Sunday, March 30, 2014

I used to HATE Texas

Don't Judge.

Hear me out!

And get a drink, this is long winded! (Most Texans are ;)

I was born in Austin, Texas but never lived here. My father was in the Air Force and stationed at Bergstrom AFB (Now an International Airport), so we moved when I was teeny. We lived in Mississippi for a time before flying to the tropical Island of Guam, we lived there for 5 years and then off to Maine we went, I spent 7 years on the Canadian border, often visiting the amazing country of Canada and living in a very small Northern town in a farming community, our back yard literally had a stone marker with "Canada" on one side and "The United States" on the other. I then married at a very young age to a Military man and we headed to England for 4 years... then South Carolina... Then Michigan... My point in sharing this? You see, I was used to seeing parts of the world that were beyond compare, when you have been to the North-East of the United States in Autumn, there is NOTHING that compares to that... Bright trees filled with leaves of orange, yellow and maroon... When you have stood on sandy beaches with the sea many shades of crystal aqua, blue and turqouise... When you have driven the countryside of Scotland and England and seen rich green and ancient ruins... Well. WELL... Coming to Texas and hearing a Texan say "This is the most beautiful place in the World"... UM. Nope. Not gonna cut it!

When we moved here I didn't think too much of the heat, I was used to heat.
But I just thought, well... I thought it was ugly. I mean seriously, everywhere I drove I saw a cactus plant of some sort or another, the grass was prickly and you can't walk on it barefoot, the grass dies in the blazing summer heat and turns brown, there are water bans in the summer, there are fire ants everywhere... Don't get me started on the scorpion infestation we had in our home (I once had one in my hair!)... We moved out of this State and to Michigan. We didn't miss Texas. I missed my family... Yes. Not Texas.

But jobs in Michigan? Not so great. Jobs in Texas? BOOMING!
Guess where we had to move back?
Jobs everywhere in Texas.

I am not a pessimistic person. Not one bit, but I had a hard time wrapping my head around Texas.
This huge and massive never ending State... It takes at least 10 hours to drive across it (going fast) from the Mexican border to the top... Side to Side? Much longer. It's... HUGE.

I still, sat around and wondered what it was that everyone was taking such great pride in.

Then It hit me.
I realized.
One day... I just knew.

It wasn't the State, it was the attitude of the people. It was the Texas pride... Texans completely envelop themselves in their culture and their history.

I started to pay attention, and it took a long time, I have to say... at least 4 years... At LEAST!

I've lived in San Antonio... which is pretty awesome I must say, but I live in Austin now, and having lived here and visited many cities in Texas, I would say that Austin, is by far... The best city in Texas.

I want to share with you, why I now LOVE Texas...

Our Spring season are but a blink of the eye, in fact... Texas Spring time is hot, our summers are like being on the surface of the sun, but our Spring? The short spring we have, is clearly gorgeous... All over this great State, you will see our State flower, the "Bluebonnet" growing up and down nearly every road and highway.

Yes... They really are this beautiful.
The bluebonnets aren't the only flower you will see, at the State of Texas Government Official Website, they list where you can go in Texas to see different colors and types of wild flowers
These are my second favorite... The orange/red "Indian Paint Brushes".. so beautiful when seen with the Bluebonnet.
Those top two photos are courtesy of google photos, but I took this one last weekend
Austin is a reason to LOVE Texas!
I took this picture just yesterday, our skies are this blue most of the year!

Cowboy Boots
A great reason to want to be in Texas!
Everyone wears them... To school, to work, walking down the street...
(I'm getting this pair for my birthday in a month)
Sold at Cavender's
So many gorgeous ones, you have to own more than one pair!
These boots can be found at "Allen Boots" in Austin, Texas

More reasons to love Texas?
Because this is not completely uncommon to see...
Neither is a cowboy singing on a horse IN a Western store!

The people!
Texans are just awesome
And I'm not just saying this because this lady was giving away free wine at Allen Boots!

Texas ...
Because if you look like this...
No one bats an eye!
(I would not be caught dead like this in London!)

In Austin, we have water fountains for our dogs!

Because no matter where you go in Austin, you will hear live music..
And most weekends have a music festival on,
Yesterday there was an Urban Music Festival
Remember the guy on the horse?
Yep... Part of a band
There is live music literally all over Austin

Austin Rocks because we have the Colorado River running through our city!
Texans make the most of it..
You won't likely see anyone doing this down The Thames,
Kayaking is next on my list!
Some young boys were kayaking and had stopped to go fishing..
However, I'd fall off of this!
Our State is covered in Rivers

I like the wide open roads of Texas...
Especially in the Hill country...
I will mention that the drive to Houston is quite nice as well
Many ranches to enjoy

One of the coolest things about Austin?
The millions of bats that live under Congress Bridge

Because anyone that drives through our city of Austin is amused by this sign
I seriously need to grow up :)

We have the best Mexican food in the United States!
Technically, it's Tex-Mex

We have the best BBQ in the WORLD!
Rudy's is my favorite, but The Salt Lick is well renowned

The Weather in Texas
If you like anything outdoors
Texas is your place, name the sport... It's here
We seriously have the weather for it

And there you have it, just a few examples of why I enjoy the great State of Texas.
If you ever get the chance to visit Texas, shoot me an email and I'll show you some great spots I've discovered. The kids and I find a new place to go every weekend, just to explore...

Because we should all take the time to stop and enjoy what we have been blessed with.

