I knew Lewis was going to propose. The exact extent of my involvement is quite funny, mostly because everyone thought I was oblivious to what was going on around me.
The first hint that something was amiss was when Lewis was driving me home after an evening at my mum’s house. He couldn’t stop grinning and every time I tried to speak to him, he ignored me, so blatantly wrapped up in his own head. After living with him for 5 years, I know him pretty damn well.
The next clue that something was up happened a few days later. Lewis and I work together in the same office. Out of the blue he yells out ungraciously, “Oh, I just have to take a phone call now.” This is followed by him leaving the room at a record pace and making his way up the stairs. Not fishy at all, right?
Fast-forward a day or so and Lewis casually asks me if, when the time comes to get engaged, would my perfect engagement be just us or surrounded by loved ones. Not a giveaway at all?
The following evening Lewis needs my phone for something. Of course, he doesn’t think to cover his tracks. When I was reunited with my phone, my first thought is to see what tabs are open. The most recent tab open is my contacts and my sister’s number is on the screen.
It was all adding up nicely.
The final piece in the jigsaw almost was well executed. We were visiting my dad and I didn’t notice anything funny until we got home. I spilt lots of biscuit crumbs on my seat in the car and was hoping Lewis hadn’t noticed. As we entered the house, I stopped abruptly when I noticed Lewis lingering by the door.
Oh no, had he noticed the crumbs?
He started shifting agitatedly. “What?”
“What?” I repeated, just as confused.
“Why are you looking at me?” He was practically yelling in panic.
“Why are you being so weird?”
“Why are you looking at me?”
“I’m not!” I turned around, exasperated.
“Stop it!” He proclaimed.
Of course, his shifty attitude suddenly brought me to his trail. He wanted to get something out the car. I would then act like I didn’t think anything was up. Honestly, I didn’t think anything was up till he started flailing about.
Lewis raced into the car before coming out with his coat hugged closely against his chest. Grinning sheepishly, he ran into the other room with his coat… like you do.
I promise I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop or uncover anything else. I even held my hands against my ears. But the sound of the safe combination being tapped is too loud.
Finally, everything I knew bubbled over and the secret was out.
I didn’t mind that I knew as much as I did. I’d found it a fun experience watching Lewis squirm as he tried to keep a secret. Bless him, he really did try his best. Ultimately, it’s a good thing that he can’t hide things from me.
So now I knew about Lewis’ plans. He had invited my family on holiday with us where the proposal would take place. He had also invited his family but they couldn’t make it. Now he just needed to decide which country to propose in, book the accommodation, flights and rental vehicles.
I normally book all our trips away so I did have involvement in this. OK, OK, I chose the country, villa and cars. Lewis did find the flights for everyone which was hard to organise as family were flying from different corners of the UK.
We were going to Tenerife!
Situated off the coast of Morocco in north west Africa, are the Canary islands. This archipelago is part of Spain and is famed for its volcanoes and wild coastlines. Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands and is home to the third tallest volcano in the world, Mount Teide.
I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Tenerife before. However my previous trips all took place when I was a little tot and so my memories of this volcanic island are rather vague. Therefore I was excited to reacquaint myself with the mysterious island in the middle of the Atlantic ocean.
We were four hours into our flight to Tenerife when I saw the towering summit of Mount Teide poking through the clouds. I knew Teide was big, but I didn’t know it was that big. My jaw practically hit the floor in astonishment. Little did I know at this point, the best view of Teide was in fact on this side of the clouds. As we descended, the shy volcano disappeared from view.
I have two lasting memories of Tenerife – other than Loro Parque which I was obsessed with as a child. These days I am rather anti-zoo in contrast, especially zoos which allow the performance of orcas – and that is the view of mount Teide and also the huge rock at the airport. I know it sounds random but there’s a massive red rock that sits on Tenerife’s southern coastline and as a child I loved watching it from the airport. It had such a lasting effect on me that I even had a dream about this rock recently (I’m weird and kinda rock-obsessed, okay). This rock is called Red Mountain or ‘Montaña Roja’.
