Friday, 31 May 2013

USS Yorktown, Charleston, waterpark

So we awoke early (thanks boys...) and eager for our next days adventures.  We left our friends at the house and headed towards Charleston.

Top Gun plane
We had already decided to visit Patriots Point.  This is an area of Charleston harbor which is home to various American Navy ships and aircraft. You can also get a boat to Fort Sumter from here.  We parked up, suncreamed the boys and headed in. We decided to let Seb walk, using his bat reins, as getting the buggy around could have been difficult.  It was reasonably priced, and as we had 3 small ones we even managed to hitch a ride on a golf cart from the entrance to the ship itself.  USS Yorktown was big.  Everything was really well laid out as a museum.  It is only when you start learning about these things, as a foreigner, that you come to realize just how much military action the US has seen.  We spent a good couple of hours exploring this huge aircraft carrier, and barely scratched the surface.  By lunch time the boys and I were beginning to wilt, in need of food we headed back to dry land.  On our way out, we stopped in the Vietnam Support Base.  Again, this is a war I know very little about, it is before my time, and not really relevant to British history, so it is not studied in depth at school (I did WWI, WWII and the bit in between for my GCSE history).  I would love to learn more about it.  I am finding that the longer I am here, the more I want to know about world affairs, not just an islands past present and future.

From there we headed into Charleston.  We traveled down to the very base of the city, and had a drive round.  Having driven through the historic area of Georgetown on out way to Myrtle Beach, we knew what to expect.  Only this was on a larger, grander scale.  People have told us that one of the reasons Charleston has so many old historic houses is due to the poverty that was abundant after the Civil War.  This prevented people from knocking down houses and building afresh.  Instead they had to 'make do and mend'.  The South Carolina Historical Society have played a big part in this.  They hold open days at various times of the year to different houses and gardens.  Not something my boys would put up with....  We found somewhere to park (yes, even in historic Charleston we found a multistory), and walked till we found a place we deemed suitable for the kids.  So we ended up in an Irish pub, Molly Darcy's.  It was quiet, we were given a seat by the table football, which the boys loved, and we were all starving (If I remember, I will blog about this on Feeding Goslings).  We left via the back door, and stumbled across the area where they keep all the horse and carriages.  The boys loved seeing the animals, but we deemed the rides themselves a little expensive (and boring for boys).
Customs House
So we kept walking and stumbled upon the City Market.  We must have entered it from about half way back down towards main street.  It was heaving, so busy.  It was hard to stop and look at anything.  In between the buildings were roads, which the horse and carriages were using. As we headed towards main street, the items for sale became more touristy.  We exited opposite Customs House.
One big boat
In the water behind, we could see a huge cruise liner.  We headed towards the water, passing a freight train, full of BMW X5's. We walked towards the Waterfront Park, which like most city parks here, had a water feature the boys could run around in.  We got them down to their pants, but they are a pair of chickens, and after 5 minutes standing on the edge, it was time to redress them and move on.  By now it was really hot.  We had seen a couple of water parks advertised locally so headed to try one out.

On the way to Splash Island, Sebastian finally fell asleep.  We paid our state park entrance fee, and headed to the water park.  Parked up, put Seb in the buggy, where he went back to sleep.  The boys got changed, I sat on a lounger while Seb slept and the others played in the water.  It had clouded over, but it was still really hot.  Seb must have slept for an hour before waking up and realizing where he was.  All the boys loved this place, and really didn't want to leave.  So much so, that we were the last paying customers out of the park.  We headed back to the house for a final evening with our friends, before going our separate ways the next morning.

We had to leave very early the next morning, as Oliver had his end of year pool party at a friends house.  After driving part of the way home, I was very tired, and the weather was looking pants.  We managed to persuade him to stay at home, and go to the pool instead.  Bad mummy alert, but I was very relieved.  We spent the afternoon vegging around the house, relaxing and watching 'Wreck it Ralph' for the umpteenth time.....

Saturday, 25 May 2013

McClellanville and Myrtle Beach


Sorry this has been so long coming, I have been throwing myself into Uni work since coming back from the coast.  I think I will start this there.

The house
We left on thursday morning, had a nice leisurely  drive down.  Stopped for some lunch at Wendy's.  It would appear we have a regular stopping area around Orangeburg, which is full of fast food restaurants.  It is about half way from here to the coast, so that worked well for us. We were staying in a small fishing village called McClellanville, about an hour up the coast from Charleston.  It was very picturesque and small, with very few houses, many of which were holiday homes.  We arrived just after 3, the boys got settled in and awaited out friends who we were sharing the house with.  Whilst we were settling in, we took a walk down to the end of the garden, onto our dock.  As I looked down the sides, I thought I could see lots of big bugs.  On closer inspection, they turned out to be crabs, and there was hundreds of them.  We got to the end of the dock and were just debating the likelihood of there being dolphins in the water when, literally 20 feet in front of us, the backs of 2 dolphins appeared.  Magical.  They were swimming up the water, and we saw them again.  It is so amazing to be able to see dolphins so close in the wild.  It is something I think I will never get used to seeing on the coast here.

