Carlifornia.

Every morning, I step out of the house into brilliant sunshine and a clear blue sky.

In the background I hear the excited morning chatter of birds. My friendly neighbour greets me with a wave from behind his white picket fence, and as I embark on my 11-mile drive to work, I smile broadly as my girls line up at the door and bid me a fond farewell, like the cereal box family we are.

Well, that’s the vision.

In reality, I make a run for it just as Ava has a meltdown over the consistency of her porridge. I close the door as Daisy freaks out about a torn page in her Mr Men book, and make for the safety of my car. I do this without so much as a glance back at the house, just in case I catch Alex glaring at my escape with envious hatred. And then, when I’m safely inside my car, I begin another beautiful day in California.

In this part of the world, a car is everything. I’ve realised in a short space of time that it represents so much more than something that gets you from A to B. Given how much time people spend in their cars, it becomes an extension of the owner’s personality, another representation of who they are. A bit like Bryan May walking his pet poodle.

Sometimes your car is a platform to communicate your deepest feelings. And sometimes it’s just a big old post-it, like this one below.

IMG_5562
The deliberate placement on the petrol cap makes me think it’s not a “baby on board” notice to other drivers. It’s actually a reminder to the driver not to leave the baby at the petrol station.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve seen a huge number of personalised number plates. I thought they died a death ages ago, along with barbed wire tattoos and Tori Spelling’s acting career. Not so in California. Apparently they’re still popular, and plagued by the same old problem: how do you properly express yourself when you have only 7 characters to play with?

Not very well, is the answer.

Here’s some of the evidence I’ve gathered, and my best guess as to what they’re trying to tell us.

Oh, and here’s one last one. Although in this case, I’m not convinced the driver asked for a personalized plate…

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Happy travels!


October 3: My god, personalized plates are EVERYWHERE. And they just keep getting more ridiculous. If you want to see more of this kind of thing, check out Plates.

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