Sometimes being alone doesn’t literally mean ALONE.
Sometimes solitude is carving out me-time in the midst of worldly things.
Sometimes being alone doesn’t literally mean ALONE.
Sometimes solitude is carving out me-time in the midst of worldly things.
A recent Knoxville event, Chef’s Table Tour, came with a surprise . . . an unexpected one. After strolling downtown sidewalks listening to bits of history from our guide, we ducked into Clancy’s Tavern & Whisky House ready for good food and a sip of the Irish. But what we saw redefined this downtown corner for us. What was now Clancy’s Tavern had been — at least for all the years we’ve lived here — Clancy’s Optical, a venerable establishment known for quality eye exams and glasses.
Clancy’s Optical stood on the corner of Gay Street and Clinch Avenue for 75 years in a building that has a storied history. Before offering fashionable eye wear, Clancy’s had been the location of a bank, J. C. Bradford’s, The Shamrock, and The Exchange Restaurant. But it’s been Clancy’s Optical as long as we could remember.
In 2014, however, owners Danny Clancy and Josh Turbyville renovated and “repurposed” the old corner building for what it is now — the richly appointed Clancy’s Tavern & Whiskey House.
The classiness greets you at the door. You can’t help but notice the rich browns and artful craftsmanship of coffered ceilings and restored wooden floors. Designed by Art Clancy (family, of course) of Clancy Custom Woodworking, the old-world interior speaks to the elegance of fashionable members-only clubs and taverns known throughout Europe.
It’s a tribute to what’s happening now in downtown Knoxville — a renaissance marked by tasteful renovations and purposeful “repurposings” that are transforming the city into a destination in its own right.
Thanks to new owners with a vision and savvy woodworking crews, the new Clancy’s is Irish done right!
For more “repurposed” locations and things people have posted, check out the DailyPost Weekly Photo Challenge: Repurpose.
For more information:
Clancy’s Tavern & Whiskey House, 602 South Gay Street, Knoxville, TN; 865.219.1266; firstname.lastname@example.org
East TN Tours: http://www.easttntours.com/
In one three-hour span, you can tour downtown Knoxville, learn a bit of history, meet new friends and sample East Tennessee fare. It’s all part of the Chef’s Table Tour, one of the offerings from East TN Tours combining food and fun in this ever-evolving Southern downtown destination.
Organizer and tour leader Lauren Quinn offers the Chef’s Table Tour several times a week for groups of 2 to 12 with the opportunity to sample regional food from five local restaurants. Coupons to area attractions are often part of the deal, and larger groups (parties, etc.) can be accommodated with advanced notice. Even though we’re long-time residents of Knoxville, we dined at five new-to-us restaurants selected for the tour that day and welcomed newcomers to our revitalized city.
We walked about a mile on the tour all totaled, but movement energized us. Lauren’s website posted the warning — “Don’t eat too much at any one stop” — but good food is hard to pass up. So, if you take the tour, know that the 1.2 miles you walk will be an asset.
Lauren carries vintage photographs with her to show you the “way it was” in Knoxville. It was fun looking at old photos and then the urban renewal in front of us. At strategic spots, Lauren shared interesting tidbits — like what these stairs positioned high up on the side of the Bijou were once used for. (The stairs led to the entrance used by the hired help who were required to climb up to get into the building.)
Lauren included a brief stop at one of our favorite architectural renovations — Maple Hall. It’s home to Knoxville’s boutique bowling alley as well as a full-service bar where you can order drinks and small plates. On some nights, live music fills the air. Floors above the bowling alley and restaurant offer residential space.
The real stars of the Chef’s Table Tour, of course, were the owners/chefs/managers who partnered with Lauren to share the history of their restaurants and samples of what’s made them so popular.
Owner Jay Brandon says, “It takes a special kind of crazy person to come make bread every morning,” but he is just that crazy person. Jay, who eats half a Frussie’s sub every day, served us his best-selling Italian Sub (AKA The Usual) with homemade dressing. And with one bite of that fresh bread (They have 11 kinds!), house-cured meats, and flavorful dressing, all of us were hooked.
