If only it were that easy.
Searching “rustic beach house in Florida or Alabama” has gotten me nowhere.
About a month ago my dad, a man who despises travel, said, “Odd (my nickname), what would you think about taking a family trip to the beach?”
Dad is most comfortable at his home. Not to say he doesn’t love all the things most people enjoy doing on a vacation — eating, drinking, campfires, fishing, fantastic porches :: he just likes to do those things at the year round vacation house on the lake he built for himself.
So, when Dad makes a suggestion like this I follow his desires to the detail.
He told me he doesn’t want to stay in one of those skyrise-30 floor condos with generic porches. In fact, he doesn’t want a condo at all. Since I will be coming from Memphis and the rest of the family would be driving from South MS we are thinking gulf spots no farther east than Destin.
I know exactly what he wants. He grew up in South Alabama and went on vacations with my grandparents to stay in simple beach houses/cabins. Nothing fancy. Just time spent outside.
He hasn’t said it, but I think he wants the vacation from his childhood. Evenings spent on the porch. The ability to just walk outside and hit sand — to hear the roar of the ocean from the rental.
Nothing fancy. Nothing trendy. Not one of those mass-produced condos that looks like a plastic playhouse on the inside.
Those are the NOs. Here are the WANTS
-screened in porch or just a porch in general
-a nice table outside where we can have lazy meals
-a good spot for lounging around all day reading
Sounds pretty simple, right?
I’ve yet to find what I’m looking for or anyone who seems to have stayed in a place like we are looking to find.
We will be vacationing from October 11th – 18th.
If you have any ideas on how to get out of cheesy beach condo hell :: please pass them along.
Last Sunday my travel partner and I split up for the day. We only had a day and a half in Berlin and each craved alone time. She had a handful of things picked out to do and I was in the pursuit of something I couldn’t quite name. With that said, the last thing I needed to do was bring her along for my crazy quest.
I took the underground and just get off somewhere that felt right. I walked back above ground somewhere around Frankfurter Tor and Strausberger Platz along Carl Marx Allee in the old East Berlin.
I wanted to see the communist architecture. I wanted to daydream about what it would have been like to live there before the wall fell. I figured I’d find a bunch of people like me walking around the streets, but I didn’t. I really felt alone. Felt silly for snapping pictures of the giant tiled apartment buildings lining the street. Hours went by and by ,though, looking around I couldn’t tell I’d moved. The dreary buildings are copies of each other. Strange.
Sure, it’s been 22-23 years since reunification, but the history is tangible. Blessed with an active imagination, I found this graffiti lined park, took a seat and assigned myself a role.
It was 1985 and I was a spy for the west. With the fall in sight, my job was clearly very important. I won’t get into specifics but Jason Bourne has nothing on me. I looked fantastic in my furry hat and long wool coat, just in case you were wondering?
Kinda spy-like, huh? Maybe I need to toss the pink. I was feeling it, though.
Camille, my favorite travel partner, and I drove from Munich, to Nuremberg, to Dresden and ended in Berlin. I’m still forming my opinions on Berlin. All the friends we met along the way told us we just wouldn’t like Berlin as much as we did “their” cities. I loved their pride, and they might be right. Though, how much of a judgement can be made when only visiting a city for 2 days? My immediate judgement. It’s a city that feels cold and spread out. Maybe that’s exactly what it is and that isn’t necessarily negative. It was just a far contrast to the culture we experienced only days earlier in Bavaria where we joined people on picnic tables holding up head sized beer glasses until we craved the bed.
Sweetest roadside coffee break :: despite the cow odor coming from behind us
In Dresden Camille and I fell in love with our little hampleman
he he he
My half day walking the streets of East Berlin fit in perfectly with what turned out to be the theme of the trip.
Facts, dates and cramming so hard you’d have thought I was going to be tested upon return.
The day before Berlin Camille and I met this fun group in Dresden.
After an intense pool game, that my partner Robert (far left) and I won, we went to some trancy dance club where, sitting in a quiet corner, Robert gave me a little history lesson. The club had these old toys in glass cases along the wall, which as Robert tells me, are remnants from the old days.
Dresden was part of East Germany. He and I are the same age, so he would have been 7 when the wall fell. He was so good to let me ask question after question. He’s still letting me ask. Isn’t skype beautiful? Maybe he could/can tell how fascinated I was, and wants more people across the world to understand what people in the east went through. Once I properly explained how obsessed I now am with the stasi he told me a movie to watch. I just finished it. It ended with me staring at the computer with tears in my eyes. It’s called the Lives of Others and came out in 2006.
