American Adventure

You are currently browsing the archive for the American Adventure category.

Back in November 2011, I was having a blog sabbatical, and never wrote about the American road trip I took. After hearing about the Travel Supermarket Holiday Postcards Competition, I thought it was the perfect excuse to squeeze my eyes shut and revisit those balmy days, endlessly winding roads and hours stretched with my legs up on the dashboard zooming through California.

photo 2[3]

Dates: 2nd – 10th November 2011

Location: Route 101, California

Stop-Offs: San Francisco > San Luis Obispo  > Los Angeles

After a few days exploring San Francisco, my road trip buddy Craig and I were ready to hit the road and headed out to pick up our trusty hire car, which we would be clocking up many miles and hours inside. As I haven’t driven for five years we thought this might not be the moment to re-start, so Craig took the bold role as chief chauffer, with me as official navigator. Considering it usually takes me mere seconds on a country lane before I’m feeling queasy, and the fact that I once had to be rescued by a park warden when I got lost trying to pass my “Brownies” orienteering badge, the prospect of me negotiating us across the American wild West coast was a little ambitious. Stocked up on travel sickness tablets, with a map three times the size of myself, I tried to repeat the mantra to myself “It’s only a straight road, it’s only a straight road” as I instantly got us stuck in the San Francisco one-way loop.

photo 4

photo 3

After an hour of Craig asking… “Are we STILL in San Francisco” I managed to get us out of the city and the fog, and safely onto Route 101. Almost immediately the terrain began to transform around us. It’s the American cliche but we both had that instant sense of being in a movie. I extended my official job description to Head DJ, finding a radio station that played nothing except California themed tunes! Think California Dreamin’, California Soul, California Girls… which made for the perfect soundtrack as we wound down the windows and snaked towards the seemingly never-ending horizon of big blue sky.

photo 3[3]

photo 1[2]

Something that surprised me about the trip, was the shifting scenery as we travelled further south. What started with glorious picture-perfect beaches, transformed into the towering pine forests of Big Sur, and then into the… what can only be described as total desolation as we left Santa Cruz. Now, like smart road tripp-ers, we had filled up a tank full of gas before we embarked on our day of driving. However we hadn’t exactly accounted for my navigating us for an hour in lost-ville therefore burning through a quarter of it before even hitting the highway. On our first few hours of driving we had regularly passed other cars, trucks, bikes and every beach or vista had at least a handful of happy looking holiday makers taking snaps and gazing out to sea. As we zoomed onwards towards Elkhorn Slough National Research Reserve we both noted that it had been miles since we had seen another living being. The outside world began to take on an almost post-apocalyptic veneer, with derelict shacks, burn out buildings and gravelly verges. In typical b-movie fashion, the quantity of road kill spiked and we even had to edge around some sort of deer carcass at one point. I started to feel increasingly anxious to be back in the land of the living, when a flashing red light on the dashboard caught my eye. I was almost scared to look but my worst fears were realised when I saw the petrol gauge needle was quivering in the EMPTY section.

Beatles of sweat ran down my spine as I desperately scooped my hand into my tote bag and rescued my iPhone. Yup, no signal. Not a bar. Not even emergency calls only. This is how all horror movies begin! We drove on in total silence, our recent giddy singing and constant chat replaced with an eerie quiet. We now know this was because we were both desperately praying, wishing and envisioning something would appear in the distance to rescue us; as by now another juddery mile had passed and the only noise was our grumbling tummys (oh and me jiggling around in my seat because I needed the toilet). The tension in the car only increased when we passed a sign that made it perfectly obvious the next town wasn’t for another 32 miles. The panic and midday sunshine meant the car was now uncomfortably hot, and I think we were both aware we didn’t even have a bottle of water between us (rookie error!) Then suddenly… in the distance we saw a building…

photo

The cheer that erupted from us both could probably be heard at both ends of Route 101. The mysterious building turned out to be a gas station, clam-chowder restaurant, public restrooms, local shop AND whale watching spot! I think we actually sat pinching ourselves for a moment before daring to enter, convinced it must be a mirage. Luckily it wasn’t, and we could stock up all the sensible things we should have packed for our trip; water, snacks, a blanket, torch… a SPARE can of petrol! With bellies full of chowder and smiles on our faces once more, the trip transformed from The Hills Have Eyes to Disney on route from Montery. Firstly, American Eagles became a regular sight, swooping in and out of our path. We were mid-Katy Perry croon-along when something silenced us. A beach we had whizzed past looked different to the other sandy havens we had become accustomed to. I nudged Craig and said that I had an instinct that perhaps we should turn back and take a look, and boy am I glad we did. Little did we know that we had nearly bypassed Piedras Blancas – a beach in the heart of Big Sur that for 3 months of the year becomes home to a colony of Elephant Seals. Creaking out of the car and running down to the sand, we could really take in the magnitude of hundreds of seals in various positions; sun bathing, spooning… waving! It was a truly humbling experience and one that we could hardly bear to tear ourselves away from.

photo 4[3]

photo 5[2]

Still reeling from our close encounter, we couldn’t believe our weary eyes when next we passed a field filled with zebra, racing along beside the road. To this day I can’t find any explanation on Google (which usually answers all my weird questions!) as to why they were there, but it did have us seriously expecting to see unicorns next, as every experience seemed to be trumping the last! It wasn’t quite unicorns, but as we drove into San Luis Obispo, this welcomed our arrival…

photo 2[1]

We spent the night in San Luis Obispo, which basically involved eating as many oversized American snacks as possible (the ones you grow up watching kids in movies eat at sleepovers!) and managing a few pathetic sips of an oversized beer, before both passing out as our next day on the road had one goal; GET THE HECK TO LA! And that’s what we did; with no more hairy near-breakdowns or menagerie of animals for company.

photo 1[1]

We only had one short day to “do” Los Angeles so we mostly stuck to the typical must-sees. Also note, my theme dressing knew no-bounds on this holiday, as I braved a pair of American flag hot pants! We began with the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which was a really entertaining way to explore Hollywood Boulevard. As we passed between Alfred Hitchcock and Dr Seuss, there was a break in the buildings lining the street and suddenly, over the top of a chain-link gate, appeared THE sign! Seeing it in real-life for the first time I don’t think anyone can prepare you for. Whatever your feelings on Hollywood, you can’t help but feel a surge of excitement and I’m really here elation. My response was to grab Craig in a bear hug, jump around screeching and point at it yelling LOOK! LOOK! – At my very uncool reaction, a man walking past stopped and explained how he had lived in LA for over a decade but never tired of witnessing people’s first reactions to the Hollywood sign. He said it was incredible how quickly you just get used to it living there, so it was important to be reminded of just how special it is.

