12 Hours in Key West

Here come some palm trees, key lime pie and gypsy chickens to brighten up this very gloomy Monday morning!  I can’t believe that this time last month (I’m pretty sure down to the day) I was wandering the streets of beautiful, balmy (and – let’s be totally honest here – a little bit barmy) Key West.  The southernmost city in the USA and the westernmost island of the Florida Keys, it really is a little world all on its own – a stepping stone between the star-spangled mainland and Cuba.  By day it’s a quaint island town full of clapboard houses with shady porches, lazy bars, bakeries and stray chickens… but by night?  As soon as that sun sets over Mallory Square, ANYTHING goes.  Sunny and I were there slap bang in the middle of Fantasy Fest (Key West’s annual 10 Day adults only extravaganza) and we saw… things.





Since we were staying on the middle keys (Islamorada and Marathon), we only had a day to explore Key West – which was more than enough because the island’s tiny and the city even smaller.  We had breakfast at a bar on Front Street, wandered around looking at the pretty houses on Emma and Fleming Streets, and then climbed the old lighthouse for a 360° view of the sea.



When the heat started to hit (it was close to 100 °F out of the shade of the palm and banyan trees) we hit up Ernest Hemingway’s House just off Whitehead Street.  The writer lived there in the thirties and descendants of his lucky polydactl (six-toed) cat Snow White still live there now and pretty much have the run of the house.  I think there are over fifty wandering around the house and gardens, snoozing on the bed and in the shade beside the massive (for Key West, anyway) swimming pool that Pauline Hemingway sneakily had fitted while Ernest was working as a correspondent during the Spanish Civil War.




When lunch swung around we ducked into Moondog Cafe for some fresh limeade and (finally!) some real, homemade Key Lime Pie.  I say “real” because true Key Lime Pie has to be made from Swingle Limes, which are smaller than regular limes with a slightly different flavour and a yellow juice.  Apparently it was first whipped up by the cook of Key West’s first millionaire – but the recipe might have come from local sponge fishermen who took canned milk, limes and eggs out onto their boats.  🙂


We finished the day off on Mallory Square where everyone gathers on the dock to watch the sun set over the water.

Have a lovely week everyone! 💚

 

A Floridian Halloween

I was so excited when I found out that my (very late) summer holiday in Florida was going to clash with Halloween – I mean, come on, America’s pretty much the mothership when it comes to all things Autumn Fall. 

There’s something really weird about visiting a tropical climate around this time of year when everyone’s shivering and slugging around in the drizzle back home.  I mean, I just couldn’t get on board with the Christmas Trees that sprung up between the palm trees on November the 1st, but Halloween was a totally different story.  Floridian Halloweens are weird in the best kind of way.  Because it’s warm in the evenings, everyone sits out on their porch to watch the trick or treaters come and go – grilling, drinking beer and chatting with their neighbours in between. Plus, the costumes are incredible because no one has to worry about bundling coats on top or layers underneath.


Because we were staying in a community full of families rather than a hotel, Sunny and I really got to experience Halloween – from the night itself and the preparations beforehand, including the amazing decorations.  We saw some really creative ones just driving around the neighbourhood; from 6 foot tall inflatable vampire bats and giant spiders, to this crafty pair of skeletons… 😉



Pumpkin Patches sprung up in parking lots everywhere – not just for buying pumpkins but for staging family (and pet!) photoshoots.

Because we were heading to a Halloween party, I decided to bake some holiday appropriate Welshcakes… which turned out to be really, really salty because American butter is way, way saltier than British Butter.  Not the best I’ve ever made, but the Candy Corn ones did look pretty cool!


Oh, and Sunny and I dressed up as Spongebob Squarepants and his Pineapple.  Sunny found the head in Walmart and I just kind of had to fall in line.  I mean sure, eating was almost impossible, doors were a struggle and when I tried to sit down I kind of disappeared into it like a terrified turtle… but I think it’s my favourite thing I’ve ever worn (including the time I dressed up as an egg salad baguette – long story).  Also, because it was inflated by a battery powered fan, I had my own personal air-conditioning, which in Florida is not a bad thing at all.  We were a big hit with the neighbourhood, especially Sunny, who creeped out the older kids just enough to be considered cool, and was completely adored by the smaller kids.  🙂



I was posting on Instagram Stories the whole time I was in Florida, so if you fancy seeing more of what I got up to, swing by my Highlights. Have a great weekend everyone! 🍍

A Day Exploring Capilano and Grouse Mountain

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I thought I’d posted everything from my little trip to Canada back in July, but turns out I had one post left – and here it is.  Officially, Sunny and I spent two whole days in Vancouver before heading off on our road trip towards Jasper and Banff – but because we stomped the city in one day and saw pretty much everything we wanted to see, we decided to spend the second day out of the city in North Vancouver exploring Capilano  Suspension Bridge Park and Grouse Mountain. 🙂

Capilano is only around 20 minutes north from downtown Vancouver – and basically reminded me of the evergreen forest from that old 80s cartoon, The Raccoons (Did anyone else watch that!?  I kept singing the theme song to Sunny when we were there and he was clueless!).  It’s a beautiful forest stretched across the Capilano River, which you can cross by walking over a 70 metre high suspesion bridge (which definitely has a wobble to it!).  There’s actually a free shuttle from downtown Vancouver (it leaves from just outside the cruise ship terminal) that runs all the way to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and onwards to the Grouse Mountain Cable Car, and then back again – so getting there was really easy (and free!).





