Wednesday, 30 April 2008

South Africa 2008: Wedding Day

April 4th 2008 - I awoke just as it was getting light. For a while I lay snuggled under the duvet contemplating the day ahead... my wedding day! Was I nervous? Yes, but only in a school play / pre-exam sort of way. I was happy and excited and had butterflies, and I expect something would be wrong if a bride didn't have those!

I quietly left my room and padded to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee, which I took back to bed. Mom, Sis and BestGirl were staying in the same apartment and I didn't want to wake anyone just because I couldn't sleep (I found out later they were all awake too but were keeping quiet so as not to disturb me!). At about the time I emerged for my second cup of coffee BestGirl came out and joined me. She produced a tiara left over from the hen night, and cooling eye compresses which we played with for a while, getting into the spirit of the day. When the others joined us a glass of champagne helped too!


After a late breakfast Mom dropped BestGirl and me at the wedding venue - the 12 Apostles Hotel (it is named for the range of mountains behind it). We had massages and manicures booked in the Hotel spa, which delves into the mountainside in a maze of warm, dark and scented caves and tunnels. Apparently most of the spa facilities such as jacuzzi and sauna are free for hotel guests to use, but I didn't have a chance to try them out. BestGirl and I had a back and shoulder massage which was amazing! I knew I was tense, but when the masseur first pressed between my shoulder blades I actually jumped in pain! After an hour's massage I had no knots left and felt gloriously relaxed, fabulous, just what I needed. Then we both had manicures in the same room, lying on heated beds with scented eye pillows, gossiping with the girls... aaah.

I checked into my room at about 1pm and ordered a bottle of champagne from room service (of course). The 12 Apostles is a very posh hotel about 5 minutes drive away from anything, set up on the mountainside overlooking the sea. It is very luxurious, and I recommend it for a pampering getaway. It is very expensive in South African Rands, but quite reasonable if you are spending Aussie dollars - we would not have been able to afford a venue vaguely similar back in Australia. Their wedding venue is in a garden overlooking the sea, and the reception dinner takes place in a tented courtyard with the sunset over the sea happening behind the bridal table.


The hair and makeup girl, Ivana, arrived at about 1:30pm. The poor thing had been dumped by her fella the night before, and it was quite surreal to be getting ready for my wedding with a girl in the throes of man-hate... luckily it didn't affect her skills and she made BestGirl and me look like movie stars! She even gave us long false eyelashes which were stunning. My Dad arrived at the room at 3:30pm, the minister and planner and photographer popped by, and we were all ready to roll just before the ceremony time of 4pm.


At this point the hotel's own wedding planner took charge of me. I'm sure she's lovely, but I found her very odd... she got me to lift my skirt in one hand, and hanging onto every railing and banister with the other we slooowly walked to the gardens. Apparently most brides rush, and trip. I'm emphasizing this because after the ceremony I needed a wee and she made me run to do it! At what point does it not matter that the bride trips, hmm?

To the sound of a string trio playing the wedding march BestGirl preceded us into the garden, and then Dad and I walked across the grass to the red carpet, paused, and then walked to the front to where my beloved Milord was waiting.


The ceremony was lovely. Our minister is Christian, but as neither Milord or I are believers he left out all mention of God while still retaining a lot of the traditional elements. He also had a wicked sense of humour... having met with us earlier in the week he had picked up that we are not shy and enjoy a laugh, so he teased us and threw in a few memorable moments. Such as without warning asking BestMan and BestGirl to convince him to marry us, and making Milord go down on one knee when putting the ring on my finger!

I'm going to be soppy and put our vows here (we picked them from a large selection the minister gave us).

"I Saffa take you Milord to be my husband. All that I am I give to you and all that I have I share with you. I promise to be kind, trusting and understanding, to share in the good times as well as the bad and to bring happiness and laughter into this marriage. I promise to love you for the person you are, today and forever."

"You are my beloved and you are my friend. With this ring I marry you and join my life with yours."


They made me well up when I first read them, and they still do. Aaaah.


Then the blessing, and the kiss, and the greeting of friends and family, and champagne and nibbles and photographs... The weather was all over the place, sunshine in our eyes during the ceremony, then blustery with a touch of rain, then the wind dropped and the rain stopped and the clouds broke up to give us an amazing sunset.



We had a superb reception overlooking the sea. The food was excellent and the service perfect. Our soloist Jenie Oliver was amazing - her latest work sounds very Norah Jonesy, but she does covers like Annie Lennox or Beyonce, and half the time I didn't realise it was her singing because she was so good I thought it was a cd!