photo 3[1]

By this stage the road trip bug had well and truly bitten, and we started to feel withdrawal when separated from the sticky pleather car seats and pine air freshener tag! So we hopped back in our adventure-mobile and drove out to Santa Monica, to experience a legitimate Hollywood beach and take in a last Californian sunset; which I must stress look exactly like the cover of a 90s pop CD or Global Hypercolour tee-shirt! Santa Monica not only has a stunning beach, lined with pastel painted (million dollar, celebrity dwelling) beach houses but it has a pier that dates back to 1909… although hopefully they have refurbished the fairground rides a little since then!

photo 4[1]

photo 1

photo 5

photo 4[2]

photo 5[1]

After a drive up Mulholland Drive, to take in the vista of the twinkling night-lights of LA, we faced our last meal in Los Angeles, and America in general. We decided to sample a local Mexican restaurant that had been recommended by a friend. The food couldn’t be faulted; guacamole made fresh at your table, heaving bowls of refried beans and steaming plates of fajita mountains. Our whole trip had been done on a reasonably tight budget, so as one last blow-out we decided to both opt for a cocktail with dinner. I still to this day have no idea what possessed us, but on the menu was something called a Larger-ita. A mixture of Mexican beer and tequila, with herbs and spices. I can still remember the look of shock on the waiter’s face as we merrily ordered two. This should have probably rung alarm bells, but smugly content with our choice, we accepted the tankards of cocktail with glee. As we put our lips to the salt-lined rim and took a large chug… our eyes bulged and our throats tightened.. but after a gulp that turned us both green, we both said “mmm delicious”. We were both too embarrassed to admit it was the single most disgusting thing we had ever tasted and only confessed after we had both stubbornly tried to drink half of it and felt our stomachs start to churn!

photo 2

We ended the night with a glass of tap water at our hotel pool (and mutual regrets at our wasted last dollars on the largerita-gate!) comparing memories of the holiday and dipping our feet into the warm water. I would recommend this holiday to absolutely anyone, especially someone who’s never visited the USA before, as it provides the opportunity to take in so many different terrains, areas and cultures. The Route 101 is an easy drive, and one that you can make last for anything up to a week depending on how many stops you take – although we did it in a snappy two day driveathon as we wanted to spend extended time in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Thank you to Travel Supermarket for prompting me to re-live this amazing holiday and yknow what? I enjoyed this one so much I am actually taking Nick to re-drive it in reverse next March and stopping in all the little towns we passed through and didn’t get chance to explore. So look out for the sequel… where we definitely won’t run out of gas!

photo 3[2]

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ok, I lied. I said I had finished writing everything up from my USA tour, but there was one last thing I wanted to share. Everyone goes to New York and takes photographs of Times Square, Lady Liberty, Empire State, bridges & brownstones. I did the exact same, because all these things are so photogenic and exciting to see “in the flesh”. However getting to spend longer in the city, and working there, helped me discover a new side of New York that I’d never noticed before.

Prok Shop

New York is full of ghosts. Old shop fronts and vintage painted advertising stretching up towards the sky. In a city that’s so modern and bustling, I found it comforting to stumble across the odd piece of forgotten about history. The brilliant blogging belle Kate recently wrote about how important it is to look up when visiting a new city. Luckily (or unluckily) I’m one of life’s natural looker-uppers. I constantly stumble, trip and scitter my way around my London life, as I’ll be absorbed in some amazing tiling on a building or ornate stone gargoyle teetering over a rooftop. I am one of those annoying people who you end up rugby-tackling out of the way as I am so pre-occupied with gazing skywards. But up is where the secrets lie, the forgotten things and the treasures that go un-noticed by passing people glued to their iPhones or staring at their shoes.

Dresses

Pharmacy

Bicycle

My personal favourite, I wonder who last flew with “Sea Air” to Mexico?

Sea Air

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

(Have you read Big Apple-ing part i? If not, get a wriggle on!)

I forgot to mention in my previous post, that if you ever get the chance to fly into New York from the West coast, you definitely should. I hadn’t really thought about it but when you fly from London, you literally land into JFK from the ocean. When you fly from the other direction, you fly RIGHT over New York and I was so lucky that the sun was just setting so I could still shove my nose up to the glass and gape as we flew lower and lower with incredible birds eye views of Central Park and the Statue of Liberty.

Popeye

On the Friday night, I had finally finished my gruelling work schedule and was a free free bird to go out and enjoy the city that never sleeps with Nick. Luckily we had tons of friends to meet up with over the weekend, who generously created a packed schedule of the finest NY events. Friday night was kicked off by finally meeting our dear “internet friend” the glorious gorgeous gregarious Heather Park in the flesh. We rolled into K-Town and queued for an hour for the best KBBQ in town over at Wonjo (23 W 32nd St). Whatever you do, don’t turn up to KBBQ hungry if going on a weekend night, instead use your hour queue-time to take in the sights and sounds and SMELLS whilst your appetite grows into one of beastly proportions. We also had the pleasure of witnessing the most intense amazing boss-lady working front of house, barking at her staff and customers alike as she rocked a Britney-headset and flapped about some sort of laminated mega list. Heather & I agreed she would be a serious asset to backstage at NFW. I had never had KBBQ before and so if you are a fellow newbie, it’s basically a feast AND a game. You sit around a huge table (Heather Park comes complete with entourage of beautiful smart New-Yorkers to dine with!) and there is a mini BBQ firepit in the centre of the table. As well as about 20 dishes of veggies, beansprouts and tofu; the Wonjo staff bring over raw meat and barbecue it on the table in front of you. Every morsel was so mouth-watering and tasty, and washed down with BOWLS of soju (what’s soju?) which when mixed with burning coals could end in druken disaster… but luckily everyone left full and happy and with all their fingers intact.

