In the period of jet-lagged post-US dis-function memories swirl through the brain, rather like unexpected aftertastes following a spicy meal…
Despite numerous visits to Southern California some things still provide a surprise. There are words on official signs and notices that must be read:
While wandering near the hospitality cottages in Balboa Park work staff indicated the house of England. Outside it stands a stone bench, on which is this plaque. How was the wording chosen, one wonders…
For those who like foodie pics: in a supermarket were these very green muffins (goodness, there are two readers who might remember Boatwif’s attempts at an Irish looking green-shaded cake last March…)
Down at the park late one afternoon a family group appeared with a piñata. This is a papier-mâché bag which contains sweets and which a blindfolded person tries to bash open to release the candy. It’s a common activity at the end of a birthday party.
Then there was a pastry, offered as apology for slow delivery of a meal at a Panera Bread restaurant. When the offer came Cal Guy Snr declared that a cinnamon roll should be the choice (eating it then on Boatwif’s behalf!)
After a weekend of very heavy rain showers the TV issued warnings about not entering the sea for several days until run-off from the roads had dispersed. That didn’t deter all would be surfers, though… (South Carlsbad beach, Monday morning).
There are memories of chance conversations: Over coffee in late afternoon sunshine outside a Starbucks at Carlsbad there was a chat with a retired Wisconsin University professor, (specialism: Persian). He recited one of his favourite mantras:
Yesterday is history
Tomorrow is a mystery
Today is a gift – and that’s why they call it the present.
Then there was another traveller at Los Angeles Airport (LAX). He was waiting for a flight to Singapore for a stopover in Singapore with a cousin, after which he was heading back to the Philippines to visit his mother. He had an engrossing exchange with the Captain about military aircraft – and a workplace in common.
Some of the worst and best airport experiences have been at LAX. Back in January 2004 there was a bizarre and very inconvenient incident. At the departure gate a “Yes, you have tickets, but no, you don’t have seats,” scenario was played out. Luggage was impounded, would-be passengers were directed to a hotel and the securing of seats the next day was no straightforward matter… By contrast two years ago the glorious sound of a wonderful gospel choir from San Diego filled the terminal hall. (See and listen to video embedded in this post).
Well, there was a noise-filled terminal hall again on Tuesday morning. Radio news reporters had advised of difficult traffic congestion in Downtown LA and around the airport along with a heavy police presence. Just before midday, accompanied by drums, tambourines and chants of “Respect. Respect. Respect. WHOSE airport? OUR airport!” a couple of hundred airport workers paraded in through one set of ground floor doors, passed in front of passengers waiting to check in, between one row of check-in desks, crossed alongside the eateries at the rear of the building, back down past another row of desks, before at midday assembling outside for a rally. Police walked beside them, a couple rode along on bicycles, one officer swept past time and again on his Segway. The placards made interesting reading: California is not regarded as having a particularly good schools system and tuition costs at tertiary and higher education college can be crippling. The protest provided a noisy interlude during the waiting time.
As for the waiting, there was a very slow shuffle through Security (“Coats and jackets off – everything out of pockets – shoes off – belts off.”) There was no mention or notice at that point, though, of the requirement to take laptop computers out of computer bags for inspection, an oversight that fortunately was forgiven…
Shortly before boarding the aircraft there was another interruption in the waiting game. Two staff members from Air New Zealand patrolled the passenger seating area, applying gimlet eyes to hand luggage. Suspect bags were weighed, over-heavy ones consigned to the hold, a mass of paperwork completed and additional charges made to the guilty parties…
Back then to England.
The aircraft came in over the North Wales coast, south east over the Midlands, over frost-covered countryside, to approach Heathrow from the east. Down below was the Thames, the Shard, the Gherkin and Tower Bridge… Memories returned, of that Cleddau boat trip up the Thames from Limehouse to Brentford. From above boat traffic looked rather less on a late November Wednesday morning than it had been on that August Friday morning in 2015!
From touchdown to terminal exit took a mere 50 minutes (note that, LAX). Back from the traffic and the hills of the inland valleys to the flatlands and sprout fields of Bedfordshire. Ah, yes, it’s Christmas next…