Holidays

Abu Dhabi & Dubai Bae-cation Part 5: Old Dubai, Crystal at Raffles & Dubai Mall

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It's the fifth and final part of my latest holiday series! It actually made me cool off holidays for a while and I know my next one will be relaxed to the max and anything but flashy. My Dubai dreams were dashed by food poisoning and I tried my best to perk up at the one week point as it was now or never! My last blog post left off with me holed up in our hotel room for a few days watching random movies and a lot of BBC World News. Our hotel didn't have free wifi in the rooms so I was determined to get out for at least a few hours. We took a taxi to Old Dubai and started the day at Dubai Museum, which only costs 3AED which is around just 50p. It was a great insight into the recent history that the city has sprung up from and a light look at the development of what Dubai is today. There are a fair few wax dummies involved in the exhibitions but it was an interesting hour!

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A few minutes walk from Dubai Museum are the souks, and I had these in my mind as exotic thriving markets. They were a little less authentic than we'd hoped and most things had a 'made in China' label and came in a plastic packet! We had fun bartering with the shopkeepers though and exploring the winding precincts. I forgot to mention until now that it was recently UAE day so there were flags everywhere!

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We jumped on an abra boat ride to take us across the river to the Gold Souk, which cost around 18p. The boat was so old and wooden that this was the most authentic thing we'd done all week! We clunked across to the other side and browsed the second souk but the most I picked up was a magnet for a lady at work.

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We hopped back on an abra and caught a taxi home down the hot motorway and chilled in the hotel for a little while, before heading out towards JBR for dinner. I hadn't ate anything for the past few days apart from crackers, so I tested myself with a light dinner and more mint tea. I have not had mint tea since I returned, it has scarred me for life! JBR was a little like a mall on a beach - the strip is very plush and perfect with lovely restaurants on decking, but then the beach is a few steps away, making it seem rather surreal. It's not like a seaside or port but more man made and artificial.

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My friend's cousin had got us a table at the club Crystal at Raffles, a highly expensive table but you get free drinks and entry along with this. Considering drinks were around £15-20 each anyway, it was more economical to get a table deal. We first had a drink booked at the top of the Burj al Arab, aka the surf board building. We had around an hour to get ready and unfortunately our hotel room had a shower that leaked everywhere and terrible lighting. Have you ever been in a hotel room where literally you cannot see yourself properly in any mirror? I put my makeup on by memory and assumed all of the colour matched and soon we were off out in yet another taxi. A few golf buggies later and we were rode up to the Burj al Arab, an extremely grand and extremely quiet space. There were a few other people there taking photos and two ladies who I'm just going to say were obviously looking for 'clients', and we took the lift together up to one of the top floors. Our planned drink was in more of a restaurant space so we all sat down at a huge table with one cocktail each. We didn't stay long and made sure we checked out how fancy the bathrooms were as there wasn't actually a view out of the windows. And the cocktails cost £30 each, oh my!

We had some photos near the entrance where the aquarium walls were, though I just wasn't really in a photo mood that holiday as I just wasn't feeling great. As we waited at the entrance of the building for taxis, the fanciest cars with impeccably dressed passengers were pulling up constantly - definitely not our taxis! Soon we were dropped off at a huge private hotel and were confused where the club was, as my friend's cousin had took a personal taxi to the club himself. We were told the club was around the corner but it felt like we were walking down into a carpark and various boys were lurking there trying to talk to us. Another group of girls were coming around the corner too though and we followed them to the entrance of the club, lined with super cars. It turns out the boys were probably trying to get into the club with girls! We had no problem getting in (unlike New York) and that's when I noticed a poster saying Thursday was Ladies Night, which means free entry and free drinks?! We'd just paid for a table with free drinks and after going up a few levels in the lift and walking into the dark circular space with various levels, we found our table was a two seater sofa with a coffee table anyway, haha!

Now this club was playing the best music, totally my perfect place, but we grabbed our drinks (mine soft) and did some people watching. The problem with having a table is that you might look elite and like a 'somebody', but it just means you naturally confine yourself to one area and feel separated from everyone else. I would have rather walked in unaccompanied and found a great place to be, surrounded by cool new people to meet. It will be the first and last time I'd ever willingly get a table. Also I thought we would have to really dress so carefully to get into clubs as it was so tricky in New York, but there were girls in the club wearing rara skirts (yes) and jeans, so it was a UK vibe really and nothing out of the ordinary. Unfortunately after about half an hour I started to get such bad tummy cramps and was feeling awful even sitting down at the mini sofa so my friends took me back out to the taxis and I made my best not to seem as though I was in fact drunk on the way home, as you can be driven straight to the police station if you are disorderly! The driver was definitely watching me very closely in the rear mirror when I said I wasn't feeling well. So after one £30 virgin cocktail and a £50 club entry, I was home! My friends followed after around an hour as the club shut at 3am and we had arrived at around 12.30am, and my room mate didn't feel great either. The next day we were going to go for food at JBR but we all spent the day watching edited romcoms and I ate more of the room service vegetable broth then I ever want to eat again!

