The other day I read a really preachy article (which I don’t have a link to) about why the writer, as a feminist, wouldn’t wear an engagement ring.
Now I strongly believe that everyone has a right to their own opinion but the tone of the piece and the fact that she was using feminism as her reason really annoyed me.
I’m a feminist. I believe in equality, equity of the sexes, and a woman’s right to choose what she does with her life and her body. My mum instilled these beliefs in me growing up.
However, I don’t feel like those beliefs preclude me from wearing my engagement ring.
I am aware of the original symbolism of wedding rings and the whole patriarchal problematic wedding traditions. But I don’t see the engagement ring on my left hand as a symbol of ownership.
Nobody, least of all C, owns me. I am my own person, regardless of marital status.
I see it instead as a symbol of commitment, of a promise to be a team, to stick together, to be a family. I see it as C’s love and mine for him. We’re going to get married, be together for good, legally bound and all that jazz. Not because society says so, but because we want to.
And that doesn’t contradict my feminism. This is my choice. Isn’t that what women have been fighting for all these years – the ability to make their own choices?
So a little back story for you. My secondary school did one school trip a year (seriously) and in year 8 we were supposed to go to Stratford on Avon (home of the Bard) but because of what my head master called ‘a lunatic fringe’ our trip was cancelled.
I have two degrees in English Literature and am a massive word nerd/lit geek.
Seven years ago I met the Mr – his last name is Shakespeare. He’s very loosely related to William Shakespeare.
Anyway onto this weekend.
Last night I was told to pack an overnight bag and hop in the car. I had no idea where we were going. I only found out this morning because of his clever plan. We spent the night in a Premier Inn near Birmingham. Yep, the most famous playwright was a Midlands boy.
Parking the car next to Stratford Hospital we set off on foot to explore Tudor houses, beautiful gardens, a high street full of puns and navigate around several huge tour groups.
At the top end of the street is a statue of The Fool, welcoming you to Shakespeare’s town.
A little further down is the centre run by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, which includes the preserved buildings that belonged to Shakespeare’s parents, Anne and John. It has been turned into a museum, complete with interactive areas in the glovers’ workshop (John Shakespeare was a tanner and glover as well as an Alderman, Council member and general person of note in the community).
It would have been nicer without the very shouty lady in Tudor costume upstairs by the master bedroom.
The grounds were stunning, a lovely garden that is clearly well tended, and certainly enjoyable in the summer sunshine. There’s a gift shop, obviously, where you can buy all sorts of related merchandise.
We also wandered down to Shakespeare’s daughter’s house, where she lived with her husband. Again, it is beautifully presented and contains a cafe and actors performing scenes in the garden.
Lunch was a huge Ploughman’s in a rather excellent cafe just down from the Birth Place.
We didn’t go to Anne Hathaway’s cottage but did drive past, or Mary Arden’s farm as it was a bit out of the way but did enjoy strolling around the lovely market town and admiring all the preserved Tudor half-timbered houses and pretty church.
We also visited the MAD Museum (which I decided to review seperately).
I wanted to see New Place, recently excavated, which Shakespeare bought after becoming successful, but unfortunately the opening has been delayed due to heavy rainfall flooding the site.
We had a bit of fun spotting various references to Shakespeare and his works all over Stratford, some in the strangest of places (see photos) and the town also hosts a year round Christmas shop, a Beatrix Potter shop, a magic shop, teddy bear factory, and lots of cafes.
Oh, and one other thing happened.
With a little help from Shakesbear here, the Mr asked me to marry him. We’ve been driving each other crackers for 7 years now and in the beautiful garden at Shakespeare’s childhood home, his distant relation (there are no direct descendants) asked me to be his.
He’s not very romantic or soppy (thank goodness) so this was rather special. We’ll be celebrating with family and friends soon but I will need all your advice please as I plan a wedding.
I was skimming along my twitter timeline the other day and saw a link to another gift guide on some website or other, where a gift was recommended that was “only £4,995”, that “only” just kills me.
A lot of people are struggling at the moment, finances are tight, a shop assistant I spoke to today said that they were still waiting for the Christmas rush, she was worried that if there wasn’t one she’d lose her job.
Five grand is a lot of money, and completely out of many people’s ability as a one off spend on a Christmas present.
Growing up there were times money was tight, when my dad was made redundant, when my mum was not working because she had two small children at home, when my parents bought their house. But we never went without.
We always had presents, I remember getting a new bike one year, and my auntie used to send us dresses every year, which we wore for Christmas day lunch, there were pyjamas, books, board games, toys, but not more than we could actually play with, we certainly weren’t spoiled.
So when I see these completely unrealistic gift guides being promoted, and there are more realistic ones out there, with presents that very few could buy, it makes me cross.
You don’t have to be religious to celebrate Christmas, Jesus was probably born in June and people have celebrated the solstice/yule etc for thousands of years, but it shouldn’t be all about stuff.
We’ve become too materialistic, yes I blog about beauty products, but I am also passionate about things that matter, I’m a proud feminist, I speak out against injustices, I am currently furious about the foul way some people treat other members of their communities due to race or religion.
Christmas, for me anyway, is about family, friends, being together, doing things like decorating the house, eating a meal, watching cheesy films, together.
Not about how much stuff you get, or how much money you spend.
So, I won’t be suggesting gifts, I won’t be telling you that spending £4,995 on a gift shows someone how much you love them. Just be with them, do things together.
My best friend and I have been evil twins since we were 11 year olds just starting secondary school.
We took our first girlie holiday last year, it was well overdue, we went to Venice.
We are so in sync that we once bought each other the exact same thing for Christmas, and frequently get very similar things for each other for birthdays.
I am very lucky in my friends, bunch of weirdos that they are. Most of them have been my friends since we were kids, builds a hell of a connection between you.
Most of my friends have been part of my life (and family) since we were kids. Those deep, lifelong friendships are so satisfying. Built on a history of in jokes and ‘remember the time…’ stories.
It can be hard for new friends and partners to break into the group, but those that do, can never leave!
Those friends, who’ve known you for years, those are the ones that you can lean on when things get tough, and vice versa.
I have been so lucky in my friends, the ones that are like family, my brother from another mother, the ones that are always at the end of the phone. The ones that even if you haven’t spoken for a while, you pick straight up the conversation like there wasn’t a gap.
Remember to tell your friends how awesome they are and how much you appreciate them.
For the first 24 years of my life I was permanently single and it didn’t bother me. I had more interesting things to think about than boys. It probably didn’t help that most of my friends were boys, I was ‘one of the guys’ and it was clear that the word ‘boyfriend’ was one I didn’t have in my extensive vocabulary.
Four years ago (almost five) I met The Boy. I wasn’t looking, and I thought he was flirting with another girl at the training session we were in.
We don’t celebrate our anniversary and Valentine’s we buy silly, cheap presents and he makes me dinner.
I don’t think if you really love someone you need a special day to tell them. If you do, maybe you need to rethink a few things.
So, single, coupled up, whatever. How about you love yourself. Happy Palentine’s friends.