Americans really love the English accent. They just can’t get enough of it, although too many of them think that every English accent is a London accent. In Lumberton on Saturday we went out to a steakhouse for dinner and caused something of a stir amongst the staff, simply because we were from Britain. Lumberton is a small town which clearly does not get many visitors from beyond the county line.
After eating a big juicy steak each (accompanied, as always, with a ’side’ salad which is actually served as a starter and would, in normal circumstances, suffice for a whole meal), we walked back to the motel via a branch of Office Depot. For Neil, the chance to browse an Office Depot was not to be passed up, so we wandered around for a while and on the way out the checkout girl actually used the phrase, “What an evening; I can’t believe I’ve met people who are from England”. For the residents of this particular sample of small-town America, we might as well have been from Narnia; it was as though England (or perhaps Europe in general) is a historical themepark too far away for them to ever visit.
Reaching Myrtle Beach across the state border in South Carolina could not have been much more of a contrast with Lumberton. The motel car park was full of cars from as far away as Ontario and New York, and the moteliers were clearly concerned about the behaviour of some of their guests. We each had to put up $50 cash as a damage deposit because we were under 25 (for some reason they weren’t happy just having my credit card details like every other motel we’ve stayed at) and they told us repeatedly that under no circumstances should we jump off the balcony into the swimming pool; they even threatened to call the police if we did.
After assuring the receptionists that we hadn’t come to Myrtle Beach to trash a motel room and cliff dive into swimming pools, we headed to the beach. It’s years since I last swam in the sea and I was rudely reminded of how horrible it is to get salt water in your eyes, nose and mouth, as well as how irritating sand can be. Still, it was great fun trying to catch the waves as they broke and the water was warm enough to remind us how close to Florida we now were.
In the evening we found a crazy golf site with “two 18-hole championship crazy golf courses”. We opted for the Lagoon course over the Jungle course because it promised water falls. 18 holes later, Andy had narrowly beaten Neil (though Neil claimed a moral victory by holing-in-one the final hole and thus winning a free game token).
Myrtle Beach is a bit of a tacky seaside resort, although it’s not as bad as Niagara Falls, and at least it is actually at the seaside. Consequently, it is full of tat shops selling beach towels and inflatables, as well as the usual flow of tee-shirts, key rings and postcards. We stocked up on inflatable rings to play in the sea with, and Neil bought himself a bucket and spade.