Archive | California

Tipping in California: Guide to how much and when

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Americans are used to navigating the highly subjective world of tipping. Like it or not, it’s how their famous “service with a smile” culture is funded.  Most service jobs pay less than $10/£6.30 an hour (minimum wage in California is $8.35/£5.30). That’s not very much if you consider the knowledge of say, a professional sommelier, or a […]

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Do you say Cali?

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The first time I heard the apocopation Cali I cringed. I almost broke London etiquette and corrected the offenders on the tube. They had smart Prada bags, looked like they were in PR, and were discussing a recent trip to “Cali”. Erm, no one in California would actually use the term Cali. They might name their cat Cali. […]

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Newport Beach: 9 activities for families

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I spent my University days in Newport Beach, California. School was nearby and I teamed up with about 500 students to share a three-bedroom flat on the Newport peninsula. I cleverly arranged all my classes for Tuesdays and Thursdays – so I had a 4-day weekend and a day off in between! I loved it … and managed […]

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Surf City USA: Finding the Hollister web cam and learning to surf!

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I first learned that Huntington Beach in California was the surfer paradise behind the Hollister brand by accident. It was a cold Autumn day in Edinburgh, grey skies were threatening rain and  thankfully we had remembered to bring wooly scarves. Coincidentally it was my first trip to the gorgeous city, even though my Scottish husband […]

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The perfect weekend with kids in Santa Cruz, California

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  When we are in California, we always try to fit in a couple of nights in Santa Cruz, a local beach town nestled in the most northern end of Monterey Bay. It’s just a 30-minute drive from where we stay in San Jose, you can literally be in the middle of Silicon Valley and […]

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Family traditions: Making Gravenstein apple pie

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When I was growing up our family holidays were spent at the Russian River in Northern California. Back then it wasn’t the trendy bohemian destination it is today. We went there because a family friend owned a sprawling log house on the riverbank, and our large family could stay economically. We’d play in the river, catch tadpoles […]

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Treebones Resort: Our favourite retreat in Big Sur

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This was our second year back at the Treebones Resort in Big Sur. The resort is famous for its yurts and breathtaking panoramic views of the Big Sur coastline. It’s a quiet retreat, and only allows children aged 6 and older. Treebones is about 5 hours north of Los Angeles and 4 hours south of […]

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Wine tasting and swimming at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery!

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The Francis Ford Coppola Winery takes the whole California wine tasting experience to a whole new level. In addition to fabulous wine for adults, think swanky swimming pools to help keep the kids occupied. Francis Coppola wanted to make sure that the whole family could enjoy the nice things in life. After watching children beg […]

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Panning for gold in California’s Gold Country

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When our youngest heard we were going panning for gold in California’s Gold Country north of Sacramento, she started planning how she would spend the fortune she would amass. After she bought herself a jacuzzi and art supply store, she told me she’d get me a new dress. There’s something about gold that makes people […]

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Exploring San Francisco’s Exploratorium

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The Exploratorium in San Francisco is not really a museum. It’s more of a sprawling thought-provoking experience. Think science meets art in pod-like stations (exhibits), where you meander from one to another to explore, create and tinker.  It’s a lot like surfing the Internet – find something that interests you and follow the thread. Also […]

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