Tuesday, 12 August 2014


When I was six years old, my parents took me and my sisters to Tasmania.  We travelled with another family around the island in a big blue Toyota Tarago and I distinctly remember the extremely fraught nerves of my mother and her friend as we wheeled around a series of incredibly narrow roads circling very, very steep cliffs.  To this day, my mother re-enacts with great flourish the moment when they realised that her friend’s husband was falling asleep at the wheel during this perilous journey. This memory returned to me for the first time in years as I crawled around the narrow road leading from Beverly Hills toward the north reservoir of Franklin Canyon Park.  Seriously, the speed limit in this part of the park is 15 mph for a reason – you cannot see around most corners and the road is seriously narrow, grading badly off towards a steep cliff face.  Such are the perils if you want to make your way to the Ranch Trail south of the northern reservoir. 


I’m going to be honest – I chose this hike on the promise of turtles... and other wildlife living in and around the reservoir, but namely the turtles.  At the base of the Ranch trail, with my thighs burning as I climbed stairs too steep for Andre the Giant to travail without breaking a sweat, I hoped the turtles would be worth it.  Of course, I could have walked straight up the paved road that runs from the small southern car park to the reservoir….but I didn’t.  The Ranch trail is narrow and if you take a wrong step, it’s an uncomfortable fall down a steep hill face.  I don’t usually take my phone on a hike but this one time I did and as I thought about the perils of slipping and tumbling down into a tree-lined ravine, I was glad that it was tucked into the back of my leggings…. Until I realised that I had absolutely no reception.  I wondered briefly if I’d told anyone where I was going…


Reaching the reservoir, I examined the posters at the entrance of the trail circling the water which boasted mountain lions, opossums, eagles, owls, etc, etc.  I quickly lost my obsession with turtles – I wanted to see a pocket gopher.  A POCKET GOPHER!!  Alas, as I traipsed around the reservoir, there were no gophers to be seen, although I did sight a number of burrows that looked pocket gopher size.  Apart from some ducks and the odd pocket mouse dashing across the trail, I failed to see any of the more exciting promised wildlife.  Despite this, the northern reservoir at Franklin is very pretty and it’s a nice easy circle around if you want to go for a quick jaunt or are organised enough to bring a picnic (there are plenty of benches and tables).  


There are other trails including the full Chapparal trail, but it was far too hot for further activity.  Another plus for “lake” loop is that it is largely shaded, so you’re not directly under the sun too often unlike a number of Los Angeles hikes. 

It’s not an easy hike to get to, but I will go back.  I will most definitely take a picnic lunch, and I will expect turtles.  Lots and lots of turtles.  



When I was six years old, my parents took me and my sisters to Tasmania.  We travelled with another family around the island in a big blue Toyota Tarago and I distinctly remember the extremely fraught nerves of my mother and her friend as we wheeled around a series of incredibly narrow roads circling very, very steep cliffs.  To this day, my mother re-enacts with great flourish the moment when they realised that her friend’s husband was falling asleep at the wheel during this perilous journey. This memory returned to me for the first time in years as I crawled around the narrow road leading from Beverly Hills toward the north reservoir of Franklin Canyon Park.  Seriously, the speed limit in this part of the park is 15 mph for a reason – you cannot see around most corners and the road is seriously narrow, grading badly off towards a steep cliff face.  Such are the perils if you want to make your way to the Ranch Trail south of the northern reservoir. 


