Day 13 – Charleston to Savannah

Today was a driving day and it’s been pretty miserable! The area is under threat from Tropical Storm Colin and flash flood warnings are in place.

We decided this morning to pack our wet gear in the suitcases because we hadn’t used it and we didn’t think it would be needed now! Wrong!!

Just as we were leaving our hotel in Charleston it started to rain and then it rained and rained and rained. It was a horrible drive down to Savannah and it’s still raining now. Better weather is forecast for tomorrow so fingers crossed they’re right.

Rainstorm Blog

Rainstorm on the way from Charleston to Savannah!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the way down we saw a sign for a Cracker Barrel so of course we had to stop and have lunch. The special of the day was roast chicken in a lemon sauce, it was fabulous. It came with a handmade stuffing and mashed potatoes. For dessert we had peach cobbler and ice-cream, again wonderful.  Alas, again I forgot to take a photo!!

CBLogoRGB_300dpi_196_2539_low

 

 

 

 

 

Regular followers of the blog will remember that during our past couple of holidays we have played the ‘licence plate’ game.

The Licence Plate Game

The Licence Plate Game

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This trip we decided to do something a little different and so every time we see a Cracker Barrel sign or restaurant we raise our arms up in the air and shout ‘Cracker Barrel’ …………. well it helps to pass the time when we are driving!!

We were quite close to an outlet mall so it seemed rude not to go and do a little shopping!! They had a Talbots too so I knew that I was meant to shop there. I managed to find a few things to purchase and the savings were incredible. We also purchased a backpack to carry all those little extras we’ve managed to purchase during our trip.

We arrived at our Savannah hotel, the Planter’s Inn. It’s a 18th Century boutique hotel in the historic district of Savannah. It’s very nice and the staff are all very friendly and helpful.

The Planter's Inn

The Planter’s Inn

Our room at the Planter's Inn

Our room at the Planter’s Inn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Between 5.30 and 7.30 p.m. they hold a wine and cheese event for the guests of the hotel and a lady entertains by playing the piano. It’s all terribly civilised and just our kind of ‘thing.’

 

The Piano copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sand at the cheese and wine 'gathering'

Sand at the cheese and wine ‘gathering’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Si and the cheese and wine 'gathering'

Si and the cheese and wine ‘gathering’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The weather forecast for tomorrow is better so we are crossing our fingers that it stops raining, at least for a while. We’ve been to Savannah a couple of times before but it would be nice to get out in the sunshine and revisit the history that is Savannah.

One of the things I forgot to mention in yesterday’s blog was the fact that Charleston is ‘dry’ on a Sunday! Came as quite a shock to Si I can tell you!! No alcohol with his lunch!

Join us tomorrow for more from Savannah and to see if we’ve survived Tropical Storm Colin!!

Day 12 – Charleston

Another hot, humid day ……………….. this morning it was about 95º with humidity supposed to be at 99%. I can certainly confirm about the humidity, we were all drenched during our walk around Charleston.

We met Denise and Desiree for breakfast and then headed into Charleston. It’s such a beautiful city and the historic houses/buildings are magnificent.

Charleston, the South Carolina city founded in 1670, is defined by its cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages and pastel pre-Civil-War-era houses, particularly in the bustling French Quarter and Battery areas. The Battery promenade and Waterfront Park both overlook Charleston Harbor, while Fort Sumter, a Federal stronghold where the first shots of the Civil War rang out, lies across the water.

We’ve had another lovely day full of laughter, fun and lots of photo-taking. We were so pleased to be able to soak our feet in this lovely fountain, it was very cooling.

Charleston Fountain

Charleston Fountain

Sand and Desiree cooling their feet!

Sand and Desiree cooling their feet!

