Hey all! I've been gathering inspiration for my festival looks, even though it's not as cool nowadays to try too hard at a festival. I'm going V Festival again because it's so local to me and my friend was keen to go; plus I'm so the kind of person that never says no to an opportunity! Even if the music isn't your dream line-up, you're pretty much guaranteed to know most of the bands at a festival like V, and my highlights will be dressing like you're on holiday with a dash of hippie, hitting the headphone disco on the first night, and bopping around in a field releasing my inner flower child. I'm not so into the beers and the camp fires (are you even allowed to light fires?!), I literally just take my entire makeup bag and use the weekend as a mini holiday!
My mood board may differ from the common wellies-and-denim-shorts attire but at a festival, I wouldn't really say that is the optimum outfit. Girls arrive to V with a head full of hair curlers and an outfit only appropriate for a club anyway! I got to the proper backstage artist's area a few years ago as I knew an artist and ended up having dinner with Beyonce's dentist. I went back into the area the next day as I had the access pass and the artist had moved onto the other festival location, I helped myself to the free hair and massage stands, and then stocked up on drinks to take out to my friends! But alas, that is a story for another time. Here are the looks I'm feeling this year, featuring mostly chokers, plaits and lashes. The weather forecast says rain anyway so my co-ords will sadly be under a rain mac and umbrella! All pictures are from my Tumblr.
And here it is, the last serenade to New York! Can you believe it? I'm so chuffed to have received some lovely tweets and comments saying you have enjoyed reading these posts. It's possibly quite rare to read a blog post where nothing has been gifted, arranged or set up, rather than a true account of events that would have happened even if I wasn't a blogger! Maybe I wouldn't have taken this many photos though, but you may have noticed that I'm not actually in many photos apart from this post! We were more concerned about seeing and doing everything rather than stopping to pose and reflecting the camera back on our own faces, and every second was precious due to the amount of time it takes to get from A to B in New York.
And so we begin the last day of Friday and it had really sunk in that this trip was coming to an end! The first few days with the Yankees game, Coney Island and the Pendulum gig in Brooklyn seemed so long ago and we had been all over Manhattan by now. We had managed to book onto the Sex and the City sights tour the day before as annoyingly you had to go to their invisible office in person, and also I arranged to meet up with a fabulous blogger (more on that later!). We had a few more things to tick off our list though before we began the SATC tour!
We awoke from an amazing night that ended up at The Jane and grabbed breakfast at a place that we had visited for food at about 4am the night before. How these guys were working all night and throughout the day I do not know, but we hoped they didn't quite recognise us behind our sunnies. You're invisible behind sunglasses, right? First mission of the day was to visit Grand Central Station!
XOXO! We didn't spot Serena Van De Woodsen but it is a breathtaking place. You can do full walking tours to uncover the secrets and history but we took a fleeting look before hot-footing it to the meeting point for the SATC tour, booked with our Explorer Pass.
Now the SATC tour was possibly my favourite touristy thing we did. Is that bad? I've wrote before how visiting sights and attractions wasn't my main prerogative and it was my wish to just soak up the atmosphere and lifestyle, and watching Sex and the City as a teenager and beyond was so my inspiration to visit the Big Apple. I would advise you to do this tour and any other bus, boat or sight seeing tours at the beginning of a trip as it really helps you get your bearings, and we might have explored East Village more if we were familiar with it earlier in the week as it was achingly chic.
We located our tour guide with her giant blue umbrella and boarded the coach with around 60 other giggling ladies (and a few men), with every seat filled. An open top bus would have been better for the views but the New York traffic means you edge through the streets slowly anyway and so you don't miss any key points. Like the hanging screens on aeroplanes, there were TVs up and down the coach playing clips of the shows and movies as we passed each point, and our tour guide was the most fabulous, over-the-top host! A guidebook listed the tour guides as aspiring Broadway actors so that explained the super sunny, all-American welcome and quotes such as 'Ladies - cute guy to the left! I die!' *cue everyone peering onto the street to a supposed cute guy, 'Ladies - do we all remember Saggy Ass?' and various other hilarious, girly anecdotes from the show that got pretty X-rated as we continued on with our journey.
We drove around the city and our guide picked out places featured in the show and played the matching clips, such as the park where Miranda met Steve's girlfriend Debbie, Aiden's furniture store where Carrie once visited with Stanford, and around 50 other scenes. The tour was over three hours long and our first stop was to browse the sex shop where Charlotte bought her Rabbit and grab a giant pizza slice where Miranda and Carrie once filled up after an unsatisfying raw dinner served by Smith Jared (a very random combination of scenes there!), and then onto Buddakan, where Carrie and Big hosted their pre-wedding dinner in the first movie and they emerged on these stairs to applause from all of the diners below. You got a good look round the place and a discount on drinks there for the future.
The climax of the tour was of course Carrie's apartment near Bleecker Street, which actually has a fictional address. I felt it was almost a pilgrimage for me to visit her stoop. We had 25 minutes to take a look at the building, as it does have real residents so you can't quite browse around, and visit the nearby Magnolia Bakery, where Carrie told Miranda she had a new crush called Aiden who she believed to be very cute. As the tour group continued onto Carrie's place, we first grabbed a delicious cupcake and a slab of thickly iced cake, that was every bit as delicious on the spot as it was later that night at 4am!
Carrie's apartment! On TV the street looked huge and towering but in real life it was but a doorway and some steps that you can't climb, but can certainly take a snap or selfie in front of. We had mere moments to take one before running back to the coach as it was due to set off. This is my favourite picture of the whole holiday!!
Many people hadn't had chance to get a cupcake due to the huge queue so it was lucky we nabbed those first. East Village is very hip and laid back so would be a beautiful pit stop for a delicious lunch or some window shopping if you visit NYC. There are also very few tourists so you could strike up conversations with locals!
Next up was to sample a Cosmopolitan at Aiden and Steve's bar Scout, but we departed the tour as this was the final destination and we had someone special to meet! I would say that it is so fun to relive each clip as you travel across New York and the tour guides are so fun, but you could save money and take a trip to the buildings yourself if you planned it well. Some of the clips we drove by were quite insignificant, though I know every scene to every episode so they all resonated with me!
We soon hit the subway and headed even further East to met with the unbelievably sweet Erin of Spikes and Sequins and her equally gorgeous cousin! I worked with Erin when I worked with fashion bloggers at Motel and she always took such amazing photos in the garms' I sent that we became Instagram friends and I just knew we had to meet up! She is every bit as hot as her smokin' snaps reveal - you have to drop her a follow for ultimate inspiration on bodycon style with added sass. I don't think I said in person how cute she was but just look at that super high ponytail and fabulous outfit! These girls were such fun to hang out with and I hope they visit the UK soon!
We dined at the Frying Pan which is actually a boat on the water! The food was really fun, with mini burgers, watermelon salad and crab cakes, and we of course sampled a few cocktails too while subtly rocking back and forth on the waves. As it was Friday night it was brimming with hip New Yorkers and I bet is amazing at night.
There was then just one more stop to make. My dad is a fire fighter and he said we could take some shirts from the UK and swap them for FDNY shirts. This wasn't exactly a policy but you can knock on the fire station doors and purchase their shirts anyway, of course not if distracting them from work. We were like giggling school girls when we paid our local station a visit, but the guys welcomed us in and offered to take a photo - and gladly took the shirts! We giggled away with a free support bracelet and regaled that yes, these American guys are just so wholesome. Swoon! Just look how happy I look, haha!
And then it was onto the final night and the final farewell! Such mixed emotions and sadness as we realised we had literally ruined our own lives (not really) - how could we head back home after we had experienced such sights and such wild nights! We got ready one last time and FYI the 'songs of the holiday' ended up being Nick Jonas, Carly Ray Jepson and Miley Cyrus (of course!) - not sure why the first two became apparent but we just ended up singing them over and over!
We embarked on our final destination - The Standard Hotel. Hosting the absolute most exclusive set of rooftop clubs that light up lavishly in the sky each night, I was determined to have a go at getting in. We had already tried the previous night to go but were told it was a 'private party' by some people outside, but we soon realised that was tough bouncer code for 'You're not coming in'. We had more faith in ourselves and so we formed a plan, stood tall, threw our shoulders back, and strutted into the huge marbled reception area that was deathly silent and infinitely long.
We were informed by a person at the desk that the club entrance was actually around the corner so I casually asked him who the promote was that night before we turned away. He mused 'Um, Troy I believe'. We were in! Around the corner were streams of people lingering before giant bouncers, and we haughtily named dropped good old Troy and got right in! Whoever you are Troy, thanks a bunch!
As mentioned, it helps to be silent, aloof and not smile or voice your foreign accent. Soon we were whizzed up in the infamous lift with the Solange and Jay Z altercation, and were on the rooftop of this dazzling bar. Like clockwork, we grabbed our first drink a few mere moments before people began chatting to us, from Wall Street moguls to Google guys. It's casual, it's friendly and there are no strings attached to these chatty encounters. Le Bain was an amazing space, made even more outrageous by an actual swimming pool in the middle of the dance floor. A steamy concoction of bikini bodies in the dark club, a literal pool of debauchery! I was transfixed by an actual swimming pool in the middle of a club, 18th floors up!? Cray cray! It was like a warped dream! There were loads of people running around and to the toilets in swimwear and towels amongst those enjoying drinks and dancing in cocktail dresses. We didn't depart until the very end and left on an absolute high.
And then it was time to depart! I've called Day 8 the last day as we only had a few final hours on the Saturday morning to grab a last breakfast of French toast with eggs (sunny side up of course), chuck everything into our straining suitcases, and spend out last cents on American candy and I Heart NYC souvenirs. We booked a taxi with our hotel which turned out to be a mini bus that picked up various passengers from ALL over the city and was driven by a cursing, raving mad lady! We didn't think we'd make it in time or alive but we had plenty of time to chill at the airport, check out just how many dudes were on Happn in JFK, and set off back for the UK.
Wow - such a whirlwind! It was such a difficult trip to plan as we were all under the weather in the weeks leading up to it and my nature is to plan every aspect all the way down to my makeup look each day. I'm not a clean or control freak - I just love planning in order to make the absolute most out of things! Hopefully there are some tips throughout these posts that could help if you are considering visiting, my main advice being to list the attractions and sights you hope to see, arrange them into a rough itinerary for one in the morning and one or two in the afternoon, and pre-book as much as possible. Getting a multiple attraction pass saves so much money! I'd also go off the tourist track to a football, baseball or basketball game, Coney Island if time allows, and also going to music gigs is a great way to meet locals. Dining, as always can be quite difficult and I never see how people 'stumble' across places, especially in a city this big. Research the best places near your accommodation and bookmark a few fancy restaurants for evenings out.
Thank you for reading my posts and coming along for the ride! Here is my full vlog again in case you didn't catch it in my first post. Enjoy!
Oh wow! I had the pleasure of attending the press event of The Bodyguard last week and it was just the most amazing evening. Accompanied by my nan of course, we were delighted to head to the Hippodrome and get one of the hottest tickets in town. I attend concerts, festival and shows all the time and try to go on as many holidays as I can because life is all about having something to look forward to and experience, and this West End show is the absolute shiny star of Birmingham right now.
