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Spend a quiet weekend in Norway

Gwen Fowler Gwen Fowler

I took a trip to Norway recently. Of course, I mean Norway, S.C., and if you're not familiar with it, it's right down the road from Denmark. The two small towns are south of Columbia and west of Orangeburg.

My trip to Norway was to enjoy a weekend at Cottontop, a family farm that's been turned into a bed and breakfast, as well as a venue for weddings and other events. Karen Dyches Brown and Richard Brown were our gracious hosts for the weekend in the home her great-grandfather, Henry Boncil Dyches, built in 1905.

Karen's grandfather and father grew up in the house, and she grew up visiting her grandparents there, especially for big Sunday dinners. The Browns got to know each other growing up when she was visiting her grandparents; he lived on a nearby farm.

One of Karen's cousins, Jimmy Wilson of Savannah, Ga., bought the family homeplace in 1996, and he and his wife, Barbie, renovated it to use as a country home. The Wilsons also had another old farmhouse moved to the site and connected it to the original house. Now, with six bedrooms, it is large enough for weekend gatherings in the country.

Because the Browns live near Cottontop, they have started opening the home as a bed and breakfast and for special events. Several weddings have been on the property as well as a prom. A few weeks ago, an Easter sunrise setting was held at one of the nearby ponds.

Cottontop would be a perfect spot for a weekend when you need some time in a tranquil, relaxing setting. All you can see are cotton fields and muscadine vineyards. Porches that curl around the house have perfect seating areas to curl up with a good book.

Constant rain on the weekend we visited meant we didn't get to take advantage of those porches, but there are also lots of cozy spots inside.

The Wilsons did an amazing job of decorating the home. There's a billiard parlor and a sitting room with plenty of comfy seating, a beautiful handcrafted bar. Throughout both rooms are stuffed wildlife on the walls and skin rugs.

The six bedrooms are comfortably furnished, and four have full baths. The room we stayed in, King Cotton, has a large bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub. That bathroom was the bedroom of Karen's father when he was a boy.

A continental breakfast is served, but it so much more than the sweet roll and jam that term might make you think of. We were served a feast that included freshly baked sticky buns, yogurt and granola, an overflowing bowl of all types of fruits, fruit bread and jam, juices and coffee.

People who stay can also make arrangements for other meals, and we enjoyed a feast on Saturday night prepared by Richard Brown. Our meal included marinated, grilled venison tenderloin, fried gator bites served with a tangy remoulade sauce, blackened tuna, salmon and grilled vegetables.

Consider Cottontop when you need a place to unwind and enjoy country life.

Gwen Fowler
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