Exploring: Osnabrück Weihnachtsmarkt

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You know how I said Christmas was my favorite time of the year? Well, let’s face it, nobody does Christmas quite like Germany and it’s famous Christmas markets.

Once the end of November rolls around, Germany turns into a sea of Jack Wolfskin jackets, hats and scarves (they’re always well prepared for the cold weather) and everyone heads to their local Christmas market. In the German’s case, this is Osnabrück, and last year we managed to fly in just before the market closed – you can imagine the excitement on my face when I realized we’d make it to Osnabrück before the market closed!

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I bloody love Christmas.

I am officially feeling full on festive! The Christmas songs have been on and the house has turned into a winter wonderland! Christmas is my favorite time of the year. It means Christmas decorations, Glühwein, family and food – things just could not get any better than that. My excitement levels go off the scale once Thanksgiving is over and it’s time to get a Christmas tree and that is exactly what happened this weekend.

Saturday came around and it was time for the now traditional trip with our friends Mandy and Carson to pick out our Christmas trees. So off we went to Braselton and to Cooper’s Christmas Tree Farm to kick start the festive season.

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I cried at a Christmas advert.

Yes people, you read that right.

My name is Rachel and I cried at a Christmas advert, or two, or maybe even three.

There. I said it. I confess. But, let me just show you which advert actually made me cry and you tell me whether or not this thing made you tear up:

No, just me. Oh dear.

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Today’s Ramblings #18

Ramblings Intro

As much as working from home is brilliant, no rules to live by, sitting on the comfort of your own sofa for lunch and bobbing down to the pool to catch some rays as often as you’d like it’s also very counterproductive. There are distractions everywhere, from giving people back home a quick call (that obviously turns into nearly an hour) to watching some trash tv I recorded the night before and generally just staring out of the window. So, in an effort to get something done with my day and get away from the distractions of the sofa, the pool, the tv and anything else I can make an excuse from at home, I’ve taken my laptop on a little trip and I’m writing this from a Panera Bread store. I feel like I’ve joined the American masses, everyone seems to do it over here, the only problem is finding a plug socket near to a table for lack of power fails. I’m feeling pretty American right now, I’m not going to lie! Although I have an aging laptop and not a flashy MacBook like most of the other people around here. I’ll keep you updated on whether it does make me more productive or not. If it does the German might not be so happy…it will cost him more money in food and coffee if places like Starbucks become my office!

Remember the scary guy from HomeGoods in my last rambling post? Well, I bobbed into the store again the other day to try to find some bits and bobs for the hutch and they’ve outdone themselves again! Check out what I spotted this time…

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Yep, a good old British telephone box! It made me feel a little at home but seriously, who would want this in their home and once again where would they put it? I’m a Brit and I wouldn’t want it, even if I had the biggest house on the block. It costs a mere $1999 if you were wondering and fancy purchasing one for your home! I think I’ll pass this time…

Now, I know American’s like to be prepared, but after my recent trip to Hobby Lobby I didn’t think they wanted to be THAT prepared. So, here’s what happened, I walked into the store and spotted the 4th of July decorations, very acceptable seen as though that’s next week (and I have that dreaded 10k to run that I still haven’t done any training for, the run I was planning this morning was successfully avoided thanks to Ma Cook giving me a call!) then, I was slightly shocked when I spotted these…

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Thanksgiving and fall decorations. I mean, we haven’t even had summer yet. But then things got much, much worse. I walked around the corner and was confronted with this…

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Christmas decorations, rows and rows and rows of them! Not just the odd thing here and there but aisles of the stuff with everything from trees to baubles, to ribbon, to wreaths, you name it, it was there, in June, 6 months before the big day and 5 months before anyone would even think about putting their tree up. Why oh why do they need to be in the store so early? I understand that crafty people have to be organised and make things well ahead of time but they don’t make baubles and tree decorations. The world is most definitely going mad!

Well, I already feel pretty productive, maybe this working from a Panera Bread or Starbucks thing might actually work…

Goodbye Blighty…you’ve been amazing!

