Fast Food, Aeroplanes and Problems with Bicycles

As those who occasionally read my postings will know, my normal writing haunt is a local branch of Costa coffee, sipping at a medium skinny wet latte with an extra shot. 
Just so that I don’t come across as boring and predictable, I am sitting on my friend’s terrace in Coto De Caza, a small community of houses nestled around a golf course and country club, tucked away in the foothills of the California Hills, not far from Rancho Santa Margarita. 
Instead of my normal coffee, I am drinking a chilled bottle of Betty IPA, made by the Hangar 24 micro brewery based at Redlands, CA. This has proved to be a very good choice. America now has a thriving micro brewery sector, all producing some excellent ales. This one caught my eye for no other reason than it was packaged in a box with a picture of a B-17 bomber nose section, complete with a nose-art pin up girl. The aircrcraft was called Betty, so being a total aviation person (Anorak) I just had to buy it.  
Unusually for Southern California, it is, what we Brits call “pissing down” and the temperature is so cold that I am almost considering changing from my shorts and tee shirt into trousers and fleece. 
I have been up to LA today, and spent some relaxing time visiting Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard. Having checked the hand and footprints outside the Chinese Theatre, I am surprised to see that I have bigger hands and feet than Tom Cruise, and the same sizes as Arnold Schwarzenegger. I guess that working out doesn’t make your feet bigger, just your chest and shoulders. 
On the other hand, Vin Diesel makes me look like a dwarf, and Clint Eastwood is only marginally bigger than I am. This made my day (Punk) and I felt lucky all the way back down to Sunset, looking for a certain burger joint in which to have lunch. 
Now, whilst I am not a regular user of fast food outlets, I still use them from time to time.  It’s odd that in the UK we have a very limited selection. We have franchised MacDonalds in virtually every town and city and a home grown chain called Burger King, and that’s about it if you want a burger. I have to say it – MacDonalds in the UK (rather than in the USA) compares unfavourably. 
Mind you, it’s not all bad news for MacDonalds. I was on a business trip a while ago, to Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei, where I enjoyed a very nice halal chicken burger at the MacDonalds outlet. On another trip to the Far East, I watched an elephant and rider use the Maccy D’s drive-through in Bangkok with no problem, despite the fact that a few years ago, I was banned from riding my humble bicycle through the MacDonalds drive through in Staines-upon-Thames on the grounds that I would “hold up traffic”. 
Always up for intellectual debate, I took issue with the rude attitude of the guardian of the “Drive-Thru” The spotty faced manager was quite explicit and refused to accept my argument that as all vehicles passed through the drive-through at less than walking pace, I was hardly holding up traffic. I also explained to the simpleton that a bicycle was in fact a vehicle and that I had to obey the road traffic act like all other road users. He countered this by saying that it was for my own protection as I may have an accident. 
Really?  
Oh, I guess I could drop my chips, or maybe spill my drink. I couldn’t conceive of any circumstances in an almost stationary drive-through, in which I would be placing myself in a hazardous situation. I stood more risk of getting a serious dose of e-coli from the lad with an obvious sebaceous gland problem than I was of facing imminent death or injury from vehicles.  
By now, I really was holding the traffic up, so I did eventually get served, and wishing him a cheery “Have a nice day” I went on my way. 
I noticed that a few days later there was a sign banning bicycles from using the drive through. This is the mentality of immature management and justification of stopping a safe activity on the grounds of health and safety.  
Anyway, grumpy old git rant over, and getting back to the plot…

The very best burgers on the planet are served at any branch of “In’n’ Out Burgers”. This is a very small chain of burger shops, indigenous to only Southern California. I discovered this best kept secret a few years ago, when visiting the same friends for a vacation.
I had taken a day out to do some light aircraft flying out of Santa Ana (Orange County) International Airport, also known as John Wayne International. I had rented an Evektor Sport Star light aeroplane from Sunrise Aviation, and had spent a happy few hours cruising up and down the west coast, from John Wayne to San Diego, and then back as far up the coast as Santa Barbara, flying overhead Los Angeles International. America is a fabulous place for a private pilot to fly. Try overflying London Heathrow at 4000 feet, and you’ll probably get shot down!  My routing then swung inland, to potter along past the Hollywood sign, and thence back to land at John Wayne. 

Above: The Evektor SportStar after my West Coast flight.

