Honeymoonin' : 3 days in NYC


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Being indecisive and somewhat unlucky when it comes to the weather - we decided to split our honeymoon into three. The final ‘honeymoon-hurrah’ was to New York for a crazy three days.

Initially we had planned to do a ‘chilled one’ in the stye of a true New Yorker, but we couldn’t resist trying to see everything. No matter how many blogs you read telling you not to, you WILL walk too much in the first day.

We stayed East Manhattan, in the Bowery area - at The Public Hotel. Unquestionably cooler than us, but surprisingly not style over substance. The beds were stylish and oh-so-comfy, the staff were helpful and friendly and (my favourite bit) they gave you a free cookie and milk before bedtime (OMFG).

FRIDAY NIGHT
Drinks at the Public Rooftop bar and The Smile bar before crashing ready for the next day.

SATURDAY
A walk down south to see the World Trade Centre / Financial District / to view the Statue of Liberty from afar. On our walk back up we stumbled across a vintage poster shop which was a cave of beaut typography and print. Then The High Line / Chelsea Flea Market which were two of my favourite things, the high line had art and quirky sculptures along the restored railway before the perfect food pit stop at the flea market. It had a whole seafood section. Enough said…

We then headed over to Brooklyn for a cosy few drinks before watching the basketball at the Brooklyn stadium and treating ourselves to two very pricey steak sandwiches (ordered them before I really looked at the price). We walked back over the Brooklyn Bridge for a stunning nighttime view of Manhattan…

SUNDAY
A slight disagreement about where to eat breakfast (Clinton Bakery Co had queues out the door) but Remedy (Wes’ choice) was actually pretty low fuss and had the classic American Breakfast vibe going on. After all the walking we subway-ed it to Greenwich Village and ‘the mecca’ that is Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment. This area felt like stepping onto the set of an American TV show, especially with the FRIENDS apartment round the corner. We carried on walking up to peer inside the beaut architecture of The New York Public Library and Grand Central Station, briefly stopping for a cheap slice of NYC pizza. En-route home as it was getting dark we stopped by Times Square. Everyone says not to bother but it does make you feel as small as an ant and is worth seeing for that reason alone.

MONDAY
Biggest hit of the day - Central Park. I wish we’d got bikes, one thing I was glad about though, was that we’d saved this till last. A bit of calm was needed after 2 intense days. Central Park in Autumn is pretty beautiful too… after this it was a toss up between Top of the Rock and dinner. Due to fogginess we opted for an American Burger and Thanksgiving sandwich in the Meatpacking district at Bubbys High Line - this place is right to be popular, great service and the food was easy & delicious (my fave combo). A sum up of the meatpacking district during it’s transition which I quite liked… ‘You’d see a nicely dressed woman sliding around meat juice in her Jimmy Choos’.

We headed back to the hotel for a quick breather before catching a taxi back to the airport…phew! You can do a hella lot in 3 days, as long as you get the subway :-)

Honeymoonin' in Paros (a mini Mykonos)


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From one blog to another, pretty Paros is easy to write about and very instagrammable (if that's not a word it should be). We discovered Paros via a brilliant travel blog The Sunday Chapter - where Paros was sold to us pretty instantly as 'Greece's best kept secret'. I'm not sure how much longer that will last - holidays to Mykonos and Santorini seem to be all over instagram at the moment, it's probably only a matter of time before the masses look for a (slightly) cheaper/quieter alternative.

We stayed at Minois Village  which felt authentic but special enough for a honeymoon. We treated ourselves to a 'poolside room' which was one of our smarter ideas because we got the most out of the room all day and they were beautifully done up. The nearest town was Pariokia which actually beat the favourite 'Naoussa' in my affections. There were lots of hidden streets and beautiful places to eat and drink (but avoid the restaurants on the seafront, one of our less smart ideas...).

There are lots of nooks and crannies to Paros - probably far too many to go into. Things I would have liked to do but ran out of time/money include hiring a car for longer and getting the little ferry to Anti Paros to explore and see the caves. If you wanted to venture even further then Santorini and Mykonos could be on your all-in-one hit list. Either way, Greece has always had a special place in my heart (mostly down to moussaka) so I can't wait to explore the other islands in the future.

