2013, how did that go?

Happy New Year world! I hope 2013 was kind to you. I had a wonderful year. The first half of it taken over by preparations for the wedding – then in May, the most fabulous weekend of my life, followed by Como, and then the last half of the year – well. If I’m honest it was always going to be a bit of a come down. Work has been hectic. I’ve tried to do some work on the house in time for Christmas, and to give myself credit it’s a huge improvement (downstairs at least). But there was a major mood slip. And at this time of reflection I want to try and learn from the highs of the first half of the year to try and make more of 2014 similar to that than the deep depression of October.

So. Last year’s resolution post – wow. I’m not easy on myself am I! And that was supposed to be an improvement on the years that went before. Still. Did I achieve something in all of them?

1- Get Married.

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Well the ring on my finger says this one went ok 😉 No. More than Ok. I worked my arse off to get everything I needed to do done – and we had such a special day. Indeed two special days. We had a small ceremony at the registry office on the Thursday with just witnesses and parents (and an aunt, who was over from America). Was a bit odd – we had a lovely meal at the Shear’s Inn – then I went home to do more DIY, while my new husband went into town with his best man and my chief bridesmaid to buy belts. (and no doubt more beers). The weather on Friday was appalling, sleet, snow, – all in late May. So I was much relieved when I woke up on Saturday to look out of my window at the White Lion (most amazing Honeymoon suite) – to pink cherry blossom against a cerrulean blue sky. I like to think of the weather on Saturday and Sunday as gifts from my grandmas. Because come monday it was awful again.

That Friday night was awful. Not the meal with family or anything – but because it was the first time I didn’t have something to do – and I had to just stop – try and relax. Failed miserably. I was so worried. I was up all night tossing and turning. Eventually gave up and meditated for a couple of hours. Think I maybe slept for two. So it was a good job I had two hours of hair and make-up before the main event. Saturday morning Mark was up at the church cleaning and sprucing while the flowers were done by Claudette from Fleur de Lys. I was up with the lark and off with my A team to the Town Hall to set up.  People said, oh, you’re mad, doing all that on the morning – you should have got someone else to do it, but if the night before was anything to go by, I made the right decision. Keeping busy kept me sane. Plus, I’m too much of a control freak to have been happy letting someone else do it. I twitched that I couldn’t style each and every table exactly as I wanted it. But I am mighty proud of how I planned everything, down to the lanterns, vases and books on the tables, and the timings, to get everything ready just on time. Spreadsheets FTW!
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2. Creativity.

Well. I certainly got everything I wanted to done for the wedding. Made the invites, complete with hand drawn sketches for the illustrations, – hand bound, two different types. Made (with some assistance) a great deal of bunting, both cloth and paper. Made lanterns and lamps, table numbers, a table plan, and made bouquets for myself, the bridesmaids, a basket for the flower girl, hair ornaments, bouttonieres, and roses for the swags at the church.
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Haven’t painted as much as i’d wanted to. Though I have been going to occasional classes at Northlight – helped recently by winning a bursary from the Hebden Bridge WI to do five drawing classes. Done two so far. Plus an oil painting class. I will have to take some more pictures to add to this post as the ones I had I think were lost in the tragic hit and run which killed my phone.

Nor have I done the walking thing. We’ve been terrible this year exercise-wise actually. I’ve put on so much weight. I think since making the decision not to participate in the wedding weightloss madness – because I knew it would inevitably not succeed to the extent I would like given everything else I had going on, and I didn’t want that disappointment to spoil my day. – Totally the right decision, but since June I should have changed my habits and I haven’t. (to be continued…)

Poetry – well a few pieces have spilled out of my brain and onto this blog. But nothing concerted.

