Wednesday, May 6, 2009

As a birthday treat to my boyfriend I decided to whisk him away for the weekend, a slightly extravagant gift considering we had agreed to cut back since our move to the city. However, I got a bit ahead of myself when starting my new job in March and had all sorts of exotic plans, to spoil ourselves, churning through my brain. Seeing his face light up was enough inspiration to organise our romantic getaway. He insisted the weekend was not to be solely my treat and that we would at least share some of the costs.

We settled on Galway, a B&B by the sea and the promise of inexpensive and uninterrupted quality time. Holidays and mini-breaks mean three things to me ­- eating, drinking, and shopping. Apart from the last, we were a perfect match but he suggested we do things differently and avoid the post-traumatic credit card stress we had both experienced following previous trips away. I wanted to show some appreciation for the support he had given me during my difficult months of job searching. I hadn't always been so sympathetic of his civil service pay cuts and often in my unemployed rage I could be heard shouting “Well at least your job is safe for life.’’

The weekend was certainly different. There was no shopping or even browsing in any clothes, shoe or accessory stores. There was no chance of sampling a cocktail in the G hotel and none of the usual overpriced restaurants we so often treated ourselves to, that always left us bloated and over-drawn.. Our few days away consisted of activities he liked and for the first time I didn't get my way. We drank pints and browsed in record shops. I even sat through an important Champions’ League match, surrounded by lads sloshing their beer in my hair. As I battled the breeze on Salthill promenade one afternoon, nobody around but a few demented exercise addicts, I kept quiet and waited, while he inspected the beach's diving boards - for over 40 minutes.

But in the end I enjoyed it really. I spent the weekend in my converse with no hassle, no nightclub queues, no changing-room queues, no waiting for tables. Through convincing me to agree to a more low-key break, my boyfriend ended up with the best birthday present of all, a weekend filled with his kind of fun - no cocktails, shops or heel hobbling delays. I didn't mind letting him call the shots for a change: after all his birthday only comes once a year!

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