Did you have a happy Easter? I do hope you did. We spent ours by crossing the Canadian border for a brief trip to the US of A, the beautiful weather following us every step of the way from Vancouver.
We had a mighty long drive but eventually, well into the evening, a tempting display of twinkling lights guided us over the many bridges the Columbia river has to offer and we found ourselves downtown Portland, Oregon. It seems to be a relaxed, laid back city with an edgy, creative feel to it; shortly before our trip I read that there are more Etsy sellers in Portland than in any other city in the world. It's also very clean, far more so than London.
Sadly we had only a limited time to explore but our first stop was the vibrant farmers' market on the University campus. It was such a happy experience, with so much life, colour and happiness going on there. An array of tempting organic food on offer, lots of delicacies to try, several bands playing on the grass, balloon makers fascinating the children and so much more. We then took advantage of Portland's free inner city tram system and whiled away a good long time in Powells. It's not the sort of place that can be done quickly because it claims to be the world's largest book store at over 68,000 sq ft retail floor space. They sell a mixture of new and used books, and are visited by thousands of book lovers each day.
But I have to say, the highlight of my time in Portland was spending Easter Sunday morning sipping hot drinks in a rather trendy coffee bar with my new bff, Alex of Lola Nova. The husband dropped me off, waiting for the a-ok thumbs up before whisking the kiddos off to the Science Museum. Of course I had an advantage over Alex because I knew what she looked like and as I peered through the window I could see her sitting there, waiting. It was so exciting and also rather surreal because, even though we had never met before, I felt like I knew her so well through many months of visiting her lovely blog. So we hugged and laughed and sat down with our 'cuppas' for a chat.
But after what seemed like a very short time, I felt a tap on my shoulder and saw the family looking rather confused to find us still deep in conversation as they announced that three hours had gone by since they had dropped me off at that coffee bar. Three whole hours and we hadn't stopped talking over the two cups of coffee and tea that lasted the distance.
I must tell you that Alex is such a beautiful and warm, easy going lady. She makes gorgeous dresses for cute Pony Girl and offers brilliant tutorials, some of which have already been snapped up by Mollie Makes. She makes delicious preserves with the glut of food she grows or finds at the farmers' market and more, but I'm sure you already know that if you're familiar with her wonderful blog. And because of this intoxicating mix, you won't be surprised to hear she has written a soon to be published book, Simple Sewing with Lola Nova, featuring 25 of her very own crafty designs. I know this book will be a winner and you can bet I'll be buying it when it comes out in the UK this September (publishing in the US, Spring 2013). Can't wait.
After I'd said a reluctant goodbye to Alex, the family and I headed off up the freeway to Seattle. We had even less time there but enough to get a general (good) feel of the place, plus fit in a ride on the monorail to the Space Needle, which is what makes Seattle's skyline so instantly recognisable.
When I come back next week I will have a very special giveaway because, as is good holiday tradition, I brought back a souvenir ... the only catch is, unfortunately only one of you can have it. Meanwhile I shall leave you with these lovely ladies who stand guard at one of my all time favourite stores in North America. The one in Kensington is nothing in comparison!
See you next week, everyone.