KTown

After our feasting we jumped in cabs to Alphabet City where we hit Evelyn. The bar was cosy, just the right amount of buzz-y but with seats at the bar, and with an extensive tempting cocktail list. It was hard to believe that just a few months earlier, the entire bar (and block) had been underwater in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Evelyn is such a hidden treasure, and somewhere I desperately wish I could transport home to London to have as my local. I loved the little touches like on the menu there was a “drinking language guide” explaining what on the rocks, short etc means. although there were also a few etiquette guidelines too such as under make it strong it said “This means you want me to pour extra booze for free. Not gonna happen. Order a double” !! I tried my first ever Egg Creme, a drink popular in America and involves a mixture of milk & selzter. I opted for an NYC creme which also included chocolate sauce and rummmm! It’s probably the weirdest thing I have ever drunk but it was oddly delicious. Like a fizzy, boozy Yazoo. Definitely put it on your NY-To-Do list. (Also thanks HP for letting me pinch the only physical evidence of us meeting IRL! We were terrible paparazzi’s)

Gang

Empire

On Saturday we thought the blue sky was finally out and we started the day with a stroll over Williamsburg Bridge which is one of my favourite things to do (the last time I did it I saw Chloe Sevigny riding a bike and Tobey Maguire jogging!) you also pass the old Domino sugar factory which I have been unhealthily obsessed with since Emily Haines sang about it in the Metric song On The Sly. The views from this bridge are unparalleled and you also arrive in the heart of Williamsburg in easy walking distance of everything good to see there. We were there to see something very good indeed – our friends Leah and Gareth.

Graph paper NY

LOVE LOCK

Williamsburg Bridge

Domino Sugar Factory

Leah & Gareth live in Green Point which is a gorgeous neighbourhood, and an easy stroll away from the waters edge to take in a perfect cityscape view of Manhattan. After we had lost all feeling in our extremities and even our fingers clutching piping-hot coffee cups were nearly blue, we scuttled to Allswell for brunch. In America, they just GET brunch. They get that you might want to eat it anytime of day (it’s served until at least 5pm most places), they GET that you want tons of choice and they also GET that you most likely want to get seriously back on the booze wagon after the night before. Over at Allswell I opted for the cheese & egg sandwich which was basically a fancy McMuffin which I could then slather in hot sauce; a habit that has stuck with me long after my NY trip and I’m now eating the hot sauce I bought back with me from the US with almost every meal. It is a surprisingly delicious addition to beans on toast. I also had a bloody mary which went down a treat! We spent the afternoon exploring Green Point and Williamsburg. Nick had desperately wanted to go to the Brooklyn Brewery Bar tour but we arrived at 2pm and the queue was about 4 blocks long and would have taken hours to wait out. Maybe it’t particularly en vogue at the moment but I wouldn’t set your heart on going unless you fancy a looooong wait. We instead invented our OWN tour which just consisted of visiting different bars and drinking Brooklyn Beer. Almost the same..! Oh and eating donuts from Peter Pan which is apparently open from 4am for any night owls. I punted for a standard sugar glaze which was heavenly, Nick braved a red velvet which also tasted of heaven.

cityscape

Donuts

On Saturday night we had tickets to the glorious Planetarium at the BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music – I’d recommend a visit there even if not to see an event, it’s beautiful) which was a collaboration between Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner (of The National, aka my one true musical loves), and Nico Muhly and consisted of a piece of music for every planet in the solar system played along side amazing graphics. I really wish that they’d release the whole Planetarium but it doesn’t look likely. You can catch most of it on YouTube: Jupiter was our favourite and has had Nick & I singing “Jupiter… is the loneliest planet” in distorted voices to each other ever since! It was such an incredible thing to do and has definitely taught me to check out your fave bands/cool locations/events before you go somewhere and to book tickets in advance. This really made our weekend! After hours of inspiring, mind-melting music we hitched the subway back to Williamsburg and crawled to Rosamunde Sausage Grill. I don’t consider myself a sausage fan but this experience converted me for life. Pick ANY sausage you like (sooo many options) to which you can then add numerous onion/chilli based toppings. It’s served hot-dog style in a gorgeous crusty bun, and then there are about 10 pumps of different mustard/condiments to go wild on. It was a messy affair, and the sauce slops did irreparable damage to my favourite rust-colour paper bag skirt, but it was WORTH IT!! We stayed out with Leah & Gareth (and therefore our stolen) friends drinking margaritas into the early hours. Nick also sampled something called a Pickle Back which is apparently all the rage in NY: a shot of whisky with a shot of pickle juice as a chaser. As a pickle phobic, I had to hide under the table at this point.

BAM Planetarium

We awoke on the last day in the big apple, hungover and happy. We walked around the block to The Essex for their brunch deal. Long-time readers may remember that last time I went to NY I booked in for brunch there (you HAVE to book! Dont just rock up) and was then so hungover I couldn’t eat a thing let alone make the most of their unlimited mimosa/bloody mary deal. This time luckily my hangover was less brutal, and I chomped my way through shrimps, grits, eggs and biscuits all covered in hot sauce. Grits and biscuit are a really southern American cuisine and worth ordering for novelty value of saying the name and having no idea what to expect, plus they are mighty tasty. Nick had a giant stack of American pancakes, and to be honest I can see why their brunch is world famous, everything looked dreamy. They really mean business here with the breakfast booze… just take a look at Nick’s wide eyed fear of his bloody mary. The whole clear top half is pure vodka!

Bloody mary

Hungover Bee

Last up on our solo day of dreams in NY was to walk the High Line which you can read all about here. The project has totally rejuvenated this side of Manhattan and is probably now my #1 favourite place in New York City. I imagine it’s even more lovely in Spring/Summer as the blooms come out. The walk takes you past so many different areas and the birds eye view provides a whole new perspective on a city you’ve seen so many times in films and TV. I could honestly have walked up and down it all day! Highlights were seeing The Standard hotel famous c/o Fassbender in Shame (we didn’t see an nekkid action that day though) and the beautiful brownstones. The viewing points where you can stand over the road and feel like Godzilla are also amazing! We also saw Anne Hathaway! She was wearing a wig, hat and glasses but could not keep that post-Oscar-win glow and grin off her face.

High Line

High Line 2

Brownstone

At the end of the High Line you come off in a no mans land so it might be better to retrace your steps and get back into a better neighbourhood. However we had time to kill and Trader Joe’s to find (oh and a Shake Shack to munch on!) so we walked about 20 blocks back to central NY, past Port Authority and accidentally stumbling on Times Square which we’d actually vowed to avoid. I guess it’s impossible, the bright lights suck you in! We took our time walking miles upon miles until our feet screeched with every step, then it was time to head to JFK and on the final plane journey of my extended US trip. On the way home we flew through a snow storm heading in NYs direction, so I wobbled my way through a sleepless night which eventually gave way to a beautiful sunset to chase all the way back to London.

