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Leonardo Di’Caprio

Celebrity, Posts

Summer Holidays, Camp and the annual health check

Our first American summer is here and it is whizzing past right before our eyes.    The thought of 11/12 weeks off in the middle of the year can be daunting but given we arrived here in August and only had a couple of weeks before the kids had to start a new school we were ready for it.  Plus, we had friends & family lined up to stay so we knew it would be a busy summer.  But, some seven weeks in–half-way through–it’s becoming ridiculous and needs to slow down before we blink and miss it.

What happened to being bored and having “nothing to do”?  What happened to catching up on my Blog and getting time to enhance it and work on new and fun things?  What happened to regretting not taking advantage of the one trillion camps there are on offer?

This one time at Band Camp

When we first arrived and the kids started at their new school there was a lot of talk about Camp and a lot of emphasis on “sleep-away” Camp.  It was my daughter’s dream to go to Camp.  (Didn’t we all dream of going away to camp as we grew up watching American movies when all the kids got to go to Camp? OK I did).

band camp

This one time … at Band Camp | Summer Holidays | It Started in LA | www.itstartedinla


As the year went on it became clearer that we’d have friends come to visit so going off to Camp wouldn’t be a thing in the kids immediate future.  Neither were really perturbed and given we haven’t grown up with a Camp culture–to us summer holidays are all about the beach and going away as a family–we weren’t either.

But in hindsight I feel like I’ve let the team down.  Not my team but this Blog.  I mean who comes to live in LA with two camp-aged kids and doesn’t research them, how much they are, who goes, for how long and what really goes on (are they really like the movies?).

So I had a little look on the website at one camp my daughter wanted to go on.  Ironically for a cool $8,550 each I could send both my kids back to Australia and New Zealand (not the Camp the kids wanted to go on) to do all the things we do during our summer holidays while I stay here and … well I’m not sure what I’d do … refurb my Blog?

Sounds great if both parents work but I don’t really need to take advantage of Camp. Ironically, when you look at the promotional video it shows Sydney and Manly at their spectacular best and doesn’t necessarily show that it’s winter there.  And, I know as well as you do (my Aussie readers) that it’s been a cold and miserable winter.  Imagine surf lessons on Manly Beach when it’s blowing a gale and bucketing down?

Having said that the girls (and boys) that go away to traditional sleepaway camp here in the US love it.  And if I’d bothered to research it earlier then I would see that they have a special wakeboarding program that my son would love as he misses it so much.  Maybe next year …?

Seeing LA from my friends’ eyes

We had “mom & friends” camp (ie staying home) with one of my closest friends here at the start of summer.  They were in the US for five weeks and did the most amazing things.  To say it was a trip of a lifetime was an understatement.

Apart from having them around to see what life is like for us (and share our experiences first hand) for an extended period it was great to see LA and the US from their perspective.

So, here are five things I noticed they noticed about being in the US.

  1. The service is so good it’s going to be hard to go back to apathy.
  2. Everyone is just so nice and friendly (and noticeably so) and it’s actually really nice and not sickly terrible.  (But tipping–and thinking about it–sucks)
  3. There is so much to do and see here you need more than a couple of years to get through your bucket list (which, keeps on growing–that’s my addition). And, there is so much to do that no wonder many Americans don’t feel the need to discover what the rest of the world has to offer.
  4. Hollywood and Beverly Hills are like one big movie set.  Not as in everything looks so familiar (even though it does) but that it seems bigger and more schmick than it is in real life.  The Hollywood Walk of Fame for example the stars seem so much more shiny and new not that there are people everywhere with not much room between each star and someone’s spilt ice-cream on Michael Jackson.  Oh, and that Rodeo Drive isn’t actually that long.
    (Celebs don’t really shop on Rodeo Drive that much unless they’re looking for publicity which is exactly what we caught when we were there–a guy from the Hunger Games walking up and down with an unknown hat-wearing girl as paps and adoring fans chased him.)

