The 405 San Diego Freeway ~ where our Californian love affair began

Why would anyone be reduced to tears in the hazy, virtually standstill, 6 lanes of gas guzzling405 Freeway sign on route to Santa Monica 405, San Diego Freeway? A Los Angeles freeway that I always think of as ‘mine’. A road full of so many memories and where my California love affair began 28 years ago.

‘If’, ‘what’ and ‘maybe’, all put together have the power to change your life, they certainly changed ours. They bought us to Los Angeles where our eyes were opened to a different way of life; a sundrenched, carefree, beach existence full of ‘beautiful people’…….. The opportunity to shop 24 hours, where you never paid to park your car, where you could drive through to do almost everything ~ to eat, deposit your money, collect your laundry; in a time when this was not the ‘American norm’ but certainly the Californian norm! A crazy place where you thought nothing of sitting in traffic for 2 hours and driving 70 miles to go to dinner. A world so unlike England, so unreal, that it actually felt sometimes that we were living in a sort of Disneyland. A world which could be both intoxicating and yet repugnant in its excesses, (‘he who dies with the most toys wins’, ughhhhh!) but a world where ‘dreams really can come true’ and an experience that changed the course of our lives forever.

Despite living back in England for 7 years, it was a world that we never really left, that we yearned to experience again and when the opportunity arose to live in its more Freeway sign on the '80' at Sacramento interchange with '5'sober, more ‘real’ neighbor, Northern California, in1993, now with 2 small children in tow, we grasped at it eagerly. There we found a different life, still Californian with all that we loved but a life that The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco California, USAwas more tangible. The gentle, leafy suburbs of Danville, 30 miles east of the dazzling city of San Francisco, became home. Within one to three hours of the stunning destinations of the Napa Valley, Carmel and Lake Tahoe…Places which have all become a treasured part of our lives.The Napa Valley

Carmel Beach California

Summer at Lake Tahoe

A place,  despite all we cherished, we still left after 2 years to return back to England but a place we ultimately emigrated back to in1999.View of Mount Diablo from Danville, California, USAPool and spa in garden in Danville

Mulholland Drive road signSo now stuck in bumper to bumper LA traffic what is all my emotion about? It is remembering how it felt to be here when my Californian story began, on the 405 freeway, arriving at LAX in July 1984. Naive, green, young, carefree, with no children and few complications. Where already in love, we fell in love together with Royce Hall UCLA Campus 2005California. A place where in 2005 our lovely girl chose to go to university; UCLA, where the streets of Westwood, Wilshire and Santa Monica became her home. UCLA, a place of academic prowess and learning where she was able to excel and then be able to secure a highly

The Wills Building, Bristol University, England

sought after position at Bristol University, UK to study for her PhD.

A place you sought of love to hate or hate to love …….but a place where both my Kate, now older than I when I first arrived in 1984 has enfolded us into its embrace. And those tears, what where they about? Sentimental ties, the agony and the ecstasy of a Brit living overseas, loving bits of it all and wondering what exactly she is looking for and where is home…………..

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The glitter and the gold ~ Cars and Carmel

Cars have always featured heavily in my life, or more to the point in the lives of the men in my life.E-Type Jaguar at Monterey Historics 2012

So imagine an event brimming with exotic cars, historic cars, luxury cars, concourse ‘trailered’ cars ~ by that I mean cars, which are trailered in to special events, whose engines Pristine E-Type Jaguar enginerarely turn but sparkle beneath their bonnets like the well-cared for pristine ‘jewels’ that they are!! And all these cars displayed in one of the most beautiful locations in California, arguably in the entire US and possibly in my opinion, in the words of Jeremy Clarkson ‘in the world’ ~ Carmel California. An event full of beautiful people displaying their even more beautiful prized pocessions……….affluence spilling Jerry Woods racing Porsche 911onto the pavement, sexy, glamorous and alluring……..even if you are not into cars it is a heady atmosphere.

Labrador in the driving seat of a vintage volvo!

James at the Baja cantina display cleaning the 1959 PorcsheFor me however beyond the ‘glitter and gold’ what is more intoxicating is the shared passion and enthusiasm. Something that could be found at an entirely different venue, an equestrian event, an antiques show, an art museum but here the passion is for the automobile. Pure delight and avid interest whipped into a frenzy, when a group of people gather from all corners of the globe to froth and exude like a bubbling cocktail, their combined fervor becomes quite intoxicating. And no one could be more enthused, eyes glowing, than my lovely son James, aided and abetted by his Dad! James and Chris at the Baja Cantina Car event
How lucky am I to share in their pure unadulterated, joy and passion. In one year to have watched their delight at the Monaco F1 Grand Prix, ‘24 heures du Mans’, the Sonoma Raceway where James squealed round the corners in his Mazda Miata race car and now strolling the ever picturesque streets of Carmel.Car event at James and Chris at the Baja Cantina Car event Carmel ,California, USA

A stunning backdrop for an amazing collection of simply stunning automobiles! An event peppered with all sorts of ‘car meets’ and excitement, including the music, margaritas and engine roars at the Baja Cantina car display near Carmel Valley.

James’ knowledge and passion securedJaguar Mark 10 at Bonhams pre-auction car event Carmel 2012 him a job working at the auctioneers Bonhams. Bonhams had coordinated a splendid collection of automobile Lola at Bonhams pre auction event Carmel Californiatemptations. A pre-auction display of automoblia magnificence, hopingVintage car at Bonhams pre auction event Carmel, California to entice the most reluctant of notes from our wallets….

Vintage Billboard at Bonhams pre auction event Carmel, California

The eloquent authority of the auctioneer “do hurry up ladies and gentlemen, this car will sell to night………..and do I have 2 million? Ahhh yes, 2 million, sold over there, gentleman on the telephone!!!”

Carmel Beach, California USAFor us, our bank notes safely secure, once the hubbub had faded we were able to gasp once again at the simpleCarmel California USA but breathtaking beauty of the Carmel coastline. James' 1990 911 PorscheA beauty that never fades or tires but always succeeds in captivating that part of my heart that didn’t get left behind on the cobblestones of France or within the enfolds of an English village………….the gift and joy of travel, lucky lucky me!