So as 2009 progressed, we started to think about our plans for the rest of the year, knowing we'd return UK by Christmas.
The two of us met in 1994 and we got impression our families had given up on us getting married. We were never really big meringue wedding types, and wondered whether we could do it quietly. Why not?!
In that case we needed to get rings sorted. We found a jewellers in Brisbane who use recycled metal to make new pieces. My Mum's wedding ring has been present throughout my life - a simple band of platinum. To harvest one gram of platinum, we must dig up four tonnes of rock. But not with their rings of course. So Paul and I ordered a single band each.
Before we left Australia we knew there were a few places we wanted to see first. One of those was Tasmania, an island south east off the coast. When we arrived there, the terrain was so similar to home it almost made me emotional. Unlike the rest of the country it was very green and more hilly. On one day, Paul suggested we climb up one of the biggest hills in Tasmania. Now I am up for the outdoors, but I wasn't massively keen on this idea. But Paul wanted to so I started trudging up, getting slowly more grumpy the higher I climbed. When we finally reached the top, I was out of breath and in a sulk. Paul started shuffling in his rucksack and walked over to me with a box. "Let's get engaged then eh?" I instantly forgot about my mood!
We also hatched a plan to hopefully travel parts of Africa on our way home to UK. Now, my Dad was sent by his work to Nigeria with my Mum in 1969. When they arrived there, they realised that there was a civil war happening - a tough experience. For that reason, we started to look at countries far away from there, knowing it would cause my parents to worry even more otherwise.
As you can see from the map, we selected many places we wanted to experience in terms of culture and wildlife. These were South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania and Kenya...