HomeReviewsInterviewsStoreABlogsOn Writing

WARNING: Long-arsed post ahead.

OK, so me and The Tall Guy landed back on British soil at seven this morning.

We’ve been gone for a total of 18 days, and we sure made the most of it. I’ve got tons of photographs to bore you guys with, but quite frankly, I can’t be arsed downloading them just yet, so I’ll do that on another day.

The first night we landed, we stayed in a hotel in Manhattan Beach. I hadn’t slept or eaten properly in the three days leading up to our flight, so I was knackered.

The next day, we moved onto the Hyatt Regency at Newport Beach, which is where we based ourselves for the rest of our holiday, although, we did spend quite a few days in different cities. Nice hotel, although it must be said, we didn’t see a lot of it, during our time there.

I liked Newport Beach, it was nice and clean, and we were quite satisfied that we wouldn’t be mugged or shot, as we went about our business.

We could tell that Newport Beach was a wealthy place because they had a Ferrari car centre there. Me and The Tall Guy were tempted to go for a test drive, but we were afraid the sales people may have thought that we were there to rob the place, you know, with us being black and all. Just kidding of course. (g)

Now, I watch the O.C, and I have to say, where are the Japanese/Asian representatives in that programme? The place was full of Asian people for Oprah’s sake, yet I haven’t seen more than one character who happens to be Asian (yes I believe the principal is Asian, but she doesn’t count) mixing it up with Ryan and Seth.

Anyway, I digress, my fave thing about NPB was the South Coast Shopping Plaza. The Tall Guy and I, spent a full day there. Being a DKNY whore, I went a little bit crazy. I also went into Jimmy Choo’s to check out the shoes, but TTG wasn’t impressed at the prices. I on the other hand thought they were fairly reasonable, but who can justify spending $550 on a pair of shoes? (well I could, but I suspect TTG would not have been pleased.)

Talking about shopping Malls, Dylan, we went to the Delamo Fashion Centre, in Torrance, I believe you live in Torrance? I bought two pair of shoes, two vest tops, and a cinnamon bun. Heaven.

I believe it was the shopping mall that was featured in Tarantino’s film, Jackie Brown? The one with Samuel L, and Pam Grier in it? Totally cool.

By the way, Americans, a Senagalese taxi driver told us that according to the last US Census, 40% of Americans are Spanish/Mexican. Is that true? And if so, where were they in Newport Beach and surrounding areas? Just askin’.

We went to most of the main beaches in South California, including Venice Beach, Laguna Beach, Long Beach, and Hermosa Beach.

Venice Beach was not my cup of tea at all. I know that drug dealers, homeless people, and paranoid schizophrenics are a fact of life, but Venice beach seemed to have way more than its fair share. It was a little depressing actually, and I must admit to feeling like a voyeur as I watched some of the poverty stricken people walking along the promenade holding conversations with themselves. It was kinda sad.

We drove into Downtown LA, and stayed for less than 30 minutes. Talk about needing serious regeneration. The buildings were ugly as sin, and as a small town girl, I love the bright lights-big city feeling, that I get whenever I’m in a major international location. It didn’t come. I just felt dirty, and was happy to get out of there as soon as possible.

On the same day, we decided to go to South Central South Los Angeles. Somehow TTG and I wandered onto Wilmington Avenue, and I admit to being shocked at the state of some of the homes there.

As an outsider, I saw abject poverty, and negligence, but the residents who lived there, seemed happy enough going about their business. Is it true that drive-by shootings are a fact of life within these neighbourhoods? According to our little tourist leaflet, Wilmington, Watts, and Crenshaw were not places for tourists to be wandering about in, after dark. I kinda got that feeling when we were there, but I must admit to being totally fascinated by some of the weird and wonderful sights.

Incidentally, we did the Hollywood and Beverly Hills Star Tours. The houses in Bel Air were magnifique. Oh to be that rich.

We walked along The Strip, and marvelled at some of the sights and sounds of Moviestar Land. Standing outside the Kodak Theatre was very surreal, and now whenever I watch the Academy awards on telly, I’ll be able to say that I’ve been there in the flesh. Happy sigh.

We decided to fly to San Francisco for three nights. We stayed at the Four Points Sheraton hotel (looked like a shithole from the outside, but the rooms were lovely) just off the 101 freeway.

We went down to Fisherman’s Wharf (Pier 39), sampled the variety of seafoods on offer (the clam chowder was to die for) and bought souvenirs. We also did the Alcatraz tour, which I thought was fantastic, and enjoyed immensely, and took in a S.F forty-niner’s game at Monster Park. It was a fun day, and I was amazed at how friendly both sets of fans were to each other (well before the game at least, after the game, it was a different matter).