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And then it was Saturday, our last day. All of the other gals had left by then so it was just myself and my friend, and we decided to go to the Dubai Mall as an easy way to spend the last hours. I had such random clothes left, I didn't even care what I was wearing or looked like at this point as I just wanted to be comfortable. The mall was amazingly huge and luxe, with two massive waterfalls and acres to browse across each floor. The only shops that appealed were Bath and Body Works and Sephora, but I didn't make a purchase at either as we had been to New York some months ago. We ate at a restaurant by the water where I had a quinoa salad and veggies, and it was so nice to eat some actual food; then we watched the water fountain shows before heading off. Surrounded by English shops and people, it didn't feel like I was really that far from home!

That night we tried to go for drinks even though it was Saturday night, which is technically Sunday night in Dubai so few places are open. We dressed casually and I was so gutted that this was basically one of my only nights out when usually its all about getting ready and playing music, gossiping and laughing before heading out every night on holiday. It was such a waste on my part! We went to the Hilton rooftop for a drink, were pleasantly surprised when a guy spoke to us and then sent over drinks before he left with his family, got really freaked out that they were potentially poison, checked he wasn't hiding watching us, got over how ridiculous we were being, and then tried to locate somewhere else to head. Nowhere was open so we went back to the hotel and decided to duck into one of the hotel's clubs. Now the Marina Byblos hotel was good because it lived up to its claims of the decor and breakfast, but the clientèle was more of a night time kind if you get my drift here, and who we met in the lifts were either tourist couples, old balding men, and plastic surgery-loving ladies of the night (and in this case, the day). It wasn't uncommon to see ladies getting in and out of the lifts at different floors at all hours of the day, eek. The hotel website looked like it had the coolest bars and clubs and for some nights we had planned we could even just party in our hotel but on arrival, we saw they were seriously cheesy. After entering the one bar on this last night for a laugh, we were sat by the hostess with a free drink in the centre of crowded tables facing a live band pumping out the likes of 'I love rock 'n' roll' and 'You are so beautiful' in heavy accents. Upon peering casually around, the room was full of ladies wearing not a lot and groups of men looking and making eye contact with them. We left pretty sharpish once the gazes of the men were too much to avoid, as it was quite hilarious but not somewhere we were sticking around!

And then it was the final day, with only time to pack up and head to the airport. Our flight home was during a really windy patch and had us holding hands with the lady next to us during some crazy turbulence, who had just been on a 10 week Bikram yoga course and was feeling VERY emotional anyway! When all the TVs cut out and were reduced to fuzz, I did think we were going to die. Thankfully we got home safely and I had to take almost a week off work trying to get myself on the road to full recovery.

All in all, what a trip! I don't know if my expectations were too far from reality or if being ill just totally scuppered it all, but I won't be going back to Dubai very soon I don't think. I would recommend it to couples as the restaurants and attractions means there is loads to see and do, but it might not be the place for exploring in an impulsive way or feeling very far from home. Here s my vlog too - from reading my posts, was this how it seemed?


Abu Dhabi & Dubai Bae-cation Part 4: Burj Al Arab Jumeirah

I hope my previous post didn't send you into despair but here is my penultimate round up of my holiday! We were onto the Dubai stretch and it was bliss to have a shower without a queue of eight girls, though I still felt pretty horrible. One of our group had a cousin who works in Dubai and stays at the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah Resort. Let's just say it was fancy. And I mean fancy!

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He said we could use the resort's beach that day and we all trooped off in taxis with me skipping breakfast. I was wearing my new River Island bikini with a gorgeous jewel toned maxi dress from Boohoo that I'd picked up for next to nothing, but was feeling quite quiet and took more of a back seat. Usually I'm the one sharing plans, gossiping and laughing at every moment so it really was rather rubbish to be feeling so under the weather! 

