The stories behind my “Best 9 of 2018” Insta pics

It’s that time of year when we reflect on the last 12 months, the good and bad. Both the wonderful and the disastrous memories we either cling on to or choose to forget.

Instagram does a great job of revealing which images received the highest engagement. It’s the images that others felt worthy of a Like or a Comment.

Here’s the story behind each of these pics:

1. My Dad retired after dedicating his entire life to serving as a Fireman. This was his last ride out on the fire engine. Incredibly emotional.

2. A week on an island off the coast of Singapore. It was bliss! Cocktails, snorkeling, overeating. Just what we both needed. I swam in those warm waters each and every day and loved it. The best part was leaving our cell phones in the hotel room.

3. and 7. We said goodbye to Annie this year. After the removal of her adrenal tumor a few years ago, her days with us were numbered. She held on to the very end. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about Panks!

4. After 20 years in corporate, I said goodbye to these high rise photographs overlooking Rosebank and decided to open my own business. To be my own boss. Eeek! Watch this space!

5. I started the year off recovering from a double pulmonary embolism. This pic was taken on an early morning stroll along the Camps Bay promenade with KK. You start appreciating life a lot more after experiencing something like that. I have no makeup on, my hair is knotty, but the coffee tasted divine.

6. KK. My rock. The support and belief in me really shone through this year. Thank you! After 17 years of marriage, I’m still learning that an engineer will never know how to read my mind, It’s just easier to tell him what I want.

8. Our CW-X business happened for a reason. It was the bug that bit and made me decide that I wanted to run my own business. It’s with sad hearts that we will finally close the business for good and shut down the site in January.

9. Two words. New Zealand. Never before have I witnessed the emotions behind a father’s decision to emigrate and the impact on everyone left behind. There’s only so much anguish a 16-year-old can take. But watching my sister and niece recently laughing together and enjoying time together in the pool made me so happy.

My friend Conrad always reminded me that we say every year, “Gee, the year was tough”. But it’s tough every year. It’s how you come out on the other side that matters. It’s what you learn and how you grow that counts.

It’s the friendships you make and nurture. It’s how much you love yourself and others; when there are more happy days than sad ones, and the excitement of setting goals for the year ahead.

How did your 2018 turn out?

Why I left my phone in the hotel room and went for a run instead

We celebrate our wedding anniversary annually with a trip away. Away from work commitments, household chores, and the noise that drowns out our lives. We try get away from it all.

This year, we couldn’t have picked a more perfect destination than Club Med Bintan Island, tucked away off the coast of Singapore.

The view over the pool area from reception

It was an absolute paradise! The food, the drinks, the people…

There are x4 things I did that made it even more blissful and ensured that I enjoyed each and every minute on the island.

1. I locked my cellphone away in the hotel room safe everyday. For someone like me to not have my phone constantly with me was hard! But when I lay on the deck chair overlooking the ocean, I saw for myself just how obsessed people are with getting that perfect photo, taking pics of their food or simply seeing their heads facing down staring at their screens when in fact there was such beautiful scenery all around us.

I don’t have many photos of the holiday but what I did come back with are hundreds of conversations between Karl and myself. We spoke. A lot. And I switched off. I detoxed digitally and it felt good not exposing myself to all the hatred and anger that exists on social media.

2. I ran. In fact we must’ve run almost every single day on the island. The humidity at 8am did not stop us either. You kinda think that on holiday, you should take a break from exercise but we loved the fact that we had time to run whenever we wanted to! And to explore different routes and pathways around the resort. Yes, so I did get lost on my first run. I blame the Club Med chief of the village who claimed the distance around the club was 4kms. It was actually 8kms! Pffft, non-runners!

I was not mentally prepared for the uphills and humidity on my first day of running. But once I knew the route, it was just me (and the monkeys) on a road surrounded by palm trees and lush vegetation, next to a beautiful golf course with the piercing sound of the Cicada bug, apparently the loudest insect, zinging in my ears. Bliss!

This naughty little bugger made off with my running cap that was drying out on the balcony!

3. I ate everything and more on my plate. We diet way too much. We have become so obsessed with our Banting / low carb / paleo / weightless / weight watchers / Sleek geek / plant-based eating schemes that we’ve forgotten to find joy in actually eating something that tastes really delicious! I ate bowls of pasta, ice-cream, fried rice, curries! I ordered cocktails at the pool. I lived! And the damage was not as bad as I had imagined! I still have clothes which fit. LOL

Food food and even more food!

I didn’t dish up massive portions but I made sure I tasted as much as I could – from spicy Korean dishes, to Indonesian crab and lots and lots of fried rice.

4. I swam in the sea! You heard right! I swam sometimes three or four times in the same afternoon. The sea water was as like warm bath water and there were very few waves. If you looked down at your feet, the water was so clear, you could spot a fish or two dashing through your legs every now and then. Freaky!

I put my fear of the sea aside and not only swam in the sea but jumped on a boat to be led out to the waters to go snorkeling. With a mask covering my face and looking down onto the most beautiful coral reefs, a sea turtle swam passed me! My heart! And then yes, I gulped down a huge mouthful of sea water in all my excitement!

Here’s a couple of photos I did manage to take which gives you a sense of just how beautiful Bintan Island is…

Walkways through the resort which never felt busy or overcrowded.

We had a choice of sitting around the pool or lying on deck chairs staring into the ocean.

Lazy strolls along the beach.

Just couldn’t resist this photo opportunity.

The ‘B’ is actually me, not Bintan 😉

In his element!

No make-up, sticky sun creamed body, cocktail in hand.

Full body massages on beds overlooking the ocean.

Thank you for a wonderful holiday KK!

The brief said hot!

It was ironic that during the hottest month in Jo’burg, the theme of my camera club during the month of December was ‘HOT’. One would’ve thought that made it easier to find great photo opportunities, but it didn’t. In fact it was hard!

The typical images of flickering flames on the summer evening braai came to mind. So did chillies, steaming bowls of curries and ice cold cocktails. But every time I’d take these types of pictures, they shouted out everything but hot.

I ended up with two pics that I took while lazing on the lounger next to the pool, working on my tan. It worked. Here are my two submissions for January:

I took this pic lying down and staring up into the sky

I took this pic lying down and staring up into the sky

Looking down this time at my feet suntanning next to the pool

Looking down this time at my feet suntanning next to the pool

We’re headed on our first excursion in February and I’m quite excited! It’ll be an evening outing and taking photos of the setting sun. I’m both excited and nervous at the same time.

I’m going to give a proper grown-ups camera a try and not use my iPhone. I’ll keep you posted.