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Movies and TV, My LA story, Posts

June Gloom really is a thing

It’s the summer holidays and it finally starts to feel like it. Apart from feeling more relaxed, sleeping in a little and eating later it hasn’t really felt like the holidays.

I managed to pin it down to two things:

  1. I didn’t have—or attend—an end-of-year break-up drinks session. For as long as I remember either I or one of my friends would have break-up drinks where all the kids and mums get together for drinks not unlike our Friday afternoon drinks. This year my son hosted a sleepover after exams and my daughter went to a friends for break-up pool party but I was left to my own devices and didn’t invite any parents for accompanying drinks. I don’t like it when there’s no celebratory get together so I’m pretty sure this was part of that anti-climax.
  2. We didn’t head straight for the beach. Once school is out–and we’ve got together for break-up drinks–we head straight for the beach to spend some six weeks in summer holiday mode: prepping for Christmas, heading to the beach each day, boating, water sports and lots and lots of eating and drinking. We love our summer holidays in Australia: it’s all about the beach, great food and amazing company.

Summer holidays in Australia

Let me tangent for just a minute: Australian beaches are largely uninhabited. Sure you’ve got Bondi and Manly beach in Sydney and St Kilda and Brighton in Melbourne but the beaches aren’t built up on the beach like Santa Monica, Malibu and Long Beach. Where we go—Jervis Bay on the South Coast of New South Wales (NSW)—there’s nothing.

At Our Beach, Our Magic Beach, Jervis Bay, NSW | It Started in LA |

At Our Beach, Our Magic Beach, Jervis Bay, NSW | It Started in LA |


And that’s exactly the way we like it. It has all we need: a seafood co-op (where local fisherman sell their seafood to the public), a butcher and a deli with most of the hard-to-find ingredients we need for the incredible food we’ll prepare—recipes we’ve been researching and preparing for months in advance.

All we have is the beach, the white sand, crystal clear water and fellow boaters. Oh, and lots of great food and drink.

In Australia hundreds of families pack up their car on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) to congregate on the highway headed for the beach. They rent houses, enjoy their own or camp or caravan (RV) on the foreshore for their annual fortnight (two weeks) holiday (vacation). It’s the quintessential ‘Straylian thing to do.

Summer holidays in the US

American summer holidays go on and on and on. And on and on. Essentially three months of the year are spent on holidays. If you ask me (I know you didn’t) it’s ridiculous. It’s just too long. There are some school districts that have caught on and implemented the “year-round” schedule. It works similar to Australia where you get two weeks four times a year and six weeks over summer.

(In Australia the school year goes something like this: 10 weeks of school, two weeks holidays, 10 weeks of school, two/three weeks holidays, 10 weeks of school, two/weeks holidays, 10 weeks of school, two/three weeks, 10 weeks of school, six/eight weeks summer holidays).

We all know through movies like American Pie that American kids spend weeks at a time on camp; well it’s no bloody wonder. You need to be a patient martyr to manage the kids for three months.

June Gloom

Last year I blogged about Brenda and Brandon heading down to the Beverly Hills Beach Club over summer where Brandon would go to work (good old Brandon working to earn his keep as opposed to Dylan living comfortably off his trust fund–don’t misunderstand me I loved Dylan!). I was so excited to be hitting the beach at the members-only club the likes of which the fictitious beach club in 90210 was based.

As a family we made a pact that we wouldn’t let 90210 and the Hollywood lifestyle change us. There have to be exceptions to every rule and heading down to the beach club has to be one of them.

Here are three (OK four) reasons why the private beach club should be an exception to our rule:

  1. Beach chairs: It’s so nice not having to lug your chairs all the way down to the beach, it’s all set up for you. How decadent.
  2. Valet parking: No more driving around trying to find a park: pull up, get out of the car and it’s parked for you.
  3. Bar and restaurant (no words needed)
  4. Toilets and hot showers (no words needed).

The only problem with world-famous Santa Monica beach in June (and SoCal in general for that matter) is June Gloom. June Gloom is exactly as it sounds: a marine layer hovers over the beach suburbs making it grey and gloomy (rather than bright and sunny) and doesn’t lift (if you’re lucky) until early afternoon.

I remember when we first arrived in LA we were running around Hollywood in the stifling August heat. We were due to meet friends in Santa Monica at 3:00. When we got there we were freezing: the marine layer was hovering over Santa Monica, visibility was poor, no sun and it was at least 20 degrees colder. Ill prepared we needed jumpers and long pants it was that cold.  And that was in August.

On our way down to the beach club I was telling my friend about my experience because we’d forgotten to pack jumpers for our trip to the beach. Sure enough—as if I’d jinxed us—the same was true that day.

We were supposed to head to the beach the day before but Obama was in town and the roads were closed from the beach to Beverly Hills making it impossible to go anywhere on the Westside without being stuck in standstill traffic.

When parking our car we asked if the June Gloom had lifted at all this week to which the valet replied not really but they did catch the sun the day Obama shut down the roads. Great, we hoped we weren’t doomed.

But, alas around 3:00 in the afternoon, like magic the gloom lifts giving way to sunshine.

June Gloom lifts and Santa Monica looks like the travel brochures: iconically perfect | It Started in LA |

June Gloom lifts and Santa Monica looks like the travel brochures: iconically perfect | It Started in LA |


The scene was set for an afternoon in paradise: an afternoon where we could sip cocktails on the balcony watching the sun set over Santa Monica and the kids had run of the club and the nearby pier.

