What a week it’s been. We’ve learnt and done so much this week just gone it’s been amazing. From learning about wine glasses one day to how a farrier shoes a horse the next, we’ve been very busy.
It’s also been an incredibly sad week. We found out the other day that a very dear friend of ours, Max, passed away. He was a lovely man and we’ll miss him dearly. I know this isn’t an obituary, but I just wanted to tell you a bit about him.
I met Max when I was looking for some career guidance, which was one of his many professions, but coming from the same part of south London, we quickly became very good friends.
He lived the most extraordinary life, playing professional football for Millwall when he was young, he went on to do and become many things. A psychologist, an author, a careers counsellor, a priest and – last of all – a cowboy… and that was to be his downfall.
After two complete knee reconstructions, he and his lovely wife Jane moved from his pad at Bondi Beach to the country to live the life of a horse master and chook keeper.
We were devastated to find out from Jane that the bull he’d raised from a calf had become very territorial and had attacked him in one of the fields of his property in the Hunter Valley. He didn’t stand a chance.
In a way, I’m glad he went this way and not a long, sad suffering death. It was just too soon. Far too soon.
Anyway, thank you for helping us grieve for our friend. Here’s this week’s Instagram Diary. Hope you enjoy.
This week’s Instagram Diary
If you’d asked me last week if I’d thought the shape of your wine glass would make any difference to the taste of your wine, I’d have said ‘no’. Or at least ‘probably not’.
However, now I’d totally disagree with myself, which is a strange thing to do, isn’t it?
We’re at the Sydney Wine Centre in Ultimo to learn about the difference the shape of your glass makes. We’ll tell you more about all of this in a later post, but I will tell you that the pinot noir we’re trying here is in a pinot noir glass on the right. Pouring it into a chardonnay glass makes it taste horrible. It smells like crushed ants and tastes completely different.
I’d even go as far as saying if a restaurant doesn’t have proper Pinot Noir glasses on its shelves, I probably won’t be ordering that wine anymore. It’s what our teacher does and I can understand why now – it makes that much of a difference!
Check out Sydney Wine Centre though if you’re looking for a fun gift for a wine lover you know – or if you want to learn a bit more yourself. They’ve got some great courses on wine.
We’re on a road trip this weekend – man we love a road trip! We’re up in the town of Scone in the Upper Hunter Region to check out the Scone Horse Festival. Scone is the second biggest horse stud town in the world with so many world-class horses coming from this little dot in New South Wales.
There’s a big parade, a ball, competitions, rodeos, fetes… it’s going to be epic. Before it all kicks off, Mrs Romance have hidden ourselves away in one of the many excellent pubs that line the main street of Scone for a quiet beer.
All I can say is the Willow Tree Hotel is the place to go!
Today’s the big day for the Scone Horse Festival and it all starts off (after coffee and the obligatory bacon egg sandwich) with the parade. The whole main street of Scone is blocked off. Hundreds of horses, floats, marching bands, classic cars and yet more horses troop down the street. It’s a lovely sight and one you rarely get to see.
We’re back in the Willow Tree Hotel on the sneaky balcony they’ve got not many people seem to know about. It’s a prime position to watch the parade.
Next we’ve gone down the road to White Park, where a lot of the action for the rest of the day is happening. There’s a farriers’ and blacksmiths’ competition going on at the moment. I’m transfixed with how these guys work with white hot metal and bend it into all sorts of shapes.
Some are shoeing horses too. It’s such a process, such an art. You’ve got to get it absolutely right. Here’s a farrier measuring a hot shoe against a horse’s hoof. It doesn’t hurt the horse – they can’t even feel it or they’d give him a good kick – but the smoke smells a bit like an old broken down hairdryer.
Over at the rodeo, Mrs R is doing her best impression of someone who knows what they’re doing. I’m certainly convinced… I’m not sure who else is!
We’re watching the rope and tie event, where competing teams race after a young bull and lasso it then hitch a rope round a leg. This one’s escaped!
After a full day of down and dirty horse shenanigans, we’re checking out the finer side to the horse world. A game of polo. In fact the Scone Polo Club is one of the oldest and most respected in the country. Even better than that, this is the first ever women-only competition ever to be played in Australia – if not the world.
Mrs Romance tells me she’s overheard a lady in the crowd smiling about how much things have changed. When she was a girl, she was told that women would never play polo.
It’s even better that this tournament is being played today on Mother’s Day.
It’s an amazing game and if you’ve never seen polo being played before, you should try and get to a game. It’s amazing how the horses and the riders work together so well, and even more impressive how the riders manage to hit a ball about the size of a softball with a wooden mallet with a 1.5m handle from the seat of a galloping horse. Incredible.
The only thing I’d hit would be the ground!
This week’s travel recap
Each week we go back in time over some of our favourite travel destinations using never-before-seen photos of our travels. Here’s where we’ve been looking back on this week.
The matching towers of the San Remo Building on NYC’s Upper East Side seem to sprout out of the trees of Central Park. It’s an iconic building – Bono apparently owns one of the top floors.
We love New York. It’s the most incredible city in the world for sure. It’s also a bit overwhelming if it’s your first time there, so we’ve written a first-timer’s guide to help you out.
Mrs Romance and I have been to Italy quite a few times. It’s where her dad was from and it’s where all of the food that I like it from, so it makes sense we go there as often as possible.
A while back, a close friend got married in Tuscany – in the castle you can see in the background in fact. It was an amazing wedding… which is probably why Mrs R is jumping for such joy!
We love Tuscany – probably more than any other places in Italy. We’ve been here many times. Here’s a selection of what we’ve written about in Tuscany.
Mrs Romance keeps on about the time she went to the beautiful Hayman Island in Queensland. It’s a tropical retreat for the rich, so I can see why Mrs R is so pleased with herself.
Yes, this is from a helicopter. And no, I wasn’t there. I don’t want to talk about it. However, if you want to read more about Mrs R’ time there, go right ahead.
This pub is in the tiny riverside town of Wivenhoe (meaning ‘dragon hill’ in Old English). I moved to Wivenhoe when I was a kid, so my family and I have been coming here for years. There’s nothing better than enjoying a pint here on the riverbank on a long summer’s evening.
Yes, plenty of good memories of this place. And if you want to see and read more, here’s our review.
Ah, Capri! We were only on this beautiful southern Italian island for a day, but memories of this place have really stuck with us. And looking at shots like this, you can understand why!
We found this private beach completely by accident while we were exploring the island and trying to get away from the tourist crowd. The beach is attached to one of the most perfectly located seafood restaurants in the world (I ordered the lobster) and is definitely our hot tip for Capri.
For more info and our full write-up, check out our post on Capri here.
Chicago is an awesome city. In the summer. In winter, I’ve heard it sucks… well, the weather does anyway. We were here for a conference a while back (actually Mrs R was here for a conference. I was just tagging along!) and we stayed in the W Lakeshore Hotel.
The W Lakeshore looks out over Lake Michigan and is the perfect spot to explore the city from. Here’s our write-up on the hotel, but if you want to know what else we got up to, here’s a selection of our posts from Chicago.
What a way to end this Instagram Diary! This sunset from the beach of Efate in Vanuatu has to be one of our top 5 sunsets of all time. The westering sun hiding away amidst a shelf of burnished cloud on an ocean horizon… absolutely stunning. If you want to see what else we’ve got to say about Vanuatu, click here. There’s even a rough guide to Port Villa in the list!
And now it’s over to you. How was your week? Have you ever been to a rodeo or a polo match? Did you know the shape of a wine glass made that much difference to your wine? Which is your favourite travel recap photo from this week? Tell us in the comments below!