So, Autumn (or Fall) has finally come to Houston. The mornings are cooler at around 12c and the air has lost its humidity at last. It’s not exactly chilly by UK standards for Autumn but Houstonians seem to have coats and even gloves on in the mornings now. The days do warm up (to about 30c) and the sun is still incredibly strong (see my Lovely Husband’s sun-burnished face for evidence!) but it is much more pleasant to be here now.
We spent a recent weekend at the Hyatt Lost Pines resort, just outside of Austin. It’s 400 acres of beautiful land next to McKinney Roughs nature reserve and Bastrop State Park, with the Colorado river running through the grounds. We were celebrating the Big One’s school friend’s birthday (that was a mouthful!) and it was nice to go away with another family and relax as all four children get on so well.
The big girls had their bikes with them and as there were lots of paths they spent much of the weekend cycling around. The Big One has been riding without stabilisers since she was 4 but at the end of last Summer we bought her a bigger bike which she took an instant dislike to and we haven’t cycled at all since we got here in January. Within an hour she was cycling round on her bike and my Lovely Husband had to get a hire bike so he could keep up with her. She mastered starting by herself, being in control on hills and riding down steep grassy banks without falling off. She has the makings of an excellent mountain biker already!
One of the attractions of the hotel is the (mainly unheated) outdoor swimming pools. Unfortunately for us, we arrived on one of the coldest weekends of the year. Temperatures dropped to 12c during the day (when we’d left Houston at 8pm the previous evening if had been 35c!) and although we’d brought warmer clothes with us, we weren’t really prepared for this. Obviously, the cold temperatures didn’t stop us going in the pool (the main pool did have heating), down the water slide and floating along the lazy river but it did mean that the children were shivering and crying after 30 minutes! We were the only people in the unheated parts of the pool though…
In the evenings the hotel has several fire pits outside and provide S’Mores kits. S’Mores are made by toasting marshmallows on a fire, then sticking them together with a lump of chocolate between two Graham crackers to make a sandwich. The girls love toasting marshmallows and were very happy to eat those with the chocolate, but they objected to the crackers. Give them a McVities Digestive and they would have been much happier! It was a great way to spend the evenings, just add a glass of wine for the adults, and the fire helped keep us warm too.
It was so nice to spend the weekend outside, without getting hot, bothered and sunburnt (although we did certainly get some colour due to the strength of the sun when it came out). It makes us realise how much we miss the variable seasons and the cooler weather at home too.
Before we left for home, some of the animals that are kept at the hotel came out for a photo session. You can never have too many pictures of yourself sitting on a Texas Longhorn:
The only downside of the whole weekend was that, just as we were leaving, the Little One got hurt by some bleach a cleaner had left on a toilet seat. Our very relaxing weekend had ended on quite a stressful note, with stripping the Little One and showering her off for half an hour, with the help of the first aid team. Luckily the Little One is now fine and the hotel have promised to review the procedures on using chemicals, so we will be returning at some point in the future because it is a very special spot.