The OU Latin course is now over so I am free to concentrate on other studies. I have to say I really enjoyed engaging with Book 2 of Virgil's Aeneid on a line-by-line basis - it took me back to my (very happy) undergrad days. You can't beat teasing apart the fibres of language as a method of understanding how it works. The past week has been largely spent sitting in my study (in the sunny bit if possible) and working my way through Michael Morris's introduction to the Philosophy of Language (see my 'Metalepsis' blog). I am conscious that half-term is once again looming ever closer which means, study-wise, a week up on blocks. Still, I am far from despondent as we are all travelling to Rome for a short break. Fantastic! I can't wait - there are a few things I am determined to schedule, including a visit to the church of San Clemente which not only has some marvellous mosaics, but sits above a well-preserved Mithraic temple. We've only managed to get into it once before, Roman opening times being what they are, so I want to go back with the children and give them a real sense of how history builds on, and absorbs, what has gone before. The Mithraic religion is enthrallingly gory, and the shadowy subterranean tunnels echo with the rushing of a nearby river. Or possibly drain - I'm not sure which. High on the kids' agenda is the Colosseum ('only from the outside', I cautioned, having coughed up the exorbitant entry fee last time), possibly the ossuary at Sta Maria della Concezione, where the bones of the Capucin friars have been used to create an atmospheric memento mori, and the Trevi Fountain (by day and by night). Other definites on our list are: climbing St Peter's dome (which will necessitate an early start) an espresso in the Tazza D'Oro coffee shop near the Piazza Navona (best coffee anywhere) and Stas Maria and Cecilia in Trastevere, which we've never got round to visiting before. Rome in the Autumn is glorious if the weather is sunny - the walk along the Tiber, kicking the russet leaves, is simply beautiful. And what better way to celebrate my fiftieth birthday - in a beautiful city surrounded by the people I love.