Thursday, 18 August 2016

Sunday Wineday ruins Monday (and my feet are in your wine)

The Texas wine industry is relatively new (as in decades not centuries). But business is booming on the wine tour trail. And I never like to be left out...

17 of us departed bright and early on a Sunday morning, piling into our gigantic bus and making the two hour drive to the furthest of three Vineyards (or 'Winery as the Texans will insist on calling them..!)

I'm cannot claim to be remotely knowledgeable about wine (drinking it though...), and tend to make pretty unadventurous, usually French choices if I'm really put on the spot. So I'm ALWAYS delighted to be shown the ropes by people who know what they're talking about. The vineyards were all chosen by a good friend - who is one of the Sommeliers at Tim Love's 'Lonesome Dove' down-town. So we knew we were in for a treat.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Sweat by South West - keeping Body and Soul together in Austin's SXSW 2016 Season.

It's nearly March and Austin is gearing up for SXSW 2016. A quick scan over the schedule shows fitness is seriously on the agenda with UnderArmour and Fitbit amongst many other big names, running panels and sessions about the future of fitness technology.  Phillips Healthcare are going to fit 1000's of attendees with trackers, SoulCycle are planning sessions at Spotify House and I know that you can dance off plenty of that food truck feasting but, if you're planning to come out the other side of the South By madness still feeling clean and glowy, you're probably going to want to do more than shuffle and talk about it.

With that in mind I've delved through the endless online schedules and put together a manageably short list of fitness events and studios that, I think, are the best ways to Sweat this South by Season with or without a badge.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Guatemala for beginners: Volcan Pacaya

Volcanoes are my thing. I love them. Poor Jon, having spent a third of our honeymoon in Hawaii trudging round volcanoes national park, and a lot more time listening to me happily muttering about them in general, is extremely adept at feigning interest - and, I suspect, at tuning me out..!

The prospect of climbing Pacaya meant I woke up at six easily feeling distinctly christmas-morning-ish to await our transport to the base of the Volcano.


Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Guatemala for beginners : Antigua de Guatemala and onwards

Living in Austin is a very happy thing, and I am crazily lucky that I am able to visit family in London and the Cayman Islands so regularly. But my feet have been itching to visit new places for a while - so with Central America on our doorstep (and my appetite for it whetted after my 2011 visit to Nicaragua with CAFOD to film this little treat ... ) we consulted some lovely friends in the travel industry who assured us that if volcanoes and history and hiking were our headline items then Guatemala was not to be missed.

For J's first foray out of Europe and North America (a trip across the Bosphoros in Istanbul to spend half an hour in Asia definitely doesn't count!) we wanted to make sure we were meticulously organised  - so we called in the experts and planned a jam packed 8 days fitting in as many different things as possible.

Guatemala City is less than two hours flights from Houston. Perfect. We set off bright and early on a Friday morning flight and were whisked off by our driver an hour out of the capital to be installed in our Antigua Hotel in time for lunch.

We barely had time to knock back a welcome cocktail and take in the views before the lovely David was knocking on our door to lead us on a walking tour of the city.

And what a city it is. The former Spanish Colonial capital of the then 'Kingdom of Guatemala' it is bursting with well preserved colonial baroque architecture overlooked by three volcanoes. Laid out in a grid system it's easy to navigate and a perfect size to walk around.

And the clouds cleared to blue skies as our guide, who had grown up in Antigua, led us on a higgledy piggledy tour of both the guidebook hot spots and the places he personally loved - all the while pouring out a comprehensive history of the area. Quite overwhelmingly beautiful.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

A New Orleans Thanksgiving

Being a not-American I am a little baffled by thanksgiving - I love turkey, and I love eating - but celebrating it ourselves would seem hollow and, although we had a super relaxed and delicious friends-giving last year - I can't help but feel like a giant phoney even talking about it like its a real thing for a Brit. So when some of our favourite fellow Austinites (and fellow overseas transplants) suggested we road trip to New Orleans, to be thankful for Beignets on Bourbon street, we jumped at the chance.

Five of us, bleary eyed and bed-headed, departed early enough on thanksgiving morning for it to still be dark. We drove East towards Louisiana in the dawn, stopping to stock up on caffeine and tacos en route and arriving in our Apartment just off canal street in plenty of time to explore before supper.

Last time we came this way I was driving and so didn't manage to quite appreciate how glorious the spanish moss is hanging from the cedar trees as we drove over the raised highway.


Friday, 28 August 2015

Prisoners of Chillon - and aspiring residents of Montreaux

Montreaux is like a movie set. We arrived in to our lake view hotel, dumped our bags and set off on foot to walk the water front gardens and explore.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

From the Mountains to the Shore

Waking up to blue skies and this view makes it easy to leap out of bed (nothing to do with the promise of Reblochon for breakfast...)

After scarfing down industrial quantities of cheese - and more croissants than I care to remember - we set off up the mountain behind the chalet to get our blood pumping and take in the views from the peak.
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