Tag Archives: rochester

Stories from The Odyssey

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Back in the day I was a total charity shop/vintage lover bandit. I adored a good old rummage through the myriad shops in Rochester and had some fantastic vintage hauls indeed. 

My tastes have changed somewhat in the intervening years, and to be perfectly honest I got a little tired of seeing the same-old-same-old. As soon as my purse allowed, I stopped shopping there quite so much, moving much more to online shopping. 

I was recently reminded of the joys of ‘thrifting’, when last week I was compelled to visit our local Oxfam after lunch with Mr H. I stumbled across this lovely version of classic Greek myth The Odyssey. I happen to be teaching it to my class at the moment, but there is also something I’ve found personally quite fascinating about Greek Mythology, so I snapped up this lovely copy, for a mere £2.49. 

It’s now sitting on my bedside table, waiting for me to jump aboard and join in with its adventures. Roll on these Autumn evenings and early nights I say!

Life Lately :: My Summer Break Begins

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Well the summer has finally arrived in the Hello household, and I am sooooo pleased to have made it through my first year of primary teaching.

The weather in our part of the world has been really incredible recently, nicely coinciding with the holiday feeling I seem to have been cultivating! I was lucky enough to get a couple of bottles of fizz as thank you presents this year, and so I cracked one open at the earliest opportunity and toasted to my class!

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A funny story, although one that I am almost certain Mr H doesn’t want me to share. The champagne flute in the picture above is part of a Royal Doulton set called ‘Linear’. We got a set of wine glasses and some decanters as a wedding gift,  and I’d been searching for some flutes as well, as I’d heard the range had been discontinued. I stumbled upon a set of flutes in John Lewis, and snapped them up as soon as I saw them. I brought them home to some eye-rolling from Mr H, who for some unknown reason, doesn’t get as excited about glassware as I do. Literally, the next day, as he was putting the glasses away in our cupboard, he dropped one, on to two other glasses, smashing half of my new set!

He was obviously devastated on my behalf, although I was surprisingly accepting of it, trying to make sure he didn’t feel too bad! Things are things, and to be perfectly honest I was a bit surprised  that it wasn’t me that had broken them first!

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We’ve also been spending a lot more time in the allotment – it’s basically harvest time! We’ve eaten all of our lovely potatoes, and my god lovely is truly the right word. I’d never considered potatoes to have a particularly distinct flavour, and I’m Polish, so that’s saying something! But freshly dug potatoes are so creamy, and their texture is just divine. All hail home grown taters!

I bought a couple of courgette and pumpkin seedlings when we went to the Kent Garden Show a few weeks back, and I’m pleased to say they have both gone absolutely mental. We picked Big Bertha the courgette a couple of days ago, and I know she has a couple more friends ready waiting to be picked any day now. No pumpkins yet, but I pruned a couple of the vines back to see if that would make a difference – I want the plant to use its energy to make the pumpkin, rather than a long vine. I do, however, find it rather pleasing to see a huge pumpkin vine cascading over our plot, but still, eyes must remain on the pumpkiny prize. 

I’ve taken this week really easily – a couple of days cleaning up my classroom, some gardening, quite a bit of expensive shopping (more on that to come) and general lazing about. The next few weeks will undoubtedly have more structure in them, as I’m determined to be a super efficient machine-type woman in the lead up to the new school year, but this week I am happy just to take it slow. 

 

 

 

The Northern Seaman :: Rochester

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This Saturday Mr Hello and I decided to go on a DATE. We’d heard rumours of the opening of a new micro pub  down on the Rochester/Chatham High Street, so thought we’d head down to check out the vibe and sample their wares.

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The Northern Seaman 2 - Hello Sam Goodbye SamanthaThe Northern Seaman describes itself as a new micro pub upholding “traditional pub values in a fresh, innovative manner”. And that, my friends, appears to be exactly what it is! It’s a great little bar – I would go so far to say it’s as much a bar as a pub – with trendy (but not too trendy) decor and an impressive range of beers and wines. YAS, YOU HEARD RIGHT – SOMEWHERE ON THE HIGH STREET SERVING PROPER WINE.
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The state of the wine on offer in Medway has been something of a bone of contention on my part for, hmm…years? Kent does a fine old pub, and in fact my favourite pubs in the world are virtually on my door step, but can this West Australian gal get a decent glass of wine anywhere in the region?

