Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Farewell parents!

Mum and Dad had to get back for the royal wedding, so we waved them a sad goodbye at SFO today.  They'd upgraded to nicer seats, so while they were whisked off into the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse I was left on the outside looking in at the bottles of complimentary booze lined up behind the bar.  Gin and tonic please.

See you again soon!

I did it Segway

Long ago, Hannah and I were treated to a Segway tour.  A little later, Dad and Em got in on the act.  Today the remaining Davies family member joined the club when Mum came for a scoot around Golden Gate Park.

The Segway was once the saviour of the future.  Then there were some small problems, then the company owner fell to his death from one, and when you think about it how is a motorised scooter going to save humanity?  But what they're really great for is whizzing around in the California sunshine, and today we did the new park tour.

Instead of the roads of downtown, dodging cars and tourists, this gave us a chance to off-road around the huge park's trails, through its shady groves, and generally make mischief while (supposedly) learning about history.  Did you know that William Randolph Hearst shipped an entire Spanish monastery to the West Coast, but lost interest before it got here, so had it stored in the park in crates, which caught fire, so now there are bits of 1550 burnt masonry lying around, mostly in flower beds?  Nor did I, until today.

Kitted up...

...and ready to roll.

Mum receives her training.

And soon has the knack (even if she never lost the worried expression).

Shared family interests.

Last stop at the Japanese Tea Gardens before we had to give the toys back.

Monday, 25 April 2011

San Francheesecake

Ah, how I have missed the tourist trail.  It's been a while since I had the excuse to do it, and while this particular iteration did not include the #1 destination (Jelly Belly) I did get to see the sea lions, Union Square, the Ferry Building (Mum and Dad claim it's their first time there, but they are getting old), and finish the day with Cheesecake Factory dinner.  Why do people come to California for more than one day when you can fit it all in so efficiently?

Starting off on the right foot with a Blue Bottle cappuccino.

Mugshots at Alcatraz.

Most of the sea lions shipped off to Oregon, but a few remain.

Stocking up at Ghirardelli's (in their 50% off post-Easter sale, of course).

Clam chowder at Boudin bakery.

On the cable car.  I made them sit on the opposite side from me.

Quick breather in Union Square.

There's lovely.

Later, at the C'Fac.  Note Dad's usual dish: shepherd's pie.


Sea, sun, seals, sauvignon

We're back in the East Bay now, having wound our way down through wine country.  Unfortunately a lot of it was shut for Easter Sunday (the Jesuits planted a large proportion of the vines, so I guess that's fitting).  We did manage to find a few godless wineries and enjoyed some cheeky Zinfandels and a Pinot or two.

Our money-saving cottage of choice next time.

The old man and the sea.

But what have these two nature lovers spotted?

It's baby seal season!  So cute!  And I was after a new fur coat too.

Mum is a bit exhausted by all the attention.

Wildflowers on the cliff top.

All the relaxing put Dad in a happy mood.

It got a bit chilly in the evenings, but the cottage provided for that too.

Driving south on Sunday.

An open winery!  This is a brand new one called YMV.

Mum sniffs the floral notes.

All of California should look like this.

Hannah and Dad choose the next bottle.

And this is me enjoying my first coffee for 40 days!  Ian and I gave up the black stuff for Lent, which turned out to be a lot harder than abstaining from alcohol.  Anyway, I was very thankful to be back on it...and haven't slept in the last 24 hours.

Saturday, 23 April 2011


It's a holiday within a holiday as we escaped up north with my parents for a few days.  Back to Sea Ranch, and though it's a smaller house than last time it has the prerequisites of a) a hot tub, and b) wi-fi.  For them, not me.

Anyway, we've had a couple of wholesome and healthy days of walks along the coast to take in the sea air, afternoon naps, and trips to local wineries.  Or winery, to be specific.  Annapolis Winery is the only one within driving distance, and being Northern California it isn't just a winery, it's a Buddhist winery.  So it's totally organic (bugs might be you in your next life) and when we left the owner told us "I think I know you" in a deep and spiritual manner.

Today also happens to be Dad's 78th birthday.  Mostly motorway miles, so he's doing well, and celebrated with some drinking in the hot tub and a rather fine cake from Hannah.  

Our little cottage, "Getaway".

Relaxing in the garden.

Hannah finds a local...

...and another.

Rock pooling.

Family photo.  But where's Em?  Camping in the rather warmer 23C+ temperatures the UK is currently enjoying.

Happy birthday to you!

Dad makes a friend of the winery's ex-feral marmalade cat.  ("A cat never really leaves you, they're always with you," remarked the winery owner when she heard about Mollie.)

The grapes don't fall far from the vine.

In the bandstand.

Looking pleased with himself in the hot tub, in those new shorts.

Archimedes' principle.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Spending the kids' inheritance

I looked up from my cereal this morning, and there were my parents!  They're here for a week, including a trip up to Mendocino, lots of wine tasting, and a tour on a Segway.  Today is was an introduction to Walnut Creek, which included a wander around Tiffany's (where we weren't mistaken for millionaires).

Where did you appear from?

3pm? Time for a cup of tea and a lie down.

Dad forgot his swimming trunks, and so picked some up in Target.  Not sure there's anything else to say about this picture.

One big happy Jewish family - meeting with the Lissaks for coffee after their shopping excursion to the WC branch of Macy's.

The highlight of Mum's holiday.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Searching for lunch!

Another entry into the "free food" subcategory when I got to enjoy lunch with Elad and Daphny at Yahoo! this week.  The search giant stole Elad and Sagy fresh from their MBAs and they're both having a wonderful time, not least because of the rather wide variety of food available in the cafe.  Elad is in charge of the footer on the Yahoo! front page.  Scroll down to the bottom here to see his fine work (I'm pleased that the royal wedding is making an appearance there).  Sagy does complicated things with adverts and, as I understand it, is responsible for much of the company's cash-flow.

Anyway, it took me a while to choose between pay-by-the-weight sandwiches, Pacific Rim cuisine, the grill, make-your-own-salad...but I eventually plumped for the sushi and an asparagus and smoked gouda bisque.  Yahoo! is now my homepage and search engine of choice.  At least until someone invites me for lunch at Google.

The exclamation mark is mandatory.

A bit like Chevron's campus, except that the fountains aren't filled with crude oil.

Daphny (new haircut) and Elad tuck in.

Mmmmm. We are happy, honest!