Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Leap year - a decent proposal

Happy Leaping 29th February.

One for the ladies, to take the bull by the horns and do a spot of proposing. It's not a bad idea in this day and age of equality, and lets face it, sometimes our other halves need a bit of encouragement to leap into the marital unknown. 

Apparently according to tradition if the fella says 'no' to a lady's marriage proposal he has to buy her a gift of 12 pairs of gloves so that she can cover up the shame of her ringless hands!

I started searching Tris' pockets for a ring back in January 2008 on a mini-break to Bratislava .

"Isn't it lovely up here - I do love you so!"
I spent the rest of the time until he did actually propose, trying to create the perfect proposal scenario. 

"Come and look at this beautiful view across the roof tops of the former Spanish capital Toledo" I whispered softly in his ear after our romantic court yard dinner - as the sound of violins from the street performers rose up into the warm night air like wisps of musical smoke.

"What a lovely view - is there anything you would like to ask me?"

"Yes, very nice" he said - took a photo and then headed back to the campsite. 

The 29th February 2008 (the last leap year) as luck would have it, coincided with a trip to Edinburgh, which meant we would be passing Gretna Green on the Scottish border. A place synonymous with proposals, passionate elopements and shot gun weddings.

I timed it perfectly, so that not only would we need petrol at precisely that point, we'd also need to stop for food. Very good plan Alison!

However the look of terror on his face as we sat in full view of the Welcome Break toilets, eating our KFC bargain bucket, was something that only the thought of me proposing - and Alfred Hitchcock could have created. So I backed off.

Not really Toledo!
I felt fairly confident that he would ask me at some point - in his own time and in his own way. And deep down I didn't want to force his hand - I'd discovered that I am a bit of a traditionalist at heart and I did want to be the one proposed to.

Searching for the right time - it wasn't on the beach at Crosby.
Still looking, but it wasn't in the Lake District.
Perhaps 'the spot' would be up Mount Snowdon?
He finally decided to pop the question when we were on holiday in New England in September 2009. He asked my dad's permission and everything was set. But then I went and cocked it all up by getting cancer. We had to cancel our trip the day before we were due to fly.

I'm sure you can imagine that as our story unfurled and my life unravelled , it was a crazy, horrible, mixed up and frightening time. 

In between scans and starting chemo, we found ourselves with a three night window, so headed to Anglesey (an island off the north west coast of Wales) to get a bit of a break. On our last morning we found ourselves walking along a lovely beach to a peninsular  -  Llanddwyn Island, which by complete fluke is also known as 'The Lovers Island', on account of St Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers who made the island her home during the fifth century.

As I read the interpretation board by the path leading to the island, I fleetingly thought that it would make a good proposal story, but then immediately discounted the idea. Everything was different now and I didn't want a sympathy proposal.

We carried on walking - reaching the end of the island, crossing a causeway to an even smaller island with a white lighthouse. Looking out across the Menai Straights to the mountains of Snowdonia, the sun was shining, the sky was blue and the sea danced, making waves with little white frothy hats. It couldn't have been a more perfect September day.

Llanddwyn Island.
 It was then I felt a shove in my back.

My first reaction was to turn round and smack him one for trying to push me off the cliff.

But when I did turn round, there he was down on one knee.

"Will you marry me?" he asked.

Hells bells, this was it - this was the moment.

"Are you sure?" I answered. Lets face it, at that point my future wasn't looking too rosy. I was damaged goods and was going to be a whole heap of trouble for the foreseeable future.

"I'm sure", he replied.

"Well in that case then - absof*ckinlutely". I'd been practicing that bit!

Fainted with shock!

On an island, off an island, off an island, off an island I finally said "yes". And the rest as they say is history!

So that's our story - I didn't quite pluck up courage to pop the question on the last Leap Year (over a KFC bargain bucket), but we got there in the end!


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