The house on the beach was everything we had hoped for; everyone had their own bedroom and there was a lovely meal, expertly cooked by Garnet. We were enthusiastically greeted by him and Monty. Sebastian was especially over-whelmed at seeing his dad again and having some male company at last. They spent a fair bit of that evening reallyappreciating Star Wars Lego in the way reserved mainly for those with a Y chromosome.
We were literally only a stagger from a secluded sandy beach with more shelter from the wind than we had been used to from our previous beach forays. The four of us (me, Garnet, Seb and Monty) spent time on the beach, chucking footballs and tennis balls, burying each other in sand and generally getting reacquainted.
The Grannies, who had always got on with each other before the trip, got especially close in that week – most nights they ended up sharing a bed. They spent the days at the beach chilling out and getting used to living and sleeping in their own separate spaces again.
Saturday saw Scotty Granny, myself, Seb and Garnet at the aquarium in Virginia Beach, while Funny Granny took to the boardwalk. We met up with her after we had come out of the immersion that the wonders of underwater life creates. Each aquarium has it’s unique highlight and in this case it was the trail through the marsh and the otters that the trail led to. The boardwalk on Virginia Beach itself was almost as absorbing. There were pony rides, crazy 4-person cycle contraptions, lesbian wedding parties frolicking in the surf, seaside sculptures and a hoard of humanity enjoying the sunshine on miles of sandy beach in their own individual ways. We took it all in, the spectacle of beach life being satisfyingly observed with the help of huge ice-creams with tons of toppings.
The next day Garnet left us to make his way home. This time he left us with some male company in the shape of Monty. After waving goodbye the five of us set off for Colonial Williamsburg.
It was on the way to Williamsburg that we had a near miss that still makes me cringe remembering it. We were entering a tunnel that had two queues and the car in the lane next to us, plus the car behind him, didn’t stop fast enough. I can still hear the huge hang and see the passenger raising her hands in the air yelling expletives at the driver. Thank goodness the driver turned their car away from us – it could have easily been the end of our trip!
Driving across the islands and inlets that make up the Virginia Beach and the Hamptons area was a visit to another world – yet another world in this country of contrasts. There are so many pretty little nooks and crannies formed by the river meeting the sea and most are enhanced by million dollar yachts and boats moored by the even-more-million-dollar houses. I can see the attraction of lazing on a yacht in the middle of the sea after all that tacking, gybing, hauling in the mainsail and hoisting the spinnaker etc – language etched indelibly in my consciousness from the days and nights on the Solent.
On arrival at Colonial Williamsburg one has to go through the visitor center. If you manage to escape through to the other side without having being persuaded to buy a bus ticket you can walk over the bridge that transports you back in time to the night before the civil war. Your walk back in time is accompanied by comments such as ‘From this time on, if you are a woman you cannot vote’, ‘From this time on, it would take you 5 days to get to New York City’, and frighteningly for the kids ‘From this time on there is no TV’. You can even rent period costumes for the kids, but unfortunately Seb was not up for a smock.
This is all good and well and very organised. Unfortunately I had the dog, Seb and two Grannies. Dogs are not allowed in the visitor center, so Seb and I decided to walk round and meet the Grannies on the other side, thinking they would just appear out of the back door. Unfortunately not. On entering the building, one decided to go to the book store, and the other one the restroom. That is how they lost each other.
Seb and I waited a while before deciding to tie Monty in the shade and look for the Grannies. We searched the centre several times for signs of the grannies, but with no luck. So I approached the help desk and asked if they had seen… well what do you say? Two Grannies? Two ladies? I described them as best as I could, but the lady at the desk knew less than I did. I wanted to avoid paging them – after a week in car of ‘humpfs’ and ‘don’t call us ‘The Grannies’’ I was loath to ask for an announcement along the lines of ‘Will the Grannies please come to the customer service desk’. So we went outside to plan our next steps. After extracting Monty from his usual crowd of admirers we were just wondering what the next step was when we heard very welcome English and Scottish accents amongst the babble of American accents. We followed the voices to find them on the phone to a worried Garnet. His reaction was: ‘See what happens when I leave you’? Humpf.
Colonial Williamsburg was as intriguing and as charming as ever – one of these times I will buy a pass to the houses and explore it minutely. Maybe having passes would make the guides a tad less grumpy when answering queries?
We wandered around happily taking in the sights of this beautifully restored town. CW is one of those happy places that has a huge potential to be over commercialized, but isn’t. It reminds me of Norfolk villages. A big grassy section splits up the main road and the buildings either side transport you back in time – it must have been such a labor of love to restore it. Actors play the roles of the locals, decked out in the heat in layers of period costumes.
We did manage to get separated from the Grannies again, with poor Garnet back in Delaware frantically trying to connect us again. Happily we managed to follow the ooohs and ‘what a lovely puppy’ noises to track them and Monty down.