Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Wedding: Act One, Scene Three - The Wedding Ceremony

Our Wedding Day was on 1st March 2009, which happens to be St David's Day too.  I hope that this may help to explain why you will spot daffodils, rather than roses, in both my bouquet and the Fella's buttonhole in our wedding pictures!

My bouquet adorned with my something borrowed from the lovely bitchnstitches 

It was fairly quiet day, really.  As we were not getting married until 3pm, we went for a bracing stroll along the beach after breakfast, spoke to both my parents and then headed into Tofino for lunch and a hair appointment. (I am incapable of blow drying my own hair well.)  

One blast with a hair dryer and two bowls of seafood chowder later, we were back at the hotel with just enough time for the Fella to change and then set up everything downstairs with our photographer.  He was scheduled to do this while I did my make up and worked out how to clamber into the White Polyester Dress of Doom.  

When I say, 'set up everything downstairs,' we recorded our ceremony using the video feature on my camera.  So the Fella set my camera up alongside two laptops for my parents to watch us get married over the internet via Skype.

The Fella sets up the technology before the ceremony

Now, remember those cast iron underpants?  I did put them on.  However, I had to bloomin' take them off again!  It is one thing to try them on in a department store changing room.  It is quite another thing to put them on in a very warm hotel room, when you are as nervous as hell, then ask the Fella (he was blindfolded) to do up your dress, have him struggle ridiculously (well, he couldn't see what he was doing) and not manage it.  

At about that point, in a panic as the clock was ticking ever onwards, I could actually feel the sweat running down the back of my legs.  Running, I tell you - not dripping but running...

...sexy, huh?!

In a panic, I pushed the Fella out of the bathroom (where this had all been going on) and I gave in.  I asked him to go down to Reception and ask the nice hotel Events Cordinator lady, Martina, to come up and help lace me into my dress.

I had been trying to avoid this as I really did not want to stand there, in my knickers, without a bra (my dress did not seem to allow for one) while some strange woman tried to lace me and my bosoms into my lovely plastic mess without giving me excessive overhang (back or front).

Now, as I was all hot and sweaty, it took me every single minute that I had between the Fella leaving and Martina arriving, to struggle my way out of those flipping death trap pants.  It was like a scene out of a comedy film - they had stuck like glue to me.

I twisted - I contorted - I prised at them with my fingernails (thanking the powers that be that I had gone for a clear nail varnish) - I tugged and I rolled them off, bit by bit.  I just made it out of them, into my no VPL thong and got my dress half dragged up my body again before an urgent tapping on the door let me know that the lace-up cavalry had arrived. 

Martina, the poor woman, had no idea what she was in for - I was one very flustered and decidedly sticky bride who had to be downstairs, pronto, where my groom was waiting for me with my parents looking on!  

Well, it took her three attempts to do up my dress.  Poor lamb - I wish that I could have rolled in talcum powder to make her job easier.  Alas no, Sweaty Betty here had jumped back into her lake of plastic and the damned thing kept sticking itself firmly to her body.

So every time she did my dress up?  Well, I was cooling down so, as soon as I moved, the dress would unstick itself momentarily and sag downwards my knees while gaping at the front.  So she had to try again, making the dress tighter each time.  

By the time that I had dragged on my mother's arm-saving shrug and Mel's fabulous garter?  I was 10 minutes late.  Luckily, the situation was so ridiculous that I had regained my sense of humour.  So Martina thrust my flowers at me, we laughed and bolted for the Great Room.

Mind you, by the time I had scooted energetically down the stairs (just as fast as my high heels would allow me) the only things not sticking to me like something made by Loctite were my mother's shrug and Mel's garter (both made of silk).  

In actual fact, Mel's garter had given up any pretence of staying put on my thigh - it was hula-ing attractively around my ankle, a delicate, pretty blue and white trip hazard (photo later)!  Very luckily, I had requested no music.  Else, the groom would have caught me in the doorway to the Great Room, dress hitched somewhere around my midriff and battling my garter back into place to the tune of 'Here Comes the Bride'!