Dad, BestMan and Milord gave speeches. Dad's was awesome - he must have spent hours on it. He took the premise of a story in 6 words a la Hemingway ("For sale: baby shoes, never worn.") and managed to talk about love, family, politics, rugby ("Milord understands rugby. He's a keeper."), and me ("Tiny baby. Phenomenal progress. Proud Dad.") while throwing in jokes and innuendo, and ended with "We wish them luck and happiness". BestMan's speech was short and sweet to Milord's relief, and Milord ad libbed his which was brilliant. Some of the girls told me they'd never heard such a soppy groom's speech before and it made them cry... that's my fella! That's why I followed him around the globe!

Then cutting the cake and the first dance. Neither Milord or I are into cake, so we had a tower of cheese instead! Most of it came travelling with us on honeymoon... too many jokes about "wedding cheese"! Our first dance was to Jack Johnson's "Better Together", which Milord sent to me as an mp3 over email when we first started getting intimate. We hadn't really discussed the first dance, as I felt there was enough stress without trying to learn a routine, but after a bit of swaying and shuffling Milord took us into a few jive steps and turns and we had a lot of fun. He's fab on the dance floor!


The rest of the night we danced, and table-hopped, and chatted to people. The music stopped at 11pm and the minibus arrived to take folk back to Camps Bay, and everyone had left by midnight. Milord and I went to our room, tired and happy and sober, and that's quite enough information!

It was a wonderful day. Nothing went wrong, everything was perfect, and the venue was even better than I was expecting. My wedding planner Kirsty was absolutely fantastic - if you want to get married in Cape Town then I strongly recommend her. Nothing including accommodation and transport was too much trouble, she got back to me within a day every time I emailed, and her suggestions were always great. Don't be put off by the website (I was), they've used pictures of real weddings instead of glamorous models, so some outfits and weather conditions are not great!

Update 20/10/2008: Kirsty has left the outfit she was with when I used her and set up on her own. The new website for Weddings Out of Africa is superb - no longer offputting! I still strongly recommend her - it was her personal touch that really made my wedding experience so perfect. Well worth the fee (trust me - not being stressed is worth that much!).

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Ow

So there I am yesterday afternoon, writing up the next blog post about my wedding trip and sorting through photos, when I realise it's getting late and I need to get the dinner on. Leek and potato soup - nice and low calorie and just the thing for a chilly evening. I chopped leeks, onions and garlic and cooked them in a splash of olive oil until soft, meanwhile beginning to chop the potatoes and carrots.

As you may know, we are staying in a friend's house at the moment, sort of a combination of house sitting and a furnished rental agreement. (We pay a reduced rent and all her personal stuff is filling the cupboards) "Wow" I thought, "Her knives are superb. We have to get some super-sharp ones too when we move..."

Can you see where this is going? Of course you can.



Two minutes later Milord received a shaky phone call at work, he set a new record for getting home, and I was in casualty getting three stitches in my thumb within the hour. The waiting room was empty so I didn't have to wait and the nurse and young lady doctor were very sweet (although "That's so much worse than I was expecting" is not really what I needed to hear).

Stitches in the ball of your thumb really suck. After the fourth jab of local (holy crap that hurts) failed to numb the whole thing I just told her to get on with it while I took deep breaths. I thought Milord was going to faint though.

I am an idiot. But the soup turned out nice!

Edit - Things very hard to do with one thumb:
Bows
Buttons
Shaving the opposite armpit

Monday, 28 April 2008

South Africa 2008: Cape Town

After 4 nights at my Dad's house we moved to Camps Bay in Cape Town. This is an expensive suburb perched on the mountainside and beachfront of Cape Town's sunset coast. The beachfront strip heaves with bars and restaurants, and it is close to all the major local attractions. I have always wanted to stay there, but couldn't justify the expense until now!

On Monday the 31st March my Dad and stepmom drove us to the airport at 7am to pick up Milord's sister flying in from Australia. This meant we had to get up at 4am, and neither Milord or myself are morning people... we had every intention of snoozing all the way, but it seems my stepmom is a morning person, so she kept us chatting. Unfortunately the conversation consistently turned to suicide or diarrhea! No, I don't know why, but it kept getting back there.

After picking up Milord's sister we had to kill some time before being able to check into the villa in Camps Bay, so we headed to the Cape Town Waterfront. The Waterfront is a massive development of shops, restaurants and entertainments where working docks used to be. It is safe, touristy, and can keep you busy for hours if not days. We had coffee and champagne in the sunshine looking at Table Mountain and the bustle of the Waterfront.


We managed to check into our villa at about midday. My wedding planner organised it, and while I was hoping for something nice I hadn't bigged it up too much because I've been disappointed before. Well. What a stunning place! 5 bedrooms, 2 with sea views, 4 en-suite. Huge open plan living areas and a big pool heated to a perfect temperature.

