So I am one of those pseudo haters of Valentine’s day! Every year I huff and I puff and talk about the consumerism perpetuated by companies making cards, chocolates, teddy bears, etc. and how they force people to celebrate all sorts of days like Mothers’ day, Fathers’ day, and the mother of all days – Valentine’s day. Year after year I have tried my best to stay at home on V-day and make myself believe I don’t want to be a part of this madness. I mean, who in their right minds pays 3-times more for flowers even though they are half dead? Or makes bookings at restaurants weeks in advance, being forced to decide what they might feel like eating a month from now?
Up until now, I had successfully managed to keep up my charade and since the hubby (K from now on) knew how I felt, he never insisted on doing anything on this day. But not this year. I woke up as usual on 14th Feb, and waited for K to come back home after walking Mia. When he did, he casually told me he was thinking about ‘bunking’ office today. Still not suspecting anything was amiss, I just nodded, thinking he wanted a break as work had been pretty busy off-late.
After lolling around at home for a few hours, K told me we were going out for lunch. I am usually only too happy to eat out as it would mean no cooking! But this time I was a bit surprised and then asked him what was going on. And finally he told me that he had planned the day off and was taking me on a surprise date!
Despite much insisting and cajoling, K was resolute and refused to divulge any further details. I was just asked to be ready to leave within the hour. So I dutifully obliged, completely rescinding all my previous dislikes and arguments against giving in to this day.
By the time we set off in the car, I was like a super excited teenager going away on a weekend with her new boyfriend! The location still unknown, although now I knew it would take us an hour to get to our destination, I started making guesses as to where we might be headed and what we might be doing. To all my conjectures, K just smiled and carried on driving. Finally I gave up and just waited to get to wherever we were headed.
Finally, after what seemed like a lifetime, we turned off the main highway onto a dirt road. After driving for another 5-7kms, I saw some signboards welcoming us to the Lethabo Estate.
Nestled amid a nature reserve, on the banks of the Crocodile river, was this most tranquil looking lodge. Walking into the restaurant, I was expecting to be directed towards a nicely laid out table, overlooking the river. But I was in for yet another surprise – the friendly usher offered us two glasses of the welcome drink and hurried away. She re-emerged after a few minutes, followed by another lady. Both were carrying huge picnic baskets laden with stuff and motioned us to follow them.
This is when I realised – K had organised a surprise picnic lunch!! Still following the ladies, we reached a small cove along the river, where a cozy corner had been set up for us, complete with comfortable cushions and a tarpaulin cover to keep the heat and rain away. Setting the huge baskets inside the tent, the ladies wished us a good ‘romantic’ afternoon and hurried back towards the lodge.
I was thrilled to bits. Valentine’s or no – this was the best picnic of my life! The weather was perfect, the surrounding almost picture-postcard like and the baskets laden with food, (that I had not had to prepare!), most appetizing. Unable to hold back my curiosity anymore, I began exploring the contents of the baskets while K opened the bubbly. There was so much food! We would never be able to finish all of it. To begin with, the first basket contained an assortment of cheese and crackers, some dips, home-made tomato bread and salad. For the main course, there was a full honey-glazed chicken, smoked salmon and peppered roast beef. And for dessert there was an absolutely divine chocolate mousse cake.
Slowly sipping our bubby, enjoying each other’s company and listening to the loud gurgling of the river as it continued its journey, we spent the most romantic afternoon. Despite my misgivings about this day, I had the best day ever. But will this change my outlook for all the other so-called commercial days? It remains to be seen!