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We set off in good time to arrive early at the South Coast Botanic Garden where the C&S Society meet, but due to everyone rushing to the coast to enjoy the sun and my overly cautious driving (according to Eunice) we arrived at 13:03, still in good time to set up and shake hands with the Officers and with folk that I had met at other meetings during the week. There must have been some 80 members, who had given up a day in the sun to sit in a darkened hall and listen to a presentation called FOG, when this phenomenon is something that they are already very familiar with as they often wake up to it – as we did during the last week.

Setting up my laptop was quick and easy and the projector provided by the Society was already placed at the correct distance from the screen so it was just a matter of plugging in the VGA cable. There was a short wait so that I could take a quick look at the monthly mini show that consisted of plants in the genus Astrophytum and Euphorbias in the caput-medusae group. When I returned for President Dale La Forest’s introduction, the laptop had gone to sleep and only woke up after several attempts. Fortunately it came back to life just in time!

After the talk there was the judging of the plants. There were classes for novices, beginners, intermediate and expert growers and as at all talks to date, the exhibits were of a high standard including the attractive pots that did help me to separate plants that might otherwise have been in dead-heats. In the UK it tends to be the plant that is judged while pots are ignored, except where their size is inappropriate for the size of the plant. Particularly for new members and visitors – the very people that you would like to return on a regular basis – great plants in attractive pots with attention paid to their display are the perfect way to persuade them back. The perfect show window for the hobby.

Jim Hannah was there again, selling plants. This was the fourth time that he had seen my talk as all Societies have chosen the FOG talk from the subjects on offer. We would meet again in the week to come at the meeting of the San Gabriel CSS and I suggested that I’d bring the images while he could present the commentary. Only joking, Jim!

Eunice and I left the meeting early while the members continued with regular club business.

The South Coast CSS meet on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in LA County, a wealthy suburb right out on the Ocean shore, opposite Santa Catalina Island, where in February 2008 Eunice had introduced me to Dudleya, a genus in the Family Crassulaceae that are found all along the Californian coast, right up to (and across) the border with Oregon and south into Baja California. I planned to see these plants again, hoping that, with different cameras and lenses, I could improve on the pictures taken back in 2008. It turned out that a sunny Sunday afternoon was not the best time for this exercise with the car parks along the boulevard were full up, with more cars waiting. Eventually we found a slot to park, but a group of ten young guys hanging around made us a little concerned about leaving our car with computer laptops and, most importantly, the data stored on them. So we took some scenic pictures in front of the car before going home to pick up Eunice’s dog, Bosco for an outing to the Dogspark at Seals Beach. My visit had distracted Eunice from taking Bosco for regular visits where both dogs and humans meet for a bit of socialising – a wonderful community atmosphere, without the mess that I had anticipated, due to the conscientious tidying up of dog litter by their owners. The sun was about to set as we arrived and had gone altogether by the time we left – it had gotten so dark that we could no longer see the dogs!

We’ll return to Palos Verdes during a weekday, when there will be fewer visitors.

To end the day we went to the Naples Rib Company. It was my first experience of a car park with Valet service where a member of staff takes your car for safe parking. Bosco stayed in the car. After a great meal of Prime Rib, a proper Chilean Pisco Sour as a starter and no space left for a sweet it was back to the car park where Bosco showed that he was a good guard dog, needing Eunice to reassure him that it was OK for the valet to get into the car and pull it forward for us to get in.

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