Safety First

When friends and family come out to visit us, we like to do different and interesting things. But also, we like to do things with people that they could not do in England. For example, hiking in the mountains is a very Colorado thing to do.

So, with the cousins here, we received a very kind offer from one of me and Cats closest friends here, to try something we had never even considered before:
Great_Guns_SportingLLC_21695.jpgNow, before we go any further, a few things to point out for those of high blood pressure or of concern for our wellbeing or safety:

  1. We are fine.
  2. No really, we still have the correct number of limbs and no extra holes.
  3. We took a very safety first approach and spent almost as much time going over proper gun safety and use, as shooting.
  4. Don’t. Worry.

Anyway, we first learnt and were made to demonstrate the three rules of gun safety. ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction, ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot and ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.

There are also other general rules like don’t drink and shoot, wear eye and ear protection (guns are like, well loud) and of course; never point a gun at something you don’t want to shoot!

We then went to a gun range out in East Colorado and did some target practice:

The kickback of the pistols (Smith and Wesson Revolver and Glock 27) was surprisingly large, hence why me and Cat aren’t shooting one handed like James bond or something…
P1020874Simon however, is a lot stronger than us and showed us how it was done. It does really put all the video games, American TV and films in perspective though. After shooting about 5 rounds my hands were tired and my brain hurt from concentrating. I have absolutely no idea how people do this for real!

We then moved on to some larger guns. Fortunately, this involved sitting down with some 25 yard targets which turned yellow when you hit them:
combined shooting pictureWe were quite happy with that grouping considering it was our first time and that was using a Ruger semi-automatic rifle which had no sight, so was difficult to aim. I should also point that the target that says ‘rope’ is actually mine. When we took Smraizle to Silver Grill on their first day here, I asked four times to book a table under Rob but ‘Rope’ is what the woman choose to hear and write down.

Cat, Simon and Marie didn’t think this was funny at all, and defo did not spend the rest of the holiday calling me Rope McCannon and creating a complete backstory… Anyway, I think we all look quite serious here with the big guns (Ruger sem-automatic rifle and Remington bolt action rifle), if we were American, these would be great profile pics:
big guns picture.jpgTalking of kickback, the bigger the gun, the bigger the kickback, hence why sitting down and having the back of the rifle in your shoulder helps, though we did have some small bruises on our shoulders to remember the day by.

Finally, we are very grateful to John for the experience. Here he is demonstrating his shotgun:
P1020907I include a picture of him here not us, as his expression is serious and concentrating and ours was more like panic and anticipation like this guy:


That was some experience!

Rob and Cat xx

Beer & Food Time!

Hi Again!

We’re continuing fun times in Fort Collins with the cousins, so time for an update. On Tuesday we partook in the main form of entertainment in Fort Collins – Brewery Tours! Fort Collins has a population of around 150,000, and a magnificent 21 breweries – so around one brewery for each 7100 people 🙂 This doesn’t compare to the number of restaurants (about 400, so one for every 375 people), but still pretty outstanding!

We started at New Belgium, which is my personal favorite and somewhere that you will definitely all be visiting, to do their free tour! It lasts about 90 minutes, contains tasters of many, many beers and is extremely informative. Plus the New Belgium Brewery is just beautiful and the people are so relaxed, so it’s always fun 😀


Ignore the uncharacteristic clouds! We blame the cousins…

We started the tour by learning a little about the background of the brewery, which as you can imagine is aiming to produce Belgium style beer in Colorado. Since they started in 1991 they’ve grown massively, and you may have tasted one of their most popular ales which is Fat Tire. We then went on to taste several of their other beers, of which they have a fabulous range:

New Belgium beers
Om nom nom nom nom

We then continued to drink as we walked around the rest of the site in the lovely sunshine, and it was great.


After all the drinking we were feeling a little sleepy:


But we partied on. Next stop, Odells!


