'Our holiday romance and a bet I made in a bar led to my 23-year marriage'

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Rachael and Mark met in a bar in 1996 and have been inseparable ever since.
Rachael and Mark met in a bar in 1996 and have been inseparable ever since.
Photo: Rachel Woolridge/CATERS NEWS
  • Rachael Woodridge met her now husband, Mark Woodridge, in a bar in 1996, and the pair have been inseparable ever since. 
  • What started as a holiday fling for the pair, blossomed into a 23-year marriage.
  • It all started when Rachael bet a friend that she could get Mark to be hers by the night's end, and 26 years later, the couple's bond remains strong.

Holiday romances are something many of us are familiar with - falling in love across the beach, the bar or the pool. Usually, these relationships end when you head back home to your nine to five, and your hot holiday fling is left behind. 

Not for this couple, though, who have been together after meeting in Spain 26 years ago. 

Rachael Woodridge, 52, met her now husband, Mark Woodridge, 51, in 1996, and the pair have been inseparable ever since. 

With pals initially joking that their relationship wouldn't last six months, the couple has been married for 23 years and share two children. 

Rachael explains how they met: "It sounds crazy, but when Mark walked into the bar, I told my friend that him and I would be an item by the end of the night. 

"My friend laughed at me, and we put a bet on. That night I told him [Mark] if he kissed me, I'd split the bet money with him, so he kissed me, and we have been inseparable ever since."

At the time, Rachael lived in Spain in a small fishing village called Moraira in Costa Blanca. 

"I had been there for nine years, and Mark had been coming to the same place for five years, but it was the last year he was going to visit. 

"It was fate that we met when we did, as we never would have done so after that year."

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relationships, weddings
Memories of Rachael and Mark when living apart
relationships, weddings
Mark and Rachel on their wedding day.

Once Mark returned back home to Wales, he and Rachel continued speaking every day. 

"And then I booked a flight back to the UK to stay with my Nana in Essex as my parents lived in Spain. I said if I was able to get a job in my time being back in Essex, I would stay," says Rachael.

She eventually found a job as a waitress and did not return to Spain. 

"Mark was at university, but he travelled weekly to visit before we moved in together when we got our own flat." 

After they met on holiday in Spain, Rachael and Mark proved their friends, who doubted they'd last, wrong.  

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relationships, weddings
Rachael and Mark.
relationships, weddings
Rachael and Mark's kids.

"We have the same sense of humour and get on so well," Rachael says about their romance. 

"It's not even like we have the same groups of friends; we have nothing in common, but we just work so well."

Rachael and Mark have since visited Spain twice, bringing their children along. 

"We have been back to the same place twice since we met, bringing our children and reminiscing about the old times. It felt like we were going back in time," she says. 

"I have never done anything like this before. You hear horror stories about holiday romances and heartbreaks. We technically shouldn't have worked as he lived in Wales and I lived in Essex, but we made it happen." 

Source: Rachel Woolridge/CATERS NEWS/Magazinefeatures.co.za

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