Our proposal story + November & December recap

Proposal story

Hi friends! It’s been a little while since I posted here, but by combining a lot of determination with a bit of accountability, you’ll be hearing from me more often from now on. Anyhoo… What’s happened since my last recap? We got engaged for a start! Rob proposed in early November and it was a complete surprise! I thought I would share our proposal story, along with my usual monthly recaps for November and December combined. 

(Note: this post contains Amazon affiliate links. I only recommend products that I like and either currently use or would use. If you make a purchase, you support this blog: I earn a commission at no cost to you.)

Rob and I have been together for more than two years now and I am glad to announce that we have been engaged since the 10th of November! On that day, I was supposed to have a phone meeting about a problem with my research assistant salary, as well as send off a piece of work to my PhD supervisors. I was in a bit of a fluster about the salary issue, so when my parents suggested going for a walk in Oxford, I chose that as a better alternative. At the time, I thought I was just going to the new shopping centre and to Christ Church Meadow. I would then feel relaxed and be able to finish my work in the evening.

Little did I know that my parents suggesting the walk was all part of Rob’s (evil?) plan! Rob, my parents, my brother and I took the bus into Oxford and walked around the new Westgate shopping centre. At that point I was feeling quite hungry and suggested having lunch. While we were waiting to be seated, Rob’s parents and brother randomly (!) walked by. I did find it a bit strange that they were all off work on a Friday, but they joined us for lunch and I didn’t think much else of it. Similarly I didn’t clock on when our two brothers decided to disappear off to a bar rather than joining us on our walk.

Everyone else thought I must have known what was going on, as I had asked them all to not upload photos on social media, considering that I should probably have been working. Also, I pointed out a jewellery shop – where Rob had bought the ring – jokingly telling my mum that it was Rob’s family’s shop (the name of the shop resembles their surname). I however still had no idea what was going on.

Both sets of parents, Rob and I walked in Christ Church Meadow a bit until we reached a bridge over the River Cherwell. As a side note, if you’re in Oxford, do have a walk round Christ Church Meadow, it’s a relaxing pocket of green in the city. (The photo above is on a very cold winter’s day.) Anyhoo, when we got to the bridge, I believe the plan was that my parents were to suggest we take a photo on the bridge – the Titanic pose has been known to be used in those kind of settings. What actually happened is Rob improvised and it was even better. He picked up two sticks and he didn’t even have to do any encouraging. I exclaimed “Poohsticks!” and was up on the bridge waiting to compete.

We dropped our sticks in the water and I rushed to the other side to see who was going to win. When Rob didn’t appear at my side, I turned round and there he was on one knee with a beautiful ring! He said some lovely and touching things – this is the one aspect of our proposal story that we are keeping to ourselves – while I half-suffocated him hugging his head.

So, Goodenough-Beaver or Beaver-Goodenough? 😊😉🍾💑💍

A post shared by Jessica Goodenough (@jlgoodenough) on

Our parents (as well as a couple in a boat below I believe) witnessed the whole thing. They filmed it and took photos, for which I am very grateful. (You can click through a few of them above.) One of the best touches was Rob’s dad producing a bottle of bubbly and some sparkly cups from his jacket for us all to celebrate! We then headed to All Bar One, where Rob and I had our first date. The two brothers had found us a table and arranged for more bubbly.

On the next day, we told my sister (who arrived late in the evening the day Rob proposed), my granny and her “chap”, and Rob’s granny in person. In the evening, my dad made an announcement at my granny’s annual party, and we shared the news on social media the day after that.

We’ve been engaged for a month and a half now, and it’s been good. Knowing how committed Rob is to our future has made us stronger than we were before. We’ve given ourselves time to enjoy our engagement and we’ll slowly start figuring out our wedding plans during the year. Other than that, I have been busy with PhD work, I had a bit of a sad birthday (on my own for most of the day) and we’ve had a week entirely off for Christmas at my parents’ in France. Read on for more details of what I’ve been up to in November and December, along with some action points for you!

Blog posts written

Goals for November and December


  • Do first official parkrun – done in the rain 11/10/17
  • Do concept-mapping for second literature review – not done: I’m currently reworking my first literature review about citizen science in the global South
  • Share nine blog posts – 3 out of 9…


  • Send off introduction to the second draft of my citizen science literature review – done 19/12/17
  • Tick off two items from my birthday bucket list – 1 out of 2 if I count buying Portuguese and German phrasebooks
  • Buy everyone in my immediate family a Christmas present – done 17/12/17

My goal setting process is changing in the new year, with big goals and a system to organise action steps, so stay tuned for more information on that!

