Friday, 28 May 2010

Silver Soul.

Ahhh, Newport Beach. So much more beautiful that I could have imagined. What a great place to grow up. The harbour is beautiful, so laid back, so much prettier than I ever thought. We took the ferry over to Balboa Island, ate Balboa bars, went for lunch at Alta cafe, thankfully recommended to us by Holly Stanton, the food there is amazing. So was the coffee, which was much needed, after getting pretty drunk in a bar in Pasadena the night before.

I have always loved costal towns and ports, but California ones are so amazing. So relaxed, so... Californian. It might be a cliche, but that laid back surfer attitude is palpable at all the costal towns we stayed at.

The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

You Wanted A Hit

Ruby's diner, Palm Desert.

No images can portray Joshua Tree National Park properly. No photograph can show you this quiet, immense and desolate yet beautiful place well enough. The park was absolutely huge, it takes about 2 hours to drive all the way through it. The mountains are vast, the plains are steeped in history of Native American settlements and old rivers that dried up. We were well on our way in to the park when our car started making the most hideous noise. It was like a really deep vibration that had a really deep sound. We had no idea what it was so we decided to turn back, as it was getting dark, we hadn't seen another car for miles and none of us had any phone signal.

We pull over to the side of the road to give the car a rest and figure out what to do, when this battered old classic Jaguar pulls over, and an old woman gets out to offer us help. She proceeded to tell us all about herself before offering to follow us out of the park incase our car really did breakdown. It didn't, and we got out okay, but the whole way back she drove 5 mph. We kept losing sight of her and having to slow down to make sure she was still there. When we finally got on the highway and it got dark, she followed us on the highway with only one headlight working and kept flashing her fog lights all the time. We wanted to take her home.

Monday, 24 May 2010

One Touch

Finally, I am free from the clutches of university work for 4 months! It couldn't have been planned better, what with the amazing weather. Anyway, I've finally had time to re-size some more photographs, so we shall carry on with the USA trip.

View of San Jacinto from our condo in Palm springs.

After Coachella festival ended, with all it's pool parties, amazing bands and expensive beer, we woke up the next morning to find out our flights home have been cancelled due to a bloody massive volcano errupting.

Not only did this volcano mean we were stuck in America for an unforseeable amount of time, but it also meant our friends Delphic didn't make it over for the festival, which sucked. So to keep busy while we waited to see what was going to happen to us, we went up San Jacinto mountain in a fucking rotating cable car. Scary doesn't cover it.

The view from San Jacinto, over Palm Springs.

It was stood right there up top of San Jacinto that we re-scheduled our flights with Virgin Atlantic for the 1st May, which gave us an extra 2 weeks in the states. Oh! The possibilities.

San Jacinto State Park office.

We figured we'd stay in Palm Springs for a few more days, make the most of the sun and a condo with a pool and a BBQ all to ourselves, before heading into LA for 5 days and then flying to New York for the rest of the time before our flight home from JFK on the 1st.

I just love the North American landscape. San Jacinto mountain is in the Southern California desert but it's always covered in snow, as it's something like 8000 feet above sea level. The locals told us to wrap up warm, because "its cold up there". Needless to say, denim shorts and a small leather jacket sufficed, we being hardy northern lasses. We found sticks, posed on trees, rambled through some snow and tried to find some bob cats. Didn't happen. We didn't spend long up there, as it was getting on in the day and we had to get to our next destination, Joshua Tree National Park.

Saturday, 15 May 2010


One thing I've always wished I could change was that I got to know my grandparents properly.

As a child and even as a teenager I don't think you ever really appreciate your grandparents. I certainly didn't. I didn't see them as people with lives, they were just this entity that the family congregated around. Always the strong ones. Always the peacemakers. I never got to know them as people, who live as you live, achieve things in their lives and lived through different times. They know things you can learn from, they can teach you things about yourself.

I never had the chance to get to know any of my grandparents as an adult. My mum said to me the other day that I reminded her of her mother, in the way that she was a creative writer, good with words, handy with a crossword and loved crime television (I may not watch Midsummer Murders but I am partial to Wallander.)