Places that stole my heart in Paros,

1. Kolymbithres - 'Sci-fi' beach
The calmest, most interesting of the bunch (rocks that make it look like the set of a Sci-Fi film). I only wish we'd stayed here longer. If I was to stay in Paros again I'd try and find a location walkable to this as it's near the lovely Naoussa but quiet and beautiful. 

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2. Lefkes town
Dragged here during the oh-so-hot siesta I moaned a bit, but this turned out to be the perfect place to be. The church was stunning and was outside a little cafe with homemade lemonade. Quirky little shops are scattered throughout and worth braving the inclines for.

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3. Pretty Parokia town
Our nearest night and food life from Minois Village was Parokia. I loved finding little bars like the jazzy 'Pirate Bar', eyeing up the ships on the seafront and having moussaka in the cosy little outside/inside restaurant, Daphne.

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3. Our hotel, Minois Village
Stunning rooms and lovely enough food that makes it hard to venture elsewhere. We loved the sunbeds (of which there were a-plenty) but would have been nice to see what it was like in a full summer as the seaview seating and the other restaurant wasn't open in May/early June. The lovely quiet-ish Parasporos beach was within walking distance, which is always a bonus

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4. Naoussa
One of the go-to instagram-famous tourist spots in Paros, and so - worth a visit. Things I remember about this place - we had the best fish dinner, and there were some very photogenic pink spots (the first photo in this blog is from Naoussa). Oh and the ice-cream...GELATO dreams.

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Many moons ago in the seaside town of Clevedon


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One place we visited on our mini moon that I felt deserved it's own post was the seaside town of Clevedon. Walking along the pier, visiting second-hand shops and popping into the 100 year old cinema meant we felt like we were stepping back in time. 

In true blogger style I discovered Clevedon via another blogpost (ta Bath Mag) - which led us to places like 'Murrays Deli' and 'Midgley Green' along with a few others.

We started the day with a visit to the pier (something I was excited about, especially as I'd heard One Direction had also graced the wooden boardwalk). There wasn't much at the end but the view was enough and the visitor centre had some artwork for sale where we purchased a few prints/cards. Lunch at Tiffin on the pier was sumin' else...maybe slightly too early for crab salad but it was really good. Wes had 'the best fish finger sandwich' he'd ever had (and he's had a few, I also liked that it was served up in newspaper wrapping.

Shopping wise, we ventured a street further to home decor/gift shop - Midgley Green where we bought some lovely bits. Across the road Sakers Stationery was designer heaven - filled with notepads, prints and pencils.

Even as we walked into Murrays Deli for dinner (make sure you book), I was told by a customer how good it was. Mostly italian dishes on the menu, I went for lamb meatballs covered in ricotta and tomato - I wish I remembered what 'the husband' had but I only hesitated long enough to take a photo of my own. Lovely spot for dinner followed by drinks at The Limehouse.

Escaping the Christmas crazy in Bath book shops


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We made a crazy call this Christmas, let's go to Bath during A. The Xmas market, B. Black Friday weekend and C. Bath rugby. What were we thinking? Thankfully we didn't make the error we did last year with the ol' park & ride, and got a lift in instead - being dropped off right outside Topping & Company Booksellers (one on my Christmas hit list).

This bookshop has hidden seats, a huge poetry room and cake on request. They also realise the importance of having crisp clean books - and put plastic around the top one so people with grubby fingers (moi) don't soil them.

After a brave venture towards the Xmas market (less said about this the better) we went to Mr B's Emporium for another break away from the crowds. After walking past books in a bath (?) we ventured upstairs past a wall of Tin-Tin to a quiet 'reading' room and some beautiful designer books. They also had a collection of board games to buy, perfect for keeping the fam happy this Christmas.

After an obligatory Ben's cookie (forced into my hand...) we went for food at Same Same but different for tapas. I'm not usually a fan of tapas (it takes a lot of food to fill this void) - but it was all sooo good and the atmosphere was chilled but busy.

From this weekend I took away a copy of 'Commonwealth' by Ann Patchett - if you fancy joining the 'book club' buy yourself a copy and let me know how you're getting on via comments here...