From there....?  Well, if you click here for the wedding slideshow on Flickr, it should give you a fairly good idea about how the ceremony and the rest of the day played out!  

Yes, yes:  there are some pictures of me in my dress in this set.  Looking at these photos, I am fairly sure that our photographer bumped up the image exposure settings afterwards to make the pictures a bit more flattering!  

Mind you, even though he did that, please note that there were another 150 pictures or so that hit the editing floor (with the Fella's agreement) due to their less than flattering, oil-tanker-as-bride, nature!  

My favourites are the one that I have already posted, shortly followed by the following two images:

The demure and sensible couple...

...sporting essential West Coast Bridal Footwear!

The photographs during and just after our ceremony were taken by Jeremy Koreski, who was both our wedding photographer and one of our witnesses.  A really smashing bloke:

Jeremy a.k.a Brideshooter signs the register.

Our other witness was Martina, the Hotel Events Coordinator:

Martina signs the register, relieved that she'll never have to lace me into a dress again!

The loveliest thing of all is that Skype worked.  So although it was 11 pm in the UK, my parents were able to watch us get married in real time.  My mother and stepfather stayed up with champagne plus my father's family all got together at my sister's house with champagne and popcorn!  After the ceremony, one of my brothers bumped my mother off Skype so that he and his girlfriend could toast us with champagne too!

Voila!  My families toast us with champagne over the internet!

Saying goodbye to my families before we have more pictures taken.

The Marriage Commissioner was a lovely, patient lady but I am not completely certain that she was sure about our use of technology - I suspect that she is used to couples eloping to Tofino in order to escape their families.  She asked us why we had chosen Tofino and we mentioned that we had come away to be married on our own as it was not possible for all my family and friends to make it out to Canada.  She gestured to our laptops and quipped that we need hardly have bothered, as we'd brought everyone with us on our computers! 

Yes, we both cried during our vows although this does not show well in our photos.  Yes, we did get covered in sand plus soaked to the skin with rain and seawater out on the beach afterwards.

In fact, my carefully blow dried hair ended up in rat tails around my head and I had to pour seawater out of my welly boots!

However, that was the perfect excuse for us retire to our room - where we found a huge bouquet of white roses from my family, a bottle of fizz and some chocolate dipped strawberries from the hotel.

So we hung up our glad rags*, jumped into our twin bath with a glass of champagne to warm up and afterwards, we retired to bed...

...where we both just simply fell fast asleep!  Well, what did you expect?  We are married now!

We were both out cold until 5 minutes after we were due back downstairs for our wedding dinner.  So the few stray photos of us at the end of our wedding day (where we are cutting our cake) were when we were both half asleep and had dragged ourselves downstairs to go through the motions of having something to eat!

The very last photos in our Flickr wedding set were taken in Tofino before we returned home - we took one of the rainforest trails, another walk along the beach and took some more pictures of our flowers before we headed home.

Just in case you are wondering where we stayed, it was the Long Beach Lodge Resort hotel.  They were so kind to us throughout our stay - the hotel, our room and the restaurant were all fabulous. 

So all in all, Tofino was the perfect, and a very memorable, place to get married!

His and hers: my ring is exactly half the size and dimension of the Fella's ring, oddly enough.

End of Wedding Act One:  The Civil Ceremony

* * *

I thought that everyone was fibbing but it was absolutely true.  The sand and the water at Tofino is so clean that you could probably roll around on the beach in your wedding dress, then swim in the ocean, hang your salt water and sand ridden dress up to dry, then shake it out and there will not be a single mark or a stain on it...

...mine certainly didn't.  Not one single mark.  

Unless, at last, I have discovered the one true benefit of a plastic dress?!

Wedding: Act One, Scene Two – Snooping Around!