3. So the looking after myself one is interesting. Obviously haven’t done it physically. Nor did the veggie / treat day thing last very long. But mentally I think I have made a lot of progress. The beginning of the year I went through some CBT – I wasn’t sure how useful it could be – I had been referred 11 months previously when I was in a much worse place. I wasn’t actually too bad in January. But I know my brain and I knew the peaks would eventually give way to troughs, so it was worth giving a go to learn some techniques. I’m glad I made the effort.  I’ve learnt a great deal about diffusing some of my negative thought patterns, and other ways of soothing my anxieties. I’m exploring mindfulness meditation, and using binaural beats to help me relax and sleep. Sleep in itself is such a vital part of keeping on an even keel. I don’t think I realised how much my poor sleep was a cause of my problems rather than a symptom. Though of course it’s a vicious circle – no sleep = depression & anxiety = no sleep.

So i’ll give myself brownie points on my mental wellbeing this year. Added to which, I am now an accredited MHFA Instructor – and delivering the training regularly gives me a regular reminder of what i need to be doing to help myself win the battle over my wayward mind.  Of course – on the other hand, the physical side – I would probably take those brownie points and eat them, washed down with a pint of stella. Which isn’t good for body or mind. So must try harder for a gold star next time.

4. Rose tinted ribbons.

No. Haven’t put as much effort into this as I should. Any really.  I’ve kept making roses. I did one order for a lady at work. But it needs more energy and a strategy to stick to.
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5. Debt.

Ha ha ha ha haha haha ha ha. ahem.

No.

6. Novel

Hmm. Well. I did make progress. Tried to do NaNoWriMo again in November. Made a good start, but work got busy so I didn’t keep it up. But I’m about 115,000 words or so now. My plan is pretty good, but I will need to go back through and pad out, make certain things make sense. I don’t know how it will read to someone who doesn’t have all the backstory in their head. We’ll see. I also made friends with writing on the ipad – so that means I can pick it up wherever I am.

I’ll give myself a 6.5 out of 10 I think for the year.

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Disposable income

In an ideal world, we’d all have lots of disposable income, which we would dispose of in lots of ways, supporting the various strands of our economy, local and otherwise.

It would be truely disposable too. We wouldn’t feel any guilt about spending it, because we would have paid all our bills, and debts, and put enough money into savings not to feel like we were being frivolous our postponing some serious money worries by frittering away the little we have.

But it isn’t an ideal world. And I don’t think many people I know can say all of the above about their financial situation. I certainly can’t.

Technically, if you’re in debt, you don’t have any disposable income. Because every bit you spend elsewhere is not being used to repay your debt. Even saving feels difficult because if you end up getting in more debt because you put too much aside in savings one month, what’s the point? Of course, it’s much of a muchness at the moment with 0% credit cards and negligible interest rates. But you have to give yourself some spending money in your budget – even if it’s only a few pounds a day. The question is – what do you spend it on?  Some people can’t do without a newspaper. Some people buy a coffee, or lunch. Some people might be very good, read their news on line, take their home made sarnies and flask to work – but save up to buy themselves an outfit, or a pair of shoes every so often.

I was thinking about it at a meeting the other day about trying to get people back into Hebden Bridge – (visitor numbers have fallen since the recent floods, perhaps through a perception that everything is closed, but I can assure you there are still a good 70% of our fabulous shops and cafes and pubs open and waiting for you).  I regularly do a trawl around the shops in Hebden, but I will admit, I don’t buy much. Bits and bobs. The rest of the time I drool. There are some amazing shops selling beautiful things, but I see them as out of my price range. Having got myself into most of my debt during periods of manic spending (literally, my slightly bipolar side, impulse control failure leading to a conviction that I really need to buy 100cds in a week) – I have gone the other way. I don’t buy “things” very much. Practically speaking, I don’t have room for them. My house is overcluttered, I have piles of books up the stairs threatening to topple over and kill me one of these days. I have (what I consider) lots of shoes, but only one pair of each type (eg. trainers, walking boots, heels, smart shoe). Ok, maybe two, but it’ll be the newer pair and the knackered pair. I buy an item of clothing which isn’t to replace something falling apart maybe once every three months, and usually from a charity shop. There’s something in my head that has clicked, and says that despite how lovely the things might be, I can’t afford them.