After a few questionable moments on whether we were allowed in, we soon met the elusive cousin and were setting off in golf buggies towards the resort, as of course you do not take one step on foot when you stay in a place that costs £6,000 a WEEK! It was such a strange place - who is this rich?! It was hard to figure out if it was full of holiday makers having a dream vacation or just filthy rich people. Of course it was amazing to be there and just so surreal.

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You can just see the golden horses lining the drive, which we whipped past and soon came to the most luxurious villas with incredibly plush interiors and personal butlers. Another buggy later and we were at Jumeirah beach. The paradise was complete with massage tents and various waiters bringing around fresh fruit, ice lollies and of course cocktails. Feeling like I was surely going to turn a corner at some point, I ordered some plain wedges and a drink with ginger beer, hoping to keep my stomach settled. I've always wanted to go to an idyllic beach like this but in reality it was missing any character. It's quite artificial and like a picture had come to life; there's nothing to take away because it's all aesthetic. It's quite hard to explain but maybe there just wasn't the atmosphere that a seaside or natural beach can have. That said, instead of feeling fabulous and glorious, I was feeling pants so maybe that is why! It was of course absolutely beautiful.

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I took a dip in the sea and relaxed on the sun loungers, just chilling really as there wasn't a lot of potential for people watching. Sadly I started to get really bad tummy pain and literally found the nearest bathroom and just sat on the floor of it for about half an hour feeling so terrible and absolutely gutted that things were not getting better. I had to get back to the hotel as soon as possible and just lie the heck down, you literally couldn't have got me there fast enough! I dramatically said a very swift goodbye to the group and tried to find my way out of the maze of the resort with one of my friends, covering my tears with sunglasses. Oh it was miserable! What felt like an eternity later, I was finally in the hotel room. I was so sad to be missing out on the event of the holiday which is when we always make the time to have a really lovely meal, and my friends were heading out that night for the first night out in Dubai. I would have definitely been keen to even go out the night before if I'd felt better and I gossiped with my room mate as she got ready before she headed off out to Mahiki with everyone. They were of course all gutted too and I wished them an awesome night and watched BBC World News for the rest of the evening!

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My friend rose bright and early the next day as we had been booked onto a visit to the top of the Burj Khalifa and a desert safari. When she told me that the night had been terrible, I told her not to make it seem worse just because I couldn't go too, but apparently Mahiki was like any old mainstreme UK club, full of Brits abroad and the free ladies night drink was watered down mohito. I still didn't feel up to coming out so I stayed behind until around 3pm when the girls arrived back with a mission. They plied me with more tablets, crackets, bicarbonate of soda, and even asked if I wanted to fly home, but somehow the fact that we were still there until Sunday and it was only Wednesday really made me stay for sure. Even if I just chilled in the hotel room, I was there.

They trekked off to the desert safari and again I stayed in watching movies. At first I kept thinking the films were full of errors but then I realised that any scene to do with love or kissing was cut out due to the country's religious laws, and seems as all of the movies on the odd film channels were romcoms, half the plots were missing! It was actually quite funny. Another thing about Dubai is that there feels like a huge rich/poor divide and when the hotel porters were kindly cleaning around the room while I sat in a chair and were asking if I was OK, I think I tipped them about £30. I wasn't using my Dirhams anyway as I wasn't going anywhere!

Unfortunately my room mate pal returned and said the desert was essentially crowds of people at the side of a motorway road and hardly the middle of the desert, and the camel ride was just cruel. It wasn't quite the Sex and the City 2 vibe that I had hoped for and I even felt bad for putting it in our original itinerary!  The consensus of most of the group was the the top of the Burj Khalifa was also a slight waste of time. Three girls were heading home the next day and I think the general thoughts were that we'd had some surreal and amazing moments, but that we didn't have so many of the usual traditions we have when we go away together, such as spending hours getting ready while being super silly, having nights where we are the only English people in the bars or clubs and meeting the locals, and browsing around our destination at a more casual pace, rather than taking taxis everywhere and feeling like everything was making a huge effort to be flashy and luxe or in a rush. Have you ever been to Dubai? Well tomorrow I'll show how we explored Old Dubai and went to the top of the Burj Al Arab with lots of eventful happenings along the way... of course!


Abu Dhabi & Dubai Bae-cation Part 2: Florence + the Machine and the Golden Circle

Onto the second day of my Abu Dhabi adventure and we all woke up in our various air bed situations and headed out for breakfast. We look taxis to a local café and refuelled with eggs and smoothies, and it's great to note the restaurants in Abu Dhabi and Dubai are such a high standard. There are no tourist trap joints with laminated menus that usually litter our holidays!

