Trains, snow, pigs and victory.

So a quick update on some exciting things we have been up to recently, also, 5 bonus points for each pop culture reference you get:


Firstly, we have made some new friends since arriving and we were invited to join them at a local pub quiz at an Irish bar called Mulligans. Unfortunately, many of the questions were on American history, American geography and TV shows from the 80’s – so were not able to contribute that much to the team. Cat did however get a fantastic question right namely;

Q 1// Which US president got stuck in the bathtub so insisted a bigger one be installed that could fit four people? (Answer at the end of this post)

Luckily for us, the pub quiz had a skewed points system so the final (and supposedly most difficult) question of the quiz was worth double your total points for correct, lose all your points for incorrect and you could opt out from answering and leave your score intact. The question was;

Q 2//In the cult film Pulp Fiction by Quentin Tarantino, who performed the song Jungle Boogie?

Considering ‘You Never Can Tell’ from this film was our first wedding dance and it was the first date me and Cat went on (to see the film), we knew the answer. As no other teams did, we went from 7th place to first in one question and won the quiz for our team!

Team team team team. I even like saying the word team.


In other fun news, we have found some interesting things in shops around town. The best example of this is a life-size pig grill shown below (with me for scale). It’s true what they say; everything is bigger in America.

Makin’ Bacon (well done if you get that game reference!)


Being English, we of course must comment on the weather here which has got pretty cold all of a sudden. It’s between about -6 to 15 Celsius most days and we have had our first snow – although we are told to expect much more snow and colder weather early next year.


So I might have had a falling out with a train…

My cycle route to work passes beside train tracks which run right through Fort Collins (and were in fact here before the city). As the tracks run down a main road, the freight trains must go at around 15 mph and sound their horn loudly at each junction.

So there I am last week, cycling home and I hear the train coming in the distance. So the traffic lights at the junctions all turn red and I wait, with a little traffic behind me. As the train comes closer its horn gets louder and louder. It’s difficult to put into words just how loud this horn is, maybe like being at a Disaster Area concert.

Now I’m at the lights with my fingers in my ears to dampen the sound and as the train comes level with me, our junction turns green so cars can go straight on. As I take my fingers out to quickly move away for the traffic behind me the horn goes off and almost knocks me off my bike.

Cat says I have a fear of trains now (Siderodromophobia), but I just wanted to say this to warn people that come visit us: I hope you like trains!

PS/ Answers are William Howard Taft and Kool and the gang

Decorating, more like decorate-win!

Hey friends, Rob here.

Before I begin, a fair warning:
Me and Cat are competing to see who can get the most / worst puns in a post.

So since moving in we have started filling our flat with things to make it seem more homely. We started by buying two sofa’s from a consignment shop, then covering up the somewhat unappealing teal/beige/fail colour scheme with some lovely soft cream throws:

Much sit, very chair, so-fa

Although we have now adjusted to the time difference – 7 hours behind the UK on mountain time (that is not a pun but the actual name for our time zone, take that GMT!) – we still don’t really understand betimes thanks to American Netflix.

So we bought a nice clock to lighten up our walls:

Hickory dickory dock, some hands go around the clock.

Also, I had a massive fail and bought a bike from Walmart. Needless to say after 4 days of riding the handle bars were falling off and the brakes did not work in the rain.

I have upgraded now to this lovely second hand bike described by Cat as “pretty badass”.


Finally, Cat decided to setup and art gallery to brighten our kitchen/living room. We got these lovely three pictures from a hospital craft sale and they depict local and US scenes of interest.

Unfortunately, we kind of, sort of forgot to write them down before putting them up on the wall…

From left to right we have (we think),
1) A rock formation from Arizona or something
2) Aspen trees from Aspen
3) A national park in southern Colorado

Rob and Cat xx

Beer and Reservoirs!

Hi All!

Sorry for the delay since last posting! We are having a great time here in Fort Collins, enjoying an exciting mixture of cold snow and blazing sunshine! But more on that later…

For now I want to tell you about our current hobby – amateur beer tasting! In the US they do not sell beer in supermarkets, you have to go to a separate liquor store, and these liquor stores are very good fun! It might just be because Fort Collins has so many local breweries but the range of beer is outstanding. We decided to pace ourselves with the following selection:

Beer!It’s a hard job tasting these beers, but arguably someone has to do it! We’re working our way through in no particular order, my favorite ( <- notice the US spelling, we are bending to the inevitable) is the Agave Wheat beer from Breckenridge Brewery! Not exactly in Fort Collins, but still nice and close by. We will keep you posted as we work our way through!

