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California Dreaming

November 9, 2012

Sitting here back in Blighty pondering my cold fingers and the fact that I am wearing a big thick pullover when a mere 48 hours ago I was in shorts and a vest watching dolphins swim and play under the prow of a boat on a hot sunny clear California day. This is another long and indulgent blog post … forgive me, for the next one I’ll be back to my articulate, succinct self … well ok at least I’ll try to keep them shorter!!

How we spent our last day in California … Hope’s 10 month birthday … dolphin spotting … and we spotted lots …

Paddling in the Pacific at Hermosa Beach

We had a remarkable trip to California… I got alot of work done, I looked for work, I wrote, I laughed, I cried, I smiled until my face hurt, I prayed, I ate, I loved and I was so so happy … never in my life have I experienced the love and kindness which Hope’s Godmother showed to us and for such a long time … only once was I told firmly to go and “loll by the pool” when I was being annoying!! Her generosity, thoughtful considerate sweetness and intuition as to what Hope and I both needed were so so special, welcome and appreciated. Flying away from that was truly difficult … I think for Hope just as much as for me … she and Hope formed such a close bond, with the daily feeding of the cats ritual in the mornings to singing gently and watching the light fade in the evenings, Hope has a very special smile just for Clare… and since we’ve been home the only time she’s smiled it is when she’s seen pictures of Clare on the computer.

We were only there thanks to Clarey’s kindness but we didn’t spend all the time with her, we visited friends and distant family … Hope spent time with my friends and their children. She watched while we picked avocados, she sat patiently observing older children colouring in their homework and she listened to her mother sharing memories and stories … and all the time with her huge watchful eyes going from person to person. Hope submitted to being held and cuddled by so many people and she slept in many different places in her pop up travel cot (once I’d mastered how to put it up and pull it down … wretched thing), she met dogs, cats, pelicans, pigeons and seagulls … transfixed by the latter and slightly daunted by the former particularly a small yappy Havanese. We ate endless Mexican food, some wonderful fish, the most incredible brunch in San Juan Capistrano with a wander around the remarkable gardens in the mission there … We ate calamari steaks in Froggys in Topanga Canyon with old friends, we drooled over scallops (Hope had mac and cheese the US version of Macaroni Cheese) in the wonderful Ramos House Cafe and we had the best milkshakes ever at Rubys at the end of Balboa pier watching the dolphins play amongst the sealions just yards away …

Wonderful water lily in the Mission garden

the bells at San Juan Capistrano Mission

contemplative at San Juan Capistrano

We sat on the beach in Malibu watching dolphins playing in the waves and we drove the canyon roads and enjoyed the spectacular views. We drove up into the mountains (above the smog) and sat and spoke to an old old friend and he held Hope and they chuckled together before she tucked into his home made beef pieces. We went and had a photo shoot in Simi Valley with a friend I’d made years ago on a whale watching boat … in a portrait studio and Hope grinned her way through being a small cherub, and a pumpkin … I think I was traumatised in a way she wasn’t by the endless, “Hope cutie, look at Mommy” calls … looking back it was funny but at the time I found it quite stressful, Hope just enjoyed all the attention and the end results are lovely (as you can see in the Halloween pumpkin hat picture on the earlier post).

Clare and I enjoyed the odd margarita and Hope enjoyed some lovely rusks called Baby Mum Mums as well as loving pancakes at the end of the pier in Balboa, she wolfed done half a pancake one lunchtime and also for a treat enjoyed a little bit of ice cream.

I had a haircut which terrified me but seemed to work out alright and Hope went for an evening stroll with Clare along the cliff top to the Shake Shack and watched the sun set.

Halloween was fun,

Happy on the island at Halloween even the dog dressed up (as a squirrel)

Hope was a small and very contented pumpkin in her round orange pumpkin outfit and we walked around the edge of Balboa Island and marvelled at all the decorations and small ghosts, pirates and ghouls … she slept through most of it but I enjoyed the spectacle and was particularly impressed by a bubble machine that blew smoke or mist filled bubbles which left a wisp of smoke hanging in the warm night air. We tricked and treated and ended up with a small owl bag full of chocolate and lolly pops which of course Clare and I had to eat on Hope’s behalf.

We missed Granby and Hope’s father, and her Granny and other friends and family over in England but Hope and I both enjoyed our time away … and have come back closer than ever. While Hope was there she got her first tooth, she learned to clap, to wave, to wash her hands and has begun to blow kisses, her range of sounds increased with chirps, with squeaks and with her, “gang gang gang ging ging ging” calls and a huge range of other noises, she turned 9 months and then 10 months… she sat and played in a little empty hollow Ottoman where she adored Little White Ted and two new friends Troon and Albert.

Hope was given new clothes, a decorated plate, stuffed toys, books and music as well as love and kindness and she laughed and laughed and laughed … her favourite activities seemed to involve water, being beside the ocean and sitting on my tummy in the swimming pool, and playing with her new seaside toys (rather than rubber ducks) in the bath.

Our flight back was relatively easy, and against all expectations the people at LAX were really helpful and Hope slept a good deal of the journey back in her Virgin Atlantic basinette, other than that she sat on my lap and chatted to passengers and air crew and then chortled as the plane landed. Little did she realise how freezing cold it was back in England … and I hadn’t remembered how horrible jet lag is … my little bunny is beginning to get over it and back into her normal routine and has spent a happy evening sucking spaghetti and waving it joyfully.

Right then – having said that it’s 1am and she’s just woken up, wide awake convinced it’s early evening in California – which of course it is … time to go and give her some milk and soothe her back to sleep under her pink blankie to do a little more California dreaming!

Orange County sunrise

Never has a song seemed so apt … Auntie Clare we miss you … and all of our California friends

California Dreaming

by the Mamas and the Papas … always one of my favourites but now firmly and slightly wistfully at the top of the list

“All the leaves are brown
And the sky is grey
I went for a walk
On a winter’s day
I’d be safe and warm
If I was in L.A.
California dreamin’
On such a winter’s day”

Happy ten months little Hope … here’s looking forward to the next ten, and to our next adventure.

South Bay sunset

dolphins off Newport beach

Both of my glorious gorgeous California girls

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