LA Tripping…

Last week, after a very busy couple of months working in London, I decided to pack my bags and head off to La La Land for a little holiday. Can you believe I left the Johnsonator at home? Well, he threatened to wear a mankini the whole trip so I had no choice. Cringe. 

 
For the first few days I was based in West Hollywood with my good mate Chris Parker – he’s just as big an exercise freak as I am so we spent our days doing Barry’s Bootcamp, which originated in LA, and hot yoga at this amazing studio called Modo… This is better than Bikram in my opinion because you get to chant, meditate and some of the classes actually have a live guitarist strumming away as you hold your sweaty poses in 40 degree heat. Only in LA.
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We ate like Kings, and got to be honest, I’m a bit like a kid in a candy shop in this city… the food just blows my mind. Everything is organic, vegan, wheat free, dairy free, sugar free…
Don’t get me wrong you can still have the best dirty burger you’ve ever tasted in LA – I can hear Matt breathing a sigh of relief – but it just caters for being healthy. One of my favourite spots for a gorgeous healthy lunch is M Cafe on Melrose and for the best coffee in town, it’s Alfred Coffee and Kitchen all day, every day. 
 
I also got to play a bit of golf whilst I was in town with my pals Michael Greco and the other Welsh Man in my life, Gethin Jones. Sorry Matt, don’t worry, you’re still my favourite. The rain came down (yeah I know, what are the chances) but we had such a brilliant day, Grecs and I only losing on last hole. 
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After four days of cloudy, moody skies, Kirsty and I had, quite frankly, had enough and so hired a car and headed south to Palm Springs. The land of Marilyn Monroe, golf buggies and desert facial cocktails… What could be better than a weekend tanning ourselves on pink flamingo inflatables?
Our hotel of choice, The Ace, famous for housing rockstars and Hollywood actors, and now a couple of very pasty English chicks. After checking into our gorgeous room we hurried down to the pool to nab a space.
It was Saturday, the hotel was buzzing, hipsters and out of town LA-ites were everywhere to be seen, and totally randomly I bumped into some good mates from London who have a holiday house in Palm Springs. We ate that night at a really cool restaurant called the Workshop and ended up getting very merry with our new best mate, Lev, who’s basically the real life Ari Gold… I blame him for my banging head the next morning! 
 
Once I was back in LA my last stop before my flight was Downtown and my lovely friend Louise Roe, who’s a TV presenter in the States, showed me round.
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It’s a bit like New York, gritty, edgy and has some really cool fashion companies setting up shop…the area is on the up big time. At the Grand Central Market there was only one place to go for breakie…Egg Slut, yup you heard! Not the healthiest but definitely the most yummy. We then dashed around the corner to the Flower Market. This is a must –  everything is massively discounted and it’s just a really beautiful space to be in. I loved it. 
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On my way to airport, as the sun was setting, I made a couple of promises to myself. One; I must go exploring more. This world is a gift and I want to see all of it. And two; never go away without the Jazzy Johnson, I missed his hairy face too much. 
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And while DJ Hardman was off gallivanting in LA LA land, getting even browner. ,I was off gallivanting in Rome and wait for it… NORTH WALES! 
There is a very good reason for my geographical juxtaposition though. Sit tight. First up, I was whisked away to beautiful Rome (Italy) to host the Global Festival of Media Awards, at the magnificent Rome Cavalieri, Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
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Jesus, this hotel was like a palace! However, much like any awards evening, as soon as I land I’m pretty much whisked onto the stage before you can mutter the words “where’s the spa please?”
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Saying that, I did get 45 mins to order the most expensive spaghetti bolognese there ever will be. 40 euros! Ah, to hell with it. It was delicious. Plus you know what they say: “when in Rome”, which was pretty much my ad lib for the entire evening.
They were rolling in the aisles (ish). All-in-all, my whistle stop trip to Rome was a huge success. Wonderful yet brief. (That’s what she said.) Moving on. 
 
My next trip has a little more gravitas and emotional magnitude attached to it. 
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As many of you know, I suffered from quite a rubbish period of depression about 6 years ago. And ever since then, I have tried my very best to help raise awareness, to end the stigma attached to this horrible and vicious disease, along with raising much cash as I can for the charity Min, of which I’m an ambassador for.
 So what I wanted to do was a make a bold fundraising statement for the charity by raising as much coin as possible for them to do their thing. We came up with the plan that we were going to take 48 people on a gruelling 50k, 3000ft trek up some humungous mountains in North Wales and in the Lake District. And this weekend we did it.
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I have to say that it was the most physically and mentally challenging project that I have (voluntarily) done. It was brutal! It was a true test of character of human spirit and my team gave everything, which is all you can ask.
It gives me great pride to say that as team captain of Wales, I was part of something incredibly special. The spirit and sense of togetherness of people that have been directly and indirectly effected with a mental illness was beyond heartwarming. I was humbled more than I could’ve ever imagined. 
We did it!! We walked for 24 hours and we smashed our £50,000 target which is now £60,000 and rising.
 I‘d like to thank everyone at Mind as this wouldn’t have been possible with out them. My team mates, our celebs Arg, Nicolas, team captain of England Anna Williamson, Gail, and Emma. Charity Challenge for being complete professionals and everyone that has donated so far. 
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This is the beginning of something very special.
Here’s to next year!! 
 
Lots of love 
Matt and Zoe x 

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