Week 52… The final chapter!

So, we've finished our travels. How bonkers is that?! We are already happily ensconced in our new flat in Tunbridge Wells, where we'll start a whole new adventure, which will include becoming husband and wife (in 258 days' time, but who's counting?)! Alex has gone back to work, and I am busily making our home into “ours”…and searching, currently unsuccessfully, for a job! Time to go back to the real world!

Our final few days abroad were spent in Sorrento which was a blessed relief after the hustle and bustle of Rome. Even though it is still a tourist destination, there wasn't the sense of jostling for space with fellow tourists and, even though the shops were clearly catered towards visitors, we didn't see any of the tat that was being touted in the big cities.

This was my third trip to Sorrento and I was keen to show Alex how lovely it is there. Luckily, he liked it as much as I did! I'd booked us into a hotel which, it transpires, was a 15 minute minibus ride from town. This is all well and good if you wanted to get into town at 8am, 9am, 10am or from 4.20pm onwards….but if, like us, you treated yourself to a lie in, you then had to get the local bus. Doesn't sound like much but we were grimly amused by the “timetable” which was definitely more of a suggestion than an actual indication of when the bus might turn up. We spent lots of time clinging to the shade and peering up the road at the sound of every vehicle! However, it was worth the wait as we pottered around town, eating and drinking and generally taking life very easy.

We booked into doing a cooking course one evening. I had done the other cooking course offered nearby so we chose the Old Taverna lesson instead. While we didn't do much besides take notes (I rolled a few meatballs in flour and Alex did some expert sauce stirring…none of these are euphemisms!), we learnt a lot, including the fact that Italians don't put garlic and onions in the same dishes…ever. I was shocked because that's pretty much how I start to make ANY dish! After watching the cooking of our meal, we all ate the produce upstairs, with free flowing wine. The girls with whom who we'd been sharing the lesson suddenly all started to be a lot more chatty, when away from the constant questions of our teacher. We ate our delicious meal and got to know each other. When we all headed outside afterwards, in true Brit fashion, Alex and I asked if anyone cared to join us for another drink and continued conversation. Luckily for us, even though the two Aussie girls said no, the two Canadian girls said yes and we headed to a nearby bar/restaurant. Where we sat and talked for 6 hours….and 4 bottles of wine! It sounds bad (the volume of alcohol consumed) but it wasn't a case of getting drunk together, it was more that we were all so enjoying our conversations that we didn't want the night to end….so kept replenishing the bottle in front of us…until 2am! What would four not-entirely-sober tourists in Italy want at 2am? Gelato! So off we popped to find somewhere to buy gelato at that time in the morning. I'm as surprised as you that we managed it!

So that was the end of it all. We've done so much over the last year, it's almost incomprehensible to me. Things we did back in Vietnam, at the beginning of our trip, now feel like a dream!

Everyone asks what our highlights were and I think Alex and I both agree that we would recommend the following to anyone:

  • The motorbike tour in Vietnam
  • The orangutans (and silver leaf monkies) in Malaysia
  • Queenstown, New Zealand
  • The Grand Canyon
  • And of course, we loved DisneyWorld!

Here are some figures for you all, to round off the post:

  • 51 weeks from start to finish
  • 12 countries
  • Too many flights to count!
  • 94 different beds (I've just counted that in my head so i might have missed out a few!)
  • 8 visitors (including mum, dad and Gus twice!)
  • 1 medical drama (pretty good going for a whole year!)
  • 1 mad dash to the airport after forgetting a passport
  • 3 visits to Disney parks
  • 1 engagement!
  • 1 amazing year!!
 

Milly & Alex x

 

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Week 50…Florence, Siena and Rome

We've been puttering around Italy for the duration of this week, taking everything in slowly and with relaxation. It's tropically hot (which was a bit of a surprise!) and, as we've spent so long doing “the tourist thing” this year, we've decided to just do as much as we feel, rather than rush around like headless chickens.

