Thursday, 29 November 2012

James Bond in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens
Really chilly start but bright blue sky.  We drove up into the hills to the Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens.  Full of native plants, trees and shrubs, with informative identification boards, listing the uses that the various Native American Indian tribes put them to, medicinal, nourishment and basket weaving.  A mile long walk into a small canyon, with the remains of an old dam and water transfer system, set up by the Franciscan monks in the early 1800s, who lived in the nearby Old Mission, an imposing building, a  mile or so away.
A drive up Mountain Rd and then Gibraltar St took us almost to the top of Mt Calvary, with great views over the coastline and out to the Channel Islands, about 10 miles off shore.
Fire fighters guide to planting fire resistant plants
Lunch in town took us to the best and the cheapest meal we've had so far, at Nature Cafe.  Sweet potato and spinach soup, Thai chicken and artichoke noodle salad, and half a massive cookie each for less than $20.  They pride themselves on no additives, no unnecessary sugars and flavourings, just good, honest food.  Brilliant!  Turns out there's one at San Luis Obispo, so I think we'll probably be calling again another year.  In the afternoon Ian went to the gym in town, where the hotel had a concession for guests, free entry.  Took him to Marcel Hemp's shop and bought a hemp/organic cotton shirt for $50.  Great heavy duty cotton form the plant famous its other quality, marijuana!  Looks great on him, and it was fun to talk to the owner, Marcel, who's been there for 24years, and designs all his own clothing.  There was a lovely smell of patchouli in the shop-took me back!
In the evening, we had a pint and fish and chips during happy hour at the Brewhouse, where we've been before.  The beers are much stronger here, averaging 5% and sometimes as much as 9%!  Great buzz and really full, but difficult to get to- have to walk over the railway lines to find it!  Then went to see the new James Bond film, Skyfall.  Really good and without the hassle of having to go to Chesterfield to see it - the cinema just being a block away.  Off to Palm Springs tomorrow.  Hope it's a bit warmer there, without that cold Northerly.

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