Fus Ro Meow!

So  despite the fact that Skyrim has recently been remastered and re-released in all it’s shining glory, I must admit I’ve never played it. I was told I’d enjoy it so I picked up a copy off Steam the other week and I have to admit they were right, I have been playing it…

A LOT.

I am already drowning in side quests and have lost count of the amount of times someone has asked me “is that fur coming out of your ears?”

I’m playing as a Khajjit by the way, just before you think I don’t trim my ear hair.

Me and Chris got into a conversation the other night about dragon shouts and our cats (like you do) and we decided if Tali was the Dragonborn her shout would be Fus Ro Meow so inspired by that I drew this

Enjoy!

fus-ro-meow

Photoshop Fun – Changing Black and White to Colour

beforeafter
Might get this one on a canvas

I’ve been using Photoshop since college but I still feel like a relative newbie as I normally stick to the basic functions like the paintbrush with the odd effect thrown in. So I’m attempting to widen my skills in both Photoshop and Illustrator by working through a range of tutorials.

I found a site called Digital Arts and a section called 83 best Photoshop tutorials. There are so many different tutorials but today the photo editing aspect peaked my interest so following this tutorial I took one of our black and white wedding photos and using curves and adjustment layers changed it back into colour. I deliberately only choose a couple of elements to colour and I think it works really well. It was also easier than I thought it would be.

Now  on to the next tutorial….

www.digitalartsonline.co.uk

 

Alpha Wolf in the House!

So proud of my husband Chris. Yesterday he and 3 of his friends took part in the Winter Wolf Run at Stanford Hall. Not only did they all finish the run in the time they wanted, did all swimming/wading parts despite it being incredibly cold, Chris and Matt became Alpha Wolves for completing the 4 runs in the year!.

Maybe something to aim for in 2017…

Our Geeky Wedding Day

So I got married in June and when we were planning it we often got asked if we had a theme or what sort of feel we wanted from the day and if there was a colour scheme we were working to. “Yes” we would reply “We like blues and purples, we want it to be quite informal and like one big party” Nodding in agreement “Oh and it’s going to be geeky, with hints towards RPG’s, with a bouncy castle”

Slight furrow of the brow and a long silence.

Our wedding wasn’t particularly traditional, it wasn’t in a church, we didn’t have fresh flowers and we didn’t do a waltz for our first dance.

Our wedding was everything we wanted and more.


If you haven’t guessed by the title of this post me and hubby are both quite into our games and other geekery. I like games with good stories, I am a bit of a fiend for the Dragon Age series, and life simulators like The Sims whilst Chris is more of a social gamer with his taste ranging from Rocket League to WOW. We have both played DnD, completing a 3-year long campaign with a group of friends but tying those interests into the day and making things unique, without going too far so the parents and none geeky people still knew what was going on, was a challenge.

Save the dates and invitations

We started with the save the dates (as you normally do!). Chris thought of using floppy discs for the Save the Dates and I quickly knocked up a design for the label. Finding floppy discs in the UK was a bit of a challenge and once we got them Chris thought maybe we should put something on the disc to act as an Easter egg, so we settled on a voucher for a free drink at the bar. You had to bring a copy of the voucher and present it to one of the best men to get a token which could then be used for the drink. This was to try and stop people printing off loads of vouchers as the best men would know who they had given tokens too. It worked pretty well though I think a couple of members of my family might have abused what drink they ordered.

We sent many of our guests on an unintentional quest for a floppy disc drive as they suspected there was something on them. One of our friends got laughed out of Maplins when he asked if they had any old ones he could buy.

To be honest we weren’t too worried about the stationary side of the wedding. I know some people love heavy weight card stock and can spend hours and hours crafting these beautiful invites but we just wanted something simple and settled on a flat post card without added bows and sparkly butterflies.

The invites were designed with a “questing” theme in mind. We wanted it to look like a board in game where you could find quests to accept or decline. So I used an image of antique paper and hand wrote the invite text in Coral using the calligraphy pen. I designed a “logo” of a tied heart and we used it throughout the venue. Then I created the “wooden” frame using a few effects in photo shop and finished it off with a couple of pins. I then decided the back of the invite was too plain and drew a picture of me and Chris in wedding attire, holding weapons and striking poses. To avoid Chris getting any ideas of what my dress might look like I drew myself in a plain strapless gown as I knew I wanted something with straps and Chris in a traditional morning suit and cravat (turns out that’s what he chose).