The dock
Our friends arrived just after 6, so we fired up the barbie.  The boys (there were 5 boys aging from 1 to 6 in the house, thank goodness out nearest neighbors were a good distance away)  ate dinner well, and continued to play while we cracked on with the beer.  Got all the children in bed by 9, and settled onto the screened porch to enjoy some adult time, and compare plans for the next day.  Prior to booking this trip, my friend had expressed a very keen interest on taking a trip to Bulls Island.  Initially I thought it was a great idea for us too.  At the last minute we decided not to do it.  We did not think the boys would enjoy it, and would moan the whole time.  Also the price of the ferry for a family of 5 was pretty steep.  They were very organized, and lucky in the fact their children are still young enough to be carried.  I could not imagine Oliver's stamina.... It would have been a nightmare.  We discussed lots of interesting topics, always nice to find out peoples view points and history, especially if you have not known them long.  We all turned in fairly early.

Ferris wheel as Myrtle Beach
Instead of doing Bulls Island, we decided to do Myrtle Beach.  This has been described to us as a redneck version of Blackpool.  We were already aware that there was a biker convention going on in the town.  We left the house about 9.30, and headed up that way (it was 60 miles away).  About 30 miles from Myrtle Beach, we became aware of the numbers of bikers on the road, and this increased proportional as we approached the destination.  The best way I can think of to describe Myrtle Beach???  At first glance in reminded me of a very small version of Miami.  If I had to describe a British coastal town that it is like, I think I would say Southend-on-Sea.  We drove through it first.  Loads of big hotels, some slightly better quality than others.... Obviously there was the bikers to factor in, the place had a busy vibe, despite the big amusement and water parks not being open yet (that happens this weekend).  We decided to look for somewhere to park, and went with the most convenient (definitely not the cheapest) option of parking right under the ferris wheel, practically on the beach.  We took a little stroll down the broad walk, man it was HOT.  We turned back to the car, and Paul went and grabbed the beach stuff.  The beach was lovely, though the sand quite grainy.  I later discovered, if you dig down about half a foot, you reach a layer of shells.  The sea was refreshing after the heat, with all 3 boys going in at some point.  Oliver loved the water, as did Seb.  Isaac, not so keen.  We managed to persuade him.  The tide was coming in by then, so we had to move up the beach. The sand near the broad walk was baking, too hot, lunchtime.

the beach
Paul chucked all the beach stuff back in the car, while we waited, in the shade on the broad walk (trust me, it was HOT).  We went to Landshark on the beach for lunch, I will not say too much, as I hope to blog about it fairly soon.  This was just under the ferris wheel.  After lunch we decide to try and walk to one of the piers, but we walked on the street front, until we found an arcade.  The boys were ever so keen, so we took them in.  Of all the games I had the change for, they decided to play an old fashioned levers and pull back baseball game.  Isaac was awesome, though he was just pulling levers and pressing buttons.  Think Oliver is too used to working out a strategy, so he went through quarters very quickly. Once my coins had run out, we exited on to the broad walk, and continued to the pier.  It was a fair distance. We got about half way there when we realized it was too hot, the boys would never make it, and neither would we.  We decided to turn back towards the other one.  En route, I stopped in a souvenir shop, hoping for my usual magnet and mug combo.  This place was full of shells.  So many shells.  There were a few  I liked, but the shear volume put me off..... I felt a bit funny.  I know people take from the sea all the time, it has been going on as long as humans have been on this planet, but this felt extreme.  Its almost like I got an attack of the conscious.  I know these items have already been taken from the sea, but I didn't like the magnitude of the destruction for pure commercial gain.  I left the store quite quickly, and we continued our merry walk past the ferris wheel to the other pier.  It was nice to see the hotels from the beach side.  Most of them had good pools, and a few even had beach bars.  And they were all pretty busy.  We reached the next pier.  Of course you had to enter through the gift shop, then pay a dollar for the privilege of going on the pier.  As my cash was all gone, we had to skip it.  But the boys were greta, very understanding.  I think by then they were all wilting in the heat, as were Paul and I.  We had seen quite a few mini golf courses on the way in.  So with the promise of mini golf, we were able to get them in the car, and leave Myrtle Beach.