In Florence, we stayed in a lovely Airbnb apartment; however, as lovely as it was, I hadn't factored in how hot it would be (meaning all windows need to be open to be able to exist without sweat pouring from every part of your skin) nor how noisey the road outside would remain throughout the night. We had to move from the stunning front bedroom to the smaller back bedroom just to be able to sleep! It's the first Airbnb place I've reviewed with “would not recommend”…which is a bit of a shame! It's easy to forget that, in order to be close to the sights, you're essentially in the centre of town and so near all the bars etc! Something to always keep in mind.

We had a lovely time wandering around the city, taking in the sights at a leisurely pace, eating a lot, drinking lovely wine and generally relaxing! We went to an amazing restaurant/wine bar called Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina where there is a very small menu which is designed to complement the wines they offer. As you may have noticed, we love wine and we love trying new wines and learning (though, usually, by the end of a wine tasting session, we've forgotten all the info we've been given!) so we were in 7th heaven! The food was incredible and, although we'd ordered the Italian flight of wine, the table next to us recommended a white wine that tastes like a red…so of course we tried that too…and, because we were enthusiastic and interested, our waiter brought us a free sample of a new wine they'd only opened that day! It was delicious! As it should be: it had been maturing for 5 years and, on tasting it at the vineyard, the restaurant owners loved it so much they bought the whole supply! There are only 2500 bottles and they are all there! As you can imagine, we were there at the end, as the boys were trying to close up, and we all bid each other goodbye with cries of “ciao!” and kisses on the cheek for everyone!

As we've found during our time in Italy, the main sights are very sadly over run with tourists. I had so looked forward to showing Florence to Alex but my decade old memories misled me: I didn't remember 5 hour queues to get into the Uffizi or 3 hours to see David (which we didn't manage!). It does make me sad to think that we won't be able to give our children that first experience of the city that I had, when I loved it and was awed by it all! Both Alex and I have visited Rome before but neither of us have ever seen so many thousands of people that throng through every church and museum. Even to the point that, yesterday, there was an apocalyptic thunderstorm (even though I am an atheist, I can understand why people believe in gods when you see and hear natural spectacles like that!) and there was still a queue half way around St Peter's square to get into the basilica!

I love the basilica; it is such an impressive and emotive space and the sculptures there have the solidity and fluidity to both anchor the subjects in our world while also harnessing the huge muscle structures and angelic flowing drapery to envoke a “godly” reaction. Imagine yourself back in that basilica, hundreds of years ago, without any formal education: it would be impossible to believe man alone could create such majesty. Unlike the Sistine chapel which always leaves me a bit deflated (it may be the fact that it is SO well photographed and documented, or the hoards of people pushing past you and talking loudly despite the repeated instruction to remain quiet), the Pieta is something I could look at for hours. Hard to believe Michelangelo was only 23 when he carved it!

Tomorrow, we head down to Sorrento for the final few days of our year of travels! We hope to squeeze in a cooking class, a trip to Capri and (if the weather perks up!) a trip to the blue caves!!

Milly x

 

 

Week 49… Slovenia and Venice

Hello there!! As I mentioned in my previous post, we had been in Croatia and were heading to Slovenia. We happily hopped on a ridiculous flight fronSplit airport, to Belgrade (Serbia!) and then onto Ljubljana in Slovenia!

They have a dragon bridge in Ljubljana!

If you haven't been to Ljubljana, or have no concept of what it might be like, we highly recommend it: the old town is just lovely. Luckily for us, when we lamented only having booked one night in town before heading to Lake Bled, little did we know that, on our way back through the capital to get to Venice, we'd be unexpectedly held up and could enjoy another day pottering around! I'll just give you the run down of the time we spent there, even though it comes chronologically AFTER Bled. As we hadn't expected to be there, we hadn't researched anything to do or see. We made the most of this unexpected delay to wander around the old town, hop on a boat that meandered down the river and back for 45 mins and drink wine (infinitely better than Croatian wine!) in the sunshine! We even spotted a guy from the English TV programme “The Green Wing”. Productive day all round.