    Celeb spotting

    Doing a little celeb spotting: Luka from the Hunger Games (so they say)

  5. That we’re very lucky with the quality of food in Australia. My friend couldn’t get over the fact that a wedge salad was served in some of the best restaurants in the US and it’s essentially a wedge of iceberg lettuce!  It’s true and if you’re lucky it’s served with a fancy ranch dressing.

And, by way of a PS you can dine at my favourite West Hollywood restaurant and see paps and big-time celebs: Hugh Grant, Sandra Bullock AND Keanu Reeves in fact.  And, there may or may not have been an exchange between my girlfriend & Keanu at the bar that didn’t include her introducing us.  Sigh).

Keanu's Star

I finally get introduced to Keanu–but I have to make do with his Star


Like me they imagined their overseas “trip-of-a-lifetime-holiday” to be exploring Europe but we put a spanner in those works.  If ever I had a choice I’d choose Europe over America because I thought it had more to offer.  While I still love Europe I have (and they do) a great appreciation for all the US has to offer.

The Annual Health Check

With summer comes the annual health check in preparation for the kids starting the new school year.  Each year the kids start a new school year we’re required to take them to the pediatrician (kids here go to a pede Dr not a GP) and get the royal once-over.  For our school this check-up must be between April and August so if you’ve been getting a check-up on their birthday which falls in March then you have go back and go through the whole process all over again.

The kids could not see the point in this check up at all–especially that it was interrupting their precious holiday time .  I haven’t got the bill yet (I’m wondering if I should be scared) but I think the concept of the health check is a good thing.

They take the kids’ height and weight, assess their hearing and eye sight, check on their immunisations, do a glucose and cholesterol test, take their blood pressure and have a good look at their file to see how they’re tracking (and have been tracking) throughout their little lives.  (Actually maybe I need to be very scared about that bill!)

Actually it’s more than civilised here–a medical assistant or nurse takes your vitals, runs many of the tests, does the admin to double-check vaccinations then the doctor steps in and reviews everything, gives them a physical check-up and lets you know how they’re “performing”.

I think we need more of that in Australia.  It seems to me to be a great preventative approach to keeping track of the kids’ wellness.  For some reason our school has a strict policy on doing these tests (others not so apparently) but for whatever reason my kids are being kept track of while we’re here in the US.

Usual programming will re-commence in ratings season

Given we’re out of ratings season here in the US and all the new shows and highly anticipated next seasons are starting back in September I’ve been a bit quiet too.  I promise to post more regularly once school is back.

In the meantime I’m researching holiday ideas and destinations for you so check in on those.  Coming up I’ll post on Yosemite, continue my review on Beverly Hills Hotels, extend the review area and talk about Disneyland, Universal Studios and shopping in LA.


After putting off a trip to Disneyland for ten months we took the plunge–and we even enjoyed it

Enjoy your summer but if you’re not on holidays know that you’ll be on holidays very soon.  Be sure to keep an eye on Facebook and Instagram as I still manage to post there regularly.

xx It Started in LA xx

Celebrity, Posts

My brush with the Paparazzi

One of my goals in coming to LA was to see paparazzi in action, I’m intrigued by them and their business.  When I moved here I thought I’d see them everywhere, just lurking.  Contrary to popular opinion they’re not.  Much to my disgust.  We’d go to cool restaurants, I was shopping at the right supermarkets but it took me ages to see a pap in action.

You see, a lot of the time they’re hiding somewhere and you might not know they’re around.  We even had paps up the road from us when we first moved in and I didn’t see them.

But I’m more tuned in now.  The other week I was showing a guest around The Grove and we saw two guys working together trying to pap someone.  We watched them in action for a while but couldn’t see who they were following.  A big part of my problem is that I don’t recognise people unless they’re George. Or Leo. Or JLo.  Or Joan Collins!

I’ve had a few brushes with paps now.  All at my favourite restaurant in fact.  The first time was Golden Globes weekend which I wrote about.  It was so exciting; I was beside myself as the flashes went off all night.

On one of our subsequent visits to this same restaurant I hopped out of the car as usual and there were two paps waiting.  One of them came up to me saying like I looked like one of the past winners (or runners-up) on The Voice or American Idol.  I was this close to being papped (a bee’s dick!) for real.