Lauren took time to show us a grid of downtown Knoxville, and we looked over the Frussie’s menu for what we’d like to order next time we stop by. No surprise to me, husband Bert had his eye on the Three Little Pigs sub: pork loin, ham, bacon, Archer’s barbecue sauce (local), coleslaw, and cheddar cheese. But I’m coming back for the Dirty Bird: house-cured pastrami, Thanksgiving turkey, mayo, mustard, and Swiss Cheese.
Clancy’s Tavern had us at the front door: an Irish tavern in a beautifully renovated historic building. Owned by Danny Clancy and Josh Turbyville, Clancy’s Tavern has been a bank, brokerage, restaurant, and optical shop (Clancy’s Optical, owned by Danny’s family). But this is not your ordinary pub. After noting the craftsmanship of the carpentry — coffered ceilings and all — we focused on the equally noteworthy food.
Emily, our server, gushed (and well she should) over shepherd’s pie, panko breaded and fried mozzarella (table fave) and chicken wings. We really had to weigh in on what to eat and what to bag up to go. Clancy’s Tavern may sound like a pub food place, but it’s so much more: Old World recipes mixed with creative flavors and textures.
We were familiar with this Market Square establishment, but who in Knoxville isn’t? Owner Mahasti Vafai was one of the first to use locally sourced foods in her restaurant, a place where she once made her own bread (and maybe she still does) from scratch each day. We’ve loved her pizzas for years with fresh combinations and interesting blends of flavors (Fresh Spinach & Black Bean with Andouille Sausage; Chicken, Roasted Portabello & Mushroom; Smoked Salmon & Pesto White Pizza), but we were here to try soup. Oh, my.
With two choices, we couldn’t go wrong: Cream of Cauliflower or Tomato Chipotle. And so we made our choices, took closer looks at the fresh, light decor of our surroundings, and vowed to return soon. After all, Tomato Head also does chocolate cookies! Big ones!
The words “Prepare to be amazed” should have preceded our entrance to FIVE. With its ceiling of several dozen chandeliers and an eclectic wall of paintings, the word “dazzling” seemed an understatement. With only five offerings per menu category, life does get a little simpler here — and quality takes center stage.
Our sampler came from the Dinner Menu under the category of Snacks: Southern style Deviled Eggs topped with cayenne candied bacon, Fried Green Tomatoes with tomato jam, and sweet and spicy Asian Shrimp. All good. All gone. In a heartbeat.
If you were wondering if vegetarians are welcome on the Chef’s Table Tour, wonder no more. With an advanced request, Mapsy received vegetarian alternatives at every stop. “Very nice” seemed to be her rating du jour.
With bellies and to-go boxes bulging, we sidled down the 100 Block of Gay Street to Sugar Mama’s Knox, the newest restaurant for owner Hannah McConnell who’s known for her fresh-baked breads and cookies. It was dessert for us tourists, but it looked more like a basket of goodies at the end of a rainbow.
Filled with signature pastries and samples of sweet treats like Hannah’s Amaretti Almond Cookies, we ate what we could and took home the rest. This tiny but busy little restaurant offers a sizable breakfast (now serving Quail Egg & Cheese Biscuits!) , sandwiches made with locally baked bread and cookies — even gluten-free ones — that round out their cold brewed coffee quite well.
With one last tour stop to see Knoxville’s Underground — trust me, there is one — under the 100 Block of Gay Street, Lauren bid us all farewell.
We had had that taste of Knoxville as promised — a feast, when it was all said and done. And a glimpse of what’s putting Knoxville on the map. If you want to be a part of Lauren’s Chef’s Table Tour, go online to register or call her. (For more FAQs, click here.)
So, come hungry. And come to be impressed. The lineup of restaurants as well as the food may change, but the quality will stay the same. After all, you’re touring Knoxville, one of the South’s newest foodie towns.
For more information:
Click on any of these links to find out more about the tours and restaurants featured in this post: East TN Tours, Navitat Canopy Adventures, Maple Hall, Frussie’s Deli & Bakery, Clancy’s Tavern & Whiskey House, The Tomato Head, FIVE Knoxville and Sugar Mama’s Knox.