Odells is another of the most famous breweries in Fort Collins, and widely considered one of the real local treasures. They also do a great range of beers, and have a really beautiful site. We were too late to do their brewery tour, so we tried a few of their taster flights instead and also got some tacos! All whilst enjoying their wonderful patio:




The taster flights were pretty wonderful, and they had a really good variety. Here are some of their tasty beers:

Om nom nom nom zzzz

As you can imagine we were even more sleepy leaving the brewery:


But we continued on to Cooper Smiths, which is a brewery in the Old Town Square. It’s very pretty, and has a great games room! We had a great time playing snooker, followed by the magical game that is Shuffleboard 🙂

We played the traditional way – Guys vs Gals – and I’m proud to say that the gals won both rounds! At that point the guys accepted their inarguable inferiority, so we moved on to the also exciting table tennis. Here there were no measurable winners, but the loser was definitely the guy playing pool next to us who was repeatedly struck by our ball, usually in the face mid-shot. We spent a lot of the game apologising.

To restore our dignity we had a few rounds of table football to finish the night. We played Channons vs Cheethams, and Channons just scraped victory over the few games. See if you can spot the common player amongst the winning teams! That night, we slept well 🙂

We continued the fun on Friday with the Fort Collins Foodie Walk! This is a self guided walking tour of some of the food stores in Fort Collins which happens once a month, put on by the stores. They offer free samples and tell you more about their shops, and since they are truly hipster style shops this is pretty exciting. One big highlight is the Tea Store, which is truly wonderful:

On the left, fancy hand crafted teapots. On the right, fancy bricks of tea from China ❤
I’m pretty sure they have every single tea in the world

There is also an extremely fancy Olive Oil shop, will sells an absurd range of olive oil.

Olive oil

And yet somehow everything in all of these million bottles is interesting and delicious. Again, you must visit and sample if you come to Colorado. Here is Marie loving the balsamic vinegar:

So many infusion, so little time

We also visited the chocolate stop, the cheese shop, another chocolate shop and the spices/ liqueur store! Sadly we were too busy feasting to be vigilant with the pictures, so that’s on me…

After the food tour, we went on to get some pizza at the delicious pizza shop Slyce. This was enjoyed by all, but especially by Simon:

It really is top quality pizza. We followed this up by sharing a toffee apple, which we enjoyed initially but soon came to regret. Still, it merited a try:

We were so young and optimistic back then

After this second round of feasting we decided a walk around Old Town was needed. They’ve just added new flowers to the square and some lovely lights, so it looks rather fabulous:


You can see Rob is still recovering from the toffee apple a little…

But yes, so pretty! We ended the night with a drink at a new distillery that has just opened near our apartment called Mobb Mountain. It turns out to make extremely strong Whisky, Gin that tasted like Whiskey, and cocktails that are composed almost entirely of Whiskey. I’m not a big fan of Whiskey so only managed a sip of my cocktail, but the interior was beautiful and I love what they are trying to do!

Quite an unfortunate picture of Simon, my bad again…

So yes, just some of the delicious fun available in Fort Collins! More of our adventures to follow soon 🙂

Much love xx

The Cousins are here!

Hi All!

Sorry for the long delay since my last blog, we’ve had an extremely exciting visit from my brothers followed by two weeks of working hard and being boring, so not much to tell! Happily now the cousins are here, so this will all change 🙂

They flew in on Friday, and are here for just over a week of magnificent excitement!

The excitement started almost right away, when we visited the amazing Wild Animal Sanctuary!


I hadn’t heard of it before, but Marie found it online and it looked outstanding. What the Wild Animal Sanctuary does is rehome exotic animals that have been neglected or kept as pets illegally. It turns out that there is no law against owning exotic animals in five states (points for guessing which five!), and there are more tigers in Texas than are left in the wild! So we were happy to support a great cause, and also to see some happy wild animals.

One of my favorites is this guy, who is beautiful!
And also this guy, who has been a little overfed in his previous home…

The Sanctuary is set up so that animals are slowly allowed to get used to their new surroundings – a lot of them have been kept in very small enclosures and some have never seen sunlight before 😦 Once they are used to being outside they are slowly introduced to other animals of the same type so that they can form packs, and when that goes well they are moved to big 10 acre enclosures where they can live and be merry.

Like this!

The park is basically a big walkway over the top of these enclosures, since predators don’t have any enemies from above so are not bothered by what goes on overhead. Here are some more of the amazing animals:

Sleepy bears!
Pretty Ocelot!
Fabulous Lynx
And Mr Lion!

It was extremely wonderful, and I strongly recommend giving it a visit if you’re ever in Colorado, or donating generously via their website:

Following the magic of the animal sanctuary, we relaxed at home while the wonderful Simon made us dinner and then we sleepily went to bed.