Ljubljana was a delightful surprise: it had the fairy tale feeling of a town created by Disney, but with an atmosphere that was lively and engaging. Unfortunately, as we saw, it looks like it'll become the new Amsterdam or Budapest where British stag dos flock to get raucously drunk and obnoxious. If you want to visit, get there quickly, before the hoards descend. That's my recommendation. We were staying in a less than salubrious hotel (thanks LastMinute.com for finding us a hotel at that late notice at all, though!) and had, in order to get to the river and restaurants, to walk through an area that, if I were alone, I would have been slightly intimidated by. However, as a duo, it was charming and bohemian, with throngs of people in the streets drinking and eating falafel. Instead of mingling there, as fun as it was sure to have been, we headed to a restaurant called Spajzo which was on the other side of the old town and had excellent reviews. I'm so very glad we did because, despite not having reservations, we were shown to their “overflow room” which was the old wine cellar and had a spectacular dinner there! They were so apologetic about the room but we loved it: you'd pay big bucks in London to sit in a renovated wine cellar! The waiter was the best I think I've ever experienced: he was informative, attentive, enthusiastic and also recommended wines for each course. He had impeccable taste which was, surprisingly, not astronomically expensive either!

Prior to Ljubljana, we had spent four days by Lake Bled. Again, this place looked like it was lifted straight from a Disney fairy tale. The lake was huge, with turquoise water, a castle up on the cliff face to your right and an island with a gorgeous old church sitting happily in the middle. We took a rowing boat out to the island one day which was lovely (maybe more so for me as Alex did all the rowing!) and then climbed up to the church where, to our delight, there was a cafe that sold mini bottles of bubbles and strawberries! That's my kind of church-going! The tradition at this church is for new grooms to carry their brides up the 99 steep steps, without either of them saying a word. Needless to say, Alex didn't hulk all 5 foot 10 inches of me over his shoulder and climb up them….as I certainly wouldn't have been able to stay quiet!

Bled is a place that I would strongly suggest for a few days to unwind: go to the saunas and pools in your hotel after a strenous day of strolling slowly around a beautiful lake. It's a tough life! The only things that slightly marred the place for me was that the food wasn't good (where tour groups go, food always suffers, I find) and it took 4 tries for the staff at our particular hotel to manage to get “double bed” right. First it was twin beds, then twin beds pushed together, then twin beds with a double duvet stretched across them…and finally twin beds with a sheet covering both mattresses so they vaguely held together, and a double duvet. As you can probably imagine, I was somewhat frustrated with this encounter.

On one of our days, we took a trip over to Lake Bohinj which, like Lake Bled, is absolutely stunning! There are fewer tourists there but there are many activities you can do: paragliding, water rafting, kayaking, hiking, canyoning: the lot!

After our Slovenia stint, we headed over to Venice (with the unexpected pit stop in Ljubljana; it turns out there's just one bus a day from the capital to Venice…and it leaves at 8.15am!) where we spent one night. We utilised our time by, once again, strolling around and taking in the town. Where we would have been rushing around in the crowds, queuing endlessly for the “big sights”, we have now become very relaxed and prefer to just wander around and experience places that way. We took one look at the masses of people in San Marco square, for instance, and immediately turned on our heels to find somewhere quieter and smaller. Much more to our taste. We did, however, indulge in the tourist trap known as the gondola…and loved every second of it. We'd both been on one before but never together so we bit the €80 proverbial bullet and thank goodness we did. The difference between navigating the crowds in those narrow alleys and the quiet peace of floating down the canals was immeasurable. Our top tip for Venice is: get lunch from Alfredo's take away…considering a mediocre Venetian dinner cost us €100(!!), it was a joy to have large portions of delicious, freshly made pasta from Alfredo's for a sum total of €14 for us both! We even got snapped by the Japanese tourists that gondola-ed past us as we sat on the steps of a deserted alley: I bet they'd be disappointed to know we are English rather than Italian.

Now we are in Florence. The heat has skyrocketed so we are spending most of our time trying to stay cool (37 degrees is unnecessarily hot!) while, again, drinking lovely wine, eating lovely food and admiring lovely architecture! We hope to circumnavigate the 5 hour queues to get into the Uffizi gallery by having bought tickets online…unfortunately, it looks like we'll have to brave the 2 hour queue to see Michael Angelo's David. Alex hasn't seen it before and it'd be a total shame to come all this way and not go make David's acquaintance!

