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sydney

Differences between America & Australia, Expat tales, My LA story, Posts

A postcard from Sydney

G’day LA.

A Postcard from Sydney.  I’m still recovering from my trip to Sydney which was a whirlwind.  There’s never enough time to do what you need to do.

One of my highlights was getting back into the early morning rises for swimming training.  (If you’ve been following along he’s on a quest to qualify for the CIF–Californian Interscholastic Federation–made up of private and public schools across California and his coach suggested it was not OK to take two weeks off swimming in the middle of the season). I was so happy to wake early and even more happy that his old school took him in to train with them without question, in face welcome him with open arms. There is nothing more glorious than the site of nearly 100 boys swimming sets when even the sun hasn’t bothered to get up yet.

An hour later we’re on our way to the American Embassy applying for new Visas for another couple of years in LA.

Why would you want to leave Australia I was often asked?  What a great question.  It made me think (and appreciate) …

10 things I love about living in Sydney

1.   Our Beach House (& the unspoilt beaches in general)

Ah yes, our beach house.  Who needs holidays were you have to spend hours on end researching the ins and outs of new destinations when your home away from home is on the white sands of Jervis Bay with uninterrupted views, crystal clear water and unspoiled beaches? It’s the simple things.

It doesn't get much more spectacular than this

It doesn’t get much more spectacular than this

2.   Boats & Water sports

One of our favourite things to do is to head down to “The Shire” to spend a day with our gorgeous friends wallowing away the day.  The kids get to do all things watersports: wake boarding, tubing & biscuiting, Jetskiing, swimming and paddling around and we get to top up our Champagne glass and feed the adventurers when they’re hungry.  Good old-fashioned fun all day.

Doesn't get much more fun than this for the kids--and the grown-ups

Doesn’t get much more fun than this for the kids–and the grown-ups

And we can repeat it all again at the Beach House all summer long.

Ahhh the things we took for granted.

3.   Saturday Sport

Yep, seriously.  I never really whinged about Saturday sport: I loved getting up to watch my kids play and participate week after week for their school.  I also loved meeting and catching up with other parents.  So long as we have a coffee in hand (and a good BBQ complete with egg & bacon rolls) Saturday sport is a gift we give our kids.  And everyone knows where they stand: ‘no show’ means immediate detention and if you can’t commit then you’re presence isn’t required at the school.  That’s what you sign up for and besides, there’s nothing more important than teamwork, representing your school and good sportsmanship.

4.   Australian private school and the attitude to educating kids

When the Principal at my kids school here in LA said in reference to changing the girls uniform because they were sick of the short skirts–and they were short:

(I’m paraphrasing) “our job is not to be bogged down disciplining your kids it’s to educate”.  Wait one cotton-picking moment.  Screech those brakes.  Absolutely not.

Together the school and the parents must set boundaries for the kids and show them that if those boundaries are tested then there are consequences for those actions.  And those consequences aren’t changing a uniform because some girls don’t know how short is too short.  Those girls can learn a lesson–the hard way.

That’s how it is in Australian private schools and it doesn’t seem to be how it is in LA’s private schools.  I really miss that.

5.  Picnics in the park or by the beach–with wine (shock, horror)

As we were driving to friends house on our last night in Sydney we drove past the local park on a beautiful sunny Sydney afternoon.  There were groups of mums & kids sitting in circles on picnic blankets; kids playing happily (not without incident though!) and mums with a well-deserved glass of wine in hand.  After all it was Thursday and nearly the weekend.

Many of my best friendships solidified from “Friday arvo park days” or Champagne arvos.  And the best bit: you could walk home and no one has a mess to clean up.

6.  Pubs

Or is it Australia’s drinking culture I miss most? I’m not sure. Every afternoon pubs are crowded with people catching up for a drink or two after work.  Here in LA it can happen but it’s more like grabbing an early dinner then doing a runner once it’s finished.

7.  Everything revolves around a drink

Case in point.  I had exactly 50 minutes to catch up with a very dear girlfriend.  I dropped in to her house and she opened her fridge and there was no wine.

“It’s OK water’s fine,” I said.

“Wait, what time do you have to leave?  Right we’ve got enough time to go to The Three Weeds, have a drink and be back in time.”

With that we both walked out the door.  And guess what? We did it.  And we loved it.  And that’s something I sorely miss about my Aussie mates and Australia.

