Vernaison Market, Paris

Aug 26th, 2015 Inspiration, Travel

Entering Vernaison antiques Market makes you feels like Alice must have done when she fell through the looking glass – as though you have stumbled into a secret world.  Known only to the cognoscenti and that somehow, through an oversight, you too have been permitted to enter. It’s narrow, cramped passageways and tiny stalls crammed with antique furniture, vintage fashion and art, draw you in with intense immediacy.  Such that you emerge the other side of Vernaison’s walled, half-mile squared, enclave, blinking into the sunshine, like a rabbit emerging from its warren.  Located in Paris’ Saint-Ouen, Vernaison Market is immersive and visceral – packed with treasures and curiosities.

Vernaison Market ParisVernaison MarketVernaison Market Paris

We got there early avoid the crowds and the crush.  And yes, I had to cheat to keep the boys from losing it.  The thought of them running rampant from boredom through the narrow passages of Vernaison was too traumatic to envisage.  No desire to get into an argument with a Parisian antiques dealer in the middle of one of the oldest flea markets of its kind in the world.

Vernaison Market, ParisVernaison Market

As a non-fashion creative, I found the moments when you can see from where designers (such as Rachel) draw their inspiration fascinating.  Interesting, this one stall had a lot of vintage Americana – straight out of the #RRL palette.  Not what we were there for, but fascinating to me as it’s one of my favorite brands.

Vernaison MarketVernaison Market

And having weakness for vintage Rolex and other cool watches it I always love discovering this type of display. also  we did find a couple of cool places for dads to burrow around.

Vernaison Market

I just loved the whole experience, and although it’s impractical really to buy anything of real size (we tried it once and it literally took months to arrive and cost far more than it should) it’s great to wander around and fantasize about how you would furnish your Parisian pied-à-terre, or countryside manor house in Provence.

Vernaison MarketVernaison MarketVernaison Market Paris

Down and out in Paris

Aug 25th, 2015 Boyhood, Travel

It may seem a little extravagant to tack on a trip to Paris after all that gadding about in Mallorca, but to be honest, Los Angeles is so far away from Europe that, well, once you’ve put in the 12 hour flight – and the transfers each end and the security checks, etcetera, etcetera, you sort of feel as though you owe it yourself to make the most of it.  If that sounds overly indulgent – I guess that it is – but I’ve also done it the other way and rued what felt like a missed opportunity.  So anyway – Rachel needed to be in Paris for work and we at the Beachwood Boys Club thought that we would tag along for a few days and see what the bright lights had to offer.

Beachwood Boys Eiffel TowerLa Maison Champs Elysees

I had forgotten how beguiling Paris’ sweeping boulevards, iconic architecture and lattice of bridges that form like capillaries across the heart of the city really are.  A cliche of course, and lost on the boys, but no less true for any of that.  Although we did find a rather cool kids climbing wall and play structure while walking along the south bank of the Seine on Saturday night, so maybe they’ll remember their walk along the banks of one of the world’s most famous rivers for that reason, if nothing else.

We also found this fabulous park right in the heart of Paris, which allowed Rachel to focus on her work and for me to sample day-to-day Parenting Euro style.  Happy to report that it’s pretty similar to US style.  Although I fear the crowd at the Jardin du Luxembourg had never quite witnessed the rough and tumble of Skyer before.  He was in rare, fearless, form, thoroughly throwing himself into the mix.

Parc de Jeux, Jardin du Luxembourg

Parc de Jeux in the Jardin du Luxembourg – or Luxembourg Gardens to you or I – is a fabulous tree lined, shaded, beautifully maintained kids playground – located on the Left bank.  It boasts a slew of climbing structures for all ages as well as a substantial sized sand box.  There is a nominal 2 euro entrance fee.  But it’s good for the entire day and very much worth it.  After traveling all the previous day, the boys were eager to stretch their legs and have some fun.

Parc de Jeux, Jardin du LuxembourgParc de Jeux, Jardin du LuxembourgParc de Jeux, Jardin du LuxembourgParc de Jeux, Jardin du LuxembourgParc de Jeux, Jardin du LuxembourgParc de Jeux, Jardin du LuxembourgParc de Jeux, Jardin du Luxembourg

No park in Paris is complete without characterful old men playing pétanque.  Jardin Du Luxembourg is a sprawling maze of manicured gardens, imposing statues and lush lawns.

Jardin Du Luxembourg

And now, as far as I am concerned, some cute young ones messing about as well.

Jardin du LuxembourgJardin du Luxembourg

Ah yes! Parisian parks.  Not too many parks in the United States can boast one of these.  17th Century Manicured flower beds, grandiose gravel walkways and a Palace, fit for a Medici.

