Playa Del Rey
our first full day in California! We took a walk to the beach then back to our friend Brian´s for catch up on movies we've missed while living in Italy
FYI- This is most of what we did while home in California! You may choose to read on or scroll down through photos of interest! CHEERS!
Last few days in England
My nephew Cesar's 16th birthday
We had planned a night out with Gerard - the younger of the Blair brothers. Gerard came over to the house, we probably were watching the telly, next thing we know the know family decide to come along too. We had a fun night… At first we thought the local pub might be worth a try - then we entered and basically about faced (as diplomatically as possible) and
went to Thatchers on the local high street - calling it a night after four rounds of drinks as we had an early start in the morning.
Friday- 3rd March 2006
We headed back north to London town to celebrate Louise Salkow’s birthday followed by dinner at an Indian fusion place in Soho - dinner was delish and spicy hot.
The next morning we met Matt Turner at Bar Soho in Camden and were joined by Louise and her boyf Sam who would be leaving
for India on the same morning we were to leave for California. We had a dinner date with friends in Brixton - Jon, Liz and their young son
Benjamin - Omri joined us for dinner, it was yummy!
After breakfast we headed for the tube to catch a train back to Pompey - we had dinner with the family at home.
WEEK 1 CALIFORNIA
Monday - 6 March A TRAVEL DAY!
Left the house around 615 am and got the National Express to Heathrow; got on the plane only to wait three hours before taking flight! Leaving at about 330 pm UK time, arriving in LAX around 645 pm Pacific time. Brian Ball and Jill met us at the airport and as we were tired they picked up tacos for dinner in, which was high on the list of things to eat while home!
Slept in a bit - then went for a walk in the neighborhood. This first week was a bit of a drag
as I wasn’t well - so I saw my doc on Thursday before on Friday we finally took a bus/train combo from Los Angeles Union Station north
both Sean and I REALLY enjoyed driving this work truck around the valley. Having no power stearing and all.
to Fresno - again met by friendly faces, this time belonging to my brother Marty and his kids Alessandra and Andreas. Marty and Melissa (his wife) let us have their home as our homebase during our time in California. MUCHAS GRACIAS!
Sat 11 March was my elder sister’s birthday - Angela dropped by at Marty’s house after her night out with her family. Sean and I were pretty tired so we called it a night pretty early. On Sunday we went to my Mom’s place to catch up with everyone and enjoy a BBQ!
We went jogging around the estate my bro lives in - it’s called Quail Lake - which has these ginormous homes within its walls. It was also our nephew Eric’s 12th birthday and he played his trombone for us - even though I love music I haven’t managed to learn an instrument, so I love the fact that Eric is so gifted at it. Keep up the practice! Pretty much the rest of the week was us going between relatives’ homes so that meant a lot of driving - we were tired every evening. Seems everyone was though… most of my family
Mama and me...
Antonia is my mama's name this is our day on the mt. the snow was great!
are either out the door or up
by 7am which was when we’d get up to jog round the estate. The only other people we ever came across at the beginning were commuters speeding off to the nearest Starbucks before work!
We went to the movies to see Shaggy Dog and the Hills Have Eyes - splitting the group. Sean went with the adults to the gross horror film and I went with my nephews to see Shaggy Dog. It was fun but the originals are a lot better.
Sunday 19 March
Sean found a point of interest we went to check out but first we had to take our work truck home to Mom’s so we could use her car for the trip up the mountain and have my nephew Eric join us for the day. We stopped at the museum prior to the Indian Casino then went up past Oakhurst to get to the site we were in search of… It was an Indian sweatlodge - a sacred
place of worship for a local tribe - which turned out to be closed but it didn’t stop Sean and Eric jumping the fence to get a better
Mati and Sean
buying pink oranges on the honour system. Appa
We went back to Oakhurst, found the local bowling lanes - I´ve been wanting to bowl for ages because it´s FUN! - All lanes were taken though, so we did the next best thing, going on the arcades - pinball, airhockey and that dancing one where you jump, jump, jump around!
On the way back to Reedley we stopped at a tiny bookstore and bought a couple of books for two of our nephews.
Monday was a day with my Mom - we had fun: she took us to lunch at Chittanci casino, which we had driven past the previous day, it had a great buffet and beautiful views of the Sierras. After lunch we tried our luck on the slots; at first my limit was to lose up to 20 dollars but in the end I lost closer to 60. I needed to leave before I went through more money...
It began snowing, snowing huge great pretty flakes of snow and we were covered by the time we got to the car. We headed back to the valley floor because we feared getting snowed in with all those slot machines, not to mention ALL YOU CAN
Daddy , me and Grandma
Antonio my daddy, me and grandma - daddy is 72 and looking great while grandma at 92 seems to be busier than most decades younger than her! She seemed to be out doing things most days we dropped in to visit with her and the rest of the family
The remainder of the week we spent visiting folks, getting to the library or Kinkos for Internet
access and had lunch with my younger sister Mati, plus dinner at Angela´s, my elder sister, and her family.