I will say now, I really like Myrtle Beach.  I would like to go back there again before our time here is up.  I want to stay in one of the beach front hotels with an awesome pool, and chill, catch some rays and let the boys play.  I would not want to do it for more than 3 nights, I think we would all be bored by then.  It would be nice to park the car in a hotel car park and walk everywhere for a few days.

We stopped at mini golf for the boys, they enjoyed it.  Oliver has a good swing, Isaac's needs work.  He is so left handed it is unreal, but tries to swing like a right handed person would.  We don't keep score, neither of them are good enough for it (yet...).  They really enjoy it.  We passed more bikers on the way out.

We arrived back at the house, where Liene had ice cream waiting for the kids.  They sure were grateful.    We took ours to the local park, a 10 minute walk from the house.  This was next to McClellanville museum, which was closed, but looked very interesting.  There was a big look out tower nearby, and we took a little wander on to the community dock.  By now the boys were in need of dinner, so we took them back to the house, just as our friends were getting back from their walk down our dock.  We fed them, bathed them (they were covered in sand) and got them into bed as quick as we could.

Monday, 13 May 2013


It has finally stopped raining, and it might even be starting to get warm, huzzah!!!!!!

So a run down of our week

Tuesday - We went to our good friend Liene's house.  The boys were able to play out in the garden, we had a delicious strawberry cake for lunch and a good time was had by all.  If you get the chance to read her blog, do so, it is awesome....  Oliver had a baseball game in the evening.  He played well, but this is the first game in which he has effectively 'struck out'.  He has developed a good swing, so his hand eye coordination is not quite as good as it was with cricket, though it is improving.  Just as the final innings was beginning it started to pitter patter with rain.  By the time the game was over, it was chucking it down, and most of the adults were sheltering in the dug out, before making a mad dash to the car.

Boys in a Dodge Viper
Wednesday - Instead of meeting at the zoo, we decided to go to our friends house.  They have a massive back yard, so the boys were able to play out.  They was another lady who I met when I first got here, but haven't seen since.  It was nice to catch up.  Isaac even got to drive a car, ok a mini one, round the garden which he LOVED.  We have not told Oliver yet, he would be sooooo jealous.  From here we headed to get Oliver, then back down the interstate to the BMW Performance Centre.  Paul and many of his work colleagues knew about an event taking place that afternoon, where the One Lap of America cars where coming on their epic drive to set a lap time in a time trial.  I just skim read the history of this event, and it is fascinating, thought up by the guy who wrote the screen plays for Cannonball Run and Smokey and the Bandit II.  The boys loved the cars stationary, and got even more excited to see them on the track.  I thought Seb would freak at the noise (he had not slept, and had been scared by the sound of the mini car at my friends), but oh no, he loved it.....  Probably more than the other 2 put together.  Their concentration levels go very quickly.  We stopped for some fast food on the way home.

Thursday - We met up with Christy and Edmund at Conastee park.  That was fun, and very hot.  The boys played in the park before we decided to walk down towards the lake, and do some of the trails.  Just as we were getting near, a gentleman warned us that he had just moved a cottonmouth snake off one of the trails.  We risked it, and walked for a little, but we were ever so aware and observant of what was around us.  Seb held my hand, and Isaac and Edmund walked very near us.  Oliver had another baseball game in the evening.  This was a rain make up game from earlier in the season.  Only 8 players from Olivers team showed!!!! It was a bit of a shame, but they managed to get 3 innings in, which was good.  It also meant the game lasted an hour rather than the usual 40 minutes.

Friday - We were off to the zoo to meet our friday morning group.  I was feeling brave, and decided to let Seb walk.  As I drove in to the car park, I was struck by the amount of school buses.  There were at least 5 parked up, and while we were waiting for out friends, at least another 5 pulled up.  I have never seen the zoo so busy.  It was a madhouse.  Admittedly, most of the kid were well behaved, and a lot of our group had buggies, or 4 year olds.  Seb was good as gold walking, he did pretty much the whole zoo, and held my hand for most of it.  As I had knackered Seb out in the morning, he went straight to sleep when we got back from getting Isaac.  Isaac and I had a relaxing afternoon watching Cars 2 an playing computers.  I **may** have fallen asleep on the sofa.....  Oliver had yet another baseball game. The heavens opened 20 minutes before it started, just a short sharp shower, and 2 minute before we got an email to say it was cancelled.  At this time, 11 players from Oliver's team were warming up on the field.  They decided to play the game anyway, and Oliver's team sportingly gave up some players to the other team, who were decidedly lacking in players.  We all went to watch this one, which resulted in wet and muddy Sebastian and Isaac...