Times Square

I hope you’ve enjoyed my travel adventures. Normal life will now resume on Like a Skeleton Key which I can’t promise will be as exotic… but definitely will be as busy! I wanted to make a final mention that we couldn’t have got through our NY weekend without the Trip Advisor App – it has maps, subway details and information on every cuisine/tour/place you might want to visit. ALL without needing any data, how smart are they? So you can use it without wifi or costing any money. I’m tempted to download the London one now I’m home just to keep living the faux-holiday dream.

Sunset

Home

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Crikey, where is the time going? I’ve been back from America for 3 weeks now but they zipped past in a haze. I haven’t actually had a weekend in London since getting home, instead my jet-setting continued on a smaller UK-scale as I spent Easter weekend in Norfolk with my 93 year old gran (who is amazing; she called people in their 70s “old fogies” and one morning she just whipped up 2 homemade loafs of bread before I’d even woken up!) then last weekend I was in Taunton visiting Nick’s older brother, wife and his 2 year old nephew Riley.  He is at that super cute inquisitive age and was on fine form; with highlights being his bath-time serenading us with his self-invented song “heads, shoulders, knees and toes AND BUM!”, his new-found ability to naked breakdance (I can’t wait to remind him of that when he’s a teenager – his parents have NO idea how he learnt to do it?) and following our lunch out at Frankie & Benny’s on the Saturday, his obsession with playing “restaurants”. I spent all of Sunday playing restaurants with him. At Riley’s restaurant he serves “crab bolognese” “chocolate” or for the more adventurous diner.. “whale”.

Anyway I don’t want anymore time to pass without documenting my time in New York. I relied on blogs SO heavily before heading to the big apple and although I already blogged about New York the last time I was there, I had a totally different experience this time around, I guess a lot can change in 3 years and I’m also a different Bee to the one I was then. This time I was business Bee! Before I wade into my memories and photos; the blogs that have recently captured my NY imagination were The Faerietale Foodies hot list of coffee, donut & NY food joints broken down by area, my lovely Eleanor Jane’s recent trip which despite giving her a frostbitten face produced some of the best photographs of the city that I’ve ever seen and finally VIPXO who was flying out as I flew home and managed to fit in about 4 weeks worth of antics into 4 days.

b5dd79728f6c11e2896922000a1fbe1a_7

So you last left me exploring LA’s downtown and enjoying the California sun. My flight from LA > NY was quite eventful! I flew Virgin America who I adore (the beaker above says it all, so much attention to kitsch detail) and it was just short of 7 hours. It still boggles my mind that it’s further to fly across from LA to NY than it is to fly back to England. It’s the same country? Anyway my flight was manned by male twin hipster stewards with waxed moustaches, who both separately talked to me about wanting a dinosaur onesie. I loved them until one of them ID’d me for my G&T and I had to trample over all the people in my aisle to get out, get my handbag, get my ID etc etc in front of the whole plane! But with the big 3-0 a’knocking I guess I should really bask in the youthful accusations, especially as I had no make-up on and severe timezone confused tired-face. Anyway half way through the flight we had a power surge of some kind which was one of those heart in mouth moments as I squinted down at the snowy rocky terrain below and sneakily eyed around to see how edible people looked. Luckily the only thing it affected long term was the entertainment service; so no films for me for 4 long hours. By the time I landed in JFK I was relieved to reunite my feet with the ground. I was less relieved to walk out into the -5 dark night; having got used to 30 degree daily sunshine!

554942_10152656132715284_212477696_n

602702_10152656132840284_1447521105_n

63030_10152656132940284_669106859_n

I didn’t get a particularly warm welcome from New York, on day one I negotiated my walk to the office (I felt like a true New Yoiker! No subway for me!) and the sky got darker and darker with every step. I expected Godzilla to pop round for every corner or a Day After Tomorrow style tidal wave to creep up behind me. Luckily for me and my overactive imagination it was just a snow storm landing and a few hours later a blizzard started that didn’t stop for ten hours. After a long day my best laid plans for exploration were weather-ruined and I slinked back to my hotel, only venturing out to find something warm and tasty near by. Luckily I stumbled across a Korean restaurant where I could chomp away on steamy broth and kimchee pancakes and watch the snow settle outside. The next day the snow had more-or-less melted and left the city in a state of frost-bite. The temperature didn’t creep past zero degrees for my whole trip, mostly lurking around -5. It was so cold that New Yorkers were walking around with their Starbucks cups gripped in their teeth, so that they could keep their hands in their pockets. That sight frightened me everyday… what if the lid fell off? Such a risky strategy!

317722_10152661245415284_318998171_n

402600_10152656133160284_879025544_n

221608_10152661247510284_1587418441_n

I HEART New York. I totally get why people want to emblazen their love for it on T-Shirts and mugs and sing about it endlessly. There is just this sparkle and energy that is contagious, and a huge pride in being in NY which is something I think us shy retiring Brits haven’t successfully emulated in London. One thing I had forgotten is how much people CHAT. I think it helps that as a nosey northerner I’m the first to get nattering, but it made me chuckle that on a daily basis someone would just randomly yell something at me. The first day it was “Hey! Blue Eyes!” and the second I just got a nice “Good Morning Miss” and they aren’t from people wanting to engage you in conversation or a sleazy-builder style bellow. They are just chatty New Yorkers being very New York. It warms my heart! On the Tuesday I had a recommendation for a sushi restaurant but when I walked the 10 blocks there it had shut down! Woe. Luckily this led me to discover Two Boots where I could order a slice of pizza as big as my head and very delicious it was too (also don’t tell, but I actually ordered 2 slices and ate them ALL). However, my work colleagues were not so impressed and said it wasn’t AUTHENTIC enough, so the next day one of them ordered me two wholes boxes of Saluggi’s which I will go on record to say that was hands-down the best pizza I have ever eaten. They must put actual magic in the sauce. Even remembering it makes my mouth water. If you are ever in New York, you need to go there and you need to eat THIS.

