Our engagement story.
It was perfect. Romantic, funny, unexpected, and perfect.
On Boxing Day 2016, we travelled down to Devon. My Mum was already in situ, in a gorgeous little cottage on Dartmoor, and had kindly invited us to share her holiday home for a few days over the festive period. After an incredibly busy couple of weeks that had included six days in New York and a nasty virus, as well as the usual Christmas festivities, a break in the countryside was exactly what we both needed. We rose early on the 26th, loaded the car with dogs, wellies, waterproofs and pressies, and battled the usual Bank Holiday traffic down to the West Country. We drank wine, ate cold meat, mash and pickles (the only acceptable Boxing Day fare, thank you very much) and watched Harry Potter in front of the wood burner. It was basically as good as Boxing Day gets.
The morning of the 27th was cold, grey and drizzly. The temptation to stay in by the fire was strong, but we pulled on our walking boots anyway and headed out onto the Moors with the dogs (and my Mum) in tow. I realised almost immediately that my boots weren't waterproof, and spent the next forty minutes complaining that I had wet feet. After clambering up a 'footpath' that would've bested the most sure-footed of mountain goats, we emerged onto one of the steepest hills I have ever seen.
It wasn't until we had climbed back down off the Tor that Pete handed me a beautifully wrapped photo album, which he told me was a Christmas gift he had forgotten to give me. Being my usual tactful and intuitive self I asked if I could look at it back at the cottage, to which he replied quite firmly, 'no, look at it now!'. I distinctly remember wondering what on earth had got into him while I unwrapped it - now I know!
Within it's pages were contained a series of photographs of the two of us, from the very first picture of us together up to and including the highlights of our New York trip. I flicked through the beautiful, funny photographs, laughing at the ones I hadn't looked at for a while but still vaguely wondering why I was looking at them at the top of a bloody great hill with freezing cold toes. The penny finally started to drop when I reached the final page, and found a shot from our New York trip with 'let's continue the adventure' written across it...
It was around that point (I think, I was a little bit shellshocked) that he dropped to one knee, presented me with a beautiful sapphire and diamond engagement ring, and asked me to marry him. Having my Mum there with us was lovely - she was, of course, in on it the whole time so was ready and waiting with the camera! It was wonderful to share such a special moment with her.
I have lost count of the amount of times, since then, that I have been asked if I cried when he asked me. I would love to say yes - that I was overcome by the raw emotion of the moment and that my eyes filled with tears of love and joy.
Unfortunately, that would be a lie. In truth, I was so taken aback that what I actually did was say 'Oh my God!' two or three times before it even occurred to me to say yes! Poor Pete, I really think I pushed his nerves to the very edge that day!
I really couldn't have asked for a more perfect proposal. Dartmoor has always been one of my very favourite places, it holds so many treasured memories from my childhood and is somewhere I hope to take our children some day as well. It's wonderful to know that we can re-visit the spot that we got engaged, and that our engagement story is tied up with the long history of such a beautiful part of the country.
And, as my best friend (and future Maid of Honour) put it, "It's just so you. In your walking boots and big coats, out in the mud, both holding a dog lead. It pretty much sums you guys up."
I think she's right.