Job done!

By 3pm it was mission accomplished!

Pack ‘n Purge was done and my old apartment was empty. It had been cleaned. I’d returned all the cable equipment and then, with Stella as my accomplice, we’d met up with Gary the Landlord in the carpark of Santa Monica bowling alley. It was like doing a drug deal (apparently).

We chatted for a while and then, hurray, he gave me a cheque for my deposit from twelve years ago. I handed over the keys and we hugged goodbye. He was a terrific landlord and friend and while there were ups and downs over the years, we got on well.

So that’s it. I’m officially homeless in Venice!

And so tonight I’m off to meet friends at the closing of Lilly’s, a French restaurant we’d gone to for many years. Lots of happy and hazy memories of birthdays, dinners, lunches and the occasional England versus France football match.

The end of an era in more ways than one.

The packing party

I have to say a massive thank you to Stella, Caroline and Lia for getting me through this week. Hurray for friends!

Absolute troopers!

Thanks isn’t nearly enough and I’ll be cracking open the champagne at some point in the next few days but I have to say without the help of my good friends, true friends who showed up every day without being asked, who lugged boxes, moved furniture, shredded papers and moved plants; who let me talk about my garden, my dog, my work, my past and generally got me through what was a big emotional and physical transition, there’s no way I’d be almost done.

We’re down to the last few bits and pieces. I’m handing back the keys today and then my life in the little Venice garden apartment is over.

Time to move on!

Pack ‘n Ship

The sound of tape guns is around me as the movers are here and the stuff I’m keeping is being packed to go to storage until I’m ready to ship to Europe.


There’s not much to show for twenty years. A couple of chairs, a rug, a couple of outdoor sofas which are too good to get rid of and a small collection of boxes with almost all my worldly possessions.

It’s strange to see how little I have to show for such a big part of my life.

A few boxes

 It’s all just a little bit surreal.

Pack ‘n Purge Day Three

Another day of packing and we’ve made amazing progress. The boxes I’m shipping are organised. The majority of the furniture has gone, dispersed to new homes or simply taken away to be recycled and my old apartment is looking very empty.

My custom-made platform bed was dismantled after twelve years and reduced to sheets of plywood and suddenly my lovely tranquil bedroom wasn’t my bedroom any more.
By the end of the day I was getting emotional. I’d sold my kitchen table and chairs for a fraction of what it was worth and after it all went, I looked at the kitchen floor and was overwhelmed with memories of Pig. 
In the later years when she wasn’t well, Pig spent a lot of time lying under the kitchen table and, looking at the place where she used to lie, I was suddenly aware of the life I had lived in my little Venice garden apartment. I had loved and lost, laughed and cried, had good times and bad but always within the same walls. It wasn’t much but it was my home and I loved it.
I’m embarking on a new adventure and I’m very excited but this week is a big emotional transition. Letting go of the past in order to move on.

Pack ‘n Purge Day Two

The packing continued and another glorious hot, sunny California day was spent going through boxes in the garage!

A lot was accomplished as, in additional to going through all the household stuff, I purged boxes of old design work and realized how much I’ve done in the past twenty years. It’s quite overwhelming. Greeting cards, toys, fabric and paper, games, books and more. Work I’ve created which still needs to realise its dream. It was both inspirational and cathartic.

I had lunch at the newly opened Venice location of Cafe Gratitude ( where people were just a little bit too good looking and I’d forgotten the LA scene after six months in London.

In LA teeth are just a little bit bigger and whiter (or a lot), eyes are a little bit bluer, skin a little more perfect and one forgets just how many good looking people there are here. People in London are definitely not in the same league looks-wise, in fact you see some shockers on the tube but somehow it all seems more down to earth after a little surreptitious people-watching and eavesdropping.

After being grateful for lunch and a sit-down (“What are you grateful for today?” is Cafe Gratitude’s tagline) we headed back to the garage for the afternoon session with more help from friends (thank you, thank you!)

By 6pm it was time to head off as the energy was flagging and I enjoyed a delicious homemade meal with good friends.

I’ve spent many evenings at their home over many years and as I started to fade at 8pm, I had to remember to drive back to Westchester where I’m staying rather than to my old place just down the road in Venice as my built-in autopilot kicked in. I was exhausted and while I’m now awake at 5:30am, I think I slept for most of the night.

Three more days to go, a garage sale on Saturday and then I’m celebrating!

Wide awake

After a very busy first day, I was exhausted and collapsed into bed at 10:30pm. Off to sleep without a problem only to be wide awake at 2am. Damn jet lag, this is definitely not what I had in mind.

Actually jet lag is only part of the issue as I’m running through the various things I need to finish by Friday and my mind won’t relax. My main concern is getting rid of furniture and as the person who said they wanted my bed has now said they can’t come and see it because of the traffic (that is so LA), I need to find another solution.

