Monday, July 1, 2019

Walking at the Beach - Redondo Beach to Santa Monica, California

This blog post comes to you from the West Coast, specifically Redondo Beach, California. The opportunity to spend a month here with my daughter while she was house-sitting was an offer too good to resist. Given my love for walking by the sea, discovering that there was a beach path all the way from Redondo to Santa Monica was an added bonus.

The Marvin Braude Bicycle Trail runs for twenty-two miles, starting two miles south of the Redondo Beach Pier and ending over two miles north of the Santa Monica Pier. As the house we were staying in was close to the Redondo pier, we made that our starting point.

For a short stretch past the pier, the path runs alongside North Harbor Drive before splitting off back toward Hermosa Beach. 
Beachfront properties line one side of the path, the beach the other. 

At ten on a Friday morning, the beach was relatively deserted. One thing for sure, volleyball is huge in this part of the world!  I've never seen so many volleyball nets.

The pier at Hermosa is literally just that, a pier. There are no attractions, but it is popular with those who like to fish.

 A memorial to astronaut Greg Jarvis and the other Challenger crew members sits by the side of the beach. Jarvis was a local resident of Hermosa Beach and a keen cyclist.
Some of the houses on the beachfront are quite magnificent:

while other residences are more noteworthy for their trees:

Another mile or so of walking and we were in Manhattan Beach. This also has a pier. I haven't checked this one out yet but it has a small aquarium in the building at the end. 

Manhattan Beach also has its share of grand residences:

From Manhattan Beach, the path curves around the coastline to El Segundo Beach. With no sign of residences, at first glance, it looks idyllic. 

But there's a reason it is so deserted. Because while the view in one direction is very pleasing to the eye:

That can't be said about the other direction:
El Segundo Power Plant

Next up is Dockweiler Beach, considered by many to be the "birthplace of modern hang gliding in the United States. " It has a training and practice area for hang gliders. It's also under the flight take-off path from Los Angeles International Airport which means planes are overhead every two or three minutes. Not the quietest beach by any means, but with 3.7 miles of coastline it is possible to find a spot further away from the flight path.
A huge RV park is adjacent to the beach and numerous fire pits on the sand mean it is one of the few beaches where visitors can enjoy bonfires. 

After walking almost ten miles, it was time for a lunch break. We headed off the beach into Playa Del Rey where we found The Shack, one of those places which looks small (and to be honest, shabby) on the outside but turns out to be a lot bigger than it looks and a great place to eat. 

Playa Del Rey

After lunch, we discovered that the path detoured around the huge marinas that make up Playa Del Rey and Marina Del Rey so that to get to Venice, about two miles further up the coast, we had to walk another four miles! It's a good job we like walking.

I was surprised how big Marina del Rey was. Luxury hotels, glass residential complexes, and enormous shopping malls abound. And I don't think I've ever seen so many boats!

But there were still some charming structures. Colorful buildings housing businesses and a lighthouse make up Fisherman's Village, a delightful place to stroll. 

One mile later, after strolling through pleasant residential streets we were finally in Venice and headed back to the beach.

Not sure how often this happens, but the beach boardwalk was a bustling market place with vendors, musicians, and psychics, and a guy offering coffin rides! Rather macabre. 

After the relative peace of the earlier part of our walk, the bustle and crowds were almost too much. We thought about having a drink, but the bars were all crowded despite it being only about five o'clock. Instead, we headed onto the beach to the skate park to watch the skateboarders show off their moves.  I'd like to have included some photos but it turns out taking pictures of skateboarders in action requires greater skill than I possess.

Eight hours and over seventeen miles after we started we finally made it to Santa Monica. I have to say the pier was a welcome sight. We were tired and foot-sore, but we'd achieved our goal. It was time to get a celebration drink. And where better than Ye Olde Kings Head, a wonderful British Pub just up from the seafront. Their sausage rolls were worth the walk! 

 Aside from walking, Mel writes contemporary fiction with a twist of mystery and suspense. Her latest novel in the Detective Rigby series "Old Habits Die Hard" was released in June 2019. 
For more information about her books visit her website, or sign up for her newsletter at  

Friday, June 21, 2019

New Release - Old Habits Die Hard

Detective Rigby is back!

I am delighted to announce the release of my latest novel - Old Habits Die Hard - the second book in the Detective Rigby series.

A boss near death’s door. A rash of serious cases. Can Detective Rigby rise to the challenge?

Never the most popular person in the Lewisville Police Department, Rigby finds himself in charge after his mentor, Police Chief Jim Pearson, is involved in an accident.