Chocolate box Rye & apocolyptic Dungeness


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Thanks to Instagram (and the people behind the pictures) we discovered the chocolate box town of Rye and the weird derelict beach land of Dungeness - we ate 'the best meal of our lives' (Landsgate Bistro) and were inspired to take pictures of doors and random shopfronts (those last two were mostly me).

Our weekend away started with finding our Rye-based Airbnb, a cosy one-up one-down with copper decor and a funky bedspread. We dumped our stuff and made the most of the late afternoon by stopping at the White House for a quick sausage roll & vino (the perfect combo). Feeling the effects, we walked around the streets admiring the tiny houses and 'Tiny Bookshop'.

Dinner that night was spent at The Landsgate Bistro, a few doors down from our airbnb and they squeezed us in last minute. We were glad they did, what-a-feast. I had scallop in ravioli starter (not the prettiest but DELICIOUS) whilst the man had pigeon breast lightly dusted in bread crumbs. For main I had venison on lentils and CHEESE gnocchi, very yum whilst Wes had pork belly with a side of potato cake (just the right amount of carbs).

Sunday was spent visiting what was originally 'the main attraction' of the weekend - the derelict but charming Dungeness. Next to an old power station, this stretch of shipwrecked covered beach is also filled with chalets that look like they belong in Scotland or parts of America. I think this is prime location for artists to end their days, you'd walk along to find mini galleries in sheds and sculptures in gardens. 

All in all, a very instagram-worthy location.

Creative cakes and street art in Bristol


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Yes public transport is good, let's all use it etc. etc. This isn't one of those kind of posts, I will however, travel via train for good cake (and art).

Me and my fellow train buddy headed to Bristol with the aim of satisfying our craving for shopping, good food and gin (in that order). On arriving we decided to head straight for the cake, and not any ol' cake but at the bakery that shall be tasked with creating my wedding cake. Therefore, a tasting was 'needed'. Ahh Toots not only creates quirky looking cakes but also quirky flavours like lemon and courgette (actually delicious). On our way there we got a little lost and ended up stumbling around St Nicholas Market which was a great find, full of vinyl shops and street food stalls. Only wish we'd gone full force on our lunch here - but we were saving ourselves for something special later...

After a Zara stop in cabot (not quite so photogenic) we headed towards 'dinner'. A restaurant I'd seen on Instagram called 'Le Poivrot' which provides copious amounts of wine, cheese and posh food. En-route, just past the Christmas Steps, we found shops with beautiful prints and a candle that smelled like a hot man (Oakwood & Tobacco) at Dig Haushizzle.

Dinner was pretty on the mark - the menu is pretty small but what they do, they do good. I went for wood pigeon, and Nic went for Steak Tartare. All topped up with a big cheese board and bottle of red. On our way back we stopped at The Glass Restaurant for a (probably not needed) gin.

At risk of becoming a regular, me and the man visited Bristol only a few weekends before to see Upfest in Bedminster. A graffiti festival which covers every street corner, park and stadium (!). Lots of inspirational stuff...

Happy high up on the hill & below


A break was needed to enjoy the glorious weather we're having... (!), so we went to stay at Bruton in Somerset. Keen to relive my gypsy dream every year, we stayed in a twee converted railway carriage called 'Happy on the hill'. Overlooking fields, this was the perfect snug spot for Lola to have her own mini break running through the grass (this holiday was really all about her...). Some of the best bits included a log fire, local breakfast supplied by the host, outdoor seating that was sheltered from the rain (perfect book reading spot) and... (my personal favourite) a pink roll top bath *hands in the air emoji*.

Our host left us a map to walk into Bruton so we decided to brave the rain (minus google maps). Bruton is pretty sweet, though silent on a Sunday. Apart from the lovely 'At the Chapel', where we treated ourselves to a feast. All bloomin' lovely and in a very photogenic spot. 

A similarly lovely food-walk experience nearer to home can be had with breakfast at The Lavender Bakehouse followed by a dog walk through Chalford - and a mini shop pit-stop at Jolly Nice where more beautiful book covers can be found.

Our haggis, highland, magic-filled road trip around Scotland


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Aware that I've become one of those annoying 'travellers' who share every feast and sunny view whilst my chums are slaving away at work, I won't go on too long about my AWESOME TRIP TO SCOTLAND!

