surprise visit from america conner the salt compass blog travel joy

In A Photograph

There’s been so many things I’m thankful for in the past two weeks alone, not to mention the past month or year. But I feel like it’s all too easy for me to forget some of these, so I’m jotting down a quick list. 

  • Ever since finishing my degree I’ve been trying to balance the idea of finally going home for good, with the idea of leaving friends and the life I’ve built here over the past three years. As a result I’ll be laughing one minute and then trying not to cry the next. So Viki and Roz have been amazing and will randomly check on how I’m doing throughout the day.

the salt compass madeleine hagan blog

  • I woke up one Friday morning really really wanting a Krispy Kreme donut, and Roz went to Tesco and brought me back two because she is an absolute star, and honestly that made my entire day. 

the salt compass blog madeleine hagan travel surprise

  • The following day a group of us went down to the beach to do a photoshoot for blogs and just for the fun of it too. My favorite Ed Sheeran song started playing on the speakers and Conner (BOYFRIEND BACK IN AMERICA CONNER) showed up to join us. Viki, Roz, and the Kryclers had planned it out over two months before and kept the secret from me all that time so it could be a huge surprise. I think it took me about three days for the shock to wear off, but honestly it was one of the nicest things anyone’s ever done for me. I was completely surprised and had no idea or even hint that he would fly over to see me. Also, the girls had made sure photos were taken and they even set up a video of the event (and if I’m being honest I’ve watched it every day since).

surprise at the canteen the salt compass travel surprise blog madeleine hagan

  • The next day, another surprise was waiting at one of my favorite coffee shops on the beach. Davinia had invited Conner and I to dinner with her and when we walked in I found a massive group of friends from church waiting in a leaving party Viki and Roz had organized. It was a fantastic way to see everyone all at once at a place I love in Portsmouth before I left a few weeks later.

cafe w the salt compass blog surprise madeleine hagan

  • The week that followed was equally as amazing, but for less cinematic reasons. I got to give a tour of my city to my closest friend, and for once we got to plan out a normal week. We went to Sprinkles, we saw Guardians of the Galaxy, we ordered chicken that was too spicy and made us cry in the middle of the restaurant. I showed him which buildings I had classes in, where all the best local coffee shops were, and tried to explain how strange it was to look over and see someone I’d always associated with life back home, here. On this side of the ocean. Dancing in church with me.

So thank you to everyone who made that possible.

To Davinia and Paul for letting Conner stay at yours for the week that he was here.

surprise the salt compass blog madeleine hagan

To everyone who came to The Canteen to say goodbye before I go back to America. It was great getting to see your faces one more time.

To anyone who knew Conner was coming and kept the surprise.

To Viki and Roz who hold my arms up when I’m feeling weak, who find me crying and stay with me til I’m giggling so much at 2am that happy tears are there instead, who planned it all to begin with.

the three musketeers the salt compass blog madeleine hagan

To Conner who flew over 4000 miles to make me smile.

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“Wait for me to come home.”

I’m so so grateful. For donuts on rainy mornings, for friends who give great hugs and plan surprises no matter how difficult I’m being, and much much more.


We keep this love in a photograph, we made these memories for ourselves, where our eyes are never closing, Hearts are never broken, times forever frozen still.

So you can keep me inside the pocket of your ripped jeans, holding me closer til our eyes meet, you won’t ever be alone.

When I’m away, I will remember how you kissed me, under the lamp post back on 6th street, hearing you whisper through the phone, “Wait for me to come home.”

Photograph, Ed Sheeran

25 things that are great in life right now madeleine hagan the salt compass


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