On Saturday 25th March we started our road trip and drove to San Francisco. Arriving in the city by the bay around midday Sean navigated us to Pier 34 where we spent the afternoon and had some good pizza... We attempted to catch a ferry to Alcatraz but everyone was
dying to break into that place... We´d arranged to meet with Chris and Susan Ross (friends up in Petaluma) in the evening, meeting up in San Rafael for a Thai dinner. After dinner Chris showed us to his place of work which really isn´t in a traditional sense - it´s this huge open space of creatives, loads of toys, video games and original artwork at every desk. Chris
works in the development of video games - his office is part of an old converted air base. Very cool. At breakfast with the Ross's on Sunday we got to see some of Susan´s playful creations, she designs children´s toys. Ultra cool too...
Eric and Mati
on Eric's 12th birthday - CHOCOLATE CAKE!
and she made us German pancakes, yum yum! By mid morning it was time to head South again but first we made a pit stop at the
latest gallery in San Fran, the De Young in Golden Gate Park.
It looks a bit like a beached aircraft carrier, but has some cool stuff and a great observation deck. The main exhibit was on the Arts and Crafts Movement; stained glass, furniture, and tapestries - worth a visit.
Sean and I split a sandwich picnic sitting on the lawn of the gallery cafe in the sun, then walking back to the car we called Chris Bates to arrange a meeting in Palo Alto. Eventually I get through and we arrange to meet in front of Borders, grabbing late lunch at a diner. It was fun catching up and hanging out, unfortunately we had to get back on the road. Chris is doing great and told us that Joey (for those who know him) is a new Pop - congrats! By the way Chris is like six foot four so don't let the photo fool you- he's one of my best friends. He's doing his music awesome guitarist ...
R hill - we again attempted to get to the R on the hill near my mom´'s place but unlike England there is no right of passage ALL the property around the hill is private with big NO Trespassing signs. Even the US Gov't won´t let you walk along the canal as it is US property! Aparently the sentence for trespassing on gov't property is about 2.5 years in jail.
We spent the night in Pismo Beach, woke up with a view of the Pacific and went for a walk along the beach - there were quite a few surfers in the water - then got back in the Cruiser for our next destination Santa Barbara. We had lunch in La Salsa and had the best fish tacos which were high on the list of things to eat while we were in Cali. Stopped by the Arlington to
say hello to Lula, Clay and Karen - it was a quick hello in passing knowing we´d be back on
Thursday. We stopped at the lab at Sansum to have a few tubes of blood drawn as I had a checkup with my oncologist on Thursday.
That evening we went to Brian´s again, and had buckets of pop-corn while watching V for Vendetta: I liked, Brian thought it was alright, Sean (being a fan of the graph nov) didn´t think much of it. And after discussing it on the way he´s right - it varied a bit from the comic and they added a few significant plotholes.
Tuesday went to another friend´s in Santa Monica to catch up with a
he's a good ole boy
driv'n round in the pickup truck - I was being a total side-seat driver !! (very bad of me I know but most people would agree that i'm an awful backseat driver! ;-)
friend then headed to the Getty Museum for the afternoon - it was a very wet day in La la land and we had a lot of fun running between exhibits buildings under the protection of our biege umbrealls, an artistic statement in themselves provided compliments of the Getty! Down the monorail to the underground car park (which at first I thought was a multistorey car park - never mind...) Next destination the Bruces´ home in Sherman Oaks. Donald is an old friend of ours. We met back at UCSB and Sean and he both attended St Andrews University in Scotland. Donald and (mostly) his wife Candace made a very tasty pasta with shrimp with a vinagrette called Modena from the cinque terra Italy. Sean and me didn´t quite make it there ( cinque terra, that is ) during our time in Frascati. Prior to arriving though we had gone to Starbucks. The downpour was so great we thought we´d be taken by the currents of the overflowing gutters - it looked like rising rivers!
The following day we stopped in on the Gifford family in Los Angeles then later had dinner at the Greene's home in SB Melinda
Palms leading to a ranch home just outside of Reedley growing next to a vineyard
prepared a wonderful meal - she's is an excellent cook. Justin and Melinda have a dog called Tango, a cat called white cat, and a new bunny which I can't recall his name very sweet and nice. I thought Tango looked huge compared to the last time I saw him but apparently he hasn't been to the doggy barber in a while. We had a great time with Justin, Melinda and Luis y Jennifer.
The following day we went to visit the Rojo famiy which was my adopted family while living in SB. Frank, Luanna's pop, loaded us up with essentials for our first aid kit! It been SOO helpful - Thanks. Later their was a BBQ at Luis and Jennifer's and considering that neiter of them are eating meat at the moment - it's a strong will that can BBQ and not give in to tasty grilled burgers. Thanks for the grub and a place to crash while visiting SB -- plan to see you in December! As we wanted to make our way back to Clovis we said our good byes until the next time...
We set off on the road to Bakersfield to meet Marcus
the canal - US property - basically stay out...
Ball. We arrived late because as Sean was driving and I took directions and having no sense of direction we got very LOST arriving at midnight instread of eleven. Anyhow we made the best of it Marcus took us out to the local English pub which is anything but just owned by an English bloke who happened to be from South Hampton, go figure small world! We had Italian lunch at a very popular place with Martha Ball and then back to the house to catch up on just about everything with Jim, too.
The last weekend I spent between Mom's and Grandma's with Nicholas Swartz 4th birthday party at the Nelson home which was great fun because we had rocket launches !!! - we had a fab time in Cali and I miss everyone soo much. Hope to spend more time with everyone on our next trip to california.
I only wish I had time to see everyone but California is just to darn big a state! We or at least I was so drained leaving the West coast (ie friends and Family) Bacio a tutti !
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