Why I lost my heart in Rab

From Rovinj we drove the meandering coastal roads back to Rijeka. On the way we decided to spend some time exploring Velebit (the largest, but not the highest mountains in Croatia). We took a stunning drive as high as we could go and then proceeded to hike to the top. The view from the top is absolutely breathtaking! and you can actually see the islands off the coast of Croatia in the distance.

From Velebit we proceeded to take the ferry across the Adriatic Sea to the island of Rab, where the Gypsy’s mother and Grandmother live. The main town is beautiful and old and charming. Most of the town is not accessible by car, the homes are ancient and most of the town is protected by the National Heritage Council (i.e. if you want to do any home renovations or maintenance you have to get their permission first).

The island is mostly known for the old town of the same name, encircled by ancient walls. The town’s 4 church bell towers include the tower at the Cathedral Svete Marije (St. Mary) and the tower at the ruins of Sveti Ivan Church (St. John the Evangelist). The monastery at the 16th-century Church of St. Justine (Crkva Svete Justine) is now a museum of sacral objects.

The Adriatic sea does not have beaches like the ones we know in SA. There is no sand, but rather a variety of rocks and cement walkways. There are no waves and it’s much like swimming in a gigantic pool for the most part:) I also found the water to be extremely salty and as a result you can quite literally just kinda float around without even trying. It’s quite heavenly really and honestly I prefer this to our sandy beaches and brain scrambling waves when it comes to swimming.

 

While on Rab we explored several other areas on the island including Frkanj, which was probably my favourite. The area is marked by small, private beaches, beautiful rock formations and forests. We spent a good few days of our time on Rab exploring different areas along Frankj.

The Gypsy had been visiting nearly every year and shyly took me to a tree where he had carved our initials the previous year, shortly after we had started dating. He already knew at that point that it was forever….this guy though <3.

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We also visited Lopar, which actually has sandy beaches. To my knowledge these are however man-made.

On one of the days we decided to cycle through the reserve on Rab. We rented bicycles from the hotel in Rab and cycled a total of 25km (12.5 each way). It was probably one of the most beautiful cycling trips in my entire life and we were rewarded with incredible views and a swim in the sea at the halfway mark.

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I was also introduced to a lovely old man called Bogdan, who doesn’t speak a word of english, but is loosely related to the Gypsy’s family. This old man honestly put us all to shame. He’s well over 80 years old, still dives to more than 12m without any gear to catch octopus, fish and to collect shells and stones for his artwork and swims at least 5km each morning. He was kind enough to take us out deeper into the sea away from all the people to go swim and relax a few times and gifted us with a beautiful watercolour painting inspired by the island (which is now proudly hanging in our home).

Rab has quite a unique charm and, apart from the fact that our family lives there, we will definitely be returning this year because it’s simply one of the most beautiful places on earth. The people are amazing and friendly, the roman ruins are incredible and there are views for days no matter where you go.

After a stunning week and a half of relaxing, exploring, swimming and sunbathing we hit the road in our trusty little rental back to Belgrade. It was a long drive, but the border post is lovely…it’s quite literally like going through a drive through or a toll gate in SA. You waste the minimum amount of time and the immigration officers are super friendly. Then it was time to fly back to SA and as usual it’s always great to be home:) And who knew that less than 6 months later we’d be engaged and married six months after that?! It’s been a rollercoaster, but it’s been amazing and I look forward going back there with my husband this year:)

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2018 in retrospect

As I sit here and stare back over the year that was 2018 I can hardly believe that all of 12 months have passed. It’s been a crazy whirlwind of a year. It’s been an insane mixture of good and bad and crazy moments stitched together. But we made it! We survived! And while I know that most people had a really hard 2018, mine for the most part, has been good.

  • Firstly, and perhaps the most extraordinary part of this year, was the fact that I married the love of my life. On 30 June 2018 on a beautiful Northern Natal guest farm, we promised each other honestly, love, support and to stick by each other even when things got hard. It was the most perfect day. Literally nothing went wrong, and we were super chilled. I did pretty much everything myself with the help of my family (old and new) and even my dress appealed to the sentimental in me…it was made by my mother dearest. It really was the best day in the history of forever!
  • My brother, SIL and my two gorgeous nephews came for a visit (especially for the wedding) and I got to spend a week with them before the wedding. It was so lovely to have them!
  • We spent an amazing two weeks exploring Italy as part of our honeymoon!

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  • I obtained my international certification.
  • I spent the first 5 months of the year traveling up and down between SA and Namibia and planned most of my wedding from my hotel room and the hotel’s skybar.