But – and this is the interesting thing – I still happily spend money on drinking in pubs, eating in restaurants and getting the occasional takeaway. I can no more afford £40 on a meal for two than I can £40 for a lovely lamp, or bowl, or set of plates that I don’t need. But that bit of my head hasn’t got the memo yet.  Someone who doesn’t drink may spend an equivalent amount on a new dress. We all have our temptations. Whether we can afford to be tempted or not. I shouldn’t be spending any  money on anything really. But I do. And for the time being it is the pubs and restaurants that benefit. Maybe if I finally succeed in controling my drinking, and clear out the house a bit, I might indulge myself. I really really want two of those amazing Magpies in Home-oh. (bad luck to have just the one…)

However, a happy aside is that I am determined to try and ensure plenty of local businesses benefit from our wedding next year. Probably the only chance I’ll have to spend that kind of money – and I can trick myself into thinking I’m really spending on the guests not me. So once I know the colour of my dress fabric (being made in Heptonstall by Nicola Wheeler) I’m off hunting hats. But in the meantime, I’m going to try and do my little bit by telling people about the lovely things on offer in Hebden, so if you need somewhere to get rid of that disposable income, you might decide to come along.

Horny Alpacas, Todmorden Unitarian Church, and a possible dressmaker?

Another day exploring possibilities yesterday. I intended to take a look at Todmorden Unitarian Church, The Todmorden Vintner (formerly Old Hall), The Fielden Centre, and Scaitliffe Hall Hotel.

It was a nice day – we started out early and walked the 4 miles along the canal, most pleasant and really entertaining when we found a couple of alpacas and a donkey in a field. They were very friendly and came to say hello. Then Mr Ginger Alpaca decided to get friendly with the donkey, to much amusement.  The donkey was less pleased, and kept trying to bite the alpaca, and wandering off with the silly creature half mounted and making funny noises behind it. Then the other Alpaca seemed to feel left out, and tried mounting the other Alpaca while that one was still mounting the donkey, who was cheerfully trotting away across the field. Reminded me of some childrens story or other with a tower of beasts trying to see in a window somewhere. But ruder.

All nothing to do with weddings but I nearly weed myself it was so funny so I took it as a good sign for the day.

Arriving in Tod, slightly damp from the fine misty rain that was defying the sun’s attempts to burn through, we headed straight through to the bridge near the Golden Lion pub and left the canal there, as it was nearest to Todmorden Unitarian Church. Now – big thanks go to Justin Pringle(?) of the Three Wise Monkeys bar in Tod, formerly of the Hole in’t Wall, Hebden Bridge – who said to us the other week when we were there and talking about venues “If you want to cut to the chase and go to the best venue in the valley, go look at Todmorden Unitarian Church, it’s Ace.”

And boy was he right. What an amazing place.  On Honey Hole Road (lovely name!) you go through the gates, past a gatehouse, and the drive sweeps up round the hill, atop which is a fabulous perpendicular church, big pointy tower, very imposing. (I did take a picture but it didn’t really come out well)  Inside, the church is spectacular, very gothic in style, ornate carvings all over, and amazing stained glass – including a beautiful rose window.

We were fortunate the church was open for the Incredible Edible Harvest Festival – which also reveals that the ethos of the place is very “us” – an amazing community resource. And reading up on Unitarianism, I really like what I read, and don’t think I would have any problem saying my vows here.  Although if you didn’t want a unitarian wedding, you could still go do the legal elsewhere, and have a celebratory ceremony here however you liked.

It’s licensed, and there are no restrictions on things like candles or decorations. The last wedding they had, the groom came in on a zip wire….

All in all pretty fabby and shooting in at number one on the top ten possible venues chart.  You could have the reception there too if you wanted, but I’m not sure about that. I think it might be great to combine with hiring the hall at Hebden Town Hall for that side of things. But we’ll see….

