Thursday, 9 July 2015

You're trespassing

I went for another run this morning in the chocolate-scented Hollywood morning air. I think some sort of cocoa plant grows in these parts which emits a dark, rather lustrous smell when the air is close and misty...

We had breakfast with a young lass who follows Nathan's knitting vlogs and was brave enough to get in touch with him. She was deeply charming. The more I learn about the knitting community, the more remarkable I think it is. Knitters, like animal people, are all incredibly friendly. I love the thought that people across the world of every colour, creed, religion and age can be united by that single passion. We talked a little about earth quakes. I feel sure I was awoken two nights ago by a little tremor. As a Californian, she was comically dismissive: "Anything under 5 on the Richter Scale is a foot rub!"

As we walked up Sunset Boulevard to meet her, we were amused by the fact that all the grass verges in that part of town are actually made of astro turf! A reminder that this whole city is essentially built on desert...

We drove up into the Hollywood Hills before lunch in the hope of getting a closer look at the iconic white-lettered Hollywood sign. We parked on a street with complicated parking restrictions; a decision we'd later end up regretting, as when we returned, we found a ticket on the windscreen. It's not a massive deal to get a ticket in a city which is ruled by the motor car. It cost us about £40, rather than the £130 I'm currently contesting with Haringey Council for parking on my own street!

We'd been tipped off about a trek which takes intrepid hikers up into the Hollywood hills and around the back of the Hollywood sign. It's not your typical American day out because none of it involves a car, so we decided it had to be worth it to get away from the crowds and the hustle and bustle of the rest of the city!

We took a wrong turn at one point, and found ourselves stumbling up the side of a very steep hillside, closer and closer to the Hollywood sign itself. I was expecting it to be surrounded by a wire fence or something, but there we were, perhaps fifty metres away with nothing between us and it...

...And then we heard the terrifying voice screaming at us over a loud hailer, or bull horn as I think they're called over here: "hikers, you are trespassing. Go back to the road way immediately!"

We have never moved so speedily! 

Back on the road, we snaked our way around the hill, getting higher and higher, the views of LA getting better and better. We could literally see for miles from up there, the buildings of the city centre were poking up through the haze and smog like rib bones in an elephant's graveyard.

It's really silent in those hills. Little lizards sun themselves on wooden picket fences which have partially fallen off the side of cliffs, blue jays bounce in the trees, families of inquisitive dragon flies hover in the sky, whilst majestic eagles soar on the thermals watching over the world.

A biker was cycling up and down the hill. He must have passed us three or four times. Each time we wondered where on earth he was finding the super human strength he must have needed to repeatedly cycle up a hill that we were struggling to walk up.

The view from the top was worth all the panting and sweating, however. We were greeted by a three hundred and sixty degree view which stretched from Venice Beach to Pasadena and out to the Sierra Nevada mountains in the distance. But just below us, sitting behind a fence no more than ten meters away, was the back of the Hollywood sign, its letters all in reverse. It was so close that we could see it was made out of corrugated iron. So near that we could view the metal spikes tethering the sign to the ground.

Nathan tweeted a picture of us up there and said "can anyone guess where we are?" Someone replied, "I've never heard of Doowylloh!"

We walked back down the hill, had lunch in a wonderful cafe filled with 1950s booths, and then drove to the northern fringes of the town, a route which took us past the building where a "psychic advisor" lived, and along the perimeters of the Warner Studios lot, with its famous "WB" logo'd water butt which we've become so used to seeing at the start of films made at the studios. 

Our destination was LA's finest knitting emporium, a pink-facaded shop called Unwind where we had a lovely chat to the owners. Hanging on the wall in one corner was a shawl which could only have been a Stephen West design (a young knitwear designer with whom we spent a glorious holiday in Italy some three or four years ago.) "Is that a Stephen West pattern?" asked Nathan. "Yes" said the shop owner. "Is that the design called Itaca?" "Yes. Why?" Nathan explained that Itaca was designed and knitted during the holiday we'd had with Stephen. He knitted it on Itaca Beach whilst the rest of us swam in the sea and helped him to find shells with natural holes in them to attach to the edges. Seeing it hanging up on the wall of an American knitting shop was quite astonishing.

This evening we had drinks and a meal with our close friend Adam who moved to LA from New York some eighteen months ago. He looked amazing. The climate and lifestyle is obviously working wonders for his body. But he misses New York, and who wouldn't, really? It was so so lovely to see him again. We haven't clapped eyes on him for at least a couple of years, so it was amazing to while away a few hours in his delightful company.

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