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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Video: dancing at our wedding

In case you didn't realise, *Twinkle* is the one in the cute white dress, and I'm the one dancing with her!



Thanks to Jessica for the video

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Recent uploads

Our guests really did get some fabulous shots - thank you!

Here's a few that were uploaded by someone a few hours ago (let me know who you are and I'll credit you - they are fabulous!)




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Friday, August 01, 2008

The Wedding Reception

The wedding website has now be updated to reflect the post-wedding reality of our present existence. Anyone interested in taking a peek can find it at www.twinkleandjoseph.net (with the name 'twinkle' being replaced with a name she uses in 1st life). The username is 'guest', the password 'banana'.




So there we were. Married, with the church bells ringing. Very happy (I was then able to freely talk to *Twinkle* and tell her how gorgeous she looked).

The next 15 to 20 minutes were very surreal. There we were as a bride and groom, surrounded by about 80 people with cameras. These were friends and family who represented so many different aspects of our lives, all gathered in the same place. I was at a loss as to what to do, feeling concerned that I should be 'doing something', that I should be making sure everyone felt included. It was a hopeless task though, so after a bit I decided to stop trying to read everyone else's thoughts / feelings / desires and just *be* with *Twinkle*.

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With *Twinkle*s family

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With The Tames (and Elaine)

Once the family photos had been taken we proceeded to our car - and what a lovely car it was! I'd seen it in the garage a few days beforehand, but now it was all decked out in ribbon and flowers. ha! That was fun, rolling down the road in the Alvis, waving bye-bye to people in the assumed manor of posh people from the 1930s. :-)

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That was such a happy car journey. Dream-like in its perfectness.

A few minutes later we were at Orcop Village Hall, location of the reception. The forecast rain had not come, and all on was track - let the party commence.

...oh, after a bit more surreality. Brother Stephen led the champagne toast (devil of a job to make it without electrocuting yourself), then there were calls for a speech. I'm not a big one for speeches at weddings, and have been known to do some pretty illegal and stupid things in the past to escape from them. Mind you, the speeches at Catherine and Stewart's wedding the previous week had been really good, meaningful, and funny (and not too long!).

There was only one problem though: The notes I'd written for my speech were in my rucksack, and that was in the car ...and the car was at the church a mile up the road!

*Twinkle* and I had been discussing a few ideas about what we might want to say - THANK YOU being the most important. Thank you to everyone who helped make it happen, thank you to everyone for coming, thankyou for everyone's support of us as a couple. Really, we couldn't have done it without you.

Then, perhaps a word or two about how me met (the gatecrashed sushi party), and how we decided to use one another for our studies (*Twinkle* using me as half of a case study for her Masters Dissertation on Intercultural couples, and me using her for speaking practice for my BA Japanese Studies degree).

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Finally, a mention of how 2 years living in minute shoeboxes together and then 11 months apart (with 2 brief respites totalling 20 days) really helped us to test the relationship, and become more sure than ever that this was the right thing to do.

As *Twinkle* said, despite the distance and my lack of awareness of her everyday routine (and therefore ability to provide context-based advice), I was still the one that she first wanted to turn to, to share and discuss things with.

I felt the same.

There was also that feeling that we both had (and which still continues with us being parted once again), that feeling that we were together all along. We are with one another at all times - I can feel *Twinkle*s presence. She's with me now here in Orcop at 10.11am as she goes about whatever she's doing at 6.11pm in Tokyo.

It's a first for me, to feel that for such a prolonged period of time.



Following my mini-speech, it was time for the cutting of the cake. When asked by mum what kind of cake we'd like I told her to use her imagination, and as you can see, she has a pretty wild imagination!

As is her style, she made two. A traditional fruit cake (covered in feathers), and a chocolate cake (covered in flying saucers). Both delicious, and both providing a good insight into how mad our family is.

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We then had a couple of hours 'free time', partly to allow *Twinkle* to get changed into her wedding kimono, a beautiful family heirloom. I also changed into my organic fair trade cotton clothes, which felt much more *me* (should have sorted out my collar though).

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When it came to food, we'd decided to make it a bring-and-share affair, and boy-oh-boy was that a good idea! Our guests brought the most delicious dishes, and lots of them (I was frequently made fun of that evening for having worried that there would not be enough to feed everyone).