We wandered over to the beautiful Todmorden Vintner – however it wasn’t open – despite their facebook page saying they were open for lunch. So we’ll go another time (any excuse for eating out…) as apparently they have a room upstairs which can be used for weddings so it would be nice to have a look at least. It’s an amazing old building.

Then came time for a rest for our poor feet, so we had coffee and cake at Costermongers – and OH agreed that it’s certainly the best church we’ve seen.  I called the hotel, to see if it was convenient to go and take a look round, but they informed me that they’re infact up for sale and will be changing hands in a couple of months – so they’re not taking bookings anyway. So no point going there until it’s settled who’s running it and what they’re offering.  No great loss really as while it looks nice on the outside on the website, the inside didn’t do much for me.

One last thing to do – a look at the Fielden Centre. This would be a reception venue only – it’s quite a nice building, on the edge of the lovely Centre Vale Park.  This park is one of my favourite places in the valley – a real example of how if you provide the community with a decent resource that is well thought out and designed, they will use it. From bowling greens for the older folk, to a kick ass playground with baby zip wires and climbing walls for the kids, it is lovely to see so many people having fun. Plus this sounded like a good plan for people with kids who might want to take them outside for a break if they were getting bored or fractious.

However, the hall itself was fairly lacklustre, and possibly not big enough. And OH was not impressed either, not least with thebig six pointed star design in the window. He is not the biggest fan of Israel’s behaviour at the moment so didn’t want a reminder of that fact looming over the festivities. Sigh.

So, a no on the Fielden Centre.

At which point it all starts to narrow down and look alarmingly real.  Where else is left to look? And do I want to? We’ll see.  There’s the hotel near Halifax, but I’m not sure if that’s what I want at all.

On another positive note (some less positive to be posted later but it’s written on my laptop so will have to wait a while) – I’ve found a really good looking dressmakerhttp://no9bridalcouture.com/default.aspx in Keighley, which is not far from me so in keeping with my desire to keep it all pretty local… Dress thoughts at the moment – Red, somewhere between Mina Harker and Satine? Maybe. But a couple of weeks ago I wanted floaty light sister of the woodland so who knows where I’ll end up.

Venue visits – Hebden Bridge Town Hall

Last weekend it was Heritage Open Day weekend, which was kind of handy because one of our possible venues put on nice guided tours for people, so we went and had a look.

Hebden Bridge Town Hall isn’t an elaborate building, it’s nice – but not imposing like the town halls of other places I’ve lived. The council chamber is licensed for wedding ceremonies. It’s nice – wood panelled walls, Victorian oak and leather tables, cool throney chair with the packhorse bridge carved into it.  It’s a small room – probably wouldn’t fit more than 30/40 comfortably.

As it stands, that’ s it.  And I’m not so fond of the place that I’d go there for a slimmed down ceremony and then schlep off somewhere else for the reception. If I’m having separate venues then I’d probably go for somewhere else.  However.  Conveniently, they are just getting going with a big extension project, which we also got a tour of – which will expand the Town Hall into a community space, including large hall for meetings and events (such as weddings) – which will be ready Spring next year. Well in advance of July 2013 which is our pencilled in date.  At first I didn’t think it would be big enough, but apparently it will seat 150 guests for dinner, which is more than enough.

M likes it. I do too, I guess.  Though I’m obviously not wild about it or I’d be feeling less “meh”. But I’m kind of feeling that about everything at the moment. Only thing for it is to visit different ones and think about pro’s and cons. So here goes:

Pros –

  • In Hebden, will have a brand new balcony and drinks terrace overlooking the river if it is a nice day.
  • Near the bridge, in the centre of the town we love.
  • Ducks (and ducklings maybe?)
  • Kitchen facilities, fairly loose catering arrangements from what I can tell, so some flex in what we can have, i.e. local produce & ales, slightly offbeat menu maybe
  • Big space should anywhere near the numbers on the potential guest list actually threaten to come.
  • Single venue – no need for transport costs

