This Crazy Little Thing called Retirement – Crossing Italy (Part 3)

My daughter lived in Dallas at the time, so we took different flights and met at the Marriott Rome Park. A lovely hotel not far from the Airport.  My husband and I stayed there a couple of times on prior visits to Rome. Jo and I met at the bar, giddy with excitement about our trip. After all, it’s not everyday you fly to Italy to buy a house. After a couple of cocktails we sat down to dinner. Our excitement was infectious, we had a lovely evening…unfortunately the wine and food didn’t make for a great night’s sleep! It was worth it though.
The next morning we returned to the airport to pick up or rental car. I wasn’t that confident about driving in Italy back then (that soon changed) so my daughter did the driving. An excellent job she did too. We’d never driven across Italy before, or visited Abruzzo, so we had to rely on the car navigation system, which seemed to be constantly confused. Jo wanted to take the smaller road across the mountains, rather than the highway. Once we got away from the hustle bustle of Rome, we relaxed a little and decided to stop for lunch.
Luckily, we saw a restaurant right on the road side. This was our first real experience with “non tourist” Italy. We were the only folks who didn’t speak Italian. Tables were pushed together at one side of the restaurant to accommodate a large family gathering of at least 40 people. All talking together, drinking wine, sharing platters of food. Kids laughed, played (and occasionally cried). The menu was in Italian of course.
We ordered salad and meat, a little wine a bottle of Aqua frizzante, to wash it down with.
I looked around me at what would become my everyday life, and I liked what I saw. We couldn’t linger over lunch because there was a very long journey ahead of us. We had to cross the mountains of Central Italy, and find a small village called Colledimezzo.



In 2010 I went to Rome for the very first time. I’d been to Italy many times but never Rome. This was the view from my hotel, the Marriott Grand Flora, at the top of Via Veneto.
I was hooked as soon as my feet touched the ground. The smell, the chatter, the atmosphere.
I remember standing on the banks of the Tiber with Castel Sant’angelo behind me, looking across the bridge towards the city, gasping for breath. It was almost too much to take in. I couldn’t even lift my arms to take a photo. I glanced at my husband, who stood next to me, and saw he felt it too.

Rome isn’t just a trip, it’s an experience, its something you feel.


Cappuccino and the Rooftops of Rome!

DSC02995Thou shalt only drink cappuccino or any milky form of coffee in the morning, and never after a meal.


The first time I tasted Cappuccino was in the early seventies. My mum and crazy aunt took me to Italy, Rimini to be precise. It was one of those package tours that were so popular in England back then. We stayed in the Hotel President, by Piazza Tripoli and just a couple of blocks from the beach. I’d dreamed of visiting Italy for as long as I can remember. Not sure why, but it was (and still is an obsession) of mine.

I’m at home in italy, it soothes my soul.

Now, even though I live in the US, I return as often as possible and have travelled from north to south. I have favorite cities and towns of course. Breakfast at Hotel Vittorio on the banks of Lake Garda is wonderful. An ice-cold glass of champagne overlooking the Amalfi Coast in the Beautiful Hotel Villa Maria is heavenly. Tasting wine at one of the many Tuscan Vineyards with good friends is amazing.

However, one of the most exciting, exhilarating places to drink Cappuccino, is on the rooftop of the beautiful Marriott Hotel ‘Grand Flora’ at the top of Via Veneto in Rome! One cup is not enough as you sit and anticipate the day ahead. I never tire of it and I never will.


Dallas – Uber, Fancy Restaurants, BBQ, State Fair and Sports Bars

I really couldn’t have covered much more ground in three days. I arrived at DFW Airport on Friday October 2nd at around 1pm. My adventure began with my very first Uber reservation. As I stood outside the airport my phone rang. “Are you dressed in pink?” a strange voice said. Was this a pervert?

“No, actually I’m dressed in peach,” I replied hesitantly.

“Do you see a Dodge Caravan in front of you?” the voice continued.

I looked up and laughed, it was my Uber ride. What guy knows the difference between pink and peach anyway? He delivered me safely to the Marriott City Center. My husband was already there, and still working, so I unpacked and went for a walk. Lovely time of year to be in Dallas!

We spent a wonderful, but very expensive evening at the French Room in the Adolphus Hotel, celebrating my daughter’s Birthday. The surroundings, food, service and wine was outstanding.