Back to point 6–there are pubs everywhere it doesn’t take you long to get to your nearest one to catch up over one or two “sherbets”.

8.  Public Transport

Yes! It might be shite because it never runs on time but you know it’s there if you need it (and you need it to head into the city because the cost to park is highway robbery).

But what I love best about the public transport system is the fact that my kids can catch the bus or train to and from school.  Not only does it give them a social outlet but it gives them freedom and a sense of responsibility.  And it means I’m not driving to and from their school two or three times a day or trying to schedule carpool.

9.  Corner shops and everything at arm’s length

You’ve already been to the supermarket but you forgot to buy milk.  I miss being able to send the kids to the corner shop to pick up the milk or bread, or even get me coffee.

The first thing the kids want to do is get on the bikes and ride to the fish & chips shop and get fish & chips for dinner.  Because they can.  All I have to do is handover the wallet.

10.  Bogans

Seriously.  Where would we be without bogans?  Where would we be without the newest breed of bogans of the cashed-up variety?  I’ve forgotten all about bogans living in LA, there really is no other breed quite like them.  Bless Bogans.  For those of you who don’t know what a bogan is… well that’s a whole other post!

Bona fide bogans: Kath & Kim (Image taken from The Daily Life)

Bona fide bogans: Kath & Kim (Image taken from The Daily Life)

What are 10 things you miss about your home city?  Or what are 10 things you don’t miss!  Would love you to share.

xx It Started in LA xx

%sos
Celebrity, Movies and TV, Posts, Sydney

Five seconds of summer

I’m back from a week in Sydney. I was working—which I miss more than I thought—and had arranged a fabuluxe couple of days of Sydney indulgence for my clients. To top it off their day on the Harbour coincided with Australia Day so it would be an amazing experience to remember.

As I prepared the incredible itinerary, had all my ducks lined up tightly I was packing for the trip and questioning my fee as there really wasn’t much for me to do but sit by the pool and make sure my guests had a good tie then knew where they had to be when next. Life couldn’t really get much better than that could it?

Well yes except for the fact that Sydney had not done her glorious self any justice and instead of turning on the sunshine she turned on the cold. And rain. And rain. And rain. Australia Day in Sydney 2015 was the coldest in 50 years.  The bottom line was I ended up working my tail off but all’s well that ends well.

It was interesting to be in Sydney for a (wet) Australia Day.  It didn’t dampen the spirits of many people who still went out to watch and join in the festivities on the Harbour but it did keep many people away. And prompted me to cancel my Water Taxi trips for the rest of the two days. It reminded me of the Fourth of July we spent in San Diego just six months ago but I have to say I think Sydney turns it on somewhat bigger and better (am I allowed to say that?).

What a Harbour Sydney is. It’s not until you move away that you really truly appreciate the City you call your hometown. For the five seconds I was there when the sun was shining it was gleaming—positively showing off. And even when the sun wasn’t shining the Harbour still looked majestic.

I’ve got a bit of a bee in my bonnet about Americans (I haven’t bitched about my host country for a while). When I get asked where I’m from and I reply Sydney, Australia everyone—I mean everyone—says “Oh I love Australia, I really want to go but it’s so far.”

Even this morning on the radio as they were interviewing an Australian singer they said the same thing.  But it’s 10 hours to Europe and no one even stops to think about it. It’s only an extra couple of hours. Stop yearning a Sydney visit and jetsetting back to Europe each year, have a Nike moment: Just Do It.

In honour of Sydney I thought I’d share my two-day itinerary. I’ve added a third option in there if you’re not inclined to head to the Blue Mountains.

If you’ve only got a couple of days in Sydney here’s what I recommend:

  • A day on the Harbour. There are lots of things to do from catching a ferry to Manly or the Zoo or even Watson’s Bay and having lunch. But whatever you do, get amongst it on the Harbour. If the weather is kind to you it truly is magnificent. If you’re on a budget the ferries are an economical way to get on; there are many cruises but if you can hire a charter to take you wherever you like without having to share a boat with hundreds of other tourists.If you head to Manly think about ‘wasting’ the afternoon basking in the sunshine at Hugo’s.  Unlike LA you can sit and drink and snack all day and they won’t try and move you on and give you the ‘check’.
  • A trip to the Blue Mountains. Hiring a car in Australia isn’t as cheap as the US but it’s worth it rather than being forced to follow someone else’s itinerary. I recommend one of the numerous hikes around and also a trip to Scenic World—the Sky Railway, Skyway & Cableway—are great ways to get different aspects of the Three Sisters and natural wonders (provided of course there is visibility).High Tea is also popular thing to do in this region. The Hydro Majestic is one of the most glorious places for High Tea in the area so I highly recommend an afternoon there.
  • Hang out at Bondi. Or Bronte. And walk between the two. One of the most popular things to do—and be seen—in Sydney. It’s a coastal walk that links two of Sydney’s most popular Eastern suburbs beaches. Fortunately for foodies like me there are some fabulous restaurants at either side to reward the walk.

