I normally dislike LAX because of the hustle and bustle but this has been an unexpected treat. Lots of visuals which are huge and quite spectacular. Well worth arriving early to take it all in. Even better if you can visit the newly vamped airline lounges and enjoy the visuals while sipping some delicious wine and nibbling on canapes. Has been a great trip. We will return soon.
The house, tucked high in the hills in the LaCrescenta area of Los Angeles is full of amazing memorabilia. The husband is retired as a toy designer who used to work for Mattel toys and designed a lot of Barbie toys among others, so there are many interesting old toys on the shelves around the house. However there are also a lot of other unusual pieces such as the phones in every room – which are still functional – which date back many, many years.
I just love admiring their many and varied knick knacks in this very comfortable home.
We have had such a great trip, baby sitting Michael’s new twin grandsons which have been such a joy and visiting great friends in San Francisco and having friends visit us here in LA. We also were lucky enough to be given a VIP invite to the Magic Castle http://www.magiccastle.com where all the members of the Magic Circle hang out for close up Magic and a great night out with dinner and magic galore. Thank you again LA. You never disappoint!
Another side trip by car to San Francisco. We drove there from Los Angeles using the freeway, caught up with old friends sharing many laughs together. We ate on the pier at Scomas, an original and never disappointing fresh seafood restaurant which I can highly recommend if you are in the Bay area www.scomas.com/ . The Bay bridge is magnificent when it is lit up in the evenings, we arrived just before sunset.
We drove back to LA on the ocean road and stoped at the famous Hearst castle, built by William Randolf Hearst the media tycoon. hearstcastle.org/ It is quite an amazing place, steeped in twentieth century history and visited by many of the rich and famous from around the globe in. its heyday. Apart form the castle there are three other “small” houses which are very grand. Well worth a visit, the tour guides are terrific and there is plenty to see and do including walking on the gold leaf mosaics in one of the magnificent swimming pools, and watching a movie in the purpose built theatre Hearst installed in the castle as it was obligatory for guests to view a movie after dinner.
It’s too difficult for me to spend a month in LA without a side trip to Vegas. Normally I fly but this time we drove through the mostly desert to get there. I say we drove but Michael loves to drive so that’s great by me. Amazing few days loving to share my passion for Vegas with Michael. For those who rarely visit, I highly recommend the Fremont St Experience with zip-liners passing above as well as amazing shows. Things really buzz down there. We also took in the Penn and Tellar show up at the Strip at the Rio http://pennandteller.com/tickets/ which did not disappoint and we met both of them after the show which was a bonus. I just had to sample the Cake Boss cakes at The Venetian.
Thanks to the Stratosphere www.stratospherehotel.com/ for once again comp-ing my stay and our yummy meals, especially the Top of the World Dining.
You are the best but for some reason Michael would not ride on the X-Scream, can’t understand why… http://www.stratospherehotel.com/Activities/X-scream.
Well, here I am in USA once again. I don’t spend quite as much time here these days as I used to, but I still love it here.
I always know I am here in the States when I hit the coffee shops and receive refill after refill of coffee. I adore the old and quirky diners. They have so much more character than the more modern shops.
The home exchange house here in Los Angeles is near Pasadena. It is in the area of LaCrescenta and the house is high on a hill near the edge of the mountains which surround Los Angeles.
Montrose is our neighboring village which is full of older type shops including a very old bowling alley which is often used in films to depict that 50s Happy Days type style.
We have just spent a week in the beach resort of Noosa. The Surf lifesavers were out training and volunteering as they do every day, saving lives.Surf Life Saving has touched the lives of millions of people over its 100 year history.
Each year, tens of thousands of lives are saved from tragic drowning incidents. But it’s not only the lives that are saved each year that earn volunteer lifesavers the respect from Australians. The Surf Life Saving patrols have given Australians and fellow tourists a chance to spend many happy holidays relaxing with the knowledge that the highly trained surf lifesavers are close by. Australian beaches have always been a special part of people’s lives.
Children can join as Nippers and learn to life save early. Here is a story of how young Nippers recently saved lives.
Minnie Water-Wooli Surf Life Saving Nippers Cody Hinterholzl and Morgen Parkin were enjoying a post-training surf with their friends at Minnie Water Main Beach on Sunday when they heard a shout for help.Instinct took over and they raced out to two drowning teenagers, Cody yelling instructions to keep calm as he went.Cody, aged 11, reached the most distressed teen and used his board as a barrier so the swimmer would not drown him in a panic. He reassured the teen as he climbed on the board and then paddled him in and lifesavers took over.Morgen, aged 13, reached the swimmer who called out for help and let her float on her board. Lochlan Elward and Morgen’s brother Matt Parkin arrived shortly after to provide support before lifeguards came and took over.Cody’s mother, Angela Hinterholzl, said Cody practiced the rescue twice in training and Morgen was a volunteer lifesaver.“It did not hit us until they got back to the beach, they saved someone,” Mrs Hinterholzl said.The rescue comes in wake of two Sydney Nippers who saved a drowning lady at Pippi Beach on January 10.Lifesavers said the teenager Cody saved was 10 seconds away from drowning.
Morgen’s father, Danny Parkin, said it was important for kids to learn about ocean safety.“All kids should do Nippers so they can learn those skills,” he said.Cody, Morgen, Matt and Lochlan said if you are caught in a rip, don’t panic, swim to the side and out of the rip and get attention.
There are many more stories and information about the Surf Lifesaving at http://www.slsfoundation.com.au/news-releases.aspx
Remember to swim between the flags!
