Preparations for the big break

Today was a busy day for us, getting bits 'n' bobs organised.

We'll be flying out later this week. Exciting and scary. Exciting for the obvious reasons - holiday abroad. Scary for another reason - paperwork!

Today we went and got a new oil filled radiator for the bedroom - our storage heater in there isn't 't enough to keep the room warm in the evenings. We had a lovely electric fire but earlier this week it gave up the ghost. Bad timing. Mum likes it warm! ;-)

So off we went and got a small radiator, and a new case as one of our two big cases is wonky. No point if we have to drag it around with us for three weeks. Shiny new 'expanding' (!) case for moi!

Also got some fab boots for the evening meals out, and the opera. Can't march into the Met in worn, red hiking boots, can I? And a pair of slingback mules. Both with wooden soles. And nicely reduced! Oh, and a pair of skinny jeans (ignoring my not-exactly-skinny middle), and leggins for under my short blue dress for the opera.

Hubby got himself a few new shirts - they suit him really well. One of them is checked, and I guess it would be the envy of any lumberjack.

So tomorrow it's time to deplete the rainforest. Sadly. :( Papers of our visa registration, our flights, our hotels, our booked tours, simply anything we organised for the trip. Wonder how heavy that bundle will be.

One final day of editing and writing looms, then we'll be running around like mad, trying to gather all our stuff together. I always want to pack too much but hubby told me off - I'm not allowed to use any space in his case (the same size as mine!). No, it's space for stuff we get over in the US.

Ahh, that's ok then. I can go shopping there...

The Big Trip across the Pond

Well, I'll get to our trip of a lifetime shortly but first an update on Highland Arms - soon I'll be jumping into round 2 of edits. Can't wait to get stuck in again although I'm just at a crucial point in my current WIP - where the MMC is called home to Normandy, leaving England at a crucial point in time. Have started to dig out my 'research photos' (aka holiday snaps) from Normandy and Perche to get back into the setting.

But both jobs are going to be slow for three weeks - as hubby and I are heading to the US of A! :-)

Next week we're going to fly to New York where we'll stay five days. Plenty to see so we'll be busy. Then it's 'go west' as we head for Oregon, to stay in the town of Medford, visiting my aunt. We have never met so there's lots to catch up on. Three days later we travel onwards, to Boise, Idaho. There - for the first time since we got in contact in October 2010 - I'll meet my half-sister. Both visits will be quite emotional, and utterly amazing.

From Boise we'll head north-west, staying in Seattle for two nights before we'll end our journey in Vancouver, Canada. This is a personal highlight for me as I first craved (yes indeed, craved!) a visit in 1984. I wanted to see where Bryan Adams lived!!! :p

We're excited about our trip, as you can imagine. We have already organised 'hop on, hop off' buses for NYC, a visit to the Metropolitan Opera and a NBA match in Madison Square Gardens. We'll visit foodie places and wineries in Oregon and Idaho, plus some gorgeous countryside; explore Seattle's culinary highlight, Pike Place Market; and finish it all off in style when we're going to watch the Canucks play in Vancouver. And flurry of snow wouldn't come amiss at all.

Culture, sports, food & drink - we'll try it all, and more. I'm sure we'll find plenty of other things to explore when we're there.

The countdown is on!!!


Last weekend we paid a long-overdue visit to our best friends in South Wales. They had just bought a new house and spent two months redecorating, so we just had to go have a nosy.

The house is lovely, spacious, in a quiet dead-end lane with friendly neighbours. It was fab to see our friends so well settled so quickly.

Of course we had to squeeze in a few things to do. We arrived on Thursday and enjoyed a recce of the house, some bubbly to celebrate and a yummy fish dinner (ginger, anyone?). Altogether a leisurely, relaxed time catching up.

Friday we took to our feet and walked across the valley up the hill on the other side, passing a private plot with chickens and ducks, all filthy from mud-drenched ground after the recent rains. The chickens were so curious, within a couple of minutes they'd gathered inside the fence staring at us intruders.

Then the hike up the hill began, with regular stops for snaps. We were looking for a pub our friends remembered from years ago but, traipsing around the countryside, we just couldn't find it (found out later we took a wrong turn). Instead, after a three mile hike, we ended up in another lovely country pub where we stayed for a couple of pints and lunch. Rarely have I seen such huge portions. While I managed to wolf down my delicious omelette ('with a bit of everything'), I couldn't eat all the chips, peas or salad that came with it. Eventually we wandered back (just as well, given the size of the portions!), only to get caught in heavy rain - with very little shelter - barely a mile from home. Three of us wore waterproofs with hoods but poor Ryan got a proper soaking in his fleece top. Ouch!

We arrived home drenched but happy. Changing into warm, dry clothes and a cuppa tea set the world to right again. Later that evening we ventured into Pontypridd for a lovely Italian dinner - but not without having waited at an obscure bus stop for half an hour, without any sign of a bus, but with another downpour. It was time to get the car!

On Saturday we had planned to hike up Pen-y-fan, in the Brecon Beacons. But given the rains the previous day, and the unpredictable forecast, we decided to go for a wander around Brecon instead.

Now, Brecon is one of my favourite Welsh towns. Lots of narrow lanes with individual shops - gem stones, 2nd hand books, hiking gear - you name it. Ryan bought a new waterproof jacket (with a hood attached!) and I ended up with three 2nd hand books. I could've bought more but the 10kg restrictions on our hand luggage was threat enough not to. Argh! Hate it when I can't buy the books I spot. Blame the airline! ;-)

We finished off our busy day waching ice hockey in Cardiff. There was a clear party atmosphere - much more so than in Edinburgh - and the whole experience was exhilarating. It helped that Cardiff Devils won 7-4 over Hull Stingrays. Go Wales!

Then it was Sunday - time flies! We took our time getting ready in the morning (and squeezing our purchases into the cases, hoping for the best). On our way to the airport we took a short trip into Penarth and strolled along the seafront to the pier. Blustery winds and choppy seas greeted us. Of course that doesn't deter seasoned wanderers like us!

And whoosh, the long weekend in Wales was over. Loved it!