Sunday, 31 January 2016

Happy 2016!

Hello everyone and happy 2016 to you! I had such high hopes that I would maybe get time to blog a bit during the festive season, but as you can tell from my silence, that didn't happen. Instead, I had a fantastic holiday, celebrating Christmas with family and visiting Frosty's farm and hiking in the berg over New Year and spending some time at Hole in the Wall in the Transkei.

Mpame, Transkei
At Mpame in the Transkei.
While all of these things were fantastic, there was something even more exciting that happened the Saturday before our holiday came to an end. Most of you will have heard some version of the story, but here it is for those of you that haven’t.

I started the day off with a trip to Durban with my mum to go and celebrate the baby shower of one of my best friends from school. Since we live so far away from each other, it is always an extra special treat to see her and even more of a treat to see her as a mum-to-be*! While we were catching up, Jen asked me when I thought Frosty and I might be tying the knot and I replied that it was likely to be in the next year or two probably and we weren’t in a rush. With all the chatting and catching up with everyone at the baby shower, the time seemed to fly by and all too soon we started off on our way back home. I was so sad to have to say goodbye, especially since we were leaving before the end of the party, but mum was keen to get going back home and since she had mentioned that she wasn’t feeling so good earlier I didn’t put up too much of a fight.

The entire way home, mum kept on commenting on how she hopes we get back before the bad weather set in, so that I could go birding with Frosty that afternoon. She usually doesn't mind what the weather is like, but that day she was particularly concerned that we get back before the rain. I thought it was a little strange and thought that something must be up.

Now, to put you in the picture, while we had been at Hole in the Wall, the one morning Frosty and I went for an early morning swim with my folks. My dad got out of the water quite quickly after getting in and soon after that I saw Frosty heading out after him. “Ahhh, he’s gone to keep my dad company and be friendly, what a good guy”, I thought. Eventually mum and I returned to the beach and dad then asked me to take a walk back up to the cottage with him. I waited the whole walk for dad to say something profound and deep, as he’d sounded like he wanted to chat with me all by myself. By the time we had reached the cottage, dad still hadn't said anything. I started getting a bit suspicious at this point, as I guessed that if dad hadn't wanted to talk to me about anything, then that must mean that Frosty had wanted to talk to my mum (and dad) about something. I started having a few suspicions about what that something was, but decided to not get too hopeful.

Anyway, mum and I arrived back to Hilton safely and I organised for Frosty to come collect me so that we could go birding. He’d asked me the day before if I’d like to go birding at Hilton College, as there were lots of birds there and I might be able to tick off some new birds on my bird list. I started getting a bit more suspicious at this point, but again decided not to get my hopes up in case it really did turn out to be just a trip to go and see some new birds...

So, off we went to Hilton and Frosty chatted nicely the whole drive there. We had never gone birding at Hilton together before and so he pointed out all the places where he had crashed and where he had gone exploring and where Willie had beat him in a race uphill even though he (Willie) was using only one leg and Frosty was allowed to use both! We (Frosty) decided to go to Beacons lookout point as it was a place that Frosty used to visit often while he was at school and he went birding there quite often. Along with all the stories he told me during the drive, he also mentioned that his grandfather’s ashes had been scattered at Beacons. The entire drive there I was listening, and the important stories all stood out to me (I had heard a few before luckily), but in the back of my mind I was wondering if this was the time that Frosty was going to ask me something important. I decided to just take the afternoon as it came and made up my mind to not be too disappointed if all we ended up doing was going birding. 

View from Beacons Lookout Point, Hilton College
View from Beacons Lookout Point
We got to Beacons and were treated to a view of overcast skies, cloudy and moody above Albert Falls Dam. It really was a beautiful sight and after admiring the view, we decided to try and get to the actual beacon - a few minutes and a sighting of a rather mean looking fence later, we decided to rather take a walk along one of the forest paths. We tried really hard to find some birds, but the incoming bad weather had ensured that all the birds were hiding...All this time I was enjoying the birding but also watching Frosty carefully to see if he was acting strangely. He seemed to be sighing every now and then but otherwise he was his usual self, so I still didn't want to get my hopes up that something was up.

After finding a few brave birds who had ventured out into the forest, we turned back and again spent some time standing on top of rocks, looking for birds at the Beacons viewpoint. It was while we were standing, just admiring the view, that Frosty went down on one knee and asked me to marry him and just like that, we were engaged!

As we sat chatting, overlooking the valley and just enjoying being together, I asked Frosty how long he'd been planning this whole thing and who was in on the plan. It turns out that while I was travelling in Rio he used the time to start looking into rings and talking to jewellers and for those few months, the only people other than him that knew his plan were his folks. It turns out my suspicions that Frosty has been asking my folks something at Hole in the Wall also turned out to be correct (my folks and his folks did such a good job at hiding their excitement over that time that I started to second guess myself at that point). 

Anyway, a glass or two of champagne and some snacks later, we made our way back to Hilton where as many of our family as possible had gathered to celebrate our engagement with us, which was just the best end to the day! Frosty and I were both so excited and thankful to have our family join us in celebrating our first evening as an engaged couple and it means so much that we were able to celebrate with them! Thank you family who were able to be there and those who weren't there were missed!

We're engaged!
The following day we had some more celebrations with family and friends who lived close by and one of the best treats of the day was getting to see my special friend Jen for the second day in a row! Since most of these friends live far away from us, it was again, an extra special time and one that I won't soon forget!

Special families! (Thanks Chezie for putting on your photographer hat!)
The jong-span (thanks mum for getting these pics!).
It's now been 3 weeks since we got engaged and in that time a lot has happened - we got to celebrate with my Cape Town family, work started off with a bang and I've just spent a week in the Czech Republic doing a workshop for a new project, which is really exciting! I have to say that I'm really looking forward to planning a little something to celebrate with our Cape Town contingent, who we haven't had much of a chance to see yet.

It really was the most fantastic way to end off the holiday and so, here's to a new year, a new adventure and a new fiancĂ© - I think 2016 is going to be a good year!

*She and her husband recently welcomed a baby girl into the world, yippee!

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