Road Trip Day 3

 I was particularly looking forward to day 3 of our road trip as we dropped into the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory in Vermont and went on the little tour.

They said you couldn’t take any photos of the factory, I immediately took this to be a challenge and took some covert snaps just to prove I could… I mean I photographed the crown jewels under armed guard, you think I’m not up to the challenge? Also we discovered that some of the flavours Kim can buy in the USA I can’t get here and some that we can buy in the UK she can’t.

Towards the end of the tour we went to the tasting lab where they make up random flavours of ice cream that don’t get sold.

We tried caramel apple which was so tasty I really think it’s a shame they won’t release it, it tasted really fresh.

I have a large squashed penny collection so I was pleased to add another to the bunch, I got quite a few squashed pennies this trip.


And then I got an ice cream milkshake which I had whilst browsing the ice cream graveyard of all the flavours that have been discontinued over the years.

Ice cream for breakfast is a win in my books.


Then on we drove, we stopped to be touristy and take photos of this old covered bridge.

We saw a lot of these about in Vermont and we drove through one in New Hampshire which was a novelty for me, I think Kim was less impressed.


It looked pretty nice out and there was lots of leaf peeping along the way.

Then we took a look around the Cabot Creamery, which for the English folk of you reading this is a big cheese brand in the USA.


We got these stylish shoe covers for our tour.

Again there was no photograph allowed so I had to rise to the challenge. Why do I want to take a photo of the inner workings of a cheese factory you ask? Because I can.


Then we went in for the free samples because… free. I have always been highly dubious of American cheese or “plastic cheese” as I call it because of its suspicious colour, apparently they dye it yellow because Americans buy it more if its yellow. Also because Americans invented sprayable cheese… this is just wrong on so many levels and as a devoted cheese lover it offends me. Although I find English and French cheese superior in every way… it was still passable. I ate 4 samples to confirm my findings.

It was still rather nice out.

We stopped for lunch. I feel that now is the time to educated those of you who are English about iced tea. Iced tea in America is not like our delicious tasty bottled iced tea you buy in the shop with lunch like Liptons or the stuff you get while you’re on holiday in Spain. No no, that is what they call sweetened ice tea in America, mostly they served unsweetened iced tea. This is basically a cold cup of tea sans milk, it is bitter and disgusting, even when they flavour it so it sounds like it’d be nice. Oh, hibiscus and raspberry iced tea you think, that’ll be lovely… but it’s the devil. And they say oh you can add your own sugar to sweeten it, you know what doesn’t dissolve well in icy water? Sugar. Do not be fooled my friends and only order sweetened iced tea, you have been warned.

After lunch with my SWEETENED iced tea we drove to our hotel and we were a bit early to check in although whilst we were drive we noticed we were going right past part of the Appalachian Trail which you might recognise as the subject of Bill Bryson’s book a walk in the woods so we took a little investigate.


I pictured the trail as being a regular sort of path, well marked, maybe a few ups and downs… it’s not like that, it was rocky as hell and there were some pretty steep parts and we only walked it for half an hour! It was fine for a quick walk but I don’t think I could spend months and months walking like that. After leaving my mark in nature we set off.

It was still fairly nice out.


We’d booked in at an Econolodge which from the name I was expecting to be a bit like Travelodge is in the UK but I was so surprised at how nice it turned out to be, they even gave us free cakes to welcome us which is a sure fire way to get 5 stars on TripAdvisor in my estimations.

We had dinner in a nice restaurant called the Common Man and they had smores on the menu which we shared, I was pleased because I’ve never had official smores as they don’t sell Graham Crackers here. It was pretty much an entire day devoted to food.

Road Trip Day 2

Have you seen my new socks? They’re cool aren’t they…

Anyway I digress, we kicked off the second day of our road trip with a little wild turkey spotting. There were a lot of wild turkeys in New England and they always traveled in little packs which I thought was sweet.

We took a trip to a maple sugar farm, we started off with a maple latte, thanks a latte (had to).

And fed the goats, I don’t really know why the maple sugar farm had goats but whatevs.

It was nice out so we had a mill about and observed (laughed at) a large bus load of Texan tourists that said “Verrr-mont” instead of Vermont and wore cowboy hats. I enjoyed that.

We learned how maple syrup was made, I was surprised how easy it is actually, from a video that was made in the 80s shown in a barn. I assume it was the 80s because everyone had glasses like Deirdre Barlow and the old farmer was a tad racist. He seemed very concerned about Arabs and “them damn Yankees”… I was a bit confused as I thought people in New England were Yankees.

After this we took a trip to Walmart, Asda’s American sister store (if you want a laugh Google ‘people of Walmart’). Somehow the car’s cigarette lighter stopped working and so our music and phone charging capabilities were down (the GPS had long been ditched since the snowmobile track incident).