Milly x

 

Week 48 (!)…a bit of everything and back in the road!

It's been a long time since I last posted and that is purely because, back at home, it was pretty darn busy! It's amazing how quickly three weeks go by…I had something planned for every single day, including a jaunt over to Paris and Lille with my cousins and their boyfriends for Haz and Jo's birthdays (a brilliant surprise organised by their boys!) and mums birthday!

Mum's birthday first: I popped a calendar invite into her diary for one evening and organised for just the two of us to go for a slap up dinner and then to an evening of burlesque acts and life drawing! I've been dying to go to Dr Sketchys for ages and, as mum and I enjoy life drawing and have spent many an hour together indulging in our hobby, I thought it was a perfect way to celebrate her birthday. We had such fun (despite it being held in a very dodgey pub in Vauxhall and the wine being almost unpalatable!) and here are my best efforts:

A few days later, I headed down to Lewes on Haz and Jo's birthday and surprised them with the news that I would be accompanying them on their surprise trip to France the following morning! I'm so lucky to have two of my best friends who are also my family: not many people have that, I know. The five of us had a lovely time, despite the rain trying its very hardest to drown us, as well as me getting sicker from the tap water than I ever had in Asia (!): we ate, drank, wandered, laughed and chatted! A really great few days! I really love Paris, which I always forget until I'm there. Also, to that point, Alex and I have booked our honeymoon, half of which will be spent there!

In the two days that Alex had back in the UK, between coming back from the ship and us jetting off to Croatia (oh yes, we've gone again!), we managed to find a new home in Tunbridge Wells. We planned to move to a village around that area but, after discussing it, we realised it would be an easier transition from London to move to a town (where I'll have three of my friends coincidentally moving there too!) and then move onto a village in the next year or so. Therefore, once we land back in the UK, I will be coordinating men with vans to take all of our possessions and install them in our new abode. It's all change this year: new home, new surname, new job (I'm searching currently)

So, onto where we currently find ourselves. We are in Croatia! What a beautiful country! We have spent three days in Dubrovnik and three here in Split and we've loved every moment. The food is incredible, the people are really friendly, the architecture is utterly romantic ….and the wine is AWFUL! Haha! We made the mistake once in ordering a glass to have with lunch….and haven't touched a drop until we stumbled across some Argentinian Malbec yesterday and so snatched up a bottle to drink up on the little terrace upstairs from our apartment. It was lovely to sit up there, overlooking the jumble of rooftops and washing waving gently in the breeze, listening to great music and drinking delicious wine with my fiancé (yup, we haven't stopped gratuitously calling each other that!).

Today, we went on a Game of Thrones tour around the Diocletian palace (which is not a specific building: it's the majority of Split's old town!) and the Klis fortress. Alex and I got particularly geeky when our guide pointed out that we were in the exact spot seen in one episode where the slaves revolt against the masters in Meeran. Apologies if you don't watch GoT…this will be dreadfully dull for you! We also saw the road on which Daenerys nailed the 131 (I think) masters and where the slaves all watched as she freed them from their bonds. Now I am definitely going to book onto a Harry Potter walking tour back in London…I mean, we loved the Keys to The Kingdom tour at Disney, now GoT…so why not embrace our fangirly tendencies and go for the Potterverse one too?!

Tomorrow, we bid farewell to Croatia and head into Slovenia. We will spend one night in Ljubljana and then will wend our way to Lake Bled where Alex is keen to go hiking etc….and I've seen the hotel has a spa, saunas, aromatherapy steam rooms and massage….so I've told him to have a great time on his walks! Haha!

Milly x

 

Week 44….Orlando and the UK

It's been a two week break since my last post so there's a fair bit to catch up on. For starters, we worked our way from Charleston back down to Orlando, where my family came out to join us for a week in Disney!

