The tray game / shameful behaviour

At Channon Christmas parties in years gone by, the tray game is played. Basically, a tray containing lots of silly items (e.g. scissors, golf ball, Lego man etc.) is placed in front of a room for 1 minute, then after being covered, everyone must guess what was on the tray.

I’ve always quite liked this game. It is fun, silly, quick and best of all: kids are as good at it as adults! (if you have scored 5 or less in the argument game for 10 years beside victories by Uncle Les, Evil Uncle Barry, Grampy Channon or Uncle Brynley, you will know where I’m coming from…)

Anyway, here is a ‘tray’ of British items we bought from an international shop in Fort Collins as we felt in need of some English delicacy’s. Try looking at the picture for 1 minute and guessing all 14 items (the kettle and toaster in the background do not count).


Did you guess them all? You should have 15 including the table (previously the tray) otherwise you lose, hard lines my friend.

I will not pretend it’s not quite shameful going and buying English things in America, but it did make us laugh and we really needed the gravy granules for a steak sauce. Also Americans think spotted dick sponge sounds hilarious so we had to get that.


The Aquarium, You Guys!

Hi all!

We went to Denver on Saturday to give the car a run, and to see more of our lovely state capital! It’s only about an hours drive away, so we are keen to explore it.

We drove down, hindered only slightly by the car engine starting to smoke. We took a quick detour to the garage, the mechanics confirmed that it was just leftover oil from the previous leak, and back off we went with no futher problems!

We had a lovely drive down – Colorado weather did it’s usual thing and behaved erratically, so it was very warm. We actually had to turn the air conditioning on in the car, it was lovely! When we got to Denver it was still nice and sunny, so we walked around Downtown for a bit and enjoyed the sights. These include some pretty energetic displays of Broncos support via lights and hanging shirts:


I also enjoyed the Police motorcycles, which you could sit on and have your picture taken! This was the first of many public displays of childishness, of which I regret none:


Once we tired of making vroom-vroom noises, we headed up to the Denver Aquarium since it was rumoured to be amazing. It also has the two most baffling main attractions of any aquarium ever… Mermaids and Tigers!! This we had to see.

We arrived late in the afternoon so avoided most of the sticky children, leaving us free to enjoy such cool things as the walk through the underwater tunnel:


The happy Stingrays:


The Eel party:


The scary massive shark tank:


Mr Tiger, who mercifully was not in a fish tank of his own:


And my personal favourite, Mr Octopus!


After walking around for a few hours we got the end of the Aquarium, where you can feed the stingrays! I fed a lot of stingrays, and Rob fed one before deciding that he did not like having his fingers nibbled. We would’ve taken pictures, but the stingrays were extremely splashy! They were noticeably impatient for their frozen little fish.

After petting the stingrays we made our way over the face painting stall, where we absolutely did not get our faces painted. We are responsible grown ups who would not make a scene like that.

Ok, fine. We love face paint. We couldn’t resist.

Now that we were looking sufficiently fancy, we doubled back to catch the last Mermaid show of the day. I would love to say that we went out of curiousity, or to be ironic, but no. Mermaids were awesome when I was five, and they’re still awesome now! The show itself did not disappoint – there were three girls with Mermaid tails swimming around the actual main fish tank, doing very impressive free diving and synchromised swimming. And, of course, working the children (and me) into a frenzy:


I was beyond excited. Finally, we went outside to further show off our cool face paint and to check out the 4D-cinema. We had a brief debate about whether it was actually 4-dimensional, and decided that at best the name was misleading. Nonetheless, we went to see a brief documentary about Shallow Waters, which we only slightly came to regret.

It turns out that in this case the cinema is 4D because stuff is happening in the cinema itself, as well as on the 3D screen. When a Whale splashes you get water shot in your face, when you see Starfish on the ocean floor something whips your legs, and so on. At one point in the film a snake jumps out, at which point something stabbed out of the back of each seat and poked everyone in the kidneys! Really hard! Everyone was extremely afraid of their seats after that. It was pretty interesting, but certainly not relaxing…

Deciding that this was enough fun for one day, we left the Aquarium and headed back to lovely Fort Collins, only slightly delayed by me missing the turn on the interstate. It was definitely good times though, so we hope to be back to Denver again soon!

Thanks for reading 🙂 Xx

Five more things you probably didn’t know about America

It has been two months since my last five-things post and I felt it time for another. Let’s see what I have learnt since.

  1. Every day I’m shuffling

So several times we had been in bars over December and seen a long board in the side of the bar and wondered what it was.

Is it a hard napping table for inebriated patrons?

Turns out it is a bar game called shuffleboard. America still has pool but it doesn’t have darts, so I guess this is kind of the US version of darts. This is also a good comparison as the game is lots of fun, a little silly and is best (and most often) played inebriated by people who are really rubbish at it.

shuffle 2
The table is also covered in sand.

For anyone who is coming out to visit us, you will be forced to play this game. The rules are really simple (you have to roll it to the end without it going off  – a bit like curling / skittles) and it’s good fun, so don’t fret.