Wins & accomplishments



  • I sent off the structure for the second draft of a citizen science literature review
  • My affirmations encouraged me to exercise regularly
  • I’ve had a relaxing festive season

Possible improvements


  • Being consistent with blogging: focusing on one post a week
  • Following my ideal day routine
  • Eating healthier foods – incorporating two of the “Abs Diet” foods [or my vegan adaptations] in each meal and snack


  • Heading to bed when I’m sleepy and at the latest when my reminder goes off
  • Focusing on applying the “pick two” principle
  • Focusing on working towards my three big goals at the start of the day

What I read

In November I borrowed a book for the first time from our local library… And managed to drop it in the mud while on my way to read it on a bench along the river. Mud notwithstanding, A Discovery of Witches was a bewitching book (sorry)! It’s about 700 pages long but I got completely engrossed with the story of witches and vampires in Oxford (very close to home) and beyond (no spoilers here). It might be because I studied literature or because things are often more about image than actual enjoyment, but this was the first time in a long time that I chose a “lighter” read… And I loved it! I’m looking forward to reading the two sequels in 2018!

Two of the more “self-helpy” books I read in November were How To Tame Your PhD by Inger Mewburn and One Small Yes: Small Decisions that Lead to Big Results by Misty Lown. Neither of them were life-changing, but they might be right for you if you need a quick bolt of motivation!

In December I finished re-reading the Abs Diet for a bit of a kick in the pants, and I was mostly stopping-and-starting with books. I have loads of books lined up for January though (as well as a bit more structure), so check back in a month’s time for some further recommendations!

Some of the things I’m grateful for

Every day (or almost) I write down things I am grateful for ahead of doing my “morning pages” in my journal. Here’s a quick snapshot, as this post is already quite long because of our proposal story!

  • Rob cleaning a lot of the flat
  • The positive comment I got on my blogging habits post
  • Reading A Discovery of Witches – very enjoyable
  • ReadyBike sorting out my membership very quickly
  • Being a PhD student: being able to organise my own time and do research for a living
  • Giving myself the time to read by waking up early
  • Going for a walk today [little did I know at the time of writing that it was to be a more important walk than I had planned!]
  • Rob proposing – in a lovely setting with a lovely ring
  • Real coffee
  • The beautiful colours of the trees through the train windows
  • The international food market on campus
  • Having PhD supervisors who are available to meet and discuss things

Some of the things I’m proud of

I’ve started listing things I’m proud of, as well as the things I’m grateful for, to give myself a bit more pep. We’re often so caught up with “what next” that we forget to pause and give ourselves a little pat on the back.

  • Typing up my [October] recap post
  • Diving back into my literature review
  • Drafting the introduction to my literature review
  • Being gentle with myself when I wasn’t feeling well and afterwards (watching Flushed Away with Rob)
  • Going to campus
  • Buying presents and a card for my granny
  • Reading a chapter of Pedagogy of the Oppressed
  • Being as driven as I am
  • This flat that I found and that we pay for
  • Sending my first literature review off for feedback
  • Being brave enough to make a style statement with my beret
  • Making the time to Skype with my friend Many yesterday
  • Being a volunteer at youth club
  • Going for a walk yesterday

Goals for January

  • Take two action steps towards fitness goal
  • Take two action steps towards research goal
  • Take two action steps towards income goal
  • Read three books
  • Tick one item off 27 in 27 bucket list

I’ll share more information about my big goals and action steps for 2018, as well as the goal-setting process, in a blog post at the end of the week!

Your action points

  1. Tell someone that you love them! It doesn’t need to involve a ring, but do share the love and make an effort to show a friend / partner / relative how you feel about them. It might make their day!
  2. Reflect on what you have experienced and accomplished in the past month, then link to your own recap in the comments!
  3. Have you organised a wedding before? If so, please share your advice in the comments below! If you’re in the same boat as us, subscribe to this blog (on the right side panel) for insights into the wedding planning process. This isn’t going to become a wedding blog though, check back soon for all the usual good stuff!

I hope you enjoyed our proposal story and this rather long blog post – I look forward to seeing you in the new year! By the way, did you get any snow in December? We did, and it was amazing!



Tags: , , , , , , ,

Related Posts

Previous Post Next Post


    • Flavia
    • 3rd January 2018

    Jess! Congratulations on your engagement! I’m very happy for you!! and also happy new year!! Lots of love and sunshine for you from over here! :* Beijos

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *