smoked fish chowder

My first chowder ever was eaten sitting on Pier 39 in San Francisco after listening to a pod of seals making a tremendous racket on the rocks by the pier. I remember that day as clear as if it were yesterday.  (June 2006)

Funnily enough I hadn’t expected grey skies and cold, damp days in San Francisco. I had imagined it to be one ray of sunshine after another, however the town didn’t disappoint and when we spotted the clam chowder sold on the pier we had to have one.

clam chowder

 

The thing that caught my eye was that it was served in a sourdough bread bowl! It looked amazing and a bit of searching online I have found the restaurant Pier Market and totally nabbed a photo of theirs to show you. Isn’t it amazing?

My taste for chowder was born and since then I have tried quite a few, New England chowder, Smoked haddock chowder, I even made one for a starter for our New Year’s Eve dinner party many moons ago. Chuffed to pieces with myself at having been so clever only to discover at least three of my guests didn’t like seafood!

Moving on.

I have made it a few times since then and perfected my fish chowder recipe as I go and as I can’t see us returning to San Francisco in the near future I’m left with second best option of making it myself…. I must try that sourdough bread bowl too sometime.

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Visit Orlando*sigh*

If there’s one thing we won’t be doing with regards to our wedding it’s taking a honeymoon as our date is slap bang in the middle of term time and like I say we’re a family first and foremost so we won’t take them out of school and we wouldn’t go without them.

I imagine (hope) we’ll be one of those OAP couples living it up big time when the girls leave home but in the meantime a girl can dream, right?

So when it comes to choosing a location for your honeymoon where do you start looking?

Like I said IF we were to go, we’d take the girls with us and we’d like to go to a warm climate with lots of different things to do for every member of the family, a honeymoon is also a dream holiday so one that is classed as special and one location that springs to mind is Orlando.

visit orlando header

I think you’ll be thrilled to learn that Orlando isn’t just theme parks, there’s a ton of exciting stuff to do over there and recently Visit Orlando have launched this amazing tool Orlando Holiday Planning where you can go and plan your holiday from your sofa making sure that there are things to do for all the family. Not only that each topic is packed with tips that you can save to personalise your unique family holiday.

Tabs at the top include When to go, getting there, where to stay and of course what to do. Orlando is so packed with opportunities that it is most certainly a place you can revisit time and time again and still find new attractions to discover.

Visit Orlando

As a girl can dream, I did. I went over and made up my dream Orlando holiday. I chose how and with who I would fly, I got some great ideas on accommodation and love the idea of a hotel within the theme park plus Mickey Mouse dining package where kids eat free. I picked up important tips on what to pack, to book tickets in advance and WHERE TO SHOP sorry was I shouting then? Yes, peeps shopping, don’t forget iPads, Jeans, trainers and a ton of designer labels are much cheaper in their home country than back in Ol’ Blighty.

Here are a few of the ideas I bookmarked

  • Check out the alligators on an airboat ride
  • hire surfboards at Ron Jon Surf Shop on Cocoa Beach
  • Race fans can whizz round a track in a IndyCar or stock car (Paul would LOVE this)
  • Pamper yourself in a luxurious spa (me time)
  • Visit the largest Legoland in the world in Florida – the girls would love this

So if I can get the school to move their term dates, save up a couple of grand I am sure I can convince the Mr to take us all away and spend our honeymoon in Florida, what do you think?

Visit Orlando A couple of weeks back, I took the girls out of preschool and we went on a train up to London, a journey they both adore. It was the Highspeed into St Pancras which I love as it saves so much time.

Our destination was Holborn, just a couple of stops on the Piccadilly Line and our appointment was, very excitingly, a morning with Visit Orlando, the sunny, fun destination in Florida that most of us associate with theme parks.

Visit Orlando is the tourist board for that enticing part of the world and time and time again they come up against tourists who think of them as theme parks and that’s it so, they want to get the message out there that there’s loads more to do. In fact, there’s something for everyone from the youngest members of the family to the oldest.

Whilst we enjoyed lattes and croissants at the Aveda Institute, Amy introduced us to the magical wonders in Orlando and of course, like any girl who knows what’s best she told us about the shopping…

Did you know that Orlando has now surpassed Miami in the shopping stakes? It’s now the 4th best place to shop in the USA. 12 shopping malls, top department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and one of the largest outlet locations of the South East, they even have a tour called Shop Orlando and I’m assured there is something for purses of every size.

Then we talked about spas or more specifically, pampering yourself. The City Beautiful lives up to its name with internationally known brands like the Waldorf Astoria by Guerlain or the Ritz-Carlton Spa, many of them also having menus for children too!

Enjoying a fabulous manicure – thanks Visit Orlando :)

It seems the perfect place to point out there are numerous golf courses should the man of your life not want to enjoy some pampering. Like I said, there is something for everyone.

Of course, one thing you can enjoy as a couple or a family is the dining out. Casual dining, Upscale Dining even themed dining are all on offer. I remember one of our favourite places to eat on our last visit to Orlando was the House of Blues in Downtown Disney where I ate my first ever Jambalaya. Amy told me of a Pirate’s Dinner Adventure which is perfect for a swashbuckling family evening, coined as the world’s most interactive dinner show.

Light on the bar in The House of Blues in Disney Downtown

Top tips for planning a visit to Orlando

  • Book car hire from the UK to make sure you have the correct insurance cover.
  • Quietest time to visit is October half term.
  • July – August is VERY hot, remember to drink water, wear a sunhat and cover-up with sun cream.
  • If visiting with little ones in the summer, visit the parks early in the morning and in the late afternoon.
  • Book Swim with Dolphins before you go, they only take 1000 people max per day.

So yes, Orlando is home to the world’s best theme parks and it has water parks where you can swim with the dolphins but there is also plenty of nightlife and more entertainment than you can shake your hips at. There is a huge range of sports and recreation; hot air balloon rides or flying an open-cockpit 1930’s biplane. There’s plenty of art, history and culture and spa and wellness too, heavens you can even get married there!

Now there’s a thought to put to my other half…

Disclosure – Visit Orlando treated me to coffee and croissants at the Aveda Institute. They also treated me to a fabulous Aveda manicure and a cupcake (see top photo, do you like the colour?) but I checked out the website and I am the one dreaming of returning to Orlando one day with my girls, did you know the Magic Kingdom has had a complete revamp? *sigh* one day I’ll get there too.