“Hello All Once again it’s been a while since I last wrote and again I apologise for that. We have been fairly busy with this and that and I hope I remember to include all the exciting stuff we’ve been doing! I guess the most exciting thing we have done was our trip to the US. Jon was sent to Seattle to learn about some of the things he will be doing at work. He was put up in style at a very nice 5-star hotel right in the city, was given a hire car and ate 3 restaurant meals a day for 3 weeks! I decided that I couldn’t let him get away with going to America without me so I booked a flight (it’s fairly cheap from London) and took a few days off work to meet him for the weekend. The flight over went off without a hitch and I had a whole 3 seats to myself so I snoozed in comfort for some of the trip over. The plane actually landed ½ hour ahead of schedule. The flight path goes over Iceland and Alaska and it was light all the way, so you can see glaciers and icebergs all the way. I should have known then that everything was going too well. I got through immigration without a hitch, but was stopped at customs. The reason for this is that my hairbrush looked like a knife on the X-ray machine. They unpacked my bag on a table in front of everyone, right near a glass wall where people were waiting for friends and relatives to come out of the gates. After trying to put all my stuff back into my bag (it never fits as well the 2nd time) I was free and waited for Jon who came late because of a crash on the Freeway near the airport. At this stage too I met Jon’s boss who is an American guy who is an absolute laugh and also very nice. Jon had already been in the States for 2 weeks and had already begun to pick up a semblance of an accent! Oh no! We got back to the hotel room and I basically crashed straight away because I was so tired after the flight over. The next day (Saturday) we checked out the sights of Seattle. Seattle is a very nice city surrounded by water and water-based industry like fishing and shipping. Unlike London there are hundreds of skyscrapers which makes it feel like a real city. The other notable thing about Seattle is the love affair with Coffee. There is a Starbucks or Tully’s café on every corner and one in the middle of the street too. But they do make a good brew, so I guess that’s why it’s so popular. We went to the Pike Place market; a fish market. When you buy a fish they throw it from the front of the counter to the guy behind and make quite a show of it. Apparently their fish-throwing is world famous, but it didn’t particularly impress us. We then went to the aquarium, which isn’t as good even as the one in Sydney from the fish point-of-view, but they did have lots of seals and otters which were pretty entertaining. The problem with the aquarium is that there were way too many American mums with their kids, and the accent can get very annoying when slowed down for the benefit of the kids. We later met up with Jon’s boss who gave us a tour of the city. He is quite a photographer and took us to many of the city’s most photogenic spots. We went to the locks where boats can enter the harbour, the city lookout area, to a sculpture of a troll beneath a busy underpass (which was pretty cool, the sculpture included a real VW beetle, which the troll was crushing!) and a very nice seafood restaurant. (I have become quite a fan of salmon and they have very nice fish there). That night we had dinner in the hotel restaurant. It was very nice and the service was excellent. Actually the service in the US is brilliant. I don’t mind having to tip 15% if you are going to be served properly. You could ask for anything and nothing is a problem. The next day we went for a drive in Jon’s hire car (on the wrong side of the road!). We went up into the mountains near Seattle where it was actually snowing. It was a very beautiful sight with the snow on the pine trees and white all around. We also saw a very nice waterfall that was crashing down onto the rocks below. That’s another cool thing about Seattle, you can drive for 45 mins and be on the ski slopes. The next afternoon I was to leave Seattle at 6pm. Unfortunately a comedy of errors occurred and the plane was delayed for 9 hours. I sat around the airport until 3am before the plane finally left. Luckily it was fairly empty and I had 3 seats to myself again and slept for a few hours which was good. Jon arrived home the following weekend with a killer flu which had him off work for over a week. He obviously can’t handle the high life! He’s better now though. Since Jon’s been back we’ve been hitting the theatres. When Jon was sick I went with a friend to see an Andrew Lloyd Weber/Ben Elton musical called ‘A Beautiful Game’ and then when Jon was better we saw ‘Napoleon’. Last week we went to see the Cirque du Soleil which is a circus which focuses on acrobatics (absolutely amazing). This week it’s ‘The King and I’ and next week we’re getting really cultured and going to the Ballet ‘The Nutcracker’. Last weekend we hired a car and did a road trip up to the north of England. We went to see mum’s old house that she lived in when she was in England. We also went to visit mum’s uncle who lives in Liverpool. We only gave him ½ hours notice that we were turning up on his doorstep, and as he lives alone he was very embarrassed that he had nothing in the house to feed us. Although we were only going to stay for ½ hour we ended up staying for lunch (after a trip to the supermarket) and we had a lovely time. He is a real character. 3 hours later we finally got on our way again! We stayed overnight in a quaint (and somewhat bizarre) B & B in Blackpool which is a summer holiday beach town. But as it is the middle of winter is was almost a ghost town, with the most popular hangout for the locals the ‘amusement parlours’ which have bingo and card machines and other such delights. We blew about £3 on this and moved on to a local restaurant where we had a very nice meal which was very cheap compared to what you would pay in London. We also stopped at Birmingham on the way as well as a few other small towns. So that’s about all that I can think of that we have done since the last email. We have a few trips planned in the next few months, Dublin for St Patrick’s Day, Spain for Easter and last but not least back to Aus for Jen and Marty’s wedding. We will arrive on Monday 26 March and leave the following Monday night. We’ll be dividing the time between Sydney, Cowra and Newcastle, so hopefully we’ll be able to catch up with most of you at some stage. Looking forward to seeing everyone. Jane and Jon”