Diary - wibbler.com

I’ve gone all minimal

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Hi! Remember me? 9 years of blogging has kinda exhausted me, I guess. I’m still LIVING, of course, but I guess my first thought after I do stuff isn’t, “ohmygod, I *MUST* tell everyone!” Now I’m over 30, it’s more, “Well, this calls for a good sit down. Oooh, my back…”

So, to reflect the fact that there’s less wibbler.com, The site’s gone all minimal. In fact, I’m still doing a whole lot else. My web development outfit Wiredfusion officially became a company a few months ago – the popularity is getting a little intense, but hey, I can’t complain. And Boriswatch is still the media-drawing behemoth of my dreams. And there are plenty of other personal sites in the background, just waiting for a chance to shine. 5000 of you fine people for some reason seem to visit InstantTumbleweed every month, for example…

So, anyway. Enough of me. Let’s get on with empire-building and family-building and me-building. Cos there can never be enough me, and that’s an egotistical FACT.

Festive Ills & Wishes

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Christmas TreeAitCHOO.
AaaaCHOOO.
Aichooooooooo.
It was like a germ-riddled version of Four Weddings and a Funeral‘s notoriously sweary opening scene. Several tissues later, we agreed we may as well get up.

And so began the family’s Christmas morning, 2009. Mum is nearly over her cold, my dad’s is just starting, and I am still enduring a flu-based week of hell. Only Michelle has escaped, but trapped in with three germ-filled family members means it’s surely only a matter of time.

This year, we’re at my mum and dad’s for the first Christmas in years. They’ve put on a fantastic spread already, it’s more like a hotel. “Free Internet, too”, my mum generously pointed out.

Looking through Twitter this morning, it’s clear that Christmas magic is still around for many friends and family. Hope you all have a great time, eat a lot and fall asleep mid-afternoon, dreaming of mince pies and diets. 🙂

David Ford, or Newton Faulkner?

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As I sit here listening to Spotify in front of a pile of CD albums, I’m trying to write convincingly that music isn’t a big part of my life. Contrary to a lot of people – Michelle listens to music whenever she can, and my Sony-employed recent best man Jac has a musical knowledge that would give Jools Holland a run for his money – I can go for days without hearing any music at all. I can drive for an hour or two without the radio on, just taking in the surroundings. I think it’s something to do with my obsession for the future – recorded music sometimes just reminds me of all the exciting stuff that must have happened since the song was made.
Live music, however, grabs my attention. Friends and family will know I go to see David Ford whenever I get the opportunity (I even run his fan site…), and I’m a little worried that I’ve been spoiled by him – nothing can really get better than his raw and powerful talent and stage presence. Newton Faulkner‘s like that too – a talent that doesn’t totally come across on the screen or on the radio. He’s funny, engaging – and an incredibly skillful, little tyke with a guitar.
So, my dilemma is this – for my birthday, should I go and see David Ford or Newton Faulkner? Handy live videos below for the undecided…

Newton Faulkner (better version here on the BBC site):
(click here to scoot down to David Ford)

David Ford:

Which one?!

Making things flat

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flatA while ago, my mum bought my dad and I a book. Not any book, of course, otherwise it wouldn’t warrant a little essay. The book was called “How to Get Things Really Flat: A Man’s Guide to Ironing, Dusting and Other Household Arts“, and it went into the fine arts of domestic life from a man’s point of view. There was deep irony behind the purchase, natch – and its a phenomenon that is widely derided as a man’s excuse to sit around and play games all day. I’m half way through, and it all seems easy enough – just a bit of common sense, patience and thought, and you’re there. Patience and thought I have. It’s the common sense part I have trouble with.

The facts, I’m afraid, are simple: men in my family are next to useless at domestic tasks. I’ve no more confidence that I could iron a t-shirt than I have of ever loading a dishwasher correctly. Sorting paperwork moves me to distraction within seconds, and marshalling newspapers and other titbits into neat piles and cupboards is completely beyond me. And those settings on the dishwasher? No idea, despite having read the manual and been told countless times.

Chambers´ mopAnd it’s not as if I haven’t tried to be good at these things. I’ve tried to cook pizzas for Michelle – that’s about the limit I feel I can stretch to – and more often than not it’s come out over- or undercooked. And on one memorable night, burnt and upside-down on the oven floor. However, I can do complex tasks with great ease, and seem to pick up new non-domestic skills like they’re going out of fashion.

