Category Archives: Weekend

Spider-free bathrooms and a lack of morning Coffee

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I arrived back in Cape Town last Thursday – tired from two weeks in Namibia – becoming accustomed to a new type of life, a new world, new types of people. You’d think that after spending 3 months in Germany, I’d find it easy to ‘adjust’, but that’s not the case.

On 13th August it was my 1 year anniversary with Mani – so we both decided to have a two-week holiday in Windhoek. What bothered me, however, was that Mani thought it fit to organise a camping trip for our anniversary…with other people who I’d never met. Now anyone who knows me well, knows that I don’t do camping. Give me a hotel and a lovely, clean, spider-free bathroom, and I’m happy. But no…trust Mani to organise 2 days spent in a tent with the bare necessities 😦 Give me credit though…I grinned, nodded my head and said, “Awesome!”.

We’d been in Windhoek for a week and I noticed that he just wasnt’ saying much about the camping trip and every now and then I had to probe. “Soooo…liiiiike, what is actually going to happen on this trip? Are we going to get to spend at least an hour alone together on our anniversary…?” His reply, “Of course”. But I was still unsettled. Eventually I cornered him. “Right…ok Mister – you’ve made NO plans for our anniversary and you’re hauling me off to some dusty camping site. I demand that we go to the store now and buy some picnic-y type thingies, so that I know you’re planning to have a nice romantic picnic with me, OK!” 😦 And so we went to the store and got some picnic-y type things.

But it kind of gets worse…

We arrive at the campsite on Friday, early evening. I accept my fate and decide that it’s not that bad, because at least there’s a nice looking shower and toilet block. Ok. So that’s a good sign. But then I get the news that all of us (6 people in total) are expected to wake up at 4 the next morning, because we’re going to watch the sun rise from some sand dunes in Sossusvlei. Again, for those who know me…walking up some sand dunes before the sun’s made its appearance…nope! But again, I grin, nod and say, “Awesome!” (Because you have to be a positive person, right?!)

So we head off to bed early – little sarmies packed for the early morning trip. Mani’s restless the entire night and blames it on the full moon – I’m just trying to sleep so that I can wake up at 4am – and I’m getting annoyed because Mani’s restlessness means he’s walking around the campsite and I’m scared he’s going to wake the others up, and annoy them. I manage to fall asleep and then I hear Guido (Mani’s school friend) announce that it’s time to wake up. 😦 Nope, not happy at this point. I’m in a huff as I get my toiletries together and my clothes. I manage to make it to the bathroom and ask Mani to inspect it – to make sure it’s creepy-crawly free – only then will I use it….

Once I’m showered and dressed, I head off to the campsite, thinking there’ll be some pot of coffee waiting. No such luck. And apparently we need to hurry…so there’s not time to make a quick cup. It’s at this point that I sit myself down in my tent and start to feel sorry for myself. I haven’t slept a lot, I’ve been woken up way too early, there’s no coffee and now I have to climb some sand dunes and watch the sun rise – on my darn anniversary!!!!! Mani tries to calm me down, but I’m allowing myself to turn into a brat. He tells me to get my jacket and it takes a bit of arguing before I finally give in and get the darn thing. Soon we’re all on the dirt road – like true sun chasers – trying to make our destination without missing the sunrise.

We turn into the Sossusvlei Lodge parking area and it’s still dark. I get out of the car, yawn, and look around. There’s a minivan standing next to us with three people inside. Other than that, it’s dark and deserted. But obviously…who else would be awake at this time?! 😦 And then Mani says, “Surprise time!!” to which I reply, “Huh?”…and to which he replies, “It’s surprise time” – and then I realise…he’s got me! He’s organised a surprise and for the first time ever, I didn’t have a clue!!! My smile starts widening as I realise something’s about to happen – his friends are finding it funny and I’m just like a deer springbok caught in the headlights. Then he announces, “I need to go to the loo” but I still have no idea what’s going on. Guido must have realised this, because he walks up to me and says, “Do you know what it is?” and I say, “Urm, no!” So he tells me to look on the side of the minivan – and there I see the following written: Balloon flights.

Nooooooooooooo way! It dawns on me – there’s going to be no walking up the sand dunes, watching the sun rise!!! No! I’m going up into the sky in a hot air balloon!!!!! Mani gets back from the loo and I can’t contain myself – so much so, that I slap him through the face. But it’s a love slap…one done out of excitement. And he knows me well enough by now that he just laughs. Anyway – the story goes on, and I realise this post is getting a little long-winded, but how this unfolds is important and has to be told – so stick with me!

Mani and I head off with the minivan and 3 french tourists along some dusty dirt road – leaving our friends alone to enjoy their hike up the dunes (hahahahaha!). We eventually reach the hot air balloon and I’m so excited, but still can’t believe it’s happening. But it was all real and I have a photo to prove it:

Before I know it, we’re in our little compartment in the balloon and we’re heading over some mountains. I’m trying to take in as much of the view as I can, but somehow it’s impossible. It’s truly magnificent and just cannot be compared to looking out of the window of an aeroplane. Mani seems to be hugging me a lot and kissing my forehead – or just wanting to hold my hand, and I keep thinking, “What’s up with this man?! I’m trying to see the scenery for crying out loud!”

Next thing I know, Mani starts uttering these words, “Carmen, I wanted to come here today because I’ve been told this is the most beautiful place on earth” – and it’s at this stage that I realise what’s about to happen, but I keep my mouth shut, so he continues, “And there’s something I want to ask you *reaches into his pocket and takes out a red box*. Will you marry me?”

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAT?! Yip – that’s what he asked – high up there, in the air over Sossusvlei. I had no doubt and took the ring out of the box, placing it on my finger, not even caring that it’s a little too big and I run the risk of it falling off my finger and into the desert below. And so it is that I got engaged! I can’t really remember the rest of the balloon flight – I just remember it being pretty – but I was far too distracted. I just couldn’t believe what had happened. What I’d secretly been praying for and hoping for had actually come to pass! When the balloon landed, all passengers were treated to a champagne breakfast, in the middle of nowhere (literally). What a wonderful memory – even if I didn’t get my coffee when I’d first woken up!!

It’s a huge adjustment, I must admit. At times I just think, “What am I doing?!?!?” and as someone who’s learning how to function from positivity rather than negativity, it’s been quite overwhelming sometimes. Luckily, though, I have the most supportive mom and dad; the most wonderful friend (La!!); and the awesomestestest fiancé – and with these people, and God, in my life – nothing is impossible!

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A post full of nothing and everything!

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I have to admit that the transition between Winter and Spring in Berlin is beautiful. I’ve not been here mid-Winter, so I’ve not experienced it to its full snowy glory, but I have been a witness to the transition between the two, very different, seasons. I’ve also been lucky enough to see one of my favourite plants in full bloom – the Japanese Cherry Blossom Tree. I’ve always loved these trees, and now they’re all over! It may sound silly to some people, but just the sight of one of these trees – or being able to touch the soft blossoms – makes me smile, inside and out!

Japanese Cherry Blossom

This past weekend was rather jam-packed, which I’m grateful for. My life has been nothing short of lethargic for far too long and now it’s kickstarting into what I want it to be. Yeah, I know – I could have kickstarted it a while ago, but it’s easier said than done, and circumstances didn’t always make that possible. But I’m not going to bore you with that now.

On Friday my church organised to help out at a community centre called Kreativhaus – here in Berlin, not to far from where I’m staying at the moment. The centre was in desperate need of assistance with normal tasks such as gardening and cleaning windows and 58 people from church pitched up to help. The co-ordinator at the centre was so grateful afterwards that she started to cry as she said thank you – and it felt good to be able to help out and do something that (even though it’s so easy) means so much to someone and makes a difference in their world.

Then Saturday rolled on and for some reason I found myself in a (huge) building materials store, helping Mani look for a fish tank. Yes – he’d decided the night before that it was time to upgrade his fish tank – so we did. And I completely supported the idea until I remembered that we don’t have a car, or even a bicycle. Yip, you know what that means – we had to carry a biiiiiig fish tank to the train station, and then home. It’s at this point that I became a little ‘anti’ the whole idea 😦 Have you ever tried carrying a BIG fish tank across a city when you’re wearing a skirt…don’t try it. 😦

Besides an awesome church service on Sunday, the rest of the day was pretty uneventful because I had to travel across Berlin to collect Manfred’s mobile phone from his rehearsal room…and the travelling takes a while, so I spent most of the day on the train and in stations. Then Monday rolled on – I’d planned to wake up at a ‘reasonable’ time (what’s a reasonable time?!) and join Mani out and about somewhere, but I woke up at 12 in the afternoon and was only ready to do some outing and abouting at around 3, which just puts a bummer on the day. Nonetheless, we found some coffee shop next to a lake and had a cup of coffee and some laughs.