Once we’d explored Capilano, we headed further up the mountain and caught the cable car up to Grouse Mountain – which is winter sports central during the winter, but during the summer is the place to go for amazing views of Vancouver and to get up close and personal with a couple of grizzly bears (safely!).  On the summit there’s a cafe and during the summer there’s a programme of activites – like talks on birds of prey spotted around the summit, and watching loggers do their thing.  You can actually get on the chair lift and go even higher if you’re not scared of heights!






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Vancouver’s Street Art

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Let’s head back to Canada – specifically, Vancouver – for a second, shall we?  I was going through my photographs a couple of weeks ago because I want to put a few of my favourite up on the wall and I came across all these colourful snaps of the murals I spotted whilst strolling around Vancouver.  I’ve already written a whole post about what I got up to during my 48 hours or so spent in the city, but I thought the murals were so incredible that they deserved a whole post of their own.  🙂

When Sunny and I booked our hotel we just went for one of the cheapest we could find (hotels in Vancouver are so expensive!) that wasn’t too far from downtown.  We ended up booking one in Mount Pleasant, which apparently used to be the rough end of town until it went through some regeneration a few years back.  Nowadays it’s full of coffee shops and poke restaurants and some really beautiful street art.  In fact, every year in August Vancouver holds a Mural Festival to celebrate diverse local cultures and their histories as well as issues facing the city through vibrant murals.  If you’re heading to Vancouver and fancy checking out all the murals, there’s a handy map pointing them all out and explaining the meaning behind them here.










Have a lovely weekend everyone! 🙂

The Canadian Lakes

Back when we were planning our Canadian Road Trip – searching up itineraries and must-see/do lists – I couldn’t help but raise a skeptical eyebrow at all the beautiful pictures of the glacial lakes puddled along the road through the Canadian Rockies between Jasper and Banff.  I mean, are they really that blue?  REALLY?  That kind of colour just doesn’t exist when it comes to lakes in ol’ Blighty.  No offence to my local lake, but on the Pantone colour scale Roath Park’s stuck somewhere between Bone Brown and Duffel Bag Grey (sorry Roath Park, you know I love you really).  So you can see why I was so determined that there had to be some sneaky editing going on when it came to the lakes in Canada.

Well, I can confirm that they really are that blue and the only nifty bit of editing going on is to do with the sun.  If you want to get nerdy about it, the brilliant colour comes from silt-rock flour flowing into lake straight off the glacier which refracts blue and green light – especially when the sun’s out. And lucky for us, we managed to hit up most of the lakes on the road between Jasper and Banff while the weather was holding up. 🙂

Lake Patricia, Jasper

Lake Patricia – tucked away off a narrow road just outside Jasper town centre was my absolute favourite and was so beautiful it looked completely fake!  We arrived there really early in the morning before a long day of driving; the water was nice and still and we had the whole place to ourselves for a good hour.


Peyto Lake, Banff

Bluest of the blue, the best way to see Peyto Lake is climb Bow Summit (or cheat and drive to the top…).  You get a beautiful bird’s eye view of the lake and surrounding mountains… but, good luck getting a clear shot because the tiny viewing platform gets really busy!  I was so proud I managed to get this picture without anyone bombing it, but whaddya know, there’s a floating head in the corner.  Pfft!

Bow Lake, Banff

Sunny and I loved Bow Lake and the oh so picturesque Num-Ti-Jah Lodge so much that we ended up bringing a print of it back home to hang above our bed.  We walked right down to the lake and dipped our feet in the absolutely freezing glacier water (not the best idea at the time considering I was struggling with an air con cold I’d managed to catch somewhere between Vancouver and Jasper…).  I’m not sure how many people swim in these lakes – I mean, we were there in the summer and they were still absolutely freezing even when the weather was boiling hot.  That’s why they call it the polar dip!





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Moraine Lake, Banff

It was starting to grey over when we reached Moraine Lake (just down the road from the much more touristy, Lake Louise) and we really noticed how much the sun changes the colour of the water.  We followed the path around the side of the lake away from the crowds to take some pictures and watch people kayaking before the rain arrived.


Lake Louise, Banff

The big kahuna.  Everyone says you’re missing out if you go to Banff and don’t visit Lake Louise.  Honestly?  It was the busiest of the lot and wasn’t much to write home about compared to the others we’d seen.  I mean, yeah, we’d seen a lot of lakes by that point and the rain dulled the views a little, but the best part by far was blagging our way into the Fairmont Hotel for an early dinner (it’s so busy there that the hotel usually only allows guests to dine).  My parents happened to be road tripping the opposite way and we managed to meet up for dinner which was really lovely 🙂


Have you ever visited the Canadian Rockies?  Which lake was your favourite? 🙂