Welcome to Mexico!

Hey guys!

Very sorry for the long delay since we have last posted, we’ve been living the life of boring adults instead of going on fun adventures (boo). Enough of that though, we’re now back up to our exploration of the new world and visiting Tulum in Mexico!

Tulum is about an hour South of Cancun, and is on the Caribbean Coast:

Map for Blog

You can see that it’s quite a distance from Colorado, but they do direct flights from Denver and it’s pretty inexpensive so off we went!

As well as being on the Caribbean Coast Tulum is famous for it’s many Mayan ruins, as well as lots of exciting wildlife in the many jungles. We landed Saturday afternoon, and we’re very excited to get exploring 🙂

On flying into Cancun we rented a car, and drove our way down to our hotel in Tulum. Rob bravely did the driving, which is a pretty exciting experience here in Mexico! It’s most definitely anything goes, but apart from having to pump the breaks whenever anyone cuts us up (which happens pretty regularly) we haven’t had any problems. I’m ashamed to say it was a little tricky to get used to driving a manual car again, but it all came back quite quickly!

Our first full day in Tulum we got off to a very exciting start when we got the chance to view some of the local wildlife from the comfort of our own bed. This happened when poor Rob went to pick up his shoe, and found a little friend guarding it:

Don’t let the great magnification on the camera fool you, I was a long way away when I took this picture…

Rob then did a great job of not freaking out and running around screaming (which I absolutely would have) and instead went to get the maid while I stood on the bed taking pictures and not helping in any way. Sadly our rudimentary Spanish did not furnish us with the phrase ‘there is a scorpion in my shoe, please make it go away’ but we did manage to usher her into the room and point at it. Thankfully it seems like this was not our lovely maid’s first Scorpion since she very calmly went and got her broom, whacked the scorpion with it, and then swept it out of the room. Rob and I then argued about who’s job it was to check the rest of the room for any little friends (I lost, since as Rob put it ‘I was the one who booked the scorpion hotel’) but fortunately I didn’t find anything. We are now keeping a towel pressed against the gap in our door, to stop anything else making it’s way inside…

Anyway, after that excitement it was time to go relax on the beach!

Playa Paraiso (Paradise Beach) is a famous beach just a short drive from our hotel. We were extremely excited to see the sea for the first time in a very long time, and it did not disappoint!


We started out with a quick lunch on the beach in one of the many beautiful restaurants:

After admiring one of the many beautiful totem poles!

I had some great shrimp tacos while Rob enjoyed the chicken fajitas (this was quite an expensive restaurant for Mexico, and our meal came to about $25/ 21 pounds for everything! – the food here is both delicious and very inexpensive), and once we were nicely full we headed off to walk along the beach.

The most famous Mayan ruins in Tulum are the ruins that overlook the beach, and after a short walk we were able to see them and we were very impressed:



Don’t worry, touring these ruins in full is definitely on our to do list!

As well as looking at the landscape we got to see some excellent birds, although I’ve failed my parents completely by not being able to name any of them… And so, once more, we play name these birds 🙂

Sanderlings, maybe?
Pelican thing

After our lovely walk we decided to relax for a bit, and staked out a palm tree to call our own:


Then, into the sea!


It was pretty windy at the start so the sea was extremely choppy, but it was nice and warm and we had a great time bobbing up and down on the waves 🙂

I’m going to finish the blog here since we’re now off to go explore the jungle, but we’ll be sure to keep you all posted on our time in Mexico so more soon!


Rob & Cat xx

Recording, Fashion and Ringo Star

Regular followers of this blog will have to forgive us for not posting in a while, Needless to say, we have been busy living the American dream and working hard so have not had much to report until now:


Being over here is really wonderful, however one big thing I have missed is music. Previous to coming across, I think I was constantly in at least one band / musical ensemble (and at one point 5) since about 2002.

