Five Weeks to Wed: Reflection on Youth

By the time I was seven I had the whole marriage thing wrapped up – my husband would be tall (at least a head taller than me), dark and handsome, I would be bedecked in lavish jewels and wear a big meringue dress (almost exactly like the one Jennifer Connelly wore in Labyrinth – see below). The ceremony, no less lavish than the dress (naturally), would take place in a beautiful church, with the reception in a grand country mansion. Guests would eat plentifully (mostly chocolate), and I would spend the remainder of my days tripping the light fantastic and dancing on sunbeams with unicorns. Or something like that.

Fast forward 27 years (ouch) and the reality isn’t so far from the dream. My husband to be is indeed tall (not quite a head taller, but let’s not, if you’ll excuse the pun, split hairs) and handsome, if not quite dark (but red haired will do nicely). The lavish jewels are out (clearly my seven year old self had no concept of money), the dress thankfully not quite in the meringue league, and the ceremony will not be in a church (this part I’m sad about, but as we are not Catholic we weren’t allowed to marry in the on-site chapel, and will instead do it outside on the lawn, weather permitting…). And much as I’d have liked a meal made entirely of chocolate, my 34 year old self has to acknowledge it’s not to everyone’s taste. But on one front I’ve trumped seven year old me entirely, for we are not getting married in a grand country mansion, but an actual bona fide castle (albeit because our original, far less grand and ergo far less expensive venue cancelled, but still..). And in Austria, land of stunning lakes and mountains.

With five weeks to go the nerves are kicking in, not about the marriage itself (fortunately), but rather about the plethora of things still to be ticked off the to do list. And the weather. Such a thing shouldn’t matter, of course, but as putting up a marquee will cost us an extra grand I would dearly love to see a forecast devoid of rain when it comes to marquee decision day (two days before the main event). And also, given that our loved ones are making such an effort to be there on our special day,  I would love to have sunshine as much as for them as for us. But what will be will be. I’ve learned a lot during this process about not stressing over things you can’t control. It hasn’t always been easy but it’s another part of growing up. And on the whole, I think we’re both doing pretty well. Next stop: tripping the light fantastic and dancing on sunbeams with unicorns. Bring it on.

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Changes

I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but there’s something amiss in my world at the moment. Possible reasons are:

a)      The weather (if in doubt, blame that)

b)      My best friend moving to San Francisco next week (I’m excited for her but will miss her tremendously – just thinking about it makes me well up)

c)       Lack of exercise – after months of marathon training it’s now been over 6 weeks since I did any exercise due to my training-related back injury, so the endorphin supply is running low

d)      Lack of sleep – probably due to all the other reasons, but in recent days my quality of sleep has dropped dramatically, and I’ve noticed when my alarm goes off I’m often slap bang in the middle of a traumatic /stressful dream, which doesn’t get my day off to the best of starts

e)      My overdraft, which is once again getting so large it’s scaring me

f)       Pressure to succeed in writing (see point e, though this is about far more than just money, it’s about realising ambition – or not, as the case may be)

g)      The onset of wanderlust (which may or may not be related to point b)

h)      A combination of all of the above (most likely)

Whatever the reasons, I’m feeling out of sorts and stressed, and I need an action plan to ease me out of the doldrums. That plan is as follows:

a)      Hmm, not much I can do about the weather…

b)      Not much I can do about the friend moving to the US either…Oh dear…

c)       Aha! Here’s one I can work on! Lunchtime Pilates class booked. Let’s see how that goes…

d)      Earlier nights. Switch off technology, have a relaxing bath and go to bed with a good book. This approach I shall trial tonight.

e)      Stopping spending is the obvious one, or moving out of credit crisis London? Neither looking all that possible in the immediate future…Stop eating perhaps? Become a Breatharian?

f)       This one’s obvious: Write more. And believe in myself more. Also maybe give up sleeping and socialising as well as eating in order to find time to get my writing where it needs to be.

g)      I would say go travelling again, which would certainly address point a), but since it would do nothing to help point e), in the short term I’ll just have to settle for booking a (very) cheap weekend away in the UK to keep the wanderlust at bay.

I’m so glad I decided to write it all down. Just a few ‘small’ lifestyle changes and I’ll be back on an even keel before you can say ‘it’ll never work’….

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Summer’s out

Summer is officially over, and its passing couldn’t have been more definitively marked than with this recent spate of gloomy, wet weather. It seems churlish to complain given that this year we had the first prolonged spell of summer sunshine for quite some years, but since complaining’s what we Brits do best that’s clearly not about to stop us.

The thing is, whether people* (*by which I primarily mean men) subscribe to the concept of weather influencing people’s moods or not, the fact is that, well, it does. I may not be able to offer up concrete evidence of this, but it’s just so obvious when you look around on a warm, sunny day and compare it to a cold, grey one that people are noticeably happier on the former.

Once Summer has officially handed the baton over to Autumn and we’ve settled into the routine of darker nights and colder days it’s not as hard to cope with. The worst bit is the transition period, when we can’t quite bring ourselves to let go of the memory of long, lazy days in the park and picnics on the beach. Such a disparity builds up, then, between what we want the weather to be like and what it actually is like that we start to feel out of sorts, irritable and downright grumpy. Until, that is, we partake in either of two fail safe antidotes to post-summer sadness: 1. Start looking forward to Christmas
2. Book a holiday somewhere that guarantees sunny weather
Or, in my case, both…

 

Don’t be S.A.D

Much as we may hate to admit it the signs are becoming increasingly harder to ignore; daylight hours are waning, the sun is slowly starting to retreat out of our reach and there’s a desperate aura surrounding the pavement drinkers that says that they know their outdoor drinking days are numbered. In the words of my beloved Game of Thrones (the most amazing TV series since 24, for those of you who may not be familiar with it and have clearly been living beneath a rock for the past year): Winter is coming.

