So it’s no surprise really that I love to travel – I think it must run in the family, my dad has always loved a good getaway as much as I do!
He and my step-mum Heather, have just come back from a couple of weeks at the beach in South Carolina, a few miles from where Heather’s sister, brother-in-law and niece live. I asked my dad to write about how a typical day was spent for them and here’s what he had to share:
Isle of Palms, South Carolina, one of a series of barrier islands protecting the intercoastal waterway and mainland to the immediate north Of Charleston, South Carolina, a city rich in history. Dateline – another tough day in paradise!
7.30am – 1st big decision of the day – to walk the beach or ride it? Ok, throw them curtains back, let’s see what’s happening outside. Clear skies? Check. Where’s the tide? Way out and a wide flat beach to play with! Even better. Looks like it’s ride time for bonzo. Heather walking and me riding on, back and around, very annoying I’m sure but getting in those all important miles. I’ll walk later.
Riding a beach, what’s he talking about? Horses. Uh uh – we’re talking a battered old beach cruiser, no gears, pedal brake and big tyres designed for flat hard beaches, and all for the princely sum of $55 for 10 whole days.
No time to waste. A bit of breakfast and out by 8.15. Let’s paint a picture as we go along. The 1st thing to notice are the large, wide boomed shrimp trawlers moving slowly offshore surrounded by flocks of gulls looking for a free meal. Shame I’m not a huge fan of seafood because it’s certainly the place to come for it.
As we look towards the boats we spot movement in the water between us and them, about 100 yards from the beach. Yes it is – dolphins, three of them coming up for a breather every 30 seconds or so and making their way south in the direction of Charleston Harbour. Beautiful creatures. Don’t come too close though guys, you wouldn’t want to get grounded.
We’re not alone in admiring the scene. Early though it is the beach is starting to fill, mainly with walkers but also with people setting up camp for the day. It seems as if everyone has stopped what they are doing to point and take in what is a magical scene. Talking of walkers, a lot of people use the beach to walk their dogs and it has to be said (lesson for others here) that the dogs without exception are all well mannered with very responsible owners. If I was a local I could be tempted! You would also see the odd beach cruiser with 4 legged friend attached.
Double check – that’s a funny looking mutt that woman is walking! Seems to be making odd non barking sounds as well. No it can’t be – it is! It’s a little miniature pig being taken for it’s daily constitutional. That is one confused pig, thinks it’s a dawg! Only in America. Still, each to their own and it draws a bit of friendly attention as it and owner make their way along.
A slight aside here. I’m waiting in the lobby of a high end hotel/shopping centre in downtown Charleston waiting on her indoors to make an acquisition when I hear much cooing from the nearby ladies room. Next thing I see a very attractive woman of a certain age pushing a baby buggy out of the loos. Glamorous granny I think to myself the way you do. Not so – she might be a granny I wouldn’t know, but these were definitely not her grandkids, much more likely her child substitutes. Two Yorkshire terriers complete with ribbons in their hair and rhinestone covered bandanas around their necks looking out on the world as they are being wheeled along. This is a woman who has lost touch with any reality that I’m aware of and two dogs who don’t know what the hell they are. Like I say – only in America, and this is nowhere near Hollywood.
We digress. An hour and a half after hitting the beach, Heather walking about four miles and me getting on for cycling 10, we decide to call it a day for now. The temperature is starting to hit the low 80’s on it’s way up another 10 or so degrees. We’ll be back later in the afternoon. How do we cool off? Seemples! Apartment overlooking the beach is also overlooking the statutory pool. Park the bike up, shower the sand off our feet and we’re in. Nice. Twenty plus lengths (it’s enough) and back indoors. Sunday in Paradise – places to go, things to do.
First stop, Morgan Creek marina for Sunday brunch with Stephanie and Olivia. Club sandwich and fries for me, a beautiful omelette and grits for Heather. How do you describe grits – a mixture of porridge and rice to look at, and tapioca like in texture. Nice though. Can’t get any more southern than grits with your breakfast. Carolina Key Lime Pie for desert, with four spoons. Big portions here. How is it that I end up eating pretty much most of it?
Back to Steph and Glyn’s for coffee and some Sunday afternoon football on the tele. It’s not football as we know it Jim, but hey, when in Rome etc. It has to be said that it’s a great spectacle and that it’s a good sport to watch on the screen. Just wish they’d call it something else. How can you call it football when you don’t play it with your feet?
Not too much sitting around though. Back to the beach. It’s got to be done. My turn to feel the sand under my feet. This time we turn left up the beach, left and right a total of over four miles of pristine sand. Surf’s up and the surfer girls and boys are out. Homage to Brian Wilson here. I’ve not seen it anywhere else but here they get upright on their boards and steer themselves around with a single paddle. Looks for all the world as if they are standing up on the water as it’s difficult to see their boards from a distance. Next life I get! Another late afternoon sight are the flocks of Pelicans, normally around a dozen or so at a time weaving their way south, sometimes just skimming the waves, at others gliding on thermals at a greater height. Odd looking birds when on the ground but possessing of great beauty when in flight.
So, another day in paradise draws to a close. What’s a good way of ending it? I know – ice creams at Ben and Jerry’s deluxe ice cream parlour, then back to the apartment for a well earned cup of tea (we are British after all), a shower and brush up, and then it’s down to Coconut Joe’s just along the street for beer.
As we approach we hear the sound of live music coming from the balcony overlooking the beach. A reggae band all the way from Jamaica. The strains of Stir it up and One Love waft through the humid evening air. Mine’s a Corona please and for the lady, a plastic beaker of your finest pinot!
And then, there’s another day to follow!