My last full day at the North Carolina coast was spent in Swansboro, a perfectly small, quiet, picturesque town. The buildings are old, the stores sell beautiful things and the people are charming.
Swansboro is small. At the end of a bridge, we turned right into a narrow street and there it was: all one street of it. Well, there were other streets of course, but the main street holds most of the place’s treasures.
As I mentioned already, my holiday roomie likes to shop, so our approach to this lovely place was to start at the first store and work our way down from there. One store, then the next, then ice cream: it seemed that had become the norm for this trip.
With views of the waterfront, the stores in Swansboro are the type to feature in ‘Southern Living’ and the type to knock a few digits off your bank balance. But there are some real gems.
Russell’s alone made the trip worthwhile. Established by a lovely lady called Maxine – or Max – who still works there (although, as she pointed out to us, only in fifteen minute shifts), the store sells beautiful items hand-painted by her delicate hands. Max is a talented lady and the painted canvases, jewelry, shell ornaments, bookmarks and leather organizers all attest to that fact. She is sweet and kind too: my holiday roomie had visited a few years ago and within moments of us entering the store Max had remembered her and struck up conversation with her as if they were old friends. She was every inch the Southern belle. If only I wasn’t on a teacher’s wage, I would have bought one of everything. In the end, I settled for a bookmark and some earrings which I will treasure for years to come. Even the box and bag are beautiful and hand-painted, works of art in themselves.
After that, we shopped in a fresh little jewelry store where everything is North Carolina made and where the sales assistant talked to us for longer than we actually shopped. She was friendly, the kind of friendly I am learning equates itself perfectly with the famous Southern Charm.
The cigar shop, the Information Centre, the sweet shop – all were picturesque. From the wonky house, to the old red brick and white porches, to the eclectic store fronts, Swansboro proved that sometimes, the old ways can’t be beaten.
Perhaps it was the sunshine, or the way the water sparkled, but I think I fell a little in love with Swansboro that Tuesday.