Sunday, 2 November 2014

My NYC Tips

I spent a week in New York last March and amongst the sightseeing highlights were some of the places we ate, drank and lounged in. So I thought I'd share a couple of my recommendations. They're a motley crew spanning different neighbourhoods and boroughs but they all get a huge thumbs up from me so I wanted to pass them on for anyone planning or daydreaming of a visit to New York.

Dinner Favourites

The Shake Shack | 366 Columbus Avenue
Succulent burgers and cheese-covered fries oh-my! If you're planning a trip to the Museum of Natural History then this is the perfect indulgent stop-off to refuel as there's a branch just around the corner. It's a pretty widespread chain though so there are plenty of other ones to choose from dotted around the city. The fries here were perfect - though if you douse something in enough melted cheese it's hard for it to taste bad - but I had a control portion in my husband's plain fries and they were equally yummy. Fast food at its best!

Big Daddy's Diner | 239 Park Avenue South [There are also branches on the upper east and upper west sides]

We met friends here for breakfast on our first morning in New York after grappling with lost luggage and delayed flights the night before so we were impatient for our NYC experience to begin. I'm a total sucker for retro decor and this was the perfect all-American diner experience to kick start our holiday. It was so good we came back a second morning. I ordered a Big Wow Wow each time - we're talking waffles drenched with maple syrup, bacon, hash brown, scrambled eggs and a choice of fries or fruit - fries all the way! The portions are so big it was more like a breakfast and lunch rolled into one - just leave your conscience at the door. Holiday calories don't count!!

239 Park Avenue South
239 Park Avenue South
239 Park Avenue South
The Spotted Pig | 14 W 11th Street [West Village]
Another great dining find courtesy of our friends. This place is nestled in the West Village - very close to the famous Magnolia Bakery from Sex and the City so you can grab some cupcakes here for dessert afterwards. The Spotted Pig is known for its burgers and shoestring fries - which are wispy and delicious - but the menu is fairly varied so you don't just have to eat burgers and all kinds of other badness at every meal like me! I loved the decor too - it's more of a gastropub than a formal restaurant and the dim lighting and cluttered walls makes it feel like someone's cosy living room. We arrived around 8pm and had to wait an hour for a table so probably best to get there earlier if you're hungry!

Coffee/Lunch Favourites

Le Pain Quotidien [Branches all over the city]

This is actually a chain of bakeries across America and Europe that do a really good job of feeling unique. We just had coffee and cake but the lunches looked great too. It feels like an old farmhouse canteen with long wooden communal tables. It didn't hurt that Bruce Dern (who starred in the amazing film Nebraska last year amongst loads of other great films) was munching on his lunch with his wife next to us. This is a lovely stop off.

The Rabbit Hole | 352 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn

This was my favourite stop-off of the entire holiday and given the overall high quality that's saying a lot. We had brunch here before making our way to the Brooklyn Flea Market but their dinner menu looked great too. Everything was prepared to perfection, from our cappuccinos to my French toast and my husband's sandwich - it was so fresh and tasty. And the decor is the rustic style I love so much. We had a bit of a wait for the table but it was worth every minute.

Drinking Favourites

The Back Room | 102 Norfolk St [Lower East Side]

New York seems to specialise in speakeasy style bars whether intentionally or not - lots of the bars we went to were discreetly tucked away and not very noticeable from the street. The Back Room actually operated as a speakeasy bar during prohibition times and cocktails are served in tea cups as in the good 'ol days. It feels very opulent with chandeliers, plush couches and a gilded Victorian style bar. The bar is accessed via a dark dingy alleyway that makes the interiors all the more surprising.

Freemans | 91 Chrystie Street #2F [Lower East Side]

This is a popular lunch/dinner spot but we just stopped in for drinks. This place has rustic decor in spades - with taxidermy all over the walls and fairy lights adorning the entrance. It also had Andrew Rannells (aka Elijah from Girls) propped up at the bar on this particular night - though unfortunately he's most likely not a permanent fixture.

Shopping Favourites

Awoke Vintage | 132 N 5th St, Brooklyn

I love vintage but I can be a little lazy about rummaging for diamonds amongst the rough so I love curated stores and you could tell that everything in this shop had been very lovingly and carefully selected. Everything was beautifully displayed too and there was loads of room for the clothes to breathe. The prices are a little high but so is the quality so it's a good balance.


The Brooklyn Flea Market | Williamsburg, Brooklyn

This flea market completely surpassed my expectations. There's a little bit of everything - from your typical market bric a brac to great food, giant pink elephant sculptures, funky jewellery and cool art. The prices are less typical and are quite high for a flea market but that's probably to be expected given the location. Plus even if you don't want to buy anything just find a nook and sit back and people watch.

Fish Eddys |  889 Broadway at 19th Street

This store is my idea of kitchen decor heaven. I stumbled upon it by accident and just wish I'd had more room in my suitcase. It was full of cute quirky patterned crockery and glassware and other kitchen trinkets. It was like the Anthropologie home section except reasonably priced and even cuter!

Sightseeing Favourites

New York Public Library | 5th Ave at 42nd St

Like any good nerdy librarian on holidays the public library is one of my first stops. I just have to try and restrain myself from sidling up to the staff and whispering to them that I'm a kindred spirit! The flagship New York Public Library is very grand and very beautiful. They had an amazing exhibition on children's literature when I was there and a series of lunchtime author visits with some huge names - oh to have access to this library on a regular basis. The building itself is stunning - and the reading rooms on the first floor made me want to pull up a seat and put pen to paper confident in the knowledge that you couldn't but write something half decent in an environment like that!

