Matt had been living in Vancouver for a year when he was invited to a student fancy dress party in the spring of 2014. “I’d moved to study for a master’s degree in entomology,” he says. “Coming from Ohio, it was the biggest city I’d ever lived in. I’d never even ridden a city bus before.” The event had a lumberjack theme, popular at Canadian house parties at the time. “Everyone had to dress up in plaid and overalls, and there was a giant wooden Jenga game. You had to wear a hard hat to play,” he says. When he spotted Ashleigh across the room, he couldn’t resist going to say hello. “I thought she looked just like Kate Bush. I’d recently discovered her music, so I went to speak to her.”
Ashleigh had moved to Vancouver from Toronto to be with her boyfriend, but it wasn’t working out. “I had a job in a museum, but was living in a cockroach-filled apartment and had no friends. I wanted to meet new people,” she says, and an acquaintance invited her to the party. When Matt approached, she was busy trying to negotiate the party playlist with another guest. “I used to have a student radio show and was really into music,” she says. They talked for a while before Matt got the courage to tell her she looked like Kate Bush. “People have actually said that about me before,” she says.
Later, Matt asked for her number. The following week, they went out – as friends – to a billiard hall. “I thought it would be different and a bit of fun, but there was no alcohol and it was just a bunch of old guys sitting around playing pool,” says Matt. “It wasn’t quite what we expected.” Despite the lack of atmosphere, they had a good time and continued to meet, though not romantically.
By summer, Ashleigh’s relationship had come to an amicable end. Her friendship with Matt turned romantic one night in July as they watched a World Cup match at a friend’s house. “Germany had just won and I think we’d had a bit too much whisky,” she says, laughing. For the first six months, they took things slowly and, in December, they went on separate trips abroad: Ashleigh to India and the UK, and Matt to the US and Mexico. They wrote each other long emails every day. “I always looked forward to them,” says Ashleigh.
When they returned from their travels, things became more serious. “Being apart really solidified our feelings,” says Matt. In September 2015, they moved in together, then eloped to Hawaii six months later. “It was a last-minute decision,” says Matt. “Our families were surprised, but happy for us.”
They decided to move to London in June 2016. “I have family there and could get a visa. It was good for our careers,” says Ashleigh. She found work as a museums consultant, and Matt got a job with an insect protein production company. For the next three years, they explored the city together, and enjoyed regular trips away. In 2019, they had a son. “I had a complex pregnancy and he spent a long time in hospital after he was born,” says Ashleigh. “He’s healthy now, but it was very hard. I think the experience brought Matt and me closer together.”
She describes her husband as easy-going and open-minded. “I think he’s the best-looking guy I’ve ever met. We have great chemistry and he’s up for anything – always willing to try something new.” Matt believes they complement each other because of their differences. “I’m quiet, but I like people who talk more than me and I found Ashleigh so interesting. She’s passionate and has exposed me to things I wouldn’t have done or seen otherwise.” After moving across the world together, he says, they are a great team. “My feelings haven’t changed since we first met.”