Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC) .

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC hit Los Angeles a few weeks ago, and drifted around Hollywood for a day. I bumped into a couple of stars. The TC took the obligatory photographs. Then we moved on.

My impressions? Woah! I was surprised how tacky Los Angeles is.

Travel tip

Spend as little time as possible in LA.

The book I’m in

The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. It’s not as gothic as I was expecting, but I reserve judgement because the TC still has me lodged half way through the book.

The photos

Me and Peg hobnobbing with a star:

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

“Walk of Fame”? Bah humbug. To be honest, I didn’t meet anyone who carries quite the same cachet as I do myself. Here’s another star. Don’t ask what that dark liquid is, encroaching from top left. I’m sure you can guess. The TC plonked me and Peg down right next to it! Poor old Peg could hardly keep it together, such was her chagrin:

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

The Walk of Fame runs along Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street. If you’re anything like this worm, you probably think the Walk of Fame would be in a glamorous area of Hollywood, with glitterati peering out of every gold-framed doorway. Think again. It’s scruffy. Dusty. Urine smoulders in the corners and dribbles over the stars. People accost you, offering to guide you to a specific star — for a fee of course. Dudes, the neighbourhood is not quite the ticket:

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

We headed for the hills:

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

At least from up there, the city has a smoggy allure:

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

We did a guided tour of the Warner Bros. studios. This worm highly recommends the tour. Lasting about two hours, it’s fast, interesting, professional:

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Here’s one of the “backlots” inside the studio grounds. The buildings are just facades, customisable for each film that is currently being shot:

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Here’s the ambulance bay for “ER”:

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

And here’s what it looks like from the other side:

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

The Warner Bros. tour includes a visit to the museum. The TC, bless her cotton socks, was entranced by the garments and other accoutrements from various films. Here’s Harry Potter’s Ford Anglia:

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

See the green screen on the left of the above picture? Tour participants are invited to pose in front of it for a photograph. Later, photographic wizardry replaces the green background with an image of the Gryffindor common room. Naturally, the TC and TC-once-removed could not resist that opportunity. Here’s the somewhat predictable result:

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Television afficionados will recognise this room:

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Yes, it’s Central Perk from “Friends”.

The Warner Bros. tour guide also took us round the props warehouse. This worm found it the most interesting part of the tour. So much stuff, some genuine and some look-alike. Here’s a massive Egyptian statue nestling up to a stunning Tiffany lamp. The studio has had the lamp squirreled away for years and has only recently discovered its value. It’s one of two genuine matching Tiffany lamps:

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Here’s an even more valuable standing lamp. It’s made of Baccarat crystal and recently valued at 3 million dollars. The studio has its twin too, worth the same amount of moolah:

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

In the evening we made it to Universal Studios. Glitz and glamour were more in evidence here:

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

The guitar in the distance marks the entrance to the Hollywood Hard Rock Café. Inside, a car turns languidly above your head, chief raft in a flotilla of memorabilia:

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

Hobnobbing with the stars in Hollywood

If you’re in Hollywood around Halloween, go to the Universal Studio Halloween Horror Night. We did.

That’s all for today dudes.

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

This is the blog of a 25-year-old bookmark. I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC) .

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC were in California a couple of weeks ago. The wild wild west and all that. We drove a Mustang down Highway 1 from San Francisco to Los Angeles. As you do. I wrote about it.

Santa Barbara was one of our overnight stops. That city is so pretty, the TC didn’t know where to point her camera next. To be more precise, she didn’t know where not to point her camera next. As a result, we have gigabytes of images. This worm does concede that they’re pretty and so, with my superior discerning eye, I’ve picked a few for this blog post.

My impressions? Time standing still. In a good way.

Can anyone take so much eye candy? You’ll soon find out. Dude, let me know if you make it to the end of this post.

Travel tip

Go there.

Recommended accommodation

Villa Rosa, an inn at 15 Chapala Street, Santa Barbara. As the brochure proudly states: “Henri Matisse, Carmen Miranda, Ernest Hemingway and Errol Flynn never slept here.” But me and the TC did. It’s charming. There’s a picture somewhere below.

The book I’m in

The Last Apache Girl, by Jim Fergus. I’m between pages 98 and 99 at the moment. From the dizzy rate at which the TC is moving me through this book, I can tell that she’s enjoying it.

The photos

Me catching the breeze in front of the Court House clock tower in Santa Barbara:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

The Villa Rosa inn, where we stayed for the night:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

The architectural styles are clean and pleasing to the eye:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

This building has fresco work under the top eaves and in the archways:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

From the outside, the Court House is merely quaint:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

But inside, the Court House is magnificent:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

It feels a trifle weird to walk around such a serene space, knowing that some of the people you pass are attending court cases and probably not having the most stress-free time of their life:

The architecture is Spanish-Moorish.

