Monday, 11 July 2011

Who am I? Really? Part four - the wedding.

Ok, so the days of weekend partying, swooning over Take That (actually, no, I never swooned. Ever! I may have thrown myself over the row infront of me at Whitley Bay Ice Rink that night in December 1993 just to get closer to Howard Donald but I'd call that being pro-active.  Swooning smacks of laziness!), and enjoying student life were over.  I had a mortgage now, a fiance (I'll always remember the day we got engaged. It was my birthday and we went to the cinema to see Independence Day and I knew it was my birthday because hubby-to-be bought me popcorn.  And a drink.  Generous to the hilt he is...) and, thankfully, a job!  And because we were both working, we had the chance to take some lovely holidays to places like Majorca, Lanzarote, even Lapland!  Although, I have to say, ski-ing isn't quite my forte.  I didn't end up on my backside quite as much as I'd thought I would, but I was much better at sledging!  I may do some holiday blogs actually, because there are some experiences that just can't be covered in a sentence...anyway, holidays, yes.  Thanks to having a bit of spare cash (not sure what that is now seeing as I never really see much of it anymore!!) the holiday's were good (especially the cruises, I loved cruising!), but the one holiday I really wanted was a bloody honeymoon!

It wasn't that we didn't want to get married, it was just that we both had families that were, shall we say, less than conventional, and bringing them together for something like a wedding was just a disaster waiting to happen.  We looked at everything from eloping to Gretna Green (can you actually elope at 35?) to heading off to Vegas to get married by Elvis (my favourite option, but I knew I'd never be able to keep a straight face), but we eventually decided on The Gambia.  Yes, Africa.  Why?  Because we'd been there the year before and loved it.  It was different.  And not overly expensive, especially as we were combining the wedding and honeymoon together, although we were doing it over Christmas so it wasn't exactly the cheapest it could have been.  Two friends were going to join us in the second week for the wedding, and I was convinced it was going to be a holiday to remember.  I got that right!

The Gambia is an interesting place.  Still trying to work out why we were all greeted outside the airport by bagpipers but it all just added to the surrealness of the situation.  The main problem anyone has when entering that country is making sure you have enough pound coins on you to actually get out of the airport because you had to pay everyone you came across (someone to help you get your bags off the carousel, someone to get you a trolley, someone to wheel your bags past security...) because, if you didn't, you were more than likely stopped by security who would proceed to open all your cases and then try and sell everything back to you!  We'd been tipped off about this by a Gambian girl sitting next to us on the 'plane the first time we'd visited the country so we were more than prepared for our second visit. And then, once you're out of the ariport, you have to pay someone to tie your cases to the roof of the transfer coach (I kid you not, that's the truth!) and then another person has to be bunged a quid to take them down again once you reach the hotel!  I tell you, by the time you get to your room you're exhausted with it all!

Our Gambian wedding day.
It was a lovely hotel though, and we had a fabulous room with a view of the gorgeous gardens and palm trees, and I was quite relaxed.  Until I met the wedding co-ordinator.  Can't remember his name but he was a muslim bloke who frequently told my husband-to-be about the benefits of having four wives and kept telling me that I didn't need to know about the flowers or the cake or anything like that because he had it all in hand!  I could have knocked him out at one point, and there was many a crisis meeting called by my hubby-to-be with him to "straighten things out" and explain that, in British culture, women really needed to have some kind of control over their wedding day.  I think he finally got the message after a shouting match in reception one evening.  And the day itself was actually lovely.  Quiet, but lovely.  And everything turned out fine, despite the hassle it took to get there.  I ate lots of cake and drank lots of sparkling wine (as did our wedding co-ordinator, who had suddenly become selectively muslim when it came to alcohol) and in the evening our friends had hired a band for us in the restaurant and we ate more cake and drank lots more wine and danced the night away.  It wasn't your average wedding, but I've got some very happy, and very funny memories of that whole holiday.  Although I wasn't sorry to say goodbye to the insects that country has.  We used to sit in the hotel bar in the evenings before dinner and play "what the hell is that?" as strange creature after strange creature flew past the window.  When we were walking from our room over to the main hotel block one night we heard this loud thud!, I screamed, my husband clutched his chest, and I swear, I thought he'd been shot!  What had actually landed on him was a flying cockroach the size of a small dog, and my husband insists to this day that when he looked down at it he could see the whites of its eyes!

But, insects and muslim wedding co-ordinators apart, it was a holiday - and a wedding - to remember.  For so many reasons, too many to mention here.  Which is why I may do more separate holiday blogs because some of the stories... Not sure we'd ever go back to The Gambia now,  but it'll always hold some special memories.  Even if it did take a miracle to get out of the airport on the return journey home thanks to a power cut and every single passengers case getting thrown into the same room!  Actually, the miracle was the fact that anyone actually got their case at all because I have no idea how they sorted them into the correct flights, it was bloody chaos!  Infact, I'm sure someone kissed the tarmac at Manchester airport when we landed at midnight!

But the wedding was just one big event that happened in the noughties.  The other was our decision to throw caution to the wind and move over to Tenerife...and that was the best adventure of my life...

If you've by any chance enjoyed any of my ramblings, then you might want to give one of my books a try. 'Too Much Trouble in Paradise', a lighthearted romance set mainly on the Spanish Canarian island of Tenerife - and 'No Matter What', a contemporary saga of love, jealousy, obsession and betrayal.  Give 'em a go!  You know you want to!! ;)

To read excerpts from both books visit my new Blog here:-

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