Fast forward to last Saturday night and there were more paps here again–more than Golden Globes weekend for Joshua Jackson and Diane Kruger.  Inside JLo and Mary J Blige were having dinner.  I was seeing off a friend visiting from Australia and as we walked outside there they all were.  So I thought I’d pose for the cameras, take it all in and enjoy it.  I’ve got pics here on my Facebook page.  It was so fun I tried it five times.  I got to try out my pap reactions a number of different times:

  1. a look of surprise, oh are you here to see me?
  2. acknowledge, be cool, wave hello, keep walking
  3. a different angle
  4. the hand over the face, please don’t pap me look
  5. you really should pap me because I’m incredibly famous in Australia you know.  I’m on Neighbours.

You got to have a bit of fun don’t you?  In fact I should have offered JLo my services in entertaining them for her while she escaped.  I sort of did.  As she was leaving via a back door I shook her hand to thank her for all the paps I got to see in action–the most I’ve ever seen in one night.  Poor JLo didn’t know what hit her.

It turns out our driver helped with the deflection–to make out he was JLo’s driver and I was JLo for the second time that night.  There weren’t as many there when we left so there might’ve been a tip-off that she wasn’t coming out the front door.

The next night we were at our favourite local Deli having home-cooked roasts and Jon Voight was there having dinner.  It’s not the first time we’ve seen him there, he’s a bit of a regular.  But alas no paps for him.  I don’t suppose he sells mags.

It got me thinking: what gets pap out to catch “that” shot.  Rather who.  It has to be someone that magazine editors will buy because that’s how they make their money.  I’ve even seen paps at our local getting pics of Gene Simmons so what makes him more pap-worthy than the extremely talented Jon Voight?

I was hoping to get some insights from someone who works in the industry but sadly I don’t have anything to share.  If I find out more I’ll be sure to update and share it with you.

Meanwhile I’ll keep my eyes peeled for the paps and keep reporting back on what I see.  When Harry moves in down the road I dare say we’ll see a few around our street so that’ll be fun.  Wouldn’t it be great to go out with one for the day and document their day?  There’s an idea.  I’ll get to work on that for you dear readers!

Meanwhile … enjoy your week.  The weather here in LA is divine as Spring is in the air and feeling generally warmer.  Always puts a Spring in my step. LOL.

Keep smiling.

xx It Started in LA xx

Oscars 2014

The two things we talked about in LA last week: rain & the Oscars

I’m hungover.  Not with your traditional hangover but with a very special Oscars hangover.  I was so upset leading up to the Oscars that we weren’t going to one of the parties–or the awards themselves.  If you follow along on my Facebook and Instagram pages you’ll know that we (the royal “we” actually only Mr H) got to one of those “at a ceremony held earlier” functions relevant to his work at the Beverly Hills Hotel so at least we got close to it and definitely got in on the buzz.  But all’s well that ends well for my first “In Hollywood” Oscars because we did the right thing by them and sat in the comfort of my living room by the fire with a glass of wine in hand.  We watched every moment (except the bits where I was busy tweeting) and took it all in.

How good was it? I rarely watch it all at home: it’s on too late, I fall asleep, I know who the winners are and life’s too busy.  But here it’s expected and it’s what you do.  Plus I have a Blog to write!

Ellen was fabulous–she was more than fabulous, she was incredible.  I laughed out loud at her opening monologue.  It was true: we were all concerned about the rain here in LA.  It’s all we talked about.  That and the Oscars.  Then on the impact of the rain on the Oscars.  It’s like it never rains here.  Oh wait, it doesn’t.  So I loved her line: “It has been a tough couple of days for us here: It has been raining. We’re fine. Thank you for your prayers.”

The tears started early with Jared Leto’s acceptance speech that I still think was the best of the night (Matthew McConaughey lost me thanking God and I got it with the “me in 10 years thing” but lost me that he’s his own hero. I do still rate you though MC).