This is the view from the deck. I spent a lot of early mornings sitting outside with a cup of coffee watching the beach, waiting for the villa to wake up - I struggle to sleep when I have stuff on my mind (after the wedding I suddenly began sleeping 10 hours a night!):


Looking back at the building, where Milord and his sister are partaking of a refreshing beverage:


Milord, myself, BestMan and ClownGirl (BestMan's new laydee, she's lovely but can't help clowning whenever a camera turns her way. I think she should get into kids tv) in the pool. The temperature was perfect, not cold but not too warm:


Over the course of the week we were joined by various friends and family members, until the villa was bursting at the seams. We had people around for drinks and nibbles, and I had a second hen night while the boys went out for dinner. Funnily enough I ended up wearing practically the same outfit on this hen night too. BestGirl and Kat had organised it between themselves (one in the UK, one in South Africa, organising the hen night for the Australian, amazing) and they laid on nibbles, cocktails, gifts and games. It was a lot of fun.


One item worth remembering was the list of questions about himself that they had sent Milord. I was asked the same questions, and if I got the answers wrong I had to drink a tot of vodka. After 10 questions and half a bottle of vodka everyone got a bit worried about me, and we canned that game - it seems Milord thought it would be funny to give false answers so that I'd have penalties! Naughty man.

The week was fairly relaxed, as Milord and I have done the tourist thing before. We caught up with people, met the planner, photographer and minister, and I had a hair and makeup trial. Saying that though, it still felt hectic - we didn't have any quiet read-your-book time, and every night was a late one.

This one tipsy evening I realised that if you took a photo without the flash and the subject jigged about you get an interesting "ghost" effect:


On the Thursday before the wedding I organised an afternoon wine tour, and we were picked up by a minibus and taken to the Stellenbosch wine region where we visited four wine farms for tastings. It was a glorious day and I had gathered 14 people which turned out to be a nice number to tour with, and of course it was great for our guests to get to know each other.


This is a typical Stellenbosch scene:


That evening, after the wine tour, Mom, Sis, BestGirl and I moved into a nearby retreat apartment to have a night to ourselves. We went out for a lovely meal, drank less wine than usual and had an early-ish night as the next day was my wedding day.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Father of the Bride

I think it was our last night at my Dad's house... we'd all had a few drinks and were sitting around chatting. As with most conversations in the week before our wedding, the subject came around to the event.

My stepmom had mentioned to me that she didn't know what my Dad was intending to wear. His suits didn't fit that well at the moment, and she hadn't been able to get him to go shopping... as our dress code was semi-formal this wasn't too much of a problem provided he had a nice shirt and pair of trousers.

So I asked Dad what trousers he had in mind. "I'll show you!" he said and dashed into the bedroom. When he came back, I can't quite remember what the trousers were like, but the rest of us regarded him in silence for a minute and said "um...". Milord went to our room and returned with his dark, pin-striped denim-type slacks. "Something like this would be better." he said, so Dad tried them on. They fit perfectly, and I'm not sure who was more shocked out of the two of them! So we decided Dad would borrow Milord's trousers.

"Ok, and the shirt?" I asked. Dad produced a never-opened wrapped shirt, pins and all, and opened it to show us. Another long silence ensued. "Are those epaulets? And two breast pockets? You look like you're about go to work!" So Milord fetched out his wedding shirt - a slim-cut crisp white collared shirt with french cuffs, designed short to be worn untucked, and Dad tried it on. He looked fabulous! Obviously he couldn't borrow the shirt, but we instructed them to try to match it.

I hear it then took my folks more than 4 hours of shopping to find a shirt that was acceptable! But on the day my Dad looked trendy, casual but well dressed, and he fitted the look of the wedding party perfectly.



Pretty cool, eh?

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Mad bad sad cat

If you've been reading my blog for a while you will know that Milord has a horrible old cat.

Well, I have sad news... the poor old thing died while we were on honeymoon. She was staying with Milord's ex and was fine one morning, but dead when the ex got home from work. Just went in her sleep.

At least she was with someone who cared, not in a cattery - we would have felt really awful.

I confess, it's a kind of relief for me, but Milord is very sad. She was with him for 15 years, longer than most relationships last, and he's going to feel her loss for a long time to come. My poor darling man...

Bye bye Portia Pussycat. You were loved, you had a fabulous long life, and you will be missed.

South Africa 2008: Sydney - Saldanha

We flew out of Sydney on the morning of March 27th. The entire previous week had been devoted to packing, cleaning, and moving out of our rented house. I left my job just before Easter and Milord and I packed up all through the Easter weekend.


I hate packing. This is me sorting all my clothes into storage, holiday, and will-be-needed-when-we-get-back piles.

