Luxury in Provence

If you didn’t know already, I’ve just got married. Yay! Our venue was Portugal, so, not afraid of an adventure we decided to drive there from the UK. It’s a long way and we took 3 weeks in total to get there, get married and then drive back. We thought it would be a bit cheeky to have a honeymoon on our return home so we are saving that for next year. Instead we decided to incorporate a minimoon into our drive back.

A minimoon to me screams luxury, a short break away to relax after the wedding, somewhere romantic and of course it has to have delicious food options. After a lot of research we decided on Provence in the south of France. Beaumes-de-Venise to be specific.

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To reach this petite town on the edge of the Rhone Valley from Portugal took 2 days of driving. We left our wedding venue at lunchtime on a Saturday (in tears I might add as I was so sad to leave). We drove 460 miles, it took 7 hours give or take with a couple of driver stops to reach an over night stop in Spain. The next day we headed north along the coast to Andorra where we stopped for another night, this was another 7 hour drive but not as far, 400 miles, but it took a while because of the slower, twisty mountain roads. After a night in Andorra la Vella we then took the final leg of the drive to our minimoon destination. This took about 6 hours and was just shy of 300 miles. The journey was so diverse, vast plains, mountain villages, green forests and fields of sunflowers, we took so many photos and gawked in amazement at the sites we experienced. I really feel it is the best way to travel. You see so much at your own pace.

We had surfed the web for weeks trying to find the best, most romantic place to stay within our budget. We decided upon Les Remparts as it looked like a Boutique guest house but with the old world charm we were hoping for in that region of France. We also made sure we booked the best room.

As soon as we arrived we knew we had made the right choice. We were greeted by the French house keeper, a lovely lady who spoke no English. Our school French came back to us extremely quickly and with the added help of Google Translate we managed to communicate quite well. Phew!

Les Remparts is built within the old fortified walls of the village, this 16th century guest house screams French luxury on an extremely affordable scale. Our room was on the 4th floor, 38 steps up to the top is a lot when you are used to living in a bungalow like we are! The door to our room was OLD, it was wooden with the biggest key you have ever seen, we opened it to the most lovely smell as scented candles had been lit prior to our arrival. It was such a lovely touch, one I have never experienced before. It was very welcoming.

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The walls that you can access from your room. Photo borrowed from the guesthouse website.

Our room consisted of a huge bed with modern and comfy bedding that was fitting with the decor in the room. The ceiling was pitched and still had the original beams. We had numerous windows with shutters that gave us uninterrupted views through the old walls out over the Provence landscape. We had a wall and two archways that seperated the sleeping area and the ablution area where we had the most gorgeous free standing bath, his and hers sinks and entry to the most amazing rain shower I have ever used. In a building so old, on the 4th floor I was amazed that the water pressure was as strong as it was. To the opposite side of the shower was the toilet, in a small room with yes, you guessed it, another very old wooden door. We also had a clothes hanging area behind the shower, between the two sinks. The floor throughout the room was stone, as were the walls.

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Our room – photo borrowed from the guesthouse website
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Another picture of our room from the door way. Photo borrowed from the guesthouse website
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Our amazing rain shower

The guesthouse itself has 5 rooms in total, all with great WiFi. Breakfast is served by the housekeeper who greeted us, every morning. We were able to choose the time of breakfast. I’m not sure if that was because we were the only guests – yep, we had the entire guest house to ourselves for 5 days! 9am was the time that worked best for us now we were relaxing for a few days. Each morning we were served with fresh bread, croissants and pastries as well as freshly squeezed orange juice, mueseli and eggs however we wanted them. I had hard boiled. There were also preserves, cheese, ham and fruit too. Although we never did utilise it, I am pretty sure we could have used the kitchen to prepare our own lunches or dinners. There was an American style fridge freezer which we used though.

kitchen
The kitchen – photo borrowed from the guesthouse website

picture-window

The guesthouse has a communal lounge area where there is a lot of information on local activities, trips and tours. The lounge has large glass doors that open out into a courtyard that has a large seating area, a small pool enclosed within the walls and a hot tub too. To find the hot tub you need to find the spiral staircase to the side of the pool which takes you up to a hidden balcony where you’ll find a small couch and hot tub. You would usually have to book time slots for the hot tub but since we were the only guests we could use it when we wanted.