I will try to keep this post short after my earlier one!  The day before we got married, on Saturday 28th February, the Fella and I spent some time settling in and finding our way around Tofino. We also met with our wedding commissioner and our photographer.

Even though there were some people about in Tofino, I always find holiday destinations a little strange and desolate out of season and this will probably show in the pictures that I show you.  Tofino itself is a quite a small place but it is quite well equipped with a couple of grocery stores, some interesting restaurants, gift shops, coffee places and a little arts centre which puts on theatre and cinema viewings etc.:


In the picture on the right, you can see some of the two most popular modes of local transport after large trucks - bikes and skateboards.  Some people rode bikes with their skateboards strapped to their backpacks.  The coast road is quite flat and a dedicated cycle path runs along the road between the holiday parks and Tofino, which I think is excellent.  

On one of the days that we were there, the wave warning danger was increased from High to Extreme and there were not many surfers out in the water.  Instead, as we drove along the road into Tofino, I spotted a skateboarder practicing his surf moves as he travelled along the cycle path.  Now, that's dedication to your sport, eh?! 

We went for a decent walk along some of the beaches:

A Beach in Tofino

Father & son watch surfers in Tofino

Beach in Tofino

Surfers heading home as the light starts to fade

I drew a cutie heart in the sand to mark the date:

Marking the moment

So the Fella decided that he would outdo me by doing something on a bigger scale.  He raced off with a big stick...

The Fella tries to outdo me

...and I watched with interest as he started to carve my name into the sand.

So far so good

Um, Fella?

...Um Fella?  You seem to have spelt my name wrong!  Wha'?  Where?!

Fella, you spelt my name wrong!

Opps, just let me correct that:

Opps, just let me correct that...

No really hun', I think that the tide may have a better solution?!

Nope... all better now

Here is the Fella pretending to walk away in shame...

Fella pretends to walk away in shame...Me telling the Fella that he'd better get it right tomorrow!

I did extract a promise that he would get my name right on the day!

After that, we headed back to the hotel to meet with our marriage commissioner, who happened to be marrying another couple at our hotel that afternoon. So we settled into the Great Room, met our marriage commissioner and then, with a copy of the ceremony and vows in our hands, we snooped on the other couple's wedding!

Another couple marry in our hotel

On one hand, this was brilliant as it gave us both a chance to see what to expect and how the hotel set up for the ceremony.  There were 12 people there for this couple's wedding and it was short, relaxed and actually, it was absolutely perfect.

On the other, it might end up serving you right if you snoop on other people when you happen to feel a bit uncertain about your own appearance and outfit (like me).  It was not exactly confidence boosting to watch a gorgeous, slim, happy lady getting married in a stunning, slinky white dress!  In fact, I was so worried about it all that I burst into tears over dinner that evening and ended up described my wedding outfit to the Fella.  After seeing someone looking so lovely in their wedding outfit, I just did not want him to be disappointed when I trundled down the stairs the following day, looking for all the world like a beached, whitewashed oil tanker, shrink-wrapped into a plastic fantastic dress. 

Now - the Fella might have spelled my name wrongly in the sand but there are some very good reasons why we got married - he knew exactly what to say to reassure me and make me feel a whole lot better!

Wedding: Act One, Scene One – The Elopement

On Friday 27th February, the Fella and I set off in high spirits from Vancouver to be married next to the Pacific Ocean in Tofino. As neither of us have the ability to travel light, the car was stuffed with everything we could think of that we might need for a four day hotel wedding stay at the seaside.  This included an emergency corkscrew and my nifty, petroleum based meringue (zipped out of sight in a suit carrier and wrapped in two black plastic bin liners).

Now, just in case you are not familiar with the West Coast of Canada, this map shows our journey to Tofino (you may need to shrink the map a bit to see our start and end points):

The journey is about 322 km (200 or so miles) but it took us most of the day to get there. Partly because the last 85 km of the route before you hit the coast road to Tofino is a twisty mountain affair.  Now the journey had a very promising start. We took a ferry from Tsawassen and, believe it or not, the sun was shining which gave us a fairly clear view back towards Vancouver as we sailed away!

