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14 Jun

We got married back in August last year, but with the impending Viva, house buying and relocation, plus the fact we had just paid for a wedding we didn’t really have the time, nor the means to go away.

We played with the idea of winter sun, expensive Caribbean destinations and exotic, cultured tours.

But actually, what we really wanted was to lay on a beach drinking cocktails, and doing naf all.  We didn’t want the pressure of being somewhere where we would have to go and see buildings, art galleries or wonders of the ancient world.  No, sod that, we didn’t want to be entertained or cultured.

Neither of us are particularly adventurous so we have come to love the greek islands,  the greek people are friendly, engaging and don’t seem to mind if you can’t speak greek.  Most of all we feel safe there.  We also realised that there was little point traveling half way around the world to just lay on a beach drinking all-inclusive cocktails!

So we waited until the start of the Greek holiday season and went to Kos, an island we have visited previously with limited cultural interest (all of which we saw on our last trip) and where we managed to get a fairly bargainous all-inclusive-10-day-deal.  It was still significantly more expensive than our usual 3-star-self-catering job.  But we figured we should make it a bit more special than our usual holiday.

We stayed at the Hotel Oceanis Beach and Spa Resort which is a 4-star-couples-only-mega-all-inclusive-hotel on the beach.  We were expecting it to be a bit posher that our previous holidays, with no food shopping to do and 10 days instead of 7, we also expected it to be a bit more relaxing and luxurious.

The hotel surpassed all our expectations…


The room staff folded our towels into animal shapes:


And when we mentioned we were on Honeymoon:

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The food was awesome, the drink all inclusive:

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And we actually managed to do nothing for a whole 10 days:


Aside from, of course, some experimental paddle-boarding:

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And, posing in the sea:

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We also learned a little bit of Greek and made friends with the Beach Bar Staff:

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With nothing to do for 10 days, we felt as if we had a decent break. I was sad to leave, so sad I cried on the crappy flight back home.

However,  Life goes on, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the puppies had survived our trip away.  They had been well looked after by Dan’s parents and were pleased to see us but also quite happy with life as it was:


Also, the Apple tree had blossomed:


And the flowers had begun to flower:

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The Handfasting

7 Nov

On August the 26th 2012 Dan and I were Handfasted and Married.  I wanted to write this post to share our special day with anyone who wants to read it and to remind myself of just how wonderful it was.  If you are planning on reading this whole post you might want to make yourself a drink before you start!

I spent the night before the wedding at the venue in the Bridal Suite:

I felt a bit lost in the massive 3 room suite and huge bed.  D spent the night with his brothers in a self-contained cabin on-site.  My parents, D’s mum and step dad spent the night in the guest rooms in the big house with me.

In the morning Joanne, our host, brought us croissants, coffee and orange juice and we sat in my suite to eat and chat.  I had several cigarettes, aware that once guests started arriving I would have to stay in the house, out of sight and smoke free!

I proceeded to get ready, my mum did my hair and I did my make up

As I was getting ready I could see our guests starting to arrive

I started to get more excited than nervous!

         We added the final touches.


And G my bridesmaid and niece-in-law-to-be arrived

She looked just like the elfin princess I had imagined!

 We were finally ready

We waited until the guests had moved towards the woods and made our way downstairs

Stopped for a quick ciggy and a tipple

Made our way down to the woods

And arrived in the woods

The Groom was ruggedly handsome and waiting

Our friends and family stood around us in a circle within an ancient Iceni forest

The four quarters were opened


We open the Gates of the East

And awaken the power of Air

We greet Raphael

Light-swift herald of the dawn

Sky-strider on the horizons of forever.

O radiant one of the morning

Enfold us with thy wings of healing and protection

Enter the blessed way into this holy place

And enlighten this man and this woman with thy gifts of awareness and light 


We open the Gates of the South

And awaken the power of Fire

We greet Michael

Upholder of the fearless sword, the brilliant blade

Maker of symmetries, restorer of the balance.

O perfect warrior of the Sun’s height

Enfold us with thy wings of courage and protection

Enter the sacred way into this holy place

And empower this man and this woman with thy gifts of truth and love


We open the Gates of the West

And awaken the power of Water

We greet Gabriel

Deep-eyed messenger of the boundless sea

Bearer of the grail of vision.

O mighty one of the Sun’s setting

Enfold us with thy wings of wisdom and protection

Enter the hallowed way into this holy place

And bestow upon this man and this woman thy gifts of understanding and life


We open the Gates of the North

And awaken the power of Earth

We greet Uriel

Awakener of the fruitful earth

Guardian of the growing things.

O ancient one of the Sun at midnight

Enfold us with thy wings of silence and protection

Enter the shining path into this holy place

And reveal to this man and this woman thy gifts of rebirth and law

We also had a communal blessing which everyone said in unison:

Communal Blessing

Blessed be, the earth upon which we stand

And blessed be,  these two who stand before us.