The next day, Exercise! First we went for a quick walk up the reservoir:


And then we went over to Lory state park for a hike up to Arthur Rock, which gives you epic views of the town and the reservoir! It is a 3.4 mile round trip, with the first half being quite steep! But very pretty, and it feels much more remote than it actually is.

This is literally ten minutes from our apartment

A hard walk to the top, but excellent views once we got there 🙂

Pictured: Views!
Our heroes, at the peak! 🙂

We had a quick picnic at the peak before heading back down to return into town. We went via the more rural part of town, so got to see some deer chilling in the fields!

Not as impressive as the lions, but still great 🙂

We spent the rest of the day at the frankly amazing Fort Fun, which is just always great. We started with a fairly epic game of mini-golf:

Epic in pictures, if not in skill…

This was wonderfully fun and we were not good, but that didn’t stop us taking it extremely seriously…

We followed our epic golfing with a quick but terrifying round in the batting cages:

And then fun in the arcade, which made our approach to golf look downright casual. No-one has ever taken arcade games as seriously as we did:

Time-cop is inherently serious, so this is fine
Driving likewise is a serious responsibility
Pump-it-up dance is admittedly hard to excuse

It definitely needs to be mentioned that Rob is AMAZING at the dance game. Never has someone poured so much soul into something with such outstanding results. I fell in love all over again ❤

As you can imagine by the evening we were pretty tired from all the excitement, so we treated ourselves to dinner at the all-you-can Mongolian Stir Fry restaurant. It was, as always, delicious!

Om nom nom nom nom

We are now back in the apartment and extremely full, and playing an extremely competitive game of Settlers of Catan. Is it bliss 🙂

More soon! Xxx

St George’s day and Fort Fun

We have had a fun few weeks recently coinciding with the varied but improving weather here.


Starting of this crazy time was that I finally did my Half Marathon (see here for background). Unfortunately, Fort Collins decided that the weekend was a really good time for some snow and cold weather (10 C) which made it a lot more challenging (wet feet = blisters), but I did finish in 2h 26 m 23 s without walking or coming last which was nice.

horsetooth 3
I might be in this picture as I’m wearing blue, but who can tell?

Here I am looking a bit worse for wear with about 100 meters to go and at the end looking like my feet arn’t in a bad way, with a winning medal / bottle opener:


And here I am just after, wide awake, looking really happy with my efforts at lunch at IHOP (the international house of pancakes):

Best of all was that the race was won by a woman – Brianne Nelson – in 1h 16m 44s, so big props to her!


We then discovered there was a place only 5 minutes from our house called Fort Fun.
fort fun

It’s fun! Source:

Although probably aimed at people slightly (or arguably a lot) younger than us, we had a great time as they have arcades, mini golf courses, paddle boats, a big slide, laser tag, go karts and best of all… batting cages.

cat batting cages
Let’s go do the sports better than the other team and win the thing”

Cat actually did pretty well and hit a lot more than I did on the slow softball setting. I’m moderately ashamed to say I actually found it quite difficult (on the medium softball setting), as the bats and balls are different to cricket and without gloves, my hand hurt from the contact – such shame.


Finally, we decided to throw a St George’s day party for our friends, partly to be social and show off our digs, but mainly to see what our American friends thought British people looked like. To be honest, we looked more like a Halloween party than an English one:

Slam it to the left, If you’re having a good time…

We were brought some spotted dick, biscuits, tea, and variety of English beers (e.g. Old Speckled Hen, Holy Grail) and managed to play a few classic Channon party games (consequences, the chocolate game and the Maltesers spoon game) which went down very well, as they always do. Though I did feel sorry for one guest who kept having her hat taken off just as she was about to get some Chocolate, every single time:


SHirleyAs far as “British themed fancy dress”, big props have to go to the innovative ones e.g. Abbey Road, a Palace Guard, a Corgi, Where’s Wally, Zombie Princess Diana and three of the Spice Girls. One guy dressed as Angus Young (Scottish) from ACDC (an Australian Rock band), but that was all good. Cat decided to dress as me, which was actually really disturbing. Especially so with the drawn on chest and facial hair and some very unflattering impressions “Ello I’m Dr Rob, can I talk to you about cricket?”

Perhaps we need to do a better job of teaching our friends our culture…

Rob & Cat