Sunday, 16 June 2013

16th June 2013 - The Week That Was

Firstly, happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there - hope you've all been suitably treated all day. Secondly, I am sure that days are no longer 24 hours long because there is no way that we can be at Sunday again.

But then, it's been a packed out week, a real tale of two halves - flat out work or out and about fun. And it's been a great week, lots has been achieved and lots of things that have been on my list for a while have been happily (and in some cases, smugly) ticked off. So, here's a little run-down of what's been going on here...

  • A 'happy anniversary' for Mr Apple & I - a day out with a little bit of history and, last night, a dinner for two at the rather beautiful Sir Charles Napier in Oxfordshire which might be my new favourite place.
  • Son's school Summer picnic - a day of fun, games, food & ice cream.
  • Trying to shake the grey weather with some summer weather clothes shopping whilst looking forward to our sunny summer getaway.
  • Talking to some lovely journalists about some great projects & features.
  • Writing writing writing. Lots.
  • Realising I probably enjoy filing and organising a little more than is good for me. Nothing like a well ordered client file to make me happy.
  • An invitation to a rather great summer party. Obviously said invitation came with an obligatory wardrobe crisis.
  • Having a bit of a re-invigoration of my office space. A tidy and a few nice new bits on order should all help - just need some better weather so my workroom is less fridge-esque and more warm & welcoming.
  • Indulging with some 'me' time - thanks to the Clarins Spa girls at John Lewis Reading.
  • Starting work with a beautiful new client.

Monday, 10 June 2013

10 Years On... Memories Of My First Wedding

Me, 10 Years Ago!
I truly can't believe that my first wedding was ten years ago. Ten years?! It seems like yesterday but, at the same time, it feels like a lifetime ago too. So much has changed for me since then that looking back at this almost feels like I'm squinting back at someone else.

For those of you that don't know the story, I was inspired to start my company, which I called 'TK on the Day' (catchy huh?!) after my own wedding which is, the biggest cliche going right? Oh dear. I didn't want to be a wedding planner, but I knew from my day and from doing a little research, that there was a gap in the market for what I called 'on the day co-ordination'. Which does partly explain/excuse the company name anyway.

I started the business on less than £100 and within the first week, after a few mentions on a wedding forum, I had bookings. It was slightly unbelievable. I hadn't expected interest this quickly so, when the first bride asked for a brochure, I had to write it pretty quickly. When she then wanted to book, I had to design the booking form pretty flipping quickly. It was all a bit of a shock.

Right from the word go, I felt very strongly that I had to be myself. I couldn't put on an act of fake sweetness or contrived fluffiness. That wasn't, isn't, me. I put everything together so it reflected me in the hope it would attract like-minded brides. And it did.

My first couple were lovely. Their wedding, in beautiful Haselmere was followed by a marquee reception at home. It was exceptionally hard work, possibly the hardest wedding I've ever worked by my goodness, did I enjoy it. I loved getting everything set up, liaising with suppliers, helping the guests, dealing with little issues  and most of all, I adored the challenge of it. The need to keep calm and carry on while underneath the in control exterior, I was a bundle of nerves. I knew I needed to look confident and be decisive, whatever happened. The years of leadership training in the Air Cadets really paid off here and I kept chanting in my head 'fake it until you make it', reminding myself that the guests would never know this was my first wedding unless I gave them cause to doubt me.

Now I've started writing this post, it strikes me just how much I can remember - I remember the bow on the gate to the house, the candle tablecentres, the black and white dancefloor, the huge vase of garden flowers with the table plan propped by it, the deaf guest who hurt his hand, the way the heat built up in the marquee, the bride's face when she arrived after the ceremony and lighting tealight after tealight as dusk fell.

The wedding day was one of the record-breakingly hot days of summer 2003. I was on my feet for more than 15 hours that day and when I drove home, my feet were so swollen, I couldn't change gear. I hadn't drunk enough, I'd barely eaten, I could hardly stand up and I spent much of the next day on the sofa. But, I'd done it and I'd done it well. The bride and groom e-mailed their thanks along with the photo they'd requested of me with them and they were thrilled and I was overjoyed.

