TRUCKING

September 19, 2017


I have several clients I try to keep happy each week.  One is in Cleveland, Tennessee. That’s about a forty-five (45) minute drive for me, one way, so I get to see a great deal of Interstate traffic.  This is my thirteenth year with this company as a client so I have made that trip multiple times.  There is NO time of the day that I do not see an armada of fifty-three (53) foot rigs hauling their load from point “A” to point “B”.  The numbers are quite frankly staggering.  According to the American Trucking Association (ATA) for the year 2016:

  • The big rigs moved 10.42 billion tons of freight or seventy percent (70%) of all domestic freight tonnage.
  • The nation’s commercial trucks paid $41.3 billion in state and federal highway user fees and taxes. The average five-axel-trailer pays more than $5,600.00 in taxes annually.
  • There were 33.8 million trucks registered for business purposes, including 3.68 million Class 8 trucks. (NOTE: The Class 8 truck gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is a vehicle with a GVWR exceeding 33000 pounds (14969 kg). These include tractor trailer tractors as well as single-unit dump trucks of a GVWR over 33,000 pounds; such trucks typically have 3 or more axles.)
  • The 33.8 million trucks mentioned above burned 38.8 billion gallons of diesel fuel and 15.5 billion gallons of gasoline. Today’s average price per gallon for diesel is $2.71.
  • They traveled 450.4 billion miles.
  • Approximately 7.4 million Americans are employed in trucking-related jobs, including 3.5 million as truck drivers.
  • Trucking is an industry made up of small businesses; 91% of motor carriers operate six or fewer trucks and 97.3% operate less than 20.
  • Annual revenues for 2016 totaled $676.2 billion.
  • Freight volumes are projected to grow 2.8% in 2017 with an annual growth rate of 3.4% through 2023.
  • Truckload volumes are expected to grow 2.7% per year from 2017 to 2023.
  • Short haul or LTL shipments, will increase 3.3% per year from 2017 to 2023.

Companies, small and large, are making concerted efforts to lessen costs for diesel fuel and obtain greater efficencies thereby reducing overall total costs of operation.  This is a nationwide exercise all movers long-haul and short-haul are participating in.  We are already seeing FedEx, UPS, the Federal Post Office, DHL, police departments, taxi cab companies and others convert from diesel to propane or natural gas as the fuel of choice.  This not only reduces operating expense but reduces carbon emissions.   We also see companies who design and build engines for these big rigs, working hard to improve mileage and engine efficencies.  Progress is being made on a yearly basis.  So, the next time you pass an LTL or STL hauler, think about the industry and the efforts they are in the process of adopting to improve their company.

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Chattanooga, Tennessee is home to the Tennessee Aquarium.  We are remarkably fortunate to have this “fish tank” for many reasons.  First and foremost, the Aquarium has demonstrated one significant fact—it was the anchor for Chattanooga’s renaissance.  Chattanooga is no longer just a stop on your way to Florida.  It has become a destination for hundreds of thousands of non-citizens on an annual basis.  The aquarium gives tourists and residents something to do during and on week days and weekends.  The digital picture below will give you some idea as to the striking design of the facility.

It is hard to believe this week marks the twenty-fifth (25) anniversary of the aquarium.  I can remember the time prior to construction when many wondered whether or not the facility could support itself with visitors.  How would the City pay the employees?  How would the city maintain the facility?  Why take up precious land when it could be used for manufacturing and production?  All of these questions and more were asked—and answered.

The Tennessee Aquarium has been at the epicenter of the city’s downtown revival.  That fact is reflected with the knowledge that since its opening on May 1, 1992, more than twenty-three (23) million people have visited what has become, by far, the region’s biggest attraction.  In my opinion, the exhibits are much better than the aquarium in Atlanta and the Smokies. (Just my opinion.)

Let’s take a look at several facts that will highlight this marvelous addition to our city.