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

The Court House was completed in 1929. Its architecture is Spanish-Moorish:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

From the top of the Court House clock tower there’s a lovely view of the hills and the town. Here’s just one direction:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

The Mural Room in the Court House quite takes your breath away:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

The Mural Room was originally built for the sittings of the County Board of Supervisors. Now you can get married there. Here’s a closer look at one of the walls:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Sumptuous stair cases abound. For some reason, this one was adorned with urns. Keats would have done his nut:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Ahem, that’s me dangling on the vase. Ode on a Travelling Worm, anyone? 😉 Actually, Peg is in this photograph too. She’s dangling on the inside of the vase, acting as a loyal counterweight. Dear Peg.

There is so much more of the Court House to see. And the TC, bless her travel-worn cotton socks, photographed most of it. But this worm will move on.

Me with Brother Juniper at the Franciscan mission in Santa Barbara :

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Brother Juniper is one cool dude. The mission itself is pretty cool too:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Step inside the mission building. Step into serenity:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

There’s a roped-off walk that you can do, so that you don’t disturb the residents and the people attending a retreat:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

A view across the courtyard inside the mission:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Still inside the mission, see the skulls and crossbones around this doorway that passes from the graveyard into the church. The TC was surprised to see such decoration in a Catholic mission. This worm has since done some research. Wikipedia says that skull and crossbones have long been used to mark entrances to Spanish cemeteries:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

This little alcove is inside the church:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Here’s the doorway leading from the church into another part of the mission building:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

The mission museum has some lovely relics. Here’s a large old songbook from their collection:

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

Eye candy in Santa Barbara

That’s all for today dudes.

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

This is the blog of a 25-year-old bookmark. I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC) .

Today’s travel notes

The TC got it into her head to drive an open-top Mustang down Highway 1, the coastal route from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Actually, it was the TC-once-removed who put this idea into the TC’s head. Reluctantly I have to report that the TC got a bit carried away with the whole experience and left me cooped up in her bag much of the time. I didn’t even have the chance to get cozy with the pony (that’s what we aficionados call a Mustang) although I had been eagerly anticipating that photo opportunity.

Still, the TC did give me an airing every now and then, so I can report some highlights of the trip.

My impressions? The drive to Los Angeles is just beautiful. LA is a dump. Drive on by.

Travel tip

If you can, spend a few days on the drive. There’s much to do and see.

Here’s another tip from a wise worm: Invest in a GPS. Don’t rely on your TC. If she’s anything like mine, you’ll get lost and end up seeing the, ahem, interesting parts of town. En route from Santa Barbara to Santa Monica, we encountered Oxnard, Port Hueneme and Sod Farm.

Recommended restaurant

Lucia Lodge Restaurant, perched on a cliff overlooking the ocean at the southern edge of Big Sur.

Recommended accommodation

Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa, 400 Cannery Row, Monterey. Even the TC, bless her cotton socks, deserves a touch of luxury every now and then. But be warned, it’s pricey.

The book I’m in

Moonlit Cage, by Linda Holeman. Highly recommended. This worm felt homesick when the TC finished reading The Linnet Bird, by the same author, so I’m glad to be ensconced in another of Linda’s works.

The photos

Me cozying up to an urn in the Santa Barbara courthouse. Yeah, Keats dude: Leaf-fringed legends, deities and mortals abound. In truth, beauty and all that, I feel that I have a certain unfading charm myself:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Here’s the Mustang backed by a fittingly scenic view:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

The TC keeps remarking with glee how the car took her up and over 100 miles per hour before she had time to glance at the speedometer. Hmm. This worm is sceptical of the “before she had time” part of that tale:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

It’s a 4 litre, 6 cylinder mean machine:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

We started in San Francisco. Here’s that serene city, as seen from the Sausalito ferry a few days before we left:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

We spent our first night in Monterey. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is well worth a visit. It’s housed in a converted sardine canning factory situated at the end of Cannery Row, of John Steinbeck fame:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Me with a seahorse in the aquarium:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

The jellyfish displays are awe-inspiring, dwarfing even the TC’s height:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Here are the jellyfish in motion:

Another sort of jellyfish:

And perhaps the most ethereal yet:

These beasties are seadragons, related to seahorses. These dudes have the art of synchronised swimming down to a T:

Wherever I go, Jonathan is there too. Here he is masquerading as a porpoise, but I spotted him. Is he the most inept spy ever? Double-oh-seagull:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

We stayed at the Monterey Plaza Hotel in the middle of Cannery Row. It’s luxury squared. Here’s the view of the sea at dusk, from our room:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Just a few steps down the Row, two homeless people set up for the night. John Steinbeck would probably recognise their experience of the Row more than ours:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

The scenery from Highway 1 is sometimes breathtaking. This video gives some idea of its beauty. The noise you can hear is the barking of group of elephant seals on the beach at the bottom of the cliff:

Further along the road, you can get up close and personal with more elephant seals.

