New York

You are currently browsing articles tagged New York.

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: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

If you read my recent accounts of my Los Angeles adventures (part i & part ii) you will have gathered that I recently went on a work trip to America; where I spent 1 week working from the West (Best?) Coast and then jetted over to New York for another week. Obviously my initial reaction when finding out about this trip was WAHOOooooooOoOooOooooOOo! However, my second instant reaction was, what the HECK am I going to pack for 2 weeks, 2 cities and 2 entirely different weather systems (not to mention an itinerary of formal work presentations, tourist treks and bar crawling)?

580617_10152650538675284_461263794_n

After weeks of jotting down outfit plans in Evernote and hours of frantic trying-on sessions which resulted in my room looking like it had been burgalised on more than one occasion; I finally had a suitcase filled with lessons learnt on how to pack for two VERY different climates. In LA the weather hovered around 28-30 degrees with blazing sunshine; although out on the coast there was a wind chill to contend with. In NY there was a blizzard to welcome my arrival and the weather barely crept over zero degrees, mainly sticking to the minus section of the thermometer. I found it really tough to adapt by the time I reached New York as I had got so used to just skipping out into the California sun every day, so on my first lunch break in NY I eagerly packed up my bag and embarked on the 4 flights of stairs down to the street in just my cardigan. I had got so used to the bliss of no-coat living. The second I stepped out into the frost bitten city streets I realised my error and skulked back up 4 flights to retrieve my coat, scarf, gloves and did NOT make that mistake again!

Top Tips for Hot to Cold to Sunny to Snowy Packing

01. Layers 

It’s the classic mum-advice whenever you visit a different climate and if it’s good enough for mums worldwide you just know it must be wise owl stuff, and it definitely is the first rule of thumb for packing for multi-climates. I would have a basic outift, then a multitude of others bits and bobs that I would carry around in a tote bag ready to layer on as the sun set or the snow set in. I sound smarter if I make it look mathematical:

cardie
cardie + hoodie
cardie + hoodie + scarf
cardie + hoodie + scarf + leather jacket
cardie + hoodie + scarf + leather jacket + coat
cardie + hoodie + scarf + leather jacket + coat + knit headband
cardie + hoodie + scarf + leather jacket+ coat + knit headband + bobble hat
 compare

Even when I was beach-bumming around Malibu I still had a few emergency layers stuffed into my bag for when the sun set. You can see from this photograph, taken on the same day, I could wear a short-short dress and cardy during the day, but by dusk I had added my trusty American Apparel hoody, pink cotton scarf-snood and a pair of Uniqlo thermal leggings. Which takes me neatly onto…

 02. Thermals

I have been a fan of thermals ever since you could only buy them M&S and they were of the frilly/holy/granny variety. Luckily nowadays thanks to the kings aka HEATTECH Uniqlo and their subtle, fashionable thermal collection, life for chilly boned bods like me has vastly improved. In fact the latest tie-up between Uniqlo & Orla Kiely produced such thermal beauties that they were begging to be worn for the world to see, rather than buried beneath winter woollens. For my trip I took a camisole, vest, t-shirt, long-sleeved and legging versions of the Uniqlo thermals. I also took thermal tights; which you can pick up in Primark and are so thick they don’t have a denier. They are like leggings with feet! Finally, I took my trust thermal socks. If you have survived winter without making the discovery that is thermal socks with all your toes intact, I want to shake your hand! Thermal socks are the worlds best invention. They are fluffy, furry and take the heat you create whilst walking around and circulate it around your hoofs leading to toasty, happy feet. Mine are from Primark but I have spotted higher-brow versions in Fat Face.

