She left the office, her step lightening as soon as she hit the pavement. It was Friday; at last. Another long week in the office, watching the beautiful sunshine through her window, had taken its toll. Working in central London was fun, frenetic, exciting; but it was hot and confining and claustrophobic.
When the temperatures rose, tempers frayed. The streets steamed and pollution and fumes seemed to hover like a cloud. The tube became an oven; unpleasant at the best of times, the summer days resulted in hot, sticky, grumpy people. She pitied the men in their office suits, at least she could wear a dress and sandals.
She had left work early; she and her boyfriend were escaping the city for the weekend. Making a break for the hills, or in this case the flat, of Cambridge! Over the course of this long, hot summer they had discovered a gem of a campsite; small and friendly and a cycle ride away from Cambridge itself.
As she skipped down the steps into Euston Square tube station, her thoughts were already on the weekend ahead. Ignoring the heat and the press of sweaty bodies; personal space an alien concept on rush hour tubes; she remembered their first camping trip.
In the early days of their relationship, when all was new; and the fear of doing or saying the wrong thing was still a vague niggle in the back of her mind; she had agreed to go camping. This man was special, and if he loved camping well, she’d give it a shot. The thought of a night under canvas on hard ground, having to navigate a field in the dark to go to the loo (campsites with facilities being her one demand!) had initially filled her with, not dread exactly, but certainly not joy!
She had not been prepared for the freedom of finding a campsite, pitching a tent and breathing in the fresh air, surrounded by silence. She hadn’t expected the joy of cooking pasta over a camping stove, or how much better it would taste eating it under the stars. She had almost forgotten what a starry sky looked like after too many years in London, where streetlights obscured even the brightest of stars.
Arriving home, the camping gear was already packed in the car; a quick change out of her office clothes and into walking trousers and a t-shirt and she was ready to go. They left London as soon as they could and she felt the stresses of the week lift with each mile they put between themselves and London.
The campsite was as wonderful as always; the tent was pitched and dinner made. Sleep was quick to follow as darkness descended. She was always surprised by how well she slept when camping; a small part of her still expecting it to be uncomfortable and cold.
The next day was glorious, a perfect summers day where the heat shimmers over the fields and the air smells clean and fresh and full of promise. They cycled and walked, enjoying the busy streets of Cambridge and the quiet lanes around the campsite. They talked and laughed, and London seemed very far away.
She was aware of a feeling of distraction through the day, of him being somewhere else at times. She put it down to the simple act of processing and switching off from a busy week. As they meandered back to the campsite that afternoon carrying their picnic dinner; fresh bread, wonderful cheeses, salads; gooey chocolate cake and wine; she was conscious of the silence.
As she prepared their perfect picnic, soaking up the last rays of sunshine, she heard a cork pop. A surprise, a treat! A bottle of fizz to share and what’s more, proper glasses. Slightly taken aback, she accepted with a smile: a lovely end to the day. As she went back to her dinner preparations she was aware of movement and turned to see her boyfriend dropping to one knee. Many thoughts swirled and came out in a stream of garbled chatter as nerves and surprise and anticipation got the better of her. While she babbled, he tried to finish his question. An important question, the most important question: will you marry me?
You can find this weeks linky here.