It’s not as if we can bemoan the lack of decent summer weather this year, though as a nation of moaners I’m sure many people will. After last year’s wash out the past few weeks have been almost entirely pleasant – we’ve even had a mini heat wave for goodness’ sake! (Bless). You can’t say fairer than that, eh? And so as the nights draw in we must accept the fact that no matter how well the weather gods treat us, the summer season will never feel long enough.

There will never be enough days spent languishing bare-legged and brown-skinned in the park, or sipping cocktails on a rooftop at the many pop-up bars that spring up like rabbits as soon as there’s a hint of summer blooms scenting the air. We will never eat enough ice cream (FACT), nor spend enough time building sandcastles on British beaches like we did when we were five years old. We will never have our fill of wandering by the river on a hazy summer’s eve as the sun starts its unhurried journey towards the horizon, pulling a veil of pink across the sky.

It’s true that winter creeps up like a thief, wrapping its cloak of darkness around our shoulders almost before we know what is going on. But lest we complain about the changing of the seasons we should remember the positives that each season brings. Winter may be cold and dark but it also offers cosy nights in pubs drinking mulled wine, and even cosier nights in sipping on hot chocolate. It also boasts the accolade of being the festive season, which brings families together and puts delicious food on the table. So you see, it shouldn’t be feared but rather embraced.

The changing of the seasons is Mother Nature’s way of showing us just how wonderful this world we live in really is. Granted, the seasons in this country tend to be particularly harsh, but if it was always summer and never winter would we really appreciate the summer as much as we do? What would we have to grumble about then?

Glory days

Whoever has stolen the weather from some far flung tropical clime and brought it here to the UK deserves a medal. No, more than that, a knighthood. There’s simply nothing better than returning from holiday to find the weather at home equally as good as the place you left behind (apart from going on another holiday immediately afterwards, that is, but that would just be greedy). It softens the blow somewhat, that’s for sure. As does freelance Monday which, I’m afraid to say, I slightly shortened today with the insertion of a lazy middle of the day picnic in Brockwell Park with some friends and their baby. But sometimes you have to go with the flow and make the most of good fortune when it smiles upon you(r country). And as any Londoner who’s spent any length of time in this fine city will know, spells of good weather like this don’t come around too often.

The only down side of this fabulous weather (if one could really classify it as a down side) is that it makes running even harder, not just because it’s physically hotter but also because it’s harder to motivate oneself to exercise when the sun is shining and one would really, let’s face it, much rather be lying on the grass than stomping all over it. That said, I’m pleased to report my first 5k in almost a fortnight was completed in a rather respectable 27 minutes (had I not had my running club friend as a pacemaker I’m certain I’d have been considerably slower). And whilst at the time I felt I might be about to meet my maker, as soon as it was over and the familiar warm glow of satisfaction washed over me I felt much better. Which is just as well, because it’s less than nine weeks until my half marathon, and if I really want to avoid an early brush with Heaven I’d better get training…

Festival fever

It’s 6.09pm as I type this and I’ve officially finished work. All that stands between me and Glastonbury 2013 is an evening of last minute packing, a few brief hours’ rest and a three and a half hour coach ride to the site in Pilton, Somerset.

My first experience of the festival in 2005 was somewhat traumatic. A festival (and indeed camping) virgin I’d arrived fresh-faced with my pink two-man tent and solar-powered shower, completely oblivious to the reality of what I was about to endure. Which was, in short, four days of torrential rain (and by torrential I mean on the first night it rained so hard peoples’ tents were washed away and police divers were called in to retrieve their passports and valuables).

When I returned in 2008 the weather gods were marginally kinder. As I recall it only rained for half of the festival, but when you’re trying to negotiate a site that big even the smallest amount of rain can play havoc with your enjoyment of the general experience.

Although this year the forecast predicts some light rain showers, it’s looking like we may avoid a total wash out (she says, crossing fingers, toes and everything in between). But nonetheless I shall be packing my wellies and my mac – I know too well the British forecast should never be trusted…Wish me luck!

Great Britain? There’s nothing great about this weather..

With the exception of the usual glorious solitary week in April, so far it’s been a pretty average spring. There’s been much cloud, much rain, much grumbling. Snatched snippets of conversation on the commute to work bear testament to the disaffection of the masses; everyone agrees that they feel cheated. But what, exactly, have they been cheated of?

Anyone who has spent any length of time in this country will know the weather systems are at best erratic, at worst downright awful. Granted, they are becoming increasingly harder to predict with each year that passes, but that doesn’t change the fact the weather in Britain has never, in fact, been Great (apologies for the awful pun). And yet, hearing people whinge on about the substandard weather day in, day out, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the climate in the United Kingdom is usually on a par with the Seychelles, and that the current weather systems are playing havoc with the ‘norm.’

One can hardly blame the steady stream of Pac-a-mac clad tourists for feeling deflated as they traipse from one London monument to the next, rain pouring off their visors. But those of us who’ve lived here our whole lives have no excuse. We were born into this soupy greyness, punctuated only occasionally by phases of clear blue. We are familiar with the short-lived summers, the breezy autumns, the freezing winters and the dreary springs. We know the drill, so why do we persist in complaining? Because complaining is what we, as a nation, do best.

When you think about it, it’s probably just as well the weather never quite lives up to expectations in this country. Why? Because if we did have an unbroken summer of tropical heat, what would the commuters have to complain about then? The heat and lack of air conditioning on the trains, that’s what. When it comes to complaining we Brits are nothing if not consistent; and not even a change in weather front can alter that.

No wonder inspiration’s thin on the ground today..