AAAAAAAAAAAH!

LOOK! LOOK WHAT I FINALLY DID!!!

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YOU CAN SEE IT!!

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AAAH! Yay!

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Happy 4th July!

We went to a car park to watch some fireworks (bit tricky going to the park of the display itself with two six-month-olds). Was pretty cool.

 

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Bye Bye DOMA, Hello Gay Pride Parade

Anyone who’s been paying attention to the news recently would probably have heard something about DOMA. The US Supreme Court recently overruled it, meaning that for the first time, marriage between same-sex partners has been federally recognised and these spouses have the same legal rights as those in a heterosexual marriage. Basically, great news for gay couples in the US.

It also came about four days prior to the Gay Pride Parade here in San Francisco, so spirits were extremely high during the huge parade on Sunday. My friends and I went along to watch and join in the merriment, and I’m really glad I did. You have to wonder how anyone in the world can still be against gay marriage when you see all the love and happiness it brings. I mean, it’s not even really “gay” marriage, it’s just marriage. You get the same love, affection and happiness regardless of the genders involved, and it was wonderful to see that over the weekend.

I took so many pictures that I know people who’ve got bored of looking half-way through my Facebook album, but it was a long parade and there was so much awesome stuff to see that it was impossible not to take loads of pictures. Either way, I’m just gonna show you a bunch of them now to give you a better idea of how cool it was.

 

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Rainbows eeeeeeverywhere! (Including on me and my friends, which you’ll see.) Also loving the pink wigs.

 

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Gotta love those rainbows.

 

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The balloons read “Love Won”, in case it’s not clear. And cheerleaders! Got a video of them doing some cool jumps.

 

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That bloke had the best dance moves. So cool.

 

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Happy people everywhere.

 

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Some pretty cool martial arts stuff, which I enjoyed.

 

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So many Facebook employees. Including Mark Zuckerberg (wearing the purple in the top right pic)!

 

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Yay robot! Poor bloke fell over and lost his head, but luckily the man helping rushed to his side and gave him some water. It was a hot day, so fair play to him for wearing that suit for the whole parade (I think it was ten blocks, so a decent amount of walking in that suit).

 

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Yay London!

 

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We “liked” it.

That was definitely the most photos I’ve had in one post, and even with that it’s only small snippets of what I saw during the day. It was such a great atmosphere and I really enjoyed seeing the parade and how happy everyone was.

Good work, Supreme Court.

My Birthday Treat

So, as recently – and correctly – pointed out by one of my friends back at home, I forgot the best part of my birthday this year! Yes, there was Disneyland and a beach and Hollywood, but nothing can really compare to what I received at the stroke of midnight on my birthday (8am back at home, but even so).

My wonderful friends and family put together this video for me. I admit it; it made me a little teary.

The five girls dancing around a flat and a park are my closest friends back in London. They are amazing and brilliant and I miss them tons. The John Oates impersonators are my older brother and his fiancée; the two adults and two children with questionable dance moves are my sister and her family. The lone bloke who’s trying to knock himself out with his flailing limbs is my eldest brother.

Every single one of them is insane. I genuinely love it.

BONUS! 

The outtakes video I received a little bit after the first one:

You can’t beat presents like that.

Love and Laughter in Los Angeles

So in my last post I told you about my plans to go to L.A. over the weekend, and thankfully no problems arose to scupper my plans, so I got to go and enjoy three days of sun and good times.

Before we get to L.A., I’ll tell you about what I got up to the day before I flew out. Last Thursday I turned twenty-five (half-way to fifty…) and I went out with some friends from around the SF area for a nice meal at the Cheesecake Factory, which is both healthy and nutritious. Inevitably, I couldn’t finish my ridiculously big meal, but I did enjoy it and had fun with my friends. Also got some nice presents and cards, which is something that I’ll never grow out of, no matter how much closer to fifty I keep creeping. Actually, I think I’m due a quarter-life crisis soon. You’ll have to let me know if any crazy ramblings start seeping into my blog posts. More crazy ramblings…

Anyway, birthday meal times! Here are some pics:

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Got a birthday cheesecake and everything. Bang on.

After nice foody times, it was back home for a few hours of sleep before having to get up at the ridiculous time of 6:30am (on a day off, no less…) to catch my plane to LAX. Luckily getting up early is much easier when you’re off to sunbathe and go to Disneyland. The flight was very easy and pretty quick, so before you could even say “aaaaahohemjeedisneylandyaaaaaaaay”, I was landing. Then it was just a hop, skip and taxi ride to my friend K’s house, who was kindly putting me up for the weekend.

