I’m obsessed with the mess that’s America

I had two full days in New York entirely to myself – utter freedom to do as little or as much as I wanted.  I stayed at the Fairfield Inn and Suites near Penn Station which was perfect – perfect room, perfect location, perfect staff.  Plus I had the above view from my room – I didn’t ever close the curtains as I couldn’t get enough of it.  Waking up to that view each day was so memorable.

I decided to split the island, take the west side first and the east second.  After a quick diversion for roadworks, I made my way to the High Line – my favourite space in New York.  I hoped to walk around the Hudson Yards considering this was closed on our last trip thanks to Snowmageddon 2015.  But again, it was still not to be.

Much less snow in 2017, but still closed.  It only snowed for about 5 minutes on this visit, but they hadn’t been able to clear the snow from a few days before so kept the Hudson Yards closed.  A bit disappointed, I made my way down the rest of the High Line which was blissfully quiet, if not a bit windy.  There’s a lot of construction work around 30th St so some of the High Line is under cover – I guess there’s going to be a lot of new apartments and offices within the next couple of years (also a lot of ugly looking buildings…)

I dropped down to street level at 14th St to visit Chelsea Market – another favourite place of mine.  I had a sticky bun and some lemonade from Amy’s Bread whilst texting Husband, feeling really homesick for him at this point as we’d visited Amy’s in 2015.  As much as I enjoyed my solo trip around NY, I did experience a few pangs of sehnsucht for him.

After a further wander round the market, I carried on south to the iconic Bleecker Street.  I am in love with the whole of Greenwich Village, and Bleecker even more so.  It was so peaceful and so different to Midtown.  I decided to just give in and be a cliched tourist.  I hit Kate Spade (where I experienced the best customer service I’ve ever had), Co Bigelow, Sephora, and you guessed it, Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment.  I was having the best me-time.

So cheesy, but LOOK!  CARRIE LIVES HERE!  There were some British tourists taking selfies in front of her stoop whilst I pretended I was a local, just out for spot of shopping.  It’s such a beautiful street and whilst I felt a bit guilty for traipsing down a regular residential street, I tried to be very respectful of this.

I’m such a dork.

So after buying a beautiful Kate Spade bag and some Co Bigelow goodies, I walked back up 6th Avenue, popping in to the Container Store to see what all the fuss is about, before picking up a very late lunch from Lenwich.  I intended to have a quick nap before going out for some evening shopping, but I ended up getting sucked into TV.  The bed was too comfy, so I snuggled in and watched the sun set.

Beauty Advent Calendars – week 1

I’ve decided to battle my two beauty calendars against each other.  Who will win week one?

Liberty
Liberty 15 week 1

Day one – Byredo Bal D’Afrique hand cream.  I’ve used this a couple of times and it smells wonderful.  And expensive.
Day two – Ren Moroccan Rose body wash.  Ren is always a winner and is one of my favourite brands.
Day three – Escentric Molecules 03.  Husband has already stolen this from me.
Day four – Hourglass Film Noir mascara.  Hourglass is one of those expensive brands that everyone seems to love so it’ll be good to try this.
Day five – Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant.  I’ve already been playing with this and it is so good.  Weird, but good.
Day six – Aromatherapy Associates De-stress muscle gel.  I think I’ll take this on holiday with me to use after a long day of walking about.
Day seven – Co Bigelow rose salve.  A repeat from last year.  Don’t even care though, as this is my favourite lip balm in the entire world.

Marks and Spencer
M&S week 1
Day one – Philip Kingsley Elasticizer.  Bringing out the big guns on day one!  This is the geranium and neroli version so will be interesting to see if that makes a difference, but this is a strong product to start
Day two – Burt’s Bees lemon butter cuticle cream.  Another solid item.  Will look forward to slathering this on my hands.
Day three – Cowshed Grumpy Cow body lotion.  I am more into the Knackered Cow scent, but I’m liking Grumpy Cow too.
Day four – Pür Minerals Volume Vixen mascara.  Coincidentally, another mascara for day four.  I haven’t heard of Pür Minerals before.  Is the umlaut over the U for function or design.  That’s my main question.
Day five – Leighton Denny nail repair cream.  I see Leighton Denny products in M&S fairly often, but I’ve only just discovered that this isn’t the woman from Gossip Girl.  That’s Leighton Meester.  Oh.
Day six – M&S Nuit Parfum.  This is apparently a perfume designed by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.  And yet is smells like something an old lady would wear.
Day seven – Rituals Zensation shower gel.  This looks fun – a gel that turns into a foam.  I have a feeling Husband will be stealing this as well.

