Westchester Happening has been bringing you our Local Love Stories Series, brought to you by the Inn at Bowman’s Hill for a few months now. We have enjoyed every interview with our couples. But, in honor of Valentine’s Day, we thought we would ask a couple to completely write the story from their own perspective and in their own voice. Stepping up to the plate this month, and still infected by Cupid’s Bow and Arrow, are Charl and Stefanie Porter. The Porters have come to Westchester in a most roundabout manner, and we are glad they decided to settle into our neck of the woods. Stefanie Porter was kind enough to give us the story of their love. It is the kind of story that makes you feel good inside…and is a wonderful example of the sentiment behind Valentine’s Day. So, sit back…and enjoy the romance!
“It was the late 1990’s and I (then Stefanie Preston) was living by myself in a tiny flat in the heart of Chelsea, a section of London. I was working for the construction management company SCHAL (TARMAC) as their site office manager during the construction of London’s Tate Modern. On project completion I decided to take a few months off of work, and over the Millennium Christmas/New Year period I was invited to visit Cape Town, South Africa as the guest of my closest friend at the time, Katy. Katy showed me South Africa and introduced me to all her friends and family. Among those she introduced me to was a young man named Charl Porter. Charl was actually Katy’s brother’s best friend. While there was instant attraction between Charl and I, it was not acted upon and we all enjoyed Christmas and New Year’s together as friends. During our holiday, we spent many days on the beach and just as many nights out having fun, but nothing romantic occurred. Toward the end of January I was due to head out of South Africa and back to London. Interestingly enough, so was Charl. Even though Charl was originally from South Africa, he and his family were living in London.
Before we both left, Charl and I came to the agreement that since everyone we knew lived in South Africa, we would meet up again in London and together would commiserate over our lack of friends! Unfortunately, it was also during this time in my life that my father was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer and instead of returning to London, I flew home to San Francisco, California to spend time with my family. A couple of months later, with my father thankfully on the road to good health, I arrived back in London and decided to try and call the number that Charl had given me while we were in Cape Town. It worked, and the person that answered his phone was his mother. She informed me that he was at a pub in Putney watching the Oxford vs. Cambridge boat race. I decided that I would head off and find him! As fate would have it, I did not find him that day in the pub, but later ended up finding out that I was indeed in the right pub at the same time as him, but I just could not find him! What a funny situation…
He called me back several days later and we met up for a drink and another and another, and for the next month we were out every night, either in a pub, a club or out for dinner. Finally, at the beginning of May, we got it together romantically! It was instant chemistry, and before we knew it, Charl had moved into my tiny flat in Chelsea.
It was the following March in Berlin, Germany (yes, we get around the globe!) that the “first proposal” came. It was my brother’s 30th birthday party which had brought us to that city, and more than a little tipsy, we decided to venture out into the snowy streets walking hand in hand soaking up the heavy and very apparent history. It was there in the middle of Berlin that Charl first asked me to marry him. Down on one knee with a key ring as a stand-in engagement ring, he promised that a real proposal was coming soon and that he wanted to be with me forever. Less than two months later, on our one year anniversary, Charl asked me to marry him in the traditional way. He had called my dad in San Francisco earlier in the day to ask for my hand in marriage. With my father’s blessing, at the end of my working day, Charl came to pick me up at the office and took me to the top of Primrose Hill in North London. There, overlooking all of London on a rare beautiful dry sunset-washed evening, he asked me to marry him. And marry we did, exactly one year later on our two year anniversary. We got married in Los Altos, California at St. Nicholas Parish. The priest was Father Gary Thomas, a wonderful man who had been the priest at my high school so the ceremony was very personal (a note of interest is that the novel, and the subsequent movie, THE RITE was based on Father Gary’s training in Rome as an exorcist). Only our very closest friends and family were in attendance. We honeymooned in Carmel for a few days and then flew back to London so Charl could finish his degree. It was then that we had our “real” honeymoon, in Positano, Italy (I told you we get around!). Our week in Positano was magical…a week that will never be forgotten, it was so romantic!
Our love story continued in natural progression with the purchase of our first little house in Dorking, Surrey outside of London. Our precious two little girls came along within the following six years. Last year, Charl had a career transfer, and now here we are living in lower Westchester (and loving it!), within months of our ten year anniversary. We have family spread all over (and spend time every summer in Austria, in my mother’s village), and thus our first ten years have been a whirlwind of a life! But, the Porters are sappy, happy and in love as ever and wondering what the next ten years will bring!”
On behalf of the Porters…Westchester Happening wishes YOU a very Happy Valentine’s Day!!
This Westchester local love story was brought to you by The Inn at Bowman’s Hill, an exclusive Bucks County Bed and Breakfast Inn located just 2 miles south of the town of New Hope, PA, across the scenic Delaware River from Lambertville, NJ. This beautiful New Hope Bed & Breakfast Inn, perhaps more akin to a boutique hotel, is the only 4-Diamond lodging in all of Bucks County and enjoys a serene location alongside the Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, a 100-acre Bucks County nature preserve surrounded by mature woodland. The Inn at Bowman’s Hill provides the perfect setting to celebrate engagements, anniversaries, honeymoons, intimate weddings, commitment ceremonies, birthdays, girls’ weekends, and babymoons all year long. Check out their last minute deals and weekday specials.
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