by Hank Schrader, USMA ’71, Europe Destination & Europe River Cruise Expert
October is a special month for us—I was born on October 6. 1949 but more importantly, Anne & I got married on October 10, 1987. 29 years and counting—pretty cool to say the least. It was and will continue to be the best decision of my life. October 10 is also Columbus Day (maybe will be changed into Indigenous People’s Day—who knows?) and since it is also a Federal Holiday, I thought we would always have a 3 or 4 day holiday to celebrate. Not so—only 23 states celebrate the holiday and with my Army military and teaching & football coaching careers, there were not too many travel celebrations in the first 20 years or so. However, we have made up for it since 2011, after my retirement from teaching. Next year will be our 30th Anniversary and Anne’s 65 Birthday—nothing planned yet but I’m pretty sure it will involve a great, memorable trip or two.
So, I thought I’d tell you about how we celebrated Anne’s 60th Birthday in Wales. It is a time neither of us will forget. I can’t remember most of the stuff I got for birthdays as gifts, but I always remember experiences from travel. It has helped us enrich our lives, build better relationships together and creating memories that remain for a long, long time. So, let’s go to cooking school in a foreign country.
Our room at Llanerch Vineyards, Wales
We took a cooking class from Angela Gray in Wales to celebrate Anne’s 60th birthday in April of 2012. You have probably never heard of Celebrity Chef, Angela Gray. She is considered the top chef in Wales. Angela runs a Raymond Blanc-style cooking school (Raymond Blanc is probably the best known chef in Great Britain and owns a restaurant that has earned two Michelin Stars). Her objective is to attract foodies from across the world to Llanerch Vineyards in Wales. Besides being a top chef, food writer, food consultant, and featured TV chef on Welsh TV; she also was former chef to the rich and famous, including Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. In 2011, she opened her cooking school. Llanerch Vineyard’s web page describes her school with these words—“Welcome to our very special cookery school, where we invite you to leave all your cares behind, and step into the world of food. Relax and unwind as you learn new skills, build your culinary confidence whilst having a lot of fun along the way.” Just so British & Welsh—“whilst having a lot of fun on the way”—already I knew Anne’s research to find this unique experience was going to be one of the highlights of our life.
Angela Gray teaching us about proper technique to chop onions
Believe me, they deliver just that–we had the honor of attending a great cooking session to celebrate Anne’s milestone. What an awesome experience! We learned to cook Coq au Vin Blanc (Chicken in White Wine Sauce), Bordelaise potatoes and crepes. Anne & I consider ourselves pretty good cooks (she has a degree in hotel & restaurant management & I once won the most creative award in a cooking contest) but we learned a lot of cool stuff and had fun doing it. Who knew you could learn how to slice an onion evenly without tears? We both got our own cooking areas and there was a little friendly competition to add more spice to the lesson—we really did have fun, while learning to be better cooks.
Anne & Hank preparing Cog au Vin Blanc
The whole experience was fantastic but the best part for me was eating the meal. Angela’s school is designed for the folks to take the food home after the class but, as travelers, we did not have any take home containers. Angela and her staff handled this, so we could take the food away. Also, Llanerch Vineyards, did not serve evenings meals at that time in the restaurant, so there was not a place to eat, but the staff at Llanerch did an awesome job fixing up a romantic place for us to dine in a small sitting area. They even gave us a free bottle of wine—what a cool experience—a true night to remember! It was better than dining out—we made it ourselves, learned better ways to cook and it just tasted so good—an unmatched experience!
Coq au Vin Blanc ready to eat
Crepes for dessert
The birthday girl–sure looks great!
That is the whole point of this blog—it is the people you share experiences with that help you celebrate milestones and enhance the marking the years that have passed and well-crafted travel can help make the celebration better. Remember to enrich your life with experiences, build relationships and create memories—special celebrations are priceless, in our opinion.
So how can we help you have these types of memories? We learn who you are, what you like and don’t like and then use our experience to match you to a trip to celebrate in a way you will remember for a long, long time. Our 20+ years of experience counts–you can’t really know about these little gems unless someone who’s been there shares the info–that’s how we add value to your trip! We can help you learn how to get a great experience like this on your European travels–We are your European Travel Experts! Please give us a call, at 713-397-0188 (Hank) or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org to help you start planning your Europe Vacation, or cruise, or river cruise or any trip that will let you celebrate and enrich your life, so we can help you Savor life . . .make memories . . . Visit Dream Destinations! Your journey begins here!