Happy (belated) birthday, Mr Jones Watches

For someone with only two wrists, I sure do have a lot of Mr Jones Watches.

I wrote about number one here.

And numbers two and three here.

Covered off four, five, and six on one busy day last year.

Quickly followed up with number seven.

It seems very fitting that 2017 has been the year where I’ve reached number ten as it is also the year of their 10th birthday.  I sadly wasn’t able to make it to their exhibition and birthday party as I was in New York, so I decided to celebrate in my own way – by cracking out the debit card.

Number eight was acquired a few months ago as Husband treated me to a limited edition Dog watch.  I got number 15 (I can’t resist a numbered watch), and I love the super cute strap.  More pink stitching please, Mr Jones!

Number nine was another gift from Husband.  The beautiful Nuage designed by Marion Labbaz is another limited edition which sold really quickly – whilst I was debating whether or not to buy it, Husband visited the shop and picked up number 38 for me.  Nuage has now made it to the permanent collection, but I’m so pleased to have one of the originals.

And ta-da – number ten!  I’ve had my eye on Colour Venn since it was released, and snapped it up in recent 24 hour sale without a second thought.  It’s my current favourite, although the yellow ‘second’ hand is very distracting in meetings.

So happy birthday Mr Jones Watches.  Can’t wait to see what you create next.

July Things

I started July in New York which was as wonderful as ever, continued with two average weeks, and finished with a week alone as Husband is away at a work trip.  He’s off in South Africa seeing giraffes and elephants, whilst I’m sat feeling sorry for myself on the sofa.

Hot, sweaty NYC
New York in the summer is a very different city to New York in winter, but we had an awesome time, as it evidenced by my many blogs on the topic.

Hampton Court Flower Show
Still feeling a bit jet lagged, I went to Hampton Court with my Mum a couple of days after getting back from NY.  Flower of the show this year seemed to be the echinacea which I had just seen on the High Line, so I needed some of those for my garden.  It was insanely hot and really crowded, but we did get to see lots of pretty flowers.  

Netflix
Guys, have you heard of this thing called Netflix?  It’s got TV shows and films… and OK so I’m very behind on this but with Husband away, I got myself a free trial.  I’ve started on Riverdale but have mostly been mainlining How I Met Your Mother.  I am so modern.

Treating myself (after a bit of pain)
I had some additional leave to take at work, so booked in an Elemis facial and Aveda hair cut last week.  Unfortunately, my two days of me time started with a horrific hour in the dentist chair – god lord, I have never experienced anything like it.  And it seemed relentless.  I felt really bad for bursting into sobs as my dentist went into overdrive with apologies, and I did make him feel quite guilty but it was just awful!

Fortunately, the facial and hair cut were 100% less stressful.  Very much needed.

A trip to Bankside
With Husband away, my Mum challenged me to find a nice, reasonably priced hotel in London so we could do a bit of shopping.  I found the Hilton Bankside which was super nice with gorgeous decor, and just behind the Tate Modern which is one of my favourite areas of London.  We spent the afternoon getting absolutely drenched, followed by a relaxing Bobbi Brown make-up lesson at Liberty, and then dinner in the hotel.  If you’re looking for somewhere reasonable to stay in London, I highly recommend it.  

New York in July – the everything else

We did a lot of walking during our 5 days in New York.  A lot.  But that is part of the reason why I enjoy the city so much.  Once you get away from the insanity in Midtown, it becomes an entirely different trip.

There was a bit of shopping – Husband had a spree in Uniqlo 5th Ave, and I spent an hour in Sephora 34th St which was BLISSFUL.  Window shopping was equally as fun, especially down in Greenwich and SoHo.I introduced Husband to Bleecker, although felt a little sad as I had just read a NYT article on how gentrification has devastated the street.  Bit of a downer.

4th July was fun though – a lot of residents had escaped the city to go to the beach, so there were some streets almost devoid of people.  It felt a bit like we had the place to ourselves.

A trip to the Too Cool for School shop ended in frustration as it was closed for the holiday but I felt a bit of deja vu whilst cutting down Jersey Street (above).  Just an average NYC alley, right?  And then I realised where I had seen it – it’s the street where Carrie got mugged.

