Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Chicago - Navy Pier and the Architectural Boat Tour

Another day, another adventure!  A warning though, this post is photo heavy and if you're not interested in buildings and skylines, this one might not be for you ;-)
We had a couple of places in mind that we wanted to go to in Chicago so Liz, Emily and I caught the train downtown (about an hours journey).

These double story trains get me every time.  It just seems so weird, though I'm sure it's quite normal for any of the Americans reading my blog!

We sat upstairs (again weird!)

 Once we'd had breakfast we decided to catch the bus to Navy Pier.  Standing at the bus stop, this sign across the road caught my attention - quite different to UK signs.

And the first reflection also caught my eye. During the course of the day I realised just how many reflections you see in Chicago because so many of the buildings are glass fronted.  I certainly wasn't complaining as I love reflection photos.

We arrived at Navy Pier without any problem, the bus took us straight there.

 Had to have a photo taken outside with the city behind us.  Thank goodness for Liz who insisted on taking photos with my camera so that I could be in the photos too - thank you, Liz! (I know I complained but you were right!)

Emily and I had a wander round the shops but Liz said she'd go upstairs and do a puzzle while she waited for us and just to come up when we were ready.  I certainly hadn't expected this when we went up!

It was beautiful and so peaceful!

Again, just to prove we'd been there ;-)

Taken from the upper level looking out at the skyline.
 Loved the red against the blue sky.
We decided we were going to do a boat tour from Navy Pier and chose the Architectural tour which goes up river and through the city.  I'll be honest and say I don't remember what all the building were so I'm just going to leave the photos to speak for themselves.  Be thankful I didn't put all the photos up or you'd be here a long time!!

The boat tour over, we managed to find our way on to the correct bus and headed back into the city and decided to have a coffee before heading to Millennium Park.

There's a little story behind this photo.  We found Starbucks on a corner just after we got off the bus. It wasn't a very big shop and we were surprised at the number of people standing inside while there were empty seats outside.  So, we got our drinks and headed out to one of the tables. It wasn't long before we understood why they hadn't been occupied - a) there was quite a breeze blowing down that street and it wasn't that warm and b) that's the railway line running above our heads! Every 10 seconds we had to stop talking as another train rattled past ;-)  It was all part of the fun though and we stayed out until we'd finished our drinks before heading off to Millennium Park.


Monday, 29 September 2014


Today my "baby" turned 18!! How did that happen so quickly?

I hadn't had a chance to decorate last night so came down early this morning to get the balloons blown up and the banners put up.

Fortunately, this year Emily doesn't have any lessons on a Monday so she was able to get up in her own time.  I popped out to Waitrose for some baking supplies and to drop a car seat off at Claire's and told her not to come downstairs until I got back.

I don't think she was expecting quite so many balloons ;-)
She had had most of her presents before her birthday but there were still a few for her to open on the day.

This afternoon Claire, Alice and Megan came round once Alice finished playgroup and my Mum, my niece Theresa, Tyler, Alyssa and Brooke came round after school for a birthday tea. 

When it came to blowing out the candles, only Alyssa wanted to help.  Good job!!

I can't believe Emily is in her final year of school and will be voting in the general election next year.  All my children are now adults! I must be getting old ;-)


At Simon & Liz's

Before going out each morning, we would watch the little hummingbirds at the bird feeder. Simon was saying they were bulking up ready for their flight south.  There were three that came regularly to the feeders, sometimes chasing each other off but as there were three feeders out it wasn't such a problem.  The bees were more of a problem as they'd dive bomb the birds and then go to the feeder themselves.

One of the things Emily had been looking forward to was making smores so, after dinner one night, the fire was lit in the firepit and the preparations began.

One happy young lady :)

Yup, they were just as good as we remembered.  I was just glad that two were enough for me!

The next morning while I was making a cup of tea Richard called me to see the deer in the garden. 

 To begin with we saw two walking down the side fence but they'd disappeared by the time I got my camera and I thought I'd missed my chance. A little later though, I saw a movement down at the bottom of the garden and we realised the deer were still around.

There were three this time, a mother and her two young ones.  The youngsters were having a wonderful time chasing each other and bouncing around.  I had to zoom right in to be able to capture them and fortunately the photos turned out quite well.


Finally, one of the chipmunks that could be seen in the garden. While Liz and Simon consider them pests, we thought it was quite cute to see them running around.  I guess that's because the only time we've seen them before, they've been in a cage.  I never realised how noisy they are - we could hear them cheep cheeping from early in the morning and all through the day.


Sunday, 28 September 2014


A week ago today, Emily and I got home after spending 10 days with family in Chicago.  The trip was a last minute one after getting a wedding invitation from my niece, Helen.  From the time we got the invitation to the time we flew out was just under two weeks. I had to arrange for Emily to have time off school (who, thankfully, were very understanding and wished her a fantastic holiday).  
It had been eight years since we were last in Chicago staying with Simon, Liz and the family. To say we were excited to be going, is an understatement. However, it had all been so rushed I think it was only once we were on the plane that the reality hit home :)

We had a list of things we hoped to be able to do while we were there - mainly things we had done on previous visits and were looking forward to doing again.  One of them was going to Barnes & Noble for breakfast.  It didn't take long for us to tick that one off the list.  That first morning we'd woken at about 3am and been wide awake.  We were sharing a room, so lay chatting for ages and then Face Timed Claire, Alice and Megan before finally getting up around 5.30am and getting ready for the day.

Snowflake is Richard's cat and she's a beauty.  She's also quite inquisitive and liked to come into our room in the morning to see what we were doing and inspect our suitcases.

When we took Richard to work on the second day, we stopped at Starbucks for breakfast.  I had the bacon and egg roll which was very nice but one thing I noticed is how much sweeter the rolls in America are compared to ours in the UK.

 Needless to say shopping was on our To Do list as well. Hugh had asked me to look for a Chicago Bulls or Chicago Bears shirt for him.  I hadn't expected the array that was available so ended up taking photos of numerous shirts so I could ask him what  he was looking for.  The one he would have liked was $110 (+tax) so I'm afraid he had to settle for second best!

Another of our wishes was to go to Olive Garden for dinner. We've been each time we've gone to Chicago and love the food there. On the Saturday, Helen and Chrissie joined us and we went for dinner.

It was just as good as we remembered.  I had a parmesan crusted steak with garlic mashed potatoes and it was the best steak I've had in a while. So tender and really tasty. 

Liz, Emily and I popped into a Joann's store on the way home.  I love the fact that you don't have to hunt for parking ;-)

Heading back to the house.

I'll post our day trip into Chicago next.