It’s a beautiful/touching film that was perfect to mark one week since walking the very streets where the movie was filmed. The movie also has actual shots of the stasi files, files that those who lived in the east are sure to be found :: their names and lives documented. They can find pictures, films and notes about who they talked to and where they went.
We also went to Nuremberg where Hitler built his giant Nazi rally site. They have created a wonderful museum, in the actual greek looking coliseum structure, that tells the story of how Nuremberg was used by Hitler. This one shot took my breath away. These are our American heroes sitting on top the big rally structure once it was seized. They look so proud :: so tired.
So, this was hardly a vacation. We did take time to enjoy the great beer culture. I have many new favorites that I’m trying to find here at home :: or somewhere in the country, at least.
Being a flower/plant freak I was was in awe of all the amazing geraiums and window boxes. Germany is so green. In parts so rural and beautiful. Everything was just so plush and alive, while my plants in Memphis are fighting for life during this heat wave.
I also got a big kick out of how hot Camille and I dealt with no a.c. We’ve both done plenty of traveling, but I don’t ever remember sweating like we did. She and I would wake up around 4 a.m. every morning and just look at each other. This was the scene in every one of our rooms. A very pathetic old school fan by our bed.
So, it was an amazing trip. In Dresden Camille and I were told we had to touch this statue thing that apparently brings a lifetime of happiness. It took everything we had, but we got our hands on it. The cities we visited have been bombed to hell and back. The people, though, are strong and clearly determined to not let their past get in the way of their futures. A beautiful lesson for me and Camille while in their country searching for beauty and inspiration.
I needed a little attitude adjustment. Just a little. Not that mine was bad, it just needed a little tweaking.
I drove the quick two hours to Little Rock Sunday night for a quick adventure.
Everything I did there I could have done in Memphis — shopping — walking — reading, but there was something about removing myself from my environment that did the trick.
I stayed at the Capital Hotel in downtown Little Rock. I’m going to think of it as my short distance sanctuary. The lobby was full marble and original tile. The restaurants are so elegant. The porch a true treat. I even tried a new beer that I love :: Diamond Bear – Pale Ale.
Wish you and your family a happy Memorial Day and saying a thank you to all the men and women who protect us. Thank you!
Back when I was job hunting I just knew it meant I would have to move far far away from all the things I’ve loved over the years. Not so. Moving to Memphis has given me the chance to do all the things I loved to do in college like, Double Decker. Friday night WMC sent me to the square to report live at 10 :: today I sent myself there to shop and eat!
I haven’t been in four years. Today Mom and I loaded up and hit every store in Lafayette County. Proof….
The crowd has gotten bigger and the vendors all have such quality items. We did most of our shopping in all the antique malls around town. The same ones I blew my paychecks in back in college. This trip, though, I did make it in to a “real” store with new things and got this neat leather/gold plate ring from Amy Head Cosmetics on the square. It wasn’t there when I was in school. Neat addition. Worth walking in. The colors and design of the store will leave you with lots of ideas.
With the town soooooo packed we couldn’t find a restaurant spot to take a seat for a bit, so we crammed in a corner at Square Books.
We will be there next year! Great job to all the people who work hard to bring the community such an A + event!! Also nice seeing so many old friends like….Kathleen Jones Hamilton, if you read this. The four years I was there Mom made the 6 to 7 hour drive from the coast so often. I don’t know how she did it after teaching kids all day! Roaming Oxford together again was sweet.
We are passing through Hammond, LA right now. Been on the train since 6:30. Another two hours to go before we get to New Orleans where Mom and Dad will pick me up and head to Stone County.
Sitting next to me is Lonny from Dyersburg, TN.
He’s also heading to NOLA where he hopes to meet some of his Dad’s people. His dad died when he was a baby, so this search is 53 years in the making. Lonny kept me alert this morning with funny statements like,
“I wish people still bought boom boxes.”
“how do I get my Beyonce tapes onto one of those pods.”
“those “kardasin” girls are pretty”
I find him refreshing!! He just found this BB King tape and is so excited. It has songs he’s never heard. He told me all about the famous bluesman, who I’ve seen live, as if his music was just released and I need not miss it.
By the way check out these pancakes….impressive
It’s my favorite transition now where the oaks now have Spanish moss. I’m home!!
Bath is maybe the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. It depends on what type of beauty you are talking about, but for me the Bath stone and rolling green hills just do it for me. For others, it’s some tropical paradise that gets their juices flowing. Well, despite all the beauty around me, the building below and the stories I know surrounding it were all I could think of and look for around me there.
This is the Bath Police Station on Manvers Street. It was right in front of me as I got off the train. Here I thought I’d have to search for it.
In my books Peter Diamond is the Chief Inspector Detective in Bath. The murders all take place in Bath or surrounding communities and feature many of the well-known spots like the parks, the abbey, the Roman Baths and the theaters.
