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Tag: I know all the best people (page 2 of 2)

2014: a pretty freakin’ great year

LOADS of awesome stuff happened this year. I turned 30. Woohoo! I ate mopani worms and saw rhinos in Africa. I tried Finnish whisky and ate MANY types of fishes. I went to my first music festival. I learned to swing dance. I started this blog!

I met so many lovely people and got to hang out with lots of the fantastic ones I already know. I went to London, Fife, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Dundee, Manchester, Selkirk, Helsinki, New York, Philly and Delaware. I ate a lot of ridiculously good food. I made a lot of cake. I planned a lot of plans. I paid off my credit card. I walked a lot. I even started to actually enjoy my job, which is largely a testament to the rockin’ people I work with.

Overall, what I’m saying is: I’m pretty lucky. I can’t complain.

I can only hope 2015 will be at least as amazing, if not more so.

So without further ado, here are some highlights in pictures. See you next year!

New York, Philly and Delaware, October 2014

Happiest dog in the land.

A video posted by Kate (@kateamann84) on

For a super short trip, I managed a lot this time in the motherland. In New York, I got to hang out with my cousins and their friends at the bar, had dinner with the Grandmas which is always the greatest, saw the MoMA for the first time, managed an impromptu meetup with Val, who I haven’t seen in forever and happened to be in NYC on the same day I was, and ate most of the New-York-y things I always miss. Chocolate egg cream for the win!

In Philly, I had an AMAZING brunch at Mixto (I had the Costa Rican, which was amazing, but every other option on the table made it hard to choose. The pork on the Cuban alone was enough to make me weep with joy), including many guava mimosas and friends I wish I’d had even more time with. And I also got to go back to Silk City with Sara just before flying out, where we sat outside in the gorgeous weather and talked about life and schemed our next adventure. (Originally that was going to be Greenland until we discovered how freakin’ expensive the flights ALONE are to get there. So now it may be Morocco or a cruise to St Petersburg or something equally awesome. Watch this space.)

And in Delaware, I saw my parents’ new (enormous) house, hung out with the dog, drank a lot of wine, and took another trip to Dogfish Head, which is still my favourite. If I ever have to move back to the US, I’ll just go work there, thanks. But I’m quite happy my parents live right down the road from it now. I also got to go down to Salisbury to see my friends and their farm and their kid. And I got a Delaware driver’s license. Crazy!

All great things. But the kind of whirlwind trip that also makes you happy to be sitting still at home again.

On the kindle
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Wool by Hugh Howey

Headed to the airport in Philly.

Headed to the airport in Philly.

Photos

I didn’t do a flickr set for this trip because I mostly just instagrammed everything. US trips to see family aren’t usually photography-heavy anyway. Not because there’s nothing to take pictures of, but more because I’ve got other stuff to concentrate on.

Cost

As with photography, trips to see the family are not really representative of normal travel spending. I don’t have to pay for places to stay, relatives are super generous and pay for most of my food and drink (of which there is TONS), and then I end up buying a lot of clothes and stuff I can’t easily or cheaply get in the UK. And this time I didn’t even pay for the airfare. This trip only happened because originally my parents were meant to meet me in Ireland around the same time. They decided they didn’t want to go but still wanted to see me so my Dad bought me a ticket. Sweet deal!

Still, I actually set a budget this time and pretty much stuck to it. Which was surprising as I arbitrarily chose £40/day without thinking much about it at all because I’d forgotten to set up the trip before I left and was rushing to get all the info in.

Trip total: £407.84

That’s an average of £40.78 per day. As I said, there’s a lot it doesn’t include. Most notably airfare, which was £639.56. I milked it for all the Avios (frequent flier miles) I could though. I paid with an Avios American Express which got me 1598, plus the flights themselves which were 8104, PLUS the entertainment system on the flight home wasn’t working, so they credited my account an extra 5000 miles. That’s 14702 Avios, which is more than enough for a return flight somewhere nearby in Europe, or a return Eurostar ticket.

Breakdown

£122.88 on food. Including a VERY tasty brunch in Philly, and CHIPOTLE! (in New York). Plus bagels. Lots of bagels. And a fair few trips to Dunkin Donuts.

£99.61 on transport. Amtrak and various local public transport.

£49.92 on drinks. About half of which was a bottle of bourbon in Duty Free. I shudder to think what this figure would be if I actually personally paid for all I drank on this trip. Let’s just not think about it.

£10.73 on gifts for other people. Candy, mostly.

£102.65 on gifts for myself. Not too bad considering this included a new waterproof jacket and three pairs of smartwool socks (god I love good socks).