— Rusha Sams
With the announcement that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus will perform for the last time in May 2017, we are re-publishing our post of August 19, 2015, on the Tibbals Learning Center at The Ringling in Sarasota. Although the understand the position of the owners, we personally regret the loss of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus because, for us, it was “The Greatest Show on Earth.”
Even though the show cannot go on, we are grateful that the miniature circus created by Knoxvillian Howard Tibbals will remain a testament to the creativity, hard work, and showmanship of traveling circuses everywhere. If you haven’t visited The Ringling in Sarasota, Florida, put it on your bucket list. There’s a lot of greatness in miniature under the Big Top!
At the end of this post, check out the links to articles in The Knoxville News-Sentinel and The New York Times as well as vintage photos from past visits by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus in Knoxville.
It’s not often you get to see a lifetime project laid out as meticulously as this, but when you go to the Tibbals Learning Center at The Ringling to stare at the tiny circus — figures, tents, animals, wagons, and more — you become enthralled with the lifetime labor of love of Howard Tibbals. Housed on The Ringling campus in Sarasota, Florida, the million-piece miniature Howard Bros. Circus Model that Tibbals began crafting in his teens is ready to take you back to simpler times, the years from 1919 to 1938 when the biggest thing to hit small town America was the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Extraordinarily, Tibbals (now in his seventies) created almost all the miniatures himself, fashioned after the old-timey circuses he watched as a kid. Today, it’s on exhibit daily for “children of all ages.”
The former owner of Tibbals Flooring Center in Oneida, Tennessee, Howard Tibbals financed the development and set-up of this remarkable miniature circus, including a $6.5 million donation for the current installation on the grounds of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. But when he asked if he could use the Ringling name for his miniature version, he was turned down. No problem, though. He just named it Howard Bros. Circus.
And what a circus it is! The stats alone tell a story of determination and stick-to-itiveness: over 500 circus animals, 1500 performers, 152 wagons, and enough chairs and dishes to seat and serve over 900 people. (Source: Florida State University website.)
A sign at the exhibit offered an insight into what a production it was just keeping the workers fed: “Typical day’s order: 30 gallons of milk, 226 dozen eggs, 285 pounds of butter, 2,220 loaves of bread, 2,470 pounds of meat, 200 pounds of tea and coffee, and 50 bushels of potatoes.”
Since we’re from Knoxville, we were surprised to see so many familiar buildings from our city used as backdrops in the first part of the exhibit. But we shouldn’t have been — after all, Howard Bros. Circus debuted at the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville. The new, more permanent, even larger, glassed-in exhibit at The Ringling measures 1.5 times the size of a football field!
As you walk the perimeter of the circus (and it’s a long perimeter), you get a feel for every aspect — and Tibbals’ keen eye for what humans do.
2. Here comes the parade! — animals and performers prepping townspeople for what’s to come under The Big Top.
3. Selling the circus — ticket sales, concessions, programs, and seats.
4. Performers — trapeze artists flying through the air with the greatest of ease, lion tamers, horseback riders, and stars taking center stage in spangly suits.
5. Animals — always charming the crowd.
6. Clowns — making us laugh even when in miniature!
In Tibbals’ own words, it’s a “magical world over 50 years in the making.” And even now at our age, we’re fascinated beyond belief. Save time to look closely and longingly. You, too, will feel like a kid again.
Tiny is big, if you’re looking closely at the wondrous Howard Bros. Circus.
For more information:
Tibbals Learning Center at The Ringling; 5401 Bay Shore Rd., Sarasota, FL 34243; www.ringling.org/circus
Cox, Billy. “Howard Tibbals and the huge miniature circus.” Herald Tribune (January 19, 2012). Retrieved from http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20120119/ARTICLE/120119467
“Miniature circus finds home at FSU’s Ringling Museum.” Retrieved from https://fsu.edu/news/2005/07/21/miniature.circus/
Boomer Travel note: The Tibbals Learning Center is easily accessible for all with ramps leading around the circus. There is ample parking at The Ringling and golf cart transportation is available for those who need assistance getting around the complex.
Inclusions in updated post: January 22, 2017
Articles of note after the announcement that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus will no longer perform.
