Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Snow views


Sorry I have not updated for a while, been doing nothing and everything it feels.

Seb's first experience of snow
We are all good.  We had some snow last weekend.  That was unexpected.  Usually when they say it is going to snow here, they get a light dusting.  It chucked it down for about 4 hours.  Started off just little wispy flakes, then got bigger and bigger.  After a couple of hours there was enough for a decent snow ball fight.  Something very satisfying throwing snowballs at your eldest child....  Of course it was a bright blazing sunny day the next day, so it disappeared quite quickly....

Things I have done recently....

I went to the Runway Cafe in Greenville with a friend and her two boys.  It is literally a small cafe/restaurant on the edge of the runway at Greenville Downtown airport.  So only small planes, and plenty of them coming in to land and taking off.  We got a good day, so were able to sit outside.  Definitely somewhere I want to go back to, maybe even take visitors when they come over.  There is a fenced in area next to the cafe which is going to be a park when they get some more funding.  The plans look awesome.  If you know of anyone with an obscene amount of money who wants to invest in the community, click here.

View from vantage point at Caesars Head
We took a drive to the nearby mountains last weekend.  About 45 minutes drive north of Greenville is Caesars Head State Park.  It was beautiful.  Caesars Head connects to Jones Gap State Park in what is known as the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, an 11,000-acre area of pristine southern mountain forest. We went the day after it snowed, and it was sunny so it looked really amazing.  Next time we will get out of the car and have a walk, as it shouldn't be so cold, cos it was really cold this day.  Almost like a cold day back in blighty, but with no rain, no wind and glorious sunshine.  Again, another area we want to explore when the weather improves

It was Presidents day last monday, which although it is not a federal holiday, both the boys were off school.  We met up with some more friends in the afternoon at one of the local parks. It was a chance for both of our eldest to meet each other, as they are usually in school when we get together with the other four children.  We must have looked a right sight, her and me with 6 kids, and only one girl in that!!!! Love her though, and Oliver and her eldest got on very well.

We took another trip to Greenville Zoo as well, again meeting up with friends.  Both Isaac and Seb thoroughly enjoyed this.  If we are at this zoo less than once a month I will be very surprised.

This weekend was a nice relaxing one.  Had more friends round on Saturday for lunch (must seem like we have made loads of friends, we haven't, but the one we do know so far are very nice), the kids played well while we ate, chatted and the men drank beer....

Sunday was a glorious sunny day, with very good temperatures.  We headed into Greenville for some food at the Carolina Ale House.  We were even able to sit out the front in the covered bit, so almost eating outside for the first time this year.   After we went for a walk along the Reedy River.  Oliver saw some kids paddling in the water and decided he wanted to do it.  ITS FEBRUARY!!!!  After initially saying no, we thought, screw it.  So in he got on some slippery wet rocks.  But this is Oliver, his sense of balance is negotiable at the best of times.  Think Paul pulled him out after about 30 seconds, before he seriously stacked it.  He said it wasn't cold, I think thats a front....  The walk along the Reedy River was beautiful.  We always forget how pretty Greenville is till we go back there.  We are looking forward to our visitors this year and showing them the delightful sights of our area.  Oh, and their babysitting duties too.....

Coming up.....

Our first visitor arrives in 16 days time.  Tony, Paul's brother is coming over to help him celebrate his birthday.  They have tickets to a basketball game in Atlanta, and are planning on plenty of beer, golf and basketball, not necessarily in that order

Oliver has next week off school as 'Spring Break'.  Isaacs is the beginning of April.....Think I will drag him to the zoo, although I know he doesn't really enjoy them anymore.  Maybe I can think if some kind of project to go with it.  Thoughts and suggestions welcome.

 Think I will call it on that, don't want to waffle to much, and I am in the mood to do that.  The joys of having a hubby away again with work.....

Adios xxx
This guy took 3 days to melt...

Friday, 15 February 2013

The mountains (part 2)

Having gone to bed a lot earlier, and a lot less drunk than the night before, we awoke to a beautiful clear day on the saturday.  Had breakfast, and decided to head back into Gaitlinburg.

