Sometimes you know it’s going to be one of those days. Things had started well. Yvonne and her boyfriend Ugo had arrived on Friday morning to pick us up for our weekend away. OK, we weren’t going to what might seem to be the most exotic location in the world- Bradford- but ‘Wowcher’ had been generous with the price and the pictures of the hotel looked promising. It’s the first time in years I’ve managed to get Lady J away and with her health issues we needed a family break before seeing the oncologist next week.
Anyway they arrived and we set off. Since Ugo considers eating an Olympic sport and he’s constantly in training we decided to stop off for a late breakfast on the M62 just North of Manchester. Afetr facing a meal with real fortitude it was time to resume the journey. I had been outside having a cigarette when my three amigos came out and we started to head back to the car.
Being on my crutches I’m slower to move off than most but I’d also paid a visit to the service station shop to buy little holiday gifts for everyone.For Ugo I’d chosen a watch. He held back with me as he put it on and the women walked ahead. Ugo had just said to me ” I need to have a word please, you know how much I love Yvonne” when the converstaion was broken up as a car window lowered and someone gestured to us and called out ” Scusi, scusi, una momento por favore.” Ugo, being a kind hearted eating machine thought that directions might be needed and walked over. Less sure of the purpose, I followed behind.
“I am Cosi fan tutti” said the gesturing arm ” I work for D & G in Milano and I over here in Manchester for big conference. I have a watch left over worth foura hundreda pounds, is yours for sixty eh.” The car was parked beneath a notice warning people to be careful of unlicensed traders in the car parks and so Ugo politely declined and the gesturing arm withdrew.
He carried on talking to me as though there had been no interuption. ” Well, I’d like your permission to ask her to marry me.”
I judged it unseemly to kiss him and then cheer so I responded that it was a lovely idea and I approved.
“I’ll ask her tonight at dinner then when I find the best time. Will you look after the ring for me please until I ask for it.” I agreed.
We arrived in Bradford and pulled into the hotel car park just as a police van pulled to a halt sirens blaring outside the wall, next to a bus that didn’t seem to be going anywhere. It didn’t seem to bode well for the stay but we decided to go in anyway. I’m going to be honest and say it wasn’t the most appealing exterior I’d seen. But inside it’s a four star hotel with a five star staff.
We spent the afternoon walking through the local park, round the boating lake, looking at the art exhibition in Cartwright Hall and having a nice coffee. As we walked round we spied out the land and looked for the sister hotel to our own where the evening meals are available. Finding it wasn’t too far away but from the outside just looking like a normal home we decided to risk it and when we got back to our hotel asked them to book us in.
Seven o’clock and two episodes of Big Bang Theory later we’re all ready to go. The taxi arrives and we pile in arriving at the Lister hotel about 10 seconds after we left the Cartwright Hotel. What a difference the inside of the Lister brings. It’s spotless and what seems like a professsaional maitre D leads us to seats. Is Ugo sweating?
We order the drinks and then I nip to the gents closely followed by Ugo who wants to know when is the best time to do the deed. “Perhaps after the main course and before the sweet” I tell him.”I’ll give you the ring then.”
Wonderful starters, tremendous first course and Ugo excuses himself to go to the loo. ” I won’t waste the opportunity” I say and Lady J looks askance at me and suggests I cut down on my drinking as though lime and lemonade has a lot to answer for. I depart , pass Ugo the ring and leave a brief pause before following him back to the table.
We order dessert and somewhere the angels are gawping in disbelief because Lady J has declined.
Ugo turned to Yvonne his heart in his mouth which doesn’t leave much room for his tongue and starts to tell her how much he loves her. His hand reaches for the box holding the ring and Yvonne starts to shake. “Will you do me the honour” he says as Yvonne shakes some more and repeats her new mantra of ” You can’t be asking me that, oh Dear, not now, oh he’s on his knee, get up Ugo” and promptly turns to face the wall covering her mouth with her hand as she cries with what I pray is joy. I grab Yvonne’s free hand and ask her to turn round as everything is alright. Lady J holds the other hand away from Yvonne’s face gently and turning to me says
“You knew and didn’t tell me?”
“That’s what secret means Dear” I answer edging away from the fists.”Come on Yvonne, this is lovely.” Whereupon Yvonne finally turned round and accepted the ring from Ugo with a resounding YES. Sighs of relief from the truly helpful staff who were now able to serve the dessert.
We returned to our hotel where they had heard the good news. The Bradford jungle telegraph seeemingly works even faster than our local Mothers Union. We were even bought a round of drinks which was a great gesture even though my stomach lining may never be the same again.
Today we have made sure BT’s profit for the next quarter is assured, I have been forgiven for not warning everyone of Ugo’s intent and we spent a great time at Skipton Castle and the town market. Yvonne has finally stopped shaking but is walking round with one arm displayed in front of herself so she can see the ring and accidentally prod others to make sure they don’t miss it to.
Tonight three of us had a drink in the bar while Julia rested. We head home tomorrow morning after breakfast. This has been a great experience and will no doubt end up in a book somewhere when I start writing again.
I would like to thank Ruth who took so much time to download information on local activities for us. The young lady at the bar in the Lister Hotel was helpful too. The staff behind the bar at the Cartwright Hotel have also been kind including I’m told Ruth’s better half.
The owner of these two hotels has put a lot of time , effort and capital into creating an understated but perfect atmosphere in both. The comfort and cleanliness is second to none.
If Bradford’s your destination then bear these places in mind.