Marrying a Boy: The Basics

N.B the Boyfriend will remain “the Boyfriend” for this series, even though he is my fiancé, I just can’t say it constantly without sounding pretentious (french words in a northern accent!). So when you read boyfriend, say fiancé in your head! 🙂

The Boyfriend did good. Ayers Rock, sunset, my amazing grandmother’s engagement ring and the perfect proposal. The happiest day of my life so far and the start of another adventure together.

A few of our close friends and family members have already tied the knot, so through the grape vine we had heard whispers about the cost, the politics and the sheer number of decisions you have to make.

We are on month four of being engaged and after two months travelling and spending 24/7 together I felt I knew the Boyfriend like the back of my hand. Then we started planning our wedding…

The basics: date & venue

One thing we did agree on is the beautiful church, where many a happy and sad family occasion has been held, where I grew up, where we will say our vows. That was the easy decision.

Then we got to the reception venue:

The Boyfriend: “How about the 21st September?”

Me: “The venue doesn’t have that date available, what about a week later”

The Boyfriend: “Well it will probably be colder and wetter that day”

Me: “I’m sorry, a week later?”

The Boyfriend: “Yes you’re basically in October”

We are getting married in the north of England, on the coast – when it comes to weather, anything goes, whatever the date.

Me: “How about this lovely barn which is part of a manor hall, it’s a graded building, very romantic?”

The Boyfriend: “The brickwork doesn’t match.”

Me: “Really? On your wedding day you are going to notice the brick work not matching?”

The Boyfriend: “Maybe…”

It’s not just the boyfriend being picky and unimaginative:

Me: “It’s too clinical.”

The Boyfriend: “What do you mean? It looked amazing with the views out the window!”

Me: “I can’t visualise our wedding when this person has chosen white and silver as their colours in a white room.” (It did look clinical and I would advise against just having these colours)

Then there were things that I never thought we would pick out:

“The bar isn’t big enough.” – don’t worry future guests, we didn’t go with that venue, the one we did has a large bar for you all to fight over getting served at!

“I won’t be able to walk on these cobbles with any sort of heels, and knowing my friends we may have a few people falling over, especially after a couple of glasses of wine” – notice the theme here?

The big one was – what if it rains? We need somewhere with lots of inside space which will avoid us and our guests not getting drenched for the most part. For those of you that have never been to Southport, the odds of rain are higher than average I would say. If it’s not raining, it’s windy. Not southern windy, real wind that cuts through you. However, have a few proseccos and I’m sure you won’t feel it – we never did aged 18 on nights out in short dresses! (There is a definite theme).

Then we did it.

One pro/con list later, a mild heart attack at the cost and we made a decision.

We thought getting engaged was a big decision, then the venue seemed like a huge hurdle. Then we started looking at colours…

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Living With a Boy; A New Talent

We are all born with talents – isn’t that what we learn at primary school. We should all celebrate each others gifts and talents. Some of us play instruments, some of us are good at art, public speaking, saying the alphabet backwards. Aged 24 I found out my new one:

I am so bad at housework I now don’t have to do any.

I know. So bad, that I felt it necessary to put that statement into bold and italics.

How? Well it all started a few weeks ago.

“Darling, you haven’t got enough water in the sink” – I think I have, everything can be completely submerged underwater. That’s enough.

“Don’t think that’s enough washing up liquid, is it?” – Well do you want to pay for the next lot of washing up liquid? No, didn’t think so..

“MARY what’s this?! Is this meant to be clean? I can still see at LEAST seven marks on it”

Four words came out of my mouth. Probably in a slightly raised tone, probably with a little more aggression than I speak with on a daily basis.

Do. It. Yourself. Then.

And that was it. No more washing up for me as I just don’t do it properly – apparently.

A couple of weeks later another incident occurred which seemed to annoy myself and the boyfriend on a similar level.

“Darling, don’t think the socks are going to dry on the washing rack if you put them that close together. Do you?” – Deep breaths Mary, it’s a rhetorical question.

“Oh no no, don’t put my t-shirt on like that – it’s going to smell damp” – More deep breaths, slightly quicker but still in control. Maybe throw in a slight giggle to make it seem like your nostrils aren’t flaring.

Two days later..

“MARY my shirt smells damp – it must be the way you hung it up!” – same four words, slightly louder, slightly harsher.

Do. It. Yourself. Then.

By this point I was slightly gutted. I mean, I’ve lived away from home for 6 years and have done my clothes washing and washed dishes in all that time and never had any issues. Why was it in an issue now? Why was I so inapt as housework.

Then I realised this was a blessing.