Once K and I had been reunited (having not seen her since the training school in New York), it was down to the beach! Have to say that the beaches in L.A. are pretty fresh, and I very sensibly got myself sunburned by not putting any sun tan lotion on my back. Still, I’d do it again. I love beaches. Case in point:

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Mmmm. Look at that sand. And that sky. How could you not love it? You can’t not love it, that’s how.

This was also where I managed to burn myself. Having never suffered from a real sunburn before, I got cocky about the whole thing, then the Californian sun metaphorically bitch-slapped me and now I have a big red circle on my back (thank you, swimming costume). That’ll learn me. Aside from that, it was a lovely trip, and I really enjoyed dipping my feet in the water; nothing beats the ocean when it comes to swimming or paddling. After some time spent on the beach, we went in search of food, where I found the most ridiculous appetizer ever:

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Seriously. That was from the appetizer menu. Even though I was really hungry, it was still a struggle to finish, but I just about managed. Success!

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After food and another slow wander back along the beach, we returned to K’s house where we had a relatively relaxed evening (despite the three young boys she looks after), and a nice sleep. The next morning it was off to Disneyland! Aaaah! I’ve wanted to go to Disneyland (or Disney World – not picky) since I was teeny tiny, so this was an exciting moment for me. The problem was that we had to take three buses there, which all-in-all took three hours. This meant that to get there at a reasonable hour of the morning, we had to be up at 5:45am to get ready and grab an early bus. I was not feeling all these 6am wake ups. However, when it’s for Disneyland, you can forgive the early hour.

The bus journey was a mix of sleepy lounging and excitable anticipation (the closer we got, the more of the latter we experienced). Fiiiiiiiinally, after what felt like an age, we arrived! Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay! Disneylaaaaaaaaaaaaaand! It was sunny, warm and we had a definite skip in our step as we got there.

Prepare yourself. Lots of photos now.

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These were actually K’s ears, but they did go pretty well with my top. I would have got my own, but considering they cost $16, I decided to go without. Got a photo, though, so that’s good enough.

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Statue and castle! I got more excited than is probably acceptable at my age when I saw the castle. But c’mon, it’s the castle.

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We didn’t go into It’s A Small World due to how annoying I’ve heard it is (plus, tiny dolls all singing? Creepy), but it looked pretty cool from the outside. And is it just me or does the sky look really fake with those green hills in front of it? That was in Toon Town, and it was odd just how artificial the sky looked.

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Dancing chipmunks! Because why wouldn’t they have dancing chipmunks?

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Space Mountain! My fave ride of the day, which subsequently created my fave expression of the day.

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Here we’re on Tarzan’s Treehouse, which was pretty cool and fun to wander through. Also had the bridge where we took some photos and held up the queue. Like the annoying international tourists that we are.

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Aaaah, this ship! I loved it so much. So cool. Enjoyed our short sail around in this thing. I also enjoyed seeing one of the staff telling parents not to allow their children to play with the live, working cannons.

We did other exciting things, but this post has already gone a bit mad with photos and I’ve not even got to Hollywood yet, so I’ll leave you with those snippets. Disneyland was a really fun – albeit tiring – day, and I would recommend it to anyone who visits Los Angeles. I also quite enjoyed how excited people got about my accent. You’d think they’d be used to it in such a tourist-heavy place, but one of the staff wanted to keep talking to me so he could listen to my accent more, and then when I was walking away exclaimed to his friend, “she sounds like Mary Poppins!” I always aim to please.

Finally the evening was upon us, and after grabbing ourselves some souvenirs, we had to jump back on a bus for another three-hour journey. It was pretty late when we got back, so we both collapsed into bed for a nice long sleep.

The next morning I didn’t have to get up until the glorious hour of 8:30am, as we were getting picked up and driven into Hollywood rather than having to piss about on more buses. The plan for the day was to go and hike up to the Hollywood Sign, then go to have a look at the Walk of Fame afterwards. We were picked up and K and I drove up (down?) to Hollywood with three of her friends, where they had organised to meet more of their friends who were driving in another car. We managed the drive well enough, but the GPS we were following sent us to the completely wrong place. It took some time and a few phone calls with the second group to figure out where we were, but eventually we got our bearings and managed to find both the other group and the correct hill.

