Friday, September 14, 2007

The Great Smoke

I love this city. I could really live here and completely enjoy it. It's better than the Big Apple (that city is so overrated). Anyhow, the Big Smoke wasn't so smoky this time around, no fog, just clear blue skies. Like I said earlier, I bring the California sunshine with me wherever I go. That's just how it goes.

Met up with Joe at the new Rough Trade Shop on Brick Lane. Wow. It's like Amoeba size and the Black Lips were playing. Was excited to see them again but the sound was terrible and it was so hot and packed to the gills. They did play my favorite Dutronc cover which was a saving grace.

I guess it's energy efficient and good for the environment but geez, most European places do not have air-conditioning and it sucks. And on top of that, the body odor is crazy insane in this continent. I know it's a cultural thing and it's probably more healthy in the long run, but whoa, it's like you're perfectly content with what you're doing at the moment and then all of the sudden, it hits you, like a slap in the face and you're just like WTF? And then it goes away and you're okay but you're still traumatized.

After a pint in Brick Lane, Joe & I caught the bus to Stoke Newington to catch the Caribou show. He helped me learn how to read the bus schedule. That was one of my goals on this trip, to take the bus and not only the Tube. I want to see London above ground and not some Daily Mail on the floor next to a sweaty Brit in a suit or a Dizzee Rascal hoodie blasting music from his mobile sans headphones. Turns out I was there during the midst of another tube strike so there was no choice but to take the bus! (Man, I can't afford to keep taking non-licensed cabs...) Again, there was no ventilation and we were sardined. It was really like a slap in the face. But a good one.

Anyhow, oh yes, the Caribou show. Again, another slap in the face (it just never ends) with the heat and outrageous smells in a dungeon'ness venue. I was super surprised with their live show. It's not like their new studio record, melodic sweet 60s pop ala Lilys; it was more like Animal Collective/Battles with two drummers, so beat heavy with no audible vocals. The sold-out crowd was so into it, seems like it's the current trend in Londontown. I wasn't so much. Not dissing cuz' I love me some Strawberry Jam.

Caribou's "She the One.mp3"

Stayed with Katrina in Kentish Town one night. She's always there when you need her. Top mate.

Stayed a couple days with my cousin's family in Greenwich. Such a pretty quaint borough. You got the big park across the street, the Maritime Museum down the street, the cutest meat and cheese markets up the street, it's pretty ultimate...

Ava and Victor, the most precious kids I know. They speak French to their maman during the day and when their papa gets home from work, they instantly switch to English.

Not one to succumb to processed candy, I became addicted to these Haribo gummy treats. Had almost every flavor in this picture. Topshop evens sells them! I was like, "I wish we had these back in the States," as I devoured them everyday during my stay in England. And when I got back home, I was jabbering away to a friend about these delicious treats, he interrupted and casually mentioned to me, "oh yeah, you can get them next door at the car wash."

London was awesome. The best bits: catching up with friends, the British Library Sacred show, Haribo!, Greenwich with family, and of course, St. John, my fave restaurant in this awesome town. What can I say? My European holiday was just awesome. Paris, romantic. Newquay, breathtaking. Broadwoodwidger, magical. And London, just the best.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


I traveled to Broadwoodwidger for Jeremy and Jamie's weekend nuptials. The special occasion was held at the latter's parents' farm, Orchard Cottage, in West Devon. I wasn't planning to vacation in England this year (I was thinking somewhere more exotic) but how could I miss out on this rarity of events? I mean I was there when they first met 11 years at Pop Stars in London. And they are still together after all these years, stronger and more in love than ever. That's almost unheard of these days! It turned out to be more captivating than anywhere I could of imagined going this year. Broadwoodwidger is a special place.

