Moab – Part Three!

Hi All,

Welcome to the third and final part of our Moab weekend!

On our final full day we went to the spectacular Monument Valley, down at the Utah – Arizona border. It was just over a two hour drive, but most definitely worth the time spent.

First stop, Mexican Hat! This is a rock feature just to the North of Monument Valley, so named because it looks like a person wearing a Sombrero. Observe…

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As well as the resemblance to a person in a sombrero, Mexican Hat also continues our theme of unlikely rock formations that seem very precariously balanced. We stood to view it for a while, and then continued to admire it whilst enjoying the jam doughnuts that we bought with us for the journey.

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Om nom nom ❀

After our doughnuts and scene viewing we continued on, and got our first view of Monument Valley…

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Woo!

It’s very remote, and you can see the large monuments from a long way out. It’s a very iconic scene that features in lots of movies and posters, and it was very exciting to see it in person πŸ™‚

We drove slowly closer towards it, and stopped to take many, many pictures on the way. We also stopped off at one of the Navajo jewellery shops on the side of the road, since the Navajo in the area are famous for amazing silver and turquoise jewellery. We picked up some beautiful jewellery and had a nice chat with the people there, which was a strong start to the visit!

Here is another shot of three of the large monuments, with some teeny cars and people in the foreground to give you the scale:

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My favorite formations were the East and Western Mitten Buttes, which are the two large monoliths off to the right. These looks quite a lot like hands, and are considered to be like the hands of a deity protecting the valley.

To continue exploring the area properly we next headed in to the Navajo Tribal Park. This allows you to donate to the culture and see restricted areas of the park, included the 17 mile Valley Drive between the monuments. As a bonus it’s a little less touristy than most areas, and in theory looks basically the same as it did 3,000 years ago.

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Okay, the flags are new…

We got in our car and set off driving down the extremely bumpy road. No tarmac for the Tribal Park, just big bumpy dirt roads that you could only access if you had an SUV. Thank goodness we were renting, our poor Subaru would most definitely not have made it!

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I wish I had stunning facts for you, but as with the previous parks what you see is pretty much what you get! Everything was massive and beautiful and remote and I loved it – I think these red stone scenes and mesas are my favorite type of landscape, even more so than the lovely mountains and lakes of Colorado (dare I say it).

After fully exploring the park and having our bones thoroughly shaken up by the drive we headed back to Moab for the evening! We had a very tasty meal, and then got to try our hand at some night time photography… We headed back into the Arches, and sat under the window arch to watch the sun set. A very relaxing evening! I managed to get a few pictures in the semi-darkness, which I was quite pleased with:

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My first stars!

But clearly still a long way to go with the night photography, since I couldn’t really get any pictures once it got much darker. I will continue to practice, and hopefully have some better photos to show you soon!

The next day we said a sad goodbye to lovely Moab, and headed back to Fort Collins. On the way though we stopped into Breckenridge, which is a very nice and very well known Ski Resort. Unlike a lot of ski resorts though, Breckenridge is big enough and awesome enough that it continues to be an excellent place to visit all year round despite the lack of snow.

We walked around the town looking in the various shops and art galleries for an hour or so, and I treated myself to what was a truly ridiculous Iced Raspberry Mocha at a French Bakery in town:

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Literally translates to ‘The French’…

It’s hard to see in the picture, but it was basically a very nice iced mocha with a few scoops of freshly made raspberry mousse on top. There are no pictures of me actually consuming it, since this happened too quickly for photographs to capture.

After some more walking around town, we finished the holiday in the truly excellent Breckenridge Brewery. We have had a few of the Breckenridge Brewery beers before since they’re available at a few places in Fort Collins, so we were very excited to see the original Brewery!

As with all things Breckenridge, it turned out to be extremely cute…

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We drank a range of drinks, including Avalanche and Agave Wheat, both of which you must try if you get the opportunity. We also split a large plate of very tasty looking chicken wings, which were exactly as messy to eat as you would expect!

All in all, a magnificent long weekend πŸ™‚

More soon! xx

Moab – Part Two!

Hi Again,

On to our second day in Moab, we continue to explore the beautiful mesas of Utah!

Whilst Rob and I have visited Moab a few times before these have only ever been quite short visits, so we’ve only seen a little of the town and the Arches National Park. Just a little way further out is Canyonlands National Park, which we’d heard is spectacular but never visited. Like Arches, Canyonlands is very accurately named!

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Canyon time!