Hey peeps! So, as you read this I’m probably fed up on an aeroplane, sitting next to a smelly man (travelling is not my friend when it comes to companions on aeroplanes – and by smelly man I don’t mean the German – he’s flying back Stateside from Germany! We’re currently having a race across the Atlanta with both of us having the same arrival time – who will win? I’ll fill you in on that one next time! My money’s on me!) probably looking a little bit miserable and puffy eyed from saying goodbye to England and heading back to ATL. But what an amazing 2 weeks it’s been in good old Blighty!! So I thought I’d fill you in on some of the highlights of the trip!

First up was New Years Eve when, along with the German, Ma Cook, Pa Cook, the brother and the sister-in-law we waved goodbye to 2013 and said a big fat hello to 2014! There was waaaaaay too much food (Ma Cook just doesn’t know when to stop buying!) and lots of alcohol that resulted in myself, Ma Cook and the sister-in-law doing ‘Oops Up Side Your Head’ on the living room floor! Sadly (or maybe not!) I don’t have photographic evidence of this! Phew! I do have photographic evidence of Ma Cook’s excessive food shopping though:

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That feast (that resulted in a lot of leftovers!) was followed by a HUGE Christmas dinner on New Years Day! I’ll save that beast for another blog post – let’s just say Ma Cook did us proud!

Then there was the catching up with family and friends! I was so excited landing in Leeds that the German got fed up and asked me to calm down! Then I picked up the wrong suitcase from the baggage carousel and the German didn’t have any clothes until lunchtime the following day – actual story right there! I’m now banned from doing anything with any responsibility! It was my one job of the night!! Whoops! When we got back I ran up the drive and gave Ma and Pa Cook a massive hug! It had been 6 months since I had a dad hug (less for a mum hug – she came back to Atlanta remember?) and it was so good to see him! I’ve had lots of amazing baby cuddles with my best buddie’s little girl who was born whilst I was visiting in summer – she was literally a week and a half old the last time I saw her! She’s changed and grown soooooo much and is the cutest little girl in the whole wide world! Aunty Rachel did a lot of baby bonding and loved every single second! We spent a drunken night with our friends Rosie and Matt and their bald cat Keith (yep, they really do have a bald cat called Keith) making pizza, drinking lots of wine and playing Mr & Mrs – you’ll be pleased to hear the German and I are a good match! Phew!

There was the scary revelation that I’ve married a German version of my Dad! Like seriously, the German is a carbon copy of my dad but German – look:

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Yep, the like to wear the same clothes, sit the same, drink the same beer and have the same mannerisms…it is seriously scary!! They seem to think the same, act the same and keep tabs on me in the same way! Oh dear…

I finally got to do wedding stuff with my girlies! Along with Ma Cook and the Aunty, we went bridesmaid dress shopping for the big day! And with just a day to get things sorted in the pressure was on! That coupled with the fact that one of my said beautiful girlies is 6ft 2! Yep, no buying off the peg for us! But miraculously, we found the perfect dress in the perfect colour, had the girls measured and made to fit dresses ordered in the space of just a few hours! We were so quick we even got to fit in a ladies what lunch lunch complete with a glass of wine! Phew! Weight off my mind there! A few days later we also tried out wedding hair! All the details will remain a big secret though until the big day! Not long to go now!!!

I hit the shops but didn’t really buy much because everything I looked at was met with the thought of ‘I can pay less for that in America!’ I did get some bits and bobs for the apartment though – things like that are much cheaper over in sunny Blighty (and more modern if you ask me!) and then I got a little bit sad that I couldn’t ship a container full of stuff over again! If I’d have known last year what I know now I’d have filled the ‘we’re moving to America’ container to the rafters!!

There was the moment Ma Cook fell into the Christmas tree! Yep, you read that right – Ma Cook fell into the Christmas tree! (I’m actually chuckling to myself writing this because I’m reliving the moment in my head!) It has to be one of the best moments of the holiday! Picture the scene – I’m sitting on the sofa whilst Ma Cook starts taking down the Christmas tree when all of a sudden I hear a ‘Ooooh Rachel!’ followed by a crash! As I turned around I saw the tree falling into the cabinet and Ma Cook falling on top of it! If that cabinet hadn’t been there they would both have been on the floor! I’m kind of gutted the cabinet was there! Sadly I don’t have any photographic evidence of this either – Ma Cook and the tree were back upright before you could say ‘cheese!’ But this does indeed prove where I get my daftness from – apparently Ma Cook was reaching around the back of the tree for a decoration when she lost her balance – she didn’t even think to turn the tree around to make it easier for her!

