My Love/Hate Relationship With New York

New York has been top of my bucket list for a long time. I wanted to see places where you felt like you had walked straight into a movie. I wanted to try all of the foods. I wanted to explore and get a real feel of the city. I finally went to New York this May and it really did deliver.


New York is so busy! If you aren’t used to that then it can be a little overwhelming. Hell, I live in London and I found it a little overwhelming! The constant people and crowds can make the place feel like a whirlwind but there are little areas of calm if you look in the right places.

Despite the fact that I loved the sights, the food and a lot in-between. I have some issues with New York. Everyone gives New York this idea of glamour but it ‘s all like that! You also get told to do so many things from so many different people it can be hard to figure out what you actually want to do. It’s like you’ve done it wrong when people asked why you didn’t end up somewhere!


I was so excited to get to our Air Bnb when we hit NY! We got the Air Train from JFK through the airport and got off at the wrong stop. This meant we got the subway through Queens, with suitcases and standing out like a sore thumb. It was not the nicest experience and I was pretty freaked out. We then got off at our Subway stop and it was a real eye opener. I imagine all of Brooklyn to look like Shoreditch but once you get there, you notice it is not like that everywhere. It felt like you walked right into the 90s with people shouting insults at each other, boomboxes on shoulders and homeless people on street corners. There was a definite case of us thinking “where the fuck are we?”

Once we walked nearer to our Air Bnb, I felt a lot more comfortable. I know that there are dodgy and safe places in most cities but New York was one of the few places I have been worried when wandering around certain parts. You can tell it was a case of gentrification as Williamsburg was exactly how I expected it to be and I loved it. We stayed in Bed Stuy which had good bars and restuarants but it was a little more sparse.


I don’t want to knock the holiday I had. On the contrary, I loved my time in New York. However, I found myself explaining my holiday with a few “buts” and I felt guilty. It got me thinking, why should I be feeling guilty? You don’t have to love every single part of a city. It is ok to have down sides to a place. I think people sometimes look at holidays with rose tinted glasses as you aren’t going to love everything you see and do! I refuse to feel like the odd one out as everyone I speak to about New York agrees with some of the downsides once you get chatting about what you got up to.

New York has great things I loved and I will be going back. I also know what things I am definitely going to be doing again and other things I wouldn’t. Would you say the same about London? Probably. It is all about picking the best parts for you, not what everyone else tells you to go to.

Mary’s Milk Bar – Edinburgh

One of my favourite pit stops in Edinburgh was Mary’s Milk Bar. After looking it up online, I was excited to try some ice cream.


The exterior looked quaint with it’s stone brick work and its pastel retro sign. Once inside, it was a dream! Just like a parlour in the 1950s, there was lots of little quirks. The lights were ice cream cones, the colours were all pastel and ice cream colours. The furniture was kitsch and kooky.


The flavours were a little different to the usual that you would expect. I went for rose and dark chocolate. The taste was intense and delicious. I loved the feel and the atmosphere of the place. You also had a pretty special view of Edinburgh Castle.

There were bits to buy too. We picked up a carefully packaged bar of caramel chocolate. You could also get tote bags, jars of salted caramel and bags of chocolate shards.


Whatever the weather, if you are in Edinburgh you should definitely make a trip to Mary’s Milk Bar. I will definitely be back again!

Bank Holidays In Edinburgh

The Easter weekend is always a good one. Who doesn’t love a 4 day weekend? I made that a 6 day weekend and flew up to Edinburgh for two days before going to Newcastle to see some family and friends.


I had never been to Edinburgh before so I was excited to explore. We stayed in Tune Hotel at Haymarket. Although basic, it was everything we needed for two days and didn’t break the bank.

The castle was beautiful as the sun set on our first day. It wasn’t until the following day we went to look at it properly.


On Thursday night we headed to Malones, the pop up Irish bar that opened for the 6 Nations. It is still open and you can se why. Beer, a great outdoor setting but the highlight was the food. Pizza Geeks was serving up wood fired pizzas. There was even one with haggis on!

