“Lockdown with my Muddy Match was heaven!”

Tuesday, November 03rd, 2020

Jemma and Mark final“Jemma bubbled up with ‘muddy’ Mark for lockdown 1… now they are engaged to get married!

With lockdown 2 on the horizon, fair reason suggests that the national restrictions have put extra stress on even the most deep rooted of relationships.

Some just survive. Some thrive.
Some crack under the pressures of the pandemic and others fall by the wayside as people reassess what’s important to them. (The latter has brought a whole new swarm of people to online dating websites and apps looking for new love in a lockdown.)

But one country-minded Muddy Matches member, Jemma, has described her locked down rural relationship as ‘heaven’ after choosing to up sticks to be with her muddy Mr Right at the start of the first lockdown. Hers has bloomed and blossomed!

Shooting, fishing and riding fan Jemma met gamekeeper -turned- estate head groundsman Mark in March 2019, but only took the bold move to bubble up with her new man, working and residing in a country house hotel in the beautiful East Devon countryside, as Boris Johnson instructed the nation to batten down the hatches in March.

It was a year, almost to the day, since they found rural romance whilst online dating – and she travelled the 200 miles south as a fiancée, despite having never lived with her soon-to-be husband and having to wait until lockdown was lifted to get a ring.

“Lockdown was heaven,” Jemma tells us from a socially acceptable distance. “I moved in with Mark at the start of lockdown, to live in the grounds of the country house hotel he works for and to look after the grounds and animals. Whiling away the summer in the most beautiful surroundings; walking the estate, hiking the valleys and hills, tending the pigs, turkeys and chickens and foraging the countryside.

“We found recipes using the local foraged fauna and made cordials using the local plants. We cooked together using eggs from our hens & ducks, growing herbs and vegetables for our home-made jellies, preserves, liquors and feasts. Regular cooking on wood in our fire pit or BBQ.”

It was a far cry from the 4 hour round trip they had done each week throughout their courtship; alternating weekends between their Hampshire and Devon homes.

The pair had extra reason to enjoy lockdown more than most with Mark having also recently taken the opportunity to propose on their first holiday together in Marrakech at the start of March; again, without ever living under the same roof.

A resounding ‘yes’ was quickly forthcoming but it came just days before the nation was urged to stay inside.

Celebrations on ice?
“Together, we celebrated our engagement on Zoom and were sent many bottles of champagne!” Jemma adds. “The first thing we did when things opened up again was to collect my engagement ring which has stones from a ring of my mothers, and celebrated our engagement properly with friends and families.

“Then I rented out my house and brought all my belongings to Devon. We have loved making long term plans to live together and going to country shows, planning the animals we’ll have in our new home. We have created bucket lists of where we’d travel, what type of dogs we’ll get. Hopefully there will now be lots of goats, chickens, a donkey perhaps and, at least, one working dog.

Now, with England destined for a 4 week coronavirus circuit breaker, and Wales already in their own firebreak, the pair have everything crossed that next year brings fresh hope that they can put their plans into action; not least that their wedding, scheduled for May, gets the green light.

“This is the second wedding for both of us; so we agreed an intimate day with very close friends and family is right for us. We are planning a (not too muddy) outside wedding at Powderham Castle, followed by a very rural reception in a folly near our house.”

“Then after the wedding we will be getting 2 dogs and buy a house together.”

Everyone at Muddy Matches wishes Jemma and Mark a happy, healthy future together (and fingers crossed for May)