03. Key Pieces

The skill of any great packer is an eye for key pieces. There is nothing worse than chucking a bunch of stuff in a bag and arriving at your destination to discover not one item matches! I have been guilty of this myself; usually when I’ve been travelling somewhere on a Saturday and just one drink after work on Friday turns into staggering in at 2am and up-ending a drawer into my weekend bag and hoping that the items somehow miraculously turn into outfits en route. They never ever do. One of my key pieces for this trip was my cream lace midi dress. It’s comfortable, work/fun friendly and they main reason is; it looked lovely in LA with just bare legs and sandals. It also looked as lovely in NY with tights, clompy lace-up boots and all the layers listed above. I used a snazzy Stylight board here to highlight what I mean, I could spend hours on Stylight making boards. It’s certainly captured my cut & paste/mood board interest where Pinterest failed.

photo 2 (12)

Here is another good example of a versatile outfit pick. I’m obsessed with this birdcage tropical River Island T-shirt (a steal at £15!) and in the Cali sun I matched it with a denim highwaist buttondown skirt and sandals and a leather jacket for the evening. In NY it worked just as well with thick tights and my boots and a woolly cardie.

04. A good excuse for SHOPPING

Now lets just get this straight. You don’t want to pack toooooo well, as if you have a few items missing it’s the perfect justification to hit the shops. By the tailend of my second week on the road, life was getting stale. That musty aeroplane/suitcase smell was wafting after me like a cartoon cloud and I was thoroughly sick of the same few choices. So, I scuttled to Broadway and spent the last of my precious per diems in Forever 21, Madewell & American Eagle. Was I sensible in my picking up of warm weather supplies? No, of course I got dazzled by the stocks of spring/summer/sunny offerings so shivered my way through the final weekend and am now seriously hoping we get a glimpse of sunshine so that I can debut my results of New York foraging.

I will be posting all about my Big Apple antics this week, but in the meantime I wanted to say thanks Shopping Unlike for picking Like A Skeleton Key as a highlight on their blog this week and giving it this write-up. Shucks.

 

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

In January I finally hit the zone with my fitness regime which felt really good. What doesn’t feel good is the daily brain strain of working out what I need to pack for pilates or swimming or running. Add into the mix nights spent sleeping at Nick’s, spanish class, my work mac, my personal laptop and I am starting to resemble Where’s Wally or Buckaroo; laden with bags and bits and bobs hanging off every limb. So it’s probably no surprise that my (very uncool) Quicksilver backpack that I have had since my GCSE year finally sprung some holes and broke, sick of being zip-strainingly crammed full. I don’t know why I haven’t thought about buying a new rucksack  (do you call it a rucksack or a backpack? Is there an official definition for the difference?) sooner considering this one was never very comfortable and wildly out of fashion, but now I had the opportunity to embark in a new one I didn’t take it lightly.

My main issue with most rucksacks is the way the straps meet in-between your shoulder blades. This puts such a strain on your neck and shoulders, they also give the bag a narrow top which means my beast-macbook barely crams in and the zip won’t shut, which in London is basically a pickpocket open invite. So I decided what I really needed was a rectangle shaped bag with wide straps in a nice colour that goes with everything. Then I saw a girl wearing a Kanken and it ticked every box and the rest is history.

6f13ab2e805311e2ab4322000a1fa430_7

Where to start with WHY I love my bag so much? Firstly it fits everything my heart desires in easily. It’s laptop-shaped-shape means books, folders and my mac happily stack in, then I can pad the rest out with gym kit and trainers and it doesn’t look cumbersome and bulky. It has three strap combinations so you can carry it by hand rather than shoulder if you want. It’s waterproof. It makes even the heaviest load feel as light as a feather because the straps are properly positioned to even the weight. Oh and of course, it has a cute winky fox on it… everywhere on it.

9e39b722805311e283e822000a1f8e5b_7

I know these bags are quickly being identified as the ultimate hipster item and as if to prove this point I walked to the tube today behind three hipster boys all with a different shade of Kanken on (and rolled up jeans and too-high bobble hats) but don’t let the fadness of it put you off. Hipsters get sore backs too. Although I did have a colleague point out the other night that my bag collection next to my desk was a hipster handbag haven: Kanken – check! Obscure brewery bar tote – check! School satchel – check! Ruh roh.

3e1bb7246bd511e2855922000a9e0723_7

You can find Kanken’s at ilovemykanken, and mine is a classic. I was worried classic would be too small, as they do a larger ‘laptop’ and ‘maxi’ option, but it’s perfect. It’s so dreamy in fact that I am really tempted to pick up a peach-pink one too. Can I really go from one prehistoric rucksack, to two shiny new ones? Is this what being a full-time working professional grown-up is all about?! It’s sort of like the Superga of the bag world, once you have one you become obsessed with the million other colour-ways available. Here is my Kanken getting to see the word at large and accompanying me on a trek in Morocco. It still proudly carries some Sahara sand dust strains now it’s back to the confines of my commute and gym locker.

photo (9)

This isn’t a sponsored post by the way, I just really love this addition to my life and want to share the happy-back wealth.

What else am I happy about? I’m foaming at the mouth over the fact that my favourite band The National have a new album out in May AND a documentary. It’s like they know it’s my birthday..! Unfortunately though they haven’t released a single UK tour date and that makes me UNhappy. Despite adoring them for most of my adult life I have never seen them live. I have had tickets to see them live THREE times too, and various transport/life meltdown/illness has prevents me getting to be in the crowd. I would travel to anywhere in the UK to see them, so I just really hope they sneak one show in somewhere. It’s got  to a point where I would probably have to go see them alone and wear no mascara, because their music has been such an emotional crutch for me that seeing it live would just turn me into a mess, especially now I’ve waited so long.

To soften the blow, I got tickets for Nick & I to go to Planetarium at the BAM in New York. He’s coming to visit for the last weekend of my work-trip and to escort me home (although we are on the same flight home and I’m in Business, he’s in Economy!) What a Saturday night NY adventure! It’s a performance by Sufjan Stevens and Bryce Dessner (of The National) with a full orchestra journeying through every planet in the solar system through music and visuals and I think it will be pretty nifty.

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

This will be my last NYC holiday blog post, thanks for bearing with me! I just knew if I never documented the trip in any detail anywhere, then it would slip off into the sands of time and after a few weeks back in real-world Bee life I would barely be able to recount the places I saw or the best memories and it would just feel like a dream.

I have missed out about 1000 minute details too like the man we met who own a bar called The Crooked Tree and gave me a free chocolate & mango crepe and a glass of his house delicacy – prosecco with a merlot sorbet float! Or the fact most houses I saw on the greyhound drive looked like the one from Amityville . The shooting stars I saw out in the mountains and the dragonfly as big as a dinner plate. The morning we lazed in bed and watched Maury and the show was called Think your spouse is fooling around with the delivery man? (How specific?!) or the day we got a taxi in the rain and I saw lightening hit the Empire State building. I suppose I will have to rely on my battered NewYork moleskin packed with scribbled wobbly notes for them!

On our last morning in Williamsburg we went to an amazing little diner called Pies n Thighs. Just check out their brunch menu and feel our pain when it made no sense whatsoever! I opted for a hippie banjo which was sprouts (!) egg tomato and cheese on a biscuit (which is a scone to us Brits) and the beau had a Rob Evans which was scarmbled egg, cheese and gravy on a biscuit. Apart from the undeciferable menu, the food was amazing and we were served by a girl who wore super mario dungarees and was maximum friendly. We then went on a hike across the Brooklyn bridge…

It was a cloudy day but the views were still amazing and we were on a mission anyway, to Grimaldi’s – apparently the best pizza in New York. Tucked away under Brooklyn Bridge, whatever the day, time OR weather there will always be a queue of at least 20 people. We waited for 40 minutes and eventually shuffled into a booth and I’m going to go against the grain and say it wasn’t the best I’ve ever had in my life BUT the set up, the traditional chefs shouting in Italian to each other over the tables and the amazingly random decor definitely made it one of my best NY experiences.