Romantic, thrilling and often startling, the love story of Rachel Marron and her secret agent-turned-bodyguard Frank Farmer is intertwined with the lurking stalker, lit in dark corners of the stage at the most unexpected moments. Rachel's sister peppers the show with Whitney Houston's most heartbreakingly beautiful songs, but Alexandra Burke absolutely brings the show to the highest standard with an incredible performance that manages to stand out above the drama of the storyline and breathes such passion into the show. I often find stage shows can be static in parts and once a scene is set, the parameters of the action is set, whereas the production of The Bodyguard is a fluid movement across different acts with intertwining sets, solos and montages that meant you never took your eyes off the stage and the interval ice cream time came in flash! And that is without mentioning the amazing range of Whitney Houston's greatest hits and how incredible Alexandra Burke's voice and performances are. The audience went from transfixed to a standing (and then dancing) ovation of which I've never seen before,
It's also worth noting my nan has limited mobility and our aisle side seats were roomy and comfortable, and the Hippodrome has no issue with those pesky theatre drafts. My nan was a bit nervous about sitting for a long time but she had no issues and had an absolute blast - and has told all of her friends! Thank you to Hippodrome for a fabulous evening.
This is almost the last instalment of my New York trip and these posts have been so fun to write! Because I'm typing throughout the day at work, sometimes I don't have the energy to sit and type type type some more in the evening, even though my favourite thing is pouring my thoughts onto the screen. I seize every moment the inspiration strikes though and right about now I am avoiding revising for my driving theory test so its win/win! Oh to be back in New York and waking up each day with only excitement ahead rather than nine hours of work!
So in my last post we had been partying with Miley for real. AAAH! One of my friends had stayed in that night so we regaled her with the stories of the club before setting off for our second to last day in NYC. I forgot to mention that the evening before we had found out that we had to go to a booking office to prebook our spot on the Sex and the City tour, but it was a little too far out of reach and despite running across Manhattan, we missed the 6pm deadline. We vowed to make it the next day as taking the tour was one thing I definitely didn't want to miss, and so we only planned in the American Natural History Museum for this day, and we had also booked a gig to see Prides later. I still have no idea who Prides are but my friend assured us it would be Made In Chelsea-style indie band! We did have a range of guys messaging us each day to hang out again, from the male models from the previous night to the Brooklyn guys to the Yankees guys, plus a host we had lost track of placing, but we never wanted to repeat an event and just carried on meeting new people!
We caught the subway to the museum and used our Explorer passes to get in. We were at first a little confused at just where to begin and nearly joined a walking tour to guide us, but after grabbing a map we decided we could just walk through every single exhibition hall of each of the four floors and it would work out at around three hours.
I didn't know what to expect but this is a marvellous place! On a simple scale, it's full of every single stuffed animal you can think of. You work your way through continents and species, and its hard to believe the animals in front of you were once roaming around alive. The photo above looks like a painting but it was a real exhibit with the real animals! Quite surreal. And even the whale below is real!
I did have a soft spot for the chubby cutie above!
There's also the history of global civilization and an endless array of creatures to discover. The top floor reveals the Ross Geller Mecca of dinosaurs, towering and imposing.
What a sight to see! The natural world certainly give you a fantastic perspective on how the world has evolved to this very day and to each of us. I couldn't think of a better way to spend an afternoon!
This really gave us an amazing high and we even managed to find the On Location Tours office to book in for the SATC tour the next day - eeek! The gal recommended a nearby bar/restaurant for an early dinner called The Liberty and we sipped some fabulous cocktails, although the food was quite salty so I don't think I would recommend it there.
We attempted to shop away our food babies but the bloat was beating us. We hopped back to the hotel to get ready for the gig and worked out we had to leave in around an hour to get there in decent time. That hour turned into an hour and a half and soon is was around 8pm. Then it was 8.30pm and we realised we were going to be very late. By the time we were ready to leave to go find a cab and get across town, there was no way we were making this gig! Damn. It wasn't the end of the world, but who knows what might have happened if we had gone!
We cracked open another drink, got even more dressed up, and walked right out onto Times Square looking like this in my Rihanna x River Island thigh split dress. I felt like a million dollars! I stepped out onto the insanely bustling street to hail a cab and my Carrie Bradshaw dreams all came true in that moment. I also have a hilarious video on my phone of us shouting 'We love you New York!!!' out of a cab haha! One thing to note is that cabs are very reasonably priced and you could get from one side of Manhattan to the other for $20.
We changed the plans to head straight to a recommendation called Westway. If you like hip hop, this is the place for you! The side street was already electric with the buzz of the cabs pulling up and the music pumping out of the club. We got straight into here as it was more of a casual scene - the guys were in the coolest trainers and it felt like a student vibe - and there were iPads on the walls almost like photobooths, plastic cups of Henny and toilets covered in graffiti. This was SO my kind of place but my friends aren't really into this music, so we didn't stay too long. I didn't mind as I knew anywhere else we would go would be amazing! This night did teeter on the rocks as we did a quick consult of The Itinerary and picked out The Standard - which is THE most exclusive place to be in New York, with two rooftop clubs and the scene of the lift drama between Solange and Jay Z. When we had visited the Gansevoort hotel on night one, you could see The Standard rooftop pulsing with energy from across the skies! We stared up at the insane sky scraper and were ready to walk in, not even knowing if we would get in, only to be told by some passers-by that it was a private party that night. If only then we knew a bouncer saying 'private party' is code for 'I'm not going to let you in', we might have tried our own luck, but instead we started off towards Hotel Chantelle, met some hipsters who told us we were the Spice Girls, and detoured to their recommendation of The Jane.
This was not on The Itinerary so was a gamble, but we thankfully walked straight into the classic hotel and took the lift up to a teeny waiting room on the top floor. Predictably a bouncer asked us if we knew whose party it was, we had no idea, and we weren't allowed in. A few low key English guys happened to be there too and said we were with them (they were some sort of music producers), so we managed to step into the rooftop bar that looked a little like a drawing room, and out onto a brick balcony. It was more of a chatty affair rather than a club and we started talking to some guys who happened to work on Wall Street. And it's not like any of these New York dudes are walking around in suits and ties; just any cool person you talk to happens to spend their 9-5 in a cool NYC job.
These guys showed us there was actually a club on the ground floor where we first walked in! This was almost like a huge hotel lobby with leather sofas and a stage area, but the lights were down and there were a few hundred people dancing on the chairs. This was the best music of the entire trip and the Wall Street guys handed us a bottle of champagne before retiring for the night as they had work in the morning, and we continued dancing into the wee hours! Definitely an unexpected night but one of the very best.
I was going to start off this post by saying that I love to travel, but doesn't everyone? That's possibly a generalisation but I'm definitely not a homebody. Decorating my room with marble, cacti, and IKEA pieces does not work for me no matter how many times I reblog pristine apartments, and I have never felt ready to settle in once space in my entire life. Even now I live in a room I rent off my dad in a house with my siblings, so I could do whatever kind of DIY I want, but spending my dollars on paint and MDF strikes me with a pang of horror. Spending on travel however is my weakness.
My wanderlust travels as far as my purse can take me and I'll keep throwing my pennies into that change jar until it can stretch to far corners of the globe. In the mean time, I utilise my friends across the country for day trips, girly weekends and flying visits. The people at Travelodge (the people, not the puppets!) invited me to take the #Travelogical quiz and find which travel personality I have, and I resulted in being social travelogical; I hunt out the most hop hop happenin' spots (yes I just typed that) and search for the unique personalities of the destination, be it in food, places or people. A few suited cities were recommended for a visit and I chose Leeds! I have only visited there on a university open day almost ten years ago (now that is scary). I'd heard it was a bubbly pot of laid back style with a dash of Northern retro. One trip up the motorway on a Friday eve and we were there!
If I visit a city other than Birmingham, I'm often thankful if each end of the town is a walkable distance apart, and Leeds fits the bill. Staying at the Leeds Central Travelodge did mean we were slap bang in the centre of everything because everything is in the centre! My best gal pal and I checked in, fell into the heavenly cloud of the king size bed, and snuggled down for the night. No of course we didn't - have you read my blog before?! We had a swift cup of tea in the said heavenly bed before squeezing into our Joni jeans and strutting out. I had printed my standard list of places to check out and we were armed with a few recommendations from friends, so our first stop was the elusive looking Smokeshack. Literally around the corner from the hotel, we eyed up a few 'younger' looking doorways before heading up the stairs of this unassuming first floor bar, grabbing a cocktail from the menu. Spotting a couple of people from the calm bar troop upstairs, we headed on up to what was in fact packed out with people jiving to jazz, blues and soul. After chatting to the locals and sipping a few more of the finest cocktails, we checked out the imfamous Mojos (is there somewhere called Mohos or Mojos in every city?) and were presented with hard drinks on arrival, and then interrupted by the bar men dancing across the bar many a time. Leeds has the vibes that only the North can pull off and it was just a damn good time! I don't think I've been anywhere that was less pretentious yet so stylish.
We did retire eventually and had the most satisfying snooze before awaking bright eyed and excited for more. I'd researched The Greedy Pig as a signature spot for a bargain brekky and we took a ten minute walk over to this cute cafe with a menu that even the most delicate person could choose from. I could not differ from a classic (vegetarian) English breakfast and it was big and beautiful. A free steaming mug of tea was the starter to a hearty plate of the classics, plus corn bread and sour dough toast. Delicious does not cover the spot this hit!
We had no plans until a little later so we browsed around the centre with a carrot juice in hand and explored the tiled arcades and marbled archways. There are dinky shops and cute cafes alongside chic designer stores with windows to rival Bond Street. The highlight for me was my first time visiting a Space NK and by God, it was like walking into a YouTube beauty video! Every product I had ever heard of was there, from Sunday Riley Luna to Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel and beyond. Painfully expensive and equally as heartbreaking, we sniffed and sampled our way around the store before leaving empty handed and vowing that we know we've 'made it' when we can exclusively shop there.
We were getting peckish now and I was looking for a hearty yet naughty dish. I had researched the Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen for their famous Belgrave Feast that falls on every second Saturday, and we stepped into the wide bar space full of tempting vendors that pop up during that lucky weekend, from Caribbean to falafel. Mouthwatering! On the roof space (Leed's biggest public rooftop!) there is a bar-come-barbeque, with cute deck chairs, benches and comfy seats to chill, sip and look out over the rooftops of Leeds. It was a fine day so we had a sweet cider and admired the views before choosing which eatery we wanted to try. So many choices!
With different vendors each time, I was so tempted by the mac 'n' cheese from The Mac Shac but I had an insatiable craving for a really good veggie burger and Patty Smiths did not disappoint. Hearty, compact and flavourful, with a gorgeous stroke of mustard, this baby took many, many minutes to finish, complete with a dabble of hand cut fries drowned in ketchup of course. It hit the spot! My friend tried Nasi Lemak Malaysian and reported it was equally as satisfying.
