Adam Bird

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Wednesday, 22 August 2007

In for the Long Haul

Some girls have dreams of big white weddings, whilst some dream of big weddings in pink. Others have different dreams, of sun, of sea and a romantic union on a white sanded beach.

2007, year of the wedding sees Stephanie, Oliver and I attend our third wedding of the year, a completion of catalogue of weddings that will see all three girls having their dreams fulfilled.

After Nicola's wonderful white wedding and my sister's amazing pink parade we are packing our suitcases and leaving for Mexico on a two week trip to paradise where we will witness Steph's brother John and his fiance Nadine become husband and wife.

John and Nadine, long time partners are two peas in a pod. Both have a love for the exotic and are both sporty inclined. Enter John and Nadine's house and you will be sat petrified in the corner as two lizardy/iguanary creature type things sit looking at you licking their chops in anticipation of perhaps eating you for lunch or chewing upon a limb as a snack.

John with his rugby and beer swilling chums engaging in macho rivalries at who is most "man" whilst Nadine is no soft spot and can be equally as competitive and is probably the fittest (in terms of athletic build) person I know!

It came as no surprise then that the two of them, with their love for travel and John's passion for diving chose Mexico as the place in which to get married. Indeed, choosing Cozumel over Cancun, with it's more Mexican feel and less commericalised appeal matches their outlook on appreciating another countries culture whilst ensuring that that everyone still has unlimited access to accepted treats such as beer and vodka!

Organising a wedding is globally recognised as one of the most stressful experiences a person has to endure in a lifetime. So let's consider the following: The invitation of friends and family to a wedding abroad, finalising numbers, finding a location that matches the numbers, booking and paying for those xx amount of people, a force 5 hurricane hitting the location the week before you go!

Hurricane Dean's arrival last week sent shivers of panic to all of us going next week, but for John and Nadine it must have just increased the stress levels by about 500%! Luckily for them, and the Cozumel islanders, the hurricane avoided the main tourist areas, and hit the coast of Mexico a couple of hundred mile south of where we are going. Obviously our prayers are with those people affected, and hope that normal life resumes as soon as possible.

Being part of Facebook, and assigning a Facebook group to all of us who are going next week meant that we could all share news and updates with everyone and collectively share a sigh of relief when John found out the good news last night that the hotel will be resuming business as usual on Friday!

Whether it be fate, luck or a combination of both, last nights news was met with joyous scenes akin to that of an England try at Twickenham (I am going for as many rugby metaphors as possible to try and fit in with John and his mates ready for next week!)

It also meant that we could all get very very very excited all over again!

I have never been to a wedding abroad, but I too would love to get married on a beach so I am very interested in seeing how this goes. I am particularly looking forward to finding out whether or not the ceremony feels like a "real" wedding, in that when you go to a church, your quite aware, that with the vicar and the choir and all that goes with a church wedding that two people are getting married. Having seen countless movies and TV shows where people are married in similar circumstances you are always shown the vows and the I do's so your only giving a condensed version of events.

However, the ceremony itself is going to be spectacular! Starting around 5.30pm, the temperature will be slightly warmer, and the sun will be setting as it all gets underway. With the white sands, and turquoise sea can you picture a more perfect setting?

The wedding obviously is the key focus for those two weeks, but it is also a chance for Steph and I to have two weeks quality time with Oliver. There will be around 50 or so of John and Nadines friends and family, so we won't be short of baby sitters if we want to have some quality time together! With Stephanie and I working and Stephanie having to work most Saturday's, Sunday's are our only real days when we can relax, have fun and do things as a family.

Having Oliver with us on a trip of this scale has meant a whole new experience when it comes to preparation. Last year and in years gone by my holiday preparations would be "Doh! Going on holiday next week!", shoot to Bluewater, spend £xxxxx.xx pounds on Speedo's and suncream before bunging it all in a suitcase and finding a creased up mess at the other end.

With Oliver, it is a WHOLE new story! Sun cream, tents, parasols, food, nappies, dummies, bodysuits, wedding suits, sleeping suits, shorts, t-shirts, mosquito nets, toys, food, the list is endless! Stephanie, to her upmost credit has been on the ball straight away and has been preparing for the last nine months, but it means that their is no room in our luggage allowance for any of our stuff! It does therefore answer our post holiday question in why in our holiday photos Stephanie and I are wearing the same thing, every night and every day for the 14 days we were away!