I am a phenomenal dork.

From here, we wandered around Nolita, visited Le Labo and Grenson.  I was desperate to buy something but nothing grabbed me.  Loved the area though.

Walking around Brooklyn was fun as well, and we got to see Anish Kapoor Descension which made me feel really unnerved.

Just around the corner from the Skylight Diner (and from our hotel), we stumbled across a very polite protest against B&H Photo.  Always fun!

I don’t know when our next visit will be but we added some great standards to our New York routine.  We’ll definitely stay further south and explore more of Brooklyn.

And maybe take the subway a bit more so my feet aren’t left utterly broken.

New York in July – where we ate

We hadn’t aimed to eat at (mostly) entirely new places on this trip, it just happened by chance.  We’d hoped to have at least one fancy meal but the timings didn’t work out, and it was too hot to eat a lot of food but I would 100% go back to every place we visited.  Such great additions to our NYC favourites.

Saturday night – Dos Toros Taqueria
We’d eaten on the plane of course, but we couldn’t resist grabbing some tacos from Dos Toros Taqueria on 6th Avenue (well, Husband had a burrito).  The store was almost empty, but the tacos were delicious and the guacamole and chips were so good.

Sunday Brunch – Haven Rooftop
I spent so long trying to find the perfect brunch place.  It needed to be the right combination of unpretentiousness, location, and menu.  Haven Rooftop ticked all those boxes so I can now say I’ve eaten avocado toast at a rooftop bar – surely this is what every New York trip legally has to these days.

Ignore the fact my camera has focussed on the wrong meal

We were at the rooftop as it opened so almost had the place to ourselves.  We thought about having some bottomless cocktails, but wanted other drinks from the menu (mine had a crazy amount of booze in it).  The avocado toast with poached eggs was just what we needed, and it was so fun to sit above the spire of the church next door.

Sunday night – 5 Napkin Burger
John Oliver finished about 8pm, and we had a vague plan of grabbing a burger.  Naturally, my first thought was Shake Shack but then we saw 5 Napkin Burger  and thought we’d try it out.  It looked crazy busy but were seated straight away so I got to try their original burger whilst husband had the Avocado Ranch – he had gone avocado crazy on the first two days of this trip.  They were both bloody delicious.

Monday lunch – Alamo Drafthouse
We kind of gave up on meals on Monday – the burger had been so filling the night before – so for lunch, we had popcorn and warm pretzels whilst watching The Big Sick.  It was a crazy amount of butter popcorn.  It was a bit confusing to start with as we couldn’t figure out where to get food from, but one of the waiters came and explained it to us – write what you want from the menu on an order card, stand it up on the table in front, and they’ll come and take your order.  You can continue to do this throughout the film as they keep an eye on everyone and towards the end, the bill is dropped off at your table for you to pay.

Monday night – Five Guys
We got lazy and just had some fries from the Five Guys on our block after seeing 1984.  Again, I wanted Shake Shack but it wasn’t to be.

Tuesday random snacks
No proper lunch today as we wandered around Greenwich and Soho.  We had our traditional lemonade and sticky buns at Amy’s Bread in Chelsea Market which was perfect as always, and then we brought out the big guns.We visited Big Gay Ice Cream on our first trip in 2014 but it wasn’t ideal ice cream weather at the time.  This time round, it was about 30˚C so stunningly perfect ice cream weather.  I had Salty Pimp and Husband had American Globs as before – damn, I love this shop.

Tuesday night – NY Pizza Suprema
I have never had ‘proper’ New York pizza, so this was another one of those things I spent a lot of time researching.  There are a ridiculous amount of articles on the perfect slice, but many of them mentioned a place that was 2 minutes away from our hotel – NY Pizza Suprema.  I had to get rid of any preconceptions because honestly, it didn’t look like my kind of place from the outside but the pizza was AMAZING.  Nothing I’ve had before compares and just looking at this picture is making my hungry.

