We had been living together for just over a month and I found it difficult to remember the time I lived alone.
The only blot on the landscape was “The Wedding” and I don’t mean by that that I didn’t want to get married to her, I did, very much so, it was just the subject of “The Wedding” that was getting us down.
It had become all consuming, we thought we had been quite canny, leaving it in the hands of our parents but they were driving us mad.
And the wedding had taken on a life of its own, and it was not a life form that we recognized.
We were constantly being pressed for a date and being told that the plans couldn’t proceed any further without knowing the date.
We thought once we got into December their focus would shift from the wedding to Christmas but no it seemed to get worse if anything and it was only the 1st day of the month.
We were both sitting in the lounge at home having both come off the phone with our respective parents engulfed by gloom.
“Why don’t we get away?” I said
“Get away?” Dorcas replied
“Yes, let’s get away for a week and escape the harassment”
Get away?” Dorcas repeated
“We’ll be back in time for Christmas” I continued “but until Then we can avoid all the talk of wedding plans”
Dorcas just sat looking thoughtful so I pressed on
“We’ve both got to holiday to use up”
She said nothing for a full minute and then suddenly she excitedly said
“Let’s go on line and see what’s available”
I switched on the laptop and she sat next to me as I opened the browser
“Do you want sun?” I asked
“No I’m not fussed about the sun” she said
“Ok, do you want activity?”
“No to America and nowhere that’s more than two hours flying time” she said decisively
“So Europe then” I said
“I think so”
“So how about Natural beauty?”
“Well present company accepted”
“You’re so sweet” She said and kissed me
“City break then”
“Oh yes a city break” she said excitedly “but it must be a city I’ve not been to before”
“How about….” I pondered I knew she had been to the usual places, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels etc. so I cast my net a bit further.
“Berlin” I suggested
“Berlin?” she repeated “Oooh I haven’t been there”
“It has history, romance and a Christmas market to boot” I added
“Oooh a Christmas market” she said enthusiastically
“Ok then Berlin it is” I said
“Let’s find somewhere to stay” Dorcas added
An hour later we had a 9 night booking at the Regent Hotel and flights booked for the following Friday, St Nichols Day, 6th December.
And a return flight on the 15th, which would give us a full week to do all the last minute stuff and enjoy the run in to our first Christmas together.
So on the Monday morning we put in our holiday forms to our respective employers and the wheels were set in motion.
We did however have a minor panic when Dorcas couldn’t find her passport.
She thought she had it last when she lived in Finchbottom but after an extensive search of our house and her unpacked boxes proved fruitless the realization that it must be at her parents’ house dawned on us.
The simple thing would have been to ask her mum but that would have alerted her to our plans and would have led to increased wedding questions that would have to be answered before we departed and we didn’t plan on telling anyone we were going away until the last minute.
So she had to leave it until Wednesday afternoon, when she knew her mum would be at the Women’s Institute, when she could sneak into the house and search unmolested.
But all the sneaky subterfuge and stealth paid off and she phoned me from the house to say she had it.
That evening we asked John and Carole from next door to pop in and feed Pandora while we were away and then we were all set.
At that stage they were the only two, outside of work colleagues, that knew we were going away.
So we were feeling very pleased with ourselves when we reached the airport on Friday morning and we had shown the family a clean pair of heels.
But once we got through passport control we phoned Helen to let her know.
“Good for you” she said “I wouldn’t blame you if you got married while you’re away” she said “Have a great time”
We flew into Tegel Airport just after 11.00am and we arrived at the Hotel Regent about an hour and a half later and we were not disappointed by our choice.
It was absolutely beautiful, very luxurious.
We had a beautiful room and from the main window there was a wonderful view of the imposing dome of, what we found out later was the French Cathedral.
We were so very pleased with our lovely room that we didn’t leave it all afternoon.
In fact we only left it in order to go and eat then we went back to the room and had an early night.
We began our holiday proper on Saturday morning after an early breakfast we crammed in a lot on our first day.
We took full advantage of the unseasonably mild weather and did the Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate, the Checkpoint Charlie Museum and the Glienicke Bridge in the morning and the Christmas Market at Charlottenburg Palace after lunch and into the evening.
When we woke up on Sunday morning we were exhausted after packing so much into our first day, so we decided that we should perhaps have a more relaxing day beginning with breakfast to be followed by church.
After speaking to the waiter we took his advice and got a taxi to the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church on the Kurfürstendamm.
And when the driver turned onto the very broad, long boulevard full of shops, houses, hotels and restaurants he said proudly
“This is the Champs-Élysées of Berlin”
“Oh look” Dorcas said excitedly as we pulled up outside the beautiful blue church “they have a Christmas market here too”
As I handed the driver his money he said
“They have Christmas markets everywhere”
“Oh goody” she responded and he laughed
The service was lovely and the new part of the Church with the blue glass was spectacular with the winter sun shining through.
Afterwards we ate lunch of Frickadellen with fries and mayo from a “Schnellie” at the roadside.
After lunch we went to Wannsee and walked around the lakes in the sunshine enjoying the scenery until the evening fell and so did the temperature.
From Monday onwards there was very little sun to speak of and it was bitterly cold but we really didn’t mind as for the rest of the week we got to spend lots of time hugging.
it was an action packed first few days, we shopped at Potsdamer Platz, spent hours at Museums Island, had lunch at the rotating restaurant at the TV tower on Alexanderplatz.
Climbed the victory column in the Tiergarten, visited the Berlin Zoo, went Christmas shopping at the big department store, KaDeWe, and a attended a liberal sprinkling of Chrismas markets, in fact you name it we did it.
It was when we were at the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market that life got interesting.
It was an incredibly cold afternoon and we had both over indulged on Gluwein when her phone rang.
Dorcas looked at the phone and pulled a face, it was not the first call that week to have caused that reaction.
“My mum just doesn’t give up” she said and rejected the call.
“I suppose that’s the price we have to pay” I said “if we want to get married and have the big wedding”
“But I don’t want to” she retorted
“You don’t want to get married?” I asked alarmed
“Of course I want to marry you hon” she said reassuringly
“But I don’t want a big wedding” Dorcas said
“I just want me and you” and then she kissed me
“Let’s do it then” I suggested “let’s do it today, right now”
“What about the family?” she mused “Oooh my Mum will be so mad”
“And mine” I said “But what are they going to do? Ground us?”
Dorcas looked thoughtful as she drank another Gluwein
“And we can have a blessing at St Lucy’s later for family and friends” I added
“Ok let’s do it” Dorcas said and hugged me
“Are you sure?” I asked
“Well I’m sure that I love you,” she said in reply “and I’m sure that you love me, so yes I’m sure”