For Holly and I 2017 has been epic! We began the year in earnest as we went about planning for both our wedding events – the first here in Hong Kong and the second in France (mainly for friends and family from the UK who couldn’t make the former). The first task was a quick jaunt to the South of France to check out our Wedding venue and do a tasting with our caterers. Both, we were happy to report, were incredible! Before that we had the honour of attending my very close friend Duncan’s and his wife Jen’s beautiful winter wedding in Tetbury, UK.
Following all of this we managed to get a sneak viewing of my recently completed flat in London before my tenants moved in. Heartache aside from not quite completing on time (FYI – avoid getting a mortgage with Skipton), I had achieved the status of becoming a fully fledged property owner for the very first time – another major milestone! The property itself is a beautiful one bed apartment not far from Canary Wharf near Lime house.
FEBRUARY – MARCH
February and March largely consisted of gearing up towards our April wedding – organising suits, dresses, decorations, catering and the lot. In between we managed to put together our wedding website for our September event as well as a quick trip to Taipei to celebrate the marriage of Holly’s cousin Darren to his beautiful wife Joy. Sadly we had to make a choice between attending this one or their main event in Hawaii but felt the latter was a little too close to our own in early April. Still we had a great time in Taipei with wonderful friends and family.
April turned out to be a massive month for several reasons, not least of all because Holly and I finally got hitched! Our official wedding day was April 8th 2017 – a date we chose as it was exactly 6 years to the day we first met. We got married at Young Masters brewery located in an industrial building on the south side of Hong Kong island. It was a very casual affair – the day starting with a traditional Chinese games ceremony whereby I was made – along side my groomsmen – to do a number of embarrassing tasks set by Holly’s bridesmaids before I was allowed to pick up Holly from her parents’ place. Some memorable tasks included being made to dance and sing, before having to declare my love in several ways – all in Cantonese – on-top of performing several yoga positions! Luckily Hendo had filled us with plenty of courage (beer) before hand. Following this we drove ourselves to the brewery for a small ceremony with our closest friends and family before having a bigger party in the same space. The whole evening was one of the best of our lives. The venue in particular was a great space and very reasonable compared with what other places on the island were charging! The staff were beyond excellent – bending over backwards, making sure everything went as smoothly as possible. It goes without saying their beer is outstanding (nobody touched the wine we bought). Should anyone be thinking of where they might host a big party of any kind any time soon, I’d be happy to put you in touch. Photos of the day (and the venue) are below along with the vows Holly and I wrote to one another.
David, I never expected to find true love at Al’s diner in LKF. But since I met you six years ago, you have made me happier than I ever thought I could be. You make me laugh every day with your silliness and unique sense of humour. With you, I never have a bad day because you always find a way to cheer me up. You say that I’m your better half, but it’s only because you make me a better person. You believe in me and you are my biggest supporter in everything I do. You have encouraged me to pursue my dreams, a life that I love. As we begin a new chapter of our Holly-Dave adventures together, I promise that your dreams are my dreams, and your hopes are mine. I promise to support you in every endeavour, honour and respect you, and above all, love you unconditionally, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, all the days of our lives.
There are no words with which I could possibly do you justice. You’re the most beautiful person I’ve ever met and I love you with all my heart. Your loving kind hearted nature is a gift to all those around you. Just being in the same room – It’s like someone let the light in. The affect on me has been profound. You’ve not only changed the way I think, but the way I live, even what I eat. I can’t begin to express how grateful I am to have you, how proud I am of you and how truly fortunate I feel someone so exceptional would have this very simple man. I’m not sure I’ll ever be worthy of you but I do know it’s not possible for anyone to love you as much as I do. And for all my future shortcomings I promise I’ll do whatever it takes to make you as happy as is possible, to take care of you always and to love you no matter what. I love you gorgeousness.
