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Posts, Travelog

Santorini truly is a gift from the Gods

“Ahhh Santorini, you truly are a gift from the Gods.”

We crowd around the bus as it pulls into the local bus stop, all eager to get a seat as it’s a decent drive back to Oia (where we’re staying) from Fira, one of the centres for food, shopping and nightlife on Santorini.

It turns out it’s not our bus. Masses pile onboard—that’s why they crowd around. The bus is full. Another bus pulls in and the bus driver takes no mercy on the waiting crowds. The driver “hits” a local customer infuriated by the driver’s actions. He starts yelling at the driver who ignores him. He knew he was nowhere near the guy but the guy continues to yell abuse at him. Twenty minutes later as he left in search of a taxi—and as the bus pulls out on another trip—he’s still yelling.

Our bus arrives and, after surveying how it’s done on the Greek Islands, we get pole position in front of the queue and politely wait for those to get off before we push our way in.

We depart with little time to spare driving up a steep hill. I was sure the sign said do not enter. Who cares, this is Santorini in the Greek Islands and this is a big bus.

A car was in our bus’s way and our driver yells at someone out his window, one of the words being “malaka” and my childhood memories of growing up with first-generation Greek kids in Melbourne came flooding back to me. Why is it always the swear words we pick up when we learn another language?

We stopped for a long time as the cars were coming head on towards us. I don’t think this is working. The bus driver lights up a cigarette, the conductor does the same.

The bus driver starts yelling out the window presumably for the cars to get the flock out of his way.

“Spiro,” he starts in lively Greek addressing the conductor. I’m assuming he’s telling Spiro he needs to get out of the bus and tell the cars up ahead to get out of his way and let him through based on his hand gestures and the situation in front of us.

He sits back, swears again and waits.

Spiro was not having a bar of it as he too sits back taking a drag of his cigarette.

The driver starts again at Spiro. With this Spiro assesses the situation, gets out of the bus and heads up the road to stop the traffic, cursing the fact that he’s subjected to this well after midnight.


We advance a couple of hundred metres and come to another dead stop. More lively Greek comes out of the bus driver’s mouth and Spiro chimes in.

The name Spiro also conjures up memories of my childhood in Melbourne–one of the highest Greek populations in the world outside Athens. The guy that owned the local bottle shop’s name was Spiro. I’m not sure what the name of the shop actually was but Dad and his mates always called it Spiro’s. Spiro looked after the alcohol for every single party my parents, and their friends, threw and every Saturday, like a trip to the butcher Mr Thomas, Dad would pop in to say hi to Spiro.  Long before Vintage Cellars or Dan Murphy.

The driver hops on the radio. More lively Greek. Is this the usual bus route? Spiro and the driver seem somewhat surprised by tonight’s traffic like it has never been like this before but this is Fira in the height of summer—it’s busy every night. Isn’t it? The driver and Spiro light up a cigarette contemplating the situation ahead of them. We wait another 10-15 minutes as we watch the driver and Spiro decide what to do next.

“Get on the radio,” I imagine the driver says to Spiro as he hands him the radio talking in more lively greek. “I’ve already spoken to them they’ve done nothing to help.” I can’t imagine what the depot could do to help but I can’t imagine why they’re calling in on the radio either, perhaps to tell them they’re not moving and get them to share in their pain. I wish my old friends were here to translate. I’d love to know what they were saying.

Spiro gets off the radio and lights another cigarette standing at the front of the bus staring at the cars lined up head on like we’re playing chicken, albeit stationary.  This time nobody can move. The driver tells Spiro to get out of the bus and stop the cars once again and once again Spiro talks back but reluctantly get out of the bus some five minutes later stopping the traffic like he’s never had to do it before.

The traffic dutifully stops but clearly not a second before someone “asks nicely”. It was third time lucky and with that we’re on our way. And that was the last time Spiro had to get out of the bus to stop the traffic. On this trip anyway.


Such is the joy of travelling: sitting in the front of the bus watching the adventures of Spiro and the driver put me in good stead to enjoy the holiday.

“There’s a reason Santorini is continually voted one of the best island paradises in the world.”

We arrived in Santorini on July 18 (2015 for the archives) and the referendum resulting in an overwhelming “no” vote yet somehow Greece negotiated a further bail out and further austerity measures. There are no queues at the ATM in Santorini however, credit cards continue to be accepted and it’s business as usual in this glorious part of the world.