To be fair, I have picked up new hobbies and haven’t really had the time go out and search for new bands here, but then over Christmas, I treated myself to a basic set of recording equipment (the Fousrite Scarlett 2i2 studio bundle)

Not only does this allow me to record drums here to finish albums I was working on with old bands back in the UK (With These Machines, Tritonic, Cloudfleet and PaPa RoRo), but it allows me to take part in a long standing feud / joke.

Back in about 2004, myself and the bandmates of my first band (Redfall) joked that one day we would all go and make out own solo albums. The joke part was that I could play the drums and could do a poor impression of guitars and vocals, so that I could make an album where I played everything, a bit like this guy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXMuWi0dUBc

Well… what started out as a joke is slowly coming to fruition. Already Pete (the bassist) has formed his own band (Tritonic) and recorded an album and Jonno (vocals / 747 impersonator) has started working on material for his own band (Bearzilla). Now is my turn, I have some ideas and a name (Garden of Hollies), which is a start…


Anyone that knows me will not I am not a fashionable man. I still have 10-year-old t-shirts and I tend to buy new clothes when my old ones get holes in them rather than whatever is ‘hip’ in vogue right now.

A great example of this is a fluorescent lime green long sleeved running top that was a finishers prize for completing my first half marathon about 4 years ago. It’s great if you want cars to avoid you when running in the dark, but has a drastic effect on normal eyes in broad daylight:

5 Rob points if you can name the film

Luckily, Cat didn’t sneakily throw it out as by pure chance I now have a matching lime green outfit made from: The top, an old skiing headband from when I was little, some new cycling gloves (Christmas present from David Peck) and some new running shoes to replace my old fluorescent orange ones.

Horsetooth half marathon training week 2: Hills with Kat at 8 am

I think you will agree it is quite a sight. I can definitely confirm that the – buy new running shoes after 6 months or 300 miles – saying is absolutely true (mine were about 3 years old), and that anyone who tells you not to hoard is clearly not playing the long game and you will win like the tortoise in the end!

Ringo Star

I know I have mentioned this before on the blog, but American English is really really different to UK English (never mind about Bristolian!). I have been having problems where American cannot understand me saying my name. I have tried saying it normally (Rob), saying it in an American accent (Rab), clear pronunciation (R.O.B) and have been called Rope, and most recently Will.

So, with help from my office friends at work, we have come up with a new name that Americans should understand, I can apparently pronounce like Americans say it, and it should be fairly well known.


It helps that the Beatles are so popular here, even now, and family and old friends will remember when I had the dreaded bowl hair cut. I actually tried it today, and sure enough:

Rob / Ringo

New Mexico Road Trip!

Yes friends, another Road Trip! I hope you’re not getting sick of them yet, we have many more planned to make sure that you’re not without interesting pictures anytime soon 🙂

But first, new camera!! Massive thanks to Barry and Margaret for getting us a new camera for Christmas ( ❤ ❤ ❤ ), and thanks also to Rob for letting me open it before Christmas for road trip purposes 🙂 We got this very flashy thing (pun intended):

I actually got the camera out to take a picture of the camera before realizing that I was an idiot…

It’s a Canon Powershot sx530 HS and I love it like a child. To compliment the camera we splashed out on a nice carrying bag so that we don’t break it, and insurance for when the bag inevitably turns out to not be enough to counteract my clumsiness.

So, our trusty Subaru was as excellent as ever, and we were ready to go! We had three days so went for a very managable 900 miles only:


We drove from Fort Collins to Taos and then took a day trip over to Santa Fe (via the High Road to Taos) before heading home via the Great Sand Dunes National Park. It was actually not too bad, the drive to and from Taos is about 5 1/2 hours and Santa Fe is about 1 1/2 from Taos. The rest was made up by the detour to the Sand Dunes, which was well worth the trip.

We started on Thursday (Thanksgiving!) and drove down into New Mexico for the first time!

I’m not sure why I look half the size of Rob in this picture…

Happily we got to Taos just in time for a fancy Thanksgiving dinner at Martyrs Steakhouse! We had not planned to go fancy and were dressed like two people who had spent the whole day in a car, but nowhere else was open so in we went.

