Spring time comes to Chicago

The last week has been beautiful in Chicago Mid 20’s (mid 70’s for you Fahrenheit folk) and gorgeous sun.  Thankfully Tim and I made it out to the park this afternoon after doing lots of sorting of our apartment ready to move in a couple of weeks. One cobbled together awesome picnic from Fox and Obel later and we were ON.

Pictures taken in PFC Milton Olive Park by Navy Pier in Chicago.


Ski/Snowboard iPhone Apps : EpicMix and Ski Tracks


I was in Vail last weekend, not only was the snow great and the weather awesome, I was excited to try out EpicMix. As a geek I love a good app, and I also love a good graph and I definitely love skiing.

EpicMix tracks your activity on the mountain using an RFID chip in your ski pass. At the base of each lift your ski pass will be picked up and your activity logged. You can then view your activity on the website or on the accompanying iPhone and Android Apps. You earn pins for your achievements and there are hundreds to unlock. It also tracks your vertical feet skied based on the lifts that you used. New for this year too (although I didn’t try it), was that you could use one of the on mountain photographers to capture images or you around the mountain that are automatically added to your account.

I thought it was pretty awesome, and a great start towards tracking your activity on the mountain. Cons for me are that it doesn’t track which slopes you skied, just the lifts that you road, it could do with integration with your phones GPS, and also that it took 4 or 5 hours to sync to my phone from the time I actually skied. I’m sure it will improve over time… if they need a developer…;-)

EpicMix covers the Vail family of resorts, Vail, Breckenridge, Beaver Creek, Heavenly, Northstar and Keystone.

Get on iTunes here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/epicmix/id395375487?mt=8


Ski Tracks

Ski Tracks I discovered a couple of seasons ago. The premise is similar, tracking your journey around the mountain, although instead of RFID in uses GPS, and instead of being a social media platform it is more of a stats app.

It tracks where you skied on a Google Map and shows you your max speed, altitudes, metres skied etc. You launch the app and it runs in your pocket, it integrates with the iPod too. On my 3Gs it drains the battery pretty bad but I’ve heard from others with newer iPhones that this isn’t the case for them.

The accuracy is pretty decent, and my brother and I had a lot of fun with this one, trying to beat our max speed and seeing just how much of the mountain that we’d covered that day. It goes into a lot of detail and you can see a run-by-run breakdown of where you skied.

An obvious advantage over EpicMix is that you can use this anywhere and not just an enabled resorts.

Get on iTunes here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ski-tracks-gps-track-recorder/id365724094?mt=8

Photography: Composition Workshop

A few weeks ago I bought a Groupon for a photography class on Composition in Chicago through the Digital Photo Academy. We spent the morning walking around Millenium Park looking for shots. It was a beautiful day for it. Didn’t feel like I got as much out of it as the other two classes I’ve done. But it was still nice.

Here are a few of mine:

Burgers and Lobsters in London

Last weekend I happened across an amazing eating hole in London.

I was reading Grazia magazine (no judgement!) and I read about a new restaurant that had just opened up in Mayfair thats mission was to bring ‘reasonable’ priced lobsters and Champagne to all. As I happened to be staying in Mayfair that night, it sounded perfect. Especially seeing as earlier in the year Tim and I had been to Cape Cod in the USA for the weekend, and Tim had made it his mission to eat lobster for every single meal all weekend. Oh and I’m quite partial to Champagne.

Tucked down a windy street, is the, blink and you’ll miss it, Burger and Lobster Restaurant Cocktail Bar at 29 Clarges street, Mayfair London W1J 7EF.

There was a bit of a wait, but they are happy for you to go to a pub down the road and call you when your table is ready. The super friendly staff took us to the table and told us about the menu.



Lobster Roll



All with Chips and a Salad and for £20 and thats all they do.

Tim and I, of course, had all three.

The atmosphere is relaxed and throughly enjoyable. Everyone enjoying tucking into their lobsters. Which by the way live in a giant live lobster tank below the restaurant.