Main courses and desserts, absolutely gorgeous. (*Twinkle and I ended up taking three huge bowls of desserts back to our honeymoon hotel too :-)

It was after all the proper wedding things were over with that I was able to truly relax (I think had I not given up drinking last year I would have been completely plastered by this time). It was just a shame that I hadn't brought my clone - so many people I wanted to talk to and so little time to do so!

It was so good to look around and see happy people everywhere. Groups of friends inter-mingling ("Oh good, good, so-and-so is talking to so-and-so, I knew they'd get on well!"). Some were outside on the grass, sitting on the straw bales, others were sitting at our beautifully decorated tables chatting and eating, or hanging out right by the buffet tables... hmmm, it was nice.

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Later on the fantastically talented and very lovely members of Wiffeldy came on to play some lovely tunes ...and then get us dancing with a ceilidh!




Ha! That was such fun, I just loved it (as did *Twinkle* and a lot of our guests I think). I love ceilidhs. What a great way to party. Caw blimey. You know what was really nice though, was seeing my in-laws embrace their first encounter with this kind of madness. And other friends too who had never experienced the delights of a barn dance, really giving it their all.

By now it was growing late. What a great day it had been. Just perfect, it couldn't have gone any better. Like a dream.

It was time for us to retire to our honeymoon suite. We said our goodbyes, and made the 10 minute journey to the Pengethley Hotel ...when I realised that I had neglected to sort out a night key, and everyone was asleep (with no night porter). I had visions of us having to go back to mum and dad's on our wedding night, and having to share the front room with my sister, her husband and a baby (it's not that I don't like them...!)

However, after ten minutes of knocking on windows and ringing what I thought was the doorbell, I spotted a half-naked man looking out of an upstairs window. It wasn't long before he opened the door to us, and we made our way to our lovely suite.

It was so nice to be together, married, eating left-over dessert and opening the many many beautiful cards that we had received. Everyone was so generous with their gifts - we are deeply grateful.

And with that, our wedding day came to a close.

Thank you so much for all involved. You made our day.

Thank you also to my dear cutey, *Twinkle*, for being my dear cutey, who I'm so excited about spending the rest of my life with!!!

xxx

Photos: John Dinnen and other guests - thank you

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

The wedding service

The morning of the wedding was pretty hectic. I'd had this idea that if I tried to prepare everything as far in advance as possible, there would be little to do on the day itself ...but it didn't quite turn out like that!

At 7.20am I was on my way to Hereford to do some shopping. Concerned that we wouldn't have enough drinks, I'd decided to get a load from the local supermarket, to where they could be returned afterwards if we didn't use them (although I'd forgotten that alcohol can only be sold after 8am - had to wait by the checkout with my trolley, watching the seconds tick by!).

That trip kind of set the pace for the rest of the morning. I think it was also demonstrative of how I was having problems letting go. Having spent so many weeks planning and organising, I was now finding it hard to trust that the details would sort themselves out. I wasn't used to having so many people on hand willing to help, and still felt that if something needed to be done I should do it myself (not that I didn't trust others, but rather because it was my 'responsibility' to make sure everything was OK).

In the face of this my brother Stephen did a fantastic job of ensuring that I breathed before the service. I was confined to my bedroom, forbidden from coming downstairs. I was to get dressed, and then sit on my bed and wait until it was time to go.

I more or less managed this, and the last hour or so before the service was actually pretty relaxing.

A memorable moment came at 2.30pm, half an hour before the ceremony was due to begin. I suddenly realised that I could hear the bells ringing at the church across the valley - they were ringing for us! That made me so happy... I thought of the difficulties I'd had in finding the bell-ringing team (in the end I located them through a wild Google search!) - it had definitely been worth it!

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All suited up, we then made our way to the church in my little hire-car. *Twinkle* would be following later from the guest house with her father in the classic 1930s Alvis, owned by a neighbour of ours who had very kindly offered his services (and he did so against the odds too - only a few days earlier the gearbox had packed up; he'd put considerable effort into finding another in time so that he could drive us on the day).

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*Twinkle*, father, and the Alvis, arriving at the church

Arriving at the church a few minutes later I was stunned - there were all these people there that I knew!

I know it sounds silly (after all, I was the one that had sent the invites out) but it really was amazing. All these dear friends and family members, some of whom I'd not seen in ages, had come together for us. It was surreal in a way, and time and time again I found myself surprised and delighted by the faces that were there. The neighbours had come down to watch as well - these were the neighbours that had donated flowers from their gardens, given us cards and presents, leant us staplers for our order of service, dropped off hay bales for people to sit on, offered their homes for our friends from far away to stay in... 

