Now that 11 weeks have passed since lockdown began and adjustments have been made, I’m sure like me, most of us are dreaming about making plans to stay with family, have nights out with friends and looking forward to taking that all-important holiday that we work hard for year on year. So, if you could be teleported (my son’s new word!) right now to your perfect day where would you go?
For me it would be 5.30am after a long day of travelling the day before, to my home away from home, my haven. As my eyes open and the light is peering through the blinds I would realise it is the first day of my holiday, the place I used to live, Hilton Head Island. A small island located in South Carolina only 5 miles wide and 12 miles long and known for its incredible beaches, fabulous golf courses and amazing variety of restaurants. Developed with nature in mind and to protect the natural wildlife, Hilton Head beach front homes must have outside lights off by 10pm and there are very few streetlights with not a neon sign in sight!
With the kids already up and in their swimming costumes ready to go, I get dressed and we head out the door. With our toes in the sand, we stroll down the open beach keeping an close eye out, in hope that we are lucky enough to see one of the many turtle’s nests dotted down the beach hatching (I’ve only seen this twice in the 38 years that I have been going!). We pass a local taking his regular route to work at a hotel nearby and another walking their dog who frolics in and out the warm sea before the families start taking their spots for the day. With the beach stretching for miles in front of us and the shrimp boats already out we walk along the shoreline with the sandpipers running ahead and, in the distance, we watch the stunning deep yellow, orange and red start to break through, as the sunrises.
First stop, my old work, the beautiful Sonesta Resort where I spend two years running the food and beverage outlets. We walk into the lobby and straight to the café for our takeaway coffee and fresh muffin. Sarah, a Hilton Head local is still on the cash register who always greets me with a big smile year after year. We spent many early mornings together setting up the room service orders and preparing the breakfast room before the hotel came a live!
Then it’s time to dust off the bikes for a scenic cycle along the paths, darting in and out of the palm trees and looking out for turtles in the many lagoons on the way, whilst keeping an eye out for the free roaming crocodiles that are a regular sight on the island. We arrive at a friend’s house who we’ve known for many years and Romeo, their Dobermann is at the door to greet us, the cold beers are in koozie and the BBQ is waiting. With the wakeboard ready, after lunch we take to the water from their dock for a fun afternoon on the calm sea and to watch the dolphins as they swim alongside and play hide and seek around us.
The day would finish at Hudson’s, one of the oldest and best seafood restaurants on the island. Previously known as the Old Oyster factory, the original seafood processing plant where the oysters were shucked, creates the peninsular that the restaurant is built on today. Whilst we wait for our table on the dock with a drink watching the sun set the kids are entertained by the local magician. Then it’s time for dinner, first served their famous hush puppies (small, savoury, deep-fried round ball made from cornmeal-based batter) followed by half a pound of Snow crab legs from the Oyster bar with warm butter and finished off with Bessie’s peanut butter pie!
As the day draws to a close and the kids are in bed, it’s time for a G&T on the balcony watching the moon light in the distance glistening on the water and listening to the sound of the waves crashing to end the perfect day!
Until dreams become reality.
Written by Fiona Thompson