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The lounge, photo borrowed from the guesthouse website
pool
The courtyard and pool – photo borrowed from the guesthouse website
hot-tub
The hot tub area – photo borrowed from the guesthouse website

 

Luckily for us, parking wasn’t an issue during our stay. The guest house has it’s own garage on the opposite side of the street. We parked there, without a problem every night but if the guesthouse was full there would have been a problem as it can only fit 2 cars. I can understand why many French people drive small cars, their villages are tough to get parked in!

Throughout our stay our room was cleaned every day, we only saw the housekeeper at breakfast and we could come and go whenever we pleased as we had a front door key. I would thoroughly recommend Les Remparts to anyone looking for a quiet, romantic break away. It is perfectly situated to explore the wineries, there are so many to choose from, it is also a great base for walkers and cyclists too. I would say it is more suited to adults, and ones that are able to walk up stairs too as there are no ground floor rooms which could be an issue if you have mobility problems. I wouldn’t suggest it as a destination for children, that’s not to say they aren’t welcome, it is just my opinion that it is better suited to adults.

My memories of a romantic minimoon will stay with me forever, I saw the most amazing sunset from our room. We had a tiny window that had a thick wooden frame. There was no curtain or shutter so it looked like a painting in a frame on the wall. The view through this window was breathtaking.

sunset
Sunset Beaumes de Venise style

 

view
The picture window

We stayed between 19th and 23rd September 2016. Our room and breakfast for 2 adults cost a total of 1040 euros.

Have you stayed here before? Are you considering staying here? Feel free to ask any questions, or, if you know of any boutique hotels which you can recommend to me in France I would love to hear about them.

 

 

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A Day in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer

When asked what the highlight of my recent wedding road trip was I had to think carefully. There were so many highlights, obviously my wedding day was the top choice but in addition to that it was our unexpected day at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.

I’d never heard of it but I am so glad we stumbled across it. Where else can you climb a church roof for a start? I guess there are 2 things slightly shocking about that statement, the first being that I was actually on the roof of a church which is ever-so-slightly dangerous (especially based on my recent track record). The second being that I suffer with Hypermobility – sometimes just getting out of bed and spending a day at home is all I can manage.

During our recent Minimoon we spent 4 days in Provence in Southern France. It is such a beautiful region and we only got to explore a very small area but what we did see we loved.

On our second day we decided to head out to Avignon but once we arrived we realised it wasn’t really for us. It was too congested and busy, after a busy two weeks of travelling we were after tranquility and calm. We found ourselves heading South East from our base to Camargue, we knew nothing other than what it looked like on a map.

camargue-map

Once in the area we headed for Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer which is situated in the Rhône River delta on the Mediterranean coast. I was expecting a cafe, tourist information point and a car park with walking trails but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer is in fact a beautiful sea side town with dozens of bars and restaurants and quaint shopping streets. The beach is small but perfect and there is a paved walkway all the way along the coastal side of the town. It had an old town America vibe about it with a French twist. We fell in love with the place straight away.

We spent about 6 hours here in total, we had a great time, if you have a similar amount of time then this could inspire your trip:

Enjoy lunch at one of the many restaurants and cafes. There are all types of cuisine, we visited the funky Fanneu where I enjoyed a tomato pasta dish and Simon tucked in to a blue cheese and chicken salad. Sadly we have no photos (we too hungry to even consider it)  but the food was great, the vibe was chilled and there was lots to choose from including tapas.

After lunch we took a stroll along the beach and enjoyed an ice cream. There are so many places serving so many flavours!

We then happened on a Bull ‘Fighting’ Show. I put it in inverted commas as it wasn’t actually fighting. There is a large open air theatre area on the beach in the centre of town where a group of local men show their acrobatic skills dodging the bull. We watched 2 separate shows which was enough, we aren’t sure how long the show went on for but it was free of charge to watch. I understand that this show isn’t for everyone but we were intrigued at what was going on so gave it half an hour of our time.

Just outside the arena is a small fairground, there are a couple of rides for kids and the traditional UK sea side amusements so we had a play on the ‘2p machines’, you know the ones, like on Tipping Point where you nudge the coins over the ledge. Of course these weren’t 2p’s but Euro’s exchanged for tokens. After a few minutes of childlike entertainment we came away winners!