Then we were on our way. My first hike in America, and despite how roasting hot and dusty it was, it’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve done since I got here. If you ever do it, you’ll know what I mean when you finally reach the top of the hill. Amazingly proud moment.

Pics!

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Yeah, apparently you can ride a horse up to the sign (probably not right to the top, having walked up there, but still). Poor horses.

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That’s a good-lookin’ group of lasses right there. Who doesn’t look good after hiking for an hour?

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Leaping for joy.

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More leaping!

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The top!! Enjoying a well-earned rest and a picnic. At the top. Hurrah!

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It was a good moment, and coming back down the hill was far quicker than going up. I also enjoyed walking past all the people huffing their way up the hill and being able to skip past them gleefully. I was able to understand the look of joy on the faces of those coming back down when we were still going up. It’s an awesome thing to do, so I recommend it just as much as I do Disneyland.

After our walk, we went back down to the flat part of Hollywood and went to have a gander at the Walk of Fame and all the hand- and footprints of the stars. Pretty cool, and much easier on the feet than the hike had been.

Couple of highlights:

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After this, we had some food, then it was back home.

That evening we went out for more food and some karaoke, which was fun but not really documented. After all the photo-taking from earlier in the weekend I couldn’t really be bothered. Anyway, we sang, we ate, we laughed. All was well.

I slept well again that night, then it was up to pack, say goodbye to K and hop on a plane back to San Francisco.

It was a brilliant weekend, and I’m really glad I got to go and see more of America and finally go to Disneyland after years of pipe dreaming! If you do visit L.A. any time soon, go and see it! And go and see the Hollywood Sign! Both are brilliant.

That’s it for now (you’ll probably be glad to hear after all the photos), but I’ll be back soon with more goings-on in the US.

Apologies

Okay, I’m sorry, I know I’ve been utterly crap recently.

I think the longer I’m here the more relaxed I’m getting and the less new and exciting all the outings are becoming. Not that they’re not still great fun, nor have I stopped taking photos (seriously, I have a back log of a lot of recent photos).

I have things I want to tell you, and pictures I want to show you, and this weekend I’m off on my first trip down to L.A.! I will get to showing stuff, but I may have to skim over a few things I had planned to talk about (my trip to the pretty country house and its gardens, for example). I’m slow, but not gone!

Here are a few pictures of recent times, just to tide you over as you wait with bated breath for more news and updates:

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I quite like beaches. You should probably get used to that as I’m about to swan off to L.A.

(…for a weekend)

She Doth Return-eth

Helloooooo.

Okay, yes, sorry. I haven’t forgotten about my blog, nor have I died, but it has been a rather hectic few weeks and I’ve not had the time I thought I might to get these written. I had actually put aside time to do it yesterday, but then the net was down for most of the day, so it scuppered my plans slightly.

So, what exciting stuff have you missed, you ask? Well, sadly, not all that much considering the absence. My time has been spent working, sleeping and seeing friends. I’ve been here two months now, and I’m getting more and more settled as the time goes on. I have a good group of friends who I’m enjoying seeing most weekends and usually once or twice during the week, and I’m really loving getting to know my lovely twins more and more as the time goes on. They recognise me now, too, so I get treated to smiles and giggles and all sorts of heart-warming loveliness.

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Seriously, look at those faces. How could you not love ’em?

As well as falling in love with some adorable babies, I’ve been out being chummy with other au pairs in my area. So far I’m still the only English lass, and am still referred to as “the British one”, but it’s nice to have a new nickname. And I finally have a reputation that precedes me. Can cross that one off the bucket list.

This weekend just gone I was out with friends at a really beautiful country house that is now open to the public and surrounded by sixteen acres of protected land. There were gardens and a tennis court and a swimming pool and we got to explore and take photos and it was very pretty and lovely. However, this blog post is very behind, so you’ll have to wait for pictures of that in my next post. This one is talking about the weekend before, when I went with some friends to watch three of them unceremoniously hurl themselves out of a plane.

It was a gloriously hot day, so we were all in our summer clothes and sunnies and looking flare.

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Sexy.

The plan of the day was for three of the girls to jump out of a plane, followed by a picnic and then whatever else took our fancy. I would have sky dived too, but heard about it a bit late, so will be doing it a bit later in time with some other girls who are also interested in free-falling through the air at 10,000 feet. So after some time hanging around in the… building, for lack of a better word, where the jumpers had to wait, we left the three brave girls and drove off to the drop-point. We were poised with cameras and ready to document the jumps. And document we did.