£22.06 miscellaneous. A load of random crap at Target.

Posts

Travel-friendly design from the MoMA

Whatup, America?

Driving is a novelty

Flying home

Driving is a novelty

Driving in New Zealand

I have zero pictures of me driving on this trip, so here’s me driving in New Zealand. On the left! With much more interesting scenery than Delaware.

Since I’ve moved to Scotland, I don’t drive very often. I just don’t need to. And I LOVE that I don’t need to. By the time I was leaving the US, I’d done a few months of a fairly short commute to a temp office job and it made me hate my life even more than the job itself did. People in cars are morons. And that was BEFORE texting was even a thing in the US. But there was plenty of makeup application and reading books and eating full meals while driving going on. And that was just in the morning. I couldn’t take it anymore. I was so excited to get to  a place where I could just walk or rely on public transport and be done with it.

The last time I drove (and the only time I’ve driven in the UK) was over 3 years ago. I rented a car to move flat and it happened to be the day of the Edinburgh Marathon. I’d driven on the left before in New Zealand, so I had a tiny bit of that going for me, but I did fairly well considering how stressed and out of practice I was.

Last Monday, I borrowed my parents’ car, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. They have a Honda Pilot, which is pretty big, and incredibly wide. When I lived in the US, I had a Honda Accord, so luckily I was completely familiar with how everything was laid out, but there’s all this new shit now like SiriusXM radio and a video feed with some kind of crazy overlay for when you’re reversing. And satnav, which I won’t even touch.

I borrowed it to go down to Salisbury to see my friends Dan and Kathleen and their new kid, Liam, who’s only 6 months old. I didn’t want them to have to pack up a newborn just to see me for a few hours, and I also wanted to see where they live. (They have DUCKS!) This was before I went to get a Delaware license since I no longer have a permanent Maryland address with which to renew my license. And the whole time I’m driving, I’m thinking: this is basically my brush-up driving test. So, state of Delaware, you can rest assured I earned that replacement license.

In the course of a few hours, I did night driving, heavy rain driving, and sun-low-in-the-sky-and-therefore-in-my-face driving. I had to stop for a school bus and pull over for an ambulance. I was on country roads and highways and city roads. And I had to stay alert enough to anticipate that, on a green left turn arrow, some dickbag in a huge SUV decided to go barreling straight through a red light from the other direction JUST BECAUSE. So, 5 minutes before I got back to my parents’, I could have been creamed because someone wasn’t paying attention. And by that point, I was well and truly done with driving for another good long while.

It’s so tiring. It’s a completely different brand of concentration from anything I normally have to deal with. I felt incredibly tense and unsafe the whole time, and that’s at least 60% because OTHER drivers are so rarely paying attention. It’s no good for a control freak.

It wasn’t all bad though. I scanned the satellite radio for a suitable rock station, found Lithium (basically the equivalent of mid-to-late-90s 99.1 WHFS), and proceeded to spend a good portion of my drive singing Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots and the like at the top of my lungs, feeling very much like I was in high school again. In the best of ways. In fact, my best memories of driving are always the ones that involve blasting good music on long night drives. So despite the anxiety, it was a dose of nostalgic happiness.

Technotronic tape

There was no satellite radio in the New Zealand rental car. This was the only tape. A classic.

Plus, I got to see my friends and their cute kid. And their border collie Scout, who had understandably incessant interest in his ball and was quite content to try sitting in my lap at dinner. And their ducks and chickens! Kathleen made awesome home made pizza for dinner and pumpkin pie for dessert. Dan and I talked about loads of people we knew in high school who I haven’t even thought about in some cases for years. It was the best kind of catching up. I sometimes hate that I’m not closer to some of my best friends, but it always makes for really, really good evenings where we can pick up as though we saw each other just yesterday and the conversation never stalls because there’s so much great stuff to talk about.

I think I hate driving now more than I ever hated flying, but even this one short stint has proven that, like flying, it’s a means to getting somewhere you really want to go, and when there are good friends at the end, it’s more than worth the hassle. The next time I drive will be to my friend Lindsay’s wedding in May, also in the states, and I have no doubt it’ll be equally worth it. I just hope the rental car has Lithium XM.

 

Whatup, America?

Visiting the US is always a different kind of holiday. It’s about seeing as many people as possible and eating as many of the things I miss as I can. So I have spent most of this week stuffing myself and drinking a lot with various friends and family members.

The quality of my posts (and my photography) is probably suffering, but I think that’s ok. I don’t get to see family and friend-family often enough.

I’ll get a little deeper later, but for now, here’s a wee photo rundown.