And of course I stuffed my face with every delicious British treat I’ve missed over the past year – I’m now about 10 stone heavier than when I left Atlanta 3 weeks ago! (The wedding diet starts tomorrow!!) We went to the great British pub where I had a Scotch egg and cottage pie, filled up on the biggest Christmas dinner ever, went for that all important curry, filled my face with Cadbury’s chocolate and topped it all off with this:

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Yep, I stuffed my face with the traditional British delight that is a fish supper – also known as fish, chips and mushy peas!! Despite the fact that I never actually ate it that often whilst living in Blighty I had a HUGE craving for them so Pa Cook did the good thing and trotted off to the village chippy! I waddled from the table after tucking into that beast but it was definitely worth it! We also had a cheese overload – Ma Cook could have started her own cheesemonger shop with the amount she got in for the cheese eating monsters that are the German and the big bro! They were happy little souls though – I think they both left the house a few cheese pounds heavier!

Now though, the bags are packed (and hopefully tucked away in the hold of the same plane I’m on!) and loaded up with Christmas pressies, treats and those all important British teabags – despite claiming to be British blend in the States it’s just not the same as a proper brew from England! I actually had to buy an extra suitcase to fit everything in! Fingers crossed I pick up the right ones from the carousel this time…

Heading home for the Holidays!

That’s right peeps, the day is here!! We’re heading home for the Holidays or Christmas if you’re European!! Woooooooooooooo!!!!

Heading HomeSo depending on when you read this I’ll either be frantically running around the apartment doing some last-minute packing and sitting on my suitcase to make sure it shuts and all the Christmas presents fit in! Cleaning the apartment for the burglars (why do we do this? clean the house before we go away? Is this a worldwide thing or just something us mad Brits do?) running through the airport Home Alone style to catch our flight (this actually did happen last time we went to Europe! It was touch and go as to whether we would make it!) chilling out in the airport with a holiday drink (I’m hoping this is the case this time around!) or attempting to sleep on a 10 hour flight to Amsterdam, getting swollen feet and legs despite the flight socks and no doubt surrounded by screaming children who are determined not to let me sleep at all and kick my seat throughout the whole flight (why am I always the one who ends up this situation? It’s usually nailed on for this traveller!) That will then be followed by a connecting flight to Düsseldorf! Phew! The travelling doesn’t stop there though – after that there’s a 1 and a half hour drive to the German’s parents house!

So as you’ve probably gathered the first stop is Germany! That means a trip to the Weihnachtmarkt (I’m so excited that we get there before it closes!!) meaning Glühwein and a million other German Christmas treats, catch ups with friends that may also include a trip to the German’s local pub, and when I mean local I mean the only pub in his little German village that everyone goes to, and we all know how much German’s like to drink beer right? I’m sure a lot of it will be heading our way! Then there’s Christmas day with the German family where we’ll eat Rouladen and generally do nothing followed by Second Christmas Day as they call it in Germany (or Boxing Day to us Brits!) where the rest of the German family will join in and I’ll be lost in a sea of German and probably thinking about what I’ll be eating for tea/doing in England/getting up to in the morning and other pointless junk because I can’t understand anything (I have to point out here that I do try but once everyone’s talking at the same time and it’s really loud I’m literally lost and switch off!) oh and there’s the wedding planning. Yep, a large majority of our time in Germany will probably be spent planning the big day next year! We have to meet the priest, the guys at the wedding venue, find a florist, find a DJ (I’m kind of worried we won’t have any music at this wedding!) the list is endless! We’ll probably need a holiday to get over this one!

