Wednesday, 23 October 2013

California - any time of the year.

California is long - over 1,000 miles, which is more or less double* the length of Britain (*depending which criteria you use) therefore the temperatures between the northern and southern-most areas varies greatly, enabling visitors to enjoy a pleasant climate at any time of the year, somewhere in the 'The Golden State'.

There are also differences between coastal regions and inland (mountains, valleys and deserts). At the time of writing, mid-October, the current temperatures midnight-midday are:
    Dolby Theatre Hollywood
  • Lake Tahoe 34F - 66F (1C - 19C)
  • San Francisco 49F - 63F (9C - 17C)
  • Sacramento 55F - 81F (13C - 27C)
  • Santa Barbara 52F - 67F (11C - 19C)
  • Los Angeles 62F - 66F (17C - 19C)
  • Palm Springs 69F - 91F (21C - 33C)
One reason why wealthy people often have homes in Palm Springs is quite obvious; there is also the aerial tramway and many golf courses.  Lake Tahoe is close to Mammoth and June mountains, popular ski resorts that are driveable from LA and San Francisco for a weekend's skiing, from December until spring.

We flew into LAX one December and spent two weeks in California which included driving to Mammoth mountain for a few days skiing, back to LA (staying near Disneyland at Anaheim to visit some of the many theme parks) plus a couple of days visiting Palm Springs. The weather was perfect in all three resorts - sunny and warm.

Another time, we flew to San Francisco in May/June and, after a couple of days there, spent a couple of weeks touring along the Pacific Coast highway to San Diego, via Carmel, St Louis Obispo, Solvang, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Long Beach plus a detour to Las Vegas.

We've been to California a few times and experienced a perfect climate on each visit until this year. Based at Long Beach in February, there was a chill wind along the coast from Santa Barbara to San Diego. Away from the coast, in the Hollywood Hills (and shopping malls) it was climatically pleasant for walking around in shirt-sleeves or a light-weight jacket.

This year's trip was a film-focused week. Apart from the Universal Backlot Tour, we were escorted in a small group around Warner Brothers Studios and Lot, visiting the sets of The Big Bang Theory and The Mentalist, amongst others. We also spent a day in Hollywood amongst the preparations for the Oscars - also taking in the Chinese Theatre and Walk of Fame stars. And while visiting Malibu Beach, we wandered along the pier during a film shoot for TV series Franklin & Bash with Malcolm McDowall. Oops!

Have fun planning your own California highlights trip.

Monday, 14 October 2013

London in Winter - and Fireworks!

fireworks and part accessories

Mayor Boris Johnson said London's firework display would show the world that "the most exciting city on Earth" is looking forward to the future with "optimism and energy".

The London Eye was a spectacular Catherine Wheel and the Thames reflected colours majestically. What else can London offer visitors in the winter months? London is one of the best cities to be in if you are planning a break and can't predict the weather. There is always warmth and entertainment within metres of wherever you find yourself - whether it's Covent Garden, Borough Market, Harrods, a river cruise or other tourist attraction. Here are a couple of favourites:

If you can't get to London for the Fireworks and you are hosting your own event for family and friends, stay safe!
You can buy fireworks from 15th October until 10th November and from 26th December until 31st December. Additionally, for Chinese New Year and Diwali, on the day and the three days immediately preceding.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Always Sunny in Lincoln?

Having visited Lincoln three times this year, I have the impression that it is always warm and sunny there, which probably contributes to how I feel about it as a city. Having said that, Lincoln is so interesting that I'm sure it can be enjoyed on dull weather days.

First of all, at the top of the hill, there is a Norman Castle and a splendid Cathedral to visit. Work your way down the quaint and cobbled Steep Hill to the shopping areas, mainly pedestrianised, and to the canal.

There is some interesting architecture to be admired along the canal path to the east (left, as you come down the hill) so do this first, just for 100 yards or so, then return along the path and continue under the bridges to Brayford Wharf (a couple of minutes) where you can enjoy coffee, lunch or dinner at one of the many restaurants with views of the boats in Brayford Pool.

There is a choice of hotels, including Doubletree and Holiday Inn, if you are staying longer than just a day. If you travel to Lincoln by train, the station is fairly central, at the southern end of the shopping area. Visit Lincoln!

Brayford Wharf & Brayford Pool, Lincoln, UK


Monday, 7 October 2013

The Best Trick or Treats From Hotel Chocolat

With Halloween creeping up on us you might like to have a peep through your fingers at my favourite British chocolatier, Hotel Chocolat’s ghoulishly gorgeous Halloween goodies.

Whether you’re planning a party, having a quiet night in behind the sofa, or bracing yourself for an army of trick or treaters – you’ll find the very best selection of mouth watering scary treats!

Hotel Chocolat have a true passion for chocolate, they even own their own cocoa plantation, Rabot Estate in St.Lucia. If you haven’t tasted their delights Halloween is the perfect excuse as they have a fun range of spooky chocolate boxes that will be sure to keep your little monsters quiet!


Saturday, 5 October 2013

Sicily in October

Autumn half-term is always difficult to find short-haul guaranteed warm weather and sunshine. The end of October hails the beginning of winter in Europe (the word 'plummet' features regularly when searching for an ideal destination) and booking a break around the Mediterranean is pot luck - could be great or could be grey!

Last year, we settled on Cefalu in Sicily and we had 'acceptable' weather, much better than the UK. I wouldn't call it hot but it was warm and sunny most of the week. We stayed in a lovely hotel on the beach at the edge of the town: Cefalu Sea Palace.

We enjoyed walking through the narrow streets of the town and trying the restaurants. We also hired a car and toured part of the island.

If you don't have to book your Sicily break for half-term, take advantage of better weather earlier in October. Cefalu is less 'touristy' than Catania/Taormina coast but it's only a couple of hours' drive so you can easily visit both. Flights are available to Palermo or Catania.