Brighton: Babes, Boys and Birthdays

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This weekend, I went away to Brighton for my friends birthday. Josh is now the grand old age of 24 and we celebrated in style, with wine on the beach, trips to The Lanes and some of the best falafel I have ever had.

I had only ever been to Brighton in the rain before. It’s such an ‘English thing’ to be so dependent on the weather, but the sun really did make such a difference to our trip. I had never even seen The Lanes before this weekend, only the back – ends of the shopping centre and the beach when I was around ten, and got frustrated with the stones not making the perfect castle with my bucket and spade.

If like me and Josh, you are a fan of vintage clothing and one – off finds (that my parents often mistake for ‘garbage’), then you will love Snoopers Paradise in the centre of the North Laines, ideal for finding old magazines, furniture and clothing. Brighton Flea Market is also good – located down Upper Saint Jame’s street, nearby to trendy jazz bars, cafes and a short walk away from the pier.

Our weekend went far too quickly and I know that there is far more of Brighton I want to see/ sea (!) – this sunny weather has certainly given me a new – found love for the city, and I can’t wait to hop back on the train and flock there again. This time though, I will bring my sun cream. All that sitting on the beach did nothing for my Albino – esque complexion.

Country Life – Yorkshire

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A few weeks ago I went to visit my Dad who has moved to Yorkshire for a few months. Alice (pictured), my sister came from Newcastle where she is studying and we had a jolly old reunion. We went to Weatherby, a cute little town with lots of independent coffee shops, cobbled streets and the permanent smell of fish and chips. In true Northern style, there was an ice cream truck in the car park by the river – why let the minor fact of it being October stop people from enjoying such a treat.

If you end up going to York and have time to tour around, I do recommend going to Weatherby and stopping by at Filmore and Union where every type of healthy wealthy hip hop yet delicious treat awaits you. Think beetroot and orange smoothies to smashed avocado on toast to blondies with wheat grass and all at a fraction of the costs in the southern uncomfort (see what I did there – southern comfort – boom!)

 

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New York Diary: Brunch, A Grand Reunion And Typical Bad Luck

11742656_10206636486738503_2660771760828166799_n Cheers Christine for the great weekend. We said cheers a lot at the bottomless brunch we sat at for a rather long time, mainly because I was taking advantage of the deal. The cultural barriers between us are always so fascinating that we say we have a language barrier. You wouldn’t believe that we both speak English as a first (and only) language. Like or comment on this post if you too would try and have as many free alcoholic drinks with your brunch after paying $30. While Christine had 2 to get her moneys worth (the were around $11 each), I had 6. I feel in the end, the staff started to put less and less champagne in my Mimosa, until it became simply orange juice. Either way, at least I got a good vitamin fix. 11752051_10206636485418470_3756382804636141528_n Christine, pictured above posing in Central Park arrived the same evening I spotted the mouse run across my kitchen sink. It was as if it was a warning sign of more unlucky adventures to come. On a side note, me and Christine are both notoriously unlucky and whenever we meet up we seem to give each other that extra boost of bad luck powder. So I didn’t even flinch when she messaged me to say her plane was delayed, nor when she said her shuttle bus from the airport was going to be delayed too. When we finally met at midnight, we headed straight to the bar where they said they were closing in half an hour. Of course. However, we still managed to squeeze in two beers, a huge catch up and then walked along to Times Square to take some of those typical cheesy but fun touristic photos outside the billboards that you just seem to do when you have a visitor or visit the city. Horray horray.11059964_10206636486898507_198658714555356118_n Christine, being Canadian is super nice to everyone she meets. The cleaner came in to the apartment early Saturday morning and said good morning when Christine said hi to her. When I said hi, she grunted and turned around. She also didn’t say bye to me, answer me when I asked her if she had a nice week, nor did she clean my room. I think she really hates me, and I should be slightly worried. In the evening, we were supposed to be going out to a bar where I had arranged for some of my friends to meet us. Christine was too ill from the sun and walking around the city to come out and when I arrived, I found out that one of my friends wasn’t going to be making it either. It was a disaster and I wish I had just stayed in with the mice and practiced my bonding skills/ not jumping up and screaming every time I see something move across the floor. Ahh, life in New York. Sometimes it defeats you, but it gave us a great story and platform for fun. I hope you haven’t been scared for life Christine, New York is a gentle giant really! Ps. Despite the bad luck, it was still the best of weekends!