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So jealous. Can’t wait to do it myself.

And they survived! Hurrah!

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All back on the ground in one piece, it was happy celebration times, so we went back to the building-place so they could get their photos/videos/certificates and indulged in a picnic on one of the benches outside.

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Also sexy.

Eventually, the food was – mostly – eaten, the photos were collected, and we were on our way.

Still looking totes fresh, by the way.

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At this point, the world was our lobster, and being six girls with some hours to kill, we inevitably ended up at some shops. When I say “we”, I actually mean “they”. I ended up sitting outside reading while they shopped. Did stop for a nice cold drink, though, so I enjoyed that bit.

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Look how much prettier the shopping centres here are. The Bullring it is not (only the Brummies will get that, so about 0.2 of my readers).

Soon enough we were off again, this time to go to a nice Japanese restaurant one of the girls recommended for our dinner. I’m a bit hit-and-miss with sushi. I don’t mind it, but I’m not overly keen. Basically I don’t mind if everyone else wants it, but I wouldn’t choose to eat if I’m on my own. Still, what I did eat was tasty, and it was nice to sit around and chat with my friends without the distraction of sky-diving, or the difficulty of talking in a loud, wind-blown car.

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Nommm.

Once we’d eaten our fill of fishy goodness, we had to take one of the girls home; home for her happened to be on top of a mahoosive hill with some amazing views, so I enjoyed taking some photos both in and out of the car. At one point by standing out of the sunroof, which resulted in much piss-taking, giggling and a very unflattering photo of me. A photo I think is still out there somewhere…

Anyway, views!

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After that, we all went back home and I would like to say had a nice long sleep, but I had work that night. I had a nice long sleep on Monday morning.

I’m sorry that I took so long to post, but I will catch up with my photos from the weekend just gone. Soon. Honest.

Facebook (I Like This)

My friends and I went to the facebook headquarters; the offices were fairly average-looking, but there was a big sign outside! So, as we like to, we took some photos:

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Yeah, we’re dead cool.

Golden Gates and Wonderous Woods

Guess what I finally saw this weekend? If you’d said either the Golden Gate, Muir Woods, or my friend I went sightseeing with (we’ll call her A), you’d be correct.

My friend is a San Francisco native who is good friends with my brother, so when I arrived here he encouraged us to get in touch. Am very happy I did, because I had a lovely day on Saturday exploring more of SF and finally seeing the Golden Gate Bridge. (I actually did this time! There are pictures.) The day started with a mild lie-in and a very nice breakfast with two of the twins’ aunts. I had eggs with smoked salmon and spinach, and they were scrummy. We also had bucks fizz!

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Not a bad start to the weekend.

After brekkie, we went back to the house and I spent a bit of time playing with the girls and generally dossing about until A came to pick me up (hurrah for friends who drive!). After a pleasant drive that included nice chat and good music, we made it over to the bridge! During the drive up, there was a lot of fog, so I was concerned we’d have a repeat of the last time I tried to see the bridge. Thankfully, it was only partially engulfed in fog, and once we were over the bridge, it cleared up a great deal.

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Huzzah!

There was a viewpoint just past the bridge that we’d hoped to stop at to take some better photos, but sadly the queue was too long and our tummies were starting to make themselves heard, so we decided to find food and then go back later on to one of the viewpoints. And we found a right gem. I can’t actually tell you where it was, we just pulled into a small harbour full of yachts and a couple of restaurants; one appropriately titled “Fish”. On the menu they had a crab roll, and as I’d yet to try crab, I went for that. I did not regret it. It was literally crab on its own in a buttered, toasted roll, with a few chives thrown in for good measure, but that was all it needed. The crab was delicious. And yes, that word did need emphasising. If we ever find the restaurant again, I’m definitely eating crab. Possibly once more for good luck.

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Too many fries! Didn’t eat them all, but that crab roll was demolished. Nommmm.

After filling our bellies full of delicious deliciousness, we hopped back in A’s car and continued on with our adventure. Next on the agenda was Muir Woods, at A’s suggestion, and I was happy to go with whatever she thought; she’d got us to that crab, so clearly her judgement was not to be questioned.

The Woods are huge, and stunning. I still find it strange to look to your right and see ocean and then look to your left to see a huge forest. Such are the strange ways of California. Anyhow, we spend a good amount of time driving through the woods and enjoying the windy roads. I may have taken a few pictures.

