Goodbyes are just the worst.

Goodbyes

Airports to me signify two things – happiness and sadness. When I’m at an airport I’m usually either jumping on a plane home to see friends and family, which of course makes me super excited. Picking somebody up who has flown in to visit, again, super exciting. Or there’s the departures area which usually involves a heck of a lot of tears and sadness as goodbyes are said.

This past couple of weeks has seen me experience both those airport feelings. Just over a week ago my best friend Clare came to stay for a week with her little girl, also known as Lily, my goddaughter. As you can imagine my level of excitement for this trip was off the scale! It was her first trip out here since we moved as last year she was either preggers or had a new baby – not the best way to travel trans-atlantic! The poor German had to deal with a countdown for weeks, which then turned into days which eventually turned into hours. He was off work so came with me to the airport where I couldn’t keep still in excitement, waiting for those two beautiful ladies to walk through the doors and when they did I sprinted towards them, started crying and gave them a big hug! Happy days and happy tears – I love the arrivals lobby!

Once we’d stopped crying (Clare and I, not the German or Lily!), Lily had realized what was going on (she’s 14 months old and had just got off the longest flight of her life!) and the German had organized his new hareem of girls, we quickly headed home to start one of the best weeks in America so far! We hit up the playground on numerous occasions which Lily loved, went shopping which Lily pretty much hated and were ladies what lunched.

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We went to a cabin in the mountains for the weekend with the German, did some bear spotting but failed, relaxed in a hot tub, explored Blue Ridge and Ellijay and tucked into smores. We went to an apple festival and attempted to go apple picking but the weather soon put paid to that, stupid rain.

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We went to the zoo and checked out the animals. Fearless Lily went straight into the petting area and made friends with some goats – Aunty Rachel unsurprisingly stayed well clear of that endeavor! It would appear Lily is a massive animal lover, just like her mum! I also taught Lily what a gorilla does to add to her repertoire of animal noises – good work Aunty Rachel!

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We took Lily to her first pumpkin patch where some of the orange wonders were nearly as big as her! She wasn’t too down with sitting amongst the pumpkins and staying still for a picture but we managed to capture some whilst she was on the move! We picked out a beauty that I’ve since made into some tasty soup and Lily came away with a mini pumpkin of her own, which is also in the soup pot as she couldn’t really take it back on the plane.

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We had massive best friend catch ups, drank some wine and gossiped just like the old days. It’s probably the most time we’ve spent together non-stop since we last went on holiday together at the tender age of 18 and it was bloody brilliant. But, last Thursday, all good things had to come to an end and we had to go to the place I dread the most – airport departures.

Saying goodbye to loved ones is the WORST thing about living in America. I literally hate it. The thought of heading to the airport fills me with sadness, especially when you realize it will be a long time until you see these people again. As the day wears on I can feel the sadness at the thought of heading to the airport starting. The car journey is usually pretty quiet and once we get to check-in I’m usually silent. Then comes the actual moment when it’s time to head to security and you have to say goodbye.

I try to be strong but sometimes it just doesn’t work, like when Clare left the other day. I knew the tears would be flowing, they nearly were when I thought about it in the afternoon when we were at the playground. As soon as the hugging started the tears were flowing, like full on flowing, from both of us. We must have looked pretty bad because one woman actually asked us if we were ok! I

hate having to say goodbye and knowing that we won’t be able to have a coffee together or explore a playground until at least Christmas. I hate not seeing them both for months, by the time I see Lily again she’ll probably be so much bigger and chatting away. I feel like I miss out on so many things and this does make me sad. I called the German whilst I was driving home and had tears streaming down my cheeks, so much so they were practically dripping off the bottom of my chin, oh what a pretty picture I paint for you guys! When the German walked in the house I burst into tears, so upset at the thought of not seeing Clare and Lily for over 2 months.