  • A new economic study estimates those visitors have pumped nearly $3.3 billion into Hamilton County’s economy and helped spur more than $5 billion in private investment downtown. Last year alone, out-of-state tourists coming to visit the Tennessee Aquarium are estimated to have had an economic impact totaling $115.7 million, according to a study by the University of Tennessee’s Center for Sustainable Business and Development.
  • As you can see from the following graphic, the aquarium is just where it should be— right downtown.

Before the aquarium was built, you could go downtown and there would not be one soul on Broad or Market streets.  Broad and Market and the “main drags” in Chattanooga.  Today, those downtown streets are filled with people, even on most weeknights, and most of that has to do with what began with the aquarium.  After 6:00 P.M. any night, go downtown and try to find a parking spot on the street.  The garages have ample parking but on the streets-not so much.  The aquarium has also attracted a huge number of restaurants, bars, food trucks, dance halls, etc etc.  The vision our community leaders had to transform our city began with the aquarium, and without the aquarium we would not be where we are today.

  • The aquarium employs more than two hundred (200) people with seven hundred and fifty (750) volunteers.
  • The facility is home to more than twelve thousand (12,000) animals representing eight hundred (800) species.
  • Annual revenues = $25.2 million.
  • Mitch Patel, president of Chattanooga-based Vision Hospitality Corp., credits the aquarium for much of the growth in the city’s $1 billion-a-year tourism industry.
  • The aquarium’s educational and research mission has expanded its scope and footprint to add research and conservation institutes and extra attractions, such as the IMAX Theater, Ocean Discovery saltwater tanks and the River Gorge Explorer boat trips in the Tennessee River gorge.
  • Chattanooga downtown boosters also have added to its appeal with the development of Coolidge, Renaissance and the Tennessee Riverwalk parks; the Children’s Discovery Museum; the Walnut Street and Holmberg pedestrian bridges; the AT&T baseball stadium for the Chattanooga Lookouts, the expansion of the Hunter Museum of American Art and growth of the Bluff View Art District, among other successes.
  • There has been $5 billion of private investment in our downtown area since 1992, including a billion dollars of projects announced in the past year and a half. That’s just extraordinary, but it shows the power of finding what is authentic and fits your community. That’s what the aquarium has been for Chattanooga.

As a catalyst for growth, the aquarium and other attractions helped to increase the hotel business in Hamilton County nearly fourfold. In 1991, the last full year before the aquarium opened, Hamilton County hotels captured forty-seven ($47) million in total revenues. Last year they generated $187 million in revenues, according to the Hamilton County Trustee’s Office and before the aquarium opened, the only major hotel built downtown in decades was the Marriott, which that opened in 1986 next to the Trade Center. For a major city, even a small city such as Chattanooga, this is big.   Since 1992, more than a dozen hotels have been added across Chattanooga, and more than $140 million in new hotels are being built or in the pipeline in Hamilton County, including five luxury or boutique hotels downtown.

“Jack’s fish tank” questioned

As mentioned above, some were initially skeptical of the aquarium idea, which was proposed by architectural students at the Urban Design Studio in 1981 and later embraced as one of the goals in the community planning process organized by Chattanooga Venture in the 1980s. When the aquarium was pitched to then-Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander among a group of community projects, he urged local leaders, including Chattanooga Coca-Cola magnate Jack Lupton, to make the attraction distinctive and world-class.   Lupton, Chairman of the Lyndhurst Foundation and other backers agreed to build the facility with private money and contributed ten ($10) million from the foundation and eleven ($11) million of his own money.  He also led the forty-five ($45) million fundraising drive.

The Tennessee Aquarium was designed by Cambridge Seven Associates, which had previously designed the National Aquarium in Baltimore and the New England Aquarium in Boston, to tell the story of aquatic life from the headwaters of the Smoky Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico. The 130,000-square-foot River Journey structure is the equivalent of a 12-story building and follows the path of a raindrop from high in the Appalachian Mountains to the ocean.  The digitals below will give you some idea as to what’s inside.

Many of its tanks and exhibits bear the names of corporate or individual donors. Memberships, admission fees and ongoing capital campaigns help pay to operate and expand the aquarium and support its educational research and outreach.