‘No, we will not be needing the wine list’

The food was really excellent and the staff were lovely despite having to work Thanksgiving, plus we got to try some excellent beers:

My Session was a tasty wheat beer from Full Sail Brewery, and Rob had the excellent local Monks Ale. It’s hard to read, but the label at the top let us know that it was ‘made with care and prayer’, which was awesome. Even more awesome was the way that they somehow managed to make the top of the beer foam up like a little halo. What a time to be alive.

We filled our faces with steak until we could barely move and then went off to explore the town. Taos is quite small, and I’m not sure there is a single three story building in all of New Mexico. The style of the buildings blew my mind, they are so pretty:

60% of them have chilis outside, and about 90% are art galleries



After walking around in awe as the sun set we headed back to our hotel to get some well earnt sleep. We’re both working quite hard the moment so were very happy to have a few days off where we could sleep in and relax!

Saturday we headed over to Santa Fe via the High Road To Taos. The High Road to Taos is a scenic byway that runs through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains – it’s 56 miles long with very excellent views.



Needless to say it was pretty steep in places, with lots of fun twists and turns.

We also saw a Roadrunner, who lived up to his name by running out in front of the car and giving us a good reason to slam on the brakes. I did not manage to get a picture, but he looked a lot like this little guy:

Meep meep!

Once we got to Santa Fe we continued to be impressed with the gorgeous building style, and took many photos as we walked around:





We were excited to find that the massive number of art gallieries was complimented by a few of gourmet chocolate shops, which made me very happy!

I bored Rob by telling him all about how these are made 🙂

We decided we had to give one of the galleries ago, so had a walk around the Museum of Contempory Native Art!


They had a large retrospective exhibit by Rick Bartow, entitled “Things You Know but Cannot Explain”. It was pretty weird stuff, and definitely what you would expect from a guy who described art as ‘free therapy’, but I found it very interesting:




The museum also had permanent works by a range of artists, which were all non-stop awesome:






It was an excellent day.

To make things even better we stopped on the way back to visit a winery!



So good! We tried a whole range of things, and then bought a really lovely bottle of Red Wine called Zozobra, which is a blend of Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon ❤

As well as being delicious, Zozobra is themed around a local legend of the same name – every year in Santa Fe the effigy of Zozobra is stuffed with notes that people write their troubles and worries on, which is then burnt. We weren’t there at the right time, but the pictures look pretty darn awesome!

Slash slightly terrifying

It’s recommended that when you drink the wine you do so near a fire, so that you can write down your own worries and burn them. Santa Fe is seriously awesome you guys.

Finally, we stopped off at the Rio Grande Gorge, which was everything it promised it would be:


After our busy day we were pretty hungry, and we were lucky enough to fluke a big win for dinner! We went to a local Mexican Restaurant called Bella’s Mexican Grill, and it was most definitely in the top ten best meals that I’ve ever eaten:


Our waiter recommended that we have the Guacamole and chips to start, the Guac being freshly prepared by hand at your table for you. He then also suggested the Carne Asada and Chile en Nogada, both of which completely blew our minds. The Chile en Nogada was especially delicious, it was beef stuff peppers with the most delicious sauce that we will spend the rest of our lives trying to recreate.

I’m salivating a little just thinking about it, om nom nom.

Anyway, we got another good nights sleep and then headed home! On the way we had one final look around Taos Plaza:



After which we headed on to the Grand Sand Dunes, which Rob hadn’t seen before. This time we were followed around the whole time by a friendly crow who was either there as our spirit guide, or hoping that we would fall and die so that he could eat us:

“I actually just want you to take lots of pictures of me”

Not wanted to let Mr Crow down we did lots of running down hills again, which was extra chilly now that the temperature had dropped by 20oC! We got our toes out and powered through though, very good times!

Step One – Climb Sand Dunes
Step Two – Pose Dramatically
Step Three – Run!!!

