For this last bit of our trip we were staying with Wylie in Long Island. She and I had hit it off as soon as we exchanged our first emails and when I announced that we coming over to America Wylie had invited us to stay with her. Oh my - what a lovely place Long Island is. The drive from the ferry to her house had us open mouthed and oohing and aahing at every turn.
Wylie's house was equally lovely and she had made our rooms so inviting - the boys had story tapes next to their beds; Amber had a copy of Adorn and a book called Knitting for Peace; Tom had the Wall Street Journal and I had a Martha Stewart magazine next to my bed. We arrived, dived in the shower and drank copious amounts of cold drinks. Now Wylie did say that she hoped that the highlight of Raj's visit wasn't going to be the fridge/freezer that dispensed ice cubes because he was rather taken with it. Wylie, I'm pleased to say that although he loved it and used it often he didn't mention it until yesterday in the car and talked more of other things that we'd all done together.
On Thursday morning we dropped the car off at Budget and took the train to Penn Station whereupon we decided to split up. Tom took the boys to see the Statute of Liberty and Amber and I headed off with my list off fabric/trims/buttons shops.
She and I didn't get past 39th St that afternoon because we went to M&J Trimming:
Tinsel Trading. Lou-Lou's. Macy's and Lord And Taylor - the latter being for the toilets really. Then we found Daytona Trim which was much cheaper than M&J but didn't have the range. After that I rested my feet at Sephora whilst Amber went mad in there trying to decide which shade of eye pencil to buy. Then it was off to Grayline Linen which I had first heard about from Steph:
I have to tell you if you are ever in the area do get down there because their range is wonderful and the prices are fantastic. I did have to limit myself to just a few yards though as our suitcases were heaving by now:
Having ticked off everything on my list now I just had Purl Soho to visit but I was meeting Tom back at Penn at 6pm and it was now 5 o'clock. Do you remember that I had a got myself a mobile phone just for this purpose - to contact each other when we split up? Well guess what - the phone conked out or rather I thought it had conked out but really it had read 'unregistered sim' in Vermont when it meant 'no signal'. I took unregistered sim to mean that the phone didn't work so I didn't use it again and let the charge go. Boy was I livid when I got back and called Orange and they explained what had happened. Anyway, to cut a long story short I tried to call Tom from a call box and through the operator, who was going to charge me $46 and I just couldn't get through to him. So Purl was left till the next day.
Meanwhile we met up and found a great little Japanese cafe called Omsbi (on 156 East 45th St) that had been recommended by my ex boss where we ate Japanese rice balls, miso soup and hijiki (seaweed). Yum. Then we walked over to the Rockefeller Centre and had a hot drink in Dean and Delucca - very disappointing that place and then it was off to 76th St to stay at a friend's that night.
Next day we woke up to torrential rain and we spent most of the day ducking it. A few hours in Barnes and Noble and these purchases:
an hour or so in M&M World. I couldn't believe I was in there but the children loved it:
Then we got a cab to Soho and ate at Silver Spurs which is excellent and went to Kate's Paperie which was OK and then back to Kinokuniya which was a huge disappointment. I used to shop there in Tokyo and I came over to spy on them about 15 years ago when I worked in a Japanese bookshop in London. I have to say that their selection of craft books was terrible. There were lots of books there but nothing new or inspiring and none of the more popular ones either.
After that, wet and tired we decided to get back to the safe haven of Wylie's house. It was when I was sitting on the train that I remembered that I hadn't gone to Purl and I was so cross and disappointed. I had planned to get my sister the Barcelona skirt pattern and some fabric, some bits for a couple of bloggers over here and some fabric for myself of course. Grrrr. I was mad cos I could have had a bigger splurge at Valley Fabrics. Oh well, never mind there is always mail order I suppose.
On the train back an older lady got talking to Tom and the boys and asked him what the English thought of George Bush. He looked a bit sheepish and said do you really want to know at which point I noticed a couple of men put down their papers and prick up their ears. Ooops be careful Tom I thought but he was very diplomatic thank goodness.
That night we went out for a most delicious Japanese meal where at first glance it looked as if we'd ordered way too much but the greedy Brits managed to finish most of it off. Next day Wylie and Matt took us to a couple of yard sales which were such fun. Tom went mad and bought a suit, a jacket, some shirts AND a little suitcase to take them all home in!
Oh I wish this day had gone on and on as there was so much to do and see. After the sales Matt took us to eat egg sandwiches which were yummy:
what a delicious combination of bacon and eggs. Then it was back to their house briefly before we went to Sue's for a chat and a swim in her pool. The boys and Tom swam and the girls chatted. It was so nice meeting Sue who's from Texas and we had lots to talk about as you can imagine. The boys had to be dragged out of the pool two hours later as they were having such fun.
I had a quick trip to the supermarket with Matt to buy some bits and bobs to take home - the ingredients for s'mores, ghiardelli chocolate chips and some kool aid too and umpteen packets of Junior Mints which Amber is crazy about. Back home to pack it all up or rather to jam everything in the suitcases and then the evening was finished with a lovely barbecue. Oh Wylie, I wish we'd all had another day together at least, there was so much more to do and see and talk about.
We tumbled into bed around midnight that night as we were getting up at 4.30am. Wylie had borrowed her boss' car and they drove us to the airport at that crazy hour in the morning. So kind........ thank you so much Wylie and Matt it was lovely staying with you. We enjoyed your company so much and you really spoiled us.
So that was it - the trip in a nutshell. You can see why I was so sad on the plane back and why I found it hard to settle back for ages. We really did have the trip of a lifetime and we will all be talking about it for many years I reckon. The hardest thing for me was getting to know everyone and then saying goodbye. I made such lovely friends and I wish I could see you all again soon.
We loved America and the Americans we met - everyone was so friendly to us even the man on the street. We loved the sense of space too and nearly empty motorways. We loved the clapboard houses and the water everywhere that you could just dip into to cool off. I loved the choice and am very envious of what is available to crafters out there and the prices too. We definately plan to go back sometime. Meanwhile, we're making plans in our heads of where we'll take all our friends when they come and visit us next year.
Before I go here are some pics of me and some of my friends. I figure after sticking with me for a year you ought to really see what I look like!
From top left: me and Jodi, me, Kristin and Julia, me and Sarah and finally me and Wylie. Apologies to the other ladies as some of the pics were just too blurred to put up.
A footnote to say goodbye for a week as we're off to Wales with my sister. Pretty timely this trip because our garden is like this at the moment:
We're having it levelled, a porch built (that's an English porch) and the stable in the background done up before it falls down. More on all that when I get back ...................