487591_10152656133265284_1064239109_n

5363_10152656133180284_1851936786_n

156020_10152656135715284_319130568_n

There is so much yellow in New York! I hadn’t realised before. Taxis, school buses, traffic lights and traffic lanes. Yellow follows you around the city and every photograph you take will inevitably have a flash of it somewhere. The nice thing about working was that I made instant friends and had some people to show me the best spots off the tourist trail. After eating & drinking myself around Manhattan here were my top treasures:

Best Cafe: Vesulka This Ukarainian cafe has been in the East Village for 58 years. The bright, airy space is the perfect place to meet friends for brunch, lunch, dinner OR late night since it’s open way past bedtime. Be brave and try the traditional items like Blintzes, Challah or Goulash. If you would prefer something more traditional; the choc chip pancakes are to die for. The tea also comes with sweet literary quotes attached to the bag-string.

Best Sushi: On the Wednesday night my colleagues Clairellen & Gerta indulged my sushi craving and introduced me to Tomoe Sushi. It would be easy to walk past this cosy little Japanese joint and there is often a small queue, but oh it’s worth it. The chef’s prepare the sushi in front of you (it’s so small in there, you can see everything!) and I’d definitely recommend the seaweed salad and the deep fried oyster-mmmm. They can definitely claim the Best Sushi in NY title.

Best Bagel: Bagel’s are served everywhere. The bagels from the bagel cart are your best bet and best NY experience. A plain white with cream cheese has to be your first pick, but then I would be brave and opt for the darkest brown looking option, which is Pumpernickel  and unlike anything I’d had before. They are packed full of molasses though, so will leave you full for hours of site-seeing.

Best Mexican: Rosa Mexicano  is a high brow mexican offering so partner it with a trip to somewhere a bit more down n dirty for a burrito. The reason you have to visit here is the world famous guacamole which they come and make fresh at your table in front of you! 

Best for Night Owls: My favourite place to drink is St Marks Place, and a great place off the beaten track there is The Crooked Tree. It’s fairy-lit, cute and perfect for gazing at a handsome boy over a cocktail or IPA brew. They also do killer crepes.

Best for Take-Home Treats: Trader Joes! This isn’t just your bog standard supermarket. This is the best grocery store I have ever encountered. Don’t leave it to the airport to stock up on boring-reeces-pieces. Hit up a Trader Joe’s and explore their treats section for peanut butter stuffed chocolate covered pretzels! Oh and their Speculoos biscuit spread is also an absolute must. I also stocked up on my biggest weakness: HOT SAUCE!

www.pictacular

During this trip I indulged in a bit of an ambition and guilty pleasure – also taking one for the team for people in my life such as my best friend Lol and my sister Meg. I went to CARRIE BRADSHAW’S HOUSE! Under the guise of exploring Greenwich Village, which in itself is definitely worth doing, I looked up the street address and found myself at 64 Perry Street being a fan girl. Luckily there was no one else around so I could take a few stealth snaps and then pretend like I belonged in the neighbourhood. One really sweet thing is that the family who live there have put a chain up (so people dont intrude and climb up the steps) and on the chain is a note from the family, asking if you take a photo to donate ¢1 to the local animal shelter. Aw. There is a little tin for you to drop your dollar in. Such a nice idea.

555080_10152661248010284_1961935210_n

5356_10152656135630284_191247234_n

After nearly a fortnight apart, on the Thursday my dreamboat sailed into town (well ok, flew). We had agreed to meet at Grand Central, as after the longest we have ever been separated, we felt we deserved the most film-like and romantic reunion. And it was! We hadn’t agreed where in Grand Central, but happened to choose the same location where I leapt on him for a proper Hollywood smooch and the worlds longest bear hug, whilst tutting harassed Americans scampered past on their ways to and from their lives.

602116_10152661270040284_2092105803_n

156078_10152661272680284_198492343_n

Part 2 coming soon; the ‘holiday’ part of my trip as Nick & I took on New York heading to my first ever KBBQ, exploring Williamsburg and being turned away from the Brooklyn brewery tour so making up our own Brooklyn beer pub-crawl.

I’ll leave you with this little lady; the NY office dog of dreams. Isn’t she just begging for me to take her home with me in my bag (that she’d definitely fit in)?

254896_10152661272870284_1139998009_n

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

When I landed into LAX, I was so fortunate to have a seat on the right-hand side of the plane and one away from the window, with a slender slumbering passenger next to me so I could lean right over and shove my nose up to the glass (plastic?). As we swooped down over the city, I had the perfect birds-eye view of the Hollywood sign which had me giddily bouncing about in my seat. I’ve since learnt that this aeroplane sign-spotting is extremely rare. The day before I flew in, LA had something almost unheard of… rain! This meant the stubborn smog, that would usually entirely blot out the view of the sign and the Hollywood hills, had lifted for a few days and the air was temporarily clear and crisp. By the time I headed up to the Griffith Park observatory just a week later, the soupy smog was well and truly back and although it created a dramatic Gotham-city style effect it really did highlight just how terrible the pollution problem is, especially for a city so otherwise obsessed with health and well-being.

Do you know the story of the Hollywood sign? It’s well worth a read here if you don’t. I had no idea that it started life (appropriately for Hollywood) as an ambitious outdoor marketing campaign for a suburban housing development “Hollywoodland”. Long after the housing development firm had disbanded, the land was removed leaving the sign that still stands today. It’s had a typically Hollywood life; with a drunken driver ploughing through and destroying the H, a suicide of a rejected-starlet Peg Entwistle (who in an ironic twist, mere days after her suicide would have received a letter offering her the lead role in a play… about a girl driven to suicide) and near total destruction as weather & no maintenance took it’s hold. In 1978 numerous donors bought a letter each at $27,777 a pop and the sign was renovated. Hugh Hefner owns the Y and Alice Cooper bought the second O in memory of Groucho Marx. Whatever your views on Hollywood and the culture, I would challenge anyone not to feel moved in some way when they see that sign in the flesh!