Blessed be, the eyes of the witnesses

And blessed be, the two upon whom they gaze

Blessed be, the arms of family and friends who embrace this couple

And Blessed be, their hands that entwine in love

Blessed be, our many loving memories

And blessed be, these hearts that join together

Blessed be, this circle of community

And may our blessing be, upon these lovers, Dan and Alice forever

 Dan and I read our vows in unison:

By seeds of all beginnings, I make this oath.

By roots of all depths, I swear to love you with all my might.

By stem and trunk that reach for the sky, I swear to respect your soaring spirit.

By bud that grows, I swear never to crush your dreams.

By leaf that kisses the sun and rain, I swear to share my joys and sorrows

with you.

By flower that opens to the dawn, I swear that I do trust you.

By fruit that gives forth sweetness, I swear to nourish and support you.

By seed within the fruit that grows the tree anew,

I swear to begin anew with you, again and again,

As many times as the gods shall decree.

By life and death, by Lord and Lady, by hand and eye, by heart and spirit,

This I do swear to you here before the Fates

And mark my soul forever with your touch.

As all green things grow, so shall our love,

And its memory be carried forever beneath the feet

Of a thousand generations to come.

 Our hands were bound with braided ribbons, purple to symbolise Dan, orange to symbolise me and green to symbolise the earth which connects us:

We exchanged rings, drank blessed mead and ate honey cake while our hands were bound:

We thanked the earth by gifts of honey cake crumbs and spilt mead.

Our guests threw fresh flower petals at us.

The handfasting was not legally binding so Dan and I went off with my parents and his brothers to meet with the registrar for a quick civil ceremony in the main house.

After this ten-minute legal interlude, we were able to go and join our guests on the lawn drinking champagne

We had a few ‘formal’ photos taken.

The bride’s family

The Groom’s Maternal Family

The Groom’s Paternal Family


After a few photos we went into the marquee for the wedding breakfast

My dear friend read the poem ‘Ithaka’

When you set out for Ithaka ask that your way be long, full of adventure, full of instruction. The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops, angry Poseidon – do not fear them: such as these you will never find as long as your thought is lofty, as long as a rare emotion touch your spirit and your body. The Laistrygonians and the Cyclops, angry Poseidon – you will not meet them unless you carry them in your soul, unless your soul raise them up before you.
Ask that your way be long. At many a Summer dawn to enter with what gratitude, what joy – ports seen for the first time; to stop at Phoenician trading centres, and to buy good merchandise, mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony, and sensuous perfumes of every kind, sensuous perfumes as lavishly as you can; to visit many Egyptian cities, to gather stores of knowledge from the learned.
Have Ithaka always in your mind. Your arrival there is what you are destined for. But don’t in the least hurry the journey. Better it last for years, so that when you reach the island you are old, rich with all you have gained on the way, not expecting Ithaka to give you wealth. Ithaka gave you a splendid journey. Without her you would not have set out. She hasn’t anything else to give you.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka hasn’t deceived you. So wise you have become, of such experience, that already you’ll have understood what these Ithakas mean.

Constantine P. Cavafy
My father, Dan’s brother and Dan gave their speeches:

Then there was time for guests to sit on the lawn or wander about the grounds and drink tea/wine while Dan and I went off with the photographer to get some good photos.  Here are a few of my favorites:

With the formal photos done we went and had tea and cake, followed by some drinking and sitting about on the lawn as the evening guests started to arrive.

At this stage the photographer left, and probably just as well as I was starting to look a little worse for wear.  We had an evening hog-roast and folk band with a caller who got everyone up and ‘having a go’ at country dancing.  I spent the evening, determined to keep my dress on, holding large bunches of skirt up as I too joined in with the crazy group dancing.

Despite the stressful crazyness of 2012 I am so glad we made time to celebrate our joining with our friends and family.  I was overwhemed by the effort and thoughtfulness of all our guests and everyone who helped us arrange the day.  I spent most of the day in awe of how beautiful and magical it was and was touched by everyone’s kindness, I felt truly blessed.

Adventures in High-Speed Living

5 Nov

So much has changed in the three months since my last post…

I handed my thesis in.

I got married.

I had my ‘Viva’

I became a ‘Home Owner’

I made my ‘Major Amendments’ in 48 hours

I qualified as a Doctor in Clinical Psychology

I moved to Kent

And finally…I started my first job as a Clinical Psychologist!

During these months there has been NO ‘time-off’ and, with the exception of the wedding, no real celebration of all that has been achieved.  There simply hasn’t been time to sit back and ponder.

I thought that once the course was over I would be able to step off the ‘rollercoaster’, the fast-crazy-caffiene-induced-must-keep-going-despite-being-knackered-body-is-falling-apart-don’t-have-time-to-care lifestyle.

It hasn’t been quite that simple.

I finished my course on friday the 28th of september, moved to Kent and started my new job on monday the 1st of october.  I negotiated my new hour-long commute from Rochester to Canterbury and landed in my new job totally disoriented to time, place, person and role.  I felt like I had just been thrown off a high-speed train into a foreign country where, suddenly people think I’m some kind of expert while I feel like my brain has been wiped clean and can’t quite understand why people seem to have such high expectations of me.