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I'd bought a bunch of maxi dresses and kimonos from Boohoo for the trip but beach wear really isn't my vibe. I should have stuck to my usual style which I did in the most part, but none of my wardrobe suits anything remotely summery. I'm no beach babe! I'd also just had my hair done (more on that soon!) and it was back to my natural ginger shade with blonde ends, so I was getting used to a new look. That day I wore a bright blue kimono I believe that I'd managed to pull out of my unpacked case and again threw my hair up in a bun to save time, and to be fair it was difficult to get any mirror time! We headed to Waitrose near my friend's apartment, which was on the ground floor of the neighbouring sky scraper in a cool, sleek mall. Again there was no hustle and bustle, it's very sleek and calm in the air-conditioned buildings. The day before we had barely had time to even eat so we stocked up on snacks and a handy pizza for a late night return, and we had a peek in the designated separate room full of pork products in the supermarket, as the UAE is a Muslim country.

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We planned to head off to the first day of our Formula One package at around 5pm, and took a quick dip in my friend's apartment swimming deck, racing each other around the doughnut shaped pool and laughing our heads off until it was nearing an hour of getting-ready time - uh oh! I had a bit of a brain fail and began warm, rust coloured eye makeup, but having just a hand mirror, I couldn't save it and ended up not liking it too much. I'd planned to wear a skater dress that I'd worn to a friend's wedding earlier in the year but since the previous day, we had realised you could basically wear anything to the F1! I felt a bit too 'safe' so I threw on around five outfits and almost all were new so needed a little pinning or sewing. I'd bought one from House of CB (formerly known as Celeb Boutique) that was so low cut and gaping open, it was hilarious! With eight girls to a one bedroom apartment, it was another hour of chaos, with a memorable moment of my friend thinking I was topless but then I turned round perfectly concealed with a stick on bra! 

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Vowing that the next day I would spend hours getting ready, I settled on a Boohoo maxi dress that felt way too dressy for day time but was the best solution. I even wore it with flip flops because I couldn't figure out which shoes I had and the taxis were already eight floors down and calling us. Flip flops?! You probably wouldn't know the chaos that had happened once eight glammed up girls hit the lobby, and soon we were whizzing across the motorways to Yas Island again. Arriving at the F1 site is quite tricky as the cars can only reach so far and they drop you off at different points, but I think we all managed to link up and we explored The Hill - our spot for the race. Imagine humongous outdoor stadiums with crowds of smartly dressed spectators and groups of 'dad' racing fanatics. The Hill was basically everywhere in the area that wasn't the seated stands, so we stood for a while watching the cars practice and I must say, it was rather lost on me! With no sporting or racing knowledge, we were soon exploring the activities in the hub of the area and hit the bar zone with picnic tables and screens.

Sizing up the crowd, there were groups of people our age but it was mostly hoards of adult men. A few drinks later costing around £15 each, we were off down the huge roads to walk to the outdoor stadium for the Saturday night concert - Florence + the Machine! We grabbed some delicious food from a falafel stand, which was more boutique than your usual festival affair. We met up with other expat pals of my friend and it wasn't long before Florence took to the stage in an amazing white flared suit and did her thing. Their music is just made to be heard live! Our group was hanging near the back of the massive arena space but myself and two girls decided to head further forward. We couldn't convince the others to join us but it was just as spacious as we headed even further towards the stage, hitting the 'Golden Circle' barrier as we go so far. Often at festivals they put up a gigantic semi circle of barriers for so many metres in front of the stage so only select ticket holders have a chance to be up close to the front, We stayed as close as we could until the faux break before an obvious encore, and I saw my mission so clearly. I needed to get us into the Golden Circle!

Telling my friends to wait right there I dashed off through the crowd to the side of the arena, where there was a small opening in the barriers with security. Some lash fluttering and story of how my friends were inside but I'd lost my golden wristband later and the guards were happy to let me through. The only problem was my friends next. A group of guys were walking out and said they'd give me their wristbands as they were leaving. I said I needed three and they offered three 'for a kiss' which was pretty gross and I took two before saying a very speedy thank you and literally darting off into the crowd never to be seen again! Sure it's fun to blagg your way into somewhere but for a kiss, I think not.