Wednesday snack – Underwest Donuts
I worried Husband by telling him I wanted to visit the Westside Highway Car Wash, mainly because we didn’t have a hire car so he thought I’d lost my mind.  This one was special – a tiny corner of the car wash has been converted into a little doughnut shop called Underwest Donuts and let me tell you – those doughnuts were so perfect .  There were too many to choose from – I had dark chocolate but I also wanted the espresso bean, and the maple waffle, the brown butter…  OK, I wanted all of them.  Why did we leave it until the last morning to try them out?It’s oddly satisfying to sit in a car watch amongst Magic Tree fresheners and washer fluid whilst eating doughnuts.  Truly the American dream.

New York in July – what we did

Having established that New York in July is hot hot hot, you’d be forgiven for thinking that being a very pale cold weather addict, I wouldn’t want to do very much.  In reality, we actually managed to pack loads into our short stay, and were out every night which is most unusual for our trips.  I very quickly gave up putting make up on as it just melted off, my feet are still broken, and I ruined a pair of shoes, but we powered through to have an amazing holiday.

What did we get up to, other than walking, shopping, and eating (which I’ll cover off later):

Saturday night – The Container Store
OK, OK, a bit of a slow start to our trip.  We landed at 2.30pm, raced through security onto the LIRR, and we were all checked in by 4.  Such an efficient start to the holiday!  We had assumed we wouldn’t have much time on our first night so hadn’t planned anything, but I knew I needed a Mint Mocha Frap from ‘my’ Starbucks so I took Husband over there first.  We then wandered down 6th Avenue, spent about an hour in The Container Store, before grabbing some dinner and getting back to the room.

Saturday night looking at bins and then getting caught in a rain storm – what an epic life.

Sunday night – John Oliver
The perfect way to end a day wandering around Midtown was watching John Oliver at the CBS Broadcast Center.  So amazing.

Monday afternoon – The Big Sick at the Alamo Drafthouse
This was our first trip to Brooklyn, and we didn’t get to see much but what we did see, we loved.  We took the East River ferry which was so easy, cheap, and fast.  Much more enjoyable that the subway.  We alighted at DUMBO and walked the mile or so to Fulton Street, which ordinarily would have been delightful but it was just so freaking hot so we didn’t really enjoy the walk.

Thank goodness for the air con at the Alamo Drafthouse.  I have been mildly obsessed with seeing The Big Sick for a while, mostly because I adore Kumail Nanjiani. Admittedly, we could have seen the film in Manhattan, but c’mon – it’s the Alamo Drafthouse!  Once we’d figured out how to order food, we had cocktails, a giant bowl of popcorn, warm pretzels.  The legendary service they offer was absolutely perfect and WHY CAN’T WE HAVE THIS IN THE UK?!?!?!

The film was pretty damn perfect as well.  I want to see it again!!

Monday night – 1984
I was a bit nervous to see this as reviews really laid it on thick with the warnings – people fainting, getting into fights, graphic torture.  Not really a fun evening.

I didn’t need to be worried – I found the entire thing boring and unnecessary.  Everyone else around me thought it was great though, so maybe it was just me.

Tuesday Morning – The High Line
I’ve been on the High Line three times now, and each time has been cold, windy, and featured dead wintery plants.  This was the first time that we’d been with the plants and trees in full bloom and it was glorious.  There’s still a bit of building works around it, and parts of it were incredibly busy, but I loved it as always.  Truly my favourite part of New York.

We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around Greenwich Village and Soho which is my favourite part of Manhattan.  We did consider going to the Whitney but it was insanely busy (do New York galleries every have quiet periods?).

Tuesday night – Macy’s fireworks
We ummed and ahhed about what we’d do on 4th July.  I’d trawled the entire internet for a rooftop bar to watch the fireworks from but they were either sold out or ridiculously priced.  Everyone online said it would be an absolute nightmare to go down to the East River to watch, so up until the very last minute we weren’t going to bother.

I’m glad we did.  We filed up the on-ramp onto the closed FDR drive about an hour before the show and managed to get a spot right in the centre of the five barges loaded with fireworks, although some of the view was blocked by a couple of street signs – we were stood directly below a sign for exit 9.  There were thousands of people on the freeway if not more, but 95% of people were lovely and very respectful of everyone’s personal space.

