Life is Good. {September’s Happy Moments}

Life is Good...

So, it seems I’ve taken another unscheduled blogging vacation (holiday for you Brits back home – I’m hanging my head in shame for using that word!) after a busy couple of weeks in the Richter House! The Richter Hotel has been fully booked and with visitors galore I’ve been here, there and everywhere entertaining to the max whilst also fitting in some work! Phew!

I’m back now and celebrating what has bee a fab September by picking out some of it’s best moments that have made life so good this month. I can’t believe it’s October already – where is this year going? It will be Christmas and we’ll be jumping on that plane back to England before we know it! Once again, I’m linking up with the lovely Belinda over at Found Love, Now What so make sure you head over to her fab blog and show her a little love!

{September’s Happy Moments}

The yearly visit of Mama C!
That’s right people, Mama C flew in for her annual visit this month without Papa C (he won’t fly because he has a bad neck ūüė¶ ) for 2 weeks of Mama C/daughter/son-in-law time in the ATL. Thankfully, she didn’t bring the rain with her this year and managed 2 weeks of sunshine, although our planned trip to the beach turned into a couple of days in Nashville because the weather was not looking too bright and sunny down in Destin! It was lovely to have her around though. She came with an empty suitcase and went back with a full to bursting one thanks to a lot of shopping, (the German wasn’t too happy with the high number of shopping bags that came through the door in my hands!), we introduced her to the best BBQ in town, the best burger in town, stuffed our faces with donuts, finally made it up Stone Mountain with her, went to the Atlanta Botanical Garden and Zoo Atlanta, sampled some wine in Dahlonega, celebrated Oktoberfest in Atlanta, went to a Braves game and generally had some mother/daughter time that you can’t really have over FaceTime. She’s probably crying now reading this – sorry mum!

Stone Mountain / Wine Tasting in Dahlonega / Atlanta Botanical Gardens

Stone Mountain / Wine Tasting in Dahlonega / Atlanta Botanical Gardens

Some exploring with Mama C – Nashville, TN
During Mama C’s stay we were supposed to head to Florida for a few days at the beach whilst the German worked hard and earned the money but, Mama C’s history with the weather and her love of bringing the rain over from England meant the forecast was not looking good and there is nothing worse than being at the beach when it’s raining! So, we quickly changed our plans at the last-minute and instead headed up the Nashville for a couple of nights. It’s less than a 4 hour drive from Atlanta so we hopped in the car and went to Tennessee. We indulged in some country music, checking out the Hall of Fame, sipped some beers to live music in some of the many bars, checked out the Parthenon (slightly random having something Greek in the middle of Tennessee) and strolled around the city, taking in the atmosphere and soaking it all up. I’m already planning a return with the German before the end of the year. We stopped off at Ana Ruby Falls on the way home – Mama C liked that one too!

September is Good 2

Bright lights of Nashville / Exploring the Parthenon / Gold records at the Country Music Hall of Fame

Don’t worry – more detailed Nashville blogging is in the pipeline!

Sven came to stay
Jeez, the Hotel Richter was busy this month! Just a day after a tearful goodbye to Mama C (don’t worry Minimum, it will be Christmas before we know it!) I was back at the airport to pick up our friend Sven from Germany. He’s a childhood friend of the German, they both grew up in little Mettingen and Sven thought he would stop by to say hello on his way to the west coast of America. We managed to pack a lot into the weekend including a Bundesliga Breakfast (the boys, not me), a visit to Monday Night Brewing, dinner and drinks in Roswell, a tour of Turner Field and we ate our way through a mountain of wings! I’d say that’s a weekend well spent! Sven is now living it up at the Grand Canyon before heading to Las Vegas and San Francisco – not a bad trip at all!

September is Good 3

Some corn hole action at Monday Night Brewing / In the dug out at Turner Field

We explored a little more of Atlanta
On Labor Day we checked out the Atlanta BeltLine. It’s kind of like the High Line in New York City – an old train line that’s slowly being turned into a park walkway, eventually it will stretch around the city but for now there’s just a small section open. Artwork is dotted along the pathway and it’s a popular place for cyclists so make sure you stick to your own side! We did however, forget to take into account the boiling hot sun in the middle of the day – an epic European expat fail. To say we were hot and sweaty was a massive understatement! What a beautiful picture I paint for you…! We also finally made it to the High Museum of Art after a failed attempt last year when we tried to go on a Monday only to get there and realize that’s the day it closes. Doh.¬†We checked out the permanent exhibits and looked at the special Dream Cars exhibit (which the German loved) before hanging out in a hammock and taking a stroll around Piedmont Park.