Along the journey back to Orlando, Alex and I decided to give Savannah another chance as we felt that we had maligned it; there were so many positive reviews online that we must have missed something! I am very glad we did give it another go because, this time round, I made sure we were staying in the historic district (to avoid endless drives through the bland, faceless “suburbs”) and we had received some tips from a local on places to go eat etc. While we were still not blown away by Savannah, we really loved one of the places we had been recommended: The Olde Pink House.

It was one of the old buildings in the historic district that had been converted into a very swish restaurant. We turned up in our flip flops and jeans and felt very self conscious but had some great food (still insanely huge portions, but it is America after all!) in very opulent surroundings and then headed down to the basement for a couple of drinks in their bar. Thank goodness we did because it was completely our taste: candle lit, with a piano playing old lady who was dressed impeccably, and great drinks! It even had an old sign from the pub in Sussex that my family had gone to the weekend before, for Easter!

A few days later, mum, dad and Gus turned up in Florida and we spent the week together which was lovely! We spent 4 days in Disney/Universal parks which I'm sure you don't need to hear more about. Needless to say we had a great time all together and were exceptionally good at managing the parks so we queued as little as possible! We are Super Park Goers!

On our first full day together, mum and I went bridal shopping. We found “The One” and bought it!! It was very exciting and I am absolutely thrilled with it! No pictures for you though as I will not be showing it to anyone until the big day! The big day that is now officially booked: Alex and I found the venue yesterday and have paid the deposit. Talk about organised wedmin; we've only been engaged three and a bit weeks and we already have the venue and the dress! This is our venue:

 

It's odd how UN-odd it is to be back in the UK! It feels like we never left really. I did well up a little bit when my plane touched down, however. I have LOVED these last ten months but my heart is well and truly lost to England! It also helps that this return isn't permanent: we are easing ourselves out of the nomadic lifestyle by heading off to Croatia, Slovenia and Italy for a month! We leave on the 24th May!

 

Milly x

 

Week 42…between Orlando and Charleston

I promise to only mention engagements and weddings etc a few times…a lot of times….all of the times. No, ok, I'll focus and tell you what we we've been up to for the last week.

After our stint in Disney (where Alex proposed…you may not know that yet?), we spent two days in Universal Studios. As a hardcore Disney fan, I'm always left slightly disappointed by Universal: it doesn't have the same magic for me. Although, I'll always jump at the chance to go! Alex agreed with me for the most part until, that is, we got to The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter. It was spectacular! Hogsmeade was recreated beautifully, the rides were incredible and the styling was impressively detailed! We actually speculated whether Universal had poached some Imagineers from Disney as the level of work was that impressive! If you get a chance to go: do not hesitate. It's fantastic!

Following the best week of my life in Disney (where we got engaged, did I mention that?), Alex and I got the best engagement present from his work: an extra 2 weeks together! Due to his vessel having to travel through pirate-infested waters, Alex's crew aren't being called back offshore for a fortnight which means A. we get more time together to enjoy this time in our life, B. I don't have to be on my own for 10 days between him leaving and my family arriving, C. he gets to spend a week with his in-laws in Walt Disney World and D. his shift on the boat will only be a couple of weeks! All in all, it's been fantastic news!

So, we now had 10 days to plan together which is a much nicer prospect than planning 10 days alone. Thanks to Erin (our engagement artist….I think I've mentioned her, right?), we had a few suggestions of places to go on our way up to Charleston. I had decided on Charleston for two reasons which were that my friend Sophie had been and loved it and also there is a new reality tv programme set there which is even more ridiculous than TOWIE and Made in Chelsea combined! Love it. Erin suggested two pit stops along the way: St Augustine and Savannah.

Alex in front of the oldest schoolhouse in America (St Augustine)

St Augustine was a genius suggestion and we really loved it there. It is the oldest town in America and has the feeling of an old Cornish town mixed with a Wild West set. There are chocolate and ice cream shops at most corners and so many restaurants to choose from! The buildings are really quaint and pretty and it really appealed to us. On our first night there, Alex googled restaurants in the old town and the top spot was taken by a place called Collage…we looked it up and decided it was definitely for us! Dinner there was so delicious that not only did we book immediately for the following night but also to return when my family are in the US! Yes, we are going to drive the 2 hour journey to take them to a restaurant. Clearly we have become American…they don't seem phased by ridiculous car journeys.

