29/09/2017

End of Summer

After a long, hot, busy summer break visiting Disney World in Florida and a month in England we have been back in Austin about six weeks now.

The children returned to school at the end of August, we have celebrated two birthdays in the family mine and our youngest and we are generally just getting in the swing of Austin life again.

Out with friends on my birthday!
Along with the usual family and friend get togethers on our trips back home, this summer I decided to travel further afield and visit some lovely places I remember from my own childhood such as Ilfracombe and Clovelly in North Devon, England. 

For the first time I used Airbnb to book a self catering apartment in Ilfracombe and my mum, the children and myself headed down there in my little hire car. After forgetting how snug and tight the Devonshire roads are, with my blood pressure rising on numerous occasions we eventually got to Ilfracombe, the weather was amazing and I had my first fish and chips meal in years!

We then spent a fun three days taking in the sights, sounds and experiences of North Devon at its finest 😎

Ilfracombe
Ilfracombe
Clovelly
Clovelly
Recently I was introduced to a fun British girl in Austin, we have been out a few times together now and it always feels so homely just to hear her voice even though until recently we were strangers. Last week we all went out to a new bar in Austin called Holy Roller probably not my usual choice but it did serve some great drinks, Austin is slowly but surely coming round to some good rose wine! πŸ·πŸ˜€

My eldest daughter went to a friends birthday party last week at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema to watch the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie on the big screen.

The special surprise at the end were the appearance of two actors from the original movie, Mike TeeVee (Paris Themmen) and Veruca Salt (Julie Dawn Cole) for a Q&A session with the audience about the movie plus the children all had a photo taken with the actors and given a signed poster. I was very jealous as this was my all time favourite movie when I was a kid!


Last night some friends and I went to the 'Girls and Giving, Gin and Jazz' night hosted by Partnerships for Children at the very lovely Hotel Van Zandt downtown, the night was to help raise money for a collection of programs that offer resources, support and comfort for foster children and families in the local community.

As you can imagine with a large hotel full of mums out on a school night and free alcohol we had a ton of fun and laughs!


Girls & Giving, Gin & Jazz Night Out!

30/08/2017

Helping Houston

We have all seen the devastating scenes coming out of Houston this week, in Austin we are about a three hour drive from the flooding yet I have witnessed such an outpouring of local support it is totally heartwarming to watch and to be a part of.

Local people have been renting trucks off their own backs, whilst others have gone from store to store tracking down much needed supplies and driving the trucks back and forth directly to shelters in Houston.

Queues of people on the highways taking their boats to help evacuate people still trapped in their homes.

The animal shelters transporting to Austin the influx of pets rescued from the impacted areas.

And much much more, if you are not located in Texas and wish to help please do click on the links below. There are many ways to donate financially however I know these organisations would be donating directly to Houston.

American Red Cross
Salvation Army
Austin Pets Alive

If you are in Texas and with so many people spending more time outside to help with Hurricane Harvey, I have just received from a local Austin doctor an informative infographic that covers sunscreen usage as well as how to protect your skin from harmful rays. Stay Safe in the Heat

Thank you,
Expat Austin Mum πŸ’Ÿ


26/06/2017

Summer Time!

With the in-laws safely back in Austin and looking after our pets, and after much excitement and planning we finally arrive for our highly anticipated holiday in Florida. 

We met our friends from England at the airport and after lots of hugs & kisses we were on the short drive to our first villa. Unpacked, fed & settled we opened our first of many bottles of wine, alas it was not a boozy late night as our itinerary meant we were off to our first park the next day...The Magic Kingdom.





Even though we had mapped our route and booked our fast passes ahead of time we were still overwhelmed at the size of the park and it took a few hours to get our heads around where to go, how the memory maker worked and the heat.

After years of never even attempting to ride a rollercoaster my husband decided he would break the habit of a lifetime and go on Space Mountain, then not only did he go on it and enjoy it he proceeded to go on every rollercoaster going throughout all four Disney parks!


After a well deserved day by the pool we were ready to visit Epcot I don't think any of us realised we wouldn't get back to the villa until 10pm that day, we just kept going on more and more rides.

Plus we saw Denise Van Outen filming a TV show and our friend got a selfie with her a "life long dream come true" he said! Next on the list was Disney's Hollywood Studios and finally Disney's Animal Kingdom, another couple of long hot but fun days.


