Unfinished Business… Pt. I

Right. I don’t usually make resolutions, but there’s a couple of things I have in mind this year (one of which I’m keeping to myself because I’ll probably fail miserably). The other one, though, is to write more. I’m not saying I’ll necessarily manage to complete NaNoWriMo or anything, but at I’m at least resolving not to neglect the blog so much. (Of course, I’ll also plan on continuing to take a photo a day, at least until October, but that’s more than a little passé now that people are copying it all over the place…)

Anyway, that all means that I’ve got a wee bit of unfinished business to attend to.

So where were we? Oh yeah: After a full day devoted to wine in Paso Robles, we moved on again.

A Stately Pleasure Dome

The plan was to drive north along highway 1, towards Monterey. Highway 1 is more commonly known as Big Sur (or, if you’re Sal, as “Nice, but Not As Good as the Great Ocean Road”).

Before we got there, though, we stopped off at Hearst Castle, the former home of Citizen Kane himself, newspaper magnate (or, perhaps, if you’re Wikipedia the “newspaper dude“–see the fourth paragraph of the section on “Expansion”, if someone hasn’t corrected it yet) William Randolph Hearst. Luckily for him, years before he needed it, his family had purchased several miles of prime Californian coastline for the equivalent of about 20p, and, so when he’d made his own fortune, he had a ready made spot on which to build his huge mansion up in the hills and stuff it with all the antique art that he had amassed over the years.

Well worth a visit, if you’re in the area, although we felt that the inside of the buildings don’t quite live up to the expectation created by what’s on the outside: our tour guide suggested that most people’s reaction on entering the main house for the first time can be summed up by a three letter word that “starts and ends with ‘w’ and has an ‘o’ in the middle”, but you could more accurately summarise our reaction with a word that starts in ‘c’ and ends in ‘hintz’–Hearst’s style of interior decoration essentially amounted to collecting as many artworks as possible–the older the better it seems–and squeezing them all into a room regardless of whether they fit together in any way. And I’m not sure quite how I’m supposed to feel about Hearst’s plundering of impoverished post-WWI Europe for interior decoration purposes: For example, when the 12th century Italian church choir stalls that he had opted to install as, essentially, a kind of wallpaper proved to be too tall for his living room, he just lopped 12 inches off the bottom… Alone amongst those in our tour group, Sal and I wondered if maybe this wasn’t something we should marvel at…

Still, it’s definitely worth a visit if you find yourself on the central Californian coast, if only for the stunning views, and that famous pool…

Hearst Castle

Just Don’t Go Back to Big Sur…

So Big Sur, then: it was breezy, but nevertheless we kept the top down all the way. We’d hired a convertible for a reason, and there was no way we were going to be denied our chance to use it.Mission Ranch, Carmel Before we got to Monterey, we made a quick stop in Carmel, a sleepy, wealthy enclave where Clint Eastwood used to be mayor. He still owns a hotel and restaurant there, so, the oldies from Paso Robles having given us directions, we dropped in for a beer, and we sat down to drink it out on the terrace. As the still warm early evening sun started to drop down out over the ocean, I got up to take Sal’s picture–spotting this, one of the locals offered to take one of the both of us, and hearing that we were over from London, he stopped to chat. He wouldn’t bother us for long, though, because he was just waiting for “his buddy”. This, it turned out, was the same buddy who had made the wine that he was drinking, and who was just back in town after 6 months over in Iceland making a film called Flags Of Our Fathers.

“He owes me twenty bucks”, revealed our new friend.

A little while later one of the waitresses popped over to whisper in his ear: “Your buddy’s here”, she said, “but he can’t stay long”, and with that he was off to join Clint at the bar. Sadly, though, by the time I got up to head to the bathroom ten minutes later, the seat at the bar next to our mate was empty, and our fleeting chance for a celeb spot was gone.

We talked to his mate
But we missed the man himself
Nice bar though. Thanks Clint…