Archive for October, 2011

Our Maldives Honeymoon

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

I didn’t realize just how behind I was in posting updates to the site until I saw how far back I had to predate this post.  The wedding in October followed by the honeymoon (the subject of this particular post) and Danni finally moving her things into my our home not to mention my continued work on my 365 project have kept me rather busy.

But enough excuses.

We spent an amazing week at Coco Palms Dhuni Kolhu resort and couldn’t have asked for better weather, food, drinks or anything!  The island itself was accessible only via a seaplane from Malé and the entire landmass was circumnavigable (my big word for the day) in about 30 minutes.

Arriving at our island via sea plane provided lots of photo opportunities!

We spent most of the week lounging around on the beach (as was a honeymoon requirement), snorkeling (Danni’s new love) or simply gorging ourselves on the amazing food offered from their kitchen.  And when we weren’t doing one of those three things, we were taking photos of Danni in her many wedding dresses at various stunning locations around the island.

A more moody version of the boat shot.

We also managed a couple of boating excursions during our week.  The first was an early morning outing to do some dolphin watching.  I’d expected to see a couple of dorsal fins here and there, but what we ended up seeing were about 200 dolphins in several pods splashing around and doing their morning hunting.  Most of them were too far from the boat for my longest lens (85mm) to really do them justice, so no great photos but it was a great experience (apart from Danni getting sea sick of course).

And here they are!  This is another of my favourite images, though it almost looks like a faux background.  I assure you, we wer

The other trip was a gifted private sunset cruise for two with champagne and canapes that was bought for us by my good friend Robert.  It was a lovely little motor around the island that didn’t go so far out as to encounter any big waves (and thereby make Danni ill again).  The sunset was one of the weeks best and all the better for enjoying it aboard a private boat with my new wife.

The maldives provided Danni with her first experience in snorkling and she absolutely loved it!  She was adorable in her mask, f

It was definitely difficult coming back to dreary London after being spoiled so fully for a week.  We can’t recommend the resort enough.  If you get a chance, take it!

There are LOTS more photos in the gallery.

Our Wedding

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

How do you write a blog post about the happiest day of your life?  I’ve never been much of a wordsmith (which is part of the reason I started writing on this public forum) so I’ll struggle to find the appropriate words and metaphors to describe the events of October 18th, 2011.

I awoke in our London flat early in the morning with my family present and already buzzing about.  The day was about as perfect a day you could ask for on such a special occasion.  White, puffy clouds and sunny skies don’t come every day in the UK so we couldn’t have timed it any better.

Danni, her father and her brides maid Ping had spent the evening prior at a hotel in Thornbury near our venue, so all that remained was to load up my family and make the 2 hour journey.  The trip was uneventful, but in hindsight stopping for a coffee was probably a bad idea as the caffeine wasn’t helping my prenuptial jitters.

Our venue for the day was the amazing Thornbury Castle, which just so happened to be location of our engagement 7 months earlier.  We had actually looked at quite a few other options, but we had such a special time at Thornbury that it just felt right to go back and exchange our vows within it’s walls.  There’s also something to be said for getting married in a castle.

My brother and best friend Robert had agreed to a shared role of best man, so the three of us got ready together in a nearby hotel where most of our guests would be staying.  It wasn’t until we started to get dressed that my nerves really kicked in.  Not so much because I was worried about getting married, but because I was worried that something might go wrong with our carefully laid plans.  It seems like so much hangs on other people (most of whom you’ve never met) getting things just right, and the control freak in my was not happy about this at all.  I think this was very likely the first time I’ve ever paced in my life, it was impossible for me to sit still.

The previously mentioned coffee was certainly not enhancing my calm either.

Our brilliant photographers (the ones who’ve taken all of the images in this post) where on hand to capture the getting ready stages of the day.  I was lucky enough to have a London based wedding photographer (and my good friend) Ian Schofield with his assistant Richard Swaffield (also a good friend) covering our day.  We couldn’t have asked for more professional coverage and the images, as you can see here, were simply stunning.

We were both required by UK law to be interviewed by the registrars before the wedding, presumably to ensure that neither of us were being married under duress.  Great care was taken to prevent Danni and I from accidentally bumping into each other while our separate statements were being given, and we must have answered to their satisfaction as they allowed us to proceed.

I don’t remember much of the waiting period while I chatted with friends and family waiting for the event to begin and Danni to finally arrive.  There were a lot of nervous jokes, more pacing and an awful lot of watch checking.  It wasn’t long before Glinis, the registration officer conducting our ceremony, began to organize the wedding party and give us a run down of what was about to happen.  Before I knew it, we were all lined up, the music had started and Danni was entering the room with her father and bridesmaid.

I remember turning towards the door in time to witness her enter, and then quickly turning back and facing away.  I can’t say for certain why I looked away.  I think part of me didn’t believe I was getting married to someone so amazing, someone so stunning that I was afraid my eyes were actually playing tricks on me.  I didn’t want to look back for fear that it had all been just a wonderful illusion, that maybe none of this was actually real.

It only lasted a second or two before I couldn’t stop myself from glancing back to watch my lovely wife-to-be walk down the aisle in her breathtaking dress.

