Seattle Makes Me… fill my week

Some-one asked if I was missing working the other day. I can’t remember how I had time for a full-on professional life! I guess at some point I will want to re-engage with it, I did rather like most of it after all, but at the moment it is such a luxury to have time to get to know this city and state. Whilst life here is slowly starting to find a pattern each week still seems full of surprises and new experiences. Here is a quick overview of last week as an example:

Monday – meeting a president:

IMG_0484The 39th President of the USA, Jimmy Carter, decided to pop along to see us on Monday. He is promoting his most recent book A Call to Action, which focusses on the suffering inflicted on women, across the globe including within the USA, by men who justify their behaviour through false interpretations of religious texts. A truly contemporary and topical issue. It was disappointing that the event was limited to a book signing as it would have been wonderful to hear him talk. This was saved for media interviews, which importantly meant more people heard overall I guess. At 89 years delivering a comprehensive book tour is quite an undertaking in itself (his west coast visit being Friday San Francisco, Saturday Los Angeles, Sunday Portland, Monday Seattle) yet many commented on how well President Carter looked. Continue reading

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Seattle Makes Me… walk the hill

photoJust over a week ago I planned and led a short walk here, and a few people suggested I should share the details with you all…

I have been having great fun learning about different neighbourhoods through tromping the streets. This has been really helped by following the advice of a hike leader I met through The Mountaineers (an organisation I will focus on another time) who introduced me to Sound Striders. Sound Striders is run through Seattle Parks & Recreation Department by volunteers. There are two groups one focussing on North Seattle the other on the South. They each select a neighbourhood to explore once a week for a number of weeks, meet for coffee at 8am by 8.30 they are out walking – usually around 6 miles – and then back to the same cafe for about 11am ready to get on with the rest of their day. Whilst I don’t match the criteria for taking part (over 55 years) everyone has been very happy to ignore that – and share their stories and top tips about Seattle as well as their routes. One of the group describes the walks as “a cocktail party on legs” there is no alcohol but lots of lovely non-stop mingling and chatting. Continue reading

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Seattle Makes Me… bloom

Photos, picnics, parties and kissing under the University of Washington Cherry Blossom

Photos, picnics, parties and kissing under the University of Washington Cherry Blossom

A month has gone by without a blog post and so much has happened in that time – don’t be surprised if there is a flurry of additions over the next week. Sadly Washington has been in the international news headlines with the tragic loss of life due the Oso landslide following a very wet (record-breaking) March. Every life is precious and so many have been lost, affecting communities deeply.

Looking over Puget Sound on the first day of Spring

Looking over Puget Sound on the first day of Spring

In the city we have transitioned from winter to spring – even if occasionally the weather tries to slip us back. The first day of spring woke slowly, when I left the house early it was still very chilly. By mid morning it was glorious – and the afternoon was super sparkly.  Continue reading

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Seattle makes me… love brunch

Pancakes, waffles, dutch babies (really!), french toast, biscuits and gravy (very odd sounding to us Brits), hash browns, huevos rancheros, scrambles (but very different to English scramble), tortas, mimosa (bucks fizz in the UK)…who doesn’t love brunch???

IMG_20140217_123036We can’t really do a ‘top places in Seattle to eat brunch’ post given we have hardly been here 5 minutes and have a long list of places to still try out. But whilst brunching at Vios in Third Place Books (a wonderful independent book store) last Monday, President’s Day and a public holiday, we started to list our favourite brunch experiences so far. It came to 10 places – and a list of 10 seems sharable. So we won’t claim they are the best, but feel assured that if you brunch at any one of them you should have a great time and eat well. We have pulled on our two trips to Seattle before moving here, but have eaten at all of them within the last year. Depending where you go the waitstaff can be a core part of the experience, giving a wonderful performance – from the trendy and the alternative to the down-right naughty! Brunch is a fun and fabulous weekend treat.  Continue reading

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Seattle makes me… see falling water

IMG_20140221_131401

Admittedly we have had rain, but this post isn’t about that. That water was welcome however, a few heavy days of rain in Seattle meant really significant snow fall in the mountains and in no time a snowpack which had been at 50% the norm was back up to usual levels. As well as bringing much joy to those heading out for snow sports (well once the many high avalanche risks reduced) it also meant concerns over summer water shortages have disappeared.

IMG_20140221_092141So other water – because yesterday was a very spectacular visit to Wallace Falls State Park with Seattle Transit Hikers. This is a Meet Up group that mostly walks on weekends which doesn’t work for me, so I was fast to sign up when a trip was planned for a week day. They always catch public transport out to their hiking destination, hence their name. It takes about twice as long to get the Wallace Park on bus Continue reading

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Seattle Makes Me… celebrate feet on the street

free library

As you may have already read I am often to be found walking the streets of Seattle. I am finding that it is the kind of city which wears its heart on its sleeve. Whether those streets are filled with around 700,000 Seahawks fans celebrating the winning of the Super Bowl (had to slip that in!) or more quiet expressions of the city’s cultural life, there is always something interesting to come across.

P1520217_2A frequently spotted sight has been ‘Little Free Libraries.’ I had never heard of these before being in Seattle, but when flying here at Christmas there was an article about them in the KLM flight magazine. So I realised it was a movement not just a Seattle ‘quirk’. It turns out they exist in many countries. Todd Bol in Wisconsin built one in 2009, as a tribute to his school teacher and book loving mother and from there has inspired a global community. People passing are encouraged to take, read and replace a book (either the same one or another) in an open hearted desire to keep books flowing and being enjoyed.  Continue reading

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Seattle makes me…flap in monochrome

Opening night at The Seattle, later The Paramount, 1928 photo credit here

Opening night at The Seattle, later The Paramount, 1928
photo credit here

I have much to learn about the history of Seattle and habitation of the area prior to the arrival of pioneer settlers in 1851, but one thing is that evident just walking around the city is that for the wealthy in the early 1900s it must have been an exciting place to be. Unaware of the depression that would hit in the 1930s, and boyant with the exuberance of hosting the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition international fair it was a time of enormous city development. Although Seattle was already building a reputation for radicalism, as the ship builders started off what turned in to a general strike in 1919, the longest such strike in American history. What a great time architecturally for a city to be growing up. Whilst too many of the beautiful art deco buildings are well gone it is still completely evident as you walk the streets and see both commercial and residential buildings of the time that this was a boom period in Seattle – which interestingly has a history of booms and busts.

The Seattle/Paramount Lobby Photo from here

The Seattle/Paramount Lobby
Photo from here

In amongst of all of this movie palaces were key entertainment sites, with Seattle having more than 50. 1928 saw Paramount Pictures building their own – The Paramount, on the edge of the then entertainment area in the city. To make up for its location the building shone with an opulence and grandeur the city had not seen before – the cinema’s website recounts the Seattle Times reporting:  Continue reading

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