As our plane neared the runway of Tenerife South Airport, I let out an excited squeal as I lay eyes on Montaña Roja. It was everything as majestic as I remembered and more! In fact, I had no idea it was so huge. Interestingly, Tenerife’s former natives called the Guanches also had a deep respect for Montaña Roja. They marvelled at its 171 metre height.
Mount Teide and Montaña Roja were respectable rock constructions in my mind. However, my ultimate prize for this trip was to witness an even more special rock – and no I’m not at this point talking about the proposal! No, in Mount Teide National Park, there are some very, very special rock formations, crafted by years of weathering and volcanic activity. But we’ll get onto this later.
Once we had touched-down on the island, we picked up our two rental cars. Behind such a large group, we needed both a 7-seater Volvo X90 and an Alfra Romeo Stelvio 4×4. Ensuring both vehicles were 4x4s was imperative as the road to our villa was said to be rather steep and bumpy. Our hosts had warned us off anything too small. I was now very excited to see just what this road was like.
We were staying 30 minutes north of the airport, nestled in the mountains Granadilla de Abona and amongst the foothills of the great crater in which Teide lies. The landscape here was shrouded in lush coniferous woodland.
Our drive began by taking us along the main road which loops round the island. It wasn’t long before we left this ring-road behind us and began to head inland, following colourful towns as their wide corridors of road tilted upwards.
Once we left the towns behind us, low shrubs became abundant, dotting the dusty, cracked earth around us. We were then met to the turn-off to our road. A narrow dirt track snaked up into the mountains at a scarily steep gradient. I was in the Alfra Romeo with my mum, brother and my brother’s friend. My mum was driving. She began to get nervous as she tackled the perilous slopes, the ground becoming more and more uneven under the bounding wheels of our car.
We were deep into Tenerife’s countryside now, passing a range of exotic villas as well as farms with their livestock and chickens spilling out onto the untarred road. The track became ever-narrower and we held our breath, praying that no vehicle would try and pass us.
Beside us, the surrounding buildings vanished and our stony trail was hugged only by foliage on one side and a perilous drop on the other. Yelps of terror came from the vehicle. From our incredible elevation we could actually see all the way down to the airport with Montaña Roja silhouetted by the sea.
As if the road couldn’t get any more death-defying. Up ahead, the road turned on a sharp hairpin bend before shooting up at an angle only slightly short of vertical. Where this bend took place there was a huge drop just off the side of it, a drop that would send one crashing to their doom. Not only that, the trail we’d been driving on appeared to get even more rugged with sharp stones jutting out from amongst potholes. My mum took one look, screamed and stopped the car.
“Oh, Ella!” She cried. “I can’t do it.”
“Fine.” I unstrapped my seatbelt and exited the vehicle.
A cold blast of mountain air hit me, much more icy than the humid breeze at the airport. To put it in perspective just how high we had travelled, the airport is situated at sea-level. We were now 2,800 feet above sea-level. In other words, we’d climbed 2,800 feet in 30 minutes.
I took my position in the driver’s seat and fired up the engine. Determination lit my eyes as I took in the sharp contour in the road. Without a moment’s hesitation, I began to navigate our cream vehicle around the uneven ground, feeling each ungraceful bump that hit our sturdy tyres. I watched as the road sloped abruptly upwards and found myself staring into the clouds for a moment before I refocused myself on the stony path ahead. We lurched to the left and then the right, rocking frantically in our seats. The car was alive with squeals of a mixture of delight and terror.
We didn’t know how much longer the road would continue for and could only let out a sigh of relief when we reached the gates to our villa. I was pretty sure that my passengers wanted to kiss the ground as we parked up outside our home for the next few days.
“You’re in safe hands.” I smiled. “Remember, I took an off-roading course.” And I don’t let anyone forget that!