I’m sure thousands of tourist types go to New York and never venture anywhere near the library which is such a crying shame. Even if you aren’t the worlds hugest Ghostbusters nerd (err, that’d be me) then you can appreciate the incredible architecture and endless rooms and offices and specialist areas and nooks and crannies. That is me in the ACTUAL aisle where the librarian ghost scene was filmed. It’s so typical that I don’t have a single photo of me in Times Square… Statue of Liberty… Empire State…  but of course I have a tourist shot in the library! We found some amazing old records too of all the ferrys that arrived from England and Ireland pre-war, with the names of every single person who came.

My number one recomendation if you are in NYC is that you check out St Marks Place. That was definitely my favourite place for drinking and socialising. It’s a wonderful road packed with cafes, diners, Japanese saki bars, and was where I felt most at home. On St Marks place was a bar called PDT (Please Don’t Tell!) which we had read about in Time Out on the flight over. It’s in such high demand that we had to phone at 3pm on the day to make reservations and the lines were busy for HALF an hour (hello £100 phonebill, urk) and then when we got through, we got the last table. The concept is that PDT is a speakeasy. From the outside, it just looks like Criff Dogs which is a working, functioning hot dog diner. However if you have a reservation you pass through Criff Dogs to a payphone in the corner. You dial a code and then the door swing open and you are quickly ushered into a 1920s Speakeasy. It IS prohibition and you must mutter and mumble so as not to draw attention, as you sip the most amazing and intricate cocktails. It was such a unique experience and everything from the barmen in bow ties, to the language used in the menu, to the spirits available is as authentic as possible.

For the last few days we stayed in Manhattan, near Chelsea Market. I visited the chess men, and I don’t think this guy was very happy I caught his losing being mocked on camera! Then, a pilgrimage to Magnolia Bakery…

We picked up the cakes to take-away, and ate them in the courtyard under the Rockerfellar Centre. We opted for a Red Velvet and a Chocolate Devil Food and they were, as expected, out of this world good. The scariest thing was that although they were incredible – moist, rich and delish… but dangerously they were so fluffy that you felt like you could easily eat about 20. In fact when we were queuing for our purchases (you take them from the bakery counter, then to a seperate cashier to pay), a girl behind me devoured her two WHILST STILL IN THE QUEUE TO PAY. That would so be me if I lived in New York.

As we sat eating our cakes, my beau said there’s a storm coming, I can feel it and I looked at him like alright Mystic Meg! Jog on! It’s all white sky and no grey clouds!

Fast forward ten minutes and as we are walking to the subway, a crash of thunder shakes the city and suddenly we are in the most torrential rainstorm! We had to cower in a tourist shop whilst the thunder roared and lightening crackled and the radio started talking about the TORNADO about to hit Manhattan! It was all quite dramatic and although after a while we braved the weather and skipped through the rain getting soggy feet – the tornado did really hit Queens and destroyed two roads of houses and killed one woman. So that was my first taste of real extreme weather I’ve ever had and it was a little bit un-nerving.

On our last night we really went large in Brooklyn. As I mentioned on my return, we went to the quirkiest place called Barcade which is basically cocktails + all the BEST old school arcade machines = :]) And obviously the merrier you get, the better you think you are at games like Pacman, Outrun and my personal favourite Paperboy. Or in my case, you get more and more outraged that you can’t complete one level and start thinking it’s a comlete fix and telling everyone you meet so. Ahem…

  

We then managed to accidentally gatecrash a lovely ladys bachalorette party and join the party train to a Hiphop club where we were the only ones on the dancefloor for many hours. I can’t remember much about getting home except that we got a really shady non-taxi who only charged $8 from Brookly to Manhattan… errr!