We also headed to some really interesting bars. Hoot The Redeemer was a small cavern of a bar full of arcade games and bright lights. There was even a vending machine for alcoholic ice creams! The best part of Hoot The Redeemer was the door, which was a Fortune Telling Game from a funfair. Just like Big!

Another bar we loved was Panda and Sons. You walked through what looked like a Barber shop window to get in, went down the stairs and opened a door that was disguised as a bookshelf. Inside was a basement bar full of tables and references to hairdressing and barbers everywhere.

Overall, I loved Edinburgh. I definitely want to go back and explore. We walked past lots of good looking places for food and beers. Every building looks unasuming but they are incredible when you get inside. Nomad coffee shop had a beautiful interior as well as a few others scattered in-between.

 

Steak In Warsaw – Butchery & Wine

Warsaw was a great trip for food and drink. We headed to a few bars that were full of vodka. We then headed over to Butchery & Wine which was near our hotel.

When looking at steak restaurants in London, the price tag is pretty hefty. After a trip to MASH a few years ago, I found it was overpriced and unseasoned. It put me off a little.

Butchery & Wine was not like that at all. The setting felt a little fancy yet reserved. The dim lighting and cut back decor made it romantic and perfect for a date night.

I started with short rib croquettes with a harissa sauce. Andrew had the steak tartare. Both great pieces of meat and tasted delicious.

As Warsaw was so cheap, it meant we tried what we might not have one in London. A chateaubriand was really good value and I was so glad we had it. Pink in the middle, crisp on the outside.

The great thing about going out in a couple means sharing food is a lot more acceptable. A chocolate fondant between the pair of us meant we had a bitterly sweet dessert without being taken over by the rich flavour.

Poland is perfect for when you want to go somewhere and not spend too much. With wine, two starters, a chateaubriand, sides, sauces, a shared dessert and service, you would expect it to be quite expensive. Not this time around! All of that at Butchery & Wine was about £90! I would definitely recommend but see if you can book beforehand, just incase.

A Dinner At Gingerman, Brighton

We headed to Gingerman when in Brighton last weekend. We did lots of research into where to go and it was the top of our list. We were put on a waiting list initially but were called an hour or so before with a booking. It was all very exciting as it had been a bit of a disappointment before.

The setting was lovely. Really intimate, low lighting and relaxed tables. Usually, we go for slightly more casual and relaxed dinners, so this made a really nice change to treat ourselves. We sat ourselves near the door, there was a little curtain to separate from the door so it felt like it was just us, which was nice (hint; if going on a date, I reckon it’s the best table in the place).
The set dinners on the menu ranged and it was really hard to choose from. There are few things I don’t like so it means I am usually a bit more straightforward with my menu choices. Gingerman however, had lots I wanted to try. Me and my boyfriend have a habit of going for things we can try off each other’s plates too. It’s the one great thing about going for dinner as a couple.

I started with the “Pigs & Squid”, which was confit pork belly, crispy squid, parsley puree and pickled fennel. The mix of pork and squid I was worried might be overpowering but the difference of tastes and textures worked really well, especially with a dip of the purée. I have only really had fennel chopped and cooked into things (meatballs, especially the ones like you can get in Polpo). It’s a definite preference thing but I don’t like the taste of fennel itself. In my head, it tastes like Sambuca on vegetables. Not the best spirit to picture when eating for some (including me!)
My boyfriend Andrew had the pressed terrine, which was full of flavour and tasted delicious. I’m taking this from what he said as well as a bite I tried for myself.


Mains were a tough choice. We both sat there contemplating for ages. I went for the rump of beef. It was accompanied with potato, carrots, tarragon purée and onion crumble. The beef was so perfectly cooked the knife cut through it so easily. It was a great cut of meat. The tarragon gave the dish another element you wouldn’t expect but worked really well.
Andrew had the quail which was served with polenta. There was a crisp on the quail which was almost like it was a quail spring roll. There was a grape coulis which seemed similar to a sweet plum sauce.

The menu offered three courses. We went for the banana soufflé and the chocolate pavé with pistachio ice cream. The soufflé tasted amazing but out of preference I found it a little runny because of the fruits consistency. The chocolate pavé was delicious. It was milk chocolate which I thought stood out as so many desserts in restaurants like this would have more of a bitter taste.


