Thursday 30 January 2014

Our Engagement Story and LoveMyDress Lovette Application

Did you know that the fabulous wedding blog LoveMyDress is on the look out for bride bloggers? The team of four will be known as The Lovettes (how cute!) and will share their wedding journeys with the readers of the blog. If you're new to LoveMyDress, it provides an invaluable source of inspiration for weddings - and I have them to thank for my wedding stationery and wedding photographer! 

I have applied to be a Lovette and I thought I'd share my application with you, my readers. It's nearly a year since James proposed to me (9th February to be exact - and the same day the competition winners will be chosen!) and it truly has flown by. So it was lovely to have a reason to recall our 'story' in full and put it into words. I hope it entertains you... xo

How did we meet?

He knocked on my door. Really! And in a serendipitous chain of events, I happened to be home early and opened the door. I saw his rosy cheeks and was smitten. He tried to canvas me, (nothing rude - he worked in politics back then) and I, in a desperate attempt to keep him on my doorstep, challenged and argued with him. And that was it...

For our first date he took me canvassing around the streets of Exeter, (I was studying there to be a teacher). Talking to disgruntled Devonians about their parking issues might not sound like the stuff of Austen, but after our toils we ended up in a pub. One by one the others went home leaving us sitting by the crackling fire and drinking cheap red. We talked and talked about nothing and everything; from childhood adventures, to scariest moments, to missed loved ones, to our aspirations. And as cheesy as it sounds, I remember looking at him and suddenly a feeling washed across me - I could see us sitting like that and talking and talking forever. I knew I'd marry him.

But of course it wasn't as simple as that. We were only 23 and I did my best to put him off. I moved to Bournemouth and then to Alderney in the Channel Islands. But in our case the old adage was certainly true: absence made the heart grow fonder. And so I returned; we bought a small but cosy flat in London, rescued an opinionated cat and took in my brother as a lodger.

Then on a disgusting and soggy Saturday morning in February last year, James announced we were going on an adventure; we were going to Chawton to visit Jane Austen's home.

I packed with hurried excitement and we jumped on the next train. Visiting Jane Austen's home has always been on my bucket list. As an English teacher it's a must, but I've been a devotee ever since my ten year old eyes first gazed at a damp Colin Firth from my grandparents' armchair. I have lived my life with the conviction that that sort of legendary love can and does exist in the chaotic modern era.

We arrived at a sweet B&B in the sleepy village of Chawton and quickly put on our boots and ventured out into the rain. Instead of visiting the Austen museum James took me on the Austen trail, a walk that takes you over hills and along disused railway paths...and also through an industrial estate and a field with not one, but three bulls in it. If I had any indication that he was planning to propose, it was snuffed out as I squealed my way through cow-pats and leapt over the fence.

That night we had dinner in the local pub. I was eagerly anticipating pudding when James came back to the table, picked up his coat and told me to follow him. I thought he was mad (it was raining and I was wearing a Parisian flapper-inspired dress - it's not waterproof). I refused and said I wasn't going anywhere until I got my rhubarb crumble and custard. By this time, a few people were looking at us suspiciously and I was beginning to feel very conspicuous. I followed him sulkily.

Instead of heading back to the B&B though, he crossed over the road to outside Austen's house. Now, one thing that must be understood if this is to be seen as particularly remarkable,is that James is a 'good guy'. So imagine my surprise - and horror - when he began scaling the wall into Jane Austen's garden.*

"What do you think you're doing?" I shrieked, aghast. To which he replied nonchalantly,
"I fancy taking a look. Come on."
"You don't break into Jane Austen's garden. I'm an English teacher. It'll be on the news!"

By now you'd imagine him to be on the other side of the wall, but as I said, James is a good guy. Unused to this sort of activity he's still legs-akimbo on the wall.

"Why don't you just use the gate?" I asked.

"Don't be ridiculous," he retorted (pride wounded), " it won't be open".

I pressed on the latch, opened the gate and walked in. I looked up at him from the other side of the walled garden,

"You can tell you went to a private school," I laughed.

With that, he came over the wall - a la Hugh Grant in Notting Hill.

Whether or not it is my perception of the place I don't know, but the garden felt alive. It was as though I could see Jane Austen and her characters laughing on the lawn and sitting reading on the chairs in the shade. I was mesmerised and so failed to notice that my fiancé was down on one knee.

I just remember laughing, then crying, then laughing some more. And of course saying 'yes' a lot.

But owing to the darkness I hadn't seen the ring. I took it and ran across to the house - James calling behind me to stop - and danced around to set off the security lights. A blast of dazzling light was thrown across the garden and I saw on my finger the most beautiful sapphire and diamond engagement ring.

I looked around the garden and said a silent thank you to Miss Austen. I owe my HOPEFUL romanticism to her - and all those years of lovesick diaries, passionate outbursts and the headstrong refusal to accept anything short of 'ardent admiration and love' have paid off.

We returned to the pub where we were greeted with a round of applause, a bottle of champagne and, best of all, rhubarb crumble and custard on the house.

*Disclaimer: We paid to visit the house and museum the next day! :)


No comments:

Post a Comment