This has been a year of separate holidays in our household. While we did go to Amsterdam together at the beginning of the year, we were there with a friend. John is off to Hawaii in December, and I went to China last month. So we decided we needed a little break, just the two of us. Not wanting to travel too far we settled on a 3 day break in Cork.
Taking Friday off work we caught the early bus down. We arrived in time for lunch, booked into our hotel and promptly headed out to a pub for a pint and a bite to eat before checking out the city centre. The weather was gorgeous: cold but sunny. We visited the world famous English Market and, as we’d had a late lunch, decided to pick up something there for a light dinner that we could eat at the hotel. We settled on some delicious salmon dip and buttermilk soda bread, and went back to the hotel to relax a bit and eat our food before going out to check out some of the local pubs. We found a lively one and settled in for a couple of pints and quietly enjoyed the evening.
Saturday morning John suggested we go to Blarney Castle. I certainly wasn’t complaining so, after a big breakfast at the hotel, we caught a bus to Blarney. Again we were blessed with the weather – cool, crisp, and gorgeously sunny. Blarney Castle is breathtakingly picturesque, and we climbed to the top of the castle and kissed the Blarney Stone before strolling through the stunning grounds, wandering through the golden autumn trees. We veered away from the path towards a sunlit meadow and then, much to my surprise, John got down on one knee, pulled out a diamond ring, and proposed! To say this was unexpected is the understatement of the year. We’ve been together for a long time and, while I knew he’d get to it eventually, neither John or I felt that there was any need to rush things. But with our 10 year anniversary looming early next year, I guess you could say that we were ready. And of course I said yes! We strolled aimlessly through the grounds for a good while longer, soaking in the sunlight and happiness. John admitted that he’d asked my parents’ blessing when they were visiting Belfast back in July (my Mom deserves a medal for keeping quiet for so long) and that the ring on my finger was a placeholder as he’d like to go ring shopping together.
That night we went to a lovely restaurant in Cork, and I was immensely pleased that I had thought to pack a pretty dress and high heels. We sipped cocktails: a mojito for John and a Cuban cosmopolitan (pomegranate grenadine substituted for the cranberry juice) for me. First course: spicy chicken wings and calamari. Second course: a gourmet burger for John and rack of lamb (meltingly tender) for me, all served with seasonal vegetables, two types of potatoes (we were in Ireland, after all) and washed down with a delicious red wine from Pays d’Oc. The setting was gorgeous, right on the river, and as we ate we were serenaded by a pianist on a baby grand. Following dinner we strolled through the streets of Cork and stopped in a pub for a drink, before walking back to the hotel. We cozied up in the hotel bar with a whiskey and telephoned family and friends with the exciting news.
We haven’t discussed dates or plans, choosing instead to enjoy the current glow before getting down to practicalities. Needless to say we are deliriously happy, something that has only been cemented with the outpouring of love that we’ve received from friends and family following our announcement. Thanks to all of you for your lovely messages! xx