I’m going to be honest – I chose this hike on the promise of turtles... and other wildlife living in and around the reservoir, but namely the turtles.  At the base of the Ranch trail, with my thighs burning as I climbed stairs too steep for Andre the Giant to travail without breaking a sweat, I hoped the turtles would be worth it.  Of course, I could have walked straight up the paved road that runs from the small southern car park to the reservoir….but I didn’t.  The Ranch trail is narrow and if you take a wrong step, it’s an uncomfortable fall down a steep hill face.  I don’t usually take my phone on a hike but this one time I did and as I thought about the perils of slipping and tumbling down into a tree-lined ravine, I was glad that it was tucked into the back of my leggings…. Until I realised that I had absolutely no reception.  I wondered briefly if I’d told anyone where I was going…


Reaching the reservoir, I examined the posters at the entrance of the trail circling the water which boasted mountain lions, opossums, eagles, owls, etc, etc.  I quickly lost my obsession with turtles – I wanted to see a pocket gopher.  A POCKET GOPHER!!  Alas, as I traipsed around the reservoir, there were no gophers to be seen, although I did sight a number of burrows that looked pocket gopher size.  Apart from some ducks and the odd pocket mouse dashing across the trail, I failed to see any of the more exciting promised wildlife.  Despite this, the northern reservoir at Franklin is very pretty and it’s a nice easy circle around if you want to go for a quick jaunt or are organised enough to bring a picnic (there are plenty of benches and tables).  


There are other trails including the full Chapparal trail, but it was far too hot for further activity.  Another plus for “lake” loop is that it is largely shaded, so you’re not directly under the sun too often unlike a number of Los Angeles hikes. 

It’s not an easy hike to get to, but I will go back.  I will most definitely take a picnic lunch, and I will expect turtles.  Lots and lots of turtles.  


Tuesday, 22 July 2014


I am not the queen of arm balances.  I watch Meghan Currie videos longingly and wish I could kick up into Scorpion on a whim.  Crow, I love.  Handstands, great fun.  Beyond that, the heavy knots I seem to carry around in my shoulders on a permanent basis make more challenging arm balances agonising for me - headstand and forearm balances especially induce a sensation of many hot knives stabbing into my shoulders.  Fallen Angel, however, is a pose I discovered completely by accident while flicking through fuckyeahyoga and I wondered if it would fall into the 'Oh God the pain' category.  It looked really hard.  A challenge! I decided to give it a go.  I've included Corrina Richard's great step-by-step video below, but in a nutshell, if you can do Side Crow, you can do Fallen Angel - you just need to fall over and falling over is one of my specialties.  From a prayer twist, lower your hands to the floor and position your leading elbow against your thigh as usual for Side Crow (if you do beginner's Side Crow with both elbows against your thigh this still works); bring the weight onto your hands and lift your feet, before gently leaning forward to bring your ear down onto the floor; lift your top leg and TA DA! 



I am not the queen of arm balances.  I watch Meghan Currie videos longingly and wish I could kick up into Scorpion on a whim.  Crow, I love.  Handstands, great fun.  Beyond that, the heavy knots I seem to carry around in my shoulders on a permanent basis make more challenging arm balances agonising for me - headstand and forearm balances especially induce a sensation of many hot knives stabbing into my shoulders.  Fallen Angel, however, is a pose I discovered completely by accident while flicking through fuckyeahyoga and I wondered if it would fall into the 'Oh God the pain' category.  It looked really hard.  A challenge! I decided to give it a go.  I've included Corrina Richard's great step-by-step video below, but in a nutshell, if you can do Side Crow, you can do Fallen Angel - you just need to fall over and falling over is one of my specialties.  From a prayer twist, lower your hands to the floor and position your leading elbow against your thigh as usual for Side Crow (if you do beginner's Side Crow with both elbows against your thigh this still works); bring the weight onto your hands and lift your feet, before gently leaning forward to bring your ear down onto the floor; lift your top leg and TA DA! 


Sunday, 13 July 2014


One of my favourite weekend expeditions is some early morning exercise before a big brunch.  I’m not sure whether the exercise encourages the idea of brunch, or the brunch is supposed to be negated by the exercise, but I don’t think it really matters. 


