Moving, even for the most intrepid among us, can be stressful at best. Throw into the mix a move to a place where you have no family or friends, and it can be downright terrifying. I won’t even discuss the added complications of adjusting to a different culture, and I’m not talking about a move from the US to another continent, but simply staying within our borders.
Because we all know there are countless cultures right here in America, right? Everyone knows if you’re north of the Mason Dixon line you’re a ‘Yankee’…a fast talking, sometimes rude, shoot from the hip kind of person, and south of it you’re a sweet tea drinking, slow talker who thinks that pork chops should be on every breakfast menu.
After a little more than just a month, I’m arguably no expert on southern culture, but here’s my observations so far:
Not surprisingly, good pizza is hard to find, but if you’re not from NY, you wouldn’t notice. 😉
You CAN get good hotdogs, but don’t go looking for traditional green relish as a condiment. No worries though…you can substitute multi-colored relish that’s just as good, if not better.
I wasn’t kidding about pork chops on lots of breakfast menus. No thank you. I’ll take a bagel with a smear instead.
Seafood is plentiful and good, but sadly just as pricey as up north. Tip: stop at the roadside stands for good prices.
Home prices are not as inexpensive as you might think. You might get lucky and find a fixer upper near downtown in the 1’s or 2’s, and even less in outlying neighborhoods, but they’re not in great areas. With that said, if you’re like me and love historic homes and/or colorful, cute beach cottages, Wilmington is nirvana.
I went on a ‘Back Door Kitchen Tour’ last week to some of these aforementioned homes. Ironically, I have zero kitchen photos to share (they weren’t the highlight imo), but here’s what I do have…
We toured nine homes, and the second was my favorite. These fireplaces were fairly close to one another, one resides in the ‘gentlemen’s drawing room’ and the other in the ‘ladies parlor’.
Fun fact #1: this beautiful chandelier once called the White House home.
This was not a house that was on the tour, but I love the columns and porch, don’t you?
Here is a vignette the homeowner of one of the homes set up in her backyard. Love the creepy arms!
This next home is a loft located near the river. Fun fact #2: Dennis Hooper once lived here. Now a single guy with kids owns it and if you look carefully you can see it’s almost like an indoor playground.
Fun fact #3: Fisherman and I are going to be docents here for a candlelight tour in December. There’s a LOT more than meets the eye with this place, but after I took this pic I saw a sign that said ‘please don’t take photos’. Oops 🙄
How many times has this well worn door opened to greet a gentlemen suitor, or maybe a delivery from the ice man? In later years, perhaps the milk man left fresh, cold bottles of milk placed in aluminum containers, and on special occasions some butter was ordered to add to that Sunday’s cornbread. Yes, I’m pretty sure this door has a lot of stories to tell.
This gracious lady, and the land behind her, is for sale. Interested?
That’s a very small snippet of some of the homes that are more common than not in and near downtown Wilmington, but did you know Wilmington is home to the Battleship Carolina, a huge battleship from WWII? It’s open to the public for viewing and organized tours and if you like history it’s a must see. To really take it all in you’ll want to allow about 3-4 hours, but we did it in about 2.5.
This photo is where the crew would get their hair cut. Everything is original, and I found it fascinating to view where they ate, slept, showered and went to the bathroom (ZERO privacy!).
Back to my ‘observations’
There is a LOT of building going on here, and some of the roads have not kept up. For those of you who live in a place like from whence we came (population about 600), you might find it unbearable, but if you’re used to big city traffic (having lived just outside of Manhattan most of our lives, we are), it’s not a big deal.
Many of the roads have five lanes: two for each direction and one in the middle for people who want to make a left turn in the opposite direction but don’t have clearance for the other side yet. I will admit it’s taking some getting used to to see a car zip into that lane just as I’m driving next to it. It really feels like they’re going to smash into you! It’s actually a good idea to have that middle lane or sometimes it would take forever to make a left turn…just takes getting used to.