With so many people going, and three of them enjoying birthday's whilst we are away it gives Stephanie and I an opportunity to make new friends and enjoy a laugh with those we already know. As I mentioned above, with John and his friends being ultra competitive it will be interesting to see the final "man points" table. I have probably accepted my place on the bottom, but doesn't mean I am not going to have fun trying... and most probably embarrassing myself in the process!

One thing is for certain - it is going to be an amazing two weeks, and a hell of a huge blog on my return!

One final note, before we head off to the land of Tequila and Corona, is a thank you note.

To Pat and to Colin, without which Stephanie, Oliver and I probably wouldn't have been able to enjoy the next two weeks together as a family, and join the celebrations. It goes without saying how grateful all three of us are, and we thank you with the bottom of our hearts.

Related Links:
Iberostar Cozumel
Cozumel Insider
Chichén Itzá
Xel-Ha
Tulum
This is Cozumel
Xcaret

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Part Rent/Part Buy 2 Bedroom Flat For Sale

Stephanie and I are delighted to officially announce that we are selling up and moving!

For those who don't know, we have very fortunately been offered the opportunity to buy my Mum and Dad's house, whom themselves are moving on to pastures new.

As a result of this domestic upheaval, our flat for the past three years (nearly) is now up for sale.

Our current property is part of a Part Rent/Part buy scheme, whereby we own part of our property whilst the other part is owned by a housing agency. We then pay a rent amount on the outstanding share.

This scheme proved invaluable to Stephanie and I, as it gave us an affordable step onto the housing ladder, one which again we are entirely grateful for. Both Stephanie and I highly recommend this method of entering the housing market and are glad to be able to offer someone else a route to the aforementioned housing ladder.


Pioneer Court

Property Details:
- Lounge
- Kitchen - fitted with beech effect wall and base units and cooker, spaces for fridge freezer and washing machine.
- 2 bedrooms, one with a fitted cupboard
- Bathroom/W.C fitted with white suite
- Cloakroom, and laundry cupboard

Location:
- 5 minute walk to Train Station
- Close to local schools
- Close to Gravesend Town Centre

Other facilities include:
- Gas fired Central Heating (not tested)
- Double Glazing
- Allocated parking space
- Communal Garden
- Wood effect laminate flooring throughout
- All rooms decorated except for lounge

Due to our agreement with Tower Homes, the property has been valued at £155,000 and as a result we are unable to be flexible in our asking price!

With the part buy/part rent initiative in place, the minimum purchase amount is 50% (£77,500), with an additional amount of £217.66 per month being paid in rent. There is also an additional service charge (as in the norm with flats). The only criteria that is asked of an applicant by Tower Homes is that you earn £26,350 (single income) or 30,050 (joint income).

For further information on part buy/part rent please visited the Tower Homes website.

If anyone reading this is interested in viewing the flat with a view to maybe buying it from us, please email me at adamdbird@gmail.com to make necessary arrangements.

Stephanie and I have loved living together at Pioneer Court and we would really love to sell to another young couple who want to start a life together. Who knows maybe another Oliver will be conceived at number 1 Pioneer Court!

We are both looking forward to the next part of our lives together back at Cross Lane East. It is certainly going to be a weird one for me to start off with, living back at my parents, sleeping in my Mum and Dad's old room, Oliver growing up in my old room as well!

However, it is a brilliant move for all three of us, Oliver will have more room and more importantly a garden in which to hone his Oliveria Birdinho footballing skills! Whats more, we now have opportunity to grow some roots for the next 10 years or so, grow as a family and find some settled financial footings in our lives. Maybe we will even be able to get married!

There is one negative side to all of this - our dodgy neighbours! We will be in very close proximity to Will and Olivia, Sarah and Jamie, and Shirley and Terry (Stuart's mum and Dad). We will certainly not have to worry about borrowing a cup of sugar!

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

And Now Your Gonna Believe Us!

They say a week is a long time in football, but 94 days (at time of writing) since Gillinghams last league game has felt like an eternity.

Every other year we have England's hype and failure to tide us over, but this year has been dull, absolutely nothing to keep us football fans remotely occupied. OK there was the Copa America, but the competition is so badly organised and matches repeated it hardly becomes watchable.

In those 94 days we have seen some wholesale changes at the Gills, with Danny Spiller, Matty Jarvis, Michael Flynn, Frannie Collin, Brent Sancho, Danny Jackman, Leon Johnson, Luke Howell, Clint Easton and Ben Chorley all leaving the club.

With so many player departures, including arguably our two best players (Jarvis and Flynn), I was slightly concerned that we would be struggling to field a starting XI this season, let alone a competitive one!