So the weekend... I was not feeling to good yesterday. Paul indulged in some yard work and put my washing line up.  We went out for dinner. I was able to put my first load out today, it was dry in about 2 hours.  The ground is very soft from all the rain, and seeing as it is mainly clay, we have had to put some extra support for the pole in.  I have every faith that it will stay up.  I am almost looking forward to doing more washing, so it can dry cheaply and fast.....  We had a BBQ for lunch today, very tasty, and I didn't have to cook, seeing as it is Mothers Day out here.  I got some flowers, picked from the garden by Isaac and Paul.  Oliver had a little decorated pot, some soil and a packet of seeds, all nicely wrapped up for me.  It was very thoughtful.  After the BBQ, we headed to the pool.  It opened yesterday, and we got the gate code from the landlord.  As it is not a heated pool, the cover has been off for a couple of weeks in an attempt to get some heat in to it.  It kinda worked.....  It was chilly, but nice to sit on the edge and assist small boys in and out.  I did not go further done the steps than my knees....  I am looking forward to when it is really hot (yes I really am!!!)  as it will be sooooooo refreshing....

Wow, this was not meant to be epic.....  Here are next weeks highlights.....
Monday, to a friends.  Tuesday, the neighbors round.  Wednesday, the zoo.  Thursday-Sunday off to the coast!!!!  Can't wait to get away.  Should be good fun...

Right, I am off to watch Wicked Tuna (so awesome.......)

Monday, 6 May 2013


I know it has only been like 4 days since I blogged, but I think I should get into the habit of doing it more often.

So Wednesday night, Paul and I drank too much wine, what a surprise.  It made thursday a little difficult.  I had Oliver's play at school.  It was basically a rendition of a lot of the Dr Seuss books, of which we have very few.  It was good.  Oliver played percussion, and jumped around.  I only got to see it from the door, as Sebastian just would not sit and was upset by the noise.  He is like this for every school play/function we have ever taken him to.  He is going to have to grow out of it very quickly...
Thursday afternoon we went to my friend Christy's house.  It is quite convenient, as her house is on the way to Oliver's school.  Edmund was very pleased to see us!!!  Their bonus room is amazing.  As well as being the play room, it has a lot of old books and certificates and memorabilia on the wall from when her husband was in the army. Absolutely fascinating ( i must admit, my dad has a room like this, I always find it intriguing, all the things on the wall).  I hope one day that Paul or I can do something significant (other than the kids) that we feel proud enough about to dedicated space in our house to.  We went out for a meal on thursday night, it wasn't very good.....

Spot the Isaac
Friday was Isaac's International Festival.  As a last minute call, I managed to persuade Paul to come along.  It even stopped raining long enough for the event to take place.  It was very beautifully done, with a bagpiper opening the festival, an Irish folk bad playing too.  It started with the toddlers doing some songs (of which Seb will be one next year, eekkkk).  Then the primary children came on stage, this is Isaac's class.  They sang 3 songs, Frere Jacques, Home on the Range, and I forget the other.  After primary, all the kids sung or danced, going up in age order to the eldest children (Grade 8, 13-14 year olds).  It was a very well organized event, which I hope to play a bigger part in next year, so if anyone knows where I can get kids Morris Dancer costumes, please let me know.  One part I did play was to provide a dish from England.  I baked some scones on thursday night, and filled them with butter and jam on the friday morning.  I must say they were delicious.  We left the festival about 11.30. As Paul was now off for the rest of the day, we headed to the mall for lunch.  Subways for us, Chick-fil-a for the boys.  I choose my mothers day presents, and Paul brought himself a strimmer.
oliver had a baseball game, which they easily won, seeing as the other team only had 9 players compared to the Marlins 13.  This was due to the weather.  It wasn't chucking down, but there were a few bouts of drizzle throughout the game.

We were always going to have a lazy weekend.  The weather has helped play a part in this.  It started raining on friday and basically has not let up for more than on hour ever since.  Hence we are on flood watch.  Nearly 6 cm of rain was forecast for today, but that is falling on to saturated ground.  Bet everyone in the UK is loving reading this, especially as you are all due for a warm bank holiday weekend.....