In Santorini the travel brochures aren’t having you on. It is exactly as it looks: white, serene, picturesque views and an endless vision of deep blue sea and matching blue rooftops coupled with breathtakingly spectacular cliffs and volcanic mountains.


It’s busy but not in a “I-can’t-be-bothered-leaving-my-pool” way, just in a way that makes you happy the negativity in the media hasn’t kept the tourists away.

Where we stayed

Filotera Suites

Family run boutique hotel built into the caldera. The hospitality is “Greek family”, in other words you are a welcome visitor but you don’t have to get up and offer to do the dishes or cook a meal while you’re there. Nothing is too much trouble and the attentiveness is genuine; it’s as good as it gets.


The attention to detail is tremendous—your tealight candles get lit before sunset every night and there is a turndown service.


Breakfast is served every morning on your private porch with a choice of Continental, Greek or Honeymoon style and extras like bacon, eggs or meats and cheeses. My favourite sound of the day was the clinking of the crockery and cutlery—our sign that breakfast was being set up and it was time to get ourselves up to start our strenuous day poolside.


And, because we spent so much time around our room—we had a private room—we got to see just how well our rooms are cleaned. Each day our room was cleaned as if we were new guests coming in, not just any old guests but Greek Gods.

With only eight rooms staying at Filotera Suites really knows how to spoil its guests.


Where we ate

Argos, Fira

A great restaurant in the heart of Fira’s action with an extensive menu and great food and ambience.


Petros, Oia

With a sunset deck it has a spectacular view of the famous Oia sunset. Our hotel booked us the best table in the house. Great food to match–and satisfied my fussy daughter’s tastes so got to be happy with that!

Ambrosia, Oia

Recommended by Australian Gourmet Traveller, and a friend, Ambrosia is a little bit more special than the other restaurants. It’s small and quaint, has a small yet enticing menu and the waiters are top notch. Ask for a table outside. While the inside tables have plenty of character we felt a little warm and claustrophobic.


Sunset Cruise with Santorini Yachting Company

While we were happy chilling by our pool and wandering the cobblestone streets of Oia we also decided a sunset cruise was in order. With a couple of different stops—including the hot springs and Red Beach—it was an afternoon well spent. The grand finale of the famous Santorini sunset would have been enough to satisfy us anyway—the only thing missing was a glass of Champagne.


Santorini frequently makes the top five island destinations to visit in the world. And there’s a reason. Not only is it breathtakingly beautiful but it’s mystical and magical. Best of all there are accommodation and restaurant offerings for all budgets—there’s no discrimination in Santorini.

And, at a time where Greece could use your money, there should be no putting off a visit to Santorini.

xx It Started in LA xx

Posts, Travelog, Visiting LA

Oh yeah: Vegas baby!

I never expected to actually visit Las Vegas.  Not necessarily because I didn’t want to or that it wasn’t on my bucketlist but that it wasn’t high enough on my bucket list for me to get there.

Moving to LA certainly changed that.  When you live in LA you have no excuse (or reason) not to visit Vegas.  Especially if your goal is to experience as much as you can of America.

I didn’t know how to tackle Vegas.  Mr H has been there a few times for work and to see the Rugby World Sevens but it’s not exactly the type of place I expected to go for a family holiday.  Until a friend suggested we join her and another friend for a long weekend.  With our families.  Off we go, no need to ask me twice!

What to do in Las Vegas

The thing about Vegas (that I didn’t expect) was how American it was yet totally un-American all at the same time.  Let me explain.  It’s so over the top with all the different resorts Vegas is definitely one of those #onlyinAmerica places.  It’s crazy!

But at the same time as being American it is so un-American in that everyone walks around with an alcoholic drink in their hand.  It is legal to carry & drink alcohol on the Strip.  So everyone does it.  It brings new meaning to the term “traveller”.  And shops are making a killing from it.  The rule seems to be: When-in-Vegas-you-must-buy-the-biggest-cocktail-you-can-and-bring-it-with-you-everywhere-you-go. Preferably in a huge Eiffel Tower-shaped see-through “glass” or another over-sized container.  Either that or a beer.

I love a drink I’ve never made a secret of that but I have to say I wasn’t about to carry a huge daiquiri around with me.  Especially with the kids.  (Each to their own though).

