Dear Belgrade, Serbia

As promised, I am finally getting around to writing about our amazing holiday earlier this year. I posted a ton of photos on instagram and twitter (#RAGISAC) and tried to send a message to my family at the end of each day with a little summary of what we did and a few photos to show them.

We traveled from Jozitown to Belgrade, Serbia via Abu Dhabi, explored Serbia and then proceeded to drive to Croatia. We spent the first few days in Rovinj and then took a ferry through to the island of Rab, where The Gypsy’s mother lives. In this post I’ll be focusing on my experience of Belgrade.

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On the plane and on our way! #RAGISAC

We arrived in Belgrade on a Saturday morning and was greeted at the airport by The Gypsy’s parents as a surprise. We were only supposed to meet up with them a bit later in the day, but they took a bus to the airport to surprise us instead. His father awaited me with a bunch of flowers and a big bear hug and his mom wouldn’t let me touch my own suitcase once we showed our faces in arrivals. And this behaviour continued throughout our trip. Whenever we spent any time with them we were spoiled rotten! And it was glorious:)

Belgrade is an incredible city. We spent a day or so exploring before heading off to Fruška Gora (more on this in another post) and then did some more exploring in-between returning from Fruška Gora and heading off to Croatia. It is a city of absolute contradictions. In one block you will see the most beautiful houses right next to a building that looks like something that should be condemned. But even the buildings that are falling apart are beautiful in their own way. It was later explained to me that in some cases the people let the buildings deteriorate on the outside in order to avoid paying property taxes, but i was assured that on the inside they are quite beautiful. In addition, due to the suspicious nature of the people, you may be labelled as an associate of the “mafioso” if you flaunt any sort of money, and not beautifying the homes on the outside is one way of avoiding such flaunting. I have no idea if this is true or one of those “jokes with a hint of truth” or complete fabrication, but honestly it kind of makes sense.

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I’m not sure what I was expecting exactly, considering that they were in civil war like only 20 years ago, but let’s just say Belgrade won my heart. The little shops hidden away in holes in the wall (literally), the friendly (yet slightly suspicious) people and the food was an amazing experience and i would definitely recommend people to visit.

 

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On the bus tour with The Gypsy’s parentals

On the day of our arrival we decided to do a hop-on-hop-off bus tour of the city and then proceeded to explore the forts, city wall and the spot where the Sava and the Danube rivers meet. It is SPECTACULARLY beautiful! Most of the city has recovered from the bombings but there are still a few buildings that carry the scars of a civil war less than two decades ago.

We discovered the cutest little pub, lemon beer (which, let’s face it, is the best thing in that heat) and the most amazing food…seriously…the food! Three of my absolute favourite food related Serbian things are Börek (The cheese one to be specific), kajmak (it’s a cheese) and Cevapi.

It’s hard to only choose a few random shots as there were so many amazing things, but if i had to post ALL my photos this post would be miles long. So instead I’ve picked a few pictures below which I think sums up most of the highlights of this spectacular city:)

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A few days in the life of..

So the past few days have been pretty interesting. Life has a way of coming in swings and roundabouts, but the truth is: it ALWAYS evens out in the end, and we have to learn to take the good with the bad. I know this better than most and have a rather amusing set of stories to add under this little file divider. I’ve also long since established that some days I can only say “this shit ONLY ever happens to me” and count on the fact that at least half the people who hear me tell the story won’t believe me….I’m OK with that. I don’t particularly care about your opinions anyway, so if all you take away from it is an amusing little story, that’s fine by me.

So here are a few things that happened during the course of the last 10 days:

