On Thursday (June 9th) we drove down to Santa Cruz for a long weekend with some of Annie's family at the Borden Home. The traffic on the way down was slow-going but we rewarded ourselves with some fine cuisine upon arrival. Well Jack In The Box but as far as I'm concerned it's the best fast food hamburger joint in the US and God only knows I need a break from pizza albeit a rather unwelcome one.
After an afternoon of mooching around Logos in Santa Cruz we headed back to the house to meet Patrick, Stefi and their little boy Aidan and stoked up the BBQ for dinner. This was my first encounter with hot links and oh my - what an encounter - it was love at a first bite. They're unusually spicy beef (!) sausages and they're also for all intents and purposes as morish as crack. After a pleasant evening of beer and food we decided to check out the local dive bar 'Brady's Yacht Club'. Annie had made some big claims about what a seedy establishment it was so I was a little disappointed to be welcomed so warmly. Well in so much as we bought cheap PBR all night and everyone pretty much ignored us as we got [un]steadily drunker and drunker.
The following three days were happily similarly relaxing - bbqs, hot links, bonfires and beer - it was a really welcome holiday within the grander holiday that is America. Not sure that makes sense but I barely lifted a pencil the entire time which ultimately made me a bit miserable by the Sunday so I forced myself to do some drawing but I have grand plans for the resulting illustration so you'll have to settle for looking at our patented honey mustard chicken kebabs for now.
I did manage to take a photograph of the building I draw previously in Santa Cruz so you can see how much has changed in Seabright in a hundred years or so. The dogs gone for a start.
We drove further down the Californian coast to Carmel on the Monday but the further South we drove the cloudier it got so by the time we arrived it was well and truly overcast. The town itself must be a rich area judging by the numerous foo foo shops and boutiques. Even the bookshop was posh and rubbish so we headed to the beach where we were accosted by tiny beach squirrels. All well and good until the larger and suitably rougher looking parent squirrel turned up and started bulling Annie so we made a speedy retreat back to Santa Cruz vowing to bring Pepperjack (Annie's cattledog) along with us the next time for some much needed muscle.
Back in Santa Cruz the sun was still out so I wandered into town back to Logos and some other book shops and in the evening we went to Coles BBQ where I stupidly opted for 16oz of pork ribs. They make incredible ribs but you really only need the 12oz portion - I've ticked the pork rib box for this three month trip and have no desire to repeat it. I'm still picking bits of pork out of my teeth three weeks later.
We drove back to Orinda on the Tuesday (14th) where I managed a three mile run around the lake. Since running the London Marathon I've only managed a handful of runs despite my pledge to maintain some level of fitness. It's not helped that my toes are still fucked from the experience three months on. After running I finally plucked up enough courage to start constructing my very own website. It's at least two years late and I still have a lot of content to upload and some tweaks to make but you can see the work-in-progress here. I'm going to change the banner so that each set of illustrations sit at the top of the page and also upgrade to get my own URL but it's coming along and was a lot easier than I feared. Hopefully when completed it will encourage a deluge of illustration work for me. Well that's the idea at least - I need some work pretty desperately. Feel free to comment on any glitches or parts that you find ungainly - all comments are more than welcome.
On Wednesday I did more website work and in the evening got BART into Berkeley to go through Rasputin's Record shop basement with a fine-toothed comb. I concentrated mainly on the sale section - it's a novel thing for me to be able to buy new albums for a few dollars. I've never seen new vinyl in UK shops knocked down in price to the same extent; I picked up still sealed records from the likes of Alasdair Roberts, Fog, Jeffrey Lewis, The Owl Service and a Sufjan Stevens related gospel album plus some slightly battered John Renbourn and Don Ellis records all for no more than a few dollars a piece. All in all a good days work.
The following day we headed into the city to catch Travis Millard's new show with Mel Kadel at FFDG. Holy shit I love his work. I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again but he is my favourite illustrator on earth. And Mel's work was/is fantastic to. Here are some photos we took that I really ought to lighten and clean but I can't be arsed. You really need to see the show to do it justice anyway. Even if you live in the UK. Especially if you live in the UK.
The guy working at FFDG looked so engrossed in his game of mine sweeper me and Annie seriously considered grabbing a couple of pieces off the wall and doing a runner with them. Instead we wandered over to Molotov's for some beers and pinball before we finished up at Chutney's again where the Indian Spiral Stairs laughed as we ordered exactly the same as we did the last time we were there.
The next week was a mixture of website construction, illustration and a good deal of demolition and digging. I spent one day breaking up a driveway with a ridiculously heavy pneumatic drill, then a day or so later helped dig up six truck loads of dirt from the basement and escorted them to a nearby hole. All of which gets this blog virtually up-to-date. If you made it this far high fives all round - go and make yourself a nice cup of tea to celebrate and while you're at stick one in the post for me - tea out here tastes kind of funky.