Smorgasbord Letters from America –August 1986 – A nieces visit, Astroworld, rafting, South Padre and a Royal Wedding.

When I was given the folder of my handwritten letters to my parents when my father died in 1996, I was amazed that he had kept them for ten years. But so pleased that he did. We tend to remember the major events, and we had plenty of amazing experiences in those two years of living in the United States, but it is easy to forget the everyday…

It is August 1986 and my niece Emma aged 15, has been with us for three weeks, and I am writing to my parents with all the things we got up to.. well almost all of them.. I would send the photos on to them at a later date, but will share them in the post.

Dear M & D..

Thankfully all went according to plan and I met Emma along with her escort from the place at the airport and whisked her off to Parramatta Lane. Since you know the layout of the apartment you will recognise this favourite photograph spot for newcomers! Of course being fifteen, Emma was raring to go despite jet lag and the last three weeks have not stopped since.

We of course have introduced her to Walter… and David took this photo a couple of days after she arrived. We had lots of invitations to meals at people’s houses but we spent a couple of days by the pool to get used to the heat and we also of course had to go shopping for more clothes for all the social engagements!

Then Anna took Emma and I to Pappasitos for dinner, and our friendly guitarist who you will remember well Mollie for serenading you, found out Emma was your granddaughter and invited her stand up in front of the whole restaurant to sing to her. Two songs later we managed to drag her back to the table to eat her fajitas!

On the next Monday, Debbie, Walter, Emma and I set off at the crack of dawn and went rafting on the Guadaloupe again. We had a hilarious day and as the water level was down, were out there for six hours. We stayed in a motel in New Braunfels, Debbie had a bed to herself, Emma and I shared and Walter slept in a sleeping bag. Emma and I got up early and went to Mcdonalds and brought back breakfast. After much needed energy boost we went to a park nearby where they have a great water chute. We spent two hours going down it in inner tubes before driving the 200 miles home. We were all exhausted and Emma and I had fajitas and a movie before an early night.

It was needed as we had to be up early at 4.30 to catch the royal wedding… we watched the whole thing armed with supplies including some orange juice and champagne to toast the bride and groom. (Emma’s was 95% orange juice I promise). I have told her that now Prince Andrew is taken, she will have to make do with Prince Edward! We loved all the pageantry and certainly a fairy tale dress.

David was in Kansas all week but arrived back on Friday night ready to take us out over the weekend. We went to the movies on Saturday night and a Chinese at our favourite restaurant. He left again Monday morning and on Tuesday the gang got together and we headed to Astroworld which is a themed amusement park and had a great day on rides and having photographs taken ….including gate crashing the photo with Bugs Bunny and two small strangers.

We went to a concert at the park in the evening and headed home very tired but happy.

We had the weekend with David and then Debbie, Emma and I headed down to South Padre for four days to a rented house on the beach. We had a great girls only visit, with plenty of sun, swimming and lobster dinners, which got very messy. Some of the best seafood ever. Emma still looks skinny whilst Debbie and I put in at least 5lbs.

To finish off her holiday everyone piled into Pappasitos, having started at our apartment and the restaurant cordoned off the back of the room to keep us from disturbing the other customers!

I think Emma’s face says it all…..

And then it was time to say goodbye. I have to say it was a wonderful time and we cannot believe how fast it has gone. Everyone fell in love with her and we certainly enjoyed having her with us. Sending her home very tanned and hopefully with some great memories.

Then to fill the suddenly empty week I went out to Debbie’s parents ranch about 50 miles north of here. They have a man made lake on the property and they have stocked it with Bass. We spent some time on a wind surfer without any wind, and did some fishing. I also got in touch with my inner cowgirl and have proof of both my fishing and my trick riding abilities!!

As you know I have a pathological phobia about snakes (it must have been my early training around cobras in Ceylon)… and Debbie neglected to tell me until after swimming and larking about in the water, that there were also a fair few water moccasins in the lake too. Thankfully it was also after I had dismounted otherwise it might have been less than graceful.