For dinners I sent them to Aqua Dining and Aria, both are popular spots with exceptional views. My favourite was by far Guillaume at Bennelong in the Opera House (and a must-do for foodies and view-chasers alike) but sadly it’s now closed down at the Opera House and moved to Paddington so if you’re not looking for a view it’s still an option.

Leaving my clients to dine alone I went with friends to the long-awaited new Billy Kwong (yum, yum, triple yum) in Potts Point and Felix (so good) at The Ivy. Neither disappointed and I can’t wait for my next Sydney gastronomic experience.

I have to also say that I don’t often get starstruck but I was so impressed to see Kylie Kwong at the helm at Billy Kwong.  She was too busy to ask for a selfie but I did applaud her on her work (yes, I’m sure she’s feeling much better now that I’ve told her that).

KK

Kylie Kwong in Action

Back in LA

It’s good to be back at home. I came back to the household in better order (apparently) then when I’m here and life with Dad is so much better than with mum at the helm. This begs the question why is it always so damn hard to get away? I’m storing that for next time I’m looking for some me-time.

On Friday night we attended the ACE Eddies. The ACE is the American Cinema Editors (http://americancinemaeditors.org/) who are those clever people that edit the movies to make sense and are riveting to watch. One of the stats about one of the ACE Honorees was that he put together a six-minute action sequence from 30 hours of raw footage. Wow. I’m flat out editing 1,200 word blogs. I have to say though, they might be good at editing other people’s work but there were some incredibly long speeches–no one cutting down their speeches. These awards aren’t televised so there’s no music timing them out. Note to organisers, you might like to time them just the same.

I got to come face-to-face with (or be at the same event as) Matt Damon and Chris Pratt and sit through my second Awards night. There were two stand-out presenters: MC for the night Mary Lynn Rajskub (best known for playing the annoyingly annoying Chloe O’Brian on 24) and The Goldbergs patriarch Jeff Garlin.

Never underestimate the importance of a good presenter—and one who can ad-lib ad infinitum providing a much-needed break from the night (not that you don’t want to honour those being awarded). The classic was when Jeff Garlin (who came out to present in a Beverly Hilton robe saying they’d dragged him down from his room to present) changed his story at the end saying he was driving past in his car and they dragged him in. “But I thought we dragged you down from your room?” asked his co-presenter. “Yes, you dragged me from my room sitting in a car,” he said, exaggerating the gaff. It just made it all funnier.

As for Mary Lynn Rajskub—who joked about people editing the spelling and pronunciation of her name—she was very funny. There were drug references, there was sexual innuendo and very good comedy. Who would know the insipid and extremely painful Chloe O’Brian comes from such good stock. How does spunky, funny and entertaining produce whiny, annoying and do-gooder? Character acting at its best no doubt.

Amongst the winners Lego Movie got its own back from its snub from the Oscars, Boyhood got the nod for dramatic feature film over the movies we were ‘rooting’ for American Sniper & Whiplash; and The Grand Budapest Hotel beat Birdman and Guardians of the Galaxy (we were ‘rooting’ for both movies) for best edited feature film (comedy or musical). Our other favourite show to take out an Eddie was Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown: Iran.

