I’ve had my eye on Willamina for a few years now and have always thought she could one day look fantastic. She belonged to my husband’s childhood friend’s dad, Bill, who has sadly passed away. Recently on passing her sitting cold and damp at the end of the short track to I mentioned to my husband’s friend David that I thought she could be beautiful and I’d love to get my hands on her. To my surprise he said she was mine (sorry husband….ours), and on 16th February 2016 we drove down in the Jeep to collect her.
After much grunting and rubbing of chins David and Leon managed to change both of the tyres, made sure she was roadworthy and hooked her up to the Jeep. We’d intended on leaving early afternoon so we could drive back in the daylight but whenever you go back to Leon’s home village there seems to be a time difference of about 3 hours. So a little later than expected and just as it was getting dark we set off with a caravan that hadn’t moved in 16 years! And, to top it off, our usual route was closed and as we found on the way down, the diversion would add 1 and a half hours onto the journey. I was put in charge of navigation and chose a route I believed would cut off the corner and bring us home more quickly! What I didn’t realise was that the route took us to the top of the moors (there was snow!) and up and down some significant hills. The 14% decline made me nervous but nothing could describe the fear I felt when we started the descent following the sign stating ‘20% decline for 2 miles’. Sitting in the passenger seat with no control over the brakes I’m not ashamed to say I was terrified. I now know how my dad felt when he taught me to drive – “Dad – I’m sorry!”
We made it home 4 hours later, tired and relieved. The cold light of day the next morning would show us what we’d taken on…
2016 is a leap year! It happens once every four years due to the fact that it takes 365 and a quarter days for the Earth to fully orbit the sun. If we didn’t have leap years over the course of 100 years our calendar would be 24 days out! Leap years were originally introduced into the Julian Calendar by Julius Caesar over 2000 years ago and now appear every four years in our Gregorian Calendar which has been used since 1582. Leap years are surrounded in superstition and tradition. Legend has it that Saint Brigid made a deal with Saint Patrick that on that one day alone a women would be allowed to propose to a man. Another theory goes that hundreds of years ago the day itself was not recognised in English law and was therefore ‘leapt over’ meaning that the day had no legal status and therefore it was acceptable to for a woman to break with tradition and ask for her gentleman’s hand in marriage. Meanwhile in Scotland, where it is deemed unlucky to be born on a leap day, a similar rule applied but the proposal was only permitted if the woman wore breeches or a red petticoat! I had never wanted to get married. Leon knew this and so he vowed never to ask! Then I woke up one March morning and had changed my mind! There was only one thing for it…I’d have to do the asking! Last year was not a leap year but I’m not one to do things in the traditional manner anyway! Here’s my step by step instructions for planning your own proposal. 1) Google it!!! Read stories about how other people did it, read about how it worked for other people, read about how it backfired, read about how you DEFINITELY SHOULDN’T DO IT as it emasculating for your partner. Then ignore the last piece of advice. 2) book a child-free weekend away in Edinburgh. 3) start sneakily planning a video shoot with your son to help you pop the question. Shoot it in lots of different locations and almost get caught when he comes home from work to find you filming in the garden. Throw the props over the fence before he sees them and make up some elaborate lie about what your son is doing hiding in a rabbit hutch! 4) Edit your film to within an inch of its life! This is best done hiding in the bathroom away from distractions and prying eyes. Become ultra possessive over your phone so that no one ever sees the video by accident! Share your plans with NO ONE! They may try to put you off (see point one!) 5) arrive in Edinburgh after bubbly and posh finger food on the train (best not to spill the balsamic dressing over the entire train table as the train goes round a corner!) 6) accidentally arrange to go for breakfast somewhere far too fancy for a fry up! Struggle to eat your duck, new potatoes and purple broccoli with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce because you’re so nervous about what’s coming next! 7) climb to the top of Calton Hill. Persuade your boyfriend to climb up to the top of Nelson Monument with you (even though he whinges that it’s £4 each! That’s £8!!!). 8) wait until you’re the only ones up there and take a panoramic video of the view on your phone. Offer to show him the video but secretly switch it to the one you made! 9) allow him some time to collect his thoughts and maybe wipe a year from his eye (don’t forget it may be windy up there) and wait for his reply….. 10) persuade him buy you a ring!!!