|The view from our hill, as painted by a good friend.|
It was dark when we arrived. The remains of Christmas were hanging on by tinselled threads but we were still sprightly having just belted up the deserted M1; Chris Rea's Christmas classic booming out from our little, red Citroen Saxo. Yes, we were driving home for Christmas. Well, his home (we weren't yet married) and it was now Boxing Day but driving to my boyfriend's parents house for Boxing Day wasn't a huge chart success.
You know when you look back at a surprise event and spot all the little unusual markers with hindsight? Well, as we shuffled our tired selves and overnight bags into the GeordieLad's childhood hallway, the usual warm welcome from his parents was even warmer and lovelier as his Grandma was there. At the time, I ha thought it was odd as it was ever so late and she didn't often stay out in the evening. But it was lovely to see her so I thought nothing of it.
I'd barely taken a sip on my welcome back cuppa when GeordieLad shoves a warm coat at me and practically pushes me out of the door. He wants to go for a walk. This in itself was alarming as we'd just driven nigh on 200 miles and there was a roaring fire in the living room with lashes of tea and family chatter. A walk? In the dark? On a country hillside? Christmas madness, I tell thee.
GeordieLad appeared to be in some sort of rush and strode purposefully to the end of his parent's road and dragged me up a hill. Those alarm bells were ringing louder, because he'd been so quiet in the car and now he was isolating me away from his family. Maybe it had been a mistake to demand that we spent a Christmas alone together and miss out on his Geordie Christmas. Maybe he'd had enough and this was The Talk. Maybe he was planning to start a new year as a singleton again. Or he was going to kill me but I figured his mum would ask where I was when he got back, so I remained positive.
I trudged slowly up the hill to stand beside him. We were both breathless and our panting created a soundscape for the starlight view across the peaceful Northumberland village. For once, he didn't let me speak. I listened to a potted history of what home meant to him, of what he wanted in life and what he considered to be special and important. I heard his dreams.
And then there was a ring.
And a question.
To which I replied 'No Way!'.
Soon followed by a yes. But not before I made him ask me again down on one knee. So with his dad's flat cap probably resting in a cowpat, he knelt down and asked me to marry him, again.
It's strange because I'd never been one for romantic gestures or someone who particularly wanted to get married. As a lover of 80's bratpack films I had presumed that if anyone was going to propose to me then they had to go all out; in front of a crowd, in song.
But when it came to it. A starry night on a northern village hill was just fine.
Our first announcement came as no surprise when we returned to beaming smiles from my future-in-laws and of course, his lovely Grandma.
This post was inspired by The Photographer's Gallery:familyphotographynow.net : courtship