Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Under The Dome - Stephen King

Under the DomeUnder the Dome by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really really enjoyed this - I bought it a while ago and Chris read it first, but when it came time for me to pick it up I couldn't face the size of it, so I forked out the $10 and read it on the Ipad instead!

I was abit overwhelmed at first by the size of cast of characters (is there a rule that you should have almost as many people in a story as there are pages?!?!), but as the lines were drawn and people took sides it became alot easier - although there were so many "extras" who were introduced, only to be dispatched with that full concentration was often required! (A thought - if those characters had been in Star Trek and sent on an away mission, they'd have had the red jerseys on and then everyone would've known they were done for from the start!)

Chris wasn't massively happy with the ending but I didn't mind it.  I liked that King didn't let all the good guys live, but I liked how it finished.  I can see how some people wouldn't be satisfied, but I'm not one of them!

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ok, I'm officially a terrible blogger.....

2 months since my last blog post.  Other than my laptop being fixed, returned to us then sent back to be fixed AGAIN, I have no excuse.  I had a laptop, but it turns out I'm so dependent on my bookmarks that I can't do anything without them.

Well, the laptop is home and I will endeavour to do better.  I am back on Weight Watchers and have lost 10.6lbs so far.  We are off on a road trip to Florida on Sunday - spending Christmas at Disney which we are all really looking forward to.

My mantra for 2011 really should be "Must do better".............!

Monday, October 11, 2010

RoomRoom by Emma Donoghue
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've just finished this - absolutely loved it - if "loved" is a word that can be used to describe this book.  I think the fact that Jack is the narrator actually made the tale more graphic in a way as the reader is left to imagine the details.  About halfway through I was thinking that I didn't want to read much more because it was upsetting but then I raced through until the end.

I just want to give Jack a great big hug.

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Friday, October 08, 2010

The Diary of Ma Yan: The Struggles and Hopes of a Chinese SchoolgirlThe Diary of Ma Yan: The Struggles and Hopes of a Chinese Schoolgirl by Ma Yan

This is an extraordinarily simple book to read (it's aimed at 11yo and up) and if it was fiction I wouldn't be very impressed.  But it's not - it's real and it's contents are heartbreakingly simple - a 12mile walk to and from school, one meal a day (if she's lucky) and a distinct lack of nurture from those responsible for her education.  Ma Yan's diary should be read by every overindulged spoiled child in an effort to make them appreciate what they have!

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Thursday, October 07, 2010

NefertitiNefertiti by Michelle Moran
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh I loved this!  I came to Moran via Cleopatra's Daughter, and went looking for other books by her - Nefertiti is her first novel.  I think this is the most historical book I've read (in terms of "years ago") and what I found interesting was how the power struggles within family and how lines of alliance could change in a heartbeat are so similar throughout history (The Romans, the Tudors etc).

I know very little about Nefertiti, and how much of this book is fact is unknown as so much is unknown about her.  However, Moran did a good job in making her characters jump off the page and I really felt for her younger sister - thrust into the limelight against her will and better judgement.  I am now itching to know more about Ancient Egypt and will be googling it as soon as I'm done here!

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Monday, September 20, 2010

The White Mare (Dalriada Trilogy, #1)The White Mare by Jules Watson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It took me a while and about 70odd pages to get into this, but once I was I really enjoyed it.  The story of what is now Scotland, Priestesses and Druids set amongst the ever growing threat of Roman invasion, I think Watson has created a hero in Eremon (a man from across the sea - Ireland)that people will love (I know one reader who certainly does!).

I've recently been reading (and watching) a fair bit centered around the Roman Empire and it was so nice to read about the same period of time but have it set somewhere other than Rome = Watson managed to make the threat of the Romans very real without needing to devote much time to them.

This is the first in a trilogy and I will certainly be looking out for the next 2.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

The dreaded ankle............

I was at the docs on Weds for the results of my MRI.  I"m not sure how I feel about them, as there was nothing more sinister than confirming that I sprained it (both inside & outside the ankle) and the damage is consistent with that.  That's great, but it makes formulating a healing plan difficult.  If I had a hairline fracture (or something along those lines) it would make it easier to deal with as there would be a clear picture of where we go next.