The park itself is massive, at 527 miles squared, so we only visited the North side of the park which is called ‘Island in the Sky’.

As with Arches, capturing the scale is basically impossible. Zooming in on the above picture gives you a little more idea of the scale, but only slightly…

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Much canyon

For scale, the first level below (the White Rim) is 1,200 ft down, and the lower canyon goes down another 1,000 ft.

We loved it, and took many pictures!

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Thank goodness for my husband and his long arms ❀

As with the Arches we did a nice mix of short walks and stopping at viewpoints, although mercifully we abstained from doing any longer hikes since the heat was still a toasty 105oF… Rest assured we were well marinaded in both sun cream and bug spray, and weighed down with plenty of ice water!

Let the short hikes through the sand begin…

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Our fist stop was one of the most famous views from the park, the lovely Mesa arch. Not as big as the Arches from the first day, but it does frame a view of the canyons very nicely. We got a few nice pictures, and managed not to fall off the completely-unfenced-off-in-any-way canyon edge!

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It’s not tooooo far down…

It’s hard to get the scale of the canyons, but it is very easy to get a beautiful picture. The colours are just stunning, and the sky is very blue so high up. Once we finished our photography and battled off the strong sense of vertigo we continued off on our short hike. A very sweaty two miles total, then back to the car for the sweet, sweet touch of the air conditioning!

After cooling off we soldiered on, over to the Green River viewpoint. The Green River, which flows into the Colorado River, is a beautiful 730 mile long river that runs in part through the canyon. It’s a pretty massive river, but looks rather small from the viewpoint…

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Can you see it??

We gaped at this in awe again a little longer, and then on to the next viewpoint! And it’s a good one…

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Ooh!

This viewpoint overlooked White Rim Road, which you can see in this picture is the narrow, winding road that absolutely does not look safe in any way. We discussed it briefly and agreed that regardless of what the road led to, we didn’t want to see it. Happily though at this viewpoint we saw the first fence we’d seen all day, so decided that we were willing to get close enough to the edge to get a team photo:

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It’s not the sturdiest of fences, but at least it was there!

A little further round were what were technically fences, but could more accurately be described as little piles of wood…

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Happily the great view mostly made up for the sharp drop!

After our little walks and our great views we were ready for some refreshments, but unfortunately for us the National Parks Service here in America generally doesn’t provide snacks in the parks as a way of cutting down on littering. This is probably a good thing overall, but at the time we were hungry hungry hippos!

Fortunately, a gift from the gods. We left Canyonlands National Park to explore the nearby Dead Horse State Park, and were delighted to see that they had a food truck parked at the entrance! We pretty much threw our wallets at the truck, and refreshments were purchased.

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Plus a bench in the shade! Bliss!!

After drinking as much Coke as we could manage and then rubbing the cold cans on our faces, we headed on to actually explore the park that we’d come to see.

The name of the park is probably the least appealing name I’ve ever heard for anything, but the park itself is very nice! There were no dead horses anywhere we could see, so hopefully all was well…

The main attraction of the park is the viewpoint at Dead Horse Point, which is stunning as promised. Again, brace for pictures!

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The sun was just starting to go down at this point so the lighting was stunning, and you can see in the picture above at it was raining way off in the distance. Behind the rain on the left you can see the La Sal mountains, and just in the front you can see the salt drying pools. As well as that Green River makes an appearance again on the right!

These were stunning views, and we stood and stared. I confess I was briefly distracted from the stunning views by this extremely cute Chipmunk who was having a nap under a rock, but look at his little face. I couldn’t resist…

Such, such cuteness.

We went on another short walk along the viewpoint, and got to see some slightly better views of the salt pools, which are a really excellent shade of blue.

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You can see that the rain is now really coming down on the mountains! They’re almost completely obscured.

Last picture! Although again, I have about 1,000 more should you want to them πŸ˜‰

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Once we were done being amazed we got back into our car and headed back to town. Next thing to see, Monument Valley!

Until next time…

 

Moab – Part One!

Hi all,

We’ve just come back from an excellent long weekend away in the lovely town of Moab, Utah, so strap in and get ready for some beautiful pictures! Barry & Margaret are visiting us from England, so we took the opportunity to show them one of our favorite places in the US.

Moab is at a similar altitude to Fort Collins, but is over the boarder and on the other side of the Rocky Mountains. It takes about six hours to drive over there, but luckily it’s a very scenic drive that takes us past several famous ski towns (including Vail, Breckenridge and Frisco) as well as many spectacular views. The town itself is quite remote and surrounded by amazing landscapes, most of which we managed to visit during this trip.