The winners in this four-hour marathon were:

65th annual ACE EDDIE Awards Winners:

BEST EDITED FEATURE FILM (DRAMATIC): Boyhood – Sandra Adair, ACE
BEST EDITED FEATURE FILM (COMEDY OR MUSICAL): The Grand Budapest Hotel – Barney Pilling
BEST EDITED ANIMATED FEATURE FILM: Lego Movie – David Burrows & Chris McKay
BEST EDITED DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE): Citizenfour – Mathilde Bonnefoy
BEST EDITED DOCUMENTARY (TELEVISION): The Roosevelts: An Intimate History: Episode 3 / The Fire of Life – Erik Ewers
BEST EDITED HALF-HOUR SERIES FOR TELEVISION: Veep: “Special Relationship” – Anthony Boys
BEST EDITED ONE-HOUR SERIES FOR COMMERCIAL TELEVISION: Sherlock: “His Last Vow”  – Yan Miles
BEST EDITED ONE-HOUR SERIES FOR NON-COMMERCIAL TELEVISION: True Detective: “Who Goes There” – Affonso Gonçalves
BEST EDITED MINISERIES OR MOTION PICTURE FOR TELEVISION: The Normal Heart – Adam Penn
BEST EDITED NON-SCRIPTED SERIES: Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown: Iran – Hunter Gross
BEST STUDENT EDITING: Johnny Sepulveda (Video Symphony)

Super Bowl

I’m not going to say much more about the Super Bowl except we went to a Super Bowl party and I still don’t really understand the game. Part of the tradition is to play Football Squares. When you don’t understand the game it’s a fun thing to play along with as the score changes.

Essentially, you have a grid with 10 rows across and 10 down (100 squares). You ask everyone to put their name in a square. Each square is a bet of your choosing (I think ours was $5).

Once the names are assigned the organiser randomly puts numbers on the top and to the side of the grid and also assigns each of the two teams to either the top or the side. Usually there’s a winner after each quarter and they win a percentage of the pot.

The winner is worked out by looking at the last number in each team’s score and then matching those numbers on the grid and seeing which square intersects those two numbers. Follow? Neither did I. But say the score was Seahawks 24 and Patriots 28. The final payout was determined by finding out which square intersected at 4 and 8 on the grid. I’ll give you the tip, it wasn’t me. We did, however, win the second & third quarters so we did OK.

(Source: for more info).

(BTW in case you missed it, the (Seattle) Seahawks got pipped at the post so to speak and lost to the (Boston) Patriots and the score in the eg above was the final score).

 

What about the entertainment?

I don’t know about you but I was disappointed in Katy Perry—until Firework anyway when I think she nailed it. I think the critics actually applauded her but the people I “interviewed” thought it was a bit ho-hum. It was to be the Super Bowl performance to knock out all other performances but I disagree. That’s the problem when you over-hype yourself. And what’s with bringing in the Special guests? See all that says to me is that you’re not backing yourself to pull off the performance on your own. And poor Katy until Firework you could hardly hear her. She’s got a good voice but no point if you can’t hear it. At least she finished on a good note.

Bruno Mars last year … now there was a performance. So maybe I just missed the hype last year but when the Red Hot Chilli Peppers came they didn’t take from Bruno Mars, they just made it somehow more brilliant. Bravo Bruno you’ve set the benchmark for me. Katy, or whoever is up next year, take a leaf out of his book. Yes, it was at the Super Bowl 2014 that I really and truly fell in love with Bruno Mars.  And realised what an amazing performer he actually is. (Wonder if he lives in LA?)

I missed the ads again this year. Except the Snickers Brady Bunch ad. Hysterical. If you didn’t see it make the round on social media last week here it is:

It’s worth watching I’ll give you the tip. Here are (according to two different people) the Top 10 Super Bowl Commercials 2015—they’re so different but they’ve both got some good ads in there.

 

I don’t know about you but I want to play Pacman—how fun.

That’s my second SuperBowl under my belt, hopefully next year I’ll actually know how to read the squares when I win ;-).

Five Seconds of Summer

You’re probably wondering why this week’s post is named after my five seconds of Sydney summer or the latest, hottest boy-band sensation to come out of Sydney? It is absolutely the latter. After delaying my flight by a day I got the joy of flying home with said band who are headed to LA to record their next album. I’ve invited them over for Sunday Roast—wonder if they’ll take me up on my offer? I doubt it but my daughter can dream.

5sos

Selfie with two of the boys from Five Seconds of Summer #5sos

 

Good luck boys, you were truly gracious participants in the Gwen selfie, success is yet to hit them so thumbs up. This is probably my best to date.  (BTW in case you don’t know pictured are Calum & Luke).

Problem with flying home with them was I couldn’t stop singing, “She looked so perfect standing there in her American Apparel underwear …” lucky I didn’t break into song for them.

Have a good week everyone,

xx It Started in LA xx

 

PS: What did you think of Katy Perry? Do you have mad 5sos fans at your place? Let me know what you think.