Leaving Vancouver

Once on the island, we opted to go through a place called Coombs so that we could stop for a coffee at Goats on the Roof.  Now, if you ever trek across to Tofino (particularly if you are camping or staying in self-catering accommodation) this is a great place to stock up on a few deli treats.

They even had some Neal's Yard Dairy cheese in their fridge. I thought that I was hallucinating when I lifted out a small wedge of Stichelton Blue, "Oh my precious, my pretty," I thought as I stumbled towards the check-out, dazzled by its little specks of blue mould and promise of stilton-like richness, "How on earth did you end up here, so far from home?  Oh!  Let me carry you to safety where your every mouthful will be appreciated!"

Mind you, it is not just homesick Brits clutching cheese, chutney and a single sachet of Colman's Spaghetti Bolognese flavouring that makes the rest of the Old Country Market complex around Goats on the Roof a little odd - the remaining units are an interesting mix of gift shops, a second hand bookstore and an eclectic mix of statues.  

Old Country Market Coombs

Now, I realise that I am not from around here but even I am fairly certain that these creatures are not native to British Columbia?!  Feeling a little startled (possibly, starting to worry that someone might have slipped something into our coffees), we headed back to our car, past this gentleman strumming 60s folk tunes on his guitar and hastily got back on the road to Tofino. 

Old Country Market Coombs

Well, we drove and we drove.  We stopped for the Fella to smoke a cigarette outside in the snow.  

Fella's Cigarette Stop

Then we also chewed on some salmon jerky to keep our strengths up (or feel like proper frontier people, I am not sure which) and then, we drove a whole lot more.  Some-hours-later and rather fed up with our journey, I took this photo: 

Road to Tofino - what ocean?!

Now this could have been taken almost anywhere along our entire route. Except that the mountain road was a bit more up-down and twisty with the occasional view across a lake.

In actual fact, this photo was taken as we were driving along the coast road towards our hotel. It was about 16:00 and we had been traveling since 09:00. This might seem a strange photo to include in this blog post but you need to know that while I love driving, I make a bad car passenger. 

After 85 kms of being thrown up, down and from side to side on a mountain road, I was feeling a bit green around the gills. The only thing that had kept me going was the Fella's promise that the ocean would be waiting for us.  

Now in the UK, the chances are that you will pass over the crest of a hill on your way to the seaside and there it will be! A glittering, beautiful, white capped blue sea.  This is the sight that I watch out for throughout every journey towards a beach - the only satisfactory reward for being cooped up inside a moving vehicle!

Well, um, not here in Canada (or not near Tofino, at least).  It seems that dense rainforest swallows the land all the way up to the very edge of the beach.  

Now, as it turns out, the Pacific Ocean is just through those trees on the left hand side of the photograph and, beyond those trees, the next significant land mass is Japan.  I am only telling you this because this is the information that the Fella was telling me - after 7 hours of travel, feeling quite carsick and while we were driving along this road.  

There was an unhappy, disbelieving silence in the car.  "We are almost there," he tried to console me.  I was not having any of it.  I broke my silence. 

"Fella - you've dragged me all the way to a road in the middle of nowhere.  It has taken hours, and now you tell me that we are next to the ocean, only minutes from our hotel and you have clearly fibbed - there is NO SEA here at all; it is just a road and some trees." 

"Ocean," he corrected gently. 

I pouted (if I am honest), "Ocean, sea, water – what does it matter?! Whatever it is called, there really isn't any here at all!"

Grumpily, I took the above picture as evidence.  I like to hope, looking back on this, that my carsick, travel weary distress was obvious and not causing him to worry that he might be marrying a complete harridan!

Luckily the Fella is quite a patient man and he does realise when it is time to stop arguing a point with me - particularly when I have solid, fact based evidence to support my case.  