Here are some of today’s photos:

Si and the Gals

Si and the Gals

Charleston Garden Blog

Charleston Market

Charleston Market

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weavers at the Market

Weavers at the Market

Charleston Door Blog

Fountain 2 Blog

 

 

 

 

 

House Lamp Blog

Historic homes in Charleston

Historic homes in Charleston

King Street, Charleston

King Street, Charleston

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kids cooling off

Kids cooling off

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we first visited Charleston some 20-odd years ago we stayed at a hotel called The Omni, it was lovely. The hotel is still there but under a different name now but we re-visited it just to take another look at its magnificent staircase and chandelier.

Staircase Blog

The gals are on their way home now to North Carolina. Safe trip ladies and we hope to see you in good ‘ol blighty very soon.

At last some food pics! We decided to eat early today so had Sunday brunch at the hotel.

Si with his roast beef! Makes a change from shrimp and port belly!

Si with his roast beef! Makes a change from shrimp and pork belly!

Nothing quite like a good Sunday roast!

Nothing quite like a good Sunday roast!

Tomorrow we move on to Savannah, another very historic city. See you there!

Day 11 – Charleston

Well, we were told today was going to be hotter than yesterday and boy, were they right!! It’s been a scorcher  and very humid. It felt as though we’d done a three-hour spin class, the humidity was so bad. But hey, we are British, we can cope with just about anything!

Si had us up and out early to visit Charleston for him to take photos and me to ‘do a little shopping.’

Charleston

Charleston

Charleston

Charleston

Sand at the U.S. Custom House

Sand at the U.S. Custom House

Si managed a few photos, including accidentally wondering into a fashion photo-shoot for a magazine that was taking place at the U.S. Custom House. The lady in charge wasn’t happy about Si taking pics and actually put her hand over his camera! What! I don’t think so. Si pointed out to her that we were in a public place and he could take whatever photos he liked and he did. This is one of them ……….. very nice too!

Charleston Blog 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After our photo and spending expedition we headed back to the hotel to meet up with Denise and Desiree. We’ve had a fantastic day together.

First of all we visited Middleton Place, which is a plantation built in several phases during  the 18th and 19th centuries. The plantation was the primary residence of several generations of the Middleton family, many of whom played prominent roles in the colonial and antebellum history of South Carolina. The plantation is home to the oldest landscaped gardens in the United States.

Middleton Place

Middleton Place

In 1865, toward the end of the U.S. Civil War, Union soldiers burned most of the house, leaving only the south wing and gutted walls of the north wing and main house. An earthquake in 1886 toppled the walls of the main house and north wing. The restoration of Middleton Place began in 1916 when Middleton descendant John Julius Pringle Smith (1887–1969) and his wife Heningham began several decades of meticulously rebuilding the plantation’s gardens.

Middleton 3 Blog

Middleton Place

Middleton Place

Denise at Middleton Place

Denise at Middleton Place

Desiree at Middleton Place taking that perfect shot!

Desiree at Middleton Place taking that perfect shot!

Middleton Place 4 Blog

The plantation is home to various animals including horses, goats, pigs, sheep and lambs, water buffalo (newly discovered records show that Middleton Place imported water buffalo  from Constantinople in the late 18th century, the first in the United States), beautiful peacocks and a guinea fowl. We also saw a small alligator in a pond and a gecko. Animals in abundance today!

Alligator at Middleton Place

Alligator at Middleton Place

Gecko at Middleton Place

Gecko at Middleton Place

Lizard 2 Blog

Goat at Middleton Place

Goat at Middleton Place

Water Buffalo

Water Buffalo

Peacock at Middleton Place

Peacock at Middleton Place

Peacock 1 Blog

Peacock's rear!

Peacock’s rear!

The peacock display was amazing. It occurs to me that I have never seen a peacock, feathers extended, from behind! Well that was a wrong put right today and I have to say what a magnificent view it is too. Also, when feeling threatened he did a magnificent job of vibrating his feathers!

