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Pete Bellis

I’ve been talking a lot recently about my connection to Italy; an account of our day trip to Venice with the kids which was utterly amazing and memories of my time when I used to live in the country. Like running the clubhouse for the local golf club. I still think of that period of my life as my best years and the time when I ‘grew up’.

Having arrived in the country as a 19 going on 20-year-old and with just one year of work under my belt, I really was ‘wet behind the ears’ and trying so hard to be a grown-up. It was a difficult time having no family to turn to for guidance and all my choices and actions were completely down to me. It was like walking through life blindfolded.

However, as I understood more and more of the language and was able to make friends and converse with them, a whole new chapter opened for me and I entered into the fascinating world of fashion.

You cannot visit Italy and not notice the clothes. Everyone you come across will be dressed beautifully; it was one of the first things I learnt. My English student background had given me a baseline of charity shop clothes, make do and mend and the odd piece that had been a gift or I had saved up for. The suitcase that I arrived with was stuffed to the brim with trash. Although I’d never have admitted it back then.

I guess I started to understand my look wasn’t quite the ticket when my friends mentioned how ‘quirky’ I was. Or how I was ‘proprio inglese!’ Was that a compliment or not?

I started to take more notice of how the people around me dressed. I watched with intense curiosity as the shops displayed their new seasons and I started to pay more attention to how I put items together. That was the moment I fell in love with clothes and shoes and … boots.

Living in the mountains, boots become a necessity. With months and months of snow from October through to March, you must make sure you look after your feet. In fact, the montanari will remind you many times, ‘Keep your feet warm and you’ll be fine.’

Most of us had more than one or two pairs of boots. We had flat ankle boots, Moon Boots, snow boots, riding boots and for the more special occasions I’d recommend these Uppersole over the knee boots with lace up back  for those evenings spent dancing.

Coats were another important item and I remember, when I first returned to the UK, how I found it so odd that people here would go out with no coat or jacket on! I clearly remember a school group visiting the resort during a bitterly cold February half term and walking down the snowy high street in heels and skimpy dresses for their night out. I admit to cringing as I listened to the Italians murmur how foolish they were, ‘Why not take a coat and put it in the cloakroom?’ they asked me baffled at why the English would put their health at risk when it wasn’t necessary.

Different countries, different customs I would reply with a smile, shrugging my shoulders and hoping they weren’t including me in that bracket of fools.

I had a quick peek at my current boot collection and counted 4 pairs. How many pairs do you currently own?

When Paul and I first decided to go ahead with a wedding we were sitting in France, our bellies full of another huge pot of moules marinieres, jolly with a few glasses of wine and excitedly chatting about our Big Day.

The underlying rule was not to overspend and as anyone preparing a wedding knows you could go on forever as there are so many good ideas out there.

Joel & Greg, Civil Partnership, Stourhead Wedding Photography, J

‘We don’t need a photographer.’ I said fuelled by the idea of saving money and asking all our guests (who all have posh cameras) to take lots of photos for us and capture our day. My brother has a flash camera as does his girlfriend and then there’s Paul’s brother with a very fancy camera, we’ll be fine.

But later on down the line I thought to myself – ‘Do I really want to spoil their day and have them running around taking photos for us when they should be relaxing and enjoying the party?’

In all honesty it’s a huge favour to ask someone and say they don’t get the right shot? Or they don’t capture the moment because they were having a drink at the bar with grandad?

Wedding Jersey Dudley Sept 11 616 - Version 2

After all it’s only one day after which there won’t be other opportunities to retake a shot, so you have to get it right.

I want my day to be documented, I need a Memory Maker, I need someone I know can capture every tiny little bit through a lens and capture it beautifully. Someone who I can trust to record the day, the emotions, the fun, the laughter and the friends and family celebrating so I, for the rest of my life can look back and remember, savour the moments, relive the joy and remember this unique day in my life.

