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The Queen of America

October 27, 2012

Hope has conquered America … a long story so this is another long post … sorry … get a cup of something and settle down …

so then, Hope has conquered America …

a grand statement but true, my baby girl has not just totally and utterly conquered me (physically as well as emotionally is how it feels right now after waking up 5 times in the night … teething but still no teeth and I let her watch a movie – Beaches – with her Auntie Clare and I before bed, I should have known better than to break my no TV at night rule), but she now reigns supreme over America.

Hope is the Queen of America … they don’t need to have an election in 10 days time … Obama and Romney have already been defeated by a small cheerful (most of the time) baby person with the hint of a California sun kissed glow, with a mop of fair almost white hair, with greeny hazel blue eyes and a huge curl… everywhere we go crowds gather, the air rings with “cupiedoll”, “cutie”, “precious”, “little angel” and so on, then she smiles and it all starts again.  She has also mastered the art of waving … but again on her own terms, people lean towards her waving, she peers back and then just when they are about to give up hope of reward she either raises a rather imperious hand and does a Queen of England kind of wave, or if she really is excited waves her whole arm … if it is to another child she kind of clenches and unclenches her hand and grins.

So, bearing all that in mind, Hope and I continue our halcyon days in California … she charming and ruling, me wandering exhaustedly in her wake carrying her bags and providing sustenance when needed … both solid and the milky variety.

We have now seen all my old friends (except one who were seeing this next final week), and have driven hundreds of miles up and down from Laguna Niguel to Oxnard and back both along PCH – the famous route 1 through Malibu (or Halibut as the predictive text on my phone wants to call it) past the surfers opposite Neptunes Net and to our favourite patch of beach which I think is called Westward Beach where nobody else goes and the parking is free. Then down the winding ocean road to Santa Monica or perhaps over the glorious mountains on Kanan Road up and through the stunning canyons with incredible views back to the sea, of wonderful rock formations and then the dramatic drop down into the San Fernando Valley and Thousand Oaks. We’ve driven through the urban sprawl that is Los Angeles and past the beautifully maicured gardens of the rich and famous, up palm tree lined roads and through gum tree groves in Somis … I already knew the northern area well but now the whole route (about 3 hours in total if the traffic is good) feels like home with all the familiar cross street names and highway exits … It sounds a bit daft I know but somehow they are like poetry to me invoking a barrage of memories and images … Sunset, Moorpark, Valley Circle, Sepuleda, Hawthorne, Manhattan Beach Boulevard, Hampshire, Crenshaw, Balboa, Reyes Adobe, Topanga, Latigo Canyon, Lewis, Las Posas, Wilshire, Wilmington and now my new friends Aliso Creek and Alicia as well as Laguna Canyon… My Southern California and now Hopes too.

Hermosa Beach


Hope is a Malibu beach babe and a Manhattan Beach beauty too and also a little Hermosa Beach bunny, she even more than she did before LOVES kicking her feet in the surf and waves her arms joyfully as the white frothy water rushes over her toes, she sits happily under the beach umbrella with her babybanz sunglasses holding her hat on, coated in sunscreen and plays with the sand or watches the seagulls or just smiles enigmatically and gazes out to sea.

I have fed her everywhere under various baggy tops, scarves, beach towels and sarongs … on the beach, in Leos Mexican restaurant, at the Getty Museum, in the car (not our favourite), on the balcony at sunrise, on another balcony at sunset, in friends houses (some are open and happy and delighted to see Hope eating (or chugging as the daughter of one friend put it) so enthusiastically and other people blush slightly and leave the room or ask if we need privacy. Those are somehow our moments … we are doing most of our adventuring alone as Auntie Clare has to go to work and carpools with a friend so we can take Lady Penelope, Clarey’s beautiful incredible Mercedes convertible – so not a baby car but somehow perfect for Hope’s first Californian adventure although I ache everytime I put the car seat in and out and drive more cautiously than I have ever driven … so most of our adventures are just the two of us which is joyous but very tiring … so the breast feeding moments really are special and private whether in a public place or under our beach umbrella under a towel, at dusk or dawn, in the middle of the night in my comfy bed in Laguna Niguel or on the various beds, sofabeds (aaaggghhhhhhhh) and mattresses on the floor that I have slept in … Hope always sleeps in her travel cot with the two same blankies and 4 same small stuffed friends so it isn’t unsettling for her. She drifts off in my arms either still eating or with a faint smile or dreaming of food, her little mouth still sucking as if she was still ‘attached’ …

