All the big stuff – engagement ring, venue, registrar, stationery, etc.

The biggest development this week is that Vicky choose an engagement ring. We had a browse in Leeds last week but nothing jumped out at us. Secretly, I think her heart had already made her mind up. That’s not a bad thing because I hate shopping and especially browsing. So we went back to Fattorini’s at the weekend to order it.

The bonus was they had the “precious” in the right size so Vicky was able to wear it out of the shop. I’ve seen her ogle her own left hand a few times with the first ring on and it’s happening just as much if not more now.

We’ve been through the contract with the Devonshire Arms with a fine tooth comb. There’s 1 or 2 things in there that raise an eyebrow but no earth shattering surprises. For example, accidental insurance is not included. They also reserve the right to increase the contract value by up to 10%.  So that’s been signed and sent off. There’s still a LOT of TBCs on it; it’s more of a framework agreement at this point but that’s what the next 11 months are about.

We’ve got an appointment in September with the local registrar’s office to go and give notice of marriage. Our local registrar’s office is in a different county from where we’re getting wed so it’ll be interesting to see how joined up they are.

We’ve started looking at wedding stationery. All I can say is that there are some very clever marketing people. I’d never even heard of “Save the Date” cards before last week let alone been sent one. Most of the rest of it seems straight forward. We’ve decided against going overboard on table decorations and concentrating instead on dressing the room as a whole to create just the right atmosphere.

We’ve been talking about who will play a part on our big day. Some people already know because we’ve already asked them. Others don’t yet for various reasons. The other dilemma is I could easily fill the guest list with just the family and friends I would like to invite. Vicky doesn’t have as big a family but I think both of us are going to disappoint a few people.

Although it’s far too soon to decide on a cake, we’ve been browsing. Well I say browsing; we’ve been to two, Bettys and Patisserie Viennoise in Otley. Bettys put us off straight away by limiting the possible choices. Off-the-shelf options were nice enough if a little uninspiring. We could have a custom cake but we would have to visit the bakery and talk to their master baker.

Patisserie Viennoise were the complete opposite. For starters when we walked into the shop, the smell of cocoa was fantastic! It was a really hot day outside but I still fancied a hot chocolate there and then. Nothing was too much trouble for them. They had 5 or 6 albums full of custom designs from novelty to traditional and loads in between. All we have to do is place an order in the spring telling them what we want and it’s sorted.

Playa de Las Americas – Tenerife

After a long, difficult year ( the reasons are many and varied ), I needed a break away from everyone and everything! Saying that I settled for Tenerife seems a little unfair. After doing some research on the internet, it seemed quite a popular destination in the winter months. Having been there, I can see why. I booked 7 nights in Playa de las Americas with MyTravel. Flying from Newcastle Airport takes approximately 4 hours. Confirm your check-in times with this company. They will probably tell you when the check-in desks open, not close. I made the mistake of not doing this, turned up at the airport at some ridiculous hour of the morning then had to wait around for ages.

Arriving at Aeropuerto Reina Sofia was hassle free except that the travel reps for MyTravel didn’t exactly stand out. I wasn’t expecting a neon sign or anything but I was expecting a clipboard held aloft at least. I finally found their desk in the arrival area and got the transfer information I needed there. The transfer from the airport only takes 20 minutes so it’s really easy to get to.

Even in mid-November, the temperature reaches upto the mid-20 degrees Celsius so always have your sun cream handy and especially when you first arrive. There are numerous information points dotted around the resorts. Throughout the holiday, I never saw a temperature reading less than 18 degrees Celsius and that includes at night. Even on the beach front where there always seems to be a noticeable onshore breeze, it’s warm enough for a short sleeved shirt. During the day, what seems to happen is that early morning cloud is quickly burned off by the sun and stays clear for most of the day. Occasionally, it can become dull during the day but more so in the late afternoon and without the direct heat of the sun, it can feel a bit chilly.

I chose the Hotel Bitacora which has a 4-star rating. The rooms are comfortable but I found the bed too hard to be really comfortable for me. The en-suite bathroom was small for the number of people the room could sleep but very practical. There is a safe available in the room but using it is extra depending on your reservation. For a VIP stay, the 12 euro deposit is refundable. The hotel complex is clean and comfortable with 2 heated swimming pools, loads of sun loungers and a games area. There are loads of free activities everyday from 11 o’clock, for example, water aerobics, pistol and rifle shooting, french boules.

The food in the hotel is excellent with quite a varied selection of foods available, both each evening and throughout the week. It’s self-service from the buffet-style counters but it does give you a chance to see the food before you choose. The waiters/waitreses wear a different style every night but it didn’t seem to have any bearing on what type of food was being served. From 10pm each evening, there’s a show of some kind in the bar; a singer, a magician, acrobatics.

Another of the hotel’s facilities is massage. Someone rear-ended me in a car accident in July and I’d been having physiotherapy treatment to ease back pain. During the flight, it had flared up again and no amount of swimming would ease it. Instead of the gentle back rub I’d expected, it felt more like a half-hearted beating that I agreed to. However, to give the guy his due, 2 half hour sessions was all it took to fix me up. Even if you’ve no particular complaints, give it a try. I promise that you’ll feel much better afterwards.

The shopping in Tenerife is fantastic. You can get everything from cameras and perfume to designer clothes far cheaper than in the UK. Late night shopping means exactly that. Some places are open until midnight. I bought an SLR camera lens for about 100 quid less than the UK. It even comes with a European guarantee which is important if you’re buying electronics or some kind of technology.

There are numerous excursions available whilst on holidaying. I chose whale watching with Freebird Sailing and a visit to Loro Parque. To be honest, the whale watching excursion could do with being better organised. It seems very popular but my impression of the Freebird crew is that their clients are a necessary evil for them to enjoy themselves sailing a posh catamaran. On the up-side, standing on the bow, watching a pilot whale swim right underneath me and then surface to breath is quite moving. I’d certainly recommend the trip but maybe not with Freebird. Diametrically, the trip to Loro Parque is fantastic if you’re into getting up and close to exotic animals. For me, it was another brilliant photo opportunity, especially the sea lion and dolphin shows. My only criticism would be that the excursion doesn’t allow for enough time at the park.