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Just a couple.

We carried on through the Woods for a bit longer, and then it was back to the Golden Gate bridge to get some proper good views! And after driving past all the too-full-to-park viewpoints and having to turn back around, we finally managed to nab a parking space and get some pictures!

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Tidy! I even took some as we crossed back over and drove into the looming fog of doom.

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Next on the agenda was Palo Alto, which is home to Stanford University. A said it was a nice campus to drive around, and she’d yet to steer me wrong so far, so I was happy to see the campus and explore a new area. Thankfully we left the fog behind us as we drove further south, but not before seeing some pretty impressive views of clouds rolling over the hills (sadly my camera didn’t quite capture how cool it looked, but I did what I could).

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Eventually, as evening crept ever closer, we made it to Palo Alto and the Stanford campus. After a quick drive-through tour, we stopped at a large patch of grass that is apparently a popular area for students, and watched the sun sink ever further on the horizon. We also drank some wine and watched a game of Ultimate Frisbee (it’s a bit of a thing here).

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Back home! After a brief stop for more alcohol in a pub (English-themed) in Palo Alto. Our evening was spent back in my own town eating very delicious Italian food and then meeting a couple of my other friends for a drink in an Irish pub near by. A very good time was had by all, and I’ll leave you with another few pictures (because I’m really feeling the pictures in this post).

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Going Downtown (To The Park)

Hullo!

This is a slightly late post I’m writing during my first shift of the week. My lovely, beautiful twins (well, not mine in the literal sense, but the little lasses I’m looking after) are asleep after a long, busy day, so I’m taking the opportunity while they rest to get some stuff about my weekend down in the blogesphere. Blogsphere? Bloggy world? Anyway.

This weekend I met up with a chum from the New York training school who’s been living in West Hollywood and becoming best friends with Ryan Gosling and Tina Fey (they’re topical, right? I’m not good at popular culture, and I refuse to reference the likes of Justin Bieber. Twice). It was good to see her and catch up, and while she was in San Francisco for the weekend, we decided to go to the downtown bit of the city, which is famous for shops and a big square. The weather was glorious, even more so than it has been already, which made for a lovely time wandering and seeing some sights.

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Not too long into our meandering, we stumbled across a small park, which was very grassy and pretty and made for a perfect place to chill out under the sun. We later named it Superman Park (for reasons which will be explained), but when we first arrived we realised we were terribly dressed. My friend was in skinny jeans and a jacket, whereas I was donning black tights with a long-sleeved dress. Okay for autumn in the UK, but not so well-suited to a baking hot day in California. We soon dragged ourselves away from our patch of grass and went on the hunt for a clothes shop where we could get some more summer-appropriate gear. Finally – after some searching and direction-asking – we found an H&M! Sanctuary! After a good browse, I came away with a nice summery dress and a light cardigan, and my friend got a new top and some shorts. Sorted!

Next on the agenda was lunch, which we picked up on the way back to Superman Park. Now we had comfy clothes (after a quick toilets change) and food, so we could happily go back and laze in the park. And laze we did.

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Oh, and here’s the reason we called it Superman Park:

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Supermaaaaaaaan! What a hero.

Eventually we decided to move away from the park (with some slight regret, I have to admit), and we slowly ambled towards Union Square, which is a pretty famous landmark in downtown SF, and a place I’d only had a glimpse of during my drive-by tour a couple of weeks ago. It was busy and a bit less green, but still pretty in its own, city-esque way. We definitely enjoyed having an explore around, anyway.

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Opposite Union Square is a giant Macy’s, which just so happens to have a massive Cheesecake Factory on its top floor. Having both heard of the restaurant and seen pictures online of its cheesecakes, it seemed wrong not to go in. So we went in! Both the views and the cheesecake were awesome.

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Nommmm.

We went back over to Union Square to enjoy our cheesecake, and then decided to start heading home. I should note, this whole day was done after a shift, so I’d not slept since the previous afternoon. I was knackered, to say the least. So basically we decided to head back before I collapsed in an exhausted heap. Unfortunately, we were both in a slightly dim mood and managed to get the wrong train, landing us in a town called Hillsdale, which was miles past where I live, and we both had to wait for other trains to get us back home. We were not happy bunnies.

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Finally we did end up on the right trains, and I got back home and spent a few hours chilling out, having dinner and trying to stay awake before finally conking out at 8:30pm and enjoying a 12-hour sleep. Simple pleasures.