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December 8, 2012

One Year Back in the UK

Exactly one year ago today we landed back in the UK after more than three years overseas. We spent just over two years in Chicago and 8 months in Australia and feel very lucky to have been able to experience two new countries.

I remember sitting in the lounge at Melbourne Airport on the phone to Telstra, trying to release us from our 24-month contract. It was the last loose end that required tying before we left Australia.

We arrived back in the UK on Thursday 8th December 2011 at 1.30pm to be greeted by a very happy set of grandparents-to-be (and auntie & uncles-to-be). Our daughter was due in early March so we only had around three months to get ourselves settled & our home prepared. I spent most of December and January redecorating our flat with my dad whilst Sap gradually acquired the many, many things we needed for our impending addition to the family. We finally moved into our home in mid-January and awaited our new arrival.

Mia arrived a week early and changed our lives. Since then, it’s been a whirlwind of new experiences & emotions. It’s clich├ęd but true — your children grow up so quickly. Time passes in an accelerated fashion and you only realise significant chunks have passed when you look back.

April 7, 2011

Pepper’s gone…

Filed under: Pepper,The American Adventure,The Australian Adventure — admin @ 6:27 pm

Pepper left us this morning to begin her three month board at Miaow Chicago. It was a bit sad watching her go and packing her stuff up but we’re excited about the beginning of a new adventure.

We’ve packed her bed, carrier and a few of her favourite toys off to Mamma & Papa Walsh in the UK, so she’ll have some familiar things when she finally gets to her new home.

In anticipation of today being a bit of a tough day, we took about 500 photos of Pepper over the past few days. Needless to say, in each one she’s looking suitably unimpressed.

That’s my girl.

September 30, 2010

This is what I did last night

Filed under: The American Adventure — admin @ 6:46 am

Ricky Gervais Live at the Chicago Theatre

Ricky was hilarious. None of it repeatable in decent company, of course. But that’s what’s funny about it.

July 9, 2010

A wonderful trip to San Francisco

Filed under: The American Adventure — admin @ 5:14 pm

The Golden Gate bridgeSap & I spent a long weekend in San Francisco. It’s somewhere we’ve both wanted to visit for ages and we finally got our chance over the Independence Day weekend.

We were there four days but left thinking we needed more time — we just didn’t get to do everything we wanted. What we did manage to do though was awesome — Alcatraz tour, awesome food, fantastic wine, beautiful city scenery, crazy hills (we got a good workout walking around!), a balloon tour over Napa and an awesome wine tour.

Lots of lovely photos of the trip are over on Flickr. We hope to go back soon.

March 13, 2010

Another year, another St Patrick’s day celebration

Filed under: The American Adventure — admin @ 6:08 pm

Ben & I looking rather dashing in our green t-shirtsFollowing our inaugural Chicago St Patrick’s day celebration last year, we all felt like celebrating again in 2010 in much the same fashion. This time, however, we made sure we got into a bona-fide Irish bar (Emmit’s) by lining up outside at 8am.

We got a table and that was us for the day. Bill & Tracy came down again, Kate & Paul stopped by and Adam was in town (although he left early as he drank too much. Silly oaf.).

Another top St Patrick’s celebration. See the debauchery over on Flickr.

December 30, 2009

2009 roundup

Filed under: The American Adventure — admin @ 10:17 am

We had a pretty manic end to the year this year. Work for me was pretty hectic but we had an awesome holiday in Mexico just before Christmas. We arrived back to a very chatty cat and a kitchen full of festive food & drink. Now we find ourselves nearing the end of 2009 and so much seems to have happened!

Celebrating One Year in Chicago

November 15th marked our first full year living in Chicago. It’s gone so fast! I had hoped to post something on the 15th for posterity but it just slipped away with everything else we had going on. Seems so long ago since we arrived at O’Hare to be picked up by Ben & Mandy and wander around Chicago awestruck by it all.

Then we had our first snowfall (I still remember being so excited at seeing that much snow. Remember — in the UK snowfall is pretty pathetic!) and Sap, Mandy & I made snow angels (after a few ‘warming’ drinks, of course) as Ben looked on calling us mad…

Thanksgiving 2009

We had ‘our’ first Thanksgiving this year — we spent Thanksgiving 2008 with the wonderful McKee family (and Ben!) — and thoroughly enjoyed it. We cooked good food and drank great drinks. We ordered an apple pie from The Chopping Block — it was amazingly good. Definitely something we will order again next year. Alas they only make them for Thanksgiving and no other holiday.

Celebrating Two Years of Marriage

Sap and I celebrated two years of marriage on the 22nd December. Again, it seems to have gone so fast! We had a fairly miserable first anniversary in 2008 — we went out walking for the day in freezing temperatures so that, by the time we got home, we were too tired & cold to go out for dinner. So we ordered a takeout which turned out to be fairly horrid. We vowed to have a better anniversary this year so we planned a holiday to Mexico. Needless to say it was better in every way!