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  • My husband (yes I still love the sound of that) spent the bulk of the year traveling to Cape Town for a few days each week…let’s just say this got exhausting eventually.
  • After the wedding we moved in together and attempted to merge two completely furnished homes. It was easier than I thought and there were literally no disagreements. We spent ages beforehand discussing which big-ticket items we were keeping and which we will be getting rid of…I honestly believe this helped.
  • Husband attacked a second degree (which he plans to finish in 3 years max despite working full-time) and passed his first year cum laude (ALL THE PRIDE).
  • My parents retired and will be moving away from my hometown early in the new year to start a whole new life as adventurous retirees. So excited for them.

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  • Saying goodbye to my hometown (I will probably never go back there as there really is no reason to) was harder than I thought it would be and it made me a little sad.
  • There were some health scares in the family. I don’t want to go into this in detail, but it’s been a bit scary and plenty sobering. Every single day is a gift by grace…truly.
  • I said goodbye to friends who moved overseas. I find rather than easier this becomes harder every single time.
  • I became godmother for the second time!

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All in all it’s been a crazy beautiful year with some unexpected twists and turns. I am grateful for each moment, each lesson, each adventure, each blessing, each memory and each day we receive as a gift by grace.

Bring on 2019!

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Dear 2017…

I feel like a walking, talking cliché whenever I write posts like these. Currently everyone is furiously writing (or wrote, if you’re an over achiever) a post about the year that was. But the fact is: I enjoy writing them. They remind me of what I’ve been through this year and what I’ve achieved. Sometimes I even remember about things that were significant which I completely forgot about…and it’s nice to spend some time thinking bout what I’ve done the last 12 months and to start the year on a clean slate.

So here is a summary of the year that was 2017:

  • Firstly, and I think most importantly as it was definitely the highlight of my year, I GOT ENGAGED! I can’t even begin to tell you how happy this made me and how excited I am to spend the rest of my life with my Gypsy. Wedding planning is currently in full swing in this house and everyone is getting in on the highly animated discussions about it.
  • During the past 12 months I spent more time out of the country than in it (literally). Countries visited and passed through this year include: USA, England (passed through), Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Kenya, Serbia, Croatia and the UAE (stop overs). My travels also included a few weeks in CT, but this is obviously not a different country (even though it feels like it sometimes).
  • I had the most amazing holiday traveling in Serbia and Croatia with my Gypsy. I explored so much and got to experience so much in his home countries…I can’t WAIT to go back. That place is incredible.
  • I had endless trouble with my MINI this year and had to fork out in excess of R50k in total in repairs and services….this was NOT so much fun.
  • As a result of the above I sold my darling little MINI after 6 wonderful years and bought a new car.
  • My darling nephews turned 2 and 5 respectively and my darling godson also turned 2.
  • I lost some friends (by choice) and made some amazing new ones.
  • Professionally I kicked ass (sadly there is very little I can elaborate here as a result of the nature of my job).
  • A bad guy got away (through no fault of ours) through public sector uselessness. I HATE it when the bad guys get away.
  • I saw Kilimanjaro (from an airplane…but still!)
  • I continued on my cycling journey (although not as much as I would have liked as constantly being out of the country was a bit of a challenge)
  • My dad’s best friend of 41 years passed away…he was pretty much family.
  • Mostly being out of the country meant that I didn’t get to spend as much time as I would have liked with family and friends.
  • I bought a pastamaker and started making my own pasta. This might sound like something small and insignificant, but I’m pretty obsessed with the whole thing right now.
  • Got to see in the new year (2017) with my American tribe and my parents.
  • I started sewing again and made some beautiful things to wear.
  • Did I mention that I got engaged?

The list isn’t spectacularly long this year. Mostly because traveling so much for work made it hard. I know a lot of people had a really rough 2017 and honestly it wasn’t the easiest year. I faced a lot of professional and personal down times and being away from my people so much due to work related travel was hard. But overall it was a GOOD year and am unable to find any reasons to hold a grudge against 2017.

For those of you who had a rough 2017 I sincerely hope and pray that 2018 will be better. That you will be overwhelmed by blessings and adventures. For those of you that had a good 2017, I pray that you will have an even better 2018 and that the year will be filled with amazing things. Love and blessings and adventure. But most of all I hope that 2018 will be filled laughter and acceptance and people who bring out the best in each of you. Because we all deserve a little laughter.

Happy 2018 my lovelies!

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!?