The concept of tail-gating, is alien to us Brits, but myself and The Tall Guy thought it was fantastic. TTG went the whole hog, and bought loads of Niner’s clothes, including a cap for me. Being far too vain to wear red (it just doesn’t suit me) I opted for a green vest, which as it happens, was the colour of the opposing team. Clothes over fandom I’m afraid. I wont even wear a Manchester United strip, so there’s no way I was donning Forty-Niner’s red ensemble.

Unfortunately, The Forty-Niner’s defence were piss-poor, and they lost to the Philadelphia Eagles. It was a good day though.

Whilst in Frisco, we caught a bus to China Town. How effing busy was that place? I wanted to stop at a restaurant, but it was so damn busy, we just got the hell outta there. Who the fuck needs to be trampled by a million people all in a rush to be somewhere? I could have stayed at home for that shit.

Bam, I thought of you when we went to San Diego, it would have been lovely to meet you. We went to Sea World there, which was lots of fun. Shamu is still the best. The Dolphins and the Otters were awesome too.

As we were so close to Las Vegas, we decided to go there for a couple of days. I tototally loved this morally questionable, den of inequity. We stayed in a suite on the 27th floor of the Flamingo hotel and casino, on Las Vegas Boulevard. The suite was amazing, and the hospitality was second to none.

Toni Braxton performs on most nights at Flamingo’s, so we bought tickets to her show. She was fucking awesome (although we did wonder if anybody ever understands what the hell she’s saying when she sings?).

We didn’t gamble much, I’m too much of a tightwad to throw away money, when there are so many clothes in the world without a good home. (g)

We went into every single hotel in Las Vegas, including The Bellagio, and Caesar’s Palace. They were all much of a muchness, but it was a fun experience.

My favourite thing about Vegas was the frequent water shows, that combined music and lights. The performances were utterly mind-blowing, and sooooo romantic. I highly recommend going to Vegas just to watch those aquatic shows.

On the way back from Vegas, we stopped at a shopping outlet where we managed to blow over $600 in two hours between the two of us. My buys included a fabulous Ralph Lauren coat that had been reduced from $298 to just $150. What a bargain eh?

Overall, we had a jolly decent time over in California, but I have to say, service-wise, Florida beats Southern California anyday.

We always tipped generously, but I have to say, half the fuckers we tipped, didn’t even deserve a cent, which totally peed me off. The best service we received were from waiters/waitresses, aged between 20-25. The older they were, the more miserable the service. What’s up with that shit?

If any of you go to Las Vegas, I totally recommend Planet Hollywood, at Caesar’s Palace Fashion Forum, because the service there was fantastic. The guy who served us, was totally worth every penny we tipped him. It didn’t hurt that he was cute too.

By the way, we didn’t get the chance to watch much television over there, but I have to say, CNN’s Nancy Grace is the most acerbically witty T.V presenter ever. I want to be her when I grow up. Even if she is a tad right-wing.

As for Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly, what a fucking twat. Nuff said.

Ann Coulter also managed to raise my political hackles. What a moronic sanctimonious twat that woman is.

OK, I can’t be arsed writing anymore, but I must add that whilst in the US, I bought tons of books, most of which I read.

Jane, Angie, and Sybil? J.R Ward’s Lover Eternal, and Lover Awakened totally rocked.

Dawn, e-mail me your address, and I’ll mail both of them off to you.

So, did I miss anything major round here? I already caught up with the J.R Ward kerfuffle, so I don’t need to hear any other details regarding this.

I hope you guys missed me, it does feel good to be back.


  • Bookwormom
    October 3
    12:57 pm

    I’m glad you’re back, I missed you!

    The thing about visiting the US, IMO, is the extreme disparity between one neighborhood & another. Extreme wealth beside extreme poverty. Not a good situation but very typical unfortunately.

    I don’t know about 40% Hispanic population, but the US census of 2000 seems to say 25% is either black or hispanic. I could have that wrong, but the site has a million tables & they’re all confusing.Maybe they mean the growth is projected to be 40%? I dunno. Someone else is bound to correct me.

    Anyhow, glad you’re back sfae & sound. Can’t wait to see your photos.


  • Kat O+
    October 3
    1:35 pm

    Sounds like you had a great time! My family always makes the drive to Vegas whenever they visit LA, just to stop by the factory outlets. Let me just say, if Hubby and I had to do that much touristing around for 18 days, we’d barely be talking by the time we got back.

    Oooh, you liked Rhage and Z’s stories. *grin*

    Glad you’re back. Missed your ear for romance gossip!


  • Freespirit
    October 3
    2:56 pm

    Glad you’re back!!! Bunch of us soccer moms toured SF last October. Had a blast, espeically with wine country! BTW you can’t be Nancy Grace…I have dibs on her! Found her during SPeterson trial and have been hooked on her ever since. I think she’s an amazing woman!

    Again, welcome back. You’ve been missed.


  • Beverly Havlir
    October 3
    3:21 pm

    Hi Karen,

    I’m glad you had fun. Love, love South Coast Plaza. I could happily wander around there for hours and not complain. LOL.
    Had I known that you were in Del Amo mall, I would have loved to meet you and TTG for coffee. Torrance is my home town, you know. Del Amo’s a scant mile away from my house.
    Vegas is always fun. Like you, I don’t gamble much, but it’s a nice place to visit. I doubt I can live there, though.
    Glad you’re back!


  • Dance Chica
    October 3
    4:49 pm

    Well, I’ve never been to any of the places you visited but glad to hear you had a great time and glad you’re back to posting. Even though I don’t comment here often, I do enjoy reading your blog posts. Oh and glad to hear you enjoyed Lover Eternal. I loved Rhage and totally enjoyed that book! I was a little disappointed by LA though…


  • Dee
    October 3
    5:02 pm

    Oh, hell Karen, if you told me you were going to be in my neighborhood, I’d have sent you to the great spots here in Orange County. But it sounds like you found most of them. Didn’t you just love the bridge at South Coast? It’s beautiful at night.

    You went to South Central? Seriously? Oh good lord. I’m glad you got out in one piece. People don’t believe me, but the road crews are completely capable of stripping a car to it’s carpet in less than 5 minutes. Thank God you didn’t hit East Los, though. And yes, the one thing about growing up Ghetto is that when you’re small, you have no idea there’s really anything else. But don’t kid yourself, by the time a kid is 5 years old, he’s probably got a cynicism you can’t imagine. I remember not being surprised or shocked to hear anyone was murdered or raped in the neighborhood. It’s more like, “Again?” There’s a reason I refuse to raise my kids that way.

    LOL, and thank you for asking the Asian question. There’s probably an equal amount of asians and mexicans here in So Cal, which is saying something and totally explains why my babies are Asican, lol.

    Glad to have you home, it’s been too long!


  • emdee
    October 3
    5:51 pm

    Glad you are back Karen. I love San Diego. I live In Tucson Arizona and it’s just 5 hours away. We get a lot of advertising to lure us there because when it is 110 here in the summer it is a lovely 72 degrees there. I also have enjoyed South Coast Plaza. Nordstroms (sigh). There’s no Nordstroms here in Tucson, I have to go 100 miles up the road to Phoenix for that. Here in Tucson the majority population is Latino. Of course, we are only 50 miles north of the border so that’s not surprising. Here it’s not so much neighborhoods that are bad but streets. You can have a bad street and one block over is a good one. Weird.


  • Kristie (J)
    October 3
    6:09 pm

    You’re back!!!!! Cyber cheek kiss, cyber cheek. Aw what the hell. Cyber Hug!!! Sounds like you and TTG had a great time overall. I got a chuckle out of your refusal to wear red at the 49’ers game 🙂


  • Marg
    October 3
    8:43 pm

    Welcome Back!!! It does sound as though you had a fantastic time!!


  • sallahdog
    October 3
    9:09 pm

    Lets see, to the Hispanics question, they were probably mowing the lawns where you were in California…. Hispanics are on their way up, but they are working hard to get there…

    I used to live near San Franscisco and I still miss the clam chowder with a sourdough loaf on the side..oh heck, hold the chowder, just give me the sourdough… lol, glad your back, a few more days in the Materialistic capital of the world and you would have been as broke as most Americans,..


  • Tilly Greene
    October 3
    9:17 pm

    HA! What a hoot! We were heading over to Laguna for 2 weeks on the beach, would have been there at the same time as you then the cutie decided to head back home…2 weeks in England and the weather was absolutely perfect! Really, even in Yorkshire 🙂 Get this, sunny tshirt and shorts for Lindisfarne! No Joke! Came home with a suitcase full of Options Chocolate Orange…yummy! Hey, were did all the Worcestershire Sauce crisps go, couldn’t find them anywhere.

    Anyway, glad you enjoyed yourself over in the So Cal zone. Service is not something that is easily found but it is there.

    South Coast Plaza is a blast. Although I’m disappointed that they are now down to one bookshop [an independent not the big box across the road]. But I’m surprised you didn’t dash over to Fascist Island, oops, I mean Fashion Island. It is wonderful for sitting outside and people watching. Oh, and they have a couple of fountains by the same guys who did the Bellagio bonanza [love those as well].

    What I haven’t heard is whether you liked any of the food. I miss the Mexican delicacies the most. As for Cali being 40% Mexican, I wouldn’t doubt it and I think the Asian community is running a close second…there is a great Little Bombay [food and silks, mmmm :-)].

    Still, glad you had fun, sounds like you had a blast!

    Welcome back and may the dollar regain some ground now that you’ve shopped!


  • Eve Vaughn
    October 3
    10:29 pm

    Welcome back Karen!! You’ve been missed!!


  • Rosie
    October 3
    11:10 pm

    Course you were missed. 18 days what a great holiday. Sounds like you did everything you wanted to and then some.


  • Sarah McCarty
    October 4
    12:04 am

    Karen!! *throwing arms aound you for a big hug* We missed you!


  • LorelieLong
    October 4
    11:24 am

    It’s always so cute when I hear about California from a tourist. I grew up there and often take the area for granted. I used to live pretty much across the street from South Coast Plaza and would literally spend entire days there when I wanted to get away from my parents.


  • Lori
    October 4
    6:49 pm

    Welcome back! Sounds like you had a wonderful time!! You saw my poor 49ers lose. 🙁

    I love South Coast Plaza! GREAT mall! And I love Vegas, too 🙂

    Glad you made it home safe and sound!


  • Dawn
    October 4
    8:06 pm

    Big hug, Karen. Thank God you’re back. I’ve been without my daily dose of acerbic wit while you’ve been gone. Already you’ve made me LOL several times with your post.

    Sounds like you had an ab fab time. You’ll have to do another post about the people who pissed you off and that you took the piss out of.

    We didn’t do much touring when we went to So Cal last year – it’s difficult to do when you’re dragging a child around with you. We did drive to Las Vegas (what a God awful long (5 hrs) and boring drive – I though it would be nice to see the country – what country? – bloody miles and miles of sweet FA). Anyway, we stayed at the Mandalay Bay, which was a great hotel.

    BTW, I’ll email you with my address, girlie. Thanks.


  • Bam
    October 5
    5:46 pm

    Hey, bitch, I’m glad you’re back! Why didn’t you holla at yo gurl when you were around? I was only… like… two seconds away from you when you were in L A!


    Glad you’re back, ho. Luvz ya.


  • Anonymous
    October 6
    7:56 pm

    Your vacation was almost as good as having one myself! On the Mexican numbers, I don’t think 40% is correct for the nation, but I do know that Los Angeles has the second largest Mexican population in the world. Only Mexico City has a larger population.

    Got to go with you on Ann Coulter – she is a twat – what a mean spirited bitch!

    Glad your vacation was wonderful. Hey, you may have been in Newport for the annual Breast Cancer Walk? It happens at Fashion (Fascist) Island every year in September. Did we wake you up that Sunday?

    It is always nice to be home no matter where you live or where you visited.



  • Dylan
    October 11
    8:39 pm


    I’m all late with this crap, sorry but I live about 5 minutes away from Del Amo Fashion Center and my sister works across the street from Del Amo, on Hawthorne Blvd. How funny that you were here in my hood! I’m glad you enjoyed your time out here and I could’ve told you that nobody ever goes out toward Watts, South Central, Compton and even some parts of Long Beach at night, bad things come out at night in those parts. Most of the people that live in those projects and places, have lived there all of their lives so they look happy go lucky because they don’t know anything else.

    As for Venice Beach, ICK! I hate that place, I don’t ever go out that way, I hardly ever go out toward Downtown L.A. I HATE that place, I hate the Fashion District, it’s always too crowded and meh for me, so I don’t go out that way too often!

    My favorite beaches are Hermosa and Carlsbad Beach which is near Sea World, I used to live out there, the air is better out there, cleaner…LOL.

    And about The O.C., it’s not actually filmed in Newport Beach, but in Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach. If you go to the Redondo Beach Pier, there’s an abandoned building over there that I took Grace too when she came out here from Australia, that abandoned building used to be a night club and thats the club that Alex and Seth used to work at and there’s a diner on the pier that is the diner on The O.C. as well…most of the O.C. is filmed there and I have no idea why there’s no Asians on The O.C. haha.

    As for coming out to Del Amo though, if you took Carson Street down (one of the streets that the mall is on) you would’ve ran into Torrance High which was West Beverly High (on Beverly Hills 90210), Sunnyvale High (on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and the high school on She’s All That. haha, okay let me shut up.

    But I’m glad you enjoyed your visit out here to my home town of L.A….but you must be glad to be back in your own home, huh?


  • Desiree Erotique
    October 13
    1:43 pm

    Hi Karen! I’ve been away for a little while myself, and glad to know you’re home safe and sound. Sounds like you had an interesting adventure 🙂 You’ll have to travel to small town Bible Belt America sometime if you really want your eyes to boggle, lol!


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment