Carnival.

A few months back, we moved into our new apartment - and it's location was one of the best things about it. After a little bit of research, we soon found out that our street faced one of the major roads which houses the annual Notting Hill Carnival.

Jase got to visit this time last year while I was travelling, so I've been looking forward to experiencing it for myself!

Our day started bright and early, when the sounds of drums awoke us at 6:30am - some of the acts getting into the spirit of the day at an ungodly hour. We closed off the bedroom door and slept in a little longer, and have spent the rest of the day so far, being smack bang in the middle of the festivities.

We are lucky enough to have a balcony that overlooks the street - the perfect place to watch the parades and floats go by. The bass of the music literally makes the walls shake, it's that loud. People are dancing and drinking in the streets, things seem quite mellow and friendly, and despite the litter that's starting to pile up everywhere, it seems like an all-round good time! I'll be hearing reggae and soca beats in my head for the next few days, that's for sure.

Apparently tomorrow is the main float parade, so I'm sure we'll be out experiencing that too - but for the meantime, here are some pictures of the festivities.







Just Feel Better.

There's a horrible bug going around these parts at the moment. Influenza? Nope. Swine Flu? Pah! This one is much more frightening than that.

It's called man flu.

Symptoms include sniffling, coughing, a feeling of general malaise and a whole lot of whining. Be careful folks, because it looks like it's going around!

No, I jest. In all seriousness, Jason wasn't bad at all - he was just a little crook for a few days, and is already (rather frustratingly) back to his usual chipper self. Unfortunately, this wasn't before he managed to pass on his germs to his unsuspecting fiancé, who typically can't get rid of the darned cold.

As a result, I've become a bit of a hermit this lovely Saturday evening. I can't even drown my sorrows with comfort food either; this wretched cold has run away with my taste buds, which is terribly inconvenient. After all, it does seem like an awful waste of calories to indulge in a bowl of ice-cream that tastes like, well, nothing. I've resorted to watching Charmed reruns instead to pass the time, which leads to a really important question - how does Piper have such shiny hair all the time?

In other random news, we've been engaged exactly two weeks today. I sort of hope time continues to speed along at this rate, because that means I'll be closer to having my real engagement ring back! It still all feels like a bit of a blur, since I had the ring in my possession for less than 24 hours before it was returned to go on its resizing journey - so it'll be like a new present all over again when I get it back.

I wonder if the excitement will ever fade?

Fun For Me.

About this time last year, I was merrily gallivanting off around America - beginning an amazing road trip across the country for six weeks. In a way I can't believe a whole year has passed since then; it feels just like yesterday I was in tourist mode.

I loved, LOVED, that trip.

It was one I planned and paid off months in advance, one that I had been itching to do for years. It was also one that I was determined to do on my own, and ended up being incredibly lucky that my best friend could come along for most of the ride as well. I saw some amazing places, met some amazing people (including two of my favourite blogging ladies, Jen & Janet) and had an all-round amazing time.

A year on from the adventures, it's highlight time!

(Yes, this post will be photo-heavy. But it will also be awesome.)

I'll post one picture from each of the major cities visited across the USA - have a go at following our road trip and try to guess where each one is from?!


























So you made it all the way through ... how did you do? :D

Afterglow.

Life is good at the moment - fairly relaxed, seemingly calm and full of possibilities. I think by now most friends and families know about our engagement, thanks to the wonder that is text messaging, phone calls, emails, and let's not forget Facebook. Gone are the days of announcing an engagement the old fashioned way with special cards, I suppose. Although, speaking of cards, I do still love that idea. Cards are wonderful.

So... what next? To be frank, I have absolutely no idea. Of all the time I spent over the last few years being decidedly girly, and picturing Jason proposing, things never seemed to go any further than that. We're engaged! We're happy! We want to spend the rest of our lives together! Yay! Er, now what?

Well, I might have googled what comes next after engagement. And I may have gone and had myself registered on 'The Knot', if only to see what all the fuss was about. But, oh! The pressure! All it's done is make me incredibly puzzled. You see, from what I've gathered, most people tend to start planning for the wedding itself soon after being engaged. They have an idea of a date, they have an idea of a venue, and they can at least organise a few concrete plans, even if they are leaving the details to later.

Jason and I are different. To answer the question on seemingly everyone's lips, we haven't got a date in mind. We don't want to get married in London (as amazing as a countryside English wedding would be!) as we're too far away from family and friends, so that leaves us having the wedding at home in Australia. It's super expensive to fly home, so we've ruled out the idea of having a wedding during a 'trip' back home, where we would have the ceremony and then come back to London afterwards. It just seems too wasteful to do it that way - and who'd look after Oscar, after all?