While, yes, I’d been wanting to go back to Bath since I was 17, visiting the city where all my favorite books were written was a main reason for the quick trip there.
Problem is none of my new Bath friends had a clue who CID Diamond is. I know I sound crazy, but I’ve read around 12 books featuring him. To me Peter is real. Since I was on vacation my imagination was on super speed and I just allowed it to be since I was on break. I saw Peter walking through Victoria Park, the same park where his wife was found murdered. I saw him, grumpy and out of shape, walking through the pretty streets, just as he would in the stories. The writer, Peter Lovesey, apparently lived very near bath in Bradford on Avon for years, but no longer does. We drove there and it was lovely. I read they are trying to make a television series out of the books. My fingers are crossed!
This is the one shot I got that most looked CID Diamond. This man was a wee bit too thin. It still works for my one shot.
If crime fiction isn’t your thing :: there are many other beautiful things to see in Bath. I’ll post some of my fave pics.
I was lucky enough to meet a friend who hung out with me for the two days I was there.
Rich joined me for a great warm dinner and told me all about his life there in Bath. I try not to act like a reporter, but after only a couple sips of beer I’m slinging the questions his way. The next day he showed me what was tucked away in those amazing green hills surrounding the city that I’d been eying all day and can still remember being enchanted with at 17. Sorry the pics don’t match. I was using 3 different cameras on this trip.
The Bath Abbey
There is a great space under it with lots of benches
It’s right near the Roman Baths
(Peter Diamond likes to sit here while he ponders the crimes)
The Cricket field
These dudes almost hit me twice as I walked by to my hotel
I saw myself without teeth and it was sad
This is where Rich grew up.
Oh my how different lives we all live
What a view he had in this old manor house
I wonder how long it would take me living in England to stop trying to get in the driver’s seat when I’m a passenger??
I’ve thanked him over and over, but I’ll do it again
What an amazing time I had seeing what was around me and not just staring from a distance
Inside Bath Abbey
The view outside my hotel room
I loved my hotel, The Brindleys
The view outside my hotel the next morning at 5 am
I couldn’t sleep :: sore throat :: at least I caught this shot!!
This is what we were seeing out my window
I didn’t know there was water down there until we walked down a bit
If you are ever in Bath :: I recommend it
I had a time I won’t forget
Plus, the bed was so soft :: everything so elegant
Dinner with Rich at the White Hart Inn
They also have some rooms for rent upstairs
The inside was so cozy with local art
The food was good and all the serving pieces were so homey
Rich and I had fun trying to figure out what these ladies were talking about!
You can barely see her, but the pub pooch came for a kiss from Rich
My favorite shot
When am I going back? Sooner than later!
I mean this is the best way possible. Brighton is weird. I had no idea. I just wanted to get out of London and the sweet older man at the front desk of my hotel said, “Go to Brighton!” I said, “Sounds good!” To be so close to London, the city exudes funk. Not that London doesn’t have funky parts, but this community has really embraced all things cool, neat, hip and indie. Whatever you call it :: it’s fantastic. It’s known to have one of the biggest gay communities in England, and lets admit, more often than not, they are pretty creative people. Anyhow, as soon as I stepped off train and wondered down one of its many and well-known narrow lanes, I walked into a record shop playing the best music. Soundtrack to a fun day of running away from rain, staring at handsome men and browsing through epic antique/junk store called Snoopers Paradise in the lanes. I’m not sure why but most people I told I went to Brighton asked why. Well, sounds like a great place to live, actually. They get lots of killer bands coming from London and the seaside location casts a very relaxed glow across the city. Looking back through the pics now just makes me want to dance, but I can’t because I was such a fierce traveler that now I’m sick. No dancing with headache, runny nose and sneezing.
Pebbled beach. Just a quick walk from all the main streets
There was a placard on this bench that read ::
“His favorite place in the world”
I totally see why :: said a little thought of appreciation for Erwin’s spot
I finally broke down and bought myself some comfortable shoes
I like vans because they look like keds. They weren’t selling keds at the store.
I never figured out what these are for :: maybe people sell things out of them at peak times? They stretch the water line.
The houses were a lot different than many of those I’d seen along the trip
Very white washed
The Pavilion in all its bizareness
It really was/is a palace
Crazy, right!! That wacky Prince Regent
I walked through Hampton Court on a very rainy April day. I was stunned by the beauty. The flowers were so vibrant I thought they could be fake. Who would do that? Right, they weren’t fake. Just perfect.
Pics from my iphone. Jeez my hands were full with THREE cameras. Worth it. They all have their own role.