What made Ellen great was she was funny, she didn’t take it too far (maybe to everyone except Liza Minnelli) but it had bite (ie it wasn’t sucky).  I loved the audience interaction and the way she surprised Leonardo DiCaprio and Sandra Bullock as she announced the next presenter.  Priceless.  And of course the “selfie that broke Twitter”.  Very clever.  (I was very quick thinking and got up to take a pic of the TV and their selfie but I forgot to turn the flash off and it took too long to take the pic.  Fail.  Bugger.)  It’s moments like that we love to feel like we know Leo & Brad, Bradley, Sandra, Amy & Merryl.  Ellen going into the audience made them real and we liked it.  We were there.

The internet is full of buzz about the pizza coming too.  She talked about doing it but to really do it was clever.  Two gorgeous moments: Brad Pitt handing out plates and Jared Leto (again) giving his pizza to his mum.  Awwww. (Psst … Lots of pics of Brad chowing down on the pizza none of Ange).

Which brings me to a theme of the night: mums as dates, daughters as dates and hononouring your mum.  Who didn’t cry at Jared Leto’s story about this mum (good on her) and gush over Leo as he sat with his mum in the front row? And how lovely and proud Laura Dern was of her dad, Bruce.

And before we talk about the really important business of Best Dressed let’s recap on the song performances.  Best performances ever.  “Happy” didn’t disappoint and neither did “Let It Go” from Frozen but the two outstanding performances of the night have to go to Pink’s rendition of “Over the Rainbow” and Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings”.  Breathtaking.  Times two.  More tears.  Even Bette had tears.  Bless.

It was good to see Gravity win so many well-deserved awards.  I was disappointed it didn’t take out Best Picture but glad Alfonso Cuaron won Best Director.  Gravity was the first highly anticipated film when we arrived plus Mr H’s company did the sound and we went to support the film opening weekend so we felt very connected to the movie.

There are many more highlights (and a couple of lowlights … Kim Novak) but that’s enough.  It’s time to move onto the Best Dressed.

OK most of them got it right on Instagram and online etc but where was Bette Midler? She looked stunning (even if my pic of her was cut off–sorry Bette).  And so did Pink in her dress made from Dorothy’s Ruby slippers.  I think Camila Alves was largely ignored and Jennifer Lawrence nailed it (rumour around town was she didn’t like the last dress so I guess they had some making up to do). So my list is:

  1. Bette Midler. Gorgeous
  2. Jennifer Lawrence. Rocked it.
  3. Cate Blanchett. Flawless.
  4. Amy Adams. Stunning.
  5. Pink. Perfect (nice to see America is FINALLY embracing her)
  6. Camila Alves.  Stunning date.

Honorable mentions:

  1. Jessica Alba
  2. Naomi Watts
  3. Sandra Bullock
  4. Emma Watson.  More for the whole package–the hair, the look than the dress itself but she looked truly stunning.

I have been captivated by Lipita Nyong’o’s look the whole awards season but was disappointed in her dress.  She should still get an honourable mention though.  (Her standout dress for the season was definitely the Ralph Lauren at the Golden Globes).

And the boys rocked it too.  White is back in.  I’m only giving out three best dressed.

  1. Matthew McConaughey narrowly beating
  2. Jared Leto
  3. Ryan Seacrest

I know… I can’t quite believe I wrote his name either.  But he looked good.  Leo, Brad & Bradley looked good as did my special Channing and special honourable mention to Will Smith (I know, can’t believe it what’s getting into me?) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  And BTW where was George Clooney?

So, that’s it.  As I was desperate for more when the awards finished and the parties started I reflected and thought about what they’d be doing at the parties, what the mood would be like, how the queues were going and the traffic as they try to shuttle the guests into the various after-parties.

It’s so cool that I could picture what was going on because it wasn’t so long ago I was in the thick of it for the Golden Globes.  What fun it is, the egos in the room, the star-struck celeb-spotting, the waiting, the photos, the selfies and the dancing.  I could go to bed knowing I’ve experienced one of those parties and even though I wasn’t there last night I still got to go and I’ve still got it good.

Only in LA.  Have a great week everyone!

xx It Started in LA xx

PS: Here are all the winners in case you’ve been under a rock and haven’t seen the full list:


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