So he stopped telling me about the ocean.  Instead, he tried to distract me by pointing out the bullet-dents in the signs along the road.  Apparently, or so he was once told many years ago by a local resident, it is quite a feat to hit a road sign with a handgun from a fast moving vehicle when your mate is driving as fast as they can and trying to swipe the bottle of alcohol out of your non gun-toting hand?  

For some reason, this did not cheer me up at all.  

Shortly after this, the Fella turned the car left into the trees, where it crept slowly down a little dark tree-shaded lane, past little hotel cottages and we finally parked in the hotel car park.  In the middle of the forest. 

I tumbled ungainly out of the car.  As I opened my mouth to protest that he'd absconded with me to a very gloomy wet wood and not the seaside at all, I realised that I could hear the ocean!  So I perked up and bundled the Fella into the hotel with all our luggage.  As we walked up the steps and into the hotel reception, my sense of relief increased.  

We had stepped into a luxurious oasis of warm and efficient calm.  The delicious aroma of food and the smell of a wood fire were emanating from the hotel's Great Room along with the gentle tinkle of glasses, happy chatter and a bit of music.  From this, it seemed that I might escape a challenge from a local to compete in a roadside bow and arrow contest during our stay?!  

We checked in, went straight up to our room and then headed out onto our balcony and do you know what?  Right there in front of me, was the ocean. 

At last!  Great big gobs of wavy, noisy, fabulous ocean!  This was the view from our balcony.   (If you click, you may be able to increase the size of this image in Flickr to see it better.)


This is the view of our hotel, The Long Beach Lodge Resort Hotel, looking back up from the beach.

Long Beach Lodge Resort Hotel

Yes - the Fella got a great big kiss and an apology for my travel weary grumpiness!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Apologies for the broadcasting delay...

...there have been tax year end activities this week (the Fella's - please do not ask me how I know that a year's worth of unopened bills and business paperwork can stack to 2ft high), stay extension paperwork for me to do (it would be sad to have to return home now that we are married), a flying visit from 3 professional musician knitters on business in Vancouver (a wonderful excuse for a serious yarn crawl) and my last photography course session!

In addition, I will be busy over the coming week as these two people arrived at the airport yesterday afternoon:

DSC_0006 01

It's our Wedding - Act Two on Saturday. My father and my stepmother have decided to join us for the celebration dinner with Brian's family. It is so lovely to see them!

I must confess that it was also a whole lot of fun to unpack a suitcase full of my sporting kit that I did not bring with me last autumn and yet another suitcase that was full of Heinz Weightwatchers Baked Beans*, Heinz Spaghetti hoops*, aerosol deodorant (his and hers)**, showergel***, the most enormous wheel of cheese that I have ever seen outside a supermarket, some yummy looking chutney**** and two huge bags of our favourite coffee*****!




I promise full updates after things have settled a bit and I have had a chance to go through (censor the chubby) our wedding photos.

* * *

*Yes, it is possible to get Heinz baked beans and spaghetti in Canada but they do not taste the same. To add insult to brand recognition injury (what caused me to put the cans into my supermarket trolley), they contain more calories than their British cousins. So a generous serving of beans on toast could easily eat up half of my daily dieting calorie allowance. Scary, huh?

**I guess that aerosol versions are just not popular here?

***Simple, Refreshing: not perfumed, just kind and does not give my skin a hard time. I think that I have seen some Simple products in the shops here (moisturiser maybe?) but I have never seen the showergel.

****British/European cheese vs Canadian cheese. With my apologies to my host nation = no contest.

*****The one nation in the world that could really use a love of pickle and decent chutney to assist consumption of sandwiches made with its cheese? Well, it does not appear to be popular here at all. I have been substituting whole grain mustard mixed with a bit of horseradish or alternatively, chilli sauce.

Monday, 2 March 2009

We Do!

Introducing the latest West Coast Newly Weds - Mrs O.R.K and Mr Fella:


Stay tuned for more breaking news on this event!