The OC David and I spent the morning in Laguna Beach yesterday, in LA's Orange County. It wasn't a very bright day, though it was warm and sunny, but there was a bit of a marine layer about, which made everything a bit hazy. But it was still very beautiful.
Laguna is one of the Beach Cities of the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area; it has a population of about 24,000 and is about an hour away from downtown LA. It's also just an hour away from us, so it's a great place to visit!
It reminded us both very strongly of Noosa, particularly its tree-lined side streets ...... and its mix of quaint little cafes and restaurants, surf shops, summery boutiques and galleries. But it's quite a bit bigger and busier, and a lot of its restaurants have a distinctly Mexican flavour. Plus it has Pacific Coast Highway (PCH as they call it here) roaring through the middle of it.It has been a thriving resort town since the early days of the movies, and has been home to Bette Davis, Charlie Chaplin, Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney. It has a great old cinema just across the road from the beach:I love the old-style letters they still use for the film titles and session times!
We had coffee (well, I had a peppermint tea) sitting in the shade near this, watching the volleyball players and the passing parade on the boardwalk, which included this family of strange little T-shirted dogs ...... I think their owner said they were Chinese crested hairless terriers. The sort of dogs that only a mother could really love — and here she is ... ... being proudly pushed about in her very own little doggy stroller.
Then we went for a stroll in and out of some swish little galleries where there seemed a preponderance of kitschy paintings of dolphin-infested seascapes, English cottage gardens, and big-eyed women in diaphanous nightdresses. These sorts of galleries are really for the tourists — Laguna has had a reputation as an artists' colony since the first half of the 20th century, and has a couple of big art festivals in the summer months that are a lot of fun. I think the 'more serious' art will be well away from the seafront, or more likely it finds its way into the cooler, more chi-chi spaces of Los Angeles.
We popped into a fabulous children's clothing shop ... ... and picked up a few lovelies for grandson Mack and our youngest nephew. Not one of these, though ... ... and especially not one of these! Then there was time for some fantasy real estate browsing. Here's the entrance to a cute little cottage we fancied — right on the beach. Some of the blue you're seeing through the lower branches of the tree is actually the Pacific Ocean!
And, of course, were this one not so completely OTT, it'd do quite nicely! This house, at Aliso Creek Beach, just south of Laguna, is known locally as the Gucci Mansion. I can't find any hard facts about why this is, other than because it's supposed to have been designed and decorated by Tom Ford who worked with the Gucci studio. As you can imagine, it's a famous party house — and apparently there's a lot of gold leaf work inside. Figures!