So this week

Oliver has ERB testing all week.  This is for the Educational Records Bureau to assess student performance in key areas.  I don't think Oliver is worried, and he has no reason to be.  They happen all week, in the morning.  On top of this, he has 3 baseball games.  Was supposed to be 2, but one is a rainout games from earlier in the season.  This will be his last week playing though, as he will miss the last game because we are on holiday.
Isaac Seb and I are going to a friends on tuesday, the zoo on wednesday.  But that is it, so far!!!!
My new OU course has started, so I need to get on with it.  I need to make sure I can get all my online tutorials to work, I need to send a dummy assignment to my tutor, and reply to her email.  Plus I need to do lots of house keeping stuff....mop the floor, clean the bathroom, change the bed, sort out gutter cleaning, sometimes the list seems endless......

Well enough warbling......

Wednesday, 1 May 2013


Good golly, it has been 10 days since i last blogged, this could be epic.....

Ok, so last Sunday we went to Lake Greenwood State Park for a picnic

It is a beautiful place, lots of walks, and you can swim in the lake (once it gets a bit warmer of course).  The boys had fun walking and playing in the park.

We met up with some English friends on the monday.  That was fun.  They are currently on their first visit back to the UK since moving over here, so I hope it is going well for them.

Oliver in Chapel
Tuesday we went to Roper Mountain Science Centers butterfly garden with our friends.  There were not many butterflies yet, but we were able to walk around.  They have a good sized pond, with lots of turtles, who were ever so friendly.

Then on the Wednesday (cant believe it was a week ago....) I went in to the Chapel at Oliver's school to hear him read.  Paul had managed to get the whole day off, which was handy.  He read beautifully.  I saw hime practicing first, and I must say the main event was much better than the practice.   In the afternoon I headed to Greenville Technical College to resit my exam.  I think it went well.  I wrote for 2 hours and 45 minutes of a 3 hour exam.  I even filled my answer book, for the first time ever in an Open University exam.  Fingers crossed, I have nailed it, I am hoping  I might even get above 55%, which would give me a grade 3 pass, which equates to a 2:2 in this module for my degree classification.  It would certainly help to bump up my average....  Oliver had another baseball game that night, which we all went along to.  saw something on the field we are not used to seeing....

Thursday we met up with a new friend Christy, and her boy.  Turns out Edmund is only 2 days older than Isaac.  They all played very well in the park, with each other and the other kids who were there.  Oliver had yet another baseball game, but with a later start, so I went on my own.

Friday I met up with a friend for coffee in the morning.  She is a baseball mum, English, but has been over here for 22 years and is married to American.  It was nice to chat and Seb was good as gold.  Seb and I then headed to the park to meet up with our friday morning group.  This was fun, they are a lovely bunch of ladies.  We collected Isaac from school, headed home to have lunch, but Seb was a nightmare.  He still really needs his morning sleeps.  He didn't eat his lunch, so I put him up for a sleep.  Isaac and I spent the afternoon playing.

We did not do much over the weekend.  The big Costco shop was required (ouch, but we haven't been there in 2 months).  Then some lunch.  The afternoon was spent with the boys doing their activity book, coloring and playing.  It started raining at some point in the afternoon, and did not stop till 10pm Sunday night.  Sunday was a pajama day, which everyone enjoyed!!!  Apart from Seb.  I had intended to try and keep him up all day, but he had other ideas.  He ended up going for a sleep about 2, and I had to wake him at 4.30.  We had a yummy roast which again, everyone enjoyed.

Monday, Seb was not well.  He was burning up and very lethargic.  I have not seen him be that ill for a while.  We cancelled our plans for Monday.  He seemed a bit better on Tuesday morning, but still not himself, so we cancelled our plans again.  I kinda wish we hadn't, as by the afternoon he was much brighter almost back to his usual self.  Oliver had another late baseball game last night, his team lost for the first time (at his age, they do not keep score, as 'everyone is a winner', but his team mates always score the games).

Sebastian only woke up this morning when the other 2 went up to brush their teeth at 7.15.  He is definitely on the mend, and we have kept our plans for this afternoon, as long as it doesn't rain....

It seems to be school activity week this week.  Tomorrow Oliver has a play at school.  Friday is Isaacs International day.  This would appear to be a day where the school celebrates everything international.  The kids are welcome to go in traditional dress from their countries.  We do not have anything like this, so I think Isaac is going in his Liverpool football kit!  They also welcome you to bring a national dish, so I may attempt to make some scones on thursday night.

Big news..... Sebastian is going to be starting at Isaacs school in the Autumn, well, August.  He will do Monday and Tuesday mornings.  As he is not 3 yet, we will have to pay for him ourselves, but it is actually cheaper than Isaac's preschool was in the UK.  It is also the time he would have started in the UK.  At the same time as Seb doing these 2 mornings, Isaac is going to start doing 'lunch and learn', where he stays till 2.45 on the same days, and gets to do fun things like Spanish!  I am going to have some time just me......  It is going to be weird.....