This is me looking a little…I’m not sure…Carmen-ish? You have to understand that it’s about 3.30pm at this point and I’ve not eaten the entire day….

And here’s Mani looking oh-so-Mani-ish 😀

And just another pic of me for luck! 😉

On the way home, I wanted to take a photo of a red tulip that’d sprung up amongst a whole lot of pink cherry blossom leaves that had fallen to the ground. It was at this point that Mani decided he wanted to be the ever-professional photographer and started snapping away at almost all the flowers surrounding us (even a few weeds…). The result of his happy snapping follows – and is a rather lovely indication of just how beautiful Spring time is here in Berlin 🙂

Ok, enough of the plants! I also took some completely random shots of things on Monday that caught my attention for whatever reason:

The balcony's piqued my interest

Still chained up, with nowhere to go

Ok well that’s it – that’s enough. It’s time for this post to end. Ciao for now! 🙂

The (silly) B-day Cake

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Alright so as I mentioned in another post, I’ve been taking photos, but I haven’t actually posted any. It’s not because I’m lazy, it’s just that I forget about them or run out of time. Well, on 2 April it was Mani’s 27th birthday and I wanted to bake a cake for him. But the problem about being English and living in Germany is that all the instructions on baking products…well, any products really…are in German. And it’s not like I’m stupid and cannot figure the instructions out, but I just didn’t want his birthday cake, of all cakes, to be a flop. So I had a clever idea (in Afrikaans we have a saying…’ ‘n Boer maak ‘n plan’ –> ‘A Boer makes a plan’). So I bought a pre-made sponge cake, some chocolate and chocolate covered, coloured peanuts. The plan was to melt the chocolate and cover the sponge cake with it, and then ‘write’ happy birthday with the nuts…but the thing about plans is that they don’t always work….

Let me show you what I mean. This is how the cake turned out:

Now you see…the thing about this cake is that it actually says something…can you figure out what it says? Do I hear you say ‘no’? Well, it says ‘Happy B-D’, I promise it does 😦 When Mani first looked at it, he said, ‘Oh cute, you put a smiley face on it’, to which I replied, ‘No, there’s no smiley face! It says Happy B-D’. Still can’t see it? Ok, let me show you…

See, it does say Happy B-D. Anyway, moving on.

I had a little friend visit me the other day – I’m not used to seeing pigeons quite this big, so excuse me if you think it’s funny that I took a photo of a pigeon. Yeah sure, in South Africa we have big birds- like Ostriches – but our pigeons are a tad smaller!

What’s really surprised me here in Berlin is the fact that birds chatter all the time. Back home, they chatter from about 5am until 6pm – and then they sleep. Oh no, not here in Berlin! No – here the birds chat away continually. For instance, whilst planting flowers on the balcony at midnight last night (that’s for another post…), some bird was sitting in a random tree chatting away like nobody’s business. For what reason, I’m not sure, perhaps he/she was just happy and felt the need to talk to anyone who’d listen – but back at home, that wouldn’t happen, no matter how strongly a bird felt the urge to chat. Anyway, that’s arbitrary, random information that I thought you should know. Well, now you know.

I’m off to get ready for church – have yourselves a good Sunday! 😀

Monday morning

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I’m sitting at my desk drinking my first cup of coffee and wondering why on earth I’m up and already type-type-typing away at my computer. How nice it would be to be in the loving embrace of my duvet right now – in Dreamland, somewhere between an island off the African coast and sipping coffee along the French Riviera.

But I’m at my desk – which does not resemble the French Riviera – and I’m sipping coffee that ‘s great, but probably could be better.

I think this past weekend was a good weekend – for many reasons…:

  • It was my dad’s 66th birthday on Saturday and my mother, my dad and I celebrated it by consuming 1kg of (yummy) prawns (each..).

  • Worship at Hillsong was phenomenal and so was the sermon – all about God’s vision for your life and how you shouldn’t give up on it when that nagging voice in the back of your mind tells you, “You can’t do it.” (My response to the nagging voice, “Whatever…I can, so shut up.”)

  • I spent almost 3 hours practicing German on Saturday and was very pleased with my progress – and I’m really enjoying it, which takes the pressure off it a bit. (It’s not always good to be a perfectionist…) Yes, granted, it may seem a little funny because I don’t really have anyone to practice with – so I have to walk around the house speaking the language to the fridge, microwave or anything else that will listen to me.

  • I got to spend time with my parents – it’s been lovely being able to chill with them, talk with them, laugh with them.