First things first though, on arrival we headed straight to lunch at one of our favorite locations – the spectacular Moab Brewery:

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Very eccentric decorations, as well as delicious food and beer! As an extra bonus there is a signed Joe Biden (Obama’s vice president) picture on the wall from his visit here where he declares “this place rocks”.

After eating our tasty lunch and drinking several pints of ice water we headed over to the Arches National Park. We’ve visited it a few times before so apologies for the repetition, but hopefully our fancy new camera will give you some previously unseen views…

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Oooooooooh…

As always it’s very hard to capture the epic scale and the stunning colors, but alas I must try. Something that did give a glimpse of the scale was the crow helpfully sitting on top of the balancing rock…

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The balancing rock is the one to the left, so named because the top part of the rock seems to be very precariously balancing on the bottom. Can you see the crow?

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There it is!

So yes, if you like big red rocks this is the park for you!

After admiring the scenic rocks we drove further into the park for a hike. Unfortunately I was on antibiotics at the time so decided to have a sleep in the car rather than hike around in the 105oF heat, but Rob bravely carried on and kept taking pictures.

They hiked all the way over to the famous delicate Arch, and got some lovely shots!

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You can just see the La Sal mountains in the background, looking rather spectacular, as well as the big bowl in front of the arch itself.

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Stunning as always, with the blue skies and the red rocks. Β The park itself is massive (almost 120 sq miles) and the views on the hike back to the car park continued to impress…

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On returning to the car park they drank several more pints of water (seriously, it was so hot!), woke me up and we headed off to see some of the more accessible arches. On the way we saw this little lizard friend, who was also hiding out from the heat…

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New game – name that lizard!

After pressing our faces against the cold air in the car we headed on, and saw the Skyline Arch for the first time!

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This was in a much more remote section of the park, so it was wonderfully empty and quiet. Many pictures were taken, and much scenery was enjoyed!

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We continued our exploring late into the afternoon, with our body temperatures slow approached those of Johnny Storm.

(+10 points for anyone who gets that reference! I couldn’t resist πŸ˜‰ )

Eventually the park closed and we returned to the hotel for very cold showers and more attempted hydration.

That evening we went out to the delicious Steak restaurant in town, called the Moab Grill. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures since I was too busy stuffing my little face with a big steak and local beer, both of which were very delicious! Barry and Margaret treated us, for which we will be eternally grateful πŸ™‚

That night we rested well, ready for more adventures in part two…

More soon!

Bike to work day

One thing I love about Colorado is the sun. It’s not just that it is uplifting, or that it makes outdoor sports more fun, but it’s much more pleasant to cycle in. Fort Collins itself is absolutely bike crazy.

There are 28 Bike shops in Fort Collins (this compares to 9 in Coventry (UK) which is twice as big as Fort Collins – 316900 people vs 156480 in FoCo), and there are lots of good biking events like races, fancy dress events, trail routes and bike to work day.

IMG_3357On Fort Collins bike to work day, there are 60 Breakfast stations set up all over town, most of which have Bike tuning stations. My work colleagues and I were kindly given the early part of the morning off by our boss (Chuck, in the red top in the background) to go and tour around these stations, get some free breakfast and get our bikes tuned up.

We also ran into Smokey Bear, a US mascot who warn’s of the dangers of Wildfires, so naturally we got a picture together:

20170628_083710.jpgAfter several more stations and loading up on OJ, breakfast burritos, granola and fruit, we made our way to the New Belgium who were reportedly doing beermosa’s (though they had run out by 8.50 when we arrived, so I ended up withΒ Fat Tire and a pizza bagel).

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To top off the morning and digest our beer, we played Rolle Bolle. It’s a game, a bit like shuffleboard / curling where you have to roll a ball that looks like a cheese wheel along a cylinder and try to land it at the other end without going off.

roly-poly.jpgNeedless to say, it’s pretty fun and just the right amount of mental exertion after a morning of cycling and half a beer.

Rob

PS/ For those wondering, I was wearing my new Softball Top for the Quantum Mechanics, and I went with the name ‘Ringo’ as ‘Rob’ is too difficult for most Americans to understand in my accent.

Horsetooth Falls!