After 10 years of knowing me, 4 years of living with me and 3 months of wedded bliss, I think Michelle has given up any hope, in the same way that my mum and countless other women in our family have given up hope. I stand by the facts: some men just can’t make things flat, no matter how hard they push.

Destination Thailand

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(video at bottom of post)

“Take your bags, Mr Simon?”

DSC01789 (by wibbler)It was hot, sticky and my body was silently cursing me with every step I took, thanks to the excessive jigging and bouncing around on the dancefloor the previous night. After getting up at 6am and being driven to the airport, we (well, I) hobbled to the nearest bookshop in Heathrow Terminal 3, Michelle looking concernedly on. WHSmith yielded a couple of books and a game of Travel Cluedo, and after a bit of breakfast we nearly missed our flight. It was the biggest plane I’d ever been on, and the in-flight movies kept me awake for the 11 hours to Bangkok, followed by a further 2 hours to Krabi.
And so here we were, in Krabi International Airport, with a very helpful lady wanting to help with my bags. There was nothing I would have liked more – I was wincing in pain as my joints – and, let’s be honest, the chafing – had taken their toll. But I’d read that most helpful people at airports are mainly after a financial tip, so we declined and were escorted to our private transfer for the hotel.
DSC01897 (by wibbler)As we were driven to the hotel check-in, we battled our sleepiness and watched out the window in amazement. The scenery was just as breathtaking as I’d been warned – huge cliffs and mountains looked down on forest of greenery, with the local people wheeling carts of goods around or driving like maniacs. There appear to be little rules for driving in Thailand – nothing gets in the way of a Thai car and its destination.
After half an hour, we arrived at the stunning check-in desk, had cocktails and cold towels, and got another private transfer to the nearest beach. The hotel, we discovered, can only be accessed by boat, so we clambered over the sandy beach to a boat, and took the 3 minute trip to the resort.

And what a resort it was. In summary, the room had possibly the best view in the place, the food was amazing, the trips we took were brilliant, and we couldn’t have had a better time. And why am I skimming over all the best parts? Well, because I’ve finally completed our Honeymoon Video, which neatly shows everything we did in the next 10 days. It took a while to find the relevant songs and then cut the video to the beats… but now it’s done! The full size version is awesome – but that would have ground the internet to a halt, so there’s a smaller resolution version below.

It was an amazing trip, and we couldn’t have done everything we did without these wonderful people who contributed the the wedding, reception and honeymoon – there’s a message for you at the end of the video.

So, thank you all – and enjoy the video (speakers on, there’s cracking music, and little titbits of us talking…):

Direct Link: Simon & Michelle’s Honeymoon – 26th April 2009

This is the third and final part of a three-parter about our wedding. Feel free to read the other two – Part 1 – Getting Hitched and Part 2 – A Great Reception.
There are photos too – Official Wedding & Reception and Unofficial Wedding & Reception and Honeymoon.
And, of course,the Honeymoon Video. I spoil you.

Goodbye, old friend

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“It’s one of life’s great cruelties that a human’s lifespan greatly outweighs a dog’s.” Anon.

It was the final image of her as I closed the vet’s door that will remain with me.

Lulu – although all the family dogs throughout the years have gained the affectionate name “Wiggle” – first came into our lives to replace a similar black mongrel called Daisy 15 years ago.

No more woofs

No more woofs

We met her as a 9-month old, leaning back nonchalantly in her favourite chair at the rescue dog’s refuge in Sussex.  Rumour had it she had been rescued from a recently-deceased owner, and was probably keen to find an owner who would last her longer than the few months she herself had been alive.

And so the new “Wiggle” worked her way into our lives, protecting us from the postman and, in fairness, virtually anyone else who rang the doorbell. She took everything in her stride, her love for us was unconditional – but always hankered after the freedom she had at the rescue home, regularly going running through the fields with other dogs and horses. From every house we lived in, she found ways to escape the confines of the garden, evading capture for hours before coming home exhausted but unable to tell us of her exciting travels.

Everyone seems to enjoy her antics – even Wagging Tails, the “dog hotel” she went to when we were all busy.Over the years, she became older and her chin became whiter, giving her an air of maturity that we all knew, her included, was never really present. In fact, she remained convinced she was still about 1 year old until the last few months of her life, escaping when she could, running around with toys, barking at anyone on the other side of the front door while all the time looking for unmitigated affection and scraps of food.