They're all AMAZING!

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Flowers, courtesy of 'aunty' Louise and mum - and the neighbours

And this is something that has really touched me: the community effort. I lived in Orcop for about 8 years, until the age of 16 when I moved into that bedsit with the walls that crumbled when I attempted to put a shelf up. Since then, with the exception of the Torquay Years, I've always regarded it as home, that safe place that never changes and is always open for me to come back to should I need to.

That's why that despite the fact that I've not 'lived' here for 14 years it felt appropriate to hold the wedding in the valley. It was also an area that *Twinkle* was familiar with having visited here several times for little holidays. Looking back on the events of last week, I can see now that it was indeed a very good decision.

Yesterday, I was going through a list of people that had helped make it happen. Not counting those actually present at the wedding, I came up with over twenty local families that had played a vital part in ensuring that everything was in place. As mentioned above there was the car, the flowers, the accommodation, there was also parking at the church (in people's driveways and also in a field of sheep), local B&B and camp site owners who had been so flexible, the church cleaning team, the chap who mowed his grass next door so people could park on the verge, the provision of an amp for the service, oh, and the Royal Air Force too - they did a low, slow fly past in a Hercules when we came out of the church!

It seemed everyone in the area knew about the wedding, and expressed their support and congratulations.

Naturally, we are both very grateful for the all of this support. ...and it feels good, affirming my connections with the area before leaving the UK.

Anyway anyway, where were we? Ah yes, I'd arrived at the church.

Walking down the aisle to take my seat at the front I was again delighted to see yet more familiar faces - caw, this was all a bit exciting really! Everyone was here to share in our marriage commitment.

After a little wait, Mum #2 pressed the magic button, and Pachabel's Canon filled the church - *Twinkle* had arrived. I didn't turn around though, too nervous at first, but then I kept on hearing Louise urgently whispering in excited tones to Stephen, "Tell him to turn around! Turn around!"

And so I did.

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I must admit I felt breathless when I saw *Twinkle* in her wedding dress. She was the most beautiful bride in the whole world ever, soooo beautiful (OK, so I may be biased). I wasn't sure if I was going to cry or not, so looked away ...but had to look back again. Caw blimey, this is quite a coup I thought. How on Earth did I manage this?

Having had the rehearsal not 20 hours beforehand, we were both pretty comfortable with our lines (although I'm told that we both said "till death us do part" backwards - not that we noticed!). It was good though, it felt very right to be making those promises. I know one or two members of the congregation raised their eyebrows at references to Father, Son and Holy Spirit (knowing that neither of us are active church-goers); they told us so afterwards as well. But as I have written before, I see these elements of church services as just another interpretation of broader spiritual ideas / truths / beliefs that are the very core of our existence, regardless of religious beliefs. 'God' 'Love' 'Source', no matter what your chosen label, it's still referring to the same thing, and that's the energy source from which we have come, and the energy source that connects *Twinkle* and I.

I was sooo happy when we were pronounced husband and wife! tee hee. What a happy moment. In fact the whole thing was rather happy.

I'm so glad we got married in that church too - it was the perfect setting, with its cute red carpet and sloping floors. Many people have commented on how much they enjoyed the service, and I must say, it really felt very right.

Mum #2 was in ambidextrous mode, and in addition to being our DJ, she read that lovely chapter from Corinthians on Love - she even did the last line in Japanese (and great pronunciation too!). My sister Emma, and *Twinkle*s friend Mariko from Osaka read from Gibran's The Prophet ('Valentine'), giving us the opportunity to think about what we were entering into.

As we signed the register with our witnesses Jess (my sister, with nephew Jamie in tow) and Xinxin (dear friend from Sheffield), so Ruth began to play her piano and sing Al Green's 'Let's Stay Together'. She has such a great voice, just beautiful. Added so much to the atmosphere. Thank you Ruth.

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(Jamie is hiding behind Jess)

Following our blessing, DJ Mum #2 pumped up the volume - we receded down the aisle as husband and wife to Mendelson's Arrival of the Queen of Sheba - a traditional and very jolly tune!

And with that, we were married :-)

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(*Twinkle*s take on the whole wedding thing can be found on Mixi!)

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Marriage: it's like a sheep pen on the island of Crete

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In the end, I wouldn't have had it any other way.

6 months apart, followed by 9 days together, then the wedding.