  • When I returned from a 2 week out of country work trip the Friday before last, the Gypsy kindly offered to bring groceries and cook me dinner. While he was busy in the kitchen and I was happily sipping on a glass of wine I decided to switch on my “media setup”. This consists of a TV, PS3, Apple TV, Speakers and a laptop. So I plugged everything into the socket and flipped the switch and BAM! Flashes of light, smoke, loud exploding noises and a few shrieks from me before the electricity tripped. GREAT! I had no idea what exploded at the time but had been convinced that all of the above equipment would need to be replaced after that. I followed the smoke and found that the laptop’s charger had quite literally EXPLODED O_o How? I have no idea…but i’m very grateful that I’m pedantic about unplugging and switching off everything except the most essential things when I leave the house. Could you imagine the chaos and potential fire hazard if this happened while I was away? The explosion burnt my floor *facepalm* and the laptop is no longer usable (fantastic) but surprisingly enough everything else seems to have survived the onslaught.
  • On Tuesday I paid a little visit to my dentist as my dental implant (a long story in itself but it cost me a fortune, involved several bone implants and a piece of my jaw removed) felt slightly loose. It wiggled….like a loose tooth about to be pulled. The dentist very kindly tightened my screw and then indicated that he would like to replace the screw as it may have suffered some metal fatigue as a result of the wiggling….I made a follow-up appointment for the Friday.
  • On Friday i returned for a half an hour appointment to replace the screw. Let’s just say it did not go according to plan. DID YOU KNOW: A dental implant can experience a mechanical failure???? The dentist had to completely break the “tooth” of the implant apart in order to remove it. At this point I didn’t know whether i was supposed to laugh or cry. I had paid thousands of rands for that thing and here the dentist was kindly breaking it apart. Not to mention that this whole process took 3 hours. And trust me after 3 hours of someone messing about and “rukking” and “plukking” your mouth in order to try and break the “tooth”, your jaw and mouth in general is pretty damn raw, tired and sore. Then I learnt something new AGAIN. DID YOU KNOW: A dental implant comes with a warranty? I couldn’t stop laughing when the dentist informed me that it was definitely a manufacturing error and that I would no doubt be able to replace it under the warranty. The entire tooth has to be remade, so I will be returning in two weeks to have it replaced….at zero cost to me or my medical aid.
  • On Monday morning I had to head out of country again for yet another business trip. I always use Uber to take me to the airport and I’ve never before experienced any issues with the app or the service. I usually go online to request the uber about 10minutes before I have to leave home for the airport. I also make sure that, bearing traffic at that time in mind, I have more than enough time to get to the airport and drop off my bag etc. I generally don’t cut things close when it comes to flights. But the app had a problem. It simply refused to process payment, which means it refused to get me an Uber. I restarted the app a few times and even downloaded the 163MB update in an attempt to make it work. By now it was already well past the time I was supposed to leave home. I decide to add a different card as payment, but the app wouldn’t even let me do this and just continued to tell me that there is a processing error. In desperation I even tried to pay for the ride in cash…NO LUCK. So I finally gave up (by now running very late) and called a metered taxi service (which I HATE using). Unfortunately they wouldn’t be able to reach my home until only an hour prior to my flight. I would NEVER make it. As a last resort I loaded my suitcase in my car and drove myself to the airport….this will mean an astronomical parking charge, but what else could I do. By now I’m stressing about missing my flight as the traffic at that time is way more hectic than when I was supposed to leave home. I finally got to the airport and dropped my bag off with like a minute to spare prior to check in and bag drop cut off time. PHEW! And then the super nice lady behind the counter says “oh shame mam, you look so stressed. I’ll tell you what. I’m cancelling your online check-in and moving you to a business class seat.” Bless her cotton socks! I managed to make it through security and immigration and walked onto my flight with a few minutes to spare and then I was spoiled with excellent service, WAY better food and a ton of space.
  • When we arrived here the airport had another surprise for us….the immigration queue was literally running outside of the terminal building. Three international flights arrived at exactly the same time due to delays and the airport is simply not geared for that kind of traffic. It was going to be an incredibly long wait. Then a sweet old man in front of me starts asking the officials where the SADC line is. From experience I know there is technically a separate line for the SADC countries, but that when it’s this full nobody adheres to these rules and the immigration officers don’t enforce it either. But the old man spotted my SA passport, grabbed me by the arm and told me to follow him. And within minutes we were right in front of the queue and we sailed through without any hassles.
  • But without a doubt, the highlight of my day was last night. My SIL sent us a little photo of my littlest nephew in a superman shirt looking grumpy and miserable. Apparently the little man was also having a bad day, just like his aunty. So I asked my SIL to give him a big hug from me.  A few minutes later I get a message from my SIL saying that superman asked her to tell me that the hug made him feel better. *heart melts* That right there tops EVERYTHING. Nothing that happened in the last 10 days could spoil or top that moment….nothing. Family is everything.

So life comes with its ups and downs all the time. It’s up to us what we choose to focus on.  All I can say is…life with me = never boring.

