I have always been intrigued by Northern California . Many friends have raved about it and urged me as a painter to visit it . In February we had the great fortune to meet a very friendly woman at my friend Doris party who when I proclaimed that I would love to explore Nocal promptly offered us her holiday home on Pebble Beach between Monterey and Carmel. I had no idea where these places were but thought we should take her up on this kind offer given that money was tight and that we probably could not afford a holiday for 5 this year. I hurriedly informed the lady that I had 3 children ranging from 14 to 4 thinking this might be a deal breaker but she still appeared keen. I offered her a painting in exchange for such generosity. She told me it was an old house and I honestly expected an old shack with the basics.When we arrived we were astounded to find an enormous villa with two guest houses filled with antiques and china looking straight onto the pacific ocean. Otters would swim by and seals lolled on the rocks. It was also in a wild life sanctuary. The country side around Monterey is stunning and the weather cool and its a little like Scotland in the sun. Carmel was over-restored and saccherine with "cutsy little stores" and cottage -like hotels and both a tourist trap and ghetto for the wealthy.Its the sort of place that makes me want to march up and down the streets yelling profanities. Monterey on the other hand which is a few miles north of Carmel has grit and character and a great Aquarium. It a proper old fishing town with no frills and beautiful architecture and it even had a second hand book store. One of the down sides of staying in a beautiful house with fragile and valuable contents is one is contantly having to watch small wandering hands. I practically had to use a tranquilizer gun to stop the kids touching and playing with all the objects (alot of which I hid on arrival ) The contant supervision was exhausting and I needed surveillance cameras and eyes in the back of my head to keep check on my ginger brood. The one time I could relax was when we were out of the house . This meant frequent visits to Big Sur and the spectacular journey along the Pacific Coast Highway. So many people had enthused about this drive and I was not in the least disapointed.I felt so grateful to our lovely friend who gave us the opportunity to see this amazing part of the world, I was releived to get back to LA and to our house where there is nothing worth breaking.