Wow, what a year!

I’m back! How was your holiday season guys? Mine was jam packed, hence the absence from this little blogging space of mine! It involved trips to England and Germany and lots of catch ups with family and friends. Despite all my good intentions to give you some updates I just couldn’t find the time. I also wanted to post this earlier this week but, thanks to some sort of deadly virus from England (we’re talking a beautiful 3 week long cough and cold) I just didn’t feel up to it.

But I’m back now and taking a look back at one of the most amazing years ever! 2014 was very, very good to me indeed! I thought I’d pop together a few highlights for you to peruse over and for me to reminisce about.

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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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Go Georgia Bulldogs!

And every other college football team out there. Yep, that’s right people, college football season kicked off again last night and America has gone mad for it as usual, well, at least here in the South anyway! Here it’s like a religion and fans get more excited for the college football season than the NFL. It’s just unbelievable!

So, I thought I’d go on a trip down memory lane to celebrate and tell you all about the time we headed to Athens (the one in Georgia, not in Greece people) to take in a University of Georgia football game.

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Now, I knew that I’d be blown away when I went to the Sanford Stadium to see my first ever college football game but I definitely didn’t realize just how much! As you all know I’m a Brit and back in the UK university sports teams are watched by a handful of people, all of which are usually students enrolled at the university, but things couldn’t be any further from that here in America and I was about to find out just how far away they actually are.

The realization was starting to set in even before we got to Athens for the University of Georgia Bulldogs game against the Missouri Tigers. Cars were passing us on the highway covered in flags and bumper stickers with the Bulldogs logo on – everyone was heading in the same direction – to cheer on their ‘Dawgs!’ As soon as we parked up I spotted the infamous tailgaters – hundreds were hanging out behind their cars with beers and football snacks – some even had their RV’s parked up and the BBQ burning away! To me it was just like what I’d seen on the big screen in films.

As we walked towards the Sanford Stadium the only thing you could see was a sea of red as thousands and thousands of people made their way to the game –you could tell some of them made the same journey for every home game without a doubt, and what amazed me the most is that the majority of them weren’t even students. Families have season tickets and go week upon week and support them religiously, just like an NFL football team, that’s something you would never see back in the UK. I remember a trip to see my university rugby team play a rival university an hour away, about 5 buses left the university and the stands were mostly empty, it couldn’t be further away on the scale from the sheer volume of fans at college football games here in the states.

 

I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the moment we walked into the stadium and all we could see all around us was red – just unbelievable:

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There were more people in this stadium than at a Premier League soccer game in the UK and that’s our biggest sport. The stadium is bigger than our national stadium, Wembley, and it was full to bursting. I just couldn’t get my head around the sheer amount of people all cheering on a college football team. I constantly looked around the stadium and shook my head in disbelief, not in a negative way though, I love the fact that everyone is so passionate about it and so behind the team.

The noise and the atmosphere was just incredible. The stadium was alive and when everyone cheered together before a kick off, it was so loud they could probably hear it all the way in Atlanta! Then came the ‘barking’ and ‘GO DAWGS!’

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Now I’m not going to lie, despite the German trying on many occasions to explain the rules of American football I had no idea what was happening throughout the game but that definitely didn’t stop me enjoying myself. Just being in the stadium and among the supporters was incredible, never mind when there was a touchdown! (Yes I do know what one is!)

And then came the very, very exciting part of the game for me – the marching band, oh how I love a marching band! These are something we don’t get in the UK and I’ve always wanted to see one, again because of the movies! During the game the Red Coat Band was entertainment enough playing in the stand but when they took to the field at half time I was mesmerized! It’s just amazing how they play their instruments and somehow make their way around a football field in time and in a certain sequence!

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Sadly the Dawgs weren’t victorious this time and they lost the game but that didn’t put a dampener on the day at all. The sun was shining, it was a perfect football afternoon and I thoroughly enjoyed my first college football game. However, even after visiting the stadium, taking in the atmosphere and the amount of people around I still can’t get to grips with the amount of support for a college team. Unbelievable, but definitely something to be proud of.

I’m sure all those fans and more will be out in force this weekend, the tailgating parties will be kicking off and thousands upon thousands will be screaming ‘Go Dawgs’ as the Bulldogs kick off their new season. Like I said, it’s like a religion around here, the excitement is already building and will be here to stay throughout the season. I think we’ll be heading to another college game this season, maybe this time we’ll try out Georgia Tech and its yellow jackets – Pa Cook’s already a fan, we bought him a yellow jacket golf club head cover for Christmas! Enjoy the season people!

Are you a football fan? Who do you support?

Life is Good. {July in Review}

Life is Good...