It seems to have been a good combination. I recommend it.

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I've been thinking about this feeling I (we) have, this 'being married' feeling, and wondering how much it is a result of our time apart, and how much it is a result of the wedding itself. My conclusion is that I don't know, and it doesn't matter anyway. The feeling is all that matters.

I'm quite surprised by how different, and how good, it does feel. I didn't really expect things to be very different. I mean, all we've done is say a few words and sign a piece of paper, right? - That was the kind of attitude I may have had a couple of years back (historically, I've not really felt like the marrying type), but no, it seems that we've done much more than that.

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There is a strong feeling that this is the start of something new and wonderful. The birth of a family. Our family. Joseph and *Twinkle* Tame (I do a double take every time she emails me from Tokyo using her updated email account). Mr and Mrs Tame - and baby on the way in a couple of years (but already very present in spirit).

We Are Family.

The feeling of family is strong. We laughed and played with it during the 40 hours that we had together after we had made our vows, and before *Twinkle* boarded her flight for Japan.

*Twinkle* Tame I called her. She referred to me as My Husband. We quoted lines from the wedding service to one another, grinning wildly whilst doing so.

The gift of marriage brings husband and wife together
in the delight and tenderness of sexual union
and joyful commitment to the end of their lives.
It is given as the foundation of family life
in which children are born and nurtured
and in which each member of the family,in good times and in bad,
may find strength, companionship and comfort,
and grow to maturity in love...

... *Twinkle*, I give you this ring
as a sign of our marriage.
With my body I honour you,
all that I am I give to you,
and all that I have I share with you...


I felt very happy that I had reached a point where I could make this kind of declaration, surrounded by friends and family, knowing that it was a vocalisation of the true feelings that I had for *Twinkle*.

And you know, it felt important that it was before a large group of loving friends and family. That really struck me - the presence of so many loved ones really did make a difference (of course ideally I would have streamed it live to the world, but the Church of St John the Baptist is yet to be broadband enabled).

I feel that the communal support for us, represented by the presence of those people, and by the cards, gifts, messages and posts on our Facebook walls that we received from all over the world, really added to the sense of us being blessed as a partnership. People were putting their faith in us as a couple - and that mattered a lot. It's like cement in our relationship.

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We became a 'unit'. If I try and picture the result of the transformation, I keep on getting this image of the dry-stone wall sheep pen I slept in on the island of Crete, in Greece, in 1995.

(marriage = a sheep pen? Hmm, worrying..)

No, but I see this protective circular stone wall that is formed by *Twinkle* and I. We are interlocking pieces, providing one another with support. Able to look inward to our private enclosed space for comfort, love, advice, support and shelter (whilst I can't see it in my visulisation, there's probably a wifi-enabled Macbook on a little stone table in the middle of this sheep pen). This is our family unit. In our unity we give one another support in the face of the wind and rain that comes to the island now and then.

There's a door too, and we love to welcome people into our space. We love to share the shelter (and probably wifi) of our new family with others. Together, we are a source of support for other back packers traipsing around the greek island, and hopefully an inspiration too.

May the hospitality of their home
bring refreshment and joy to all around them;
may their love overflow to neighbours in need
and embrace those in distress.


We also have much learn from our visitors, much to be inspired by.

I'm deeply touched by the investment that *Twinkle* has made in me. I know that I am the recipient of something wonderful and rare, something to be truly cherished. It's been there for a long time, and I think was the solid rock that gave us something to hold onto when times were tough over the past 11 months (minus 10 days) apart - a rock that really came to shine through the ceremony.

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Over the next few days I'll write more about what actually happened last Friday, and share more photos.

For now though, I'll leave it here. Any more talk of sheep pens and I may find myself with rather a lot of explaining to do over Skype...

xxx

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Friday, July 25, 2008

The night before my wedding

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It's now ten minutes to midnight on the night before my wedding day. I dropped *Twinkle* back to the cottage we've rented for her parents, where she will spend her last night before she becomes my wife.

It's been an amazing day. Thinking back over the last 16 hours I feel tearful - we have been shown such kindness by so many, and the day itself is yet even to begin! We are so so grateful. Thank you so much to everyone involved.