A little something I learnt

I recently learnt a little something. Truth be told it’s probably something I’ve always known, but being forced to face the reality of it has been good for my soul. The truth is….no one gives a damn.

Let me catch you up. If you follow me on twitter or Instagram, you will be well aware of the fact that I recently went on a long and incredibly beautiful holiday. The trip related blog posts are still a WIP but they will hopefully be up soon enough. We spent a number of days in Serbia and then slowly made our way to Croatia and finally spent the last 2 weeks on an island off the coast of Croatia. It was delightful, and we spent a lot of time soaking up the sun and swimming in the mirror like Adriatic Sea.

While I was packing for this exquisite trip the Gypsy and his mom (who lives on the island!!!!) advised that I pack more than one bathing suit/bikini/whatever tickles my fancy as we will spend a lot of time swimming and sunbathing and sometimes having a second one to change into so that you don’t walk around in wet gear is nice. The swim wear packing caused me a bit of stress and frustration…and here’s why.

I am currently over weight. Don’t get me wrong…I’m not obese…I’m not FAT….i’m not HUGE, but I am over weight in that I have curves, I could definitely stand to lose some weight and I’m probably the biggest I’ve ever been in my life. It’s caused me a lot of frustration of late because I eat healthy, I exercise, I sleep better and I drink a ton of water, yet nothing seems to make a difference. I tried to lose weight in the months preceding our trip, but because I was traveling all the time before we left this wasn’t as easy as I had hoped.

The really funny thing is, even though I could definitely stand to lose some weight I don’t have massive issues about it. Because, while my ex was all about body image and being fit and trim and thin and concerned about what other people think, the Gypsy smothers me in love and attention and tells me how beautiful I look (even when I really don’t…bless his soul). Without realising it he led me to a space in recent months of focusing on being healthy rather than thin and being happy and comfortable in my own skin. It’s been an amazing journey and one I am certainly grateful for. It doesn’t mean that I don’t still aim to lose the weight…it just means I’m not obsessing about it. And that makes me a lot healthier in all aspects.

But back to my original story. The whole point of the above explanation was to make it clear that I am most certainly NOT bikini ready. In addition, I’m extremely self-conscious about the huge scar running all across my diaphragm area as a result of the gangrene related butchery, which has caused me to rather wear tankini tops of late. Not to mention the fact that in my entire adult life (even when I was much thinner) I don’t think ever wore ONLY a bikini. I always wore a pair of swim shorts. It was just the thing to do when you didn’t exactly look like a runway model. Everyone did it that way and quite frankly there are always comments about the less than model like people who dare to walk around in only bikinis.

So I packed two tankinis and a pair of swim shorts. On the day of our departure the Gypsy managed to convince me to pack my bikinis too, stating that I might change my mind and regret not being able to get  a better tan while I was there. I laughed at the thought but shoved two in my suitcase (just in case), mostly to humour him.

When we got to the island and went for our first swim I confidently went out in my tankini and swim shorts…because this is what I always do. But I ended up abandoning the tankini tops within two days and the swim shorts two days later. For the first time in my adult life I was swimming, walking around and sun bathing in a bikini ONLY in PUBLIC! The horror!

But here’s a thing I learnt from the locals about body image. NOBODY CARES! The island was covered in locals walking/swimming/sunbathing in the smallest garments you could possible imagine and sometimes even nude. It didn’t matter if you were small, big or quite frankly huge….you wore whatever you wanted to…and nobody even gave a second glance. There was none of the sniggers and whispers I had grown accustomed to in SA when a really massive middle aged woman started walking around in the tiniest bikini I had ever seen. In fact, no one but me even gave her a second glance.

I’ve learnt that South African are actually pretty damn judgemental. I learnt that the only person truly judging me for how I look is me and the ONLY person causing me to be self-conscious about how I look and what I dress in is me. I learnt to get over myself….and it was an amazing and freeing moment.

It helped that the Gypsy’s only reaction when I finally appeared in a bikini only was to give me a hug and a kiss, gleefully exclaim that he’s so happy that I’m finally completely comfortable and then proceed to tell me that he has no idea what I was on about, because I look fabulous. (this guy…so sweet)

So the lesson I learnt: nobody cares. So embrace who you are! Stop worrying and have fun. Life is too short to worry about other people will think when most of them don’t matter anyway. Life is definitely too short to put off doing things because you don’t look the right way. Live in the moment and embrace where you are. Because NOBODY CARES!