The little fledgling business idea I'd had whilst on honeymoon was up and running. And I was running it.

My little baby had just taken its first steps.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

9th June 2013 - The Week That Was

My goodness me, here I am on a Sunday again. It's been a while since I wrote one of these posts and I've missed them but everything has been so busy busy busy here, it's unbelievable. I am loving my life at the moment - refreshed after a holiday, wonderful clients who make me smile every day and lots of other brilliant bits all combine to make me very very grateful. Plus, it's even been a bit warm and a bit sunny. The words 'falling into place' and 'everything' spring to mind.

So, without further ado, here's the week that was...

  • A brilliant day with my son at England v New Zealand cricket. I absolutely couldn't have asked for a better day.
  • Analysing a survey I'm managing for a client and being incredibly happy with the results.
  • An afternoon in the son watching Son play a great school cricket match.
  • Gundog training with my beautiful dog and feeling like things are starting to click.
  • The most amazing meeting in London with two inspiring, fantastic women and new projects on the horizon.
  • A trip to Winchester, great shopping and a lovely lunch.
  • Being inspired to revive an old book project, give it another go and being blown away by the response.
  • Son writing his first blog post and getting great feedback.
  • Sunny days in the garden, beavering away and peering vaguely at my laptop's screen but not caring because, finally, the sun is out!
  • A blog I wrote about a charity 60km walk I took part in being used by the organisers to promote next year's event.
  • Our local village carnival in the sunshine.
  • Remembering my Grandad on the 69th anniversary of D-Day and loving the DDay7 tweets.
  • Indulging my Mitford addiction by reading Diana's autobiography.
  • Feeling like the work I'm doing for clients is making a real difference for them.
  • A bit of 'me' time with some magazines and a cuppa. It's the simple things.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Thoughts On Holiday

We're feeling very refreshed at Candid Apple HQ on this sunny Monday morning as we're just back from a week of walking in the Lake District (also managed a sneaky trip to Holbeck Ghyll for some spa treatments and delicious food too so hurrah for that!)

Up until recently, I'd never quite appreciated the effect that holidays can have on you. I now look forward to them as much for the almost inevitable work-related epiphany as I do for the experience of going somewhere and doing something different for a week or so.

In the run-up to this break, I'd been flat out - projects, wonderful clients, writing work and home-life had been so busy there was no space for head-space. Don't get me wrong, I love being busy but sometimes, you need time-out to really be able to think clearly.

I know I am so lucky with my work. I have a flexibility, creativity and I get to work with some truly gorgeous people. I can, hand on heart, say I love what I do. And heaven knows, that's worth everything.

But my personal passion is writing. I just adore it. The whole process, whether it's scribbling in a notebook or typing furiously at my laptop makes me happy. And knowing what makes you happy is incredibly important - without understanding that, how can you ever feel satisfied? Surely you're just drifting some one experience to another without ever topping up your tanks of feel-good happiness, hoping beyond hope that happiness will just fall into your lap or that someone or something else will create it all for you and ta-da, you'll magically be happy.

It just doesn't work like that.

Being able to realise, in the moment, what makes your heart sing is, in my humble opinion, so incredibly important it should be taught in schools, it should be an essential part of the curriculum. Too many of us let exceptional moments slip by un-noticed because we're looking for the next thing in the hope that that will be 'it', the elusive experience that is the answer to everything. When you live like that, you get to the end of too many days and feel let down.

No, sometimes it's not easy to create little snippets of joy in the everyday rush but if you don't notice them or don't acknowledge them, you're going to spend a long time hunting for happiness when really, it can be all around you all the time.

Writing this post has made me happy. The fact my dog is by my feet as I type has made me smile. The view outside of blue skies and green grass makes me content. Yes, I have some challenges and things in my life that make me want to scream sometimes but do you know what - when it all gets too much, at least I know what to do to put myself in a good place.

And do you know what,buoyed by my holiday happiness, I might have started on book number three...