The village hall looks great - we have hundreds of metres of bunting - handmade by a friend. There are hundreds of origami paper cranes too, made by *Twinkle*s family (it took three of them several hours to fold them all, but they look amazing). In the church we have some beautiful beautiful flower arrangements made by my brother's fiancé and mum, using flowers donated by local gardeners. Paper flowers too, made by *Twinkle*s family and fixed to the walls by *Twinkle*s best friend from Japan, Mariko, who arrived from Barcelona at lunchtime. Our guests from the Netherlands have also arrived safely, as has *Twinkle*s second bridesmaid from Tokyo.

I am staggered by the amount of organisation needed just for a party of about 80 people. My head has been buzzing so much I've found myself feeling pretty out of it for a lot of the day. Kind of like, in a dream world. Floating, watching as my body goes about doing this that and the other. It's not been a bad thing, although I know I've looked pretty dreadful!

But I really can't emphasise enough just how much this wedding is a product of many hours of effort by our family and friends. I am so grateful to be able to hand over huge great chunks of organisation to various volunteers. How can we ever repay them?




Following the rehearsal, *Twinkle* and I decided to spend some time together to just 'be' and share our thoughts and feelings of what the day gone by had meant to us, and our feelings about tomorrow, and our married life beyond that (and to practice our ceremonial kiss!). The venue was our lovely little hire car (I am anti-car in principle but i do like our little blue Chevy which came as a free upgrade from the hire company and sports a string of wedding flags flying from the back!), and the Moon Inn at Garway.

I recently wrote of how marriage is changing things - and again tonight we noted how we could almost reach out and touch the change. It's shifting our feelings for one another to a deeper level. The feeling of trust and commitment is really strong - it's taken me by surprise several times today. (...but I thought I already trusted *Twinkle*, and wasn't I already committed to our relationship?!"). The past week has been a simply perfect 'ramp up' to what will take place tomorrow. The timing could not be better.

The wedding rehearsal was really enjoyable, and natural. It was very relaxed - meaning that it felt appropriate to turn around and put my finger to my lips signalling everyone to be quiet when the priest asked if anyone knew of any lawful impediment to our marriage... tee hee, ;-p We are very fortunate to have Elaine as a priest - she is fantastic, and sets everyone at ease.

If I think of us doing that for real tomorrow surrounded by 80 or so of our closest friends, well, ...wow! Just indescribable! How wonderful to be in that environment, sharing our commitment for one another with all those that mean so much to us.

Well, I guess I'd better get some sleep. It'll be an even longer day tomorrow.

My thanks again to all of those involved in making this happen. In my mind, tomorrow's event will not just be a celebration of the relationship that *Twinkle* and I are committing to, but also a celebration of community, of mutual love and support, of family, of friendship, and of the general wonderfulness of life.

night night.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Photos



Our thanks to John who will be taking photos for us at the wedding (so that I don't have to pause proceedings in order to take a photo of us - although I'd like to!) Here's one he took yesterday in the garden :-)

If you're coming to the wedding, don't forget you can upload your own photos to our online album.

Friends who are not attending the wedding are also welcome to view the album, although much of it may be repeated on Flickr. Email me if you'd like the address and login details.

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The wedding tree

*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.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Marriage - from the pre-wedding perspective

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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.

:-)

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Monday, July 21, 2008

*Twinkle*s arrival and the first of two weddings

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.

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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.

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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


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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.

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catherine stewart just married_8792

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.

joseph twinkle in their tent

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Touching base

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

twinkle joseph driving back from Heathrow

At Ludlow castle

twinkle and pepe at Ludlow_8931

Camping

twinkle and joseph in their tent

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Wedding plans

I was woken this morning by a bird fighting a cat for its life, following the launch of nature’s latest reality TV program ‘Battle for Supreme Animal of Wales’. Peeking out of my door (the one which was falling off its hinges until I screwed it back on last night) I couldn’t see the competitors, a cat and a sparrow, although I could hear them. High pitched cheeps pierced my eardrums, interspersed with loud hisses from the cat as the bird launched a volley of carefully aimed lime . The cameras are being operated by a local hedgehog and sparrowhawk (with digital cameras strapped to their heads); these feed back to the mixing desk controlled by Badger Boris, who despite being in his 90s has embraced digital media in a way that has surprised his children. The program will be aired on YouTube next month.

A few minutes after waking I got a call from *Twinkle*, she’s sounding good, and has been looking for decorations for the wedding reception. In three days she’ll be halfway here, something I’m having trouble comprehending. If anyone out there is making a program about romantic reunions make your way to Terminal 5 on Thursday, we can offer some very competitive sponsorship deals. That reminds me, must phone BA today to ask about the wedding dress - don't want it getting lost in the legendary terminal 5 baggage handling system.