The blissed out couple

This is what it looks like in the morning as the sun melts the dew off the cobwebs, leaves and grass. At Orchard Cottage, there are chickens (they are used to produce eggs and are not slaughtered), a cat named Bramble, a rose and herb garden, a polyvinyl orangery, and a yurt where warm times are to be had at night (and they were). Orchard Cottage is a bountiful piece of land filled with every imaginable fruit and vegetable. You tune into nature's sounds and you know you're living the Good Life. Yes it does sound very hippie and I of all people should be suspect, but you can't deny how this is way better than your city life.

The upstairs view of the mysterious wilds of neighboring Dartmoor.

The first night was "Dad Night" with both barbecuing all sorts of delicious locally produced meats and the veggies were from the farm. On the left is the outdoor clay oven Jamie's Dad, Clive, built using materials from the surrounding lands. Homemade focaccia bread was made in that oven. Yum yum, piggy's bum.

With Jeremy breathing the fresh country air. It's hard to even try to explain how exquisite this all was; it was simply awe-inspiring. I mean there were fireworks at the night of the reception. Fireworks! J & J said they've never seen fireworks in this part of the country during their sojourn. It was just magic.

This is what it looks like at night. I've never seen stars like this before. Felt like the world was so small and I could just grab them if I reached just a little higher.

During the faery hunt, I repeatedly got stung by a nettle and it really did sting! Richard, Jamie's half-brother, found me a doc leaf, made me spit on it and rub it on as the antidote. Oh the country life! And on the train ride, Mark pointed at the chalk figure of white horses on the hills. We're in the country now.

I met a new friend there, Matt Wolf. What a charmer. We both commented how we felt we had traveled back to time, to the sixties, 1967 to be precise, the "Summer of Love."

Jamie tending the fire in the yurt.

Clive, made his own brew (COB) for the wedding. Yummy.

I've only played croquet once in my life... at least 10 years ago, at the very least... Everyone was playing and because I'm very adept when it comes to sports, I basically won all the games I played that weekend and was crowned Champion of the 2007 Orchard Cottage Croquet Tournament.

Lucy and Jenny, the flower girls

By honoring this special day, J & J planted a young walnut tree during the ceremony. Jeremy's mum gave a beautiful speech which left everyone teary-eyed. It's a lovely and powerful symbol of their love, a living, growing thing that will last forever.

The wedding party

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The West Coast

My holiday continued to the UK. Met up with Ian in Uxbridge and he drove us to the west coast of England to his flat in Newquay, "The Surfing Capital of Britain." Coming from the West Coast myself, I was so excited about going to another West Coast. Yes! Sea, Sun, Sand!

Ian took the M3 route so we could make a short stop to Stonehenge as I've never been before (oh, what a sweetheart). The audio guide was the best thing about it; super corny but très educational. I learned that Stonehenge is a calendar.

Just b e a u t i f u l. I bought the California sunshine to Cornwall... in fact, my entire trip was sunny which was a rare thing my friends were telling me.

The downtown part of Newquay reminds me of my old hometown, Huntington Beach (before it got developed and became what it is now). It still has that small beach town feel, a bit bedraggled from the sea air which kinda just enchants you to want to stay for a little while.

Just g o r g e o u s. Fistral Beach. Sadly no waves.

Met up with some lovely folk at a proper local bar. They are living the life; breathing the sea air, surfing, just enjoying life. Al showed me how to prepare the Newquay cocktail mix. Yum yum, piggy's bum.

The next morning, Ian drove us to St. Ives (or Stives as some may call it) to see the Brian Wilson exhibit, "If Everybody had an Ocean," at the Tate. Again, the weather was insanely perfect. I was truly blessed.

On the rooftop of the Tate. This was probably my favorite part of the visit. Just having a snack with a friend and looking out at the clear blue ocean.

And within 15 minutes, the fog rolled in. But it gloriously cleared again as I made my way to Broadwoodwidger, the main reason why I traveled to Europe in the first place.

As I took the Western Greyhound to where I needed to go to, I listened to Ian's band, a warm adieu to the Wild West Country. I'm definitely coming back.

The Loose Salute's "The Mutineer.mp3"

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Sous La Plage (Pt. 4)

On my last day in Paris, I went to Parc André Citröen to catch my DubLab friends perform at the Sous La Plage festival. Located next to the Seine in the 15th Arrondissement, this futurist park was probably the coolest thing I've yet to see in Paris. Geometric landscaping with post-modern construction, this park contains two huge glasshouses in which one holds an orangery of various Australian shrubs. Concurrently, I think there must have been a festival for children as there were so many precious Tintin kids playing about.

I wanted to go on this hot air balloon ride but the wait was like 2 hours!

One of the glasshouses. So cool.

Nobody and friends performing.

It's so rad to see your friends in another country.

The walk from the metro to the park... Who would of thought this kind of shop exists in the middle of Paris?

biologique = organic
The secret to delicious French food has always been the use of fresh, locally produced and in-season ingredients. The marketing devils have caught on; at most restaurants I dined this time in Paris, I noticed "bio" on most au courant menus.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Tourist, Traveler or Explorer? (Pt. 3)

I think I'm all these things. Yes, I love to buy gifts for myself, friends and family (esp. the sis) and lug scads of knickknacky souvenirs back home. Yes, I love to take a ridiculous amount of photo's of famous sight-seeing destinations (they look different from each angle, y'all know). And yes indeed, one of the best parts when traveling is not necessarily bringing back those material momentos but relishing in the spirit of adventure and the unknown. To explore other people's cultures/lifestyles and fantasizing if you too could live there is what I always think about. It's a fun game to play. It's all about making it your own experience.

The brilliant sparkles of Le Tour Eiffel

Looking up from below

The Rive Gauche and Rive Droite connect at Pont Neuf.

The French really know how to live well. On a nice warm night, you and your friends bring a baguette, some fromage et jambon, and a bottle of vin and just hang out here... Or make-out... Your preference.

Les Carrières de Paris
Super dank, super spooky. Kinda blows your mind how colossal this is... (a bone collection of 6 million Parisians!)

One of my all-time heros, the adorned grave of Serge Gainsbourg, who is buried with his parents.

Also buried at Montparnasse Cemetery are the combined graves of Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. Simple, no inscription, so them.

Musée de l'Orangerie where Monet's awe-inspiring "Les Nymphéas" resides.

(Notice that I'm wearing my white Repettos as a tribute to Gainsbourg!)

Monday, September 03, 2007

The Arrondissement (Pt. 2)

I love my hotel, Hotel du Petit Moulin. This 17th century building, once a boulangerie where Victor Hugo used to patronize, was recently redesigned by fellow Marais neighbor, Christian Lacroix. It was just perfect; so whimsical, over the top and still refined.

View from my room.

View of the street.

I love red doors. Especially ones that are slightly opened. Makes you just curious as to what's behind them.

A digestif of absinthe after a delicious meal at Chez Janou. You can almost never have a bad meal in Paris. Almost Never.

An absolute gem. You have old records, very old manuscripts, very very old posters, ancient periodicals, books and books and books... I usually get "mental" hives in a place this dusty but I didn't mind it here... So many precious treasures. It's major.

Delicious petit déjeuner each morning. I tend to drink just tea but since I was in Paris (when in Rome, ya'll know), I was downing coffee like it was water (avec gas s'il vous plaît), and then I had to stop cuz' I endured a bad case of insomnia/jet lag for a night and that is never a good thing at all.

I go here every time I'm in Paris. Somehow, the queue was too much of a bore for my appetite this time around. I opted for tea at Mariage Frères instead!

I want to eat this. I want to know what this tastes like. Anyone who knows, please invite me over for dinner and I'll bring dessert!

There were like 7 different types of pâté, 30 kinds of cheeses, 20 kinds of cuts, 10 kinds of desserts. This is heaven to me.

Et mais oui, the perfect French shop, APC, which was just right around the corner from the hotel.

The oldest square in Paris, Place des Vosges.


On my last night, I dined at Robert et Louise. Let's just say this made my trip magical when it was already perfect.