Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

This year, my wife has decided we need to take ourselves off into the country armed with a saw and chop down our own Christmas tree.

She's full of great ideas like this that mean more work for me but I think I've found somewhere not too far away where we can give it a go.

The Old Time Christmas Tree Farm is just a few miles from our house and allows you to pick your own tree, and also provides a saw to cut it down.

Whatever we end up doing, I'm sure it will be much easier than last year. After getting the artificial tree down from the loft, setting it up, finding all the decorations, almost killing myself trying to get the angel on the top as well as a near electrocution by twinkly lights, my wife decided she wanted a real tree instead. So down came the artificial tree and off we went in search of a real tree.

It's all good fun!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

It's Thanksgiving today so I hope you are having a lovely time...

We're going to my parents' for dinner which is good as we've just got back from two weeks in the UK & Ireland.

Except somehow my wife and I are cooking. How did that happen?

Last Christmas, my parents came to our house and I made my first attempt at frying a turkey. It went down so well that I was asked to do it again this year.

It's also my Dad's birthday today too so Happy Birthday!

Obviously we don't celebrate Thanksgiving in England but we're planning on having as authentic a Thanksgiving as we can so after dinner we're heading to the local reservation to burn down some wigwams.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

X Factor

We don't get the X Factor in the US but everyone I know back home in the UK are going on about the twins John and Edward.

Every weekend, most status updates on Facebook are about the show, and the newspapers cover it constantly.

Most people seem to hate them and their progress through the show is a huge talking point.

I'm not that bothered about missing out on their singing talent (or lack of) but I do miss how when there is a big event, the whole country feel involved and everyone, and I mean everyone, is talking about it.

Maybe it's because it's a small island and we all watch Coronation street, we all like football and for 3 or 4 months every winter, The X Factor dominates the nations televisions.

It's the World Cup next year and the whole country will be following. Bars and shops will be covered in England flags and most people you see though out June & July will be wearing an England shirt.

I miss that togetherness.

I think it's something that the US could never experience, and I feel sorry for them that they'll miss out. Maybe 9/11 is the closest they'll get but hopefully such occasions are rare.

So even though I won't see an episode of the X Factor, and I have no wish to, I'll still know all about what's going on and the scandal and shocks that are still to come and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Christmas Shopping in the Sunshine

I started my Christmas shopping this week.

It's hard to get in the Christmas spirit when it's still 80 degrees outside and it was a weird experience planning ahead when there's not a cloud in the sky.

The weather recently has been perfect. Not the humid sticky heat we get during the summer. It's been warm but with a nice breeze and we've been able to shut off the air conditioning and open the windows, which is something you don't get to do often in Houston.

I hate shopping usually, but it's much easier than back home, especially if you start early enough. For a start, the shops are much bigger, with a wider selection and open longer hours as standard. There's always lots of space to park, and the lines at the check out aren't too bad.

The shops have been preparing for Christmas for a while now but now we're into November they're going into full seasonal assault mode.

Christmas music is playing, the displays are set up with wintery scenes of snowmen and hot chocolate, but it doesn't quite feel like Christmas yet. Because we're only just into November probably.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mistaken Identity

The British police force were up to their usual high standards this week when they released photos of suspects wanted for questioning about the crowd trouble at last month's West Ham v Millwall game.

You might not see anything wrong there but they actually included pictures of six actors from a recent film about football hooliganism 'The Firm'.

They've now apologised for the error and any offence caused to the actors involved.

Good work all round!

Read all about it here.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Texas Renaissance Festival

Last week we went to the Texas Renaissance Festival.

I'd been before about thirteen years ago but my wife had never been. She was unsure when I suggested it but undeterred, I went ahead and bought two discount tickets through work.

The tickets were good for any day of the festival which runs every weekend for eight weeks through October and November.

We got there around 10am and and followed the long line of people making their way to the entrance. Despite the crowds arriving with us, there were no lines to get in.

We had a bit of a walk round and laughed at the various people dressed up, not all of them employed by the festival.

We arrived at one of the many stages just as a show was about to start. We had no idea what the show was other than it was called Sound & Fury. It turned out to be three blokes who were going to perform a non-family friendly version of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet.

The show was definitely not suitable for kids but we enjoyed it.

Afterwards, we had a bit of walk round the park and gardens to see what else was going on before heading to the Jousting show. This was a good show that featured four Knights of the Realm competing to become Champion of Champions. Our Knight, Sir Thomas was victorious in the end but the highlight of the show was the French Knight's horse who decided he wasn't going to play along and trotted along merrily instead of charging at full speed like the other horses. Well, that's the French for you I suppose. Everything he did was in slow motion, including the Knight being knocked off the horse which only added to the humour.

Here are some photos:

The weather was perfect for walking around outside.

There were rides for the kids for a small additional cost, as well as elephant and camel rides.

I had a go at axe throwing and we both tried throwing Chinese stars. My axe throwing needs some practice but I did manage to win a prize at the Chinese Stars. The prize? A coupon for a free kiss from any willing man, woman or beast. The guy happily advised that there was a bearded lady who was offering a 2-for-1 special.

We left around 2pm and the line of cars still heading in to the festival was crazy. The tailbacks through Magnolia, Texas must've been three or four miles.

The Texas Renaissance Festival is worth a visit if you've never been before, but I would definitely recommend getting there in the morning.