Saturday, 28 June 2008

Wedding season

We've got a couple of weddings to go to this summer, as we have had every year for I suppose the last ten. Every year I think we might be getting to the end of the "phase", and every year I'm proved wrong!

Leaving aside how tricky it is to guarantee my husband will get the day off for the event itself, it's an expensive business, going to weddings. You've got to pay to get there (and that's become silly money now, with the price of fuel), pay to stay somewhere nearby, for at least one night, or, if it's close, fork out for a taxi or train. You might also feel you have to go on the hen/stag night, which nowadays is often a weekend or even a week somewhere pricey. You also often end up getting a new outfit (not necessarily, I grant you, but traditional all the same). And then, of course, there's the present.

I know, of course, from my own experience, how expensive weddings can be. It seems that the wedding industry in this country is just getting ridiculous. Official stats put the average cost of a wedding at £30,000. Incredible. Clearly, then, giving the bride and groom a small token of your appreciation for the invite is all well and good. Wedding lists are now the norm, and in fact, we had one. It was great. After years of living with studenty plates and cutlery we were finally able to get some nice things for our home, and people were happy to buy us things that we really wanted.

My rant here though is caused by the contents of a friend's wedding list for this summer. It really made ours look cheap! On it are things like an £100 double duvet cover, and an £80 set of bathroom scales. Each wine glass (just normal glass, mind you, not crystal) is something like £15. I needed a glass of wine after I'd looked at it, let me tell you!

Is it just me, or is there something just ugly about that sort of list? We assumed the average spend would be about £50, and listed accordingly, but their list makes you feel as if only an £100 duvet cover will do. Essentially, it made me uncomfortable. I appreciate it's difficult for couples who've lived together for years, as they have a lot of the basics already, but...

But... surely it's the fact that your friends and family are coming all that way to see you marry each other that counts, not the souvenirs at the end of the day? Surely it's the emotion of the day, not the remuneration, that should matter? Or am I just an insensitive, miserly, inverted snob? Answers on a postcard, please..

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Time on my hands could be time spent with you...

One of the most reliable facts of aviation life is that the best laid plans will usually go awry. This week, my husband's schedule was particularly heavy, and I was facing quite a few nights at home alone with the dog, so I decided to plan to meet a few friends.

I always try to do this, as I think the best way to handle our lifestyle is to pack my meet-ups with friends into the time when my husband's working, so that I'm free and able to spend proper time with him when he's home. Which is great, when it works...

This week, I had a whole day planned; lunch and dinner with two separate groups of friends, and a delicious bit of retail therapy in between. My husband was due to leave early in the morning and wouldn't be back for a couple of days. But, when he got up and checked whether his flight was on time, they had good news for him; the flight had been cancelled due to technical problems. He wouldn't be going after all.

So, you can imagine the quandary I was in. What was it to be - my friends or another precious day with my husband? Not a situation I like to find myself in very often.

In the end, I decided I had to honour the plans I'd made. I was meeting friends I don't often get to see, and I'd promised, and that's important in friendship. And, in the end, I think my husband had a nice day too; he got to go for a long bike ride, eat curry for dinner and watch whatever TV he wanted without needing to have a discussion with me about Top Gear vs Grand Designs! And we managed to squeeze a couple of hours together too before dinner, which felt like a tremendous bonus.

The observant ones amongst you will have noticed the title of this post is from an Elton John song. I'm humming it as we speak. You see that this aviation life does to you? It turns you into an incurable romantic, singing 80s love songs to yourself. Nevermind, eh.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Quality time

My husband and I had a rare day off together this week. It's always such a special time that we try to make the most of it. This time, my husband came up with the plan; a trip down the river near where we live, and lunch out in a fantastic gastro-pub nearby.

It felt like a date, and it was lovely. Despite the fact our summer appears to have disappeared for a while (rain, anyone?) it was so wonderful to watch the world go by from a boat, spotting local wildlife and munching my way through a fabulous plate of mussels at the pub. Delicious. Then, when we got back, we took our bikes out for a ride around our local area. I always feel like a kid on a bike.

Our time together feels rather rationed at the moment. The airline is keeping him busy with trips - I won't see my husband now until Sunday, and even then he's going to have to sleep most of the day. It's not brilliant for family life, but, let's face it, the whole industry isn't, is it? Airlines nowadays don't just want your time on shift, they want to own your whole life. They reserve the right to change rosters at the last moment and to take you to wherever in the world they want you at a moment's notice.

I was reading on Pprune recently that some Middle Eastern airlines are recommending new ex-pat employees keep their families back home for up to six months, because they haven't got enough accommodation. It's a sad state of affairs that they can't even get their act together enough to cater for family life, and according to some people, the airlines just don't seem to care. You'd think they'd be worried that employees would leave with terms and conditions like this, but the sad fact of the current economic climate is that there will always be another pilot to fill a post. Which is very, very sad, and very, very worrying for the pilots' families.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Oh baby

There comes a time I think in every married couple's life when your thoughts start to turn to whether or not you want to have children. We've reached that point. There's no doubt we both want children; I don't think it's ever occurred to us that we wouldn't. The question, really, is when.

Like many people of our generation, we've left child rearing until our 30s. We've enjoyed a wonderful, carefree, joyous life together - in fact, we continue to live that life, and it's hard to give up. We're selfish about our time together, often choosing time spent alone together over larger social occasions, because we feel that, with our jobs being as they are, we don't get enough time by ourselves already. Clearly, if we have children, that time will, by default, be shared. As my mother's refrain goes, you lose the right to be selfish when you have children.

Not that this, of course, is necessarily a bad thing. I know having a baby brings joy, and my friends who have children tell me their child added to their happy family, not detracted from it. I believe and hope this will be the case; so why am I still scared? I'm scared about how having a child will change our relationship; how it will affect my job; how it will affect my body; and how I'll cope when my husband's away. I'm worried I'll be lonely, and the spectre of post-natal depression scares me witless.

So, what to do? I know my husband is in favour of waiting a little longer, and in many ways I agree - I also want a little more time together, enjoying our "carefree years" (another of my mother's favourite phrases!)

But - time marches on, and what if we struggle to conceive? Age isn't really on our side - although of course we're not that long in the tooth yet! That's my main concern, though, and it just won't go away. What if we wait another year or two, then decide we want to have a baby, and never manage it?

Questions, questions. And, unfortunately, the only answer can come from us.



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