We stayed at The Belgrave for ages as it had such a relaxed vibe, with cute people coming and going from the communal benches and corner nooks. It was literally the dreamiest, most chilled Saturday I've had in so long, and you just don't get that feeling when you are in your own town with your to-do list in your hand.
We finally departed, grabbed some snacks and even managed to fit in a few episodes of Dinner Date at the hotel as we tucked up under the covers and munched away. Lush! Then it was time to begin the process of jazzing up the face and sorting out the hair. When I think back to Uni days when I first really got into makeup, I would spend hours blending and adding and touching up, but now I could do my signature makeup in the dark! This makes life much easier as you can experiment as and when you feel like it.
We stepped out towards Bundobust, a craft beer bar serving a dash of Indian street food, and I sampled a signature Mumbai Mule (Finlandia Vodka, Lime, Spiced Goome & Ginger Beer) as I'm loving ginger beer right now, and it was absolutely delicious! Trusty taste bud-tingling. If I'm ever in Leeds again, I will definitely be checking out the food.
We continued onto The Botanist for some amazing live music and another tasty cocktail (my go-to is a Mohito), before spotting a rooftop bar and taking a chance. We went straight up in a lift to SkyLounge and felt slightly like we were in New York again. There ain't no bar like a rooftop bar! We gossiped in the warm night air and then hopped on to a recommendation called The Maven, where behind an elusive black doorway was a swinging, raucous bar with snazzy cocktails decorated with fresh flowers, and we ended the night at a club that I couldn't actually tell you the name of, but there was a huge queue and I used my new found New York clubbing skills and walked straight up to the entrance. The bouncer asked if we were on the guest list and I gave him a wide eyed look as though he was talking Chinese to me, and he let us in right away! Result!
Fast forward to the morning after and we stocked up at the hearty Travelodge breakfast buffet before departing from Leeds, agreeing it is a city full to the brim of fun, flare and interest. I'll definitely be back soon!
I'll being this day by saying YUM! Yum indeed. We strayed away from our bae breakfast spot Evergreens to go straight to our first day time destination, and took a chance to grab breakfast there. Again this was a traditional New York deli spot with the huge range of sandwiches, eggs, salads, pizza and beyond. They really know how to dine! I opted for my favourite French toast with eggs sunny side up of course, and I really credit it for never feeling hungover or tired despite partying throughout. My mouth is watering at this sight!
With bellies rounded and energies ignited, we continued on towards Ground Zero, the 9/11 memorial. I haven't included any photos here because it didn't feel quite right to edit a photo of a memorial as I began this post. We queued up for the National 9/11 Memorial Museum but found our Explorer Passes were only valid for the 9/11 Tribute Centre just across the street. This is a museum set up by the September 11th Families’ Association and focuses on the personal stories from all of the communities surrounding the tragedies. It felt much more encompassing to see such personal pieces of the events, including items and papers recovered from the sights and individual stories of those involved. After exploring the centre for around an hour, we were then booked onto a walking tour of the memorials. We each had headphones so we could hear our guides in our ear, rather than having to stand right by him, and of course the areas were still full of tourists too.
Tours are led by two guides and the first recounted his personal experiences of the events as a New Yorker, and what it symbolised for the city. He explained the events and picked out names of some of the individuals who were murdered that day. When he first said the word murdered I felt a pang of shock, but after hearing from the guide as the hour went by, the true sense of the events were overwhelming and as he stated, those involved were not lost but purposely killed, as hard as that is to comprehend. I definitely urge you to visit one of the museums or centres instead of just looking at the memorials as you cannot get a sense of understanding otherwise. My dad had told me that the guides of the memorial museum are survivors of the events, and I would urge you to consider visiting the Tribute Centre too and taking one of these tours for an even more encompassing experience. Soon into the tour, the second guide took over. She revealed herself to be a survivor of the attacks as she worked in an office in one of the towers, and she began to recount her memories of the day. She volunteers to do these tours and even now was so overcome with emotion as she told our group of around twenty people from all over the world about what had happened then and how it had impacted her life. The whole group was crying and it was such an intense and emotional experience. I wouldn't be able to describe the significance of the feeling that you walk away with, but our tour guide stepped back in and suggested the British people of the group visited the nearby British Memorial Garden. You add your country when you sign up for the tour so he meant us, and after the tour closed we did go visit the gardens.
Wall Street is a stones throw away and we marvelled at the financial power district. We didn't see any wolves of Wall Street but we visited a Duane Read and shopped for more makeup and snacks. I mostly brought home sweets and snacks as presents, and I'll do a haul soon.
We made a move towards the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island boat tour, but were a little too late. I was considering going off on my own instead and exploring Brooklyn or East Village but we hopped on the Water Taxi with our Explorer Pass and saw all of the sights! The boat is busy and goes super fast but it's an amazing way to see the island from different sides and drive past Lady Liberty anyway. I heard it's amazing at sunset too. When I was planning on visiting NYC alone, I wasn't sure I was too interested in the touristy things, but driving around Manhattan is hugely inspiring and breathtaking. The city definitely has an aura.
We arrived back to Times Square and looked for a pizza place as we fancied something satisfyingly filling. We ended up in one of the big chain restaurants which was decent, but I'll say again that staying so central meant the options were limited, and when it's dinner time, you want to eat right here, right now!
After the largest pizza EVER, we browsed Sephora again and hit the huge Times Square Forever 21 but honestly I was not inspired to shop for clothes there. There weren't any shops that I felt I couldn't shop at home or online, and I couldn't really afford to blow all of my dollars on items I wasn't looking for anyway. I wasn't disappointed but I'm probably spoilt by living in a city like Birmingham. I can see why Carrie wears a $10 dress with $400 shoes!
We took a visit to the Toys 'R' Us ferris wheel and then hopped off home to get ready for another night out. We felt rather refreshed after the previous night in and the town was awaiting! And little did we know it would be the craziest night yet! I dressed fairly casual that night with a crop top, choker and high waisted pencil skirt - OK, that's casual for me - and we grabbed a cab to The Delancey, a club that sounded very intriguing in my list of places, and a few people had said it was a fun place. It was wayyyy over in East Village and wasn't too busy at 11pm, plus it was a Wednesday. Only one floor was open and this was definitely a quirky place with lots of students in a dark, pub-style room dancing like cray cray to Spice Girls. At one point a girl we had met took a look at our infamous itinerary and crossed just about everything off our list writing 'NOT CUTE' and 'TOTALLY UNNECESSARY' next to loads of things we had been looking forward to or had been to! These were mostly the chain places but she did knock off Ellen's Stardust Diner and I wish we would have checked it out!
The legendary club 1OAK (stands for One of a Kind, so cool!) got the sign off from everyone and we jumped ship and headed all the way back West to the Meat Packing district. This was after meeting some musicians outside The Delancey who had played at Wireless last year, which really confirmed that everyone you meet in New York is 'somebody' but also really laid back and friendly! We cruised across town in a yellow cab (it never gets old) and got our game plan on. After what had happened on Monday, we had to get into this club! We made a pact to be silent, look aloof but cool, and subtly glide into the club.
We strutted out of the cab, had a milli-second of internal panic of where to queue up as it was just a black doorway in a side street with a square of red carpet and a rope, and took our place in front of the bouncer. He gave a gruff 'wait there' and we stood trying to act really cool and like we weren't nobodies. It dawned on me that there were guys with cameras there and then suddenly a huge black car parked up and out came a seriously skinny, tall girl in a red two piece with cropped, bleach-blonde hair and loads of silver face glitter. IT WAS MILEY CYRUS!!!! Miley. CYRUS! The paparazzi were flashing away and I was dying of excitement inside as she headed into the club with two girls in toe. This was New York!
The bouncer turned to us and I flashed him my ID while showing no facial expression and made a beeline to the door like I was definitely meant to be there. We had got past the bouncer!!!! We both strutted through the doorway and encountered a girl on a high stool holding a clip board. Uh oh. She asked 'Are you on the list?' and it felt like a huge neon Game Over sign was flashing before our faces. In hind sight an option was to look aloof yet as pouty as possible so they felt like A. it would be no trouble to let us join the club and B. we might seem like 'somebody', but I choked out the words 'Um we sent an email' (what is wrong with me?!) and my friend said 'Selina and Sarah...' The girl looked at us for a moment and without looking down said 'OK' and we turned and walked into the club. YES!
Success! This club was crazy from the beginning as it was around 1pm already and it was all low ceilings, chandeliers, huge booths and blue lights. The dance floor and bar were heaving but we joined the crowds and a hand suddenly grabbed my arm. While a man said 'Come to my table' to me, I looked towards my friend who was walking off in another direction with the male models we had met at the club we didn't get into on Monday. Hello! We went straight to their table which I can only describe as being a circle of models around absolutely loads of drinks. It was a total party, and chatting to someone who is so darn beautiful is literally the best. It was quite weird that a number of girls kept approaching the table, saying hey to the models and being handed a drink and walking off, but I guessed that the guys were possibly club promoters. All of this was going on while Miley Cyrus herself was on the opposite side of the room sitting on top of her booth chairs and dancing like crazy. Then they played Can't Stop and gave her a microphone and everyone was singing along with her going insane! The night went super quickly and we didn't even really dance as I was talking to a guy with a jaw chiselled by God, he mentioned oh so casually that Tyson Beckford was might be stopping by later. Tyson bloody Beckford... !!!!!!
It was an awesome night and in the cab home, I was freaking out that these clubs were SO hard to get into and there was SO much to miss out on! It would have been devastating to miss out on a night again and we were slightly scared but even more psyched for the future nights ahead. Of course Can't Stop was now the song of the holiday!
Hello everyone. So onto day five in New York! Now we had that relaxed feeling where you have settled into your holiday and you're in full flow. We awoke reeling from the night before and realising we were in the hottest city in the world and were going to have to strategically plan our next night out. However the Tuesday was technically our 'night off' as we were going to see a Broadway show that night and had planned the break into our itinerary. I was definitely looking forward to a refresh, especially as there was a heatwave and this was the hottest day yet. We took the subway to Brooklyn Bridge and started the day with the pilgrimage across to the other side.
It was later in the week that we were advised to take the subway across to Brooklyn and then walk across facing Manhattan so you can see the views without constantly turning around. I would recommend that as it's such a fantastic sight. The bridge itself is hefty, wooden and feels very separate from the island. The day was totally still and humid so it felt quite reflective to walk the length of the bridge with the constantly stunning sights, and feel far away but in the middle of the madness at the same time.
We reached the other side and grabbed a bite near the river side. There isn't too much by the end of the bridge but you can walk a good length of the water and see the sky scrapers in clear view. We were so lucky to have the weather.
I did plan to roam around Brooklyn myself but we didn't get chance to with our schedule and it was another area that I knew I could return to New York one day to visit. Since we'd been to the gig before there too, it felt like we'd had a sweet-enough slice of the place. We hopped back on the tube and used our Explorer Pass to hit the Top of the Rock. This attraction was literally a quick exhibit and a trip up a lift to 360 degrees of New York. We were told to visit Empire State at night and TOTR in the day time so you have the view of the ES building - clever thinking! Tall, clear screens block the edges of the rooftop so be aware you are shooting photos through those always unless you dare squeeze your camera through one of the gaps.