All he wants to do is track down the hit-and-run driver, but when Lewisville is rocked by two other major cases in one day, he discovers running the department is a lot more complicated than Pearson makes it look.

Now he has to put aside his go-it-alone attitude and trust his colleagues—many of whom he fears would be happy to see him fail—or risk letting down the one person who's always had his back.

But old habits die hard.

Available in ebook and print from Amazon:



Mel Parish writes contemporary fiction with a twist of mystery and psychological suspense. For more information visit Mel's website at If you want to stay up to date with Mel's new releases and receive details of special offers, sign up for Mel's occasional newsletter at

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Walking in the City - Griffith Park, Los Angeles

Think of Los Angeles and the image it conjures might be of a sprawl of urban neighborhoods dissected by boulevards such as Hollywood, Sunset and Santa Monica, and congested multi-lane highways. But it is also home to Griffith Park, one of the largest urban wilderness parks in the United States.

I'd never managed to visit the park on previous trips to Los Angeles, but when I discovered the park was a mere hour's stroll from the Silver Lake neighborhood that my daughter lives in, it seemed the perfect opportunity to visit. Our walk took us along pleasant residential streets of the Los Feliz neighborhood lined with Jacaranda trees in full bloom. Needless to say, we didn't pass too many other walkers.

The park is named after a Welshman, Colonel Griffith J. Griffith, who made a fortune from gold mine speculation in California and bought a large parcel of land north of the oldest section of Los Angeles in 1882. In 1896 he donated almost five square miles of the land to the people of Los Angeles as a Christmas gift with a proviso that "It must be made a place of recreation and rest for the masses, as a resort for the rank file, for the plain people." He believed it was his obligation "to make Los Angeles a happier, cleaner, and finer city."

He had big plans for the park including an amphitheater and an observatory. When he died in 1919 he left a trust fund which enabled his dreams to be realized. The Greek Theater was completed in 1930 and the Griffith Observatory and Hall of Science in 1935.

Following further donations of land and city purchases, the park is now over 4,000 acres of natural wilderness and landscaped parkland. Set in the Santa Monica Mountain range and with elevations of up to 1,625 feet above sea level, the park offers not only magnificent views of the surrounding city but provides a wonderful respite from the hustle and bustle of city life.

We entered the park at the southern perimeter, where the Boy Scout Trail takes you up to the Griffith Observatory. It may be less than a mile walk, but it's all uphill.

Luckily, the path zigzags rather than goes straight up which does make the walk a lot easier.

Unfortunately, the early morning smog meant that the skyscrapers of Downtown Los Angeles were almost invisible in the distance. 

But you can certainly see for miles. We got a good glimpse of how big the park actually is. 

The observatory is an impressive sight. It offers exhibits, telescopes, and shows in the planetarium 

Our walk up the trail was relatively quiet, with only a few other hikers making the trek, but the observatory is a popular stop on tours so the plaza out front proved to be a lot busier, even though the observatory itself was not yet open. 

A monument to James Dean sits on the plaza. Key scenes from ''Rebel without a Cause" were filmed at the observatory, the success of the movie bringing it positive international recognition.

For our return, we took the West Observatory Trail which offered a view of one of Los Angeles' most famous signs.  Shame the sun had yet to appear!

At the end of the trail. we discovered a delightful cafe, The Trails. I can personally vouch that their homemade apple pie is yummy!

Then it was time for a gentle stroll along Fern Dell Trail, which meanders alongside a stream surrounded by lush tropical vegetation.  It was hard to believe we were still in LA.

We didn't have time to spend more than a morning in the park but with many more trails to explore and the option for horse-riding, the park would definitely be on my list of places to revisit on return trips to the city.

Mel writes contemporary fiction with a twist of mystery and suspense. Her latest novel in the Detective Rigby series "Old Habits Die Hard" will be released on June 21st, 2019. 
For more information about her books visit her website, or sign up for her newsletter at  

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Walking in the City - New York's Christmas Lights

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is taking a stroll around mid-town Manhattan to check out the holiday lights and window displays. 

Sixth Avenue is always a good place to start as the forecourts of the office buildings provide the perfect stage for gigantic versions of traditional decorations. 

Sadly, this year one of the city's iconic store displays is missing as the Lord & Taylor store on 5th Avenue is closing down. Instead of delightful depictions of fairy tales or children's literary characters the windows are covered in red posters announcing the closing. I'm sure there must have been many disappointed visitors as the store was the first to feature animated holiday displays and has regularly attracted visitors from all over the world. 