Rob actually managed to look quite graceful while running down the sand, but couldn’t completely avoid doing the ‘I think I’m going to die’ face. That said I was still making a much more ridiculous face, combined with a little shock at how cold my toes were, so I stuck mostly to photography 😉

It was excellent!! The moral of the story is that New Mexico is totally kickass.

The End 🙂


Last month, I was lucky to go on a work trip to Dublin / IRE, to present a poster at the 2016 MicroTAS conference. My boss Chuck, and my work friends Kat (not to be confused with wife-Cat) and Jaruwan also came along to present posters, and they were especially excited, having never been to Europe before.

Kat is in the middle, Jaruwan the back right, and the conference centre is the background

Our boss Chuck does lots of traveling to conferences, which is awesome as he can get extra people in to the fancy United Airlines members lounge at airports. It’s surprising how much of a difference it makes having comfy chairs, free wifi, free drinks and free food when waiting for a flight. Our original flight ended up being cancelled due to a hurricane down in Florida at the time, but Chuck managed to get us on the next flight AND get us upgraded seating (more legroom) which was very kind.

However, this is where it all went wrong…

For some reason, 50% of my flights for work conferences involve sitting by enormous people. I don’t know why, and the stereotypes of ALL Americans being obese are very untrue, but this is a genuine problem for me now. I think these two pictures below sum up how much space I had and my expression for the 8 hour flight that I couldn’t sleep on, as the person next to me was about 4 inches over our shared arm rest:

We arrived early on the Saturday morning and as the conference didn’t start till the Sunday night, I got to spend some time with Mum and Dad who flew over to see me. Unfortunately, they didn’t get my message about the flight being delayed, so they waited at the airport from a stupidly early hour of the morning before I actually arrived, but they were still happy to see me.

We did lots of exploring, and saw castles and parks, though the highlight was probably having an Italian dinner with them, my work friends and a Professor (Barry Lutz) from Washington DC. Barry, Barry and Margaret spent the whole evening learning about each other’s countries (such questions as why don’t you swim in Washington DC? Because the sea is too cold). I think Professor Barry was impressed that English Barry new about American football, and English Barry was impressed that professors are very easy to talk to and have good social skills.

After a few final coffee / pub breaks, they went on back to England and I went to the conference.

The conference itself was awesome. I saw some great talks, (particularly Sam Lunte (University of Kansas, USA) and Christine Klapperich (University of Boston, USA)) and successfully presented and defended my poster.

Posters edited for copyright reasons

I also got to do some outreach with local school kids from around Dublin. My experiment, was a simplified version of the pregancy test, where the student put samples (water or lemon juice) on a paper test strip and if the sample turned orange (lemon juice pH reaction), they were ‘pregnant‘.

Even slightly grumpy Irish teenagers think it’s fun to play with crayons, paper and lemon juice to make paper-based microfluidic devices

The first group of students were all 15 year old boys and all accidently put lemon juice on their test strips, and looked quite scared / unimpressed when I informed them they were all pregnant. I wish you could see the looks on their faces, it was very funny.

We did lots of socialising with different students and professors from around the world in the evenings after the conference. My two highlights are probably taking some Americans and South Africans out for a proper English curry, and getting kicked out of the famous Temple bar at approx. 2 am due to them closing early, whilst we wanted to carry on drinking whiskey and chatting, followed by post-drinking ice-creams and biscuits.

We also met up with David, a previous student of Chuck’s at the conference, and did some great sightseeing, including a whiskey tour,

… a visit to an Irish pub, run by a man from Bristol that served Fort Collins beer,

… a visit to a nice old cathedral,

… and dinner by the canal at sunset

All in all, a cracking conference / holiday.


Awesome US Road Trip! – Part 3

The adventure continues!

After Flagstaff we headed North again back towards Colorado, but on the way we stopped in to see a little of the Grand Canyon! Specifically Horseshoe Bend, a little meander in the Colorado river which is non-stop beautiful:


And of course, big! You can just see the teeny white boats down below, it was so pretty. It was also totally undisturbed, and of course safety rails are for children! Just kidding, they don’t get rails either. Happily there wasn’t any wind, so we didn’t have to watch anyone get blown down to their death.

