Friday, June 29, 2012

Sunday - A Special Day!

Does it surprise you that it's our Ruby Wedding anniversary this weekend? It surprises me in many ways! Where has the time gone?  
I met Tony when I was an art student and was supplementing my income by waitressing in a soccer club. He was an apprentice trying to support himself on lowly wages and had taken a waiters job in the evening to make ends meet. On my first evening at work - this strage guy kept whizzing past me with his drinks tray saying Beep!Beep! like Roadrunner.  I was easily impressed in those days! My parents did not approve of the relationship and despite, or perhaps, because of this we were determined to get married. With no parental support it was a shoe string budget for our wedding – a very short shoe string!
My designer gown was designed and made by me and I must have been going through a pastoral period as I resembled a milkmaid. I still have it and plan to go shopping in it at least once before I die!  My straw boater hat was hand decorated with pale blue ribbon and carnations in the colours of our local rugby team – red and white! My bouquet was also home made in the same colours! The bridesmaids wore floppy hats; similar lilac cotton sprigged milking outfits and platform shoes. The groom was equally colourful in his burgundy suit, mauve shirt and maroon tie and wore Saville Row boots that had been left in the dressing room of the soccer club and fitted perfectly but creaked when he walked – perhaps that’s why they had been abandoned. As my parents refused to give their consent or approval I was ferried to the registry office by the bridesmaid’s father and left after the service in my new husbands’ pale blue Ford Anglia which he had parked on the municipality car park –He creaked down the embankement in his stolen shoes and I slid down it my blue satin wedding slippers but the car park attendant let us off the parking fee - I think we must have made a touching site!

The reception was at our modest flat – a home-made buffet, trifle, a tiny wedding cake and a lot of alcohol. The best man and the chief bridesmaid developed a fatal attraction for one another and spent the whole time snogging. We were on the verge of getting the hose pipe out to cool their ardour when they passed out!  We later met up with a few friends at a local pub and I was abandoned there as my ever romantic groom went off to play snooker with his buddies. An hour later when I went into the bar in my wedding dress to retrieve him, the barmaid asked me whatever had I seen in my now very worse for wear groom and he promptly replied that I had married him because a part of his anatomy was spectacular!
The day ended with the bride locked in the ladies loo while the groom – suddenly sober – tried to coax me out. We weren’t speaking on the way home or the next day and we are still to be seen arguing in public places!!
As for the family – it didn’t take them long to realise that we were meant for each other and my father and Tony soon became the very best of friends and we had our wedding vows blessed in church for our silver anniversary. Sadly by then our parents had passed away.

Forty years later, a new country, several moves, many arguments, four sons, much laughter, the sadness losing our eldest son Craig,  the family extending to include three lovely daughters in law and two grandchildren  - our marriage has survived all that life has thrown at us. Forty years ago when we promised to “have and to hold from this day forth, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish: from this day forward until death do us part...” I realise how easy it was for us to make that promise and how hard it has been for us to keep it all these years....but miraculously we have made it! Yes on Sunday - there will be champagne - lots of it!

Monday, June 11, 2012

My Woman and Home Feature

Nestled between the glossy pages of South Africa's best selling woman's magazine last month, there was a familiar face - I had a number of surprised friends contact me and most of their comments revolved around those killer heels that I was wearing.
 How it all started.
Woman and Home have a Facebook page and one morning I saw a request for stories from women who had gone in a different direction or done something new. I was on my way to work but took a minute to send them an article that I had written about going east for the first time (when Sean lived in China) instead of my annual migration north to see my UK family. I literally went in a different direction! They responded quickly saying that they liked what I had written and would get back to me. Would I be prepared to travel to Johannesburg for a photo shoot? Hello! Is the Pope a Catholic? A date was set and flights booked.

What they wrote.
I had a tele-interview about a week later by appointment, where they asked me questions about my travels. They were specifically interested in the angle of women travelling alone so much of what they asked me was based around my experiences in China when I went off alone when Sean and Nadine were at work. Most of what they wrote in the feature was spot on but they omitted to mention that I had other children and that Sean is now living in Australia (soon to return to these shores).

Getting Ready.
Before leaving PE I was asked what my size was and told to bring 3 sets of undies in white, beige and black. I had no idea what they were going to ask me to wear so I packed my favourite red dress - just in case! I had my hair cut and coloured, a French manicure and dressed with care on the day in one of my Fudge classics outfits as I didn't want them to think we were style challenged here in PE! I was nervous but my style guru Janine gave me the best advice. She told me to imagine I was on the red carpet when I got off the plane and to believe that I was a celebrity. I stayed on that red carpet the whole day convinced that I was a super model! I took the Gautrain to Sandton and then a cab to Parkmore, where the studio shoot was. I changed out of my comfy sandals and into my nude heels in the cab. We pulled up outside huge metallic gates and the taxi delivered me right to the door. I was so glad it was a white Mercedes! I strode up the red carpet and to the door opened - "You must be Sue from PE."