I was also feeling abit frustrated with my Doc as he didn't really seem to be getting that I was frustrated and he didn't seem to have any real ideas about what to do.  Essentially, I need to stay off it as much as I can, and it seems that the act of moving the foot is what is causing the pain (I think this is part of the healing process and the ligaments are protesting when I walk).  He mentioned crutches - which I have said no to in the past - and this time I said I may be willing to consider them, but then he said I could have a walking boot (like a cast, but velcro so it can be taken off as needed) which would immobilise the foot totally.  So off I went  to the orthopedic brace shop where they had me in and out in 10 mins, and this is what I have:

I should be in line for some physio as well which if nothing else should help me with getting the last bit of mobility back...........Luke thinks the boot is brilliant............I just think it's a pain!

Fingers crossed.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Labo(u)r day Weekend

So Labo(u)r Day has been and gone so apparently summer is over - but as it's still 35deg C outside, I refuse to believe it!

We headed up to Waco (3 hours North of us) for the weekend, taking advantage of the day off school and work for the boys.  I don't think it's a place we would have headed too if we didn't have friends who are from a town just South of there so have told us abit about it.  All I knew in advance was that it had a small zoo (which my friend Heather raves about!), was home to Baylor University and that it had the oldest suspension bridge west of the Mississippi

So, my ankle wasn't great but we made the most of it - we ate good Mexican and Italian, spent plenty of time in the hotel pool and the boys visited the Mayborn Museum - it's part of the Baylor campus and has plenty of hands-on discovery type things, and is currently home to a Lego exhibit, which Luke was very excited about - and best of all, when they got there on the Sunday afternoon - it was free.  Result!

Turns out Waco is also where Dr Pepper was invented (who knew!) and they have a little museum dedicated to the fizzy drink.

It wasn't very big, but it was worth a visit, if only to visit the old-fashioned soda fountain and have an ice-cream float!

And then the zoo - what a little gem!  It's small - but brilliant.  We didn't see everything as my foot was protesting towards the end, but we did get to see (in no particular order) lions, giraffes, hippos, snakes (urgh!), meerkats (simples!) and many others.  Now, I HATE snakes, but Luke insisted I come into the reptile house with them - Chris has taken some photos but I refuse to look at them and be reminded of the huge horrid things.  I've been shuddering while typing!!!!

The zoo also had lots of little areas for the kids to play in - one area had things to jump on and they made cymbal type noises.  In the playground there was a little splash area which (as we were leaving) we let Luke go in and boy, did he make the most of it!  Absolutely wet through - but totally content!

Before we came home on the Monday (I wanted to go via Ikea but knew it wouldn't be a popular idea!) the boys took me to a bakery they'd been to the day before.  It was gorgeous and I plan on going back to buy some of their fruit cakes to take home to my parents and Nana for Christmas.  Unfortunately, I was having a really cra**y day and didn't enjoy it the way I should have done - the ankle is getting me down and some days are better than others, but that's a story for another post!

I really liked Waco - like a lot of towns, there's alot of empty lots and buildings and could do with some regeneration.  However, there is also lots to do and lots of really nice places to eat...........I think that it's great that the University is there as that generates alot of traffic through the town.  If you're ever nearby, it's definitely worth a stop.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Cleopatra's DaughterCleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I absolutely loved this book.  I was unsure what I would think about reading about this particular period of history and wondered if I would compare it unfavourably to the Tudor era which I love!  Of course, that's daft as you can't compare the two.......and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Moran did a great job with her characters - especially Selene and I was really rooting for her throughout.  Through most of the book I forgot how young she was at that time and what an awful time it must have been for her and her brother.

Well done Michelle Moran - I shall read more of yours!

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Thursday, September 09, 2010

Life Is Good Blog Award!

Many thanks to Carol at Dizzy C's Little Book Blog  and Rachel at Thoughts from a Compulsive Reader for this award. One nod would have been nice, so 2 is very much appreciated - especially at a time when the ongoing saga of my ankle is getting me down a little bit.  Thanks ladies.

Life is Good Award!

Now for the criteria:

To accept the award you must link back and thank the person who gave you the Life is Good award and answer the 10 questions and pass it along to 6 other blogs :) 

1. If you blog anonymously are you happy doing it that way; if you are not anonymous do you wish you had started out anonymously so you could be anonymous now?