The villa was absolutely incredible. Being a party of 8 people, we had needed a heck of a lot of bedrooms. We’d found a mountain villa on AirBnB which had 3 double-bedrooms in the main house, 2 double-bedrooms in a separate apartment building and 3 caves, 2 of which had twin beds. As if this wasn’t enough, the villa also came with a pool which had its on waterslide going into it (not for people to sleep in, duh, but pretty cool, right?). We also had 2 horses on site as well as a ménage and stables.
But for now it was time to settle down and admire the breath-taking view. Don’t worry, I’ll go into more details on the house later on!
It wasn’t long before evening was upon us. We knew that on our first night we wanted to try some of the local cuisine. The restaurant of choice was a traditional restaurant in the local town of Granadilla de Abona called ‘Tasca Tierras del Sur’.
Although it had occurred to me that Lewis could pop the question tonight, I knew we had 3 nights in Tenerife and I honestly didn’t think about exactly what moment it would happen. In fact, to an extent, I kinda forgot about it! The thrill of being in a new place seemed to have made me lose my bearings.
Tasca Tierras del Sur was a unique restaurant unlike anything we had ever been to. Upon arrival, an eccentric waiter (who I think may have also been the owner) asked us for our order and then proceeded to not listen to it at all. He decided that he had a better idea about what we should all be eating. This was even more shocking as one of our party was a vegan. The waiter proclaimed “You all will eat everything. If there’s lamb, you will all eat the lamb.” Eventually after much protesting, he decided not to force any meat on her… cheese however was another matter. It’s safe to say that none of us had a clue what was going on but we rolled with it.
Lewis looked like he was about to burst with excitement throughout the entire ordering (not that you can exactly call it that) process. When he asked Scarlett to take some group photos, I knew what was coming and turned into a giddy, awkward mess.
Lewis got down on one knee and presented the most gorgeous ring I had ever laid eyes on. When he said the words “Will you marry me?” I almost didn’t hear them as my world went blurry. It was the most surreal moment of my life that I barely managed to get the words out.
“Yes.” I choked. I remembered hearing my dad in the background ask ‘was that a yes?’ so I had to repeat it louder before throwing my arms around Lewis’ neck and feeling the thumping of his heart against mine. Was this really happening? Although I knew it was coming, nothing can prepare you for the exact moment. It was absolutely perfect. I was engaged. We were engaged.
Our table erupted into cheers and flash photography. I then did rounds, having my photo taken with various people, like a celebrity, as well as holding out my ring finger, now dressed with the most beautiful, perfect diamond.
The food was good. That is, I’m pretty sure it was delicious but if I’m being honest, the rest of the night was a blur with excitement. How can you focus on eating when you’ve just got engaged? All I remember was that there was lots and lots of cheese. And it just kept coming! More and more dishes were presented and we didn’t know what anything was because we hadn’t ordered any of it. We had no idea when it would stop. It was madness!
Eventually, the last cheese dish arrived, just before we exploded, turning into giant cheese-balls. It’s a good thing I love cheese.
And so our eventful day in Tenerife came to a close, but not before we had a near-death experience. As we bumped up the stony track to our villa in the dark, with nothing but our headlights to guide us, my dad slowed at the hairpin bend.
“Is it left or right here?”
Now, the thing about my dad is no matter what you reply, he always goes left. He doesn’t know his left from right and seems to love left for some reason. In fact, earlier that very day, when him and Lewis were driving from the airport, he asked whether to go left or right, Lewis said ‘right’ and he went left anyway. However, in this particular case, there was no left. He had arrived at the hairpin bend which only went right. The ‘left’ that he believed was there was in fact a sheer drop off the side of a cliff.
“Right! There is no left!” I screamed, barely contemplating that he could have just driven us off the cliff there and then.
By some way of a miracle he remembered which way was right for the first and last time in his life and we lived to tell the tale.