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........................