Another thing that takes getting used to are the curbs. Expect the front of your cars undercarriage to get scraped as you pull in from the street. It seems no matter how slowly I drive, even coming to almost a full stop, that happens.
There is so much culture here!. Something is always going on, whether it’s a free concert at a park or a show at any one of several theaters nearby. We’re going to see Kinky Boots Saturday and also have tics for Mannheim Steamroller in November. We have signed up to volunteer at a local theatre but they’re so busy the orientation isn’t until January!
RECREATION & SOCIAL LIFE
Lots of bike trails to explore, but when we’re not doing that we are often at the beach. I usually sit and read while Fisherman heads to the pier to fish. We have also played pickleball a few times and will probably do it more as the weather gets too cool for the beach. Fisherman has signed up for tennis lessons but due to rain has only been able to attend one lesson, but liked it.
I have joined Newcomers and they’ve been a wealth of information. They have so many satellite groups with countless activities to enjoy…arts and crafts, home and garden, book clubs, dinner clubs, day trippers…way too many to list but something for everyone. Bottom line: if you live in or near Wilmington and you’re bored, you probably don’t have a pulse.
This topic deserves its own post, but suffice it to say we’ve had some pretty amazing meals here. Few things can compare to a delicious brunch of blueberry French toast on the waterfront, or perfectly cooked pasta and shrimp with a fra diablo tomato sauce by candlelight, or delectable soft shell crab with a spicey pineapple mango sauce. Not your scene? How about a perfectly seared angus rib eye, eaten in a charmingly rustic setting, complete with original barn wood doors?
I thought so.
Pretty much everyone we have met so far is from someplace else, mostly the northeast, but the few that are native (or appear to be), couldn’t be nicer. They wrote the book on hospitality! Oh, and remember calling cards? Everyone has them, and we’ve gotten so many we need to buy a business card holder before our dresser drawers explode.
OH. MY. GAWD. I have saved the best for last my friends. I can’t even count the number of wonderful antique, consignment, painted furniture, thrift stores…you name it, that are within a short drive from where we are staying. Not only that, but we are less than ten minutes to the beautiful Mayfair outdoor mall which is home to nearly every upscale store you can think of, and some that you can’t ;). Annnnndddd, it has a World Marketplace which I’ve never been to before and wow, love it!
I took a pic of this farm table because it’s so unusual to find one with one leaf, much less two! Even without the leaves it’s too big for our dining room but it’s nice to know something like this is out there.
Speaking of furniture, I have been saying all along that I’m not going to buy anything for the house until it’s built. Wait until you live there a while and get a feel for the spaces I said. Your taste can change by the time it’s built I said. You might find something you like better and regret your purchase I said.
Just a couple of miles up the road from us is an upscale furniture consignment store. As soon as I walked in, I was hooked.
Behold my latest love. A blue velvet, sexy as all get out, ready for my close up Mr. DeMille sofa. It is super comfy, in near perfect shape, and even has some pleating and tufting on the back.
Now you’re probably thinking ‘wait, this doesn’t look very beachy Doreen, and it’s super formal. Besides, where are you going to store it’? I get it. But it’s perfect for the sitting room that is visible from the master bedroom. The other elements in the space will be understated. Have faith grasshopper. And they will store it for free. See…I told you the people down here are nice :).
I hope you’re not sick of fun facts, because here’s some more: it’s a custom made, hand tied sofa made by John Lester here in Wilmington for a couple that live in a 10,000 square foot home by the water. It’s only about five years old. They redecorate every few years simply because they can. As for me, I’m not getting rid of this piece EVER. In fact, I want to be buried with it.
We’re doing some home tours today so maybe I’ll have some pics to share if they’re ‘worthy’. 😉 Oh, and we’re planning a trip to Croatia and Sicily next August with Sarissa, Josh and his family! One week on a small yacht and ten days on land. The hotel in Sicily is so dreamy I can’t wait to get there already!
Till next time, happy Fall!