It's funny because one of the things that people always say to you when you go away on a long trip is: "Don't worry, nothing will have changed when you get home". But I think as you get older this becomes less and less true. When I went away on my first trip, sure it felt a bit like that. When I got back six months later some friends were still finishing their final year at university, while others were just starting out in their careers. So I didn't really feel like I'd missed anything too major. However this time around it's different because, don't ask me how, but suddenly we've all become grown-ups and my friends are back at home doing serious grown-up stuff. So this time around I'm not just missing the odd birthday party or someone's leaving do. I'm missing friends having babies and people getting engaged. I'm also missing another friend's wedding. Life is going on without me while I'm away and by the time I get back things will be different. The babies will have turned into proper little people for a start and will probably already be too cool to talk to me.
So it felt really special to be able to celebrate at least one friend's special day during my trip. Kate and I met at university in our first year, where she helped me write my English essays and tried to make me love Hardy. After uni she became my travelling buddy and we had many adventures together, ranging from trekking through the Amazon jungle in Brazil to being taken to every single jewellers in Bangkok by a rogue taxi driver. Although our lives have gone in quite different directions over the past few years, with Kate now mum to two gorgeous little girls, we've always stayed in touch and attempting to navigate the snow and get to her house on my drive home for Christmas has now become an annual tradition.
Eight years ago, just after the big tsunami, Kate and I spent a month together in Thailand, so it felt so nice to return to Koh Samui to be her bridesmaid. My sister had also flown out to spend three weeks with me, so it was a fun way to start our adventure together.
On the morning of the wedding we arrived at the hotel to meet the bride who had had a rather stressful start to the day. Alessandra, her youngest daughter, had chicken pox and a high fever which had seen them in hospital at 5am. Fortunately she was given the all-clear and the usual wedding preparations could begin. The ceremony was due to take place at 4.30pm and, as I'm sure is often the way we started off feeling like we had all the time in the world and ended up panicking with a million things to do at the last minute.
|Let the preparations begin.|
But it was all too much for some.
|The offending "small hair".|
|A quick practise of my reading.|
In no time at all it was time to go down to the lily garden, where the ceremony was taking place. Kate looked absolutely beautiful as she was accompanied by her dad and her daughter Isabelle was also a little bridesmaid. I think Matt was definitely welling up when he saw her walk down the aisle.
|Exchanging the vows.|
|The happy couple - Mr and Mrs Daly.|
|The happy family.|
|Did I mention it was hot?!|
After more photographs we retreated to the luxury of the air conditioning and the party began....