Week One Winner
Liberty!

Mainly for the Dermalogica and Co Bigelow.  Although M&S put up a very good fight.

I was thinking about shopping. As per usual.

Liberty1Day two of my Birthday Bonanza was spent shopping in London with my Mum.  She tends to go to London with my Dad, and he always has specific shops he wants to visit so she doesn’t get to wander around aimlessly.  This was my chance to give her a bit of an aimless wander.

We started at Cafe Nero in the Oxo Tower after a short train journey into Waterloo, where we sat and planned our route.  First up, we need to find an emergency short-sleeved top for Mum as it had suddenly got very warm.  Top purchased from a popular high street store, we walked up Regent Street towards Liberty, my favourite shop in the world.  After lusting after some beautiful bags (Hello Mulberry!), we went into the beauty hall as she wanted to buy me some Co Bigelow goodies for my birthday.

Every few months, I treat myself to the Mentha shampoo and conditioner as it’s the next best thing to my dream conditioner – their lavender and peppermint range which you cannot get in the UK.  I grabbed my substitutes, picked up some of their chapped hands remedy, and then very loudly gasped.  THEY HAD THE DREAM CONDITIONER.  Embarrassingly, I had gasped so loudly that I attracted the attention of the sales assistant, so I had to explain why I was acting like an immense dork.  She smiled politely, and I’m sure she very subtly started to back away.  I was happy though.

Liberty2All of these products are amazing, especially the Chapped Hands Remedy which has already fixed my very dry hands when every other moisturiser has failed me.  I wish I lived in New York as I would be in the Co Bigelow store every week.

We wandered around Liberty from top to bottom, wishlisting many items and planning my perfect home.  I was quite disappointed that I didn’t see anyone from the Liberty TV series, but it was good to see the rug department was just as it was on TV.  Chocked full of rugs.

After Liberty, I very quickly popped into Lush to buy some Comforter shower gel (fortunately, it’s right by the door, so I barely had to go in the shop), and we stopped by the Benefit counter in Boots for some eyebrow advice.  We then fought through the Oxford Street crowds to visit House of Fraser and Selfridges – I really don’t like Oxford Street and it’s a massive pain that Selfridges is located on it.

We decided to head back at this point, and I gave my Mum the option of Tubing it to Waterloo, but she was happy to walk so we nipped down one of the side streets for a bit of peace and quiet, stumbling across Fenwicks in the process.  After a brief browse, Mum decided she needed another coffee and fortunately we found an empty Eat in St George Street – despite the building works opposite, it was remarkably tranquil.

We managed to get all the way to Charing Cross station when it started to rain, so took the Bakerloo line the rest of the way.  I think that’s fair though – my Fitbit said we’d done 9 miles so it was only fair that I gave her a bit of a rest.  She did very well (although I’m sure she slept all of Sunday).

We wend our way through the longest part of the day

Green Room2

Thursday felt like an insanely long day.  It was the penultimate day of Ryan, Tim, Husband, and my Work Week Hustle Fitbit Challenge and I was determined not to be last (Tim and Husband were in a whole other league to Ryan and I).  As it turns out, the 20,000 steps I did on Thursday nudged me firmly into third place so I was happy with that.

The day started with a trip to the University of Winchester for a very productive meeting (and a productive 3000 steps).  In the afternoon, I jumped back on the train into London.  I wanted to go to Selfridges to visit Tatty Devine, but South West Trains messed me about so much that I ran out of time.  I did manage to make it to Liberty though where I visited my favourite section of the store, Co Bigelow.  I credit their Mentha shampoo with curing the mild alopecia areata that I suffered from a couple of years ago, so wanted to stock up on some more.  Plus, who doesn’t love a trip to Liberty.

Liberty CoBigelow

Super cute neon!

After my mini-spree, I walked back down Regent Street to meet Tim at Leicester Square and we walked over to our newest favourite South Bank restaurant, The Green Room.  Tim had found an offer for BOGOF burgers, so it seemed a perfect place for our Christmas gift exchange.  The restaurant is full of props and recycled items from The National Theatre, great food, and very happy staff, and I very much enjoyed spritzing my vinegar onto my chips!

We both bought each other a book and an item very much South Bank based, purely coincidentally but it shows how well we know each other.  I already started reading my copy of The Secret History of Wonder Woman on the train on the way back, and my Mini Moderns tea towel with a print of the Royal Festival Hall’s carpet (long story) has taken pride of place in my kitchen.  I also got a bonus gifty of Adam and Joe’s XFM shows – WOO!