So I seem to have taken a little, unplanned blogging holiday this past week or so, but, never fear people, because that is now over and I am back! Once again it’s been another hectic month in the life of this expat (there’s a surprise!) so, in an effort to remember everything I did in July, I thought I’d link up with Belinda again over at Found Love, Now What and tell you the reasons why July was just so good!

Life Is Good… {July in Review}

We took on the Peachtree Road Race and won! It was our first ever 10k, it was hot and humid and it was tough but we did it!

Then we spent the rest of 4th July on a houseboat on Lake Lanier with our friends and their parents – pure bliss!

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The Peachtree Gang / We did it! / Chilling on the boat

Our niece came to stay from Germany and we went shopping, had burgers and of course we took them to our favourite BBQ joint – when in America and all that!

We also headed to Turner Field and introduced them to the delights of baseball at a Braves game.

Then came the semi-final of the World Cup when Germany took on Brazil. I was extremely nervous, if this all went wrong instead of just 1 sad and miserable German I would have 3 to contend with…but thankfully those German’s did us very proud indeed and goal after goal went into the back of the net – final score Germany 7, Brazil 1 and Rachel had 3 very, very, very happy and ecstatic Germans on her hands…few!

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BBQ / 3 Very Happy Germans / Indoor Picnic

I’m trying to get more of my writing out there and published, hopefully picking up more work along the way. This month saw my first article for the Internations Expat Magazine published. It’s entitled ‘A Lifetime of Firsts’ and you can check it out by clicking here. I’m hoping to write a few more for them in the future so I’ll keep you posted on that one. Woooo!

We attempted to meet up with one of our British friends at Stone Mountain to watch a laser show but, it would appear 2 Brits together means a lot of rain! The past couple of time’s I’ve seen her it’s rained, this time we didn’t even make it out of the house and had to have our picnic inside!

I had a lovely dinner with my friend in Roswell, followed by a couple of relaxing drinks on the lawn of one of my favourite bars. I also managed to spectacularly flick a shrimp tail so high that it hit my shoulder, and my arm twice before landing in my lap. It could never be repeated!

Then came the pinnacle of the month for the German – the World Cup Final. We watched it at the German Cultural Center where I volunteer and, thankfully, Germany only went and won it!! You can imagine how happy my German was…and how pleased I was! He was so confident before the game that if they lost, that fall down to earth and disappointment would have been ten times worse!

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Cheering His Team On / 4 Stars / Very Happy German

We went to The Vortex for a burger afterwards…pure heaven. One day I will write a blog post on that place!

I picked up some more paid work this month – yay! My temporary lady of leisure status is slowly fading but the German is a very happy man.

We went to our first Alive After 5 event in Roswell and stumbled across Santa Claus…in July!

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Saaantaaaaa! (Said like Buddy the Elf)

The German and I attempted to make home-made pizza. It worked but needed some improvements – he’s working on them whilst I’m away, I’ll keep you updated.

A rainy Sunday saw us head to our local bowling alley for our first game of ten-pin bowling in America. Afterwards we headed to a Mexican restaurant where the local Mexican’s go – it was delicious!

We spent a weekend visiting my aunt and uncle at St. Pete Beach in Florida – a blog post will be heading your way on that one very soon indeed.

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St. Pete Beach / Bye-bye Atlanta / NYC from 35,000 ft.

And the month ended with me jumping on a plane back to England for a couple of very special reasons indeed – all will be revealed next month!

Exploring: Maiwoche in Osnabrück

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Every May for one week only, the closest city to the German’s hometown, Osnabrück is transformed into a strawberry heaven that is called Maiwoche. Literally translated, this means May Week and the place goes mad. It’s the only city in Germany that has this ‘Volksfest’ which, translated means people’s festival and it’s the largest ‘Volksfest’ in the whole of Germany – wowzers! When I asked the German what the reason was behind it was instead of giving me the answer I was expecting like ‘it’s to celebrate the start of spring’ or something similar, his answer was ‘it’s just an excuse to meet friends and drink.’ Typical German there!

Now, the German first introduced me to Maiwoche a couple of years ago, on the afternoon of our last day in Germany, just hours before we had to head to the airport to catch our plane back to the UK. This was an epic fail on his part (or maybe he planned it that way?) and I nicely asked him to take me to it the following year as I’d missed out on all the fun but instead he decided to get a promotion at work and we moved to America. Shucks.

Anyway, it would appear we planned our wedding well, the week before the big day was indeed Maiwoche! You can imagine my excitement when I figured this out – my time had come to sample the delights of this thing and tell you all about it. So here goes…we’ll start with a few pictures:

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So, Maiwoche is a little like a Christmas market but in May. It has the usual little stalls and stands but it has a spring feel. It’s only in Osnabrück for one week and in between planning a wedding and welcoming our guests I managed to visit this thing 3 times and the German 4. I think we did well, we were there within hours of stepping off the plane!