The 21st Century Waterfront, which included the thirty ($30) million Ocean Journey structure built in 2005, revamped the Ross’s Landing are to include a riverfront park, walkway, pier and boat docks, opening up the waterfront to pedestrians and Chattanooga’s downtown to boats.

The aquarium quickly won over most skeptics, topping its first-year attendance goal of 650,000 people within its first four months and topping out at nearly 1.5 million visitors in the first year. It consistently has ranked among the nation’s top aquariums in visitor satisfaction surveys. Please keep in mind the population of Chattanooga is 167, 674.  This will give you some perspective as to why the facility is so very important to our city.  How many other communities of our size can say they attract over a million visitors per year?  Think about and then, plan your next trip to Chattanooga.

PECAN LODGE

December 8, 2016


This Thanksgiving my family and I traveled to Dallas, Texas to visit our youngest son and his wife Sarah.  Even though we are East Tennessee “ridge-runners” we love Dallas.  It’s a great place to visit with “tons” of wonderful restaurants, museums, and other terrific things to do and see.  If I may, let me recommend to you the following five visits that we consider “must see and do” experiences.  We have visited each of the following sites and I can attest to experiences.  Here we go:

  • Dallas Arboretum and Gardens–The gardens are truly outstanding but bring your walking shoes.
  • Dallas Cowboy Stadium—Seating 80,000 rabid fans, it sits prominently in Arlington, Texas
  • Ross Perot Museum—Downtown Dallas
  • Downtown Dallas Skyline—A wonderfully modern skyline with truly cutting-edge designs.
  • Pecan Lodge Restaurant—Best ribs and brisket in Dallas and voted one of the best four in the world.

OK, I know there are many many others but if you have only two or three days you might consider these five.  Dallas Cowboy Stadium is out of town but is a remarkable engineering and architectural feat—it is a must see.  Put that one high on your list.

This may be a little off-the-wall, but I would like to take you to the last one on the list—The Pecan Lodge Restaurant.  If you like smoked brisket, smoked ribs, smoked sausage AND all the sides that might go with each, you NEED to visit the Pecan.  The Texas Monthly called it one of the best four (4) BBQ restaurants in the world.  (Of course, they are a bit bias but it is a great experience.)

The owners tell us the following: “It all started when we ditched our corporate jobs and weekly travel that came with them so we could spend more time as a family. And, to be honest, we weren’t out to set the world on fire – just some mesquite wood, plus a little oak. But one mouthwatering bite of brisket led to another, and before we knew it, the juicy secret about Pecan Lodge was out. Folks began to serve us up heaping portions of praise, and soon after, lines started to form for what Texas Monthly called one of the Top 4 BBQ joints in the world.


It’s not easy work, but we love what we’re doing. And there are no shortcuts to doing it right. Our BBQ pit burns 24 hours a day, fueled by nothing but wood and passion. We grind and stuff our own sausage. And anything we can make from scratch, we make from scratch – from our Southern Fried Chicken to Aunt Polly’s banana pudding to our Mac n’ Cheese to the collard greens. Times change, and sometimes you have to roll with the punches. Our little stand at the Farmer’s Market had to make way for redevelopment, so we’ve now set up camp in the heart of Deep Ellum. You’ll find us where Main St. meets Pryor St., and good old-fashioned elbow grease meets smoked perfection”

Before we really get into a pictorial visit, let’s look at how they do it.

Texas Style Brisket by Pecan Lodge
Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups paprika
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 3 tablespoons onion powder
    • 3 tablespoons garlic salt
    • 1 tablespoons celery salt
    • 1 tablespoons black pepper
    • 1 tablespoon lemon pepper
    • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
    • 1 teaspoon cayenne
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
    • 1 trim brisket, about 5 to 6 pounds
    Directions
  1. Combine all the drying ingredients in a bowl and blend well.
    2. Trim the brisket, leaving about 1/4-inch of fat.
    3. Season the brisket with about 1/4-cup of the rub. (NOTE: You don’t want such a thick crust that the smoke won’t penetrate the meat. Let the brisket marinate overnight in the refrigerator.)
    4. Preheat your grill to 250 degrees F using charcoal and hickory.
    5. Using indirect heat, cook the brisket for 3 1/2 hours and flip. Cook another 3 1/2 hours, cooking for a total of 7 hours (about 1 1/2 hours per pound.) The brisket should cook to an internal temperature of 185 degrees F.
    6. Rest for 10 minutes on a cutting board before slicing. Slice brisket against the grain

