Frying in Anaheim, California. A Scorchio Weekend!

We are family x

We were practically frying in southern California last weekend, as the temperature rose over 100 °F (close to 40 ºC).

Our main reason for being down in Anaheim was for our 8 year old daughter to see a live game of baseball with her Daddy (she’s really enjoyed going to the ‘batting cages’ and slogging a few balls – so much so that she ended up getting her own glove and bat). So on Saturday evening she headed off to watch her favourite team – the LA Angels – play ‘at home’.

LA Angels, Anaheim

She came back with a big smile, having found a genuine baseball under a seat and proudly sporting an LA Angels cap on her head.

Sophie at the game

She admitted it was a long game and she got bored at times – but she knew her Daddy wanted to see the whole game, so she stayed for him. All up they loved the experience and it’s great that she is such a young sport lover and shares such a passion with her Daddy.

Angels Stadium

The atmosphere sounded amazing, with so much entertainment aside from the game itself, finishing with fireworks – that are fabulously captured by this fan here:

Whilst they enjoyed the game I spent the evening with my wonderful 11 year old and 4 year old daughter. After a lovely meal together we played in a fabulous water playground, at the Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel.

Evening fun at the Howard Johnson Hotel Anaheim water playground

Our hotel was close enough to Disneyland that we enjoyed a spectacular view of the ever brilliant fireworks display too!

Disneyland fireworks

The next day we made use of our annual Disneyland passes and popped into Disney California Adventure Park.

With the scorching temperatures we were glad of not feeling the pressure to fit in too much and planned to just enjoy a few hours, before taking our time driving back to Santa Barbara.

The park was exceptionally quiet and the older girls went on their favourite ride, California Screamin’, around six times!

California Screamin'

We all enjoyed the beautiful ‘Symphony Swings’ and rode on them a few times, as a family (so great that our 4 year old is now just over the 40″ minimum height requirement!).

I enjoyed the ‘Toy Story’ ride with my 4 year old too, surviving the half hour wait in the scorching temperatures by purchasing a much needed fan and water spray bottle! Best investment of the day!

We spent the rest of our time in the park taking it in turns to soak one another – the water was practically evaporating off our bodies as soon as it touched us!

Water spray

The ‘Grizzly River Run‘ was an absolute ‘must do’ in the heat (unfortunately our youngest isn’t at the 42″ minimum height requirement for that). Hubby took the older two and got absolutely soaked through (few complaints though!). Thankfully they had some ‘Fast passes‘ to make good use of – so no long wait for that ride.

We strolled through Cars Land and the older two went on the fabulous ‘Radiator Springs Racers‘ as ‘single riders‘ (which is available on some of the most popular rides) to avoid the long line of people waiting to go in groups. Meanwhile, hubby, our youngest daughter, and I chilled in the air-conditioned comfort of Flo’s V8 Cafe in Cars Land.

Cars Land

Luigi’s Flying Tires ride and Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree ride were both ‘walk on’, so we had a blast on the those rides, before the heat finally got too much for us and we started our journey back to Santa Barbara.

Paradise Pier

A wonderful end to a really magic weekend. Only two more weekends left before we fly home to New Zealand, after an amazing year living in California!

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Sunshine weekend | Santa Barbara to Santa Monica

We’ve driven south from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles several times in the past year. One of our favourite routes is along the Southbound California State Route 1, on the Pacific Coast Highway.

We always make a pit-stop at the giant sand dunes to admire the scenery and burn off some pent up energy with the children!


This five minute video, by FreewayBrent, from Point Mugu State Park, to the Malibu city limits, captures the drive.

This weekend, on our drive to Santa Monica, we went via The Lost Hills Road and Malibu Canyon Road, and onto the CA 1 South, Pacific Coast Highway.

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 9.44.22 pm

It’s a beautiful road, through dramatic scenery.

Driving the Malibu Canyon road

As we approached the coast, we drove past the Pepperdine University and a very moving tribute to all those that lost their lives in the Twin Towers tragedy of September 11th: ‘Waves of Flags‘.

Flag memorial at Pepperdine University
The flags, nearly 3,000 of them, represented all the nationalities of those that tragically lost their lives.

We pulled in to walk amongst the flags flying in the gentle breeze, before getting back in the car for the final leg of our journey, on to Santa Monica.

September 11th Flag memorial

The final drive is filmed in this video by FreewayBrent -
CA 1 South, Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu East to Santa Monica:

We arrived in Santa Monica, at the gorgeous Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, late afternoon with plenty of time to enjoy the evening on the beach and in the swimming pool. The girls love the ‘beach gym’, with the monkey rings, bars, swings and climbing ropes. Being there brought back happy memories of my 40th Birthday weekend celebrations.

Santa Monica Beach
As the sun set we played in the pool, spotting the stars as they appeared in the night sky.

At the Loews Hotel pool.
Tiredness began to catch up on our youngest, so I took her off to bed, whilst hubby took our older daughters off to the fairground on the pier.

Santa Monica pier fun fair

They had a really fun time and put their winning tickets from the arcade together, to get a toy for their youngest sister.

Beautiful sunset
Such a beautiful start to the weekend. The next morning we woke and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, before heading to the California Science Center to see the ‘Endeavour’ space shuttle, which was really quite something to see with our own eyes!

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A Magic Moment – seeing Endeavour

His eyes welled up as we walked into the large hanger, the Samuel Oschin Pavilion, holding Endeavour, at the California Science Center. My breath paused. The children stopped moving, momentarily. We stood in the presence of a real space shuttle!

Dan and EndeavourThis shuttle had been into space on 25 successful missions. It blew my mind to see this feat of engineering and to think of all the people that have worked with this shuttle over the 19 years it was in operation.

