Tag Archives: American

Blessing of the Fleet & Seafood Festival

Every year the people of Charleston, and others from across the Low Country, come out for the springtime Blessing of the Fleet and Seafood Festival. The celebration is in support of the local shrimping and fishing industry, thanking the captains and their families for all the wild-caught seafood they supply to the community.

Blessing of the Fleet Festival Tents

Blessing of the Fleet Festival Green

Blessing of the Fleet Festival Wetlands

Blessing of the Fleet Festival Ravenel Bridge From Pier

The event takes place at the Memorial Waterfront Park in Mount Pleasant, under Ravenel Bridge, overlooking Charleston Harbor. It attracts all types of people, local businesses, families, and lots of children!

Blessing of the Fleet Children Kids

Blessing of the Fleet Boats on the Water Railing

Blessing of the Fleet Boats on the Water

All sorts of pleasure boats show up for the event, bobbing in the bay to get a good view of the festivities.

Blessing of the Fleet Sailboat

Blessing of the Fleet USA 555 Sailboat

Everything starts off down at the end of the pier with the shrimp boat parade; each one is blessed by the local priest as it passes by. The boats carry crew and their family members onboard, and everyone waves and applauds from both sides. It’s very sweet.

Blessing of the Fleet Pier

Blessing of the Fleet Seahorse Blue

Blessing of the Fleet Shrimp Boat Amy Marie

Blessing of the Fleet Shrimp Boat Family Thing

Blessing of the Fleet Shrimp Boat Lady Paige

Blessing of the Fleet Shrimp Boat Miss Paula

This one even had Forest Gump himself onboard – up top, wearing a red cap and holding his suitcase, enthusiastically waving to the crowd!

Blessing of the Fleet Wave

The local radio station broadcasts the blessing live, so all the boats out there can tune in and hear the ceremony as it happens.

Blessing of the Fleet Preachers

Blessing of the Fleet Shrimp Boat Mrs Judy Too

Blessing of the Fleet Shrimp Boat Richardson Brothers Wave

After the parade, there was a live band playing and lots of people “shagging” on the lawn. That’s what they call the local dance, the Charleston Shag, we were relieved to hear. We had to explain our shocked faces to a few of the revellers we spoke to – it means something very different in the UK!

Blessing of the Fleet Festival East Coast Party Band

Blessing of the Fleet Festival Beer

Blessing of the Fleet Beer I Orange Charleston

But enough praying and dancing – it was finally time to get a taste of all this local seafood everyone’s so proud of!

Blessing of the Fleet Festival Food Broiled Crawfish Sign

Blessing of the Fleet Seafood Festival Stands

Blessing of the Fleet Festival Pickled Shrimp Sign

Blessing of the Fleet Food Boiled Crawfish

I was desperate to try hot boiled crawfish. But first, I needed a little instruction. Thankfully, some friendly folks sitting across from us were happy to talk me through the mechanics of it. Basically, just snap the heads off, peel the tail, and eat!

Blessing of the Fleet Food Broiled Crawfish Eat

Blessing of the Fleet Food Broiled Crawfish Peel

They were excellent! Some local ladies next to me told me the real delicacy was to suck the discarded heads of the crawfish. But I couldn’t tell if she was kidding me, and it didn’t really sound like my thing, so I gave it a pass.

Next, we tried pickled shrimp, fish tacos, and regular old peel and eat shrimp (sprinkled with Old Bay, of course).

Pickled Shrimp

Pickled Shrimp

Fish Taco

Fish Taco

Blessing of the Fleet Food Fish Taco Tortilla

Blessing of the Fleet Food Peel and Eat Shrimp

Without sounding trite, it seems to me that the closer you are to the sea, the better the seafood. We are really going to make an effort to choose local seafood over imported fish from now on. Luckily, we have plenty of options for buying local in this department! Most of the shrimp boats in the parade operate out of Shem’s Creek in Mount Pleasant – hope to see you there this season!

Green Card Celebrations

One of the perks of marrying an American, besides the great chat and endless fun, is getting one of those coveted green card thingys. I don’t see what all the fuss is about, but my better half thought it might be novel to have one to pad his wallet. So we hit the gilded streets of Mayfair on a glorious golden morning for our prescheduled appointment at the American Embassy.

London Mount Street Mayfair

Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street, Mayfair

Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street, Mayfair

Embassy of the United States, London

Embassy of the United States, London

We arrived at Grosvenor Square and were promptly processed through a few lines, then hung out briefly in the main waiting room watching enticing American travel videos on a big screen, before our number was called. After a quick chat, everything was deemed to be in order, and the application was approved!

US Embassy Visa Success

Feeling very accomplished, we headed off to celebrate over a meal…

At my all-time favourite lunch spot, The River Cafe.

River Cafe Lunch Outside

Sipping prosecco with fresh blood orange, we attempted the universal puzzle of deciding what dishes to order.

River Cafe Lunch Menu

Which is no problem, because you simply cannot go wrong!

Insalata di Carciofi - raw Violetta artichoke salad with Parmigiano Reggiano

Insalata di Carciofi – raw Violetta artichoke salad with Parmigiano Reggiano

Calamari ai ferri - chargrilled squid with fresh red chilli & wild rocket

Calamari ai ferri – chargrilled squid with fresh red chilli & wild rocket

Calamari ai ferri - chargrilled squid with fresh chilli & wild rocket

Calamari ai ferri – chargrilled squid with fresh chilli & wild rocket

River Cafe Lunch beer cheers

Spiedino ai ferri - chargrilled scallops & monkfish on a rosemary stick with sea kale, risina beans and anchovy and rosemary sauce

Spiedino ai ferri – chargrilled scallops & monkfish on a rosemary stick with sea kale, risina beans and anchovy and rosemary sauce

Piccione al forno - whole Anjou pigeon wood-roasted in Brunello di Montalcino with potato, radicchio, sage & pancetta al forno

Piccione al forno – whole Anjou pigeon wood-roasted in Brunello di Montalcino with potato, radicchio, sage & pancetta al forno

This pigeon was declared in “the top three” dishes, ever. Which, in other words, is about as good as it gets!

Dessert had to be accompanied by a frosty glass of limoncello. And even after, pleasantly stuffed, we were still reluctant to peel ourselves away from the table.

Pannacotta with Grappa & Rhubarb

Pannacotta with Grappa & Rhubarb

Strolling along the banks of the Thames, we passed Hammersmith Bridge and all the grand residences lining the Lower Mall.

Hammersmith Bridge

Hammersmith Riverside House

We came across The Dove, a pub we’ve been aching to visit, so we wandered in for a drink and a look around. The Dove sits right on the water, making it a popular place to watch the annual boat race.

Hammersmith The Dove

Hammersmith The Dove Front

Hammersmith the Dove Seating Inside

Hammersmith The Dove Drink

Hammersmith The Dove Rainy Day

A cosy place to while away a rainy London afternoon. And now that our days here are numbered, we are clinging to the romance of these bleak and wet days more than ever!