We were going to visit the Rockafella Centre attraction lower down in the building but time was a little too tight to grab food before Broadway too. We pre-booked up to see Wicked and even though I've seen it before, I knew a Broadway show was a must. In hindsight I could have gone to see a different show but when we booked the tickets, I chose to stick with my friends that night. The show was truly marvellous, magical and ten times above the performance that I had seen in London a few years earlier. It was literally flawless and each character captured you so fully that you were enthralled throughout. One tip - take a jacket! It sure is drafty.
After the show, we were tired but it was the perfectly timed opportunity to take on the top deck of the Empire State Building before hitting our beds. This has much more of an exhibition tour before reaching multiple lifts that take you to the top floors. The view is uncompromising and stunning at night. The sense of the bustling, noisy city and the many, many glowing rooftops and windows has an energy like nowhere else.
Because this post is so picture heavy, I'll pause now and move onto day six in the next post, as that too was so eventful and one of my favourite days. We like to party *hint!*
I'm breaking up my New York posts to tell you about an evening I can only describe as fabulous! The Selfridges beauty personal shopper Rose is amazing at involving bloggers with the beauty hall, as there are always wonderful events, evenings and taster sessions to really keep up to date with all of the happenings across so many counters.
I've had a few Clarins treatments before and would not spend my pennies anywhere else as it's truly a slice of heaven. It was a very welcome invitation to be offered to try out a relaxing after-work mini treatment at the Clarins Spa in Selfridges, followed by a makeover with the new makeup collection. It's so valuable to try makeup rather than buy off the cuff, and I am a firm believer in the counter makeovers you can have where the cost is redeemable. I'm always urging my friends to book one and discover a new way to do your makeup; it's at these makeovers that I've ever had any idea how to do my own!
It was a Thursday night and I ran a few errands around the shops before arriving to the little spa in a quiet corner of Selfridges. The rooms are tucked away so you don't feel in any way part of the busy beauty hall, and a glorious heated bed awaits, complete with a snuggly duvet. Experiencing a facial while tucked up in a soft, warm bed could not feel better. The lights are dimmed and your eyes are covered, while your head is soothed with relaxing sounds. It's not just your face that gets treats - in between cleansers, masks and oils, you receive neck, shoulder, foot and hand massages, giving the feeling of top-to-toe pamper. Just typing this gives me the dramatic urge to book in another treatment. Imagine having this monthly?! I might add it to my birthday wishlist for August. It is the most luxurious hour and a half of your life!
My facial was a mini taster and I was soon opening my eyes feeling like work was ten hours ago. It doesn't really matter that your face is now completely bare of makeup because your skin looks so good! Having someone else sculpt and massage your face achieves a result you simply cannot reach at home in the bathroom.
I was dreamily led to the Clarins counter and met the makeup artist Phoebe. Phoebe was an absolute ball and we gossiped the hour away. Makeovers are great when you can chat to the artist as the time flies and you don't even notice a whole face of makeup as been applied! I'm feeling really spendy this month as I'm teetering off the frugal wagon and just want a whole new wardrobe and beauty bag. I'm heavily eyeing up the Clarins Instant Light Base as my skin feels so dull and drab as the day goes on, and I had such a radiant complexion that evening. Plus I've started using SPF50 every day and it's making my foundation break up after a few hours.
The combination of glowing skin from the facial and a perfectly primed face made for a flawless finish of the Everlasting Foundation; possibly a contender for my MAC Pro Longwear. Phoebe also pulled out the new Limited Edition The Essentials palette and added a dramatic flick of deep bronze under my eyes which brought out the icy blue shades and framed my cheek bones. I've never done this before and tried it again that weekend for a night out! The palette is a true Naked contender and has a wider spectrum of shades.
I also loved the Instant Light Perfector, which the blogosphere has raved about since the beginning of time. The little tube of gloss adds a milky sheen that illuminates every curve of your pout without looking gloopy or sticky. It was so long since I've used a traditional gloss that I was quite amazed that I hadn't missed this step in my beauty routine! This was my only purchase and I've been using it during the day on its own and on top of all of my favourite nude lipsticks for an even more polished pout at night. Thank you to Rose and the Clarins team - I'll be stopping by once I've just up my Double Serum to try the Hydraquench range, and the Instant Light base is at the top of my shopping list.
Hi guys! It's Friday and I finally have some time to continue with the gossip of New York. Gosh New York, I can still hardly believe that I went there! As the happenings become memories and life rolls along, I already feel a world away, and almost one step forward to my next trip!
So in my last post, I left you during the day-after-the-night-before of a Pendulum mosh pit in Brooklyn and chatting over beers until the early morning in a scene that would have been at home in an episode of Girls. We had made the clever decision to just ride the open top bus the next day but that did not satisfy enough for a day in NYC, so just my one friend and I decided we couldn't bear wasting any second and to hit the Manhattan night air for a fourth night running. By now we had numerous guys from previous night offering to hang out again, and while their advances were mostly of the friendly nature, we knew a brand new night would bring brand new people. And we were not wrong! This post is very much a *bonus round* as it's simply a funny story, but I have no pictures to accompany this as I didn't even take my phone out at night.
I had a heavenly power nap before coaxing myself to hop in that shower and get my butt into action. That night was when I recorded my outfit in my vlog and I really have to stress that I didn't vlog or photograph everything we did, so I'm telling you here in these posts. It was coupled with the fact that my main prerogative was to enjoy every moment rather than document every moment, and also the friends I was with are, like myself, so not about that social media humble brag life. We had a conversation that went something like 'Hmm we really should post something on Facebook shouldn't we?' 'I'm not putting anything on mine' 'Me neither' 'OK well I'll post a picture but I'm not putting a status or description or anything' and that's how it stayed! I posted two pictures I think and even then I felt the shame. So you won't see many selfies here or outfit photos as we just didn't have chance to stop!
I have digressed but I shall continue with the night of Monday, and I spent a good fifteen minutes consulting our list of 100 bars and clubs to figure out which we definitely wanted to go to and which were open on Mondays and close to each other. I need some sort of orienteering award after this because it is way more difficult than it might seem! We decided to hop across to a mysterious rooftop bar that was opposite out hotel room, and then onto Up and Down as recommended by Maya and possibly a club called Avenue which apparently had an amazing Monday night on. The ground floor of the elusive rooftop bar, which had seemed amazingly full every night when we saw it from our hotel, was rather like a dungeon, and we followed the bouncer's instructions of 'turn left, right, then left' down the dingy corridors and to a lift. Another gal joined us and she was wearing what I can only described as a plunge, lycra printed hot-pant jumpsuit with thigh high boots - amazing. She basically looked like Beyoncé about to go on stage and had that vibe of being a girl totally dressed up but you've not linked up with your friends yet, so you feel most awkward inside but are trying to channel your most natural vibes. I, in contrast was wearing a midi pencil skirt and polo neck top a la Kim K but felt like yes, we had come to an awesome club.
When the lift arrived to the roof, it was clear this was a hip hop/trap night as the room was full of grinding couples, groups of girls dressed in the most skin tight, mega plunge dresses that I've only ever seen on Instagram pages with 300k followers, and guys in sunglasses. We grabbed a drink and stood outside to look over the rooftops. Times Square is so brightly lit that it actually looked like daylight! It was bizarre! This music was so up my street though and of course it was not long before some guys approached us who described themselves as a model/blogger/stylist/creative duo who had just rode their bikes over from Brooklyn. One was smartly dressed with waist length dreadlocks, and the other had a man bun, baggy hippy pants, and could do an awesome British accent. They said Avenue was a great party but Up and Down sounded like an awesome place, so we said maybe see them later and hopped in a cab. We got a little lost on the way and the cab actually drove past Avenue, so I hopped out and asked one of the bouncers near the edge of the street for directions, which he gave me with no fuss. BIG MISTAKE. Read on.
The bouncer at Up and Down first asked if we were on a guest list but it looked like the club wasn't even open as there was no one outside, so he nodded for us to go in and we headed through the dark door and downstairs. Monday definitely wasn't the main night as it was more of a casual vibe with low tables and plush sofas occupied by cool kids, and so we had one drink and a gossip before thinking Avenue was the way to go. Back in a cab, we pulled up to a very busy crowd now surrounding the square section of barriers outside Avenue and saw our model friends from earlier! Sadly they seemed to be having trouble getting in as one of the guys was dressed so casually in his baggy pants, and there didn't really seem to be any gap to go towards the club door anyway; just barriers and crowds of very tall, slim people looking very prestige. One burly bouncer told me to 'wait there' and we noticed a very small, tanned, wrinkled older bouncer in an immaculate suit but wearing the type of gloves you might wear while beating someone up (?!), and he was possibly the scariest person I've ever seen. I watched as groups of people joined the crowd, then seemed to be recognised by the bouncers and have the barrier pulled aside for them. Some people stood near the front for a moment before getting the attention of the scary dude and somehow saying some magical words to enter. I asked the nearby less-scary bouncer why we were waiting and he said 'be patient', ignoring my question. And it was about ten minutes before I realised something was up. We were not getting into this club.
We spoke to some guys next to us who had just arrived and were male models (male. models. YES) and they stood almost in silence as the bouncer sized them up for about five minutes, before somehow passing the test and being let in. By now it was around 2am and I was not happy about the wasted time. We could have gone somewhere else! Why wasn't he letting us in? Apart from implying something gross, the more friendly bouncer said a few times 'just a few minutes' and did his best not to look anywhere in my direction, before finally, finally turning to the scary, scary man and nodding to us. The miniature man I swear didn't not even grace us with his gaze as he shook his head and turned to other commotion. Argh! It was not like me to give up on a situation but I just could not figure out how to get into this club. The people going in were so random - they just seemed to know the bouncer. Was there a secret password? Open sesame?! We were talking to the friends from earlier who couldn't get in because of his trousers and one of the male models came out from the club too as he had tried to get us on the list (yes - a male model. His jaw is still in my dreams). We asked him what was up and he said apologetically "OK girls... it's because.... you're not tall enough." and looked at us pityingly.
Not tall enough. Not tall enough?! Amazing! I'm 5'5 and my friend is about the same and we were in heels, but he explained that the night was a party of models and celebrities, and we had rocked up after 1am thinking we could stroll in, without knowing anyone's name or being on the guest list, and looking like tourists rather than effortless models. We were so obviously nobodies! They didn't want their club to be a tourist playground; it had to be the most exclusive crowd around. Ah! So that made sense and we realised we had got very lucky with the clubs we had been to so far. And it was even more apparent when, five minutes later, Wesley Snipes walked out of the club and then a guy from Empire. Woah. And I also just Googled the club and that scary bouncer is actually this guy. WOAH. We asked ourselves who did we think we were when we assumed we could just walk into the most exclusive clubs in the most exclusive city in the world. We grabbed pizza slices and pondered our new found knowledge, before heading off and buying makeup in the 24hr CVS on Times Square at 2an. Not at all a bad end to a night that had no expectations for, but definitely a night not to forget! So how did our other night fare when we did manage to get into what is known as THE most exclusive club in NYC? Stay tuned!