Bonus points if you know where the sword and the staff are from.

The bouquets and the button holes

I like fresh flowers, especially lilies, but I knew I didn’t want them for the bouquets or button holes as I wanted something I could keep forever. I looked into alternatives to real flowers bouquets and found some button bouquets. I liked the idea of buttons being used as the centre of the flower so looked into how to make fabric flowers and went about combining the two. I produced the “flowers” for the bouquets by cutting circles of fabric and hand sewing around the edges to gather the fabric then gluing a button on to the centre. Chris’ flowers where produced a similar way except he had individual petals which were then all sewn together and a button attached to the centre. Chris got the medieval style buttons from a local haberdashery store. He went in there one day on his lunch break and one of the older ladies tried setting him up with the younger assistant until he told them the buttons were for his wedding button holes.

Music

To get everyone in the geeky mood we had music from games and films we love as the waiting around music before the ceremony. I choose to walk down the aisle to “Forbidden Friendship” from How to Train your Dragon, an instrumental piece I loved the moment I heard it in the film. Whilst we signed the register we had a selection of Zelda songs playing and we walked out as Man and Wife to “Hukuna Matata” from the Lion King.

The signage around the venue

Aside from the standard reserved seating signs I also designed a few other signs for around the venue. These were all printed on card with an antique paper finish to tie in with the theme.

This included a card box sign, signing board sign, confetti sign and my favourite a, To the Wedding sign.

We also had a Zelda chest for cards brought from The Burnt Tree on Etsy. We wanted something we would use afterwards and it is now being used to store little bits and pieces.

The table plan

This was Chris’ master idea and the whole table plan was designed to look like a World Map Screen. We started by painting scrap wood and sanding them slightly to give them an aged look. I then painted the World Map title and all the pieces were glued into place. Peoples names were printed on card and glued onto pieces of suede which was left over from the favours.

Chris found an artist called Nate from Sellsword Maps who designed us a map with the lands named after areas from games, films and anime. The map and the lists of names were again all finished with an antique paper look. Nate even put landmarks onto the map so each area had its own points of interest.

We got a few copies printed, just in case any got damaged, and we loved the finished product so much we have one framed, hanging in our house.

The areas we used for the table names were

  • Sol – from Mass Effect
  • Fereldan – from Dragon Age
  • Namek – from Dragon Ball Z
  • Fuyuki – from Fate Stay Night
  • Azeroth – from WOW
  • The Nether – from Minecraft
  • The Isle of Berk – from How to train your Dragon
  • The Mushroom Kingdom – from Mario
  • Hyrule – from the Legend of Zelda

The centre pieces

We brought wooden bases and stumps from M H Woodland and decorated them with our own figurines and toys from the corresponding franchise. As an added extra we got the bases engraved with the table name. We are going to make the bases into something for our house or garden so any ideas on what we could use them for would be greatly appreciated!

The place names

Again these were simple antique look card with the person’s name on. For an added bit of fun, we knocked up a fantasy name generator in Excel and gave everyone a randomly generated “quest name”. It worked really well, so much so that when my Uncle and Auntie gave us their present they said “Forest Song and Iron Dwarf present you with this gift”. It was great to see people getting into the role playing aspect even if it was only during dinner!

The favours

These were all on Chris and to be perfectly honest he nailed them. He cut about 70 suede circles, punched several holes in each of them and laced them together with suede cord and a push button stopper to make a small pouch that we then filled with gold Mario themed chocolate coins. He also used a pyrography pen to burn each person’s name into a suede tag to personalise them. I knew he was more creative then he let on.

The wedding cake

This went through several design changes. Initially we thought about having game themed cupcakes. Then we changed to a 3 tiered cake with each of the tiers themed on a different game or anime. Each tier changed several more times as to what colours and theme it could be. Then one afternoon after we had spent what felt like several hours finalising the design we had a break from wedding planning with a few biscuits and a cup of tea when Chris picks up a pencil and starts sketching again. When he’s finished he slides me the design and says “What about something like this?” I glance at it and say “That is completely different to the design we have, but let’s give it a try”.

So back to Photoshop I go and mock up the design.

It doesn’t follow our colour theme, there’s quite a lot of empty space on the cake and it’s quite simple and modern in its design.

I love it.