Would I give up all of this for England? You betcha! But I fully intend to enjoy my journey and my every day here!
I Hope you have a great up coming week,
Much love,

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Monument. London, England

Way back in 1666 (The year I was born) you might have heard of a fire that started inside of a Bakery, in London, England.
The first of the fire began on the street of Pudding Lane, early in the morning on the 2nd of September. The flames destroyed almost everything in it's path, including St. Paul's Cathedral. The inferno raged for 3 days before being put out by gunpowder. Londoners successfully used the powder to blow up houses and stop the fire.
During this time of London's history, there was no fire brigade, the people of England had very little experience with putting out fires. Leather buckets, axes and water squirts were used to try to thwart the blaze.
It is speculated by many historians that the Great London Fire was actually a blessing in disguise, as it wiped out many of the homes that had just a year earlier been succumbed to The Bubonic Plague, the plague had wiped out 1/5 of London (Though no one knows for sure exactly, as there was no census done back then).

Once inside, it's actually very small...

And thus begins the 311 stair climb to the top... way way way up!

This particular climb made me realize that my daily treadmill workout, just wasn't cutting it! 
But the views on the way up were fantastic!

Once at the top, the stairs still goes further, but the display on the top of the monument, is closed off to the public.

The Reward of 311 (Felt like 3,329) stairs?

And  yes, the cranes seem to be a permanent fixture in the London skyline! 

Unfortunately you are "fenced" in on top, apparently more people have died committing suicide off of the top of the Monument than died in the Great Fire of London, so the fence is not going anywhere, anytime soon!

The climb to the top was completely worth it!

The Cost to go to the top of the Monument is only 3 Pounds, which is dirt cheap to get into anywhere in London!

The stairs are very narrow in the Monument, the sneakers I had on kept catching on the stairs as I went down, there was a little girl behind me moaning to her mum that I was going too slow! Ha! Keep in mind, as you're creeping back down the spiral, never ending stairs, there are people coming up!! So someone has to snug up against the railing or the wall... Call me a big chicken if you must, but I went up and back down! And I'm afraid of heights!

See... It's a long way down!

I shared in this experience with a lovely lady that runs a travel website about London, Called "3 Days in London" I don't think many people know London like Cindy does, and she will share with you a side of London that few see. Cindy also has an app that you can put on your phone. She will help make your traveling to London a pleasant experience, catered to the things that you love!

Look for this symbol!

If you would like to know more about The Monument, visit their website HERE

  • The Monument to the Great Fire of London, more commonly known simply as the Monument, is a stone Roman Doric column in the City of London, near the northern end of London Bridge, which commemorates the Great Fire of London. Wikipedia

  • AddressFish Street Hill, London EC3R 8AH, United Kingdom

  • Height203' (62 m)

  • Opened1677

  • Phone+44 20 7626 2717

  • Architectural stylesDoric order, Ancient Roman architecture

  • Read about the London Fire Brigade HERE

  • It's been a week since I was in splendid England, of course I'm pining for it, as my heart lives there. Every day of my visit was perfect. People must wonder what it is about my own country that I want to get away from... Well Nothing to be honest, I love the United States of America; I would never give up my citizenship and I love so much about my own country. But there is just something... Everything about the UK that won't let me stay away. England even "smells" different... There is a wetness to the air, even on the driest of days. There is a smell of "Old" and musty mold in much of England, it's not a putrid smell, but a welcoming smell of history. In the many places that you might explore, you may glimpse American ancestry as well; I don't need to remind anyone that our Country was founded by people from Britain. However, it's not American history that I seek, it's all of history, it's the World's history, it's being able to touch a stone that was laid in the 1400's or even being able to stand in a spot that held a roman amphitheater in AD 70. It's not about one thing in particular, it's about the history, the diversity, the views, the people... Because each time I come back to the States after travel to Great Britain, I return a more affluent, enlightened and more profound human being.

    I hope you're all having a brilliant weekend, and have an even better week!
    Tammy xx

    Tuesday, March 18, 2014

    "Out of Order" Red Telephone Boxes

    It's really not a secret.

    I'm ever so slightly obsessed with Red Telephone Boxes.

    I don't recall when my obsession began, but you can bet your bottom dollar, it's not going anywhere, any time soon!

    So this past trip to London I knew I couldn't go another day without seeing this art piece by David Mach.
    This sculpture has a total of 12 red phone boxes tipped over on their side that are soldered together, it's located in a part of London called Kingston upon Thames, or just "Kingston" for short and are on "Old London Road", across from a Police Station that dates back to 1864 (Which isn't old by England standards). The sculpture itself was unveiled in 1989.
    I have to be honest, even though my heart skipped a little happy beat of joy to be near this lovely sculpture of phone boxes, they really aren't well taken care of. In fact... I'm wondering if anyone has had a go at restoration in months. They are broken in many places and there is a lot of damage to the one on the end. It's really quite sad, but I'm sure there are many people that like to run up and down them after a few pints, even though there is a sign that clearly says NO CLIMBING! 
    Though there is a lot of repair currently needed on these 12 leaning iconic boxes, I would say they really are worth the trip to see. Because well, they are just cool! And it's not everyday you get to see 12 phone boxes knocked over like dominoes! A bonus is a trip to Kingston, which has the River Thames running by it, hosting lovely pubs with great views. Kingston is a bustling area full of shops and restaurants. 
    If you have a few hours to spare, you won't regret a trip to Kingston! And don't forget to stop by those phone boxes!

    I'm still fighting a bit of jet lag, I haven't unpacked yet and I'm slightly depressed to be away from England again. But I'm so blessed to be able to say that it was a phenomenal trip with days full of laughter, fun, friends and exploring!

    I hope you're having a rocking week!
    Tammy x