside of this dress was like scaffolding! I don't know why they bothered hanging it on a rail; I swear the whole thing could've stood up on its own.

As she opened the cubicle curtains, my daughter and cousin both gasped 'Oh WOW!'. I checked in the mirror to see what I'd done, wondering what this unexpected fuss was about. It was a beautiful dress, there was no doubt about it. It still had the empire line waist I loved so much, but was more Edwardian regency-revival in style; very Belle Epoque and remeniscent of My Fair Lady. It was diamond white - a sort of greyish off-white that had a sumptuous, vintage quality about it and was overlaid in a deliciously ethereal silver lace that flowed into a chapel-length train behind. It was totally, jaw-droppingly....... truly scrumptious in every way!

But if I'm honest I wasn't convinced it was the wedding dress for me. My 'swimmer's shoulders' bellowed out at me above the strapless neckline. There was a reason I didn't do strapless. Nice-Irish-lady joined in the chorus of 'Awwww's and 'Ahhhh's and 'Ooooh's. I couldn't argue with the beauty of the dress; that was blindingly obvious. But my shoulders! Damn! Arnold Schwarzenegger stared back at me from the mirror. The others saw no problem with them and said it was all in my head, but Nice-Irish-lady began to drape little pieces of chiffon and ribbon about my shoulders to illustrate how easy it would be to add straps or little cap-sleeves. I started to acquiesce.

'You should SO buy it!' my cousin and daughter insisted. 'It's perfect! It's absolutely stunning on you! You look amazing!'. I had tried a good score of dresses on before now and never provoked a reaction like this. It was at this point that I realised I had absolutely NO idea how much wedding dresses cost. My dressmaker had quoted a few hundred quid for the dress of my dreams and since I wasn't trying on with a view to actually buy, we hadn't looked at any price-tags - there was no need. I had been (sort of) honest with all the sales assistants and told them I was only trying on to see what sort of styles suited me so I didn't have a budget in mind.

It was £1250. TWELVE HUNDRED AND FIFTY QUID!!! (THAT'S OVER A THOUSAND POUNDS!!!!!) For a DRESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was staggered! Well that was that over with. Spending that amount of money on a dress was absolutely out of the question. No way! I thought £600 was already a complete extravagance. Our total wedding budget at this point was estimated at around £3-4000 This was just silly. We went home.

Of course the girls told Kerry about the dress and how gorgeous it was. I told him how much it cost. If I was staggered about the cost of the dress, I was floored by his reaction; 'If you like it, buy it.' he replied without a thought. Hmmmm.... I phoned my mum in France. 'Blahblahblah.... beautiful dress... blahblahblah.... not sure about strapless... blahblahblah...... ridiculous amount of money...'. 'If you like it, buy it.' she replied without a thought.

I ummed and ahhed for a couple of weeks, asking all my friends and family for advice. It was unanimous. But the strapless thing still rankled with me. Surely if this was 'The One', I wouldn't be wanting to alter it and turn it into something else? And surely if this was 'The One' I would have been moved to tears instead of miffed at the sight of my big fat shoulders? Cue my uncle Michael. Michael is a retired fabric designer. He has an eye for beautiful things and impeccable taste and I trust his judgement completely. I asked him to come along with me to see the dress and help me make a decision, and of course he was happy to do so.

Nice-Irish-lady remembered me and the dress, and so she pulled it straight out and manoevred me into it again. This time she asked me about what accessories I was considering and on my reply came back with a long veil and sparkly diamante necklace to give me an idea of the whole look I was going for. She pulled back the curtains for the second time. Michael cried. I cried. I looked like a beautiful bride! ME!!! 'Oh Michael look at me!' I croaked, 'I'm getting married! I look like a beautiful bride!'. 'You ARE a beautiful bride!' he rejoiced (if it's possible to rejoice with a whisper). The veil and necklace worked perfectly to distract my eye from my shoulders. But after the first glance my insecurities kicked in again and I asked Michael what to do about the whole strapless situation. He pointed out that to add sleeves would detract from the integrity of the dress, and that there was absolutely nothing wrong with my shoulders. He also pointed out that logically, the only part of the dress I didn't like was the part of ME that was poking out of it! I didn't have a problem with the dress; I had a problem with self-image, and no dress in the world would ever solve that. I resolved to work on this issue and get over it. It was just silly really.

Nice-Irish-lady then announced that this particular dress was being sold off as a shop-sample for £500 less than the usual price.

SOLD! To the lady with the normal shoulders!