Evenin' y'all! That's my best American introduction to my second post right here! Reliving my trip is literally giving me life right about now. Day three was technically our second full day in NYC and after visiting Yankee Stadium, Coney Island, and an exclusive rooftop bar on the first day before, we awoke ready but damn hungry. I think this was the day that we went from place to place looking for decent breakfast food - Times Square is not the place (unless it's Evergreens, aka heaven!). Sadly it closes early on Sunday - boo!
I have to give a shout out to the skyscraper directly opposite our hotel, as you could see directly into the windows. There was an apartment that left the curtains wide open to reveal a chic, book-lined bedroom with a Tumblr-worthy white bed containing a very beautiful man within the sheets. We spent the first morning swooning over him softly sleeping, and low and behold, on Sunday morning he was joined by a snoozing girlfriend and their fluffy white PUPPY. Yes it really was a scene from Instagram. I said a wish that my life too would be that beautiful. Sure it was a little creepy to be watching people sleep, but we figured it was them who left the curtains wide open to show off their perfectly coiffed Sunday morning. Amazing!
For brunch we settled on a deli, and by deli I mean one of the many places that we would probably regard as a café in Europe, but they house counters of salads, pizza, sandwiches, and every kind of lunch choice to the max. A muffin in New York is like no other muffin! A top tip is to drop in and remember any of these delis that you see along your travels, as they are so well priced and might look like nothing special from the outside, but the selection is incredible. I believe I indeed had French toast again and we left with a phone number on a napkin from a cashier and the destination of Central Park.
We had heard that Sunday was the day to go to Central Park and this was not wrong. We stood at the edge and knew that one of the many rickshaws or horse-drawn carts would be a good option to see the whole park. We negotiated a rickshaw for $60 for an hour in total and in hindsight maybe shouldn't have opted for a Turkish driver rather than American, but our guy was seriously charming and knew all of the sights.
We were soon peddling away at a lovely pace around the park. I can't even tell you just how many people were there. At any one second there would be about twenty runners in skimpy shorts with iPhone pouches, fifteen couples strolling with ice-creams, five gossiping nannies pushing strollers, friends chatting whilst power-walking, and that's not mentioning the usual tourists. And the next second there would be a hundred more people! The sheer amount enjoying the park on such a beautiful day was wonderful and really showed how populated the city is. Might I add, we arrived in Manhattan on the cusp of a heatwave and it was a scorching 26 degrees! We slurped on ice lollies that eventually turned our hands into a child-like sticky mess, and cruised along on wheels feeling like the best.
We stopped by the Friend's fountain and tried out some slightly ill-timed jumping photos (fail!), peddled past the John Lennon memorial, and around this b-e-a-utiful lake. Gorgeous!
This was without doubt the loveliest way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Our ride lasted quite a while as you stopped off at the different scenic spots to chill and take photos, and soon enough we had persuaded our driver to pedal us right onto Sixth Avenue (scary!!) and somehow towards Columbus Circle to find the Wholefoods there. I had watched too many vlogs not to add a visit to Wholefoods onto our itinerary as potentially a cheap way to grab dinner and actually eat something green.
We were immersed by the lower level store crammed to the rafters with greenery and rustic wood. Wholefoods just breathes life and nature and oh my, the salad bars! We grabbed a box at the stations that said $8.99 and prompty started filling it with every type of salad, tofu, vegetable and grain on offer. I even thought 'Hmm, nine bucks on salad? Well I'm sure it's good'. I even stated adding things I didn't even want that much just to fill the box and get two meals out of this sweet, sweet salad. Then something clicked and it dawned on my that the price was $8.99 per pound. PER. POUND. Oh no. Ohhhhh no! I rounded up my friends and it dawned on us that we were about to spend $50 on salad. We had been just discussing that we were speeding through our spending dollars at an unexpected rate and here we were about to spend a whole $50 bill on a load of marinated vegetables!
We were starting to look shifty as we clutched our heavy boxes of artful legumes and huddled in horror. We contemplated setting down the boxes and casually running out of the store but since our run in with the Brooklyn law yesterday, we didn't want the risk of being deported again! With hysterical smiles, we realised we would just have to spend our green fortune on greens. We queued up and formulated a not-so-quiet plan of feigining suprise at counter and acting like clueless tourists. We chose which person would go first (me) and take the rap, before claiming we had no money and rush out like idiots. The colourful queueing system was confusing at best and soon we prematurely thrust ourselves in front of a cashier to hear out fate. In the end it came to $25 on salad, which was a relief but also $25 on SALAD. Never the less, we paid up, grabbed our hefty boxes, and took our silly selves out of there! Why are we so silly! Hysterical!
Time was ticking on now and we had a gig to go to so couldn't be setting off at midnight. We had prebooked to see Pendulum in Brooklyn, and if that sounds like the coolest thing I have ever done, then yes it probably is. A gig in Brooklyn - who do I think I am, Lena Dunham?!
We had such fun getting ready that night as we were making fairly good time, and I actually chose quite a dressy faux-suede Missguided dress with a loooow plunge (similar here). I wore this because it was just a Pendulum DJ set so the venue was apparently more like a huge rave. And it was a Sunday! We had no idea what to expect. We hopped into a cab and were soon crossing the bridge and pulling up to what can only be described as a dive called Output. Upon entering the black-walled, underground tunnel, the rave turned out to be a fairly small, slightly gothic club with various corners and turns, and a small stage. We grabbed a drink as we were rather early, and realised that everyone else was in black jeans and many things were pierced.
This did diversify as the evening went on and I set about to fulfil my mission of meeting Pendulum. There wasn't really a reason for this but after making friends at every turn so far, I somehow knew that some members of Pendulum were English and maybe if I told someone that I knew them, we could meet them? If you don't ask, you don't get! So soon I as speaking to the softly-spoken manager called Thomas who said sure he would let the band know that their friends were here (?!?!?) and gave us some free drinks tickets - result! So I skipped back to my friends, started speaking to a girl who I asked if life really was like Girls (I'm so not cool) and then Pendulum hit the stage, or rather the decks. The club was soon a mosh pit and I can safely say I am used to pulling some sweet shapes on the dance floor, but this space was more about jumping, throwing yourself around and generally getting cray cray. Not for many years had I danced like this, but it was awesome! It was literally a rave up, and at one point I accidentally found myself at the edge of the mosh pit and was pushed backwards, resulting in a rather large bruise on my behind.
After the set hit a climax and then even crazier heights, the club crowd dispersed and we were meeting Pendulum. I don't know if they believed that we were suuuch big fans and as soon as we saw they were playing in NYC, we booked our holiday around that (LOL! Total lies) but they were very polite and we went along with whatever they were saying. Of course we already knew it was their world tour.... um, yes. We had to make a very swift exit as we ran out of things to talk about - and there were some serious groupies waiting in the wings - and we stepped outside to hit the after-club. This was in another set of rooms behind Output and you could take the stairs up to the roof garden, which had the most amazing view over the river to Manhattan. Just incredible! While sipping drinks in the warm early-hours air, we eventually found one of my friend's friends who had moved to New York because he worked on Wall Street, oh wow. While they caught up, my other friend and I started chatting to his insane friends who all lived with him in a big Brooklyn house and of course we soon found ourselves drinking beers in their garden as the sun came up. To be hanging out in Brooklyn was potentially the second coolest thing I have ever done! I need to add that the bizarre events did not stop there, as one guy had just got back from travelling and went to have a bath for literally the next two hours, and then suddenly appeared holding up a painting silently until everyone's conversations suddenly trailed off and we were all looking towards the guy who had disappeared who was suddenly holding up a painting with his eyes closed?! Just crazy. It was officially morning when we headed back to Manhattan and pulled down the hotel room blinds for a few early hours' sleep.
So now it was official, we were basically in the coolest place on the planet behaving like we were doing these cool things on the regular. Tourist by day, party by night! I don't actually remember where we had breakfast that day as to be honest I think we were still finishing our epic salads (they were delicious by the way and I made sure I enjoyed every dollar's worth) and our next destination was the Hop-on, Hop-off bus tour; the first activity we used our Explorer Pass for. Because all of the activities we had planned so far weren't all on the tourist trail, we now had all of the typical sights to see, and catching one of the bus tours is a great way to get your bearings. We opted for the Uptown tour as many of the attractions are Downtown, and we secured the bad-ass seats at the back. Sod's law, the only time it rained on our whole trip was when we took this open air bus! We sheltered downstairs as we set off but soon braved the top deck and got kitted out with these lovely free yellow pac-a-macs.
The sun soon came out, and in fact it was so hot that I kept my mac on for fear of burning, and we plugged in our headphones. We definitely thought we would have a live human tour guide but most of these buses have little headphone ports where there is seriously annoying jazz music and a generic voice recording chipping in at the wrong times about buildings that the bus had passed five minutes ago. But it was really fun and retro, and we had scheduled this in because we knew we would be feeling delicate from the night before! We relaxed, sat back, and took in the sights of Harlem, Central Park, and the museum stretch in the sunshine.
And we were back to Times Square! Now was the chance to hit the mecca (Sephora) and tick off the long shopping list I had brought with me. I will do a separate post on my haul as I was also tempted by the miniature trial size versions of all of the most amazing brands that line the queue to the cash register. You couldn't take photos in there but I tempted both of my friends to buy make up sponges ("They will change your life!") and left $100 lighter.
We had a hilarious dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp, which has funky merchandise and singing waiters (thanks for the recommendation Victoria!), and decided that myself and one friend were going back out on the town that night. Yes, forth night in a row! You may be thinking that's crazy but we were spending our nights socialising rather than crazy drinking, so we weren't feeling effects of a terrible hangover, we were just tired if anything! I had an indestructible energy supply through the trip and just the fact of being in New York made me not want to waste one second. This night turned out to be a total game changer, but I think I'll leave that until my next post! We already had about ten new friends messaging us to hang out but after a 20 minute power nap, we set out on our own again, totally open to whatever was going to happen on another crazy night in NYC!
Hi guys! The time has come, the dream has been realised and I can now live happily ever after because I went to NEW YORK!!! I did share snaps on my Twitter and Instagram but it still might have flew under the radar as since when was I going to New York?! I don't know if I even mentioned it properly, for fear it might not actually happen. Well as part of turning 25, aka the quarter life crisis, I asked myself why am I working? What am I living for? If I won the lottery tomorrow, what would I do? Top of my wishlist for a very long time has been to live in New York, but that itself is rather tricky and of course I need to visit first! I was considering spending months saving and going on a long trip across the USA but as it's such a huge space, it wouldn't be worth spending a couple of days in each place. So I narrowed it down to just the East coast, and then planned to visit New York, Boston (where I have some family) and Toronto (Drake hunting obvs.). I have to add, I was planning to do this on my own, but then my friend said she'd be up for a New York trip! It's so expensive compared to a city break so we decided to turn it into the best ten days in Manhattan and booked up! We only did that a month or so in advance as I was waiting until the final moment, but I had planned the trip for May. It's so daunting to actually set dates and book them! Another good friend also joined the trip and so then there were three!