The main problem was trying to get back to the hotel once the fireworks were over as we had to walk down the freeway to the next exit, which was 12 blocks away from where we wanted to be.  It took us about an hour, and my step count leapt to 34,000 steps for the day.  I was shattered.  No regrets at all though – the fireworks were very pretty, and it was a great experience.

Wednesday Morning – Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum
I wasn’t particularly interested in visiting Intrepid but Husband has wanted to go for years so it was only fair that we visited.  My review – there weren’t enough seats and it was weird being on an aircraft carrier.

He really enjoyed it and I got doughnuts afterwards so that’s all that matters.

Up next – food!

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver – live taping!

When I was in New York a couple of months ago, I scored tickets to the live taping of Samantha Bee and it was awesome.  I would have loved to have seen John Oliver as well, but I was only there from Wednesday to Saturday and he films on Sunday so it was not meant to be.

For our July trip, we would be there on a Sunday but I was convinced there wouldn’t be a show as it was 4th July weekend.  But hooray – there was!  It was the same CBS Broadcast Center as Sam Bee, same booking, same waiting process but with a couple of crucial differences.

The first difference – Last Week Tonight tickets ‘sell’ out almost immediately (Sam’s didn’t) so plan in advance.  They make the tickets available at 3pm EST on a specific date, so for me, it meant I had the laptop ready at 8pm London time 3 weeks before the show I wanted to see.  You have to enter postcode and phone number, and for those not in the US, they suggest entering zeros (ten 0’s for the phone number 000-000-0000 and five 0’s for the zip code 00000).  I was worried this would be problematic, but it didn’t cause me any issues.  Only enter your details once as they say they’ll disqualify you if you do.

10 minutes after they’d been released they were entirely sold out, so you need to be ready to book exactly on 3pm EST.  There apparently is a standby line on a Sunday but they “frequently do not have space” so I wouldn’t want to risk it.

They advise that they’ll get back to you within 5-7 days but I didn’t hear at all so assumed we didn’t get the tickets (fooled again!).  Just as with Sam Bee, I got the email confirming I had tickets at about 11pm the night before the taping – YES!  I had to reply that I still wanted them, and got into a little email conversation with them on Sunday morning about whether I’d been before – I can understand wanting to see it again, but it’s so great that they discourage this so more people have the opportunity to go.

Anyway, after my 6am email chat, I throughly read the email which I recommend doing as there are a lot of instructions.  They suggest getting there no later than 6.15pm, but if you get there at that time, I very much doubt you’ll get in.  I was being smug and decided to get there for 5.30 but the queue was already halfway down the block so I did have a little bit of anxiety (I walked straight in for Sam Bee).Our names were checked off the list and we followed the queue of people through security and into the waiting room where the same woman as before told us the rules – no photos of John, switch your phones off, use the bathroom now, no leaving the studio once you get in – and after a short wait, we were led into the studio.  I got a bit disorientated going through the Center, but according to Wikipedia, they’re both filmed in the same studio.  We sat over on the left side, 4/5 rows back and had a great view.

After a quick warm up from the excellent Craig Baldo, John came out and answered a few questions.  He was brilliantly funny from the outset, and although he’s obviously still very British, he definitely has more of an American vibe in his confidence (if that makes sense?).  I wish I’d asked him if it was difficult to pronounce words in the American way – he said “math” at once point, and pronounced “aluminium” wrong. Surely painful for a Cambridge alum.

Just as with Sam Bee, everything was filmed in one take (other than one segment where he stumbled a bit over the script) and the clips were all shown as they are on TV, except for one additional clip which we saw in the TV version later.

As you can see in the top photo, a third of the set was curtained off and we didn’t know what was behind it but everyone in the studio hyped us up for it.  And when the curtain came down, everyone in the audience just lost their minds – this was the episode where John revealed they’d bought 5 presidential waxworks at an auction, and we were then shown the ‘trailer’ for his Warren G. Harding film.  I was torn between watching the video and watching John who was almost in tears from laughing so hard.

And then it was done – it felt super quick, and we were soon filing out past the terrifying waxworks.  Seriously, the Bill Clinton was the most freakish thing up close.