The best thing is that you can be sure to tick a good few things off 'the bucket list' by doing this road trip. From eating fresh oysters by the sea, to staying in a cosy bothy with a log fire - (at the risk of sounding cheesy...) there's an experience to be had at every corner.

On our 10 day trip we stayed at the following spots,

  1. Yorkshire Dales
    Stopping at Janet's Foss and the mountain that was inspiration for Helm's Deep from Lord of the Rings, finishing our day at a classic Yorkshire pub.
  2. Edinburgh
    Given a handy guide by our airbnb hosts we worked our way tirelessly through the best spots. Making sure we visited the Greyfriars dog (Lola!), huge museum, castle and...Mary's Milk bar (you know it must be good when there's a queue outside the door). 
  3. Caledonian Canel (at the bottom of Loch Ness)
    Staying at a Canopy & Stars modern bothy, this spot served a huge seafood platter on the nearby Eagle Barge. With log fire and beaut decor, the bothy was one of the cosiest spots I'd laid my head.
  4. Strathpeffer (above Inverness)
    A sleepy little place with a steal of an airbnb chalet, stunning views and lots of open countryside and forest to walk at leisure.
  5. Plockton (by Isle of Skye)
    This was the perfect pit stop to visit Isle of Skye, where we visited the Talisker Whiskey Distillery, The Oyster Shed and the stunning Fairy pools (more on that later). Plockton itself had pubs brimming with atmosphere and Scottish bands, and was home to a great Fish & chip shop.
  6. Inveraray (Argyll & Bute)
    A sleepy spot but we needed a bit of luxury so this airbnb hotel room was perfect. Bathroom bigger than my house and a big Scottish breakfast in the morning. On our journey here we visited 'The Silver Sands of Morar' which is a white sand beach in Scotland (I couldn't believe it either). The Isle of Skye ferry made this journey a lot quicker too.
  7. Gourock (west of Glasgow)
    Not a huge amount around here, but we stayed in a castle with a good view of the sea! On the journey down we drove across Loch Lomond, with a memorable stop at the restaurant Venachar Lochside
  8. The Lake District
    We travelled across The Lake District, stopping at Osprey Point to see...an Osprey. Then bumbling around Ambleside before heading to our lovely airbnb room at the back of a farmhouse. 

The Isle of Skye day was my favourite, mostly because my man popped the question at the Fairy Pools :-) Which means that not only do I have a fairy-inspired sparkler on my finger but also something to take my mind off the post holiday blues. Be prepared for (maybe just a few) wedding blogs detailing my planning turmoil...

 

 

Red doors and typographic prints galore


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I've gone a bit print mad, I think it's because I've filled the house with everything else all that's left are the walls. From song sheets from Antique shops to John Lewis for cheap abstract prints (Simon C Page - Moonlight on the bedside table). Another purchase includes an Anthony Burrill print, big, typographic and mint green - which now sits at the bottom of the stairs. Wes has only slightly ruined it for me by saying it reminds him of the Justin Bieber song.

Recent jollies include a trip to Berkeley, where this is little else but a castle (which was actually closed). But we did have a nice nose around, staring at the stunning old houses and their beautifully coloured doors. I had outside-house envy.  

An Airbnb stay in Brighton with eats and treats


Considering the tales of quirky shops, pretty seaside and great places to eat - I still had not been to Brighton. And after some Airbnb searching my chums and I realised it was probably the perfect place to visit. 

Ah I love Airbnb finds - I'm fast becoming a lover of the homely accommodation and feeling 'part of the community' as apposed to a standard hotel. We found a stunning 3 bedroom house, just over twenty minutes walk away from the pier - the decor was beautiful and we arrived to find a hamper of wine and jam (only two of my favourite things). 

We explored the North Laines on Day 1, and loved it. It seemed like the eccentric, reasonably priced shops had escaped over-priced rents and being booted out in favour of the high street usuals. This area was also filled with cool sandwich and breakfast cafes, with people way cooler than me sat outside with their dachshunds and vintage gear. We were pretty hungry so stopped at 'Bread & Milk', a clean classic sandwich shop with Halloumi flatbreads and homemade cakes. We also grabbed a Glazed doughnut from another spot to go with a cuppa at home.