I wasn't too fussed about the touristy side; I wanted to live there for a week! However having two friends with me was a compromise that was definitely a positive and so soon this trip was about having a blast doing NYC the way it has to be done, and I can always go back there with someone who has 'done' the tourist trail too! Plus I planned to go off myself if I there were any destinations I wanted to visit that weren't on our list.
And soon the month of May rolled around and we had a couple of meetings to discuss our itinerary. Being there for eight nights meant we could do loads of stuff but had to order them in a clever way so we weren't going up and down the island each day. We first booked the Explorer Pass, which gets you access to 10 of 60 attractions within 10 days! It was such amazing value and we encountered no queueing throughout the holiday, all while saving hundreds of dollars on entry prices. We also booked two gigs, a Broadway show, a Yankees game and Coney Island wristbands, PHEW! We went home exhausted and realising we had spent about £1,000 total, and then met up again to loosely order the places we wanted to go into the different days.
Sadly the week before the trip I was really under the weather, It seems to be human nature that every few months you are struck down with 'your' version of sickness, and mine is my sinuses being infected. For a week I was exclusively breathing through Olbas oil tissues, was drinking 3 ltrs of water per day, and went to be at 8pm each night, all while trying to complete my work cover for ten days and packing, and of course when you are visiting somewhere as highly-rated as New York, there is an absolutely endless amount of research you can do. I began by emailing some babes that I knew had been/lived there, and watching vlogs, before trying to get to grips with Uptown, East Village and Brooklyn, It's quite hard to plan for a destination you have no concept of, but our 10 page itinerary was soon being printed and the day came!
There is a new flight with American Airlines from Birmingham Airport and we were booked on the first one! It was around £100 more than flying from Manchester the day before, but after the craziness of getting to Gatwick when we flew to Athens, we vowed we would never again travel if we didn't need to. Considering getting to Manchester/London and back would have cost us near enough £100, we chose the smooth option and it really did pay off. Even typing this now I can remember exactly what it felt like on the morning of the flight! We sped through check-in and there was actually a party at the gate, with local TV crews and a free champagne breakfast! A Queen's guard gave a speech on the new flight and we all crossed our fingers to win the free First Class upgrade competition. But soon we were jetting off, sadly minus a vegetarian meal and gluten free meal for my friend and I (despite ordering them) so the surly air hosts threw plates of fruit at us for the next seven hours in the air. Luckily we had grabbed a classic Boot's meal deal, but the journey there was partially hilarious, partially ridiculous. We had only had to wake up at 6am so we weren't tired, but landing in JFK on New York time of noon, it really felt like almost bed time!
We hopped in a cab (amazing!) to our TRYP hotel on Times Square. Our experience was very nearly a totally different one as we were going to book a one bedroom apartment in East Village. Then at the last second, my friend found an amazing deal of 8 nights at the TRYP for less than £300 each! Staying in a hotel made all the difference as we got fresh towels every day and could always ask for directions whenever we wanted. However staying on Times Square definitely gave us the tourist experience of dining, as you tend to eat where you stay. None of us are foodies but we did end up catching breakfast and often dinner in touristy places, and I wouldn't say you need to stay so central to be able to visit the sights, as most were a subway ride away anyway.
Our plan had been to go to Wall Street for Friday night drinks but we were hungry and were not too sure we wanted to dress up at 5pm. We were all awake but crazy from the jet lag and made the decision to eat on Times Square and then head to East Village. Keeping in mind we had no idea what we were doing and only had a few online descriptions of clubs to go by, we headed for dinner at the Hard Rock Café for ease! This meant our first step onto the hustle and bustle of Times Square, which was just amazing! People are calling you and trying to sell you show tickets and stopping for photos and it's the moment of any holiday where you feel really far from home. I was in my element and literally strutted through the crowds feeling like Serena Van Der Woodsen mixed with Carrie Bradshaw. We'd made it!
Of course the Hard Rock Cafe was wall-to-wall merch and music so we ordered mega meals and after one sip of a cocktail, I literally felt so drunk. It must have been the jet lag because we were trying to sober ourselves up before the food arrived, and then after we were so sleepy. However we were already dressed up in heels, Joni jeans and crop tops though and it was barely 7pm! We couldn't just admit defeat so we jumped in a cab and headed to Alphabet City in East Village - literally like a scene out of girls. We went into one bar, had another drink, and honestly I wanted nothing more than to go to sleep. We called it a day and were tucked up in bed by 1am which was actually 6am on UK time - Zzzzzz!
With the most hard-core start we could muster, we were all most pleased to wake up to a fresh new day feeling rested and ready. We were set to hit New York hard and our first booking was a 1pm Yankees Game at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx! In hindsight I would recommend you to do all of the bus/boat/scenic tours first so you get your bearings of the different areas before starting your other activities. Our first day was almost spent out of the central city. Upon online recommendation, our first stop was locating a diner called Evergreens, which served up the BEST all American diner food. This was one of many waffles/French toast/pancake breakfasts as we had to keep our energy up and of course, it was DELICIOUS! Maple syrup is heaven. The photo above still haunts my dreams!
After many cups of English breakfast tea (as standard!), we were off on the subway to the Bronx and as the line came to an end, the carriage was full of crowds in jerseys and hats. As you leave the subway station, there are loads of stalls selling merchandise and food, and we contemplated some jerseys before looking for a bathroom. We went through one door and it turned out to be a huge club! Even though it was daytime!? After a bathroom stop, we decided to grab a drink at the bar and noticed how it was full of 90% guys. The first night in the Alphabet City bar was just a drink, but it was here that we had our first sample of the all-American charm. We'd just about ordered when a guy approached us, and his buddies soon joined after. Within ten minutes we had made best friends with these Jersey guys who worked on Wall Street! Can you imagine? It takes me about ten nights out at home to come across a guy who even has a job and isn't insane! These guys weren't chatting us up, they were just sociable and having a great time on a Saturday at the game with the boys. It soon got the 1pm but they weren't bothered about the start of the game as it was on for the next five hours! So we had a few beers, they helped us barter for jerseys (mine says Jeter on the back - apparently Derek Jeter is the best Yankee of all time?!), and made our way to our terrible seats. They did try to persuade us to go to a different bar but we had to go to our seats at some time! So we climbed many stairs and soon stepped out onto the stadium, which was so huge and so fun.
We took our seats and watched a few innings, while everyone around us drank beer and chatted. It's almost like a social event rather than an actual game, as we were surrounded by families and couples just enjoying the occasion. We of course had no idea what was going on and there seemed to be breaks every five seconds.
A man next to us complimented my nails and the girl next to him smiled too. Now this is when I realised America is so different - in the UK, a guy would never randomly compliment a girl in front of his girlfriend. That just wouldn't happen, people just don't start talking to you. But in the US, people are so friendly and chatty without any ulterior motive that it's the most natural thing in the world to talk to anyone, no matter what their sex. This is why we ended up meeting so many new people on this trip!
In the end we probably stayed at the game for half an hour max before leaving to go to our next destination! We decided to go to Coney Island that day, despite it being literally an hour in the other direction. It was a way to get the furthest places done first, and we had the afternoon to go. We took the subway and went all the way to Brooklyn, stepping off at the board walk. Coney Island is that retro theme park in Bey's XO video, as recommended to me by the sassiest of them all, Victoria. Thank you again SO much for giving us so many recommendations girl! She's awesome, trust me. You need to follow her Instagram.
So we spent a few hours riding these retro rollercoasters - hold the phone, I actually spent the time watching from the ground as I just do not like rides, eeek! I did go on a few but oh my gosh, never the big ones! I had a pizza slice and took in the views, obviously pretending to be Beyonce. We had major fun on the go carts (of course mine was the pink one) before having dinner at Applebee's served by the cutest waiter ever! He was probably around 19 and even wrote down his number to give us some tips on Brooklyn, awwh! We already had the Bronx guys download Whatsapp, or as they said 'Whatsupapp' - LOL - and so there was already starting to be a list of new friends recommending things.
We went back to the subway and missed a train just by seconds, and it was starting to get late now. I watch other city break vlogs and just don't get how people are not pushed for time, as we always seemed to be rushing around from A to B on every holiday. We left the station and grabbed some water before hearing the next train and finding our subway passes didn't work at the gate as they had just been used! The train had arrived and we saw a dude open a door to exit the platforms, so we rushed in through the door and up the stairs, but missed the train again! We were laughing and panting before we heard 'Excuse me girls' and a cop was walking up to us!!!! After a minute of all apologising profusely at the same time and explaining the story and faux almost-crying, he realised we were tourists and soon enough was giving us destination tips and posing for a selfie. This was not the last time we almost had a run in with the law, and I'll explain that later!
So we're eventually we were back at the hotel and getting ready for a night on the town. It was Saturday and we had a list of the most exclusive rooftop bars. We took one step down from The Standard and chose the Gansevoort Hotel, as recommended by a gal I follow on Instagram called Maya who is an NYC resident! Love her Instagram long time! We wore our fanciest dresses - Carrie eat your heart out - and stepped out of the cab into a line in the Meatpacking district (pinch me!). Some dudes in front of us suddenly walked to the front and got straight in, so as the bouncer walked by I said 'Hey' and he sort of looked at us and beckoned us to go straight to the front. As we stepped into the building the bouncers were a little uptight but we were taken in the lift up to the top floor, and wow, once you party at a rooftop bar, you can probably never party anywhere else again! It even felt so normal to be clinking cocktails while gazing out across towers of dotted lights for miles and miles. Amazing! These New Yorkers know how to party too, and the vibe is inclusive and anyone will talk to anyone. It was the best club ever basically, and that was considered a usual place!
So I'll round off this post from the 20th floor as it's so long already and we've barely even started! My vlog has already uploaded though if you want to see a snapshot of some things, although the juicy details will be right here on my blog of course :)
As part of my insider beauty quest - believing that results can come from within - I've been trialling a few new supplements. I'm don't eat meat so I need to take B12, and I've been under the weather recently so it's plenty of zinc and Vitamin C for me. I've been tentatively researching pill popping vs. solutions without getting too deep into the latest claims and spin stories, especially as the new 'working woman' should be juicing, jogging and meditating basically every day. The funny thing is that taking care of yourself actually doesn't take up too much time and the more simple, the better! If it's filling up a water bottle or a 45 minute exercise class, it all works. I was sent this Vitamin C supplement so wanted to share with you a straight-forward alternative to tablets. One shot of these babies a day and hello scrumptious skin. The big V.C. also naturally boosts collagen, and the gel formula hits the blood stream straight away so I'll be helping my skin as well as my tired body. I'm going on holiday this week (eeek!) and after pouring all of my savings ever into it, I'm putting 100% into feeling better ASAP. Here we go!
It's so exciting to share this post! In the history of my blog, which is eight years old now (woah), I don't think I've ever had any professional, high quality photos to share with you readers that keep me tapping away at my keyboard year after year. Back in the day, blogging was purely an unheard of peek into a stranger's wardrobe, whereas now it's an editorial feast of content and collaborations. I'm never going to be a camera whizz although I do take some photos for work, but I'm better at reviving a photo through heavy editing rather than capturing a desired shot. Not that that would matter as a blogger as it has to be other people behind the lens, and that's usually my mom during an odd weekend! Working full time means I know I wouldn't get the use out of a snazzy camera sadly so I potter on with what I have.