Speaking of ridiculous car journeys, have any of you driven in America before? I hadn't before February this year. Considering we have seen the driving in Vietnam (life threatening), Cambodia (no regard for safety), Malaysia (abysmal) and Indonesia (hahahaha!!), you'd think that nothing would unnerve us these days. That was until we came to America and witnessed the total lack of awareness displayed by the majority of drivers on the roads here. It's a miracle we haven't been hit in the thousands of miles we've travelled from one coast to the other! Also, in that vein, the American road planning office need a stern talking to: it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to have the traffic joining the motorway a few metres before the offramp. None. At all. It's stupid.

Sunset in St Augustine

After St Augustine, we headed over to Savannah. I am ashamed to admit that we didn't make the most of it. In fact, we are going to stop there on the way back to Orlando so we can actually give it a go. The problem was that we were staying outside the historic district and, on our first night, headed down to River Street which is the tourist drag. Our GPS directed us through some very scary neighbourhoods and, as she monotonously informed us “your destination will be on the right”, we were turning into an industrial dock yard with very rough looking men loitering around. Needless to say, we weren't impressed and decided to scrap the notion of dinner in that area that evening. Instead, we took to Tripadvisor to find a nice sushi place. We went to the top rated sushi joint in Savannah….it was a complete dive and the food was mediocre at best.

Having said all of that, we are going back as we read a bit more online and people really rave about Savannah, so we want to find out what it is they love. We've booked into a place in the heart of the historic district so hopefully there will be a different vibe the second time around.

So, currently we are in Charleston. Again, we are staying in a motel outside the historic district but we will be heading into town tonight for a nice dinner and then exploring the historic area tomorrow, weather permitting. If it is anything like yesterday however, we'll have to make a pit stop at Target for umbrellas, wellies and galoshes first: it really knows how to rain over here!

See you next week!

Milly x

The photo that nearly ruined the proposal! This is what I jumped up to snap!

Details from Be Our Guest, the Beauty and the Beast themed restaurant.

 

Week 41…Orlando and SO much more

WE ARE ENGAGED!! Four days ago, Alex made me the happiest girl in the entire world, in “the happiest place in the world”, and asked me to marry him! I can't explain how immensely happy I am, how immensely happy we both are! We both keep staring at my ring-clad finger or gratuitously calling each other “fiancé” and the amount of kisses being bandied around is frankly bordering on ridiculous! 🙂

Alex planned and executed the perfect proposal which was incredibly original and so touching it made me cry my eyes out! He had chosen Walt Disney World as he knows how much I love it…I had an inkling he might pop the question here but I had no idea that he'd do it in such an unexpected way….and here is the story:

On our first day in the parks, I had booked for us to go to the new Beauty and the Beast themed restaurant which I had read about and was rumoured to be beautiful. We popped on our glad rags and headed over there to have dinner which was lovely, with champagne and twinkling chandeliers above us. I had thought that maybe, just maybe, it'd happen there so, when the end of the evening came round and we decided to head home instead of to Downtown Disney (to get a caricature), I resigned myself to it not happening at all. At that point, I decided not to second guess everything and to just enjoy our week without any expectations. Little did I know that the ring was, at that very moment, secured in his shirt pocket.

The following day, we got up very early to go to Magic Kingdom for a 5 hour walking tour called “Keys To The Kingdom” which I was very excited about. As I had decided not to assume Alex would be proposing imminently, I didn't exactly make the biggest effort in my appearance that day. Floral denim shorts and a black strappy top does not a Disney princess make….neither does 90%-humidity-affected-hair. During the tour, I excused myself at one of the bathroom stops and, as it turns out, while I was in there, Alex took our guide to one side and explained that he was planning on proposing that afternoon and could Jimmy help him with something? In true Milly fashion, I almost ruined it by, at the end of the tour, barging into the conclusion of their conversation and getting both men rather flustered as they stumbled to cover up what they'd been discussing (a secret photographer to capture what was to come!). Luckily for Alex, when in Walt Disney World, I'm like a child hyped up on sugar so was immediately distracted by something else shiny and Disneyfied!