How long does it take to smoke a brisket? And at what temperature? Are there any tricks to creating the “bark” on the brisket?
The answer varies, depending on the weight and type of smoker you are working with. Most of our briskets cook between 15 and 18 hours. To get a nice bark, we use a generous layer of spice rub, which — blended with the fat insulating the brisket — leads to a nice, dark bark on the outer layer.

I hope you’ve got that and will be willing to give it a try.  The Lodge is very willing to give you this recipe which I think is outstanding.

THE VISIT

The Pecan Lodge opens at 11:00 A.M. each day. Parking is no problem at all with plenty of spaces in the back and sides of the building.  As you walk towards the entrance you see two massive smokers.  These smokers run seven days a week with each brisket taking eighteen hours (minimum) to cook.  We were fortunate this day because the doors to the smoke house were open.

massive-smokers

Since it was the Thanksgiving holiday, there were fifty or sixty people in line to pick up call-in orders.  I can imagine turkey and brisket sitting on dining room tables across the Dallas area. NOTE:  The pick-up line is separate from the line for indoor and outdoor seating.  Don’t get in the wrong line.

call-in-orders-pick-up

We got there around 11:20 thinking we would be one of the first families in line.  Please note we were at the back of the line you see below.  Down the sidewalk and around the corner past the “bull” you see in the background.  I stepped out to take this picture to indicate just how popular this place is.

waiting-line

Due to the number of people ordering and needing to be seated, the management requires each order to be submitted before individuals are seated.  In other words, you can’t send a family member to save a seat while you are in line.  They are really big on this one.

please-be-seated

The two digital pictures below will give some indication as to the size of the indoor dining room.  It’s big and notice not too many people are looking up—all looking down at their plates and going at it.

inside-seating

inside-seating2

It would not be a BBQ “joint” without hats, shirts, belt buckles, etc etc.  These are on display so you can choose and pay as you place your order.

hats-shirts

Given below is the menu.  It’s the only one you get.  We all ordered one, two or three meats and one or two sides.  This gave us variety to share with each other. Note the “Hot Mess” in the upper right of the menu.  I did not order this but my son did and it is outstanding—hot but outstanding.

menue

We were very lucky in that the day gave us seventy-five degree temperatures and plenty of great sunshine.  We ate outside where there were eleven picnic tables—most of them full.

outside-seating

I know we have BBQ in east Tennessee and some of it is pretty good, but we do not have Texas brisket.  Hope you enjoyed this post and can make the visit to the Pecan Lodge in big “D”.

CHATTANOOGA MARKET

October 22, 2016


One of the best events we sponsor in Chattanooga during the summer and fall months is the Chattanooga Market.  It is the gathering place for over six thousands people every Sunday.  The Market is, by far, the region’s largest meeting place for local artists displaying their arts and crafts and local farmers selling their produce and fruits.   It is held every Sunday from April to December at the open-air First Tennessee Pavilion.  Times are typically from 11 A.M. until 4 P.M.  but the hours can vary depending upon special events planned for that day. The market has over 300 vendors including food trucks offering just about any food idem you can imagine. One of the very BEST facts about traveling to the market—ample parking.  You do NOT have to park, walk or take a bus to the event.

This past Sunday the theme was Octoberfest.  Let’s take a digital tour of the market.

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You can hopefully see that the entrance way to the Market is wide and accommodating even though there are vendors occupying both sides.

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You get some idea as to how various vendors approach setting up to sell their products.  Tents, booths, you name it, they were there.