Hwood

photo 3 (8)

Now where was I? The rest of my week followed a similar path of working away during the days, then escaping into the dusky evening to explore Los Angeles whilst I could keep my eyes open. On the Wednesday evening I was fading fast so took a night off tourism and just explored Sunset Boulevard with the sole intention of snapping up a feast and retreating to eat it in my hotel bed like a massive slob. I discovered a little Mexican take away (sorry take-out) called Poquito Mas where I ordered a shrimp taco, which you can see below was about twice the size of my head (and stomach, but that didn’t stop me!). I also called in at the liquor store and bought a Mike’s hard lemonade. I first discovered wonderful Mike in NY a few years ago, and it’s perfect for people like me who don’t drink alot and aren’t overly fond of the taste of beer. It comes in a few flavours but black cherry is by far the yummiest.

beast feast

You’ll notice a theme in this post… FOOD. After a strong start to the year of running, swimming, pilates-ing… all rules went out of the window for a fortnight of gluttony. One night after work Nora kindly chauffeured me back to Malibu as I was desperate to get some more beach time. First we stopped off for sushi (where we could sit outside; a prospect which seems ridiculous now that I’m back in the UK in head to toe thermals, woollens and 3 pairs of socks) and I devoured spicy seaweed and blue lump crab and various sea-lurkers I’d never even heard of, before proudly tucking into an authentic California roll IN California, ho ho. It was during this meal we were sat next to a boy of about 14 on a date with a similar aged girl, and I overheard him loudly exclaim “well I asked my agent, my manager AND my publicist…”which was my one ‘only in LA’ experience. Well that and crossing the road with Joshua Jackson. After sushi we hit Malibu Frozen Yoghurt, and I made Nora laugh/cringe by insisting on saying Mu-Bu-Fro-Yo-Yo-Lo the whole walk there. Mu-Bu Fro-Yo is obviously the #1 teen hangout so I felt like I an extra in Beverly Hills 90210 whilst I sat surrounded by impossibly skinny teens in cut off shorts, scooping mountains of peanut butter frozen yoghurt with crushed Oreo toppings into my gob!

090f953c8c5f11e290b722000a9f0a3d_7

456ec9a88c5f11e2968922000a1fbe74_7

255480d68c5f11e2949722000a1f90e1_7

I’m lucky enough to have a cousin, David, who lives out in LA with his girlfriend Katie, so I had a second set of tour guides to introduce me to a whole different part of the city. They live in an area called Echo Park, which along with nearby Los Feliz and Silver Lake are certainly up-and-coming and becoming increasingly appealing neighbourhoods. I can see why; Echo Park is a wonderful mishmash of diners, trinket shops, dive bars, diners, all walks of life, all cultures, street art, lakes, green spaces and there is also 826LA; one of Dave Eggers-inspired non-profit writing & tutoring centres. If you haven’t seen one, then you can seek out the Ministry of Stories in Hoxton. All of the centres have a fictional shop-front hiding the volunteers and students from prying eyes. In Hoxton its a Monster Suppliers store, Pirate Shop in San Francisco, Super Hero Supply Co in New York and 826LA in Echo Park has a Time Travel Mart. Behind the shopfront, there are classrooms and seminar rooms where children and young people up to age 18 from the local community can go and work with volunteers to improve their writing skills and explore their imaginations. I’ve always wanted to volunteer in London, it’s definitely on my permanent to-do list. On my night in Echo Park we sought out the Gold Room dive bar, where a beer & tequila are served together as a rule, and I enjoyed giant pint of Californian beer that came served with a peel of orange curled into it, served with a bowl of shell-on peanuts.

0aca41a48adb11e28f3922000aaa2151_7

Friday night rolled round and I could breathe a sigh of relief at my office hours ticking to a close. To celebrate Nora took me for a unique LA experience. We headed down to the Upright Citizens Brigade, which I’d highly recommend if you ever find yourself in NY or LA, as it’s not something you’ll read about in a rough guide or tour book. The UCB Theatre puts on nightly comedy improvised & sketch shows featuring various local comedy troupes. The troupes consist of some of the best comedians out there, who still perform together as quite often this type of improv production is often where comedians are discovered and begin their career. Despite the show being ticketed, my one piece of advise it to arrive 30 minutes early as you still have to queue in advance as each show is massively over-subscribed. I was lucky enough to get a great seat to watch Diamond Lion who specialise in musical improv. They launched on to the stage and asked for a word at random from the audience (“plaid”) and then performed various skits inspired by this word, entirely created on the spot AND set to music?! I can’t comprehend how one person could be so sharp, let alone a group of 7 people all working instantly in harmony and feeding off one another’s talent. It’s at the UCB that skits for Saturday Night Live and various other big American entertainment shows are tested out and based on the audience reaction; shelved or written up! I wish there was something similar in London because I have to admit I find stand-up comedy tedious and contrived, and really enjoyed the unpredictability of improv; some of the funniest moments were actually when a joke didn’t work and the whole thing unravelled.

487812_10152649116380284_369792714_n

78440f228e0e11e2828a22000a9f191e_7

On my last day in Los Angeles David & Katie ensured I saw everything that was on my quirky hit-list. The only thing we didn’t get time for was the Museum of Jurassic Technology (alas) but I know Nick would have been a green monster if I had, so am quite happy to wait for a return trip. First up we drove around ‘Old Hollywood’ and saw some incredible Victorian Psycho style houses, including one that had been set up by a film shoot to have a garage sale outside. Two doors down a real family were having a legitimate garage sale, so I couldn’t help but think the crew could have saved some time and budget and just filmed that! As a David Lynch fangirl I was desperate to see the spooky Sierra Bonita apartments from Mulholland Drive so after a quick ‘scared face’ tourist photo shoot (as people actually live in them… jealous) we sped off up the road to inspect John Marshall High aka Rydell High from Grease. It was surreal to see the bleachers and race track where they sing ‘Summer Lovin'” which still look identical for the students who attend there today. The school seems to be used as a standard high school in most movies, including Nightmare on Elm Street.