Gillingham chairman Paul Scally came out and said that failure this season would not be an option and that the club would be signing 15 new players, each game next season will be treated like a cup final!

So far, Mr Scally has been true to his word with the club signing 9 new players, with hints, rumours and speculation that a few more are still to join. Starting at the back, which was clear to everyone last season that major surgery was needed saw Simon Royce and Derek Stillie both join the club,. Stillie being remembered as the opposition goal keeper on the day Gillingham beat Wigan at Wembley to reach the Championship for the very first time.

In defence, Craig Armstrong rejoins the club from Cheltenham after his successful loan spell earlier on in his career, along with Simon King from Barnet, who Gillingham actually paid a fee for - the first time I can remember a fee being paid for a transfer for some time! Finally, Efe Sodje, the flamboyant, bandanna wearing centre-half joined us on a free transfer from Southend United.

In midfield, we are joined by Barry Cogan, who came on as a substitute for Milwall against Manchester United in the FA Cup final a couple of years ago and Aaron Brown, whom I am glad to say doesn't look anything like Steph's sister's former boyfriend who goes by the same name! However, the real star signing of the pre-season so far is that of Northern Ireland international Steve Lomas, whom has played Premiership football for Manchester City and West Ham, and in the Championship for QPR last year. He is a real solid professional, whom looked the part last week in a friendly match against Colchester United. I have real hopes for him next season, and I think he is the player we have been looking for in terms of bridging the gap in between midfield and defence, which was so clearly missing last season.

Last but not least, a new striker making up the magic nine, with Delroy Facey signing on the dotted line, a player it seems who can score goals at this level, indeed scored 12 goals last season in a relegated side (Rotherham United), and counts Bolton Wanderers as one of his former clubs.

With such upheaval on the pitch, changes have also been made to the coaching team, with all time legend and Mark and Nicola's best friend Iffy Onuora becoming 1st team coach teaming up with Ronnie Jepson, to make up which is arguably Gillingham's most qualified management team, with both men having the highest Uefa qualification at their disposal. Also joining the back room team is Scott Fitzgerald who joins as Youth Team boss, and Jim Stannard, another Gills legend becoming part time goalkeeper coach.

The clean sweep approach has been needed for some time and so far I am very happy with how it has come about and the players Ronnie has signed. A few more players will be the cherry on top, particularly cover in midfield and upfront and my optimism level will shoot off the radar! David Graham is rumoured to be signing (ed: 08/08/07 has now signed!), and if we can rehabilitate Adebayo Akinfenwa and get him to repay the favour by signing a contract we will have two great acquisitions to the forward line, on par with any in our league.

All football fans are gripped with pre-season optimism and I am no different. I am keeping those thoughts to myself for now, and am trying to put my best pundit hat on here, hence my following prediction.

With the signings that we have made we should be a lot better equipped this time around for a sustained challenge, but I can see us missing out - just, but having a lot better (and successful) go next year.

Patience throughout August and early September is crucial, as the team is brand new, and needs to time to gel. Having said that, back in 1995 when Paul Scally appeared seemingly from a puff of smoke, appointed Tony Pulis who signed a whole new team, only weeks before the season started won each of the first four games, and only the fifth was a lucky 1-0 defeat to Colchester United on our patch (Which I blame my mum for because inexplicably she came to the game and we lost... so rule #1, never take your Gills hating mother to football).

Whatever happens, thousands of people will end up delirious come May, and thousands will end up in tears, but most will just be thinking if only.... but will the Gills be singing? Here's hoping!

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

A Day to Remember!

Wow! What a day Jessica and James's wedding turned out to be! I knew that it was going to be a great day, but I never realised just how good it was going to be!

First off, I owe my sister an apology.

From her description of things, I had visions of Jessica and James's wedding being a dodgy version of Peter Andre and Jordan's! I will hold my hands firmly up in the air and say how wrong I was! The reality is, that all the things I raised my (rather excessive) eyebrows at all turned out to be really nice touches! For example love heart sweeties on all the tables, which added an air of romance to the proceedings (if there wasn't enough already)! Passing "I love you" messages and "email me" to the girl on the next table made pulling for single fellas a little bit easier!

It must actually be said, the wedding very well nearly never happened! Jessica met Stephanie at the flat and together they walked into town to have their hair done. When they came back, Jessica pulled away right into the path of an oncoming car! If it had been 10 seconds later, impact would have unavoidable!