I'm not anonymous - I limit the personal info I share on the web - I like people to know who's saying what!

2.Describe one incident that shows your inner stubborn side
Just one?!  I don't think my stubborn side is "inner" - it's out there for everyone to see.  My refusal to budge on discipline with our son sometimes leads to some issues!
3.What do you see when you really look at yourself in the mirror?
The same person I saw when I was 18 - just a little rounder and with more lines!  Like Carol - I see alot of my mum in that mirror too!

4. What is your favorite summer cold drink?
Diet Dr Pepper, or if it's alcoholic, pimms or a nice cold beer

5. When you take time for yourself, what do you do?
Play online, read or have a nice bath......which is where I'm heading shortly!

6.Is there something you still want to accomplish in your life? What is it?
Finish my degree, then I'll reassess as there is lots I want to do!

7. When you attended school, were you the class clown, the class overachiever , the shy person, or always ditching?
I was the "nothing" student - I wasn't funny, I wasn't a genius, I wasn't shy and I wasn't a slacker........

8. If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment of your life what would you see? 
Probably when my son was born.  Finally meeting that little human being after carrying "it" around for so long and discovering he was a boy was a wonderful moment.

9. Is it easy for you to share your true self in your blog or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people or events?
Like I said before, I limit the personal info that I share, but I like to think that what I write is pretty true to myself.

10. If you had the choice to sit down and read or talk on the phone, which would you do and why? 
Oh read!  The phone drives me nuts!

Ok, so I'm passing this onto:

Hazel & Bobby's American Adventure (congrats on the new arrival!)
Kendal (For being such a good blogger on her dads behalf!)

Monday, September 06, 2010

Shoes for my birthday.......yes please!

I don't know if Chris reads this blog.........but just in case he does...........I REALLY like these:

And I REALLY REALLY like these:

Or there's these...........

Will I get any of them? Watch this space!

Testing testing..........

I've long been frustrated by the inability to put photos exactly where I want them in my posts. However - I've just done a search of the help topics and think I may have solved the problem, so this is a test run, with a pic from our weekend trip to Waco............(more of which to follow later!)

So, it seems to have worked!  And one more for the turtle lovers amongst you!:

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Tales of the Otherworld (Otherworld)Tales of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong

Loved loved loved this. It's definitely a book for Otherworld fans - if you're new to the series don't jump in here, it won't do anything for you other than be a collection of interesting short stories. If, like me, however you are a diehard Otherworld fan then this is a brilliant insight into the background of alot of the well known characters from the main series. My particular favourite was "Beginnings" - when Elena met Clay, and also Eve and Kristoffs backstory.

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Wednesday, September 01, 2010


I'm finally trying to get my TBR (to be read) pile organised and I'm joining my fellow bookies over at's a work in progress but I think it'll be worth it. Not that I need it but I reckon the aforementioned TBR will be growing even more!

I'm currently reading The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie by Alan Bradley which I think I'm really going to enjoy. I also picked up 2 wishlist books from the library today which I'm quite giddy about, and the Richard and Judy list is out with a couple that I really want to get my hands on (Operation Mincemeat especially!)

On a social note - the Lackland Officers Spouses Club reconvened for the 2010/2011 year today and I'm really looking forward to getting book club back up and running, playing bunco, and having lunch with new (and old) friends!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ooh, a new book list....

.......from Richard & Judy. I've never been a huge fan of theirs, but their book club has been a huge success and made many authors instant stars just because their books get to have a shiny Richard & Judy sticker on!

Anyway, tomorrow (today if you're in the UK) sees the publication of the new list - check it out here. I'm actually really looking forward to seeing what's on it - my reading habits have become much more diverse over the last few years (take a bow my fellow members of ) and I'm willing to bet there will be something on it to make my wishlist even longer than it already is..............

Come back and let me know what you think of the list!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Starting School

The boy started "big" school today - Kindergarten at Carson Elementary. It's been a long time coming as he would have started last year in the UK, and although he was in full time pre-kinder last year, it wasn't the same as being in a "real" school.

