View From The Top

It’s now only 2 weeks (that’s 14 DAYS, readers!) until the Great Any Other Relaunch and we’re continuing to work our derrières off behind the scenes to bring you AOW, but even better.  We’ve got some brilliant new ideas for series coming up, that we know you will love, and some exciting new developments that we are bursting at the seams to talk to you about.   

Keep your eyes peeled for competitions…we’re still collecting prizes for our giveaway (there are some incredible ones in there already…people are so generous…please e-mail us at if you’ve anything to add). We’re particularly interested in those small, creative businesses that are out there – maybe you’re a start-up and want to get some recognition – you are who we at AOW believe in, and want to support.  Make yourselves known to us – we’d love to work with you!


Welcome to the next installment of Rach M’s epic, family saga of an engagement story.  You can readprevious chapters here, suffice to say it’s been building towards this gorgeous moment, this well-deserved and perfect moment in time that didn’t come particularly…easily.  I know some of you will recognise what Rach went through, the anticipation, the frustration, the lupine howl (brilliant).  Over to you, Rach:   

Following my Mum’s denouement that I was about to be proposed to (Thanks Mum), I was now looking ahead to my holiday in Tuscany with M with a mixture of excitement and anxiety. When was he going to do it? Where? Why couldn’t I just not know so that I could bloody relax? Argghhh.

Thankfully I only had two and a half days on tenterhooks. We spent a lovely night in Pisa, which everyone had told us was nothing special but which we loved, finding a quirky little theatre themed restaurant with masks on the walls, a piano in the corner and an incredibly friendly man who foisted upon us course after course of Pisan delight. We walked through the cobbled streets and marveled at the buzz and throng of people everywhere – there was an impromptu choir in a square, mopeds and bicycles weaving through crowds and groups of young people drinking beside the river Arno. It was just like one of those little ad things between songs on the Eurovision song contest and I loved it.

The following day we arrived in Firenze. We spent our first evening discovering windy back streets and cobblestoned piazzas. The next day – Monday – dawned bright, clear and surprisingly hot.

“Ask me, Ask me, Ask me”, I sang under my breath as I ironed a nice dress and marveled that my manicure hadn’t yet chipped.

“Well, you never know”, thought I. M, not being a Smiths fan, didn’t twig.

We headed into Firenze that bright autumn Monday morning. Florence was laid out like a beautiful feast – glorious buildings reflected in the mirror of the Arno. everything so light and bright and full of history.

As we approached Ponte Vecchio on the riverside a lady asked me to take a photo for her, and to get a better shot I stepped backwards into the road, into the path of an oncoming bus. M’s exclamation is not printable here, suffice to say he saved me from a fate worse than death by local bus. He was probably jumpy following the two road accidents we’d witnessed in the space of two days – both being moped riders knocked off by buses. I’m happy to report that no-one died, including me.

On we went into the city. We crossed Ponte Vecchio in the bright morning light, dazzled by the sparkle from the bling in the jewellry shops. M grabbed my arm, awestruck and turned to me.

“Oh my God This is it This is it”, I thought.

He leaned in to me.

“I’ve been here before….!” He announced. “In a game.”

(Speechless pause. If any of you are videogame widows you’ll feel my pain here. The game in question is Assassin’s Creed, in case you give a toss. Which I don’t.) I cocked my head to one side and let out a lupine howl.

Maybe this isn’t going to be that romantic after all I thought, and tried to put it out of my mind. We headed for the Duomo, and began the arduous climb to the top. As it turns out, I don’t have a head for heights. As I began climbing, my claustrophobia kicked in, and I started to panic and hyperventilate, palms sweaty against the clammy stone. Part of the climb involves walking along a tiny balcony on the inside of the dome ceiling – looking down at the tourists on the cathedral floor below through a plexiglass screen.  I thought my legs were going to give way, but M was behind me for every step, kind, patient, talking me through it. By the time we got to the top, I was sweaty-palmed, slick-haired and breathing heavily.  Delightful.

“I think you’d better sit down”, said M. Some German schoolkids took one look at me and scuttled in terror, vacating a nearby bench.

I inched gratefully towards it clinging to the back wall, sat down, took a deep breath. The view from the top was stunning. I took it in while M walked around the whole viewing platform once to see it from all sides. While he was gone I muttered about pulling myself together and tried my hardest to do just that.

Stunning Florence, from the Duomo, October 2011

I looked about me and the view was glorious, really fabulous. Worth the hard work and anxiety of getting there. The view of the mountains basking in the sunshine and the heat rising off the buildings is something I’ll never forget.

M returned, sat down next to me and held my hand. I was light with quelled hysteria, a sweaty, shaky mess. But he held my hand and smoothed it til I was calm. He’d just seen me at my worst, like he has many times over the years we’ve been together. He’d navigated me through my panic, steered me to the top, made me calm.

Then he asked me to marry him. And I said yes.

Post-proposal pic. Calm, relieved and engaged.

Coming soon!  The final installment…

Categories: Engagement, Family, Friends and Relationships
9 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted February 20, 2012 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    "It was just like one of those little ad things between songs on the Eurovision song contest"

    I know I should be saying congratulations, but instead I am snickering away into my morning coffee because this description has cracked. me. up. I can picture it exactly.

    Also, I totally got the Smiths reference. Nice.

    And now – congratulations!

  2. Posted February 20, 2012 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Yes, Kirsty, that is an excellent line- I chuckled too!

    Rach M you know I love this series! Make it into a book and I will buy it. Really.


    Roll on the next instalment!

  3. Posted February 20, 2012 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    I've loved this whole series but like Kirsty particularly enjoyed the eurovisin reference. It makes me want to jump on a plane (and I hate flying so that's saying something) and hunt out that exact spot.

  4. Posted February 20, 2012 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Congratulations :)

    On the video game widow-ness, if you can't beat them join them…! (though admittedly I was a bit of a geek to start with anyway so it might not work for everyone!)

  5. Posted February 20, 2012 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    Rach, you paint pictures with your words, I feel like I was right there with you! Loving this series, bring on part 5!

    K x

  6. Sarah
    Posted February 20, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Yay! I felt right with you throughout reading that. Mainly because your writing is brilliant, but also because I suffered a very similar height-induced hysteria at the foot of Christ the Redeemer in Rio on our honeymoon – totally ruined the moment!

    I'm looking forward to the next installment – and hope Rach's mum makes another appearence!x

  7. Posted February 20, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    I went up the Duomo as a child and there was just a SKIPPING ROPE between the public and oblivion. I am not scared of heights but it felt as if every gust of wind would smash me to the floor. Glad they got something a tad more robust for your big moment!

  8. Posted February 20, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Loving the next installment! Your writing is totally captivating Rach! Can't believe we've still got more to come.

    Glad you made it to the top for your special moment!


  9. Posted February 20, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    Thanks ladies, you've made my day! Glad you enjoyed it. Do you think there's scope for an Any Other Journey where we share travel finds?! Oh and fear not, Mum's reappearing soon….! Rxx

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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