Not until now. The Northern Seaman is not only offering ales from such excellent brewers such as Nelson Brewery, Dartford Wobbler and Caveman, but it is also the only bar in Medway (that I have come across, at least) that serves wines from Biddenden and Chapel Down Vineyards, both of which are located in our lovely county! It’s silly, really, but one of the things I miss most about Perth is being able to just pop in somewhere for a really nice glass of wine and a natter with a pal. I hate to be a snob, but the ol’ Blossom Hill just doesn’t cut it!

Having said that, on this visit the ale proved to tempting to resist and I was expertly guided by the barman Tim towards my very own pint of the Golden Wobbler. At £3 a pint it was very reasonably priced, and served at a lovely drinkable temperature.

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We stayed for a couple of drinks, watched the bar fill up with young hipster types (Yay! Hipsters!) and spent some quality time together, on an actual date, being an actual couple.

The Northern Seaman 3 - Hello Sam Goodbye SamanthaIn fact, I’d really recommend The Northern Seaman as somewhere for a date – it’s happening but not too busy, and not necessarily in the part of the High Street where you’ll be interrupted every 5 minutes by someone you know, which, for us Medway-ites, is often a occupational hazard! There was a real buzz while we were there, so it’s obviously filling a hole in the market!

The staff were courteous and friendly, more than happy to share their knowledge, and seemed genuinely pleased to see us there. The decor is contemporary with a handmade vintage twist, and you’re not going to be intimidated out of the joint by regulars propping up the bar.The Northern Seaman 5 - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha Although there seem to be a few new venues of this ilk popping up across the Medway towns, I say bring it on – places like The Northern Seaman can only add to our cultural landscape, in my humble, wine-loving opinion.

Go check it out and let me know what you think!

 

P.S. – I have not been reimbursed for this post at all, I am simply spreading the love!

A Walk by the Medway :: Visiting Temple Marsh

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Last weekend I got a major case of cabin fever, and so Mr H proposed a little jaunt out of the house to visit a piece of land that had piqued his interest over the last few weeks.

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Temple Marsh is, funnily enough, an old landfill site, which is now safe to walk on but not yet ready to be built on. It’s directly over the River Medway from Rochester, and often on our walks we’ve noticed it and wondered what in the world it was. Temple Marsh Map - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

It was a bit of a soggy stomp to get there, and we had to be kindly redirected by an interesting chap who lived on one of the houseboats moored nearby.

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It was a really pretty walk, and we even got to meet a very neat little fox, who actually looked rather surprised to see a human in what I expect is their playground! We walked with no real plan in mind, just soaking up the atmosphere and the opportunity to be out in the fresh air before the heavens opened once again.

Anyone who lives in Kent will attest to the fact that the weather recently has been absolutely diabolical!

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I’ve pulled together a short film of the walk. Take a look:

I’m pretty new to vlogging and video editing, and this is the first time I’ve worked up the courage to post something I’ve pulled together. Lots to learn, but let’s not let the fear of looking a fool get in the way….never stopped me before!

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As we began to make our way back we noticed the tiniest apple tree bursting with fruit!

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The route back is not what I’d call particularly peaceful, as Temple Marsh more or less backs on to a somewhat grotty industrial estate, however, this little gem is also nearby:

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Temple Manor is a 12th Century building that was once owned by the Knights Templar. The fact that I have 12th Century buildings virtually blows the mind of this here colonial, so Mr Hello and I simply had to pop in and have a look around.

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While the building is essentially empty now, once upon a time it was an important Manor House on the side of the River, supporting many farming tenants on its land and monitoring the comings and goings of the bridge crossings.

After WWII it fell into terrible disrepair, but was thankfully restored by English Heritage in the 1970s, I believe. It’s a real little treat amongst the fading industry of the area, and relatively under appreciated I think! There’s definitely something lonesome about it, rising up proudly from its now-modest surroundings.