Everyone can and does smoke.  And Nevada is a gun-loving state so it’s easy to go one block off the Strip and get yourself a rifle (remember the Aussie swimmers who got themselves in hot water for posing with guns in a shop outside Vegas?).  (I guess the gun thing is actually quite American but you don’t see gun shops off Rodeo Drive–only the gun safes in Costco!).

How Vegas has managed to capture the conference market, families, entertainers, casino owners, luxury brands and yogans (American bogans) all in one is beyond incredible.  Vegas has managed to do what few places can’t–attract everyone.  It’s lifestyles of the rich and famous meets bozo the hobo trailer trash yogan.  With everyone in between.  Fabulous.

We were in the lifts coming down from my friend’s 59th floor suite and in hops Mr-&-Mrs-to-be Yogan saying, “We’ve just got engaged!!” He must have splurged his life savings to get that room (it was the lift for all the suites) and they were going all out.


Upmarket shopping heaven

The Harley Davidson Cafe

There’s literally something for everyone

 Driving from LA

The drive from LA to Las Vegas is easy and scenic.  It should only take about four hours but beware if there’s traffic that could double to eight and you’re stuck with no way to veer off course.

It’s wonderful for an Australian living on the West Coast to witness the change in landscape from the Canyons of LA to the vast desert of Nevada then be greeted by the uniqueness of the Strip that is Vegas.  The desert was something else–it was greener than I expected.  There were many Joshua Trees to make it interesting but there were also many green bushes.  What made our day though was seeing the tumbleweeds dancing amongst the bushes and Joshua Trees.  Picture perfect postcards straight from the movies.  The only thing missing was Roadrunner (they are real you know).

Don’t know what a Joshua Tree is?  Save you the Google, here’s the Wikipedia link.


The scenic drive from Vegas back to LA

While on the road the main thing that caught my attention were the groups of people clearly roadtripping.  It’s hard not to generalise but there were lots of groups of boys (you know? around 21 or so clearly going to have a good time) but also lots of families.  It wasn’t what I expected to see.  There was something about the way everyone was driving that suggested (like us) there was excitement in the car at the thought that in the next couple of hours they’d be in Vegas.

Arriving in Vegas

Get off the freeway as soon as you’re entering Vegas so you drive down the Strip.  It was such an exciting feeling pooping that roof down and feasting on all the sights and sounds Vegas has to offer.  We toured up and back to get our bearings and to soak in the atmosphere (also a great way to quickly check it out without needing to soak your feet in the bath for hours).

Check out my Vegas tip later in the post about cruising the Strip in style.

Vegas as a family

Vegas is doable as a family but you have to know what you want to do and plan a little.  For example when we arrived we went for a little wander and I wanted a pre-dinner drink and to give the kids a snack.  5:00 wasn’t a good time to get an outside table because they were keeping these for diners only yet the tables for drinks only was in the bar space which isn’t the best place for the kids.  Not a great start but we were off and running.  Thankfully mine are older now.

There’s lots to see.  And do.  Walking around and exploring the casinos is enough to fill your day.  Beware, wear comfortable shoes, there’s a lot of walking to do.  Do, however, think about what you’ll be doing and what you’ll be checking out.  You might feel comfy in those white runners, socks and shorts but you might not feel (or make it to a best-dressed list) the same when you walk into Dior looking for your next outfit (or trying to look like you can afford said outfit).

Nine things to do in Vegas (with the family):

  1. Take a helicopter out to the Grand Canyon.
  2. Book a suite–or score an upgrade.  Do your research as there are great deals out there.  Carefully check room sizes.
  3. Book a limo to take you around & cruise the Strip in style.
  4. Book a Show.  Or more than one Show.  There are literally tons to choose from.  And great acts with so much variety.  There are seven Cirque du Soleil shows alone.  Plus Britney Spears is playing at the moment.
  5. Trip around the world.  Start in Venice (the Venetian), head to Paris (Paris), Rome (Caesar’s Palace) & New York (New York New York).  If you’re feeling up to it visit Egypt too (Luxor).
  6. Go shopping.  Window shopping if you can’t afford the many designer shops on offer or outlet shopping if you wanna be but can’t be.  Don’t forget to visit the Ferrari dealer at the Wynn.  Our taxi driver tells us it sells more Ferraris than any other dealer in the US.
  7. Book restaurants ahead of time.  There are many walk-ins in Vegas being the tourist town but the waits (especially for outside tables) can be atrocious.  It’s easy to book beforehand so make your life easier by doing so.
  8. Detour to the Outlet shops, there are heaps to choose from and slightly less tax than in LA.
  9. Splurge a little: YOLO!

