Potted Summary for people in a rush who can't be bothered with all these words: This weekend, Evilstevie proposed to me. It was very romantic. I said yes.
Extended Version, with pictures**:
It all started a few weeks ago when Steve borrowed my phone and inserted a "Top Sekrit Weekend Away" at a location defined only as "Elsewhere" for the 13th and 14th of February. Nothing too unusual in that, we've had quite a few weekends away somewhere, why not do it for Valentines' Day? It's as good an excuse as any.
As the weekend drew nearer, Steve told me he was trying to figure out where to eat on the Saturday night. What with it being Valentines and all, it would be best to book a table somewhere rather than trusting to luck, but he was worried about showing me restaurant options because it would make our overall destination less of a surprise. So I told him that I thought I could guess that much anyway. I was fairly certain that he had arranged for us to stay at Rhyd Hir*, a lovely guest house run by the parents of a friend. After a moment's silence and a query about whether I'd been copied in on the reservation emails or something, he confirmed that I was correct.
Although this made deciding on a place for dinner that much easier, it did make Steve fret a little over the next few days about how much I had guessed and whether there was a security leak. Meanwhile, I was being so smugly self-satisfied about my skills of deduction concerning our accommodation, that it never occurred to me there might be more to figure out...
Forward to Saturday, and after a fairly lazy morning we got ready to leave. This took its usual pattern of me getting ready and then sitting with a book for a while so that Steve could flit about the place rearranging his camera bag, swapping lenses, hunting down memory cards, and so on. Nothing odd there. By lunchtime we were in the car and on the road, with a plan to grab some lunch on the way and then enjoy a nice, leisurely drive to Wales, diverting our route as usual on the basis of tea-breaks, interesting-looking brown tourism signs, and pretty photo opportunities.
We found the restaurant about two hours before our table reservation, so instead we went for a bit of a cruise around finding somewhere nice to watch the sun go down, which was very romantic regardless of the date. Then it was back to the restaurant where dinner was both delicious and plentiful - so much so that when we arrived at Rhyd Hir, we eagerly accepted Diane and David's kind offer of a cuppa but emphatically refused their offer of a slice of cake or a biscuit. Once we'd both regained the ability to fold in the middle, we made our way up to a nice, warm, comfortable room where a bed about the same size as my old flat was a very welcome sight indeed.
In the morning I woke up to birdsong outside, which is nice at this time of year when 'dawn' more or less coincides with a reasonable clock-time to be waking up. We'd agreed with Diane and David that we would be down for breakfast at about 9am, but this was another advantage to the small-guest-house not-a-huge-hotel thing - I didn't have to wait for Steve to be up and about and showered and awake so that he could help me traverse miles of corridor in search of a semi-decent cup of tea. I could let him get on with his shower in peace while I took myself downstairs and was rewarded with an actual pot of tea, and indeed a sofa to sit on while I drank it. This was a good thing because it meant I was properly awake to face Breakfast, a meal which deserved full attention and a capital letter. I almost regretted having cleared my plate at dinner the night before. I was utterly baffled by Steve's decision to only have porridge.
After breakfast, and in his role as "father of a friend" rather than "host", David took us for a bit of a tour around the local area, including some spots where Steve could get some nice pictures. Lots of it was places where we wouldn't otherwise have gone - in some parts of rural Wales it can be hard to tell what's a road leading to somewhere and what's someone's three-mile-long private driveway.
David took us back to Rhyd Hir, and then we picked up our bags, said our goodbyes, and set off for Lake Vyrnwy. At one point, we stopped at a viewing area with a gorgeous aspect on the lake. As Steve fiddled with his camera gear, I pulled out my phone and wondered out loud whether it was worth turning it on to see if there was a signal from this vantage point. I really should have noticed the panic with which Steve told me there wasn't and started getting back into the car saying he'd get better shots from somewhere else.
The 'somewhere else' we ended up was a place we'd been to before - still part of Lake Vyrnwy, but rather more secluded. There's a pretty waterfall, a stream, a nice grassy area with wooden picnic benches, and if you know the road (track) is there and where it goes, you can drive right up to it. Steve had told me that he wanted to try and get a nice picture of the two of us there.
So here's the nice picture of the two of us, complete with hillside, waterfall, stream and cuddle. The camera is on a tripod about two metres away from us. The car is about five metres beyond that. There is a remote control in Steve's left hand (away from the camera) which he is using to operate the shutter. I have happily stood there for a couple of minutes in my role as a marker while he takes test shots, scuttles back and forth making adjustments and so on... nothing unusual is happening. Happy with his camera setup, he keeps whispering jokes and sweet nothings to make me smile and every so often he clicks the remote to take a picture. It's all very romantic and lovely and, although I'm starting to get really tired, I'm having a great time and am really pleased that we've had such a fantastic and relaxing weekend.
Then Steve drops to one knee and asks me to marry him. Not believing him to be serious, I basically tell him not to be silly, the weekend has been fabulous and he doesn't have to start proposing in order to make it better.
Steve assures me he is serious, it's not a spur of the moment thing, he's not just trying to make me happy in the immediate sense, and that he has a ring to prove it. If you zoom in on this one, you see me gaping in shock and turning a funny colour, and him looking both smug and relieved that I hadn't guessed all of his surprises...
Predictably I've lost concentration on standing as I am slightly overwhelmed. At least now we both have wet knees. Steve gently reminds me that it is traditional for me to give him a yes-or-no answer. It's a yes.
As the good old Welsh drizzle picks up, we whisk ourselves and the camera back into the car. After a lot of giggling and deep breaths, Steve changes lenses for a shot of the ring in place. We find our way back to the main road and from there to the Lakeview Tearooms for a well-earned cuppa and something to eat - the appetite which had deserted Steve at breakfast has for some reason come back with a vengeance.
As we drive back to civilisation, Steve also explains to me why he'd been so twitchy about my phone. Knowing that we would be out of signal, he'd set up his server to upload this photograph, and tweet it with the words "fingers crossed @batsgirl says yes..." at lunchtime, so that when we got back into signal (after the proposal) our twitterfriends would have begun to respond and it would be all squeaky and yay. But in his increasing pre-proposal anxiety, he started worrying that the tweet might have gone through early, and I might see it before he'd actually asked the question and he really didn't want to inadvertently propose via twitter.
Knitters will notice that the ring has a bezel setting rather than a prong setting, so that I don't have to worry about it snagging on anything. Apparently Steve had done his research and decided on this before he set out to buy, but had a hard time explaining to the various jewellers that yes, prong settings are very pretty, and very traditional, but he wanted to get me something I could wear every day rather than something to store in my jewellery box.
I'm still getting my head around it, and we haven't set a date yet - we've got as far as "probably summertime" and "probably not this year". We're still too busy giggling to have a sensible discussion about practicalities.
*Access note: Rhyd Hir isn't wheelchair-accessible and the bedrooms are upstairs. But it's not much bigger than a large-ish family home and there's parking right by the door. So if, like me, you can manage indoor-wobbling, it's not a big challenge - plus, there's no epic trek along miles of corridor to find anything.
**All pictures are used with permission, copyright Evilstevie, all rights reserved. Click on the pictures to see the flickr pages for each photo, complete with notes.