  1. Take me out

Now the US has a reputation for having massive meals. I previously assumed that Americans managed to stay thin by not snacking as much as the English. Turns out I was mostly wrong. America has lots of sweets and chocolate (candy) but there is a very clever system for dealing with massive portions:

take out.jpg
Borrowed from source

Some restaurants even have it down to a T, like my favourite ‘Mexican’ place – Cafe Mexicali. Their burritos come in foil boxes and are way too big to finish. But after you finish you just put a foil top on the box and you have a ready-made take home box for lunch the next day.

Disclaimer – this assumes you don’t be a fatty (me and Cat’s term for eating all the food even if you feel awful afterwards and continue eating once you are full up).

  1. Welcome to the (jungle) bus stop

I can’t remember if I have mentioned this before, but I was stood at the bus stop in December and all of a sudden noticed some really strange noises coming from a lamppost. Here is a recording from my phone (bear in mind it is about 3 times louder in person and at least 4 times weirder):

I have no idea what these are supposed to be or their purpose, but I guess it’s one of:

  • The builders of the Fort Collins transport system are really into Jungle music
  • There is a miniature jungle inside every bus stop in Fort Collins
  • The sounds are to scare birds / squirrels / bears away

No clue…

  1. American Comfort

One thing that America has absolutely down to a T is comfort. For example, many cinemas have electronic recliners and moveable side tables to eat your food off of.

cinema 2

Also, if you go to many supermarkets, they automatically bag your groceries for free. Almost every car I have been is has at least 2 drinks holders between the front seats… ok this one isn’t that special but it’s A LOT easier holding a coffee or ice smoothie in a cup holder than between your legs as me and Cat used to in our old Micra!

  1. Language part 2

So I know I have posted about English vs American before, and I know it’s obvious, but even now after living here for 3 months I continue to not speaking the language correctly.

Some aspects of this are just plain annoying. For example I just went and bought Cat a Hazlenut Mocca with marshmallows from Starbucks today. I asked for it and the server had no idea what I wanted, so I had to translate. Whereas Brits prounounce it “Mocka”, Americans pronounce it “Moe-cah”.

How to do it properly apparently:

They even have “English muffins“, which we don’t even have in England? It’s like a crumpet but cooked on both sides, definetly not a muffin though, It’s so confusing!

Girl, you thought he was a man, but he was a muffin.

The one me and Cat have been working on most is ‘sorry’. It’s not that Brits are in any way more polite than Americans, but nobody here would do the following:

  • Somebody gets in your way as you are trying to get past, you say sorry as you squeeze through as if it was your fault.
  • You are ahead of somebody in a queue, e.g. at a microwave to make lunch. You say sorry to apologise for existing and stopping the rest of the queue from eating.
  • Yesterday I was playing volleyball in a local recreation league. After making a shot I walked backwards to get out of the way the next shot and tripped over another player falling flat on my back. Did I need to say sorry for causing myself to fall over? No. Did I anyway? Of course, we are British good sir!!!

So we have had to just keep quiet or replace ‘sorry’ with ‘ok’

Credit to source

It’s not all bad though, for some unknown reason American’s quite like the British accent.

I was told today that the way I say ‘chocolate’ sounds lovely. Also Americans absolutely love Downtown Abbey and they have just gotten Bake Off on the US Netflix, so I think it’s just an obsession with polite posh British people.

Still, I never thought my Bristol-twanged accent would be described as lovely!

To The Crystal Lakes!

Hello all!

Sorry for the delay in posting again, it’s been a very hectic week as always! I’ll be trying to catch up over the next few days.

First things first, Rosemary & Chris treated us to an amazing weekend in their Mountain Cabin last weekend, and we had an extremely good time. Their cabin is up in Crystal Lakes, up in the Rocky Mountains near the Wyoming Boarder. It was about a 70 minute drive from our house, and up at about 8,500 ft. This was high enough that all of the crisp packets that we had inflated like balloons…

Crystal Lakes Map

The drive up to the cabin was very beautiful, but pretty tricky in some places. There was a lot more snow up in the mountains, and most of the roads had not been gritted or plowed in any way. We had a few little slides – nothing serious but we were definitely glad to not still be driving the Micra, which would probably have been completely under the snow…

We were blown away by the cabin when we got there, it is very beautiful. We were too distracted running around in the snow to get a good picture of the cabin, but here is a similar looking one from Google!

Like this but bigger, cooler and with more snow!

The cabin is heated primarily by a big log fire so we snuggled in front of that, but everything was very warm and there was lots of nice hot water for long showers! Chris and Rosemary have done a lot of renevation on the cabin so it is beautifully furnished and the layout is amazing. The two outer facing walls are glass, so the view of the mountains was unbelievable! It was very foggy on our first day there, but the view was still outstanding:

View from Cabin

Very, very lovely, and only a little bit freezing cold. It was 3°F (-16°C) when we got there, so of course we went out of a nice walk with Toby the dog! It was all wonderful, and there were a lot of opportunities for great views of the mountains and of strangely placed large rocks:

Snow depth = 4 feet. Trousers = not waterproof.