So basically, we need to finish up what we've got going here in the UK and then head home for good, having the wedding sometime after that. We don't really have any intention of going home within the next year, because things are going well and we love it here - meaning a date could be in 2011? Maybe? I hope! Suffice it to say, that things will be very up in the air for a long while yet - so talk of actual wedding details seems far off in the distance.

For now, I'm trying to just enjoy this time of my life. I definitely can't wait to start planning the next step, but I'm also determined not to skip though the present step either. We're still comfortable here in London, and not ready to return to the 'real world' yet. But that doesn't mean I can't start looking for things I like, right?! And maybe watching the occasional wedding flick or Bridezillas episode?!

Pinch Me.

A few days back in the real world, and it still hasn't sunk in that I'm engaged. Every so often (alright let's be honest, every few minutes) I'll catch a glimpse of my left hand and find myself feeling completely giddy with happiness. And don't get me wrong, as amazing as it feels to have a ring on my finger, it's not the ring that makes me feel that way - it's so much more than that.

It's realising that after almost seven years, he and I are on the same page. It's imagining Jason walking into a jewellery store on his own, and choosing a ring that we would both adore. It's having our future life together seeming somewhat more solid, more real. And it's the overall feeling of comfort, that makes me think everything was supposed to happen this way, and at this time.

Because I want to remember how I'm feeling in a week, a month, a year, I thought it only best that I write up how the proposal went down.

So, we arrived in Prague late Friday night, and headed straight for the hotel. It was lovely, and our room had a river view and the biggest, most amazing bed ever. After working that day, and the normal tiredness that comes from waiting around in airports and on planes, we had an early night, and spent the whole of Saturday sightseeing.

First stop was Old Town Square, home of some absolutely stunning architecture.


The company we used to shuttle us from the Prague airport to our hotel, also gave us a complimentary walking tour - a four hour free sightseeing tour of the town, complete with a guide to explain things. Being good little tourists, we jumped at the chance and ended up seeing more of the city than we would've done on our own.


It was a great day, just a beautiful summer day exploring a nice city. We walked, I complained a little (well, there were a lot more hills than I was expecting!) and we took lots of pictures. There weren't any hints that I picked up on, it just felt like a regular old weekend getaway. Jason had mentioned doing a boat cruise that evening, so we went ahead and booked tickets for a three hours evening cruise of the river.


The cruise started at sunset and went up-river towards the outskirts of the city, with some more beautiful buildings lit up by night. The food wasn't crash hot, but there was a band on board and was just nice to relax and take in the sights. Everything was normal! As we headed back to the dock, Jason suggested we take a bit of a walk, which I was fine with - unfortunately all my night shots were blurry, so I wanted somewhere to stand still and try and practice.

We ended up walking towards the bridges, and stopping under some trees. I was leaning on a pillar to take a picture, and having no luck - so complaining quite a bit. After a while, Jason commented that he had another surprise waiting for me. This is the last image I had on my camera, before turning around to find him down on one knee!


I think I was more surprised than anything else - looking back, I have a bit of a blank when it comes to what I said when he asked me to marry him. I'm fairly sure there were a few 'Oh my Gods' thrown in amidst the slack-jawed gasping like a fish out of water, but Jason assures me that the final answer was a 'Yes, of course'. He was trying to show me the ring, but I was freaking out that we were near the water - so he put it on my finger as far as it would go, and we decided to head back to the hotel to check it out in better lighting. I think that I asked Jason 'if he was sure' about a dozen times during that walk. I blame it on the shock factor!

So by now, you've seen the ring: but I'm in love with it so much that I'm going to post it again. It turns out that Jase had purchased the ring over a month in advance, and it was just sitting innocently in our wardrobe the whole time. He picked it all by himself, and he did an amazing job. The ring is amazing, just perfect.


Unfortunately the ring size was too small, and it wasn't the correct fit - not because Jason chose wrong, but because Tiffany's only stocks a standard size 6 in its London stores. We went straight from Heathrow to the store, had my finger sized, and the ring has been sent off to NYC to be completely re-fit. That's all fine, but the only downside? It takes between 10-12 weeks!

We decided that we'd buy a token ring in the meantime; something to wear on my ring finger, to display to people when they ask about the details, and to keep me smiling - and it worked perfectly! We chose a lovely sterling silver piece that cost us a whopping 10 pounds.


.. yet this is the ring that I keep staring at in wonder. If I'm this giddy over this little number, I can't even begin to imagine what I'll be like in a few months time when I get the real thing back! And that, my friends, is how we got engaged. In a stunning city, with a well planned surprise, and an amazing partner who went to such efforts and blew me away. That boy - I think I love him.


I'm Yours.