 So what did the kids think of Vegas?

They thought it was good.  They liked the different “countries” and things to do but they hated walking through the casinos to get there and the smell of smoke which was everywhere.  It’s funny how not so long ago cigarette smoke was in the air in restaurants and indoor places yet take it away and you get used to clean air.  Each casino is different though.  They enjoyed the shows and being exposed to all Vegas has to offer but they’re a bit straighty-180 so couldn’t cope with it for too long.  A long weekend is enough.

Last bit of advice: get in early to make good use of your first day (and beat the traffic) and save checking out nearby casinos til last.  That way you can venture out on your full days, still look around on your last day and hopefully get away ahead of the traffic.  No point ruining the moment by sitting in traffic on your way back to LA.

Most of all have fun!  There’s plenty to be had.

xx It Started in LA xx

If you’re planning a trip to Vegas check out my Pinterest page with links to shows, “resorts” and restaurants.

For more info on the World Seven’s go to:

updated with info on free shows around town June 26, 2014 11:10am LA time.

Fact or Fiction, Posts

Fact or Fiction: Beverly Hills was named after the Beverly Hills Hotel

I’ve got an appointment to check out my much-visited Beverly Hills Hotel next week so in that vein here’s this week’s Fact or Fiction.


Meanwhile, the answer to last week’s Fact or Fiction.

I met Robbie Williams at our local Starbucks.

Clearly everyone is starting to get the hang of this game and is starting to get the picture that we’re being exposed to some crazy scenarios. Yesterday my daughter and I were on our way home from a doctors appointment and we witnessed a very “possessed” pap clearly with his eye on his prize.  It’s everywhere here you just have to know what you’re looking for and be out and about to see it.  (Actually I think it was the same pap who told me I looked like “someone” the other week at my favourite restaurant.)

I digress … again …

66.67% of you thought that I had met Robbie (my wildcard) at our local Starbucks and 33.33% of you thought it was made up.

Well… only 33% of you were right.  Sadly I didn’t meet Robbie at our local Starbucks.  I don’t think he lives in LA anymore.  Bugger because he only lived up he road and apparently was often spotted at my local Starbucks so there was a chance I could’ve very easily bumped into him.

In fact, what spurred this Fact or Fiction on was a very vivid dream I had where I was coerced (by Robbie himself) into ‘fessing up that he was my wildcard celebrity shag.  I woke up in a cold sweat.

Enough dreaming, happy weekend & happy voting!

xx It Started In LA xx


NP Elle Beauty

Top four make-up trends for Spring 2014

Put your best face forward

Those of you that know me well might be thinking, “What does Gwen know about Spring 2014 Make-up trends?”  Well you’re right, except that if you follow me on Facebook &/or Instagram you might have seen my pics at the recent Napoleon Perdis / Elle Beauty Trends event as a VIP guest (shameless event-drop!) here in Hollywood.

It’s true I never really did the whole make-up thing.  I subscribed to the “natural look” long before it was invented.  And mine was more the vintage natural look rather than today’s drop-dead gorgeous natural look.

Frankly I’m not sure why I never really got into make-up.  I would sit for hours watching mum put her make -up on as I was growing up starting from when I was really young.  I remember her favourite shade vividly when I was little was green.  Very Charlie’s Angels.

My mum sent me on a deportment course where we were taught how to apply make-up (and yes walk and pluck eyebrows).  This was a big call because we were living in FNQ at the time  (Far North Queensland for you readers outside Australia and land of the thongs–ahem, flip flops).  When we returned to Melbourne from FNQ she took me on the obligatory trip to the Clinique counter at Myer to once again learn how to apply make-up, stock up and look my best.

Yet it didn’t stick.  Until now.

I was treated to a make-over session by Napoleon Perdis just before Christmas last year and I marvelled at how little make-up was used to make me look (& feel) a million dollars.  Yes, I asked for the natural look (to continue my perpetual fear of all things make-up).  Baby steps peoples, baby steps.

