A girlfriend’s romantic treasure hunt for her long-distance partner has gone viral – after her clues led him on a 230-mile quest on a train, bus and plane.
Sweethearts Alex Collins and Emma Cox, 27, both met while travelling in Thailand but were forced to live 190 miles apart when they returned home to the UK.
But cunning Emma set up a series of clues for her beau, starting with an envelope hidden in a cupboard, and ending with a flight to Dublin – where she was waiting.
The smitten pair, who enjoyed a loved-up weekend break, shared the photos of her clues online, and the posts went viral with 130,000 views.
Alex, from Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, said: “She has definitely set the bar high in the romance stakes.
“When I got the first note I thought she had planned a lovely dinner with friends, and was expecting the next clue to lead me there – which would have been great.
“But by the time I had opened a few and I realised I was going to the airport I was pretty excited.
“I think I knew she was ‘the one’ before then, but it certainly confirmed I was right.
“When I saw her at the airport it was quite emotional, and we have a lovely romantic time getting lost in the city.”
Savvy Emma, a data analyst from Henfield near Brighton, added: “I had just as much fun hearing about each envelope and anticipating the next one as he did opening them.
“It was really hard to keep it secret but so worth it once I saw his face in Dublin airport.”
The pair met in Thailand in 2012 after they both left the UK intending to travel alone for a number of years.
Just weeks into their trip they met and instantly fell for each other, travelling across Asia and Australia for more than two years.
But when their money ran out they were forced to return home in mid-2014 where they lived apart for 18 months, back with their respective parents, to save money.
The pair would drive to see each other every Friday, but the journey would take up to six hours due to rush hour traffic, and the pair found the distance difficult.
But in a bid to keep the spark alive, and remind Alex of how much she loved him, thoughtful Emma planned her epic treasure hunt.
Two weeks before Alex started it, she hid the first clue – complete with the following ones in envelopes – in his cleaning product cupboard.
“She knew there was little chance of me checking there,” joked Alex, a sales account manager.
She called him and directed him to the first clue which said: “Hello Boy!
“As you can see inside this envelope are more envelopes!
“Each one will give you a clue and tell you when to open the next envelope. Fun eh?
“Clue one: Pack a weekend bag and take it to work with you tomorrow. You won’t be going home! x
“Open your next clue before you leave for work.”
Clue two told him to drive to Worle train station and get the 2.17pm train to Bristol Temple Meads, where he opened the next envelope.
The next one – which he opened on the train with a can of cider to steady his nerves – told him to get the 2.55pm bus to the airport, where he opened his final message.
The adorable note – complete with doodles of shamrocks and his passport – said: “See you in Dublin!
“My flight is at 5pm so you can contact me any time before then.
“I love you!! xxx”
Shocked Alex phoned Emma, who was about to board a flight from Heathrow, and they met up after the short transfer for the three-night break.
He posted the series of notes on photo-sharing website Imgur last week and the posts went viral, being viewed 127,077 in 24 hours.
Alex said: “I was posting the clues as I went and everyone was saying how great it was – but also how they wouldn’t be able to wait to open them.
“But she knows me too well, and I wouldn’t be able to lie, so I just had to sit it out.
“We had a lovely time.”
She added: “I knew he would like the surprise as we travel so much.
“It was just a way to add a bit more excitement in to the pain of long distance relationships.”
The pair are leaving the UK to go travelling again “indefinitely” later this month.
They plan to fund it by work gained through their website and blog www.travelbeans.co.uk, doing promotional work for travel agents and hotels as they go.
Alex, who has previously worked for Lonely Planet, is planning to try and top Emma’s romantic gesture with one of his own, when they visit the Philippines or Taiwan.
“I’ve got a few ideas but right now it’s a secret.”
Emma added: “I am really not expecting anything but I welcome him to try. The challenge is set for 2016.”