He was full of beans this morning and got dressed with no issues at all - long may that continue! He said his stomach was hurting, but he says this whenever we do something new, so I know it's just nervous excitement. The school was full of parents taking photos - the kids now know what it feels like to be Posh & Becks with cameras following them wherever they go! It was lovely to be able to take pictures all around the school. It just wouldn't be allowed in the UK which is such a shame.

Anyway - he's all settled, and I'm off to the library and Starbucks!

(Oh - I decided on The Virgins Lover by Philippa Gregory as my next read)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Summer is over........

Well officially summer doesn't end until after Labo(u)r Day (Sept 6th), but school starts on Monday and that's about as final an ending as you get! The boy is finally starting "big" school and last night we met his Kindergarten teacher Miss Craven - I think he's going to have a great time at Carson Elementary - the mascot is the Carson Cowboy and he has a school "spirit" tshirt ready for Monday.

So, where did the summer go and what did we do? As I failed miserably to provide any posts about our trip, I'll just provide some highlights:

  • Monterey Bay aquarium
  • Day trip to San Francisco
  • Messing around on the Santa Cruz beaches
  • Luke becoming ever more confident in the water
  • Toobing down the Guadalupe River with a beer
  • Visiting friends in Las Vegas
  • Discovering Las Vegas is so much more than The Strip
  • Basketball and Baseball matches

So, I would post some pics but I can't figure out how to get them in the middle of the post - that one at the top is us at Red Rock Canyon in Vegas. A wonderful stunning place. If anyone can offer some advice on how to get photos in the body of my post, that would be great!

Ok reading - I've read alot of books in the last 2 months, but am currently on The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer & Annie Barrows . I had only the vaguest idea of what it was about even though I had it sat on my TBR pile for around a year. I suggested it as my book groups summer read, and am glad to say that I am loving it. I'm ashamed to say, that while I knew the Channel Islands were occupied during WWII, I knew very little else, and I'm hoping that my American friends who are reading it have learnt something too. I have a feeling that they may have some questions for me when we meet next month!

I don't know what I'm going to read next................I quite fancy Under The Dome but Chris is reading it and he's headed over the pond in the morning and I'll be ready for something before he gets back! Watch this space..................

Saturday, July 17, 2010

We're Home.......

Actually, we've been back for a week and still I haven't written a blog about the trip! In my defence - I've been ill most of this week and then spent yesterday at the waterpark at Fiesta Texas with the boy - so last night was mainly spent rehydrating and aftersun-ing!

Anyway - a post will follow about the trip I promise!

Until then:

I'm reading Monster Nation by David Wellington - a proper grown up zombie novel (Warning - It's REALLY gory!) and as an antidote to all that horror, I started Nursery Crimes by Ayelet Waldman which is an easy-to-read SAHM crime!

Friday, July 02, 2010

Man, I'm rubbish!

I've been so lax in the blogging stakes recently - sorry! We are off to California tomorrow (Santa Cruz to be precise) so I promise that I will do a post about our trip when we get back - honest.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lost - Series Finale

Just a quick post to point you in the direction of a review of last night's Lost finale that sums up pretty much how I feel about the ending:

I think the fact that I'm still thinking about it 24 hours later tells you that it had an impact on me. I have invested 6 years into this show and it was always primarily about the characters for me. Yes, it would've been nice to get some answers to some of the crazy stuff that went on, but I was satisfied with the character resolutions (although, Sayid and Shannon while touching, seemed wrong!). Hurley was the perfect choice as Island protector. The man who cares about everyone else and followed Jack without question finally got his chance to shine.

I'm not sure how I feel about the "going into the light" ending, but it was nice to know that the island did exist, it did all happen and some people survived and lived their lives away from Craphole Island (as Alan Sepinwall in the link above calls it!) The last shot of Jack coming full circle and dying in the spot where he first awoke on the island, with the trainer still in the tree and Vincent by his side was as emotional and poignant moment I've had with a TV show for a long time.

Thanks for the last 6 years Lost cast and crew - it's been funny, scary, heartbreaking, frustrating and brilliant.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

What to write?

I feel like I should blog, but I don't want to blog for the sake of blogging (and how many times can I use the word blog............)