Our friend with Denise Van Outen





We were all looking forward to our second week in Florida with a view for a more relaxed week on the beach so we drove west to Siesta Key. A beautiful place, with plenty of restaurants, bars and cafes unfortunately after a few days it rained A LOT...nevertheless we kept going to the beach until the day it rained so hard it felt like hail. 😁☔





We are well into the swing of the school summer holidays, last week we went to a new place called Volente Beach its a small waterpark just off Lake Travis...perfect for my children!

Its countdown to our UK visit now, an American recently asked me if I was nervous about my trip home this year after the latest attacks our beautiful country has suffered and do you know what my answer was...absolutely not!

15/05/2017

May's Antics...

Since my last post my in-laws managed to get to Vegas and back in one piece and after two weeks with us in Austin they lost a pair of driving glasses in the lake (which needed replacing at a cost of course) and they lost Winston down a sewer pipe (they managed to pull him out and he's fine). πŸ˜¬πŸ˜‚

A perk of having family visit us out here is hubby and I finally get to have some time alone and for free, so last weekend after much deliberation we decided to go back to basics and go camping at the RV River Park which is about one hours drive from Austin.




Friday night started well the sun was out, hubby said the tent was 'easy' to put up and we were soon settled and ready for an evening of relaxing with beer and wine by the river.

Unlike British camping it wasn't long before our American neighbours started introducing themselves and offering food and as it turns out one of the guys participates in BBQ competitions and had even bought his smoker along, they had to be the BEST ribs we had ever tasted...we'll be looking out for him now on the next Man V Food programme!


After a surprisingly good nights sleep, hubby cooked us up a bacon and egg breakfast and we decided on what to do that day. The nearest village was called Gruene (Green in German) so we headed there and enjoyed a walk around checking out the 'wild west' looking buildings and roads, we stopped for lunch and I found my new favourite drink...a frozen Sangria 😎🍹

Frozen Sangria!
The river we were camping next to is called the Guadalupe River, it has varying currents and rapids which makes it popular for tubing, so we signed up for a two hour float using hired equipment plus we were able to hire a third ring with a bottom to place our beer & wine for the float definitely more relaxed rules than in England!

Unfortunately the current wasn't very strong that day so we realised quite quickly we would have to take it in turns to paddle cue very sore shoulder muscles Sunday morning, this next photo was on my 'break'!


Back in Austin and after weeks of the weather getting warmer and the nights longer, this Friday there was a random hail storm we were at the mall so we missed but it was strong enough it take out two trees on the street plus we lost power for hours...crazy Texas weather just when you think you'd seen it all!! 😳

"drive under it" they said...😁😳

13/04/2017

A Mixed Bag!

Whoops, I somehow missed March! A brief catch up for you...on the 13th of March it was our three year anniversary of moving to Austin, sometimes I can't quite believe it myself and yes mostly it feels like we are part of the furniture now!

Also in March was Spring break, unlike most of the city we stayed in Austin, I took the girls swimming, some indoor places like Altitude and Main Event, a few play dates and sleepovers plus we all spent a night away at Log Country Cove to be fair we could have made more of our visit by going on some walks but it was great to just sit by the pool with a glass/bottle of rose wine and friends whilst the children all played and swam. 🍷😎


Jump to April and my in-laws have arrived from England, they chose to drive themselves the 20 minutes from the airport...4 hours later they arrive slightly bedraggled but in one piece! Driving with no satellite navigation plus throw in a sprinkling of jet lag and there were a few wrong turns along the way but they made it and yes this is their third time to Austin!πŸ˜‚ 

On Sunday it was the launch of Victoria Beckham's budget clothing range in the Target stores over here...I still can't work out how Target managed to bag Victoria Beckham but they did! So by 8am the mother-in-law and I arrived at the store, it wasn't too busy I was expecting queues so it was nice to browse without elbows at the ready! I did have to go back later in the day though after I'd posted my photo to FB my sister back in England piped up 'it is my birthday soon'...


After a hectic weekend it was now Monday and with hubby at work, the girls at school and the in-laws out walking Winston I was looking forward to the 10 minutes peace I get whilst eating breakfast and watching This Morning with Phil and Holly via my uktveverywhere box (I'd be lost without it!).

