Monday, 26 May 2014

American Road Trip - coasting into Charleston - Part 11



Here we are then, coming down the last few miles before Charleston South Carolina On Highway 17 and looking out at the side of the road for Gullah people's stalls.  Here's what Wiki tells you about these descendants of slaves in this coastal region of the Carolinas.  These littles stalls are full of basketware, some large, some small, and made of sweetgrass (now a protected species so that this skill can continue) and woven by hand in a style that came with them from Africa.  I want to buy something that I can't find anywhere else, so I'm glad to see several stalls, and we stop at one when the traffic is easy.  I have a chat with the stallholder, and ask her is she not hot, out there all day?  She shows me a garden marquee, under the trees and surrounded by fly screening, and assures me that she and her man are very comfortable all day in the little room.  I make my purchase, and we drive on.  Coming down Highway 17 takes you into Charleston from the East, the coastal end.  And it takes you over a magnificent bridge.  "bridge!" we shout, and then we say "wow!" because the bridge is huge, and beautiful.

 So, this is Charleston.  We come into the old part of the city and are immediately charmed.  Now we only have to find our accommodation and have a quick lay down.  It's only two blocks back from King Street, a lovely street with shops, cafes, restaurants, corner shops and - OH JOY! a Pottery Barn.  If you roam the internet like me, you may have seen this chain mentioned a couple of hundred times or so. Especially if you seek out other people's blogs looking at at their homes!  Remember how Habitat struck everyone when it first began?  Nothing like it anywhere?  Pottery Barn does that to me!

Finding the right adress - "you have reached your destination" - with the GPS is easy this time.  No running down the road to find a street name, and we turn into the space at the side of the house. KER-UNCH!  "Stop!" I shout and he does.  I get out and find we have a lovely scrape on the passenger side of the bumper/fender and a bit of the wing.  No other damage but he is so upset that we have made it all this way and he has to do this getting the car off the road.  A quick reverse and another attempt sees us safely in.  I tell him to sit in the car whilst I unload, meet the host and get the bags upstairs, for having suffered three nosebleeds in the last couple of days, I don't want him to have another.  I meet the lovely Kathleen, who seems as excited that we have arrived as we are to be here.  The bed in our little suite here is 7 feet wide.  You could live on it!  I go back down and get John, and we both get upstairs and collapse, tired, hot but happy to be here. Our host gives us loads of info about the city, the mantlepeice is loaded with books about it, and this afternoon being a total rest, we may not even make it to a restaurant.  She tells us about a couple of places within a few blocks - one, Dave's, is a fish and chip shop.  Really?  in Charleston?  She explains that he gets today's catch from the harbour and cooks up whatever he has with fries.  So, sort of similar to our chippies, I guess.  Anyway, before we can stop her she is off, cycling the two blocks to get details of what's frying tonight.  We have a shower, and lay down in our nightwear.  Soon Kathleen is back, disappointed that Dave will not, in fact, be frying tonight.  But there are other places we can go, and she produces a list.  It's no good, too hot and too tired to be bothered, I am just going to say we'll make up our minds later, when this angel says "or I could cook for you?  I'm making fish tacos tonight".  If I knew her well, I'd fall upon her neck with gratitude, but a deeply felt thank you is all she gets, and she's off!  [You should note that evening meals are not on offer here, I think she was just sorry for two weary Brits - bless that woman.]

"home" for 2 nights, and our host, Kathleen out front
We prop ourselves up on the huge bed and switch the TV on.  And we find ourselves watching an episode of Golden Girls with smiles on our faces.  That was a great show.  The comic timing was perfection, and all four characters too.  We've not seen any TV since we started this holiday, so a great chance for himself to channel-hop (why do men do that?), whilst I catch up on emails.  Then, at just the right time, there is a knock on the door, and here's the lovely woman with a tray, on which sit three plates.  Two plates of fish taccos - all made from scratch, with Tallapio fish, kale, green peppers and mushrooms; and the third plate a pile of home made potato "fritters" as my mother used to call them, where you just slice the potatoes into thin circles and fry them in a shallow pan (I haven't had these since my Mum died in 1973, and John hasn't had them since he was a child either.  If I say that the food didn't touch the sides, you'll know we enjoyed it - a lot!)  So now, back on the giant bed, me dozing whilst he channel-hops again.  We need to be up and out early, as we have booked a walking tour of the old part of town and we need to be at the start by 10.30.