Safe to say on my last day in NYC I was a complete state. We checked out late because it took me an hour to even be able to lift my head from the pillow. We then had reservations at the very hard-to-get-into brunch at Essex. I had been SO excited about our last brunch (and the unlimited bloody marys!) but when we actually got there I could do nothing but sit and shake and try not to be sick. I couldnt touch a drop of alcohol and couldn’t eat my banana and chocolate pancake either – I had to ask for it in a doggy bag. Mortifying! I was so cross with myself! I also was spotted! by the adorable Helen who happened to be brunching in Essex too. What a small blogworld it is. I’m absolutely cringing that she saw me in such a shrivelled, sad state of affairs! Luckily, a brisk walk across the WIlliamsburg bridge to say a final goodbye to the NY skyline sorted me out enough to be able to get on the plane with out too much fuss but a 6 hour flight with a raging hangover is something I will never repeat! I literally sat weeping to myself and half watching The Runaways.

So, I get it now. I get New York and why everyone loves it enough to emblazen their adoration on their teeshirt, and sing about it and set endless movies there. I of course like anyone who’s ever visited, am now hellbent on moving there at some point. And you know what, I have a feeling it might just happen! I don’t think I’m finished with the big apple just yet…

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

We spent the next part of the holiday staying in Williamsburg. This was a part of the holiday I had been apprehensive about, as we were staying in an appartment that had been recommended by a friend – but is basically a room in someones flat that he rents out to tourists for £50 a night (unHEARD of in NYC!) and so I was a little nervous about what awaited us as his emails had been a bit terse and I was having Hostel-like fears that it did sound like the start of a horror movie scenario! When we arrived – the tiny graffitied door in what looked like a car garage didn’t exactly ellay our fears!

Luckily, behind the door lay a sprawling, bright and airy appartment with the most amazing decor and the guy renting the room was absolutely amazing. Our room had a slight prison-cell feeling (no windows!) but was huge and right in the heart of everything going on in the big W. I absolutely ADORED Williamsburg and think if I was to (fingers crossed) get to relocate there at some stage for work, it would be there that I would flat hunt. It had a young, modern, laid back vibe with tons of amazing street art, little nookys and crannys filled with vintage shops and flea markets. All the cafes and food was quirky and homely and we  met some of the friendliest folk there.

Here is my absolute favourite NYC outfit of mine: daisy playsuit (from Primark!), geek glasses from ASOS and bronze ballet pumps. We picked a pefect blue-sky scorcher to walk across the Williamsburg bridge to the Lower East Side (recommend this to everyone!) and we even spotted Tobey Maguire jogging past us & Chloe Sevigny riding her bike.

Once in Lower East Side we stopped off at possibly my favourite New York location…

So, even if you aren’t a fan – you have to go and check out Peanut Butter & Co’s Menu. Luckily I AM a huge PB fan, in any form, any how and so this place was a little slice of heaven for me and my belly. It was a tough choice but we decided to opt for sampling The Elvis (apparently his all time favuorite sandwich? if so I can see why he was heart-issue bound) which was Peanut Butter, Bacon, Honey and Banana! And it was dee-lish. The second was they Bagel of the Week which was Peanut Butter, Cream Cheese and Apple. Again it was a taste sensation. The whole cafe is decked out in old PB adverts, packaging and there is a huge shop where you can buy just about every type of Peanut Butter going. We then spent the day people watching in Washington Square Park before passing through Grand Central station which as with most well known tourist/film locations was slightly underwhelming in some ways but still absolutely beautiful.

That night we headed to a modest, unassuming little bar and food place in Williamsburg called Fatty Cue. We walked in to a rammed bar expecting to have to perch in a corner, but were instead led through a warren of narrow corridors into a beautiful half-outdoor eating patio. This actually turned out to be the best meal of either of our entire lives! So if you head to NYC, it is worth a trip over the bridge for. The food was un-catagorisable but just quirky, exciting and modern and all with a waiter on hand to guide on how to eat it (lots of using your fingers) and I sampled my first lavender cocktail which seemed to be the thing in NYC – and it definitely made me view the herb in a different light than old lady perfume and draw liners.