Sunsetting behind the Santa Monica mountains | It Started in LA |

Sun setting behind the Santa Monica mountains | It Started in LA |


Yep, summer is here, holidays are here. There truly is nothing like being at the beach to make you feel like the summer holidays have arrived. And if that trip to the beach happens to come with all the bells and whistles of a 90210 lifestyle then I’m all in.

Happy summer everyone!

xx It Started in LA xx

My LA story, Posts

Beverly Hills Beach Club

School’s out for summer and Brandon gets himself a summer job at the Beverly Hills Beach Club.  Remember that?  A great opportunity to have the girls (and boys) in bathers.  And oh the plot lines that summer has to bring.  Ratings gold.  Of course I’m not talking about real life but my “past life” of 90210 Aaron Spelling style.

There’s a reason so many songs are about summer–carefree joy, fun in the sun and good old-fashioned fun.  Good old-fashioned fun.  Add LA style and it’s even better.

When I first said I was moving to LA we all wondered where we might live.  To think we’re living in Beverly Hills 90210 is a spinout but that’s nothing new to you now either as we’re acclimating together.

Even today when I’m giving out my address or talking about where I live I’ll get a comment, “Oh my God.  The most famous postcode in the world.”  And it is.  Thanks of course to Aaron Spelling.

The thought has crossed mine and many of my friend’s that Brenda and Brandon (aka my son & daughter) have moved into a new school in the middle of this surreal world and we’re constantly drawing parallels to our lives (but sadly no sign of Dylan).

So, when my daughter was going to a party at a Beach Club in Santa Monica that we “have to get membership to” I thought of Brenda begging Jim to do the same.

I was trying to arrange end-of-year drinks with a friend and it was all getting complicated.  90210 might be the most famous postcode in the world but it’s just the same as everywhere else in the world–you’re busy ferrying kids from one invitation and party to the next.  We were marrying up our commitments and realised we were both going to the same place in Santa Monica.

The Beach Club.  Technically the Jonathan Club.

“OMG,” I said to her (who knows me well enough by now that I don’t feel weird saying this), I’m totally picturing Kelly, Brenda & Donna at the Beach Club for summer where Brandon got his summer job.  Is it anything like it?”

Of course my friend hadn’t really thought anything of it until I mentioned it.  To her it’s just normal.  In fact (as she pondered life from where I sit) yes it is.  She actually wondered if that Club might be the setting for the “Beverly Hills Beach Club”.  Alas no it’s not.

(Here’s the backstory on the Beverly Hills Beach Club–and other 90210 locations–if you’re interested).

I was beside myself.  First issue what to wear.  Second issue what to bring.  Third issue regaining my composure & finding more people to tell.  That’s what Facebook is for.

To me it was anything BUT normal: valet parking (of course), Guys in polo shirts getting your beach chairs, beach volleyball, the buffet set up for dinner by the beach, beach chairs set up by the water, shower facilities with warm, fluffy towels.  A bar.


Valet parking a given


Don’t get me wrong, being at the beach at our Beach House on Magic Beach is pretty special but this is lovely.  So LA.  So 90210.  If there was one fault I’d find with it it’s that Brandon is not there taking my cocktail (or wine) order.

At 7:00 the sun is still out and everyone’s at the buffet.  Time to get some food.  My friend was squeezing me and clenching pulling that face–you know the one Cameron was pulling to Ferris in the taxi when his dad is in the Cab next door to him?  That one.  I knew someone was there I just didn’t know who.  I’d heard Sarah Michelle Gellar was there so I started looking for her.  Nope.  Man right next to me was a hotty.

“Oh, is he someone?”  Yep, Liev Shrieber.  With our very own Naomi Watts.  Just getting food at the buffet.  Alongside yours truly.  Like everyone else.  At the “Beverly Hills Beach Club”.  Obviously I had to do some talking so he hears the accent.  A “warm exchange” related to heating up the hamburger buns and I was in a happy place.  Naomi & I could’ve bonded over the serviettes and cutlery but she wasn’t as interested.  I’ll take Liev any day anyway.

So my end of the school year (remember the kids first in the US=big) and the start of my summer turned out to be pretty 90210.  Love an impromptu gathering.

The other thing that could’ve made our night was a Kings win to take home the Stanley Cup.  They were playing in New York however so to take home the Stanley Cup at home is the next best thing.

Need a refresher on the Beverly Hills Beach Club? Here’s a clip featuring Kelly & Brandon.  If you think about it Beverly Hills is no where near the beach so clearly there’s no such place as the Beverly Hills Beach Club.  Just like there’s no West Beverly High.  Hashtag bubble burster.

Kelly & Brandon moments at the BH Beach Club

Eight grade breakfast

Yes summer is here and my eldest son finished Middle School and to commemorate they had a little breakfast at school before they jumped on buses to Magic Mountain.  (The transition from Middle School to High School is a big deal here–like the transition from Elementary to Middle School).

I’d forgotten my son’s year was the “famous” year.  Everywhere I looked there was an actor, rock star, agent, TV Show Creator etc.  You know you’ve acclimated when you forget you’re going to bump into some of the most famous people in the world (for the older generation at least) but I did get a little kick when it was everywhere I looked–which ever direction I looked I remembered their kids were in the same year as mine.  Cool.

Like I said, nice way to end our first school year in the US.  In the land of 90210 no less.  Best part of all is that we can reflect on how we’re finishing the year strong.  Friendships struck and forged, comfort levels normal (we no longer feel like a fish out of water and talking to said famous people–even if I still couldn’t speak to the most famous of them all) and we live to tell the tale.

Enjoy your summer (sorry to my Aussie mates where it’s winter).

xx It Started in LA xx


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