Anyone that follows me on Twitter knows that I think that every blog post I write is my favourite one yet. But this one really really is, and I don’t think it will be beaten for a long time to come.
What can I say? The past couple of weeks have been one big fairytale fantasy of a whirlwind and after living on a cloud of champagne and romance for quite a while, my feet are only just beginning to touch the ground again.
You all know I’m a big slushy romantic by now, and it probably comes as no surprise that my biggest dream is to live happily ever after with a loving husband and family around me. And it seems that dream is finally about to come true.
Let me start from the beginning…
We arrived back in the desert feeling jet lagged and lazy. With my body (and mind) still back in America, a lot of time was spent readjusting back to Doha time from the comfort of my bed (affectionately named ‘The Cloud’) with backdated episodes of The Great British Bake Off, snacks and my book.
I watched more than a few pinkish sunrises from my balcony as I was up a ready to start my day at 4 am most mornings.
Come the weekend, I treated myself to a day of pampering to cheer my tired self up.
And I was delighted when my friend Alex from my PwC days popped over to Doha to visit with his friend Andrew for the weekend on his way back from a client project in Saudi.
I was even more delighted when Rich surprised me with some brilliant dates to celebrate our two year anniversary.
Despite feeling thoroughly spoiled and happy, I started to notice that Rich was acting a little strangely. He was working late fairly regularly…OK, this bit is maybe not so strange, but there were also late night phone calls that he absolutely had to take…outside by the pool. My suspicions were raised, but I still was absolutely unprepared for what was coming.
It was a Thursday night and he’d asked me to put on a nice dress, because he was taking me out (again!). I chose a Reiss staple, put on some make-up and we headed out to a waiting taxi. Nothing strange about this scenario thus far, apart from the fact he had his iPad tucked under his arm. I jokingly asked if he wanted to check on his fantasy football team over dinner, and then thought nothing more of it.
En route, I kept trying to guess where we were going, and each time he humoured me (read lied to me) by saying ‘yes, you’ve finally got it!’, but our taxi would slip right past the venue each time and onwards towards the outskirts of the city (I’m ashamed to say I fell for this ‘joke’ every time. Must learn not to be so gullible).
Finally, when I’d eventually made up my mind that we must be heading for the airport and he was going to be taking me on some whirlwind trip to a romantic island before we headed back to the UK the next day (an over-active imagination is another fault of mine along with gullibility), we eventually pulled up at Sharq Village and Spa.
Part of the Ritz Carlton group, this hotel is a stunning waterfront resort, resembling a marbled sheikh’s palace, designed around cooling pools, fountains, lush gardens and intimate courtyards. It’s extra-stunning at night, when the lights come on in the pools, highlighting the opulent gardens and beautiful facade of the hotel.
I was utterly convinced that I now knew where we were going – we must be heading for food at Al Dana, Sharq’s signature restaurant. However, rather than walking round the back of the hotel to the restaurant, Rich led me into the lobby and asked me to take a seat. Nervously, I sat down and tried to calm my racing mind by admiring the stunning waterfall candelabra hanging above us.
We were summoned by a man in a suit asking us to follow him back out to the front of the hotel, where a golf buggy was waiting to take us to our next destination. Excitedly, I nattered away as we weaved in and out around the uplit paths of the gardens, until we eventually stopped at the beach. We were greeted by another man who politely announced that he would be our waiter for the evening, and that was when I saw it.
Isn’t this the most beautiful, romantic scene you have ever seen? Well, it was for me anyway.
We walked down the red carpet, careful not to step on the pretty rose petals that spelled out ‘I love you’ on the way down, and sat at our seats in the pretty wooden cabana at the end.
From our seats, the view the other side wasn’t any less romantic.
You can’t see very well from these dark, grainy photos, but apart from the gorgeous candles, there was also a stunning view of the sea, the Corniche and the bright lights of the city beyond.
We tucked into course upon course that our smiling waiter brought to our table.
And despite the fact that I was too nervous to eat much of it, and that the 45 degree heat was starting to melt the make-up from my face, I couldn’t help but grin. This was the most romantic night of my life, and I couldn’t believe that Rich had gone to so much effort just for me. Suddenly all the late nights and hushed phonecalls made sense – he’d been organising this surprise for me!
But that wasn’t the end of it. Suddenly, he turned to me, looking serious. “I’ve got something to show you”. Passing me the iPad, he played me this video:
This video means more to me and us than you can possibly imagine. It tells the story of ‘us’, from beginning to end, using our music, our moments, our photographs and our memories. Our little piece of fate. I have watched it many times since (yes, most of those viewing figures are probably mostly me, and maybe my mum), and despite the fact I now know every frame off by heart, I still get a bit teary when I watch it back. It is the most beautiful thing anyone has ever done for me.
After I had finished watching it on the iPad in the cabana that night, Rich led me out onto the beach, got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. If you watch the video, you will see how overcome by emotion I was, but how easy it was for me to say yes.
With tears still in our eyes, we called our mums, dads, brothers and sisters to tell them the news. Then I called up Tania, Romana, Kate, Jenny, Clare and the rest of my best friends to tell them the story all over again and listen to their screams down the phone.
The rest of the night was a blur of champagne, cake and celebration.
I think this picture sums up my feelings perfectly.
I love my man with all my heart and soul and can’t wait to be his wife.
Here’s to the next fifty odd years.