*Twinkle*s family arrived yesterday. I was a little nervous about the meeting of the parents, what with mine being completely crazy.
Thankfully, it went really really well, with *Twinkle*s parents saying afterwards that they found it hard to stop laughing (that’ll be dad’s humour which does indeed seem to cross international borders).
After the initial meeting, and before supper, *Twinkle*, her family and I made our way to the local Woodland Trust Millennium Wood. Three years ago I found a little sprouting acorn on the Welsh Garden Project. I planted it, and it’s now a healthy baby, about 2 foot tall.
With *Twinkle* and I soon leaving to live in Japan, we thought it would be nice to leave a symbol of our relationship here in the UK, something that would grow stronger over time (and suck up the Co2 that we breathe out during our future visits to the UK).
Thus, last night, having been granted permission by the Woodland Trust, *Twinkle*s parents, sister and the two of us cleared a patch of bracken and brambles in the Millennium Wood, dug a deep hole and planted our oak tree.
Live from the Little Chef on the M6 heading south from Sheffield… some shots from today’s graduation ceremony.
Well done all of us. Thanks Sheffield!
The past couple of days have started to see a change in the relationship between myself and *Twinkle*. I think I know why that could be – the Marriage Effect.
It first struck me yesterday when we were driving home to the holiday cottage that we’ve rented about 500 yards from mum and dad’s place. Before now, we’ve lived together for the best part of two years. I didn’t expect marriage to change much in the dynamic between us, but it would seem that it’s doing just that.
These past few days we’ve been pretty independent. My parents have kindly given us use of the family car, which has enabled us to freely go about doing the things we need to do in preparation for the wedding, in addition to do things like go and watch the sunset from a local hilltop. During all of this, we’ve been talking. Talking about the past, the present, and the future. Talking about what marriage means to us. In fact, we’ve started creating our own list of additional marriage vows – a bit more definite than the vows we shall swear in church (those being the foundation on which we can build these additional promises).
All of this has led to a subtle shift in our relationship. A strong feeling of commitment is on the rise. Sure, it’s been there before, but not like this. This is something far bigger, something that can be relied upon. It’s tied up with a deepening sense of trust, and excitement that we’re in this long-term, together.
The marriage creates a strong feeling of team work – and independence too. Independence from our immediate families who have supported us in so many ways until now. This will no doubt be strengthened by our setting up a new home in Japan, a long way from my family, and the other side of Tokyo from *Twinkle*s. The combining of our finances too, which has basically already happened, promotes the feeling that whatever we’re working on, it’s a team effort with a common goal.
It may be a couple of years before we have children, but nethertheless, we will be a family in our own right.
It’s a bit surreal to be reaching this point after 30 years of being dependent upon others.
Hmm, so it’s feeling like it’s quite a big deal really.
It is a shame that *Twinkle* will be returning to Japan just two days after the wedding, but provided she makes it hop, skip and jump to the local ward office in Japan asap I should be able to join her within a few weeks.
Then it all starts for real.
The drive to Heathrow airport never takes as long as I expect it to. I think of London as being a long way away, but it actually takes less than three hours to get there from Herefordshire, and what with the airport being located just off the M4 there’s not much in the way of traffic to deal with.
Whilst I object to the expansion of UK airports, I couldn’t help but be impressed by Heathrow’s new terminal 5. It was only a one-minute walk from the car to the arrivals gate, and no chance of getting lost.
I arrived at exactly the same time that *Twinkle*s flight touched down; the display told me that that the bags were arriving in the terminal within ten minutes, and 20 minutes after that Japanese businessmen, students and families started to emerge from behind the automatic doors. Any moment now, *Twinkle* would show up.
I must admit I was pretty excited …excited and nervous. I sensed that *Twinkle* had changed quite a bit since I had last seen her, and consequently some aspects of our relationship were an unknown.
And then there she was.
It was a bit funny at first. I’m not sure how to describe it. A bit surreal. We weren’t sure what to make of one another.
But that was before we spent no less than twenty minutes trying to find the car in the huge multi-storey car park. In my excitement I’d forgotten to make a note of where I’d parked, and not knowing my parents’ registration number I couldn’t use the Car Finder machine (the car park has thousands of cameras pointing at every single number plate). Thus, *Twinkle* and I has to visit every single level, before finally locating it on the 3rd.
That reassured *Twinkle* that I was as silly as ever, and it wasn’t long after that that we got back in the groove.
It is soooo good to be with her again. These are really very happy days.
During our six months apart, our conversations were often restricted to ‘issues’ or ‘problems’; with limited talk-time these would naturally take precedence over idol chit-chat and the sharing of niceties, consequently turning the relationship into something that revolved around serious and meaningful ‘stuff’. Now back together, I’m surprised and delighted by how nice it is to just ‘be’ together, to share silly moments or our appreciation of a beautiful view, to make fun of one another, to smile, to be kind to one another, to comfort one another with a hug.
(there’s the real physical stuff too, which I shan’t bore you with. But I’m grinning as I type this!)
All of these things have been lacking since January, and our memories of them couldn’t help but become clouded by the passage of time, the separation, and the dominance of seriousness. Rediscovering the sheer joy of just being in her presence, knowing that she is close by, is just great.
Bridesmaids at Catherine and Stewart’s wedding
We’ve had a really fun 5 days together so far.
On Friday we attended Catherine and Stewart’s wedding, Catherine being a dear friend whom I first met at the Waldorf School, many many years ago.
The venue was the beautiful Walcot Hall, a lovely stately home set in the gorgeous Shropshire countryside.
I was so nervous as Catherine came down the aisle – partly because I knew that in exactly a week from then it would be *Twinkle* doing the very same thing. All those people watching, such an important event, but then I saw her smiling and laughing as she kind of made fun of herself, and I relaxed. I need to remember this for next week I thought. Don’t be too serious!
The civil ceremony was lovely, and had some good comical bits to help set everyone at ease. Catherine looked absolutely stunning, and what a bloomin’ nice chap Stewart is.
The reception was great too. Initially I felt a little out of place, but within an hour or so friendships were forming – and food was on the table (delicious).
At one point, *Twinkle* and I went for a dance in the pitch black garden – that was rather amusing, especially when it suddenly poured down with rain drenching us both!
It was pretty late when we left. Our accommodation for the night was a little two-man tent in a field at the bottom of the drive, and very comfy it was too. The perfect end to a perfect day.
In response to anonymous’ comment on the previous post: you’ll have to bear with us – things are a little busy at wedding central…
Will be back online ‘soon’.
Driving back from Heathrow
At Ludlow castle