Now, I get to be the one that sits back and enjoys dinner without having to think about the mess that awaits me afterwards. I can watch the boy get stressed about how the washing rack, which is meant for one persons load of washing, is a nightmare to fit two loads on.

And I laugh, and I smile – until I get a death stare…then I get back to writing my blog.

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Living with a Boy; THAT illness changes everything

WARNING: OVERSHARE

The beginning of a relationship takes a large amount of preparation time in order to look your best at all times. Those first few dates, well the boyfriend had never seen me better! Make up, hair straightening, making sure all those spots are covered up and there were no miscellaneous lines of hairs on my legs that I’d missed (still not sure how that happens). Granted, when you move in together this tends to slide a lot more. When someone sees you the day after a big night, or just generally first thing in the morning every single day, with no make-up and the plethora of spots that have appeared over night and doesn’t run a mile, you’re doing OK! Then you come back from holiday with a travellers bug, and you are now rocking the “grey-faced” look, the worst you have ever adopted. I learnt a few things:

  1. Goodbye self-respect

Usually in these situations you would confide in your parents or closest friends as to what was going on in your stomach during these sorts of bugs. Let’s face it, it’s hardly a runny nose, which can also be classed as horrible. But when you live with someone else in your room, and your room is next to the toilet, and then the boyfriend starts asking if it is safe to use the toilet, let alone when you have to tell them to hurry up…let’s just say there are no longer any secrets and that ounce of self-respect and modesty you had in the relationship is now gone. It’s like losing a good friend.

  1. Make the most of it

I didn’t, by the way. However, looking back now there are a few things I would change, things that may make you more comfortable and feel just a little bit better

  • A bell – because why not?
  • “Please can I just have a bit more duvet, no, more than that, and some space – you know, because I feel so ill”
  • “You know I’ve left some stuff on the floor? Can you just tidy everything up for me so I have a clear route to the bathroom”

You know the stuff you would never get away with before, but now you have your moment!

  1. They notice the tiniest bit of make up

The grey look isn’t one I would choose to rock on day to day basis, because let’s face it, no-one likes getting told you look “grey”, “rough” and the worst of all “peaky”. So you wake up and put that little bit of foundation on and the boyfriend greets you with:

“WOW – you look so much better!”

He may not have taken in to consideration that before he got to the end of the sentence I was running out of the room, but the sentiment was there and considering he sometimes doesn’t notice when I have my haircut, this was something else!

Then comes the real test of your relationship:

Do you still love them even though you saw them eating your favourite meal under your nose while you were struggling to drink water, or when you saw them sleeping soundly for 8 hours while you couldn’t make it 30 minutes. I let it slide…

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Living with a Boy; A Parent’s Warning

Before the boyfriend moved in my parents finally admitted something to me:

“Mary,” they said, “We couldn’t live with you.”

After living in their home for 18 years, they finally admitted that given the choice, they would never live with me again. Not going to lie, it wasn’t the most supportive thing I have ever heard them say.

I am going to put at least 5 years of hell down to hormones, puberty and being a teenage girl that was always right, and I’m going to add another 5 years for when I had to live under the same roof as three brothers (that in itself would cause anyone to be a bit of a nightmare).

I thought they were over-reacting but now I think they may have had a point.

The other day confirmed this. The boyfriend isn’t one to nag usually, mainly because I get in there first. Then, I heard this phrase:

“What has happened in here?” he shouted from our room.

I walked in and saw nothing unusual. Then after looking at the boyfriend again and seeing him move his eyes around the room whilst raising his eyebrows I slowly recognised the issue:

– The bed was unmade. I used to have a bunk bed so I never made my bed it was too difficult, and when you have never done it, well you just don’t do it.

– There were unworn clothes on the floor. Well that’s easy to explain. I’m a girl, and an indecisive one at that. In the morning I often try on a few things before I decide what I feel most comfortable in, and when you’re in a rush those extra few seconds putting it back on the hanger, well…it just doesn’t happen.

– Dirty clothes on the floor. What can I say? I have a very poor aim. I play netball, but I’m not a shooter.

– Straighteners and hairdryer lined from one end of the room to the other. Well I just like seeing how my hair looks with the rest of my outfit so the further back I go the better overall look I get. They were switched off which I think is what really matters.

I decided a blank face was the best look to go for, I mean you don’t want to admit your faults straight away do you? His reaction was short but meaningful: a sigh. The realisation that this is what he had just signed up too.

“It’s a mess. I tidied it yesterday,” he said.

I looked around the room again. I could still see the floor – what is his problem?