But, that’s the price you pay for being an expat. I knew this would happen when I agreed to come and live out here. It’s just something you have to deal with. Yes, I miss all my friends and family lots but, being here with the German is what I chose to do. Things do go on without me back home, but thanks to the joys of social media, FaceTime and WhatsApp I’m kept in the loop, and when I do see people again, it’s like we’ve never been apart.

It’s just those blummin goodbyes that I hate.

Exploring: Monday Night Brewing

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A couple of weeks ago our friend Sven came to stay for the weekend, and, when you have a fellow beer guzzling German in the house there’s only one place to go – a local brewery for a spot of beer tasting and a little tour. As you all know, we’ve already been to SweetWater so we thought we’d head to Monday Night Brewing. I mean, who wouldn’t want to spend their Saturday afternoon playing corn hole and sampling every beer the brewery makes?! Exactly.

This place is pretty small and tucked away on a kind of industrial estate but that doesn’t mean it isn’t something special! We rocked up, paid our 10 bucks, picked up our souvenir glasses and 6 beer tokens and we were off. The boys were so excited – beer, beer, beer! We chose our first drinks then went to explore.

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So this isn’t the greatest picture I’ve ever taken but it’s the only one of all 3 of us!

The inside of the brewery, literally where the trucks rock up to take the beer to stores, is turned into a bar on beer tasting days. There are cute mismatched tables and chairs, a fireplace with the signature moustache of Monday Night Brewing on top of it, sofas, a table top slider game and of course, a big screen showing the current football game – you can’t go anywhere in America without a TV screen with some sort of sport on! Oh, and we can’t for get the tie wall – Monday Night Brewing’s trademark is a tie and, if you bring one to the tour and tasting you can tie it onto the wall behind us in the picture. Sadly, the German forgot his but I’m sure he’ll have another opportunity to do it!

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After sinking a beer, we re-filled our glasses and headed outside into the courtyard. If you thought the inside was cute, the outside is even better, especially in the September Atlanta heat! There are tables dotted around, benches, a couple of corn hole boards towards the back and to top it all off, there are strings of lights to make the place look even cuter! It actually reminded me a little of a beer garden back home in England – perfect.

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We spent a little time outside playing corn hole – we had this game at our wedding so Sven knew all the rules. We all played each other, meaning 2 games each. Sadly my skills weren’t their best and I lost both of my matches, the German won both his (good job because that boy hates to lose!) and Sven won one. I blame the fact I had a beer in one hand and a wedding party taking pictures right next to us! Yep, a group of groomsmen had swung by before one of them headed off to get married – see, I told you this place was cool!

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Then came the tour and it began with a line I never thought I would hear – turns out this place was started by 3 guys who met at a 6am…wait for it…bible study group! Not what I was expecting at all! Basically, one of their wives bought a beer brewing kit for her husband for his birthday, he then asked his friends to brew some beer with him on a Monday night – hence the name and the logo of a guy with a tie. They did and it was alright, so they tried again and it got better each time. They starting living for Monday nights and their beer brewing sessions. Eventually, they started inviting their friends around and things got bigger and bigger so they decided to go all the way and start a business and if you ask me, they made a pretty good decision. I’d also like to point out that I bought the German a beer brewing kit for Christmas, so far, it’s still in the box – it needs to be out of the box because that story that you read right there, that my friends, could be Team Richter! In my dreams…

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We finished the tour and headed back for another beer or so, well, for the boys anyway, I was the designated driver! I think they managed to try every beer – my favorite was the Fu Manbrew, the German loves the Drafty Kilt Scotch Ale, it’s forever stocked up in our fridge.

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Sadly, 4pm came around and we had to leave…booo. But, the German has officially added it to the list of places to go whenever we have a visit so I’m sure we’ll be back pretty soon!

