Los Angeles. The city of opportunity, eternal sunshine and just a little haze, and most importantly for us, it is where Al (Lucy’s brother) lives, with Liz and thrir children Jack and Bella.
It is wonderful to be here for a number of reasons. First, the obvious, seeing the family and spending time with them. The climate is a relief after Mexico, where the humidity compounds the heat and 32 degrees feels like 37 degrees. LA has had a heatwave but it has passed now, and at midday on Sunday it is ~25 degrees. We are in Venice, a historically trendy area of LA, the mischievous little brother (or sister) to Santa Monica, and now it is very ‘hipster’ with beards, tattoos, skinny lattes and lots of specialist food shops. It has style and some of the best graffiti you’ll find.
The pleasure of being semi-tourists is that we can be more relaxed and we are stewarded by experts and not a guide book.
Old friends – Christine and Richard
For weeks the girls have been talking about arriving in LA so they can see Christine, their old nanny who helped look after the girls for almost four years in Oxford. Her husband Richard was doing a PhD in Oxford and we were lucky enough to get to know them both. A big talent with piano, drawing and cooking, not to mention looking after young children, Christine was amazing – and still is. They came for lunch and we all loved seeing them.
The Santa Monica Steps
Everyone is fit in LA, right? Driving around there are as many yoga gyms as there are fast food outlets, and everyone seems to be running or cycling or spinning. Al and Bella take me to the Steps, which are 150 steps in Santa Monica canyon. They have become a natural work out point and full of sweaty people walking and running up them, down again, then up again. A free gym, in the shade and in your own time. It is busy but it still feels like a local’s secret and a very LA experience. One woman is going up the stairs backwards, while listening to her phone….and carrying weights. A couple of guys have their small kids with them, ordering them to ‘START RUNNING’ when they slow down. A number of people bring weights to lift at the top of each repetition. Another man does press-ups on the kerb. Guys with too many muscles find the cardio workout tough. No-one talks, it is far too difficult. I try and keep up with Bella and we do 7 ups and downs.
Cycling up to the Nike Observation point
I meet Seb, a friend of a friend, and we head off cycling. After a while he suggests some off road and before I know it we are climbing on a gravel path up to 2000 feet above sea level up to the Nike Missile Observation Point. It was a look out point from the 1950s to the 1970s, specifically for Russian missiles. This seems archaic now but there was a system of defensive towers built for LA. See more here. Now it gives a 360 view with Santa Monica to the south west and the San Fernando valley to the north. One of the magical aspects to Los Angeles is how quickly you can leave the city to be in proper countryside, and the Santa Monica mountains are literally next door to the city.
From walking in the Venice canals to swimming at the beach, to watching Al’s talented niece Francesca play guitar and sing at the Farmer’s market, it has been a pleasure just hanging out here in LA.