A little something about cycling

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I’d like to be able to tell you that I’m a magnificent cyclist. That it’s easy and fun. That I’m fit and fast and fabulous. That I’ve got dreams and aspirations of doing the 94.7 and the Argus with excellent times.

But out of all of the above statements only 2 are completely true. It is FUN and I am definitely FABULOUS 😛

As I mentioned before I started cycling earlier this year. I was beyond nervous to get on the bicycle when I realised it had been 15 years since I had even been on one, let alone done any sort of notable distance on one. Now that I think back I realise I was actually pretty good.  We lived in a very small town and I used to cycle everywhere.  To school…to the shops…to the dam…and on occasion even to a nearby (40km away) farm for a picnic and back (that’s 80km BTW)  I even did time trials and races.  I could cycle without using my hands and miraculously push start and swing onto the bicycle with incredible grace….Please take note that I can do none of this now.

But here I am roughly 5 months down the line and I’m STILL cycling. Let me take a moment to be completely and brutally honest.  I am unfit, I am slow and due to the butchery 2 years ago I also lack a lot of the core strength I used to have. It makes things hard and tough and a constant challenge. But I’m still here.

When we first started I refused to invest any money in cycling until I knew that I enjoyed it and was going to stick with it. So #TheGypsy (who has been an avid and super fit cyclist for YEARS) kindly allowed me to use one of his bicycles. A friend loaned me an old helmet and I managed to purchase a pair of cycling shorts on sale for all of R179. Fast forward 5 months and you’ll see that #TheGypsy bought me a bike of my own, I now have my own (pretty) helmet, I have both winter (pink) and summer (red) cycling gloves, sports glasses, 5 (!!!) cycling shirts and 3 cycling shorts.  And last but not least my darling parentals gifted me with an exercise bike once they realised I was actually genuinely into this cycling thing. The only condition is that I need to use it regularly (which I have been).

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She with the borrowed, old and slightly ugly helmet

The very first time we went we did all of 10km and I WANTED TO DIE. But we pushed on and I steadily went from 10 to 18 to 21 to 28 to 35 and finally to 46 (and I’ve been informed we will be doing a bit more this coming Saturday). My nether regions generally want to stab me by the end of it and my wrists especially have been having a bit of a tough time of it but the most surprising thing is I am really really enjoying it.

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We have our moments…in this case the bike bit me. 

When I started cycling it was because it was something that #TheGypsy really loved and I wanted to show interest in one of his hobbies. He had invited me and I had agreed…never thinking I would actually keep it up. These days we are both super excited about our ride when Saturday rolls around and it is no longer HIS hobby…it is OUR hobby and what we do on a Saturday.

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Yes…we are cheesy on a Saturday morning

I’m going to be brutally honest and admit that I am SLOW. I’d like to say that you have to remember that I cycle on the road with knobbly tyres while 90% of the other riders are on overpriced road bikes (all of which is true)…but the honest to God truth is that I am slow. I’m not particularly strong (which makes going uphill slow) and I’m not particularly fit.  But I’ve also realised that I’m not out there to compete with anyone else. I am out there to have fun, to be healthy and to enjoy myself. This was a major turning point for me. Now I compete only with me and I celebrate every time I manage to improve my time…something which seems to happen every week now, and I’m taking that as a good sign. I celebrate the fact that 5 months ago I could BARELY cycle 10km and I’m now doing 46 quite easily and considering adding more distance. I celebrate the fact that I no longer have to change gears to first the moment I hit an uphill but that I can now manage most of them between 6 and 8 and no longer have to stop and rest when I get to the top. I celebrate the fact that my core muscles are strengthening and I can now grab my bottle and drink water AND replace the bottle while cycling (THIS IS NOT EASY).

#TheGypsy has been an absolute trooper throughout the last 5 months. He has encouraged, given hugs and cheered me on every step of the way. He does almost double the distance I do in the same time on a Saturday morning but loops around me the whole time which means that we are more or less in sight of one another at all times. But it also means that he doesn’t feel short changed in terms of his training at the end of the day.

