The bull and the marriage proposal

Jake and I had been together for a couple of years when he asked me to marry him.  I had already been married twice before so was not really ready to make the commitment again. But a cycle trip, a lot of rain, a charging bull and cows trampling our campsite, changed all that.

I had put the following photo of me on social media with the following caption.

‘These are my new designer sunglasses. I hope I don’t lose them. The last pair I bought 37 years ago, were eaten by cows! Jake and I were cycle camping in Shropshire when we left our campsite and cycled into Ludlow for a meal. Over a Chinese, Jake asked me to marry him. I said yes, and very happily we cycled back to find our campsite overrun and trampled by a herd of cows. And yes my beautiful, red designer sunglasses had been chomped. I never had the heart to buy another pair, but now I have!! They have fairly light lenses because my darling husband always wants to look into my eyes.’

I thought I’d write a bit more of a back story which involves -the bull.

Jake was once a great cyclist and would think nothing of cycling to Wales from London. We decided to go on a cycle camping trip to Shropshire and back. I was terrified as I didn’t know if I could do it. I was 34 and not particularly fit. It was hard going but I managed several steep up and down hills and found that as the days progressed, so did my stamina. It rained a lot and many times I had to wring out my socks.

But I persevered. We spent each evening in front of a campfire and it became quite magical even in the rain.

We went off road for long spells which meant that I had to hoist my bike and camping gear, up and over lots of fences. After having heard how weak and feeble I had claimed I was, Jake was quite impressed. We were pushing our bikes through a large field in Shropshire, when we were run at by a bull. Jake insists it was a bullock but boy I was terrified. It was giant and looked very much like a bull to me. It came charging at us at ferocious speed. The fence was too far to run to and I stood there petrified, thinking this was the end of the line, and we would be gored to death. Jake calmly put his bike down and to my horror charged at the bull, yelling and waving his arms about. The bull did not stop but kept coming. A scream froze in my throat as Jake charged again. I couldn’t believe it. Then miraculously just a few short feet from Jake, the bull stopped, turned around, and sloped off.  Jake became my instant hero. I felt he had saved both our lives. We decided to go out for a meal that night so set up camp near a stream. We saw cows on the other side but decided the camp was safe. 

We went off on our bikes to Ludlow, the nearest town. The only place open was a Chinese takeaway- so we sat in a corner over a plastic, red and white table cloth and ordered our meal and glasses of wine. Jake wanted to make a toast- so looking me in the eye, he said. ‘I have so loved this camping trip with you, and have been deeply impressed by your strength and hardiness. You are the kind of woman I want to journey through life with. Will you marry me?’

I didn’t particularly want to go down the marriage route again, but the ‘yes’ just jumped out of my mouth. This guy could scare off a bull. This was the kind of man I wanted; someone who would protect me and make me feel safe. We cycled back to our campsite which had been trampled by cows. Much better I thought than us being trampled by a bull. My red designer sunglasses were mangled inside the butter dish.

Jake has kept a comprehensive journal for the last 40 years and just in the last couple of years has condensed it into a book. I asked him what his entry was after this camping trip, expecting it to be a description of the marriage proposal. But no, I was shocked to discover that the only entry after we got back was ‘Eva’s a cxxt’ The romantic idyll was short-lived and not even referred to in his journal. We fought a lot in those early years, so obviously had had another fight after we got back.

Our website describes the ups and downs of our relationship and how we got through those fights. And, now Jake is even more my romantic hero. We were recently in London and returning from a show to our hotel and had to go down an underpass. At the end, were a bunch of unsavoury looking characters. I was scared and hoped we wouldn’t get mugged. I told Jake I was afraid. His answer was ‘Don’t worry darling- if any of those guys try anything there will be some serious injuries- something they will never forget.’ I relaxed totally. This was the man who saw off a bull. We sailed past the mob, without incident. I was with my guy and protected by his bristling ‘don’t mess with me’ aura.

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