So, the aim of the game is to meet friends, chat, stroll around the stalls, listen to some live music, fill yourself full of tasty delights and this being Germany, there is obviously a few drinks involved! Instead of the warming Glühwein that’s sipped at the Christmas markets in Germany during December there’s a lovely little number called Maibowle instead – see the picture above and the huge smile I have on my face, believe me that stuff is good!

So, strawberries are the center of this tasty drink, basically you mix sparking wine with brandy and sugar, add a load of strawberries that have been soaked in the stuff for a long time and you are definitely onto a winner. I’m thinking there’s some sort of colouring in there too to make it red? At this point during the week I was in a carb-free zone to fit into THE dress so the strawberries fitted into the diet well, despite the huge amount of alcohol they came with!

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This thing does have a few other differences from your standard Christmas market, for a start there are the flying chairs that people seem to like to get on after having a few drinks…! The Maypoles, the live music, the carousel bar (it’s basically an old carousel that’s been turned into a bar, it moves and everything!) and the party tent. Yes, you read that right, a section of the city centre is turned into a tent where music and partying takes place all night, accompanied by some Maibowles, beers and of course shots. Those Germans definitely know how to sink some drinks and party but without looking completely trashed like the Brits…I’m still intrigued as to how they do that!

Back to Maiwoche! Sadly the weather wasn’t too good this year, it was a little cold (although I couldn’t decide if that was because we’d been basking in 80 degree heat in Atlanta the previous week) and it rained a few times so we had to find shelter either in the tent or under one of the beer stalls (again, shucks) so it wasn’t overly busy but there was still a good, fun atmosphere and the drinks were definitely flowing!

We also can’t forget the snacks. The German was so excited to get his fill of German goodness at Maiwoche – I think within minutes of hitting the stalls and getting a drink the man was itching to get to the Bratwurst stand for a sausage! I think he ate at least 2 or maybe 3 on every visit. So, apart from the traditional Bratwurst, Krakauer and Kasewurst (cheese sausage) there is every other treat you can imagine – Gyros, another favourite of the German, steak sandwiches, Kartoffelpuffer (deep fried potato, a little like a hash brown), deep fried fish, roasted salmon, caramalised almonds, gingerbread and every other German treat you can imagine. Being on the carb free I need to fit into a wedding dress at the weekend diet I had to choose wisely – I went for a bratwurst without the bread and some mushrooms with a garlic mayo – just amazing! Obviously I took you guys a few pictures…

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Maiwoche was definitely a big hit with me, my parents and every other Brit we managed to take there during the week we were in Germany! It’s obviously huge with the locals too, one of our nieces who lives in Osnabrück says she went nearly every night! I don’t blame her either – I think I would too given the chance. Sadly, I don’t think we’ll be able to make it next year but I’m sure we’ll be back to Maiwoche at some point in the future! If you’re thinking of heading to that part of Germany, make sure you plan your trip to include a visit – I can assure you won’t be disappointed!

Life is Good. {May in Review}

Today marks the return to reality for myself and the German after the whirlwind month that was May. The German is back at work, I’m making friends with my desk again, I went for a run this morning (and nearly died after so long away from exercise) and weddings are well and truly behind us…sob, sob.

So, I thought I would link up with the lovely Belinda over at Found Love, Now What and give you a little review of the good (and god damn amazing!) things that happened in May, ranging from the little things that make us happy to huge, life changing events, I think you can guess what that one was!

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Catching some last-minute sun by the pool for that all important wedding tan.

Some Braves baseball action. Baseball is now my favourite American sport.

Dinner with friends (including the famous queso!) before we left for our wedding.

Having all our friends and family descend on a little sleepy town in Germany.

Eating German stodge (or trying to avoid it for the wedding dress) with the German and his friends.

One word: Maiwoche!

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May’s life changing event full of love and laughter: getting married again!

Still the only picture we have so far...

Still the only picture we have so far…

The new addition to the Richter household: a much longed for hutch! Believe me, I have Pinterested the hell out of hutch pictures!

Fun with friends at Brew at the Zoo.

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A cheese board on the beautiful wedding present Pa Cook (or Mr. Mike as we now like to call him) made us for the big day.

A mini-moon in Destin, the place we secretly said ‘I do’ a year ago!

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And ending with my first ever American bachelorette party for this beautiful lady at Montaluce Winery in Dahlonega. So excited to see her marry her lovely man Carson this weekend!

May Review 5I think we can safely say May was an amazing month in the Richter household. We were surrounded by love from all angles, and, for the first time in a very long time, we were able to have all the people we love the most in one room to celebrate our love. Jeez, there is a whole lot of love in there! I wouldn’t change it for the world!