After a hike in Will Rogers Park yesterday morning, a girlfriend and I decided to try out the Farm Shop in Brentwood.  It’s part of the Brentwood Country Mart and a word to the wise, the take parking very seriously here – you will be interrogated about your destination as you drive into the lot and you will most likely be given wild waving hand gestures meant as direction when you reverse out of  your space as you leave. 



Farm Shop is my idea of heaven – a restaurant/bar attached to a beautiful little gourmet deli.  Everything’s ridiculously expensive and it’s the type of place you scope out potential rich husbands based on their decision to do all of their grocery shopping in this little slice of paradise.  However, when confronted by a mountain of cheese upon entering a room, I find it impossible to say no to opening my wallet. 



The breakfast menu here is fabulous – a large selection of something for everything with both small and large plates.  It’s not cheap, but having had breakfast in Brentwood the day before, my meal at Farm Shop was only about $5 more expensive and 50 times better.  After much wailing and gnashing of teeth trying to decide what to order, I finally had the salmon rilletes which was amazing and my brunch buddy had the very immaculately presented frittata.  Eyeing off the dishes of everyone else at our communal table, I need to go back and try the pastrami, and the French toast, and the steak and eggs, and the pecan cinnamon bun…etc, etc, etc. 



Farmshop Los Angeles on Urbanspoon


One of my favourite weekend expeditions is some early morning exercise before a big brunch.  I’m not sure whether the exercise encourages the idea of brunch, or the brunch is supposed to be negated by the exercise, but I don’t think it really matters. 


After a hike in Will Rogers Park yesterday morning, a girlfriend and I decided to try out the Farm Shop in Brentwood.  It’s part of the Brentwood Country Mart and a word to the wise, the take parking very seriously here – you will be interrogated about your destination as you drive into the lot and you will most likely be given wild waving hand gestures meant as direction when you reverse out of  your space as you leave. 



Farm Shop is my idea of heaven – a restaurant/bar attached to a beautiful little gourmet deli.  Everything’s ridiculously expensive and it’s the type of place you scope out potential rich husbands based on their decision to do all of their grocery shopping in this little slice of paradise.  However, when confronted by a mountain of cheese upon entering a room, I find it impossible to say no to opening my wallet. 



The breakfast menu here is fabulous – a large selection of something for everything with both small and large plates.  It’s not cheap, but having had breakfast in Brentwood the day before, my meal at Farm Shop was only about $5 more expensive and 50 times better.  After much wailing and gnashing of teeth trying to decide what to order, I finally had the salmon rilletes which was amazing and my brunch buddy had the very immaculately presented frittata.  Eyeing off the dishes of everyone else at our communal table, I need to go back and try the pastrami, and the French toast, and the steak and eggs, and the pecan cinnamon bun…etc, etc, etc. 



Farmshop Los Angeles on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 9 July 2014



I’d been in LA for three weeks before I was subjected to my first ascent of Temescal Canyon.  After a Saturday night of heavy drinking, I blearily decided to keep my promise to hike Sunday morning with two new LA friends.  Half way up, my girlfriend Amy and I were pausing on rocky ledges pretending to pick out our dream multi-million beach house in an attempt to mask our exhaustion.  I love a good hike – really, I do.  But there’s a difference between hiking and torture – with an emphasis on the torture when we finally got to the top of the canyon to discover a fitness group doing their celebratory ‘booty dance’ to incredibly loud, incredibly offensive rap music. 

Straight away, I started a search for less torturous hiking adventures in Los Angeles, of which apparently there are a million.  I recently moved nearby and decided to give Will Rogers Park a visit.  Apart from the exorbitant $12 entry fee to park in the car park, this is the perfect location for a gentle hike that still has great views of LA.  The Inspiration Point Trail is only 2.25 miles long with 325 feet of elevation gain, so you won’t feel like you’re climbing a million office block stairs on your way to a great view of Santa Monica. 



If you don’t fancy a hike, head to the stables instead or lounge on the grass out the front of Will Rogers’ lodge.  No lawn sports though. 