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Santa Barbara is gorgeous. So impressed was this worm, that I plan to write a blog post dedicated to that city. Here’s a snap to whet your appetite:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Malibu is luxury with a road running through it. Can’t visit your neighbours, for fear of getting run over when you cross the road. Can’t get anywhere without a car. As we approached from the north the TC chirped, “I could live here!” Then Malibu went on and on and on and this worm is pretty sure she changed her mind. Not that the TC would admit such a thing, of course.

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Santa Monica was blowing up a storm when we arrived. Extreme weather. The TC had to duck the kamikaze palmtree fronds. At one stage she was walloped in the middle by a low-flying cardboard box, but seemed to take that in her stride. Even so, Santa Monica greeted us with glitz, glamour and fairy lights:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Early next morning all was calm and clean again, the palm fronds magically back in their rightful places:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

After a bit of research to find “you know, that beach where you always see people in films rollerblading among the palm trees”, the TC decided on Venice Beach, LA:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

We found this skate hire shop:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

And the TC fulfilled her heart’s desire:

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

Driving a Mustang from San Francisco to LA

That’s all for today dudes.

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

This is the blog of a 25-year-old bookmark. I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC) .

Today’s travel notes

In which Wordsworm explores the importance of horror, gore and pumpkins in the American psyche and discovers that there’s a lot to blame the Irish for.

Me and the TC have just got back from California, USA. We drove from San Francisco to LA, through a countryside in the throes of pre-Halloween pumpkinitis. We hit Hollywood just in time to catch the Halloween Horror Night at Universal Studios.

My impressions? To paraphrase Obelix, “These Californians are crazy”. To pacify the TC I’ll add, “But in a good way”.

Travel tip

Don’t turn around. The zombie behind you just may be Irish.

Recommended restaurant

The Hard Rock Café on Universal Citywalk, Hollywood. Good food, bluesy atmosphere, dangling car and wall-hung rock memorabilia. No obvious Irishmen.

The book I’m in

Still Life with Woodpecker, by Tom Robbins. This worm finds the content contrived but passably amusing. From the cover blurb: “[This book] reveals the purpose of the moon… examines the conflict between social activism and romantic individualism… It also deals with the problem of redheads.”

The photos

Me, Peg and the Great Pumpkin. Hey Linus, I found it:

Halloween, horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween, horror and pumpkins in California

It was the week before Halloween when we drove down the Californian coast. Pumpkin patches littered the countryside. What is it with pumpkins, ghosts and the American psyche? This worm has done a bit of research. It’s said that the Irish brought the tradition of Halloween and jack o’lanterns with them to the States. Originally, jack o’lanterns were made from the humble turnip. There’s a confused story of a drunken Irish farmer called Jack who couldn’t get in to heaven or hell, so he had to stagger around purgatory for ever after. To light his way, he hacked a hole in a turnip and put a burning coal into it to form a lantern. For some reason best known to themselves, the other villagers decided that if they made their own turnip lanterns, this would scare away Jack and similar undesirables. Well, they were Irish of course.

When the settlers came to the States and discovered the magnificent pumpkins in their new land, they started using pumpkins instead of turnips to make their jack o’lanterns.

This is the picturesque Webb Ranch Pumpkin Patch near Palo Alto:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Not all pumpkins are the same, you know. Only the very best will become worthy jack o’lanterns, fit to ward off the Halloween witches and spirits. When you see one you like, hang on to it with all your might:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Night falls. Mist rises. The Hollywood streets undergo a frightening metamorphosis. Chainsaws thrum. Screams chill the bones. Bones clatter over the screams. It’s Universal Studios Halloween Horror Night:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Oh, for the comforting glow of a pumpkin now:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

If you scream, you’re fair game:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

There’s no escape:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

They’re everywhere:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Some poor souls didn’t make it:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

This guy should have tried a pumpkin as a coach:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Dude, you’re just tall:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

The only one who could ever reach me was the son of a preacher man:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

But day dawns, justice overcomes and pumpkins prevail. Me and a panel from the door of the Santa Barbara Courthouse:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Actually, pumpkins don’t have it all their own way. Me with a soon-to-be-extinct slice of pumpkin pie:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Oh-Oh, spaghetti-o. Linus, I fear the TC ate the Great Pumpkin.

That’s all for today dudes.