New York Cafe Review: Black Brick, Williamsburg

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Finding a reasonably priced coffee shop in New York is a difficult task. There are only so many times you can go to Starbucks without feeling insanely guilty that you are missing out on a far more inviting environment while you get your caffeine fix. Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg is notorious for its many rows of coffee shops and bars, and even thought I live so very near by, I always end up some place else.

Today was different and I made it my main task of the day to go and check out a new cafe. Black Brick (300 Bedford Avenue) was rated highly on Yelp and so I thought I would give it a go. The fact it only had one $ sign meant it was even more worthy of a visit.

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I ordered an iced Americano for $3 and it wss pretty damn good. I have found that a lot of coffee in artistically decorated (a polite way of saying hipster run) cafes, especially in Brooklyn is terrible. This coffee tasted great and was strong without sending my brain onto the treadmill. I also overheard the man behind the counter talk about his passion for coffee and how he must like, taste every bean to know what suits the blend. So you know, a bit obnoxious maybe – but at least he got it spot on! You can also buy a selection of cakes and pastries, all for under $5.

The only downside I will say about Black Brick, is that it has very slow, barely there wi-fi. I had gone there to do some blogging, catch up on my emails and do some much needed writing. However, this was all virtually (well un – virtually in this case) impossible as a result of no world wide web to hop onto.

A cafe for admiring the interior (there are plenty of magazines, a few type writers and plenty of tables for large groups), drinking good coffee or simply a place to go to for a reliable to – go coffee. However, don’t make the mistake of lugging your laptop there, as the vintage inspired interior stretches that one bit further to the technology use.

The Pros And Cons Of Living In New York

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The common statement I get from friends and family back home is this – “Omg, I’m so jealous/ you’re so lucky that you are in New York”. If ever I complain about it for even a second, it is shut down with “but it’s New York”. This perceived notion of the city by all (some who have never been) is one of such enthusiasm that I felt inspired to make a list of not only the good, but the bad aspects of living here. You see, once you’ve gotten over Times Square and seen the statue, you start to notice it’s not all bright city lights and big apples.

These are all my own observations and I am in no way generalizing or stereotyping the entire city. If you are sensitive, you should probably stop reading around now.

Incase I sound like an ungrateful, spoilt British girl, I will begin with the pros.

GOOD

  • There is every type of cuisine, at any time of day. Pizza for breakfast, Bagels at 4am? Go for it, nobody will judge.
  • There is always something to see. I was naive and thought I would be able to explore every district and neighbourhood in the first two months. I am coming up to month number two and I still haven’t even been to Queens.
  • You can feel like you have travelled to another city just by hopping forward or backwards a few stops on the Subway.
  • Bodegas.
  • Coffee.
  • $1 pizza (when you know where is good, avoid the bad places you will get ill)
  • Brooklyn Bridge Park
  • Red Hook – so far out, yet so very very cool
  • Getting lost and looking up and seeing The Empire State building in the distance
  • The triumph of navigating your way through the city and finding your desired destination first time around (or maybe that is just me)
  • The free events that happen daily
  • The artistic cafes in LES make you feel like you have witnessed a free art exhibition

And now for the cons, the bad that they don’t show you on the New York tourism sites

BAD

  • The rats on the subways, especially at night
  • The ants, mosquitos and bed bugs that end up on the subway, in your room and basically stalk you around
  • The obnoxious hipsters in Williamsburg
  • The obnoxious jazz singers who have their own CD and therefore think they are God
  • The price of a shot is normally $6
  • None of the deodorants smell nice, so much so that I have debated not wearing it on several occasions
  • You can’t drink on the streets
  • You can’t buy alcohol in a normal shop
  • ^ This means it is expensive when you do go to a Liquor store
  • ^^ Ps. I am not an alcoholic, just British
  • The subway might be 24 hours, but you might have to wait an hour to change trains
  • American guys in clubs really don’t know how to act smooth around girls and don’t understand the word “go away”
  • The crowds in Midtown make you want to fly off to a desert island forever
  • Not many people understand sarcasm

New York Diary: 4th Of July Fireworks, Island Hopping And Flea Markets

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I apologise for the lack of blog posts this last week. My friend came to visit for a long but fast period of time and now voila we are in July. How does that happen?

