Have I never told you "My Engagement Story"?
(Capitals and "Quotes" and Sarcasm are a Good Mix, No?)
OH BOY, YOU'RE IN FOR A TREAT. Not really, I just feel like writing this piece of history up today like the fickle-memoried wench that I am.
It started with Kate and Wills, like all good romances.
In fact, Wills was born a week after me, when my mother was still in the maternity ward recovering from the birth / shock. I felt from a very young age that the prince and I were meant to be; at least until he started losing his hair. Yes, I am that shallow when it comes to one-sided relationships with future rulers of my dominion.
Anyway, I didn't mean to delve that far back. You know how Wills and Kate got married one time? Well that day was declared a public holiday in the UK. We were living in London and because of Easter or somesuch, the wedding meant a four day weekend. Four free days to travel was too good to pass up. P took it upon himself to organise that weekend as I'd recently been shouldering the travel arrangements 'burden'. He umm'd and ahh'd about location and finally informed me he'd sorted it and it would be a surprise. FINE THEN, I said. BUT BARCELONA RIGHT? I'M PRETTY SURE IT'S BARCELONA AND IT BETTER BE BARCELONA OK?
On the morning of Princess Catherine's big day, P put me on a train. The train went through London right by the route the wedding carriage was taking, which at first made me scowl - packed train. But everybody was dressed to the nines to attend the wedding of the decade. Quite a few were already drunk and waving bottles with fascinators in their hair. Even my stony heart melted when I saw a wee girl, dressed in her best party frock with a tiara in her hair accompanied by her grandfather. I mean, honestly. She was going to see a wedding and a princess!
I couldn't work out which airport P was taking me to. When we eventually emerged in NW London, I realised he was taking me to a car hire spot. He'd organised quite a nice car which made me internally sigh, thinking about the damage he'd done to the bank account renting something flash. P is a car fan, you see. He's pretty lucky I love him anyway because petrol-headedness is not my jam. I also briefly mourned Barcelona -- how far is it possible to go return in four days in a car from NW London?
Well, as we drove that day it I guessed it - we were heading to the Peak District. I forgave him for Barcelona immediately. I now blush with embarrassment at being the living embodiment of a particular cliche - wasn't the Peak District where Lizzy toured in Pride & Prejudice?! I said. And...I also knew it was the location of Lyme Park, the stately home used in the BBC adaptation of P&P which, sadly, is my favourite movie of all time. Yes, I'm sorry, I am an Austen saddo. P feigned disinterest in the Austen connection, just said he thought it was a cool area and had found a special on a great place to stay.
The drive up to the Peak District was really, really wonderful. You see, most of Britain was celebrating the royal wedding. Every village we drove through was decorated with flags and pennants and bunting - we stopped off at a pub for lunch and caught the televised kiss on the balcony - everyone cheered. It was spring time and just gorgeous.
P had outdone himself for accomodation. The inn was my definition of perfection; giant bathtub, very cute, countryside, huge fireplace, gorgeous cottage garden grounds. However, P's blackberry had been going off all day - there was a big deal in the works. We arrived, he hauled out his laptop and set to work, making phone calls etc. I had a bath, then flopped on the bed in a robe, disappointed that business took priority. After moping around for a bit waiting for him, I decided to unpack the bags, seeing as we had three nights to spend. P, on the phone, saw me pick up his bag. He turned around, flapping his hands at me with a pissed off expression and I thought WELL FINE I WON'T BOTHER THEN.
You see, none of these signals - romantic weekend, flash transportation, surprise destination, all-out accomodation, reluctance to share the contents of his bag - amounted to wedding proposal in my mind because I am as dense as two short planks. I have never been much of a wedding or marriage girl and we'd been together nearly 10 years at that point. We were already committed. Once upon a time, P had said to me that he did want to get married someday, but I hadn't given it much thought.
The next morning, P offered up some local touristy options. I gleefully picked going horse riding; we went on a hack in the countryside with about 10 Korean teenagers and had a fabulous time. I taught P to post to the trot (key if he wanted his tackle to remain unbruised for the remainder of the weekend, a most important consideration). We picnicked in a lane somewhere. We walked up to an old henge, laughing at the British definition of Peak - more like gentle hill, though the other trekkers there had hiking boots, support poles, chaps etc - we were wandering up the hills in jandals.
We went back to the hotel for a breather. P was dead keen on setting out for Lyme Park, which I couldn't fathom. It was already about 4; I knew we had dinner reservations and the Park was likely to close reasonably soon. I convinced him a G&T in the garden would be best.
We drank one, people watching. P suggested we move on, but the sunshine was too good for me. I now know I was completely busting his grand plans to propose with a dramatic Austen backdrop. Instead, we drank another G&T. P then cajoled me into finding a private spot in the garden. He disappeared to grab our picnic blanket and, unbeknownst to me, ordered a bottle of champagne. We set ourselves up in a secluded spot to make the most of the sun.
I felt buzzed, if you must know. Two stiff gins, sunshine and then a first glass of surprise bubbles was more than enough to make me feel a bit giddy. I later realised P was probably softening me up.
He said some very nice things as we lay on the blanket in the sun, then, before I knew it, he'd asked me to marry him.
After I said yes (I think), he produced a wee box with a ring. I was very taken with it, moreso than I ever expected to feel about a piece of jewellery (at least, until the end of the weekend when I, frugal beastie that I am, realised that it probably cost a bit and was horrified). We kept the engagement to ourselves that first night, sharing with family and friends the next day.
The rest of the weekend was unreal - just magical. I loved the proposal, didn't see it coming and am so glad to have married this man.