I last left you in New Zealand: I'm now in the USA! After a 23 hour journey and two 17th Febs (I crossed back over the international date line!), I arrived in Los Angeles where Arabella, one my dad's friends from school days, was waiting for me. Arabella and her family (husband Jan and daughter Ella) have very kindly taken me into their home for 10 days so I have a base from which to explore the “city of Angels”. I was very happy to discover that, as well as owning 10 horses, this household has 3 dogs and 3 cats, all of which are lovable, affectionate and friendly! I've been loving the fact that, every time I sit down, I will either find a loudly purring cat creeping onto my lap or a dog resting their head on my knee!
Buddy, Jake, Freedom and Scout
I am slightly skipping ahead if myself, of course, as I had a full week left in Auckland when I last wrote. As I had been in Auckland for a fair length of time, I wasn't rushing around ticking everything off my to do list any longer; in fact, I took the opportunity to relax and have some downtime. It's surprisingly tiring to be on the go for so many months.
I did, however, spend some lovely time with Caitlin (new cousin-in-law!) and her friend from home, Sheree, and something that really sticks in my mind was our Valentine's Day where the three of us and Caitlin's friend, Conor, went to a beach during the evening with take-away fish and chips and a bottle of prosecco. It was really rather lovely! It was so accommodating and great of Caitlin and her housemates to put up with me for so long: I really appreciated it!
Arabella, me and Ella.
Fast forward a week and I am on The Prairie Flower Ranch just outside LA, and Arabella and her family are also being wonderful and welcoming! I was taken on my first “western style” horse ride the other day and, I am ashamed to say, I was very nervous! As much as I love riding, I am not fantastically confident and the change from English to Western style riding certainly threw me! I'll just get back into the saddle, as they say, and get the hang of it!
As well as welcoming me into their home, I have also been lent Arabella's Porsche Boxter to drive around town! I have to say, I feel all shades of fancy-pants in it. I feel I should apologise to my car back home for being unfaithful with this nippy little soft top! As the ranch is about 40 minute so outside of Hollywood and Central LA, it is a great help as I can take myself off to do all the naff touristy things without being a drain on the family's day. Yesterday I embarked on my first solo drive into the city and, after a rather stressful journey once off the freeway, found myself cruising down Rodeo Dr. I tried to park the car to go for a walk but, for some reason, my card isn't liked by the card machines over here and I had no coins for the meter. Big mistake: huge! 😉
So, instead, I gawped at the shops as I drove by and then took myself off to the Chinese Theatre and the Walk of Fame. As touristy as it is, I loved it! I even got the frisson of excitement that I get when I'm heading to a Disney theme park. As mum so eloquently put it: “you're certainly a first world girl” …that I am. What can I say? I love this kind of stuff!
Following in the vein of celebrity and movies, today I went to the Sony Pictures studio for a 2 hour tour. I encountered my very first instance of valet parking….and was suitably embarrassed and English about the whole process. I had no idea what the protocol was but I think I muddled my way through it…though goodness knows if the tip I gave was sufficient or wildly excessive.
Who tells you these things?!
Is there a handbook?
We may speak the same language but I do feel like a fish out of water at times over here!
I also drove around aimlessly for a good 20 minutes trying to find said “parking lot” which was not well sign posted at all. Having said that though, getting lost did mean that I stopped at another studio lot's entrance gates to ask directions and had a delightful conversation with the security there who asked me to stay with them instead of doing the tour! I respectfully declined as I didn't want to A.get them in trouble….or B.hang around with two security guards I had just met.
I eventually managed to get myself to the tour (before it had started: phew!) and was led around the sound stages in a group of 15. We saw the sound stages were films as famous as “The Wizard Of Oz” were made! We even saw the tallest sound stage in LA, which had previously been used for “Angels and Demons” (with Tom Hanks) in which they had reconstructed the Sistine Chapel…apparently the pope wasn't too keen on them filming inside the real Vatican City.
I also would have had my first confirmed celeb spotting today had I not been so prompt at following instructions. Our guide called us all together to tell us that there was a 10 minute hiatus during which we could view the gift shop (of course) so, in lieu of anything else to look at, I duly went into the shop. When I emerged some 3 minutes later, another member of the group asked me if I had seen Jack Black walk past “just before we went into the store” ….NO! Rats.
I have an almost chockablock itinerary until Gus arrives in 8 days' time! I am so looking forward to him coming out as, of course, it's been 7 months since I last saw him and, also, this will be the first time we've spent a week just the two of us! Time for some epic sibling bonding! 🙂