A few weeks ago local photographer Emma Christina got in touch to see if we could work together to shoot some looks for her portfolio and for my blog. Yes please! I was chuffed to have a chance to post some really fantastic shots where you can see my outfit properly and I can really get down to explaining why the devil I'm wearing what I am.
Emma was absolutely lovely and we had such a fun time chatting and then taking photos around Birmingham. I brought a bunch of outfits and tottered to different 'typical' blogger settings. We actually stumbled across the amazing car by chance and tentatively took some photos while looking out for any approaching owners! I didn't have any qualms even though a few passers-by were watching us - I just pretended in my mind that I was a model on a real shoot! Emma was so slick and encouraging too and I felt really at ease, and these photos look more like Made in Chelsea than made in Birmingham! I'm so pleased, imagine if all my posts were like this! Maybe I need a photographer boyfriend ASAP.
Onto the outfit, and how could I not wear these new purchases as my favourite ever trend comes into play this season! This outfit is literally my soul breaking free from a life of office wear. If I could step aside from the daily grind and just live day-to-day wearing exactly what I could - and still hold down a job - it would be this! I watched the movie Dazed and Confused just about a million times when I was a teenager and bell bottoms are the most comfortable yet confident thing to wear. I bought this Missguided pair as soon as I saw the perfectly executed print and they are so high waisted that even the shorter crop top will suit. I found this cute crochet crop top in Primark of all places and I like how it steps away from the '90s crop trend.
Thank you again Emma, this is the best post ever! I'll be saving this outfit for a certain trip next month though - I'm going to New York!!! Good bye life savings, hello life long dream. I'll save that for another post though - watch this space.
Missguided Trousers, New Look kimono, Primark crochet crop top, New Look choker, River Island heels
Here are the looks I've been obsessing over this month! I'm seriously inspired by the '70s trend coming through but can't embrace this for a few months until I can pack away coats and jackets, so I'm still coveting khaki shades, nude hues, and denim. Topshop had some new jeans with frayed, cropped hems which I really had my eye on but they only came out in black! I've also been lusting after homewear as I'm getting that urge for a Spring clean and bedroom refresh. If I had my own place, the themes would be marble, gold, nude, jade green and white. All pictures are from my Tumblr!
It's time to talk about my Athens trip! This post has been quite anticipated but it just reflects how slap bang in the middle of everything it was. Some people have one big holiday per year and count down to the day with crosses on the wall calendar, but my friends and I have formed a routine of city breaks scattered across the year so you never feel too far away from one. We have still never been on a package or beach holiday together, if you don't count Barcelona, and we possibly never will. Rather than sunbeds and tour reps, we seek an adventure we cannot predict. We actually chose Athens as a hen weekend for the first member of our group to get married! We booked the trip as a surprise and all chipped in to pay to whisk her away, and there were ten of us in total in the end. I looked at a cheesy trip to the Canary Islands but the bride-to-be's younger sisters picked out Athens. I didn't have any previous desire to go there but would never turn down a raucous trip with my main girls or the ultimate way to celebrate one of us getting hitched.
We flew from Gatwick on the Thursday and it was possibly the most stressful journey ever! First my friend revealed I was responsible for the directions, and it didn't help that I am not a driver and have no idea where Gatwick is or how to navigate motorways, and we had to stop off to put oil in the car for the first time for fear of the engine blowing up. A few hours later with Google Maps for company, we realised we were not far from Birmingham at all and in fact were rapidly travelling down the M5 towards Bristol, taking the most excessive loop around the UK to reach London. Now too far down this route to turn back (and not knowing even how to begin to re-route), we said several prayers in scary silence as we spun in different directions, battered with wind and heavy rain, and soon were still two hours and over one hundred miles away from the airport just as the other car of girls texted that they were arriving into the airport. Panic! We beat all of the odds and just about managed to park up, run to an airport shuttle bus and race down to departures on time. This was almost scuppered when we started queueing at the gate for Pisa, one minute before the flight time. Can you believe we are a bunch of professional women?! Hardly the calmness we were hoping for but we finally took our seats on the EasyJet plane and compared all of our preprepared notes on the best clubs, bars and destinations.
It's quite difficult to get a feel for a city when you are hunting across the internet for information. I find it's best to print a list with addresses and descriptions of all clubs and restaurants, and then your group members can scan over these on the trip and pick out the most suited. It also helped when recommended places by locals as you can cross reference the unbiased description on your list. The maid of honour had created day plans of different attractions and mapped them out so we were sorted each day too. One thing we always struggle with is restaurants as the best ones always seem to be the most expensive and sometime you need to eat sooner rather than later.
I would say this holiday was summed up with practical jokes and silliness as we spent the flight joking to the bride's sisters that we had decided to not go out all holiday and stay indoors pampering the bride instead! Their faces were a picture. We arrived to Greece in the early evening and took a metro ride to our apartments, even though a taxi all the way would have been the same price we found out on our return! Travelling into the city by public transport is always a good introduction to the setting though, and we stepped out of our station just as it got dark and grabbed a bite to eat. We stayed at the McQueen apartments which were fantastic value and comfort, although the area could be compared to a run down, abandoned town! They were just off a wide main road with lots of large deserted buildings, but a few streets away were all of the party streets so that shouldn't put you off; it always felt safe. One building seemed to be the home to stray dogs and we even spotted gangs of them roaming the city together like pals. Apparently they catch the metro and meet each other in town!
There were six girls on the first night and four more were set to join us the next day, and there's nothing like that first step into your new temporary home when it's as fabulous as this. Especially clean, modern and equipped, we had a two bedroom space plus two balconies with a view of the Acropolis and lots of full length mirrors. This, along with plug sockets, is so important on a girls holiday!
The bride expressly permitted anything cheesy or crude and we followed suit with a few alternatives. The maid of honour brought along various dare cards, signs and a highly-used selfie stick, and we planned dress themes for each night that were definitely not fancy dress. The first night was Rainbow Night, where we were all due to wear a different coloured outfit. I did shop around for weeks trying to find any version of an orange, yellow, green or purple dress that I liked but during early February, the shops were a sea of black, white and camel! I went with my trusted Missguided khaki set instead and we all trooped out just before midnight. This is where we made cardinal holiday mistake number one by ignoring our own research and heading to the area the hotel receptionist suggested. Often people try to send you to a 'nice' place when really you want the most alternative, underground jaunt in the city and not a glamourous club with pop music! We took a taxi to the recommended are of Gazi, the local strip of restaurants-come-bars spilling out onto a courtyard. We stopped off in the first bar after being tempted in by the promise of drinks deals, and ended up staying there for most of the night as we literally had the place to ourselves! The 'DJ' was playing YouTube songs on a laptop so we took over the playlist and willed away the hours gossiping and becoming best pals with the only other bar residents who happened to be an American couple also looking for a club. A bar man walked us in a line to a nearby club, almost like a trip of school children, but as we navigated the paved roads in heels, we arrived to find it was shut! Unimpressed, we hit another place but as it was way into the early hours, it was only playing Greek music. We found across the whole trip that every place will turn to Greek tunes after around 3am.
Somehow I was soon taking off my make up before hitting the pillow and we woke up the next day to sunny skies and a full itinerary ahead. American tourist told us the hotel was full of models with go-sees to get to (apparently) so we had to be quieter. A few girls had not been away with us before and were surprised that despite partying into the daylight hours, it still meant getting up before lunch time and continuing on with a full day of sight seeing - and then doing it all over again the next night! We embarked on a tour of all of the sights apart from the Acropolis, as our final friends were not joining us until that evening, and the main centre was only one easy metro stop away. We were certainly there outside of the scorching tourist season, but I was so surprised at how smooth it was to travel around the city. Hustle and bustle was nowhere to be found here and we moved around with ease. There was still lively street entertainers and busy markets, but nothing hectic.
We had some breakfast/lunch and not before long, the heavens opened. Well, they literally parted and a waterfall of rain and golf ball-sized hail did not stop falling for the entire day. Considering some of us were in sandals and cardigans, this was a disaster! Never fear though, we still moved around all of our locations including the Acropolis Museum, National Gardens, Arch of Hadrian and Zappeion, just with very wet feet and very wet hair. Embarrassingly we bumped into the American couple in the museum and swiftly tried to avoid them as last night had been such a blur! We picked out a touristy restaurant later that evening after hours of walking around Athens and soon our other friends arrived to complete the group. The action really started when we were all there as that night we brought out the hen-do games and had quite an emotional time telling all of our best (aka most embarrassing) memories of the bride to be and filming some equally as hilarious/tragic messages for the groom! The newest girls to arrive also did a beautiful, hysterical and seemingly choreographed dance to Spice Girls' 2 Become 1 for the bride involving lots of group swaying and arm movements, which turned out to be completely made up on the spot! That night was Black and White night and it was so effective in the group photos! With the loose themes, each person can still dress in their own style but you all look amazing together. I wore my Dancing Alien's lace top with a Missguided white pencil skirt and a red lip of course!
After setting a time for 11pm drinks in our apartment, everyone was finally all in one place by around 12.30am, we had the hilarious time doing the activities above and so then eventually we didn't leave our apartment until around 2am!? To some this may seem ludicrous but European clubs don't get going until around 1am so this suited us perfectly. I'll always be a night owl, prolonging an evening so it's as amazing as it can be before turning the page to a new day, loosing the evening forever.
When we bumped into the American couple in the museum and had that very awkward chat, hiding our blushed cheeks with the inevitable sunglasses that are a must after 4 hours sleep, they highlighted YOLO club for that night. Not only was this on our encycolpedia list of clubs but it also sounded pretty decent, yet when our taxis linked up outside, it seemed like a huge cube with few people opening the doors and a dull bass softly pumping. In the carpeted reception area, we definitely weren't sure if we wanted to go through the adjacent double doors but with no other options to hand, we took the chance and settled on getting a 100euro table between us that covered entry and free drinks. Stepping into the club was a whole other realm though! A huge space with a central bar leading to the dance floor, there was a heaving crowd, some seriously gorgeous dancers on a glowing stage performing impressive routines rather than strutting around, and a long, sloping stretch of staggered platforms where the VIP tables were, almost like an amphitheatre looking down onto the dance floor. We all crushed into our table area with as many girls to a velvet seat at possible and were so damn happy we had stumbled upon the best club possible! Drinks and dancing later, we were jumping across to other tables, a few of the girls with long white dresses had tied the hems up around their shoulders for more dancing room, and we were of course chatting to random girls in the toilets about nothing every time we ran off for a group visit. After a few hours the club filtered out almost immediately and the DJs played straight Greek music. We had brought out a few sheets of other clubs addresses so we jumped in the taxis outside the venue and were promptly tipped out of them, with any and every driver refusing to take us to our destination. After Googling the chosen afterclub's address, pleading with bouncers and dodging some boys from Essex who randomly popped up and tried to 'help' us (any sound of the English accent when we are out of the country is not a joyous occasion!), we didn't get anywhere!
