Spring chickens

“Quick, say something British, it’s our only hope…”
“I’ve tried and it didn’t work. We’re really in trouble.”

Dinner in Palm Springs was not going well. Our table was experiencing terrible service and we didn’t know why. Not even the English accent was doing the trick, much to the shock of our American friends who have seen the effect of a bit of the Queen’s can have on their compatriots.

It’s not fun to get a bad waiter but in the US, particularly in California, it’s downright shocking. But we reacted in the only way you can when the poor turns into the ridiculous, by laughing so much it hurt. I wonder if Frank Sinatra had the same experience.

Perhaps this was the problem. We weren’t famous in a place that prides itself on its A-list clientele, whose black and white portraits decorate the walls of the bar.

Palm Springs is a lovely little town that was clearly once as glamorous as this restaurant still thinks it is. Elvis’s house is on a hill overlooking the main strip and still there are aged Hollywood types with oak tans and decades-old facelifts walking their micro dogs wherever you look.

There are some great, friendly places to eat and drink, as well as cool boutiques, but you can’t help feeling the town is for those older folks who at some point in the past 30 years migrated from Los Angeles to the place the stars used to stay when they couldn’t handle its madness. One clothes store on the high street looks as if the stock hasn’t been updated since Ol’ Blue Eyes last visited.

That doesn’t mean you should skip it if you weren’t alive when the Ratpack were the talk of Tinseltown though, because Palm Springs is greater than a strip in the desert. Surrounding it are snow-capped mountains that are easily accessible for beautiful hiking.



The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway rotates as it carries you to near the San Jacinto Peak. Up there the snow crunches beneath your feet as you breath in cool, clean air and marvel at the crystal-clear lakes and dense woodland. You also get a great view of the town and can appreciate how it literally sprung up in the middle of the empty sand.

We loved Palm Canyon, too. It’s an oasis in a valley between steep climbs on either side and so easy to imagine as a home to native American tribes hundreds of years ago.



After that hike we changed back at our hotel and headed out for the fateful dinner. Outside, though, we happened upon a free concert. Under The Palms is hosted by the Palm Resort Casino and this year has included gigs by Don McClean, The Oak Ridge Boys and Dennis Edwards. See a pattern here? They’re all a little, well, old. To my shame I can’t remember the name of the guy we saw but he was a pop star when I was a baby.

Here, then, might be the other problem that faced us at that restaurant. As well as not ever co-starring with Dean Martin or duetting with The King, we were also the youngest people in there, including the waiters, by a good 30 years. We were young people having a good time. Perhaps that didn’t go down well. But then, unlike most of those Hollywood icons on the walls, at least we were alive.

Palm Springs is well worth a visit for the beautiful scenery, hiking trails, glorious weather and the chance to see a bit of old Hollywood glamour before it is gone forever.