We had spotted a tram car the day before, that takes you to the top of the mountain, and wanted to give it a go.  It was the perfect day for it.  We bought our tickets, and were able to get in the car just about to leave.  It was packed. Seb freaked.  He pretty much cried all the way to the top of the mountain.  Nothing either of us could do would calm him down.  I really felt for the other 70+ people in the car with a screaming child....

Skiing at Ober Gaitlinburg
View from the tram car
Ober Gaitlinburg is amazing.  It is a proper ski resort with snow (partly artificial) and all the winter sports that go with it.  It was breathtaking.  We had a walk outside, watched some skiers, educated the boys on skiing with what little knowledge we have.  It was lovely and sunny, but very cold, temperatures below freezing, good skiing weather.  We could not believe how busy it was with skiers  at the top of the mountain.  We also did the wildlife encounter, which promised otters, bears, birds and other native creatures.  It was a bit of a concrete zoo, but very quiet.  The bears were hibernating, but the other animals we saw were ok.  We were lucky enough to see the otters being fed.  This was awesome, and totally justified the admission fee.  Seb loved this and was laughing away every time he saw the otters.  We decided to catch the next tram car down. Luckily there were only about 10 people in this car, and although Seb freaked, it was no way as bad as he did on the way up.  The views were out of this world, so amazing, it is hard to describe without sounding like I am repeating myself!!!
Otters being fed

We reached the bottom, the boys were wilting, so we decided to drive back to Pigeon Forge to grab some lunch.  The boys had seen so many attractions they wanted to do.  Seb fell asleep on the way, so we decided that I would try a few shops at the outlet mall while the boys occupied themselves with iPods, and Seb slept.  The boys woke Seb up just as we were parking, but I went ahead and shopped any way. Thanks mum for my birthday money, think I spent exactly what you sent me, and got tones of stuff!  The queues in all the shops were huge.  I did one, where I bought all that I wanted, then had a quick look in the Disney store.  Saw some things for the boys, then looked at the queue.  It was nearly out the door!!!!  So they got nothing (mean mummy).  We decided a fast food lunch was in order, so we headed to Burger King.

I have not done a restaurant blog on this, but they provided great service.  The guys behind the counter were awesome, Paul requested an angry whopper, and although it is not on their menu at the moment, because they had all the stuff, they made it for him anyway...

The boys decided they wanted to play mini golf, and had spotted an Old McDonalds Farm course near the mall, so off we headed.  They loved it.  We let just Oliver and Isaac play, and although they did not play by any rules, or hold the clubs at all properly, they really enjoyed it, and wanted to keep playing.  Seb enjoyed just the  freedom to run (with mummy following close behind...).  By now we were all very tired (again!!!)  and it was nearly the end of the day, so we headed back to the cabin, to enjoy a leisurely dinner of jam sandwiches (for the boys) and crisps for us, so healthy.....  After dinner, the boys all headed to the hot tub again. I sat this one out.  Nothing at all relaxing or enjoyable about being in a confined space with 3 wriggly, wriggly boys, especially a small one who just wants to swim, even though he can't....  The boys went to bed with no qualms again, and we had a quick dunk in the hot tub, before settling down to watch some films....

Three bears cabin
The boys decided that 6.15 was a good time to get up on the Sunday morning.  Don't know what it is about our boys, but they like to get up early on Sundays.  At least this gave us plenty of time to get packed up and ready to go.  We ended up leaving the cabin at about 10.45.  We did our usual typing home address into the sat nav, it gave us a route.  I spotted what looked like a quicker one.  Opps.  The boys were all asleep within 30 minutes of being in the car.  Good job too, as the roads we went on were hairy.  They started out ok, but went up and down the mountains with loads of switch backs. We also had to watch out for the wild turkeys.... Then when we were about 10 miles from the interstate, the tarmac stopped, and we were on a grave track.  Admittedly, the driving was awesome.  I am exceedingly grateful my husband has done advanced driver training through work.  He loved the roads, if a little scary at times, and soon we were back on tarmac.  Going the scenic route took us through beautiful moutain side, by gushing waterfalls at the edge of the road, to raging rivers.  The river housed the Walters hydro electric power plant.  Who says Americans aren't green???  Not far from here, we hit the interstate.
Thanks Sat-nav

We had already decide on the way up to stop in Hendersonville for some lunch.  Paul had been here before on one of his drives with work.  It looks like a lovely little city, not a high rise building in site.  The restaurant he took us to Mezzaluna, was lovely, somewhere we will definatly be back to.

