Oh goodness. I have news. Big news.
Blogosphere, I have found my new home.
We spent our anniversary weekend in Newcastle at the gorgeously luxurious Slieve Donard. Such. A. Treat.
As cliche as it sounds, I can’t believe it’s been a year already. That means it’s three years since I discovered the oh-so handsome bass player I once innocently joked would one day be my husband (based solely on his rockstar musicianship and pleasing aesthetic) was actually my neighbour and OH MY WORD, he asked me out for a “neighbourly” hot chocolate! The rest, as they say, is history.
Over the weekend we indulged in some wedding nostalgia which was just lovely. If you’re new to the blog, I wrote about our preparations for the wedding and our marriage in a Bride Blog series which you can catch up on here.
And when we left Newcastle, we ventured down towards Dundalk to explore Stranfield Flower Market and Coffee Farm, as recommended to us by friends. IT IS AMAZING. It’s a magical mix of grocery/bakery/coffee shop/florist. And I took pictures of it to share with you which I shall dot through some reflections.
This enchanting blend lives on farm land that has been so cleverly re-worked to accommodate what will henceforth and forevermore be referred to as The Place Where Dreams Come True.
We’d been warned that the first year of marriage was difficult and painful and that the only hope was that it would get better after 12 months, but we haven’t found that. This is something that we heard a lot, and I think it has the potential to be dangerous. Of course, being married has meant adjusting to practical things like toothpaste preferences and meal-planning for two, being mindful of each other in how we live our lives and working out how to make big and small decisions together, and learning to be more vulnerable, less polished and packaged, sitting in the grey together. Those things can take time and effort. But, honestly, they’re precious things to work out with someone you love. (We are only just beginning our journey and don’t have it all sussed out, but I think we have found our first year easier perhaps that the old wives’ tales warned because we spent a lot of time preparing for marriage instead of planning the wedding, and we were also both living independently before getting married so were used to managing housekeeping already).
And one thing a wise friend told me when we got engaged (hi Joy!) was that marriage is fluid – it’s not a pre-packaged, one size fits all product that everyone who says “I do” receives in the post. Rather, it’s unique to each couple who enters into it – it is totally reliant on who you are as people, and as a couple, on how you love and live and decide and disagree and value and laugh and touch and make-up and travel on the road of committed togetherness. I love that. And it’s a great reminder to take what I and everyone else says about marriage with a pinch of salt. Find your own groove.
Marriage provides space for you to learn about your partner – and yourself – in new ways. I have learned so much about Dan this past year, and have realised there is so much road left for me to travel on his map! I hope I never stop. And I’ve learned about myself: being so close to someone (literally as well as in other ways) means I have noticed habits, traits, patterns in myself I hadn’t before. I’m more aware of my darkness, and of my light. I think I have felt more free in this since being married – to be vulnerable, to not have all the answers, to be unravelled- because of our shared commitment. We aren’t weighing each other up. We’re committed and in it for the long haul, so we have space to work things out (and ourselves and each other) out – over time, together and apart, with a common goal in mind. We’re both for us, and for each other. That means the world.
It’s that warmth, that safety in marriage that allows people to grow. And while that may sound a little cheesy and idealistic, I don’t think it is. Marriage isn’t a fairytale. You don’t wake up on cotton candy clouds to little birds tailoring your ball gown and Prince Charming singing you sweet melodies. (Thankfully. That would be weird.) Marriage is BETTER than a fairytale. The fact that you are chosen, every day, by someone else is the best feeling the world. When the newness of first kisses and fancy dinner dates and the sparkles of rings and Eiffel Tower lights leave centre-stage, the real magic happens. Choosing and being chosen by someone every single day – that is breath-taking.
It’s been an adventure of a year. We explored Italy, India, Ireland and Switzerland. We have made a home together. We started a business. Dan finished his book. The best part of the adventure? Who it’s been with.
PS: I hope you’re convinced that you should visit Stranfield after these photos. Seriously – amazing. Grab a book and someone to adventure with and head down. You’ll get lost in the exotic choice of spices and teas; be tempted by the beautifully presented fresh organic produce and local crafts & gifts; definitely want to order a bouquet just for the sake of it; and you MUST visit the pumpkin patch if you manage to fit in a visit soon. Oh, also! I recommend the blueberry scone – but to be honest, everything in the (organic and vegetarian) coffee shop looked delicious. Enjoy!