Towards the end of June, Rhys began acting strangely. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but it was strange nonetheless. At the beginning of July, his behaviour became yet more strange. We were at Kent County when I was asked if I would be going to a show the following weekend, and to which I replied, “possibly, I will if you think I should”. Rhys was not happy. He claimed that we had laid out plans for him to come down on the train to stay with me at home, and I had disregarded his plans in favour of a horse show. In my defence, I stated that I wasn’t aware that any such plans had been confirmed, and that I was only going because others thought I should, not because I particularly wanted to go. As it happened, Maggie and I had no relief milker – we were still living the effects of ankle-gate at this point – and were confined to barracks. But, I did agree to take Maggie jumping on the Sunday morning. Not a million miles away, I might add, so I thought that Rhys could come with us. Only then I forgot and promised him a walk along a stretch of the coastal path, and when I remembered again, he was far from impressed.
This baffled me. Was he going to start turning into one of THOSE guys? The ones that say that they’re totally fine with everything you do only to protest last minute, guilt-tripping you into staying put. Surely not, I thought, but he whined about me never giving him any time.
“We were together this morning for almost an hour,” I said.
“Cleaning your truck,” he retorted. That silenced me. Nevertheless, jobs needed doing: feeding calves in the field, changing Prince’s rugs in his field… And so he diligently accompanied me.
It turned out the poor man wanted to propose. It seems that sometimes, it’s ok when your boyfriend starts acting very strangely. I’m surprised that he felt so nervous about it: surely he knew that I wouldn’t turn him down?!
We’ve decided that this engagement won’t be a long affair. The date is set for next July, and so we find ourselves negotiating the minefield that is wedmin (cringe). It seems that there really is so much more to organising a wedding than we ever thought. Who knew that lavatories didn’t just appear, helpfully placed next to your marquee by the toilet fairy? And that caterers didn’t just turn up with pre-prepped weddy-meals, heated and served straight from the van? It can’t be just me.
The ordering of the marquee itself has thus far proved most stressful. It turns out that our lowland farm is far hillier than we previously believed it to be. It also turns out that there are a plethora of tents available, and each one declared, charming, perfect, magical for the ‘big day’; even a vintage army tent. Honestly.
Dress shopping is also not something anybody should undertake unless drunk. While we’re on the subject of dress shopping, any prospective brides who haven’t yet embarked on the first stages of finding the perfect dress, here’s my top tip: don’t wear pink Topshop knicks with any kind of flamingo pattern. It will shine through, distorting your every impression. There is a reason that Alice Temperley never created a single gown with a flamingo on the crotch. Or Vera Wang. Or any other celebrated-or-not bridal collection designer. Trust me.
You should also not have any other form of terrible underwear on, and should be fully aware that any terrible fake-tan faux-pas will be seen by the assisstant who will dress you. Because once you become engaged, you largely lose any autonomy to try on dresses on your own, in your own time, with only yourself to catch a glimpse of the mortifying combination of greying cotton bralet, flamingo emblazoned pants and hideous, diamante encrusted, satin high heels in the mirror.
That said, being dressed in this way is infinately more bearable if you are in a small – locked – boutique with only your nearest and dearest and said assistant present. When I first embarked on the hunt for the dress, I was aware that I had no preconceptions of what my ‘perfect’ gown looked like, and neither did I want to drag my mother and sister to London for this sole purpose more than once. So I went alone. I identified two different types of establishment, and booked an appointment at each of them on the same day. I left the first – a small boutique feeling positive. Perhaps the dress for me is out there somewhere, I thought. I left the second wondering if elopement would allow me to get away with wearing my dungarees. This seemed a worryingly enticing idea. It wasn’t that the dresses were hideous. It’s just that the experience was. First and foremost, the shop floor was enormous, with 8 fitting rooms. There was also no limit on the number of escorts each bride could bring, and stepping out of the closet meant being oggled by 6,000 eyes and the occasional, ‘why don’t you try the one she’s wearing?’ In short, I felt like a factory bride.
Obviously, armed with the knowledge I had gleaned from this forray into dress shopping, I revisited the first store and three others of a similar size. I haven’t yet chosen the one, but I am close. I have tried it on, but I’m not 100% sure which of the shortlist it will be. On thing I am sure of, there will be no flamingoes anywhere near my crotch.