I was also surprised as to how much prep work went into creating my look and provide tone and creates angles on your face which were invisible to those looking but made all the difference in the world.  They’re so bloody clever!  So I became hooked, and slowly I started (and am continuing) to get more adventurous with the hues and colours and every excuse to get to Napoleon Perdis’s flagship Hollywood store I don’t hesitate!  But enough about me …

Top four trends

I believe Napoleon has just been over in Australia running a couple of sessions so you have been lucky enough to attend.  If not you’ll have to rely on me.  No drumroll, here are Napoleon Perdis’s top four make-up trends for (our-LA-our) Spring 2014.

  1. Art Pop–a pop of very dramatic colour usually around the eyes (blue, green & purple are your friends not your enemies)
  2. Natural–as the name suggests
  3. White Lines–fabulous look creating white lines around the eyes
  4. Flaming Lips–embracing bold, flaming lips.

My favourite is Natural with a touch of White Lines (I’m going back to see if it will work on me), a pop of colour and finished with Flaming Lips.  Well there’s no rule about not being able to dabble in each and every one!

This post wasn’t meant to be confessions of a make-up shy Princess but I rarely wore lipstick (I thought it made my lips dry) let alone wear anything bright.  I was given “Hara” (a flaming orange that’s to die for) to try and it’s my new go-to colour.  Not bad for someone who rarely wore lipstick or wore it as brown or nude could be.

If you’re in doubt over whether this translates in “real life” take a closer look at the make-up at the Oscars, in fact here’s a run-down of some of the best looks again at NP’s blog.  (I couldn’t agree more with the best look of the night who I gave an honourable mention to for her whole “package” in my own blog).

It’s always so much better to see what you read in Blogs and in mags translate into the real world and I think that’s what Napoleon Perdis does so well.

Anyway, I’m no Beauty Editor so if you want to see more and learn more about the night check out NP’s very own blog at:

If you click on the video you’ll be able to see me in the front row (hint: it’s at exactly the 0.27s mark)!  The blog shows examples of each of the looks.

Let me share three things with you I learnt from the night.

  1. Start with mascara.  And add a coat of mascara last.
  2. Apply lipstick from the outside coming in–and don’t forget to go all the way into the “join” of the lips
  3. Add lipliner after the lipstick.

It was such a treat to see Napoleon at work (probably even more so for me because I’ve never appreciated the art of make-up).

A flick of the brush here, a bit of concealer there, contour there, colour here … and voila! you’re transformed into a beauty.  No exaggeration, they make it look so simple.

In fact since I’ve been putting more effort into my make-up my friends have been saying I’m looking good often saying that LA suits me.  Well I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with the fun I’m having here and everything to do with the special things I’m doing to my face.  So thank you Napoleon Perdis!

BTW here is a link to the official pics on the night:

These pics are waaay better than the ones I took.

Why not treat yourself?  Even if you’re “good” with make-up there are always trade secrets the Napoleon Perdis team is happy to share.  As Napoleon says, even if you only walk away with one thing it’ll be worth it.  Couldn’t agree more!

Have a good weekend everyone!

xx It Started in LA xx

Psst … the irony is not at all lost on me that I’ve come all the way to Hollywood to be introduced with one of Australia’s best loved brands.  Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!

Beauty editor tip: if your lips are dry from lipstick use a lip scrub (there are how-to recipes on You Tube & Lush does a good one) and get some Lip Service from Napoleon Service, it soothes and moisturises your lips.  Oh, also pop it on before your lipstick.

Slash--Fact or Fiction
Fact or Fiction

Fact or Fiction: Slash came to the kids school

Fact or Fiction?

This week’s Fact or Fiction is back on gossipy things that may or may not have happened around us.  So this week’s statement is:

Slash came to the kids’ school.

Cast your votes now, it’s easy to do and you’ll either be right or wrong.

Eighty per cent of you were on the money last week with the answer to:

Bel Air is a suburb of LA with its own postcode.

Bel Air as an actual suburb of LA with its own postcode is indeed a myth.  If you see someone’s address as Bel Air then they’re just showing off.  Their actual address is Los Angeles and 90049 (for example, there are a few LA postcodes that cover “Bel Air”).

Here’s a good blog page I found with some good stuff on Bel Air, bit of light reading for the weekend.

Happy weekend & happy voting.

xx It Started In LA xx

Image taken from wikipedia:

Celebrity, Posts

Which one’s Craig?

We’ve got a few more friends coming in to town so I called one of my favourite restaurants–our go-to when we have friends come to LA–to secure a couple of reservations.