Overall, we had a great experience at Gingerman. The staff were so helpful and friendly, gave us recommendations for drinks afterwards and helped us decide what to order. We have already recommended it to some friends. In fact, I am going to recommend it again. If you fancy something tasty and a little fancy when you are in Brighton then definitely look up Gingerman. It’s likely to be busy at a weekend so see if you can book a table!

Brighton For The Weekend

Brighton is one of my favourite places to spend a weekend. Myself and my boyfriend decided to stay overnight and get out of London for a while. Although I love living in the capital, it can get quite overwhelming and it’s nice to get out of it every now and again.

After a £5 train journey from Victoria, we were in Brighton in just over an hour. That’s right, it takes just over an hour to go from London to the seaside. When you head down from the station, the air feels crisper and being able to see the sea is wonderful!

Wandering around the lanes is an absolute must when in Brighton. Walking around the winding streets, window shopping and popping into some great shops. Berts Homestore is full of all the household and kitchen items you can think of! I usually wander into Art Republic and gaze longingly at the art too.

Boho Gelato is a must for all ice cream lovers and those with a sweet tooth. I first heard about it after seeing things online from a few people (one of those people might have been Zoella). With lots of vegan options and an odd variety of flavours, it’s a nice change from the ordinary. I always go for the carrot cake. It’s delicious and has lots of cinnamon in it! My boyfriend had munchies which was full of chocolate and peanut. Eating ice cream near the pier and the beach brings back so much nostalgia of being a child at the beach!

December City Break – Amsterdam

The one thing you will probably come to find when reading my blogs is that I love to travel. Going around Europe and exploring with my boyfriend is one of my favourite things. On the 2nd of December, we headed to Amsterdam.

It was my first time going to the city and I was excited. After what seemed like the most seamless and short journey (the flight was about 45 minutes), we were there!

The first thing I noticed about the city was how many people spoke English. At first, it was odd to think we were actually out of the UK. We got on a train from the airport to the centre, watching the low buildings go past. It is odd, being from a city with such tall buildings, to not see any at all!

It is a very odd sensation to walk around constantly smelling weed. I mean, come on, I live in East London, of course I get a whiff now and again but yeah, it was odd. We walked along the busy streets and I took it all in a little bemused for a while to get my bearings.

Amsterdam is truly beautiful. I couldn’t get enough of the scenery and the canals. My camera roll was pretty much full of photos with the light reflecting the water. The buildings were so varied and when walking across the city, we saw the most amazing houses.

We stayed in Volkshotel, in Amsterdam Oost, basically the coolest and most reasonably priced place to stay. Oost is a little bit like the Hackney of Amsterdam. It was perfect for us as it meant there were cool places to explore, great bars and restaurants in walkable distance and wasn’t far on the train to the centre. The hotel also had a nightclub on the top floor, a cocktail bar in the basement and a bar in the foyer!

We went to this great bar on the first night called Bar Bukowski. You could tell it was full of locals with a great atmosphere. We then went to a restaurant called Smokin Barrels, home of the 2nd best burger in the world!


On the Saturday we headed out for Brunch. Living in London, brunch is a regular occurrence, so I always jump at the chance for eggs and coffee. We went to a place called The Breakfast Club (not connected to the ones in London). We sat down with omelettes, coffee and juice and planned the rest of our day!

We headed to the Museum district and went to Moco Museum for the Banksy & Warhol exhibitions. Amongst the massive buildings, it was almost like a stately home! It was incredible to see so much work from Bansky in such a small place. There was a mixture of street art as well as art on canvas. The best part of it was the Squad car which was outside and showed a huge variety of work with political context.


We did a lot of walking in Amsterdam. We stopped off at a coffee shop called Screaming Beans, famous for their coffee. I would definitely recommend it for anyone in need of a decent cup of coffee.


Another recommendation I would have for anyone going to Amsterdam is looking up the asian restaurant Happy Happy Joy Joy (there are a few you can go to). Small plates of asian dishes are always a good shout and this was no exception. There were delicious duck dumplings that were some of the best I have ever tasted!