I landed, settled my account and as I was now officially ravenous, I jumped in my hire car, and headed onto the highway. I found In’n’Out by accident, but with some help from the counter staff I ordered a Double Double (Double burger, double cheese, double onions ) and I was recommended to have it “Animal” style. This involved having a special sauce and relish applied. I also ordered fries and a coke. 

I have to say, the place was heaving. I got issued ticket number 61. After a ten minute wait, they were calling tickets 43 and 44. I kicked back and filled in my log book, carefully adding the hours and minutes. 
At last, my number was called, and I was passed a neat red tray, measuring about 18 inches by 12 inches, upon which were a cardboard tray of fries, and a nicely wrapped burger. The flavours in the burger were excellent, and the burgers themselves were made of proper minced beef, rather than the compressed and reconstituted meat that fills so many other burger buns.  

The fries were crisp, and the whole meal was not only good value, but stuck in my memory as being of very good quality. 
I wasn’t disappointed today either. The In’n’Out on Sunset was overwhelmed with customers, and it was only 11:50. I had to wait again, but the wait was worth it as the quality was still very good. And the cost was just under seven bucks. 
And so,I’m sitting here, in the gathering gloom, typing this blog, prior to making a report on trip advisor. 
Thanks to the very hard working youngsters on duty today… you Rock!

The Demise of My Blue Denims… Or Not

Settling back into my customary seat near the window of Costa’s in Petersfield, I took a cautious sip of my medium skinny wet latte with an extra shot. I say cautious, as the last time I sat here, I was nursing a burnt tongue and lip – the barista thought I had said “Extra Hot” instead of extra shot. I won’t get caught out like that again in a hurry.
Leaning back, I started leafing through the shop’s copy of the Daily Mail, in search of articles of interest. It was a bit of a slow news day, with lots of coverage of the US hustings between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. 
I mentally switched off. Reading about our own home grown liars and cheats was enough, without reading about someone else’s. 
I carried on, skimming articles for value, when my eye was drawn to a few column inches at the foot of the page.
“Why You Should Ditch Your Denim at 53!”
“Surely not” I thought. I read the article swiftly. It seems that research has shown that many people feel that denims and jeans are the province of the young, and that older folk such as myself shouldn’t wear them. 
I looked askance at the article. The very foundations of my world were rocking. Last week, it was my old trainers that I decided had to go, as balding fat blokes shouldn’t wear such items if they were to retain even a shred of street cred. 
Jeans and trainers were the uniform of my generation – our trademark, our sartorial protest at the generation before, in their baggy grey flannels and knitted pullovers. 
The style was academic, and in the past, I have worn skin tight drainpipes, flares with hems of twenty four inches, straight legs, and boot cut varieties, in standard denim blue, black denim, and, embarrassingly in the early seventies, crimson denim. I’ve had comfort fit, relaxed fit, button fly, zip fly, and even a pair with a Velcro fly, although to be fair that was a homemade repair when I got the old zip jammed and couldn’t be arsed to get it fixed. 
Over the years I have used many makes, including the eponymous Levi’s, Lee Copper, Inigo Jones, Wranglers, and even Tescos own. 
I have had (to my shame!) matching denim jackets, one of which was even fleece lined, but it in my defence it was the seventies, and I was in my late teens. 
I felt a bit sad. The thing about denim jeans is that they are so eminently practical. Pull them on in the morning, walk the dog, fix the car, cut the grass, go out shopping and then go out for a beer, and all without having to even think about changing.  
The things are almost indestructible too. I have had a pair which I have practically lived in, that I bought in 2008 on a trip to the USA. Levi’s, standard weight blue 501s. I used them for walking, motorcycling, flying, boating, cycling, and dare I say it. Even after that level of use and abuse, they are only just beginning to decompose around me. 
Don’t get me wrong, it’s just the material at the entrances to the pockets that is fraying and falling apart. The rest of the structure is OK, with the dye fading, and the wear patterns in the pockets where I habitually stow my wallet and mobile phone showing almost white. They just won’t die!
Carrying on my musings, it occurred to me that if I make the decision to retire gracefully from wearing denim, I need to assess and decide upon the look that I will need to replace it. 
I could take up wearing chinos full time. The trouble is that Chinos are fairly smart casual, and I couldn’t work on a motorcycle, and then go shopping without changing. Military surplus is a non starter. 
I could buy a few more pairs of adventure utility trousers with the zip off legs. Maybe invest in some cargo trousers, with multiple pockets.  
Or maybe I should just ignore the style gurus, and carry on wearing my blue denim jeans. They have served me well for forty five years, and I guess another twenty won’t hurt.