Maggie Sottero 'Tamara' wedding gown:

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Wedding Planning: Establishing Priorities and Booking the Venue

As soon as we set the date we started talking about what sort of wedding we envisaged. Sorting out your priorities early on is crucial. Here are ours:

(1) We wanted as many of our friends and family there as possible.
(2) We wanted everyone to have a fabulous time and for our wedding to be especially memorable, not just for us, but for all our guests.
(3) We wanted to keep the budget as low as possible.

Now (1) and (2) are relatively easy when you have unlimited funds. The challenge was always going to be sticking to (3) without compromising the other two priorities. It was clear to me that I would have to get my creative juices flowing and have what is known in wedding circles as a DIY wedding.

The first thing I did was to hit the keyboard and scour the internet for ideas and information. I joined a wedding forum. A whole new world opened up before me; the world of fantasy-building, where people make their own dreams come true and no tiny detail is overlooked. Almost exclusively female, this world is stuffed with one-woman military operations executed with extensive plans, lists, mood-boards and timetables. If life is a stage, these women are the backstage production crew of the biggest shows of their lives. Outrageous, personal, emotional, spectacular, intimate memories are all catered for and mapped out here. The ladies of wedding forums share their experience, ideas and advice surrounding one of life's most stressful occasions. Needless to say, during these months (and often years), great friendships blossom, and occasionally huge rows explode. I have made some very dear and lifelong friends through the wedding forum. I owe so much to these ladies.

Very early on, one of my uncles asked if he could do the catering for us. He said he had always wanted to do a wedding - crazy guy that he is! Of course we accepted very gratefully. This uncle makes fabulous cakes. He does all our family's special occasion cakes; weddings, christenings, birthdays. And so he also offered to make our wedding cake as a wedding present. Bonus!! Kerry and I both agreed that we should like a traditional Lancashire pastie and peas supper in the evening. It's cheap, filling and just what you want in the middle of a drinking session.

So with the basic catering decided upon, we started to narrow down our venue options. The register office was obvious from the outset. Neither of us is Christian, so churches were out of the question, and very few venues offer wedding ceremonies as a stand alone thing, without your having the reception there too. Since we wanted to provide our own caterers, our reception venue would have to allow us to do this. Very few places do. Besides, it was a few hundred quid extra just to have a registrar travel to another venue. This grated on us and our 'keep the budget as low as possible' priority and introduced us to the idea of the 'W' word: Add the word 'wedding' in front of any goods or service and the price doubles or triples instantly. The whole industry is the greatest, whitest shark ready to devour you and your budget.

Luckily for us, our local register office is a good-looking building:

The largest room holds a maximum of 110 people. At first we had wanted all guests to come all day, but with an estimate of 250-300 people, it wasn't possible without spending silly money. And Kerry's best man had said that there was no way he would ever be able to make a speech in front of that sized audience. These things swung it for us. We phoned and provisionally booked our wedding. As we had nearly two years to go, the date was availabe and we had the first choice of the three time slots. We chose the middle one - 1.40pm.

The reception venue was more of a challenge. Finding a place we could have from early afternoon on a Saturday until late in the evening, that could hold up to 300 people AND who would let us do our own catering was not easy! In addition to these necessities, we also wanted cheap bar prices. We wanted a cash bar, but wanted to make sure our guests could easily afford to buy a round of drinks without worrying about the cost. The look of the place wasn't too important to us; you can do marvelous things to pretty-up dowdy-looking rooms. As long as the place had a good atmosphere and we felt that our guests would have a great time in there, the decor didn't really matter too much. We trawled around loads of church halls and social clubs for months before we found a place that met our needs.

A social club very local to us, that used to be a labour-club but had been bought up by one of the regulars stood out from all the other places as soon as we set foot inside. The whole place had a great feel. The guy who owned it was exceptionally helpful, reassuring and enthusiastic. And it was cheap - both to hire and to buy drinks. It ticked all our boxes and then some. We had overlooked it previously as it looked like a non-starter from the outside. There's no two ways about it, from the outside it's ugly. But once you're in there, who cares? It's not like we needed the exterior to look good on photos - they'd all be taken inside anyway. The place was fully booked for well over a year in advance (good sign), but thankfully it was free for our date. We snapped it up!!

Once your venues are booked, your wedding becomes very real. Exciting times!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

The Proposal

We spoke about marriage in a hypothetical way. Kerry would ask me 'If I were to ask you to marry me, what would your answer be?' or 'Would you marry me if I asked you?'. He asked me questions like these often. My answer was always 'Yes,' but he never actually asked me outright.

