Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Two weeks and counting...

Everything is booked! Now I can start to get really excited. Here's where we are staying on our whistlestop tour of the good state of California:

San Francisco - budget boutique:

Big Sur - yurtin':

Paso Robles, working farm b&b:

Santa Barbara - cheap trendy motel:

An interlude in a villa N's parents have hired for the wedding.

Then (so excited)...

Santa Monica - one night of luxury (permissable due to the bargainous nature of the motel)

*Union Square Hotel * Treebones*Orchard Hill Farm*Presidio Motel*Viceroy*

Cannot wait. What's amazing is how different all the places we are staying in are. The road we are travelling, US 101, follows the route the Spanish explorer Juan Gaspar de Portola followed in 1769, which later became El Camino Real, the King's Highway. The road served as the main north/south road in California until the 1920's. It follows the coast for much of the distance with apparently amazing views. We will be covering about 480 miles of 101 in total from laid-back SF to pumped LA. I may even get to drive if I can wrestle N away from the wheel!


We've had beautiful glorious spring sunshine over the last couple of weeks here in Wales. Daffodils line the roadsides and bring a cheery warm smile to my face, every time I head out of the village. I love a daffodil, bright, happy and altogether sunshiney in the otherwise flowerless early spring countryside. They mark the end of the gloom in bright riotous yellow. Love them. They are also really cheap to buy which is always good so I have a little bunch on my designing desk which I refill every couple of days. Nice.

They do come in all sorts of hues and shapes though - check out these little beauties:

*Pink Trumpet Daffodil * Frilly Daffodil* White Daffodil*

Monday, 16 March 2009

Rages and Lunches

The sun is shining and today for the first day I can ditch my coat! Yay! I love spring. Other good news is that N is home from his mammoth work trip to Canada. He brought me back some lovely perfume ... mmm. What a lovely man!

I went up to the big smoke early on Saturday morning and had a bit of a to do with a hoity-toity lady in the shoe department in House of Fraser, Westfield. Last weekend I bought some lovely shiny shoes but after one wear the heel broke off - I was not a happy lady. So I took them back to the shop to complain and the manager refused to give me a refund but would send them to the cobblers for mending. Oooh I had the rage - I have bought a brand new pair of shoes one of which was clearly faulty and they won't replace it or allow me to return the shoes! They clearly wont be the same after being cobbled and it means I have no shoes for a week while they are sent off. Not good enough. If it was an item of clothing that was broken you would be allowed to return it, why not shoes?

So I was a little rageful. I'm going to try to return them in Cardiff on Thursday where hopefully I will have a bit more luck! I cheered myself up by buying a new pair of sunglasses

... scrumptious!

Sunday was spent in sunny Hertfordshire with N's parents and brothers for a lovely Sunday lunch at The Glasshouse in The Grove hotel, which is not far from his parents house. Yum yum I tried everything and I can confirm that everything was delicious! The Grove is a really lovely place full to the brim with amazing flowers and bronze statues, outside they have these cute topiary hearts:

Friday, 13 March 2009

The Friday Picture(s)

*Margaret Bourke-White positioning her camera atop the Chrysler Building taken by her assistant Oscar Graubner*

Margaret Bourke-White (1904-1971) was an American photographer and photo-journalist. She was an amazing talent with a remarkable career. In 1927, aged 23 she opened a commercial photography studio, two years later she was hired as as associate editor of Fortune magazine and a year later she became the first Western photographer allowed into the Soviet Union and was hired by Life magazine. In the 1930's she travelled extensively through Europe to record the impact of Nazism and Communism. When World War Two broke out in 1939 she became the first female war correspondent and the first woman to be permitted to work in combat zones in that conflict. She repeatedly came under fire, was torpedoed in the Mediterranean and left stranded in the arctic - no surprise then that she earned the title Maggie The Indestructible! She photographed Stalin, Gandhi (famously only hours before he was assassinated) and was one of the first people to photograph Buchenwald. Of this last experience she is quoted as saying "Using a camera was almost a relief. It interposed a slight barrier between myself and the horror in front of me." . Here are just a few of her many remarkable photographs:

*New York 1939*

*Nuremberg 1945*

*Mahatma Gandhi 1946*

Four weeks tomorrow...

Four weeks tomorrow I am going to be getting on a plane with N to fly to California. I am so so excited!! N's uncle and family live in Orange County and N's cousin is getting married so we are going on a little adventure. We have two days in San Francisco and then we pick up a hire car and drive down the coast stopping off in the Big Sur for two nights to stay in this...

... it's a yurt! Which is essentially a big round tent! Just look at the view! It may be a bit chilly in April but it comes with a gas stove inside for keeping toasty warm. It's part of an eco-resort where there is no mobile phone reception and there's a central shower block for washing. Want to see what they look like on the inside? Okay...

*Photos by Treebones*

It's enormous! So much fun!! I can't wait. Our next stop is Paso Robles further down the coast and slightly inland. Paso Robles is serious wine county and we are staying at a farm/b&b - we are going to visit a vineyard or two and also Hurst Castle at San Simeon. After this we plan to make a stop in Santa Barbara for a night (accommodation to be decided). Then we are making our way to the villa N's parents are renting for the week near Laguna Beach to meet up with his parents, grandmother and brothers (the brothers are doing their own separate travels in the week leading up to the wedding). The wedding festivities last a whole weekend and then we have one last night and two days to ourselves to check out LA, I think we are going to stay near Santa Monica as this seems to be quite close to the centre without being in the city.

I'm so so excited I can't tell you! We need to crack on and get our last two accommodations booked asap though...

Thursday, 5 March 2009

My little blogging holiday...

I have had a little blogging holiday. Lots has happened:
  • St Davids Day on March 1st (St David or Dewi Sant in welsh, is the patron saint of Wales -more on this later). I was working in the morning but made up for it in the afternoon by spending an incredibly sunny afternoon at the beach with my sister, mum and nana. We ate synthetic 99's - got to love that swirly Mr Whippy ice cream that gives you a headache almost the minute it passes your lips and the little stumpy chocolate flake standing proud like a chimney. Mind you they've gone up in price they are now £1.80 each - what ever happened to 99p? My nana, who is one year off being 90 loves and I mean loves ice-cream and will eat it at any opportunity. If you suggest having some she gets a glint in her eye and makes this little excited 'ooooh' noise which is neither yes nor no but it's almost like she is imagining the pleasure of consuming the delectable frozen custard then and there. She is a true connoisseur and knows all of the makes - her favourites are welsh ice creams made by Italian immigrant families like Joe's . After our beach sojourn we returned home for a cup of tea and ... a welsh cake of course.
  • N has gone on a work trip to Canada for two and a half weeks - I know it's work and it was -23 when he arrived there, but he gets to do some fun things: flying by sea plane, skiing black-runs with ski-rangers, visiting oil refineries and the building sites of super dooper luxury apartment blocks ... who said the world of insurance was dull?!
  • I have been to the theatre twice. First to see Seven Brides for Seven Brothers which was a lot of fun and then last night I went to see Billy Liar which was very funny but also incredibly depressing.
  • work work work, I have had so many consultations in the past couple of weeks it's been chokka but it's been lovely to meet with lots of excited couples planning their weddings.
  • It was my sister's birthday yesterday ... happy birthday for yesterday K!