We were pregnant, that much had sunk in. The idea of being a father had filtered through the layers of sediment and rock that was my reluctance to initially grasp it. The enriched product being bottled at the source was my excitement at becoming a dad. With that now settled, I could return to my task of organising my proposal – something I had planned to do before we even found out we were pregnant.

Proposal? Exactly how long had you known her?

Six months. Yes, six! I know, I’ve read about these scenarios too and believe me, I rolled my eyes at each of them. It would take time to organise though, hopefully if she was a sociopath this would be evident before the proposal. Still…six?


But as the old adage goes – once you know, you know.  What exactly did I need for this proposal? A ring, I think that was pretty important. Something to say perhaps? Words, yes, I’d need words. Oh I’ll just wing it. I’m a confident guy, just speak from the heart and it’ll be fine!

We found out we were pregnant on March 6 2013, we moved in together on March 7 (already planned – no letting agency is THAT quick to take your money) and I asked Kathryn to marry me on June 9.

The quasi-plan

I sat in work a couple of weeks after moving in to the house and tried to think up something original to present Kathryn with, something that would knock her Cath Kidston socks off! I wrote on a post it – “Kathryn, even Liverpool knows Mark loves you!” and took a picture of it, with a background view of Liverpool city centre.

An idea was forming in the back of my mind, and my face froze in a gormless expression – the same one I get when I’m trying to remember something but in trying I’m pushing that memory further away. You know the one!

What if I could get people from around the world to do something similar for me? I could perhaps make a video of it, a slideshow, or a photo album of sorts! Without really thinking I wrote out a message to all my Facebook friends who lived abroad. There were a good few of them that I knew from university who had either gone back to their home country or were working abroad.

The response was phenomenal. I wasn’t sure what I was more pleased with – the amount of people willing to help out or the fact that I had a shed load of these photographs to put in the album! Such an unproductive afternoon at work but I was getting the ball rolling on the proposal, so stuff work!

I won’t post all 80-something of the pictures, but here are a few:

There were many more and perhaps I’ll add them to their own gallery one day but from Uganda to Alaska – my friends had come through!

The find

I had decided to wait to compile the album for Kathryn as there were still images coming through day by day. It turns out, though, I’d waited just that little bit too long…

Kathryn was using my laptop for work one evening and stumbled across the only folder I kept on my desktop – labelled “Kathryn”. Hindsight is 20/20 and I realise now that I should never have named the folder that – what woman isn’t going to check out what a folder named after her contains?! Kathryn saw the images, all of them. She sheepishly confessed to finding them and my heart sank. It was 80% “Nooooo” and 20% “well…at least I don’t have to decide how to present the photographs to you now, but I still get credit for the idea!” – but I’ve never told Kathryn that. I did the standard man-sulk for about 20 minutes then asked her what she thought of the pictures. She loved them!

So with that proposal idea out of the window, I decided to take the more traditional approach.

One ring to rule them all…

Regardless of the method I used to propose, I had to get a ring. Kathryn had always had a thing for marquis-style rings. I knew this, so the style of the ring wasn’t an issue really. She liked bling, but equally she didn’t want to walk the streets looking like Jay Z, I would have to be creative and find the line before I crossed it and made an idiot of myself.

I researched diamonds and became somewhat of an expert on them, for all of a month. I found the stone I wanted in a marquis cut and asked the jewellers if they would customise it by setting smaller stones in the band.

I'd found the stone, but wanted to customise the band
I’d found the stone, but wanted to customise the band

After a 3 day haggle process, I’d managed to get a whopping 25% off the ring – my finest haggle yet (although at the time of writing this, I’ve recently managed to get 30% off fitted wardrobes. Not nearly as glamorous but I have to have full disclosure here. The HONEST Father and all!).

Got it!

We shook hands and a week later the ring had arrived:

I was pretty pleased with the result!
I was pretty pleased with the result!

Bingo. Now to get it home without getting mugged, and to safely hide it once we were home! I’ve never been so afraid of a magpie attack in all my life.