Meet the Mosses

Kerry first met my parents at their retirement/leaving do. They were leaving to retire to France. It was a real baptism of fire for poor Kerry as he met my whole family in one go, and it's a large family! Later that night, I found out that Kerry had asked permission from my dad to ask me to marry him. I was very pleasantly surprised; Kerry isn't the most romantic of men and I had never imagined he would have been so traditional. My dad had replied that he wouldn't give his daughter away to just anyone, but to him he would do it with pleasure. This meant a lot to me. Kerry is the first boyfriend of mine who has ever had my parents' approval and whilst it's not necessary for a successful relationship, it certainly helps make it easier!

The Ring

Then came the hypothetical engagement ring along with questions like 'If we were to get engaged what sort of ring would you like?' I was quite clear that a ruby would be a good choice. I like rubies; they're rare and red and are more funky than diamonds, and being a July-born baby, ruby is my birthstone. I found some beautiful ruby rings on the internet and was especially drawn to the more simple ones. The trouble with rings like these is that they do not sit well against a plain wedding band and I was very sure that I wouldn't want a shaped one. In my head, wedding rings should be simply circular, without kinks and bends.
Kerry was quite clear that he (hypothetically of course) would want white gold, and diamonds. He found the simple rings TOO simple. I think he didn't want people to think he was a cheapskate and wanted something more obviously expensive looking.  We started searching together. 'Do you like this one?', 'Too fancy.', 'How about this?', 'Too big.', it became like our own version of The Cat In The Hat.

Kerry eventually found a most beautiful ring. As soon as he showed me the picture I was taken back to the time we had first got together and I had spotted a very similar ring in a high street jewellers:
I had even pointed this out to my daughter and jokingly said 'Imagine if Kerry ever asks me to marry him.... well if he does I'd want a ring like this one, but not as elaborate.' Neither did I want a ring from a high street jewellers. Not because I don't like them, but because I wanted something different; something I wasn't likely to see on someone else's finger.

Here is the ring Kerry picked out:

One of the things I love about it is that because the oval ruby is set on its side, the ring sits well against a plain wedding band. Result!! The ring arrived in the post and Kerry asked if I wanted to see it. I didn't. I told him I would see it if ever he proposed. So we had a ring, and still the hypothetical question of marriage remained hypothetical. The weeks went by, and the weeks turned to months. I had given up guessing when (or if) he was going to pop the question. Trying to second-guess Kerry is a most unproductive pastime!


In the summer we both went out to France to visit my parents. Kerry had never been to France before and so we planned a short trip away to Paris while we were there. I wasn't keen on Paris. I've been a couple of times before and it never floated my boat, but, this being Kerry's first time in France, I could understand why he'd want to go. Looking back now, I did wonder why my mum and dad stood at their door waving so enthusiastically and cheerfully as we left. At the time, I just thought they were happy to have a couple of days' peace and quiet and were pleased to see the back of us!! Little did I know that Kerry had already told them of his planned proposal in Paris. He had asked them if they thought I would say 'Yes,' to which my mother replied 'Well if she doesn't, leave her in Paris!'. 

Paris was Paris; not my cup of tea, nor Kerry's either as it turned out. It's a hectic, busy, messy place. I have no idea why it's perceived to be such a romantic city. We visited the Eiffel Tower and the queues to go up to the top were wearily long. We decided not to bother, but to sit instead by the fountains of the Trocadero, where we could see the tower, rather than be looking at everything else from it, and soak up the glorious sunshine, watching the mad world go by. It was a beautiful afternoon and lovely to just lounge on the grass by the water in the sunshine with the man I love taking time out to simply relax and enjoy each other's company in a beautiful place.

 At one point, Kerry rolled over towards me and said 'So will you marry me then?', 'Yes!' I declared, not even realising that this time he had ommitted the 'ifs'. 'So do you want your ring then?' he asked, 'What now?', suddenly realising that this was no longer a hypothetical question....... 'Yes!'. The ring was duly produced from his pocket and placed on my finger. We were engaged! We took another stroll towards the Eiffel Tower and asked a kindly Texan lady to take our picture to mark the occasion:

The Date

Later that evening we celebrated with a drink in a bar opposite the Moulin Rouge. We decided to set a date straight away and considered the following year. This was to be the year we both turned 40, so we decided against getting married that summer as we already had two big parties to plan. Kerry suggested the Autumn, but I really preferred to set a summer date. After a quick check of the diary we realised that two years to the day would be a Saturday (I have a sneaky suspicion that Kerry already knew this before he even proposed...) and the date was set; 11th June 2011.  I like the double 11s - they sounded lucky to me. And we found out later that this date would be the anniversary of my late paternal grandmother's birthday, so there was an added bonus of sentiment to that happy date.

Both families were thrilled. On returning to my parents' house they cracked open the pink champagne and we revelled in our own happiness, chatting weddings. The planning began.