I reached my two friends, produced the wristbands to their shock and we all dashed to the side, them flashing their newly acquired wrist candy to the guards and me exclaiming how I'd found my lost friends before slipping in. We'd made it! The crowds behind the barriers were thick but inside the circle it's more spacious and we weaved right to the front just as Florence came back for her encore. Being right under the stage is amazing! A few songs later and it was all over, and we got chatting to a group of the most weird and wonderfully beautiful people, who turned out to be part of an Alice in Wonderland show. They invited us there but to be honest I forgot all about this encounter until now as we were moving on swiftly to find our friends again and attempt to find cabs or a shuttle bus to a club, which was an adventure in itself as the expats guided us and thousands of people left the arena. We ended up in an Irish bar of a hotel with a hilarious live band, and let's say it's definitely true that if you even stand arm to arm with a member of the opposite sex, the bouncers will be approaching and ready to exit you from the premises! There's something so different about dancing with your friends abroad to being in your home city, and even if the music is old or cheesy, it's even better! The night ended with chatting to the taxi driver whose family, like most, lived on the other side of the continent, and all of us girls staying up chatting with pizza until the even earlier hours.


Winter Sun with S365

Hi guys! I have returned from my holiday and the majority of it took a very unexpected turn which I will reveal to you in due course in an excessively detailed, epic post series. You know how it goes! For the first few blissful days I did an Instagram takeover with Swimwear365 and they transformed my suitcase with some gorgeous pieces to pack. Here's the low down on the items I chose and a taste of the dreamy Abu Dhabi days...

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Winter sun is just a plane ride away and glistening waves, clear skies and white sands await. As you know, this November I ditched my evenings usually spent blogging behind my laptop, clutching a steaming cup of tea and wrapped in layers of blankets, for a weekend of sun, sea and sports cars in Abu Dhabi. With a huge range of beautiful S365 swimwear and beach accessories at my fingertips, why reserve your sunny getaways for just the summer months? Hitting the beach in the winter time is a fabulous chance to indulge in the warm weather when you're craving it the most and it's even more satisfying to soak up some much needed sunshine, plus post a few stand out Instagram snaps.

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With the F1 races in the evenings, Abu Dhabi is actually stunning destination full of surprises. Armed with gorgeous bikinis and maxi dresses, a short speed boat ride from Al Reem Island took us to a secluded party island with a beautiful palm tree lined beach on one side and a huge pool complete with DJ and water bar on the other. As it was race weekend, the beats were pumping and the pool was packed with dancing crowds, and with a cocktail in hand I felt amazing in my s.Oliver bikini. The pretty gold beading added a touch of glam and the gorgeous aztec print gave an eye-catching twist. Colourful beachwear really sets off a background of white sand, and the next morning we chilled at our apartment pool, myself in the golden Kangaroos triangle bikini with these exotic sunset hues or red, orange and yellow. 

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Before the final F1 race on the Sunday, we relaxed at the beach club one last time, grabbing a bite to eat in my beautiful blue paisley maxi dress. The colours pop dramatically on the bold white background and it's the perfect cover up to take you from the beach to restaurant. With rich history, huge skyscrapers and fast cars, you may think Abu Dhabi stops at the luxurious offerings, but with private beaches, party islands and rooftop pools, there is much more to this Eastern paradise. Let's raise a cocktail to winter sun with S365!

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I was sponsored to take over the @swimwear365 account, where I chose the pieces myself and <3 <3 <3 them all - thank you S365!

A Weekend in Manchester!

I had a fantastic weekend with my best beauty buddy Georgie and if you have ever considered a city break in Manchester, this is the post for you! We were planning a sunny get-away but time and prices ran away with us, and it was better to plan a local trip in a UK city and shop 'til we dropped. And that's exactly what we did, deciding on Manchester! This is my student city (along with Boras, Sweden - do you remember when I lived there!?) and I love everything about Manchester and the North in general, from the style and spirit to the music/food/shopping scenes.

Georgie and I met on the train despite myself managing to book the one arriving an hour before, and we gossiped none stop until Manchester Picadilly. We booked the Premiere Inn at the Printworks, even though its a good 5 minute stroll from there, as it was also right next door to the Arndale shopping centre. If you're there for the shopping, it's best to spend a day in the city and a full day at the Trafford Centre.

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We dumped our things and headed off for lunch in the Northern Quarter; a menagerie of vintage stores, quirky record shops and trendy eateries. Trof was a favourite of my friends who continued to study in Manchester after I graduated and has a sweet menu with burgers, sandwiches, and apparently comes alive at night with a cocktail bar and three floors of music. It's not too pricey and we had the place to ourselves, minus a PDA couple that joined our corner as we finished.