This evening on the recommendation of one of Desiree’s friends we went for dinner at The Glass Onion just down the road from our hotel. The restaurant describes itself as ‘Upbeat spot serving refined, locally sourced soul-food favorites in charming environs.’ Well, it was lovely and the food was great. For some reason and for the third day running, I forgot to take photos of our food! What on earth is going on? I think I’ve become a little too laid back. I send my apologies to some of our blog readers who consider this an important part of the blog.

Desiree, Denise and us two at The Glass Onion

Desiree, Denise and us two at The Glass Onion

Luckily, Desiree was ‘on the ball’ and brought this oversight to my attention. She saved the day by taking a photo of Si and I eating our bread  pudding dessert. Thank you Desiree. I will endeavour to get ‘back on track’ tomorrow.

Me and Si with our bread pudding .... delicious!

Me and Si with our bread pudding …. delicious!

For the record, this evening Si and I had fried green tomatoes to start, whilst Denise and Desiree had the water melon salad (we tried that too and it was delicious), Si then partook of ribeye steak and I had Spanish mackerel, followed by us sharing the bread pudding. Denise had shrimp and grits, well she’s a southern gal, whilst Desiree had a ribeye too and both then shared key lime pie.

Some of you will remember that earlier in the blog I was asking what all the fuss was about grits! Well, Denise was telling us that we should be ordering shrimp and grits as they are a totally different ‘kettle of fish.’ We are still not convinced but she’s going to send me the recipe so that we can give them a try.

It’s a miracle that this blog is being written today because after wine with dinner and then Disaronno with my coffee I’m feeling a trifle fatigued!

It’s been a lovely day and tomorrow after breakfast we are all heading into Charleston for some site-seeing and photography. Fingers crossed it will be a little cooler than today! See you all tomorrow!

 

Day 10 – Charleston

Boy, was it hot and humid today! I felt sure we would expire in the heat. The day started well but didn’t finish as we had expected!

For our first full day in Charleston we decided to visit Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens. It is one of America’s oldest working, living plantations and has been continually growing crops for over 320 years.

More history coming up!

The earliest known reference to the site is of 1681. It originated from a land grant given to Major John Boone. The land grant of 470 acres was given by Theophilus Patey as a wedding present to his daughter, Elizabeth, and Boone. The original wooden house was constructed in 1790. The house was a two-story, wooden house with a one-story front porch.

This photograph was taken in about 1900 and shows the former house on the grounds.

The house that stands now was built in 1936 by Thomas Stone, a Canadian who purchased the land in the early 20th century. He wanted a “grander style” home than what was there, so he built the Colonial Revival-style house.

Boone Hall

Boone Hall

On the grounds today, besides the house, sit nine of the original slave cabins which date back to 1790-1810, a smoke house dating back to 1750, the Cotton Gin house 1853 and the grand Avenue of Oaks that was created in 1743 by Major Boone’s son, Captain Thomas Boone. He planted two evenly spaced rows of trees and it has taken 200 years for the trees to meet overhead to form the present-day scenic corridor. He was a man with great vision as he knew that he would not be alive to see his work come to fruition. In fact he died just three years after planting the trees. The live oak trees run 3/4 of a mile long from the entrance to the front house gates. Boone Hall Plantation today spans 738 acres. The oldest oak on the plantation is 600 years old.

Slave cabins

Slave cabins

Cotton gin

Cotton gin (under restoration)

There have been many owners over the years including English, German, Georgian, Canadians and Americans. Mr Harris M. McRae and his wife, Nancy Thomas purchased the property in 1955 and opened the plantation to the public in 1957 and have made great efforts to preserve the original structures and gardens.

Boone Hall and gardens

Boone Hall and gardens

Avenue of live oaks

Avenue of live oaks planted in 1743

Si and Sand at Boone Hall

Si and Sand at Boone Hall

Sand at Boone Hall

Sand at Boone Hall

San Boone Hall 1 Blog

 

 

 

 

 

There are various tours and presentations on the plantation but one of the favourites of visitors is the one called ‘Exploring the Gullah Culture’ a unique culture adapted by African slaves.