Hi All,

You’ll be pleased to hear that we’re continuing with our healthy weekend hikes! This weekend we decided to try the Horsetooth Falls hike, since we’ve heard great things but never been. Happily this is also a relatively short hike, since it’s 10 billion degrees and we’re still not quite hardcore enough to walk ten miles uphill in such conditions.

Once we layered ourselves in our bug spray/ sun tan, we were off! It’s a pretty hike, and we were treated to nice views almost immediately:

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I think the net elevation change throughout the hike is only about 300ft, but it did seem to go up and down quite a lot! We bravely hiked up and down the slopes, and were also treated to very nice views overlooking the town:

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You can just see a patch of water in the picture above, which is the Horsetooth Reservoir. It was very pretty, despite the fact that there were an absolutely obscene number of people boating about. It turns out that a large number of people in Fort Collins own their own boats, and I’m still surprised whenever I see people casually driving their boats through town.

Before long, we reached the top of the waterfall!

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That meant two things, if you’re doing hiking properly…

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Selfies!

And…

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Snack break!

My wonderful husband packed Cheese and Crackers, so we snaffled these down while resting our legs. We also drank plenty of water, because hydration is king! Before long though, we set off again…

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“Get Moving!”

We walked back along the stream at the top of the rocks, which feeds into the waterfall. I was very excited to see that there were some butterflies sunning themselves by the water, since it made for some fun picture taking opportunities!

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Aced it

As well as the butterflies, the pools themselves were very pretty.

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I would absolutely have gone splashing around in them if I wasn’t slightly worried about accidentally falling over the edge… Maybe next time!

After we were satisfied with pretty views we headed down to the bottom of the waterfall, so that we could actually see the mighty waterfall for which this path is named!

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Hmm…

Possibly this is not the optimal time of year for waterfall viewing, but the sound was very soothing nonetheless!

On the way back we were treated to some more open spaces and beautiful views:

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Then before we knew it we were back to the car, and ready to head home. This open space is also the home of the famous Horsetooth Rock, which is the next hike we’re hoping to do. This hike is a more challenging six miles, with a cheeky 1,761ft of elevation gain! Possibly one to try out on the visitors πŸ˜‰

This weekend is Independence Day here in the US, so we have a lovely four day break which includes Rob’s Birthday! More fun to follow!

Xx

Red Rocks!

Hi Again,

As you may have guessed from the blog title, we’ve finally got around to visiting Red Rocks!

The Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a large, naturally occurring amphitheatre not far from Denver that is very famous both as a music venue and a park full of beautiful views. Famous musicians who have played there include Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles and my personal favorite Tool, but this is naming just a few!

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At 6,450 ft above sea level the Beatles apparently needed oxygen tanks, poor things!

As you can tell from the picture Red Rocks has been around for quite a while, the amphitheatre opened in 1941 and has had regular concerts since 1947. The actual amphitheatre is of course considerably older, and as well as the great views the park is a great place to check out fossils! As an extra bonus Red Rocks is the only naturally-occurring, acoustically perfect amphitheatre in existence, and was once listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

As you can imagine we were pretty hyped to check it out, although we were a little wary of the weather which our car assured us was very hot:

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Noooooooooooooooo…

The park has very little shade and the thin air at altitude means that you burn and dehydrate very quickly, but what is life without challenge! We rounded up a lot of water, and slathered on sun screen as fast as we could:

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Never before have two people put so much trust in a product…

After gearing up, we were off! Between the sun screen, the bug spray and the fact that we were immediately very sweaty we felt a little like we were being marinated, but that didn’t take away from the enjoyment of our arrival one bit. As promised, it is BEAUTIFUL πŸ™‚

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❀ ❀ ❀

The visibility is ridiculous, if you look off in the distance in the picture above you can see Denver in the background (zoomed in below):

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The two largest monoliths surrounding the seating area for the concert are Ship Rock and Creation Rock, both of which are over 300 ft tall! The third monolith is Stage Rock, which as you can imagine is behind the stage. It’s hard to get the scale in the picture, but rest assured they’re pretty spectacular.

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I should also mention the crazy people that you can see in this picture… as you may know people in Colorado are in insanely good shape, and part of this is because exercise is just so popular as a form of recreation. It’s apparently a fun local activity to start the day with a run up and down the amphitheatre steps, or to run the length of each step in turn before going up to the next one. It was way too hot to be doing such a thing, but power to them!

We checked out the views by walking down some of the steps, and tried not to think about the time when we’d have to walk back up.

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There was a truly excellent statue of John Denver at the start of the trail that we had to stop and get a few pictures with…

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It’s missing something…
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Perfection!

