For one, we passed a sign when driving in Wales that said 'Brynmawr' and I asked Bill what the name meant. He told me it meant 'Big Pit'; he must have been thinking of the Big Pit Coal Museum near by. Turns out it means 'Bill Hill'. It's a place name I associate with Katherine Hepburn, who graduated from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. I took the book, H.D. Thoreau: A Writers Journal, with me on this trip and when I opened it up found that he had written it in Bryn Mawr, PA. I'm still working on that book, it having traveled with us to Nice when we cat-sat there again in August. I have a particular reason for wanting to read it, aside from just the mental discipline required.
Dyrham Park, Gloucestershire
Another book I took on that trip was Girl with a Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier, which was excellent by the way. The movie was great, but the book is even better. We visited the Matisse museum in Nice and in the gift shop I discovered happily that Chevalier has written any number of books, though I didn't buy any written in French.
Anyhow, we traipsed around four grand estates on the Wales trip in May and in at least two the commentary called our attention to large pieces of Delft pottery which were all the rage in the 17th and 18th centuries. I gather they were a great way of conspicuously demonstrating that one could not only afford to import exotic pottery, but also to import exotic tulips to put in the expensive pottery. Girl with a Pearl Earring is set in Delft in The Netherlands.
None of this is exactly earth-shattering, I know. It's just that it made me feel as though the world was a small place not just because of the confluence of people but of ideas. In the Western world, anyhow. Have you ever had this sort of funny little coincidence that grabbed your attention?