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Another interesting day out for the Hello Family. More to come soon!

Wandering/Wondering

Since getting the car at the start of January, I’ve been getting a whole lot less exercise, and so last week I decided to remedy it by going for a long post-work walk.

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Gosh the motivation to get out of the house after 5:30pm is hard to come by! I did, however, rather enjoy my lone walk – I wandered past a house I used to live in, walked my old work route, then up a bloody great hill which made me get my sweat on, but rewarded me with a magnificent view.

I spotted the sign commemorating the Short Brothers on my travels, the very same chaps who were the inspiration behind The Seaplane Works.

On my way home I trotted through the woods near our allotment plot, smiling at all the dogs and their walkers, before getting a sneak peek of our allotment. It makes me so happy to see – there are actual garden beds guys, and they have things growing  in them. Crazy talk.

Now I’m on half term the plan is to get out and about a little bit more – I have plenty of seeds I can be potting up to germinate and a lot more of Rochester that could do with being walked through. But I suspect an afternoon (who am I kidding, a day) on the sofa, reading blogs and watching YouTube clips is definitely in order first.

 

The Seaplane Works :: Rochester

This weekend contained one of the best Saturdays I’ve had in a while. I achieved approximately nothing, but I got to hang out with my guy, pottered about and then even squeezed in a mid afternoon nap! The stuff of legends.

A particular high point was the half-hour or so that I spent sipping a rich hot chocolate in The Seaplane Works, the latest addition to Rochester’s burgeoning hipster coffee scene, courtesy of the renowned artist Billy Childish. It didn’t disappoint.

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I think it’s testament to the quality of the hot chocolate that the only picture I have is of the bottom of the cup!

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The café has a small but perfectly formed menu, with a focus on no-grain whole foods. I haven’t actually eaten here yet, but a couple of my friends are positively evangelical about the salads.

They have a minimal online presence at the moment, but the Seaplane Works Facebook page states that they cater to paleo and vegan diets. I am neither, but still found a couple of items on the menu that piqued my interest, for sure.

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The hot chocolate itself was perfectly sweet without being sickly, had a creamy consistency and most importantly, was hot! I can’t stand it when hot chocolates are tepid, because you end up finished about 3 years before your partner. It’s a hard life.

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While it was quiet when we first entered, the atmosphere soon picked up and before too long the place was happily bustling. The café itself has got a great modern London-ish feel to it, which I think is exactly what Rochester needs.

It could, in my humble opinion, do with a little more paraphernalia or artwork on the walls, but all in all, it’s a wonderful addition to our High Street and I urge you to go, forthwith!

Wedding Roundup – Party Time!

Once we arrived at Sun Pier House, it was straight into our ‘cocktail hour’. I use the term ‘cocktail’ incredibly loosely, in fact I shouldn’t really use it at all, because no cocktails were in fact, served. There was an abundance of champagne, wine and beer, which I expect more than made up for it.

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Full credit where credit is due – our wonderful wedding party showed up on Friday to help us decorate Sun Pier. For the most part the venue is exactly to our taste, but there was some extreme pom-pom action we wanted to incorporate, and the odd vintage doily never really goes astray, now does it?

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My sister and I had run up the white bunting ourselves. You may remember in my former life I had a little bunting business. So the skills were there to be used. I had been tempted to go for a very cutesy bunting wedding early on, but as the big day approached I realised my tastes had changed, so in the end I went for (lots of) plain white bunting – festive but not chintzy.

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The pom-poms were sourced from various places, the fan shapes and the pom-pom wreaths from Tiger, but the vast majority were brand new from Ebay.

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My sister picked up our plain card guestbook from Paperchase in the days before the wedding. My Mama, also known as the calligrapher-extraordinaire, illustrated the front and also was the muscle behind our seating plan, which was a limited edition print from IKEA, of all places!

