Holiday romances are the source of many a story and memory, from Shirley Valentine to bitter regrets after too many drinks under the evening sun and discovering that either the man/woman of your dreams last night has forgotten you or you have forgotten them. Not that any Traveleyes guests would behave in such a way!

On 21st August 2018 a Traveleyes party assembled at London City Airport to leave for Paris Orly and thence to Orleans to visit the Chateaux of the Loire.

I was on my second Traveleyes trip but amongst the other sighted guides was a lady from Northern Ireland, Sylvia, on her first trip. It was her birthday the day of departure.

As usual we were allocated virtual partners for the trip and day partners each day.

Our leader organised the evening meal for everyone and that evening we set off along the banks of a rather dry River Loire for the centre of Orleans. We made a similar journey every evening and on around day 3 it was my day to guide the only VI lady in the party, Alison.

During the dinner the party had divided into two and at one end of the table were Alison, Sylvia and I and one or two others. We had all chatted to each other during the evening as we had done during the days out. That evening as we set off back to the hotel I offered Alison my arm but noticed Sylvia on the opposite side with a smile on her face, probably after successfully consuming a plate of 3 desserts, so on impulse I offered her my other arm, which she took.

She commented on the way back that it had been several years since a man had offered her his arm to take her home.

We repeated this the following night and the remaining ones of the trip, always with broad smiles from both of us.

We chatted to each other but no more than we did to every other person on the trip.

At the end when everyone was exchanging e-mail addresses and ‘phone numbers Sylvia told me she would like us to stay in touch if possible. On our return we did and soon afterwards she invited me to visit her in Northern Ireland.

She had been a widow for 5 years and I had been on my own for nearly 2 so I accepted. A short time later, with considerable trepidation by both of us, I arrived at Belfast airport. We were like teenagers on a first date; unsure what to say or do and both rather hesitant, especially Sylvia who was warned by friends and family about the recklessness of meeting an Englishman!

Suffice it to say we got on amazingly well with each other and so began a series of trips between Yorkshire and Northern Ireland.  The trips became more frequent and lasted longer and on some of them I came on the ferry so that I could bring my dog.

Earlier this year it was clear that the country would be facing a lockdown and by then neither of us wanted to be apart for what we thought might be as long as 4 weeks, so I came across again on the ferry with car and dog, and have been here ever since.

I still have a house to sell in England but have now moved over to Northern Ireland to be with Sylvia.

So my, or rather our, since Sylvia has read this, special moment is not sand between the toes or anything place or weather related. It is the simple gesture of offering an arm to lady and being astonished where it has led.

Thank you Traveleyes!