I fill my days off with the athletic and the indulgent, the free and the fancy.
By Hannah Wallace
Sometimes the absolute best use of the two-day break from work is to sit around in your pajamas from 6 p.m. Friday to 8 a.m. Monday, watching TV, ordering pizza and generally wasting time in the name of rest. Anything but full-on sloth is an affront to your downtime.
This was not one of those weekends.
Friday-night hockey practice set the pace. Since we got pretty well spanked in a tournament in Jacksonville last weekend, the Ms Conduct gals were in for a drubbing from Coach Mr. Harrible. I hadn’t been looking forward to it, but I lucked out with plenty of energy for all the sprinting and stopping and starting again, the pushing and shoving, the tugging and hitting. Fresh bruises and a little oxygen deprivation go a long way toward eliminating lingering stress from the workweek.

We got off the ice at 10:30 p.m. CCB and I hit the Ellenton Applebee’s for some appetizers, then swung by Bradenton’s Rasher Tierney’s on the way back to Sarasota. The bartender, examining our IDs, commented in his natural Irish accent that CCB and I have Welsh and Scottish surnames, respectively. I thought this might be a volatile mixture of Britannic barbarians, but the Irishman seemed ok with the idea. Though he did make us wait 15 minutes for our pints of Guinness. Apparently Welsh and Scots aren’t worthy of such a fine Irish brew. (Actually, he was incredibly apologetic for forgetting about us—Celts unite!)


GUINNESS: Building bridges between the Celts.

The next day was Super Sarasota Saturday. After sleeping in until noon (all the better to rest up for another active day), we hopped on our bikes and headed southward from Indian Beach with nothing but the vaguest of plans and a backpack of assorted sporting goods.
Our first stop was the tennis court in Pioneer Park on Cocoanut Avenue: beautiful breeze and sunshine, a dynamic street to one side and to the other, the green expanse of park with a blue glimpse the bay in the distance. I’m not much of a tennis player (we bought the racquets on a whim last week), but it might be one of those sports like fishing or golf—half the fun is the excuse to linger in a gorgeous setting.

After all three of our tennis balls wound up in various bushes outside the court, we retrieved them and continued into downtown. We had coffee at Starbucks, shopped for furniture at Twice’s Nice on Fruitville and the Woman’s Exchange on Orange. We rode through the newly renovated Payne Park, pondering tennis on the fancy courts there (until we realized there’s an hourly charge). Instead, we headed to the courts in shady Gillespie Park (for another match, then slowly made our way back to Indian Beach. All told, it was a 3.5-hour excursion for the price of a couple coffees and some Gatorade.


COURTSHIP: The beauty of free tennis at Pioneer and Gillespie parks.

With Saturday evening came the fancy. We made ourselves clean and pretty and, continuing our appreciation for the cooler dry air, had Gorgonzola, pear and walnut bruschetta and chardonnay on the quiet patio at Ca’ Rina. For the main course, we walked up to the Melting Pot for a feast of cheese, lobster and chocolate. I repeated “Fondue is fun-do” way too many times.


OAK AL FRESCO: The soothing outdoor tables at Ca’Rina.


And after dinner, just to make sure we’d made the weekend as rich as possible, we bought a peanut-butter-and-chocolate ice cream cake from Cold Stone and took it home to finish the evening watching football and West Wing.
If the ability to occupy oneself with no guidance or supervision is the measure of an adult, then a couple of hours of on-ice roughhousing, a kids’ day out on the bikes and a few pounds of cheese and chocolate is all you need to feel grown up.