A Tennessee Sunday
We called for our car and as we stood waiting for it, we noticed the groups of scooters neatly arranged along the street. My hero was glad to see them carefully placed, for he had been worried about how they are charged and maintained - it appears the fairies come at night and spirit them way to repair and recharge before replacing them neatly on the streets the following morning. They are really popular and Nashville seems the perfect location for them, being none too large nor too hilly. They would cause chaos in London, and yet here they are perfect,
We had planned to go to Woolworths for breakfast, but we were awake and ready to go ages before it opened. Instead, we jumped in the car and headed for the first place on our list: Milk and Honey which came well recommended.
It’s in the Gulch area of the city, the same smart neighbourhoood as we’d driven through on the bus yesterday, We came by car this time, rather than on the bus, but were early enough to find an on-street parking place not too far from the restaurant.
We were glad too, that we chose Milk and Honey and not the other recommended place on our list, for the queue at Biscuit Love was rather longer than we’d have been prepared for.
Suitably fortified, we set out on our adventure, driving south into the countryside, to visit a couple of small towns and, depending on how long we spent there, perhaps venture a little further afield. There wasn’t much traffic. Perhaps everyone was at church? (If not in a breakfast queue?)
Leaving Nashville, we drove through some rather smart suburbs with some enormous properties on either side of the road.
First stop was Barnes and Noble, primarily for my Hero to get a decent map of the area but I couldn’t resist gathering a few likely magazine titles to flick through before deciding which to buy. I settled down at a nearby table and began to take a look, taking note of the pile of books the chap who was there a few minutes ago had left behind.
i returned most of those titles to the shelves though a couple will come home with me. The snipers can stay here, thank you.
Our first stop was in Franklin, where we’d read of a small, vibrant community with an interesting Main Street to potter along. As we drove through the suburbs and countryside we noted an abundance of churches serving every variant of Christian faith we could think of. Every one of these had a car park filled with maybe a couple of hundred cars - and each one had a police car there near the entrance. Is this standard practice in TN currently? We didn’t know - perhaps someone here does?
Given the number of people attending church this morning, it was surprising to find Main Street, Franklin buzzing too; in this case more than the picture suggests. No Sunday morning lie-a-beds here, especially on a holiday weekend. Franklin is an historic town with civil war connections and a battlefield nearby. We were not really focusing on the history today though, but thought we’d enjoy the holiday spirit that small-town America does so well.
First stop was Savory Spices, where a team of young assistants encouraged us to explore the products on offer by sprinkling a sample into our palm, sniff, taste if we wanted and then discard the rest onto the floor. As you can imagine, the shop smelled pretty interesting! We recently discovered a great source of spices at home, so had no real need for more. However, having explored a variety of BBQ rubs and other blends, we chose a couple of seasonally appropriate souvenirs.
Main Street was indeed filled with the spirit of Christmas, which seems to be turned on immedately the Thansgiving turkey has been eaten. Every little shop here was beautifully decorated and filled with lovely things.
Most of these stores were local, independents too, and there was a distinct “buy local” theme going on. Having said that, I wonder how many of the people strolling along were locals themselves?
Twelve Days of Tennessee Christmas: “twelve whiskey makers, eleven hot rod racers, ten guitars playing, nine boots a’scootin’, eight mountains peeking, seven rivers rafting, six Opry singers, five volunteers, four dry rub spices, three black bears, two blue suede shoes and you’ll always be home sweet home to me”
There was a rather grander elegance to several stores, with lavish, magazine-worthy home decor, but all had one thing in common: A friendly welcome and a genuine warmth of spirit. We are very happy here.
Up one side and down the other, meandering in and out of shops as we pleased, and a couple of hours soon passed.
The next place on our list was Leipers Fork a one street town so popular that the cars parked on the roadside stretched from one end to the other and beyond. Thankfully, we found a spot in a car park right in the centre - very lucky!
This is the Tennessee of weekend antiquing trips, of galleries and a relaxed lifestyle. The spa was opposite this seemingly run-down junk store - of course, a closer look revealed it to be nothing of the sort. There is money in these hills!
But there’s fun too - why not sit and toast a marshmallow over the firepit outside this gallery? Or step inside the original Pucketts (same as the one in downtown Nashville where we ate on our first night here) and enjoy a live band playing?
The boys were in - or at least, they would be, once he’d managed to reverse that huge machine into the tight spot by his friend’s Harley. We took a look inside the smoky, BBQ and decided that if we spent any time in there, we’d want to eat…and two o’clock in the afternoon isn’t a great time to have dinner!
Over the road then, to dip in and out of anywhere we pleased and to strike up an interesting conversation with father and 9 year old daughter Kev and Caitlin (“He’s Kevin really, but everyone calls him Kev”) From New Hampshire, they had moved to Franklin to be in a more comfortable Christian community, they told us. I was intrigued about how they went about choosing which church to attend, as there were so, so many, all of slightly different Christian focus. Kev didn't really say, but he did relate how the pastor at their chosen chuch in Tennessee had “gone off the rails”, prompting the move to their current church which was known for extraordinary music, they said. It was fascinating to chat with them both and our conversation will be one of those that stays with us.
We rounded off our day by driving a little further along the Old Tennessee Highway, through rural communities and wide open countryside. It had been a glorious day, warm and sunny, but now the weather was changing and the forecast for tomorrow is colder and cloudy. As dusk settled, we noticed a change. We’d had the best of the day.
Actually, we’d also had the best day, too!