In other news we took a trip around Horsetooth Reservoir last weekend so that we could get a bit higher up and see the pretty sights, and it was lovely! It was quite bright and we needed to drink quite a lot of water for the small time we were up there, and we still managed to get a bit sunburnt… but still! I also did my very best to get us completely lost as Rob will happily tell you, but fortunately he is not telling this story so my dignity is safe 🙂

The Reservoir is to the west of town, so we thought we would start small and local in our exploration of the US! Some pictures, only partially obscured by our big faces:

Reservoir 1 Reservoir 2

As you can see it is very big and clear, and it’s also really quiet since it’s a little way out of town and very high up. I was hoping to be able to report back some exciting nature sightings but actually there was no animal life of any kind, however we did see a few people rock climbing so that will just have to do!

In the summer you can rent boats and row around in the reserviour, so we are definitely keen to do this! We were looking into doing in sooner (but before it starts snowing heavily) but we think the cold will make it a little hard to deal with… I think after our first Fort Collins winter we will be a lot more hardcore, so we can go from there!

More to follow,

Cat & Rob

Healthy Saturday!

Hi All,

We’ve spent our first free Saturday here trying to live the healthy Fort Collins lifestyle, and it’s been great fun! We have been told that there are two important things that make you a real Fort Collins resident – owning a dog, and driving a Subaru, on top of being generally healthy, happy and a bit hipster.

Sadly this post is not to tell you that we have bought a dog or a Subaru, but we were very, very lucky that our wonderful surrogate family Rosemary and Chris let us play pretend with theirs. First, the absolute highlight of the day:

Say hello to Toby!

We grew very fond of Toby the dog when we were living with Rosemary and Chris, and Toby has been very keen on Rob ever since Rob took him for a nice long run along the local river! Happily they let us take him out again today, so the three of us walked to the river:


Played a very soggy game of fetch:

He likes swimming around in the cold water, we promise!

Got showered in dog water:


Did some sprinting around:


And had a generally fabulous time:

Best Friends Forever!!

We then took the very damp and tired out Toby back to Rosemary and Chris’s house so that he could relax, at which point they were kind enough to let us practice our American driving again in their more-reasonably-sized-than-most-of-the-cars Subaru! It’s getting less scary now, thank goodness – hopefully we can look into getting our own Colorado driving licenses in the not to distant future.

Subaru Outback
“My wheel is on the wrong side and I have no clutch pedal!”

Tomorrow we will do our best to get something else every Fort Collins needs – a new bicycle for Rob. He has been using one that we bought from Walmart for the last week, but the handlebars behave like the may fall of at any minute so we think it’s best that he upgrades to something a bit less scary.

We’ll also be trying to soak up more of the lovely sunshine before our skies fill with snow, which will probably happen over the next few weeks.

More to follow!

Cat & Rob Xx

Five things you probably didn’t know about America

We have learnt a lot about us since we have got here, a lot about things we miss and some things we don’t miss as much as we thought we would about England and lots about America. Obviously we knew it wouldn’t be exactly as imagined or pictured in TV and films, but we have still been very surprised:

  1. Much dry, so parched, very water

The first thing we noticed here when we arrived was the altitude and the dryness. To be specific, Fort Collins is 4892 feet above sea level (about 5 Eiffel towers) and the humidity is around 50% (for reference, England is about 80% at the moment). This might not seem like much, but our English host family Rosemary & Chris made us go to bed the first night with water by the bed and sure enough, we woke up in the night really dehydrated.

This is figuratively how my mouth feels when I wake up
This is literally figuratively how my mouth feels when I wake up

I’d say I’m drinking about 2 pints a day more water than I used to need in England and today is the first day I haven’t woken up during the night needing water.

  1. Money, money, money, always sunny, in the rich man’s world

Ok, so US money is really weird.

The notes are all the same size and colour and look like monopoly money and the coins… well I just have no idea what they even mean!

It's over NINE THOUSAND!!!!!
It’s over NINE THOUSAND!!!!!

How much money even is this? $0.5, $100? Who even knows?

At first, I started paying for things in notes, that was all fine but I keep being given change in coins. Once my wallet started getting uncomfortably heavy, I tried to pay for things partly with coins. TWICE I tried, panicked and paid by card. I even went to use a vending machine, stared at it for 30 seconds then gave up and just had some water.