I have no aspirations of becoming a champion cyclist one day, but I do think that I might just tackle the 94.7 next year and, if I carry on the way I do now, I’ll probably be able to do it in a pretty decent time tooJ

Everyone keeps asking if I’ve seen significant weight loss.  Truth be told I haven’t. I have however noticed a change in terms of toning. I’m sleeping better. I feel healthier and I’ve been focusing hard on eating healthier and more regularly. So no…I haven’t lost a ton of weight (which would have been awesome). But I am healthy and I am happy….and to me those are the most important things.

Dear ladies

So here’s the thing….I need help. Desperately, urgently and with a lot of thought and assurance……

So last week my darling neighbourlady moved to Cape Town. Don’t get me wrong….I was very happy for her. She’s been wanting to make the move for ages and things just weren’t quite working out for her for the longest time. And then suddenly one day she found a sweet little place to stay and everything else just sort of fell into place.  And there she is….settling into her new little home in CT.

BUT…my neighbourlady wasn’t JUST my friend, mother, older sister, wine sharer and general mischief maker…she was also my brow lady. And with her I had the added benefit of being able to pop in at any time to have them done. I also trust her with my life, which made trusting her with the shaping and upkeep of my brows an easy task.

Now the fact is I am very lazy with the upkeep of brow shape in general, and having a fringe has made it easy for me to be lazy. It made it easy for me to have them done and literally not even look or stress about it for a few weeks before popping upstairs and having them done again. This means that I can not be trusted to do my own brows…additionally I am terrified that I’ll somehow screw up the shape and look of them and end up a meme.

So ladies….I need your help. I need recommendations for a new brow lady. Somebody who is awesome but also really really good and who won’t give me non-existent or woolly mammoth brows. I’m used to having mine waxed, but I’m open to other ideas if you know of someone who is incredible. I am looking for someone I can TRUST with my precious brows.

Please feel free to leave thoughts, ideas and contact details in the comments to help a girl out. Pretty, pretty please!?

2016…..

2016 has been a rather interest year for many reasons. Work has been crazy…although to be fair I suppose my work/life balance always goes just a tad out of whack in terms of the work craziness. I am a workaholic and while I don’t measure my success on how busy I am and how little time I have outside of work, the facts are that I love being busy, I love my job and for the most part I don’t mind the extra hours.
2016 has however taught me to focus on the rest and relaxation and on the “life” part of work/life balance too. To invest in quality, happy time with the people I care about more often.

If all goes according to plan, 2016 will also be the first time in 10 years that my little family gets to spend Christmas all together….My parentals, my bro, my SIL, my two beautiful nephews and myself all together for a crazy cold and *hopefully* white Christmas. I CAN’T WAIT!

2016 has also been the year where (hold on to your horses) I started cycling. It’s a crazy thought…me on a bicycle…but it is true. I got dragged along earlier this year on a cycle and since then I’ve actually grown to love my Saturday mornings in the saddle. I’ve grown to appreciate the tender nether regions after 2.5 hours in the saddle, grown to appreciate the stiff muscles and the aching wrists. Because once I get to the end of my ride I feel like I’ve accomplished something. And not only that…I’ve been afforded the opportunity to be healthy, to completely zone out from everyone and everything for the time that I was on the bike and to be grateful for what I am able to do.

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And last but not least 2016 has been the year where my romantic journey with The Gypsy began. I’ve been alluding to his existence on twitter for a while and if you follow me on Instagram you would have seen his face creeping into my timeline. There isn’t much to the story really. Fact is I’ve known him for a few years but I’ve never even considered a romantic relationship because I’ve always had someone else. And I am one of those people who never even consider or think about the possibility with anyone else when I’m with another.

But somewhere between breaking up with the Guy Person and grabbing 2016 by the horns, The Gypsy once again popped into my story….and this time he appeared to play the role of the potential leading man. Once he became aware of my newly single status he simply asked that once I am ready to move on I give him a chance. And due to the circumstances around the breakup and the 6 months preceding it I was ready a hell of a lot sooner than I had anticipated. And somewhere in between the cycling and laughing and late night chats and dinners and random whatsapp conversations he became more than just a friend.


He’s weird…I’m weird…and we are completely and perfectly weird together. My relationship with him is so different from every other relationship I’ve ever had and his European frankness is refreshing and in stark contrast with most other guys I know, let alone guys I’ve dated. A spade is a spade is a spade and no topic is too awkward…apparently.

