La La Land revisited

Two years ago my dearest friend, her husband (also my dear friend, Nicky) and their 4 month old baby girl upped sticks and head off to start a new life in LA – extremely selfish I hear you cry, my thoughts exactly – how dare they leave London (leave me more to the point) and head off to a land where people don’t age (physically at least), the sun always seems to shine, frozen yogurt is on tap and celebrities & Scientologists gather in equal measure.

“I love Los Angeles. I love Hollywood. They’re beautiful. Everybody’s plastic, but I love plastic. I want to be plastic.” Andy Warhol

At school both our families lived overseas so we spent many happy summers in America with her parents driving down to the Jersey Shore from NYC, where we would live out all our teenage angst to the dulcet tones of Green Day, Ben Folds Five, Third Eye Blind etc –  my diaries of those summers make me smile and cringe in equal measure. So it is without question that when the move to LA came that I was plotting my first trip out there.

The trip came last July. When they initially moved I had my own newborn and we had just moved house while we were renovating. I bided my time and pitched the holiday to Brute only to be told he didn’t have enough holiday time and needed to train for his mammoth bike ride across the mountains of Europe. There was only one thing for it, go solo, with the kids…easy!

The strange thing was that whenever I told people in my over excitement, they seemed to give me a look of excitement mixed with confusion and possibly fear.

“You’re travelling to LA by yourself with a 3.5 yr old and 1.5 yr old”?

“Sure! I mean how hard can it be” I’m not the kind of person that gives myself too long to think about these things, I tend to go with the ‘it’ll be fine’ approach and then I find it generally is, I don’t research, ask too many questions or do anything that could put me off and on this occasion it was for the best…

Loaded into the cab we headed for Gatwick, smooth sailing so far. Exit cab, hmmm no trolleys, throw a child under each arm, leave luggage on the pavement and run a good 300 meters to the nearest trolley to find that you have to put £1in the damn thing to use it!! Obviously I have not one piece of shrapnel in my wallet other than the usual couple of 2p, 1p and a few random euro. Borrow £1 from some unsuspecting holiday maker, load up and start the roughly 100 mile walk to the check in desk one hand pushing a loaded up trolley and the other pushing a loaded up double buggy. Major crashes avoided, luggage dropped, security passed we made our way to the gate and I may have blacked things out but we got onto the plane.

I was ready for Rex to sit happily for a few hours watching movies and then calmly fall asleep and prepared to do a bit of pacing of the aisles until stella did the same. Incase you’re wondering, that’s not what happened. Instead I had made the fatal error of booking an outward bound flight at 2pm in the afternoon so both children had gone entirely feral being confined to a small space. I glanced across at my neighbour, praying that he would have mercy on me, he was a young musician with a bobbed haircut who was clearly leaving a loved one back in London as he said over and over on the phone before takeoff in a very delicate Australian accent how much he loved this person whilst my children screamed and bashed their feet on the windows and kicked the chairs in front of me and I swore intensely under my breath and attempted to pin them to their shared chair. The last hurrah was when I called the air hostess for an emergency large glass of wine which, after a second of it being placed down on my tray one of the children smacked their hand down on the table and the whole glass ended up on my neighbours lap without so much of a sip of it entering my mouth…I won’t go into detail, but he was the kindest stranger I have ever come across, no stress and offered me another wine – an angel in indie band clothing.

Feral for the first 5 hours, passed out for the last 6…I don’t need to say which half of the journey was preferable.

 

The most important thing is, we made it and from then on it was the most wonderful trip – we staggered out of LAX which must be the worst organised most stressful airport on the planet and into the arms of my dear friend, Koz – it was the evening in LA and we were smelly and tired and broken but we were also overexcited, Koz and I particularly so. We cracked open the wine immediately, put the kids to bed and next thing I know I woke up in my underwear on my bed, it was the next morning and my head was beating…testament to the fact that we shouldn’t be separated for long periods of time.