Bledsoe, Wayne (January 20, 2017). “Circus memories: East Tennessee Veterans of ‘The greatest Show on Earth’ share their stories. Knoxville News Sentinel. Retrieved from: http://www.knoxnews.com/story/entertainment/2017/01/20/circus-memories-east-tennessee-veterans-greatest-show-earth-share-their-stories/96745696/
Knoxville News Sentinel (January 15, 2017). “Archive photos: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus in Knoxville.” Retrieved from: http://www.knoxnews.com/picture-gallery/news/2017/01/15/archive-photos-ringling-bros-and-barnum–bailey-circus-in-knoxville/96611250/
Rosen, Kenneth R. (January 22, 2017). “Retired Big Apple Circus Animals Prepare for their Second Act.” New York Times. Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/22/nyregion/retired-big-apple-circus-animals-prepare-for-their-second-act.html?hpw&rref=nyregion&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=well-region®ion=bottom-well&WT.nav=bottom-well&_r=0
When you travel, you may hit those travel book high spots starred and written in boldface. Why not? They’re tourist stops for a reason. We check ’em off our list like everyone else does. But we also like walking neighborhoods, stopping in at little markets and local restaurants, and checking out what’s au courant, if you will, at the big stores in town.
So, when Bert said he needed new socks, we ducked into Selfridges (We’re fans of Mr. Selfridge on Masterpiece) and headed straight upstairs to the men’s section. And that’s where Party-Ready Fashion, London style, greeted us squarely at the top!
Now, if you follow our blog, you know we fall into geezer categories — safe, comfortable travel; safe, comfortable travel clothes. Nothing flashy. Rather ordinary. So, consider Selfridges the point at which our learning curve began. And try to picture us being Party Ready!
It was upstairs to the men’s department where it all began. And we knew we weren’t in Tennessee any more.
For one thing, there was a nod to Bieber and ball hats from NY all in one place.
Second, some fashion attire fell into the category of scary, at least for us.
Third, we recognized a few familiar labels, like Burberry and Tom Ford.
But new things kept popping up at every turn. Are these what we think they are? Full patterned suits — flamingos, Christmas, even cartoon characters? Yep. That’s what they are! And flying off the racks.
And shoes. Hundreds of shoes. Racks and racks of shoes. Fashionable ones by designers we knew . . .
and some we didn’t know. (We don’t get out much, I suppose.)
Bert finally spied a pair of running shoes he could wear to Big Orange UT football games in Knoxville if we had room in our carry-on.
But back to the beginning of this journey. Remember those socks that led us upward to the men’s department of Selfridges? When it was all said and done, Bert had found some in every color, stripe, and design. In the end, however, he selected a conservative, throwback, gray argyle to wear on the trip. Sigh.
We’re just not party-ready, I guess!
For more information:
Selfridges, 400 Oxford Street, London, England. http://www.selfridges.com/GB/en/content/store/london
When you travel, walking the neighborhood near your hotel is one way to get a feel for how people really live. And, if doors are any indication of the people inside the homes in the Mayfair section of London, we could expect to meet some very British residents, comfortable in their formality.
Doors on Park Street reveal some things in common: Almost all are beautiful, and almost all are coated with high gloss, black paint. Park Street doors reminded us of quaint London taxis bearing shoppers on Bond Street and those ever-popular (at least in the States) glossy boots by Hunter, the brand that outclasses almost all other rain gear on the market today. Park Street doors are the ultimate chic, if you will, in this quiet neighborhood in the Mayfair section. And the color hints at lineage or status — the color not of royalty, perhaps, but of understated elegance that would never dare to scream, “Notice me!”
Who wouldn’t want to turn the knob, walk in, and see what’s behind any one of these doors?
With so many types of doors surrounded by entryways worthy of ambassadors (and some live here!), a walk in the Mayfair section of London may be in order. It’s a place where variety reigns but uniformity is the gold (or, should we say, black) standard for doors.
You never know just how valuable a concierge can be ’til he gives you information that 1) saves you money and 2) gets you where you want to be! Thanks to Grosvenor House: JW Marriott for hiring a man who understands Southern tourists (We have a drawl, ya’ll) and knows how to make their day. When we approached the desk and asked the best way to get to The Globe from the Mayfair section where Grosvenor House is located, the concierge immediately said, “Have you heard of London’s Oyster Card“?