In addition, I’ve discovered my tenant wasn’t entirely honest and while I reduced the rent in order to pay for my housecleaner to come every two weeks, it turns out that the tenant had cancelled the cleaner. My mistake for being too trusting. The apartment was absolutely filthy and while I’m delighted to be getting out, it’s just wrong.

As it’s now 4:45am I’m obviously having a little rant. I suspect I’ll call it a night fairly soon and head on down the hill to start Pack ‘n Purge day two.

Let the fun continue!

Pack ‘n Purge Day One

Monday morning and we headed down to Venice to my old apartment. Walking in for the first time in six months, I was relieved to discover that I felt nothing. I had thought I might be flooded with emotion, memories of Pig and the past but no, the ambiance was gone and it didn’t feel like my place any more

The morning went perfectly. AAA roadside assistance showed up to break into the car only to discover (how was I to know as apparently all my friends who own Minis decided not to tell me) that the Mini door key is hidden inside the electronic starter key. Brilliant! As the AAA guy clearly hadn’t broken into a car before, we were able to unlock the door, release the bonnet (or hood), reconnect the battery and then we were back in business and I was back on the road. I will be laughed at for a while, I suspect, but I can handle it!

Off to put air in the tyres and drop off my watch for repair, a quick stop at Whole Foods and then lunch on the deck. After lunch a couple of other good friends arrived (hurray for friends!) and by 2pm after catching up, we started the purge. Between four of us we took apart my carefully packed boxes, divided everything into keep, sell and donate piles and by 6pm had managed to get through a lot of stuff.

I still have a lot to do in the next few days as I have to continue culling but it was a fantastic start and I couldn’t have even begun without the help of good friends as I think I would have been quite daunted. I’m seriously looking forward to being finished with a garage sale planned for Saturday.

Sorted. Literally.

Arrived… finally!

It was a bit of a debacle. The flight started to board and as my row was called I headed off down the jetway only to be told that anyone not on the plane should return to the waiting area. So we all turned around and filed back.

Not long after, we were allowed to try again and this time I made it on to the plane. Sitting down I realised one of the perils of the solo traveller; a large, rather smelly (and I’m being objective) man next to me who didn’t speak much English. Excellent.

We sat on the plane for an hour before the captain announced that due to a broken windscreen wiper, we would need to change planes. Excellent.

We all filed off, were issued with new boarding passes and trooped off to get a £5 refreshment voucher. I decided to eat dinner as there was no indication of when the flight would board.

As it turned out, by the time I’d eaten and spent £20 on a UK plug because I was worried my phone was going to die, we were called to board.

Back to the gate, on to the plane and back next to the smelly man. The problem with being a relatively small person is that I don’t take up much space. My neighbour seemed to think he could use my leg room and arm rest and so the battle began. I did eventually win but it took a while. Grrrr!

Five hours later than scheduled we landed and passing through immigration I was given the usual warm welcome. I was questioned about why I’d been out of the country for six months, where I’m a resident, how long I’d been a citizen and then given a cursory “welcome back”.

I trotted out quickly to where one of my best friends was waiting for me, hopped in the car and the reunion began.

Of course, with six months news to catch up on, we stayed up far too late laughing and chatting before finally heading to bed in the early hours.

And then, being me, I was up with the lark (or the sparrows) raring to go and ready to start Pack ‘n Purge day one…

En route to LA

I’m finally on my way and it feels good to get things moving. I’m out of the limbo of the last couple of weeks and in a matter of hours I will be catapulted back into LA. How surreal.

It was a particularly lovely London morning; warm and sunny with lots of ominous clouds which means it will probably chuck it down this afternoon.

I ate breakfast at the Early Bird cafe and then, with minimal luggage and a hat, I set off…

Out on the town

After lunch which I think went pretty well and a torrential, and I mean seriously torrential thunderstorm where I was forced to shelter in the Conran Shop (not through personal choice), it was time to spend an evening with friends.

I was feeling tired but I slipped on my ridiculously impractical Prada boots, new navy blue jacket (it was an investment!) and stumped off to Soho House for cocktails. A few friends from LA were in town and it was a good chance to meet up and have a gradual transition back into Venice life.

We had a drink or two and caught up on local news then headed to the Sanderson for a final round before getting the tube home. One of my friends is generously lending us her place as for the first time in twenty years, I’ll be a tourist in LA. We needed to talk about keys so that was quickly sorted and we moved on to other topics like new restaurants, vajazzling and dogs.

Of course I was awake outrageously early despite a late night and so hopefully I’ll be exhausted and will be able to sleep on the plane. I have my cashmere eye mask, gorgeous engagement ring and multiple passports so am basically all packed.

Getting ready to head back to LA…