I've had a pretty quiet few weeks. Even though my parents were here, my ankle kept me from doing too much although we did manage many a meal out and a day at SeaWorld. Luckily, Mum and Dad went on two road trips - one down to the Texas Gulf coast, and another to New Orleans.
They also treated Chris and I to dinner at a Brazilian steak house called Chama Gaucha: . A brilliant concept - no menu, you start at the massive salad bar, and when ready turn over the little card they give you from red (for stop), to green (for go), and in a flash, a man appears with meat on a skewer which he carves onto your plate. Minimal side dishes appear too - but they are totally secondary to the meat. We had (in no particular order):
  1. Top sirloin
  2. Bottom sirloin
  3. Pork Ribs
  4. Lamb Chops
  5. Roast Lamb
  6. Rib Eye
  7. Chicken wrapped in Bacon
  8. Filet Mignon
And we could have had sausages and another type of chicken - but we couldn't manage it!

I would completely recommend it to anyone!

Mum and Dad left on Tuesday, and the house feels very empty........and quiet! They got home with no problems, which, after all the airline industry trouble over the past few months, is no mean feat! Unfortunately, it appears they have lost my Mums DS, and my Dads noise-cancelling headphones. I'm hoping they'll turn up here, or that they haven't unpacked properly, but I have a horrid feeling they're lost forever. They thought they'd put them in the carry-on bag and the only time it was out of sight was when it went through the scanner and I can't see that being long enough for someone to snaffle anything. Fingers crossed they turn up.

Well, as for me, the ankle is still not 100%, I went back to Weight Watchers 2 weeks ago but haven't been back since..............must do better Sarah!

I am currently reading a few books: 3 Cups of Tea by David Mortensen is becoming an ongoing saga for me and I have also started Alice, I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin. Unfortunately, neither of these are really appealing to me at the moment and I am also reading 13 Bullets by David Wellington - a grown up, horror, vampire tale.

Anyway, it's election night in the UK and it's shaping up to be interesting. I feel abit removed from it over here to be honest, but I have the BBC website open to keep an eye on it. I think it's likely that next time I blog we shall have a new PM and government..............let's watch this space!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Back to Weight Watchers.........

It's been 8 weeks since I went - laziness, road trip, the parents and a sprained ankle (more of which another time!) haven't helped.

I was pleasantly surprised that in those 8 weeks I'd only put on 1.4lbs - I am now (and I am putting in print to add extra motivation for myself!) 178.2lbs (12s10lb ish for the British amongst us!) Anyhow - fingers crossed for Weigh Day Wednesday.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fame!!!!! Well, in my own backyard!

I am in this pic! Zoom in and see if you can find me! If it helps, I'm in the last row of my section, which is just above and to the right of the yellow Brietling ad...............................

Friday, April 09, 2010

A Quick Books and Weight Update....

I've realised I've been very lax in reporting my reads and the constant up and down that is my relationship with Weight Watchers, so I shall try to do better.

I've read alot of good books so far this year, and am currently on book No 2 in the Children Of The Red King series by Jenny Nimmo (a kids series). This came via a recommendation (damn you!!!) and I'm really pleased I found it. Nice and simple which sometimes is all you need.

As for the weight - I haven't been to WW for weeks and weeks, I was away/ill and have totally fallen off the plan. Having my parents here isn't helping as the beer consumption has increased (and I am weak!!!) and now being immobile due to a sprained ankle means I'm eating and getting NO exercise at all.

I must try harder.............

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Great Trip West....and the parents!

It's been a crazy few weeks. This time three weeks ago we were in Fort Stockton, Tx on our first stopover on the way to San Diego. Fastforward to tonight, we've covered somewhere in the region of 2500 miles and my parents have arrived from the UK a week early!

Anyway, back to the road trip. I'm very proud of Luke for spending 7 days in the car and being BRILLIANT (for about 95% of the time!) - it was worth it though. Most of the journey was on I-10 and considering that, it was a wonderful drive. The journey out of Texas was barren for much of it, and you skirt the Mexican border for much of it - including lots of random border patrols making sure we weren't trying to sneak into the US! New Mexico was gorgeous and Arizona had the desert and about 3 million cacti - I've never seen a real life one before and they kept me occupied for hours (which was just as well as we had about 4 hours of driving past them each way!).