After a couple of seconds of silence I heard another sigh. “Mary, you have to make an effort to keep it tidy, I can’t live like this.” I bit my tongue, very ready to come back with the response of: well I can’t live in a tidy room. But that just makes me sound ridiculous.

So I picked up all my “mess” (I like to think of it as my second wardrobe) and put it back into my first wardrobe. Not quite sulking, but not far from it. Huffing around like every piece of clothing I picked up off the floor was the biggest effort in the world. (Now understanding why my parents couldn’t live with me…)

Definition 1. of compromise:

Compromise – having to keep your, sorry our, room tidy from mess that the other person thinks it is too messy.

I know what my parents are thinking. Good luck, she never did it for us in 18 years, aged 24 I don’t think she’s going to change now.

You know what, Mum and Dad, I agree.

Note: a week on from this discussion I have just re-entered the room. The boyfriend is away so I know that none of the stuff is his. I can’t see the floor. Some things never change.

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Living with a boy; A Revelation

So one month ago I moved in with my boyfriend. Big decision but it felt right blah blah blah, you know the drill. As moving to London was a big part of my life, and a massive adjustment, as is this.

So I thought I’d write a blog about it. You know the gist I’m going for – from strong, independent woman, to strong independent woman who lives with a male. Striking, right?

The first in the series of Living With A Boy

Disclaimer: I love my boyfriend. You know 95% love him, 5% drives me round the bend, 90-10 on a bad day (80-20 on a really bad day and maybe 70-30 when..girls you know).

Moving in with someone you have never lived with before is daunting. Moving in with someone in the full knowledge that your room is no longer your room, it’s now “our room” is terrifying.

The photos on the wall have started to be equal, half my friends, half his friends. He has to have one of my wardrobes (even though he has half the clothes). You have to teach him that a purple lamp that looks like something out of an alien movie will never be in my, I mean our, room ever.

You think you learnt the meaning of the word comprise years ago, then you find out you have never compromised on anything in your life until you have to compromise daily on cooking, how far the window is open, whose turn it is to wash up and what time the alarm goes off.

Before we moved in together I took a lot of advice from my girlfriends who currently lived with their boyfriends/fiances/husbands. It seemed to be some sort of female club, they all had the same thoughts and pet hates, including:

“Boys are different creatures, I just don’t understand what goes on inside his head”

“He throw his dirty clothes towards the wash basket and doesn’t quite get it in…and then leaves it there”

“He never cooks, but expects to be cooked for…and don’t even get me started on the washing up”

This led me to have three thoughts going in to this move (not including the dilemma of moving all my summer and winter clothes into one cupboard – first world problems, I know):

1. I have one pet hate and that is not washing up before going to bed – this could cause some arguments.

2. The boyfriend likes to cook, this should not be an issue

3. Us girls are very easy to live with by the sounds of it.

So, as you can imagine I was confident, almost cocky that not only was this going to work out, but I was going to win every argument and be a dream to live with.

One month in and I could not be more wrong.

Ladies and Gentleman I have found out one thing in this relationship….I am the boy.

I am the one you would not want to live with.

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Northener Running in London

IMG_2320Training for a half marathon is hard, yes it’s only 13 miles but when you’re carrying around that little bit of extra weight and you’re not the fastest runner in the world it can be challenging. The task is made slightly easier when you’re sad, confused or upset – unfortunately I signed up to this latest half marathon feeling none of these things.

My first thought was, I’m not at university – I can’t skip a lecture and go for a casual 11am run, I’m not free at 4pm so have to do a full day at work and then run. Yes, I hear you I could get up earlier but I’m not an ‘early riser’.

1. When I first started in training in London it was easy to blame ‘the smog’. Yes, it’s not Beijing but you know it’s not the north. You don’t have sea air or walk down the pier and think “wow, that’s fresh!” Then I started to blame my general laziness, and the fact that when I got in from work spending an hour of my evening on a run was not even comprehensible.

Now, I am very much in the training mindset, and I am realising more and more the difference between running in the city and running outside of it.

2. Career People

Up north we have stereotypes of you southerners – true. We see the very career driven Londoners as people who dress up during the day and then slog themselves running, or at the gym, during the evening. I can find a few examples, so it’s definitely not untrue, but now I feel like one of those people.

I work all day, train in the evenings. Completely ridiculous when if I was at university I could spend the whole day at university and go for a run in the evening. But still, now I feel like a proper Londoner.

3. The Hills

Last half marathon I trained in the Peak District, however, when in London I feel like I could be training in the Lake District. The hills. There should not be so many hills. Granted, I know I live in  a place called Tulse HILL but still, unexpected and unnecessary they are.