Gullah presentation

Gullah presentation

“Gullah” is a term that was originally used to designate the variety of English spoken by Gullah and Geechee people, but over time it has been used by its speakers to formally refer to their  language and distinctive ethnic identity as a people.

Singing a Gullah song

Singing a Gullah song

Boone Hall has appeared in a number of films and TV programmes, notably the film, The Notebook, TV series North and South and Alex Hayley’s Queen. Also, the avenue of oaks at Boone Hall were used for the oak trees at Twelve Oaks, the Wilkes family in Gone With The Wind.

Boone Hall holds on average three weddings a week and they were preparing for one today. Also, another newly married couple came to have their wedding pictures taken there too.

The bride and groom!

The bride and groom!

The wedding venue by the river

The wedding venue by the river

Wedding 3 Blog

Wedding 2 Blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

We left Boone Hall in beautiful sunshine, but just ten minutes down the road drove into another storm the same as yesterday’s. Jet black sky, torrential rain, thunder and lightening. To make things worse, we suddenly had a notification in the car that there was a fault with the engine and service was needed now!!!! Charming, here we go again!!

Luckily there was an Avis facility close by so we drove there to discover it was a Sears Auto and not an actual Avis Rental office. They said the car would have to be changed over. The only problem was they had two cars of similar type but they were of a lower spec to the one we were driving so we turned both of those down. Eventually, they offered us the only other vehicle available which was a Nissan Infinity of a very high spec. I don’t think the guy was particularly happy giving us that one but he agreed to. Fingers crossed we don’t have any further problems or Avis will be receiving a very strong letter from us.

So, a very stressful ending to a lovely day. Tomorrow we meet up with Denise and Desiree and we are told it’s going to be even hotter than today!! Where’s that cool towel to mop my fevered brow!!??

 

 

 

Day 9 – Gatlinburg to Charleston via Hildebran, North Carolina!

So, some days you just don’t know how things are going to pan out and today was just one of those days!

Today was a driving day, from Gatlinburg to Charleston, with the drive scheduled to take about five hours. However, that five hours turned into eight hours due to a slight diversion!

I’ve been meaning to post a pic of the current ‘beast’ and this is it.

The 'Beast'

The ‘Beast’ – at least I can get in and out of this one without the need for a ladder!!

It all started when we had been driving for about an hour when I happened to pick up Si’s mobile and noticed that he had an email from a lady called Denise. Now who’s Denise you may ask and I will tell you!

Some of you will know that Si’s a member of Flickr (the photography site) and way back in May 2012 one of Si’s friends on Flickr, Denise, won the landscape picture of the year in the Sony World Photographer of the Year Competition (sorry Denise if I haven’t got that 100% correct!) and together with her sister Desiree, they were both coming to London so that Denise could collect her prize and her photograph was to be shown in an exhibition at the same time and Si and I went to London to meet them both.

Now both ladies live in North Carolina and when they knew we would be visiting this part of the world said they would drive down to meet up with us here in Charleston and I’m very excited to say that this will be happening this Saturday.

Well, back to my story. The email this morning was from Denise and as she knows I’m a movie buff, was telling us that if we didn’t mind a little deviation from our planned route to Charleston, that we would be within driving distance of ………………….. heads up you Hunger Games fans …………… the location that was used as District 12 in The Hunger Games!! Well, what were we to do, of course we deviated from our route and went immediately to Hildebran in North Carolina to check it out. I am pleased to report that I am now the proud owner of a District 12 Tribute t-shirt! Am I a happy bunny or what!!??

Sand at Peeta Mellark's Bakery

Sand at Peeta Mellark’s Family Bakery

Sand at Peeta's bakery

Sand at Peeta’s bakery

House in District 12 of The Hunger Games

House in District 12 of The Hunger Games

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

House in District 12

House in District 12

District 12 Blog 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you Denise.

The drive from Gatlinburg went through the Foothills Parkway, a very lovely area.