Exploring: Wine Tasting in Dahlonega

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Whilst Mama C was in the ATL a couple of weeks ago we thought the perfect bit of exploring for her would be a spot of wine tasting – Mama C is famed for liking a little tipple every now and then! I had better stress that she is not an alcoholic or anywhere near bordering on one, she just likes to have a drink of the alcoholic variety and is always open to trying new liquor like at the wedding in Germany was she dived head first into the rhubarb schnapps and loved it! If that disclaimer wasn’t involved in this blog post my status as best daughter in the world may have just been lost.

So, one hot and sunny Saturday afternoon in September we jumped into the car and headed to Dahlonega. North Georgia, and the Dahlonega region in particular is famous for its vineyards and wine tasting, so, after a little bit of research by yours truly, we made our way to Wolf Mountain Vineyards and it was stunning:

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Rachel got a pat on the back from both Mama C and the German for picking this one! The views were out of this world, you could see for miles, catching glimpses of the mountains in the distance, some of the thousands of trees that make it feel like you’re living in a forest in Georgia and of course those all important vineyards and grapes that make the delicious wine.

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Now let’s face it people, we were there for one thing, the wine. We quickly made our way to the tasting room, figuring we could check out the views and vineyards a little more later, and marched straight to the guy who sold the tasting flights. Priorities people, priorities! Three wine flights were quickly purchased and we were ready to rock and roll.

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1 sparkling, 1 white, 1 rosé and 2 reds later and our tasting flight was over…sad times. But we thoroughly enjoyed it, there were some very tasty wines there indeed. With each sample we were given a little explanation about the type of wine, it’s taste and how it was made and when our flight was over, Mama C and I decided to indulge in another glass, opting for the rosé and a seat outside in the sunshine. The German was our designated driver so he was downing wine glasses of…water!

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We sipped our wine whilst gazing out to the mountains. Just below us, a wedding was about to get underway and guests were starting to arrive – it really was a beautiful place to get married. Given the chance of getting married for a third time to the same man (I really don’t think that is going to happen and I am definitely pushing my luck a little there, twice is more than enough!) I would choose somewhere like that. The mountains in the backdrop, beautiful scenery and a gorgeous little pavilion for the ceremony to be held on. Hey, a girl can dream!

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All in all it was an afternoon well spent. I think the German and I might be heading to a few more vineyards up there win the near future – it would be rude not to!

Exploring: New Orleans – The French Market

Exploring New Orleans
It’s another Travel Tuesday in New Orleans people – I still have so much to write about when it comes to this amazing city! Today, it’s the French Market. If you ever find yourself dumped in New Orleans for the weekend then you cannot leave without visiting this place, if you don’t go there you’ll be seriously missing out.

Perched on the edge of the Mississippi in the French Quarter of the city is the French Market, a place to get your tourist bits and bobs (if you really need them), taste some amazing local delicacies and just soak up the atmosphere of the market. We headed down here on a Sunday morning after a stroll along the banks of the river, it was so hot and we were in desperate need of some water and some shade. Our first stop was breakfast where we tucked into some spicy alligator meat (more on that in my guide to the best places to eat in New Orleans) with eggs, Cajun potatoes and bread – definitely something different but a good start to the day!

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As you head into the market you are hit by a variety of smells and surrounded by little food stalls, cafés and sno-ball outlets where you can buy and eat everything from alligator to crawfish, oysters to po-boys and everything else in between, if you’re after a little snack to help you on your exploring way then this is the place to be. There are praline stalls, hot sauce shops with hundreds of different varieties and places to get a cooling drink, oh, and it’s all underneath a canopy so you can escape the sunshine too – in the height of summer that’s a must!

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As you walk further into the market you come to the non-food stalls, we’re talking the stuff of dreams if you’re after every tourist gift under the sun at a much cheaper price than the tourist shops on and around Bourbon Street. There are mardi-gras masks and beads by the billion, t-shirts with New Orleans on the front, magnets, postcards, books, artwork – you name it, it was there. I will admit to picking up a mardi-gras mask for both myself and the German – they were so pretty and so cheap, you never know when you’re going to need a mask for a masquerade ball!