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What Octoberfest would be complete without a German band?  The Market had two bands playing their hearts out.  Both bands were really good and played familiar songs the entire three hours we made the visit.  I did not capture the dancers helping their efforts but they were definitely there in force.  I might mention Octoberfest is extremely popular due to the presence of VW and Wacker industries in the Chattanooga area.

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The Market has four somewhat narrow isles and run about two hundred yards from front to back.  All vendor locations are definitely accessible to visitors although somewhat tight.  People understand this and are very courteous to each other when moving through the complex.

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As I mentioned, there is a great verity of products available, food, arts and crafts, honey, produce, fruits, what I would call trinkets, etc.  It’s all there are available.

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There are several vendors from Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia selling honey.  This product remains extremely popular and most booths sell out during the one-day event.

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Jewelry is always on display and you can find just about anything you wish to purchase.  I was surprised in talking with one vendor as to how many people were shopping for Christmas.

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The fruits and vegetables are the freshest. —the very freshest.  Generally, gathered for sale one or two days prior to display at the Market.

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The pumpkins you see above are ceramic, crafted, painted and fired just for the Market.  There were three tables available with the ones shown giving only a quick view of what was available.

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This is Mr. John Muncie.  He is the owner of the Well Turned Pens company.  I have several of the products John produces.  He turns selected woods to form the bodies for fountain pens and ballpoint pens.  I am always amazed at how many pens John sells during the summer and fall months.  They are truly works of art in my opinion.

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There are three vendors selling baked goods, primarily bread. The vendor above is Niedlove’s Bakery. They provide bread for the majority of restaurants in the Chattanooga area.

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You would not think butter would be an item Chattanoogans would purchase.  Let me tell you, butter is high on the must-buy list.  There were no fewer than six vendors selling their product.

 

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The second band was located in an area devoted to people having lunch.  There is a dance floor just forward of the band itself.  If you look carefully on the left, you can see several children dancing.

I certainly hope you will visit Chattanooga and when you come, take time to see our Community Market.

REAL MADRID

October 29, 2009


Do you like football?  I mean American soccer or European football!  My family and I love to watch “football”—American or otherwise. 

In September my wife and I had an opportunity to visit the facilities of Real Madrid in Madrid, Spain.  It was a real thrill and we thoroughly enjoyed the tour through their magnificent facilities.   To our surprise, the stadium, Santiago Bernabeu, is right downtown.  Quite a difference from what we are use to in the “states”.  We hopped a bus from our hotel, rode six or seven blocks through the busy streets of Madrid and we were there.  The stadium is situated on approximately six (6) city blocks of prime real estate and is one of the most visited structures in all of Europe.  Let’s take a look at several facts.

FIFA voted Real Madrid as being one of the most successful teams in the 20th century.  Take a look at these stats:

  • 31 La Liga Titles
  • 17 Spanish Cup Titles
  • 9 European Cup Titles
  • 2 UEFA Cups

Year after year they are always contenders.

The team itself was founded in 1902 and has since become the world’s richest football club at €351 million.  This is in terms of revenue.  It is the second most valuable in terms of over-all worth at €950 million.  The stadium will hold 80,354 screaming fans but, at one time, 120,000 could squeeze into the facilities.  In 1953 renovations were made adding box seats and “sky boxes” for commercial purposes and to appeal to the many corporations around Madrid and throughout Spain.  This reduced the overall capacity to the present numbers. 

The arch-rival of Real Madrid is FE-Barcelona.  Both teams compete, on an annual basis, for European glory and frequently the bragging rights for the European Community rest with this competition.

Spanish teams limit the nationality of players to only three from non-EU countries.   Real Madrid has the following personnel lineup:

  • 9 Players from Spain
  • 2 Players from Portugal
  • 3 Players from Argentina
  • 2 Players from Brazil
  • 2 Players from France
  • 3 Players from the Netherlands

Let’s take a look at the stadium.

