Seventy Degrees Fahrenheit

Melvyn Brown
Sun 21 Nov 2010 20:35

Beaufort, North Carolina


Apparently the pronunciation is BOfert…..


As we have often found, it is IMPOSSIBLE to buy a pint of milk and loaf of bread without resorting to going out-of-town and so this morning we borrowed the marina’s “courtesy car” to go supermarket shopping on the outskirts.  It was a (very) old Buick estate and it looked as if we might have fallen at the first hurdle when I managed to put the handbrake on using the foot pedal, but for a while failed to find any obvious means of releasing it.


Last Sunday’s Washington Post had an article about ‘food deserts’ which are described as ‘…urban neighbourhoods where there are few grocers selling fresh produce, but a cornucopia of fast-food places and convenience stores selling salty snacks (though, strictly speaking, the term can be applied to rural or suburban areas too).  Often the problem afflicts low-income areas abandoned or shunned by food businesses that focus on better-off consumers….’  The ubiquitous Walgreen (Pharmacy) responded to an appeal from Chicago’s mayor to offer fresh food and they have risen to the challenge by refitting some of their stores and giving over 20/25% to produce.  It was a very interesting article (given my experience of tracking down a potato) but had I known the cost of the newspaper ($6) before I bought it, I might never have got to read it.


On the subject of prices I have been surprised at the high price of some items, and equally surprised at the low prices charged for others.  For example I bought Melv a pair of Wrangler Jeans for $17.00 and a couple of nights later we got a Take Out pizza which cost about the same (more once you included the tip).  When it comes to tips a mere 10% doesn’t really cut it any more.  On this morning’s breakfast bill the restaurant had helpfully calculated what an 18% tip would be, a 20% and 25%!  I didn’t take a lot of notice at the time but I do recall one of those figures was given as $7.10 and I can’t reconcile that with a bill of $20.45 however hard I try.  As it was a help yourself buffet I didn’t feel much inclined to leave more than a 10% tip ($2.00).  This is a photograph of Melv sat on the veranda having breakfast….in the sun (just to rub it in).


Some of the things I have found expensive are:  loaf of bread ($3.99) which is the same price as a 1lb of stewing steak; paperback books are $15 (and nothing like the number of the three-for-price-of-two special offers you get in the UK); pretty ordinary wine comes in about $11-15 a bottle (even the Californian); I have paid $14 for a piece of (imported) blue-veined cheese; however a gallon of spring water costs just less than a dollar.  Working out the cost isn’t helped by the fact the sales tax is added at the till – here in North Carolina it is 2% for food and 7.5% for non-food (it was 2.5% and 5% in Virginia).  And that’s why you need a supply of “pennies” (cents).  The bill might start out as a nice round(ish) number but adding tax means the item comes in at (say) $3.04.  Most shops seem to have a tray of pennies which have been thrown in by previous customers and which you can use to make up the odd cents to save the cashier having to faff about finding 96 cents change.


Beaufort is the home port of the pirate Blackbeard.  His flagship, The Queen Ann’s Revenge, was discovered in the silted inlet just off Beaufort in 1996.


It has an historic district with houses dating back to the early 19th century and a 300-year old churchyard where the bodies of the early settlers, soldiers killed in the War of Independence, and Civil War casualties are buried, but I’m not sure Blackbeard is to be found there.


The graveyard is very atmospheric and even on a sunny (I know….I know….I’m not trying to rub it in, but it WAS!) morning you could quite see why it would be included on the guided Ghost Tour.  Here are some photographs.






One grave was square rather than oblong…and here is an explanation as to why.  The memorial with the cannon commemorates Otaway Burns a privateer commander of the Snap Dragon which got the better of the British in the War of 1812. 





We could have partaken of a Thanksgiving Lunch which was being offered in aid of the historic district.  The food was donated by the local restaurants and tickets were $20.  But by far the best deal came about because the Library were having a sale of unwanted books and we bought several titles (hardback for a $1, paperback 50c) – see comment about price of paperbacks above.  Whilst poking about the numerous gift shops I met a shopkeeper who recognised my English accent and said his wife was English and I should go over the road to the shop she worked in and introduce myself.  Turns out she was brought up in Branksome!  For 13 years they had been sailing/living aboard a boat, landed in Beaufort and decided to stay put.


We are taking a week out here in Beaufort so Melv can do some running repairs.  I have hired a car for next weekend (Enterprise do a weekend special for $9.99 a day) and although according to the long-range forecast it won’t be as hot, hopefully it will be dry and we can get in some sightseeing.