Husband had already warned me not to let Tim walk too far (they were engaged in their own step battle) so we only did one lap around Waterloo.  Also because my beautiful Nike x Liberty trainers were killing me.

I had a very good night sleep after my 10 miles.  And we’re all taking the week off challenges now.  Maybe a month.

Bring me an alien this year

Christmas has become a little different since the arrival of my two nieces.  They’re not quite old enough to understand what’s happening, but there is definitely a higher proportion of plastic flying around!  We had Christmas lunch at my in-laws, but as always, we spent a couple of hours at my parents in the morning opening presents.  Everything was nicely timed so we effectively opened presents over the course of the whole day.

I lucked out this year for several reasons.  Reason number one:

J4Husband upgraded my Nikon J1 to a Nikon J4.  My J1 is getting a little tired and I’ve spent the last year or so debating what Compact System Camera to get as I knew I wanted another mirrorless one.  I eventually settled for the newest Nikon – I knew my lenses would fit and I’m familiar with the settings.  So far, I love it – much smaller and lighter than my J1.  The above is the last photo I took with my J1 😦

Christmas 2014Reason number two that I lucked out was that my wonderful mother-in-law had just got back from New York where she heroically braved Sephora and Co Bigelow for me.  She bought me the Glitz and Glam Party Essentials which has so much great stuff inside, a set with 10 Sephora eye pencils, a Deborah Lippmann varnish in Let’s Go Crazy, and some of my favourite Lavender and Peppermint conditioner from Co Bigelow.  I have been in heaven playing with all my new make up over the past couple of days.

Husband also bought me an arctic fox necklace from Tatty Devine and Science For Her by Megan Amram which is hilarious.  My brother-in-law and his wife got me Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes which I can’t wait to dig in to, and a sleep set from This Works.

Now I just need somewhere to squirrel this stuff away.

Liberty Beauty Advent Calendar – week 2

Liberty Advent2Husband and I have just spent half an hour arguing over the best way to shoot this week’s Liberty Beauty Advent Calendar products.  You better appreciate this.

  • Day eight – REN Skincare Express Make-Up Remover.  I love REN.  When we stayed at a Room for London a couple of years ago, they had loads of REN products in the bathroom which pleased me greatly. I shall look forward to using this.
  • Day nine – Hourglass Cosmetics lip stick.  I’m not a lipstick person so have no opinion on this I’m afraid.  I’m sure it’s very nice (although it’s a tiny sample size so a little disappointing).
  • Day ten – ESPA cleanser.  Another cleanser?  How dirty do Liberty think our faces are?  The USP for this cleanser is you can use it as a mask as well.  I’ve used it once this week, and it left my skin feeling… a bit odd.  But then I do like cleansers that leave my face feeling completely stripped.  True story – I once went for a job at ESPA head office.  I did not like them, they did not like me.
  • Day eleven – Deborah Lippmann nail colour.  Now this is the motherload.  I have been lusting after Deborah Lippmann polishes for such a long time, but could never justify the crazy prices in the UK.  I was very annoyed with myself for not buying any in New York in March.  There were two colours available for the box (I think) and I received the Liberty purple-esque Call Me Irresponsible.  This is going on my nails tonight!
  • Day twelve – Decleor Aroma Confort body milk.  It’s a body milk.  I have no anecdotes for this brand.
  • Day thirteen – Malin + Goetz Rum Body Wash.  Malin + Goetz are one of those companies I want to get into.  I see their stuff at Space NK and almost very nearly buy some, so I’m pleased I’ll finally get a chance to use something of theirs.
  • Day fourteen – Co Bigelow rose salve.  Ahhh, my beloved Co Bigelow.  I fell in love with them a couple of years ago when we stayed at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas (yes, another hotel bathroom story) and was very excited to visit their store in New York.  Their rose salve is BEAUTIFUL.  It has an almost vanilla scent to is, the rose is very subtle.  I’ve just slathered this onto my lips and I instantly loved it.  SCORE!

So far, week two even better than week one!

New York: Day two – Accidental half marathon

DSC_9498

Pan by Sean Landers on the High Line

Probably one of the most amazing moments happened as we slowly woke up on the Friday morning.  Pulling back the curtains and just seeing New York right there in front of us was stunning and we were so glad we booked this hotel.

