We arrived back in Laguna Hills on Tuesday evening after a great couple of nights in San Diego.
Before that though we played nine holes of golf on the San Clemente municipal course, highlighted for Ben by having a buggy. His driving of the buggy was almost as good as his driving on the course, but he soon got the hang of it. We were paired off with two local guys, who fortunately were not low handicappers!
Saturday evening was spent around the family table, playing games again. Always a good laugh at this time of year.
On Sunday, Sarah drove us about 70 miles south to San Diego, and we spent the afternoon at the Zoo, where amongst other stuff, we saw pandas for the first time ever, for real. The only disappointment was thay you always expect them to be very black and very white. These were in need of a wash and one spent all its time sleeping in a bush. Still, we had a good time. In the evening, after dropping bags at the Marriott on Coronado Island (which Sarah booked for us at $42 a night!!! - cos she does part time work for Marriott) we went into the Gaslamp District which was alive to the sound of San Diego Chargers fans enjoying their team's win to take them into the Superbowl play-offs.
We ate at Croce's - a jazz bar/restaurant owned and run by the wife of the late Jim Croce. So the place was stacked out with memorabilia. Lovely meal, great ambience. Later, Sarah took us to her favourite ice cream parlour called Ghiardelli's (I think the spelling is right).
Next day we took a walk around Coronado, and then Sarah collected us to show off where she lives. After a few Wii games, we went bowling. My best EVER bowling score is 155, so you can imagine I was not cuffed to get 141, yet Ben beat me by 1.
In the evening, we were splendidly entertained by the Benham family. Their daughter Celeste stayed with us, with Sarah, 18 months ago, and to show their thanks they shared their home with us for the evening. The highlight for Ben being use of their brand new, custom made pool table. The highlight for me, a sampling session of Phil's collection of fine tequilas. He gave me a bottle to bring home....and it's not a Jose Cuervo!
Onto Tuesday, after breakfast we went over to see the Hotel del Coranado. Now you learn something new everyday....on this occasion, that scenes from the Monroe/Lemmon film "Some Like It Hot" were filmed there made, which for an interesting nosey around. At $500 a night for the cheapest rooms, I can't think we'll ever stay there.
Then we went back into town, and visited the USS Midway, a retired aircraft carrier, and we did the audio tour. I love those things, and though Ben and Sarah hit their boredom threshold, Ailsa and I did pretty much the full tour.
To wind the day, Sarah wanted to take us to Benihani Restaurant. It's best described as a Wagamama, but where they cook the food actually on a huge hot plate on the middle of your table. It was exceptional, and it's high time this company came to the UK! We had special fried rice, shrimp, steak, grilled Japanese veg.....washed down with a nice drop of wine, plus the chef who cooked for us was entertaining; juggling his spatula, flicking shrimp tails into his hat. A top man, was Juan.
Then we came back to Laguna Hills and played Mexican Train (dominoes) again, until 1.30 a.m. So we decided a lie-in was appropriate ;-)
Tonight, we are going out to friends of Peter and Margaret to a New Year party. Sarah has gone off into LA to meet friends; Samantha is taking Ben to the movies.
The weather in the last week, has been MUCH kinder than when we first arrived, so today, it is about 68 degrees. Tomorow has the makings of a lazy day, but Friday we'll be going to the Ice Hockey at Anaheim.
We have kept in touch with people via e-mail and Facebook, plus not only reading news and sport on the BBC website, but watching Premiership games on the Fox Soccer Channel.
It's now 3.20 pm in California so less than an hour to New Year back home.
So ..... Happy New Year to all our reader! (s)