The next day we went to the World Trade Centre site. I had ummed and aahed extensively about if I even wanted to visit ground zero. A huge part of me felt slightly ghoulish and dis-respectful somehow. But a bigger part of me felt as someone who never visited pre-9/11 it would be dis-respectful to spend time in this incredible city and not dedicate any part of it thinking and reflecting on this amazing architectural feat and building, then the huge event that took place there, and the impact it has had. At first ground zero, weirdly, to me looked just like a huge building site. I was struggling to connect the horrific memories and images to this mile of cranes and foundations.

But we then visited the WTC Trribute Centre and it was an experience unlike anything else I have ever experienced. Obviously in no way was it comfortable but it left me humbled and definitely feeling that life had been shaken very much back into perspective. The most admirable part was that it was created by relatives and friends of those lost at the WTC and a substantial part of the gallery is dedicated to immersing you in what life was like at the WTC before the tragedy. It was educational and really interesting, but also made everything feel even more heartbreaking as the WTC represented such hope, such pride and such community. The rest of the gallery contains details of the day, artefacts, missing posters, news reports and items such as one of the recognisable gnarled, burnt windows from one of the planes. It also has a wall with photographs of the majority of the victims. I’m actually crying just writing this because it really did personalise an event which although shocking, has always felt quite distant to me. Seeing that wall of smiles, families, memories… it was just too much. The memory of that emotion will never leave me. The gallery space has about 7 boxes of tissues dotted around on benches. Standing with a room full of strangers, most with tears rolling down their faces, is very surreal.

After spending a couple of hours in there, walking back out into the sunlight and seeing the site with completely new eyes was hard. I only took one photograph, which is of the two original steel tridents from the twin towers (which formed part of the entrance) which had just been returned 2 days earlier for use in building the Memorial Museum.

As I stood gazing over at the site, in silence, wondering how the hell we could just get on with a normal day now… I noticed what I thought was litter in the sky. As I squinted, I realised it was a HUGE butterfly. It flew around in front of me, and then around the men building, and the girders of the Freedom Tower, and then back close enough for me to take a photograph of before flying away. Take from this what you will, but in a second of despair, that butterfly comforted me and gave me hope and it felt like a really profound and fortunate thing to happen.

I’ll leave this there; bored of my NYC ramblings yet? Only one more I promise, then normal service will resume! It’s really more for my sieve-brain benefit than anything so apologies if you are thinking snore.

DON’T forget to enter/tweet my NYC Giveaway! it closes TOMORROW!

Tags: , , , , , ,

Our third day in NYC was cloudy but we braved the gloom and headed to Central Park which is as incredible as everyone says. Forget any oh-its-like-Hyde-Park-in-London preconceptions, this park is VAST. And it has so many fun things to stumble across around every corner.

   

We went on a carousel, had a belini at the boathouse, took a rowboat out onto the lake (and got stuck more than once trying to explore illegal narrow streams!) we saw plenty of amazing musicians, photography lessons, art exhibitions and a dog-training school with every type of dog in a group from a baby chihuahua to a St Bernards (can you spot them?). It really is a sanctuary but with sky scrapers still towering around every corner.

That night I met a colleague for dinner and after feeling all smug and like I understood the subway; I hadn’t grasped the difference between local (stop every stop) and express (miss stops out) and ended up unable to get to the subway I needed for the restaraunt. In the end I had to RUN from 34th Street to 18th Street in wedges (that’s 16 big blocks) and was 30minutes late to meet her. What a faux pas. Luckily she was very patient and as soon as I realised she was Americas biggest Blur fan we quickly got over any cultural differences. We ate at an amazing mexican – Rosa Mexicano where they come and make the worlds best guacamole in front of you in a bowl as big as your head. The margaritas weren’t half bad either.

The next day it was all aboard the Greyhound for a 5 hour drive to Pittsfield where I was going to my beautiful friends Mel & Scotts wedding out in the mountains.

