10th July – Santa Monica/Pasadena/Downtown, Los Angeles, USA

I drive the folks downtown. With Simon and Kasia aboard and everyone with a Starbucks in hand we drive to Pasadena and the Rose Bowl flea market. It is incredibly hot today, the baking sun heats up the Tarmac and we are soon all dehydrating. It doesn’t prevent us from enjoying rummaging amongst the treasures on sale, pointing out the weird and the wonderful. The Rose Bowl gates are open today so after a breakfast burrito we get to stand inside the famous stadium.

With the heat so intense we are soon craving the air conditioning that the car provides driving the short distance to the golf club. We enjoy a beer and lots of water in the clubhouse then Mum, Kasia and I watch the boys tee off before heading into Old Pasadena for an Italian lunch and a bottle of red.

We spend the afternoon shopping. Once we’ve exhausted the old town shops we head to the Americana Mall, a busy and rather glamorous shopping experience that boasts the campest water feature I have ever seen. Fountains dance around an oversized metallic gold Adonis.

The boys catch us up and we all dine together at a lovely Italian restaurant.

After dinner I jump in the car with Simon and Kasia, Joe takes mum and dad home. I’m glad I get to visit the downtown apartment once more before leaving tomorrow. We meet the others at Bodega wine bar in Santa Monica for a nightcap, Moses joins us and the staff make sure we all have a celebratory shot with them before we leave.

8th May – Pasadena/Downtown/Santa Monica, Los Angeles, California, USA

This morning we drive to Pasadena and the famous Rose Bowl Flea Market. This market is sprawling, way bigger than the Fairfax flea market. We spend hours rummaging, searching and exploring stall after stall after stall selling weird and wonderful stuff. Simon buys three raisin boards, for drying grapes, from a guy who looks like a cowboy, as an experimental alternative to canvases for painting. We eat breakfast burritos with a Budweiser before continuing our flea market adventure.

On our way back to the apartment we stop for lunch at the Japanese supermarket. I enjoy a steaming bowl of chicken curry ramen. Shopping in the Japanese supermarket takes me right back to Japan. Exotic foods, tanks of live shellfish, tasters at every corner, sushi and Kirin.

Back at the apartment I say goodbye to the guys and Cholo and I drive back in the Merc to Santa Monica. I spend the evening writing eventually collapsing on the sofa to watch some trashy American tv. A final walk for Cholo before bed.