I didn’t take a photo, it would have spoiled the magical atmosphere. Frenchroom

We ate the most delicious foods, paired with perfect wine. Expensive, but a fantastic special occasion restaurant. The staff was attentive, but not intrusive. I had the best Grand Mariner Souffle I’ve ever tasted. I’d recommend this restaurant to anyone who appreciates good food. Better even than Antoine’s in New Orleans. Seriously!

Saturday was a long fun (and food) filled day. We lined up outside the famous Pecan Lodge to get the best BBQ in Dallas. It was worth lining up for.



It was too early for me to drink beer, but the rest of my family washed the delightful BBQ down with a good dark ale and then tried to walk off the calories on the Katy Trail. We’d only walked a mile or so, when we found ourselves at the Ice House, where we imbibed in a little more beer, yes me too! More walking found us at a Whole Foods with a bar inside. Imagine that! We shopped and then enjoyed a glass of wine on the Whole Foods Patio. We finished our evening at the movie theater.  Black Mass proved that Johnny Depp can still act!

Today was another full day! Husband to the airport, daughter and I to Texas State Fair, (after an incident with a film producer in an M6 convertible offering her a job. Seriously). Texas State Fair was everything I expected it would be! Of course everything was deep-fried. We didn’t stay too long, but I’m glad I went.


The highlight of the visit was Bacon served on a skewer and fried in honey maple syrup. Delicious. Also jalapeno cheese bites YUM! We sat outside, drank beer and people watched. From the State Fair we went to a Sports Bar, two actually, to watch the Broncos play….thank heavens they won.


Now my long weekend in Dallas is over. Sadly I must return home. It’s probably for the best, if I stayed any longer I’d probably gain twenty pounds and need rehab!

But to quote Mr. Schwarzenegger…..”I’ll be back!”

Dallas Texas – Big Hair, Swank and Shoulder Pads?

I’ve lived in the US for over 20 years and became a Citizen back in 2004. Yes, the Queen is missing a subject, wonder if she notices.

This country still puts a smile on my face. Our home is Colorado, but we travel as often as possible.

Favorite cities in the US?

San Francisco and New Orleans! They have both lured me back more than once.

I also enjoy Dallas. My first visit was a quick business trip about ten years ago. I stayed in the jazzy Hotel ZaZa and was proudly shown the city by the locals. The Dallas skyline is amazing, especially at night.

Dallas at night

I returned to Dallas earlier this year, after my daughter’s career caused her to move there. I stayed once more in the Hotel Zaza, still lovely, but unfortunately, due to some badly behaved guests, my visit was spoiled. I’ll not stay there again. Dallas itself was very enjoyable. Great food!

My third exploration of Dallas begins Friday. This time I’m staying in the Downtown Marriott. Marriott’s are usually trustworthy!

The highlight of my visit (other than seeing my daughter and son in law), will be our meal in The French Room at the Adolphus Hotel, a birthday treat for a young lady turning 31. Yes, that means I’m getting really old.

french room dallas

I always thought Dallas was the center of big hair, swank and shoulder pads. The swank is definitely still there, but it’s now a stylish, ritzy city that I’m sure I’ll get to know well. Stay tuned for my report on the French Room!

Hotels – Love the Grandeur

I love to travel and stay in Grand hotels. My favorite Hotels are the older ones, the Hotels with history. The Grand Flora in Rome is one of my favorites and I will go back one day. From its grand marble staircases, to it’s incredibly friendly staff, my vacation was complete. I was in Rome staying in a beautiful hotel.












My home is the colorful state of Colorado, and Colorado has its own hotels. I have stayed in a few, but none compare with ‘The Brown Palace’ in Denver.

I had the pleasure of spending a night there this past weekend.

My only daughter is getting Married so we had an appointment at Best Designer Wedding Dresses in Denver — anna bé bridal boutique

We met in the Brown Palace and enjoyed a glass of champagne before visiting the beautiful Bridal Boutique, where we were greeted by Michael, the senior stylist. My daughter, myself and four of our closet friend enjoyed more champagne, whilst perusing the wonderful designer dresses. With Michael’s help we found a gorgeous dress, veil and belt. We celebrated with more champagne of course.