Foothills Parkway

Foothills Parkway

We’ve been a little worried about how the weather was going to be as Tropical Storm Bonnie touched down here earlier in the week and caused flash flooding. Fingers crossed, it all seems okay now although on the way here we had a scary ten minutes as we drove through the most horrendous storm. There was thunder, lightening and the rain was so heavy and hard that cars were pulling over until it passed. However, our British bull dog spirit endured and forced us to carry on regardless! Thankfully, the rest of the trip was dry and sunny.

We are now ensconced in our hotel and looking forward to exploring Charleston over the next few days.

Day 8 – Great Smoky Mountains National Park

We were up and out early again today ………………… I’m so looking forward to a lie in tomorrow! Today was our last here in the National Park.

We were saying how we hadn’t seen any wildlife during our stay here, well today that all changed! We’ve seen some wild turkeys, an elk and a groundhog, although we couldn’t get a photo of the groundhog.

Turkey crossing!

Turkey crossing!

 

 

Elk enjoying a meal

Elk enjoying a meal

Don't know the name of this bird but it was very pretty

– Eastern Bluebird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Driving through the Park today we saw this fog bank below us in the valleys.

Fog bank

Fog bank

 

Smoky Clouds Blog 2

Our first port of call today was Mingo Falls on the Cherokee Indian Reservation (Qualla Boundary), just outside Great Smoky Mountains National Park. At 120 feet tall, the waterfall is one of the tallest and most spectacular in the southern Appalachians. The hike to the waterfall is a round trip of only 0.4 miles in length, but is considered moderate in difficulty. Unlike the hike to Rainbow Falls we did on Monday, someone had been thoughtful enough to lay 161 concrete steps for most of the way to the Falls so making it a much easier climb. These Falls were magnificent and more than made up for the disappointment with Rainbow Falls.

The steps to Mingo Falls

Some of the steps to Mingo Falls

 

Mingo Falls

Mingo Falls

Si and Sand at Mingo Falls

Si and Sand at Mingo Falls (this pic was taken by a very tall man!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our next visit was to the Mountain Farm Museum. The Museum is a collection of historic log buildings gathered from throughout the Smoky Mountains and preserved on a single site. Buildings include a house, barn, applehouse, springhouse, and smokehouse.

John E. Davis house at the Mountain Farm Museum

John E. Davis house at the Mountain Farm Museum – began in 1899 and took two years to build from chestnut trees. A family of nine eventually lived here!

In the late 1920s, the states of North Carolina and Tennessee began buying the land that they would deed to the nation to become Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Although most of the land was owned by timber companies, more than 1,200 families also had to sell their land and homes for the creation of the new national park.

John E. Davis house

Side view of the John E. Davis house. That’s the kitchen the left

Inside the John E. Davis house

Inside the John E. Davis house

Hinge made from an old horseshoe at the Museum

Hinge made from an old horseshoe at the Museum in the Blacksmith’s shop

The Mountain Farm Museum is part of an effort to preserve some of the cultural heritage of the Smokies. The buildings most dating from about 1900, were moved from their original locations throughout the Smokies to this site to create an open-air museum.

Sand at the John E. Davis house

Sand at the John E. Davis house

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our final visit today was to Mingus Mill. Built in 1886, this historic grist mill (grinds grain into flour) uses a water-powered turbine instead of a water wheel to power all of the machinery in the building. It still stands at its original site. It was the largest in the Smokies and its wooden flume that carries the water to the Mill is 200 feet long.

Minus Mill

Mingus Mill

The wooden flume

The wooden flume

Mingus Mill

Part of the wooden flume

Sand on the bridge at Mingus Mill

Sand on the bridge at Mingus Mill

I’m afraid to say that we do not have any food photos tonight! I think everything’s catching up with us ………….. we actually forgot to take pics! For those who like to know these things, Si had fillet steak with ribs and I had filet steak. Everything was delicious. We went again to the Texas Roadhouse.

Thanks for travelling with us through the Smokies, see you tomorrow in Charleston.