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Oh and we can’t forget the nearby beignets – this place is super close to Café Du Monde and if you read last week’s post on where to eat you’ll know exactly why you need to stop off there!

Language Smanguage. Volume 2.

Language Smanguage.
Speaking British English can often lead to some mis-understandings when you’re living in the States. We may speak the same language but our slightly different words and pronunciations can leave people with blank faces.Let’s face it, we’re divided by a common language.

There are some words that, despite constantly trying, I just can’t get my head around. I often stumble over them and correct myself the second after the word has fallen out of my mouth. Want to know the latest words that are causing me some problems? Here goes:

1. Pavement/Sidewalk
Back in the UK, the part of the street you walk on next to the road is called a pavement, always has been, always will be. Now though, I have to switch to it being a sidewalk and I cannot get my head around it! It’s tough when you’ve been using the same word for 30 years! This one caused me a problem just the other night.We went to an event but got there before the road was closed and people were struggling to pass each other on the pavement. I described this to my friend who arrived a little later and she looked at me with a blank face and the words ‘what’s a pavement?’ I quickly answered with ‘oh, sidewalk, I mean sidewalk!’

2. Trolley/Cart
We’ve all done it, we head to the supermarket and pick up a trolley to put our groceries in, or as they’re called in America, a cart. I actually think the American word is better in this situation, I mean, a cart seems to describe the aim of the device better than a trolley, right? But, my brain is so used to the word trolley that I can’t seem to change it. A shopping trolley will always be a shopping trolley to me!

3. Petrol/Gas
In the UK, we fill our cars up with petrol, here in the US they fill their cars up with gas. It’s the same stuff, just with a different name and a word that I struggle with. 18 months in and I’m attempting to get the hang of going to the gas station instead of the petrol station and I do often use gas instead of petrol but I still struggle and the word doesn’t come out of my mouth as easily as petrol does. I also want to put on a dodgy American accent when I say it too which definitely does not work! There’s also the fact that I’m putting petroleum into my car so surely petrol is a more logical word to use?

4. Tomato/Tomato
This is more a pronunciation thing, you know the song, right? To-may-to, to-mar-to? Well, this is definitely a difficult one for my British brain and mouth to deal with. I often order a to-mar-to and basil soup and go on to correct myself and say to-may-to straight after! Most of the time I’m met with a ‘I understood you the first time’ answer or look, which kind of makes me feel like I shouldn’t try to fit in because I’m insulting people, others go on to ask me where I’m from and give me the ‘I love your accent!’ reply.

5. Holiday/Vacation
In the UK, we go on holiday. In the US, they go on vacation. I still go on holiday and have the German correcting me, saying we’re going on vacation. It’s hard when you’ve used the same words for so long! The ‘Where are you going on holiday?’ question in the hairdressers just doesn’t cut it in America.

Exploring: New Orleans – The Food

Exploring New Orleans

Life has been so hectic lately I still haven’t managed to tell you all about our trip to New Orleans back in June for my birthday. So, for Travel Tuesday this week, I thought we’d take a trip back to the deep south to check out the food.

NoLa is famous for various different delicacies and I wanted to try all of them, in the space of 3 days. I had a list and I was going to tick them all off…and I just about did! I think there was one item I didn’t manage to try so I did pretty well, and came home a few pounds heavier! So, here’s my definitive list of what you need to try (and where!) whilst in New Orleans.

1. A Po-Boy from Killer Poboys
This place is seriously tucked away, so tucked away in fact we had to ask someone where it was after strolling up and down the street it was supposed to be on at least three times. We were told to go into the Erin Rose Bar on Conti Street, walk all the way to the back as if you’ve gone too far and you’ll find it – it was a little strange but sure enough, at the back of the Erin Rose Bar we found some Killer Poboys! A po-boy was just about at the top of my list and I wasn’t disappointed. I chose the shrimp with the Germany tucking into a meatloaf po-boy – just amazing! It was loaded with huge coriander lime shrimp, salad and special sauce, it may even have been one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten! Po-boys are everywhere in New Orleans but f you want a good po-boy when you’re in NoLa, you have to go there – it may look a little strange but it’s worth venturing into the deep dark depths of the Erin Rose Bar for!