I’d been in LA for three weeks before I was subjected to my first ascent of Temescal Canyon.  After a Saturday night of heavy drinking, I blearily decided to keep my promise to hike Sunday morning with two new LA friends.  Half way up, my girlfriend Amy and I were pausing on rocky ledges pretending to pick out our dream multi-million beach house in an attempt to mask our exhaustion.  I love a good hike – really, I do.  But there’s a difference between hiking and torture – with an emphasis on the torture when we finally got to the top of the canyon to discover a fitness group doing their celebratory ‘booty dance’ to incredibly loud, incredibly offensive rap music. 

Straight away, I started a search for less torturous hiking adventures in Los Angeles, of which apparently there are a million.  I recently moved nearby and decided to give Will Rogers Park a visit.  Apart from the exorbitant $12 entry fee to park in the car park, this is the perfect location for a gentle hike that still has great views of LA.  The Inspiration Point Trail is only 2.25 miles long with 325 feet of elevation gain, so you won’t feel like you’re climbing a million office block stairs on your way to a great view of Santa Monica. 



If you don’t fancy a hike, head to the stables instead or lounge on the grass out the front of Will Rogers’ lodge.  No lawn sports though. 



Wednesday, 18 June 2014


I was going to ride all the way from Venice to Santa Monica.  I've done it before, honestly.  It's not far.  But my legs started to hurt a few blocks short of Pico and I gave up on the notion.  My aching legs clearly needed a lunch break so I slipped into Thai Teak for the first time.  It's just a little kiosk with super cheap vegan Thai food, sharing the space with Three Gems juice. 


 Apparently half of the crowd wandering up from the beach had had the same idea and I soon found myself sharing a table with a quickly changing selection of bikini-clad foreigners sipping on juice and sucking down noodles.


This is not life-changing food. It's cheap and cheerful and you eat it on a paper plate at tables lined with rolls of paper towel, but the dishes are reliable Thai staples that are great for a grab and go lunch on a summer day.  



I didn't really need juice as well, but I'm a sucker for juice. Three Gems is separate to Thai Teak but they go well together - as did my spicy mint noodles and green juice.  

http://thaiveganism.com/


I was going to ride all the way from Venice to Santa Monica.  I've done it before, honestly.  It's not far.  But my legs started to hurt a few blocks short of Pico and I gave up on the notion.  My aching legs clearly needed a lunch break so I slipped into Thai Teak for the first time.  It's just a little kiosk with super cheap vegan Thai food, sharing the space with Three Gems juice. 


 Apparently half of the crowd wandering up from the beach had had the same idea and I soon found myself sharing a table with a quickly changing selection of bikini-clad foreigners sipping on juice and sucking down noodles.


This is not life-changing food. It's cheap and cheerful and you eat it on a paper plate at tables lined with rolls of paper towel, but the dishes are reliable Thai staples that are great for a grab and go lunch on a summer day.  



I didn't really need juice as well, but I'm a sucker for juice. Three Gems is separate to Thai Teak but they go well together - as did my spicy mint noodles and green juice.  

http://thaiveganism.com/

Monday, 16 June 2014



I’m obsessed with plantains.  Obsessed.  I see them on a menu and order them instantly.  So I saw the menu for Sage, picked out the first dish I saw featuring plantains, and raced there as quickly as I could.  The Mar Vista/Culver City border isn’t exactly the prettiest part of LA, but if you’re sitting outside at Sage in the middle of the day, sheltering in the shade and sipping on home-made lemonade, it’s easy to pretend you’re in a garden oasis away from the urban sprawl. 


I ordered the Brazilian bowl – quinoa, black beans, kale, avocado AND guacamole, salsa and big slabs of pan-fried plantains.  In a moment of insanity I ate too much and didn’t leave enough room for Kind Kreme ice cream.  Obviously I just need to go back for a vegan ice cream date.  