The Photo-Shoot
I was made so welcome and introduced to everyone. The Woman and Home team raved about what I was wearing - they loved my Fudge outfit and demanded to know where I bought it and the 'divine' jewelry that I was wearing (it was also local from Fudge and Oliver K in Main Rd Walmer). The first lady was already being photographed, Caroline had successfully completed a wine diploma. She looked so gorgeous and posed so naturally, I thought she was a model! Lady number 2 was in make-up - Ilse had realised her ambition of getting involved in amateur theatre. I drank coffee and took it all in!
Then it was my turn - my hairdresser, Renata, restyled my hair to give it body and lift. I was passed on to Khosi who had an amazing collection of potions, lotions and cosmetics. She applied my makeup with feathery brushes and the lightest touch - quite differently to how I do it. Smokey eyes and nude, glossy lips. I relaxed and just decided to go with the flow.
Onto the clothes! Browns are not my usual choice but I had no choice. Everything for the shoot was arranged meticulously in order on a rail with my details attached. I had three outfits from Country Road - all in browns and rich autumn shades. I am summer not autumn but I quite enjoyed the novelty of wearing something different. They were finished with Ilse and I was called over to the photographer to strut my stuff - I was terrified! Antonio took about a hundred photos and told me I looked gorgeous - lovely - stunning - beautiful - perfect!!! In between wardrobe changes I was fastened in and out of the shoes - 'them shoes were not made for walking'! My stylist - that sounds so good - the lovely Sarah-Adriana Butler dashed on and off the shoot to arrange my jacket, hands, jewelry and other fiddly bits. I relaxed and enjoyed the whole shebang!

 What I learned.
Woman & Home operate under the UK W&H banner and are quite strictly quality managed to protect the brand. They take the British magazine and adapt it to include local content.The shoot was basically a replica of an article that was featured in the October 2011 UK Woman&Home. The women featured and the brand of clothes we wore were local but the set, colours and even the style and wardrobe palette were identical to the UK feature. They do it this way to save them time conceptualising and to keep uniformity in their brand. I wandered if it was restrictive but the image editor and those on set seem to welcome this.
I also learned what hard work goes into a photo shoot and how time consuming perfection is. The magazine feature was over 4 pages and took a whole day to shoot - not to mention the editing and photo-shopping that must have taken place afterwards.
I learned how young people are who work in the magazine industry. Any thoughts or fantasies I may have vaguely fostered about writing for that market are not going to come to fruition - everyone on the set was about 3 or 4 decades younger than me!
I learned the value of confidence and how it shows when you are in the spot light!
I learned that brown really doesn't suit me!  Seeing the photographs I would have looked much prettier in my red dress!!!
I learned that all good things come to an end and after the shoot, the make up came off and I changed back into my own clothes, the taxi came to collect me and, after cheery goodbyes,  I was whisked back to the airport on the Gautrain and came down to earth with a bump as the aircraft landed in PE. The red carpet dissolved and I was just Sue from PE again! Quite happily Sue from PE! I had a lovely day - Thanks to Woman and Home.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Dear Blog - Welcome back!  I have neglected you, I am sorry its 4 weeks since I visited you. Its Sunday and I am feeling very guilty about my absence to blogsphere but since coming back from holiday, I literally haven't had a moment to spare or should I rephrase that - I haven't had a moment to spare literally!
What have I been up to? Work. Work. Work.  In my youth I never imagined that I would still be working at my age. I imagined a future of domestic bliss interrupted only by regular cruises and sunny holidays to far flung places to enjoy outings around art galleries, historical ruins and exotic beaches. I thought that I would shop, bake, garden, read and drink tea....and yes I do all of those but I have to fit them all around my working world. I am not alone - many women my age work, in fact most of my friends are busier than ever in their fifties and working harder. I am not sure that when women demanded equal rights, that working till we are sixty five was part of that dream!
My weekdays have been full as I came home to a flurry of facilitation and a backlog of assignment marking - which I am please to report is now under control. Weekends have been busy with family life, catching up with grandchildren and with Mothers Day and a Diamond Jubilee to celebrate. Yesterday's wintry wet weather was a blessing. I spent the day relaxing and doing some of the things I love - baking, reading, drinking tea and playing with my photographs and scrapbooking. It takes time to get back into the groove after a holiday and I think that this weekend has been the turning point into and normal service is resumed!
Since arriving home I have been featured in Woman and Home Magazine (I think my next blog will report on that story). I have had an article printed in Your Family magazine and I was thrilled to hear last week that I am a runner up in Woman and Home's Short Story competition. I entered a story last year and came nowhere, this year I am a runner up and I am aiming to come in the top three next year! I dont want to be an "I" specialist but these three happenings give me the confidence and energy to find time to continue with my writing and, while I know that I will never have a writing career, I will quite happily spend any little free time that I have scribbling away. Welcome back  dear blog - I have missed you!