Living on Lord Howe Island


Are you a hopeless romantic?

Posted by Dani Rourke – Sunday, February 22, 2015

Are you a hopeless romantic? I am, well … sort of. Luke doesn’t think that I’m romantic at all, because I get impatient watching sunsets (and looking at Luke’s seemingly endless sunset photos). But, in my defence, I’ve watched When Harry Met Sally about 300 times, and I never get sick of it. And when I meet a couple who are obviously totally in love with each other, I can’t help asking how they met.

Our heroine – let’s call her Ann – first came to Lord Howe Island on holidays in May 2002. She was with a group of friends and they stayed at Pinetrees. Ann and her friends travelled on the same plane as another group, which included Dick, a handsome gentleman from Sheffield. Ann and Dick met on the Pinetrees Boatshed deck one evening over a few drinks. Their tables were close to each other in the dining room and for the first few days they watched each other, but said nothing more than “hello”, “how are you?” and “did you have a good day today?”

Luckily for Ann and Dick, Ann’s friends Trev and Merle are incurable matchmakers. Trev asked Ann if she’d noticed Dick. She admitted that she had noticed him. He asked: “How old do you think he is?” “Do you think he’s married to one of those ladies?” “What do you think he’s doing here?” Ann said that she didn’t know and tried to change the subject but Trev insisted: “well, go on Ann, ask him!” Nervously, Ann asked Dick if he’d like to join her group for a coffee after dinner. Dick accepted, and as soon as he sat down, Trev started firing questions at him. Ann very quickly learnt that Dick was the same age as she was, that he was a retired university professor, that he was taking his friend’s widow to see her brother in Australia (and that he’d promised his friend he would do this for him), that he wasn’t married and that he was flying home to the UK a few days after his holiday at Lord Howe.

The next day, Ann managed to sneak away from her well-meaning friends and speak to Dick in private. She offered to take him to the Blue Mountains for the day when they got back to Sydney, as he’d mentioned an interest in the Zig Zag Railway. Ann and Dick’s date to the Blue Mountains was a success (even though he brought his 80 year old friend along as chaperone) and the next day, she drove him to Canberra. I didn’t get the full details from Ann about what happened next, but she said “now, whenever we go back to Canberra, we always go back to Regatta Point. That’s where we were when I knew he was special”. On his last day in Australia, Dick came along to Ann’s bush regeneration group. Ann and Dick said their goodbyes and arranged that Ann would visit Dick in the UK in a few months’ time.

Dick called Ann from the airport (twice!) and his goodbyes were so romantic that Ann’s version of the story almost made me cry (and I can only imagine the effect it had on Ann at the time). He called again when he got home and proposed over the phone. Ann accepted on the spot. Dick asked what sort of ring he should buy. Ann, who’d always loved emeralds but suspected they’d be “too pricey”, said that she thought a diamond was traditional. Dick said that he’d always liked emeralds best and bought Ann a beautiful emerald and diamond engagement ring. Dick came back to Australia three weeks later and stayed for a month or so and then Ann went to the UK on her holiday and stayed with Dick. Ann said it was important to spend a bit of time together before they got married, not because she was unsure about the marriage (she wasn’t!) but because her friends were a bit dumbstruck and she wanted to reassure them.

Ann and Dick were married on 1 March 2003. Ann was 61 and so was Dick (in fact, Ann chose the date because she’s a few months older than Dick and she wanted to be the same age as him on the wedding day). They came to Lord Howe for their honeymoon (where else!). Ann and Dick now live in North Nowra. They love to travel together and, among other places, they’ve been along the Silk Road from Moscow to Beijing, to Alaska (lots of times) and the Aleutian Islands, to lots of National Parks in the United States and to at least thirty Pacific islands. They’re busy living happily ever after, but they promised to come back to Lord Howe sometime soon, maybe after their island-hopping trip from Guam to Hawaii…

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About Dani Rourke

HELP! I have 2 children, 25 staff and up to 75 guests. I was a lawyer for 10 years, but escaped. My husband and I moved from Sydney to beautiful Lord Howe Island to run Pinetrees Lodge, which has been in my family for 6 generations. I'm writing about family business, island life and the whole work/family disaster. Did someone say balance? When I'm not writing, my lovely staff do it for me - they see more of the island than I do.

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