Jardin du Luxembourg

Chartering a Yacht, Mallorca

Aug 21st, 2015 Food, Inspiration, Travel

This has to be the best way to see the island.  What a fabulous experience –  diving off the back of a 50 foot yacht, into the crystal clear blue waters of the Mediterranean.  Having got used to the Pacific Ocean, the warmth of the water, as well as its clarity, almost defies belief.  The boys loved jumping off the back and splashing about.  Of course Skyer was the first to venture in.  Fearless as always.  Once he was in, Jaxon was soon behind him and then Luca – not wanting to let the British side down – braved the plunge.  We managed to coax both Jaxon and Skyer out of their life jackets for a time, so both can truly say that they have swam in the clear blue waters of the Med.

All aboard!All aboard Mezzo Magic

Leaving the port of Soller we skirted round the edge of the island, catching a glimpse of a school of dolphins as we headed out to sea.  We hugged Mallorca’s craggy coastline, and marveled at the raw simplicity of the view.  Once we were clear of the harbor gates, Grant, our captain for the day, let us all took turns at the wheel to steer.  There was not quite enough wind to unfurl the sails but we made good progress in spite of Jaxon and Skyer’s somewhat erratic maneuvers – Francessa, our craft was surprisingly easy to steer – and the boys even managed to get us going round in complete circles at one point.

SollerSoller PortSteering YachtSteering YachtSteering Yacht

We headed for a distinctive outcrop of rock in the distance.  Only when we approached did we realize that we were headed there for lunch.  To the Sa Foradada restaurant.  Fabled haunt of the rich and famous of Deia.  Perched precariously into the rock face, the restaurant is accessible only by boat and – intriguingly for somewhere so inaccessible and fairly niche, boat driven, clientele – operates on a strict reservation policy only.  Presumably to keep the odd passing cruise ship and their marauding hoards at bay.  The restaurant itself looks out over the most spectacular cove.  The shore line’s cobalt colored waters gently lapping at the rudimentary jetty for the yacht’s dinghies to moor.  As you scramble ashore a flight of some one hundred or so steps greets you, carved into the rock face, leading up to Sa Foradada.

Approaching Sa ForadaSa ForadaSa Foradada

How many times do you get to swim ashore to eat a meal at a restaurant that looks like its out of a Bond movie? We jumped off the back of boat, not before spotting a two foot large barracuda that inhabits the bay lurking about, and swam ashore.

The restaurant itself was delightful.  All the cooking carried out on a open hearth barbecue.  Rustic, yet elegant and sophisticated.  With unsurpassed views and a unique charm.  A truly memorable experience.

Sa ForadaSa ForadaSa ForadaSa ForadaBoys at Sa ForadaSa Forada

After lunch and some more swimming and snorkeling in the cove we ventured out in the small rubber dinghy that was attached to Francessa and – venturing a little closer to the coast line – went in search of smugglers caves.  We found a couple.  Some of which had reportedly been in use during the time of Franco and perhaps even more recently than that.  The boys imaginations were fired and they talked of pirates, and hidden treasure and maps the rest of the trip.

Snorkeling Sa ForadaFish at Sa Forada

The guys at Mezzo Magic, with whom we chartered the yacht, really looked after us.  It was, without doubt, our best day of the vacation.  A great way to end our family trip.  Should you ever be in Mallorca do not hesitate to book with them.  The yacht is magnificent and the guys knowledgeable, friendly and great with kids.  http://www.mezzomagic.co.uk

FrancessaFrancessa

 

Mallorcan Beaches

Aug 14th, 2015 Beach, Self Discovery, Travel

Beach excursions present a whole host of idiosyncratic challenges. Logistical, practical and aesthetic.  We searched for calm, secluded beaches with some sort of a beach club, or restaurant and found a couple that were great.  One was on the south side of the island not too far from Palma. The beach itself was a little more crowded than we would ordinarily have liked, and because the south side of the Mallorca is windier, the surf was a little rougher than was ideal for the boys, but it was still a great spot.  We managed to find a stretch of beach with a sand bank that jutted out a reasonable distance into the Mediterranean’s bath-like waters, and which allowed us – much to the delight of the boys – to venture ever so slightly further out from the shore line than good sense would normally allow.  Both Jaxon and Skyer loved the feeling of adventure that came from being out the additional distance.  They are at the age now where every crashing wave, no matter how small, presents a seemingly infinite number of ways to dunk, splash and jump about.  As each took their turn in the surf, squealing and shrieking with delight as I clung to their wrist, it’s impossible not to be moved by the purity and simplicity of the situation.  The sensation of absolute joy derived from the simplest of things – in this case – the ebb and flow of the tide – invariably makes me feel a twinge of nostalgia sending me tumbling back through the recesses of my mind to reminisce and remember similar moments from my own childhood.  Self-reflection is, for me, part of the continuing fascinating journey of parenting.  Jaxon and Skyer present me with a continual reminder of my own upbringing and give me cause to take breath for a moment and reflect,  analyze and remember events that I thought were long ago forgotten.  It’s somewhat indulgent perhaps, but I don’t seek to compare or compete in my minds eye.  Rather, for me, I have discovered that my own children’s upbringing offers me a unique and re-invigorated opportunity to look back and remember aspects from when I was a kid.  Starting – as all memories do – with places and events, before deepening and developing into sensations, feelings and finally, analysis. Moreover, I find that I am given an opportunity to re-evaluate and revisit anew the actions and attitudes of my parents.  To view them through the lens of being a parent myself.  I wonder how I would fare were Jaxon to give me such scrutiny? Invariably my parents emerge far better now, than I credited them at the time.  Creating more than a slight pang of guilt for perhaps being too tough on them.  But then I’m also drawn to the differences – both positive and negative – about each respective childhood. Opportunities, lifestyle and societal.  If I linger here for too long I can very rapidly descend into a rabbit hole of rose-tinted nostalgia.  Which quickly becomes self indulgent and self-defeating.  Instead, I remind myself that, knowing what I know now, about all the challenges of being a parent, all the shortcomings of my parents and all the struggles that we faced together – if we can all survive that, and emerge the other side – then that must, at least, give one cause for hope, mustn’t it?