I’ve been to LA a couple of times before, but not as a mother, and it did not disappoint, particularly as they had based themselves in the gorgeous Santa Monica area of LA. They definitely have the weather on their side so we went to the beach almost daily (closest being a ten minute drive from the house), or to the many splash pads that they have around the city to help cool down from the mid summer heat.

Then when you’re suitably tired, hot and bothered there are frozen yogurt places almost everywhere you look and they are the best –  for some ungodly reason we don’t seem to pay homage to the frozen yogurt like the Americans do. Everything is bigger in America and their idea of a selection of frozen yogurt toppings is a full on pick n mix sensation and though the connotation of frozen yogurt makes one think of health and wellness if you’re anything like me your toppings to yogurt ratio is going to weigh heavily in on the side of toppings!

 

 

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hardly visible Fro Yo smothered by sweets & choc = perfect

One of my favourite things to discuss  is food and one of my favourite things to do is eat so lets do more of that –  my gosh does LA do food well – there is an abundance of farmers markets open on the weekends, from the fresh fruit and veg at Brentwood Farmers’ Market to the Smorgasbord in downtown LA there are endless options all super child friendly and a great thing to do and place to grab lunch.

 

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Brentwood Farmers’ Market

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Give them fresh peaches and they will comply

 

 

Photography skills not up to much here – sign flagged by the bins – but you get the gist  – this is the smorgasburg.

Let’s be real though this is a holiday so there needs to be some non child fun too, we learnt early that it does not pay to try and take 3 toddlers out to dinner even if it is early when you want to relax and have a drink…on night 3 we went down to the famous Gjelina on Abbot Kinney, I mean the food is major but my god did my two make a scene, made worse by the fact that darling little Zoe behaved like an angel the whole time while my two took in turns to see who could scream the loudest. Deciding that we probably needed to order quickly and get them fed and home the almost unbearably hipster waiter/struggling actor sauntered over and when asked if he could recommend some options “no, no its impossible for me to do that, you need to just go with what you feel” …I mean are you KIDDING ME – glances shot round the table between us as we bit our tongues in equal measure – could he not see the tension in my face, could he not see the desperate looks of the other diners, willing us to eat and get out as quickly as possible so they could enjoy their evenings in peace! When we eventually got our food, the madness was at an all time high with us taking it in turns to take Rex and Stella outside to blow off some steam. Needless to say we bailed with food in hand back to the safety of home.

BUT we had some fabulous meals without them too – Sitting outside on the rooftop at Margot in Culver City offering the best of Mediterranean coastal food. Yours Truly  on Abbot Kinney in Venice, a girls night out in West Hollywood at E.P and L.P and obviously you can’t go to LA without a long boozy lunch at Nobu Malibu. There are so many great places, there is no real public transport though so you’re gonna have to flex that Uber account.

 

Nobu Malibu showing off

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Not at all thrilled to be having a child free Boozy lunch 

Sitting here after 100 days of Lockdown in London and reminiscing about being in LA this time last year is almost torture and I feel like I could really ramble on, but everyday was happiness, it really was. There was never pressure to do anything, but so many easy and fun things to do for us and the kids, cruising down to the beach and not just local ones, we also went down to Manhattan Beach to see some other dear friends that have moved back to LA from London which is beautiful. Or just sitting in the garden with the giant paddling pool (and a glass of cold rose). Going to the incredible Cayton children museum or even watching the LA philharmonic warm up at the Hollywood Bowl, well that is until you are ushered out due to slightly over excited small people who don’t adhere to rules or noise levels.

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Hollywood Bowl

 

Not just any old cafe or Fire engine – its all part of the magic of the Cayton Childrens Museum.