WHY COULDN’T YOU HAVE THOUGHT OF THIS DESIGN IN THE FIRST PLACE!

We also got some awesome custom wedding toppers made by The Little Shop of Toppers on Etsy. Chris decided to be Archer from Fate Stay Night while I chose to be a Grey Warden Mage from Dragon Age.

Entertainment

I always wanted a live band at my wedding and thankfully we knew an amazing one due to the fact our friends had them at their own wedding five years earlier!

The Smooth Criminals

Not only did they provide an amazing performance of our first dance song “Accidentally in Love” by Counting Crows they also provided a DJ service for the break between sets to keep the party going!

We were also lucky enough to have an amazing close up magician perform for us during dinner.

Sam Strange

His tricks will amaze and confuse you. To this day I’m still trying to work out how he got a five pound note inside a piece of fruit…

And finally the bouncy castle!

Ah yes the bouncy castle, Chris’ one requirement for the wedding apart from me turning up. We found a local company who could provide an adult white wedding bouncy castle and I’m really glad Chris convinced me to have one. Our guests got some laughs out of watching me attempt to bounce in a full length dress, the kids really enjoyed it and we got some great photos. One in particular captured Chris doing a somersault in mid-air. So if you want something fun and slightly quirky at your wedding I can highly recommend a bouncy castle. Just be prepared for the strange look and the polite “oh that’s sounds… nice” when you tell people about it.

 


All photography in this post is by the amazingly talented guys from

David Boynton Photography

The Wolf Run Survivors Club

I used to love running.

Whilst at school I used to relish sports days and county meet ups. I was mostly a sprinter but enjoyed cross country too but when I left school and went to College and University running got replaced with a new found love of anime and gaming.

When I got engaged, like most brides to be I started a fitness routine and started jogging again. It was also about this time that Chris got coerced into the Spring Wolf Run. One of his best men was running it in aid of the Stroke Association with some of his other friends and Chris had foolishly mentioned to him that he was wanting to get in shape for the wedding.

So in April a group of about 8 of them ran the course at Welsh Road Farm getting rather muddy (as you’d expect) and cold (as you’d expect again) whilst I stood at the finish with a cup of tea cheering them on. Chris enjoyed it more than he thought he would, he wasn’t really that keen on running beforehand, but decided that he wanted to do the Summer one and that I should do it with him.

I contemplated it.

It did look like a laugh and focused on team work and getting muddy rather than competing against each other, I was just worried that my Rheumatoid Arthritis would stop me doing some of the obstacles. I don’t have as much movement in my wrists as I used to, I can’t do press ups as I physically can’t support myself on my hands.

I decided to have a look on the Wolf Run website to see if I could find out more about it and between the photos of people covered in mud but still smiling, I came upon a blog entry entitled “The week that will define the rest of my life”

It is written by a man called Ewan Stutt who completed the Spring Wolf run, including the lake swim, and he suffers from Parkinsons, PARKINSONS! And here I am thinking I can’t when there are people who suffer with such awful conditions and they complete it, not just once but season after season.

Screw it, I’m in!

The only downside to this decision. The Summer Wolf Run was 5 days before we get married and four members of the wedding party were running it – fingers crossed for no broken legs.

So the day of the Wolf Run rolls round, after a breakfast of porridge and scrambled eggs we head off and I must say I at least look the part in my running gear complete with finger-less gloves.

Once registration was completed, time for some stretches and soaking up the atmosphere which was pretty electric. My nerves were building until we were called for our safety briefing and warm up and before I know it we are counting down at the start

3…2…1…HERE WE GO! and the nerves were replaced by exhilaration, as I hurled myself into the first water obstacle.

There was water followed by liquid mud followed by giant tyres followed by more mud. Crawling under bushes, running through trees and climbing up walls.

I managed all of the man-made obstacles except the first wall and the monkey bars. Both were far too slippery for me to get a grip on (even with my super gloves) and I didn’t have the upper body strength to pull myself up the wall or get the momentum on the monkey bars.

However, I did manage to climb a wall with the aid of a rope and clambered up a steep river bank, crawled at a fair speed through a dark tunnel and only managed to slip over once. As exhausting as it was we did get a bit of rest bite when we reached the water slide due to people queuing for it. This was one of the obstacles I had been quite nervous about, I’m not sure why but it turned out to be one of the best. Even the muddy pool of water that you crash into at the end was almost refreshing.

Wolf Run
From left to right: Matt, Craig, Me and Chris in the Turbine Stream

Music pumping kept us going as we approached the drink stop at the half-way mark and after a short drink and a bit of a water fight we pressed on.

It was then we came to the infamous “Mud Sucker” I starting trudging through it with the guys but soon found that I was better off nearer the edges. I temporarily lost my trainer, even though I had double knotted the laces. This was my least favourite part of the course due to how tired I was and how much effort is needed to pull yourself out of it. I was glad when we got past it onto more solid ground with both of my trainers still on my feet.

More mud, hills and then the swim. I decided to run around it with the rest of the guys wanting to do it. I then had to wade part of the river to re-join the course but unfortunately lost the guys in the process. Whilst I had jogged down to the next obstacle they were waiting for me where the river met dry land so 10 minutes later, we found each other again half way between the cargo net and the river.

That might have ruined the wedding if the bride or groom had become lost in the grounds of Stanford Hall.

Up and over the cargo net (one of my favourite obstacles), more running well jogging/walking by this point, and it turns out the river the guys “swam” earlier was actually more of a wade and there is an actual river swim near the end.

Once we are passed that, without losing each other this time, the final obstacle was a pier like structure that wobbles beneath you as you run down it and jump into a body of water. I couldn’t quite get the speed I wanted as there were people in front of me and we were all having to walk along it to keep our balance. If you can get a clear run, I imagine you can really throw yourself in.

Finally we posed for one last group photo before sprinting over the line together.

I remember feeling elated that I had finished, feeling proud we had all made it through without any major damage, except for a few scratches from the odd branch, and surprised myself when I turned to Chris and said

“I want to do the Autumn one now”

And I am, along with Chris, Craig, Matt and Mary, on Saturday 3rd September.

Bring it on!

IMG-20160612-WA0001
The Wolf Run Survivors Club Selfie!

Are you thinking of doing The Wolf Run? Read this post from Ewan Stutt about his experience of the 2016 Spring Wolf Run at Welsh Road Farm, and you may just get inspired to give it a go.

Ewan Stutt – The week that will define the rest of my life

 

 

 

 

Changing your surname after Marriage

Please note this post reflects a civil ceremony performed in the UK. Procedures may vary for different circumstances and from country to country.

Changing name

Image by David Boynton Photography

Once you’re married and back from what was (hopefully) an amazing honeymoon there are a few things you may need to do.

Getting your wedding dress cleaned, opening presents and writing thank you cards, dealing with all that holiday washing and of course changing your name, if that’s the route you’re going.


I’ll be honest I felt a little overwhelmed when it came to this, maybe it was because of the attachment I had to my surname after having it for 30 years or maybe because I wasn’t sure about where to start so I thought I’d put all my findings together to make the process a bit easier.

I found it’s best to start with any photo ID i.e your passport and driving license as these often take the longest. Both a passport and driving licence name change require the original marriage certificate so kill two birds with one stone and purchase at least 2 marriage certificates when you have your final meeting with the registrar. They only cost a few pound each and that way you can send off two applications at the same time.

Obviously this leaves you without ID for a few weeks but if you unlucky enough to look over 25 (like me) you shouldn’t have any problems. Though I did almost hit a stumbling block with not having any ID when I had to collect a rather urgent parcel from the post office. Luckily I found out that they take bank cards as a form of ID

Passport

This can be done by filling in an online application here:

www.gov.uk

Just search for passport application and choose the relevant search result.

Once the online application is filled in and paid for you will be given a declaration that will need printing, signing and sending off along with 2 photos and your supporting documentation.

Unfortunately, it costs around £75 at the moment to change your name and or address on your passport. If you have patience you can wait until your passport expires to change your name. This will save you the money initially however keep in mind that any travel arrangements that require your passport will have to be booked in your maiden name to reflect your passport.

Don’t hang around getting the photos done and sending the declaration off as the application won’t be started until the documentation has been received and the application may expire if you take too long then you’ll be left out of pocket and without a new passport. Try to block in a couple of evenings or a weekend to get the application done and dusted, photos taken and everything posted.

It should take about 3 weeks to get your passport back with the changes done. I’d recommend paying the extra cost and get your passport and marriage certificate sent back by recorded delivery just for peace of mind.