Feeling like lottery winners we decided on a stroll around the town which is where we happened upon the church roof experience. In the centre of the shopping and eating area is a large church which seemed extremely popular with visitors. Sadly I can’t tell you anything about the interior as we were intrigued to find out how to get on the roof as we could see others peering over the sides at us. To the side of the church is an entrance with an admission fee of 2.50 Euro’s per person to head up on to the roof. As little as a year ago I would never have entertained climbing stairs. My hypermobility goes hand in hand with Vasodepressor Syncope which makes me feel faint and can result in me passing out without too much warning. I was also heavier, I have lost over 3 stone over the past year, I would have been too unfit to even consider climbing stairs before but feeling healthy and thinner I jumped at the chance. It turns out there are only 38 steps but they are narrow and they are windy so it isn’t for everyone. On reaching the top I was so pleased with myself, I wasn’t out of breath nor was I dizzy and whats more I got to enjoy the amazing panoramic views of the town. The walkways on the roof lead to the proper roof itself, where you can carefully climb further using the tile rows as steps. They are slightly slippy depending on your footwear but they are secure and it is totally worth doing! To many it would be a health and safety nightmare, not an option in the UK but we went for it, heck, we were on holiday!

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I reached the top – had to sit as way too slippy!
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View from the top – you can see everyone at the Bull show
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I’ve just come down from the very top, I am very pleased with myself
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Little me at the bottom, you can just see someone at the very top!

What better way to celebrate climbing a church roof in France than sitting down with a cold drink and a crepe. They are so yummy, we shared a lemon and sugar one which we thoroughly enjoyed. We didn’t have time to relax for long though, we had Flamingos to see.

Yep, Flamingos, did you know the Camargue is the only place in Europe where they nest? Who’d have thought these beautiful birds could be seen so close to home. We took the 10 minute drive north to the Ornithological Centre. I was disappointed that the centre didn’t promote the fact, anywhere on the roadside that this was the place to see the Flamingos. If it had we would have seen it on the way in to town earlier in the day, we would have stopped then which would have been much better than going at sunset when the mozzies are out.

When we arrived at the centre we parked up and followed another couple who Simon was convinced knew the way. We followed them along grassy, overgrown walkways for at least 20 minutes. We knew we were close as we could hear the Flamingos, they are so noisy! It turns out that they had no idea where they were going, we discovered this when we all reached the end of the trail with zero view of the beautiful pink birds I was so excited to see.

Fast forward another 20 minutes and we are back at the car park, where I insist we take a stroll over to the Ornithological Centre. I’m glad we did as it was the right place. Here we paid the 7.50 euro each to gain access to the lagoons where the majority of the Flamingos were nesting. Painfully for us, it was at this exact point that we discovered the millions of mosquitos, they found us tasty and were all over us instantly. It was awful. We weren’t armed with bug spray nor could we buy any there. We wanted to follow the map we were given to view all the sites of the centre but we just couldn’t bear it. We were being eaten alive – no other visitors seemed to be bothered by them, they must like our English blood.

We ran to the lagoon where the Flamingos were, took a load of photos and ran back to the car. We were so disappointed but we had seen them and that was the reason we were there. I cannot tell you anything else about the Ornithological Centre as we didn’t see any of it. Here are some photos.

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I would recommend anyone to visit the Camargue region of Southern France, it is wild, an area of lagoons and reed covered marshes and nature at its absolute best. We could easily have spent longer here. If you do visit make sure you go in the Spring or Autumn. We visited towards the end of September, the weather was hot and fine and the Flamingos were still there. Just make sure you take bug spray as we were itching our bites for days.

Have you been to Camargue? Have you seen the Flamingos? Let me know, or if you want any tips for a future visit let me know.

 

Mother and Daughter Day

Sorry that I’ve been a bit quiet lately, I have been so busy but also not feeling well again. I don’t know about you but weeks and weeks of just feeling fatigued and generally rubbish really takes its toll! My doctor insisted on more blood tests which, no surprise, still showed my calcium levels as horribly low. She insisted that I now need to go on the strongest calcium supplements available- but wait…..it turns out I am already on them! GREAT!

When your doctor says ‘I can’t help you anymore’ you feel relief and anxiety but this time I feel excited, strange, yep I know but when you feel awful daily for no obvious reason you just want a fix. So, I am now eagerly awaiting my appointment on 31st August at the Endocrinology department of Bedford Hospital to discuss possible Adrenal Fatigue. I will keep you updated!

