When the teacher takes my kids’ class register each morning, it sounds like an atlas being read out loud. India, Georgia, Paris, Petra, Shannon, Brooklyn. I can’t complain. My six-year-old is called Savanna. And yes, I know the city itself has an ‘h’ on the end.
Some new parents name their children after a place they’ve been and loved. Others choose somewhere they’ve never been but long to visit. Most, like me, just like the sound of the word.
But there comes a time when you have to go there. So we’ve taken Savanna to Savannah, Georgia, in the heart of the American South.
It’s an odd destination for a family. The historic centre is one elegant, gloomy square after another, lined with rambling 19th-century mansions, painfully restored to their lofty, intimidating glory. Heavy Spanish moss hangs in dark sheets from the gnarled trees. Even on the brightest afternoon, the old gas lamps cast shadows through the moss-muted daylight.
But Savannah worked oddly well for us. We adults admired the stately homes, while the kids – Savanna and her twin brother - attempted to climb the trees. We ate at The Lady and Sons, a traditional Southern eaterie run by single mum who went on to have her own cookery show.
And it was a short drive from the city centre until the squares became smaller, less grand and eventually petered out. The Southern sunshine returned, unobscured by Spanish moss. And suddenly, as if emerging from a time tunnel, we were back in the familiar American world of shopping malls and drive-in pharmacies. We all sat down for a bucket of fries.
Savannah is one of those cities that has something for everyone, of every age, as long as you wander away from the centre to find it. For beyond the malls and drive-ins, the most beautiful beaches stretch like a scene from Where the Wild Things Are - without the monsters.
Even if she were called Chloe or Claire, I’d take my child to Savannah.
Find out more about USA family holidays.