Our life had become steady and we knew we were going to stay together. Somehow we wanted to make our relation more formal. Marriage would be an obvious choice. Barbara actually proposed to me. Well, not really a proposal in a romantic setting. More a statement during a conversation, something like 'I want to getting married next June'.

As we thought of marriage we also realized that Barbara's mother was not going to accept this. We were certain that she would disconnect Barbara from the family. Barbara obviously didn't want this to happen and there was no reason why we should force it. Marriage would not change anything in our lives, we still be living the same way. It would make things only more difficult for Barbara. Also Barbara was still financially dependent of her mother, although my parents probably would help out if we really wanted. Therefore we finally decided against marriage.
Engagement seems the best alternative. We didn't need permission from her mother, she didn't even have to know, and we still could promise each other formally that we stay together.

We decided for a sort formal engagement with a party, rings and a promise. The party was no problem, my parents offered to have the party at their house in the Netherlands. We invited my family including uncles and aunts, our English friends from Cambridge and my Dutch friends, this turned out to be quite a crowd.

Finding suitable rings was a more difficult problem. Barbara wanted a ring with a diamond and I wanted a plain (but not boring) ring. We walked for weeks around in the centre of London looking for suitable rings. And if we found ones we liked, they didn't fit or couldn't be ready in time. We didn't mind really wondering around the centre of London. During winter London is a very nice 'warm' city. With al the shop decorations and the activities on the streets, especially around Christmas time it s very romantic in London. Finally, after seeing nearly every jewelry in central London we found the rings we wanted. Barbara got her diamond and I got my gold ring. I remember them as nice rings, especially Barbara's one. A small ring with a v-shaped crown and a small diamond on top of it.

The party was held in wintertime. I went earlier to my parents house to arrange everything. Barbara came with the English friends later. On the day she was meant to arrive, there were very heavy snowstorms and the journey nearly had to be cancelled. We all had a great time at my parents house. All the friends who had come over from England stayed there. They were sleeping everywhere, behind the couch, in the hallway, in the attic. We went skating, had snowball fights and just hang out together. The snow and ice made it extra romantic, especially when walking through the woods.

The engagement ceremony itself was to be formal. My eldest brother was the master of ceremony and he wanted it to be a traditional engagement. Barbara was very pleased it was organized this way. Being formal was for her a sigh that everybody would take this engagement seriously. Just before the ceremony she was a bit sad, she felt sorry that her mother wasn't here to share this moment with her, as she said that she had never been happier in her life.

The ceremony went as planned. First welcoming al the guest, even my aunt from Australia had come. Then the speech from my brother, the promise we made to each other with the rings, the kiss and then al the presents. It was a long night and Barbara shined all the time. When we came downstairs the following day there were still some guest partying. The days that followed we spent skating and the snowball fights continued. I remember it as perfect, romantic time together, with a very sparkling Barbara.

Barbara never told her mother about the engagement. When her mother asked her about the ring, Barbara told her that it was just a present from me.




而订婚是一个最佳的替代方案。我们不需要得到她母亲的许可,她不知道也没有关系。而我们两个仍然可以正式地彼此承诺长相厮守。于是我们决定要举办一个比较正式的订婚仪式加聚会。 聚会安排没有问题。我父母提议用他们在荷兰的房子作为场地。我们邀请了我的家人,包括叔叔阿姨舅舅舅妈,我们在剑桥的朋友,我的荷兰朋友,加起来有不少人。


订婚聚会安排在冬天。我先去了我父母家安排一切。Barbara后一步和英国的朋友们过来。他们来的那一天遇到了很大的暴风雪,几乎不能成行。 最终大家在我父母家里度过了愉快的时光。所有英国的朋友都在家里过夜。他们在家里随便找地方睡了,沙发后面,过道上,阁楼里都睡了人。我们去滑冰,打雪仗,一直呆在一起。冰天雪地令一切更加浪漫,尤其当我们在树林中漫步的时候。

订婚仪式本身很正式, 我大哥是仪式主持人。他希望做成一个传统的订婚仪式。Barbara也很高兴有这样仪式形式。对她而言,正式仪式意味着每个人都把这次订婚看得很认真。仪式开始前她有点难过,她说那是她人生最快乐的一刻,她觉得遗憾母亲不能和她分享那个时刻。仪式如计划进行。首先欢迎来宾,我远在澳洲的阿姨也来参加了。然后是我哥哥致词,我们彼此许下诺言并交换戒指。 那晚的聚会延续到很晚。Barbara整晚都光彩照人。我们第二天下楼来的时候,还有些客人没散场呢。接下来的几天,我们还是继续滑冰打雪仗。 在我的记忆中,身边的Barbara闪耀亮丽,那是我们在一起的完美的浪漫时光。


(Thanks to Natalie for the translation)

1979 engagement  ceremony 1

 The beginning of the ceremony 仪式开始

1979 engagement 2

The promise 诺言

 1979 engagement the kiss 1


1979 engagement the kiss 2

  The kiss 订婚之吻


1979 engagement present 3

One of the more suggestive gifts 有暗示的礼物之一 

 1979 engagement being proud

 A very pleased Barbara, proudly showing her ring on what might have been the happiest day of her life.



In my mother’s apartment (she passed away in december 2016) I found the engagement ring that Barbara gave to me. I thought I lost it a long time ago, but now it seemed that my mother kept it all that time.




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