Cons-

  • Small ceremony room
  • Not sure how to describe it, but officey / town hall environment? It’s not like a really dreary ugly place – but the nature of it (no aisle etc) will definitely have an impact on decsions of style / dress etc.
  • In Hebden – good, but part of me wants some aspect up on the hills where I live, with the big skies, or in the woods. Will again, impact on theme and feel. Less faery queen in her bower, more victorian vampire steampunk. [ok – sounds more dramatic than it looks in my head.]
  • Single venue – no need for transport! no wedding bus, fancy car or horse and carriage…
  • Parking in Hebden is shitty – especially Saturdays in mid summer.
  • Have to sort accomodation out (which will be the case anyway unless we go with one of the hotel venues)

[as an aside, pros and cons sounds like an amusing theme, a version of vicars and tarts? fishnet stockings, stripey t-shirts and swag bags]

Some wedding thoughts…

My brain is really not my friend some times.  A holiday is meant to chill you out, right? So why was I all happy jolly before I went and as soon as I get back I am back to lying awake at night and getting stressed at the cost and complication of all this wedding malarky. Tsk. Bad brain.

Calm down. We’ve got a good long while to get things sorted. Dress isn’t even an issue for at least a year to give me some time to shrink in the wash.  So the venue isn’t going to be as easy to pick as I might have hoped, never mind. We have to start going to look at the different options and see if any really grab us.

Last night I really freaked myself out by trying to figure out how much it all would cost. Sheesh. But then I think  to myself that I’ve got caught up looking at all the venues and their traditional arrangements – and this massive spiralling guest list. What did I say to myself at the begining of this? I want something nice and special which says something about me and him and us.  That doesn’t necessarily mean a three course wedding breakfast followed by dancing and later buffet.  Not to say that I haven’t enjoyed that when I’ve been to weddings. What exactly would I like? Do I have any ideas?

Have to say – for the evening do I’d love a chinese buffet of assorted dim sum and startery stuff. But that’s just my taste, so to cater for others, maybe some pizza and chips, indian things, pie and peas…  However I’m not sure how feasible that would be.

I’ve really liked sit down thingummys where it’s like a hot buffet affair – each table goes to get stuff as they like. What’s on the menu in my head? Not sure. This is the difficult bit. Because I love to cook, and am a bit of a Jewish Mother (albeit not Jewish) in that I want a big pot of stuff and a cake ready for anyone to eat when they drop by – I would have loved to have been able to do this myself somehow.  But unless I become an organisational genius between now and then, I am prepared to accept it may not be totally feasible. If it were – if I could clone myself and one of me go faff at the venue, one of me preen and relax, one of me cook – before magically merging into one being…

I still like the idea of big pots.  Soup, Chilli, Jambalaya, Stew, Pasta, Salad, Goulash, Paella. Not very weddingy maybe? Asking to go all down the dress – definitely. Maybe a PVC wedding dress is the way to go 😉

I do have some fairly good ideas coming through about how I want the place to look in the evening. I’m thinking a kind of cross between an opium den and a library…  Lanterns, oil lamps, books…  Lots of red. Which kind of conflicts with my thoughts for the actual wedding which is more Midsummer Night’s Dream, woodland, faerie, nature – greens and lilacs… So – two dresses? Lol. Plus the PVC bib dress. I’ll have more costume changes than a host at the Oscars.

The last thing I need…

You might think is another blog….

However, having set up a “Wedsite” as I am assured by various online doobries is the done thing – there is a blog on it too. But I’ll prob cross post here anyhoo. But it’ll be nice to have all my planning thoughts in one place.

http://www.mywedding.com/sandmadcocklong/index.html

Yes, you read it right. SandMAdcock Long.

The question is what will the married name be?  Hmm. Temptation to be very silly is very great. What’s the accent you need to make a long A?