Tuesday 13th April
Today was another fairly dismal day weather wise and we decided to crack Dad’s mission to buy himself some cheap American jeans while he was here. I was hoping that Bill would have been able to join us for this but he couldn’t get the day off work so I led the expedition to Charlie’s Trading Post myself. It’s definitely not somewhere that my parents would have found on their own, and without me being there I can’t imagine they would have entered the place if they had known about it. Charlie’s is a big, scary looking, run down shack opposite a prison, there are really no clues from the outside as to what wonders lie within and I have no idea what Mum and Dad were thinking when I asked Dad to pull up outside.
Once inside Charlie’s however, it was clear that my parents likened the place to Bogey Knight’s, a crazy government surplus store in Plymouth where you can find old diving suits, army boots and combats next to dusty government issue filing cabinets and desks, and were soon delving into the stacks of discount jeans and rummaging through the plethora of hunting, fishing and just plain weird gear that lies in mounds along the aisles as if they were right at home.
Fished Dad out several pairs of jeans with which he disappeared into the changing room to try on and contentedly emerged from requesting a smaller waist size be located for him. Eventually scored him some jeans he was happy with and Charlie made a sale.
Mum and I weren’t so lucky though, baffled by ladies sizing we both wish that manufacturers would just stop doing ladies clothes in made up sizes and just mark the proper measurements on them like they do with menswear, godammit.
Dad couldn’t be persuaded to consider a nice bright orange pair of overalls which was a shame, and unfortunately we couldn’t find a pair of boxers emblazoned with the repeat message of “Fanny ” in his size.
We all needed a coffee and sticky cake after that so I took the folks over to Little Five Points for an exploration of the shops and to lounge in Starbucks for a bit. Mum liked going through the vintage clothes shop and we both admired some of the retro aprons and dresses, but not the prices. Refuse to pay top market prices for old second hand clothes, that’s just silly.
Found Mel a birthday present for my parents to take back for her, a very cool pair of Paul Frank Julius flip flops that I hope will be perfect for Australia and won’t take up too much of her precious luggage allowance. Also investigated a new shop and met a friendly guy called Trevor who soon made a sale (Mum bought me a pair of shorts). He had his arm in a sling and related the story of how he got a bill for $2000 by dislocating his shoulder. Five people got under his skin in a very short space of time and he hurt himself when he drove a screwdriver into the countertop in frustation. Ooops.
Jim spotted us as we entered Abbadabba’s and tapped on the window surprising Dad. At the wedding he still had his white bearded Father Christmas look going on but is now back to bushy ginger and appears a whole lot younger, also, being in a strange country Dad wasn’t expecting anyone to wave hi at him like that!
That evening we decided we should take the folks to experience the Thai restaurant in East Atlanta Village. I had a craving to try the duck and on Tuesday nights they do a great deal on sushi. Of course the appropriate Thai beer was drunk and we had a really enjoyable meal with an enthusiastic sushi loving Bill guided Mum through the raw fish choices and Dad joining me to sample the Basil Duck *boom boom*. Had to explain Basil Brush to Bill.
After our meal we went over to Little Five Points to hang out at the StarBar and see Jim. Tuesday night is Dance Funk Party night but that doesn’t really get going until very late so we chilled and drank while they sat everything up. Jim proceeded to get Mum hammered on rum when he gave her a couple of very generous shots which were practically tumblers full of liquor. Mum sat on her stool at the bar, got progressively warm, fuzzy and happy and had a great time. I’m sure she was ready to stay all night and boogy on down at the funk night if she could have.
Bill got Mum and Dad into the StarBar photo booth together and they emerged with silly passport pics to take home as a souvenir.
Jim as always was a fantastic host, had plenty of tales to tell and somehow we ended up leaving the bar clutching a big round bag of frozen fish! North Georgia trout for Mum, Dad and Bill to throw on the grill tomorrow courtesy of Jim. Thanks!
Wednesday 14th April
Once everyone was up and about we headed to the Dekalb Farmer’s Market to buy some veggies for our planned evening BBQ. The market is also just an amazing place to visit. Dad went there with Bill at Christmas and loved it but Mum had yet to take the trip.
It also has an amazing canteen serving a great range of salad or cooked dishes at a budget price. You just choose what you want, pile everything onto your dish and then they charge you by the weight of your plate at the end. A well rounded delicious meal can cost only a few dollars. Hence I took my parents here to eat lunch before we wandered around the warehouse on an empty stomach. I’d made a sweet potato mash topping for a casserole earlier in the week which Mum took to and so she jumped at the chance to try a baked yam when she spotted it.
Hunger sated we then did a tour of the market, Mum marveling at the sheer quantity and variety of produce on offer, and Dad eagerly heading to see the tanks full of live fish and crawfish. Spent a long long time gazing at food and picking out what we wanted to eat for tea.