Enough with the health talk already….so Saturday I was taken out for a surprise mother and daughter day with my Mum and sister Zoe. I had no idea of the plans other than I would be picked up at 9:45am and be dropped home by 5pm. Well, I woke up so excited and was told not to have breakfast. Ooooeeerrr, either I was being taken for breakfast or a medical procedure was looming and I was to be nil by mouth! Thankfully it was breakfast, phew.

Now, who writes about food but doesn’t include a picture about said food? Me. We visited the White Hart in Ampthill. I had never been for breakfast so was looking forward to it. I ordered the Eggs Funghi (like eggs benedict with mushrooms instead of meat), my Mum went for the Full English and my sister opted for the sweet potato hash. Mum and Zoe’s food arrived and it looked delicious, mine on the other hand was being re-done as the chef wasn’t happy with the poached eggs. Well,  I waited, waited and waited. It was my surprise day out and I was watching Mum and Zoe eat. In the end we had to chase up my breakfast and with much apology it arrived. It was yummy, although I made a bit of a boo boo and forgot to ask for the Hollandaise on the side. Not good when you are dairy intolerant. Oops. Everyone enjoyed their breakfasts, the pub atmosphere was laid back and chilled which is what you want on a Saturday morning. The staff were friendly and happy and they took my breakfast off the bill without us even suggesting it. Plus I bumped into an old friend on the way out which was lovely.

After breakfast I got whisked off to Hitchin for some pampering. Mum had booked us in for a Hot Wax Pedicure each at Pebbles Sanctuary. What’s more, we were all having them done at the same time which was great! Proper girly time. The salon is lovely and friendly. We were asked to choose our nail varnish from a selection in the reception before being collected by our Pedicureist (is that a word? lol). The nail studio is well laid out with 5 comfy chairs raised up on a platform where we sat comfortably with our feet in a sink of warm water below. There was no straining to get your feet in a bowl or up high for nail painting. It was pure relaxation. Take a look

As you can see we had the works! Our feet were scrubbed, filed and exfoliated. Our nails were cut and treated and then we had to dip our feet in bowls of hot wax. It felt hot to start with but after the 3rd dip it felt fine. With our feet covered in wax they were then covered in thin plastic bags before we put our feet in snug electric space looking boots. They were plugged in and they heated up making our feet so warm and toasty. We kept them on for 15 minutes before they were removed and our feet were cleaned off and our nails painted. I went for a bright OPI pink. I can’t stop looking at my feet now, they look so pretty and feel so smooth!

After our pampering Mum then took us on another mystery drive. Neither of us had any idea where we were going but it all became clear as we left Luton towards Harpenden. We were off to Luton Hoo for afternoon tea and cocktails! I was so excited. I drive past Luton Hoo often on my way to and from work and have always wanted to visit.

Afternoon tea didn’t disappoint. I started off with a Raspberry Mojito, mum had a regular Mojito and Zoe enjoyed a strawberry Margarita. We sipped them whilst chatting and people watching. There were 2 weddings being held whilst we were there and so many guests walked on by with beautiful dresses and huge hats. Once our cocktails were finished it was time to enjoy the Afternoon Tea. I had to ask for the nut free option which I enjoyed with a pot of Peppermint Tea. Zoe and Mum enjoyed the standard option, Zoe with a Red Bush Tea and Mum with a Darjeeling. It really was delicious, I couldn’t squeeze any more in.

To finish off the afternoon we had a stroll around the walled garden before heading home relaxed and with full bellies! I am so lucky to have such a great relationship with my Mum and my Sister. My Mum was so lovely to treat us to such a lovely day out. It was a hen do with the 2 most special women in my life. I loved it. Only 3 weeks to go!

STRESSED!!!

Not in a million years did I expect to be this stressed with the planning of our wedding! Stress and hypermobility do not go well together. I have spent the last week dizzy, unsteady, in pain and irritable. I can cope with the dizziness and the pain but its the emotions that I struggle with. I can cry in an instant right now and I have just awful thoughts and feelings about everything. The days are becoming a struggle but I just to have to fight on. Sometimes when I feel like this a urine or blood test at the doctors usually shows I am lacking a vitamin or something at an alarming rate so if it continues I will be booking myself in. They are used to my randomness there!