 

When you think LA any honest human will wonder if they’ll spot a celeb – I  mean i’m not afraid to say my eyes are peeled as soon as I got off the plane, will I see the Hadid sisters sauntering through the airport (ideally not, I’m not sure my mental state could handle that). Or god forbid Jen Anniston on her daily hike, I would likely drop dead on the spot. But you know who we did see and who rocked my world…Henry Winkler, I mean obviously it wasn’t the spot I thought I would get but hey who didn’t love Happy Days!!! Just wandering around the Brentwood Country Mart with his wife, daughter and grandchild  – his wife, walked past Koz and I and said “you have your hands full!” but not in a snarky way, but a knowing way and It cemented our love for them.

So if you couldn’t tell already, the trip was the biggest of successes, it was just all happiness and sorry (not sorry) for sounding so gushy, but hey you have to tell it as it is. On our last full day, we booked in Koz’s baby sitters to look after the children and we went shopping…and had the most bizarre encounter, I can’t remember the name of the shop but it had lots of gorgeous over priced clothes and we were just mooching when this quite over zealous attendant came over to see if we needed anything, she then kept coming back to check we were ok (every Brits worst nightmare, right?) and upon realising we were both English she then out of nowhere said “R-I-P Princess Diana, I’m so sorry for your loss” to which we both sort of nodded and in our awkward British way muttered something like “yes it was very sad” she then proceeded to go off on a tangent about conspiracy theory’s surrounding her death as if it happened last week. Bear in mind this lady was no more than late 20’s (and was likely was on a come down from the night before) and when I say she went off on a tangent, I mean it, she went on and on and when she eventually stopped so we could shop, when we saw her again she would say again “I just wanted to say again, that I’m sorry for your loss & RIP Princess Diana” at which point we just grabbed some over priced clothes for the kids, paid and fled before bursting into hysterical laughter. No better way to leave La La Land hey.

The only thing missing from this trip was Brute, but that gives us even more reason to head back there when all this chaos is over and who knows maybe by the there might be a new president there…one can but hope!

There are too many special moments and memories so I made a little video compilation below instead, enjoy 🙂

 

 

 

Return to the White Isle

This post has taken rather longer than I hope to get out, so apologies – This is mainly due to the surrounding teething issues, potty training issues, weening issues and lack of food issues (that’s me not the children, I’m on a desperate diet and all I can think of is the enormous box of maltesers in the fridge). This morning after week 1 of trying to work out and be good I weighed myself and have put on 1kg – ‘That alway’s happens when you first start properly training again, its water retention and the muscles getting swollen” I love my husband for knowing that unless I hear this, I will throw the scales at the mirror, storm to the kitchen, throw open the fridge and eat all the maltesers cause who bloody cares away way if the scales are going to be such bastards to me all the time. This is the worst time post baby, the last stone, it is as stubborn as a mule & refuses to remove itself from my body.

Anyway, since we last spoke, which was back in March when things had been a bit testing with Rex and we were all over the place and juggling more balls than the most professional of clowns. We are now back in London (thank god), the house is finished (this phase anyway) and we have treated ourselves to a few trips away. My god the difference it makes being back home is immeasurable, we are like those robot people in Westworld who get shot 500 times and then get taken back to the lab, reprogrammed and sent back out into the world good as new (ready to be shot all over again) – in fact that link I’ve embedded pretty much describes how we felt. So after a fabulous family  trip to Australia the time came for my annual girls trip to Ibiza.

A few days of full on hedonism, wild all night parties leading on to all day beach parties…is perhaps what me 10 years ago was capable of. Though we did plan for one blow out night, super club night out and my friend Caroline had even gone as far as to tap her brother up for the full VIP treatment, but when the time came for us to don our glittery bras and gold hot pants a vision of my 10am flight home for fathers day on Sunday having had 1 hour of sleep all but stopped me in my tracks – lame I know, but I’m not 20 anymore and thats ok. Other than that slightly unrealistic attempt at going BIG, we thrived on a more relaxed Ibiza this year, wonderful beach clubs and fabulous boozy dinners.