We left on the Thursday afternoon and arrived in San Diego at lunchtime on Sunday - we headed straight to Seaport Village for lunch and a browse around the shops. It was gloriously sunny, and so bright that Luke retreated beneath the lunch table to play the DS as he couldn't see the screen otherwise - what a sociable boy he is!

Monday was spent at the zoo - it is enormous and I'm sorry we didn't get to see it all, but we did a huge amount of walking and made good use of the Skyfari (cable cars) although I wasn't in love with being that high up! The weather was up in the high 80's which meant I went a very British shade of pink - typically, Luke has just gone brown! I HIGHLY recommend a trip to the zoo if anyone is ever near San Diego (and for your info - active duty military with ID get in for free - another reason to love the US and the respect they have for their Armed Forces. British Govt please take note). I was really looking forward to seeing the polar bears (I don't think I've ever seen one in real life!) but the exhibit was not opening until the end of March - one for next time then! However, Luke made me come into the snake house which I was not that happy about, but I'm very conscious of not passing my fear/hatred of them onto him so I did it, but it wasn't the nicest experience I've ever had.

Tuesday we took a hop on - hop off trolley tour around the city, which was brilliant. We left the car at the hotel and made our first stop at a shopping mall - it wasn't the plan, but when we got on the trolley in the morning I realised I'd spilled coffee down the front of my white top and had no way of getting it out. So, off into Macys I went for a new shirt and very nice it is too (any excuse to shop I guess!). We got back on the trolley and across to Coronado Island which has great views back across the bay to San Diego. Another lovely lunch outside in the sun was followed by a few hours on the lovely beaches in front of the Hotel Del Coronado (made - fact fans - with not one nail, and the setting for Some Like It Hot). It is an absolutely gorgeous hotel and after some paddling, sand moving (by Luke!) and kite flying (by Chris), we retreated to the bar for a well deserved glass of wine (for me!)

Wednesday bought a walk around the Old Town - where San Diego was born and also the site where the first Stars & Stripes was flown in California - it's very commercial and touristy, but we were there really early so all the stores were still shut and it was lovely and quiet. We didn't spend too long there as we wanted to get back on the road. Rather than take the 4 days we did on the outbound trip we pushed on through and got home by Friday night - stopping in Tucson, Az (where we had a wonderful Greek meal) and El Paso, Tx.

It was a wonderful trip and I'm so glad we drove it - we saw bits of the country we'd never have been too otherwise and have added loads of places to our visit wishlist. Now my parents are here, the spring semesters of soccer, swimming and gym have started for Luke and life is suddenly very busy....................................................

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Leaving..........on a road trip!

Just a quick post as we are leaving in a few hours on our 3000 mile (ish) road trip to San Diego. It's going to take about 10 hours to get out of Texas - this state is so huge it still baffles me! Anyway, we plan to do about 5/6 hours today and then spend all day tomorrow driving which will get us almost all the way there.

Really looking forward to seeing the sea, going to the zoo and possibly not using the car as much while we're there! We have no fixed plans for the way home but may go via Odessa, Tx as there are some sand dunes there in a state park which you can dune surf down :)

Well, the packing is soon!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Worlds Championship BBQ Cook Off, Houston

I'm sat watching Eng v Ire from the 6 Nations at the weekend as I write this - it's nice to have a little piece of home!

Well, this weekend was our first experience of the real South! Chris left on Tues with our friend Mike to head North to Troy to help Mikes Dad (Frank) and friends load up and then head down to Houston for the cook off proper. Unbelievably, they were working in the snow on Tues night and at some point a snowball fight ensued - no surprises there as boys will be boys! We had a teeny bit of snow here in San Antonio - but it appears my house is in it's own little eco system as I saw none.

So, the boys had 3 nights of freedom and then on Friday, Heather (Mikes wife), their 3 kids, Luke and I headed across to Houston to join them. Remarkably, the 3 hour journey flew by and I send thanks to the Nintendo DS gods for that! Once we were checked into our hotel and the kids all fed, we left them in the capable hands of Marissa (our token teenager) and Heather and I took a crazy cab ride over to Reliant Stadium (the car park of which was the cook-off venue) to join the boys. I don't know what I was expecting but it was mad - 400 (ish) tents all set up to BBQ for 3 days, all with well stocked bars, most with sound systems and even some with live music. Unfortunately, you couldn't just go in to any old tent - you have to be invited, but with abit of blagging and some English charm we got to see a few of the other teams in action. I have to say though, that I think we lucked out - the Blarney Bunch (the team we were with) were just wonderful - very Southern and maybe a little bit rednecked in places, but so welcoming and friendly, and they can certainly BBQ!

Saturday was spent taking the kids around the carnival where they all added to their cuddly toy collections and we all risked whiplash on the good old bumper cars. After the boys spent an hour passing out green Leis to pretty girls we whisked them back to the hotel via McDonalds and settled them again, and then Heather and I rejoined the boys - not in a crazy cab this time but on a free shuttle bus the hotel was providing. Unfortuantely we had to share the ride with some well oiled women!! Imagine the following in a very Southern accent "Mr Driver Man, take us to the Rodeo...........I need to pee so bad"! Add in the fact that I wasn't feeling so great and it was a HUGE relief to finally get there. We didn't drink as much as Friday, but we had a good stab at it.

In summation, we drank too much and ate little other than very nice BBQ! The team unfortunately didn't win anything for the food, but took home both first and second place in the Bloody Mary competition - which netted them the ridiculously large trophy above! We also added to our Facebook friends, which is great and I hope we can see some of them again,

Anyway, a week has passed since I started this post, I have been completely lazy and have no excuses! The past week has been very quiet - but I think spring may have sprung as the theme parks are open again! This week will be spent starting my Spanish resit (more of which another day!), and getting ready for our road trip to San Diego................

Monday, February 22, 2010

Pondering vacation choices.........

We've had a pretty quiet time since returning from Austin, although Chris leaves for Houston tomorrow with a friend (I, the friends wife and our kids will join them on Friday) - we are going to some huge BBQ cook-off. I know nothing, only that it will probably get a blog entry to itself!

Anyway, at the moment I am pondering our March road trip to San Diego, and where to go for a summer holiday. The San Diego trip is not proving difficult but I am trying to work out where we should stay in town to maximize our time there. At the moment the Old Town is looking favourite as not only does the tour trolley have a stop there, but we can walk to the bits of that part of town that we want to see.

As for the summer, I really really want to go somewhere and not do anything! Sightseeing is lovely, but I fancy just relaxing by a beach somewhere. I think we may rent a house for a week in Santa Cruz - I've found one online that I like the look of but I'm just waiting for some more info on. Fingers crossed - it looks great, right across the street from the beach, gorgeous looking and has a hot tub in the back yard. It would be great to wake up in the morning, have some breakfast and then spend the day at the beach - all without having to get in the car!

Anyway, watch this space.....................

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Presidents Day Weekend

So this past weekend was a holiday here and we took advantage of the Monday off work/school and went to the state capitol Austin. We'd had a pretty quiet week after the Superbowl the weekend before (Sad that the Colts lost, but soooo pleased for the Saints - if ever a city needed a boost, it's N'awlins!) so it was good to have something to look forward to.

We headed up Friday after Chris got home - Austin is only about an hour North of us but we diverted off the freeway to a town called Driftwood (which evoked memories of Ian McShane until I remembered that the show was called Deadwood) to eat at a BBQ place called The Salt Lick. It's a cash only joint located in a dry part of the county so if you want to drink you have to bring it yourself. The place was packed but they fit us in and we had so much food that I didn't know where to start - turkey, ribs, sausage, brisket, bread, beans, potato salad, alive! It was so good that I'm glad we made the time to go.

Austin itself is a wonderful city - it was lovely to be in a place where we could walk and wander aimlessly. It just doesn't happen in San Antonio!! We spent Saturday morning in Zilker Park - we couldn't get Luke away from the playground other than to go on the miniature train but we did get to see the crazy fools who were swimming in Barton Springs Pool - it might be kept at 68f all year, and it was a sunny day, but it's still February!!! I am very envious of the Austinites who have that park on their doorstep. Ironically - we met a lady in the playground who is married to a Brummie! Everywhere we go, we meet someone with a British connection.

