I fell in love on a horse riding holiday… I went alone, needing to get away from my work, and just to give myself a break. I decided on Italy, the country of love! Beautiful valleys sweeping away into the distance, the sound of running water from my Juliet-style balcony, the warmth of the sun on my face, and a waiter at my door with a large bottle of Dom Perignon (courtesy of the man in room 42).
I am not normally in the habit of accepting champagne from random men, but what the hell, I was on holiday, alone, and I wanted to let my hair down. The telephone on the side table started ringing and stopped as I gingerly picked up the receiver. “Hello?” Something swept over me as I heard this deep and husky voice from the other end of the line and butterflies flitted in my stomach. My breath quickened. I put down the phone slowly, all the while smiling to myself. The man from room 42… Hector, we arranged to meet just before sundown to ride out to the large lake at the bottom of the valley. He assured me the view would be breathtaking, and he would organise a picnic supper together by the lake. It all sounded very romantic! I decided that such an occasion meant a hair wash and tore into the bathroom to explore the soaps and other perfumed goods that you find in swanky hotel bathrooms.
Slightly tiddled from the champagne that I had managed to consume single handed, and nervous about my appearance as I made my way down to the stables. A little early, there was no one about apart from the grooms and I helped to tack up the dark mare that I was to ride. Over my shoulder came a dark shadow and I spun around to find myself gazing into deep hazel eyes, with gentle crow’s feet framing his lashes. I was shocked, stunned, and knew I should have shaved my legs! A basket picnic hamper, as promised, was saddled up with us, as well as deep red tartan rugs and some oats for the horses.
Hector was right, the scenery was spectacular and even to this day I remember every minute detail as we trotted down to the vast grey lake. The sun was setting, but the air was light with a slight breeze that played with my fringe. He commented on it, and carefully swept my hair back and behind my ears. I thanked him, but still he lingered close to me. At that moment, both of us astride gleaming dark mares, we shared a moment that will stay with me forever. And for our twentieth wedding anniversary next year, we are going back to Italy, back to the country of love, back to the many sweeping forests, back to the vast grey lake, back to the gleaming horses, and back to where I fell in love with my Hector.