Tales & images from life as me…

2012 – what a year!

Happy New Year everyone! During 2012 I had 9,900 hits on the blog and am awaiting the 10,000th any second now! – Thank you all so much for reading.

I’ve got all sorts of new stories to tell for 2013, including tales of our incredible trip to the Galapagos Islands, but before I move into the New Year I’d like to take a moment to review the last one – it was a pretty full one, involved some of the biggest changes imaginable and so many high points.

I often write about the mad stories or the difficult aspects of ex-pat life, but in truth the past twelve months have been packed full of amazing days and great new things. I think I only came to realise just how true that is when I saw I had taken over 17,000 photos last year! Iphoto has a fantastic feature – it automatically stores images in a file called ‘past 12 months’. I started flicking through and found myself inspired by all that we had fitted in.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to even attempt to include 17,000 images – but I thought a brief summary could be a good way to start the New Year. So…

It all began in January when J (my brother) & Coops (our good friend) and I travelled across Tanzania together. We spent almost three weeks crossing from Mwanza, through Serengeti, through Ngorogoro, Arusha and over to Zanzibar and had all kinds of adventures along the way – including me getting engaged! That trip also got me my first break with a major East African travel magazine. (If you want to see more visit: https://beingmelissakay.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/crossing-tanzania-with-j-coops/)

The Mwanza Charity Ball committee were very happy to be able to give away almost Tsh74 million to 34 different charities as a result of the committee’s efforts in 2011.


Damien and I visited Naivasha in February trying to find a place to get married – and succeeded! Thank goodness, right at the end of a very long day, we discovered Kongoni Lodge and it’s fabulous staff.

We spent Easter in the Mara at Olarro with Damien’s parents. The hotel is stunning, set in the hills overlooking the Mara Triangle, and we saw some incredible game and enjoyed cosy fireside evenings. (Full details at: https://beingmelissakay.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/messing-about-in-the-mara/)

In April my baby Kite, which I’d been watching from it’s very first days in the nest opposite my office window, grew up and flew! And our road got washed away like it does every year!


The band played several gigs in the early part of the year – including going ‘on tour’ to Geita Gold Mine for a night! Sadly we had to say goodbye to several members and the band was no more after June. We miss you guys ☹
13.01.12 tilapia (2)




Lodge may '12 (6)

Actually, we said goodbye to a lot of amazing people during 2012 – too many to mention but sadly several of them were very close friends (you know who you are) and I wish them all the very best wherever they may be in 2013. It’s a tough part of ex-pat life, the constant goodbyes. I just said another set to my family as we left the UK to return here, and it doesn’t get any easier, but… the show must go on.

Throughout the year we took several trips to Wag Hill and spent some lovely days on the lake, making the most of the weekend and Damien’s boat.



There were two Craft fairs – Easter and Christmas, for the third year running. They grow each time and make for great community events. Thanks for all the support and help again this year Mwanza.

Thanks to Authentic Tanzania for giving my next big break – They decided to trust that I could pull off some national travel press coverage and asked me to join them in Selous for a truly wild safari. It was AMAZING. (The full details are on: http://beingmelissakay.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/tia-tales-authentic-selous/)


In June we went to a fabulous Indian wedding in Mombasa and had a great time celebrating with friends, before I headed home for some serious wedding preparation.

The UK was all about shopping, though we did manage a brilliant hen do (thanks bridesmaids!) and a lovely trip to a real old-fashioned circus.

I had a pretty full-on time there – it was also the Olympics and Britain was out to show its very best. It really was incredible, London was buzzing and my brother, sister, their partners and my brilliant friends Jenni & Mike made an amazing last day of my trip by touring around some of the top Olympic sites and drinking it all in.

Sadly on my way home stress levels peaked as my dress was (temporarily) lost by the airline on my return journey! But it all resolved itself!

I made it back just a day before it was time to leave for Ruaha national park and an Authentic Tanzania Photographic Workshop safari with Sven Liebchen and Paul Joynson-Hicks. What a trip! (full details on: http://beingmelissakay.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/ruaha-photo-workshop-safari/) These are times when I really love my new job! This trip helped me create new contacts in the international travel press and get a five page feature in Digital Photographer.

Finally, back in Mwanza it was house parties, a couple of Serengeti weekends and another hen party for me, thanks to my friends here in the Southern Hemisphere! (been off tequila ever since!)



And then all of sudden family and friends were arriving for our wedding! (How on earth I had found time to plan it and keep working with all the stuff I just mentioned going on as well I really don’t know!). We had our civil ceremony on our balcony at home, then the main event in Naivasha, Kenya at the end of October (full details at: http://beingmelissakay.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/tia-tales-the-wedding/) . We followed this up in November with a fairy-light fest at the yacht club in Mwanza to celebrate with friends there and finally did a party in a barn in the UK (where my bridesmaids and I wore wellies with our dresses!)

Finally we did Christmas carols at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and celebrated Christmas with my lovely family (including my 103 year old grandmother!), before setting off on our honeymoon (more on that later!). Phew!

And as for this blog…Well, you guys have been amazing. People in 74 countries looked at the blog (50 countries regularly check in). WordPress tells me that 600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 9,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 17 years to get that many views!

Most popular posts were ‘The Good Stuff’ (http://beingmelissakay.wordpress.com/2012/05/05/tia-tales-the-good-stuff/), ‘ex-pat 007’ (http://beingmelissakay.wordpress.com/2012/08/27/ex-pat-007-an-insight-into-ex-pat-life/) and ‘building work’ (http://beingmelissakay.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/tia-tales-building-work/).

Thanks to Carriepots, 3llen, Nina, Kate & Michael as my top commenters – please keep it up, I always love hearing from you all.

In 2012, there were 43 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 326 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 582 MB. That’s about 6 pictures per week.
And as for my writing – I received an email New Year’s day to let me know one of my short stories has been a selected for inclusion in a collection of short stories. It’ll be on sale via Amazon in the next month or so! I’m still working on the novel and the magazine work and number of private clients is building all the time. I’m excited to start 2013 – there are already so many great adventures planned and all sorts of writing challenges ahead. I have a feeling it’s going to be a good one.

Watch this space!


5 responses

  1. Wow, what a whirlwind year & retold with wonderful words as always. Xxx

    January 14, 2013 at 11:25 pm

  2. I have been checking out some of your posts and i must say nice stuff. I will make sure to bookmark your website.

    January 15, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    • Thanks for popping by. I always appreciate the support. I hope I’ll see more of you. Best wishes for 2013.

      January 17, 2013 at 11:53 pm

  3. You certainly did pack a lot into this year. Hope 2013 is filled with lots of exciting adventures for you too.

    January 22, 2013 at 6:31 pm

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