Then after a week in Germany comes the fun part – a week in England!! Blighty, I’m coming back and I am sooooooo excited!!!!! First up is another Christmas present opening session, this time with Ma and Pa Cook and the Big Bro and sister-in-law who I am sure will all be getting fed up of waiting for us to arrive! Then seen as though the Big Bro and I are missing Christmas at home (he’s going to my sister-in-law’s parents) Ma Cook is doing Christmas all over again on New Years Day! Oh yes, that British Christmas dinner will be heading my way a week later than planned!! That means Christmas crackers (don’t worry American friends of mine, I’ll explain what these amazing things are at a later date!!) mountains of food including turkey (hello turkey coma!) Yorkshire puddings (again I’ll explain these at a later date!) roast potatoes, pigs in blankets, stuffing, mountains of veg including sprouts even though nobody really likes them, christmas pudding, mince pies, the list goes on and on! Basically I’m going to get fat and come back to the States in January with the fear of not fitting into that wedding dress and going on a HUGE diet! But nobody can diet during the Holidays right? Exactly! So I’m heading home to make the most of it!!

I also can’t wait to see my family (it’s been about 6 months!) have long overdue catch ups with my friends and of course my best friends baby girl who when I last saw her was just a week old!!! She looks huge in the pictures now! I can’t wait for some baby cuddles! I’ll be hotfooting it to the pub for some proper pub grub (I’m thinking a big meaty pie or something similarly stodgy!) getting fish and chips from the chippy (I’ve been having a craving for this English delight for the past 3 months, even though I hardly ever ate them back in the UK!) and not forgetting a legendary curry from the Dil Raj in Barnsley – no trip home would be complete without it!! Oh and once again there’s that wedding planning to get done! I need to go bridesmaid dress shopping with my girlies, look for things like favours and table decorations, find suits for the boys, try out hairstyles, jeez this thing is never-ending! I’m sure we’ll get it all sorted though!

This does, however, mean a plethora of blog posts for you all to enjoy! I’m sure there will be lots to report back on! So while I may be off the radar for a little while, I’ll attempt to get something written for you lovely people! However, I’m not going to promise this, you might just get a big update when I’m back!!

There is one more thing:

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!
HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!
FROHE WEIHNACHTEN!!*

I hope you all have an amazing Christmas/New Year/Holiday Season!!

*The German has informed me that I’ve spelt this wrong on every Christmas tag I’ve written to our German family! Whoops! Bad English wife! Apologies to my German family! The one up there IS the correct spelling though! Well done me!

I miss the great British weather.

There, I’ve said it. I confess – I miss the great British weather. I never ever thought I would say that but right now I do – well maybe not right now, today it’s raining like a trooper out there and looks stereotypically British! Now, all the Brits reading this are probably sitting there, staring at their computer going seriously? You miss this? And looking out of the window. Well the truth is yes, yes I do – and here is why:

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Ok, so right now you’re thinking ‘what the hell is this girl on about’ well let me explain…last week in the beautiful place that is Atlanta is was 76 degrees, in December. Now this, for me, is very weird indeed! Back home in England December is a very cold month where every time you leave the house you need 3 layers, a scarf, hat, gloves, Ugg boots and the thickest coat you could ever imagine! So when I stepped out of the house on Friday afternoon in jeans, flip-flops and a t-shirt it felt very wrong indeed!!

And here’s the biggest reason why it feels wrong – it’s the run up to Christmas and sitting in your living room with your Christmas tree up (if you want to find out how we got the huge tree into our apartment click here!) and balcony doors open because it’s so hot just doesn’t feel right to me at all! Christmas time means wrapping yourself up in a throw on the sofa to keep warm whilst sipping a hot chocolate or something just as warming in front of an open fire!

Another reason – we went to a German Christmas party the other night where we drank Glühwein and for once I agreed with the German – it was too warm for Glühwein! Usually we’re wrapped up in our thickest clothes, standing outside at a Christmas market using the Glühwein mug and it’s delicious contents to keep us warm! It was also bizarre when we walked out of the Christmas party complete with festive decorations and into the warm, muggy 70 degree air at 10pm at night! It’s just not what I’m used to!

Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining at all, I am definitely one lucky lady! I don’t want people to think I’m not grateful for this amazing adventure I’m on right now, with the (usually) perfect weather and experiences I could only have dreamed of a year ago, but when it comes to Christmas (and as you know I am a HUGE fan of Christmas!) I miss the great British weather and the way it gets you into the festive spirit!