The High Line

The High Line is a disused freight rail line that has been converted into a public park. It’s a beautiful oasis of green that gives you a great vantage point of the rest of the city scurrying along beneath your feet. It stretches from the Meatpacking district as far as 34th street. It’s a lovely way to see New York without having to brave the mean and traffic-clogged streets.

DUMBO Street Art | Brooklyn
DUMBO stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. Not only does this area provide a fantastic waterfront view of the NYC skyline but there's some amazing street art around here too that's worth the trip alone. And make sure to stop off at the Brooklyn Ice-Cream Factory for some yummy sundae goodness.

The Museum of Natural History | Central Park W & 79th St

I feel like I've visited this museum so many times before through books, TV shows and films! Some parts of the museum are better than others (there are a few that feel a little stale and in need of a makeover) - but when it's good it's great. The fossil exhibits are incredible and the diorama mammal halls are like perfect little peep holes into the natural world. There were some really good temporary exhibitions on while we were there too which cost extra but were well worth it. One was on the history of poison, while the other was a butterfly conservatory you could stroll through while all kinds of butterfly and moth species fluttered about. The exhibits change all the time but the two I saw were great.

And that's my tuppence worth on New York - please feel free to add any suggestions of your own. These are just the highlights from my week but you could probably spend your whole life in New York and still only uncover a fraction of its gems. Hopefully some day I'll get to revisit.

Sunday, 19 October 2014


So it's been quite a while. I celebrated my third blog birthday in July and then skulked off into the blogging shadows for about 4 months. I’m an erratic blogger at the best of times but that’s taking the biscuit. So I’m not sure if there’s anyone still knocking around these parts. But I thought I’d try and kick things off again by going back to basics with an outfit post and taking it from there.

These pictures were taken at Traquair House about an hour outside of Edinburgh – home to a brewery we were too late to visit but also a wonderful labyrinth that I’ve been dying to get lost in for some time now. The day turned out to be a bit of a wash out with torrential downpours but on the plus side we had the labyrinth to ourselves. Though the urgency of trying to find your way out of a labyrinth is increased ten fold when it starts lashing down and you’re umbrella’less!

It’s still autumn in Edinburgh and the temperatures have been hovering in the double figures but I’m the kind of person who still brings a hot water bottle to bed in the month of July so my winter woollies tend to come out from late September. I’m much more comfortable dressing in several chunky layers than pared down summer outfits so this is my typical outfit from late September onwards – when I happily forego any more failed attempts at pulling off pastels and summer florals. So yay for chunky winter fabrics and hues!

Outfit details: Coat, warehouse; skirt, Jigsaw; jumper, Hobbs; scarf, Topshop; bag, vintage; boots, Kurt Geiger.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Happy Third Blog Birthday To Me

This blog hit the grand ol’ age of three several days ago. It’s practically a pensioner at this point! As with the two previous years though, posting hasn’t always been very frequent or regular but I’ve inevitably kept drifting back to this space at some point. This last 12 months has seen less change on paper in my life than previous years – I’m still living in the same city for one thing – but I feel like bigger soul searching changes have been afoot and I feel a lot more settled into myself, my 30s and life in general these past few months.

So I thought I’d do a mini recap of a couple of the highlights from this past year – from favourite outfits to favourite adventures at home and abroad and with a couple of pictures of my cat Midge thrown in for good measure.

Favourite Outfits

Patterns have dominated my wardrobe this past year as in previous ones but I have been trying to pile them on top of each other a little less and to introduce more simple basics. I don’t think the high street caters very well for us women in our early 30s though – unless you’re a very well off 30-something-year-old but even then quirky prints are in short supply and things can be a little too proper and strait-laced. Vintage clothes are always a good port-of-call but I don’t find Edinburgh particularly good for vintage shopping (if there are any locals reading please feel free to challenge me on this!).

My style has been in flux this past year though and I’ve been gravitating more towards a simpler style of dressing – having said that I’ll probably always have a weak spot for a quirky print.

Scottish Highlights

I still feel like part tourist part local in Scotland – largely helped by having so many friends and family visit over the past year ensuring adventures aplenty. And if I can combine a fun outing with a side helping of quirkiness and photographic potential then I’m trebly happy. Some of the highlights have been trips to Camera Obscura (I think I’ve been three times this past year), a trip to the Enchanted Forest in Pitlochry, afternoons exploring the ruins of Blackness Castle and Linlithgow Palace and a jaw-dropping stroll around Jupiter Artland Gardens.

Foreign Highlights

From Norway to London to New York I’ve been really lucky to have had some amazing holidays this past year. Norway had some of the most breath-taking scenery I have ever seen, London was a whirlwind weekend of vintage shopping, culture-gorging and bar hopping and New York was all of the above but with breath-taking urban scenery in place of the fjords!

The Best of the Rest

So in between work, holidays and other adventures were the quieter moments with Midge snuggled on my lap (or possibly in a box/plastic bag nearby!) and a book or the latest crochet project in hand. I wrote a post a couple of months ago about feeling more settled into my 30s and I definitely feel like my priorities have shifted. I still enjoy going out and having fun but I crave down time more than ever too – though I then paradoxically try and cram that downtime chocker block full of hobbies as another side effect of hitting my 30s for me has been a sense of time being very precious and not wanting to squander it! 

So hopefully this time next year I'll be recapping on another 12 months in this space - though perhaps with a couple of less prints in my wardrobe, a few more posts on cats, crochets and books and hopefully a lot of other adventures in between. So thanks to any followers new or old and hopefully you'll stick around for another bit.

PS: If you care to check out recaps of previous years you can find them here and here.