We bought a charger pack to recharge Kim’s iPhone which we then had to return and exchange for another one because Walmart, much like Asda, is not a purveyor of the highest quality of goods. We did get a tasty pumpkin pie though.

We then went to Cold Hollow Cider Mill, again cider as in Apple juice, not alcoholic cider which they call hard cider.

We got a little free sample of cider (we like free stuff, ok?).

And went to see the cider press.

Then we toured the extremely large gift shop (actually everywhere we went had gift shops) and got a cider smoked hot dog each, because who says you can’t have hot dogs for lunch twice in a row? Isn’t that what being an adult is all about?

Then we finished off with hot cider and a cider doughnut which was advertised at the packed counter by people continually shouting “I have doughnuts!” in the tone of someone shouting that they had a gun and weren’t afraid to use it.

After this we took a drive to Burlington, a very pretty place, and took a little stroll down by the sea where they had swing seats which I enjoyed immensely.

Also it was my favourite weather of all time (grey) so it wasn’t too hot or too cold but just right.

They had a free tourist shuttle bus that took us to a long market type street, I hope it was free anyway because we didn’t pay!

Then we had dinner, walked back to our car and headed back to the hotel for the night. Very pleasant all in all.

Road Trip Day 1

Kim and I planned a big New England leaf peeping road trip but the day before we went I had an early birthday dinner including Kim’s masterpiece as you see below, my robot cake I requested for this year’s cake construction. It’s pretty good isn’t it?

Also I got my birthday gifts early so that was a treat.

The next day we were on the road, Kim lives in Connecticut so we started off driving north up to Massachusetts and stopped off at the Yankee Candle Factory which was all decked out for autumn.

We chose some wax ornaments for candle dipping.

Kim was left in charge of the actual dipping, I held my breath.

But it actually turned out good, I think the dipping lady was impressed (but it was her first day there in fairness).

They had a historical candle dipping workshop.

They also had a very large Christmas section with a snow machine, train, decorations and a zillion candles.

They also had a section that started out part English knight and castle then went inexplicably into a German section. I’m still not too sure why.

So that was good. After that literally down the road from the Yankee Candle Factory was a a butterfly conservatory that we popped into.

They were everywhere, one landed on my head and turquoise butterflies dive bombed everyone like they were drunk kamikazes, they were huge.

After that we drove further north into Vermont, the leaves had started to change colours already.

We stopped off in Watson, Vermont for a bit of barbecue and cider (in the states cider does not mean cider… it means apple juice sadly).

But the real reason we stopped in Watson is to visit the Vermont Country Store, this weird old store I heard about that sells very strange things and has a mail order catalogue.

You may already know that I adore looking through tat so this store was right up my street. Also they had about a million free samples of food of which Kim and I tried the lot.

They had old lady nightdresses, halloween outfits, orange lipsticks, talcum powder that looked like it came from the 60s, table cloths, cleaning stuff… they sold everything.

They even let you do shots of maple syrup.

After we were full of free samples we made our way onto our hotel, it was at this point that the GPS sat nav rebelled against us.

At one point it tried to take us down a snow mobile track deep in the countryside where upon a toothless couple with mullets stopped us and informed us that a couple had got stuck down there the previous night when their GPS did the same to them. The couple had spent the night in their car and the mullet couple took great pride in telling us that they had told them they didn’t own a phone when they knocked on their door asking for help. Cute. Then they cocked their shotgun and… ok I’m lying, they didn’t have a shotgun but there were a lot of “vote Trump” signs in Vermont, lets put it that way.

So we ditched the GPS in favour of Kim’s iPhone. Now it was Columbus Day weekend and the peak of leaf peeping season and so hotels were scarce and expensive. Whilst booking our trip online we had chosen a strange Buddhist yoga hotel as the best of a bad lot and we did not have high hopes. I kept joking that I thought they’d worship crystals. When we got the the front desk I found these.

Seriously… Anyways turns out their spirit animals or whatever had messed up the booking and they had no record of us existing, then we produced our booking confirmation and they rang round sharpish to their “sister resort” ( AKA hotel down the street completely unrelated to them).  And so we settled there and it was basic but fine, no chanting or healing crystals in sight so perhaps we traded up. Also no one has charged us for this stay yet so I’m counting it as a win.

 So ended a pretty busy day with a ice aged wait for a pizza but it was tasty so that was good.

Off to America

I’ve been off on my travels again, off to visit my lovely wife whilst we wait the year and a half plus for our visa… haha… fun times. I decided the coach was the cheapest easiest way to get to Heathrow so I parked Goldie (the car) in Norwich and I got to take a little nap on the way up on the way I passed a transit van in flames surrounded by about 6 fire engines… Dramatic.


Luckily I got to the airport unsinged and I decided to try out an airport lounge, it was about £30.

It was pretty good, there was a view of the runway and comfy chairs, newspapers, magazines, charging points. You could order free meals (well not really free you already paid for it) and alcohol.

There was also a big buffet with breakfast stuff and cakes.

