It was a secret that couldn’t keep — and it didn’t help that I can hear almost everything in our tiny flat.

While he tried his best to keep it a surprise, Teko gave it up that he made plans for us to have dinner somewhere special for my birthday, something that would have merited a medal only a few years ago. Not that he can’t be romantic but it was already established early in our relationship that he didn’t take such things as birthdays, Christmas, and other things normal people would consider cause for celebration seriously. It dimmed my heart on several occasions – and livened it up on some truly rare moments – but I’d learned to go along with it after a period. Given my lowered expectations, it was with genuine pleasure when I found out about his coming romantic gesture and even more surprised that it was a place we’d talked about before but never followed through on.


Kasteel Heemsteede was someplace that really required extra effort to get to, and according to the most recent Michelin guide evidently was well worth it. With such lofty references and the fact it was a castle-turned-restaurant, it wasn’t hard noticing how extremely unique the setting was, and when the moment came for our most opulent dinner, it felt even more special when everything fell into place. The sky was clear, the western sun shone brightly, the huge, empty estate that felt like our own, a large table by the terrace, and course after course of very pretty, quite tasty, well-prepared food that proved worthy of Bibendum’s admiration.


With credit to Teko, he has come a long way and learned to appreciate, if not like, the same things I do. Our Christmases and holiday breaks in recent years would certainly be testament to this. Thank you, schat, for a memorable night spent sharing, reminiscing, and dreaming, and being able to tick off yet another item in our ever-expanding star-filled list. Here’s hoping the surprises keep coming in the most unexpected moments.

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