The weekend didn’t stop there. The next day followed a more traditional Chinese banquet style wedding where most of Holly’s extended family and a smaller contingent of my own attended. The idea being we felt the previous evenings more casual party suited our friends better. Mercifully day two started a little later! It was held at the Kimberly hotel in TST and began with a traditional tea ceremony, during which Holly and I had photos taken with all the elder members of our extended families. This was followed by a beautiful banquet and a few speeches coupled with copious amounts of alcohol (of course). Before that our photographer Patrick surprised us with a collage of his photos from the previous day while Holly’s cousin May and her husband JC had put together a video of the surprise flash mob dance, also from the previous evening. It was another unforgettable day that capped a perfect wedding weekend. Should anyone need a reasonably priced yet extremely talented photographer I’d be happy to put you in touch with Patrick. The majority of the photos shown above and below are by him!
Following our epic wedding weekend we had a rather harsh come down as we headed straight back to work – deciding to save our honeymoon for later in September. For me I was straight into a conversion course at work onto the brand new Airbus A350. Easily the best aircraft I’ve ever flown and a massive step up in technology from the A330. With regards to work life this meant flying long haul routes again for the first time in 3 years following my upgrade from Second Officer to First. Aside from getting to fly back to some old favourites, a number of new destinations I had the pleasure of visiting for the first time included Tel Aviv, Düsseldorf and Barcelona!
If that hadn’t been enough I also turned 30 in April! Given the months already massive celebrations, we decided a more low-key birthday for the both of us was in order. Quite frankly I didn’t have the time or energy with everything else to plan another big party. Anyway Holly treated me to a wonderful evening and dinner at Brasserie on the Eighth in Admiralty. It was very special and our first proper date together as husband and wife…
May was a much quieter month in comparison during which I was still getting to grips with the new plane. Still we did manage a little getaway/much needed break to Seoul with Holly’s parents. Aside from some wonderful food, the highlight of our trip was a tour of the DMZ and the JSA where we got to cross the border into North Korea (albeit inside a tiny negotiation room that straddled the border). On the way we had the opportunity of asking questions to a North Korean defector who told us what life had been like for her, how she managed to escape and the difficulties her people endure everyday. It was an eye opening and surreal experience. The atmosphere at the JSA was particularly palpable. (Given the recent flare in tensions between North Korea and the rest of the world the trip feels perhaps more poignant now than it did at the time).
June was all about my beautiful mother’s 60th birthday back at Chardleigh Green in the UK. Holly and I had managed to keep our arrival a secret surprising her the day before the big party my father had organised in her honour. We’re so incredibly fortunate to have such a loving and caring mother. One who has never stopped looking after Richard and I. She’s one of my biggest idols – a role model in what it means to love unconditionally (and also in immeasurable patience having had to put up with us ‘three boys’ over the years). I’m so very proud of her and wish her all the best in her continued retirement with dad.
Before that Holly and I took the opportunity to celebrate the 30th birthdays of close friends Frankie and also Nick in Leeds and York respectively. This was spent with a few days in London either side including a wonderful meal at St John’s restaurant where one of my oldest friends Lakie works as a chef.
JULY – AUGUST
July and August were largely spent preparing for our 3 week European honeymoon including, in particular, our final Wedding ceremony/party in the Dordogne, France. Outside of preparations I did manage to take Holly on one of my work trips to Tel Aviv where we took the opportunity to visit Jerusalem (Another part of the world that has since become more volatile. Thanks Donald!).
Work-wise was particularly challenging in August as Hong Kong saw three typhoons in close succession causing massive disruptions. On a flight back from Singapore I experienced my first go around due to a reactive wind-shear warning about 100 feet from the ground due to the typhoon conditions. Wind-shear is defined as a sudden change in wind direction and velocity – for aeroplanes trying to land ‘into wind’, this usually means a headwind changing to a tailwind resulting in a significant loss of lift! Indeed the speed trend vector on the instrument display showed us losing energy rapidly as the captain called “go around” and set TOGA (maximum) thrust. We dropped to 40 feet above the ground before the engines finally spooled into life and took us safely away from the ground. Thankfully our training automatically kicked in and the missed approach went smoothly, returning for an uneventful landing there after.