September is Good 4

Strolling along the Atlanta BeltLine / Hanging out in a hammock at the High Museum of Art

Some of September’s small happy moments
We tucked into our first real American milkshakes, obviously with a burger! I had nutella with burnt marshmallows and the German downed a strawberry shortcake, I think it’s safe to say we’ll be having more milkshakes in the future.

The space near our front door was given a facelift with the addition of a pretty plant and a small herb garden. I wonder if I’ll be able to keep them alive…here’s hoping!

I celebrated the start of fall with a pumpkin spice coffee and a slice of peanut butter and pumpkin loaf. Remember my post about how America loves the pumpkin last year – that love has returned, full throttle!

We took a lovely evening stroll along the Chattahoochee. The weather is cooling down now, making it the perfect time to get outside! It also means the jeans have made their way out of the closet again…sad times. Until next spring shorts!

A front door facelift / Pumpkin coffee and peanut butter and pumpkin loaf / A stroll along the Chattahoochee

A front door facelift / Pumpkin coffee and peanut butter and pumpkin loaf / A stroll along the Chattahoochee

September rocked and October is looking pretty amazing too – my oldest and best friend in the whole wide world is coming to visit next week with my goddaughter and I cannot wait to see them walk through those airport doors – there will definitely be tears, from both sides!

Advertisements

Exploring: 5 Must See Places in Atlanta!

After living in Atlanta for over a year now and having a million Hotel Richter guests (OK, so maybe I’m exaggerating a tad there!) I think I’ve become a pretty good ambassador for the city when it comes to being a tour guide! Yep, I’ve visited many places 3 or 4 times and know them inside out and back to front! Maybe I should apply for a job in this field? (I actually did that at CNN…it would appear they didn’t want me. ūüė¶ )

So, I thought I’d put together a list of my 5 must see places in Atlanta, then, if you’re ever in da hood for a couple of days and have a limited amount of time, you know exactly which places to head to! I know, I’m just so nice to you guys!!

So here goes:

1. Stone Mountain
Must See 1
The clue is in the name on this one – it’s literally a mountain made of stone! It’s situated just outside of Atlanta (like with most places in this lovely city you’ll need a car to get there!) but is definitely worth the trip! The mountain itself has the carvings of Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davies and Robert E. Lee depicted on it and is more than 5 miles in circumference – yep this thing is huge! Now, you can either walk up and down the mountain (if you ask me that’s a little bit mad, especially when you see people RUNNING up and down it…RUNNING???? Madness!!) or you can get a cable car – that’s more like it! I’ve been here 3 times now and each time I’ve got the cable car up and walked down – once in 90 degree heat which wasn’t very pretty! But, if you’re a little unsteady on your feet I wouldn’t recommend this and would go back down in the cable car – there are some hairy moments walking down where things get pretty steep! The view at the top is amazing though – you can literally see all of Atlanta and beyond on a good day, checking out Downtown, Midtown and Buckhead’s skyscrapers! To be honest it’s pretty pointless going up there when it’s cloudy – that’s why Ma Cook hasn’t been yet – the weather wasn’t playing ball everytime we planned to go with her! Once you’ve checked out the mountain there’s loads of other things you can do at the bottom – take a walk around it, play crazy golf (I’d like to point out I beat the German and my brother at this!) climb an obstable course, check out the plantation, watch the glass blowers and of course there’s food! We checked out the Campfire Grill – the Po Boy was good!

2. Zoo Atlanta

TOO CUTE!!

TOO CUTE!!

You definitely cannot visit Atlanta without taking a trip to the Zoo! This place is amazing and at the moment has lots of little baby animals to check out – there’s nothing cuter than a baby animal right? This is just outside the city but you can take the Marta and a bus to get there if you don’t have a car – phew! I wouldn’t want you to be missing out on that one! I’ve been here twice, once in summer and just recently in the winter. The last time we went we were given half price admission because some of the animals were staying inside because it was so cold. Now, I’m no expert on zoos but I think this one is pretty awesome! For a start they have pandas!!! And not just one panda either – 4 of them along with 2 of the cutest panda cubs you will ever see! Then, of course there are monkeys, gorillas, orangutans (including babies!), rhinos (there’s a baby rhino too!), zebras, elephants, giraffes – you name it, they have it! Oh and we can’t forget the giant tortoises who put on a pretty good show when I visited with my brother and sister-in-law! More about that in a future post! If you want some food after the zoo, just around the corner you can head to Six Feet Under for some amazing fried fish or Tin Lizzys where we had some very tasty nachos covered in queso!! Yum!

