• Tipping in California: Guide to how much and when

    Americans are used to navigating the highly subjective world of tipping. Like it or not, it’s how their famous “service with a smile” culture is funded.  Most service jobs pay less than $10/£6.30 an hour (minimum wage in California is $8.35/£5.30). That’s ...

Tipping in California: Guide to how much and when

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Americans are used to navigating the highly subjective world of tipping. Like it or not, it’s how their famous “service with a smile” culture is funded.  Most service jobs pay less than $10/£6.30 an hour (minimum wage in California is $8.35/£5.30). That’s not very much if you consider the knowledge of say, a professional sommelier, or a […]

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San Francisco: Tree lighting memories

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  We can’t be at the #Ghirardelli50thTreeLighting on Friday, but we’ll be there in spirit! This annual lighting in Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco is what I remember as child. Are you going to a tree lighting this year? What are you memories? A photo posted by Susanna Scott (@amodernmother) on Nov 11, 2014 at […]

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11 cool things to do with the family in the Trossachs

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  Made famous by Sir Walter Scott’s Lady of the Lake, the Trossachs are an area of wooded glens, braes and quiet lochs at the southern border of the Scottish highlands. The Victorians would travel by Caledonian rail, then steamer and horse and buggy to admire the misty lochs, walk amongst the purple peaks and […]

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The Modern Family Goes Ape in Aberfoyle

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  Go Ape in Aberfoyle Wow, what an adventure! The girls have been keen for a while to give Go Ape a go. Our opportunity to fly down zip wires and leap off Tarzan swings came on a recent trip to Scotland.  There are 28 Go Ape courses across the UK, and we were guests of Go […]

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Hoseasons: Lodges at Forest Hills in the Trossachs

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  The Victorians were fascinated with Scotland’s Trossachs, primarily because it was the setting for Sir Walter Scott’s epic poem “The Lady of the Lake”. They would travel by train, then steamer and horse and buggy to admire the misty lochs, walk amongst the purple peaks and mingle with the highlanders. I’m sure a wee […]

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A Modern Mother’s Mexican 7-layer dip

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This weekend a friend asked me to bring an appetiser dish to a party. I agreed immediately, not fully clocking how much I had on over the two days.  I needed something simple and easy, that would look festive too. I decided on an American party favourite: Mexican 7-layer dip, which requires no cooking. When these Mexican-themed […]

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Do you say Cali?

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The first time I heard the apocopation Cali I cringed. I almost broke London etiquette and corrected the offenders on the tube. They had smart Prada bags, looked like they were in PR, and were discussing a recent trip to “Cali”. Erm, no one in California would actually use the term Cali. They might name their cat Cali. […]

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Favourites: The Hitching Post, the BEST Santa Maria Bar-B-Que

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  This summer Visit California suggested we stop in Santa Maria on our trip from San Francisco to Surf City USA. It is about half way, and a nice place to break up the 6 and 1/2 hour drive. My ears perked up at the suggestion. My mother grew up in Santa Maria, and I know how […]

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London South Bank & Westminster: Activities for families

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London’s South Bank/Westminster area is full of all kinds of activities that families will enjoy. From Parliament to museums to the London Eye, there’s something for just about everyone. We visited recently and I had a great time researching what was on offer, and what I thought my family – 9, 10, and 12-year-old girls […]

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Favourites: Park Plaza County Hall London & L’Italiano

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  To make my list of favourites there needs to be something special about a place, something that really stands out. You know, the type of place you start planning your next visit in your head, even before you’ve left. Read on to see why I would return to Park Plaza County Hall and L’Italiano on my […]

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Newport Beach: 9 activities for families

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I spent my University days in Newport Beach, California. School was nearby and I teamed up with about 500 students to share a three-bedroom flat on the Newport peninsula. I cleverly arranged all my classes for Tuesdays and Thursdays – so I had a 4-day weekend and a day off in between! I loved it … and managed […]

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Surf City USA: Finding the Hollister web cam and learning to surf!

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I first learned that Huntington Beach in California was the surfer paradise behind the Hollister brand by accident. It was a cold Autumn day in Edinburgh, grey skies were threatening rain and  thankfully we had remembered to bring wooly scarves. Coincidentally it was my first trip to the gorgeous city, even though my Scottish husband […]

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Sonoma wine country for families: Activities for kids

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Let’s not kid ourselves, think Sonoma, and you probably think wine. Preferably in a glass and in your hand! And it’s no wonder, this California county has more than 400 wineries. Really good award-winners too, like Buena Vista, Jordan and Simi. Couple that with Northern California sunshine, and you have a recipe for a really good […]

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San Francisco: Getting the most out of City Pass

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Visiting San Francisco? Lucky you! I’ve travelled around the world and the “city by the bay” is one of my favourites. It’s small enough to be manageable, but cutting edge too – with that unstoppable Northern California energy. San Francisco offers some of the best museums and activities in the world, especially when it comes to […]

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A girls’ weekend in Austin, Texas

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If I lived in Texas, I’d live in Austin. It’s a vibrant green patch famous for its tech start-ups, music scene and food trucks that serve items like Navajo fry bread tacos, jerk chicken and curry goat. It’s a very cool place.Actually, it’s a very HOT place, often reaching the 100s in summer. Air con, and a swimming […]

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Beignets with melted chocolate and homemade blackberry jam

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I’ve been in Austin visiting a friend and this morning she made these delicious beignets with homemade blackberry jam and melted chocolate!   It’s a Bobby Flay speciality and you can find the recipe and a list of all ingredients/directions on the Cooking Channel web site. In addition to the blackberry jam, we just melted a little bittersweet […]

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