I have added the photographs  first so they can do the talking. I had such a great week exploring New York for the first time all over again. My friend was so good at finding new places and doesn’t have the talent of getting lost like I do, so I got to see far more of the city in a much shorter time spam (it normally takes me a good two hours to navigate my way to the desired destination) – it was telling he went to Scouts as a child, if only the nineties was as gender neutral as it is now, then maybe my Brownies would have taught me how to read a map rather than how to bake a Victoria sponge.

We celebrated 4th of July on top of my new rooftop (well not mine alone, but still). A lot of the people from the building came and hung out up there so I got to know some of my neighbours, such an uncool NY thing to do, but hey it was 4th of July and everyone was wearing red, white and blue. Why not break the mold. We got to see the Macy’s fireworks minus the crowds and had a jolly good time.

We explored many of the side streets of my area and discovered a great flea market by the pier, a mier twenty minute walk away. Click on the link if you are a bit of a hipster and want to check out some vintage clobber. I have to admit, my favourite thing was the mac and cheese at the food stall, as the clothes are very over priced, but it’s great for photographs.

Talking of photographs and fast forwarding to today, I have to tell you all about a ridiculous farcical thanks to Instagram, Hipsters and a cafe – Two Hands, down Mott Street. After my friend found it on Instagram, we decided to check it out on account of it’s cheap coffee and cute looking straws. Little did I realise that the whole of New York’s excited hipsters would also want to do the same. Angela if you are reading this, don’t worry, we are definitely still not hipsters, just hip!

There was not only a waiting list of an hour to even have a seat in this tiny little venue, but the people waiting were enough to put me off adding my name to Joe’s list and finding a far less pretentious one. We did just that. But let me not forget to tell you about one particular girl in the queue.

“Let me tell you about my name, it’s like so funny. You see, like, I actually have four names (side note, so do I, but who really cares), and they are all like the names of alcohol, which I think is just so so funny. Stella, Suze, Jack Glenn”.

Revolutionary, not.

I am so glad we found a nicer, cooler cafe that actually had wi-fi. That was the other thing, despite being NY famous from Instagram, Two Hands didn’t even have wi-fi. Pft.

Is New York As Great As It Seems? Not Really…

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Okay, so the name of this post may be a little extreme. For any family or friends reading this, don’t worry I am not having a major melt down while frantically typing at the keys to spill out my contempt of the city, moreover it is simply a little list of observations made from an outsider in the big city of NYC.

There are many staggering contradictions I have noticed in my 1.5 months of being here and I felt it necessary and blogworthy (new word) to share them with you.

  1. Recycling. While everyone is hot and heavy on recycling everything from left over food to plastic bottles, the supermarkets will give you not one, but two plastic bags. That’s right – two plastic bags. Even if you buy a pepper (don’t even get me started on the cost of those). Maybe paper bags, or a bag for life would be more fitting.
  2. Friendliness. “Oh my God, it’s soooo nice to meet you” is something that I have experienced a lot here. At first, in my first few weeks I was naive enough to believe such a person was genuine. Maybe it was just so nice to meet me? Wrong. While people here can be very friendly, they will make no attempt to meet up with you, nor will they hide the fact they are bored of speaking to you. On more than one occasion I have been at a bar, and someone will quite happily end the conversation with “okay so it was nice talking to you”. I guess I am just a very boring person…
  3. Hip cafes. Since moving to Williamsburg, I am not only near the notoriously hipsteresque L line, but am very near to the Lower East Side and all things ‘trendy’. While I do like these areas, I do find it staggering how many cafes don’t have wi-fi. Okay, if you are a small – trying – to – make – a – living kind, I hear you. But so many well-known, popular cafes don’t have it. Take Two Hands for example. There is normally a queue outside just to get a table for a $3 coffee. Do you want to know why? Because it comes with a striped straw. And do you want to know why these straws became so well known and popular? Because they were seen on Instagram. However, Two Hands and many others are far too hip and alternative to give their customers wi-fi.

It is nice to be nice and cool to be echo friendly, and everyone these days needs wifi to go from A to B. But lets not get too contradictory and ironic, as we don’t all want to end up like the hipsters. Peace out.

New York Diary: The Rooftop, AKA My New Home For The Month

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Yesterday I said goodbye to my first months home in Harlem and got on the M line to Hewes Street, Wiliamsburg. I am now living in a converted factory with a rooftop at the top which I plan to spend far more time in than my room. It’s the small things.

My friend Josh has come from England for the week to visit New York (and me, of course..!) and I guess we got carried away with a photo shoot war on the roof last night.

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New York Diary: Marching In The Pride Parade With Uber = Uber Fun

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Sometimes pictures tell the story a whole lot better than words, so I am going to keep this post short but illustrate it with a bunch of happy, smiley colourful people at the New York Pride Parade last Saturday. I was lucky enough to not only be in New York when it was happening, but managed to find myself getting invited to march in it. My housemates friend knew someone who worked for Uber and they needed people to march with them. Did I want to do it? Hell yes. To make it even more fun, me and my friend Jaan managed to persuade the driver to let us ride in the taxi for the entire march. I felt like a minor celebrity, throwing Uber t-shirts and temporary tattoos at enthusiastic bystanders across Manhattan.

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I also encountered a make up faux pas disaster moment when I naively trusted my face in the hands of two strangers, below.

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My housemate also trusted them.

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The result was this.

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Thanks to a free bandana and a lot of water, we managed to erase most of this clown inspired design and took to round 2. Below.

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New York Diary: Burnt Pretzels, Rooftop Bars And New Friends

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Please note, this blog post has taken a great deal of energy from my five year old Mac. Breathing away like a 40 a day smoker, this machine is living on a lot of borrowed time. If this post is actually posted because it did not collapse while I’m pushing all its buttons then there is evidence that miracles can happen on a Monday afternoon.

Last night I found myself on a rooftop bar in the pouring rain, a venue I went to in order to seek shelter. It happened to be part of a five star hotel in Midtown and had very fancy people sitting outside. Me and my friend were not dressed for such an occasion, and with our dripping wet rain soaked clothes, we definitely stood out at the venue. It felt like the scene in Pretty Woman, and it made me laugh a little.

Making friends in a new city, especially one as big as New York can be hard. Sure, there are many people, but you have to pick out the good ones – like picking out the marshmallows in a Lucky Charms cereal pack. Hard to find in bulk. I was lucky in the first week of being here that I met some great people and as a result, settled in pretty fast. However, people work, something I am currently not doing here. I also believe you can never meet too many people. If they are weird, it’s a good story to write about. If they are nice, hooray high-five to me.

Hoping to meet people who were also new to the city, I joined a group (the internet is clever) that was designed for young people to find friends in New York. I was sceptical at first as it seemed like Tinder for friends. Indeed, the first time I met up with people on this app, it turned into a very boring and awkward affair. I was sceptical about going back on this app and assumed it really was just for weird people who had no friends. However, last night when none of my other friends here were free, I got back on the horse and gave it another try. I had a great time and if it were Tinder, I would say it was worthy of a second date.

The rooftop bar was a great place to find ourselves as even though I could only afford a Diet Coke, the view was pretty amazing. It even stopped raining at one point so we got to go out and take some photos without a window being in the way. One nice guy on the way back gave us his umbrella which seemed so overly nice for someone in New York but he was genuinely serious.

If you have ever been to New York, especially walking through Midtown, you might well have smelt burning. Obviously there are plenty or aromas good and bad to smell in that part of town, but this is a particular burning smell that you can almost taste. Well, last night we decided to buy pretzels from a stall. They tasted of that burning smell. Yes, that’s right, not only did I figure out the smell once and for all, but ate a bite of it too. I seriously recommend buying any other street food other than harmless looking pretzels.

Just before I finish this post, my laptop is thankfully behaving, I just have to note that the noisy builders next to my apartment are playing their music (standard) but the song playing right now is Rihanna, New York. Quite apt, don’t ya think.