These last 12 months, though, it must have dawned on her that the game was up. She stopped trying to escape, she seemed in pain when trying to sit down, became deaf and mostly blind, and became little more than bones and skin. A false alarm a few months ago – when the final vet visit was called off at the last moment – only prolonged the inevitable. And finally, last Sunday, my dad reported that while Lulu was still struggling on, the tail – one of the happiest tails I had ever seen – had stopped wagging, and that life had finally become too much of a chore for her.

Last Wednesday, we all met at the vet’s surgery, taking her in for her very final visit. She was looking very old indeed, but still tried to sniff anything within neck distance in the waiting room. My mother had brought her bed – “she’s going to die in it”, she informed me miserably but matter-of-factly – and other people looked on kindly at the final moments of a very old dog.

“Come in,” said the vet, before taking one look and agreeing that the time was nigh. The bed was laid on the floor, the lead was handed over. And then, regretfully I now realise, I followed my mum and dad out of the room, taking one final look at Wiggle as the nurse reached over for a needle. I closed the door.

If I could have that time again, I would have stayed for her last moments; as it is, she died while I was somewhere on the A3, travelling home and revisiting my memories of her. I hope she wasn’t lonely – chances are, she would have been enjoying the company of friendly strangers, sniffing the nurse’s sleeve as she administered the fatal dose.

A Great Reception

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The Caricature!

We entered a reception room full of chatter and clinking glasses. I hadn’t seen the room for a day, and it had transformed into a hive of activity, stuff bustling and guests chatting. The welcome drinks were in full flow, the tables looked fantastic (with each place having a lottery ticket that for some couples won them £70 free) and the caricature we’d commissioned was attracting a lot of attention. In the corner of the room near the bar, Sav the magician was beginning to literally work his magic. He was a great local find that, it turned out, was well-regarded, very friendly and utterly brilliant.

We slowly and separately made our way through to the large outside patio where Jac, ever attentive, was valiantly trying to get people together for photographs. The videographer was already mingling in her own unique way, making the huddles of people she focused on in turn have perhaps their most politically-correct discussions to date, in case they were broadcast on national television.

My gaze turned to the golf course directly in front, which looked amazing in the bright spring sunshine. After a few minutes of mingling, I spied a golf cart parking up – which turned out to be for the bride and groom! We boarded and drove off round the greens in front of us, no doubt annoying the golfers pitching away while Dan the photographer tried desperately to keep up. The only thing that stopped us was the enormous bunker we nearly headed straight into.

A few minutes later, smiling cheekbones aching and all photo-ed out, we returned and as our names were announced over the tannoy made our way through the 10 tables of hungry people, being cheered all the way. If you ever have self-confidence issues, I’m not sure anything could beat that. We took our seats, and the feast began.

Kissing in a bunker...Ninety minutes later, I had still barely eaten a thing and begun to check that everything was alright for the guests, mingling through the tables until it was finally time for the Groom’s Speech. Happily the champagne had doused any nerves I could have had, and within minutes there was laughter and presents filling the room. Glyn (the one-day-only chauffeur) seemed especially pleased with his double football shirt combo – one for him, one for his 1-year-old son, each personalised with their surname. Ushers, best man, families, friends, bridemaids – they were all thanked, and the speech ran into 15 minutes before it closed with an introduction to “someone who will lie convincingly for the next few minutes” – the best man Jac. I was in for a mauling.

In fact, it could have been worse (although I should stop saying that – everyone looks at me suspiciously and asks why…). Jac gave a truly brilliant speech, highlighting the highs and lows of our lives together with confidence and hilarity. My mum and dad learned things they never knew about me, and friends were particularly impressed with his description of me playing rugby as “Hagrid running at them down the touchline”. By the end of the speech, everyone was a winner – he even managed to fit in how brilliant the bride and groom were, although he could have expanded even more on that point… 😉

All agreed that the speeches went down a treat, and after dessert we cut the cake. There’s no instruction booklet for cutting a wedding cake – all I could do was imitate what I’d seen others do, which was to needlessly ruin an amazing cake while people took pictures and cheered. In fact, afterwards (because I’m like that), I looked up why people cut wedding cakes in front of cheering people – but I’m none the wiser (although apparently it started with kissing over a Wedding Pie – which sounds a much worse idea). Nevertheless, we took a few minutes to pretend to cut the wonderful thing, and then it was time to boogie with the evening guests.