Stopped by ACE Hardware on the way home so that Dad could find a part to repair our shower that Mum broke that morning. Ended up creating havoc amongst the staff and being quaint and British at them. Also tried to buy a flag pole so that the Devon Flag could be hung outside our house but couldn’t find a pole that would work with our flag. Got chatted up by some bloke in one of the aisles. What is it with single men trying their chat up lines on you while shopping?
Mum wanted to buy Bill and I a hanging basket for our front porch so we also took a meander around their garden department. Last time I’d looked this area was dreadful, dowdy and lacking in any healthy looking plants, but it had got a little better now, though frustratingly nothing was priced. Another employee who was quite likeable, but fairly clueless regarding the plants, chatted away to us explaining that he’d just got the job and was trying to improve the place. He sold us on a butterfly plant and I chose a Wandering Jew hanging basket for its pretty green and purple foliage.
Back at the cottage Mum and Dad took a nap while I prepared heaps of veggies for the BBQ (accompanied by compulsory glass of wine) so that everything would be ready when Bill got home from work to fire the grill up.
The evening was great, warm with a clear sky so the BBQ was a great success. Bill cooked up the fish that Jim had given us and it met with salivating tastebuds and thumbs of approval. We munched away on tasty grub while forcing Mum and Dad to watch the penultimate episode of The Apprentice which we’d missed from the week before. Got quite caught up with that. Was still upset that Troy was out of the contest but still gripped, and very riled when Omarosa was proved totally inept as an employee and screwed everything up for Kwame. Cow.
As soon as the show ended we took Mum and Dad back to the StarBar to see Jim and Joel play as The Downer Brothers. They were fabulous and did a really good show, especially in light of both being shaken up and upset by some terrible news about a friend of theirs who had unexpectedly and tragically died the night before. Jim did a great job playing his harmonicas and we enjoyed their rendition of I only have eyes for you (…are the stars out tonight? – which was the song Dad always used to sing Sy at b
edtime) with bursts of a theramin. They ended their piece with the Johnny Cash treatment of Trent Reznor’s “Hurt”
This was followed by the much noisier band, Two Cow Garage who didn’t go down too well with Mum and Dad. Although Mum was feeling terribly sorry for the lead singer whom she thought was an unfortunately ugly girl until he turned out to be a bloke. Oops. I think Mum and Dad then thought of the band in terms of Harry Enfield’s “Kevin and Perry” characters. Poor chaps. Bill however got quite into their act and afterwards even went as far as asking the guy if they had any cds but they had sold out. Would go see them again.
At this point Bill was flagging having been slogging over a computer at work all day, but amazingly Mum and Dad were both still bright-eyed and ready for more. Mum wanted to see what the next band was like and so another round of drinks got purchased. The 10-gallon hat wearing Jack West were a complete contrast to the previous band and much more up Mum and Dad’s street I think, or at least, much more suited for their American experience holiday enjoyment.
Another fab night at the StarBar.
Thursday 15th April
Bill finally got a day off work the day that Mum and Dad were leaving. Poop. They had to be at the airport around 3pm so we didn’t have a great deal of time to do anything really. We ended up taking Quincy for a walk at Piedmont Park. When we got there a road was closed so Bill wasn’t able to park where he wanted to, but as a result we discovered the whereabouts of a dog park he’d been hearing about but had never seen. We let Quincy run free down there for a while with the other dogs. Felt a bit like we taking him to Playschool. I think when Genghis is allowed out and about that will be a great place to take him. Can’t wait.
We then made sure that Mum and Dad had some lunch by taking them to the Aussie Bakery for a bite to eat. Quince was happy enough tied up outside while we munched on Aussie offerings inside. Can’t say I thought much of my Koala Veggie Sarnie though, it was supposed to be roast aubergine and courgette with feta but it was like they had taken all the nice bits of the veggies and just given me the rind. UGH. Bill had a veggie pasty, but agrees that the ones I make are far superior. Of course.
All too soon it was time to take Mum and Dad to the airport. We drove over in convoy, Mum with Bill and myself accompanying Dad. The drive there turned out to be a little stressful for Bill as he got distracted gaping at a car steaming at the side of the road and missed his exit. Heh. Dad and I followed him wondering if he’d messed up or just had local knowledge. After a few turns and with us heading back in the direction from which we’d come it became clear it was the former. Poor Bill.
At the airport Dad and I had to drop the hire car back to Alamo and then take the shuttle service over to Departures where we reunited with Mum and Bill. A quick check-in at the BA counter and then our goodbyes had to be said. Hugged Mum and Dad as they stood in line to go through security and got a bit tearful. Mum hates long goodbyes so we had to leave them queuing and walk back to the truck, had to detour via the ladies for a tissue. No idea when I’m going to see them next. 🙁
After waving my parents off Bill took me to Home Depot where we managed to find a flagpole for the Devon flag and once we got back to our house we set it flying.