In numbers…

1992: The year Endeavour lifted off on its first flight. The orbiter carried seven astronauts to space on the STS-49 mission to rescue and repair a broken communications satellite.

4,671: The number of orbits Endeavour made of Earth during all of its missions.

299: The total number of days Endeavour has spent in space.

12: The number of times Endeavour visited the International Space Station. The shuttle’s trips to the orbiting laboratory include the very first U.S. space station mission, the STS-88 flight in December 1998 that launched the first American space station module, Unity.

3.5: The number of years it took NASA to build Endeavour. Construction on the orbiter began in September 1987, and completed in April 1991.

1: The number of times Endeavour has visited the Hubble Telescope in orbit. The shuttle was used to launch the first Hubble servicing mission, STS-61 in December 1993, which famously corrected the observatory’s faulty optics.

~ Space Shuttle Endeavour By The Numbers, Clara Moskowitz, Senior Writer   |   June 01, 2011



It was incredible and we all felt quite awe struck!

Space shuttle Endeavour’s final journey was a 12-mile ride from LAX, through Inglewood, to the California Science Center in Exposition Park. Here it is in timelapse.

As an aside, it was free to see too!

There were so many great hands on exhibitions and areas of learning at the California Science Center.

California Science Center


If ever stopping in LA I’d recommend a visit.

A wonderful family experience.

My favourite photo of the visit was actually not of the space shuttle, but this one (of my three daughters ‘reading’ the news). Our eight year old is in the centre (as the newsreader), our four year old is to the right (being interviewed for her scientific expertise) and our eldest, on the left, is ‘interference’ / aka ‘mad scientist! They were hilarious.

Broadcasting the news

Linking up with…

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Silent Sunday


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Butterflies, Smokey Bear & Woodsy Owl at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

It was an unusual overcast morning, with cooler temperatures than we have become accustomed to in southern California. We didn’t realise, until we arrived at our destination, that this would work in our favour.

We’d planned to meet up with a friend and her sons at the butterfly exhibition at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. In the photograph below two of my daughters, along with my friend’s oldest son (on the right), demonstrate metamorphosis!

My four and eight year old daughters, with their four year old friend.

It was the final week  of the summer long exhibition and I’d only been once before – on a typically hot, sunny day. On that first visit the butterflies flew around my young daughter and I with such vitality, that she was almost a little nervous. I had to be quick to capture a photograph as they flitted from one flower to the next.

Butterflies in the sunshine

On this occasion, with the cooler, overcast morning, the butterflies were almost sleepy. They rested beautifully on the surrounding flowers; perfectly showing off their array of colours for us to quietly enjoy.


This time around I’d brought my eight year old daughter along too and she was quite captivated.

A friend

My friend has two lovely boys, one is the same age as my youngest, four, and the other is an active one year old. The youngest was absolutely adorable to watch in his enthusiasm for pointing at the butterflies (but hard work for his dear Mum, as she had to watch his ever move to ensure he didn’t climb over flower beds to reach out and touch one!).

My friend's sons with my middle daughter

I adored watching the children as much as the butterflies!

My eight year old with my friend's one year old son

Whilst at the museum we also enjoyed the delightful ‘Smokey Bear & Woodsy Owl Home Sweet Home‘ exhibition, specifically designed with children in mind. My two younger daughters enjoyed getting into some role play, catching fish, making pretend camp-fires and animal puppet shows.


They even caught a few ;)


Along with my friend’s sons they also explored the water cycle, with a lovely ‘musical exhibition’ that involved balls being wound upwards (to illustrate evaporation), before coming down a drain pipe, via some wind chimes and striking a cymbal, and landing in the garden! Quite ingenious (and noisy!).

Water cycle

My youngest enjoyed pretending to plant some tree saplings too (a lot less dirty than real hands on gardening). I’m looking forward to getting her home to our garden in New Zealand in three weeks time to try out some real gardening (it’ll be spring planting season!).

Planting sapplings

A lovely visit and a special time shared with good friends who we shall be sad to say farewell to in a few weeks time when we return to New Zealand (but thankfully they too will return to New Zealand – just a year or so later than us).

Linking up this post with the wonderful…

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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The Sky

In a few weeks time we will say farewell to a year of Californian blue sky. It’s as though you could walk into a paint shop and pluck that exact colour off the shelf. It’s been practically unchanging all year – apart from at sunrise, sunset and night-time.

The Sky in Southern California

Having grown up in England, followed by seventeen years of living in Wellington, New Zealand, this constant blue took some getting used to! It took me a few months to quiet my mouth, on opening the curtains every morning, from saying, ‘Oh, it’s another simply beautiful day!’.

It’s the kind of blue I yearn to see after a dreary winter in England. It’s the kind of calm I yearn for, after a particularly windy few weeks in Wellington, New Zealand (where the clouds can move so fast that watching them leaves me in a hallucinatory mood – cue ‘Keep Calm and Call Doctor Who’).

It’s a blue I’ll miss from time to time, but it’s not my kind of blue (I’m more of a ride in the Tardis through whatever the elements throw at me kind of blue).

What I shall miss the most about the sky here, is that it’s at least in the same hemisphere as people I hold very close to my heart. It’s felt good to see in the seasons (all be it, they haven’t been very pronounced – just a change in daylight hours) along with my dear folks and friends in England.

I now return to the opposite side of the world, where as the evenings get lighter for the northern hemisphere – so they get darker for the northern hemisphere – and my heart feels somewhat more strung out in those extra miles of separation.

Skype calls from daybreak in New Zealand will always be met with the fall of night in England; and calls from England in their morning hours will be met by a curtain of darkness in New Zealand. The sky will rarely be blue for us at the same time.

I shall take a piece of Californian blue away with me in my heart and think on it as the blue in the middle, of where my heart pulls in two.


Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery
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