Glinis was eloquent and warm as she read through our vows and guided us through the ceremony.  She spoke with the slow, even pace and confidence of someone who’d done this a thousand times.  We were made to feel as though she was talking directly to us while still projecting for everyone else in attendance.  My mom also gave a lovely reading which she modified and personalized to more closely reflect our life in the big city of London.  It’s always nice to have that personal touch.

Repeating our customized vows whet smoothly despite our mutual nerves and with no one objecting to our union, we exchanged rings first, and then a kiss.  I even managed to remove Danni’s veil without disrupting her carefully arranged hair and makeup, something I’d been fretting about for most of the morning.  Describing the feeling of actually getting married to the person you love is difficult as for me, there doesn’t seem to be an equivalent and descriptive terms like amazing or incredible just don’t cover it. Everyone says it’s their best day ever, which is vague and accurate all at the same time.

I think the goofy grin that never left my face describes it best.


After the ceremony we chatted for a bit in the lobby, exchanging hugs and receiving congratulations from our family and friends before heading outside for the formal photos.  The October weather was chilly enough force a few people back in, but not before we’d taken several large group shots.  Immediate family and the wedding party got to stay behind for some additional photos before they were allowed back inside to the bar, but we didn’t keep them long.  Once again the photographers were great and moved things along to make sure we got all of the images we wanted.

Our afternoon tea was served at 4 during which a few speeches were given (Danni’s fathers speech being the highlight for me), thanks were offered and scones were slathered in cream and scoffed.   The intimate dining room we were provided with was perfect for the occasion, complete with a roaring, crackling fire to help set the mood.  If there is a better setting for a proper English tea, I haven’t found it yet.

In keeping with the English feel of our wedding, we then set off to a traditional local pub in the town centre for food and a few drinks.  We stayed and chatted till late in the evening before saying farewell to some of our heartier drinking relations and heading back to the castle for a night in the glorious Henry VIII room.  A perfect end to a day that couldn’t have been more ideal.


We want to thank all of our friends and family who made the journey (however long) to be with us on our day.  Thanks to the fine folks at Thornbury Castle for a perfect venue, amazing food and exemplary service.  We really feel that everything we asked for was taken care of to the letter.  The clerks from South Gloucestershire were helpful throughout the process and nothing short of professional on the day. Our two photographers were brilliant as you can see from the photos included, and I can’t recommend their services enough.

And finally, thanks to my lovely new wife for being everything I’ve ever wanted.

Whiney xxx

There are a load of additional photos in the gallery.

Stag Party Tankball

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Tankball you say?  Yes, tankball.  It’s like paintball, but with tanks.  Take a moment and allow the awesomeness of that thought marinate for a bit.

My best mate Robert secretly arranged for a group of my friends to meet up in St. Pancaras to board a train heading north.  The plan was to keep the events of the day secret from me until we arrived, but on of my friends let things slip while we were waiting so my anticipation was triggered early!

Rosie (our tank) and I

Upon arrival there was the usual waiver signing (you know it’ll be fun if you have to sign a waiver), briefing and dividing into teams.  Our gang was transformed into three groups of three: driver, gunner and loader/firer on each team.  We then headed out to meet our tanks.

My command & conquor profile

You have a member of staff in the already cramped tank with your team at all times.  Each team member gets a chance to drive the beast around their circular track (smiling for a photo op halfway through), then a shot at sitting in the gunners seat working out the aiming of the gun and calling out when to fire, and finally you’re in the loaders seat shoving ping-pong balls full of paint down the barrel and pressing that oh-so-satisfying FIRE button.  Once you’ve each made the rounds, it’s time for a quick spot of tea and some strategy before the tank-on-tank melee begins!

This was the view through the front of the tank.  I've actually enhanced the contrast, the visibility wasn't this good.

This was the part of the day I was most excited about, and since it was my day I got to choose the position I wanted on my team.  Driver.  I had visions in my head of barreling around the field and tactically positioning our tank for the most cover and best firing positions.  I was moderately let down here.  The battle actually takes place along two parallel tracks where the pair of tanks plod along in a straight line, stopping 4 or 5 times at marked locations to fire a couple of rounds and then move on to the next marker.

While disappointed that my tank driver fantasies were dashed, I wasn’t going to let that get me down and vowed to push our ride to it’s breaking point while still keeping within the confines of the rules laid out.

After lining up side by side with our enemy, we were given a countdown and then the green light to go.  My foot stomped metal, metal made contact with metal somewhere below and we were off!  As we approached the first marker our staff member began to urge me to slow down so we could stop in time.

I ignored him.

Only after four or five frantic requests across the mic to slow down did he finally say the magic word ‘STOP!’.   This caused my lead foot to switch from full on accelerator to full on breaking.  Somewhere behind me I could hear my team mates Rob and Neal being thrown about in their seats and this pleases me.  They somehow managed to regain their composure and fire off our requisite shots…I had no idea if they were hits or misses.  All that really mattered was getting to the next marker in record speed.

The tank crews!

In the end our team of brave, battered warriors were victorious over Robert, Alex and Tim with a score of 10 hits to 7 out of a possible 12.  While congratulations and commiserations were being given I heard the opposing teams staff member say it looked as though our hard driving had almost broken our tank a couple of times.

This also pleased me.

All in all, it was a brilliant day out.  Thanks to all my friends who came along and made it even better.  There are a couple more images in the gallery.