3. Piedmont Park
Must see 2
Piedmont Park is kind of like Atlanta’s version of Central Park only on a much smaller scale! It’s located in Midtown, right next to the skyscrapers and is a big piece of tranquility close to the city! There’s a lake to take a walk around, loads of space for picnics including BBQ grills for you to use, a swimming pool (I think you have to pay to enter this but still, it’s a swimming pool!) sports pitches (we’re talking baseball and possibly football of the American variety!) oh and not forgetting the doggy park! Yep, there’s an area just for dogs where they can be off their lead and make friends with other doggies! If you ask me, this is my idea of hell (being scared of dogs and all!) but it’s heaven for the pooches!! During the summer months plenty of different festivals take place in the park including the Dogwood Festival, Music Midtown and this year Party in the Park, so there’s always something going on! It’s a fab place to chill out in if you’re a little bit fed up of the hustle and bustle of the city! Oh, and if you need some food, Willy’s Mexicana grill is just outside the park – definitely worth a trip for a burrito!!

4. Georgia AquariumMust See 3
When this place opened it was the largest aquarium in the world! I think it’s been oven taken now but believe me it is pretty huge! Located in Downtown Atlanta, it houses more than 100,000 animals, representing 500 species in 10 million US gallons of water! Wowzers! So I’ve been here twice (that’s a surprisingly small number for Tour Guide Richter here!) and each time was just as exciting as the last! They have everything here…dolphins, beluga whales, penguins (they were sooooo cute!), otters, every kind of fish you can imagine, sharks, stingrays, crabs, eels, you name it, they have it! They even have an exhibit tunnel where you feel like you are actually in the water, looking up at all the creatures! Here they have 4 manta rays and believe me, those things are huge!!! There’s also a Nemo flounder fish and of course a Dory from Disney’s Finding Nemo! I LOVE that film!! I could spend hours checking out the little fishies – it’s fab for adults as well as children! Oh and if you’re a little bit peckish, just outside there’s a restaurant called Legal Seafoods – it feels kind of wrong eating fish when you’ve been checking them out at the aquarium, but this place is worth the visit!!

5. World of Coca-Cola
Must See 4
And a trip to Atlanta wouldn’t be complete without a visit to World of Coca-Cola! This iconic brand was created in Atlanta so it obviously has a huge influence over the city! The company’s headquarters are here and all around the city there are bottling plants and sales centers including one at the end of my street, meaning I am constantly spotting red Coca-Cola trucks! Amazing! Back to the museum! It’s located just opposite of the aquarium so you can technically visit both these places on the same day. I’ve been here 3 times, yep, you read that right, 3 times! I could probably do the tour myself! You can check out the history of Coke, search for the secret formula, see how the brand grew into such an iconic symbol and check out loads of different Coke memorabilia, from Olympic torches and badges to old adverts, Coke trucks and Coke machines! Oh, and we can’t forget the fact that you can try every single drink Coca-Cola makes and sells around the world!!!! Yep, I think it’s around 65 different flavours! The German heads straight for the Mezzo Mix (a mixture of Coke and Fanta that’s sold in Germany) but after a while you kind of get a little bloated (or hyper if you’re my brother who still gets a little bit too excited when he has E numbers!) but it’s loads of fun trying the different flavours! Don’t forget to pick up your free bottle of Coke on the way out too! We can’t forget to give you a food option – Ted’s Montanna Grill is nearby – they do fab bison burgers!!

So there you have it – my 5 must see places in Atlanta! There are many, many, many more places to see but I figured these were the most iconic! Maybe I’ll do another list in the future…

Have you been to any of these places? What did you think? Where would you recommend?

Happy One year in Atlanta!

Wow. It’s a year to the day since we stepped foot on American soil and started our new life in Atlanta and what a year it has been! This time last year I was sitting on the plane after saying a very tearful goodbye to Ma and Pa Cook and wondering what lay ahead (and more importantly if they’d actually let me into the country – remember the Big V?) and now I’m a married lady about to embark upon her second year as an expat! Wowzers!

Officially an expat with that stamp!

Officially an expat with that stamp!