Not for lack of trying by white t-shirt guy!

So yes, super beautiful!


Next step – Antelope Canyon! Antelope Canyon is an extremely picturesque, narrow canyon near Horseshoe Bend which we absolutely had to go visit. We’d seen lots of pictures and we had our cameras, so we booked into a Navajo led photography tour and off we went!

Lets goooooo!

The tour guide gave us a lot of advice for how to set up our cameras which we didn’t really understand, but happily he took my camera off me after a while and altered the setting himself. Pictures ensued!




Between us we took about 500 pictures of this canyon, and rest assured that I will show you all of them given even the slighest chance 😉

After Antelope Canyon our tour of amazing rocks continued with Monument Valley which is just by the Utah boarder! We got there just as the sun was setting so the light wasn’t amazing, but it was still so great. It’s an extremely flat area with these massive rock features that are just stunning:


And now a daytime picture that I googled 😉

❤ ❤ ❤

We stopped, we photographed, we stood in awe and then on to Cortez! More beautiful driving, and we were at our stop for the night. The reward for all the driving was some amazing Mexican food in a fun crazy restaurant, so very tasty:

Although that deer head haunts my nightmares

Next day, on to the Great Sand Dunes National Park! This is exactly what it sounds like, some very big sand dunes somewhere where it makes absolutely no sense for sand dunes to be.

The foreground is sand dunes, the background is mountains. At the very front, large trees for scale!

As with all things you can just run all over it, so off we went! It was very nice walking barefoot across the sand, although very tiring to climb:


“Just head up”
And so we did!

I’m not sure why, but there was something about being around so much sand that made us excited like little children. It was really great fun trying to run up the sand dunes, and then having to sit down and drink water when we were out of breath. All interspersed with pictures of our happy little faces of course!


So much fun. But of course the best part came on the way down! I would say it took us about an hour and a half to climb up, and 20 minutes to get back down. The sand is super loosely packed so you can run down without falling over, and you kind of sink in with every step! I will preface the next picture by saying that it is impossible to run downhill on sand, have fun and also maintain a graceful disposition:

Also stopping is basically impossible unless you intentionally crash into your poor friend and camera woman…

So fun, don’t care 😀 😀 The best part was that a lot of the sand was loose enough that it even made noise when you stepped on it, so the sand would hum as you ran through it. It was enough to make you feel pretty epic, I must say 🙂

After lots of extremely tiring running around and we were both pretty sandy and it was getting dark, so we headed on to our next hotel in Alamosa! I was very excited about this hotel, which was in direct violation of Sarah’s rule that we shouldn’t stay anywhere where we were likely to be murdered. It was a murder cabin if ever I saw one, and it was amazing:

This was the aptly named ‘White Tailed Deer Room’

It was also not far from a great Brewery that Sarah found, so after a quick deer themed shower…

Seriously, where do you even find stuff like this?

…we were off to the San Luis Brewery!

This brewery both had truly amazing beer and food, and as a bonus it was showing the Broncos game so we were both very happy campers. We ate lots of food and I explained American Football to Sarah, the Broncos absolutely stomped the Texans, and we even found room for dessert:

Hello friend ❤

It was a great time!

The next day we continued to cover ground by heading North some more, back towards Fort Collins! I wanted to stop for breakfast at the extremely creepy looking ‘Chill & Grill’…

How could this not be amazing

… but Sarah wouldn’t let me throw us into the jaws of death twice in 24 hours, so instead we had some truly delicious coffee from a local coffee shop:

Clever shop name = good coffee, every single time

Full of caffine we hit the road, off towards the wonderful Garden of the Gods!

We’ve mentioned Garden of the Gods before since it’s one of the places we visited when Barry & Margaret were here, but it definitely warranted a second visit:


We walked around a little, and then straight back in the car as we headed for Denver! Denver is about an hour and a half south of Fort Collins, so broke up the journey home nicely. Plus it’s a really beautiful city, so it was great to be able to walk around and look at it a little more 🙂 Highlights of Denver include…

Awesome interactive art pieces!
Beautiful architecture
Non-interactive art that is poorly guarded!
The wonderful 16th St Mall
And it even looks good after sunset 🙂

So yeah, we wondered around Denver for a few hours and saw the sights before heading back to Rob and to Fort Collins!

