Wednesday, October 5, 2016

MEET A MEMBER - DOUGLAS DEWAR

Meet Douglas Dewar who moved to California from England via the rest of the world in 1989!



I am most probably one of the few members in Brits in LA that has never acted (apart from the fool) or been involved in film.  I did try doing voiceovers, or should I say auditions, but that’s not what brought me to California.


I left England the first time at the end of 1972, and did what a lot of young people wanted to do, and that was to go to France, Italy, Spain and Morocco to find out what it was like to be in the sunshine (which as you know England is not known for). On returning to England “borasic lint”, I was fortunate enough to have good friends in SE London that put me up until I found a job, and a house that I shared with five young women.  For some unknown reason the landlord always wanted one male in the house, and I didn’t complain, apart from trying to take a bath with 30 pairs of knickers hanging on a line dripping water on my head.

In July 1973, I replied to an advert in the Daily Mail for the position of printer in Bermuda, and for some unknown reason they hired me. The next 12 years is another story that would take me hours to write, and most probably get me locked up.   Bermuda was the place to be at that time.  I met other English friends who were on work permits just like I was and all we seemed to do was party.  The best description of this time uttered by a good friend after a few drinks  was, “We’re on a cruise ship 700 miles from land, and we don’t know when the party will end.” Well, for quite a few of us the party is still going, because we have a reunion every two years and approximately 22 to 25 of us show up in England, Spain, Canada, and California, or wherever we feel like.
1985 was the turning point in my life when I met the woman of my dreams at the Robin Hood Pub in Bermuda. 
Robin Hood Pub: Bermuda Attraction
We stayed in Bermuda for another five years, at which point we knew that staying on the island would not be beneficial in the long run, so we headed to California sight unseen, nowhere to stay and no job.  This was when it was a lot easier to enter the US.   
We ended up in Oxnard, California, where we found an apartment with a water view.  I found a job in my trade (printing) and my wife had no trouble in securing a position at the Ventura County Naval Base at Point Mugu.

In 1989 when we arrived there were no clubs or organizations that are like Brits in LA, and you just had word of mouth as to where you would shop, or meet other Brits.
I believe it was around 2010 before I even heard of Brits in LA, that could be because we were living about 60 miles north in Oxnard, Mandalay Bay.   Well!...one Tuesday I decided to give it a bash and drive down to see what it was all about. 
Brits in LA Breakfast Club RSVP Here
 I went to the weekly Breakfast Club  at Cecconi’s around 9.00.a.m. and was immediately given the friendliest reception by the only two members that were present who had gotten out of bed early. They are friends that I don’t see very often but will always remain friends, Marc Conneely and Bernard Skibben, who are great ambassadors for the club.
L-R Mario Vernazza, Bernard Skibben, Marc Conneely


That day I also met the two people that are responsible for organizing everything, Craig and Eileen. How they do it is beyond comprehension, and they are certainly appreciated by everyone that has already moved here or intends to move here.
With regard to the hidden gems of LA, I wouldn’t attempt to name any,  apart from the usual British pubs that people already know about, and if not they will soon.

What do I recommend? 
If you want to travel further north where it’s a bit cooler, take Pacific Coast Highway (PCH)  It’s a scenic drive past a lot of well known locations, Sunset BlvdTopanga Canyon Blvd, and Malibu State Park where some of the MASH scenes were filmed. There are also a lot of good restaurant’s, such as Geoffrey’s, the Reel Inn fish shack, and *Paradise Cove where the Rockford files were filmed (If you can remember that far back) and if you are a biker, Neptune’s Net is the place to go.
Neptune's Net

Further North is Oxnard where we lived, and if you happen to stay in Oxnard, I recommend the Hampton Inn on Peninsula road, which is just round the corner from Mrs. Olsen’s CafĂ©. Try the bangers with bubble and squeak but get there early or you’ll have to wait, especially on a weekend, on the other hand if you wish to stay for dinner, and not just a dinner, more of a dining experience, then call my friend James Chan at the Brasserie Communautaire for Haute Cuisine at It’s best.
Go up to Ojai where it’s so laid back you’ll fall asleep, and if you’re still awake go to Suzanne’s for dinner. The drive will take you to Ventura, which has a big harbor worth a visit, and lots of shops on Main Street.  The other places worth a visit are Carpentaria, Summerland, Montecito and Santa Barbara.

What do I miss about England?
Well!...the pubs of course, where else in the world can you go and see such outlandish characters with such camaraderie than England?.  One of the most important things is the food.  Now!!..I take exception to anyone that still say’s British food is bland, we have the most diverse cuisine in the world…but even before that, we have Pork Pies, Scotch eggs, and Sausage rolls, ….Now some of this is hard to find in the US that’s why I started making my own.
Homade Pork Pie made by Douglas!
The pork pies and scotch eggs were a bit of a disaster in the beginning, but I have now worked out all the problems.   There are places where you can buy English food, such as The Kings Head in Santa Monica, the Hare and Hounds in Thousand Oaks

and Rosie Lee’s in Ventura.

What do I find the most difference about living here?
As Sir Winston Churchill stated, we are two countries divided by a common language.  I left England 43 years ago, and people here in the US know that either I’m from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa or England, but when I return to England some of my friends say that I’ve lost some of my accent, and when I ask for my eggs over easy, I get some very strange looks.
My wife and I moved from Southern California to Arizona three months ago when I retired.  The reason for this was that it’s a lot cheaper to live here, we miss the ocean and our friends, but it’s only like living in an oven for about three months of the year, and we have new things to see, such as The Grand Canyon, Sedona, and  many more....

What advice would I give to anyone that wants to relocate to LA?

The first thing is make sure that you will be eligible to reside in the US  with the skills that you have. The second thing is to take a vacation (holiday) to see if you like it.  Even if you don’t like it first of all I guarantee that you’ll make a lot of lasting friendships through Brits in LA. 

Douglas as toastmaster
for Brits in LA Jubilee Party
photo by Dawn Bowery



*Paradise Cove is often recommended by our members - worth the trip!

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