Isn’t this one of the best parts. Taking out all of your treasures and putting them in a spot where you can see them and remind you of how pretty the day was or how the rain forced you to hide out in a neat restaurant where you then met a new, hopefully, lifelong friend? I couldn’t sleep this morning so I took out all my purchases to make sure they made the trip home. Nothing broken! I don’t buy expensive things…have you checked out the conversion rate? ouch! I like to just find little things, often free, to place around my home. Here they are! All of these were either made or designed in England. I hope, at least. It’s tough finding things that aren’t made in China. China would be fine if I was visiting China.
Clearly this one didn’t cost me a lot
I really like this beer :: made in Bath
Great design, too
My friend Rich tells me Bath has a very good rugby team for its size. Richard spent two days with me. He’s a marine and was also on break.
You should see him in his uniform, very handsome.
He gave me this sweet mini ball
I went a bit leather crazy on this trip
I bought this great bag in the lovely Richmond
Mo sold it to me. He was quite the salesman.
I had a strict two book rule
Isn’t this one pretty!
2nd book :: I’m a sucker for design
This below is a candle designed by the folks at Kew Gardens outside London
Love the color
Bought these in Hampton Court, not the palace, but the town
leather bag number 2. This one I got in the beach community of Brighton
I’ve been looking for a real leather backpack/purse for years
This one smells like a giant cow. Perfect!
As always a sucker for the english rose pattern.
I collect dish towels
this one is sweet :: cuter in person. Bought it in Bath from the shop where my hotel bought most of their decorations
One of my favorite places was this old house called Ham House in the town of Ham
I love this tour booklet :: I might frame it
And here’s to some major restraint
Only one piece of clothing
This great vintage style dress by Louche
My favorite part is the top with the flowing sleeves
It’s 7 am and I’m up. Couldn’t sleep. I got home last night with some mild body drama. I have a pretty strict personal rule that I don’t bother people with how I feel. Usually if someone asks I just say fine, ok, great, wonderful, awesome….you know. However this case is a bit special. While in England, not only did I come down with an exhaustion induced cold (sore throat, headache, aches and runny nose) which is fine because we all get colds, but I also really messed myself up on the flight home.
Yes, that is my foot. I normally have a very slender/veiny foot. Not when I woke up from the 8 hour flight. I freaked. My mom has always warned me about blood clots on long flights. Both feet were this way. This photo doesn’t even do them justice. For example, when I walked, I could feel the fluid in my ankles shake. OMG I had slept the entire 8 hours bent over with my head on the seat tray in front of me and my feet on the ground. They were never numb so I didn’t worry. I never needed to use the bathroom, so I never got up. I was a window seat. Also, the night before I left I drank white wine and ate a big plate of cured meats and cheese. Lesson learned. Get up move around :: lay off the salty meat. Don’t do what I did.
So instead of going home, looking through my new treasures, watching my favorite online show, I got on the ground with my feet up on a chair. My good friend had the strange task of talking to my mom and massaging the fluid out of my angles. The humiliation. The good news. I checked them out as soon as I woke this am and they are 90 % back to normal size. My coffee is making and the birds are singing me a welcome home to Memphis song. Now…if I could only find what I left in my fridge to make my apartment stink!!
I took loads of photos and can’t wait to look at all of the!!
Just got back to my room from adorable/delicious breakfast downstairs. I ate 6 croissants along with my meal of eggs and salmon. Hungry/unfortunately growing girl. No one even noticed my greedy eyes. Everything a pretty floral. Say a little prayer for your travel warrior, though. I have a dreadful sore throat/headache that woke me up at 5 am. Got to see sun rise at least. Amazing over valley.
Getting dressed for trip to Bath. Feeling a little reflective and dreamy. Good mix for traveling. Listening to…..Wild Nothing.
Can’t figure out how to properly post link with my iPad. Doing the best I can. Pretty satisfied with my on the road blogging. Easier than I expected. These iPads really are amazing and almost necessary for traveling. I’m always checking addresses and travel sites….thank you Design Sponge!!!! Anyhow the link is below….tell I’m feeling dreamy?? Xoxo
Woke up early today…now an hour south in Brighton. Wow! What a funky :: quirky city. It’s on a pebbled beach with little narrow lanes full of locally owned vintage clothes shops and design stores with lots of pretty books. Dream, right?? I’m tempted to stay the night and go back to London in two days. They call it “London by the sea” I’m having some tea at this cute little place called Plateau. Building up my energy for more wandering.
At the moment :: tea and the adorable waitress brought me some olives, nuts and pistachios.
Little rain :: finally broke down and bought some comfy shoes :: funny with my long dress
My guidebook circa 1983 aka year of my birth
kids and backpacks everywhere!!!!