It’s always great to have a bite to eat with the sand between your toes.

Mallorca Beach

Whatever happens don’t forget to bring your bucket and shovel.  Still the two key items no self respecting Beachwood Boys Club member should ever be without.  Simply indispensable.  No matter where your kids are from, be it the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles or Sloane Square, London the number one beach activity in my opinion remains the sandcastle.  It’s extraordinary to see that some things don’t change.

We have a grab bag with towels, sunscreen, bottled water and our bucket and shovel ready to go at a moment’s notice.  We learned the hard way. Forget them at your peril.

Mallorca Beach

Oh yes, did I forget to mention – the enormous, delicious beachside seafood paella?

Seafood PaellaMallorca BeachMallorca Beach

You can’t keep Luca out of the action for too long.

Buddies at the beach

The second beach that we have found is on the other side of the island, nearer to where we are staying.  Balneario Illetas boasts a beautiful cove and scorching hot white sand, offering crystal clear, calm waters that are ideal for us as the children can splash and play in near bath-like conditions.  There is also a great, bustling restaurant when you need a bite to eat and plenty of shaded sunbeds off to one side of the cove – perfect for making our HQ for the day.  It has the feel of a private beach, that happens to be open to the public.

Balneario Illetas, MallorcaBalneario Illetas, Mallorca

Deià, Mallorca

Aug 12th, 2015 Beach, Inspiration, Travel

This place is breathtakingly gorgeous.  Achingly so, in fact.  Authentic, off the beaten path, and yet sophisticated and chic at the same time.  Like a found jewel.  You instantly want to treasure it and keep it all to yourself.  We are here with my sister and her husband and their two children, Luca and Ivy.  So yes, the Beachwood Boys Club has admitted a girl as a member.  We’ll see how that goes for all concerned.  We rented a villa, which I have to say is absolutely the way to go.  As nice as five star hotels are –  and no matter the “child friendly” policy of the establishment – I never feel fully relaxed in a hotel with my rambunctious boys.  Plus there is the convenience factor that a hotel can’t provide.  So we are very happy with our villa set up.  Lots of good places for outdoor eating, a nice pool, spacious, modern kitchen with all our gadgets and creature comforts – nestled in the beautiful mountainside of the island.

The town of Deia itself is phenomenal.  Quiet, unpretentious and elegant.  It does not need to impress its uniqueness upon you.  It simply has to be.   All this, while boasting several wonderful restaurants and eateries ranging from the understated Village Cafe – the gazpacho is quite remarkable – all the way through to the family run, Michelin starred Es Racó des Teix where we found the foie gras and the amuse bouche spectacularly good.

But enough of such restaurant review type chat!  This after all is about the kids right? Right?  Well, in Deià we seem to have found that perfect balance of having enough to stimulate and entertain the children – splashing in the pool with the cousins, trips to the beach of course, visiting the local markets and towns, while keeping us older folk engaged at the same time.  We are certainly loving our nightly ritual of cooking out under the stars at the Bar-B-Q.  And long may it continue – we don’t want this week to end.

Deia montage

The founding members of the Beachwood Boys Club reconnect with their cousins.  Picking up right where they all left off, in spite of living on the other side of the world.  So great to see.

Dancing in DeiaIMG_4783

A day at the office

Aug 6th, 2015 Fatherhood, Life, Self Discovery

Kids and work spaces tend not to mix terribly well.  Some times though there is no avoiding it. Fortunately I am lucky enough to work in a place, and with a bunch of people who are relaxed, flexible and accommodating enough to understand that some days you just have no alternative.

Jaxon was in summer camp for the week, which meant that after dropping him off I just had Skyer to look after.  Trouble was that the drop off time made me late for the studio.  With an hour to go before we started taping the show I had to address: final pre-production matters with the studio, jump on a conference call with the news editor, and make whatever final adjustments had to be made all while keeping Skyer variously (and in no particular order): entertained, quiet and alive.

I got lucky I have to admit.  I started him off with a pre-production beverage in the green room. That bought me some time and won some brownie points as I could tell he did not think I was going to remember his mid-morning drink of choice.

green room drinking

With that being said, I’ll freely admit that aspects of the conference call were tricky.  Especially as it was being conducted on the production manager’s iPhone on speaker mode, and the news editor on the other end with whom we were speaking was in an airport lounge in Boston waiting to board a flight to New York.  It also didn’t help that there green room where we conducted the call is an unsound-proofed room and that another show was recording live in the studio directly adjacent at the same time.  Whispered promises and bargains were hastily made in an ever increasing desperate attempt to keep Skyer quiet.  Yes, you can watch the iPad once I’m done.  Of course we can have ice cream later.  Yes we’ll go and look at that lego set you’ve been craving.  Forget having to set your children a good example, having infinite patience and boundless love for them.  What no one tells you, is that parenthood is a constant exercise in negotiation.  I feel as though I am auditioning for the role of a junior Councillor at the United Nations.  Before having kids I couldn’t tell you the last time I truly had to bargain with some one.  Where the stakes were high, the vested interest was extreme for both parties and discussions had to be both clear and forthright, yet also delicately managed so as to avoid gaining a reputation for capitulation.    I have never sought to lie and manipulate (and ironically be manipulated) on such a consistent basis until I became a father.

At the end of the conference call, just after the studio production team had come in to the green room for third time to ask us to keep the noise down, I caught a break.  The night before, the pair of them had refused to go to bed until waaaaayyy past their bedtime. (Am I the only one, or isn’t it frequently the case that kids  possess a sixth sense when a significant deadline approaches for a parent? And that, perhaps feeling threatened, their reaction is to seek to compete for attention, even if that means by misbehaving?)  Anyway – enough pop psychology for one post – the end result was that a seriously fatigued Skyer suddenly – and uncharacteristically – crashed out asleep.

Green room sleepingI did not know how long he would stay down, and I felt bad about leaving him of the floor of the green room – but, I reasoned that to try to move him would be a fool’s errand.

Part way through our record that day he woke up.  But his timing was perfect as we were just coming to the end of a segment when he did.  He cried out a little emerging a moment later in the studio as if to say “what you started without me?”

He stayed with us in the studio.  Any experienced negotiator will tell you that at some point you have to cut your losses and reduce your position to bare absolutes.  This was that moment. Through a combination of bedazzlement, bewilderment and fascination we made it through the rest of the mornings recording with an extra onlooker sitting quietly by the control desk.   I have no doubt that the reason for this was the fact that Skyer absolutely and fundamentally understood what we were doing.  It was as beautifully simple and eloquent as anything we managed to capture on film that day.

TheLipTV

MMMM…Malibu

Aug 1st, 2015 Beach

Summer is in full flow and that can only mean one thing.  Time to hit the beach. And where better to land than Malibu?  Endless white beaches, beautiful homes and a chilled out, effortlessly chic, vibe.

If, for whatever reason, you tire of the powder soft sand, million dollar homes and melodic crash of the waves on the shore line, The Malibu Country Mart is but a short drive down the end of the street.  We, at the Beachwood Boys Club, certainly don’t relish drudging round the stores of a weekend, but even we recognize a good spot to shop when we see one.  Great brands, some wonderfully fresh places to eat and a vibrant ambiance, all encapsulated within this laid back, easy, breezy vibe.  More importantly, it also boasts a rather wonderful sand box playground area – always alive with the buzz of kids playing – enabling us to tag team the shopping.  Well being more honest, this allows Rachel to go shopping while I make sure the boys are suitably entertained and engaged.

Malibu Country Mart

Malibu Country Mart

Malibu Country Mart Playground

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We managed to sneak in a visit to the Aviator Nation store at the end of Pier, where the boys had an impromptu rock out session on the sound stage.

Aviator Nation

Malibu Farm restaurant at the end of the Pier is now a well established staple for both locals and day-trippers alike.   The fresh, organic, farm to table, food was fabulous and although the place was mobbed when we went, we managed to order and get seated relatively painlessly.  Still –  if you want to get the authentic Malibu vibe you should avoid the weekends.

Malibu FarmOrganic Food and Rescue Bots – what a great combination.

Malibu Farm Salmon

Malibu Pier

A near perfect blend of effortless chic, breathtaking beauty and unaffected glamour.

Malibu Beach