California Dreaming #DreamBig

I absolutely love America. I know, I’ve probably mentioned it before – but I really do. If someone came up to me and said you could move to the US tomorrow, I would do it (as long as I can take Ollie, Monty and the two rabbits along with me of course). I was lucky enough to live for a year in the deep South of Louisiana and I’ve been back to NYC a few times in recent years. But California, that’s a whole another story. Land of The Hills, the original Disney land, surfer boys and Hollywood… it really is one hell of an amazing place for so many reasons. As you will probably gather – I have been to California before, once at age six (more on that later), and again age 16 (not so much of that due to missing photos)… unfortunately I missed a visit at age 26 but again – more on that later. Firstly, lets take a little trip back to 1990…

california dreaming.jpg

The first thing to note from these photos is A) I clearly developed a love of striped tops at a young age B) I’m pretty sure I’d wear most of these outfits now, if they were made in adult sizes (especially the pink ray-ban style glasses). But enough on my childhood style – back to the California memories I have from this trip many years ago when I was six. Firstly, it was with just my parents – my little brother wasn’t *quite* on the scene yet – although this fact was actually the biggest memory from the holiday. My mum is actually five/six months pregnant on this trip and it was here that they told me that I was going to be a big sister. I remember it well, I can’t remember the name of the hotel or the area we were in (I’m sure I can ask my parents) but I remember them telling me – sat on a sofa (we actually have a picture I took of them right after too) and then I remember my whole head being filled with questions and I spent most of the rest of the evening (and probably a chunk of the night) somewhere between brain-whirring-away-quiet, and piping up with questions about my future sibling. Not exactly California specific, but it is a pretty darn good reason for the state to have a special place in my heart.

Now, these photos aren’t in chronological order at all – but I do recall we flew in to San Francisco and out of LA – travelling up and down the state in between. So some are the more rugged/rainy norther bits of the state – and others the more sun drenched and glossy Souther parts. There really is so much more to California than you would assume from shows like The Hills (which I love, FYI) but it’s certainly more than glamorous beach houses, LA clubs and malls… the Northern part of state has vast National Parks like Yosemite (pictures below) that you might not think are the ‘usual’ California but are absolutely breathtaking – not that I really appreciated this as a six year old…or even a sixteen year old. But boy would I appreciate it now.

On the other end of the scale there’s the Hollywood/Disney side to California – another HUGE weakness of mine. Disney really is one of those undeniably happy places. As you can see… I was having the time of my life. Also note the stylish Mickey Mouse hat sported in other shots…


Disney Parade 1990


Spectacular Yosemite


Knott’s Berry Farm – an alternative to Disney! Somewhat simpler rides by the looks of it…


Rainy San Francisco waiting for the Cable Car


Santa Barbara rocking the stripes again…


Pretty sure letting a six year old steer a speed boat would be frowned upon now… probably then too.


Loving the California sunshine at The Cliffs Hotel, Shell Beach


Queen Mary in the background whilst having a casual speed boat cruise with the ‘rents…and my brother wondered why I liked the ‘only child’ phase?!


Face looking less impressed with the Twin Peaks in San Francisco


Stunning views (again, not that I appreciated them at six…) from the Ventana Inn, Big Sur



Posing up a storm in Yosemite

So dreaming back to my childhood trip is pretty magical – my memories from then and from the later trip at 16 are so lovely. But this is all about future dream – with the whole idea being about #DreamBig – as they do say that California is for dreamers after all!

What I would love to do is take these wonderful memories of visiting as a child and revisit them with the eyes of an adult. Sure, I did go when I was 16 but I definitely didn’t appreciate all that California has to offer then. All I wanted to do was call my then-boyfriend back home (ringing up an awful phone bill in the process) and head to every outlet mall we passed. Not exactly dreaming big or making the most of all there was to experience.

For me, a return to California would be a chance to see the Hollywood sign, drink a glass of delicious local wine whilst overlooking the Pacific, drive with the wind in my hair, pretending I’m a movie star down Big Sur actually appreciating the picture postcard views (rather than sleeping through them), I’d love to literally re-visit and even re-create the pictures from my trip in 1990 – completely for my own geeky amusement. I’d love to do a studio tour and visit my fantastic friend Rob who moved out there to marry the love of his life at the start of the year – and as a result can’t make it to my wedding. So I’d love to show up on his doorstep, meet his wife and get him to show me what life is really like in California – he is living the American dream after all!

Oh, and of course… there would be one hell of a Sephora/drugstore spree whilst I was at it. Without a doubt. If I was truly creating the dream trip  – I would absolutely love to visit somewhere like the original Smashbox Studio, or the backstage make-up room for a TV show. Ooh, and where E! is filmed…my ultimate guilty pleasure. Of course I’d have to get my nails and hair done at some typically celeb type salon too… in between admiring the stunning views and amazing cultural offerings of course. Oh, and of course experience some fabulous California food… and maybe a touch of shameless celebrity spotting too. This dream itinerary is getting pretty chocka…

I really, really, wish I could fully capture my excitement about just the dream of re-visiting California – sure, right now it’s only a pipe-dream, but hey – you gotta #DreamBig to win big! Wow…that’s cheesy. But you get what I mean. I’ll leave you with a little California playlist to help you get your own California dreaming going…

For more on the #DreamBig Visit California project visit the website: visit California

Post is part of a #DreamBig activity by Visit California (NOT sponsored) but it struck a chord, so wanted to get involved.


  1. Melanie
    July 17, 2014 / 11:01 pm

    I can see why the place means a lot to you and you want to go back! Loved this.

    • Jen
      July 18, 2014 / 3:37 pm

      It really does, it’s such a fab part of the US – love it!

  2. LittleMiss MakeUp
    July 17, 2014 / 11:02 pm

    Oh my goodness – HOW CUTE!

  3. stef b
    July 18, 2014 / 2:22 am

    you’re so lucky to be able to travel abroad at all! or to california. i live in the US and have never been. People in the UK seem to go on holiday so much!

    • Jen
      July 18, 2014 / 8:31 am

      That’s very true – I can see why a lot of people in the US don’t tend to travel quiet as much though – you have so much variety across just the states alone! But I guess in Europe we’re so lucky to have so many different countries on our doorstep – we probably take it for granted! Plus there’s the always the whole ‘the grass is always greener’ part where I’d love to live in the US! Hope you get to visit Europe some day!

  4. Emma K.
    July 18, 2014 / 11:44 am

    I’ve been obsessed with California since I watched the Hills – Have never been by now I want to go more than ever!

  5. July 18, 2014 / 7:43 pm

    Im going at the end od august i cant wait sephora here i come . cute post x

  6. LG
    July 19, 2014 / 11:13 am

    SO CUTE! Love it x

  7. KateH
    July 21, 2014 / 10:15 am

    Such cute photos of you Jen – love this post! xx

  8. Alex
    July 21, 2014 / 11:12 am

    Jen, it would be amazing if you got to go back – not least because we would all get to live it with you through your fantastic blog posts! x

    • Jen
      July 21, 2014 / 3:24 pm

      I would absolutely love to go back, would be such a dream! Would OF COURSE blog the whole thing! Plus would need to recreate some of the childhood pics!

  9. Laura
    July 25, 2014 / 1:19 pm

    So cute Jen – I wold love to see these photos re-created!! Do it!

  10. Christine
    October 24, 2014 / 2:36 pm

    I love everything about this post!! But mostly the adorably cute throw back pics of you! This is too much!XO

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