I can’t believe I’ve been lucky enough to get tickets for the two best talk shows on TV.  I love New York!

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class

I am not ashamed to admit that flying Virgin Atlantic Upper Class is one of the best holiday experiences I’ve ever had.  We were incredibly fortunate to be in a position to upgrade both to New York and back, so were able to check out the view from an Airbus A330 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner (my favourite plane), as well as sample cocktails in both the Heathrow and JFK Clubhouses.

Check in at Heathrow was a bit stressful – we didn’t use the Upper Class Wing, and joined a bit of a scrum at the normal check in which felt like it took forever.  The “private security channel” wasn’t actually worth it as it was going slower than the main security line, but it does look as though they’re in the middle of renovating that area. By the time we got to the Clubhouse, I was a little frazzled.

A Clubhouse that was rammed, but we managed to find a quiet spot next to a window.  I remember Rach talking about the spa, so went over to get an appointment – they had one spot left for a Bumble and Bumble reconditioning treatment which would be cutting it a bit fine for my flight, but I was assured that it wouldn’t be a problem.  Whilst waiting for my treatment, we had some breakfast and I wandered about to see what else the Clubhouse had to offer (we weren’t actually given a tour when we got there).  There’s a deli area, bar, pool table, half-finished TV room, and the most gorgeous tiles in the bathrooms.  I might have taken a photo for bathroom renovation inspiration.

The hair treatment itself was free so I’m not complaining but… The two women in the salon before me had insanely long hair which they were getting straightened and curled (each, not both at the same time obviously), which meant that my appointment was 10 minutes late.  It was a great treatment and my hair felt gorgeous afterwards, but Husband was waiting for me as I left the salon because our flight was already on it’s final call.  We almost had to sprint to the gate, which of course was the gate furthest from the lounge, so all that nice relaxing was ruined!

Our experience at JFK was a million times better, starting with the dedicated check in desk in a quieter area of the airport (although security still took an age).  The JFK Clubhouse is a smaller lounge, but I loved it as it didn’t feel busy at all.  We sat in a sofa pod where I almost fell asleep because it was so comfortable and just so quiet.  The service was impeccable, and we felt truly looked after – that might have been because our waiter checked up on us frequently to make sure we were stocked up on cocktails. It was almost a “thank you, Linus” situation.

I ended up having the same Bumble and Bumble treatment as before, but was able to enjoy it this time as I didn’t have to rush off afterwards.  I really don’t think my hair has ever felt or looked as good.  Not only that, but the luxurious Clubhouse showers were an absolute godsend after walking round a hot Midtown all day.  The flights were amazing – I mean, how could they not be when there’s a bar on board? The Airbus was a little older, a bit scuffed and chipped with the 1-2-1 configuration.   Husband preferred this – the seat dividers were higher than the newer 1-1-1 layout on the Dreamliner so he didn’t have a nosy American peering at his dinner (unlike our second flight).  The Herschel amenity kits are very cool so we now have two different Herschel toiletry bags each, and I of course kept my Virgin Atlantic PJs.  The salt and pepper shakers might have found their way home with me as well.

I tried the lie flat bed  on the Dreamliner for about 45 minutes, but it was just too hot to sleep with the duvet so I sat up and kept watching TV.  I did nap for a bit longer, but I was absolutely roasting and I only had a sleeveless top and thin leggings on – I didn’t dare try the long sleeved PJs as I think I would have melted.  It was a shame that I couldn’t make more of the bed, but the chair was just as comfortable.

The main negative from the whole thing was that the flights were only 6/7 hours long – I could have stayed on there for hours (I’ve just checked the price on the longer Miami flight – yeesh!  That’s not going to happen).

Oh, and the scrambled egg was the most hateful thing I have ever eaten – I don’t know why I thought they could make decent eggs on a plane.

Premium economy just doesn’t compare though, so now I’ve just got to hope that the upgrade gods smile on us and I get to experience it all again.  What an absolute joy.

New York isn’t New York without you, Love

2017 has so far been the year of trips across the Atlantic – St Pete Beach, New York, Miami and this past week, back to New York again only this time with Husband.  He felt a little jealous of my solo trip in February, so we took advantage of a Virgin Atlantic sale and booked up for July.