So, the reason I am so stressed isn’t down to my dress or the venue it’s down to the groom/best man/father of the bride outfits. I thought this would be easy but no no no no! Simon, bless him isn’t interested in fashion in the slightest, yes, he likes to look good but styling is not his thing. The best thing I could think to do was book them in with a personal shopper somewhere to get started. We live and work close to London so Brent Cross shopping centre looked like the best place especially as they have John Lewis and Fenwick. We attempted to book appointments at both but only Fenwick came back to us.  To prepare them for the trip we created a Pinterest board with styles we liked. As our wedding is in Portugal we didn’t want to go with full on suits and have them sweating all day but nor did we want to go super casual with shorts and a t-shirt. The guys still needed to stand out, Simon especially so armed with my dads measurements and with the best man Chad in tow off he went to get sorted.

It turns out that on the day of their appointment there was a 20% event going on in the store, there were models walking around in the latest fashions, a Gin bar and other exciting things going on, they told me there was a real buzz and it was a good day to be there. They loved it as they got to enjoy beers and gin whilst being styled by the lovely Ben Roberts and Andrea. They had already put out a few bits aside for them to try on based on what Simon had explained over the phone. I told them to take photos and send them through to me later on.

Chad suit
Best man Chad enjoying a beer

Two hours into their appointment I get a call from Simon all excited about the fun they are having. He told me he was sure they had nailed it. Well, what can I say, they sent the pictures through and they were terrible! Think naughty school boy or someone on their way home from the party. Not one picture showed anything suitable. It tipped me over the edge and I told them both they had to start again. Ooops. I think I rained on their parade! See for yourself, this is just some of the pictures they sent me. I ended up speechless with my head in my hands.  Why on earth they couldn’t tuck their shirts in escapes me?!

Simon suit
Untucked shirt in an out of focus picture! Thanks!

 

Simon blue suit

Simon awful shoes
I hate these shoes! What happened to the blue Brogues we discussed?

After a couple more hours of trying everything on again, this time tucked in it was decided that it was best that I was there with them. So, after 7 hours of shopping, beer drinking and snacks they came home empty handed with the plan that Simon and I would return the next day to try again. Simon was a ruined man as he walked through the door. He looked like he had just run a marathon! I did laugh, never before have I waited up late for him to come home from a hard day of shopping, it is usually the other way round.

The next day arrives and off we go, back to Fenwick. Ben and Andrea greet us and immediately offer us drinks. I sat in the comfiest chair in a beautifully decorated room with my ice cold water with lemon and waited for the fashion show to start. I did feel important! Surprisingly enough the suits he showed me looked completely different to the suits he had sent me photos of even though they were the same. The lighting and photography skills obviously made a huge difference and I am glad I was there as very quickly we found the right outfit. It’s a gorgeous Hardy Amies of Saville Row jacket and trousers. It isn’t lined and heavy like your typical suit which makes it light for the warmer climate in Portugal. It is a cotton blend which means it won’t crease like the linen and chino style trousers they were trying on the day before. The colour was different but it looked amazing on and really was perfect for an outdoor celebration. We teamed this with a Hugo Boss white shirt and a light blue tie. We then decided that my dad and the best man should have the same but in a different colour so we chose them the same suit but in a darker blue. We were all set!

After another 7 hour shopping day for Simon, we went to take my dads suit round to show him. I was so excited. Well the wind was blown out of my sales within 10 minutes of arriving. Forget me (the bride) being the diva, my dad wins the award for biggest wedding diva ever. Before he had even seen the suit he was refusing to wear it. I was so upset and just burst into tears. When he did eventually try on the trousers they didn’t fit and it just made everything worse. I left there disappointed, emotional and stressed. It was back to the drawing board.

Luckily for me I have a very persuasive mum. She suggested starting again and getting bespoke suits made for all 3 of them to match what we wanted. That turned into a no go as that fabric is very unique. In the end she managed to talk my dad round into going to Fenwick to try on the bigger size. Great! Off he went on Saturday with my mum to meet the personal shoppers. They were probably sick of me and my family by now! The bigger trousers fitted and he found a better shirt. The only down side was the jacket in the bigger side didn’t fit either. My mum says they don’t make suits in that range for the more rotund man! Ha ha. We decided then that all was fine, Simon would wear a jacket but my dad and the best man wouldn’t. Easy! Then this week I get a phone call to say that the suit company have sourced the fabric and can in fact make a bespoke suit for my dad. Wow! Jackets are back on for everyone and things are finally moving in the right direction. The best man and groom have their shoes so it is just Simon’s shoes to go which I hope and pray will not be an ordeal like the rest of the outfits!