Once we got the pictures, we were off!

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Mercifully we decided to do the shorter of the two trails, so our hike was a mere two miles. The second hike is a brave six miles, so we’ll wait until it cools down a bit for that! On our scenic hike we saw the usual beautiful things:

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Stunning rocks!
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Blue Skies!
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Birds!

I will say that while the last of those was definitely beautiful, the bird was not very relaxing. It looked a bit like a vulture and was circling the area, possibly waiting for the weaker hikers to drop off the trail and be eaten. It definitely had an eye of us…

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“Are you running low on water yet?”

…but happily this story does not end up with us being devoured by predatory birds.

After a great walk we got back to the base of the stairs:

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Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo….

But before long we were back! We finished the hike with a quick victory selfie (in which my husband managed to catch me off guard with a bad joke) and with that done we were ready to be inside.

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As you can see I was somehow redder than the rocks…

Before heading out we decided to see the Red Rocks hall of fame, which is quite reminiscent of Hard Rock Cafe, and documents famous musicians who have played the venue.

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It also has some large fake instruments on the wall that we had great fun pretending to play…

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Mad skills

As well as merchandise donated by various bands. One band in particular gets a special mention!

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I love Tool so much you guys

After one final look at the stage we got back into our boiling hot car and headed home! It was a sweaty day, but definitely a fun one πŸ˜€

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More soon! Xx

A Day in the Life of Unemployment

Hi All,

Sorry for the delay in new blog posts! We’ve been hard at working trying to find a new job (in my case) or be awesome at the job we have (Rob’s case) which sadly has not left much time for adventures! We’re doing what we can to line up some excitement soon though – suggestions always welcome – and in the meantime I thought I’d give you a sneak peak of how I’m spending my days now that I’m temporarily without employment.

You’ll be pleased to know that I’m not just sitting on my butt watching Netflix, especially now that the weather is getting nice and hot! The temperature is hovering around 25Β°C – 30Β°C with the lack of humidity making it feel extra toasty πŸ™‚ Because of this the last few weeks have actually been a fun mix of house cleaning, long awaited task doing and getting out and about.

My day today started very nicely with brunch with some lady friends at a restaurant in town called Avogadro’s Number, which is located near the University:

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Because of course it is

As well as having a great name Avogadro’s has a very nice sheltered back patio so that you can enjoy your food out in the sun without getting burnt.

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The food was super tasty, I had a vegetarian lasagna and a large coffee both of which I snaffled right down. We talked, we hung out, we caffeinated – solid way to start a day!

After brunch I spend some time back at home doing boring grown up things:

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Clean kitchen – check!
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Laundry – half check!

I wouldn’t say our house is spotless by a long spot, but at least it’s a little cleaner that it was this morning!

I’m also babysitting some guinea pigs for our friend for a few days, so I made sure to feed those chubby little guys:

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So chubby!

The feeding was then of course closely followed by snuggles with the tiny friends, and letting them work off some of that chub by running around the apartment.

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Disclaimer: at no point did they approach anything even near a run, but they did try and nibble my nose…

After that I went over to another friends house for an excellent afternoon of video games! We sold our game console before moving over here so it’s been about a year and a half since I’ve even touched an Xbox, and my goodness it felt great to break that streak.

We rocked out playing Call of Duty Black Ops 3, the latest in a series which is partly famous for it’s ‘Nazi Zombies’ side game. Yes, that’s what it sounds like – you get to shoot Nazi Zombies while running around trying not to get eaten. I think the idea is that you’re doubly justified in shooting them, which may or may not be how morality works. Either way, it’s truly magical:

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Pictured: Relaxation!

I should take a minute here to mention some good news – I have successfully lined up a new job! Not just a new job – an EXCELLENT job πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

I’m going to be working for a company called Penton who basically do marketing for marketeers, so gathering lots of data on the industries that they may need, and then putting together reports based on that. My job will be to make sure that the relevant part of that data is organized and accessible, which I know sounds a little dull to the layman but to a spreadsheet nerd like me it’s a dream come true πŸ˜‰

As a bonus the team look completely awesome, and they have a history of celebrating all major holidays with bring-your-dog-to-the-office-in-fancy-dress competitions. I’ve suggested to Rob that this means that we need to get a puppy of our own, but he remains unconvinced.

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What monster doesn’t want to be part of this??

So yes, I start next week! Whoop whoop πŸ™‚

More soon! Real excitement next time, we promise!