The food was excellent. The lobster roll was first and was amazing. Now I’ve had a few lobster rolls in my time, after being educated about them in New Brunswick, Canada, I have hunted them down in Atlantic North America ever since. This was definitely up there in the best that I’ve ever had. Perfect brioche bun, not too much but enough citrus mayonaise and a whole lobsters worth of meat in there.

I then had the Burger and Tim the Lobster. You have a choice of boiled or grilled and with lemon garlic butter or just plain melted butter. Both were pretty darn yummy.

All in all this was a great place to go and I will definitely be going back next time I’m in London.

Places to visit in New Zealand

My friends Warren and Jenny are off to  New Zealand this year and asked me for places that I would recommend visiting. Other people have asked me for this in the past too, and as I was writing the email I thought that I should just put it on here!

I spent two winter seasons as a Ski Instructor on The Remarkables in Queenstown. I loved New Zealand. For so many reasons it’s hard to put into words.

Here is the list of some of the things that I got up to (and for your enjoyment a couple of old photos!):

Ok…. So in the South Island…

 I lived in Queenstown. (I would spend 3 days here as theres tonnes to do around here.)
  • Eat pizza at Winnies (http://www.winnies.co.nz/) I was particularly partial to the Chicken, Cranberry and Brie Pizza. Plus the roof opens. I watched a lot of Rugby here.
  •  Get a late night burger at FergBurger. They are legendary and epic. http://www.fergburger.com/
  •  Theres a great view from the top of the Gondola, The Alpine slide thing is fun and I also did a tandem parapenting thing off the top. Which was amazing.
  • I worked and Skied at The Remarkables (also contains the lake that Gollum had that whole talking to himself scene in LOTR) and Coronet Peak.
  • Go on the Shotover Jet boat ride. Charging around in a high-speed boat in a couple of inches of water through a narrow gully. Whats not to love?! http://www.shotoverjet.com/
The Franz Josef Glacier – Was great! Amazing to walk around something like that. I went with these people http://www.franzjosefglacier.com/our-trips/ and did the full day hike i think. Maybe the half day one.
I haven’t been to but my family did and lots of others say its great…
On the North Island…
Rotorua Area
Waitomo – The glow worm caves! http://www.waitomo.com/ – I did an abseiling down a cave thing, it wasn’t with the main guys on that website, can’t remember who, but I think they are all good.
Raglan – A very chilled out surfing hippy town. Pretty fun.
Coromandel – I think we went here, rainforests I think.
There were many more places that I don’t remember but these were definitely my favorite. I’m so jealous. I love love love New Zealand. Make sure to eat some Steak and Cheese pies for me!

Christmas Carols at Millenium Park

As many of you may  (or may not!) know, last Christmas Tim got me a DSLR. I have since spent the year attempting to become a bit less amateur!  Thanks to Groupon I have been on a couple of day-long workshops and they have helped a lot. I haven’t got out to practice as much as I would of liked, but I quite liked these photos I took at the carols. Realised that I have learnt quite a lot this year, always in manual mode now!

There will be Carols at Cloud Gate every Friday from now until Christmas. Well worth braving the cold.

Hope you like some of them!

Visitors from Canada for Thanksgiving

Tim’s parents came to stay with us over Thanksgiving in Chicago, which was really lovely.

We managed to all fit into our little apartment for the long weekend, and it was great to be able to show them the sights of Chicago. We did lots of walking, playing Fluxx (my new favourite card game!), football watching in Tim’s Dad’s case, eating yummy healthy food, oh and the odd Chicago deep dish pizza at Unos!

Tim’s Mum and I even braved the shops on Michigan Avenue on Black Friday!

We spent a fair bit of time in the Christkindlmarket, which is a German Christmas market in downtown Chicago. The place is awesome. You should go! I was more than happy to introduce Tim’s family to Gluhwein!

We also put up the Christmas tree. A little ahead of schedule even by my standards but it was fun having Tim’s Mum help me with it as we won’t all be together for actual Christmas.

Here are some of the pictures from the weekend. Enjoy!