So, the mystery destination turned out to be... Prague!



The city was stunning, absolutely stunning.


You honestly could not take a bad picture.


We did a stack of sightseeing, and lots and lots of walking.


Oh, and Jason asked me to marry him.


I'm pretty sure I said yes.


The engagement ring is AMAZING, and there is a long story to go with it. I'm fairly sure this next picture will sum it up, though.


So, so happy to be his fiancée.


(As I'm sure you can tell.)

8/8/09. :D

Mysterious Ways.

I'm about to head off to work.. where I'll have a jam packed day (on my own today, unfortunately!) and then will be getting the tube DIRECTLY due Heathrow straight afterwards.. where I will find out where my mystery weekend will be!

I'm quite excited - looks like Jason's secrecy has paid off, because the hype has definitely been building over the last few weeks. We'll arrive at our destination fairly late this evening, and then have the weekend to explore. I'll be home on Sunday evening - hopefully with lots of pictures for you too!

Have a great weekend. :D

All That I've Got.

I've already packed for my mystery weekend away, even though I don't know where I'm going. That makes packing quite tricky, let me tell you. Sticking to basic, comfy, summery travel clothes, with jeans and a cardigan thrown in for good measure.

Our place smells like the washing liquid we've been using lately and I'm in love. To the point where I'll randomly sniff freshly washed clothes, just to get a whiff.

Musical obsession of the week: Jeff Buckley. I tend to keep his songs on repeat on my iPod, constantly. It keeps me sane. Sometimes I forget that other people can't hear what I'm hearing, which is a little bit sad. They're missing out.

This blog is going to draw inspiration from song titles as subjects for now, depending on how well they fit the post. Am I the only one who spends just as long trying to think of a witty title, as I do writing the post itself? Crisis averted.

My last few weeks of commuting on the underground have seen me passing the time by checking out the engagement rings on show and trying to guess their value. You should see some of the rocks these women are wearing.

Have decided that I need some new reading material, so am planning to hit some charity shops for discount books. Picked up a novella of short stories & a Ben Elton read the other day, but I am in dire need of new materials. There's something very cool about reading a second-hand book. I like to imagine where they've been before.

I think I'm the only person who's enjoying the fact that the British summer is NOT hot, so far. We had a week of super high temperatures last month, but it's quite mild at the moment. I hope I haven't jinxed things by saying that.

I feel quite lonely this week.

So I Need You.

Turning 25 ... now I can officially say that I've been there, and done that.

I've joked about having a quarter life crisis for a while now but as Jase has wisely pointed out, I may have actually clocked that milestone already, what with changing my career, moving house (twice!), visiting a couple of continents, oh, and moving abroad in the past 18 months. The boy might have a point, there. It seems my quarter life crisis has averted itself, for now!

This past few weeks has been the time for changes across the board. I've seen & heard of so many random events -  relationships stalling, people moving on in different directions, new careers, engagements, weddings, pregnancies. There's certainly something in the water, folks.

So where does this leave me?

It has me thinking towards the future, that's for sure. I've always been a planner. I work best with lists, with preparing, and having things plotted out and organised in advance. That's all well and good for most things, but not so good when you're dealing with relationships and emotions.

I've come to realise over the years that getting two completely different individuals on the same wavelength (and time frame!) as one another, is no easy feat. This time last year, which would have been leading up to our six year anniversary, I was feeling pretty snarky. It was as though everyone around me was moving forward, and while I was living the dream here in London, something was missing. (That something was rather dazzling and sparkly, I'm sure you can understand where I'm going with this?) I was ready to move forward but Jase wasn't.

This brought about a lot of tears on my part, and I turned into this horrible, horrible person, the kind of girlfriend I never wanted to become - complaining, nagging, annoying - and led to a lot of frustration on his part, I'm sure. It took me a while, but I eventually realised that it just wasn't the right time, and me making such a fuss? Probably wasn't helping the nonexistent situation much, either.

Fast forward to this year - where things seem the same, but are actually quite different. No, we are not engaged, but there have been more realistic 'future talks' between us. This time around, we can have actual discussions about where we're headed, rather than resorting to petty tantrums when someone (me?) doesn't get their way.  When you think about it, having been together since we were 18 and 20 respectively, we've basically grown up with each other for the most part of our adult lives. He's my best friend who I also happen to love, and I know that we'll be on the same page together at some point. That thought alone makes me happier than you could imagine.

My 25th year is going to be one of no regrets, and no expectations. Everything happens for a reason, and in its own time. And for now, my time is being spent relaxing on the lounge with Jase, tapping away on our respective laptops in companionable silence, with the cat skulking around in the background. And I wouldn't have my Saturday evening any other way!





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