Well, actually, it was time to get nervous about the first dance. We, we’re not ashamed to admit, are not lightening on our feet – I often mention I’ve got the rhythm of a Catholic, although no-one ever knows what I’m on about. So at 7.30pm, after many of the evening guests had arrived, DJ Tony pressed play – and the world slowed for a few minutes. We’d chosen Heaven (Candlelight Mix) by DJ Sammy, which is a nice slow number – but we hadn’t realised how slow, thereby extending our terrible waddling by at least a minute more than needed. It was a strange but great experience though – in those few minutes, it was as though there was no-one else there – a bonding, if you’ll pardon the slushiness.

Mmm... chocolate

Mmm... chocolate

At the end of the song, in the corner of my eye I noticed the enormous chocolate fountain revolving into action, and made a beeline for it as soon as the first dance finished. Paul D had very kindly donated it as a wedding present (from Original Chocolate Fountain Company), and frankly it was astounding. An enormous fountain was surrounded by marshmellows, pineapple, eclairs – the list goes on. And the whole thing revolved and lit up like a.. well, a revolving chocolate fountain.

Tony Murphy, DJ extraordinaire, pumped out the tunes until the early hours, and everyone danced, drank and had a lot of fun. I’ll gloss over this part slightly, but only because it all got a bit blurry. At the end of the night, Tony played a final song and Michelle and I danced inside a large circle of friends and family. It was a great moment to end a great day.

The only downside to the whole occasion was that so many people came (the numbers were up to 170 by 9pm) that we didn’t really have time to talk enough to everyone. So, on behalf of both of us – THANK YOU! They say that who you are is defined by the people you surround yourself with – and if that’s the case then our friends and family must be pretty awesome. You’ve all played a part in who we are, and we are very grateful to those that came.

And then we slept for four hours, woke up aching and chafing, accidentally threw some cufflinks in the hotel car park bin and got driven to Heathrow at 7am for a flight to Thailand. Not that I’m complaining – the honeymoon was amazing…

This is the second part of a three-parter about our wedding. Feel free to read the other two – Part 1 – Getting Hitched and Part 3 – Destination Thailand.
There are photos too – Official Wedding & Reception and Unofficial Wedding & Reception and Honeymoon.
Oh, and a Honeymoon Video. I spoil you.

Getting hitched

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Here we go...

Here we go...

“I now pronounce you husband and wife.”

All that preparation, all that work, all that worrying over forgetting the vows – it was all over. We were married!

Michelle and I have been 8 years in the making, but the last two months have been a whirlwind, culminating in 48 hours of frenzied planning to make sure nothing was forgotten. After checking the final preparations at the reception the previous night, we were separated to prepare ourselves for the big day. I went out for a a Last Supper at zizzi with the best man Jac and most of the ushers. We spent a lot of time discussing plans for the next day – where to park, who to usher where, precisely how much chocolate would be in the fountain, that kind of thing. I gave them a token rubbish present – Usher and Best Man boxer shorts, which they all promised to wear the next day. They perked up a little when I told them it wasn’t their main present, as did the lady next door to us who was looking on in horror.

And then a couple of hours later it was Jac and I, back at home and bedding down (separately, of course) for the last night of singledom. It would be natural for me to lie awake for a while, marvelling at the big event rthe next day and worrying about what would happen. As it was, I logged into the land of sleep within a few minutes. After all, it was too late to change anything now…

I slept surprisingly well, and was woken at 7am by the pattering of bloody rain on the window. “Brilliant,” I muttered, although there was a theory (thanks to my mother, who sent me copious weather reports over the week) that it would clear up by lunchtime. And so it did, earlier than planned. By 9am, the sun was shining through the clouds and Jac was busy thoughtfully preparing breakfast – a lovely touch that, when I told Nick about it by text caused him to write back, “For Christ’s sake, marry Jac.”

At 10am, the Cutting Edge film crew (of 1) turned up, ready for film the preparations for a documentary we’d excitedly signed up to a few months earlier. The camera was comically large on her small frame, and she swung it around for about half an hour, filming Jac and I struggling with how on earth to tie cravats and Nick actually ironing. Proof!

