Caroline Verdon column: True love and romance is as individual as we are

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We were talking about romance this week. Not a snog behind the bikeshed romance but the full blown Hollywood kind.

The fireworks, the butterflies in the stomach, the pottery wheel in Ghost. We wondered if it actually existed in real life. My husband and I have been together for nine years now and when we first got together we had our moments - there was the odd bouquet sent to work and the occasional surprise romantic break but that time seems like an eternity ago!

Romance now has more to do with thoughtfulness – like him buying me the new yogurts that I’d been going on about and me getting him a Starbucks on my way home from work. It works for us, we know each other cares and it’s certainly the little things that make the difference rather than the big gestures (although Rob if you’re reading this I’ll never say no to a bunch of gladioli!).

Ant gets married this year and he and his fiancé Katie take lack of romance to the extreme – there are no candlelit dinners or flowers in their relationship, there’s not even the odd cutesy text and there never has been. Their ideal date would be go karting at Team Sport followed by a Five Guys. The very idea of schmaltz has them both running for the hills and/or reaching for a bucket.

I presumed they were the least romantic couple in Leeds but I was wrong – very, very wrong! Katey called us from Rothwell to tell us all about how her husband proposed. She was asleep on the sofa, he nudged her and woke her up, held a ring out and said “do you want this?” She said “why not” and they’ve been very happily married ever since. She doesn’t do romantic things for him, he doesn’t do them for her and that’s exactly how they both like it.

She doesn’t even buy him presents for his birthday anymore and neither does he after he was told to return the last one he bought – he turned up with a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes for her and she told him to get his money back - in her words “we’ve got kids to feed and look after I’ve got the school run to do where was I going to wear them? What a ridiculous waste of money.” That told him! But they’re happy, they work, they don’t need hearts and flowers. We had lots of calls from people whose relationships were similar – Sophie in Seacroft said she’s had flowers from her other half three times and they’ve been together for 25 years. Sean in Beeston said the way his wife is romantic is by getting him and his mates in some beers and pizzas whenever the cup final is on because he knows she does it to make him happy.

I was beginning to lose hope but then we found it. Romance so full on it’s like a scene from an American rom com. Michelle lives in Chapel Allerton and she described herself as an old romantic. When her husband proposed to her he really went for it. She arrived home to find an iPod in the hallway and a post it note saying “play track 1”. When she listened it was him explaining how he’d booked them a romantic spa weekend in Dublin.

“It’s the sort of thing he’d do fairly regularly, he loves surprises. The recording then told me to go into the lounge where my suitcase was already packed and there was a drink waiting for me and then a driver turned up to take me to the airport – Pete was going to meet me at the other end. He’d prepared tracks of my favourite music to listen to on the flight and then arranged for me to be picked up by another driver. My family are from Dublin so I knew the route well and had travelled it many times but when the driver dropped me off, it was at a church, not at a spa. I got out of the taxi and Pete was there on one knee – he told me that this was the church my grandparents were married in 60 years ago on that very day and then he asked me to be his wife. It was so romantic, so thoughtful and just like a fairytale”. Wow. Talk about being straight out of a Disney movie.

What was interesting was hearing from all these people who all described their relationships as good but also all had completely different ideas about what romance looked like and how it factored in their relationship. True love and romance isn’t something that we’re told about in books or films, it’s something that’s as individual as we are.

Maybe I’m a cheapskate?

It was Ant’s daughter’s fourth birthday the other week and at her party he noticed how expensive the gifts were that she was given from her nursery friends.

We’re talking an average cost of around £30. When it comes to parties for my two-year-old, we tend to spend between £5-10 tops – less if I can find a bargain in the sales. Am I the cheap parent at the party? I think there are various explanations as to why Ant’s daughter’s gifts were so pricey– Jessica from Morley suggested parents were probably regifting presents they didn’t want that had been leftover from Christmas. Steve in Kirkstall reckoned they’d all bought them in the January sales and so were a lot cheaper than they looked. My absolute favourite call on this came from Sinead who said her daughter’s birthday was in September and so her party was one of the first in the school year. Her daughter would get lots of lovely presents and when she was invited to others throughout the year, they’d just not reciprocate. She’d send her daughter to the party but argued presents aren’t compulsory and if others choose to buy that’s up to them but that it’s too expensive at a tenner a pop to buy for every do her daughter gets invited to and so she had a blanket rule and that was that they buy for no one. It’s not something I could do. I’m too bothered about what people would say in the playground but I’m also out of pocket by about £200 a year.

I’ll be making a snow angel

I love snow. There. I said it. Minus my accent it’s the one thing that sets me out as an outsider.

My husband is Yorkshire born and bred and our return to God’s County was partially due to his homesickness but mainly due to just how great a place it is to live.

It feels like we’ve always been here and minus the odd argument over how you pronounce bath (it’s barth by the way) I’ve fitted right in. I love Leeds so much. The theatres, the museums, the art galleries, the Kirkgate market, all of it. I love the nursery our son goes to, I love that we’re only a few hours away from the coast and who doesn’t love a pie and gravy? I fit in. Apart from where the weather is concerned.

In my entire life I’ve probably seen snow 10 times and so this week as my husband has joined everyone else in moaning about dangerous roads and slippery pavements I’ve been crossing my fingers for the chance to make a snow angel.

Caroline Verdon is one half of the breakfast show at Radio Aire. You can hear Caroline and Ant between 6-10am every weekday morning.