Only one name came to mind Jay Mountford.

Kate & Ricky, Walton Hall, Warwickshire Wedding Photography, Jun

I bumped into her a few years ago in the blogging world and her photography blew me away, you can see for yourself why. Inspired by her I started to take part in her Silent Sunday and have enjoyed taking a weekly photograph and trying to push myself ever since to get a ‘Jay shot’. ONCE Jay even left a comment on one of my photos and I can’t tell you how pleased I was because coming from her that means it was a decent stab at photography although I don’t think she’s worried about me taking her job just yet.

I met Jay back in 2011 when we were invited by BritMums to London to try out Kodak cameras and start to vlog. It was a fun day, she is relaxed, no nonsense, VERY easy to get on with and what I like most about someone ‘What you see is what you get.’ You know where you are with her and I feel as if I can ask anything; an openness I really appreciate in people.

Asian Wedding Photography, Birmingham, Chowdury, July 10

Isn’t this photo stunning, how she’s captured the emotion, it gives me goose bumps.

I asked Jay to be my Memory Maker and to find out more we had a Google hangout, which is pretty much like a Skype. I’d advise all brides to do this as you can talk face to face and cover the questions that you need to ask, we broadcast our speech for the use on a blog but you don’t have to, you can hangout in private with her, ask all the questions, even if you think they’re dumb ones and she’ll advise you perfectly. Trust me you’re in good hands, take a look and see

I ran into my parents’ room, I was in my school uniform and needed mum to sign a piece of paper allowing me to take part in the upcoming sports day.

I noticed dad’s side of the bed hadn’t been slept in and I asked mum, ‘Where’s dad?’ realising I hadn’t seen him for a few days now.

She burst into tears, crumbling in front of me and I grew up instantly, knowing I shouldn’t have asked that question but saved it till later.

‘He’s gone and he’s not coming back. From now on he’ll live somewhere else and we’ll stay here.’

The enormity of the situation hadn’t quite hit home yet, but I felt it was serious. I could hear the boys larking around next door and mum stabbing at her eyes with a soggy tissue, ushered me out of the room and called the boys to breakfast.

Where was he then? Why didn’t he want to come home any more? What had we done? Where was he going to live?

Unstoppable questions started bouncing around the walls of my 10-year-old brain.

That’s going to make me one of those children ‘Of Divorced Parents’ I shuddered. One of the worst things that could happen. I didn’t want to be one of them with their special meal tokens and unable to do all of the school activities because they didn’t have the money.

At school later on the bell rang for morning break. It was a sunny morning and we made our way round to the 4th year playground. It wouldn’t be much longer before we moved on to the Secondary school across the field, something we all were looking forward to but that day I had no inclination to play and secondary school all of a sudden wasn’t as exciting as it had been.

Normally I’d be as loud and as boisterous as the best of them but I knew something terribly BIG had happened and I stood by the wall just around the corner from the playground as the tears started to fall down my cheeks.

I didn’t know quite what I was crying for but I couldn’t stop the tears and as they broke through my barrier more followed. Deep down inside I realised something had changed for good, life would never be as it always had been and dad wouldn’t live with us at home anymore.

Friends came over and tried to entice me over to play but I refused.

I didn’t want to play.

This was a first for me too. I loved playing hopscotch, skipping, kiss chase (never letting myself get caught though!) I loved to watch the boys flick their cards against a wall anticipating their landing and hoping it was on the other lads cards making a sure win. But not today.

Today I was all of a sudden a lot older than my fellow class mates. I had issues, life changing issues and I was now a ‘Child of Divorced Parents.’

Writing workshopThis post has been written for Josie’s writing workshop and I chose prompt 4. Share a powerful memory, or memories, from your childhood.

Together with the Plinky prompt earlier ‘The worst teacher I ever had’ and yesterday’s musings over my own children’s thoughts on how I handled my break up with their father I was reminded of that difficult day in the school playground.