Maude's
LA Restaurants, Posts

Curtis Stone: more than just the spunky Coles guy

“Curtis Stone has brought Australia’s flare for food and flavours to LA in what goes down as one of my greatest dining experiences to date in a city with dozens of celebrity Chefs and amazing restaurants. Who knew the Coles guy was THAT good? Bravo.”

I heard a couple of months ago that spunky Australian Celebrity Chef Curtis Stone opened up a 25-seat restaurant in Beverly Hills to rave reviews and he was personally there to make sure everything goes exactly to his plan.

And what a plan it was–or is.  Nothing is left to chance, from the single-fronted front door with nothing more than the signature “M” and a gorgeous lime tree to let those in the know know where they are.  To the exquisitely styled and very warm feeling you get when you walk through the door.  To the toilets and the gorgeous coconut-scented body and hand lotion. To the “party favour” raspberry tea and copy of the menu left with us as a take-away.  To the eclectic china and featuring Australian crockery given to Curtis as a gift by Australia’s Consulate-General in LA the warm and lovely Karen Lanyon. To the fact that the gratuity is added taking the hassle out of that pesky tipping thing that goes on here.

Nothing is meant to be easy

Getting a reservation at Maude’s is not easy.  And I have to say that the trouble it caused me was bugging me and I had a nervous feeling about whether this was going to be worth it or not.

In Australia we’re used to stupid booking rules like you must call three months in advance on a full moon when the restaurant is open and someone is there to fill up the next three months’ worth of reservations in 20 minutes.  But not here in LA where you depend upon your Open Table account or personally knowing the Maître D’ (usually the later).  Click here to book.

What I was stressed about was booking two months in advance not knowing whether we’d be in town, who’d be around and whether we could make the 5:30pm reservation which is the only one I could get for a table (party) of four.  First-world problems when you’re stressed about a restaurant booking and being slugged with a $100 cancellation fee if the table is not rebooked.

Perfect styling

Alas it all came together: my husband was in town and fellow Australian friends were free to join us.  We were on our way.

Maude's

Classic styling inside Maude’s–you just know you’re in for a treat the minute you walk in the door

 

The first thing we had to do was take in the meticulous styling: modern French Provincial with an enviable collection of old jugs, bowls and champagne buckets.  The next thing I noticed, at our table for four, was the table was big enough to accommodate us all really comfortably despite the intimacy of the restaurant.  All goes to suggest that rather than cramming in a couple of extra tables Curtis was focused on his aim to provide “equals parts comfortable and luxurious”.  And the staff were warm and welcoming, knowledgeable and not at all snooty as you might imagine they could have a tendency to be at such a special place.  I imagine this is not an accident and that warm, friendly Australian way shines through so much so you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in Melbourne or Sydney.

So not LA

The food.  Oh the food.  I’m not a food writer but I am an “enjoyer of fine food, restaurants and wine”.  I died and went to heaven.

A bit like an episode from Masterchef Curtis chooses a core ingredient and prepares a nine-course tasting menu around that.  Our core ingredient was berries–and you’d be surprised what falls into the berry family.

Gazpacho

Gazpacho served from Australian-emblemed crockery

 

We started with Gazpacho, enjoyed a meticulously prepared lobster that was a textural delight and savoured the crepe with gooseberries, stracciatella and truffle that was one of our favourites for the evening.

Crepe

Crepe | Gooseberries, Stracciatella, Truffle

 

Each taste was the perfect size to savour every mouthful and hang on every bite providing multiple orgasms per round–wanting more but being satisfied with what you had.  As  our friend put it, “there were lots of ‘oh my gods’ proclaimed”.

At the doughnut round (three exquisite round balls one each filled with custard, strawberries and apple) we were satisfied but agreed we could go again.

Donuts

Berry-inspired Donuts

 

And as if it was a deliberate strategy out comes the mouth-watering peach melba with berries and “blah, blah, blah”.  He had us at that peach melba and we were lost for words, say what you like we had officially died and gone to heaven.

Fresh Berry Tart

The final orgasm: peach melba

 

Bravo Curtis Stone.  You are pushing the envelope for LA Dining.  I wonder if others will follow suit and bring the fresh food and flavours to LA that we miss so much from back home.  It is absolutely Ausmerican where LA and Sydney collide to provide nothing short of perfect.

I’ll be on that phone again on the first of next month trying to book a table stressing about whether we’ll be in town and who’ll be around and whether or not I’ll have to forfeit the booking and face the possibility of the cancellation fee.