And that’s how we discovered this little gem. With an Oyster Card, you can tool around London on just about any form of transportation: public buses, London Underground (the Tube), Docklands Light Railway (DLR), and trains. River boat fares are discounted with an Oyster Card, the little blue smartcard you pre-load with money at any tube station. When you want to ride, hop on and touch your Oyster Card to an electronic reader which deducts the price of your trip and shows you how much you have remaining. No cash involved. Don’t use it all in one trip? You can get a refund both for your deposit and what you didn’t spend. Check it out at participating tube stations.
Purchasing an Oyster Card in London is pretty convenient, but you can order a Visitor Oyster Card before you leave home and have it mailed to you. It wasn’t, however, much more expensive to purchase one onsite.
Boarding a ThamesClipper for the route to The Globe is easy. Just walk down behind Parliament where ships dock.
Follow the covered walkways to the waiting areas where you wait — but not long. Many boats ensure short wait times.
Scan your Oyster Card. Board. And off you go.
If you want clear shots of the skyline, head to the back of the boat, stand up facing the back, and brace yourself. It’s worth it to get shots like this one of the London Eye . . .
or boats wrapping up their business for the day.
Of course, not all is lovely on the river. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Traveling on the river takes you close to architecture you can’t see from a bus, like these ornate details on one of the bridges . . .
It’s just another day on the Thames for those making a living on the water.
But for us, it was a sight to remember.
For pennies on the pound, a Thames River cruise may be one of your best memories of London.
For more scenes of London, check out our series Postcards from England.
For me, going to the beach restores my soul. Even a quick view of the ocean renews my faith in life and living. The resiliency of sand and shore is something I rely upon. For me, it’s always been there. And always will be. Even if sands shift a bit here and there.
Nature really is resilient. Even after gray periods, birds scatter along the shore . . .
or follow boats in the water, hoping the catch of the day will be theirs once more.
Paths can only invite. We must decide which ones to follow.
So, no matter what path you choose, may you find happiness and the resilience to endure whatever life casts in your direction.
Best wishes for a productive, happy, healthy new year! — Rusha Sams
For more entries in the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Resilient, click here.
Sometimes we arrive at a hotel, put our things down, and head to the Concierge Lounge to get a bite to eat. And that’s what happened on a chilly December afternoon when we arrived at London’s Grosvenor House: A JW Marriott Hotel (a spectacular place to stay, by the way). But after a snack and quick drink, we were ready to see London, so we donned coats and boots and headed out the door, having no itinerary or idea what lay ahead of us.
We were attracted by a sparkling orb dangling over a nearby intersection, so we turned down another side street not far from the hotel only to find ourselves in the middle of Bond Street where shoppers of means, no doubt, purchase goods for themselves or for gifts.
That night, however, shops were already closed, and those of us out for the evening found delight not in shopping but in peering into beautifully staged and lighted windows and soaking up sights and sounds. It was the Christmas in London we came to see — over-the-top designs, patterns, and accessories on one glitzy street.
Although shops were closed (It must have been around 9:00 PM), Gucci stood out. Well lit inside and out, Gucci was astir with hush-hush conversations. We knew something was up. First, we noticed a Maserati parked near the door behind a black stretch limo. Across the street, men in dark glasses stood firmly on the corner — feet apart, arms folded, ever vigilant. Was someone special — rock star? actress? Londoner? — inside doing a little personal shopping after hours? Oh, how we wanted to know — but never did.
A few city dwellers were out and about — window shopping, strolling babies or walking dogs. A lone delivery man pedaling for Deliveroo parked his bike and searched for the correct address.
But other than that, it was just another glamorous evening on Bond Street where white lights and glowing windows said Christmas — London style. What a find!
From the glitz and glamour of holiday season in London to the understated tones of the Cotswolds, Christmas is celebrated in many ways in England. Some homes in the country add only a single wreath on the door. No flashing strings of lights, no blow-up Santas, no prancing reindeer on roofs or lawns. Just the simplicity of greenery with a touch of berries, maybe a bow. And how lovely that is. Enjoy these homes — rooflines, stonework, interesting doorways — for what they are. After all, you’re in the Cotswolds.
— Rusha and Bert