We also caved in to our inner hipsters and bought a Fujifilm Instax Polaroid camera, for a visual guestbook. I am not going to lie here, that darn thing was expensive. Like £90 or something stupid like that. But it was  a hell of a lot of fun, and if we never use it again, we both feel like we got our monies worth. We passed the camera around for our guests to take photos, and then peg them to our ribbon wall.

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This ribbon wall was an inspired idea by Mr H. I had bought these reels of 2cm wide ribbon for the tops of the ribbon sticks, but hadn’t ended up using it all. On our prep day, Mr Hello used the hooks that Sun Pier House already had to display their menus, and wound each spool of ribbon around them, forming a great backdrop and, bonus, somewhere to hang our polaroids!

I read quite a bit of advice on A Practical Wedding that said if you want to include an impromptu element in your wedding, it’s really helpful to ask someone in your party to take responsibility for it. That way, you can forget all about it while you’re talking to everyone, because you know you have someone trusted going around. It was invaluable to have my wonderful bridesmaid N in charge of the Polaroids. She flew all the way over from Australia for the wedding, and I could not be more grateful. I like to think the Polaroid duty also helped her to meet people, but perhaps that’s wishful thinking!

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Luckily, due to the shape of the venue, we were quite easily able to include a little ‘kids zone’, where we put down some astro turf (left over from our Mr H-designed centrepieces), added some puzzles, wooden blocks, crayons and colouring books and let the kids run wild. Sort of.

I had bookmarked the idea ever since I read something similar on Franky’s wedding round-up on Love My Dress. I thought it would be a great way to keep the kids entertained when the grown-up side of things got too boring, and would give their parents a bit of peace so they could enjoy a drink! I’m pleased to say I got excellent feedback…

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Before too long we were sitting down for our main meal. We went for a Middle Eastern style buffet, catered by our great local restaurant Café Moroc. Partly because we knew we had a lot of vegetarians and vegans in attendance, and we all know that Middle Eastern cuisine is big on the ol’ chickpeas, but also because we really like that kind of food and have had some great meals there before.

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It was delicious and I ate so much at that point that I didn’t manage to have any of my wedding cakes. Dis. A. Pointed.

I have two little regrets about the food. Well, little niggles at least. Firstly, we ran out of time to make signs for the food, and I wish we had made the extra effort because my veggie pals had to faff around and ask people to taste things before they ate them. Not very hospitable of me! Oh well…lesson learned.

The second niggle is that there was heaps of food left over and I forgot to tell the caterers that we wanted to keep it. Mr H and I would have loved to have binged on hummus for the next few days, but it was cleared away before we had the chance. Again, lesson learned, and in the grand scheme of things, not a big deal.

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We then moved on to the speeches. We never wanted endless speeches or toasts, and I am so delighted to report that the speeches by both of our families were everything we could have wished for at the start of our marriage.

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Mr Hello blubbed delightfully throughout the whole thing. He was the focal point of this part of the day, for sure. As discussed in my ceremony roundup, I am evidently an Ice Queen because I remained composed throughout. It’s a strange thing. Definitely a combination of trying to remember it all, not being able to believe that it’s actually your wedding, and the slightest amount of unexpected stage fright. Anyhow, just call me Elsa.

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My Dad sang some wonderful songs, one was a version of Waltzing Matilda with amazing references to Rochester within it, and a couple of others. He had the crowd in the palm of his hand, let’s just say that.

My sister’s speech was the one that almost tipped me over the edge into Emotionville. She’s bloody great and I am so lucky. She did however, bring up an ear biting incident that happed A LONG TIME AGO SO JUST GET OVER IT ALREADY.

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Mr H’s lovely sister K had then organised a game to get us all in the party mood, complete with papier mâche representations of our goodselves. I am pleased to report these remain in our household. So hilarious, and strangely, so anatomically correct.150801_Sam+John_Slideshow_weheartpictures0133

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Then we boogied! Our first dance (which is a completely weird experience, let me tell you) was to Come and Get Your Love by Redbone, because every time we heard that song, we couldn’t help but dance.150801_Sam+John_Slideshow_weheartpictures0137

I am a very earnest dancer. And singer-alonger, it seems.150801_Sam+John_Slideshow_weheartpictures0138

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I cut some serious shapes, believe you me. We chose to hook up our laptop and used our own curated playlists for the evening. It was great, it was cheap and we had exactly the music we wanted, although if I did it again, I think I might have put a ‘no touchy’ sign on the laptop to stop people from skipping songs. Hey ho, again, a minor detail which had no real impact on the day.