  • I got to speak to GH a couple of times and we shared a few laughs. This is always a highlight for me. Why? Because long distance SUCKETH! This morning he surprised me by sending me a text message at 6.30am – just to say he loves me and misses me. Now I’m sure you’re thinking…ok that’s nice, whatever. But the thing is, GH loves his sleep and 6.30am in South Africa is 5.30am in Germany – so for someone who loves his sleep and wakes up at 5.30am…and then text’s his girlfriend – it’s an ‘Awwwwww’ kinda thing! 🙂

1 Ply toilet paper and shrimps

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Did you know that humans forget about 90% of their dreams…and when we think, we use about 35% of our brains. Also, apparently, the percentage of people who dream in black and white started becoming less after the spread of colour televisions. Yip, indeed. Did you know that in South Africa it is a law that single ply toilet paper has to have 500 sheets in a roll? And lastly, a shrimp’s heart is in its head.

Well now you know – and you’re a better person for it 😀

So if a shrimp’s heart is in its head and it needs to make a decision based on either the heart or the head…what does it do – does this present a dilemma for the shrimp? Perhaps we’d all be better off as shrimps then – and it would be a case of “Follow your heart that’s in your head”, as opposed to constantly having to wonder ‘which one to follow’ (although we all know the answer to that…follow your….heart).

This past weekend was enjoyable. After a rather long and tedious week at work, my mood lifted a little on Friday night when I practiced some German – (yip, I’m learning German in my spare time…a girl always has to be prepared!) – and I realised that I really am getting good and I’m learning (and remembering) things all the time. In fact, I recalled over 60 words and their articles from memory. Now, for anyone who knows a little about the German language, you’ll know that recalling words and their particular male, female or neuter article is amazing. Well done to me! 🙂

My mood lifted to even greater proportions as I thought about chatting to GH in the evening – any time spent with him – whether virtual or not – is so precious. After chatting to him, I got to bed at a reasonably good hour (around 2am) and woke up as late as possible on Saturday morning. And even though my Saturday morning was a little tainted due to an unfortunate Lumpy Milk incident, I was still eager to take on the day with zest – and this zest translated into house cleaning. Yes, so what, I clean when I’m happy…

Then it was off to the parentals for supper on Saturday evening. I’m loving the time that I get to spend with them – I’ve not lived with my parents for 9 years, and every time I go to their house for supper or a simple visit, it really feels like nothing has changed – it’s still home.

Sunday morning started as late as possible as well, and there was no lumpy milk incident *hooray* and Sunday evening was phenomenal. The service at Hillsong Cape Town was awesome and the message was delivered in such a powerful way – it spoke straight to me and I was absolutely blessed! God’s doing some awesome work in my life, for which I’m very grateful.

And the perfect end to my weekend was a deeeeeelicious supper chatting and laughing with GH before heading off to Dreamland. It’s so amazing to finally be with the person who was made just for me! 😀

Lumpy milk

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I can’t remember when last I slept in on a Saturday morning – it feels like forever – but I managed to do it today. For some reason I woke up dazed and confused at 6.50am and realised it’s Saturday, so proceeded to turn around and go back to sleep. 3 hours later I surfaced again and just lay in bed contemplating whether or not I had the desire to remove the comfy duvet and head downstairs to make some breakfast. I was about to tell myself it wasn’t worth it until the thought of a nice cup of coffee came to mind – I was up and out of bed within 10 seconds.

I switched the tv on as I walked past it – eyes half closed (or is that half open?) – and switched on the kettle – it was all one smooth motion actually. I reached for my favourite mug, got the milk out of the fridge and at this point my mood was lifting – just the thought of my first cup of coffee was exciting me. What happened next was so disappointing 😦 The milk I poured into the mug wasn’t nice, white, creamy milk – no – it was disgusting, white, lumpy milk 😦 Sorry, do I hear you say “eeeeuuuuuw” – yes, I do, because it is eeeeuuuuuw…and disappointing. It’s like baking a cake, salivating for an entire hour while you wait for it to reach perfection in the oven, and having it flop right in front of you when you take it out. Blegh!

I contemplated heading back upstairs and seeking the solace of my bed – but then I reckoned, “I’m up anyway…” so decided instead to go to the shop around the corner to get some *fresh* milk. So I had my morning cuppa, and it was good – and I’ve just finished off my second one.

I spoke to GH earlier and he seems to think there’s no problem with lumpy milk *yuck*! Yeah it’s true – as much as what we’re perfect for one another, we definitely have our differences! 🙂