The box it came in was huge – how was I supposed to carry this out with us until I thought the time was right?! We went out a few times for meals and walks and I carried the ring each time, waiting for “that” moment. It didn’t come – it would rain, we’d bump into friends, I’d step in dog crap and ruin the mood – something would always happen.

One weekend we decided to go for a wander round Walton Hall and Gardens after visiting my parents. I had told my mum that I had planned on proposing here so she decided she would posh it up with some tuna sandwiches and a small picnic – I have no idea why this happened if I’m honest, that fishy brine smell doesn’t exactly have a pheromone effect.

Walton Hall and Gardens
Walton Hall and Gardens

The proposal

We sat there, chatting away and picking at the cheese & onion crisps and tuna sandwiches my mum had made us (yes, really) and I felt the time was right. I’m not sure if it was 100% right, or whether I’d just prepared myself too many times for this moment and like a skydiver who noticed the 100th fault with his pack, I was thinking “sod it, I’m doing it now” and jumped.

I’d be lying if I said I could remember everything I said, and I’d be lying if I told you Kathryn heard everything that I said. She didn’t really know what I was doing – I was already sitting on the floor with her when I got up on one knee. I’ve never actually thought about this before, but rising up from the floor on to one knee is not nearly as noticeable as dropping down on one knee from standing. So that major giveaway of getting “down on one knee” was absent. She probably just thought I had cramp…

That was issue number 1.

Issue number 2 was that half way through my genuinely emotional build up, comprising all the “I Love you”s and “I’ll always look after you”s, a very distracting BEEEEP BEEEEP fired up from behind me. It was a f**king bin lorry emptying the bins in the park. A very fitting metaphor for the trashy proposal I felt this was thus far. We could hear them shouting orders to the driver to move backwards, the BEEEP BEEEP of the lorry as it reversed, and the crashes and thuds made by the bin bags hitting the back of the lorry as the workers threw them.

Now at this point my doubts about my timing shifted away from the gloriously simple tuna and cheese & onion odour problem to the noise and mere concept of a bin lorry going past as I was literally trying to propose.


The answer

I managed to limp through the proposal, speaking louder and all the while thinking “this is a new low point for your record of being smooth Mark. Note the time and date, this’ll take a while to beat!”.

At this point Kathryn had cottoned on to what I was doing and as I asked the actual question of “Will *BEEE* you ma-*EEEP*-rry me? *MOVE BACK JOHN, TWO MORE BAGS*” Kathryn smiled and said “Yes, of course I will!”. I can’t believe she didn’t laugh in my face and walk off to find another bloke that wasn’t as hapless, Mr Bean maybe.

If we were on camera somewhere it would have looked like I was spouting nothing but expletives at Kathryn with all that beeping. What a farce it had turned out to be!

So we were engaged, at least that much was true. We both knelt there on the picnic blanket, me with most likely one knee in a half-eaten tuna sandwich, and held each other. Despite the ridiculous happenings, I was ecstatic, truth be told. I was genuinely very, very happy. Not even the football rolling over our picnic blanket, kicked over by the teenage lads that had started to kick it around half way through my proposal, would phase me now.


We went back to Kathryn’s parents’ house. Her mum simply said “I can see the ring you know”, and her dad had seemed to have forgotten our 20 minute chat where I asked for his blessing and discussed the efforts with finding the ring. I think my parents congratulated us, but I can’t be sure. At least there were no more tuna sandwiches in celebration! What I can be sure about though, is that the shine was very much taken off the proposal because we were expecting a baby. I’m not sure if people expected me to propose so it was no surprise, or whether it was just too much to take in, but underwhelming was the word I would use to describe the reaction of family and friends.

Bonus - the ring fit!
Bonus – the ring fit!

So…rather than going as planned and pulling off like some Hollywood film, the whole thing ended up looking like an episode of Shameless, with some Carry on Camping theme in for good measure. I suppose it makes for a decent story, and we still laugh about it now!