Alex had suggested, the previous night, that we get a caricature done of us and I agreed: what a fun idea! As we'd been taking the tour, we'd seen a caricature artist and both had noted to come back that afternoon so, as we wandered up Main Street, we headed over to get a picture done. It was apparently accidental but I love that, in typical bossy fashion, it was me who suggested heading over at that particular moment so it didn't feel suspicious at all…it just appears to have been coincidence that I thought of it just at the time Alex was intending to head there too! After 5 hours of walking (and intensely grilling Jimmy with Disney related questions), I was pooped so plonked myself down on the chair while Alex organised with the artist. Again, little did I know it but he was secret squirrelling with me only a matter of feet away, completely oblivious! He spoke with Erin (our artist) to explain his plan and she assured him she had assisted in this manner before so he was in safe hands.

The drawing took about an hour and we chatted away with Erin…well, I did and Alex interjected occasionally. Very uncharacteristic of him! At one point, I realised I could feel his heatbeat through the side of his chest and asked him if he was ok; he blamed it on the pressure of sitting for a drawing and also the small crowd that had begun to watch. While Erin was drawing us, the afternoon parade went past. Once I knew she'd finished with me and a magnificent Malificent dragon float went past, I hopped up to quickly snap a picture…and sent everyone into panic apparently! I was good though and didn't look at the picture as, ironically, I had thought it would be nice to have the reveal together at the end! When I got up, Erin flung her arms across the drawing, the photographer stood between me and the easel and Alex had a mini heart attack. I sat down again, completely unawares and babbled away at Alex about the floats!

Once the parade went by, the small crowd grew and people seemed very interested in our drawing, even to the point of photgraphing it which I thought was odd. I even said to Alex “why do we have a crowd?”. I don't remember what he replied but I'm sure he was freaking out about it and I know he was worried someone in the audience would let the cat out of the bag.

Eventually, Erin was finished and asked if we ready to see it (eyes very much on Alex!). As she turned it around, I thought “oh that's a lovely pi-wait, what?!” as I spotted the stance the drawings were in and the speech bubble from caricature-Alex saying “will you marry me?”! My mouth fell open and apparently I just stared at it agape until Alex got on one knee next to me, at which point I looked at him and immediately welled up and grinned! He didn't manage to get his full rehearsed line of “will you do me the honour of making me your husband, and becoming my wife?” out as the crowd started to applaud and I was nodding fiercely through my tears! He even had to ask “well, will you?” as I was still completely mute! Of course I said yes over and over and over again at that point!

I have never been so happy and so terrified in my life. It was like the best roller coaster and the most intense stage fright I've ever experienced. It's only looking back at the pictures now that I can see how it unfolded as, at the time, I was so focused on Alex that I didn't really hear anything or see anything else apart from him! Pure tunnel vision.

After the crowd had dispersed and we'd had numerous photos taken, we were finally alone (or as alone as you can be in Magic Kingdom, on Main Street in front of the castle!) and we were grinning at each other like Cheshire cats. It was a totally surreal moment to be staring down at the most beautiful ring and knowing that Alex and I are going to be married…officially! Alex suggested phoning people to let them know but I really wanted an hour or so just for the two of us…to enjoy that feeling all alone.

Alex has done the most fantastic job with the ring too! I know I am a fussy lady when it comes to jewelry and he has chosen a ring that is just completely perfect! I had seen a ring I liked about a year ago, maybe more, and shown it to him….however, at £7k, I knew it was a no go. The ring Alex has given me is probably MORE beautiful as it suits me down to the ground…I have very skinny fingers and this ring is dramatic yet delicate and is just perfect. I can't stop staring at it. I love it first and foremost for what it signifies…and then because SPARKLES!!

So now we are engaged, and we are sickeningly happy! Alex has said that, on top of being happy to be engaged, he is relieved not to have to lie or pretend to me anymore!

I'll probably write about Disney next week but, this week, I am 100% preoccupied with this momentous, thrilling and amazing event..and the man who asked me to marry him!

Love from us both

Milly & Alex x