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This morning we woke up and I drove to Bob & Ellen’s for breakfast – managed to negotiate driving on the other side of the road, a left hand drive car, mandatory STOP signs and the Texans’ peculiar rule that you can turn right on a red traffic light if nothing’s coming the other way. It was inexpressibly strange to drive through a red light legally.

Dad, Bob and Bub (yes, our American friends’ names are often similar and sometimes confusing, as they all work in aviation) drank beer and put the world to rights, while Ellen took Mum & I shopping – it was fab, but I’d forgotten how different the shopping experience is in the States. Everything is so big, and far apart, and sometimes you need your car just to get from one shop to the next – it’s mad! We visited lots of places and saw lots of things, and bought a few bits – not loads, but my favourite purchase of the day was a gorgeous sparkly brooch and a ruffled skirt (which I’m coincidentally wearing as I write this post, back home at the weekend). Unfortunately (actually probably fortunately, for both my bank balance and my overstuffed shoe storage boxes) I am a very weird size in American shoes – in western boots I’m a 9 or 9.5, in shoes I don’t seem to fit into any sizes properly.

It was lovely to see everything though, and just to see the variety – I love shopping anyway, so it’s never a hardship to see new shops! We discovered an utterly lovely shop called Ruby Ellen’s, which I’ll do a picture post for. I bought some beautiful things there, but can’t post them because one of them is a birthday present for someone who I know sometimes reads this blog!

Completely gorgeous to see Bob & Ellen as well, it’s been 14 years since I saw them last, on my very first trip to Texas (and to the USA), when I was still a geeky 12 year old. They’re now grandparents, which is terrifying because their children were still children, if older than me, when I was last there. But so good to catch up and see them.

We’d been invited to the Bell Helicopter reception (background info for anyone who doesn’t know, which is probably most of you – Dad has worked closely with Bell for donkeys’ years, and in the company he worked for before starting his own business, he used to train at their HQ in Fort Worth every summer, and a couple of times spent three months at a time there. Consequently we have friends here, and Dad knows the roads and the city very well) so we decided to go to that instead of the main HAI reception – we’d know more people and they’re usually lovely.

The invitation instructed us to go to the Dallas Cowboys stadium (there are four stadiums. Stadia? Anyway. in Dallas, so getting there was quite exciting. It foxed the satnav.) and dress code was ‘jeans and boots. Fortunately, we went boots shopping yesterday, and I’d bought a new denim skirt in the UK, knowing that a) I don’t wear trousers and b) American sizes and me don’t get on well.

We arrived, expecting to be shown to one of their function rooms, and instead found ourselves escorted onto the pitch, through the big white star that the footballers come through, and as we came through our image was shown on the big (HUGE!!) screens above our head. Amazing!

They’d laid on a cocktail bar in the centre of the pitch, had lots of hot buffets with chefs around the edge, had brought in two helicopters and had a stage. They threatened some line dancing at one point, although I managed to escape having to give a demonstration (again for anyone who didn’t know, I used to line dance competitively and competed and placed at Worlds in Nashville in 2000. It was glorious, but a long time ago!). One end of the pitch was devoted to photo opportunities, and the other to games – kicking a football over the goalposts (under? around? I really am woefully ignorant of the vagaries of the game).

It was a lovely evening – you could do a self guided tour of the stadium if you wished, although as I was breaking in new boots I declined this… but it was beautifully put together and a chance in a million – not something I think I’ll ever get to do again!

So although I don’t follow American football, it was incredible to be there, and definitely a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience.