The Block NZ winner Sam Cable can't hide the look of love on his face. Gazing at fiancée Lydia Lawrence's burgeoning belly as they curl up on the couch of their stylish but minimalist West Auckland home, he's every inch a proud father-to-be.
"You've got a lovely-looking baby bump," coos our photographer to Lydia.
"She's got a lovely-looking bum too," quips Sam, whose catchphrase on the 2016 season of the DIY reality show was, "Life's a garden – you've gotta dig it!"
The laddish humour is still there, but in the five years since the Wellington reno whizz and his best mate Emmett Vallender scooped a record-breaking $480,000 on The Block, he's gone from boyish bachelor to bona fide businessman and baby daddy at breakneck speed.
Currently working as a business unit leader at BurgerFuel Group, Sam, 34, says winning the Three reality series not only transformed his financial situation, but found him his "wee partner", 25-year-old fashion buyer Lydia too.
"Life's no longer a garden. It's a house – you've gotta build it," he jokes as the couple shows Woman's Day around the two-storey, three-bedroom New Lynn home they bought last year – after just six months of dating!
Sam readily admits it was love at first sight when, during his stint on The Block in Auckland, he walked into a designer hardware store, still wearing his on-set mic, and spied stunning Lydia, then a store assistant. "Wow! That's me sorted," he thought.
He recalls, "She was showing me towels and bathroom bins, and I was just thinking, 'I've got to write down the time and day she works here, so I can come back and see her again.'"
Unfortunately for Sam, Lydia had a boyfriend, but the pair stayed in touch as friends. And when she finally became single two years later, the besotted Block star wasted no time taking her out for a romantic dinner.
Since that gin-fuelled first date in November 2018, the couple say they've been making up for lost time. They got engaged in February 2020 and moved into their house the following month, days before New Zealand went into its first lockdown.
And now they're set to welcome their baby in September. "Every decision we've made in our relationship has been quick," smiles Sam. "We're both very decisive people and we soon realised that renting was going to be just as expensive as having a mortgage."
Their home was mid-build when they bought it, but the DIY guru couldn't resist putting his own stamp on the property, changing the colour of the taps to black to suit the light/dark theme and picking out the flooring.
Despite Sam's impressive win on the Block, his artistic fiancée has had just as much input. The walls of their minimalist master bedroom and the guest room are adorned with her contemporary-style creations, as well as pieces the couple have snapped up over the years.
The third bedroom, previously earmarked as a yoga room, has been transformed into a chic nursery, where a pair of olive-green booties are perched delicately on the mantelpiece, on top of a book about Brazilian football legend Pele, titled Little People, Big Dreams.
"Yes, it's a boy!" smiles a jubilant Sam. "Obviously we would've been happy with either, but we were both really hoping our first would be a boy, so we're thrilled." And they couldn't agree more on the masculine name they've picked out for the little lad.
"I always wanted to have kids before 30," says British-born Lydia. "But I had to put my case to Sam before he was really convinced that we should go for it so soon."
Despite being organised with their approach, including using an ovulation kit, the pair say they were both shocked by the pregnancy, with Lydia breaking the news to an unsuspecting Sam as he caught some post-Christmas rays on their newly built deck.
The delighted couple wasted no time informing their family and friends, but it was Sam's father Bruce's reaction that touched them the most. "He's this great big, bald, beardy biker guy with leathers and a Harley," Lydia tells. "He was bawling his eyes out. He kept putting his Dirty Dog sunnies back on to hide the tears."
And it seems Sam has inherited his dad's unlikely emotional streak. "The biggest surprise about Sam is how thoughtful and romantic he is," tells Lydia, who says she's never noticed their nine-year age gap. "His persona on The Block was a jokey bloke and he is that too, but he is also the very opposite."
Both avid gin fans with a romantic side, they reveal that they celebrate their anniversary on the 20th of each month by buying a new bottle of their favourite tipple. "But obviously, I've had to stop drinking it for now!" laughs Lydia. "I just have a sniff and toast us with a tonic."
The baby news comes after the couple's romantic beachside engagement in February 2020, during a Coromandel camping trip in Opoutere. "It was magical," recalls Lydia, showing off a stunning princess-cut diamond ring from Naveya & Sloane, adding that the proposal caught her so unaware, she initially mistook Sam's suggestion to lie down and watch the sunset as an excuse for some al fresco hanky-panky!
The couple are set to tie the knot at Casita Miro vineyard on Waiheke Island in March 2022, with Sam's best mate and Block partner Emmett taking best man duties, as Sam will do for Emmett when he marries his fiancée Zigie Wightman.
The pals have remained thick as thieves since their Block victory. The money they won remains in a joint account, with a goal of buying 50 properties by the time they turn 50. "It's going really well," enthuses Sam, who says they're currently working on a Napier property.
As parenthood looms, the couple's thoughts turn to what kind of parents each other will be. They agree that Lydia will be the disciplinarian and Sam the fun soft-touch.
"Winning that show gave me options and I want our boy to have a great start in life," he grins. "We're already looking at investing in shares for him, so that he can have the chance to get on the property ladder at an early age. We can't wait to have a little Cable running around – he's gonna be a chip off the old block!"
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