The funniest moments have been when well meaning and very dear friends try to teach Hope new tricks or enjoy keeping her amused … 3 adults dancing infront of her the other evening, a very elderly relation waving and trying to get her to touch her nose by waving gently and touching his or some other friends trying to get her to say their name or Mummy / Mommy or Da Da Da, my friend Max lay on his tummy and put his finger up against the side of her bed and she reached out with hers and he and I both said, “ET phone home” at the same time, and my dear friend Sue gave her all her kitchen measuring cups and taught her to bang them together and put her little pieces of tomato pizza into each one … Hope did it was lovely to watch.

In the supermarket in Santa Monica before lovely Marty gave her her first piano lesson (she copied him exactly when he hit the black keys she did and when he played the white keys she followed suit …

Hope and Marty on piano

a wonderful first piano lesson from a brilliant musician … Uncle Jake she’ll be up on stage with you soon), where was I, oh yes, in the supermarket … Whole Foods, a gigantic enormous farm shop type place, and all the sales people gave her free samples … a little drink, a pice of courgette, a bit of pumpkin bread and so on … and people followed us round watching her.

The view from where Hope and I sat at the Getty over Los Angeles and out to Catalina island

In the Getty it started in the little train on the way up to the museum with a lady saying Hope was a  little doll, my mother always tells the story of when I was a baby and she was wheeling me around somewhere in Beverley Hills and Greta Garbo saw me and said, “Gee what a cute little doll” so it made me smile to hear it. The train pulled in and the ‘guard’ helped off and doffed his cap and said, “your highness” when he heard my accent – to Hope of course not to me, and then while I was feeding her and we were waiting for the ‘highlights’ tour a nice chap from Newcastle started talking to her.

The Iris picture by Van Gogh caught Hope’s attention



The tour guide was delighted in Hope’s interest in the pictures (she pulled her foot out of her mouth and put her head on one side and looked at each picture) and a man in the group called Paul kept taking pictures of her which unsettled me rather; “she should be here she’s more beautiful than the exhibits”. He kept on doing it so I told him enough was enough but did ask that he email them to me … she and I escaped into the beautiful gardens and sat and looked out over our LA all the way out to Catalina Island, up to the Hollywood sign and over to Malibu, over downtown and Santa Monica and watched the traffic on the 405 way below us … a perfect moment only interrupted by a Japanese lady telling her husband to take a picture of her with Hope!

We have been to a couple of old fashioned ‘biker bars’ wonderful old roadside diners with lines of gleaming Harley Davidson bikes lined up outside tucked into corners of canyons or overlooking the shining Pacific ocean … great food, wonderful atmosphere … and Hope was allowed to sit on a Harley (with me holding on tight to her of course) and had several huge and perfectly delightful Hells Angels and big burley leather clad men eating out of the palm of her hand … one of them even handed her the keys to the bike and all of them smiled and waved at her just like the girls at the check out in Albertsons the local store.

Born to Run …

So … there you are, the Queen of America continues her tour, I lug towels, pushchair, changing bag, car seat, travel cot (putting that up is a nightmare and taking it down even worse), her increasing wardrobe (thank you to so many generous friends) and her huge array of furry friends … I get up in the night to try and get my own work done, or dash to the computer when she is asleep rather than sleeping myself or lolling by the pool. Hope’s remarkable Auntie Clare has just taken her out for a walk, they both enjoy that, I think Clarey enjoys everyone thinking Hope is hers and they chatter away happily together … they both crinkle their noses the same way when they smile now.

Right then, time for me to upload a million photographs and go and have a quick shower or maybe perhaps a quick dip in the gloriously inviting swimming pool outside first before they get back … Hope will need some brunch and her Godmother will need a cup of freshly brewed coffee (I love that about America … not that I drink it but I love the smell in friends houses .. no instant coffee here) and then I think we three girls are heading out into the sunshine (it’s snowing at home) for another adventure.

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