Archive for March, 2011

Free Speech, plus Starbucks

I’m glad to see that Kevin Spacey kept a coffee in hand while marching in London for journalists’ rights in Belarus…

Charleston: A Bit of Britain in the South

It’s a European enclave — plus palm trees. We drove to Charleston, South Carolina last weekend, and felt like the five hour car journey had brought us back to (a much warmer, sunnier version of) Britain.

We decided to go to Charleston after a German friend told us that it was the only city she had visited in the US that felt European: it’s got the history, the walkability, and the abundance of British flags.

The weather (gorgeous) and size (small) made the city fun to walk around. Even with a double stroller and a baby bjorn, we strolled from one end of town to the other, and along the waterfront.

The streets are clean, flanked by colorful houses and shops. And the people are so friendly: strangers say hello, give directions, hold doors open and say, “My, you’ve got your hands full!” when they see you walking with three kids.

Because the weather was so warm (temperatures were set to hit 78 degrees on Sunday), we didn’t visit any indoor attractions. But the opportunity to leave the car behind is a rare treat in the South.

Once we paid the $20 (daily!) valet parking charge at out hotel, we got to visit the outdoor sites on foot: we walked along the Battery, a waterfront park with cannons, surrounded by southern mansions.

And we strolled past art galleries, old churches, and an array of seafood restaurants. Because the weather was so beautiful, we didn’t visit any museums.

Having lived through lots of drizzly days in London, we learned to take advantage of warm weather when we can. You don’t always know when the next one will be (although this seems to be a misplaced fear in the South, where spring/summer days are almost invariably warm and sunny).

We even spent a morning at one of the wide, rustic beaches just outside of Charleston. On Sullivan’s Island, we collected shells, made sand castles, and dipped our toes into the (freezing) water. Our only regret was that we didn’t have more time.

Royal Wedding Dressing

I was pleased to hear that we’re not the only ones who go to Gieve and Hawkes – it looks like the Savile Row tailor will make Prince William’s wedding ensemble.

While I’ve never purchased military attire from the tony tailors, I have bought trousers for my husband when I’ve felt compelled to splurge (they are not cheap).

And the shop, which always seems to have about twenty assistants working the floor, no matter how few customers are there, will always hold a special place in our hearts.

Like Prince WIlliam, my husband went to Gieves and Hawkes to have his wedding suit made (which again, wasn’t cheap, but then, you only get married once — and not just because most people can’t afford two bespoke suits from Savile Row).

I was also impressed by how enterprising and helpful the staffers are. When I went in to buy a jumper (aka sweater) there one winter, my baby daughter started to cry. All of the assembled tailors and shop assistants looked alarmed. I asked if I could feed her in the store, since it was raining hard outside.

While this clearly wasn’t the type of request he was used to accommodating, one morning suit-clad employee told me in his incredibly plummy accent that he would be happy to direct me to a dressing room in the back of the store.

And as Prince William has probably discovered, that was one posh dressing room.