What feels like a lifetime ago, I skipped home from school and asked my parents for money to receive the addresses of other students my age in other countries. It was a pen friend exchange offered in my French class and I believe it cost one dollar per address. For those of you who don't know what letters mailed in envelopes are or that people once used ink filled styluses called simply "pens," having a pen friend was an old fashioned way to communicate before e-mail and social media. This is how I met Jane from Manchester, England. And why it feels like a lifetime ago. Jane and I have met only once, when she came to visit me here in Cascadia while we were both in college, and we have stayed in touch since back in the sending mail to street address days. She and I agreed many years ago that we are sisters even if from different parents and continents. An invitation to the wedding of a friend like Jane is one of the only reasons I would ever even consider traveling without my pets. Jane was married in Stockport, England in August and Jason and I were there. It was wonderful except for how very much I missed Wilhelm, Brychwyn, Huxley, Amelia and Leo. Fortunately, Jane's adorable young son liked to look at pictures and videos of my pets. And I did get to see some amazing things, including dogs and cats, on my journey.
Manchester, England felt like home. There are a lot of similarities between Seattle and Manchester. The roots of Manchester are based in industry like my own Jet City. Both cities have a very rich musical history. The people are casual, friendly and laid back. Everyone we met in Manchester was very outdoorsy, for just like Seattle, all kinds of natural recreations are extremely close to the city center. Even the weather patterns are almost identical. I simply loved the gray and rain in this part of England. The similarities the cities that raised us share must be a part of the reason that Jane and I have remained so close all these years.
Other fun similarities between Seattle and Manchester that Jason and I were lucky enough to discover are the markets. Both cities have a rich market history that is being preserved with the help of amazing crafters and diligent farmer's. We learned a little history of the Smithfield Market and enjoyed browsing at the Manchester Craft and Design Centre. A former fish market houses store front and studio space for a wide variety of artists. We also took pleasure in a rainy stroll through the Levenshulme Market. Of course, my favorite part of this outdoor market was the dogs perusing the stalls. Similar to some Seattle dogs I know, the Manchester dogs don't seem to mind a downpour.