A closed tube station and broken-down train brought this unlikely couple together

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(CNN) – For Sarah Richard, 33, life has long revolved around scuba diving. As the founder of Girls or scubaBilled as the world’s largest scuba community for women, she traveled nonstop to organize dive trips and events before the epidemic.

It is not uncommon for Richard to spend a few weeks in Jordan, then to Egypt, then to Mexico, Micronesia, Maldives or Indonesia to immerse himself in the magic of the underwater world.

When it comes to her love life, the divemaster imagined herself meeting a scuba instructor or perhaps a similar nomadic lifestyle in the field of travel. After all, she was laser-focused on her mission to empower women in the male-dominated scuba industry.

Really, nothing could get her off the rails – not even an epidemic – but Richard was wrong about one thing. The love of her life would not have been an instructor she had met on King Ampat’s liveboard or at a resort on Sokoro Island. He will be a passionate asparagus farmer in south-west England.

Bands off

It all started with a visit to Hastings, his hometown, on the south coast of England for Christmas 2018 in mid-December.

After living and diving in Mexico for four months, Richard was in town for a few days and had a busy schedule. One morning, she caught the train for that day to reunite with friends who lived in Hong Kong a few years ago.

“I usually never go to London … ever,” Richard recalls. “It was the first time in those absolute years.”

After a day out with his friends, Richard had to return to Hastings by train about 90 minutes to the southeast for a holiday party at 9 pm.

But when it arrived at the metro station it was closed for repairs. She ran to Uber at London Bridge station in central London, hoping to catch the next train, but missed due to heavy traffic.

Richard sat at the station for about an hour. By then, her phone’s battery was dead, and she hadn’t been able to update her friends in Hastings.

“Eventually, I got on the train, and she’s leaving London, and I’m very excited to go to the party. But then, about half an hour later, an announcement says the train has stopped because it has broken down.” And everyone has to get off. And I was like, come on … “

Her long night of transit troubles continued – and she had to make her way back to London and once again sit on the platform for 90 minutes. This time she was waiting for the last train of the evening.

“Since my phone was dead, I had no way to have fun on the train,” he recalls. “I just said to myself, ‘What would you do if you were on a train in another country? You would just talk to someone.'”

And at the same time Joel Gostling stepped forward and sat down.

Love on the rails

Sarah Richard traveled non-stop to plan dive trips and events before the epidemic.

Sarah Richard traveled non-stop to plan dive trips and events before the epidemic.

Sarah Gostling

“When Joel got on the train, I was like … ‘Hi’.”

Chatting with Hastings throughout the ride, the pair immediately hit him. He made a strong first impression – “a real English boy” who was down to earth and easy to talk to, Richard says.

“She had her own asparagus field, which is phenomenal, and she really enjoys being out. I immediately got the impression that she is not a materialist,” she recalls, adding that she did not overly romanticize her wandering lifestyle.

“Joel thought all his travels and the places I went to were great, but he also thought the life he made for himself with his farm was great – and that’s it.”

Gostling grew up in a village called Dalwood in the south-west England region of Devon, where he had 30 children in elementary school, and he feels at home to roam the farm, farms or local pubs.

After working at the famous Farmhouse Restaurant and Cookery School, River Cottage in Devon, Gostling converted one of his parents’ farms to an asparagus farm in 2015 and sold hand-picked asparagus plants to restaurants around the area.

Towards the end of the tour, Gostling asked Richard his number, but he had no idea what it was. She exchanged a Mexican SIM card for a UK number and her phone’s battery died.

“I didn’t really know my number but wanted it to reach me. So I said, ‘This sounds arrogant, but if you just google’ Sarah Richard ‘, you’ll find me. Instagram and my email.” Find. ‘”

Gostling had every intention of approaching him.

“She was interesting, beautiful, mysterious, amazing. I was immediately amazed at how well we proceeded, and I knew I could not leave the train without asking to see her again,” he recalls.

Richard finally returned to Hastings, only to leave for Finland the next day to spend Christmas with his brother and his family.

She hoped to hear from Gostling but did not pay attention. Finally, Richard had a full calendar ahead with plans to fly back and forth for scuba trips between Mexico and the Middle East.

Long distance romance

Gostling did not hesitate to see Richard online. After an email, their relationship began to take shape.

They began long-distance exposure, with Richard making a peatstop between a two- to three-week trip to the UK.

She says, “I was very focused on staying on my track. I was like, ‘If you want to come along, come along for a ride, but I don’t come,'” she says. “My travel schedule was really intense. And he knew right away that it was my lifestyle. And it would always be that way.”

Dynamic worked well for them. The two focused on what they were most passionate about when evaluating their time together. In 2019, Richard and Gostling went together, deepening their bond.