To be honest, the weekend was mainly about food! We had a great lunch in a little pizza shack and a great brunch in the 1886 Bakery & Cafe that is part of the historic Driskill Hotel - it was soo busy (we'd forgotten the Austin marathon was on Sunday) but well worth it. I had a huge waffle shaped like Texas, Chris had some amazing french toast, and they made Luke a pizza that was so much nicer than the usual ones you get on a kids menu. This was after we spent a while watching the half marathon go past our hotel window, and some time at the finish didn't inspire me, just made me hungry!

We also went to the Capitol building, which is the largest state capitol in the USA, and is second only in size to the Capitol in DC - even though it's taller! It is an amazing building - although Luke was abit freaked out by it's size. He did however, love the "elevators" (he's so American!) and we went up and down, back up again a fair few times!

Austin is also home to the University of Texas and it's Longhorns. The main campus was a short walk north of our hotel and is unbelievable, and in the centre of it is the Memorial Stadium where the football team play. That such a huge place is on a college campus is still baffling to me - these guys play on prime time TV on Saturdays and tickets sell for about $95 a game. Next time we go back I want to go and explore the campus properly and hopefully get inside the stadium. I only managed to get a fleeting shot of the stadium from the freeway...must do better next time!

Yesterday, we waved goodbye to Austin and headed 20 miles north to Round Rock so we could go to................Ikea!!!! It was so strange seeing all the products I'm used to (including good old Billy) in the USA and in $$$. Needless to say, we came home with some random items........

Back to normal today. Chris went back to work, Luke went back to pre-school and I went back to the gym - I need to work hard to keep shedding those pounds! On top of a regular workout, I managed 15 mins on the treadmill, walk run walk run walk run - so I ran for 8 minutes total. It's not much, but last week I only did 3, so it's heading in the right direction! Watch this space......

Weight Watchers update - lost 1.8lbs on Feb 10th

Books - Finished reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett which I highly recommend and am now onto Mystic River by Dennis Lehane (thanks to Anne C for the recommendation!)

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The First Six Months........

Where has the time gone? This time 6 months ago I was (as I write this it's the 4th Feb) spending my last day at Boulmer, sad at leaving what was possibly the best posting I've ever had, sad at leaving my job but excited about what lay ahead.

I can safely say that it's not been what I thought it would be - we had a wonderful weekend in Washington DC when we first arrived, but came back down to earth with a bump when we got down to Texas: the heat didn't help, and we arrived towards the end of one of the hottest summers on record! I also got here with toothache which resulted in 2 root canals and 4 fillings, our new house needed a new roof, our neighbours got burgled and Chris was away alot. It definitely wasn't all I was hoping it would be.........................

There have been times when I would've gladly got on a plane and come home if someone had offered me a ticket, and living in the suburbs is so different to living in married quarters (especially at Boulmer!) that it took such a long time to adjust. Luke started pre-school and loved it straightaway, but after about a month was asking when we were going back to England and telling me that he missed his friends - I know exactly how he felt!

BUT - we have some new good friends, and have been on 2 family trips so far and are really looking forward to some more (hopefully starting next weekend with a trip to Austin). Luke seems abit more settled now, and while I still really really miss my English friends I have joined the Officer Spouses Club and have made some lovely new friends through there. Chris has had a few political issues at work, but in general is enjoying his new challenge.

So, it's been a mixed 6 months. While I've been writing this, and thinking back to the early days it's made me emotional thinking about the challenges we've had (getting anything done in this country takes FOREVER, which doesn't help!) and the people we don't see anymore, but it's an incredible opportunity and one we intend to grab with both hands.

As an aside - As reading is my main pastime, I'm going to include in my blogs, details of what I'm reading! Currently - DEAD TOMORROW by PETER JAMES (who you should all follow on Twitter - @peterjamesuk )

I'm Backkkkkk!

I can't believe it's been 4 years since I started this blog - but I can believe that I haven't written it for that long. I was just reading my old posts and they really made me laugh, so much has happened since then in our lives, yet some things never change.

Well, with "new year, new start" in mind, I'm going to try and be more "blog productive". There should be stuff to write about - especially considering we're now in Texas, and if nothing else comes from this it can serve as an eye into the similarities and differences between us Brits and our American cousins.

So, I promise to be better at writing........................