What does this date mean to you? The wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle? The FA Cup Final between Manchester United and Chelsea? Spoiler alert – the Red Devils lost (sorry, Dom).
To Dominic Renshaw, it was to be his Everest summit day, a culmination of 18 months of hard physical training and the fulfilment of a lifetime’s dream. I knew it was going to be an anxious weekend and had arranged for some of my best female buddies to come over for some much needed distraction, mainly involving copious amounts of alcohol and laughter in equal measures. In Dom’s summit post he alludes to “making another decision on that night and fingers crossed this one has gone well.” I think you’ve all waited long enough, it’s time for the big reveal! (But not just yet, you’ll have to carry on reading for a little while longer).
Dom had already messaged me that morning advising me that the summit attempt had gone badly wrong and I had to break this news to the girls who were all bouyed up for the big event.
Mary was slightly delayed, getting caught up in the mayhem of wedding revellers heading from London to Windsor, but soon all three had arrived, full of energy and fun and instantly our quiet little house awakened to the sound of noise and laughter. We’re part of a whatsapp group called Slimming Sisters, all trying to lose weight and get fit for Jude’s forthcoming nuptials. The sun was shining, and we headed out into the local countryside for a walk, mainly to offset the damage the rest of the weekend might bring. I’d found a walk into Henley, but as my navigational skills can only be described as non-existent, this route was soon abandoned after discovering that on taking the longest time to cover the shortest distance, we’d ended up approximately 2.5 miles from home, at my nearest National Trust property, the lovely Grey’s Court. But all was not lost, my lack of direction had uncovered the back entrance to the estate and we spent a lovely afternoon looking around the house and stunning gardens. Feeling peckish after our exertions, we poked our heads into the ‘Cow Shed’ canteen and were very nearly tempted by the delicious cakes, but our resolve told us to resist. Then someone, (naming no names) suggested we could share a scone between two of us. Luckily there was only one left, so that put paid to that suggestion. Then we spotted the ice cream cabinet. “Soleros are lower in calories” said one, obviously in need of a mid-diet treat. But the voice of reason persisted and we resisted, feeling very virtuous and self righteous as we headed home.
We set off on the return journey with Jude taking control and Mel and I oblivious to our surroundings. “Did we come this way?” asked Mel, to which I most assuredly answered “no”, only for Jude to inform us it was the way we came, pointing out the spot where we passed the elderly lady and her slightly puzzled dog whose tranquil country walk we interrupted with out laughter and chatting.
We arrived back at 6pm to find a note on the doormat; a beautiful bouquet was waiting for me at the side of the house. How lovely, you might think, but I was mystified. You see, whenever Dom heads off on expedition, he arranges for the local florist to deliver a bouquet, which arrives every 10-14 days. On the accompanying card he writes something romantic, then points me in the direction of a clue somewhere in the house. I then track this down, and it leads me onto several other treasure hunt style clues until the treasure is found, usually in the form of chocolate. Now let me explain why I was mystified at receiving this new bouquet; firstly, I’d received a bunch of flowers from our local florist just 5 days before, so I wasn’t ‘due’ any fresh ones. Secondly, it wasn’t from our local florist, but from someone at Dom’s network meeting.
With all the ladies cooing over how beautiful they were (a mass of peonies and roses), I looked for the accompanying card. This time it was a full sized card, written in an unfamiliar hand. There was no treasure hunt to find, just these words:
To Jane, from the top of the world, will you marry me?
“Oh my God!” I cried out.
“What is it?” asked the girls.
I couldn’t respond, every time I tried the same three words kept coming out, over and over, getting louder and more frantic: “Oh my God!”
“Jane, you need to breathe!” Said Mary, after the third or fourth outburst, but I couldn’t. In the end, I showed them the card. Mel was standing the nearest to me.
“Oh my God!” She cried.
“Don’t you start!” exclaimed Mary.
The bubbly was opened and the rest of the night became a bit of a blur. Chelsea joined us later that night, thinking she was going to celebrate Dom’s summit and ending up celebrating something entirely different and unexpected.
And what about Dom? He was seven hours ahead of me, so whilst I became engaged to the love of my life on the 19th May, he wouldn’t have received my reply until the 20th. In reality it was even later than this as he spent the next three days climbing down, where he was unable to get that all-important signal telling him of the news of his next big adventure.
Another friend was adamant that Dom had planned it all along and wouldn’t be convinced otherwise. I did my best to explain the reasons why it was spontaneous, but it took Dom to settle the matter in his own inimitable way.
“Do you think I would have planned it so I was at the top of the world, with no way of hearing Jane’s answer for three days?” The matter was closed.
Apart from one small fact. I’m still waiting for him to ask me in person, as it stands I’m still not entirely sure if I’m engaged to Dom, or the man in the florists who wrote the card. I wonder what his wife has to say on the matter!