I’m not going to lie, packing up our lives and starting a new one in a different country was blummin daunting (well, maybe not so much for the German – he’d done it before!) watching everything go into boxes, knowing the next time I saw it would be in America!! America!! I still can’t quite get my head around the fact that I live here! I really should work on that – I’m technically not a ‘new’ expat anymore! I haven’t ‘just’ moved here, I’m not ‘fresh off the plane’ anymore!

So what has the past 12 months been like? 3 words will cover that – THE BEST EVER!! Yep, it’s been a year of adventure, new experiences and adjustment, excitement, exploring and change and a lot of fun times along the way! So much has happened! There’s no way I’m going to fit it all into this post!

So, after weeks of trawling furniture shops we made a home that happily welcomed a lot of visitors, we made some amazing new friends – something that will only continue the longer we stay here, we survived the pollen attack and the big scary bugs, survived our first Hotlanta summer by the pool, we got engaged (definitely didn’t see that one coming!) and then went to the beach and got married within 3 weeks! (You can read more about that here!) If you’d have asked me this time last year if I would be married within 12 months (well actually it was 5!) I would have laughed in your face and the words ‘I won’t even be engaged’ would probably have come out of my mouth! The German definitely shocked me there!

And then there was the exploring! Being an expat means there’s a whole new world at your fingertips – a never-ending list of places to explore and, me being me, I obviously want to explore all of them!! In 12 months we scouted out some fab places in Georgia (Helen, Stone Mountain, Downtown Atlanta, Blue Ridge, Lake Lanier to name just a few!), immersed ourselves into American life (heading to a Braves game, a Hawks game, some Final Four Madness and Independence Day) and took a road trip to Florida (where we checked out Miami, Clearwater, the Florida Keys and the Everglades).

There’s the food, oh the beautiful food! We’ve definitely attempted to try every little bit on offer (our waistlines can vouch for that!) and done our bit to make sure these expats experience as much American food as possible! There’s the ribs, the burgers, the mac and cheese, the fried chicken, the biscuits and gravy, the sandwiches the size of a house, the tacos, the pizza, the queso, the list is endless!! We’ve been to so many new places in the last 12 months and we still haven’t made a dint in the amount of places we want to try! I’m already excited for the next 12 months of food¬† based goodness! I think I might have to increase my trips to the gym though!

We’ve had to make some adjustments though to make sure expat life runs smoothly! The first day I was left on my own I was faced with a tornado warning – something I’m definitely not used to at home! I took it all in my stride though, well technically I ignored it! probably not the best way to deal with it but hey it worked for me! Then there’s adjustments like making time at the weekend to FaceTime family back home because the time difference means we can’t do it during the week because of work (well I can, the Geman can’t!) that means before we go anywhere on a Sunday we call Ma and Pa Richter back in Germany. You also make more of a conscious effort to keep in touch with people back home – they’re you’re lifeline when you’re feeling a little low and the fact that it’s so easy to communicate with them now (FaceTime, Skype, iMessage, WhatsApp, e-mail, text message) makes you feel a lot closer to home. I really don’t think I would have settled in as quickly as I did if I didn’t have those tools at my fingertips!

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all been plain sailing and a barrell of laughs everyday. We’re not on holiday, the German trots off to work everyday, I attempt to find work and write this beauty and, some days, just like everyone else, we have days when things aren’t all happy and jolly! Then there’s the lack of family and friends around you. Some days you’re fine, others you suddenly get a pang of homesickness and you just wish you could pop round to see your mum or your best friend and have a gossip over a cup of coffee. (You can read more about that here.) There’s the bits I’ve mentioned before about wedding dress shopping without my best friends and missing my best friends little girl growing up but that’s what you sign up to when moving to another country and you just have find ways to deal with it like sending a text or sorting a FaceTime call.

That said though we’ve literally lived the dream for the last 12 months and embracing expat life as much as possible – you have to when you’re given the opportunity! And the next 12 months are looking just as exciting – the Hotel Richter is re-opening!! Our first guests are already booked in with more already planning their visits throughout the year! We have a looooooong list of places we still want to explore (stay tuned on that one – I’m planning to write a bucket list VERY soon!) and of course, not forgetting the fact we’re getting married again!! Jeez, it’s gonna be another busy but bloody amazing year!!

Being an expat isn’t always fun.