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2. Beignets at Café Du Monde
You can’t got to New Orleans without dropping by this place and trying some beignets. They’re a kind of doughnut that is covered in powdered sugar. This place is world-famous for them, people head to Café Du Monde, order a cafe au lait and beignets and indulge in a little people watching whilst trying to avoid being covered in powdered sugar! This place is always packed and once you taste the delights they sell you’ll know why! We decided to go for the take away option:

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3. Oysters Rockefeller
This dish was invented in New Orleans so it would be pretty rude to not chow down on some oysters rockefeller whilst you’re there. Now, I’ve never been a big fan of oysters, in fact before eating these I’d only ever tried them once and they were a little too slimy for my liking but, after hearing lots of good things about this dish I thought I’d give it a try – the German was a little more wary though and opted for something much more sensible (I can’t remember what but it definitely wasn’t oysters!). So, oysters rockefeller is served on the half shell, topped with various chopped herbs, a butter sauce and breadcrumbs and then baked or broiled – that’s grilled if you’re in the UK! I have to say I was pretty surprised by the outcome, they were very tasty. I may even indulge in oysters more often:

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4. Sno-balls
This is the perfect treat to cool you down when you’re in the midst of the New Orleans heat and humidity. It’s basically shaved ice-covered in cane sugar syrup. Because the ice is so thin, the syrup is absorbed into it and you can get them in every flavour imaginable, seriously. There’s the usual like strawberry, pineapple, cherry and lemon and then there’s the less traditional flavours like cake batter, peanut butter and silver fox – whatever that is! We went for a mango sno-ball and it cooled us down perfectly:

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5. Pralines
Another New Orleans staple is a praline. Again influence by the French settlers, this treat is sure to tickle your sweet taste buds. These are basically sugar, butter, cream and pecan nuts cooked together until most of the water has evaporated and it reaches a thick, creamy substance. They’re then dropped onto a wax paper sheet and left to cool – they taste amazing! No other words needed. You have to try some when you hit NoLa!

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6. Gator Meat
Ok, so this isn’t necessarily typical of New Orleans but alligator meat is huge here. It’s everywhere, whether it’s gator sticks, gator fillet, fried gator, you name it, they do it. The German decided he wanted to try it so we tucked into a gator breakfast at the French Market. To me, gator is a little like a mixture of chicken and pork, it’s light coloured and not too chewy, it’s actually pretty tasty! Ours was laden with the typical NoLa spices and definitely hit the spot!

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7. Stein’s Deli
We actually stumbled upon this place whilst navigating our way around the Garden District and it was definitely a good find! Stein’s Deli is a Jewish and Italian deli that’s serves up some of the tastiest sandwiches ever! We didn’t really know where we were going to grab some lunch but after passing this beaut and noticing it was busy we headed in. The menu was just immense with everything from a traditional Reuben to the Southern Animal Foundation. I settled on the Rachel (I wonder how I made that decision?) which consisted of hot pastrami, swiss and sauerkraut on rye with Russian dressing, three words – oh, my, lord. It was out of this world:

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8. The Ruby Slipper Cafe
If you’re in the market for breakfast The Ruby Slipper Cafe is the place to go. We found this one through the joys of TripAdvisor and headed there to kick off my birthday celebrations. This place was inspired by the sense of homecoming felt following Hurricane Katrina, as Dorothy and her ruby slippers in the Wizard of Oz said ‘there’s no place like home!’ Being my birthday I obviously started with a bloody Mary before chowing down on the chicken St. Charles – hey, I’d been stuffing my face all weekend, no use stopping now! It was delicious! The German opted for the Costa Rican with breakfast chorizo and I can assure you that was very tasty too!