Our honeymoon began at the end of August when Holly and I flew to Rome and then Bari in Puglia where some of our closest friends got married. We spent a couple of days before hand in Matera – a staggering town with a remarkable history (highly recommend – follow this link for a piece I wrote about the town). Afterwards we headed to the beautiful accommodation in Puglia where our friends chose to get married. I was extremely privileged to be joint best man with Beacher for the occasion. The ceremony itself took place inside due to a poorly timed rain cloud but was nonetheless extremely moving. Mercifully it didn’t last and we were able to have a wonderful meal with speeches and copious amounts of booze under what was a beautifully lit tree outside afterwards. All this before cracking some epic moves on the dance floor as requested by the bride! It was another unforgettable evening spent with wonderful friends.
Holly and I continued on our honeymoon to the stunning island of Sicily. For a full review of our time you can follow this link. We spent just over a week there before flying to Toulouse for wedding number 2 (or is it 3? I can’t keep count) at the the breathtaking Chateau Cazenac in the Dordogne. Despite worrying about the unseasonably cold weather the clouds held out for the most part and we had the most fantastic weekend with our closest friends and family. I’ll never forget the truly spectacular Chateau we were privileged to call our home for 4 days. The wedding day itself went more or less perfectly with the exception of a few passing showers and being a little chilly! If I had to do it all again I wouldn’t hesitate for a second. They were some of the best days of my life with our closest friends and family…
Following our (final) epic wedding weekend, Holly and I headed to Bordeaux and then San Sebastián, Bilbao and the Northern coast of Spain before flying home to Hong Kong from Madrid. Without doubt the remainder of our honeymoon was all about the food. In particular we were privileged to have an exceptional meal at Hostellerie De Plaisance restaurant in Saint Emillion. It was quite possibly the best meal I’ve ever had – easily the best Michelin experience – and extremely reasonable considering what we had and where we were! Other highlights included the numerous Pintxos bars in San Sebastián and the incredible scenery along the Northern coast of Spain.
OCTOBER – NOVEMBER
October was very much back to reality! Work wise I was able to experience a couple of new destinations including Barcelona and Manchester where I met up with Liz and the girls and also my parents who were traveling around northern England at the time. November was more of the same although I was lucky enough to spare a few days towards the end of the month and join my beautiful wife as she conducted her very first yoga retreat in Chiang Mai, Thailand. To say it was a success is an understatement. Everyone who signed up had an absolutely wonderful time and it was clear just how much work Holly had put in. She’s such a wonderful teacher and I couldn’t have been prouder to see her doing so well at what she loves so much.
A hectic December topped off an epic year with Mum and Dad arriving early from the UK. Most available evenings were spent enjoying the festivities with them. Christmas Day itself was shared with both sets of parents, Victoria, and Richard and Sabrina. The day started with presents at Holly’s parents place before heading to a family friend’s French restaurant in Central for copious amounts of booze and food! An awesome time was had by all.
One sour moment to the year came a week before Christmas when making my way to work my credit cards were stolen from my wallet inside my navigation bag (not the wallet itself, just the cards! The thieves placed the wallet back in the bag). They proceeded to rack up a rather large sum of money buying various Apple products while I was flying. It wasn’t till I landed in Manila that I received several large transaction notifications from HSBC and then discovered all my credit cards were missing from my wallet. A long day at the police station on my day off followed as an investigation was launched. For anyone traveling to the airport on the airport express I suggest being extra careful! These guys (or girls) were pros and I’ve no doubt I was targeted because I was flying. There was a 2 to 3 hour gap between when my cards must have been taken and when they were used! Very clever thieving bastards!
Following Christmas my parents and I managed to make time for a quick trip to the charming old merchant town of Hoi An in Vietnam during a few days off. We had a great couple of days (despite the rain) managing an excellent food tour and also a great cooking class that was conducted by our hosts at our Home-stay. All this before New Years itself of course, which was spent with both our sets of parents and Victoria at beef and liberty in LKF back in Hong Kong. It was a lovely evening and fitting end to what was a truly spectacular year…