Emma had always pictured herself with a family. But, by 2010, she hadn’t met the right person and was feeling lost. “I was a teacher in Tunbridge Wells at the time,” she says. “I really wanted to be a mum. I was 35, which was my self-imposed ‘deadline’.”
Over the August bank holiday weekend, she went to a friend’s barbecue, where she spotted a man she had never seen before. “He had a deep tan and was wrapped in a big coat. I knew he wasn’t English.” Pedro was a language student who was staying with Emma’s friend, Jenny. “I came to improve my English and had the option to stay with a family. I thought I’d learn more,” he says. They tried to chat, but struggled to understand each other. “My friend told me he was married with children,” she says.
A week later, Emma invited Jenny over for a meal and to talk after they heard a mutual friend had died. “Jenny asked if it was OK if Pedro came, too,” she says. “I made chicken with chorizo in rioja and he turned up with two bottles of rioja. We hit it off straight away.” That evening, they chatted and Emma discovered that Pedro was separated from his partner. They got on well and he was keen to see Emma again. “She’s really pretty and I thought there was a connection there,” he says.
A few days later, they went to a country pub for dinner. “I was struck by how open and direct he was. He asked me why I wasn’t married and when I said I wanted children, he even told me that he’d had a vasectomy,” she laughs. “He was totally honest and said what came into his head.”
By the end of the evening, sparks were flying and they kissed. “I remember thinking that I was probably making a huge mistake, because he was going back to Spain,” says Emma. “He told me to trust him.” Pedro had taken early retirement from his job in the Civil Guard police force for medical reasons and had the freedom to travel. “I wasn’t worried,” he says. “I wanted us to get to know each other better so we could decide what to do in future.”
Emma went to visit him in Madrid during the October half-term and he came to see her family in England for Christmas. Despite the language barrier, they grew closer. In January 2011, they travelled to Bath, where Pedro asked if she wanted to spend her life with him. “It was scary, as he’d only had two visits, but it felt right,” she says. Initially, she wanted them to live together before they decided to get married, but she changed her mind. “I wrote him a note at Easter to say I was ready,” she says. Pedro proposed in June and by September Emma had moved to Spain. “I decided to come here because his youngest child was nine at the time. I only planned to stay a few years, but I love the lifestyle.”
The couple married at Emma’s local church in Tunbridge Wells in 2012. They then settled in the relatively remote Spanish region of Extremadura with their three dachshunds. Emma learned Spanish and now runs a small English school, while Pedro works as a semi-professional archer.
Emma was not ready to give up on her dream of motherhood, so Pedro had a vasectomy reversal and they went through IVF in 2013. It was unsuccessful, but Emma is happy with the way things turned out. “I’d never considered life without children, but I’m not sure this relationship would have worked if we’d had a baby. What happened was meant to be.”
Pedro loves his wife’s sweet nature and her courage to take risks. “We’re really open. We talk and never hide our problems. We’re always having fun and live a very happy life,” he says. Emma describes her partner as “traditional”, which is something she has always valued. “He would be there for me and take care of me, no matter what. He’s honest and affectionate, with a silly sense of humour. He can always make me laugh.”