Have you ever seen the Queen?

This week in Southern California it’s been a school week, though next week schools, colleges and the local university will be shut for Thanksgiving Break.

Morning departures from home are staggered: Cal Gal leaves first at 0700 to walk to her middle school; Cal Guy Snr gets on his bike at about 0730 to cycle to high school (though it’s a later start on Tuesdays) and Cal Guy Jnr needs to be driven to his elementary school, to arrive between 0815 and 0845.

Cal Guy Jnr and Gal Gal are delighted to be picked up from their respective schools, that’s at 1515 from the elementary school and 1630 from the middle school. Cal Guy Snr appears at different times each evening, depending on the state of play in the high school theater. At the beginning of the week the “Get Out” after the Drama Department’s Pride and Prejudice production was the determining factor; later in the week it was the tech and dress rehearsals for the Friday and Saturday high school Dance Show.

“When you go and pick up Child X after school,” Cal Son said early in the week, “beware, the checking out lady will keep you talking. She’ll just want to hear your accent.” He was absolutely right.

The Captain has had a couple of “What’s your accent? I like your accent,” encounters.  One day you could sense the respective brains processing each other’s speech as his British voice sought to navigate the US postal system where the very obliging counter clerk spoke in a Turkish /American accent.  (“Thirteen and a half flying hours to Istanbul from LAX,” the clerk explained).

Back to the beginning of the week – Cal Guy Jnr, now a fourth grader, had applied earlier in the semester to be a library helper in his elementary school library. He does library duty on Mondays and Wednesdays, from 0815 to 0845.

“Would you like to see our school library, Granny? You could come and see it with me,” he said on Sunday evening. That was not an opportunity to turn down…

At 0805 on Monday the checking in at the school office started.  It was all going well until photo ID was called for. The passport was back at the house in a safe place, the British driving licence was not recognised on the scanner and so help had to be summonsed from an office staff member. Eventually a photo was taken and access was gained onto the school site. 

Just out of the Administration Building Cal Guy Jnr nearly collided with his fourth grade teacher. “This is my Grandma,” Guy Jnr explained. “We’re going to the library.”

“Why don’t you come and do a read out story to the class …?” said the class teacher.

And so, after helping with re-shelving returned fiction books and dusting grubby fingerprints off book jackets, Boatwif found herself in a classroom of 29 fourth graders. Once the students had finished Morning Routine (pre-prepared quick literacy and numeracy exercises from the interactive board) the teacher announced: “You’re going to hear a story in a fancy accent.” Then the 9 year olds were ushered to their places on the carpet and urged to “Be respectful.”

One student ventured that perhaps the accent was from Germany so there was a quick rundown on the 4 component countries in the UK. It seemed beyond bizarre to be sitting in a classroom before 9am reading a Thanksgiving book picked up from a library display that explained how the campaigning efforts of Sarah Josepha Hale succeeded in Thanksgiving being declared a national celebration.

In the Question Time that followed (not exactly election forum with Fiona Bruce) there was a gasp of horror that there is no Thanksgiving holiday in the UK. The question “Have you seen the Queen?” almost posed a memory problem (Mm, yes, twice, both a long time ago!) but allowed for a little discussion on the effectiveness of the Queen wearing single block colours…

There are about 850 pupils in the elementary school. At 3.15 the large metal gates are unlocked and the pupils begin to stream out. There is no school uniform and individualism is expressed in hair colour and some wacky hair styles. When the pupils emerged this Friday afternoon at the start of Thanksgiving Break many clutched school-made Fall crowns and head-dresses or large long-legged paper turkeys…

“So who’s cooking the turkey?” the checking out lady asked at the 4.30 middle school pick up, again keen to engage in conversation with a British accent.

The final school event of the week was over at the high school for the Fall Dance Showcase.  Cal Gal was on hand to explain that the student dance groups (Freshman, Sophomore, Junior and Senior Varsity) had elected for “a dance class”, meaning they took Dance as a subject on their timetable. The music was loud – although some of the audience’s supporting cheers were even louder! The dance styles were modern and hip hop, the routines precise and full of energy. Three extraordinarily talented guest soloists danced, one in a gymnastics floor routine, one ballet-based and one in provocative showgirl style. Cal Gal, not a dancer, will be a Freshman next academic year, and says she’s keen to take up field hockey for her PE sport.


Come Tuesday midday the typical blue skies of California were changing. Wader birds pecked at the sea’s edge,    pelicans skimmed along the surf line   and grizzled retiree surfers watched for a good run.  On a surf scale of 0-10 it was about a 2, apparently. The clouds that had been building up over the ocean intensified and with a mighty ferocity the rainy season started.

Wet! Wet! Wet!

Drenched in a dash from store to car just five paces away. Drenched again during school pick up time.  By Day 2 the Captain hoped the local drivers had found how to operate their windscreen wipers…

This rainy period seems to have been typical – deluges and downpours for a day and a bit plus two half days of shorter showers before the blue skies return. Some places in San Diego County are reported as having had 4 inches of rain during this first storm of the season.

You can see the weather on the move out here. (Photos taken from Double Peak Park above San Marcos.)

Also viewed overhead have been aircraft – see below for the Captain’s list*. It’s not unusual to see military aircraft hereabouts; there’s the U.S. Naval Air Station on the coast by San Diego harbour, there’s the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station just on the northern edge of the city and the Marine Corps base about 15 miles north at Camp Pendleton.

Finally, an update on Cal Three stats:

5 feet 1 inch / 154.94 cm = I.0 granny

Cal Guy Jnr = 0.88 granny 

Cal Gal = 1.1 granny 

Cal Guy Snr = 1.22 granny 


*Aircraft spotted:

F-18E, F-18F, CH-53E, V-22, UH-1

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