Top 10 highlights of 2013…

All together now! Sing! “It’s the most, wonderful tiiiiime, of the year!”

I’m obviously referring to the many “best of” lists that are now upon us.

Naturally, being a lifelong list lover, I’ve compiled my own. Here, in no particular order, are my top ten highlights of 2013.

1. Flying Ant Day

Or, rather, the lack thereof. Despite daily texts, Facebook alerts and Twitter messages from concerned pals who are well aware of my flying ant phobia, I only saw about seven of the blighters all summer. I fervently hope that 2014 is similar.

2. Alex Turner’s vocals on Do I Wanna Know?

Specifically, the lyric “simmer down and pucker up.” Never has the Sheffield accent sounded so alluring.

3. My birthday

Nothing especially spectacular happened. But I spent it with fabulous people and had an absolute ball. Even better, I didn’t cry once on the actual day, which is a first since I was about 21. PROGRESS!

4. Maria and Phil’s wedding

One of the best days of my life, never mind theirs, I will forever hold dear the memory of bellowing Never Forget at the top of my lungs, with about 200 brilliant people surrounding me. Good times.

5. Abersoch

Our family holiday to Abersoch was a highlight for me, mainly because I got to wake up to this stunning view in one of my favourite places on the planet every day for a week. Bliss.

abersoch view

6. Andy Murray winning Wimbledon

FINALLY. So proud!

7. Breaking Bad

Late to the party as ever, I devoured the whole thing in the space of a couple of months and became obsessed with it about three episodes in. Unfortunately, the lasting effect of it is that my fellow Breaking Bad-loving friends and I say “yo” to each other at the end of sentences. I used to think we were doing this ironically but now I’m not too sure. Ah well. It’s chemistry, bitch.

8. Roberto Martinez

Before David Moyes managed to piss off Evertonians the world over with his outrageous bid for Fellaini and Baines, I was distraught to see him go. I need not have worried – Roberto is working wonders. Plus he looks better in a suit.

9. Starting a blog and joining a choir

Trivial and unimportant events, you may say. However, they were both things that I kept saying I’d do and then, for one reason or another, kept putting off. I would seriously recommend both to everyone – so very therapeutic!

10. Kerry Katona’s high-five getting blanked

Sometimes, if I am feeling sad, I watch this video and I immediately feel happy again. Comedy gold.

“She’s A Bridges” – lyrics and video!

A tradition that we shamelessly stole from the Glaswegian contingent, here’s the parody song we did for Maria and Phil, plus the lyrics! Thanks to Peter, Michael, Charlie, Bob, Helen, George, Patrick, Kieran, Harry, Paul, Caitlin and Isobel for singing and playing your hearts out, and to Rachel for providing the footage!

“She’s got a bad knee

Her spelling’s a little bit dodgy

When she was born she was podgy

But she’s the same weight now

He’s from the dark side

But came over here to find a bride

He met us and didn’t run and hide

So we’re very impressed with that

We weren’t one bit surprised

By your whirlwind romance

It was meant to be

Less than one year from your

First date to your first dance

There’s been loads of

Afternoons in Sefton Park

Upon Lark Lane you’ve made your mark

From day one there’s been a spark

He’s Mr Bridges

Now she’s a Bridges too

She loves Thai Sweet Chillis

Her phobias are numerous and silly

She’ll always be one of the Crillys

Whether she likes it or not

He supports Tranmere

A glutton for punishment, that’s clear

Maria’s a jinx it would appear

But she’s a championship winning bride

Funky Unkey, d’you know

What you’re marrying into?

But you don’t need more time

You both said from the start

That you’d be saying “I do!”

And you’ve proved us…

Right, and now your wedding day

Is finally here, we’d like to say

Let’s sing and dance the night away

He is Phil Bridges

Now Maria’s a Bridges too

Maria’s a Bridges too

Can we all be Bridges too?! X2

Introducing Mr and Mrs Bridges!

So, after eight months of planning, the deed is done. Mr and Mrs Bridges are married!

We’ve all had the most perfect weekend. It all kicked off the day before when we had to decorate the venue, the Black-E. As I’m not the most creative of people, I will admit to being hugely daunted by even the thought of this task but I shouldn’t have worried – our families were amazing and we were truly humbled by the phenomenal efforts everyone put in. Special mention must go to Wendy who decorated the entrance hall beautifully and made all the table runners plus 650 birds which were used for the bunting; Joanne, who created the fabulous centrepieces, and Liz who produced a quite epic sweet buffet.

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The stunning hall

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Gorgeous centrepieces

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Sweet buffet!

Once the hall was done it was time to dash home for a Shellac manicure courtesy of the legend that is Dave the Laugh, and a takeaway with some champers whilst watching Bridesmaids. Cliched much?! Maria also gave Mother Goose and Mad Tam some photo gifts of their parents on their wedding day, and we gave Maria her garter (something new and blue!) and a couple of trinkets to put in her bouquet – a badge that belonged to the late, great Auntie Lil, and a shell from Abersoch beach, a place that I’ve mentioned before as somewhere we hold very, very dear. Not a dry eye in the Crilly house at that point, I tells ye.

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The actual day dawned…well, I’d like to say bright, but it was rather grey if I’m being honest. Nevertheless, the mood in camp was sunny enough to make up for this. I snuck off to get my hair did by the frankly marvellous Emily at Bobbers Hairdressing – Maria hadn’t wanted anything too formal or “done” for our hair, and this was what mine ended up like:

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Just what I wanted!

By the time I got back the other bridesmaids were arriving thick and fast, and Kelly the hairdresser and Lizzie the makeup artist were hard at work. After I’d had my makeup done, the only task that remained for me was to ensure the drinks were a-flowin’!

All too quickly, it was nearly time to go. The brilliant wedding camper van arrived, as did the rather suave ushers, and off to the church we went.

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Travelling in style!


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Ushers, ushers, ushers...

The actual service was truly beautiful. Our Helen (maid of honour, voice of an angel) did a couple of solos which were spectacular, accompanied by the glorious St Julie’s choir. Also spectacular was the FULL ON STORM that started halfway through the ceremony – a torrential downpour and thunder galore – but even that couldn’t dampen our spirits as we danced down to aisle out of the church to “This Old Heart Of Mine.”

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Yay!

Off to the Black-E to get the party started – and, oh my, what a party it was. A couple of people said that it was “like a mini-festival” – and they’re right. It’s exactly what Mr and Mrs Bridges wanted. Sense of Sound performed (a surprise from the groom to the bride – you should have seen her face!); Sean and Kirsty Butler did a beautiful performance with a gentleman on mandolin whose name escapes me – sorry lovely mandolin man!; The Springtime Anchorage played a dancefloor-filling epic set, at what apparently was their first wedding, although you never would’ve guessed; the cousins did their customary parody song for the newlyweds, and then Phil’s mates did a sterling job of DJing. Special mention must also go to Maria and Phil’s amazing Strictly-esque lift during the first dance – brilliant! – and the boys (and Claire!) having the time of their lives on stage during an outstanding version of Everybody Get Up by 5ive, complete with dance routine. Hilarious.

All too quickly, the night was drawing a close and fond farewells were being said. We still couldn’t quite let go of the party vibe though, organising a breakfast the next morning for friends and family in Leaf for around 50 – I think people who’d popped in for a quiet brunch were rather taken aback by the standing ovation and round of applause that greeted the newlyweds upon their arrival…

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A quiet breakfast - for 50...

I really can’t believe it’s all over. I’d like to thank everyone that made this day truly stunning. To everyone who helped with the planning, to everyone who made the effort to attend, whether they travelled from far away or from down the road. To the Black-E, for all their hard work and for providing the perfect venue for Maria and Phil. To the ushers, who looked oh so very smart and who tore up the dancefloor in a big way. To my in-laws (eeek! I have in-laws!), for helping out and getting into the swing of things so brilliantly. To my beautiful sister Helen, who kept the whole thing going, who sang so fabulously, and who looked amazing.

Finally, I’d like to say thanks to Maria and Phil. Without you two, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be at the best party ever. Phil, my brother-in-law, you’re a star – here’s to many more happy family memories together, yeah?!

And Maria, my sister, my midget Mazzrin, Mrs Bridges – what a stunning bride you made. Thank you for involving me in your special day. As you said in your card to me that made me SOB – we’ve had our ups and our downs, but, my word, Saturday was quite the “up.” We smashed it. I love you too, always.

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Mr and Mrs Bridges ♥

ONE MORE SLEEP UNTIL OUR MARIA GETS MARRIED

Nap-permitting, naturally. Although I have a hunch that there won’t be much time for naps today…

So, after eight months of planning and faffing and purchasing of bunting and fairy lights and flowers and all manner of other items, my sister Maria gets married to Phil tomorrow!

I can’t quite believe it – in true Peter Pan style, I still think we’re about eleven and twelve respectively, Irish dancing across the city and sporting dodgy sportswear (Bon Bleu sets anyone?) She’s surely too young to be getting married, isn’t she?! (She’s not. She’s 26. It’s all ABOVE BOARD.)

Now all that remains to do is the small matter of making the venue look like a wedding DREAMLAND. No biggy. It’ll be all hands on deck today; thanks in advance to all getting involved to help. Once that’s done we get down to the serious business of drinking champagne, getting our nails did and watching Bridesmaids, crying at the bit where Annie and Lillian exchange a meaningful look at the end and belting out “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips.

I can’t wait to see all of Maria and Phil’s family and friends gathered together to celebrate their day with them. Let’s hope the weather gods sort their lives out, and that their day is everything they dreamed of and more.

Nearly sobbing on the bus ‘ere.

To the happy couple – cheers!

Wedding bells are nearly ring-a-dingin’!

Sorry, came over all Cher Lloyd-y there.

Less than two weeks to go until the forthcoming Crilly and Bridges nuptials then! We appear to be getting there, slowly but surely. <<<MAJOR JINX KLAXON.

Mad Tam is yet to go full Steve Martin (it is a major failing, in my eyes, that Maria and Phil did not recruit an outrageously camp wedding planner for Mad Tam to bond with in the run-up to the ceremony), and Helen, as maid of honour, has (disappointingly) managed to so far steer well clear of getting rotten on a plane, à la Kristen Wiig of Bridesmaids’ fame. So far, so sane. However, I’ve had my first wedding-related nightmare – I have become convinced that I am going to go head over heels as I walk up the aisle, due to aforementioned major issue with being unable to walk in heels. It’s alright for Maria; she’s got Mad Tam to cling on to. I’ve spent my day pondering over alternative ways to walk to the front of the church. I may moonwalk, I may take Maureen’s advice and adorn a zimmer frame with flowers – sturdy yet snazzy! – or I may just take my shoes off for that bit and wander in barefoot.

It’s getting exciting now – we’re nearly upon a single figure countdown, there’s bunting and fairy lights and bridesmaid dresses everywhere you look Chez Crilly, Patrick and Joanne’s loft is full of birdcages and books, and Wendy’s no doubt surrounded by polka-dotted table runners and other decorative paraphernalia as we speak. But rest assured we have the important things boxed off – namely, matching socks from Amazon for all the ushers. Priorities innit.

Roll on the 19th!

EPIC JOURNEY TO GLASGOW

My cousin Brian is getting married to the lovely Angela tomorrow, so the Crilly family (plus a couple of hangers on – hi David! Hi Phil!) have made the journey north of the border to attend.

Unfortunately due to lack of room in the car (overspill – Crilly probz) I had to get the train. I do like a good train adventure though so off I went, armed with a marvellous Spotify playlist, my tea (a packet of Discos and some wine gums) and loads of maps and bus timetables saved to my phone to help me get from Glasgow city centre to where we’re staying for the next couple of nights.

Things started to go a tad wrong when I arrived at Preston to get on my connecting train. Firstly, I’d eaten my nutritious evening meal only an hour into the journey, and secondly the train was delayed. Preston is not the best train station to be delayed in, as there is absolutely nothing there, but I just got stuck into Grazia and patiently waited.

I finally arrived in Glasgow an hour and a half late, a bit harassed and very hungry as the shop was shut on the train. At this point, my brilliant idea of screenshots of street maps was rendered useless as my phone died. I therefore spent a good while wandering aimlessly around town, found my bus stop, got on a bus and didn’t have the right change for the bus but the driver took pity on me and let me on anyway.  The ledge ♥

I then proceeded to get off the bus about fifteen years too early. There followed nearly an hour of wandering around Mount Vernon. I only had my photographic memory (geek skillz), road names on bus stops and, I kid you not, my trusty hearing aid picking up the noise of the motorway (which I knew was by our hotel) nearby to help me on my trek.

I finally arrived at my destination seven and a half hours after I left my house and charged my phone straight away, only to find about a million texts and phone calls off family members who thought I was dead.

I’m alive, I’ve had a McDonald’s for tea, and I’m safely ensconced in bed with Lenny Henry. Happy days.

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Lenny and Catherine 4eva

Tomorrow – WEDDING TIME. CAN. NOT. WAIT.