The countdown has officially started. In a little over three weeks, I will be a married man – and I can’t wait.
About 18 months ago, I met a girl ... a wonderful girl, and she won my heart completely.
Shortly after moving in together, I arranged a weekend away in Paris (yes, I’m quite the hopeless romantic) where, having secured a table at one of the city’s top hotels for afternoon tea (I also can’t say no to the chance to stuff my face with a delightful array of fancy cakes), I mustered enough courage (and breathing room in my slightly tighter trousers by this stage) to propose.
Fortunately for me, my now fiancée said yes and, for the last year, we have been busy planning our wedding day, organising everything from favours to flowers and candles to canapés.
The jobs are starting to getting a little more pressing, but we have found the whole process relatively stress-free and, to be honest, exciting.
All this means that I’m now days away from marrying the woman of my dreams and I feel a little like a 10-year-old boy who can’t wait for Christmas.
We’ve found a fantastic venue, where we’ll be surrounded by all our family and friends, and I know my partner, Kate, will look absolutely stunning as she walks down the aisle.
People keep asking if I am getting nervous at all as the big day draws near, but I’m completely calm.
I know I’m about to make the best decision of my life.
While watching Chelsea play Atletico Madrid at Stamford Bridge in a European Cup tie at the end of last season, my attention was drawn to one of the raft of advertising hoardings dotted around the pitch.
Sandwiched between the adverts for Samsung and Audi was a sign promoting holidays to ... Azerbaijan.
The advertisement – funded by the Azerbaijan Tourism Board – carried the strapline: The Land of Fire.
I’m going to stick my head on the line and suggest that this would not have had people flocking to their local travel agent in a mad rush to book their dream holiday to Baku, the country’s capital (but I’m sure you knew that, right?).
Who on Earth thought it would be a good idea to encourage people to visit the country by calling it The Land of Fire?
This got me thinking about other untapped holiday destinations that could do with a good plug in order to swell visitor numbers, like The Antarctic (The Lost Empire of Frostbite), or that other tourist hotspot The Sahara (The Endless Expanse of Unbearable Temperatures, Deadly Scorpions and Absolutely no Water).
Sorry Azerbaijan, but you’ll have to excuse me if I don’t visit just yet.
In an effort to stop any misinformation or rumours, I’d like to point out that the Free Press has not closed, or moved (although an office with actual windows would not be a bad thing – hint, hint).
To clarify, our reception was closed earlier this year (not our decision), but the office remains manned.
You can still contact us by using the telephone numbers on the facing page, or those on page 2.