Raised in the Midlands on a weekend TV cocktail of James Bond movies (Saturday nights) and Formula One racing (Sunday afternoons), when I reached the grand old age of 18 I was more than a little curious to see what attracted England’s top secret agent to the hard stuff. After all, Bond is England’s finest…and we know that because Her Majesty the Queen trusts him to skydive her into the Olympics.
Five years ago I sampled Bond’s lifestyle. I dined with my new husband at one of the most prestigious restaurants in Florida, Victoria & Albert’s.
It was 2008, our Disney honeymoon, and as I fell even deeper in love with my newly wed husband whilst he adjusted the bow around his neck, I drank it all in. Life was perfect. My husband, dressed in his Bondesque tuxedo, lovingly complimented me as I sashayed along beside him in my delicate evening gown, and we made our way skywards in the exclusive bronzed Grand Floridian lift to enjoy the finest of Florida’s cuisine.
It was romantic, it was perfect. Pure heaven was presented to us on a myriad of beautiful china platters over seven consecutive courses. Decadent and simply exquisite. We spoke of our future together, held hands, and at the end of the evening, presented with a single, long stemmed red rose, I felt like a Bond girl as I slipped into the already turned down, Egyptian cotton sheets on the concierge level of the resort to sleep peacefully.
Fast forward five years and gone are the James Bond tuxedos and glamorous dresses, wisely replaced by jeans and t-shirts. New Years cocktail soirées and corporate balls have become teddy bear picnic events with confetti-stuffed party poppers shot gleefully into the air whilst watching Jools Holland. Our time alone is all but gone, and it’s so hard to see my husband as the man I married, no matter how hard I squint through my lens. If we ever were Bond-like in style, we’re so far undercover now that we’ve gone rogue.
These years are without a doubt the most precious and beautiful of our lives, as we create and build our family together. Yet as we grow together, I feel sometimes feel the desperate need to press the reset button, to try and reconnect as the newly weds we once were. Occasionally, selfishly, we need to refocus our lens on each other alone.
This year I was determined. Our fifth anniversary. I hoped to celebrate our marriage and remember the day we smiled “I do” in the Florida sunshine, the morning we vowed to spend the rest of our lives together; the Tuesday when, if I could have seen this far into the future as I alighted from Cinderella’s carriage in my twinkly satin gown and sparkly crown, I might possibly have burst with happiness for what was to come. In marrying my husband, in birthing two babies, in storybook style my dreams have come true; I feel complete.
So I tried. I planned. I shopped in the sweltering heat for the my bottle of the most beautiful jewel hued Bombay Sapphire gin, juicy Summer fruits and fresh ice (we have mint in the garden), I meticulously organised our grown up cocktail evening in the garden. The boys would be in bed by 9pm, and we’d be celebrating by twilight.
Sadly, as the heat played havoc with our little ones’ comfort, the sandman was elusive until gone 11 p.m. and as we swapped in and out of rooms with cold cloths and icy water, at half past eleven, bodies frazzled and nerves frayed, we opted for quiche and salad watching late night TV. I felt so deflated. Defeated. My “us” lens couldn’t lock focus.
The following day, refreshed, I rethought my mission. Late that afternoon, in the seemingly non-relenting, baking, Summer sun, the professionals were drafted in. Our garden played host to two of the most dedicated, mischievously handsome, Tom-Cruise-in-Cocktail-Esque young men. They bought with them fluorescent mixers, striped straws, a melody of fruit and soda water…and they set to work.
They mixed, measured, shook, and served us, their doting parents, the sweetest cocktails for our anniversary.
As I raised my camera, I finally locked focus as I saw my husband….and saw myself, but not physically. We were reflected in the laughter of two giggling boys in our back garden, blissfully unaware of their parents’ exhaustion, bringing more sunshine than Florida into our lives, transforming our previously very ordinary into completely extraordinary. Celebrating the little things. Nailing the focus with my lens clearly, I realised. I just hadn’t been looking for the light.
Later that afternoon, as our mixologists continued on their mission by generously offering the huskies a sampling of their fruity, fizzy wares, Dadda and I took time to indulge in the creation of our grown up drinks too…. We settled on the Vesper Martini (Bond’s own recipe), and in honour of our Majesty’s Secret Service, a red, white and Sapphire (Raspberry Tom Collins). Simple, deliciously cool, cocktails.
Eventually, as the last raspberry was crushed and the last Sorento lemon slice drained of juice, the sun dipped reluctantly beyond the horizon. Together, my husband and I finally wrestled two little boys into cotton t-shirts light enough for Summer nights, and I considered Bond’s life once more as Gavin and I finally raised our glasses, by star studded moonlight, to loving each other for over a decade. Bond and I are more alike than I imagined…and not just because we enjoy the sip of a cool, citrus crisp Vesper Martini.
You see, I’m deep down, bottom of my heart happy. Five years ago I married my best friend, and each night as I lay my head onto my pillow and gaze upward at the night sky, my heart beats fast in happy certainty. The man that’s lay next to me for the past twelve years, night after night, adores me. I’m both unconditionally loved and continually cherished, and I can’t ever imagine my life being as magical or fulfilled without him by my side. Diamonds might be forever, but so is our marriage…and Bond’s money can’t buy him love.
For in true Bond style, when it comes down to the wire, whatever comes our way… We might be shaken…but we’re never stirred.
Happy Anniversary, Mr. Jones. Because this is how they should be.