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!

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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?!

 

Portugal Wedding Venue Trip Day 2

As we woke up on another day in the beautiful Algarve we began wondering if the day ahead was going to bring us face-to-face with ‘the one’. So far we had seen some very lovely locations but none took our breath away enough. We were expecting to know straight away when we saw it.

We originally had an appointment at The Sheraton Algarve but unfortunately had to cancel. It really is a beautiful place but, to be honest, it was too formal for what we were looking for and it would have been a stretch financially. We both agreed we would stay there on a return visit as it really is beautiful.

Our first appointment of the day took us (eventually, we got pretty lost on the way) to Julias situated on the beach with a beautiful view of the sea and coastline. It is in the Almancil area of the Algarve which is gorgeous. There are lots of stunning villas nearby and we heard that Ant and Dec often pop in for dinner and drinks as they own properties close by. Sadly for us we didn’t see them. Doh!

SAM_4397

We could really see ourselves getting married here. The situation was perfect and the venue was clean, friendly and stylish. We met with the owner who explained the day and the services they offer and we even managed to enjoy a drink and panini whilst we chatted. It was during this chat that we discovered it isn’t that easy to get married on the beach in Portugal. There are licenses you need to buy and there are rules about music etc. This gave us something to think about as we moved on to our next venue.

Next stop on our whirlwind tour was Duna Beach in Lagos. We didn’t stay here long as although it was a nice location we knew as soon as we arrived that it wasn’t for us. The bar and restaurant I hear are funky venues to spend an afternoon or evening but we didn’t feel it was the right place for us. You might love it and I’ve seen some fab pics of weddings online there.

We were really starting to worry now…..was this going to be an unsuccessful trip? How many quick long weekend breaks would we need to take around the world before we found ‘the place’? Don’t get me wrong, we love to travel, we don’t need an excuse to discover somewhere new but when we’re limited to a certain number of days of annual leave and we want time off for the eventual wedding we had to work smart!

By now the day had become a scorcher and I was starting to feel the strains of the trip. Being hypermobile can be a real pain (yep literally) in extreme temperatures and I was starting to succumb. My neck, chest and face were all bright red and angry looking as were my legs. I had cream on, I was wearing a hat but the vasculitis I suffer from was rearing it’s ugly head. Luckily for me it doesn’t hurt. It can irritate if I catch or scratch it by mistake but more so it just looks AWFUL. I feel that everyone stares at me when I have it and that makes me feel more uncomfortable than I am already feeling. I have only had to deal with this for the past few years, since I was properly diagnosed with hypermobility. The picture below shows it at its worst on my legs. I have to take steroids when it appears which I hate as they really affect my sleep which is already pretty unreliable thanks to being hypermobile.

Vasculitis

Anyway, enough about that for now. Mid afternoon we arrived at our final destination – a beautiful fishing village in Western Algarve called Burgau. We were due to see our final venue but also meet with a caterer we had heard so much about afterwards. We had about 45 minutes to kill before we were due at the venue so we treated ourselves to a burger. I needed food, my energy levels were low and I was feeling pretty rubbish but food and a cold drink really helped.

We arrived at Salsalito just after 3pm. This was our wild card venue. All previous venues had been beach side and this was a 10 minute walk from the beach. It was a villa venue with no view of the sea, I literally came across it online a day or so before we left on our trip. Simon knew very little about it but he trusted my judgement! We were greeted by the owner, a lady called Sally who we immediately knew was a larger than life character. She welcomed us with open arms like we were old friends and led us through her home to the patio.

Now, you know I mentioned earlier that we still hadn’t the ‘take our breath away’ moment? Well let me tell you, we both experienced it together, at the same time as we were led out on to the patio. WOW!!!!! What a beautiful place. A hidden paradise we never expected. Beautiful, tranquil and so amazingly us it was untrue! We remained calm and collected for the meeting and tour and even met the caterer there.

Had we found THE place…..?

Portuguese Wedding Venues

Portuguese wedding venues differ in price and style all along the Algarve and there are so many hard to find venues which may just be your jewel in the crown.

Now, before we embarked on this fact finding mission we thought we knew which venue was going to be our favourite before we’d even seen it in the flesh. It just shows how important it is to see these venues for real as it turned out it wasn’t for us at all. If you’re considering somewhere in Portugal as a wedding venue then you absolutely must get over there and check them out, plus it’s a great excuse for a holiday too!

Right, day one, we’d been in Portugal less than 24 hours and we had a full day of appointments ahead. Our first was Club Nau on the coast in Ferragudo.

SAM_4384

We met with Rebecca and her partner who were absolutely lovely. They ran through everything with us from the ceremony on the beach, to how the venue would be laid out to the food and music options. It had a real laid back beach vibe. We could have beanbags and chill out areas on the sand and listen to the waves crashing. It was a great first appointment and we learnt so much. Unfortunately, although we loved the venue we couldn’t commit. To reach the venue you have to walk down some stone steps, my mother in law to be is disabled so this was sadly out of the question for her. We were so disappointed as everything else seemed perfect. Oh well, on to the next one!

Our second stop was Canico. What can I say. WOW! Never judge a book by its cover. You walk along a few pathways before entering a lift which takes you down and out into the restaurant area. This is a restaurant area like no other as it is set into the side of the cliffs. We arrived a few minutes early so we sat and enjoyed a drink whilst taking in the view out to sea.

Canico

We were drawn to this place as you can have your event set up on the beach. They light up the cliffs at night as you dance with your guests. We were shown around by the manager who was so helpful driving us around his vast property in his jeep. He showed us another area as an option which was around the pool looking out over the sea from the top of the cliffs. This was definitely something to think about so we left with lots of notes and added it to our list of possible options. Either way, we’d absolutely be back for dinner on our next visit to the area.

Next we moved on to NoSoloAgua in Portimao. We didn’t have an appointment but we planned on popping in to get a feel for the place. Unfortunately we just couldn’t find it! We drove around the town so many times and ended up giving up. Maybe on our next trip we will give in and get a SatNav! I have given them a mention though as they were very helpful on email which was great. It turns out that Portimao isn’t really the place for us, too commercialised but that could be what you are looking for.

We ended the day with a drive into the mountains to watch the sunset, we had a lot to talk about and another day of venues the next day.