We were sad to finish our holiday, but it was nice to be back home after a very tiring adventure! And of course, there will be more adventures soon!!

Can’t wait 🙂






Awesome US Road Trip! – Part 2

Hello again! I hope you’re ready for more exciting pictures of the US – I have so, so many to show you 🙂

So, on with the adventure! We’d just finished Vegas and were heading off to our next stop, which was Flagstaff. I’ve always wanted to visit Arizona so was extremely excited, and it did not disappoint!

We left Vegas in the morning and drove over the day which meant that we got some pretty amazing views of the Grand Canyon and other scenery as we drove!


There were much better views that this, but we were too busy gawking to get the great shots. It sounds kind of stupid to say but the Grand Canyon is really, really big. It blew my mind a little.

From Flagstaff we travelled south on a few day trips to visit famous small towns in the area – first stop, Jerome!

Jerome is an old cowboy town that became a ghost town when the gold and copper deposits dwindled around the 1940s, causing the population to drop from over 15,000 to the 450 people or so that live there today:


It’s at a similar altitude to Fort Collins (~5000ft) but feels much higher since it’s basically on the edge of a hill. Sarah chose to avert her eyes for much of the driving, which was the usual road-next-to-an-unfenced-cliff scenario…

I confess that I did also want to go since it’s where the lead singer from Tool lives, but don’t panic! This is not your usual stalker/ murder scenario, the attraction was actually that the town and the area has inspired a lot of his music, and he also runs a store and vineyard right there in this tiny city in the middle of nowhere 🙂 There store was pretty weird, but I loved it. All the clothes were modelled by zombie mannekins that would attack you if you got too close, plus there was an in-store barber if you felt like getting a shave!

Checking the prices of things was a real struggle

The wine tasting store was also amazing, very cute. I sadly couldn’t drink since I was our designated driver, but I had a great fun taking pictures, asking questions and living vicariously through Sarah 🙂

So happy ❤

After Jerome we moved on to Sedona, which is famous for its beautiful location and red rock surroundings. Again we were treated to another stunning drive!

You can see part of the town ahead, it really was tiny

We decided to go for another hike after the indulgence of Vegas, so we hiked up a red rock structure called Cathedral Rock:

Technically more of a climb than a hike…


Off we go!
It was stunning all the way up, of course 🙂

Then you climb over the top, and see this!

❤ ❤ ❤

Much water was drunk, and we took many, many pictures 🙂 We also took quite a few pictures on the drive back to Flagstaff as the sun was setting, I now definitely understand what photographers mean when they talk about getting the best light at sunset!




I’m running out of synonyms for ‘pretty’, but it was all just so very pretty! I will look up some more adjectives for next time 😀

Part 3 coming soon! xx

Awesome US Road Trip! – Part 1

Hi All,

Sorry for the long delay since posts, I’ve been travelling and it’s been fabulous so brace yourself for lots of pictures!

For the last two weeks Sarah and I have been doing a road trip around the Southwestern US, something that I’ve been really wanting to do ever since we got here. There are lots of national parks in the US, and the few we’ve seen so far were stunning so we were excited to check off more!

We went hardcore on route planning, because sleep is for the weak:

A casual 2,043 miles plus local travel, woop woop!

The first stop was Moab, somewhere we have been a few times before but is so beautiful we couldn’t resist stopping by again. It’s home to the Arches national park, which is just stunning. We managed to get there just as the sun was setting, and it was so very gorgeous!




We walked around a little and watched the sun set, before heading to our hotel and the local brewery for the night!

The next morning we got up to do some daytime hiking along Devil’s Garden, which has several beautiful arches that I haven’t seen before. It was a very long hike in very hot sun, made longer and hoter by us getting slightly lost on the primitive trail…

Oh past Cat, you fool…

Still, very beautiful!

