Matt gave us some melatonin tablets last night which have knocked any jet lag we might have had right on the head. They're an astonishing form of alchemy. And all natural, I'm told.
We stayed up really late last night. I think it was, like, 10am British time before we eventually went to bed, which means we stayed up for something like 27 hours.
Matt had a party at his house for Independence Day. We ate Chinese Food and cookies and spent the night swimming in the pool which gets lit up at night in beautiful colours. I think there were maybe twenty of us there, very few of whom were actually American, so I wasn't able to learn about the fancy Fourth of July customs I'd hoped we might have been able to observe. I have learnt, however, that the yanks tend to say "happy 4th" to one another as a charming little abbreviation. I don't think that's a reference to the 4th amendment. Searches and seizures and all that.
The 4th July was actually my Grandmother's birthday. I think she'd have been 102 this year.
We woke up today at 9am LA time and spent the morning pottering around the pool.
We walked along Santa Monica Boulevard at mid day to find some brunch, which became lunch by the time we'd spent an hour smelling scented candles in a specialist candle shop!
Santa Monica Boulevard is the gay part of the city. There are rainbow flags and dog grooming parlours on every corner. It's a very wide street lined by low, rather flimsy, often wooden buildings. A lot of the buildings here are wooden because of the earthquakes.
We had lunch in a very eccentric, rather shambolic French restaurant which doubles up as a load of weird shops. It turns out that everything in these parts is a bit disorganised; a fact which we've learned to our cost several times already today, with taxi drivers cancelling at the last moment and various roads getting closed on a whim and without warning!
We took an uber cab up to Griffith Park, a huge nature reserve in North Hollywood, where an observatory and Planetarium sit at the top of a very high hill, from which the views are spectacular. You can see the whole city spread out before you like a giant Google satellite map. It's a stunning sight.
The planetarium was a delight. You sit in a domed theatre and watch a film projected onto the roof which takes you on a guided tour of the universe. There's a wonderful moment when the entire roof fills with fluffy white clouds and a bright blue sky which darkens and darkens before a complete night sky full of twinkling stars appears. I found it rather moving. I told Nathan there was dust in my eye...
We had an altercation at the top of the hill with a curiously mad woman whom I bumped into as I was trying to take a photograph of the gang. It was a rather innocuous little collision but she grabbed her elbow like I'd hit her with a frying pan and screamed "OH MY GOD," literally at the top of her lungs to the extent that everyone on the viewing platform turned around and stared wondering if someone was being mugged. "Are you okay?" I asked. She refused to answer and merely stared at me with hatred in her eyes, before limping away, handing her husband her camera bag and saying "take this, I'm losing all my grip" in a deeply dramatic way. Plainly the husband had seen the act before, because he didn't react to her in anyway. He merely took the bag wearily and wandered off. I've never known the like.
The hills around the observatory seem very inviting. The Angelinos like hiking in the mountains, but be aware: there are jackals and strange snakes up there. We passed several signs warning us about rattle snakes.
The iconic Hollywood sign watches over much of this part of the city. It's actually considerably larger than I thought it would be. And when you first see it, it genuinely takes your breath away. I think I'm right in saying the sigh used to say "Hollywoodland." Nathan didn't believe me when I told him.
I have a feeling that Santa Monica Boulevard is actually part of the historic Route 66. Does anyone reading this know if this is the case?
They're plainly more religious over here. We passed two men holding a massive sign in the street which said "Jesus Christ King of Kings Lord of Lords." A bit unnecessary, I thought. He's not a golf sale.
We had tea at Soho House, looking out over downtown LA, which was lit up like an enormous Christmas tree. Perfect.