So usually my posts are about all the exciting things about being an expat and the exploring we’ve been up to in our new country, all of which is amazing!! Yep we can immerse ourselves in the American culture and check out the 4th of July parade and things like Braves, Hawks and Falcons games. (The last one we haven’t done yet but it’s on the list!) Yep we can explore the delights of Georgia and head to places like Stone Mountain, the Georgia Aquarium, the mountains and Lake Lanier that we would never have seen if we’d have stayed in the UK. Yep we can explore further afield in this amazing country and jump on a plane to places like Chicago, Vegas and New York and be there in a couple of hours or we can drive down the road for a few hours (well about 8!) and we get to the beautiful beaches of Florida and chow down on some of the most amazing American food ever! And I can’t complain when most days the weather is like this:

IMG_4942

Just beautiful!

Now don’t get me wrong all of this is the best experience ever and for that I am so very grateful but sometimes it’s not all plain sailing!

First of all I’m 4,000 miles away from my family and friends and I miss them so much! Yeah we FaceTime as often as possible and it’s fab that we can see their faces and feel like we’re sitting at home and having a chat but it’s not the same as a big hug! Nothing beats a hug! And you can’t just pop round for a coffee or head out shopping together or go out for dinner and drinks – things I used to take for granted with them. It’s my mum’s birthday next weekend and the fact I can’t celebrate with her in person and take her out for dinner or something makes me sad. We’ll FaceTime instead but it’s just not the same.¬† It does mean though that the time when I am back at home is that little bit more special!

Then there’s my best friend in the whole wide world who just gave birth to her first baby. When I moved over here she was 5 months pregnant and the baby was due on my birthday. Luckily I already had a trip back to the UK planned as I was celebrating the big 3-0 and the beautiful Lily was born exactly on time – well half an hour before her due date so I got to spend some time with both the bump and the new baby. Now though I’m watching her grow up through pictures and Skype calls – all of which are amazing but again they’re not the same as a big hug! Like I said nothing beats a hug! I wish we could bob out for a coffee together, go shopping and have lots of baby cuddles. I can’t wait to get home at Christmas to see them both again – Lily is already so much bigger than when I last saw her!

Oh and not forgetting the wedding planning! Yep we’re planning a wedding in Germany whilst living in the United States with 3 bridesmaids in the UK, a best man in Germany and parents in both countries! Believe me it’s tough! We have to work out where to get suits for the men from bearing in mind they’re in 3 different countries! We have to work out how we’re going to get things to the wedding like a cake, the all important dress (that I’ve bought in the States when my mum was here but I didn’t have my Aunty and bridesmaids with me – something that made the experience a little sad because I always thought they’d be with me when I made that big decision) and our guests who, again, are travelling from 3 different countries. I have to find someone to do my hair and make up for the big day and I probably won’t be able to have a trial run – something a lot of brides take for granted. I need to go bridesmaid dress shopping with my bridesmaids but I’m in the US and they’re in the UK! Thankfully we’re getting a lot of help from our friends and family who are checking out things like cars and DJs for us, my bridesmaids keep sending pictures of potential dresses to look at when I’m back and my mum is making our cake! But we still have so much to pack into our trip back to Europe for Christmas and New Year!!

Don’t get me wrong I’m not complaining at all and I don’t regret moving to the States but sometimes you just want your home comforts and especially your family and friends! They’ve been there for as long as I can remember and they always will be – I just definitely don’t get to see them as often as I’d like and I know that it’s technically my own fault and my choice but it’s still hard. Thankfully I have the German who keeps me smiling everyday and always manages to perk me up when I’m feeling a little down like the other day when he came home with a beautiful bunch of flowers for me!

The Richter Hotel…

Has been open for business again this weekend when it welcomed my Aunty, Uncle and Cousin! And here they are…

IMG_4281

On one of the longest escalators (sorry elevator as it’s called over here!!) in the world as we headed onto the Marta to do some exploring!! Now they were only here for a flying visit on their way to Florida so we had to pack A LOT into the 2 full days!!

Day 1 therefore, included a trip to Downtown Atlanta where we visited the Centennial Olympic Park, the CNN Center (where we munched the BIGGEST burritos you’ve ever seen!!) and the World of Coca-Cola! This was now my third visit and my second in less than a month! Good job I invested in that annual pass when me and the German first visited back in February!! We had to queue for an hour to get in (ridiculous I know but it was probably the shortest queue of the day!) and ventured around finding out about Mr Pemberton and how he created (and was robbed by selling the secret formula!) the global brand that is Coke but my cousin was less than impressed when the secret formula was locked in a safe where he couldn’t see it!

The bit he was looking forward to the most (along with my Uncle and the German who was dying for some Mezzo Mix) was the tasting room at the end! Yep more than 60 flavours of coke were waiting for us to dig into! We lost each other as we ventured through Europe, North America, South America, Asia and the rest of the world tucking into some exotic flavours! One of my faves was the Melon Frosty (sadly I can’t remember the country it’s sold in!) along with a pineapple Fanta that you can get in Greece! Eventually we bumped into each other again (the German has successfully found his Mezzo Mix and set up camp there for a good 20 minutes whilst he guzzled a few cups full!) with my cousin declaring that he’d drunk his own body weight in coke! Well done!!

So off we trotted, bloated and full of the fizzy stuff, back to the Marta and into Roswell for some dinner before heading off to bed for another packed day of exploring! Day 2 started with a trip to Stone Mountain! Again it was my third visit but I was ok with that! So we headed on up the mountain in the cable car with my Aunty firmly in the middle away from the edges looking straight ahead so that she didn’t look down! She’s not the biggest fan of cable cars! Now the first time I went to Stone Mountain it was jeans weather, perfectly acceptable for trekking down a huge mountain! The second time it was slightly warmer and shorts weather but still acceptable for walking down a mountain! This time I realised the heat was here…I had shorts on and a vest but man was it HOT!!! Here we all are before we started the big trek…

IMG_4290

We didn’t look as bright eyes and bushy-tailed by the time we got to the bottom – we were hot, red in the face and very sweaty, well at least I was! Not the best look to be sporting but hey I had no other option!! So once we’d been mountain trekkers we grabbed some food at the Man v Food haunt that is The Vortex (that warrants a post of its own hence why I’m not going into much detail!!) then headed to Turner Field to take my cousin to his first ever baseball game!! Exciting times!!!

We got there slightly early and had a mooch around the stadium where the German and I made a new friend…

IMG_4307

Yep the Atlanta Braves Mascot, Homer! The German was pestering me to have a picture with him so I told him I would if he joined in…he had no option!! After that we grabbed some beers (vital when watching the ball game!) and headed to our seats! The first pitch took place and we settled down in the sweltering heat! Man it was hot and humid!! Whilst the game was taking place I was explaining the rules to my Aunty and the Braves started notching up the runs! Yay!! Then my cousin went to get a beer and disaster struck – well for him not the Braves! They scored a home run!! Woooooo! Sadly my cousin missed his first ever home run because he was in the beer queue!!! Epic fail!! He now knows not to head to the bar when the Braves are batting!!! Sadly that was the one and only home run of the game but the Braves did beat the St Louis Cardinals 5-2! Wooooo! It was the last of 3 games against the Cardinals and the Braves won them alll!!! Amazing!!

Sadly the following day my Aunty, Uncle and Cousin were checking out of the Richter Hotel and heading to Florida for 2 weeks – maybe not sadly for them, they were heading to the beach!!! And one of the best beaches in Florida – St Pete’s! So I dropped them off at the airport, shed a little tear and waved goodbye until the end of the year…sad times. But I loved having them here and I’m sure they’ll visit again soon – well maybe next year on their way to Florida again!!

Oh and one more HUGE thing…Happy Yorkshire Day!!! Yep it’s the day we celebrate the county where I am from in England!! We get our Yorkshire flags out, flat caps and ferrets (maybe not the ferrets and flat caps, we don’t all own was as is the stereotype!!) and celebrate what’s known as God’s own county! It’s a beautiful place with lots of green fields and the nicest people in England! I wouldn’t change where I am from for the world! And you’ll be pleased to hear we have a little tribute to Yorkshire here at the Richter house and it’s there all year round…

IMG_4333

Ignore the bike handle but yep we have a Yorkshire flag flying (in the spare closet because there isn’t really anywhere else to put it!) all year round!! So Happy Yorkshire Day and all together now – Yorkshire…Yorkshire…Yorkshire!!

What a load of pollen!!

Literally.

So first of all it’s been a fair few days since my last post – for this I apologise. I won’t lie – I’m gonna come up with an excuse – my brother and sister-in-law were here so I was spending time with them, but they went home on Saturday and the German left for Chicago at the same time so now I have no excuse. I’m home alone! It is kind of weird going from a full house to nobody!

Right back to the blog post! So this one is all about pollen. Yep the stuff is everywhere in Atlanta right now and when I say everywhere I mean EVERYWHERE! We’re stuck in some sort of pollen haze/hell and it shows no sign of letting up!! ARGH!!

It would appear it’s currently pollen season. Now the German had heard about this and told me exactly what was happening as soon as my car starting turning a yellow colour! At first I thought it was kind of cool…now I’m thinking differently!

So this all started about 2 weeks ago, you first noticed it on the cars…

IMG_2804

OK so the picture doesn’t really do it much justice but you get the idea!! Yellow EVERYWHERE! Now I’m sure living in a place that is surrounded by trees doesn’t help but still…

So the car I could deal with – I’ll just get it washed once the pollen has stopped falling (which the German led me to believe lasted for a few weeks – more on that later!) but it was getting worse! Last week I went to Stone Mountain (You can check out what that is in my previous post about it!) and it was a very hot day. The pollen count was so high you could actually see it in the air, my ankles and calves turned yellow from my flip-flops flicking the pollen onto them. At points I felt like I was eating it. It was definitely not enjoyable! I felt disgusting and had a shower once I got home! Ewwww! It fell onto my bag which also turned yellow and like an idiot I wore a white top – yep that had a yellow tinge too!

Outside the house the ground is yellow. You can see footprints where we’ve walked in and out, the handrail is a lovely shade of dusty yellow and the steps have pollen in every crack…

IMG_2819

Anything you leave outside gets covered! The German’s precious bike is on the balcony (he actually does love the bike!!) and instead of being black it is a beautiful pollen shade. I’m sure he won’t be impressed when he gets back!! We have a table and a couple of chairs on there – they were brown but they now have a yellow tinge! And my black hurricane lamp…I’ll let you guess what comes next…

IMG_2820

Yep you guessed it – a nice shade of pollen yellow! I had the bedroom windows open the other day and despite them having screens over them to stop the bugs getting in the pollen managed to break through! It was all over the bedside tables, dresser and drawers. I was not impressed!

Now when it comes to cleaning this horrible stuff up it’s no easy job! You can dust it with one of those catch the dust duster things (if any of that made sense!) but it still manages to gather in big lumps of yellow in the corners. And within an hour of you dusting it away it’s back!! I was working on the laptop on the balcony last week and cleaned it before I started – you could see the pollen dropping onto it as I typed! By the time I’d finished there were two patches at the front where my wrists had been and the rest was – yep you guessed it – a shade of dusty yellow pollen!!

Now when I say the pollen count is high it is unbelievably high! The lovely people on Fox 5 News Atlanta give you a daily update on said pollen count – last Thursday it reached more than 8000!!!!! I think this could have been the highest on record! Now thankfully yesterday it rained which has brought it down massively – today it is just 1509! Phew! The yellow stuff is still there though!

Now speaking of the rain – when it rains it washes the pollen away! Yay! My car is slightly cleaner, the pathways are cleaner and the pollen count is reduced. Result! But it leaves behind the most disgusting looking puddles…check this beast out…

IMG_2813

See…vile!!

Now as I mentioned earlier the German reckoned this would last for a couple of weeks, a month tops were his words. Sadly I checked out a blog the other day and they reckoned it sticks around until July 15th!!! July 15th?! Do they really think I can deal with this until July 15th?! That’s 4 months! 16 weeks of yellow stuff everywhere! 16 weeks of constant cleaning! 16 weeks of fighting my way through yellow dust and turning into a big pollen mess when I go out! This I am not looking forward to at all! There’s only one thing left to say…at least I don’t suffer from hay fever!!

 

A Mountain made of Stone…

Now this I know isn’t uncommon at all – in fact all mountains are made of stone, that is a no brainer! However this one is called…wait for it…it’s a good one…yep you guessed it…Stone Mountain! Yep it was a warm, kind of sunny spring day here in Atlanta so me and the German decided to go and be tourists and check it out!

Now I didn’t really do my research before we went (I think the German did – that’s his thing, I just go along for the ride and the fun stuff!) so I literally thought it was a mountain with some famous faces in it – we’ll come to that in a bit! So I was kind of shocked/surprised when we got there and it was like a mini theme park! Yep think Alton Towers but on a much smaller scale! When I say much smaller scale I mean much smaller but still it wasn’t what I was expecting! So we parked up and headed off to buy some tickets!

We decided to become Mountain Members – anticipating the many other visits we’ll probably have over the next year with friends and family coming to visit! This means we can have an unlimited amount of trips during the next year and check out the rides/games/3D movies etc as many times as we like! Result!