The Delicate Arch!
Beautiful Views!
Big Ol’ Rocks!

It was really stunning, it’s very hard to capture the scale in the pictures. Also as always in the US personal safety is very much your own responsibility, so there was lots of standing near steep cliffs and scrambling over loose rocks, great stuff!

Once we eventually found our way back to the car and rehydrated vigorously we went on to Bryce Canyon, the next stop on our road trip. We had booked a very cute looking Wooden Cabin that totally lived up to expectations, and we were very relieved when we got to go to sleep after our long day 🙂

Gorgeous AND only two minute from a coffee shop. Good work, cabin ❤

Awake and full of coffee we headed off to our second long day of hiking, at Bryce Canyon National Park! This is probably the park I was most excited to see, since our friends who are living in Utah said it is their absolute favorite place in the US. It absolutey did not disappoint!



And that was just the view from the car park! We went on a long hike that took us down through the rock spikes, which are called Hoodoos. There were lots of up and downs, but we had lots of water and clear signage this time so we had a great hike! So, so many beautiful views:


Go visit Bryce Canyon, is what I’m saying. It was honestly just breathtaking the whole time, and we only got to do one of several hikes.

But we did the hardcore one again, yay us!

After these two whole days of healthy hiking we had arranged to switch gears, so it was time for our two day stop-over in Las Vegas! We had to cross two state lines to get there, so got to do lots of fun posing by signs 🙂


I was actually really impressed with Las Vegas – we mostly included it as something that everyone should see once and a chance to do something different mid-trip, but it wasn’t as tacky as I was expecting. We stayed at the Excalibur which was really nice, as well as being on the main strip:

As always it’s hard to get scale, but you can kind of see the tiny room windows on the side buildings!

We arrived quite late so basically just had dinner and went to sleep on the first night, so we were ready nice and early the next day for some more walking, this time up and down the strip!

We remembered to bring lots of fluids again, mostly in the form of Starbucks 🙂

It was really lovely walking along and looking in all the hotels, they were so varied and just stunning. My definite favorite was the Venetian, which was amazing. The interior was decorated like the streets of Venice at sunset so every store has an exterior design and the ceiling is painted to look like the sky, and the whole place is softly lit.

There was also a canal complete with gondolas, because Vegas

It was awesome. Although close runners up are the Bellagio, which was full of live flowers and a terrifying giant squirrel:

Squirrel not pictured, for your own safety

The Luxor, which is just ridiculous. The Sphinx is on the front, and the main building is a giant black pyramid that shoots a powerful beam of light into the sky.

Blame my camera for refusing to focus properly
Plus Caesars Palace!!
And of course the Flamingo, which delivered everything the name promised

We even made some exciting friends along the way!

Was I supposed to pose?

As well as checking out the many amazing sights, we also tried our hand at one of the top things to do in Vegas – shooting big guns! We booked a visit to the not-reassuringly named Battlefield Vegas to do some heavily supervised firing of guns, which was excellent fun despite the alarming decor:

Oh… Hi there…

We fired big guns and little guns surprisingly well, and then had a great time playing around with the extremely big guns that for some reason they choose not to keep loaded:

It was a ridiculous place, I guess is my point.

Anyway, much fun was had and we spent the final night enjoying cocktails in the Mandalay Bay bar that overlooks the strip. Amazing views and $16 cocktails, woo!


I’ll give you some time to absorb the madness above, and will do my best to get Part Two out as soon as I can!!

Much love!

Tigers in the flat – part 2

Adjusting from no animals to Crazy Cat ladies takes very little time. So even though we only had Chewie and Grant with us for 5 days, they got very settled and decided to thank us for our care by helping us with our daily routines:

Firstly, it’s important to wake up when your alarm goes off, so once one of us is up, Chewie and Grant helped wake us up by pulling the covers off.

It’s also important after a morning run to warm down and rest your legs. Put them up on a sofa for the length of time it takes a kitten to settle, nap and escape.