My sister and I flew out a day early, She hadn’t been to Ibiza before so I was keen to have a bit of hang time just us. An Ibiza holiday begins really before you even get there, the night flight on easy jet is almost legendary, its people watching at its best. The troops of hen dos and stag do’s, the groups of young guys and girls just out of school and impatient to dive into the San Antonio revelry. The glamorous fashion types, whose ‘flight wear’ is pristine and whose new season Chloe sunnies are on from dusk till dawn. It’s a veritable feast for the eyes. I was sat next to two boys (I say boys they were about 19/20), definite Ibiza virgins and visibly shaking with excitement, heavy dance music blaring out of their headphones, with 2 cans of strawberry flavoured cider each placed carefully on their tray table, you could tell they were gearing up for the holiday of their dreams. That is until we came into some turbulants and one of the boys began desperately clinging to the chair in front, his knuckles going whiter and whiter, tears welling up in his eyes, his skin sheet white – he was certain that we were about crash, convinced that Ibiza would be a dream he never realised. Poor chap, once the plane calmed down he was hit with his second blow when he released his friend had been texting with a girl already out in Ibiza and was planning on going straight to meet her when he got there. I thought of him at one point during our trip and wondered if he’d managed to get out of his trip everything he had wanted to, I genuinely hope so.

The first day we decided to relax by the pool of our hotel and recover from our late arrival. We grabbed some drinks at a bar next to our hotel Xaxa Restaurant as the sun went down and then headed off to a restaurant my dear friend Craig had suggested.

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wonky glasses and all

 

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The view from the bar

One tip for travelling in Ibiza is that you can never guarantee getting a taxi when you want one. There is one taxi company that services the island on one radio so if its busy you could be waiting hours (its happened to me on a few occasions) so book one for earlier than you need.

Es Torrent is totally off the beaten track, Its located in a secluded bay and is beautiful and peaceful, the perfect place for a relaxing dinner with the very freshest and best seafood you could ask for. I had to order the fish when I booked the table so went with the whole seabass and fresh prawns which didn’t disappoint. Most people frequent Es Torrent in the day time when you can also spend the day on the beach. But the evening is stunning, its quiet and the stars are amazing.

There were two super yachts moored in the bay, the owners of one of the boats were at the restaurant with us. The other one lay quietly in the darkness until a speedboat attached to the main boat sped to shore with a long haired man aboard who on arrival, jumped ashore and met a white range rover with tinted windows in the car park for about 5 minutes before scuttling back to the speed boat and whizzing off – you can make your own assumptions about what he was up to on his quick trip ashore.

The restaurant isn’t cheap, we paid 250 Euro for two people which included only one bottle of wine, it was worth it though and I would certainly go again.

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The beach at Es Torrent

 

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We met my friends Charlotte and Caroline at breakfast the next day – I had made the fatal error of having fruit from the buffet breakfast the day before and so was suffering the consequences with a pretty dodgy tummy, though was also weirdly pleased about this, every little helps when trying to shift that last bloody stone particularly when  you’re she purpose was to eat and drink for four days straight.

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The girls had rented us a car which was handy in the day time when getting to beach clubs – we didn’t have a booking for our first day so once we had finished annoying the reception staff by moving rooms for the second time we hopped in the jeep and cruised down to the area around Blue Marlin to check out the options and quickly settled on Tropicana Beach Club. None of us had been before and we were all pretty bloody impressed. The clientele was a slightly older generation so we obviously felt like total babes, that is until two ludicrous looking ( by that I mean gorgeous) dutch bronzed bombshells came and sat right behind us and whilst we carefully ordered salads for our lunch they sat munching on amazing looking pastas with the calories seemingly vanishing as they were consumed (probably launching themselves onto me, never to leave again).

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OK, I know I said we had salads, but we also had chips…and Jamon…don’t judge

The beauty of Cala Tarida is that the bars/restaurants on the coast there get the best sunsets, so once we were back from the beach, we showered, changed and walked down to the Cotton Club which was a 10 minute stroll from our hotel. You can have drinks perched above the restaurant to watch the sun go down before going down for supper.