5609c5668ec511e2a57122000a1fbe0e_7

We then drove up the actual Mulholland Drive towards Griffith Park and the incredible observatory there, which again I recommend and it’s FREE. The park itself is a vast amount of green space and in an isolated corner David has even spotted a mountain Lion! After a steep climb to the top, you are rewarded with 360-degree views over the whole of Los Angeles. Everything is visible; the sign, downtown, the stacked hill houses and the mountains in the distance. See what I mean about the smog though…

364d7eec8ec611e2a5e422000aaa08f8_7

photo 2 (11)

photo 1 (10)

En route to downtown we called in at Scoops. Again Americans just seem to go bigger & better and the flavours were pretty mindblowing. I resisted temptation to opt for the brown bread or hot sauce options (!) with my sweet tooth winning out and gorging myself on Guinness Chocolate (it was St Patricks Day eve after all) and Oreo Cheesecake. I also appreciated the unlimited toppings so I could go nuts with the nuts. Downtown was my absolute favourite part of Los Angeles. If someone had driven me there blindfolded and dumped me out of the car, I would have sworn blind we weren’t in LA anymore. It had such a different vibe and look; skyscrapers tower over with those distinctive NY-style fire stairs and the sun is shaded out by the staggering buildings. It’s a little slice of NY in LA, with the best of both cities. Although to be honest anywhere that is home to a bar that serves cocktails in bespoke copper tankards is bound to win my heart. The tankards at Cole’s are so precious that you have to hand over your ID as a deposit, and they definitely made my 3pm Moscow Mule taste 100% more delicious. The bar itself obviously had it’s hayday in the roaring 20s and still has the most incredible decour, oh and a sign in the men’s toilets (David reported back) that says “Charles Bukowski pissed here”! If you want to know what downtown LA looks like; watch (500) Days of Summer as the majority of it is filmed there. I also was very proud of my own personal Hollywood tour – I spotted the parking lot that the kid in Kick Ass gets stabbed in. Downtown LA used to be the heart of Hollywood, and this is evident in the grand, plush theatres that still dot the streets; although they are mostly abandoned or now house 99-cent stores or dodgy gold pawn shops beneath. It’s quite heartbreaking and eerie.

c2933d748ec611e2896422000a1fb003_7

photo (10)

210369748ec711e2a1fa22000a1f9261_7

photo (11)

70e237f48ec711e29c2922000a9e48da_7

I didn’t need a Zoltar wish as I’d had the best possible time in Los Angeles and was about to be whisked off to New York, so already plenty lucky enough. Thanks to my generous tour guides and their infectious enthusiasm, my perspective of LA has been entirely changed and I would definitely class it as a favourite place with so much more to still investigate and discover for myself. It’s much more than just the hall-of-fame stars on the strip.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The day I left London it was the classic big smoke weather than makes you feel like you’re in a Charles Dickens novel or Sherlock Holmes story. Drizzle dampened my coat and my case and spooky mist hung heavy, clutching me as I marched around Paddington station seeking out the Heathrow Express. 11 hours of tossing, turning, munching those ridiculously bad/good cheese pasties you always get as part of inflight ‘snacktime’ and watching a few movies (The Perks of Being a Wall Flower, The Silver Linings Playbook & The Girl; all of which I really enjoyed. Perfect dozy aeroplane picks.) and I was landing in LAX.

I spent 8 days in Los Angeles, working from the West Coast branch of my employers. Despite still managing to sicken all my Facebook friends and family with photos of me larking about in the sun; I did actually work ten hour days and had to do daily presentations for over 100 people (mega eek) as well as pretty much hourly meetings and keeping up with all my standard work-load. So I promise, I earnt that sunshine, as I spent most of the time hunched over my laptop gazing at the palm trees and blue sky from my desk! But you don’t want to hear about that, and I’m happy it’s over and went well, so lets focus on the fun bits of my LA adventure which I crammed into every evening and weekend moment.

6756d4d48d1d11e2a7f322000a1f9a55_7

a69188568d1d11e29f7222000a9f130b_7

Before I start rambling… I HAVE THE CURE FOR JETLAG! Which obviously I have to share. I was so anxious before; because I have always been struck with the worst jetlag on previous trips. Even flights to Toronto & NYC which don’t have massive time-zone differences have left me groggy and grizzly for days. For my best friends wedding in Vegas, I was so jet lagged that I fell asleep for 20 minutes during her reception (I had also drunk 3 pints of a dive bar cocktail named ass juice which might not have helped) and earnt myself the title Maid of Dishonour. So you can imagine I was dreading this trip as I knew that I needed to bring my A-Game (totes learnt this phrase in LA, obv) and could hardly do that if I was a drooling mess PLUS I have given up caffeine so knew that I couldn’t even indulge in comically-big Starbucks or multiple Diet Coke fixes to aid me in my zzz battle. I spent half a day googling jet-lag cures/preventions and couldn’t find anywhere that said the same thing, but one advise kept popping up which was… stay hydrated. Water water water. So this was my tactic:

1. Drink as much water as possible. They are stingy on flights so take on a couple of big bottles. Yes you will spend most of the flight queuing or in the toilet but at least you pass the time. Maintain this once you arrive. I drank 4 giant Evian bottles in my first two days there.

2. No booze! Actually that’s a lie, I had one Baileys on the flight over. I think the key was no getting baked (like I did on route to Las Vegas; the plane actually ran out of alcohol…) and definitely NO drinking on your first two days in the new time zone.

3. Don’t nap. Just don’t. I’ve always succumbed to arriving at the hotel and regardless of the time, crashing out for an over zealous power nap. This time I arrived at about 3pm (11pm London time) but gritted my teeth and stayed awake until 9pm having a proper dinner and then sleeping through the night. I also left the curtain open meaning I woke up with the sun (not the alarm) which sounds hippyish but really helped too.

And there you have it. I wasn’t jet lagged at all during my trip, in fact I felt more energised than in London! I applied this strategy again on Sunday when I flew to NY (LA > NY is a meant to be even more brutal than LDN > LA) and have found again that I have totally defeated the jetlag beast, and can get by on using Cheetos as a caffeine replacement for my long hour days. I have probably turned my insides orange!

07e9a52c8a0111e2aa6822000a9f1730_7

Having no jet lag meant I could bounce out of bed and go meet my dear friend Nora, who was to be my trusted chaffeur, companion, tour guide and fancy frolicking fun date buddy for my trip. We started off with brunch at The Hart and Hunter and honestly if you are ever in LA you need to eat here. In fact, even if you live thousands of miles from LA, you need to go drool over the menus. After an impossible amount of perusing the options, I settled on the fried green tomato & crab egg benedict with herb hollandaise. I ate an actual fried green tomato! It was the best brunch of my life and no doubt a foodie highlight of the year. With our bellies full, we zoomed off to Malibu. Nora spent some of her childhood growing up there (she went to Malibu High School; surely the name of an actual TV show?) so knew every nook and cranny and the absolute best places to take in the view. We drove along the gorgeous Pacific Coast Highway into Malibu and I saw a dolphin glistening & larking about in the ocean. I didn’t even know dolphins existed in this part of America so though it was a mirage until Nora assured me it was real, they are quite common. We stopped in at a mall complex where I indulged in a spot of Sephora digging (I was restrained and limited my purchase to the Pantone Emerald colour of the year nail polish) and then we went to Grom for some of the finest Italian-in-California Gelato, which was so good I’m going to have to travel to the other side of Manhattan and seek out the NY branch to feed my addition.