In the end we gave up, with a few girls heading back to the apartment and the rest of us convinced to go back inside. Luckily the music tides had turned and I climbed into the DJ box to dictate the songs we wanted to hear. If I am bored in a club, I will head to that DJ and get that song changed! We soon hit a takeaway and hit the sack at around 6am, all after loosing a room key, plotting an extensive and successful plan to steal the hotel's master key and return it innocently to the shocked receptionist after finding the huge bundle of keys 'on the stairs', and all sleeping in the same bed for no reason. This might sound like one heck of a night, but of course by 11am the next day we were dressed, out and off to the Acropolis! It's that laugh-a-minute mix of people that tiredness just doesn't seem to occur. Thankfully that day offered a continuous blue sky and even a little sunshine on our skin; perfect for the upcoming views.
At the base of the Acropolis, a few gals had some incredible caricatures done surrounded by other tourists, and of course we all chipped in to force the bride to be to have on done, which was drawn with a pitchfork and accompanied by an ankle tagged 'groom'! It was hilarious to watch the picture form after whispering she was getting hitched. We navigated our way to the top of the mountain with surprising ease and were soon looking over the breathtaking city views amongst the imposing, ancient citadel. The Parthenon is absolutely magnificent.
Despite going on a raucous break to celebrate our nine year friendship having such an important milestone and relieve some of the bride's pre-wedding stress, it is also the time to feel so reflective of how far we have all came since those first days of meeting and how we all find ourselves to be in such an overwhelming place together. Very much summer sisters, we have all shared some of the most striking and significant times together, and spending a few days laughing away at the mundane happenings of home, you also end up covering topics of work, goals, passions and dreams. Such an eclectic and ambitious group of women definitely feed me to push forward with discovering my own potential and confidence, and I hope the bride to be's sisters also found it to be a holiday with a difference. The views felt very humbling and a perfect setting to round off the trip together.
We concluded the day of sight seeing with a lovely meal at a homely yet hearty restaurant, and trooped back to the apartments. By now your suitcase contents have been strewn across any shelves and floor, you're slightly concerned all of your belongings have walked off, and you can't for love nor money find an available charging socket for all of your drained electronics. After a shower and an extra scrub to remove any shred of remaining make up, you feel just about refreshed to embark on a third night on the town with as much gusto as the previous two. It was timed purposely well that this night was Goth Night. Oh yes, you can see the maid of honour has a certain penchant for all things alternative and has possibly watched way too much True Blood. Despite a genuine offering of an authentically vampy brown striped, corseted floor length goth gown from my friend's colleague to her (she did not take up on that offer!), we weren't actually hitting the town dressed in spiked boots, PVC and black lipstick. We were all going for the hot goth vibe, with deep plum lips, LBDs, chains, cuffs, platforms and lots of smoky eyes. Some girls went for a more retro, rockabilly vibe and some the more traditional sultry look. I wore my plunge Pepper Mayo crochet dress with an elaborate lace choker (borrowed) and my lace up heels, with a hint of MAC Diva lipstick and sooty eyes. Contrasting to the previous night of elegant feel, this night made for a totally surreal but awesome vibe of teenage rebellion. Looking around the room and seeing all of my friends in an alternative hot goth world was the most bizarre but amazing thing! Everyone making the effort but still looking as gorgeous as ever was the best way to do a dress theme. We may have looked like we had just came from a funeral or were a little too into Twilight, but we definitely looked awesome.
We booked a few taxis from the hotel to that infamous club that no taxi driver would take us to the night before for some unknown reason. After driving in three separate cars to the address printed in our DIY city guide, we realised why. The club didn't exist!!! It was literally a burnt out tower block - no wonder it was such a fail the night before! The drivers shouted at each other in Greek while leaning out of their car windows and made a joint decision to take us to somewhere called Spell. Again we came up trumps as this club too had a heaving dance floor surrounded by platforms of bars and tables, and we pushed our gothic selves to the centre of the room and had a blast! At one point I wandered off to request a song and was watching my friends from the towering DJ box, literally in awe of their bobbing heads causing havoc and mischief among a sea of faces. I got a song played that I knew they would recognise as a request and they all turned and cheered at me waving from up high in the box. Mission accomplished!
The night rounded off with an infamous yet fresh Greek takeaway where they put the chips inside the burger of your choice (veggie for me!) and hobbled off home via a piggy back that ended with a twisted ankle. After a few hours' doze, we were cramming our towering platforms into our slightly over-generous carry-on suitcases, subsequently abandoning said platforms because they just did not zip in, and headed for a congratulatory brunch on another successful holiday! We browsed some markets, got accosted by the street performers, grabbed an ice cream, and soon we were chilling in the airport before touching down on the twinkling sea of London lights.
The season we visited Athens meant we didn't see the port, enjoy any roof top bars or travel out to any beaches, but I would definitely recommend it for a city break on a budget. The food, travel and accommodation was impressively cheap and during February it was a breeze to navigate and enjoy. 'Soak in the sights and party all night' was our prerogative, but you could also take the classy options of frequenting the famous hotel bars and soak in even more culture from the city shadowed in preserved history. Thank you to my superbly talented friend Nomsa for these photos. I hope you enjoyed my post and check out my vlog below too! Can you recommend any destinations for us for next time? Who know's who will be getting hitched next! We've definitely set the standard for hen celebrations to come.
Last weekend I had the upmost pleasure of taking my mother out for the day! I was tempted to Bullring to check out this season's style event and took my favourite +1 as my mom is all about style and trying new trends. In fact she just bought a pair from the Clarks x Orla Kiely offering! Now isn't Spring the most inspiring fashion season? Some years it seems to take absolutely ages to come around but the sunshine has arrived already and I'm so set to burst my summer wardrobe out. It's a shame I don't work in fashion any more so can't wear whatever I like during the week, but I'm planning a few holidays and festivals otherwise. Beauty is something I've took a back seat in recently as my aim was to home in on my signature look before buying anything new. I've had my lighter hair for around a year now and I really need to explore some new shades though.
It's so common to feel like you're flipping your wardrobe 180 degrees when a new term comes so it's rather handy that every season Bullring hosts a one-on-one session space to offer treats and workshops from different brands. Shoppers can stop off and sample their 'fix' of new season offerings, and this year's Spring event had a beauty focus with a select few hot brands stationed near the mecca that is the Selfridges beauty hall. My mom and I hit the Beauty Amnesty first, which offered a £10 Bullring voucher in exchange of old makeup items - amazing! I even told loads of people at work about this and was sure to bring a few gloopy lip glosses and dry eye liners with me that had been languishing in my make up draws.
We did a circuit of the stands and stopped by Ole Henriksen first, who I recently found out is all organic and that really intrigues me. I find applying cheap products to my skin just feels strange as your body is actually absorbing these solutions and potions, whether good or bad. Surely natural is the way to go? We tested a few zesty gels in zingy orange pots and I made a mental addition to 'the perfect eye cream' list I am currently collating. My mom had a luxurious hand and arm treatment at the Clarins pop-up stand, and I almost booked another facial at the Clarin's Spa as all of the lovely memories of my last two came flooding back. I'm saving for an upcoming holiday though so I refrained!
I had a photoshoot with stylist Emily Jayne a few weeks ago (more on that when the photos are printed!) and was so happy to introduce this genius to my mom for a colour consultation at the event. I haven't shopped the same way since my consultation last year, and my mom has since bought a pair of '70s style flares with popping colours, just like Emily Jayne advised for her complexion! Learning the colours that suit and lift your face really transforms the way you look at the clothes you buy forever!
Then we split up and while my mom tried out the new Lancome L'Absolu Rouge Lipstick, I had a contouring session with Shu Uemura using the Lightbulb Oleo Compact Foundation, and ever since I've been taking my bronzer up much higher on my cheeks. My bedroom has quite dull lighting that somehow also exposes every flaw and line, so I'm always quite careful when applying my makeup nowadays and don't always feel too happy with the finish. I haven't had a makeover in a while so it was so useful to try something new and refresh my technique. I'm so ready to switch up my skincare as the sun's rays return, and I want to try a new foundation since MAC Pro-Longwear is setting too dry for me at the moment. For the past few months I plodded along but now I feel so inspired. It's by far my favourite fashion season in a long time and I've got so many looks and outfits buzzing in my mind, I just need the days to wear them!
I had an extra voucher to spend at the beauty hall and I gave it to my mom to repeat purchase her favourite Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua foundation. It's certainly a milestone when you go out with a parent and you pay for lunch too!
Oooh I have a very welcome addition to my wardrobe! I've been waiting for the shops to bring out a Kimmy K-esque maxi skirt for ages and even considered making my own, but trusty Missguided came to the rescue and brought this offering to the table. They have a few of these longline skirts that are just perfect with any crop top, draped blouse, bandeau bralet, ribbed polo neck; anything really! As it is so long and high-waisted, you can afford for it to be just so damn tight, and it's nothing a smoothing skirt can't help if you want an even sleeker silhouette. This stretch jersey is unforgiving! No matter how much I try, accessories just really annoy me and I don't wear print very often so I prefer to make a subtle statement with strong key pieces. This is quite different to a time when I only wore dresses because separates felt too casual. The effortless vibe soon becomes just that - effortless! Taking an hour to get ready is simple when you can throw on these fuss-free yet stand-out pieces and hit the town as soon as possible.
American Apparel Crop Top, Missguided Skirt, Next Heels
I've been having a rather interesting afternoon checking out this glorious hair tong that popped through my post box this week! Wider stylers are just not my bag as my hair has such a dry texture that it won't ever sit softly; it always has to be set in quite a tight curl. I would never brush out my curls either as that equals frizz-galore! So a new version of the conical wand definitely intrigued me as this Babyliss Diamond Waves offering promises shiny,sleek hair to tame any fuzz. The test begins!
The bubble wand means it creates not just curls but waves too, so the final result won't be a uniform row of spirals but a more assorted style of different curls. When I curled my hair after blow drying, I realised it creates the type of curl that you get when you use a hair straightener; it's not spiral, even curls but a naturally wavy curl with texture. The curls look great when started half way down your hair too, rather than a traditional wand that does look like a slightly more unnatural tube curl.
It's also that slick ceramic texture that adds even more shine, meaning you can pull your hair taught against the wand, rather than dragging and pulling it through straighteners. The temperature is 210 degrees too with the option of different settings (and heats up in 40 seconds - perfect for 7am pre-work styling!), so you get the power of straighteners. I don't think many people know you can get sleek results from a tong as you can tightly smooth your hair around the wand. I've seen people straighten their hair and then curl it back up, which you don't need to do! This isn't advertised with the wand but I also found it was super light; perfect for holiday packing.
With my frizz tamed today, I celebrated Mother's Day a day early with my family as my friend's wedding is tomorrow - my Athen's vlog is uploading as I type! Here's a quick OOTD I managed to persuade my brother to take, avec my Diamond Waves!
Mango Camel Coat, River Island Sleeveless Jumper, River Island Tube Jeans, Zara Navy Bag, ASOS Nude Heels, Topshop Pearl Choker