I turned on the TV almost immediately so we could watch as much Good Day New York as possible.  Watching Greg Kelly live was definitely something I had been looking forward to (if you watch The Soup, you know why).  It is just one of the worst/best TV news shows I have ever seen, and it was such a shame that we were here over the weekend as it meant we missed out on two days of Greg’s nonsense!

Greg Kelly

Greg Kelly, the nutcase.

We very quickly learnt this morning that Americans know nothing about their own weather.  Shortly before we arrived in NYC, they were talking about snow showers and temperatures of -9.  This turned out to be completely wrong.  We watched the weather on GDNY and they were promising cold temperatures again but clear skies, so we both went out with our coats to walk the High Line.  Never again would we listen to their reports.

First up – find some breakfast.  We were still quite full from McGees last night so only wanted something light, and thought we’d find somewhere on Sixth Avenue.  We peered in coffee shops for a few blocks but they were all rammed with people and very little seating – their cafes are all so small!  We eventually found a Starbucks which didn’t have much of a queue, and decided to get a morning bun and some coffee to take away, finding a seating area a couple of blocks down.

We cut across Manhattan to get to the start of the High Line, down at 10th Avenue and 30th Street (probably about 2 miles).  I was quite hot by this point, so had resorted to dragging my coat behind me but pretty much as soon as we stepped foot on the incredibly busy High Line, it started to rain.  Rain which had not been predicated.  Stupid weather.  We continued our walk from 30th down to Gansevoort Street, underneath The Standard (we didn’t see any nudies).  I did really enjoy the walk, but the rain ruined any photo opportunities, and the fact that all the plants were dead didn’t help either.  Everything was grey.  Boo 😦

We had a bit of a wander through Greenwich Village, stumbled across a film set which had taken a break in the rain – we think it was Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll so not that exciting – and then we found Co Bigelow.  The last time we were in Las Vegas, we stayed at the Cosmopolitan which had amazing Co Bigelow toiletries.  Since then, I’ve desperately wanted to stock up on my favourite conditioner, so now was my opportunity.  Of all the places in New York, the one I was most excited about was a drug store.  WOO!

Co Bigelow

Happy with my purchases, we made our way back up Sixth Avenue, stopping at Old Navy so I could buy a couple of t-shirts and a lightweight hoodie as my coat was already irritating me.  We realised we’d gone passed the Kiehl’s flagship store  (Husband is a fan) so we turned back to visit and spend a ridiculous amount on skincare.  We found another Starbucks and had a very quick lunch before setting off again back up Sixth.

It was a long old walk, through the Flatiron district and Madison Square Park – we thought about having a Shack Shake but the queue was insane – passed the Empire State Building, the New York Public Library and the Rockefeller Center.  You’ll notice I’m saying we went passed all of these things, but it had already been an incredibly long day in the rain so we didn’t stop.  Except when we got to Uniqlo on 5th Avenue, but this was only a brief stop as Husband hadn’t prepared himself for a spree.

We got back to the hotel where I has a lovely bath, then passed out for several hours.  Husband researched where we’d be going for dinner, then gently woke me up in time to do my hair and make up for our Off Broadway adventure.

My legs had stopped working after our earlier traipse around the city, so we jumped on the R train for the 20 minute subway ride to the East Village.  We found Paprika which was a gorgeous little Italian, where I filled up on mozzarella salad, and Husband had some kind of meaty, cheesy fettuccine, with a tiramisu to finish.  I really liked our waiter – he was so cheery – and it was a really great meal.

We then went over to Theatre 80 for the Friday night production of Bayside the Musical.  Yes, an unofficial Saved By the Bell Musical.  I’ve given the musical it’s own post so won’t go into it now, but we were initially quite confused as it appeared we had to queue in the bar next door.  Husband thought he’d prepare himself by getting a drink, where the interesting bar woman gave him a menu purely of absinthe.  And then wandered off.  Not wanting to get that drunk, we asked if he could have just a JD and coke.  The answer was yes, thank goodness, and the bar woman proceed to pour a metric ton of whisky into his coke.  She then didn’t know how much it was – it was very bewildering for everyone involved.

We didn’t have to wait too long for the production to start and it was amazing (as my next post will explain!).  After the play, we went straight back to the subway forgetting that the Big Gay Ice Cream shop was the next street over and got the R train back up to our hotel, then collapsed into bed ready to start the next day in New York.

It doesn’t actually sound like a lot, but my pedometer says we did over 13 miles in total.  No wonder my legs nearly fell off.