It’s all coming together nicely, this wedding thing. Thanks to Mums#2 & 3 we now have hundreds of plates and bowls, and a collection of tents, mattresses and sleeping bags for some guests who have not camped before - this includes a family who are over here from China - I’ve assured them that it’s an important part of British culture and thus something that must be experienced during their stay. Let’s just hope the 20-year-old airbeds don’t go flat on them in the night!

Later today I’ll be picking up the key for the venue to have a nosey around, then going to meet the Decoration Guru. This evening I’m visiting our friend the catering manager, so hopefully following that I can get an email out to all guests with final details on what’s happening.

We’ve been in touch with the Forestry Commission and have been granted permission to plant our Oak tree (grown from an acorn found here on the Welsh Garden Project) in a local Millennium Wood (that’ll be on the day before the wedding) - a part of us will always be in the valley.

The 45-hour honeymoon is pretty much sorted. It will take place along the M4 corridor on the way to Heathrow - romantic or what?! No, but we have got a couple of very nice hotels booked, so even if it is short, it will be sweet. We’ll have a ‘proper’ honeymoon once back in Japan.

After the wedding I’m going to be so busy with my TEFL course that the five week visa wait should fly by. They’ve already sent me the pre-course assignment. That can wait until *Twinkle*s gone back to Japan, 13 days from now…

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Generosity, and packing for Japan

Been a funny old day today. Everything's been out of context. Started with being woken by my mobile. I get an average of one phone call a week, so it startles me even if when I'm already awake. My friend had a puncture, meeting might be delayed. I can sleep in a bit. Tired after last night's coaching call, finished that at 1.30am. It's almost the end of the course, more change there. Good change. Change is good.

But hang on, it didn't start with that phone call. No, it started with what happened the night before. It was about 11pm, and I was unpacking my bag. Earlier in the day a friend of mine (another student) who I'm probably not going to see for a long long time after this week handed me an envelope: "Look after it, and open it when you get home".

When I did open it, I gasped. Inside was a beautiful handmade card with a lovely message, and inside that, a number of bank notes. I was stunned, and tears came to my eyes. This was an act of supreme generosity, utterly unexpected. I was completely thrown by it, and spent some time feeling lost in the kitchen talking to myself.

I contacted them, communicating my feelings. They reassured me. Boy am I grateful. Thank you so much.

This act of generosity made me think a lot about giving and receiving, and reinforced for me the importance of giving in my life.




This afternoon I was on Three Seeds business, Three Seeds being our online publishing company. Met up with our marketing adviser, who, in a nice way, pointed out all of the flaws in our plans. I was very grateful for that - better to hear it from him than someone whose business we are looking for (or the judges at next week's competition final). We need to do some serious thinking about where we want this business to go. It would be a shame to bring it so far (we're now in testing) and not see it to the launch. It's a shame we lost two months to the first company we approached, but no doubt the reason for that will come to light in due course.

Tonight I've been starting to pack for Japan. I move out of here next Tuesday, but will be heading down to London on Friday for a rather special meeting with a high-profile businessman from Japan (I hope I can still speak Japanese!), so basically I need to prepare for the move now. I'm taking a lot of stuff to the charity shops: stationary, kitchen ware, small bits of 'furniture', books, women's clothing.

Whilst I've moved every year since about 1999, this is the most important move yet. I won't be coming back to live in the UK for a long time, so decisions need to be made about stuff that means a lot to me, but has little practical use, or can be bought in Japan for less than the cost of postage to Japan.

I'm down to about ten books. Ten books that have changed my life in various ways. All the rest have gone to Oxfam. I have quite a few things that have been given to me as gifts by friends over the past 15 years, but serve no purpose other than to look pretty and remind me of them. It's tough parting with these things, but I know that my relationships with these people are not ultimately contained within these objects. It's time for someone else to provide a temporary home for them.

I'm so glad that the vast majority of my photos are digitised. If my collection of 20,000+ were in the form of prints and negatives I really don't think I could justify shipping them over. As it is, they just occupy an eighth of my Macbook's (320GB) hard drive. Handy that. Hurrah for technology.

*Twinkle*s getting closer. 15 days. Can't quite come to terms with that. Kind of scary. It means we're getting married soon.