If I was to give you any advice when leaving the men to sort out their own outfits I would offer these words of wisdom:

  • Make sure all men who are meant to be wearing the same are there
  • Do not accept a mans measurements as true, they aren’t. If he says 36″ then he means 38″
  • Brief them before hand that shirts need to be tucked in!
  • Tell them that if something creases don’t consider it an option, it will look awful in your wedding photos
  • Fitted shirts don’t fit if you’ve got a belly

Sorry if that was a long winded blog, as well as being an information hub I treat it as a diary I guess. People who suffer from hypermobility tend to be emotional characters and sometimes a problem shared really is a problem halved. Just getting it off my chest is good enough medicine. I worry about everything so even though it might not sound like too big an issue it just adds to the pile of my existing worries. So thank you if you got to the end of this post!

 

Shoes – 2 out of 3 DONE!

Good morning! I am happy this morning as I have 2 out of my 3 pairs of wedding shoes sorted for my big day! Does wanting 3 pairs of shoes for one occasion make me a diva? A girl can never have too many pairs of shoes surely?

Many of us with Hypermobility often suffer with problems with our feet. I do, and it is very painful. Specifically I suffer with Plantar Fasciitis. This means that heels are pretty much out of the question and have been for a few years now. I have a huge draw under the spare bed full of heels that I can’t bare to say goodbye to. I live in trainers, sneakers, flip flops and can sometimes get away with a slight cuban style heel. I can’t stand still without shoes on EVER, especially on a hard floor. So if I am preparing food in the kitchen I have to wear something on my feet. Usually my trusty black Birkenstocks as they have a foot bed which moulds to the shape of my foot. I am always on the look out for fashionable sandals or flip flops with a foot bed style sole that are fashionable but I don’t often find them. If you think you suffer with this condition you may find it hurts more when you go to bed, or sit down to rest. It really is painful and I have so much sympathy for you. The thing that really improved my feet issues were insoles. They are amazing and have transformed my life! The lovely people at Shuropody supplied me with these…..

Insoles

They slip discreetly in my shoes and really improve the way my feet sit in my shoes and the impact my feet have on the floor. I cannot recommend them enough. My nearest store is Watford but you can order them online. I’d suggest making the journey to your local store so you can get your feet examined. They’ll recommend the best for your ailment – they have so many options. They suggest you change them every year at a cost of approximately £35 which is far cheaper then getting Orthotics made especially. They are absolutely worth a try.

Anyway, I’ve digressed….back to the wedding. As I can’t wear heels anymore I was struggling to decide what to wear on my big day. My mum really wanted to see me in heels so I compromised. I have a gorgeous pair of heels for the ceremony. Honestly, I haven’t spent much on them as I don’t expect to wear them for long. If I could I would but I refuse to be in pain on my wedding day so I will wear them for as long as feels comfortable. They were £35 from ASOS and I fell in love with them as soon I saw them. So many wedding shoes look frumpy or impossibly high for me to walk in. I still wanted something fashionable and these are perfectly matched to my dress.

The heel is a decent height for me to not stagger down the aisle and I have the security of them actually being attached to my foot with the strap and zip fastening on the back. I am usually a girl that wears leather shoes, you pay more and you get more comfort – especially with my feet but these are great for an hour or so.

So pair two….I need a pair of shoes suitable for photos at the beach, that are still pretty and girly but gave me the comfort my poorly feet crave. Yesterday I embarked on a shopping trip to Cambridge with my mum. I wasn’t on a mission to find shoes but I was browsing around when I came across the perfect pair in Dune. How did this happen? Things are never this easy for me usually! They are white which is what I thought I might struggle to find as a lot of shoes seem to be tan or black these days. They are pretty and what’s more, they sparkle!! What do you think? In my opinion perfect for £60.

Dune Sandals

So now, I just need pair number 3! I need something comfy, secure and cushiony (yes, not a real word I know) and lovely for my delicate feet which will be dancing and mingling all afternoon and evening. Much to my mums horror I am going for Converse! I want to add some bling with a few sparkles here and there and replace the laces with some pretty shear ribbon. I can then wear my insoles and not be hobbling around the next day. I plan to wear them with some pretty socks like we used to wear when we were kids – remember these?