We then headed to the Red Light District. We had briefly walked through it in the day time and I found it a bit much. The whole idea of it and seeing the girls so up close made me feel incredibly uncomfortable. I then felt even more uncomfortable seeing men leer over them and take selfies by the windows. I don’t know, it was just a bit weird! You could also tell that there had been a decline so maybe if you go to Amsterdam in 10 years then the Red Light District might look very different.

Overall, Amsterdam has been one of my favourite city breaks by far. I always measure it on if I would want to live there. With the great food, culture and scenery, it is a definite yes. I can’t wait to go on a new adventure!

Rebecca x

The Trials Of The London Commute

Living in London can mean that life is one big blur of business. As someone who has always lived in some part of the Capital, I have somewhat been used to it. There are good points, like the sheer amount of great bars and restaurants on offer. There is also art, culture and everything in between.

If you work in London then you are likely to get a higher wage than that out of the capital and there are many more opportunities. However, out of all of the good points of London there is one bad. It is the one that can ruin your day and your mood and ultimately be one of the most stressful environments to be around. Travelling in rush hour or the morning and evening commute to work is an absolute killer.

I don’t think it is anything you can get used to. I have been travelling in and out of London on the tube and the overground for most of my life and I still find myself completely overwhelmed some days, like I found myself today.

I live in Hackney, which means I rely on the London Overground and the tube to get me to work in Soho. My journey tonight took me two hours, something which on a good day can take 45 minutes door to door. Unfortunately I hit two of the most busy stations at that time – Oxford Circus and Highbury & Islington. My journey today ended up in a uber home, so you can tell it wasn’t the best.

I have a lot of pet peeves about the tube and a commute. I find that a lot of people become utter arseholes and the whole experience can be awful. No one needs to have someones bum rubbing against their own do they? I absolutely hate people’s hair touching me too. People get in my way so I move because they are too close only for them to move into the space i created to make it worse. Little things like this happen daily. It is annoying but I can just about deal with it.

Getting on a train has become quite a scary obstacle. If you are commute savvy then you will know that if you don’t get yourself to the edge of the platform then it is likely you wont get on the train. I have pretty bad anxiety over this as I stand there thinking about the fact that someone could get pushed forward and then you’ll be on the tracks. It doesn’t help that stops like Oxford Circus get so windy you feel like you are in the scene of Bridget Jones’s Diary when she’s in the car on the way to her dirty weekend with Daniel Cleaver. After all that, you get crushed onto a packed train, with no one waiting for people to get off and being pushed and shoved and ending up in an awkwardly bent position til it’s your stop and you get spat out like an olive pit.

London can be absolutely incredible, but a commute can kill the soul and slowly drain even the truest of Londoner’s patience. Maybe this is why so many millenials choose to work as a freelancer to avoid putting themselves through the pain and torture of the overground.

So, if you catch yourself on a train at 8.30 in the morning, there’s a few do’s and don’ts to stand you in good stead;

  • DON’T have your music so loud it can be heard through your shitty tinny headphones
  • DON’T lean on a pole and have it stick in between your arse cheeks – it is for people to hold on to
  • DO let people off the train before you swarm on. You get annoyed if it is the other way around
  • DO let pregnant women sit down. I have seen people refuse
  • DO let people sit down if they have lots of bags on them or don’t look very well
  • DON’T flick your hair in peoples faces or on their hand (I am sure I am not the only one who hates this)
  • DON’T look annoyed when people try to hold on to something
  • DON’T eat smelly food, especially when it is busy. Fried chicken, smelly crisps and tuna sandwiches are a big fat NO
  • DON’T feel someone up just because it is busy and you think you can get away with it (this is a completely other issue but relevant nonetheless)
  • DON’T talk over peoples heads, its rude
  • DON’T talk to someone on the phone and say the phrase “I’m just on the train” because it is incredibly fucking annoying
  • DO have your ticket or oyster card ready at the exit rather than stop and get in everyones way

 

There is probably a lot more to be added, but you get the jist. Trasnport rants can happen anywhere but I don’t think anything in the UK is quite like the London commute.

Rebecca x