If that little near miss was slightly hairy, the next automobile catastrophe ended up being simply embarrassing. Driving to the church with your Father, ready to marry the man of your dreams, in a pink Cadillac is a picture straight out of a fairytale. However, the clutch going and being stranded at the top of a fairly major hill on a busy roundabout is a brides worse nightmare!

Us Bird's can take more of a step back than a broken clutch to rustle our feathers and so it proved as Jessica and Dad arrived at the church in the bridesmaid's car which had gone back to rescue them both.

It was at this very point, when I saw Jessica in her dress for the very first time I had the answer to the question I posed last time around when I said

"Weddings are emotional occasions, at least if you are a woman, I have never really understood why myself, but I think I am going to find out at Jessica and James's wedding!"
Seeing my sister in her dress, a smile a mile wide and looking, I must say absolutely beautiful brought a lump to my throat. A huge sense of pride and a realisation that yes, my little sister was getting married and that she wasn't really my little sister anymore. She was a fine young women who was about to embark on the greatest day of her life.

Women are emotional at weddings, but so are the men, and so it proved time after time throughout the course of the day. My last wedding (before Nicola and Mark's) was years ago and so I was writing on a childhood memory. The reality is, and Nicola and Mark's wedding was proof as well, that marriage is not just a piece of paper. It is far from it. Marriage is the joining of people into a commitment of a life long relationship and a bond that binds not just the Brides with the Grooms, but one family to another. It is a time where raw and honest feelings are displayed and spoken about at the alter and in after dinner speeches. People are remembered and everyone takes a glance backward as well as looking long into the future.

Every wedding is different, and Jessica and James's wedding was no exception. The church service, was for some people a completely new experience. King's Church Medway, is not a 'normal' church, in the sense that you don't walk into a cavernous room, with high ceilings and an organ playing solemnly in the background. You walk into to be greeted by big colourful banners draped from the ceiling and the word's "Jesus Christ is Lord" across the back wall. An overhead projector with the song words displayed as a band plays live music in 'worship' to Jesus.

It may not have been everyone's "thing", but what was important that it was Jessica and James's. Sharing their day with family and friends, celebrating in the way that they believe is right. Being married by Jessica's uncle, being prayed for by people who personally know them, and joined in the congregation by many members of the church the whole ceremony had a very unique and a very personal stamp upon it, which was for me truly amazing and gave it something extra special.

Running around, doing Usher duties, coping with Stephanie having a "turn" and booking into the hotel room left me a little bit flustered (and very sweaty) and took me a little while to relax and chill out at the reception. Once we had sat down for our meal I had finally settled down and was decidedly peckish! Out came our starters, which was a salmonly/seafoody thing, which I thought "great, cos Steph don't like Salmon!" So I ate mine, then Stephs, which was accompanied by a bread roll, and seeing as Oliver was at the table and cannot eat bread rolls I had his too. Being greedy is not a particular pleasant vice, and I was soon in receipt of my comeuppance. I was unaware that we were not having a 3 course meal, but 4! So after our salmony/seafoody thing we were brought out bowls of soup! So by the time the main course arrived, I was unable to move and my very tight wedding suit was ready to burst!

I have already spoken about the emotional impact weddings have on people and the after dinner speeches were a key part of this, but they were also a great laugh and 'Lovey', James's best man did a great job in combining the two perfectly. As I said last week to Stuart and Gareth, who also did an equally fine job - it is one of the hardest jobs a bloke ever has the privilege to do, and Lovey's speech was delivered so well. A mention must go to my nan here, when asked if she enjoyed the speeches she said "oh, yes they were great, I couldn't hear a thing, I laughed and clapped when everyone else did, but couldn't hear a word!"

It is at this point things start to get hazy! A few glasses of wine, a couple of glasses of champagne, topped up with lager and JD and Coke! I had the sense to drop my camera back to the room before I lost it, but throughout the course of the night I had various conversations with people, most of which I cannot remember! If anyone is reading this and had a conversation with me that consisted of me talking a load of random nonsense I do apologise!

I do remember LOTS of people dancing, and Jessica murdering number after number on the Karaoke! I nearly ended up making a further arse of myself with an Oasis track along with Will, but for some very fortunate reason we never got a chance to sing!

I would like to end this blog entry by wishing Jessica and James all the very best in their new lives together, and would like to thank everybody coming and making the day what it was. Many thanks must also go to my mum and dad, along with James's mum for all the hard work they put in with the arrangements and everything else that comes with arranging a wedding.
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