From Hendersonville, it was only an hours drive home, through some more beautiful mountains, much nearer to home.  I look forward to exploring these in a few weeks time hopefully.

 Our little get away was awesome.  That part of Tennessee and the Smokey mountains is amazing.  We want to go back before we leave this beautiful country, hopefully sooner rather than later

The mountains (part 1)

Well we are back!!!  Sorry this has taken so long, getting back in to the swing of things has not been easy, and that is after only 4 days away.  I was only up to feeling social and seeing friends today!!!! Think it is being out here, although there is the usual school run, cooking, cleaning studying to be done, it just seems more relaxed.....no pressure

Anyhoo, I witter....

So we went to the mountains last thursday.  Left Greenville in the rain, and it continued to rain all the way to Tennessee.  We stopped here for lunch, it was yummy.  We got to the cabin, after going a bit cross country, 10 minutes before check in time.  We couldn't get in...  Tried the combination for the door lock we had been given, still couldn't get in.  We eventually got hold of the owner, who was able to tell us the correct combination.  The cabin was nice. You could tell we were the first guests of the season, it had a slight musty smell to it, and there were a lot of dead lady bugs about, plus a few dead hornets, just for good measure....  We decided we could not be bothered to go back out again, so the boys had a dinner of cereal, and we settled in to the hard business of drinking.  We put the boys to bed, kept drinking, jumped in the hot tub, kept drinking, played some pool, kept drinking.....  do you see a running theme here????

Needless to say we both felt absolutely awful the next morning.  We had a bacon sandwich to assist with the hangovers, and tried to decide what to do.  We thought it best to hop in the car and have a look around.  First stop, Pigeon Forge.  (I shall explain now, our cabin was quite far off the beaten track, a good 5 miles from the main strip where Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gaitlinburg were.  In hindsight, this was awesome.)

Pigeon Forge is something else.  There are just hotels, restaurants, resorts, attractions and shops as far as the eye can see. The nearest thing we had been to in the Uk would be Southend-on-Sea, but another English friend has since likened it to Blackpool.  Garish, and an assault on the senses.  Admittedly, all you have to do is look over the top of the building, and you can see the gorgeous Smoky Mountains in the back ground.  From there we drove up to Sevierville.  A much smaller town, from what we saw, and not too garish or overbearing.  Might be a good one to check out in the future.  We drove back through Pigeon Forge, took a quick look at the outlet mall we had been told was great.  Not bad, but the shops were laid out like islands, each containing about 10 shops, with loads of parking around them, then you had to walk or drive to the next set of shops.  Not an ideal layout.  We decided not to stop, this time, but we knew it was there when we wanted it.  We drove back through Pigeon Forge, and headed to Gaitlinburg.

By now our tummies were beginning to rumble, and we started thinking about food.  Gaitlinburg was more our kinda town.  It had a 2 lane road in places, rather than a 4, and a large pavement.  It had the slight feel of a European town, quite comforting.  Again, loads of shops, restaurants and attractions.  We drove to the end of the town, then decided to come back and park up, have some lunch and go for a walk.  We had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe.  Neither of us had eaten in one of these before, and it was very enjoyable.  Afterwards we walked down to the aquarium.  Our boys have recently started to enjoy aquariums, so we thought this would be a good call.  It was.  Admittedly, it was a bit pricey (the entrance fee cost more than lunch), but it was well worth it.  We then took a walk further down the street, and took in some sights.  We went to the Moonshine factory, I did some tasting, and purchased a few jars of the stuff.  By now the boys were seriously starting to wilt, so we headed back to the car.

