California Dreamin’ January 23rd 2013
Life here is completely blissful and if you have never visited California, I would urge anyone reading this to consider a vacation in one of the world’s most exquisitely beautiful destinations.
Having a lovely new home here is taking up quite a lot of time – new California window shutters have all been fitted and various items of furniture have been purchased although I managed to furnish my entire house from surplus furniture and ornaments, china and glass that had accrued over years of collecting in my main home in Surrey. The enormous container was shipped last July and finally arrived in October and took two days to off-load and unpack, but it was worth it because looking around me now at all the familiar pieces of furniture and some of my favourite paintings gives me a feeling of instant ‘at home in California’ warmth towards my new lifestyle, albeit for only three months of each year.
Christmas came and went very quietly, my son cooked and then entertained a couple of homeless people from a nearby shelter – generous and kind of him, I was very impressed. Church on Christmas Eve was a strange affair as everyone was dressed in summer clothes, but it was lovely. The highlight of my life here is driving through Topanga Canyon to Old Town Calabasas to see my adorable brother and my nine year old nephew who both live there. Calabasas is the home of the Kardashian family and when we go down to the outdoor shopping mall to Barnes and Noble or to Starbucks I am always on the lookout for a sighting of a Kardashian – Starbucks is a possibility, but I doubt the Kardashians have ever ventured into a book store, or is that being a little harsh!
Topanga Canyon is easily my favourite place in the whole of California, maybe the world. It is unbelievably magical. Huge, gigantic boulders hang perilously over the highway and jewel-like houses teeter on the cliff edges. Higher and higher, winding round and round the canyon, it positively speaks to you as the beauty unfolds around you and then suddenly you are staring right the way down into the valley below. This is old Hippie country with music legends such as Neil Young, Jim Morrison, Joni Mitchell as past inhabitants and now it is a thriving artist’s colony - which is probably why I feel so at home in the canyon and with its environment.
Leaving the canyon road and getting back onto the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) I love dropping into the Malibu Country Mart for a quick cup of Coffee Bean’s famous Hot Chocolate, a quick shop at the Ralph Lauren store whose courtyard garden is pure heaven - all navy blue shades, Monterrey chairs and banana palms, then into my most favourite lunch spot of all times - the famous Malibu Beach Inn on Carbon Beach. I adore Carbon Beach because it has some of the oldest and most famous beach houses in the area and the view of the little Malibu Pier and the now defunct “Alice’s Restaurant” is the best at sunset.
Malibu stretches for twenty seven miles along the coast up towards Big Sur and Santa Barbara. It is the jewel in the crown of California to me. The Santa Monica Mountains and the Topanga Canyon dominate the backdrop and the skyline behind a beach that is wonderful beyond belief with schools of dolphins passing every day and with giant white whales close to the shore spurting huge jets of water as they pass.
Sarah, the amazing restaurant manager at the Malibu Beach Inn , who comes from Anglesey in Wales ( home of Wills and Kate ) loves French Sole and always seats me and my friends at the best table, right on the front deck , close to the water. This is where I want to die – it is sublime, I would die happy. Try their famous chop -chop salad with freshly caught sea scallops as the sun goes down, listening to Neil Young and tell Sarah that I sent you!