The Proposal – Shelli

12

AUGUST, 2015

The day Darren proposed to me against a sunset in St Tropez dawned like every other on our chilled out family holiday in Southern France; hot sun, excited children and the promise of yet more fun in the pool.

It was Sunday August 2 and we’d been in the South of France for eight glorious days with our four girls and Mum and Dad (aka Val and Tony). We were staying at La Baume holiday park just outside the town of Frejus, a perfect paradise for kids (and big kids) with no less that five swimming pools, water slides and endless sunny days. We’d ventured out of the campsite on a couple of occasions for some “sightseeing” but the majority of our time was spent lazing in the sun while the girls turned into prunes in the pools.

On this particular day we had a more energetic schedule planned than we’d grown accustomed to. After breakfast we headed to a nearby adventure park with obstacles to navigate high up in the trees, much like the Go Ape parks we have in the UK. It was an exhausting few hours, but all the girls enjoyed themselves and overcame some fears to get themselves around the courses (a couple of pictures can be seen in the More Memories gallery). After that it was back to the campsite for a cool off in the pool.

Ready to climb through the trees

All dressed up in St. Tropez

We’d planned an early finish in the pool (other days we’d been literally dragging the girls out at 8pm!) so that we could take a drive up the coast to St Tropez and take in the extravagance of the marina with its banks of millionaire’s yachts, the stunning architecture, winding streets and pop up entertainment. I suppose in hindsight I should have known something was going on. Not only did Darren insist that we should all get dressed up for the trip (shorts and t-shirts were banned!) but he also put on a pair of trousers. Yes, you read it right… it was 30 degrees and the man who wears shorts in the snow was wearing trousers. All questions or suggestions that maybe he should stick to shorts given the heat were brushed off with a: “I want us to have a posh family night out”. Curious.

St Tropez looked as stunning and opulent as ever. Row upon row of yachts bigger than our house proving that there’s plenty of money in the world if you travel in the right circles! We wandered along the marina with the kids trying to decide which of the yachts they fancied buying (ah, the imaginations of the young!) and popping into shops to look for souvenirs. At the end of the marina we wandered through a stone archway and found ourselves at the edge of a small picture perfect cove surrounded by stunning buildings. The tide was coming in but the girls and I tiptoed across the rocks avoiding the intermittent waves to reach the small sandy beach. After a brief stroll along the sand we turned and headed back to where Darren, Mum and Dad were waiting for us.

I remember thinking at this point that Darren looked uncomfortable. He was quiet (which is a pretty good sign with Darren that something is going on) and pacing up and down, but before I had time to worry too much about it, he pointed the girls in the direction of the sea wall that formed the boundary between the marina and the open sea, and we were off again. We walked a good way up the wall chatting away while the girls ran on ahead, clambering over the huge boulders that made up the structure. By this time the sun was starting to set and the views across the bay were stunning.

If memory serves me correctly we reached a more open area of the wall — a round clearly designed for folks to sit and take in the views — and Darren stopped. He passed the camera to Dad and asked if could take some photos of us against the sunset. Next thing I remember he took my hand and made a little speech about how much he loved me, and how he’d been planning this day for over a year. Then he was on one knee, hands shaking as he held out a ring and uttered the words I had waited a life time to hear, “will you marry me?”. I was blown away. I tried to say yes but couldn’t actually formulate words out so instead I just nodded and reached out to take the ring. Taking that as an acceptance, Darren took the ring out of the box and placed it on my finger. Happy doesn’t come close.

I started grinning and didn’t stop for quite some time… we’re talking weeks!

Shelli on the phone to Jill

Asri, Alice and Mum had cottoned onto the fact that something was happening and had watched the proposal. Dad, it turned out, had been the only one in on the secret after Darren had asked his permission a few days previously over a pint and so he caught the whole thing on video. Eleni and Elisa had been none the wiser as they clambered over the boulders, but were soon brought up to speed by their older sisters and were jumping up and down screaming “we’re going to be bridesmaids” (you have to get your priorities straight in life…).

I’m always teasing Darren about his lack of romance but he really pulled it out the bag on that day. I’m not sure he planned the sunset, but it certainly added something special to the occasion. Perhaps it was our departed parents smiling on us? He tells me he used up a lifetime of romance on that one moment. I can certainly believe it. But let’s hope there’s a little left over for our wedding day…