Sage Organic Vegan on Urbanspoon



I’m obsessed with plantains.  Obsessed.  I see them on a menu and order them instantly.  So I saw the menu for Sage, picked out the first dish I saw featuring plantains, and raced there as quickly as I could.  The Mar Vista/Culver City border isn’t exactly the prettiest part of LA, but if you’re sitting outside at Sage in the middle of the day, sheltering in the shade and sipping on home-made lemonade, it’s easy to pretend you’re in a garden oasis away from the urban sprawl. 


I ordered the Brazilian bowl – quinoa, black beans, kale, avocado AND guacamole, salsa and big slabs of pan-fried plantains.  In a moment of insanity I ate too much and didn’t leave enough room for Kind Kreme ice cream.  Obviously I just need to go back for a vegan ice cream date.  





Sage Organic Vegan on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 14 June 2014


Another Kind of Sunrise has been on my ‘to do’ list for some time.  I’m embarrassed to say that it stayed on the ‘to do’ list for so long, in part, because I couldn’t find it.  One night, standing outside the Tasting Kitchen, I saw the sign for Another Kind hanging from a post and realised, finally, that it was one of a collection of pop up stores at the back of an old house on Abbot Kinney. 


Deciding that it was finally time, I walked up to Abbot Kinney, sidled down the tiny alley to the tiny open kitchen that is Another Kind of Sunrise.  They specialise in simple handmade, natural, cereal-based food (granola, muesli, muffins etc) and are famous for their butter coffee – literally fresh brewed coffee blended with ghee and coconut oil.  As I sat by the counter, waiting for my Acai bowl, a half dozen patrons wandered in, exclaimed that they had been persuaded to try this butter brew by a local shop owner who had waxed lyrical about Another Kind. 


I decided against the coffee as it was about 100 degrees, but my Acai bowl was better than any I’ve had in a long time – they’re so often sickly sweet sorbet muck that’s come from the ice cream aisle at the supermarket, but this was a fresh and creamy blend of acai berries , cashews and coconut milk, topped with berries, banana and a very big scoop of 'paleo' granola (so basically just nuts).  Delicious and ridiculously filling. 

My only complaint would be that there’s virtually nowhere to sit in the shade and when the sun’s high it’s incredibly hot for those who want to sit in the alley and enjoy their acai goodness.  Get it on the go or jump into the dog fight for the single bench in the shade. 



Another Kind of Sunrise has been on my ‘to do’ list for some time.  I’m embarrassed to say that it stayed on the ‘to do’ list for so long, in part, because I couldn’t find it.  One night, standing outside the Tasting Kitchen, I saw the sign for Another Kind hanging from a post and realised, finally, that it was one of a collection of pop up stores at the back of an old house on Abbot Kinney. 


Deciding that it was finally time, I walked up to Abbot Kinney, sidled down the tiny alley to the tiny open kitchen that is Another Kind of Sunrise.  They specialise in simple handmade, natural, cereal-based food (granola, muesli, muffins etc) and are famous for their butter coffee – literally fresh brewed coffee blended with ghee and coconut oil.  As I sat by the counter, waiting for my Acai bowl, a half dozen patrons wandered in, exclaimed that they had been persuaded to try this butter brew by a local shop owner who had waxed lyrical about Another Kind. 


I decided against the coffee as it was about 100 degrees, but my Acai bowl was better than any I’ve had in a long time – they’re so often sickly sweet sorbet muck that’s come from the ice cream aisle at the supermarket, but this was a fresh and creamy blend of acai berries , cashews and coconut milk, topped with berries, banana and a very big scoop of 'paleo' granola (so basically just nuts).  Delicious and ridiculously filling. 

My only complaint would be that there’s virtually nowhere to sit in the shade and when the sun’s high it’s incredibly hot for those who want to sit in the alley and enjoy their acai goodness.  Get it on the go or jump into the dog fight for the single bench in the shade. 


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