Holiday Post One :: 11-13th August


It is quite a long way from Essex to California.

I’d not really grasped the distance until I got onto the Virgin Atlantic flight, and the plane itself helpfully showed me relatives: almost as far across the Atlantic as it is across the continental US. The eleven or so hours were not nearly as stressful as I’d anticipated: I wrote, I watched a whole movie (Tomorrowland, which I now grasp was panned for many good reasons and is basically borrowing from a load of SF movies without being unique enough on it’s own) and I didn’t sleep at all, which I would pay for later. However, as flights go? Hugely enjoyable. I know now I need to watch Interstellar on a big TV (managed an hour, gave up.) I have three new writing plot bunnies to play with. I ate airline food *and enjoyed it hugely* which is definitely a step forward from last time. It’s almost 20 years since I did a long haul flight, after all, and a lot has changed. Mostly, I’m glad we went with a company that cares enough to offer my kids a trip around the aircraft and a huge bag of spare sweets at the end because we were cool. That makes me smile.

The Pier 2620 Hotel’s about two minutes walk from Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, and was probably far better than I’d hoped for this being a pretty much ‘seat of the pants’ holiday experience. The first thing we did was go explore, and then eat, and I can attest that my idea of scoffing only sandwiches and nothing huge to ensure I didn’t gain a ton of weight was sound. The crab sandwich I had on sourdough (Joe’s Crab Shack, which appears to be a restaurant chain WHO KNEW) was possibly the most amazing thing I’d ever tasted, and has set the bar for the rest of the trip thus far. Food is fresh, delicious and has made me realise I’ve spent far too long at home staring at a PC screen. This holiday was much needed and has been incredibly relaxing. I say that even with the trauma of the first full day, which forced me so far out of my comfort zone I was forced to tears. However, in the end? All utterly worth it.

I rode the Golden Gate Bridge on a tandem, and I’m still not sure how my son put up with me for the whole day. It was in part glorious and frightening, and the massive bruise that my left leg remains after I fell off the bike about ten minutes before the thing was returned makes me realise I have a long way to go in terms of personal fitness, something I fully intend to work on when I return to the UK. In the end? The best day I think I’ve ever managed on a bike in 48 years. I intend to improve on that as a matter of priority and next time? I’ll ride alone. Not for my benefit, but so no poor bugger has to rely on me for steering. My son is a bloody saint. He’s also now 6 feet tall and doesn’t show any signs of stopping.

Having survived the tandems (and another monster Crab Sandwich at the Buena Vista bar & restaurant) Thursday started as sightseeing and then rapidly degenerated into an afternoon trip to Waterworld in Concord. Before that, however, there was Cannoli. I had promised myself I’d do this when I was in the US and BOY was I not disappointed. The Victoria Pastry Company were happened upon pretty much by accident and I now wish I’d taken more of these away to eat later because the lack of these in the UK is positively criminal. Needless to say I had no problem sitting all afternoon not working these calories off under a sun lounger. The heat was a concern when I got here (as an asthmatic) but as per usual, there was no need to worry.

One of the things I’m going to do when I’m back in the UK is sort out taking more photographs. I love the process of finding interesting things to capture, and even with the simplicity of my iPhone camera (which all these snaps are taken from) there’s an amazing amount of variety to be had with a bit of thought. Mostly my mind thinks in shapes and colours, and California thus far is proving a rich seam of creativity in both departments. The Denny’s on our return to SF was just what was needed for a cheap day out, and that night I think I realised that maybe I should have done this trip a long time ago. I’d always wanted to do the West Coast, but never really had the belief it would be as good as this in reality.

Yosemite showed me what a fool I’d been on that front. As a result, it gets a post next all on its own.