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9. Hot Sauce
Louisiana is famed for its hot sauce, lets face it, with dishes like gumbo, creole and other spicy creations these people need it! They add it to almost everything to give it the kick they’re looking for and, if you’re in the market to stock up and buy some you’re in luck. In quite a few shops in New Orleans there are hot sauce bars where you can try loads of different types of the stuff, and by loads I’m not talking just 10! We bobbed into one before dinner one night and checked a few of them out. I think I managed about 3 before my mouth was on fire and I couldn’t take it anymore the German however went a few steps further and tried so many of the sauces that his eyes were watering and it looked like he was crying – typical boy would not be beaten by the hot sauce. Obviously some a milder than others and some are majorly strong, so strong in fact they actually tell you to just try one little drop – I steered very clear of those ones!

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Sadly we didn’t tuck into any gumbo or jambalaya, another New Orleans staple but it was the middle of June and so hot outside that I think chowing down on something hot and spicy may have finished me off! Another typical dish that we didn’t eat was crawfish. I was pretty sad about this because it was close to the top of my ‘must-eat’ list but, with just a couple of days in the city I think we did pretty well at tasting most of the dishes!

Food: Making our own pizzas

Making Pizzas
As you all know, the German celebrated his birthday the other week and we spent the weekend in Savannah. Lucky that we did because his birthday present was a little heavy to take on a plane.

The German’s favourite food in the whole, entire world is pizza. He could eat it every single day and not get bored. In fact, before he met me I think he really did eat it every single day and, if I go back to the UK and leave him home alone without any pre-cooked dinners in the freezer he definitely would eat pizza every single day. So, with this in mind, I bought him his very own pizza recipe book, a pizza stone and a pizza peel so that he could make his own pizzas from scratch. Turns out it was a blummin good present and he was a happy birthday boy so, last weekend, we decided to try it out.

The adventure started with the dough. Turns out this baby needs 18 hours to prove – 18 hours? I knew it would take a while but I wasn’t thinking 18 hours! Anyway, we made it the night before and waited for the yeast to do its stuff and make the little ball of dough double in size…and it did!

It was pizza time. The German had chosen a sausage and fennel pizza (fennel seems to be a favourite of his lately) so we started with a basic tomato sauce by literally squishing some tomatoes and made the ground pork into sausage meat by adding some ginger, fennel seeds, garlic and chilli flakes. This thing was looking good.

We chopped up the rest of our ingredients (well I did, chopping isn’t really the German’s forte) and we were ready to go:

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First we needed to shape our bases. The German wanted to do the Italian thing and shape them in the air on his hands – he tried, but he needs a little more practice, so after a little bit of air shaping he continued on the counter top and managed to make some good circles! We put the toppings on and these things were ready to go…the only thing we were about to struggle with was getting them from the counter top to the oven…disasters.

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We have a pizza peel but, once half of the pizza was on the peel the other half didn’t want to move. We ended up having to squish the pizza a little to get it on the peel and then onto the pizza stone that had been heating up in the oven but we made it and 12 minutes later our first pizza was ready – success! This thing looked good!

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We then had another struggle to get the second pizza off the counter top and into the oven – does anybody have any tips on how to do this? It seems we really need them. We did use a lot of flour – probably too much if I’m honest – but it still didn’t work! Help is greatly appreciated. Eventually we did it but sadly, whilst the pizza was in the oven the pizza stone broke! It literally cracked into 2 pieces. We managed to patch it together and use it for the pizza but, it’s safe to say, it will be heading back to the store this week.

Next came the taste test, after one bite we realised we did bloody well! They were amazing! Very tasty indeed. The German was pleased with his efforts – I think pizza making will be happening a lot more often in the Richter house. He’s already eyed up another couple of pizzas in his book he wants to try.

Have you ever made your own pizza? What’s your favourite topping?