We decided, that seeing as we were in the right area, we would take a drive to Cades Cove.  This is a loop road, round part of the Smokeys National park (more info here).  The boys, all 3 of them, fell asleep on the way there.  All I can say about the drive there and the place is WOW!!!! it is so beautiful, with rivers running next to the road, big steep mountains either side of you, twisty winding roads, a motorists dream.  So beautiful.  Once we got to Cades Cove, it was a single track.  First thing we saw were deer, we stopped to have a better look, the boys woke up. It is such a beautiful loop, with so many chances to see wildlife, and mountains all around you.  So beautiful.

We drove back into Pigeon Forge.  The boys were adamant we were having pancakes at IHOP that night.  It was a disaster, three children who don't really like pancakes, was not an enjoyable experience.  We headed back to the cabin shortly before dark.

The boys were all in the same room, Isaac and Oliver sharing a queen bed, and Seb in a travel cot.  We gave them a snack when we got home.  Then it was time to introduce them to the hot tub.  Oliver had been in in the morning with Paul.  Isaac didn't want to, until he saw how happy Oliver looked in there.  So I got him ready, he jumped in while I sorted out Seb.  He also loved it.  I decided, if you cant beat 'em, join 'em.  It was too crowded for me, so I got out shortly after, then got the boys out one by one, and got them ready for bed.  Think it may have helped them sleep as they all went to bed with out much opposition that night...

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Just a quickie....

Going to try and make this a quick one....

We are all good.  We have been pottering around, sorting stuff and seeing friends, and having time as a family.

IT was the Super Bowl last night.  That was fun to watch.  I really enjoyed Beyonce's half time show, plus the adverts.  This is such a commercialized society, but at least they know it, and are even prepared to rib themselves about it.   Got quite drunk though, sore head this morning.

We ordered bedroom furniture in preparation for our first visitors arriving in about 5 weeks time.  Tony, Paul's brother first, then my mum a week later.  I cant wait to see my mum, I get goose bumps just thinking about it!!!!  Ikea furniture is arriving wednesday,  it worked out sooooo much cheaper to get it there than anywhere else.  The way they do their beds is funny (to me, its probably like this back home, but I haven't bought a bed in about 10 years, till we got here).  You but the frame, the base and the mattress all separately, which means it costs you a nice  chunk to kit out a room.

The boys are all good.  Had to take Oliver to the doctor this afternoon,  I made the appointment over a week ago, thats almost as bad as Westcourt.....  His ear infection is back, so drops for him.  This has been ongoing since June.  Will see how he goes with this.  It doesn't affect him as such, just every few days his ear will leak a delightful substance.....Isaac is currently on his winter break from school, so he is off this week.  Today has been quite nice, just hoping it continues.  He is funny, he insists on having computer time, and like Oliver he is loving playing Forza on the xbox.  But after 45-60 minutes, he has had enough, Oliver would play all day if you let him.  He seems to have good control when it comes to video games, shame the same cannot be said for TV.  He would watch Spongebob and Ninjago all day if he could.  Sebastian is great.  I gave him a slight hair cut this week, just a few centimeters from a few places, he has lost his lock at the back.  You would not know it to look at him, but I think he looks more grown up.  He is chatting away to himself.  Certain thing s he can say quite well.  Other things he is not there with yet, but it will come and no doubt by the time he is 3 we wont be able to shut him up.

We had Terminex round today.  They are the pest control people.  Thought we better, after Paul spotted a mouse one morning, then proceeded to catch it!  Lucy just isn't pulling her weight..... admittedly she has caught a few outside, just don't think she expected to have any on 'her' turf.

Its my birthday tomorrow, and I am off to Greenville Zoo with a friend.  Then drive through on the school run for dinner.  Boys early to bed, Paul is away, so I have complete control of the TV, computer and beer supplies!!!!

Wednesday, hoping to go into Oliver's school to have lunch with him, depending on ikea delivery, then meeting a friend or two at the park.

Thursday we are off to the mountains.  I so cant wait.  We have a cabin in the middle of no where, with what looks like stunning views, a pool table, foosball table and a hot tub.  The boys can have a splash!!! We can drink loads of booze, and celebrate my birthday properly.  Looking forward to a weekend of relaxing, exploring and generally having fun.  Prepare yourselves for the millions of photos about to be posted on here and Facebook.....