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I’m not sure if you can tell by my face (note: you totally can), that I was so delighted to have so much of my family there. We are all scattered all over the world, and it meant so much to have people who have known me for much longer than the five years I’ve been in England with me as I start this next phase of my life. I love my family.

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We snuck off at a couple of moments for some quality husband/wife time, which I truly recommend, and we also got some more formal shots done, which I will share with you in the next couple of days.

My biggest take-away from the wedding reception was that Mr Hello and I are so totally loved. We’re loved by each other, by our families and by our deliciously wide circle of friends. What a better way to start a marriage.

Wedding Roundup: The Ceremony

The ceremony is quite literally, the main event of the day. The bit that most people feel the most nervous about. I can honestly say in my heart of hearts, that I did not feel remotely nervous about walking down the aisle towards Mr H.

I couldn’t have been looking forward to it more. What was strange, however, and especially so given my background in drama, is that the closer the wedding drew, the less I looked forward to having ‘all eyes on me’, so to speak. Perhaps I’m getting stage fright as I age.

When at last every hair was in place and every lip and cheek rouged, my delightful bridal party and I made our way, on foot, to the Rochester Guildhall for the ceremony. We couldn’t have been more blessed with the weather!

As with all of these wedding posts, these amazing photographs are by Hector of We Heart Pictures.

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A dear friend of ours was married in our town a couple of years ago, and she mentioned that her favourite part of the day was walking along the High Street, with people congratulating her. I now know the feeling, and it truly is wonderful.

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Having arrived 20 minutes late, my dear father thought it would be hilarious to tell me that we were ‘way beyond fashionably late’. Thanks Dad.

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We climbed the stairs and loitered attractively in the anteroom while the registrar ran through some last minute details with me.

Mr H and his family were already in the main chamber, and I really adore these candid shots of them, and our lovely nephew R entertaining his grandparents in the corner!

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My Dad is notoriously hot, and this photo of my sister cooling him down is one of my favourites from the whole day. There’s a palpable sense of anticipation, don’t you think?

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We’re not allowed confetti in Rochester, and so we improvised with ribbon sticks for our guests to wave in our faces in a celebratory manner. They were a hit with the kids, and continue to be a hit with many of the cats in the Rochester area, I’m told!

Mr H made a little wedding zine, which included the order of the day, some of our family history, the story behind our wedding rings – mine is antique, his is a family heirloom sized down from Z+1 to an R – as well as our decision to use my maiden name as our family name. We wanted to share these stories with our guests on the day, and they are now a lasting keepsake.

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Before too long, the bridal crew were gathering on the small stairwell, waiting to enter. My bouquet was in one arm, with the other was tucked firmly in the crook of my father’s. I had time for perhaps one deep breath, before we were off down the aisle!

I approached the whole being ‘given away’ with a lot of thought. I don’t particularly like the historical connotations, and Mr H and I both liked the idea of walking in together. But at the end of the day, I very rarely get to share such special moments with my Dad, and so I am so pleased that we made the traditional decision. I have no regrets.

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A sneaky wink – I have no recollection of doing this, but it’s a wonderful moment nevertheless!

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We were lucky enough to have two readings by wonderful friends. The first was Habitationby Margaret Atwood, read by my dear friend E. I couldn’t have asked for better! The second was an extract from the essay Knowing What’s Nice, by Kurt Vonnegut. I’ll link to  both here for posterity

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By the time you reach the top of the aisle, some little gremlin grabs all the clocks in the world and starts spinning the hands faster – the time absolutely flies.

Before I knew it, we were saying our vows to one another, the vows we wrote together:

I promise to love and cherish the life we build together.