We have just experienced a wonderful home exchange in Adelaide. The house was magnificent, fit for royalty. It is situated in the area of North Haven about 30 minutes from the city centre. The house has its own pontoon and is situated beside the marina, overlooking the Great Southern Ocean. Our hosts kindly invited us to dine with them the first evening there and they showed us how all of their fancy gadgets worked. This was a home with everything and so easy to live in.
Adelaide is also known as the city of churches and it really is a pretty place. www.australia.com/en/places/adelaide.html We enjoyed exploring the local marina area as well as spending time relaxing in the comfort of the exchange house.
Tuesday was Australia Day and we enjoyed the company of neighbours in the open back yard area with the Australian flag proudly flying high. The neighbours were extremely friendly and brought over a bottle of lovely local wine for us to enjoy and share with them.
South Australia is famous for its wineries and we had a terrific time in the Barossa Valley www.barossa.com/ sampling the fruits of various vineyards. We particularly enjoyed the fine wines such as Hill of Grace at the Henschke winery https://henschke.com.au/ and the large variety of wines at the well known Wolf Blass Winery https://www.wolfblass.com/en-au.
We enjoyed roaming through the wonderful fresh food markets in the Adelaide city centre and viewing the magnificent architecture of Adelaide’s many churches, homes and the many stately buildings.
Another great home exchange.
I have had the most enjoyable experience over the last few days. Apart from a magnificent house swap (more about that in a few days time), I have had the opportunity to attend the “Tour Down Under” which is Australia’s premier bicycle race, held annually in Adelaide and recognized as part of the world UCI cycling tour. tourdownunder.com.au/
Adelaide is situated in the state of South Australia, it is on the banks of the Torrens River and if you look at a map of Australia, it is around the middle of the south coast. It is just over 2 hours flying time from Brisbane. www.southaustralia.com/en/places-to-go/adelaide It has been very hot in Adelaide this week, luckily reducing from around 40 degrees C (104F) to an easier 28 degrees C (83F) over the final two days. Adelaide, also known as the city of churches, boasts an unusual time zone. It is half an hour behind Sydney and half an hour ahead of Brisbane.
I have never attended a Tour before and I have loved every moment of it. Cycling is one of the only international sports that spectators can watch free of charge. Adelaide is a lovely city and is surrounded by vineyards and wineries. While the final today was in the city, during the week there were stages in various suburbs and yesterday I watched as they rode from McLaren Vale vineyards mclarenvale.info/ to Willunga Hill. There were an estimated 100,000 of us on Willunga Hill yesterday, yet there seemed to be plenty of space for everyone, and a great fun atmosphere with happy crowds. Similarly there was lots of family fun to be had in the city today, the final of the race.
The city felt very safe and very welcoming for all of the visitors and it was exciting at the end, cheering all the cyclists home, especially the winner, Simon Gerrans, a member of the only Australian international team Green Edge. www.greenedgecycling.com/ Well done Aussies!
As we frequently do, we have opted to spend New Year, and the weeks around it, on the Macleay Island Beach House. www.macleayisland.net/
We are so lucky that we step straight from the garden onto Dalpura beach, the best beach on the island. The Ocean (Pacific) is wonderfully warm at this time of year and a daily swim is a must.
Mike loves to go fishing and crabbing in the local waters. We have already caught many succulent muddies (mudcrabs) and sandies (sandcrabs) this year. In Queensland, unlike in other Australian states, we can only take male crabs and the Jennies have to be thrown back.
Frequent visitors to our deck are many birds, my favourites being the local kookaburras which are large birds and are only found in Australia. Their call is a loud laughing call and when many call together it seems that the world is laughing at us! birdlife.org.au/bird-profile/laughing-kookaburra
They often begin their laughing before dawn and continue at various times throughout the day. They eat reptiles and snakes and any meats, and even if they are eating a piece of bacon rind, they will go through the motions of trying to kill it first by banging it multiple times with its strong beak. Our local birds are very friendly and we can hand feed them.
I enjoy the run-up to Christmas in Brisbane. It is almost oppressively hot at this time of year, but there are lots of events to take our minds off the heat.
While there are many events happening in the suburbs, the city is also full of joy. There are numerous Christmassy events in Queen St Mall, every day. They culminate each evening at 6.30pm, in the Christmas parade. This year’s parade features the song the 12 Days of Christmas, it begins with a child dressed as a partridge in a pear tree, and continues with all of the verses, depicted by people colourfully dressed.
After the song, there are the nativity scene characters featuring three real camels being ridden by wise kings, shepherds herding live sheep, and of course, Mary is riding a donkey, being led by Joseph.
Then there are the Christmas choirs, singing and entertaining us. Santa Claus, of course, makes an appearance with his reindeer, and is followed by a train full of joyful elves. This parade happens every evening from 11 – 23 December.
After the song, there are the nativity scene characters featuring three real camels being ridden by wise kings, shepherds herding live sheep, and of course, Mary is riding a donkey, being led by Joseph. Then there are the Christmas choirs, singing and entertaining us. Santa Claus, of course, makes an appearance with his reindeer, and is followed by a train full of joyful elves. This parade happens every evening from 11 – 23 December.
After the parade each night, there is an open air pantomime in King George Square, followed by the City Hall being lit with scenes from the Nutcracker. Those light shows are every 15 minutes until midnight bringing lots of cheer to many. A short walk across the river bridge to Southbank and we can languish in the city beach pool trying to cool down, while we watch outdoor movies on the big screen. All these, and many more, free family activities abound!
Well done, yet again, Brisbane City Council http://www.visitbrisbane.com.au/christmas?sc_lang=en-au for making so many people happy, at this time of year.