45f91bfa8d7f11e2afd722000a1f98d6_7

We passed Mel Gibson’s house which has a GIANT house-sized white wooden cross in the front garden, visible for miles. We then drove up the winding roads, creaking around hairpin bends and tummy-flipping hills to get the the Wild West as Nora phrases it. It’s an area of Malibu where you can climb craggy rocks and wade through cacti to basically get a birds eye view view out over the valley (home of Kim Kardashian…), the hills & the coastline. The whole world felt tiny from up there, and it re-enforced just how beautiful LA can be; it’s not the plasticky concrete jungle I was expecting by any means. From there we drove down to Zuma Beach, which was as idyllic as you’d expect; just a little gusty with a coastal breeze which had the gulls (and PELICANS!) whizzing around in the wind currents.

photo

6dc5b6928a0111e2bf8022000a1fbe54_7

39a6be468a0211e2bbd822000a9f15da_7

After all that fresh California air, we needed something else to munch on. For months since Nora knew I was coming out to LA, there was has been two words on her lips and those are fish burger! I had no idea what a fish burger even was, and was imagining some sort of upmarket fillet-o-fish but oh boy was it more than that. We headed to Neptunes Net which has a famous history, as it was used for the exterior of restaurant that Hollywood twin-brats Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen ate religiously at in their show So Little Time, which I sadly/proudly haven’t ever seen as it was before my kids TV career days. Nowadays however, there isn’t an Olsen in sight, in fact you are most likely to be greeted by a mob of bikers and Hells Angels! It has a huge biker community as it’s on a popular motorcycle route. Inside it was chaos, happy people everywhere chowing down on all seafood imaginable. We opted for the holy fish burgers, fries & a side of shrimp, and sat out in the blazing sun in happy greedy silence. I can see what the fuss was about – a fish burger might be my new favourite food; so how cruel it’s not available in London! (Or if it is, I doubt the Thames-fish are quite so tasty)

photo 2

photo 1

We ended a perfect Malibu day with a drive to Point Dume, where it honestly felt like we were in a fairytale. I can see why so many music videos and films are shot here; including Destiny’s Child – Survivor (I know right, what a jip… they weren’t really on a desserted tropical island). We walked through fields of head-height yellow flowers that were glowing in the pre-sunset golden light. We scrabbled down craggy steps onto the beach, and sat watching climbers coast up & down the huge rock face. Finally, we sat back and enjoyed a perfect Pacific sunset as the sky burnt from yellow to pink to orange to purple. Oh, and drove home via Cher’s house. Hi Cher!

de6f23dc8a0211e2b7a722000a9e5154_7

bc9759468a0211e2aacd22000a1f932c_7

8c6c5e748a0211e281cb22000a1f9a0a_7

1cfaa0728a0311e2a2f822000a1f97e4_7

A few other highlights of my first few days living as an LA-er were definitely the time I got ASKED for directions by actual authentic Americans. I felt it must have meant I didn’t look so rabbit-in-the-headlight dazed tourist and perhaps this was a sign I’d made it in Hollywood! Also nifty Nora busted me out of work one lunch time to indulge in the ultimate must-eat when in LA: In-n-Out Burger. Have you heard the urban legend/true fact story that apparently once Lily Allen flew all the way from London to LAX in her private jet just to get In-n-Out then flew straight home? A 22 hour round trip just for a burger! I can see why though, they are something special. My first time in LA I didn’t know about the secret menu (not on the boards instore, only visible on their website) so this time I was all set to order my fries and burger Animal Style like a true know-it-all. This means they come covered in special sauce (thousand island I’d call it) and fried onions! Also by some freak occurrence and fangirling, I wore a tee covered in Palm Trees so fitted perfectly with the branding.

7cd36b0c8c1d11e2bf2722000a1fbc66_7

391592ae8c1e11e29efd22000a1f9a07_7

96b57ad88c1d11e2a4fb22000a1f97ec_7

On the drive back to the office, we had our windows down and hair whipping in the wind. We pulled up next to a van driver who was doing the same, but was also blaring out Boys of Summer on his music system, which we did some serious car-dancing and appreciation to. At the next red lights we pulled up next to him again and THIS time he was playing Smells Like Teen Spirit. What a playlist, it was such a surreal moment that will really stick with me.

So that was a brief recap of my Malibu & Hollywood adventures. There is a sequel/part ii to this blog coming soon about exploring Echo Park, falling in love with Downtown & of course… getting up close to the THE sign.

81742bbe8d1d11e2bbe722000a9f1253_7

365ddd268b8511e284b222000a1fbcf6_7

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Guess what? I think summer is officially over. And that means my summer holiday is over too, so from today likeaskeletonkey is officially back in business!

I’ve missed tapping away in this little white box and spreading my adventures and antics across the internet! I have so many things to tell you about too. I’ve been on an American road trip (Vegas > San Fransisco > LA) perhaps a tad ambitious in the space of two weeks but it was worth it for the 5000 memories and photographs I’ll have forever. I’ve survived a zombie apocalypse, I went and ate a cheeseburger as big as my head at the brand sparkly new MEATLiquor (I recently discovered the best burger blog on the internet aka Burgerac and have since been obsessed with tracking down every 5/5 rated location and sampling for my greedy guts self. This is great for fun points, bad for diet points. Anyway I bet you can’t read his MEATLiquor review without drooling into your keyboard). I’ve been taken stargazing to a secret observatory on Hampstead Heath that I had no idea existed and I saw Jupiter through a giant telescope.

So get ready, you are about to be bombarded with a giant dose of Beelife, you might need one seriously big cup of tea to get through it all.

For now here are some of my favourite United States of Adventure shots, can you hear my sigh over the internet over the fact I am now back in blistery blustery London?

& If you don’t already, you can follow me on Twitter @hellobee for microsized witterings such as “I’m so glad I wore a zaney print dress today as I just spilt tomato soup down myself and no one will ever be any the wiser”  !