  

The greyhound wasn’t as bad as everyone makes out; it smelt like pickles but had free wifi. It was also amazing to see so much of America out of the window. I saw pumpkin patches, huge ‘Amytiville’ style houses, proper motels oh and a shop that simply had a sign saying Beer & TV Repairs. Ummm…

  

  

The wedding was incredible from start to finish. The night before as everyone congregated out at Buck Steep (manor hotel out in the middle of nowhere… supposedly haunted and I can definitely see why!) we had a bonfire under the perfect stars. Everyone chatted and snuggled for warmth and there was ghost stories and guitar playing and lots of junk food and local ale! It was like being on adult summer camp and one of the highlights of my trip. The funniest part was when a girl offered my beau a cookie and told his they had wheat in them. Halfway through his second he turned to me and asked why did I need to know they had wheat in them… are lots of americans wheat sensitive or something? And I quickly helped him realise what exactly was in them, something more herbal than wheat altogether… !

The wedding day was gloriously sunny with clear blue skies and was a very romantic affair with beautiful vows, stunning bridal party, sparklers and lots of fun late into the night.

We headed back to NYC the next day and had a cheeky Shake Shack on route. If you are ever in New York you have to eat here! It’s like a very very upmarket MaccyDs. The most amazing burgers, crinkly fries AND phenomenal milkshakes including peanut butter and oreo flavours. They also played DeathCabForCutie the whole time we ate, which you wouldn’t get in any UK fast food joint…

     

Then we snuck up onto the roof terrace of the Hudson Hotel (and I don’t do lifts, so reckon the 16 flights of stairs definitely cancelled out the burger face!) where we watched the sun set over the river and I took some of my favourite photgraphs of New York.

More soon; including falling in love with Williamsburg, the top celeb spots of my life and discovering what the Elvis sandwich is…. and eating one.

Don’t forget to enter & hype the NYC Giveaway. Only 5 days left!

Tags: , , , , , ,

So the trip got off to a slightly bumpy start. London Transport decided to hold a tube strike on the day of our flight! I never go on holiday, so typical that they select that day of all other 364.  I had to charm my mamanger to sneak out before the walk-out began at 3pm, which meant we were at Heathrow eager and checked in four hours early.

And then our flight was delayed. And THEN, I bumped into my first ever boyfriend in the departure lounge (my life IS the Truman Show, I mean what are the chances? Plus I was wearing a scruffy flight outfit of hoodie and scraped back ponytail. Alas!) And finally, we board the plane and then are sat on the runway in the pouring rain for nearly 2 hours, because some families from a transfer flight from Mumbai who had boarded had started getting sick. One by one puking children were excorted from the aircraft and it was definitely starting to feel like Dawn Of The Dead and that our plane was facing some sort of zombie infestation!

After all that drama, I watched a tiny bit of Diary Of A Wimpy Kid and then slept for the rest of the flight. I woke up just in time to gape open mouthed and nose pressed to the glass at the grid system as we landed. Because of the delay we arrived into NYC at about 3am and were hot, smelly and oh so excited as we got our first of many Yellow Cabs (so cheap! with TV in the back!) to our friends house. 

After a first day brunch, where I learnt how to order US-style – “2 eggs over-easy with a side of grits” … what?! We headed to Coney Island; as it was a beautiful day and it turned out we were staying just 6 stops on the subway away.

Coney Island is definitely New Yorks answer to Blackpool. We saw some real sights there including an elderly woman dancing to a boombox playing Like A Virgin! We played Shoot The Freak where you had to fire at a freak with a paintball gun (the freak actually turned out to be a surly Mexican teenage boy wearing a hockey mask so not too freaky really) and I tried my first (and last) Corn Dog. Ew! It’s like a frankfurter in a doughnut. It’s weird.

  

  

That night I learnt to play beer pong with some serious American movie sports jock boys, sang karaoke (including Empire State Of Mind which did bring a little holiday tear to my eye!) and ended up drinking Whiskey and eating cheesecake on a porch in Brooklyn at 3am.

The next day we brushed off the cobwebs with a ride on the ferry to see Liberty. She was looking lovely.

More soon… & don’t forget to enter and hype up my NYC competition here!

Tags: , , , , , , ,