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Friday, November 23, 2012

Blidworth and babies.

On Sunday afternoon we headed out to Nicole's baby shower, ever so slightly worse for wear - which we were getting used to on this holiday. Of course we were late so we ended up sat centre of the garden in the midst of all the mum's and babies. I felt like a museum object, to be sized up and discussed, and I knew Gareth didn't want to leave me as he was clutching onto my hand. I knew I'd be fine though - a few of the girls, in particular Caroline, were really making an effort to be friendly and I think another few were just hungover and didn't care who I was! I got into the spirit playing with the babies and the games Katie had arranged for the shower. There was yummy food laid out too so I perched by the table and assuaged my hangover with some pork pies and chocolate lollipops :) I did manage to be the biggest baby there though when I ran around the garden wildly after spotting  a queen bee!
After the boys arrived back from the pub Gareth and I left to check into a nearby hotel, Cockliffe House. This time it was a proper boutique hotel, set out in the countryside with each room uniquely decorated. We had a quick nap and showers before David picked us up to go back to theirs for dinner. It was BBQ night back at David and Nicole's with Tony, Caroline and Bella who were staying. Charlie got his pressie from Gareth and we were all entertained by the flashing lights and siren sounds of the fire engine. Gareth had told me about food at this house and they didn't disappoint, even with bbq I had a few helpings! Caroline and I had a few glasses of wine and good chats, getting to know each other a little better whilst I played silly games with baby Bella on my knee. It was such a homely atmosphere and a lovely change after the pub crawl the night before. Gareth took Charlie up for a bed time story and the rest of us settled in to watch The Olympic's Closing Ceremony.  We all got in the spirit, critiquing the acts and secretly loving the Spice Girls reunion. It was an awesome show. Soon it got late and Gareth and I decided to head back to the hotel with plans to meet with the girls, Tony and the children next day (poor David had work). He was quiet but I knew that me being in that house with all his old friends would have brought back memories and maybe been a little awkward for him.
Breakfast was a quiet fare, unusually for us, although the food was delicious and it was a beautiful summer's morning, the bees populating the lavender bushes outside. I was glad to hear we had a few hours before meeting up with the others as I needed a post-brekkie snooze!
Mid-morning we headed for Southwell, another town in Nottingham. It was about time Gareth and I had injected more culture into our trip so he took me to Southwell Minister, a cathedral church and the site of Christian worship for over 1000 years. Neither of us are big church people but it was still interesting to wander around and seep in the history. Nearby we found the others in the playground; although Caroline seemed to enjoy the kiddie rides as much as the other children.
We tried to get into a few places Nicole recommended for lunch but it was a busy day so we ended up at the Saracen's Head, which suited us all fine. I took Charlie out to watch the traffic - he was fascinated by the buses, and we got a few waves from bus drivers, delighting Charlie. We then had to say goodbye to Caroline, Tony and Bella as they had a long drive ahead to get back to Spilsby. Gareth and I strolled around Southwell a little more and when the rain, which had long threatened, came down we went back to Cockliffe House.
It was back to Nicole and David's for dinner that night and Gareth seemed much more relaxed. We'd had a chat and I knew it was weird for him to have me around when Beki had been there for so long. I was happy that it wasn't treated like the elephant in the room and everyone was open enough to talk about her and wonderful memories. It seemed we'd worn our visitors out so Gareth and I once again retired back to Cockliffe for a shared bottle of wine and a bath -  a wonderful way to end a lovely few days in Nottingham.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Nocturnal Nottingham

Gareth spent most of his adult life in Nottingham - uni, work and married life, so we planned a night out to catch up with his mates there. Newly engaged Tanya and Jonny were nice enough to give us a bed for the night so we arrived there late in the afternoon (MUCH later than planned!) after a Toy's R Us visit and a new pair of jeans for me (as a slight aside - I'm sure most women will get this - nice new jeans are so hard to find!!). I'd met Jonny a few days previous over lunch in Manchester so had hasty introductions to Tanya and their cute little one, Jess and we bundled straight into Jonny's car to go off to the pub.

At the pub we met Nicole, David, Katie and Charlie in the lovely beer garden. Nicole and David are also very old friends with Gareth - they worked alongside him and Beki for years, and Gareth is godfather to their son Charlie. Charlie and Jess were absolutely adorable with each other, two gorgeous little blondes - like an Anne Geddes photo!

I was a little on edge, so keen to make a good impression, but I tried to relax over a few glasses of wine. Gareth and I also shared an amazing platter - funny how I always remember the food - there were skewers and a baked camembert, so bad for me yet too good to resist! Besides, I was on holiday!
Back at the house we got ready quickly (into my new jeans!) and headed into town. First stop looked like a real old man's pub, it was called The Golden Fleece; it was actually quite funky! It had a lovely roof terrace (which was too cold to sit out on for us Dubaians) and we met up with Tara and Matt. Gareth was keen to show me as much of Nottingham nightlife as possible so we also took in the Dragon, Saltwater and the Malt Cross. We didn't even get to half the places we'd planned but the drinks and conversation were flowing and various friends were popping by along the way so everyone was in high spirits. We tried and were refused shots in the Malt Cross - a travesty! Tara and I noticed the boys seemed a lot drunker than us but they seemed like they were having so much fun so we decided we'd better play catch-up. We headed up the road to The Cookie Club, where Gareth, feeling generous, paid for everyone to get in! Then it was time for vodka, red-bull and lollipops. I loved the Cookie Club, 3 floors of indie, chart and cheesy music. I make no apologies for enjoying a bit of cheese on a night out! Tara and I hit the dance floor and Gareth and I were even dancing out on the roof terrace - oh to be young and in love. Everyone was so friendly to me; I wondered what I had been apprehensive about. Having said that, it's a difficult situation - Gareth and Beki were together for over 10 years and I didn't want anyone to think that I was trying to replace her and don't have the utmost respect for her memory. I think everyone could see that we made each other happy; and I guess after Gareth having such a loss it was great to see him in such high spirits. As ever on a night out, he was friendly to one and all, striking up a conversation with some guys who had arrived in wearing suits. I noticed that they didn't seem that friendly when he lay down in front of them, messing around and I was a little alarmed so Tara stepped in to calm the situation. Gareth had been bottled in Nottingham last year and I think I felt a little nervous about Nottingham - although the same could happen in any city unfortunately. They really didn't seem like nice types; maybe too much beer that night so we gathered everyone up and headed for kebabs.

There were more high-jinks at the kebab shop. Matt and Gareth were play-acting a bit and Matt told Gareth to punch him in the head. Why? No idea - it seemed like good fun at the time! Matt kept insisting so eventually Gareth gave in - he's very easily persuaded after a few drinks. I'm not sure everyone in the kebab shop took it in the same spirit so we quickly got out of there and into a taxi. I was seriously flagging at this point - sometimes I just want to get home, so I devoured my kebab and was straight up the stairs into bed back at Jonny and Tanya's. Gareth, being the lovely boyfriend, was up to bed very shortly afterwards and we passed out into dreamless sleep after the mad night in Nottingham. Next morning Matt had a lovely purple egg-shaped shiner on his forehead, but was a total gentleman about it. Gareth felt awful about it but we all knew it was just a funny reminder of a good night out! I'm sure it's healed by now; what a good sport.

So it was onwards to the country-side for us, and a baby shower to attend.