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To mix the good with the bad, the annoying thing about this part of town is that there is nowhere that’s particularly near that you can go after dinner, so once you’re a few bottles of rose down and ready to start the party you’re stopped in your tracks and have to either schlep into town or pop next door for an espresso martini for the road.

 

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Look at us, ready and eager to take on the town, only to be faced with closed doors

Note to the wise, if you don’t drink coffee, don’t suddenly try and get with the kids and drink espresso martinis, it doesn’t end well, it ends with not a single ounce of sleep (I realise how lame that may sound given where we are).

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The devils drink

 

Turns out I wasn’t the only one that didn’t sleep, It’s a funny thing, we are always so excited to get away from it all and just have some girl time etc and as mothers we are all in one way or another quite sleep deprived. But once you get there, desperate for a bit of shut eye, a snooze, napping, deep deep slumber, it suddenly seems unable to come. where as at home sometimes I think that if I put my head even near a pillow I would pass straight out and not wake up till several days later. I guess you need a bit more time to adjust to being away from the little rogues, but then we’d miss them too much – I think next time i’ll just take sleeping pills.

So on little sleep we headed to El Chiringuito which while it probably doesn’t have the best beach (it’s not great for swimming) – the restaurant itself is mega and such a treat, it’s the kind of place you could happily while away the hours drinking bottle after bottle of rose, plus they do a superb bowl of fries. After soaking up every last ounce of sun we could possibly get along with some exceptional people watching under our belts we headed back to get ready for the evening.

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OK, so I get the beach isn’t exactly bad, but that’s how spoilt you are in Ibiza.

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Ok, perhaps I should take it back about the beach.

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Restaurant of dreams

The evening took us to a fab find – Patchwork at Sa Punta  They filled us with Incredible sharing platters of Lebanese food, great music, cocktails and endless bottles of rose. It’s also not too far from Destino as our taxi driver pointed out to us, not realising we had moments earlier cancelled our guest list access to Pacha in favour of a boozy dinner and bed – know your audience Mr taxi driver!

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I mean look at that view

the evening was fabulous. It was the greatest way to end a holiday –  happy, healthy, tanned, full of good food and probably far too many bottles of wine and with the greatest of girl gangs.

One key ‘high’ of the evening was spotting two older gents (by older, I mean they were well into their 60’s) having massages as the dinner table, they had obviously indulged in more than just a cocktail or too and so we watched while their eyeballs all but rolled into the backs of their heads, then upon leaving the restaurant they approached us and asked which club we were off to as they would share a taxi (they looked totally flummoxed when we said we were off home) it turned out they hadn’t slept in 2 days and were pushing for a 3rd as were off home to Paris the following day…oh Ibiza, how I love you – until next year!

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Girl Gang at Patchwork.

 

 

 

 

 

BABY ON BOARD

I’m on the home straight now with my pregnancy (as opposed to life in general I hope) In fact I am on maternity leave officially from 6pm this Friday – It seems strange to say your going on maternity leave when you only work 1 day a week, but having said that I more or less work all the hours that rex is at nursery so I’m not hanging out watching Escape to the Country all day – though my god I would love to do that. Normally all my work is done from home, but recently I have been travelling into town on one morning a week and what that has reminded me of is the good old London Commute and how much I bloody hate it.