While I was doing up my shoelaces, she zoomed in and asked a few deep-and-meaningfuls on marriage and my expectations. I rustled up a few reasonable answers, and then she was off – off to make Michelle nervous as well.

And then, it was time. We all gathered the buttonholes that had been delivered, collected the Orders of Service and bundled into three separate cars and one scooter specially for faster orders. We travelled in convoy to the hotel and pub next door to the church, where I booked in for the night and the ushers homed in on the bar for a quick half-pinter. Mum and dad were also there, all dolled up and nervous, so after popping in to see them I met Jac and the ushers by the car. “Right,” said Simon H, “let’s get you married.” We began the march (well, slow meander) to the church.

Confetti Aplenty

Confetti Aplenty

It was a funny feeling, sitting down at the front of the long line of pews, waiting for the bride. I’d seen countless others sitting there, looking nervous, knees tapping, eyes furtive and darting. As I took my place after greeting guests with an introductory “I’m getting married”, it dawned on me that it was my turn in the hotseat, with the eyes of the whole congregation burning into the back of my head. I’d like to think it was my laid back attitude to life – rather than the Bach’s Rescue Remedy that I had downed earlier – that got me through it. To tell the truth at 1pm I was a bundle of nerves, but at 20 past, with still no sign of the bride, I was over the worst of it. Jac certainly helped with encouraging words, although our “comical” discussions we had to calm the nerves were worryingly captured on film and microphone…

And then she was there, a vision of wonderfulness in a stunning long, full-trained dress – and everything sped up. The 45-minute ceremony felt like ten minutes, and we were out in the sunshine quicker than you could say “Da Vinci Code”. Greeting everyone now with “I’m married”, we ploughed through the photographs and head for two glasses of champagne and Glyn’s shining Jaguar, ready to cart us off to the reception, half a mile away.

Glyn was a great chauffeur,  taking us the scenic route so we could down enough bubbly nectar to see us through the rest of the day. And it was a hell of an afternoon…

This is the first part of a three-parter about our wedding. Feel free to read the other two – Part 2 – A Great Reception and Part 3 – Destination Thailand.
There are photos too – Official Wedding & Reception and Unofficial Wedding & Reception and Honeymoon.
Oh, and a Honeymoon Video. I spoil you.

Thankyou, and goodbye

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Trislander SunsetMarriage – tick. Wedding Breakfast – tick. Dancing the night away – tick.

We should be flying Thailand-bound about now, and so we thought we’d take the time to say thank you to everyone that came, as well as everyone who couldn’t come but sent their best wishes. We literally wouldn’t be where we are today without you, and we hope you had a great time!

We’re heading for Krabi via Bangkok (avoiding any protestors on the way) for 10 days of relaxation. I’ve come to the conclusion that, in reality, honeymoons are there to help you get over the efforts of planning weddings. There are so many small things that need to be thought about! And, in my limited experience, it seems that the 2 month, 2 week and 2 day intervals are when the efforts rachet up another notch and things get a little more crazy.

But we’ve done it. And we’re off for a little while to reflect on it all. Thank again to everybody – it’s been emotional. 😉

See you soon….

Spliced, officially

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The Happy Couple!

The Happy Couple! (click to enlarge)

Well, who’d have thought.

It’s been 2922 days since Michelle and I started going out. And by now we should be married and about to tuck in to a feast at the reception.

In the (exactly) eight years we’ve known each other, I’ve found the meaning of that incredibly cheesy phrase that Tom Cruise uttered in Jerry Maguire: “You Complete Me.” Cheesy, but true. As I’ll say in my speech, Michelle really is the most genuine, caring, full-of-love person I have met, forever worrying about everyone else but herself. I am lucky to have met her, and now we have the whole life ahead together. It’s an intoxicating feeling.

I hope, actually, that we complete each other. I hope that I support her enough to warrant her support of me – and I hope that we continue to grow as we career disgracefully towards middle age.

So, on with the eating, drinking, speeching and dancing! There’ll be magicians, videographers, photographers, enormous chocolate fountains, a caricature and 170 people cavorting around and having fun! We’re surrounded by friends and family that have helped make us who we are today – and that, apart from the vows, is the most important thing, after all…