Real Stadium(1)

REAL MADRID STADIUM

 

As you can see, it’s every bit as sophisticated as any stadium in the United States and possibly more-so.  I was really impressed with the artificial turf.  Don’t really know the composition but it is “fake”; a very good “fake” indeed.  You could also tell that there was a significant amount of padding or cushion beneath the surface of the field. 

The players sit in chairs that resemble what you would get while flying first class.  Really beautiful and very supportative.  My wife “plopped” down and decided to stay for a while.

REAL(5)

HOME TEAM "DUGOUT"

The locker rooms are more elaborate than anything I could imagine.  We were allowed to tour the opposing player’s locker room but NOT the ones for the “home team”.  I can not imagine what they might be like.   I’m going to let the pictures speak for themselves.

REAL (8)

REAL MADRID LOCKER ROOM

 

REAL (9)

OPPOSING PLAYER'S LOCKER ROOM

 

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LOCKER ROOM

 

The trophy room was loaded with hardware.  Win after win after win after win.  Take a look.

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TROPHY ROOM

 

REAL MADRID(14)

TROPHY ROOM

 

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TROPHY ROOM

 

An absolutely magnificent facility and one that is fitting for a world-class team such as Real Madrid.  I definitely recommend taking the tour if you are in Madrid.  Oh by the way, we got our picture made with Raul—one of the most famous members of the team.

REAL MADRID

RAUL

A VISIT TO TOLEDO

October 26, 2009


During our visit to Madrid this past September, my wife and I decided to take a side trip to Toledo.  I had done graduate work several years ago that involved research on the painter El Greco, a citizen of Toledo.    I became fascinated with his rendition of Toledo’s “angry skyline” so a one-day trip, while in the area, was a must.   We discovered a city aptly named “El Ciudad Imperial”; truly, a beautiful beautiful little city in the heart of the Spanish plaines.  It lies approximately 70 kilometers south of Madrid; easily accessible by bullet train for the small price of €15.00 per person.  The city itself is home to approximately 76,000 inhabitants and encompasses an area of 90 square miles.  It is located on the Tagus River at an elevation of 2,034 feet amid undulating plaines, olive groves, wheat fields, grape vines and an assortment of fruits and vegetables grown by most of the population.  An example of the landscape is shown by the picture below. 

Olive Trees and Countryside

Olive Trees and Countryside

As you can see, rolling country side with olive groves punctuating the landscape.

It is said that to understand Toledo is to understand Spain itself.  The city has been and is a melting pot of ideas and a meeting place for many different cultures; namely Christian, Jewish and Moorish.  At one time it was the capital of Spain with history going back at least 2,000 years.  Toledo was mentioned by the Roman historian Titus Livius in the journal he provided for the Roman magistrate Marcus Fluvius.  The city is a magnificant “assembly” of old and new with winding streets, shops in cubby-holes no bigger than a closet, majestic castles, a richly decorated cachedral and a gallery of art showing the major artists who lived and worked in the city.  Several “street scenes” are given as follows:

Street Scene

Street Scene

Street Scene

Street Scene

The skyline is indeed magnificent with two very important buildings; the Alcazar Palace and the San Juan de los Reyes Cathedral.  Both may be seen in the picture below.  The palace is in the foreground and the cathedral in the background.

Toledo Skyline(5)

Toledo Skyline

The art museum is located in the cathedral, as well as the fascinating “Room of Ornaments and Robes”; artifacts of the Catholic Church from ages past.

The river provides the life-blood to the city and all of the water is derived from that source. 

River and Countryside

River and Countryside

I also will mention now that Toledo is known for Manchego cheese.  Apparently word famous and absolutely delicious.   Served with just about every meal, including breakfast.  I do recommend you check this one out. We had two meals there, breakfast and a very late lunch and I can certainly state that they do take care of the turisticas. 

Another business that flourishes in this small city, is the multi-colored ceramics.  These are generally for local consumption and tourists although shipments to distributors to make their way to other parts of the world.

Ceramics

Ceramics

All in all, it was a fascinating day and one that will go in the personal “archives” as been one of the most delightful we have spent in quite some time.  I definitely do recommend that, when in Spain, check out Toledo.

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