The thing is everyone hates the rush hour commute don’t they, no one wants to be shoved like sardines into a metal box with coffee breath and smelly armpits shoved in your face, but that’s life. What does drive me slightly nuts though is the zombie like nature of people on the tube sometimes. Last week at 34 weeks pregnant I had to go into town at rush hour, so for the first time in two pregnancies I pinned on my ‘Baby on Board’ badge and waddled to the tube station. As presumed the station was pretty full and the trains arriving were much the same, but I got onto the tube with my badge glaring at the members of the public in front of me. Having not worn said badge before I sort of assumed it would be akin to wearing a flashing siren with a tannoy demanding that people immediately move and vacate their seats for me. However this was far from the case instead I got eyes firmly placed in phones as if glued to the screen and unable to look anywhere else. The other thing I noticed was the the awkward side glances, quickly looking up or across at me, and quickly looking away. I get that no-one wants to have to give up their seat at rush hour, and honestly If I hadn’t been in my third trimester and suffering from pretty bad Pelvic pain I wouldn’t have been too bothered, as I said before this was the first time I had worn my badge in two pregnancy’s.

I know people will be thinking, why didn’t you just say something? Ask someone to politely give up their seat for you? Well the answer is, I totally could have and on my way home I gently locked eyes with someone and in my terribly British way apologised profusely whilst asking if I might possibly bother him for his seat. He duly got up without making eye contact at all which perhaps was for the best. But on the way into town that morning as my blood pressure was rising I thought I would just stand there and see what happened, a little experiment shall we say. I counted that in each seating compartment there were 12 seats so in each carriage were were 24 plus the areas by the door where they have those padded bench things you can at least lean against. What struck me the most was that in the 24 seats that were in my carriage, ALL 24 people occupying those seats were on their phones, and I don’t mean listening to music but with eyes at least up and aware. No they were all face down in their phones, probably watching you tube clips of cute puppies dressed up as Santa (we’re all guilty) or watching the latest Netflix drama. I don’t know exactly why it pissed me off so much, but it really did (It’s lucky I didn’t have rex with me too or it may have tipped me over the edge.). I’m fairly sure most people get home from work and watch plenty of crap on TV (I know I do) so why do we need to spend every moment of unoccupied time watching a screen also? In an environment where you’re with other members of the public isn’t it nice to be a bit more aware of your surroundings?

I’m sure many of you have seen this animation by Steve Cutts, I fear it rings more true with every passing year.

 

I am just as guilty as the next person of spending too much time on my phone, but it is something I am acutely aware of, infact I wrote about it before in a previous blog Unsocial Media but I do try and stay off it in public, unless I’m listening to music or boring friends with another picture of Rex or Tony.

I digress, I have spoken to various friends about this, both female and male and I totally take on board that if someone isn’t wearing a badge when pregnant and on public transport there is most definitely that stressful feeling of ‘is she or isn’t she?’ People can’t be expected to guess and risk mortifyingly offending someone on their post christmas diet. I did that very thing about a year ago, a lady got on who was not at all big but had a round tummy which made me think she was pregnant, my instinct though was to immediately stand and offer her my seat. She then took on the terribly British role of apologising TO ME and saying she wasn’t in fact pregnant but had just had her baby a week ago and so had the postpartum tummy, I died inside, but she instantly, upon seeing my cheeks flush, said she was grateful for the offer anyway.

So what is the answer, I think it’s quite simple really. If you are pregnant and know you will need/want to sit down on public transport wear that badge and wear it in pride of place so it can’t be missed, it’s only fair. Failing that I’m afraid you might have to muster the courage to ask for a seat (though I hope you would be spotted first). Members of the public who aren’t pregnant/disabled/elderly, be aware, pull your eyes up and off your phone every so often to check the people around you, if it looks like someone is less able to stand than you then get off your backside and make room for them. Simples!

Please do leave a comment if you agree, disagree entirely, or have your own story to share, I’m open to all 🙂 xx

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I might need a bigger badge…

There is Power in Positivity – 2nd Trimester Feels

 

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One Multi Tasking Mummy

 

Ciao Italia!

There is nothing quite like the feeling of booking a holiday, all the promise it holds, the rest and relaxation, good food, hopefully even a bit of sun. So when our friends told us they were off to Italy for a week and asked us to join, it took approximately 0.1 seconds to think it through and click ‘buy’ on our tickets.

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