Our hotel was amazing and we treated ourselves to a relaxing massage whilst we were there. We came back to a soggy Chicago well rested and looking forward to our second Christmas in Chicago.

Christmas 2009

We arrived back from Mexico on Christmas Eve to a very, very chatty cat. As we opened the door she miaowed as if to say “THERE you are! I’ve been looking for you everwhere!” Bless her. She was very happy to see us (as we were really happy to see her — strange how much you miss a ball of fur that constantly wakes you up at 6am!).

We had done all our Christmas shopping for food, presents, drink etc. before we left so there was nothing we had to do — it was bliss! Great planning & organisation by Sap. It’s her thing. So we woke (early) on Christmas morning to let Peppy open her presents first. She got a tunnel (which she LOVES) and a new bed (which she turns her nose up at) as well as some foody things from her relatives across the Atlantic. She was more interested in the wrapping paper than what was in it though.

We Skyped family and then settled down to enjoy a nice warm, cosy, quiet Christmas. It was wonderful. We had two days of lazing around the apartment, eating & drinking all the goodies we had bought.

New Year 2009

We’re off to the Blackrock pub tomorrow night to celebrate 2010 heading our way. It’s the same place we went to last year with Nick, Paul & Nige (can’t believe that was a year ago either!) so we’re really looking forward to it as it was a fantastic evening.

Then we have a few more days off before we head back to work on the 4th. But let’s not think about that yet!

October 6, 2009

Birthday Shenanegans

Filed under: The American Adventure — admin @ 7:59 am

Paul & I celebrating our birthdaysWe went out at the weekend for mine & Paul’s birthday (we’re only a week apart). We started at Finn McCool’s (such a great name for a bar) and moved onto another place (who’s name I cannot remember) and then finished at a sushi bar. Yeah, a sushi bar. We only went in for drinks as there was nowhere else open!

Make with the click & photo viewage.

Our first baseball game

Filed under: The American Adventure — admin @ 7:57 am

Our first baseball game!Sap won tickets to a Cubs game at work (nice one!) for last Thursday. Hard to believe that despite being here for nearly a year we’ve yet to see a Cubs game!

Unfortunately the game was rained off but we did get to see about 30 minutes of baseball.

See lots of photos of rain on Flickr.

Visiting Indianapolis

Filed under: The American Adventure — admin @ 7:53 am

The famous Brickyard start/finish line Sap and I visited Nayan Bhai and Hemali Bhabi in Indianapolis the other week. We had a great weekend starting with the journey down there on the Megabus. We managed to get seats at the front on the upper deck. Yes, I was like a child!

The highlight of the weekend for me was visiting the Indianapolis Speedway. The place is just massive! We took a bus trip around the track (yes, you can get on a bus and get driven around the track) and stopped at various points, including the famous bricks on the start/finish straight.

The museum at the track houses a fantastic array of cars and motorcycles from all types of racing — there’s even a Benetton F1 car there from 1991.

September 6, 2009

Nick’s visit to Chicago

Filed under: The American Adventure — admin @ 10:39 am

Pepper investigating Nick's suitcaseNick just left Chicago after a week long visit. We had an absolutely fantastic time — I took some time off work, much needed — and really enjoyed having fun in the summertime. Nick had never seen Chicago without mounds of snow everywhere! We crammed a lot into a week and even then there were things we didn’t get to do. Sounds like the ideal excuse for another visit Nick!

The highlight of his visit, I’m sure, was meeting Pepper. From the moment Nick arrived with his suitcases, she was investigating…

Of course, she got lots of cuddles whether she wanted them or not! When Pepper wants to get down she gently taps you on the cheek. If that doesn’t work, she’ll miaow at you. If that doesn’t work she’ll wriggle free of you!

We went to the Bull & Bear, where the beer taps sit on the table. This means you can pour your own beer…with varying results!
I think the highlight of the trip for all of us was the Segway tour we did at the weekend. It was so much fun — the Segways are so easy to control and are a great way to see the city. We had a fantastic day for it and three hours just wasn’t enough time!

The view from one of the glass blocks in the Sears TowerNick & I also visited the Sears Tower (sorry, ‘Willis Tower’ may be correct but it doesn’t sound right!) They recently installed four glass cubes on the 103rd floor. The worst part was the wait beforehand but once we got up there it wasn’t so bad. Everybody seemed to be taking photos of themselves lying down on the floor of the cubes…so, when in Rome.

We did the usual tour of the sights — we went up the Sears on Nick’s last visit but I don’t think the visibility was as good. One day Sap & Nick went to the cat sanctuary where they fell in love with some kittens. Don’t worry — Pepper is still our only cat! But one of the kittens they saw could have been Pepper as a kitten.

We took Nick to Bin 36 on his last night for some wine & cheese. He and I had the 13 cheese flight — “13 cheese you cannot live without” apparently — and had a wine flight and some port. It was a lovely civilised evening and rounded off a top time.

Come back soon Nick! Bring your onion bhaji with you. More photos of the visit are up at Flickr.

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