We continued being happy outdoors people the next day, by going to Beaver Meadows for some cold excitement! We went Tubing, which I hadn’t tried before but was awesome fun. There were big slides formed down the snowy slopes that you could rocket down on a rubber ring like a crazy person. Extra fun came from the wind moving the snow around, so that the dividing walls kept breaking down and blowing fresh snow in your face. I screamed like a child and loved it:

Hitting the wood dividers = Epic Sad Times
Taken just before Rosemary had to dive out the way of our tube…

We kept it up for about an hour before the snow in the face started to result in complete numbness, at which point we retreated to the restaurant for hot chocolate. We choose to get the hot chocolates with a dash of peppermint schnapps, although these turned out to be about 70% schnapps. It was like drinking slightly chocolately, very thin toothpaste, but it did warm us up pretty quickly! We were all very relaxed by the time we got back to the cabin for relaxation, dinner and the movie Avatar.

The next day, we went Snowshoeing! This is where you wear snowshoes to spread your weight out a little, so that you can go hiking through very deep snow. We got to borrow some snowshoes, so strapped them on and off we went!



Our feet felt very heavy and it took us a little while to get used to walking around in them, but it was very cool once we got the hang of it! We then went for a beautiful hike around the lakes, although since all the lakes were frozen and under a few feet of snow we didn’t actually see any. I did see a Blue Jay though, so very proud of the first bird spot since we got here! We walked for a total of about two hours, and it was very pretty and very quiet. It’s actually a little eerie how quiet it is, but very relaxing. I can definitely see why authors have mountain cabin retreats for when they need to go write books, it was very serene.

We were very sad when we had to head back down to Fort Collins, although we were definitely a little relieved to be back at a lower altitude with at least some moisture in the air. We’ve offered to go and help cut down some trees if they need it sometime, so hopefully we were well behaved enough to get invited back again soon!

More later 🙂 Xx

Sweet wheels brah

Fort Collins is a beautiful city and Old Town – where we live – is especially lovely. However, the public transport is not what it is in England. Buses tend to run north to south or east to west along the city gridlines and the trains are virtually non-commercial, so getting about – particularly if you want to go for example south west – is challenging.

So as a new year present we decided to procure ourselves some wheels.

We went to a local used car dealership suggested to us by our friends Rosemary and Chris and after much debating we ended up with a 2005 Subaru Legacy GT:

Yep, we still have snow.

Most importantly for us, it has all wheel drive so we can get about in the snow, and has room for suitcases and skis so we can transport visitors around in style.

For those petrol-heads, the relevant specs are: 5 door, Automatic, air con, anti-lock brakes, 160,000 miles, heated seats, cruise control, 2.5 litre engine, 22 miles per gallon, and only $25 (£17) to fill the tank!

car 1
Also, it’s like… really fast.

The mileage may seem like a lot to an English driver, but considering everyone drives EVERYWHERE (we know people who have done 12 hours straight drives home for Christmas), it’s not that unreasonable.

car 2

The heated seats are of course appreciated when it gets down to -18 C, and the gas (petrol) here is crazy cheap.

We can also now take Colorado driving tests, so we need to learn about all the US and local state rules e.g.

  1. In Larimer county, when you have an accident, each person pays to fix their own car, irrespective of who hit who.
  2. There is no such thing here as an MOT, so we have sent our new car into the Subaru garage to give it a full check over.
  3. Upon meeting or overtaking from either direction a school bus that has stopped, a motor vehicle driver must stop at least 20 feet before reaching the bus and not proceed until the visual signal lights are no longer being used.


We are yet to name our car as we wanted something that alludes to it’s slightly boy-racer-ish-ness but don’t want to call it Gaz or something and have to get Neon’s and a subwoofer.

We are open to suggestions if anyone has any ideas?

Rob and Cat xx

Chips, Kebab, Sausage and Mayo.

There are two things you need to know to understand my excitement as I write this post.

  1. While we love it here, there are of course some things we miss. One of these is that you can’t find a good curry house and there is no such thing as a chip shop here. No chip cobbs, rolls, butties, batches or barns. It’s a case of you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.
  2. The other is that as mentioned in our Christmas blog post, our fish “Fish” passed away on the 23rd and we have been waiting to get our remaining fish “Chips” some friends.

So today we went out and got three new additions to our aquarium.

Meet Sausage:


and Mayo:
mayo 2

When letting the new fish adjust to the temperature of the water, Chips hid behind the reeds as we assumed he was scared of the new additions.

However when we let Sausage, Kebab and Mayo out into the tank, Mayo and Kebab hid behind the reeds with Chips and Kebab as if Sausage was some sort of… monster?

scary saussage 1

scary saussage 2

scary saussage 4
Eventually, they all joined forces to hide behind the reeds. I think we have some very dysfunctional fish…


Rob and Cat xx

PS/ New post tomorrow once it’s light enough to take pictures of our new wheels.