David and I are off on 21st for a week to Barbados. We are pretty certain we will be leaving here in January and we have so many air and hotel miles to use up, it will be virtually free. I will call you next week on Sunday before we go and tell you all about it in a letter when we get back.

Then it will only be six weeks until we are home for David’s conference and my stay with you at home for a week.  Really looking forward to seeing everyone and cannot believe it is nearly a year since you were with us.

Love from us both Sally and David..XX

©Sally Cronin


Thanks for visiting and I hope you have enjoyed our latest adventure in Texas and will join me next week for another.. Sally

Smorgasbord Letters from America – Houston – June 1986 – South Padre Island and Getting Fit.. Sally Cronin

When I was given the folder of my handwritten letters to my parents when my father died in 1996, I was amazed that he had kept them for ten years. But so pleased that he did. We tend to remember the major events, and we had plenty of amazing experiences in those two years of living in the United States, but it is easy to forget the everyday…

It is now June 1986 and the summer was hot… we decide to go down to South Padre on the gulf coast for a weekend and to test it out ahead of my 15 year old nieces trip later in the summer.. As usual I kept my parents up to date with my weekly letter home. I do have some photos of that trip somewhere but with 12 moves since then.. don’t ask me which box they are in!!  Here is a modern day one from…

Dear M & D..

We got home from South Padre…to find a letter from you and from Diana… thank you for catching up with all your news.

We had a wonderful weekend and were very pleasantly surprised by our beach house. I must admit I was expecting a shack on the beach but in fact it was a two storey, double garage, two bed and bath private house. The living room was as big as our appartment, and a balcony with a great view of the sea. We had sunshine the whole time and we spent most of in on the beach and in the water, surfing on rafts…

The seafood was amazing in the two restaurants that we ate in and the prawns (shrimp here as you know) were as big as lobsters.. The only draw back was the 7 hour drive there and back, but I took along our trivia pursuit box of questions and we swapped driving every couple of hours and became quiz master.. David won of course.. I never was much good at science but entertainment is usually mine!  We love living in the complex but we did notice the difference being in a detached house 50 yards from the nearest neighbour… very quiet….

The weather was very hot up to the last week or so but we are getting into hurricane season in the next few weeks and there has been a some very heavy rain and flooding already. None have touched down in Houston for the last couple of years but there are warnings out at the moment. There are lines at the supermarket for the basics although I tend to keep a stock in the larder just in case with bottled water etc.  I would be quite happy not to experience one and hopefully we will get away with it again this year.

I am back down to a size sixteen again which is pleasing.. it takes effort… and have upped my aerobics to two classes a week and I can usually make it through the hour without keeling over. I am also playing water volley ball twice a week and tennis at least once with Debby. Swimming an hour a day is a good way to ease the muscles and I love having the pool to myself most of the afternoon as everyone is usually at work.. Except for my flight attendant friends who regale me with tales of life in the sky… they don’t get paid enough.

The latest group activity is line dancing and we have found a great country and western dance bar where we have been a couple of times.. David is not keen but I go with the gang when he is away. I am not allowed to dance with strangers.. and if a cowboy should approach me and ask me, two or three of my guardians step forward and tell them ‘She’s married’..I will never get the Texas two step mastered at this rate!

We are moving ahead with plans for Emma’s visit. Debby’s students are around the same age so she is organising some of them to accompany us on days out. They are all looking forward to meeting her and have been restrained from coming to the airport with us to meet her. Our friends here in the apartments have also started issuing invitations and about 20 of us will be going to Pappasitos to introduce her to fajitas…I promise to take lots of photographs to send to you.

We have so many air miles racked up that we need to spend before we come back to the UK, so I am going to come home in October if that is okay with you for a week to see everyone, just in case our contract is extended into the middle of next year.. We are also going to us them up in conjunction with loyalty points we have with Marriott and having never been to Barbados that is our next port of call in September.

It is time for the fortnightly phone call this Sunday so will catch you up on everything else then.

love from us both.

S & D.

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed the latest adventure. I am so glad we made the most of our two years in America. We met some amazing people and 35 years later we are still in touch.