Socks

Not my usual style but I think they’ll be pretty and more to the point comfortable. I’d love to hear about your wedding shoe style. Are you planning on multiple pairs like me?

 

Fast forward 12 months….

Yep, it’s now May 2016 and we are full steam ahead with the wedding planning!

The past year has been great and we’ve made steady developments with the planning. My dress has been made which is absolutely amazing! I expected the task of finding my dress to be an absolute nightmare. I’m not girly, I’m overweight and I am rubbish when it comes to buying new clothes these days. Would you believe I tried on 4 dresses in 1 shop and fell in love with the first one! I nearly had a bout of non medical related syncope – to put that in non medical terms I basically nearly fainted in shock (makes a change)! Not only did I choose my dress I also felt flipping amazing trying them all on. I mentioned I was over weight but I keep forgetting I have lost 37lbs! Thanks to Slimming World I have a figure again. Yes I still have weight I want to lose but even I can say I looked amazing in the dresses. The lovely ladies at Estilo Moda in Milton Keynes made the whole experience a breeze. Thank you ladies.

(Would insert picture here but hey, what if Simon looks, bad luck, you’ll all have to wait!)

So, that’s the dress sorted, my next and last fitting is the end of July.

Our invitations went out super early. I don’t know about you but I wanted to give our guests enough time to think about coming as it’s a big commitment for them. They need to take time off work, pay for travel etc. The longer they had to plan the longer they had to save up and also take advantage of great prices by booking as far in advance as possible. We had so many amazing comments about our invitations including ‘it is the best wedding invitation I’ve ever received!’ I made sure I fed back all comments to the lovely Kirsty who made them for us. Now I won’t lie, the idea wasn’t totally mine, Pinterest helped a lot with ideas. We wanted a travel theme so we ended up going with the design used on my blog (see below for a little reminder). The heart on Portugal was actually a tiny red heart gem which was stuck on the Algarve area of the map.

RGB Wedding Image

This was the front cover mounted on Kraft card-stock (natural brown card). It then opened like a cheque book. We had numerous pages that all got slightly smaller. They had the name of the page written vertically down the left side so they could all be seen when the front page was open….

Invitation page:

Invitation

RSVP page (this was perforated so it could be torn out like a cheque):

RSVP

We then had a page about the destination so guests got an insight into their possible holiday destination!

Portugal Page

Then it was information about accommodation:

Accomodation Page

We had a gifts page:

Gifts Page

Our final page was information about the wedding website we have set up so our guests can log in and keep up to date with the progress of the planning (the password has been scrubbed out as it’s only available to our guests, sorry folks!):

Website Page

This beautiful invitation then got sent to everyone in a matching Kraft paper envelope. They all had matching address labels which got stuck on the far left hand edge so the address appears on the front and the undelivered area appears on the back:

lABEL

We sent out a total of 30 invitations. We knew that my Grandad wouldn’t be able to come but we wanted to send him one as a keepsake, we also did the same for Simon’s Grandma. We expected the majority to not be able to make it which we were fine with but unbelievably we had 20 confirmed as YES! So including us there will be 39 of us on our special day and we cannot wait!

 

Portugal Wedding Venue Found!!!

Yep, that’s right! We found it!!! After leaving the last venue meeting of our trip we took a long drive to Villamoura and found a lovely Italian restaurant to have dinner and discuss the last few days. It was unanimous, we were both in absolute agreement that Salsalito was the place we wanted to get married at. YAY!! A couple of cocktails and some yummy food was a fantastic way to celebrate.

SAM_4413.JPG

Although extremely excited, we were also so relieved that we had found somewhere. Don’t get me wrong, we viewed a fair few places, we could have viewed so many more but time wasn’t something we had a lot of on that trip. They were all lovely and all would make perfect venues but it’s like buying a house, you can’t make a snap decision and you want it to be 100% right for both. Everything changed once we arrived at Salsalito and although we always thought we wanted to get married on a beach we obviously didn’t! So my advice to you is add a wild card to your list. Something different to what you think you want. Whether it be a villa, a vineyard, a farm or wherever just add that to your list for an element of surprise. Every venue we viewed had a website, some were better than others but you don’t capture the real place until you see it with your own eyes.

So, after 2 action packed days, 1000km and an unhealthy covering of vasculitis we were ready to head home and tell our friends and family where we will be getting married. Things were really going to happen now and the one question remained…would the bridezilla I always told everyone I wouldn’t be show it’s face?!