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Charleston, South Carolina

My wife Pat and I took a trip to the USA at Easter starting in Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston is Old South in many senses: cotton plantations and sea traffic, distinctive houses, conservationist principles and a genuine, open hospitality. It can't escape its past and a prosperous history that was founded on slavery. That slavery contributed also to Britain's prosperity as American cotton fed the mills of Lancashire. As elsewhere on the Atlantic coast of the USA the British connections are strong and in both directions. But here in the south there is more of the easy style remarked on by many writers that is less common in the northern states, welcoming as they usually are. In Charleston we felt that people has more time for visitors, were happy to pass the time of day; be a bit less concerned about schedules and checklists.

Image: The Church St Inn, Charleston

Our base was the Church St Inn: nice place to stay and with a nice name, though not ("Jim") as we know it. A British inn might be by tradition a pub with overnight accommodation, even a yard where horse-drawn carriages might be placed: the American version is more of a hotel. In this case, one not providing breakfast. Or horse-drawn carriages. What you see in the photo is what you get - if you take a tour of the town, a pleasant amble with a driver standing sideways at the front, watching the route and giving a commentary on it at the same time. It's tempting to say that's the pace of the south - ambling through life while slow-talking to your neighbours - but that would be fanciful. Charleston is like any other American city, a place of automobiles and semi-trailers with business as their business. It would still be perfectly true that the core of the city, the historic area, is basically from a different age when walking or buggy-riding was the rule. And thanks goodness (and the city fathers) for having rules for conserving it well ahead of other cities, including many British gems like Bath.

Image: A Charleston house

Image: Hanks Seafood Restaurant - Charleston

Image: Charleston Market Hall

Image: Charleston - architectural details

Image: Charleston Cathedral

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