I will care for you, and help you to be the best person you can be.

I will enjoy you when it’s easy, and be loyal when it’s not.

This commitment I make to you for the  rest of my life.

There was the obligatory stumbling over certain words and names, but it was all heartfelt and full of love.

I felt very conscious of what I was doing, and I suppose the seriousness of the matter prevented me from getting choked up – I was fully expecting to be a sobbing mess, but instead some serene goddess replaced me! It felt like my voice was very loud. “Clear”, people said, “Your voice was very clear”, and that means loud. Ho hum.

Rings were presented, and a with momentary panic about swollen knuckles, exchanged. Then we were married!

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Maximum ribbon stick action!

Wedding Roundup – Hair, Makeup & Getting Ready

Lo and behold! I’m still alive! I have finally recovered from the spiritual shock of a new year of full time teaching, and so now I have managed to pull together the inner strength to start regularly posting again. It is now time for full-on wedding posts.

Because this is my blog, I get to focus on…well…me…so I’m going to kick of my series of wedding roundups with the morning when the bridal party got ready.

Before we get stuck into all the photos, of which there are many. I want to remind you of a little company called We Heart Pictures. I introduced you to Hector and Charlie last year, and in all honesty, I cannot think of anyone who would have done a better job with our photos. We are so unbelievably happy. You’ll see why:

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It took me a little while to decide, but I eventually budgeted to have my makeup and hair done by the wonderful team at Lipstick & Curls. I am not going to lie, it was a big expense, but I thought for quite a long time about it before I committed. In the end, I decided it was worth it, as they’re a brand I know and trust, and there may not have been another occasion for which I could justify using them!

My stylist was Hannah, who was hilarious, patient and talented. If you’re lucky enough to meet her in the future, you’re in for a real treat. She was joined on the day by Anneka, who did the hair and makeup for my bridal party.

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That morning, my Mama presented me with my “something blue”. It was a little blue box, from a tiny jewellery company called Tiffany & Co. You might have heard of them? The delicate heart bracelet you can see was my gift. I’ve taken to wearing it every day now.

My lovely sister and best friend N bought the whole group (even my bridesman S!) our robes as a surprise present. The soft cream jersey was actually quite comforting on the day, and the delicate embroidery on the sleeve was a lovely bridal detail. I’ve always loved the look of a bridal party wearing matching robes, so their thoughtful surprise made me give a squeal of delight!

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I truly loved having everyone get ready with me. It was exciting, but also a strangely calm morning. I had a stellar bunch of brides-people around me, proffering croissants and fresh coffee in my general direction whenever they had the chance. What more could a bride ask for?

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These photos also make me look at my house in a new light. The week before the wedding we had some plastering done (big mistake – don’t do it to yourself) and I had been feeling thoroughly fed up with the whole place. Seeing it look so charming in these photos, however, has won it a place in my good books once again.

Wedding 0033 Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha Wedding 0032 Hello Sam Goodbye SamanthaDoesn’t my Mama have the most wonderful smile?

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Getting ready is evidently a very serious business. I had very serious eyebrows, and I loved every bit of them.

Even though we started before 9, we were all of a sudden running a little bit late! With a 10 minute walk into town ahead of us, it wasn’t long before I had to hop into my dress quick smart, with Hannah strategically arranging my hair clips and veil at the very last minute.

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The big event awaited us!

Tiny Beautiful Things

Tiny Beautiful Things Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

The blossoms have arrived at Jackson’s Field in Rochester.

Spring is bringing exciting plans, and I’m inching closer to married life. Non married life is pretty great too though, it must be said.

I had a little crisis of confidence professionally last week, and it resulted in a week of interrupted sleep and feeling a little fragile. I’m trying to combat this by being absorbed in my home: cooking lots, easy but time consuming recipes, watching The River Cottage (Series One is from 1999!) and planning my new garden.

I spent a remarkably pleasant day last weekend in a gift store picking out cards – not for any occasion but purely because I liked them. I think I will send some out to friends I haven’t seen in a while,  to let them know I’m thinking of them. It seems to be a season of change for many of us.