Another thing I've always liked to know are useless facts. I love to read up on interesting and bizarre points in history, as well as finding out facts about the things that interest me. I have bored many a friend over a drink with facts about films, authors, bands, political movements, explorers, race car drivers. I have this memory of my dad's father, sat in his front room in Sheffield watching sports, being supplied with an endless plate of bourbons and custard creams and toast with real butter but the most pressing memories that I've never been able to shake are all the facts that my granddad used to tell me. About plane crashes and survivors, about a cross country runner getting lost in the desert and how you couldn't drink too much water in one go after you've been that dehydrated (as you would, being lost in a desert.)

I never noticed before this likeness between me and my granddad Geoffrey. He died when I was 14. I never got the chance to ask him how he knew all these facts or the chance to trade some with him. He told me that even if you could afford to buy a Formula One car you wouldn't have the money to run it. "That's the most expensive thing, the team you need to make it run." I would say to him now "Apparently the cockpit of your Formula One car is the comfiest place in the world as everything is made to fit your body. Custom made seat, shoes, race suit, helmet, everything. Coulthard said it's like sitting in the bathtub" and no doubt he would have an ever better fact that would blow my mind just as they did when I was a nipper.

I have never let my relationship with my parents slide since I realized how much it counts when you get to the stage of knowing about their lives before you came along. I know all about my mothers career as a nurse and the holidays she went on when she was my age. I know about my fathers business and his career as a Rally racing driver right down to the time he hit that tree and the other time he flipped the car. I am going to make it a priority when I go home to dig out of my parents, aunties and uncles attics the pictures of my grandparents when they were my age. I hope that even though I live on the other side of the country to my parents, that I can get to know more and more about them and find out the habits and similarities I have inherited. So one day I can tell my kids "You remind me of my father when you do that..."

Monday, 10 May 2010

Austin Tassletine

COACHELLA! A festival with good bands in the middle of the California desert. What more could you ask for?

Well, it turns out a couple of things. Like, being able to park your car near the venue and not have to walk 40 mins to get to it. Or how about being able to drink some beer and watch a band instead of having to stay in a fenced off beer garden? Or not having to queue up for 3 hours to get in? Picnic in the cars were okay, but missing bands because of how far away the car was and how busy the security points got wasn't okay.

Still, it was amazing, I just like complaining. Devo. Vampire Weekend. Phoenix. Grizzly Bear. Beach House. LCD Soundsystem. It's all good.

I must say at this point, all photos so far are courtesy of Sarah-Jane Louise Boardman.

Susan Chaffinch

Blue Jam

Roadtip around the mountains to Palm Springs!

After about 7 hours of driving through hicksville, and 2 donuts later we arrive at our condo in Palm Springs, where we will be staying for the whole weekend of Coachella festival. Palm Springs is the strangest place. Though it does have a restaurant called Fisherman's which served the best fish tacos I have ever tasted.

On The Hour

Santa Barbara! I want to move here. It is my spiritual home and I don't feel right being away from it. I think Santa Barbara needs an English tea room. I'm gonna get on that.

Friday, 7 May 2010


Extracts from the tour diary, West coast East coast trip 2010.

Endless Shovel

The next day we wake to fresh coffee, strawberries and muffins left out for us by Richard. He's already gone to the beach to walk his dog, Max. We get up, get ready, and head out for a day of wandering around Santa Barbara.

I wanted to come here on the trip because I had heard so much about this place. Sideways, The Birds, Big Wednesday and many other films have shown Santa Barbara to be the epitome of the California style. They weren't wrong. Ultimately the most laid back place I have visited, you've got amazing beaches on one side, the Santa Ynez mountains on the other, a massive college to the north and one of the prettiest towns in the centre. I want to live there one day.

We went to the botanical gardens, the mission, wandered all over the centre looking in shops and drinking coffee, then in the evening we wandered down the harbor to eat fresh seafood in a cozy little place at the end of the pier. We head back to the motel we are staying in that evening (didn't want to impose on Richard) as we know we have a long drive ahead of us tomorrow, just under 300 miles around the mountains and avoiding LA traffic to get to Palm Springs the evening before Coachella festival.