Credits in sequence:

Blue Jasper Plaque with Apollo and the Muses, ca. 1778-80
Manufactured by Wedgwood and Bentley, Stoke-on-Trent, England
The Huntington Gardens
Geometric Hearth Rug, ca. 1800
Attributed to Mary Peters Hewins
Quilts made between 1850-1896
Drunkard’s Path Quilt, ca. 1880-90
(the large red square one with the yellow pattern)
Pair of Pockets, ca. 1775
Because most American women’s clothing in the 18th century lacked fixed pockets, detachable pockets such as these were tied around the waist and worn either over a dress or under an overskirt. They were worn both singly and in pairs. It is extremely unusual for a pair such as this to survive intact. I urgently need two pairs!
Helen E. Hatch
Folk Art Crazy Quilt, 1885

The Huntington

July 16th, 2017

The quietest, most peaceful walk in the whole of L.A., is in Hollywood

Who would have thought that just minutes away from all the excitement surrounding the Burbank studios or the tourist-packed downtown Hollywood, one could enjoy such views of the Hollywood Hills, the peaceful waters of the Reservoir and, in the distance, the most iconic L.A. sign of all times, in virtual solitude?

Views of the Reservoir and Hollywood Hills are from the Mulholland Dam.

Close-ups of the Hollywood sign were taken from Mulholland Highway, at a spot called ”The Last House on Mulholland”, which is the closest one can get to the sign, by car. See that ”Sale” sign standing at an empty dirt patch? That must be where the ”Last House” will stand in the future for, as far as I understand, it is still a project (see about the concept here).

Attention: parking is not allowed anywhere on the site; one has to leave the car further downhill and walk up. Since I couldn’t bear the thought of walking all the way up in that heat (L.A., 5 p.m. in July – hello?!?) I ignored the ”No Parking” signs thinking it wouldn’t hurt just for a few minutes, which resulted in my portrait being the most expensive one yet, having cost me a $65 parking ticket. But it was worth every penny of it!


July 14th, 2017

La Cuesta Encantada || The Enchanted Hill of San Simeon

Following his mother’s death in 1919, media magnate William Randolph Hearst inherited thousands of acres around San Simeon and later on purchased even more, until the land he owned extended further than the eye could see. Captivated by the beauty of the landscape, and probably tired of lodging in platform tents whenever he visited his ranch, Hearst hired architect Julia Morgan and asked her to build ”something that would be more comfortable” than the tents.  

Throughout his life, Hearst dreamed of building a castle similar to those he had seen on his European  tour as a boy. 28 years, 68,500 square feet, 38 bedrooms, 30 fireplaces, 42 bathrooms and 14 sitting rooms later (and that is only Casa Grande, the main building of the complex), his dream came true. He called his castle La Cuesta Encantada—Spanish for “Enchanted Hill” and, after a two-hour tour of the Grand Rooms, guest suites, gardens and the spectacular Roman Pool, I can affirm that this mythical structure of epic proportions is definitely ”something more comfortable” than Mr. Hearst’s tents.

During construction, Hearst used the Castle as his residence and it was there he exhibited his extraordinary art collection and entertained his friends. The elite of Hollywood, politics and sports – everyone who was anyone, has stayed in these rooms. Construction was still ongoing in 1947, when Hearst had to leave the castle because of his fragile health which required continuous medical care. Parts of the castle still remain unfinished.

If you enjoyed this virtual walk of the gardens, wait till we go indoors; coming up, views from the Grand Rooms and guest suites.

Hearst Castle, San Simeon

July 12th, 2017

17-Mile Drive

The difference a day makes. Exploring parts of the 17 mile drive, a scenic route through Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove on the Monterey Peninsula. Blue skies, calm seas, slightly higher temperatures, off with the rain jackets, sunglasses, sunscreen, still ended up with a sunburned nose, this was getting closer to the California Summer I had in mind.

Views from Restless Sea to the Bird Rock Vista Point which is teeming with wildlife in all its possible forms and sizes – some more photogenic than others.

Do you believe in fairy tales?

Once upon a time, there lived a man named Hugh. He was a good man who liked to build things with his hands. One day, it was the leap year 1924, Hugh came to Carmel to visit his sister. As his good fortune would have it, he met a woman named Mayotta. She was a good woman who liked to make things with her hands. Their lives met, their souls touched and, a year later, Hugh Comstock and Mayotta Browne become husband and wife. 

Mayotta was an artist who made little felt dolls she called the ”Otsy-Totsys”. She made more and more and then a few more, until there was no space left for the growing family in their home. Mayotta then asked her husband if he would build a doll house for her Otsy-Totsys. And so, Mayotta and Hugh, who were no architects nor designers but loved to make things with their hands, built the first wood cottage and named it Hansel. A little later, came Gretel and the rest followed in their gravel path.

Now, do you believe in fairy tales?

You can look for the real-life fairy tale cottages of Carmel on the Hugh Comstock Historical Hill District. Read more about them on this blog by Lynn Momboisse, who even went into the trouble of sketching a map, so you won’t miss even one!

And, if chasing fairy houses makes you hungry, Patisserie Boissiere is a mere magic wand’s flick away. The tale continues inside.


July 10th, 2017

Bixby Creek Bridge


The plan was to cross the Bixby bridge and continue to explore the magnificent Big Sur. Alas, it was not to be – a giant landslide had claimed a large part of the highway and access had been cut off, since May 2017. It took 14 months and $ 1 billion dollars worth of repairs, to finally re-open the highway in July 2018!

The Bixby bridge was still open, however, so we did cross it… for a mile or so and then we had to turn back. From here on, we would have to drive inland on 101, bypassing Big Sur until San Luis Obispo.

But, before that, there were other wonders to be discovered in the area around Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea, so let’s enjoy the breathtaking view from here, a little while longer.

July 10th, 2017

San Francisco is… walking the Bridge

After five wonderful days full of new impressions, it was time to bid farewell to San Francisco, in the best way possible – by walking the Bridge.

It took us a bit more than 1,5 hours to cross from Fort Point to Lime Point and back with all the stops – but it’s impossible not to stop, at least a dozen times, and watch the whales swim by or catch this glorious sunset painting the city in warm pastel colours. A truly unforgettable experience.

Walking the Golden Gate Bridge

July 8th, 2017