A while later whilst my phone was accidentally on silent I notice I have a voicemail, turns out its my mother-in-law, "we have locked our keys in the hire car please help", did I mention it was also pouring with rain, honestly hubby and I were crying with laugher you couldn't make this stuff up, we thought should we really allow them to go off on their own for their road trip to Vegas. πŸ˜†

Planning for our Disney trip is getting more fun now its closer, I even on a whim bought a Minnie Mouse t-shirt to wear plus I have a bum bag ready. Today my neighbour saw me out walking Winston whilst wearing my bum bag and said "Hey, I like your fanny pack" that description will forever make me chuckle!

Unbelievably the girls have just 6 weeks left of school before the summer holidays start, not that I'm shaking and stocking up on wine already of course, remember they have 3 months off school...πŸ˜…

24/02/2017

Graffiti and Memories

So here we are almost at the end of February already, the lake is back up to its normal level, the sun is coming out more often than not and its almost wine O'clock here in Austin πŸ‘πŸ˜€πŸ·

My eldest daughter went out recently with a friend and her family to the Hope Outdoor Gallery in Austin, the girls had great fun checking out all the different artwork not usually seen where we live in the suburbs! 

'The HOG is a project developed to provide muralists, street artists, arts education classes and community groups the opportunity to display large scale art pieces driven by inspirational, positive and educational messaging'. Source: http://hopecampaign.org/hopeprojects/hope-outdoor-gallery






Whilst our eldest daughter was busy at the Hope Gallery, hubby and I took our youngest daughter and Winston for a walk downtown and we decided on the 2nd street district, usually we go there at night for dinner and drinks but it also has some great boutiques and cafes which is where I caught sight of this sign...


This week it was my sisters third wedding anniversary she got married less than a month before we moved to Austin, I'm so glad they got married when they did as I was able to be Matron of Honour, plan and attend the hen do (bachelorette party to my American readersπŸ˜‰) and be involved as much as possible which just wouldn't have happened if we lived in Austin at that time. Happy Anniversary Jen and Shaun πŸŽ‰

My girls have decided to start coming home on the bus again, I took this picture whilst I was waiting at the bus stop even though its been almost three years watching the yellow buses it still makes me feel like I'm on a movie set as it drives up!


I've been thinking of writing another article for the expat magazine Global Living but I'm a bit stuck on a subject...does anyone have any ideas for me? Thank you in advance 😚

28/01/2017

First Post of 2017!

After two Christmases away from home, for this past holiday we flew back to celebrate in England and it was definitely the right decision. I feel the culture and excitement surrounding Christmas is far more predominant in England than what we have experienced in Austin and even New York, click here for my previous Christmas posts: Christmas 2015 and Christmas 2014.

We celebrated New Years Eve back in Austin, we decided with the girls back at school on the 3rd of January it would have been cutting it fine to leave England on the 2nd or worse the 1st of January with a hangover! πŸŽ‰



I've also been really enjoying the winter in Austin this year and the reason for this is because its been colder than the previous two years...I know very strange especially for me who loves the heat to the point I've never been skiing because of the cold. The heat in the summer here is so relentless that to be able to wear Ugg boots, wellies, coats and gloves for more than a few days is a welcome change!

Even though I participate in Dry January and I think this may be my sixth year so far, I had been invited to two birthday celebrations this month so I took those two days off and enjoyed some drinkies with the girls. One birthday was a Sunday brunch which went on into the night as these things tend to do πŸ˜πŸ˜† and the second was a lovely friend of mine who was turning 40. She organised for a group of us to travel by limo to some local wineries, this was so much fun and definitely something I would recommend to visitors of Austin...Wine Tours

Happy Birthday Angela: The Sunday brunch which went on into the night!
Happy Birthday Shannon: Winery tour
Another new thing which we have experienced recently is the city draining the lake, the main reasons are to give lakeside property owners an opportunity to repair and maintain docks and to curb the growth of nuisance aquatic vegetation, heres a news link for further info: Draining Lake Austin

We didn't really think much of the drainage to be honest but to our Austinite neighbours this meant opportunities for lots of new walks, bonfires and easy fishing as the water doesn't completely drain away...

Photos courtesy of my neighbour #canttakethecredit
Notice my daughter and I are the only ones wearing wellies #britsabroad #notafanofmud
Well thats January in a nut shell, I'm still volunteering at school, decorating the new house, organising our summer trip to Disneyworld in May, house hunting in the UK and not doing as much photography as I would like, but the good news is I have only 3 days left of Dry JanuaryπŸ˜€πŸ˜‚πŸ·πŸ·