The holidays have come and gone already. It was only a few weeks ago when Alastair and I were saying our goodbyes to the team in Sierra Leone for Christmas break. The camp was closed down and all expat staff was getting ready to fly home.
During our few days in Freetown, we did manage a quick trip to the beach and had some fun with ridiculous underwater photos :)
The months leading up to Christmas had been especially stressful for those working on the project, so we decided to go out in style with a team dinner at a restaurant in Freetown. It wasn’t a huge turnout but we managed to have a good time.
I was so excited for the holidays!
Alastair and I spent our first Christmas together as I stayed in England to celebrate with his family and then we traveled to Boston to spend New Year’s with mine.
The time we spent with both of our families was invaluable and we had so much fun.
It all went by in a flash, and we were quickly back in England preparing our return to Sierra Leone. It was on one of these few days before our departure that Alastair asked me to go for a walk down by the river.
We took his parents’ dog, Bertie, with us and set off to delicately tread around the overflowing river in our rain boots. Alastair was acting particularly strange, suspiciously diverting me in different directions, which I later found out was to avoid his Dad who was a co-conspirator. Finally, Alastair landed me on a bench by the water and made mention of a bobbing parcel that was oddly tied to a railing nearby. Curiouser and curiouser! It still didn’t occur to me to reach into the cold, rushing river though, so I left it to Alastair. After untying the contents, he produced a waterproof camera case holding a small black box and he simply asked me, “What’s this?” My heart swelled with joy as the man I love knelt down and proposed marriage to me. I was so overwhelmed with emotion I couldn’t do much else other than cry and smile, but I definitely got “yes” in there somewhere :) And he gave me the most extraordinary ring.
So, it’s official, we’re engaged!
A passing couple obliged in taking our photograph, although Bertie wasn’t interested in anything other than scrounging around at that point.
Alastair also had a bottle of champagne sunk into the river, but we saved it for later in the day. I couldn’t stop smiling to the point that my cheeks hurt. That evening, Alastair took me to the nicest restaurant in the area, The Hand & Flowers, for a special dinner.
The Hand & Flowers is a very romantic place with spectacular food and an eloquent, yet cozy, atmosphere. We had a great time…still smiling.
The ring Alastair gave me is distinctive and meaningful. He designed it himself using his own gold and diamonds. He had the bands panel beaten, making something absolutely beautiful with imperfections.
Alastair and I are so very happy.
We had the chance to celebrate with Alastair’s family, and I spread the news back across the Atlantic.
We’ve returned to Sierra Leone and are back in the throws of work, yet we remain blissfully aware that a wedding will be in the near future…and we’re still smiling!