Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas in Taunton

After a packed few days in London Chris and I headed down to the West Country to my parents for the 'Mills/Coles family Christmas'. More mayhem Mum was hosting 11 of us plus 4 more for 'Christmas Dinner' itslef on the 28th. On the 27th (our 'Xmas Eve') all 11 went up to Bristol to see Mamma Mia at the Hippodrome - absolutely great stuff. We ALL got up and danced away during the encore!

The downside to the 2 Christmases-thing is the FOOD - the overwhelming and un-ending quanitity of it. Thankfully Chris and I have kept up the walking, and at the end of the year I'm pleased to say we managed 530 miles - the aim for 2008 is 1000 miles!!
Trouble - with a capital 'G'!!
The Chefs!
The 'Girl' Cousins!
The Men!
The most riduclous number of presents I've ever seen!! (I'm not complaining - my fair share were buried somewhere in this lot!!)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Boxing Day!

All of us outside the Natural History Museum on Boxing Day. The plan was supposed to be ice-skating but a power cut put paid to that. Instead we indulged in the most indulgent hot chocolate I have ever tasted - you have GOT to try this. Gu - OMG. It's amazing - not just chocolatey but sort of choc-brownie rich - yuuuuuummmmmy!

Christmas in London

Merry Christmas everyone! Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. We spent 5 days with Chris's family in London. The whole of the UK puts on an incredibly disappointing show of Xmas decorations and lights (bah-humbugs!) Here are a couple of cheerful, festive displays we saw - Covent Garden (where we spent an evening wandering around, watching the buskers and sipping mulled wine whilst grabbing a few last minute presents!), and also Carnaby Street. Christmas means great food and LOTS of it! I love it! These mini chilli peppers stuffed with cream cheese & mint went down a treat...and chicken satay - and that was just the nibbles whilst we worked up an appetite for the main event! (like there's ever room for Xmas dinner?!) I get the feeling here that Call was guarding the dinner - just gorgeous decorations at Helen's house - I think we counted over 40 cream candles burning each evening - just beautiful!
And these are the crazy Chrismas Day swimmers at the Serpentine in Hyde Park. Each Xmas Day morning at 9am they swim the 100 yard dash in the freezing waters. There were probably about 50 of them. It was pretty fresh - the brave souls - the weather was lousy - the only miserable, wet day we had over the Christmas period but we managed a wee walk around the park for a bit before the inevitable mayhem started!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Who said the UK doesn’t have mountains?...Oh – that’ll be me then!! Wales' best offering is Snowdon at 3560ft. Not quite in the same league as the 14ers of Colorado or the +10Ks of California that we were hiking earlier this year, but… All things are relative I suppose.

An early Monday morning in December and the carpark was surprisingly busy – but of course you still have to pay and display! – typical UK. Completely unfriendly and unapproachable park wardens too who basically gave us the impression that if we had to ask about conditions and recommendations then we shouldn’t be doing it! A somewhat different outlook to the US where we feel that it’s the irresponsible ones that don’t ask!

Anyway. We hiked up the Miners track to the peak and returned via the Pyg track. A total of 8 miles and an elevation gain of 2500ft. Most of the trail was quite maintained and built up with stones – almost like paving and it was so wet, and in places mini waterfalls had developed, pouring down them. But actually it was so icy so we were skating around a bit and scrambling around the mountain-side trying to avoid the ice which slowed the progress somewhat! At the peak it was amazingly windy – we were clinging hold of the trig point for fear of getting blown off!! All in all we were so lucky with the weather – most of the hike we had views of the peak with some crazy clouds whizzing by every so often. Great views from the top right down to the coast in one direction, and in the other clouds way below us really giving us the feel of being on top of the world! It was very cold, especially when we stopped for more than a moment so retreated to the nearest tea rooms for warm soup and hot chocolate! (The mulled wine came later!!!)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Netherlands

Had a quick escape to the Netherlands this last week. What a great time!! We stayed in Amsterdam with our friends Leo and Annette (these are the crazy Dutch couple we met in Baja California last year who'd cycled from Alaska!! - mentioned on the blog entries back in November/December 2006) - Thank you SO MUCH guys - you are just the most amazing hosts!

Had a wonderful time just strolling the city. Must admit had some TERRIBLE weather - we got so completely soaked through a couple of times but of course there's plenty of cafes and bars to retreat to and warm through with a nice glass of hot chocolate. Our contribution to culture was a visit to the Anne Frank House which was great in a sombering kind of way - can't believe she was only 15 when she died. They hid in the house on the side of the canal for just under 2 years before someone grassed them up. Anne herself died in a concentration camp just one week before it was liberated by the British Army.

Leo & Annette did introduce us to Indonesian food. Can't believe I haven't had this before. NEED to have it again soon! Rijsttafel is an indonesian buffet which we all ordered. I counted 15 mini dishes laid out on our table and I'm sure I didn't get to sample them all (if only the American culture of 'doggy bags' was somewhat more accepted here!!)

And in no particular order here are some of my favourite photos of this lovely, colourful city;