Friday, October 21, 2016

Home improvement

When we bought our house last year - our first proper, grown-up, permanent family home (yes, we are late bloomers) - we did a fair amount of redecorating. Pretty much every surface was stripped or sanded and refinished in some way.

But we had to stop spending at some point. So we took a pause and made a list of projects we would return to in 2016.

On the list:
  • New bannisters - to replace the weird, wavy silver ones 
  • Painting the exterior - because why would you want your house to be murky?
  • New front door - because it's ugly
  • Replace garage doors - with something sleek and contemporary
  • Proper dining chairs - to replace the placeholders we bought on the cheap

Not on the list:
  • The pergola which became a obsessive desire, and probably cost more than everything else on the list.

Now we can ignore the unlovely view of our neighbours' roof, and the distant blinking of the traffic lights on PCH.
Now we always only look West. And we have shade. And a new cool outdoor room.

Who cares that it was never in the plan? It is making us very happy. The best laid plans, eh?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Tailgating is brilliant

I'd never heard of tailgating before I moved to the US, so I'll take a moment to explain it. Tailgating is when you get to a sports event early, or stick around after the event, and eat and drink in the car park.

Until recently my sole experience of it was at Princeton, where we had gone to watch TLOML's cousin play soccer. It involved sober families standing around in a  slightly chilly carpark, so we made our excuses and left. Then there were those old oddballs eating sardines out of the boot of their car in the underground lot before that Bruce Springsteen gig. Suffice to say I was a bit bemused by the whole concept.

Now I know what it's like. And it suddenly it makes complete sense. We joined some friends at the USC Trojans game a couple of weeks ago, and naturally, as they say, 'we tailgated'.

Now an American Football game already takes an hour of play and turns it into a three hour event. But if you tailgate, you get all the delays and pageantry of a college football game, and add a layer of a couple of hours of co-ordinated, team-oriented drinking.  It's brilliant. Way to take an afternoon of watching sports and complement it with a morning of eating and drinking.

Luckily for us our friends have passes for the best parking lot at the USC ground. This is the pastoral bliss version of a tailgate: a grassy parking lot, kids playing ball, balloons and fireworks. And a very chilled out, friendly vibe: the exact opposite to the experience I imagine a foreigner might have drinking in a Celtics pub before a Celtics v Rangers game.
 A whole encampment of USC tents (people bring their own, in case you wondered) and a game of corn hole
This guy actually brings a TV so him and his buddies can watch pre-game coverage.

It's hard to tell from the pic but this man has two umbrellas cantilevered out from his car

A lawn, and a portable grill. It's not cricket but I still like it.

Of course in LA the tailgate is better than the game. In fact it was so hot in the stadium we left at half time and, as they say, 'tailgated' some more before heading for home. To beat the traffic, because LA.

Again, Americans prove that they know how to do social stuff just the best. Tailgating is, it turns out, a great idea and makes for pretty much an ideal Saturday. For this invention alone we might almost - but actually, really  not - forgive them Trump.