Monday, January 16, 2012

Nashville on a Rainy Day

I needed to get out of town to ponder a personal issue. Little One and Pupps 2.0 were with the Mom o' Jud, so I headed north to Nashville.

I rented a budget motel suite (using mostly points from business travel) and settled in to do some reading and studying. I had a nice lunch at the Wild Cow, a vegetarian restaurant in a fun little part of town. My server was very pregnant, but polite. I enjoyed a little spot of pinto beans, some grilled vegetables with a ginger miso sauce, and some fruit.

Dinner was a quite affair at the room. The heat only worked in the bedroom part, and not the office side. The front desk said that they couldn't fix it, but could move me. I was too tired to pack up and trudge to another room, so I bundled up and stayed put. It wasn't that cold, but it was cool.

When it came time to retire for the evening, the bed was very cozy, soft and warm, and the pillows were fluffy and not the stiff cheapos I had expected from this value hotel.

The morning broke gray, cold and drizzly. My thoughts of a morning walking in parks and along the river in the cool sunny air were dashed. I ate a muffin from the hotel breakfast while I read the morning news and checked email. I made plans to meet a friend near a restaurant by the Vanderbilt Medical School, the Pancake Pantry, a local favorite for the last half century.

The parking was horrid, and the line for the restaurant wrapped around the building. Neither of us had thought to bring an umbrella, nor had we any desire to stand in the drizzle when a coffee shop, Provence Breads & Cafe,  beckoned from across the street.

We dashed across the busy street, trying to run between the raindrops. As we opened the door, we were greeted by the smell of freshly baked breads and pastries and the unmistakable sounds of lively coffee-shop conversations. It was like being welcomed home. I ordered a breakfast panini, which was two slices of sourdough bread with scrambled eggs, local bacon, local organic tomatoes and a local chevre. My companion ordered a ham/bean cassoulet. We also ordered a warm bread basket and coffee.

Our brunch came swiftly, and we enjoyed it at a leisurely pace as we enjoyed the buzz and liveliness of the cafe. Soon our meal was over, and we parted. I purchased a few rounds of bread to enjoy later in the week.

I headed up the street to visit a local bookstore, but my time was running short. I did visit centennial park and the Parthenon, but I must come pack on a sunny day in the spring or summer to enjoy the town more fully.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Look across the Pond

I have been dreaming of late about taking a holiday to the British Isles. I have dreamt of such a trip at various times throughout my life, but rarely have I felt like I was in a position to act upon my desires. This year may just be the year for Jud to make the trek.

Unfortunately for my plans, but thankfully for the economy of the UK, the summer Olympics will be in London. I would think that this might have a ripple effect, as people coming from the games may venture out into the countryside and then the local inhabitants may leave the city to avoid the larger than normal crowds.

For many years I read and studied Roman Britain, "from Vectis to the Wall" if you will pardon me for borrowing a line from Kipling. I read Caesar's accounts, struggled with Tacitus and the minor historians, and then devoured the writings of Peter Salway, Theodor Mommsen, Rostovetzeff and Syme (thank you Professor Gerberding for pushing me all those years!). I know that one could spend lifetimes wandering across the UK and seeing the ruins, studying and not seeing it all.

So I asked an internet friend, the wonderful Welsh author Clare Dudman, for some suggestions about touring Wales, and she provided copious suggestions for me to ponder. I think that if I can manage the time away from work, and the funds are sufficient, that I will visit Wales in the fall.

There are the Roman ruins at Usk and Caerleon to visit, and then a trip to Cardiff is surely in order. I hope to find a small cottage to rent, or perhaps a converted barn or mill, something small, in a village not too far from the sites I want to see. I want to roam the hills, smell the air, and walk in a land that for too many years I have only read about it books and seen in pictures.

Well, I will close for now. I will spent some time tonight in John Davies' A History of Wales and then dive back into Tacitus (a translation for now - sorry, Professor Gerberding).