4. Smaller than you think

London is huge – one of the reasons I find it so impersonal and sometimes difficult to live in, then I started spending time on Map My Run. Great app for routes and running, but manages to make you feel like a half marathon is an impossible task. From my house it is 10km to The Globe Theatre – in my world, on public transport, it is about 45 minutes. That then makes no sense. I would have to run to The Globe and back to complete the half marathon – gutted.

5. N0 running club

I love running down the road and seeing someone and knowing we are in ‘the running club’ – we are both in the same boat. Our joints are hurting, we are struggling to breath and don’t even mention that incline that I have just seen that car climb. In London there is no such thing. You are focused on what is ahead, your target so to speak – not other runners. No smiles, no waves, no “I know how you are feeling” – it’s lonely running in London!

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A Northerner in London – one year on

In a couple of weeks time it will have been exactly one year since I packed up my two bags, got on a train and moved down to the big smoke – London.

It has been an exciting year, a year where I have learnt a lot about myself, about what I’m capable of and about our dear capital city. I must admit, although looking back on it now I can say ‘I’ve loved every minute’ and ‘it’s been such an amazing experience’, there have been some hard lessons along the way.

So here is my reflection, one year on in London and the 5 things I have learnt:

1. London can be lonely

On paper I am quite worldly and well-travelled. I have been incredibly lucky to live and work in some fascinating countries and have adapted very well to different languages and cultures and enjoyed every minute. Naively, I thought moving to London would be a walk in the park. After all, it’s in England, everyone here speaks in English, I already have friends that live here – no problem. How wrong was I?

Over 7 million people live in London, and I am just one of those people. You would think that the enormous number of people would mean that you are constantly meeting new people on every street corner, and if meeting meant crashing into people as they stared at their iPhones then you are meeting new people every couple of metres. However, Londoners aren’t like that. Conversing on public transport isn’t a done thing, having a chat about the weather with the newsagent man would prompt questions about your mental state and smiling at a complete stranger on Oxford Street..well…don’t be ridiculous. 7 million people, but it can feel like the loneliest place on earth.

2. London prices have made me healthier

London is more expensive than the north – fact. There is no escaping this fact. I pay double the amount for my rent in London than I would ever consider anywhere about the M25. However, a small part of me (a very small part of me towards the end of the month) likes the fact that London is more expensive.

I don’t go on those Friday and Saturday night drink binges because I can’t afford it, and with my Pay as you Go Oyster I find myself walking a couple of miles extra in order to save the few pounds. I don’t eat out or at fast food places often in order to not strain my purse, and in the most part I avoid Greggs (10p more adds up).

(However, bus prices in London are cheaper than Southport – sort it out Southport.)

3. My geography has vastly improved

24 years old and my geography of the south of England is shockingly poor. I can name nearly all of Europe’s capitals but if you had asked me to point out Essex on a map before moving down here I would have gone for somewhere near Dover. I have learnt that Essex is not a city, and neither is Kent – go figure.

Huge apologies to my Secondary school Geography teacher Mr Sullivan, but there is a reason I didn’t take it at GCSE.

4. London is HUGE

This might sound like I am stating the obvious, but I don’t think anyone who doesn’t live in London can quite comprehend how big this city is. I have friends live in places that are so far away that it will sometimes take me 2 hours from my front door to their front door, but they too have a London postcode. Now, to put that into perspective, I can nearly get back to Liverpool on a Virgin Train in that time..

The sheer enormity of London also means that meeting up with friends can be the hardest of tasks and if there is one thing I will change in my next London year it will be making sure I spend less time on WhatsApp catching up with these friends and more time arranging face-to-face catch ups.

5. I live in a very cultural city yet I do not feel very cultural

There are a countless museums, art galleries, exhibitions and concerts in London weekly and they are so easy to miss. If you fail to make a conscious effort to find out exactly what is going on week by week you can miss some of the most exciting events that happen in London.

I’m still in my ‘I’m in England’ mindset. Although London has, by a landslide, been the hardest city for me to settle in to, because it is still in England I don’t treat it like a foreign city. When I lived abroad I would constantly spend my free-time exploring and learning new things about different cultures and that is the exact mentality you need to have in London to make the most of this incredible city.

 

So, there it is, one year one and I’m still here. I’ve survived the London transport system, the tube strikes, the crashing into people, the loneliness and I have come out of it much more thick-skinned, a quicker walker (especially down Oxford Street) and more comfortable and happier in this big city.

They say there is a very thin line between love and hate, and I would have had to disagree until I came to London. It drives me insane daily, but then I cross Waterloo Bridge and see Houses of Parliament and Big Ben on one side and St Paul’s on the other and can’t help but smile.

One year down…bring on the next one London!

 

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