Driving Licence

This application requires the form D1 if you drive a car or motorbike licence and form D2 if you drive a lorry or a bus licence. These forms can be acquired from a post office or alternately can be requested from the DVLA through the gov.uk website.

Fill in the form and send it back with your current license, an original marriage certificate and new photo(s) if required.

Again it should take about 3 weeks to get your licence back.

You will also have to update your vehicle log book if you are changing your name. This is the V5C form that you should have at home somewhere. Fill in section 6 and send the whole form to the DVLA. If you have mislaid your V5C you can fill in form V62 to request a replacement. This will cost £25 and you can get the V62 form from www.gov.uk. They will send you a new V5C back once the changes have been logged

See those extra marriage certificates are coming in handy now aren’t they.

HMRC

Once your photo ID is underway you can focus changing your details through HMRC if you are employed or self-employed.

This can be done online again through the gov.uk website.

https://www.gov.uk/tell-hmrc-change-of-details/change-name-or-address

Click the link of either “paid a salary or pension through PAYE” or “self-employed” and you will be taken to an application page. This doesn’t take too long to do but you will still want to do it in one sitting. You will need your National Insurance number, employers PAYE number and your husbands or wife’s date of birth and a few other simple details (which let’s face it I’d hope you’d know!) The PAYE number and NI number can be found on your p60 or sometimes on your pay slip so find that before you start to save yourself routing around for it and the online session timing out.

Remember that if you are self-employed as well as being employed by a company you will need to update both records.

I didn’t need to send off any extra documentation to get these changes done so your marriage certificates are safe for now.

Work – Speak to your HR department and they should be able to change your name on things such as your work email addresses and maybe even your pension. Also once your bank accounts are changed your employer can then change your name on the company’s payroll. You will have to inform HMRC yourself (see above).

Bank accounts, Credit cards and Building society accounts – These will have to be changed in branch and will require a genuine marriage certificate.

Check with your bank before you go as I thought I could do it over the counter but after queuing for 15 minutes I was told I needed an appointment to do it and had to come back the following week.

Mobile and Internet providers – Give your provider a call or look online and see if it can be changed that way alternatively pop into a high street shop and you should be able to change it without providing a marriage certificate.

House, Life, Car Insurance and Breakdown cover – Again phone your provider and inform them of the change. They should update the details and provide you with new certificates without the need for a marriage certificate.

Mortgage – This depends on your existing situation. There isn’t a legal obligation to change your name on an existing mortgage so you may want to wait until the mortgage needs renewing or you move house.

If you do decide to change your name and you already have a joint mortgage, then a marriage certificate should be enough to get it changed. However, if you are wanting to add your husband to your mortgage or add yourself to his then you will have to go through the application process for the individual as they will need credit checking etc.

I’m not on our mortgage as hubby brought the house a year before we moved in together and personally I will wait until we move and get a joint mortgage, just to keep things simple.

Email address – Getting a new email for your new name is a good way to clear out all that spam and those newsletters you’ve signed up for without realising. I set up my old Gmail account to forward emails to my new one. As emails came in I noted where they were from Facebook etc. and changed my log in details associated with that account. This is a good method if you are worried about overlooking something as it acts as a reminder to change details to accounts you may have forgotten about. You can also use it to unsubscribe from those that aren’t needed.

Don’t forget to send your new email to friends and family,  you also get to confuse them seeing your new name for the first time.

Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin etc – These can be changed easily and quickly through the relevant website and the emails can be dealt with by the above method.

Local Authority – for council tax if you own or rent a home and the register of electors so you can vote.

Police – if you have any criminal actions against you or are on the Sex Offenders’ Registry

Utility services –  such as gas, electricity and water providers

Premium Bonds Office – Just in case you win!

Doctor – My surgery has an online account that I changed it through

Dentist – Because they like to know whose teeth they are drilling

Vets – my husband insisted I change the name the cats were registered under once we were married!

TV license Office – So you can continue to watch The Great British Bake Off (don’t lie we know you do)

and Finally…

 

Wills – No one like to think about death especially when  you’ve only just started your new life together but this is an important step.

If either or both of you have a will already then this should be reviewed and updated.

If neither of you have a will, get one sorted now even if you don’t think you have any assets as such because once life becomes “normal” again the idea will get pushed to the bottom of the pile and then should anything happen to you or your other half the situation could become very tricky.

Once you have successfully made your way through this list go and have a glass of wine and watch The Great British Bake Off – you deserve it.