Eventually, I manned-up and paid in notes and coins. The trusty British-person-on-holiday strategy of keep putting coins in the cashiers hand until they say stop worked a treat.

  1. English?

You might think that English and American people speak the same language. You may think that there are only a few subtle differences. If so you would be wrong. There are so many different words for things here, fortunately we have quickly adapted to:

Gas (petrol)
Liquor (alcohol)
Trash (bin)
Apartment (flat)
Elevator / lift (I genuinely have no idea anymore which of these belongs to which)

The biggest problem for me is cheers. Brought up in Bristol, I say cheers in place of thank you all the time. I even say ‘cheers drive’ when I get off the bus. Unfortunately, Americans only say cheers when drinking so if you use it out of context you sound like an alcoholic. I have tried ‘thank you’ or ‘ have a great day’ but it’s just not proper!

  1. Amber

So there me and Cat were, sat at home watching Netflix after dinner and suddenly my phone starts shouting THIS IS AN AMBER ALERT, THIS IS AN AMBER ALERT. I panicked as I didn’t think I had phoned anyone in my pocket and accidently put it on speaker… and also why would whoever I phoned be shouting AMBER ALERT at me?

Turns out, the Colorado Department of Public Safety have what’s called an amber alert program. Basically, the amber alert is a state-wide broadcast to help track down abducted children. This gives everybody from their phones, TV’s and radios the latest information so that missing children can be tracked down and rescued. We were really impressed by this and although quite scary and unsettling, the more you think about it, the more clever it is. They also have alerts for severe weather warnings like big snowfall. If you want an interesting but sombre read, you can find out about the history here:

PS// The amber alert we got a call about was resolved and the people were found safe.

Anyway, to end on a lighter note:

  1. Guns

Now I know what you’re thinking…
Rob that was a bit dark for a blog and now guns, WTF mate –
…just hear me out please.

Without wishing to offend my American friends, British people kind of think of Americans like this…

America, ooh yeah!
America, ooh yeah!

Now this is obviously false as we will prove and explain in out blog, but the first big surprise of the inaccuracy of this idea is the gun wielding.

On our third day in Fort Collins, we went to Walmart as we’d heard they had a gun section in the supermarket, but they didn’t. No guns on show at all. In fact we haven’t seen a single gun since we got here!

Apparently some states have more guns than others (cough Texas cough), and of course just because we haven’t seen any, many people may still have them locked away in a safe, but this was lovely news to us.

Maybe some classic gun heavy films could do with some adaptation to better reflect the average American:

I'm sorry, did I break your concentration with my thumbs up?
I’m sorry, did I break your concentration with my thumbs up?

Best Day Ever!

Yesterday was fabulous – now that we have our apartment can relax a little, so we decided to treat ourselves by having brunch at the local pancake house. When we were in New Jersey we visited an Original Pancake House and I do not exaggerate when I say it was a truly transcendent experience. The Fort Collins Original Pancake House was no different.

I literally almost died, I stuffed my face with bacon pancakes, maple syrup and coffee until I could stuff no more. But this is nothing compared to the truly heroic effort that Rob put up in the face of his breakfast omelette:

Complete with strange goo...
Complete with strange goo…

It was twice the size of his head and came with an additional side of pancakes. He managed about a quarter of it – which doesn’t sound like much but I dare you to do better – and we have the rest stored in the fridge as tasty leftovers. Good times!

After stuffing ourselves senseless we dropped into the local Home Store, with a brief detour to the pet shop as we thought the walk around may help us recover. Little did we know it was KITTEN DAY in the store! They were everywhere, available to take home on the same day. Morally we weren’t sure this was the most responsible way to dish out pets, but this didn’t stop me from cuddling a lot of kittens while Rob desperately tried to take evasive maneuvers…

So tiny!

Sadly Rob managed to get us out of there before kittens were purchased, but not before we learnt of the upcoming ‘Puppy Day’, which we may just have to happen to be in the area for 😉

In the Home Store we bought some very comfy throws for our new sofas so now have an excellent lounging area to enjoy in our new flat. We just need some big sofa cushions and we’re all set, so pictures to follow once we have them!

Finally on Friday night we attended the international students Halloween party, so got to put some names to faces and have a fun few hours on campus. American’s are very big on fancy dress for Halloween, so we made the effort to look creepy:

Halloween fancy dress
Ten points for anyone who fully appreciates the humour behind Rob’s choice of costume…

So yes, good times! More to follow! 🙂