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Richard says, “I realized that I really wanted to be the exact opposite of me. So I can still do my job and then come back and choose to do something different to talk about,” says Richard.

“Really, the only thing that changed was that he was there to pick me up at the airport. It was so beautiful because every time, there was a different sign with a different phrase on it.”

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Gostling didn’t mind either, and all the while, he was making a plan to show Richard how much she meant to him. “When you know, you know,” he adds.

Surprising proposal

On December 15, 2019, a year after they met on the train, Gostling made a startling proposal.

Richard’s best friend, Lucy, invited him to see the “Lion King” musical in London.

“It simply came to our notice then [route]On the same platform, Joel got out of the train and got down on one knee and proposed to me. “

All the while, Gostling says it was completely “nerve-racking.” It took a lot of time and effort to compile – “I started planning on October 6, then proposed on December 15. It took a long time!”

After their engagement, Richard continued to travel while Gostling focused on his farm. In early 2020, Richard turned her ambitions to Jordan, where she hoped to establish a Middle East branch of Scuba Girls.

The couple moved to Jordan and began to organize their lives there. Gostling plans to work remotely, returning to England during the harvest season. They were there four days before the country went into lockdown due to the Kovid-19 epidemic.

“The UK embassy arranged the flights, and we got the flight home, but it was like £ 3,000 (about 9 3,920),” says Richard Shock.

It also meant that Richard would no longer be able to run his diving trips.

“When the trip was completely stopped, most of my income was gone because it came from taking people on trips and events. So Joel had no income. [because he worked in the restaurant industry]. I had no income. That was awful. ”

The final test

Together with chef Andy Tyrell, Joel Gostling opened Soulshine in May 2021.

Together with chef Andy Tyrell, Joel Gostling opened Soulshine in May 2021.

Rob Coombe

Without an apartment or income, they had to live with Gostling’s parents in Devon.

For Gostling, moving house was a blessing in disguise. Chef Andy Tyrell, with whom Joel had worked at River Cottage, invited Joel to join him in setting up a pop-up kitchen.

The pair called it Goose & Badger, and when they had to navigate the lockdown several times, they set up the following for their multi-course menu and delicious burgers.

The pop-up was so successful that in May 2021, Gostling and Tyrell opened a restaurant in Bridport. SoulshineSpecializing in seasonal, farm-fresh dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

When Richard’s nomadic life came to an abrupt end, he found places to dive off the coast of England and continued to build his online community.

“It was such an opportunity, and despite the difficult times, we are both so secure in the knowledge that we are with the person we are going to be with. It makes everything so much better, even in these difficult times,” she says.

Gostling could not agree more. “Even after spending so much time together, I still like her,” he quips. “It was a good test, really – we discovered we could go through anything.”

‘Everything else is a bonus’

The couple, seen here in the asparagus area of ​​Gostling, organized a small outdoor party for 12 people and then a big celebration in September 2021.

The couple, seen here in the asparagus area of ​​Gostling, organized a small outdoor party for 12 people and then a big celebration in September 2021.

Rob Coombe

Initially, the couple had planned to marry 200 people in Gostling’s parents’ garden in June 2020, but due to an epidemic they canceled the plan.

Instead, they held a small outdoor party for 12 people and postponed the big celebration until September 2021. “Basically, we got married twice and had to have two parties – it was great!” Says Richard, who now goes through Sarah Gostling.

After the wedding in September, Richard took off from where he left off and has been flying around the world ever since. “It’s like riding a bike. Traveling again feels very natural,” she says.

“It was wonderful to see other people back at sea and to understand that this is what we have [scuba diving] The community, and it’s just beautiful. ”

The couple also took a late honeymoon, spending three weeks in Lapland, Finland, where Richard’s brother and his family live, and Turkey.

The newlyweds stayed in the igloo with Sauna, rode a sled pulled by a reindeer and went snowboarding for the first time. They traded icy landscapes in Istanbul for sunlight and wonderful food, then stopped the honeymoon in the magical Cappadocia between the cone-like rock formations and the cave hotel.

“Instead of wedding gifts, we had a honeymoon fund with all our friends and family contributing, so it’s very special that we had to go to these places because of the gifts our friends and family gave us,” says Richard. Says.

Looking back, Richard says she feels they are on the “other side” of the epidemic. They’ve got a home to rent, Gostling’s restaurant is thriving, and Richard’s diving community is riding on new waves of speed.

So far this year, Richard has already planned two girls or scuba trips – the first to the Galapagos, and the second to the Red Sea.

“On reflection, it’s only been three years. But in those three years, we managed to get through the global epidemic, he lost his job, I lost all my income, we had to go back to his parents in the 30’s,” says Richard. Is.

“We’ve gone through a lot. It lets us think we just need each other, and that’s it. Everything else is a bonus.”

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