I thought I would have lots of time in the evenings and at weekends to relax, blog, finish craft projects, bake etc…

It hasn’t happened, I have found endless household tasks and preparations for work that must be done.  I have been grumpy.  I have been exhausted.

I also still need a holiday, a honeymoon  and time to unpack my house and take stock.  I need to drink less alcohol and re-learn the art of relaxation.

So, after a month in my new job…

here I am.

I am having a week off…

To Cope or Not to Cope

30 Jun

So this post has been a long time in the making.  I have been thinking about it a lot and wondering if any one will even read it, being as it has taken me so long!

So, life is busy…

It’s crazy…

As I write I’m aware I don’t want this to sound like a sob story I’m aware that I am a very lucky person with lots of things to be grateful for…

But I am stressed!

I am writing a Thesis, which should have been finished months ago,  this is largely out of my control as I wait for data to come in.  Deadline is end of July.

I am planning a wedding,  Did I mention we are getting married? No?  End of August!  This was meant to allow plenty of time between Thesis and Wedding as Mr Thesis was due at the end of April.  I was meant to be spending this time solely on WEDDING PLANNING  sadly, it didn’t happen, now I am doing both.

D and I are buying a house, In Rochester… This is awesome… We both have jobs to move into and are finally going to own a house together… but…. see above(!).

I am also holding a full case load on my new placement.  My current clients either have a Dementia, Huntington’s Disease or Brain Injury.  I like them. I like the placement.  I just don’t have the time or the head space for it!  Some of our clients have forensic (i.e. offending) histories so are in locked or secure wards, this doesn’t bother me. However, my supervisor and her colleague are both pregnant so are no longer allowed on the wards.  This means that I am taking on (some of) their case loads in addition to my own.

So… Something had to give….

It’s ended up being my evenings.  After a period of dread, followed by a period of bereavement.  I have gotten over this.  I realise that if I’m going to work, write my thesis, plan a wedding and sort stuff out for buying a house as well as the usual housework, dog walking, cooking etc there is NO space for anything else.  There isn’t really space for all of the above.

And that’s where the Coping Question comes in.

Can I cope?

I have historically had  a belief that my ability to cope was somehow inferior to that of others.  I would become tearful, depressed, stop eating, maybe hurt myself and ultimately STOP doing the things I was meant to be doing.

This changed during my degree,  I realised, somehow that, if I kept going, ate what I needed to, resisted hurting myself and was relatively kind to myself I could keep going, and going, and going.

This was a useful lesson. It taught me that for me, coping was a choice. Jung  (I think) once wrote that mental illness was an escape from legitimate suffering.  And in my own personal (not professional) experience it has been.  and here we have the difference (for me) between Stress and Depression.

At the times I have become depressed, the suffering has not been worth the end goal.

At the times I have been stressed, the suffering may have been just as bad but there has been a tangible end goal that looked worth the bother.  This has kept me going despite the suffering.

And this is why I chose to cope.

Because if I get through this I will have a proper, well paid job, doing something I am passionate about.  I will have a beautiful wedding. I will be married to the man I love, who loves me for who I am, despite my current foul mood.  We will have a three bedroom house near the river, a reasonable income, maybe some foreign holidays. We will have a guest room , with no other purpose other than to always be ready for house guests, there will be matching towels and saucepans with copper bottoms. We will walk the puppies on the nearby nature reserve.  I will make the garden beautiful. I will plant a magnolia tree.  I will crotchet dog coats and lace curtains.  We will stroll down the river in to the town, where there will be proper pubs serving real ale, Pimms and bar food.  I will cook delicious, nutritious meals, bake cakes and brew beer.  We will try for babies, we will decorate a nursery and enjoy our time together.

And this is why I am lucky, this is why I chose to cope, because any amount of suffering is worth it for those things.

I am mindful that I also have more support now than I ever had in the past.  My family, D’s family, my friends including my course colleagues are fantastic. D is a rock.  The puppies are so beautiful I could cry.

I chose Life, I chose suffering

The two are not exclusive.

I chose, one day soon, just to be. To hold back on all this ‘striving’ and be in the moment. Not living for the future. For things that might happen.

But for now I need to look six months ahead to an easier time.  I need to take the small stuff where I can. I need to do whatever it is I need to do to make it.

I need to remember:

Crying at work is OK! Psychologists aren’t meant to be scared of emotions! Just having them and carrying on.

Letting D do whatever he is able to take on around the house.

Not being perfect. HELL – my mind is on so many things I’m barely in one place at a time, I’m not going to be my best.

Not caring what other people think (today I ran down the street in my pyjamas after the post man).

To eat! whatever it is! Without worrying about it… there are more important things.

To have compassion for my self and for everyone else.

To plant some daisies in the back garden.

To walk the dogs.

To drink some Pimm’s (just not during the day).

To keep dreaming about the wedding, the house and the future. Just for now.

The Sling Doctor

Babywearing Consultant & Clinical Psychologist

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