Except next time I’ll advertise my reservation on Craig’s list as the most coveted and available reservation in LA those in the know would kill to have.

Hail Curtis Stone, the new king of LA dining.

xx It Started in LA xx

Psst: There is no Valet Parking (which I joked would be its biggest fail before arriving there) but there is a parking station right next door and I think you should book an Uber anyway to take advantage of the wine-pairing menu.

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.

Disneyland

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

Keep Clear
My LA story, Posts

Driving in LA: take your life into your own hands

One of my friends, a fellow Blogger, recently posted about the frustrations of driving in Sydney.  What a great book this would make.  Imagine a book on driving in many different cities in the world.  In the Philippines it would be the art of turning two lanes into five.  In Shanghai it would be the art of making your own lanes–two wide-ish lanes can make three.  In Melbourne it would be the art of speeding up the minute the car in front of you indicates to change into your lane.  Obviously so said car can’t get in front of you.

Ahh the idiosyncrasies of navigating the roads in different cities.

Short of publishing a book I thought I’d contribute to her blog post by sharing my pain of driving in LA.  Without further adieu here are my top three pet peeves about driving/drivers in LA.

And, as a bonus prize I give you three things you should know before getting behind the wheel in LA.  And it’s not they drive on the wrong side of the road.

Peeve #1: KEEP CLEAR

For God’s sake.  It’s universal: in Australia, the UK, America they use the words “Keep Clear”.  No translation issues here.  So why the F%#@* can’t LA drivers understand??? Renowned worldwide for its traffic congestion, LA drivers are concerned about one thing and one thing only: themselves.

Keep Clear

Keep Clear is a foreign concept for Los Angelenos drivers

Listen up people: if you didn’t block the Keep Clear area I wouldn’t have to push my way in and block the whole road.  Try it sometime.  I’m pretty sure it won’t kill you.

Peeve #2: INDICATE

Living Life at 56 mentions it’s a Sydney phenomenon but I can assure you LA cars don’t come with indicators (or blinkers as the case may be–did I just use an American word ahead of an Australian one?).

Well they can’t.  Possibly.  Turn left, right, change lanes, four-way stop, change from the carpool lane across four lanes to the exit a freeway in 10 metres and there’s no sign of an indicator.

No, cars in LA most definitely don’t come with indicators.  We don’t need them here.

Peeve #3: STAY IN YOUR BLOODY LANE

Oh yeah, this one’s a beauty.  I live up in the hills around Mulholland Drive.  It’s not a very wide road and neither are the lanes.  It’s windy and the drops are …. well …. steep and unforgiving.

Why then are drivers incapable of keeping in their own lane?  I’ll often be coming the other way to find a car well and truly hogging my side of the road as if he’s coming in for a cuddle.  I can’t just jump on top of you it’s a crash or it’s off the canyon.  And I’m not going over.

Let’s make it easy for everyone: keep on your own side.

Now that I’ve shared that with you it’s time for me to take some good advice.

Keep Calm

Keep Calm & Drink Cocktails

 

Driving in LA can lead you to drink.

Three things you should know about driving in LA

 

  1. The more expensive your car the bigger hoon you are.  There are no bogans in LA.  No.  It’s great, everyone’s hip and groovy or trendy or stylish.  But when you have an expensive car you turn into a bogan.  Automatically.
  2. Overtaking is always allowed: suburban streets, winding your way around Mulholland Drive, can’t see the on-coming traffic.  Don’t worry about it.  Overtaking is encouraged.  At all times.
  3. There is no such thing as a speed limit.  Technically as long as you’re the same speed as the traffic you’re OK.  So technically speed limits don’t count for much.  It’s not until you get someone in the car from out of town or you start driving back in a country where speed limits are enforced that you realise you actually drive quite fast here.

So now when you come to LA you can drive as the locals do.  I remember the first time I got on the freeway I thought I was going to be blown away by the g-force of the cars passing me by, leaving me for dead.  I was doing 100kmph or thereabouts.  Try changing lanes, it can be scary.  It doesn’t take long before you’ve got the hang of it and your speed is edging upwards of 70/80 mph.  No wonder the freeway accidents are big.

It’s pretty tough to get around without a car.  Acquaint yourself with driving LA style and you’ll be fine.  Good luck!

xx It Started in LA xx

BHH
Posts

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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