February 14th: Perhaps the scariest day in the calendar. It is bad enough for spotty teenagers hoping that the postman will be dropping a card through the box. But it so much more difficult for long established couples.
When can you stop being “romantic”? You don’t need to buy a card and chocolates after the age of 50, surely? But if you do not, will you get that “Don’t you love me anymore” look or worse verbal accusation.
If you are going to do something, you might as well do it well, without begrudging the time and expense, and that principle applies to romance as much as it does to anything else. Let’s go for it.
So, what would be an appropriately grand, romantic gesture for a couple in their 50’s or upwards? Contrary to the belief of those spotty teenagers, you are not almost dead at 50, you are just getting your second wind. The chances are that you are fitter than them, infinitely more interesting, funnier, and much more able to enjoy life. So let’s show them that Valentines Day 2020 is so much more than just another card and chocolates day.
I’ve booked you onto a romantic ‘Rendezvous in Rouen” cruise on the new Saga vessel, the Spirit of Discovery. You depart from Southampton on the 12thFebruary, and will be eating a deux at a lovely little restaurant in the backstreets of Rouen on February 14th.
“Rouen,” I hear you question. “Surely Paris is the Capital of Love?” Oh dear, we have a lot of work to do with you on the romantic front. Google can’t be relied upon to get everything right. Paris is a cliché, you can’t celebrate the grand romantic gesture in a cliché. No, the ancient city of Rouen, where Flaubert was born and Joan of Arc died, is where you need to be on the 14thFebruary. When you glide along the Seine into the port, and see the City of Spires reaching for the skies, you will soon understand why Monet loved to paint here, and why Richard the Lionheart insisted that his heart should be buried in the cathedral.
No, Rouen is our little secret. We shall wander through the ancient, cobbled alleyways, we will laugh at the rough hewn Norman peasant scowling in the market as he misses with his boule. It is a little chilly, it is February, so let us drop into this steamy little bar, and enjoy a drop of fiery calvados. My glasses steam up and you take them off to wipe them on your scarf.
We’ve found our restaurant and placed our order. For me, the Agneau, the salt infused lamb from the marshes, and for you, the Poulet D’Auge, the chicken with so much cream that your Personal Trainer will have a heart attack. We’ve rather pushed the boat out on the wine, Pauillac for me, Sancerre for you, expensive, and so right for the perfect evening out. We finish, and slightly tipsy, wander, hand in hand (when did we last do that?) back to the ship
We run laughing, still hand in hand, under the ancient clock tower, to the Cathedral and just stand in front of its impressive majesty. The moon casts its magic spell over the spires and illuminates the huge stained glass windows. This is a moment that we will share together for ever. This is our Rouen.
The Saga Spirit of Discovery seems to have been built with just us in mind. The rooms are spacious, and just so comfortable. The outdoor balcony gives us a great view of the Norman shoreline as we head up the river.
The restaurants are perfect. The food is so good. The service from the crew is outstanding. They are friendly, but so attentive. When we wanted a quiet time, away from the hustle and bustle, and out of our cabin, we headed to the library, where we discovered that we had both bought the same book to take away, the latest William Boyd, Love is Blind.
Not any more it’s not!
We have a lazy day the next day, partly on board, in the gym and the spa….. we need it after last night, before heading back into Rouen for a light lunch. For all your lobsters and steak, sauces and foams, is there really anything more satisfying than a baguette and some camembert, washed down with the local cider? I think not.
We spend the evening in the bar on board, piano quietly tinkling in the background. We’ve met a lovely couple from Finland, who regale us with funny stories about their sauna, and rolling naked in the snow. Mmm, I think I might need to book a few more appointments in the gym before I try that one.
It’s time to head back to Southampton. Four days of just the two of us, four days of remembering why we got together, for being thankful for the children that we produced, the ups and downs of family life.
What a February 14th that was. Why did we wait until we were over 50 to do this?
If you are under 50, please do not worry. It is not too soon to start to enjoy life with a grand romantic gesture, and I have many alternatives available for you
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