The guy on the phone took my details, you know? When, what time etc.  Then he said, “Name?”

“Gwen,” I replied.

“Oh Gwen, how are you sweetheart?” I knew immediately who it was on the other end of the phone.  One of my first LA girlfriends had recommended I go to this popular restaurant and was instrumental in getting my 9:30 booking changed to the more civilised time of 8:00.  She’s a regular and knows Craig well.

From that time the Matre D’ acknowledged me telling everyone I was Renee’s friend.  Then I had moved on from being Renee’s friend to being “Gwen”. I was in.

So, you can imagine how chuffed I was that even on the phone I was recognised.  I’ve made it and to no less than one of the restaurants to be seen at in LA.  I posted it straight to Facebook and was happy our transition to LA was looking very good.  I’m doing my job well: give yourself a pat on the back Gwen.

Fast forward one week to yesterday.  I looked up the website to call to see if I could get a last-minute dinner booking for my hot date with my son.  I knew it was a long shot but it was worth the try.  I clicked through to an article in the New York Times on the birth of the restaurant and how Craig had gone from being Matre D’ at one of LA’s finest to running his own restaurant.

I knew that so of course I assumed the Matre D’ was “Craig”.  That’s a pretty fair assumption, right?  Exactly what I thought.

Well that’s not what the pic on said article showed.  No, it’s the guy who schmoozes around half working, half chatting up the guests.  Well it makes sense now I say it that way–and I know who the real Craig is doesn’t it?  Duh!  Really, how could I have been so amateur?!

One of my friends I’ve taken there recently described him as the classiest pimp in town–sitting at the booths with the gorgeous chicks and hot celebs, being one of the guests.  I suppose he has one of the best jobs in the world.  He lets his (very professional and gorgeous) Matre D’ do all the hard work while he does what he does best–keep the celebs (and me) happy!

Looking forward to dinner there tomorrow night.  I’ll be careful who I call Craig.

Only in LA.

xx It Started in LA xx

West Gate, Bel Air
Celebrity, Fact or Fiction

Fact or Fiction: Bel Air

Fact or Fiction?????

Welcome back to this week’s Fact or Fiction.  It’s good to see voting increased by more than 15% this week.  Get on board, it’s a bit of fun.

This week’s item drifts away from me being centre stage to an LA Trivia question.  And the statement is …

Bel Air is a suburb of LA with its own postcode.


Thanks to the people who responded to last week’s Fact or Fiction.  The answer to:

Rod Stewart’s son is in my kids’ swim team.

was: Fact.

66.67% thought it was Fiction
33.33% thought it was Fact.

I am unashamedly a Rod Stewart fan.  I remember when I was younger we were on holidays staying at my uncle’s house in Wales.  He used to get The Sun daily and one week it had a Rod Stewart spotlight–a series about him, his life, his loves, his career etc.  Well I was hooked from that minute on.

So, when we turned up at the end of last year to one of the kids’ swimming finals and I glance up at the bleachers and see Rod Stewart–complete with hair and pastels–I did little to stay cool.  I couldn’t take a photo, I wouldn’t go talk to him and I was a mess.  (So much for the motto of staying cool).  I couldn’t get my words out–I was standing a few metres away from the one and only Rod Stewart. Ahhhhhhhhh indeed!

His wife, BTW, is gorgeous.  We did talk to her.  That was surreal in its own way because (apart from being a former famous model herself) she was talking about the upcoming holidays and their plans like they were normal people.  Of course they were–are–but it was totally surreal.

I heart LA.  And that’s how this blog started with simple everyday, surreal stories like that.  I can’t wait for the swimming season to start.  I just hope he’s not in Vegas for most of it!

Answer to this week’s post will come next week as usual.  Happy Friday Australia (and Asia).  UK and Europe you’re somewhere in between so happy weekend eve!

I’ll keep the link up to his Vegas concerts (and others for that matter) in case you want to fly over and see Rod Stewart live in Vegas.  I’m certainly going to try to get there.

xx It Started in LA xx


Beverly Hills

A retrospective: six months in LA

Well I’ve made it.  We’ve made it.  I’ve been in LA six months and live to tell the tale.  Time has flown by (although not the first six weeks).  Sometimes I feel like we’ve been here forever and others I still feel like I’m finding my way around (not just geographically but socially).