After another celebratory drink in a local bar, we made our way to Linger, where we had dinner reservations. Fabulous restaurant, fabulous dinner. We saved room for dessert at ‘Little Man Ice Cream’ and sat in the park enjoying a glorious August eventing.

Exhausted, I took a cab back to the Brown Palace to enjoy the peace, tranquility and Luxury of this historical landmark.




Do you think it looks haunted? It is of course.







Gorgeous stained glass ceiling

Gorgeous stained glass ceiling

















The bed was so comfortable, that I wouldn’t have heard a ghost had one visited my room. I slept like a log. The following morning I enjoyed a wonderful complimentary breakfast at my window table, and then lingered for a while to take photographs.

Even though this gorgeous hotel is only forty minutes from my home, I felt as though I had stepped into a different world, or maybe a different era. Next time my crazy hectic life stresses me out, I will remember this little haven of tranquility and escape to it. Maybe it will inspire one of my future stories.

If you are in the Denver area, give it a try. You won’t regret it.


Dead of July (Small)




San Francisco – 1999 – Moving to America

It’s a while since I talked about the experiences I had when I first moved to the US from England in 1995. Moving was fun, but quite an adventure. Our first trip out of Colorado was to San Francisco in April of 1999. It was the first time I had been to California and I was excited. The weekend was a business trip for my husband, but my daughter and I tagged along for the ride. I am glad we did as I have been several times since. San Francisco is still one of my favorite places in the US, closely followed by New Orleans.

I have never enjoyed flying, so my first flight in four years was a nail-biting experience for me, but I got over it. It was worth it. We arrived in San Francisco airport on a Friday evening, and took the shuttle to the hotel. We were staying in the San Francisco Marriott downtown. After this trip I was hooked on Marriott’s. It was a busy amazing experience. Jo and I were very excited, we both loved to travel, and San Francisco has quite the history. It was nothing like I expected it to be. It was much better.

We dumped our cases in our room and headed for the bar on the 39th floor. Wow!

I was blown away with the view. By the time we got to the bar it was after nine o clock so too late for me to eat, so I ordered a ‘Golden Gate Margarita’, my husband ordered a beer and my dear daughter ordered a delicious fish dish. I can’t say I blamed her. This was San Francisco after all.

We sat in the window seat of this wonderful hotel until late, watching the lights in the bay and drinking in the atmosphere (and the margaritas).

The rest of the weekend flew by. We walked, ate breakfast at a sidewalk cafe on Fillmore,  attended a company function in a historic building, ate at a restaurant on the end of Pier 39 and generally had a good time, but the most memorable part of this quick trip to San Francisco, was sitting drinking margaritas on the 39th floor of the hotel and watching the world go by.

This was the first of many trips to this colorful city. A city I never tire of exploring.

Want to know what happened to me in Blackpool? Download my free E-book ‘Girl on the Beach’ from the link below.

Girl on the Beach (US) .

This book is also available in the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy for around for less than one Euro/GBP.

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London at Last

I lived here from 1961 until 1967

I loved my visit with my family and my trip down memory lane, but I am really looking forward to the next four days in London. It will be nice to visit our ‘old haunts’ here.

I can now post some photos taken last week, as the wi-fi here is much better.

Joanna in Richmond Castle

The house I lived until I was ten is on the left. I hasn’t changed one bit.

On the right is another photo of Joanna in Richmond Castle. She had a lot of fun climbing the keep.

Last night we had a fantastic Indian meal with Will, Sophia and Margaret. My brother had dental work during the day and couldn’t make it, but we went back for a cuppa afterwards and tormented him. Another late night and an early start this morning has made us all tired, but not too tired to get a shower, freshen up and head for the bar. Time is running out and there is a lot to see in London. Myles (Lester’s nephew) and Terri (Lester’s sister) are joining us tonight.

I gave my sister-in-law a copy of  ‘Girl on the Beach’ last night for my brother to read, as I talk about him in the book. I think he may be flattered by my mention, at least I hope he is.

Hopefully Lester in on the underground now, after dropping the car off at Heathrow. It wasn’t a bad car, but I am happy we have no more long journey’s, it was exhausting. Now time to have fun in London. Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant tomorrow…..I hope he pops in!

Friends since 1975!