Fortunately, there are other stores with spectacular window displays, including those of Bergdorf Goodman. The amount of detail is astonishing, with each window color coordinated to the holiday treats represented. 


Licorice Carousel

Gingerbread goodies

chocolate delight

Further down Fifth Avenue, the building housing Tiffany's is suitably adorned with sparkling ornamentation.

And the Peninsula Hotel on 5th Avenue and 55th Street has eye-catching decorations on its canopy. 

Outside the entrance to the Rockefeller Center, enormous toy soldiers stand guard.

Across the street, the annual light show on the front of the Saks building is so popular that huge crowds gather on the sidewalk, making it almost impossible to walk on that section of the street. After shuffling forward for several minutes, I gave up trying to get across the road and retreated to the relative calm of Sixth Avenue. It wasn't quite the route I'd planned to take back to Grand Central but it was certainly quicker! 
Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Mel writes contemporary fiction with a twist of mystery and suspense. For more information about her books visit her website, or sign up for her newsletter at  

Monday, August 20, 2018

Cross Country Adventure - Day 15 - Joshua Tree to Los Angeles

 Day 15. We'd driven more than 4,000 miles through 14 states and had just one more National Park to visit and 132 miles to drive before we would arrive at our final destination in Los Angeles. Apart from a tornado scare on the second day, the trip had gone without a hitch. Unfortunately, our luck didn't quite hold.

On that last morning as we were parked at a gas station while I went to stock up our water supplies, a guy in a van parked next to us managed to clip our car as he reversed out. He immediately took full responsibility (possibly because my daughter was standing on the nearby sidewalk and witnessed the accident), but by the time we'd exchanged insurance details, he'd been on the phone to his insurance company, and we'd spoken to the car rental company who insisted we got a police report  which meant we had to wait for Highway Patrol to turn up, half the morning was gone.

Still, it could have been a lot worse, so it was with some relief we eventually got on our way to Joshua Tree National Park, famous for its strange looking plants. 

The park boundaries include part of two deserts, the Mojave and the Colorado. The western half of the park is the Mojave Desert with elevations above 3,000 feet. This is where the Joshua Tree thrives. 

The Joshua Tree is neither tree nor cactus but is a Yucca, part of the lily family. It was named by Mormon Pioneers who thought it looked like Joshua beckoning them to the promised land. 
The trees grow in interesting shapes and sizes.

some are tall and upright

some like to lean a little

And some can't seem to decide which way they should grow!

The jagged line up the solid rock is a climb called A cheap way to die!
I was surprised to learn that Joshua Tree National Park is popular with climbers. Saddle Rock provides a number of routes of varying difficulty, including one with the somewhat off-putting name of  'A cheap way to die.'   

The road through this part of the park takes you past Jumbo Rocks, where huge boulders scattered over the landscape provide scope for the imagination. 

This one is known as Skull Rock. 

Another plant in this part of the desert is the Mohave Yucca. This particular one was not that tall, but even these can grow to 16 feet tall.  

The eastern half of the park's elevation is less than 3,000 feet above sea level and is within the Colorado Desert.  As the road crosses from the Mojave to the Colorado Desert the Cholla Cactus Garden comes into view. Not only do the plants look weird but it's not wise to get too close as they have a tendency to attach themselves to passersby and the spines can be very painful to remove!

There's a reason they are called Jumping Cholla 

There literally are hundreds of these plants in patches. Marked trails wind between them so you can safely get a closer look.

Another odd looking plant is the Ocotillo, which is common to the Colorado Desert. They may look like a bush, but can grow up to 20 feet tall! Sometimes the plant will be brown and look like a bunch of dry sticks, but if there is sufficient moisture, tiny leaves grow from the stems turning the plant green. In the spring red flowers blossom from the ends of the branches - that must be quite a sight.  

Ocotillo with leaves

All too soon it was time to leave the park and start the final stretch of our drive on Route 10, which conveniently links to the southern exit of the park. It's a popular road and soon we were just one of many cars heading to LA. Sadly, no one got out of their car to dance like they did at the beginning of La La Land!

With all this traffic, this must be LA!

And finally, the sign that confirmed our fabulous road trip was almost over. No, not the Hollywood sign in the hills, but the road sign to Western Ave where our weekend accommodation awaited us at the delightful Coral Sands Motel. 

Mel writes contemporary fiction with a twist of mystery and suspense. For more information about her books visit her website, or sign up for her newsletter at