Fuelled and ready to hit the shops, I showed Georgie down Market Street and towards Selfridges. I had no idea their food floor was no more and we went down to the beauty hall to hit it hard instead. We made a pact to be totally on the ball with gaining any samples we could then try out that evening, and Georgie was a master! We were in the market for oils and eye creams, and as a testemony to Northern spirit, every assistant was so friendly and more than happy to offer a sample or two, or ten in Aesop's case! We even saw some dudes rack up a £900 bill at the Tom Ford counter and gossiped about their footballer status to the Lancome ladies.

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How beautiful is this Eyes to Mesmerise shade by Charlotte Tilbury?! We carried on around the shops, Georgie was enlightened by the bargains of Bodycare, and we splurged some vouchers I won at work on a takeaway Pizza Hut, complete with salad bar and our drink of choice - sparkling water! In matching Ariel pyjamas, it was the ultimate sleepover.

A few movies and some beauty sleep later, we awoke and immediately inspected the results of all of the skin care we had sampled the night before, before applying loads of makeup and heading towards Home Sweet Home for breakfast, as kindly recommended on Twitter by Sarah of Sequin This. Sadly there was a 45 minute wait for brunch so we took a look at the many cafes in the nearby streets and stumbled across Superstore. The wooden and charcoal metal interior was industrial but rather simplistic and relaxed too, and we indulged in matching berry pancakes with honeycomb butter - not too plentiful but absolutely delicious!

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And then we hopped on the Magic bus and towards the Trafford Centre! This is truly an all-day event and the centre almost feels like you're on a cruise ship with it's Greek decor and fountains.

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The first stop I wanted to make was the new Missguided concession in Selfridges! I'm the world's biggest Missguided fan and order so much from there, so it's a real novelty to check out the latest range in person. I hope the concession travels as far as the Birmingham Selfridges too!

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I didn't actually buy or try on anything at the concession though because I'd already seen the collection on their website and would have ordered anything I liked before! We were however entranced by the Muji storage collection, and I funnily enough discovered there has been a Muji store on New Street in Birmingham for about ten years and I never even noticed it! I'm currently discarding my things (yes I am reading this book) and once I've reordered my room, I really am keen to jump on the perspex makeup drawer bandwagon.

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We wandered around the beauty hall of course and I purchased the MAC LE Fix Plus in Lavender as it was one of the few flavours left but was not as heavy as I assumed it would be. Samples whiz Georgie even bagged some Creme de la Mer samples loving wrapped in tissue!

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The food haul triumphed here and we 'met the maker' of new refreshments Just Bee, with hints of honey of course. We met co-founder Joe who partnered with his dad to tend to the family bee hives and masterminded the brand. A family of bee keepers - so cute! See more of Joe in my vlog below...

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Selfridges didn't have Gucci Bamboo in stock yet but a random cheapie perfume place did! This is SO on my Christmas list as I collect Gucci fragrances; I never find them sickly or sweet.

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A trip around Hamley's, a feast at T.G.I. Fridays with my extra winning vouchers and one Michael Bublé impersonator later, it was getting late and we whizzed back to the city centre to top up our makeup and hit the Northern Quarter! I also like Deansgate, but there are so many bars in NQ to explore and some are open into the wee hours. We indulged in cocktails and '90s r'n'b in Walrus and went onto Black Dog, an old favourite from my Uni days.

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An afternoon tea was the perfect way to treat any slightly heavy heads from the evening before, and Georgie had kindly booked us into 47 King Street West as my birthday present! The experience was absolutely delicious and the area is perfect for people watching so I recommend requesting a table by the window! I love cakes, pastries and sweet treats so this was such a treat and made for the perfect Sunday afternoon before saying farewell for now and boarding our train!

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Thank you to Georgie for a fabulous weekend! I'll definitely be visiting Manchester again - it's one of the most fun-packed cities with the room to shop and indulge as you please. Don't miss my vlog of the weekend below and subscribe if you haven't!

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The New York Diary - My week in NYC, Day 7: Ross Geller and The Jane

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.

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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.


The New York Diary - My week in NYC, Day 6: Dancing with Miley

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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!


The New York Diary - My week in NYC, Day 5: Brooklyn and Broadway

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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!*


The New York Diary - My week in NYC, Night 4 - The Bonus Story of the Bouncer

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!


The New York Diary - My week in NYC, Day 3 & 4: Wholefoods Robbery, Pendulum mosh pits and Central Park

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. 

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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!