I gave us 12 months to settle in given it’s not an Expat assignment and the kids are older so the school networks wouldn’t work the same.  Turns out I was wrong.

The school community especially have welcomed us with open arms.

Settling in can still be a roller coaster but when I consider all the things we’ve done in the last six months, it’s incredible.

So far we’ve:

  • Had seven lots of friends visit: either on-site at BH HQ or in LA
  • Met dozens of new friends
  • Been on the set of hit show, “Scandal”
  • Lent our foley talent to the show “Revenge”
  • Been to the Warner Bros/InStyle mag after-party of the Golden Globes
  • Spent an amazing 24 hours in Palm Springs
  • Been in the middle of several pap scenes at our favourite restaurants
  • Seen Josh Jackson & Diane Kruger escape through the kitchen of same favourite West Hollywood restaurant to avoid the paps
  • (I’ve) seen Joan Collins, Bette Middler, Gene Simmons, Jermaine Jackson Rod Stewart & too many to mention at the Golden Globes
  • Been to our first Lakers’ game at the Staples Centre
  • Been to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
  • Cruised up the Californian Coast from LA to San Francisco crossing off a major bucket-list item
  • Been thrust into the heart of Hollywood and Beverly Hills (and live to tell the tale)
  • (Nathan’s) been to his first Oscars event at the Beverly Hills Hotel
  • Grown amazingly from the experience.

Oh, and I forgot the big one: started a Blog.  Sounds surreal doesn’t it?  I heart LA.

Have a great week.

xx It All Started in LA xx

Posts, Soapbox

Parties 90210 style

I started watching “Rich Kids of Beverly Hills” the other day.  Seriously?  I don’t know what to think.  Apart from being hooked I don’t why on earth these kids would subject themselves to “starring” in this show.  I’m sure they think they’re so much better than everyone else and that people want to be them.  (No one is denying they’d like just a little bit of their money).  It’s really sad.  For me it always comes back to, “what do their parents think?”  Are they so far removed from the real world that they think the same way (after all the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree?).

So it got me thinking about my kids growing up in Beverly Hills. Thankfully, we’re not in the flats so our worlds are vastly different and (it feels like) the only real thing we share is a postcode.  Having said that the kids have friends that live there and they seem normal too.

I’ve mentioned that my kids go to an exclusive private school and there are a large number of uber wealthy families there.  The school is a lovely nurturing community that has welcomed us with open arms, both as a family and for the kids.  Not for one minute does this warm welcome feel put on in any way either.  So, to me my reality doesn’t fit with the premise of the Show.

In the episode I watched they were planning a party (one that hardly anyone attended I might add!).  When planning their list they named people from outside their clique “groupers” (pronounced by them groopers–as in “groupies”) yet they were planning to invite them.  I guess they need the groupers as much as the groupers need them? (Groupers are bottom feeders in fish terms lowest on the list, when translated to #RKOBH speak means those who want to get invited to the “cool” parties .  I thought things like that finished in high school, no wonder these girls don’t have jobs.

Recently my son went to a birthday party at the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel.  It was on Saturday night and the hosts had cordoned off an area for the party guests.

It was a pretty swank affair for Year 8 kids (same in Australia; Yr 9 in UK)–actually it’d be a pretty swank affair for me I have to say.

The party gave everyone lots to talk about and the girls had to decide what to wear: to get really dressed up or play it down a little and just look “nice”.  The party girl wore a designer frock and from all accounts the girls went all out to look glam.  I would’ve loved to have hosted that Red Carpet event for this blog now I think of it.

Luckily for my son “what to wear” wasn’t a big deal for him.  The big deal for us what what on earth do you buy a girl who has everything?  We decided on Pink (by Victoria’s Secret) Body lotion & matching scent plus threw in a packet of Tim Tams with instructions on how to eat them.

Maybe they’re a bit young but I’m sure none of the people at that party were thinking of whether they were an “it” crowd or “groupers” or whether their friends are uber wealthy, slightly wealthy or just rich (or heaven forbid normal!).  Sure, there’s some jockeying of positions and the size of people’s houses get talked about and where they holiday in the summer but I hope these kids don’t make it to future series of “Rich Kids of Beverly Hills”.

