So here we are, back in LA, a trip that cost nada. I got the flights on air miles through my Virgin American Express card (worth getting if you can trust yourself to pay off the balance every month, although a friend who has both tells me BA’s card is better, with fewer restrictions).
As for accommodation, we ended up doing the home exchange. I don’t want to put the gob on it, as they say in the Black Country, but it’s great. We’re in Silver Lake*, which is basically Shoreditch with sunshine, full of hilariously self-conscious trendster types obsessing about coffee. I love the house we’re in, with its shiny wooden floors, beadboard panelling and friendly resident cat.
The couple we’ve swapped with have no TV, but terribly serious bookshelves full of Nabokov and Don DeLillo. I’m now fretting about what they’ll make of mine, which boast titles like ‘Practical Princess Perfect Wardrobe: Declutter and Rejig Your Wardrobe To Transform Your Life!’ (This is the downside of the exchange – you’ve basically invited another couple to come into your home and judge.)
The whole thing involved a fair amount of organisation but still, several Skype calls and a furious bout of oven-cleaning strikes me as a fair price to pay for a free house in LA for two-and-a-half weeks. I dread to think how much an equivalent hotel room (with kitchen facilities, study, garden, etc) would cost.
I flew out yesterday and am picking up husband and baby from the airport later today. I was pathetically excited about flying alone (this is what kids do to you – the prospect of an 11-hour economy flight on your own sounds like fun), but actually it was crap, as I was bumped, and then not bumped, and then pulled into a scary side room at immigration (who were suspicious of my WAG visa, got when we came over in 2009 for husband’s work). Funny, when you’re with a volatile 20-month-old, immigration are just so much nicer to you.
So I’m picking up husband and baby this afternoon, from which husband is going straight to dinner with Rose Byrne (better known as the pretty one from Bridesmaids) to talk about a potential project, while I get to stay at home with the baby and look grumpy. Hurrah! Love holidays.
*Silver Lake – you’ve never heard of it, have you? I’ve a theory about why so many visiting Brits hate LA. I reckon it’s because they head straight to the places they’ve heard of – Beverly Hills, Hollywood, etc – all of which are horrible, meaning they miss the good spots, such as Silver Lake, Los Feliz and Franklin Village.