This morning I did a bit more wedding organisation. Booking rent-a-cars, and a hotel for *Twinkle* and I in Windsor, where we'll stay the night before she returns to Japan. It's all going to happen so soon. In a month she'll be back in Japan, and I'll be back here at Sheffield, learning how to teach.

Ho hum.

Well, best be off. I need to sleep - tomorrow is my last day working for CILASS (probably!). A group of people from Hong Kong have come to the UK to tour learning environments - I'm one of the Sheffield Students providing the student p.o.v. on the IC.

Nighty night.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Downloadable Wedding Hats now online!

*Twinkle* and Tame are happy to announce that their exclusive range of downloadable wedding hats has just gone live.

These have been designed especially for our wedding guests by TGW Designs. Features include clean lines (to assist with cutting out), expandable sizes with no noticeable loss in quality, and recyclability. They are also nice and light, and can be easily duplicated should you suffer from What-if-i-lose-my-hat Syndrome.

Hats can be downloaded from the online Wedding Hat Shop at
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tamegoeswild/tags/hat/

Samples of available hats

"My head is a birdbox" hat

hat of love

Pinky

Midnight Blue thinking hat

congrats hat

"I've got a head full strawberries" hat

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Wedding invitations

Just a quick note to apologise for not sending out the wedding invites yet. I know it's now only 7 weeks away and this is very disorganised of me. They will be going out over the next few days.

xxx

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A Day of Wedding Planning, and King Cats

Met this Cat King this morning. Never met a Cat King before. He was pretty extraordinary, had these piercing pink ears that pierced.



Having a cat seizure



Very productive day. Got a fair bit of translation homework done first thing. Then it was on to wedding planning: found a beautiful converted barn for myself and *Twinkle*, and then when they arrive *Twinkle's* parents and sister to stay. It'll be nice for the two of us to have a few days in a guest house alone in the week leading up to the wedding. Good location too - one field away from my parent's place (you can see the roof of the barn from mum and dad's bedroom window). And, the price has just been reduced by £75, making it highly affordable. I love staying in guest houses / hotels. It's such a treat, especially when one is with one's loving partner.

Then it was time for a Japanese grammar lesson - mum and dad are learning the basics in preparation for meeting *Twinkle's* family. They'll be using the excellent BBC Talk Japanese book and CDs, the same course I used 8 years ago. They know how to say "Good Morning" now, and understand basic sentence structure. What clever pensioners they are.

Next, it was off to the church where we'll be having our blessing, to check out how many people it can hold. Lovely place.





Following that I paid a visit to the home of the church warden. She was great, very helpful. Interested in international weddings too - my good friend and ex-steiner pupil Lorien and his Russian wife were married there not long ago, "Most beautiful wedding I've ever seen! She was so beautiful, I could hardly believe it!"

I've since booked the bar, confirmed the village hall, and found a good friend to help co-ordinate food. Oh, also visited a fantastic B&B (The Lawns) down the road where other guests can stay. Lovely lady. And, they have a glass-topped well in their house, floodlit inside so you can see the water flowing in 50 foot below - what a bonus! The final stop was a neighbour's house to check out their field which we hope to use for friends / family who'd like to camp.

This evening I attended an informal meditation session at the church. There were quite a few people there that I knew - including my parents. It was lovely. The church was dark except for a couple of candles and a light in the alter bit (that's the technical term). The vicar (who I'll be seeing tomorrow about the wedding) read a little story, and then played some relaxing music. It was not in the slightest bit 'religious' as such, rather, it reminded me of my CD by Andrew Weil (he of the World's Best Beard!

I'm not too well practised when it comes to meditation. Find it difficult to clear my mind. I tried tonight, but after 10 minutes I gave up, the image of *Twinkle* in her wedding dress was just too persistent in its knocking at the door to my mind. So, instead I spent the next twenty minutes reflecting on all that I had to be thankful for. A little risky in a church full of people that is absolutely silent (you could clearly hear when someone swallowed, and should someone have dropped a pin, I'm sure we would all have jumped out of our skins!). Thus, it's dangerous for me to think thoughts of thankfulness, as they tend to make me smile and laugh rather a lot.

Tomorrow will also be a good day. In addition to wedding planning, I'll be going to visit a dear friend who was my boss when I was aged 13 to 19. In a way she was a mother figure to me, and with her husband taught me a lot. He sadly passed away recently, and I was sorry to have not been able to see him to thank him for all that he had given me. I hope tomorrow to be able to express just how much she, and her late husband, mean to me.

oyasumi

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