And then before I knew it I was on the plane, I flew Virgin on the way out but Delta on the way home. Virgin was ok but I thought it would be better after seeing all their adverts, I wouldn’t go out of my way to fly with them again, they were just the same as anyone else.

I made a buddy on the plane so we weren’t bored because we chatted, she worked for a big radio show in the UK. I also watched Bad Neighbours 2 or Neighbours 2 depending on what country you live in.

I made myself a tasty little spritzer and had some chicken dish that was nice.

For some reason we also got a Fab ice lolly… I hadn’t had a fab since I was a child.

Then a little snack before landing, I’m just obsessed with aeroplane food. By the way, did you know cheese and pickle is an English thing? I found myself explaining at length to my father in law why it didn’t contain meat and that pickle was a sort of chutney… the rest of the world is clearly missing out is all I can say. Cheese and pickle for all!

When I got into Boston I had a welcoming committee (complete with sparkly welcome sign!). And I got to meet this little dog who’s so cute but so naughty.

Cake Construction Entry 2016

Birthday time means cake construction time in our house and, as Kim was over from America for her birthday, it was time for a creation. The rules are you cannot bake, you can only construct.


Kim asked for a Harry Potter theme this year, a different turn from last years Little Mermaid theme. I started off with two raspberry sponge cakes.

Which I carved into a basilisk.

I ordered a Harry Potter Lego figurine from eBay ahead of time.

I’m still not really sure why he needs 3 hands.

Then I made my icing green.

The hardest part was coating the cake parts. It was messy!

Then I decorated the basilisk.

Chamber of Secrets eat your heart out. I’ve asked for a robot theme for my cake this year.

Activities & Wildlife

They have a lot of restaurants at Center Parcs and it was only right that we should try them all. We had tasty Indian food and although they were curries, as my beloved deputy sister of my old beloved ward would say, they were the type of curries Indians give their children because they weren’t too spicy haha. Wimp curries.


We went to the pancake house.

Still we were stalked by the peacock, I decided he should have a name and as he was a bit of a gangster because he wasn’t afraid of anyone and he was very blingy I decided he should be called Busta Rhymes, Busta for short.

One day we spent with two of my friends from uni that got a day pass to come and hang out with us and I actually won bowling… Amazingly.

Still we were stalked by Busta Rhymes. Busta just loves to admire his own reflection.

One morning we got up pretty early to go on a nature walk thing, the ducklings were still all cuddled up sleeping. All through out our stay I just wanted to pick one up and squish it with love and cute agression.

We fed the ducks on the lake, I decided not to tell our guide about feeding the ducks hotel biscuits or the deer iced doughnuts, he didn’t need to know.

But we did learn that Busta Rhymes the peacock just walked into Center Parcs one day and they’d assumed he’d escaped from somewhere. They didn’t want to buy him a girlfriend because apparently peacocks are very untidy and kick up gravel and sand and stuff. I think Busta Rhymes deserves love. Kim and I researched peacock prices to smuggle him in a girlfriend but they were expensive. If we ever get him one though I’d call it Leann Rimes.

We did some pottery painting one day, Kim said it was her best work yet, I said it was her most expensive work yet.


And then Kim kicked my ass at mini golf.

I just suck at golf.

We went to the American restaurant which I always find a bit funny, I wonder if they have English restaurants in America or pretend pubs with union jacks everywhere… Must research this more.

Finally it was time to go home and we had a nice breakfast in the revolving restaurant.


The kitties were obviously thrilled to have us back, they’d been taken care of by my friend Tasha who named them black demon one and black demon two.


Spa & The Stoat Weasel

During our stay at Center Parcs we frequently saw this one peacock, in fact he could have been stalking us. And like all the Center Parcs animals he had no fear of humans at all and you could get very close to him.


One of the days of our stay we went to the spa at Center Parcs which was lovely, we got sorted in the changing rooms where they had these odd lockers where you had to press a wristband on them but they had no numbers on them.

Anyways, the spa was set out in a ring around a big spa pool in the middle and around the ring were small rooms leading into saunas, steam rooms, scented rooms etc. I personally have never enjoyed a sauna, if the air inside my lungs is hot and I get the foreboding sense of death sitting there for a minute then I count the experience as non-enjoyable. I do the like cedar wood smell though.

I liked the zen garden because there was a little stoat (or weasel, Kim and I couldn’t work out the difference) that kept dashing about. The stoat weasel was storing food I think because he carried something in his mouth. But I got to read a magazine on a comfy sofa in a dressing gown which is a win in my books. Also I remembered why I don’t buy magazines when every other page was an advert… Also a win.

There was an ice chip fountain which you were encouraged by a sign to rub over yourself after leaving the sauna to feel invigorated, I decided to pass on this offer but helped throw ice at Kim (I’m nice like that). She did not feel invigorated.

After the spa relaxation we went for a very healthy lunch of burger and chips with large milkshakes.