After some browsing we then headed towards the seafront to see the new 'Viewing Point'. We didn't venture up, though I'm sure the view would be pretty good on a nice day. The modern glass makeover of this part of the seafront didn't sit quite right though. The nicest bits being the picturesque wooden architecture which were slowly disappearing. Hopefully this isn't a sign of what's to come in the next few years, people don't want to go to a town to see the same shops, the same decor, the same people. We go somewhere different for exactly that.

Enough ranting. Food! Of which there was plenty. VIP Pizza was recommended to us by a friend. 'Pizza, how exciting can it be!'. Very is the answer. Before we managed to get a seat at this popular spot we had a few crazy cocktails at The Plotting Parlour round the corner - seated in vintage theatre seats we 'plotted' our food choices then headed to the cute little Italian restaurant where people were sat tightly together but didn't care because the atmosphere was brilliant. Italian foods hung from the walls and were crammed into shelves. And the pizza...! Huge folded dough sides and loads of toppings. 

The next day we recovered from fuzzy heads with a walk through The Pavilion, again another must see and breakfast at 'The Breakfast Club'. Good grub, sort of worth the wait if you can be bothered and aren't feeling too fragile.

Overall a great weekend, take a peek at my Instagram to see more.

A glamping gypsy adventure - with waterfalls & fire pits


I always knew I was a true gypsy at heart, the fact I've moved home about 5 times in 2 years was a good hint. Saying that, I didn't realise how much I'd love the lifestyle until I stayed in a real gypsy/circus caravan at Walcot Hall, Shropshire. 

We booked the stay through canopyandstars - where I pondered over yurts, real tree-houses and vintage sheds. But Walcot Hall stood out for it's arboretum location and pet-friendly accommodation (it was Lola's holiday after all). On arrival we carried our bits through the forest, to find the 'Red Showman's Caravan'. It stood out as looking quaint and cosy - and didn't disappoint inside with a beautiful little kitchenette, vintage yellow furnishings and snug bedroom.

Before some BBQ and scrabble, we explored the arboretum to find other 'hidden gems'. From a firetruck to an american chapel - they all sat far enough apart so that we rarely bumped into anybody. Even the bathrooms had character, sat in sheds with vintage copper toilets and big showers.

After a cosy nights sleep (bar the owl screeching in the trees above us), we spent the whole of the next day exploring. After what felt like sleeping in a 'wendy house' and then walking round to find wooden bear statues, a hansel and gretal house and a walkway behind a waterfall - it was like being a young 'un again. Exploring also included finding the hidden boathouse (after getting the padlock code online, finding the key and eventually opening the next door to some vintage boats - that in itself felt like a treasure hunt). We (ok, just one us...) then paddled the mile length along the lake navigating the swans and herons. 

We finished off the day by toasting marshmallows on the fire. Yes twee. But the man loved it. And I loved drinking wine and watching him make fire. And eating marshmallows. 

Overall, one of the best weekends I've had in a long time, leaving me yearning another gypsy/glamping adventure very soon...

 

 

 

A wine-drinking, city-visiting Tuscan adventure


It's been a few weeks, and I'm (nearly) over my post-Italy holiday blues. Food - good. Wine - good. People - good. Scenery - good. What's not to love! Italy gets into your soul. 

We stayed in a beautiful farmhouse in the Chianti region of Tuscany, Castelvecchi sits high on a hilltop and is also home to one of the oldest cellars in Italy. We felt pretty chuffed that our room sat opposite a stunning view, with wine-drinking-seats included. Being a rather posh Rose drinker myself I wasn't too fussed with the red stuff (sacrilige), but after a few vineyard 'wine tastings' (read - 'free wine') I was converted. Tied in with some shop bought Italian ham/cheese/bread to eat on the veranda and I would happily have missed the flight back to England. 

To ensure we made the most of our stay we had a car to take daily jollies. We visited San Gimignano, Florence, Siena, Pisa and the lakes of Castiglione del Lago along with a variety of random villages in Chianti. Ever the teacher, my man taught me many things about the history of Italy. Whilst I taught him that I can buy a new outfit in a matter of minutes (the cathedral visiting no-skirt rule meant I had no choice) and that every day is Gelato day. View the rest of my pictures here.

In other news - The Ink Closet website is in the middle of a big upgrade. Some final tweaks then we'll make the big transition. Ciao for now!