On the Tuesday after Easter all our stuff got moved into storage, and on Wednesday I cleaned. And cleaned. And cleaned. My cleaner helped me for a few hours in the morning, but I was cleaning for easily 6 hours. And when I thought I was finished the agent came around and pointed out scuff marks on the walls so I cleaned for another hour. The carpet steam-cleaner turned up at 6pm (was supposed to be 3pm) so we only got away after 7pm, and at 10pm after a swift pub meal I was still carrying boxes down flights of stairs at a friend's house. Around about this point I thought I sprained my ankle and I had a complete meltdown - Milord doesn't see me burst into tears very often but he coped. He held me until I stopped crying, by which time my ankle had stopped hurting and turned out be ok thank goodness, and then I was fine.

On Thursday morning we flew to South Africa. There is a direct flight from Sydney to Johannesburg that takes about 14 hours, and as chance would have it our best man and his girlfriend were on it. Unfortunately they didn't check in with us because then we might have sat together, but they were only a handful of rows away. It was a good flight, I watched several movies (Juno is awesome!) and read a good part of the book Atonement (slow but excellent. I watched the movie on the way home and they've done an excellent adaptation). We got into Jo'burg late and missed our connection so had to hang around for a couple of hours before flying to Cape Town where we landed around 9pm.

My Dad and stepmom had come to fetch us and drove us the 2 hours back to their house in Saldanha Bay (a major port and fishing village an hour or two north of Cape Town on the west coast). Then we had nibbles and wine and stayed up chatting to 1am, when I suddenly crashed and we went to bed.

We had 4 nights at my Dad's. We went for long walks on the beach, long lunches in picturesque west coast villages, went kayaking on the bay and fiddled around in Dad's little sailboat. My jetlag slowly eased and we caught up on years of chat.

Kayaking on Saldanha Bay. What a stunning day, not a breath of wind but not too hot:



Dad's little sailboat. There wasn't enough wind to put the sail up so he motored along next to the kayaks:



Dad had made a three-pronged boomerang and we had a go at throwing it down on the beach. I was utterly useless for ages, then suddenly got the hang of it and it would circle back to me... and I'd duck! Them things are scarey when they come back at you! My arm and back hurt for days afterwards - you use unusual muscles throwing a boomerang. In his speech at our wedding Dad got a laugh when he mentioned he'd taught the Aussie to throw a boomerang!

There was this one patch of (knee deep) sinking sand on Saldanha Bay beach. What a creepy feeling:



One afternoon we visited an aunt and uncle who were caravanning in a town not far from us on the west coast. My uncle had a mussel collecting licence (30 a day) and let us use it. Milord picked mussels from the rocks for the first time ever (hard to believe as he's so into seafood) and cooked them for us that night with garlic, ginger and wine, delicious. If you do this remember to let the mussels sit in sea water for an hour or two to spit out their sand first - mussels picked from the rocks are full of sea sand. Don't put them in fresh water because they'll die.

Milord and my uncle picking mussels:



Arty shot of a drift of shells on the beach where my uncle was staying. I also have close ups of rocks and barnacles (Kat, I know you identify with this!):



Paternoster beach from a lunch spot. Many of the west coast villages have this feel, with brightly painted little fishing boats pulled up on the sand. Seriously pretty:



The weather was gorgeous, sunny and cool. We had a very relaxing few days, unwinding from all the stress of packing and moving. My Dad was around every day (he works every other month as ship's master) and my stepmom took time off to be with us too. I was very spoiled. I don't think I've spent that much time with my father in many years - luckily we get on well (hi Dad)! We admire each other and find each other's faults endearing... we moved out of the usual father-child relationship a long time ago and are close friends now. I am very lucky.

Weight Update

This is a just quick weight post as I know some dedicated dieters pop in from time to time and they'll be interested. I am beginning to write up my trip and I'll bore you to death with it shortly!

Weight Graph March:



I went up a smidgen, but what with a birthday and Easter...

Weight Graph to end of March:



Today's reading is 69.1kg. That means I have put on 1.1kg (2lb) on holiday - that's brilliant actually! I was trying to be good-ish, having fruit for breakfast and so on, and so I put on far less than I could have. I have done no exercise in nearly a month though and am decidedly flabby around the middle - back to the gym tomorrow I think. I'm out of the healthy BMI range again, so I'll be back on diet too... a bit difficult when I'm not working (I'm job hunting) but I have filled the fridge with fruit and celery and low-point soups so hopefully I'll be ok!

Monday, 21 April 2008

Married

I am back in Sydney, as Lady Black@dder!

We had an amazing trip, the weather was perfect and everything went like clockwork.

I am currently in an internet cafe (we moved and the broadband isn't working) and I am supposed to be job hunting (I left my job before the wedding) so this is going to be very short! Over the next few days I will update you on every leg of our trip around South Africa, tell you all about my wedding, and post a few pictures.

Here's a quick picture to keep you going:



PS. Weight - not sure, but when I unpacked the scale last night I was under 70kg, so hopefully after a couple of days of detox that will still be true if not better!