We always say that DorkySon seems to grow up more in the space of a week-long holiday than he does in the other 51 weeks of the year, and our recent break turned out to be no exception.
It was truly one adventure after another, with something new and exciting for him to enjoy every day. We don’t own a car, so even a short taxi ride is something of a novelty – when our holiday began with an hour-long car journey down the motorway, he thought that was the best possible start. We were headed into London for a night in a hotel there. DorkySon had sausage and mash, and then jelly and ice cream for dinner, while looking wide-eyed out the window at the buses and taxis rushing by. The next day we had a long train journey to Edinburgh, then two nights in a hotel and a full day with DorkyGranny.
All that before our holiday had even started for real!
When it did start – properly – it was with an 8 hour flight to Newark, NJ and then a 2 hour flight to Charleston, SC. Previous holidays have shown that preparation is the key to a happy DorkySon, so I had a backpack bursting at the seams with books, colouring pads, new toy cars and snacks, which I had been hoarding for weeks.
Our flight from Newark was delayed, which meant that we were later arriving in Charleston, but it did mean that we got to watch a stunning sunset from the sky. Our rental car turned out to be a Jeep, which left DorkySon thrilled, and even though we had to settle for a McDonald’s dinner we still arrived in time for a quick dash around Piggly Wiggly for some breakfast essentials. (How could you not be happy being somewhere where the supermarket is called Piggly Wiggly?!)
Fripp is a tiny wee island, only accessible to property owners and renters. It has a low speed limit and many people choose to use golf carts rather than cars. There are deer wandering freely around, butterflies and birds everywhere, dolphins just off the beach, and alligators in the marsh. It is so beautiful — even the street names make you feel like you’re staying in some kind of dreamy, imaginary place.
We somehow managed to get the balance right and have a holiday that was quiet and relaxing enough to keep DorkyDad and me happy, but packed with enough adventures to keep a 3 year old happy. We watched the sun rise and set every day. Our apartment was right on the beach, so when it was light we gathered shells and wrote our names in the sand, and when it was dark we would stand outside listening to the waves and looking at the stars.
DorkySon overcome his fear of dogs to make friends with our friends’ lovely wee Sheltie. He listened to music in the evenings, rode in the back of a golfcart and giggled at the wind in his hair. He was even delighted by our mid-week trip to the petrol station. When we had lunch with some cousins who are police officers and they gave him a shiny police badge to pin to his t-shirt I thought he might just burst with pride. If that wasn’t his highlight, then it may have been on the Friday after Thanksgiving, when we went to watch Santa Claus arrive on the back of a fire truck and turn on the island Christmas lights.
Food, as ever, played a huge part in the week. On our first night we had a big family dinner at a favourite restaurant where DorkySon ordered a burger and then ignored it entirely because he had discovered the delights of Frogmore stew. He helped make the stuffing for the Thanksgiving meal. He ate more than his fair share of cake at a birthday part, and firmly approved of the hotdogs and football on Saturday night. He learned how good it feels to buy your oysters and your grouper from a store where the fishing boats are moored at the back door.
And after all that – the fried chicken, clam dip, turkey, chocolate milk, Triscuits and cheese, Yuengling, Fig Newtons, sausage biscuits, smoked Wahoo, bacon and egg, Snyder’s Pretzels, fresh shrimp, Teddy Grahams, corn bread and chardonnay – it was finally time to roll ourselves home.
On our way to the airport on Sunday, we stopped off at my favourite gallery in the whole world – the Red Piano Too. Outside is the beautiful bottle tree that I shared a photo of yesterday. Inside are rooms full of wonderful vibrant folk art. It is a place that really celebrates the colourful Gullah culture, and makes me feel happy every time I step through the door. We didn’t have room this time to bring home one of the big, bright paintings on card or corrugated iron – but we did bring a beautiful sweet grass angel to hang on our Christmas tree and remind us of the fun times.
I came home full of all the good feelings that a holiday should leave you with; a belly full of food, a body full of sunshine and a heart full of love from spending time with family and friends. DorkySon grew in confidence as he experienced new things and grew comfortable in the company of new people. As I write this, I can hear him in his bedroom introducing his two new soft toys – an alligator (called Golfcart) and a turtle (called Elvis) – to all his other animals.
What wonderful memories we have, to carry us through the winter. How much we have to be thankful for. How lucky we are.