Hot.

Humid

4th July weekend.

I’m pleased we got to experience a different side to New York as we’ve only ever been when it’s been freezing cold, but New York in July is insane, particularly when they’re celebrating 4th July.  Every other person was wearing a Stars and Stripes t-shirt, shorts, dress, hat.  And then there was the Macy’s fireworks celebration.

They do love their independence.

We genuinely had a great time and managed to power through the oppressive heat to try some things we hadn’t tried before which I will be blogging about with my usual level of detail once I’ve got through my stack of photos.

June Things

Is it time for the second instalment of my monthly things already?  But I’ve barely done anything all month!

June has whizzed by, with my downtime spent mostly online researching my next holiday (New York, very imminently).  So what else have I done (*scrolls through Instagram and my bank account…)

My Garden
At the end of May, my Mum very kindly tidied my garden and planted some flowers, so I spent June worrying myself over them – are they getting enough sun, too much sun, are they thirsty, have I drowned them?  It’s a lot of pressure.  I have been rewarded with some gorgeous roses however, and am very much looking forward to adding to my garden at the Hampton Court Flower Show next month.  Is this middle age?

Reading
My Kindle was getting old and tired, ironic considering it’s named after my favourite robot from Humans, Odi who was also old and tired, so Husband kindly bought me a new one which I have named Mischa.  This month has seen me read a few blah books, and a couple of good ones including Eddie Izzard’s memoir and The Portable Veblen which I’ve been meaning to read for a while.  If you want to see what else I’ve been powering through, check out my Goodreads shelf on the left side of my blog.Footloose at Liberty
Watching the Backyard Cinema showing of Footloose at Liberty was everything it should have been – sand, deckchairs, excellent company.

Family Time
My Mum was in charge of my adorable nice one Saturday, so asked if I’d like to join them for some shopping in McArthur Glen in Swindon, which is pretty much my favourite shopping centre in the UK, so of course I said yes.  Driving the tiny blond one around in a one of those Little Tikes cars was so much fun – she’s such a joy to be around.  
The Election
I don’t understand this country.  I really don’t.

You really can’t dance here, man

I hope that one day, I’m asked where’s the weirdest place I’ve watched a film (a common question), because after this week, I’ll be able to say in a sand filled room on the fourth floor of Liberty.

I haven’t really got into the whole pop-up immersive cinema scene.  I’ve seen friends get all dressed up to see Star Wars or Back to the Future and thought “meh, seems like a lot of effort to me”.  I love comfort, so sitting on a rug on the floor whilst straining my neck to see the screen doesn’t scream fun for me.

However, something about the Backyard Cinema screenings at Liberty appealed to me. It might have been the Miami theme (considering my recent visit), it might have been that it was being held in my favourite store, or it could have been the brilliant selection of films.  We’ll never know.

The whole summer, Backyard Cinema is based at the Mercato Metropolitano in South London, a place I have yet to visit but looks amazing.  They’re showing some absolute classics there – new and old, children’s, comedy, action – all sorts.  And as a little offshoot to their summer season, they set up shop in the Disappearing Store on 4 at Liberty.  
Tim and I got tickets for Footloose, and I really do recommend seeing Footloose with him as he is a world renowned expert on all things Ren McCormack.  The last time I watched it with him was at the Prince Charles Cinema at one of their overnight PJ parties, and I shamefully fell asleep midway through.  I’m not sure if he’s forgiven me for that.

We were given flip flops before we went into the room because they had filled the whole place with sand, sadly not Liberty print flip flops which was my only criticism.  There were about 20 deckchairs set up with little tables full of sweets and popcorn, and we were given a drink when we arrived.  It was so satisfying to sit in the deckchair and feel the sand between your toes.  Made me really nostalgic for Surfside.  I really can’t think of a better place to watch a film.  They did such a great job with the staging, and I’m tempted to visit their main location.  I’ll definitely keep checking in with them to see what new experiences they come up with.

Also, I became obsessed with the Liberty cushions.  Damn, they’re pretty.  Possibly just a wee bit outside my price range however…