Now here’s the history lesson…Stone Mountain looks a little bit like this…

IMG_2424

Yep like I said a massive mountain made of stone with some famous faces in it! Now this is the picture on all the adverts for Stone Mountain…so you can’t tell there’s other stuff to go with it! Aaannyway back to the mountain! So the famous faces are Stonewall Jackson (aptly named there!!) Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davies – three Confederate leaders of the Civil War. In 1916 the United Daughters of the Confederate was given 12 years to complete a civil war memorial in the stone but sadly they didn’t manage it and it was officially completed in 1972 after the initial carver bailed out (then went on to begin Mount Rushmore – bit cheeky if you ask me!) a second sculptor gave up in 1928 and work stopped for 30 years before starting again in 1964 and being completed by Roy Faulkner in 1972. Right history lesson over – back to the fun stuff!

So we got our Mountain Member cards, stocked up on some food (another theme I see entering this blog, our love for stuffing our faces and filling our bellies!) and headed up the mountain! Now it’s 825 feet from the ground to the top of the mountain, you can either take the trail and walk up or take a cable car…guess which option we went for…yep you guessed it the cable car!! Lazy bums! In our defence our Mountain Membership means we can go on it as many times as we like and it was kind of warm…and we got to see views like this on the way up…(I also feel like I’m trying to justify why we used it when it’s really because we are in fact lazy bums!!)

IMG_2392

Yep it was a loooong way up but worth it when you got to the top and could see the whole of Atlanta…

IMG_2403

Those tiny, tiny skyscrapers in the background are actually the huge ones in Downtown Atlanta! It was an amazing sight and worth the trip up just for that! Once you get to the top you can learn how the mountain came to be (I think we’ve had enough history lessons for one blog!) see some amazing sights like the one above, sit on the mountain and chill out, grab some snacks (popcorn was on offer and despite my recent new addiction to it thanks to the basketball I declined – shocking I know!!) and if you really wanted you could have a picnic! Definitely worth a trip up there!

Now we were lazy getting to the top and we could have been just as lazy to get back down and go back in the cable car but we decided to walk (that one shocked you didn’t it!) – walking downhill is much easier than walking uphill – plus I had flip-flops on – not the best shoe selection for some hiking (I refer back to the lack of research!) So we started on down the mountain and it wasn’t too bad, not too steep and easy to walk down, then we got to a VERY steep part with a handrail that was much-needed and eventually made it down to the bottom! There were some scary moments when I could have done with a hand from the German but he just carried on and turned around to see where I was when it was too late! Typical!

After our mountain descent we took one of the trails back to the main park – now the mountain is more than 5 miles wide and there is a little touristy train you can take all the way around it but we weren’t going that far so took the trail into the woods and out the other side – it was definitely a pretty walk and I’m sure in summer it’s even prettier…

IMG_2425

So we made it back to the park and decided to explore some of the other stuff you can get up to! There’s a climbing area that looked kind of cool – if you’ve ever been to Go Ape it was kind of like that – swinging from tree to tree and climbing up nets etc. Now the German really wanted to go on it and I was up for it too BUT when we got to the start my lack of research came into play again – you could only go on it in fully covered shoes. Damn you flip-flops. The German was not impressed. Next time for that one…

Instead we did a bit of this…

IMG_2421

Good old-fashioned crazy golf! And can I say it wasn’t just the usual, kind of boring, easy course…oh no no! There were some fancy pants holes let me tell you! And I think I’ve inherited my Dad’s fancy pants golfing skills too – I did pretty well! Yeah, yeah, yeah I know it’s only crazy golf but hey let me have some credit – I never play the sport!

So aside from the crazy golf and many different trails you can take around the mountain (oh yeah I forgot to mention some people were running up and down that beast…running!! Nutters!!) there’s also a 3D movie theatre, a duck boat that takes you into the river, various different shops and restaurants and in the summer there’s a laser light show in the evening that is supposed to be pretty good – we’ll definitely be heading back to sample that beast! And of course before we left we stocked up on some Taffy for the journey home…always thinking of our stomachs! Definitely a good trip out and somewhere we’ll be going back to – even if it’s just to let the German go on the climbing course!!

Oh and sorry for the delay in writing this one…I blame Mother Cook back in England who sent this little bounty over to the states…

IMG_2441

What? A girl needs her fix of Closer, Mini Eggs and Percy Pigs!! And I’ll admit it – there was another bag of Percy Pigs but that beast got cracked into as soon as the package was opened and soon disappeared! Ma Cook is a legend!!!

Oh and there are developments on the table building front too – they’re nearly done!! I’ll save that story though for another blog – I think you’ve had enough for today plus I need to give you a tease to keep reading!!