I love how we can passionately and heatedly debate on different sides of an issue the one minute and laugh and hold hands the next, not allowing a difference of opinion to cause anger and irritation. I love how he appreciates the fact that I am opinionated and independent and how he isn’t threatened or intimidated by my personality, independence or my sometimes scary and hectic job. I love how he respects my faith, beliefs and choices. I love how he is constantly encouraging me to grow and do new things and how he not only welcomes but insists that I always speak my mind. I love how he chooses the moment I probably look at my worst to stare at me in wonder and tell me how beautiful I am…it’s all really lame and really corny and really awesome.

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And while I have absolutely no idea what the rest of 2016 will hold I know that this year I have chosen to live in the moment and that so far, despite the fact that it hasn’t always been moonlight and roses, 2016 has been good. It has been filled with new beginnings and adventure and challenges and it has presented me with a million ways to make new memories.

P.S. So subsequent to this blog post 2016 got even better when a LOT of hard work, all nighters and mentorship resulted in a promotion announcement on Thursday *grin*.

#DineInTheSky

A couple of weeks ago I received an e-mail from Diners Club International about a Dine in the Sky competition…..as per usual my attitude was “why the hell not” and I entered without giving it so much as a second thought. Then at the end of May, during my first few days spent on engagement in Cape Town I was bombarded by a bunch of missed calls from a number I did not know and a desperate voicemail plea to return a call as they “do not want me to miss this great opportunity”.  I did not recognize the details of the company calling me but I took a chance and returned the call and it turns out it was a representative of SABC3’s Afternoon Express.

What I had not realised was that the Diners Club International competition was hosted by both them AND the Afternoon Express and I was chosen as one of 3 lucky winners. <insert excited squealing and jumping up and down here>

The prize?  Myself and a partner was invited to join one of the Afternoon Express presenters, representatives from Diners Club and 2 other winners to enjoy a beautiful champagne breakfast high up in the sky at Val Bonne Country Estate one saturday morning.

Guys…it was amazing. The view…the experience…the people..the goodie bags:P and everything else was just fantastic.

We arrived early in the morning in order to ensure that our hair and make-up was done to perfection as it was all being filmed for the Afternoon Express in HD.  We were then strapped in and hoisted 40m into the air by crane where we dined, chatted, were interviewed and enjoyed the amazing view.

I had expected to be super nervous as I am normally pretty scared of heights.  But a few years ago I had adopted a new approach to things that scare me. How often will I be presented with the opportunity to do something again in the future? I guess the fact is my fear of missing out is FAR greater than my fear of heights and even though I sometimes want to DIE on the inside I insist on pushing through…simply because life is too short to be scared.

Surprisingly enough I was calm, confident, even slightly dare devilish…twisting around in my seat…leaning out to take selfies with most of the table and swinging my feet out of bounds of the platform. What was even more surprising is that the Gypsy, whom I took as my + 1, who is usually so chill and very rarely gets freaked out was a nervous wreck once we reached roughly 20m. The most entertaining part was that while they were interviewing him 40m up he was all calm and confident but the moment the cameras moved he was back to secretly gripping the table and glaring at me for carelessly swinging around in my seat.

We had an absolute blast though and were proper spoiled the entire time.  I have no idea when this is supposed to air and even if I did know I probably wouldn’t tell anyone as I’m fairly certain I sound like a complete chop:P But it was a truly fantastic and fun experience:)

Being totally silly post make up and before the big hoist
I loved this random photo i took by accident of our shadows….I’m keeping it!
Breakfast (40m up in the sky) is served…..this was also accompanied by bubbly which is sadly NOT featured in this pic.
Just one of many splendid views from the top
The crew doing their thing at 40m
Cause when you’re dangling 40m up in the air selfies are important
His smile is a complete lie I assure you….
Pulling faces when the camera crew can’t catch me:P
DON’T LOOK DOWN!
Half a table selfie….the camera man managed to take a shot of me taking a selfie of them taking a shot of me taking a selfie of them……inception at it’s best.
My size 4 feet look like they belong to a giant in comparison to the buildings and tables at Val Bon Country Estate

P.S. This is most certainly not a paid for or sponsored post.