I wondered aimlessly around Wadebridge this morning, looking for something for Rachel for Valentine’s Day. It was hard to two reasons. First, there isn’t that much to buy in Wadebridge. And second, I wasn’t feeling particularly romantic. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what was wrong. I poked my head into shop after shop, but there was nothing that made me want to stop and touch the merchandise, never mind actually buy anything. Part of what was wrong I suspect is that I’ve never been a big Valentine’s Day person. It’s always seemed like a Hallmark holiday, schmaltzy cards that you’re supposed to give, along with the obligatory chocolates or other candy.
I finally gave up on the merchandise front and decided to look for a card. There were plenty of sappy red and violet cards with canned sayings that felt no more imaginative than buying a can of Spam. I stopped in to a couple of artsy stores, looking for something, anything, interesting. No luck. In desperation I dropped in to Bricknell’s Stationery Store and found a card with a nice photo of Port Isaac. “Well” I thought, “if nothing else we’ve been there.”
I continued wandering up Molesworthy street, hoping against hope that something would catch my eye. Finally near the top of the street I stopped in at a small book store. I spun the card rack dispiritedly, and picked up a few cards. “Hmmm, quite nice actually ” I thought to myself.
And then I stopped. Because right in front of me was the perfect card. On it was a photo of St. Enodoc Church, the church in which we were married.
St. Enodoc Church sits at the foot of Daymer Bay, in the middle of a golf course, and was once buried in sand in the 17th or 18th century. Depending on what version of the story you believe, it was either buried completely and re-found a hundred years later by someone riding a donkey that kicked the tip of the steeple, or it was buried to the middle of the steeple and for a hundred years the local priest had to drop down with a rope in order say a yearly Mass to keep the church consecrated. Either way, it’s a lovely story, and a lovelier old church with bits from the 9th century, and a courtyard that contains the remains of local families such as the Mabyns, shipwrecked seafarers, the well known English poet John Betjeman, and even Rachel’s grandmother and grandfather Belle and Tom Gaunt.
As I looked at the photo on the card I was struck again by how beautiful this area is. And I thought about Rachel, and how she walked across the golf course on that Saturday morning, with rain clouds threatening overhead, in her wedding dress and green wellies. How beautiful she looked coming down the aisle. How many of our friends came from all over England, the States, and as far away as India to wish us well on that day. And how lucky we are to be together and to have two such lovely boys as Nathaniel and Sebastian.
I put my hand in my pocket, pulled out 1 pound 85, paid the woman behind the counter, and walked up the street whistling at my good fortune. And as I reached the top of the street I looked back and smiled and whispered quietly “Thank you Rachel. Thanks for being my always Valentine.”