Being productive is important and luckily Cat had some good feedback and revisions on her wedding planning business website (http://www.makeityours.wedding/). It’s a good thing kitten paws are the same size as keyboard keys!

Being in Colorado, it’s important for kittens to show their support of the Broncos. Apparently, selective napping is the way to show support.

When waiting for Cat to get home, it’s important to guard the flat from any intruders, so nap at a high vantage point for good scouting veiws.

Finally, if you find Cat on the sofa after work, you should sleep on her for 3 hours until Rob gets home with dinner, then look grumpy and snoozly when he gets home to show your dissapointment at his lateness.

Rob x


For some strange reason, the British accent suggests trustworthiness and intelligence to Americans. So rather than the usual reaction to the Brissle accent,

“Alright my darlin’, fetch us a Thatchers will ye?” – Jamie MacDonald

my sounds are translated to,

Sean Connery as James Bond
“Martini, shaken not stirred”

Anyway, long story short our friends Jaclyn and Willie have let us look after their two 10 week old kittens for 4 days, whilst they celebrate their grandparents 60th wedding anniversary. Meet Grant and Chewie:

Whilst they were a bit shy at first, especially looking around for Jaclyn and Willie after they dropped them off (as, where are they hiding?), they have now taken to us.

And here I am tickling the belly of a snoozly ‘the-kitten-currently-known-as-Grant’:

In fact, when I went to pick something up from the floor just before bedtime the first night, Grant leapt up on my lap for a nap / to give me squatting practice.

I have a Cat top, soley for greeting Cats

Part 2 coming soon

Rob, Cat, Chewie & Grant x


On Saturday, I managed to tick another item of our US to do list, namely see an American Football game and tailgate.

My university team the CSU Rams (Colorado State University) played against the Northern Colorado bears, who are a slightly weaker team in the same league. But as good as the game was (I will come to that), the pre-game was even better.

Before the football game, lots of people tailgate, whereby they park up outside the stadium early and setup a grill on the back of a pickup tailgate (hence the name), drink some beer, play some music and play pretend quarterback (I now know how to throw a football properly). Basically, it’s an informal hype up party and is somewhat of an American tradition.

This was a special game for three reasons:

  1. It was celebrating Ag day, when the team and fans all wear orange to celebrate the school’s original colors of pumpkin and alfalfa. So the stadium was awash with orange.
  1. The current stadium is on outskirts of Fort Collins (between the town and the reservoir / foothills) in a beautiful location, but the facilities are quite basic. Over the coming months the team will moving to their new 36,000 capacity stadium right next to the Chemistry Department on main campus (260 meters / 0.2 miles away):

Hopefully this won’t disrupt campus too much and won’t mess up our experiments. Here is an artists representation of the new one:

  1. The Rams had a starting quarterback who is a freshman (1st year undergraduate) who had a great game (QB Collin Hill was 21-of-27 for 315 yards and four touchdown passes – to four different receivers – plus a 51-yard touchdown run!)

    15 (Collin hill) is practicing his squats, whilst 59 just wants to hug and be friends

It really is quite some experience seeing a live match. Even though this was just a university match, 27,000 people turned up. This is about the same average home turn out for Southampton or Crystal Palace in the English Premiership. We ended up sat right behind the CSU marching band who had different songs for every different event (e.g. one for 1st down, one for 3rd down, one for time outs etc.).

The touchdown song was really quite something up close behind the Euphoniums, especially when accompanied by an artillery cannon and cam the ram (our team mascot) doing a lap of the pitch.

Colorado State v Colorado
(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The final excellent bit of trivia is that how popular football in the US is and how the system works. The students get great scholarships and get their tuition free, but do not get paid. The coach however earns more than the head of the University, such is the love of sports here. And his name is coach bobo!

“Hey, you’re running the wrong way”

All that remains is to thank Mike for taking me, and for those who want to see a very funny, quite biased, British comedians view on student athletes and coaches; I recommend John Oliver’s show ‘last week tonight’ on HBO.