Maybe I’m already localised but I’m hoping these kids ham it up for the cameras.  I’m sure they do.  It’s just like none of my friends are anything like the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”.  I think they’re more like Brandon & Brenda, Dylan, Kelly, Donna & Steve.

xx It Started in LA xx

Postscript: I saved this article to draft and went to lunch at my favourite Cabana Cafe at the Beverly Hills Hotel.  Who should walk in but the two “stars” Morgan & Dorothy.  Get out of town.  Too funny.  Only in LA!

Fact or Fiction

Fact or Fiction: Kim Kardashian

Fact or Fiction???

updated February 6, 2014 LA time

Kim Kardashian lived just up the road from us (and a few doors down from a friend of mine). She moved out just as we moved in.

No cheating locals …

Answer on next Fact or Fiction post.

xx It Started In LA xx


Sensa Diet Week 4

Today marks four weeks since I’ve been sprinkling Sensa on everything I eat.  Overall I’m feeling lighter and my tummy is not as bloated and has most definitely shrunk.  It’s a bit of a bugger I didn’t take my measurements really.  (Note to self: I probably still can now).

Anyway, I’m not going to bore you with a long prose except to say I’m still finding the diet so easy.  I had a slight hiccup on Sunday where I forgot to sprinkle but other than that the Sensa pack comes with me everywhere I go.

Sensa Diet Week 4

Sensa Diet Week 4

This week’s verdict? I’ve lost another 0.2 kilos making it a total of about three kilos since I stacked on the holiday weight in Mexico & San Francisco.  About to switch to month two so we’ll see if that kick starts it again.  Around three kilos to go …

xx It Started In LA xx


Palm Springs
Posts, Travelog, Visiting LA

Palm Springs Heaven

If you’re visiting LA and have a couple of days up your sleeve, seriously consider a trip to Palm Springs, a couple of hours out of LA.

The view of a golf course from the mountain I hiked on.

The view of a golf course from the mountain I hiked on.

How gorgeous and stylish can a desert be?  Really?  Well Palm Springs proves it can be.  It is one of the most beautiful places on earth.  It has its own look and feel: a cross between 1950’s/1960’s vintage glamour and a classic movie set.  Those coffee-table books you see depicting that quintessential California style brings images of Palm Springs to the forefront of your mind don’t just pick out the best of the best–it’s all like that.

A weekend feels like a week and the feng shui–with the mountains surrounding you, protecting you–brings a sense of tranquility and well-being to the place.  Why aren’t all the rehab clinics here?

Add to that its history as a place where Hollywood’s A-listers came to play and you’ve got yourself a magical recipe of gastronomical proportions.

OK, it probably helps that I was invited by a friend who has the most divine house.  OOzing Palm Springs style I was not only cast as a leading lady in a vintage movie (or Slim Aarons coffee table book) but I was treated to one of the most gorgeous weekend experiences ever.  From sightseeing to shopping, lunches and dinners to hiking and a foot massage thrown in in-between she knew how to host so her guests felt like royalty.

At least I’ve known Palm Springs the luxe destination.  When I return it’ll still be amazing but it makes a difference where you stay.  So, I’m going to save my pennies and stay in one of the many hotels that also look like they’re out of a Hollywood movie.  Maybe by then they’ll be hosting me! Share my blog and let’s see where I can stay!

Check out my Pinterest board for all things Palm Springs & some of the hotel suggestions I’m going to consider for my next visit.

The view from the mountain I hiked on.

The view from the mountain I hiked on.

The view from the mountain I hiked on.

The view from the mountain I hiked on.

Part of the hike trail.

Part of the hike trail.

The country club in Palm Springs.

Escena in Palm Springs.

xx It Started in LA xxx


Updated Jan 24, 2014 @ 8:42 (LA time)


Pinch me. Now. Before I wake up.

Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be living here. In Beverly Hills.  This time a year ago I was blissfully happy living life in Sydney (Australia) with the most fabulous friends and loving the Australian lifestyle.  Yet here I am. Still having fun but surrounded by all things surreal.

Welcome to my blog–It started in LA–where I’ll talk about everything from celebrity to fashion to style to movies to TV to life. (I’ll throw in shopping & restaurants in between).  I’ll poke some fun at myself (because I do some stupid things).  Plus it wouldn’t be me without a soapbox moment.  Please be prepared to join in!

Above all … I’ll share with you the sights, sounds and experiences Beverly Hills, Hollywood, LA and beyond … have to offer.

It all started right here … in LA. Lala land.

xx It Started in LA xx

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