Exploring Birmingham

Recently I was set a rather fabulous challenge to explore my hometown of Birmingham. I've been on an excursion across the city to expose my favourite hidden gems, in collaboration with Hotels.com.

The city is my oyster each weekend but it’s been so long since I became a tourist and immersed myself in the exclusive activities right on my doorstep. How delightful to have a day purely to indulge! I crafted my itinerary and off I went. I hope a few of these haunts inspire a weekend in Brum too. Hotels in Birmingham will be central to a certain district, but each area can be reached easily on foot.


My day started with food naturally, and Birmingham has a huge independent restaurant scene, often sprung from the in-demand food vendors of Digbeth Dining Club, to Michelin star ventures with a twist. A place I’d been eyeing up for a while is Tiger Bites Pig, boasting Asian inspired bao, bowls and beers, and my pit stop didn’t disappoint. Close to Birmingham New Street Station, I hopped off my local train and pulled up a stool to sample a soft yet tangy tofu and aubergine bao, and crunchy, sour pickles.


I embarked towards my next destination with a stop at Medicine Bakery, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it doorway to an artisan cafe and gallery. Set in the restored home of the Royal Society of Birmingham Artists, the local and ethically sourced ingredients mean a vast array of cakes and bakes greet you at the entrance. I didn’t explore the gallery this time but picked up a delicious banana bread and courgette cupcake for my journey. 


I spent the next hour at Birmingham Art Gallery for their new Too Cute exhibition, curated by Rachel Maclean. Sweet definitely got sinister in this Barbie pink space packed with pieces to consider why we have a constant habit of using rosy emojis and animal snap chats - as a distraction to the tumultuous modern world? - and how something can be so cute that we want to squeeze or eat it, which in itself is quite barbaric! From fairy tales to fairgrounds, the high contrast made for a sensory overload that bordered on extremity. I recommend picking up one of the guide books to read as you explore. A fascinating ride, and an appearance from my favourite Lily Cole.


A refuel was needed before my next activity so I browsed Grand Central, boasting a vast range of dine-in experiences from every corner of the world. Though this is technically the train station, you'll find solo diners, families and dates at the eateries, despite the hustle and bustle of a station. I grabbed a bowl of Uptown Mac from Holy Moly, the macaroni connoisseurs. The mushrooms and truffle oil pimped out the gooey, salty mac 'n' cheese, and the crispy onions added a crunch against the soft macaroni.  

My final treat was a performance of Beauty and the Beast by Birmingham Royal Ballet, which could be the city's proudest offering. As one of David Bintley CBE's final productions after 24 years as Director, this was a highly emotional send off. The ballet itself told the story of how the beast was captured, and how Belle navigates her pompous, yet hilariously portrayed, sisters. Momoko Hirata was exquisitely graceful, moving across scenes in a ripple, and the animalistic characters were aggressive yet sweet at times as they emerged from the dark, twisted set. You soon forget you are watching a choreographed dance. It was a treat for the eyes and the talent is mesmerising. The Hippodrome Theatre promises an amazing view from every tier, and in the '50s my Nan queued up for last chance seats to see all of the great artists. As a school French Horn player (fun fact), I also get a surge of delight whenever the brass section calls valiantly from the orchestra pit!


I really fell back in love with solo time while taking the challenge. The topic of the moment is being 'alone' or 'single', but when you're by yourself, sometimes being solo is a most sociable option. I had a chat with a little old lady at the train station who asked about the last stop on the line. I queried if she had been before and she said no but one day she would take a trip there to explore! At the theatre, I just beat a man to the ice cream queue and we remarked on the amazing performance. At the gallery, I chatted with the museum curator who gave me his thoughts on the carousel horse above.

When you are with friends or family, you’re absorbed in your relationship, but when alone, the world is your oyster and a conversation with a stranger is your vessel. I hope you are inspired to try new and favourite things solo too!

The spending money was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views are my own.

My New York 2018 Highlights

One of the highlights of my 2018 was my third visit to New York. When I first visited in 2015, it was literally the trip of a lifetime. Once I had graduated and was earning, it was the very first thing on my bucket list. Two friends and I absolutely pushed 8 days to the limit, packing in sights, sports, nightlife, shows and a few crazy tales we still can't quite believe, including partying with Miley Cyrus. I also visited last year as my first dip into solo travel. I enjoyed the city as if I were a resident there for a few sweet days, doing fashion blogger-esque things and running a constant Carrie Bradshaw monologue in my mind.

Many of my friends are turning the big 3-0 this year (including myself next August!), and the first celebration was in NYC. I had a fantastic week dabbling in the sights and revisiting my favourite places. It was a no-pressure break in the city that positively hums with attitude, energy and magic.

If you are planning a holiday to New York, TravelPlanners have created a tool to help explore the city, which is a huge task to take on once your dream trip is in the calendar. From shopping and sightseeing, to an endless selection of sporting, art and music events, it's hard to know where to begin!

Here are a few of my tips on the types of holidays you can have in New York, and what I loved the most!


Sightseeing Up or Down

There are so many attractions and sights to see in Manhattan alone, and I found it was easier to begin with a map like the TravelPlanners tool, rather than a wishlist. Explore the clusters of options around Uptown, East Village, SoHo, Dumbo, etc, and plan your mornings and afternoons in one part of the city so you can hop across to a few places in one area. Despite the handy subway, travelling across town can use up a lot of precious time and can tire you out, so stay in one location and tick off the nearby must-dos in one visit. I loved strolling from The Met to Central Park, or midnight shopping in Times Square after a Broadway show.

Fashion Blogger Fantasy

A great place to start planning your trip is watching one of many NYC vlogs by fashion bloggers on YouTube, and noting a few key Instagram hot spots. Let's face it, you will want some fantastic snaps to capture your holiday as an everlasting memory. Bring your Instax and perch on the Brooklyn Bridge, grab a green latte in Cha Cha Matcha, pose outside the very pink Pietro Nolita, and channel Blair Waldorf on the steps of The Met. I don't usually condone living through a screen, but being in New York already feels like you're on a movie set, and capturing your own moments in the iconic setting will be treasued long after you fly home.


Raise the Roof   

All of my New York trips have involved night life, which I never find bloggers talk about. New York clubs are very selective and you can't simply walk into a hot spot - you have to granted access by the scary bouncers. Don't act like a tourist and find a club promotor on Instagram to name drop on the door. Never go without a name! Staying at a hotel with a rooftop bar has the many perks of always being available and easy to attend, and we loved the view from 50 Bowery this year. My favourites are Up & Down, 1OAK and The Jane, and if you get chatting to people inside, you'll be guaranteed to be invited to another party the next night.


Go Live

While the tourist attractions are so smoothly ran, there's nothing like a live event to add a once in a lifetime opportunity to your itinerary. I loved moshing at a Pendulum gig in Brooklyn, being overwhelmed by The Lion King on Broadway, and cheering on the Yankees in the Bronx. Attending an East Village comedy gig of a favourite podcaster solo with a Dark 'n' Stormy was really liberating.

Eat as the Locals Do

I've never been much of a foodie, but I will take each meal as an opportunity for something significant. Each day we searched Google Maps for a nearby classic diner and loaded up on French toast with a side of eggs, sunny side up, or tuna and swiss grilled sandwiches. Or both! Then for dinner we explored Little Italy for fresh pasta, or grabbed a huge slice of famous pizza at Joe's.

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Take It Easy

The temptation to pack your trip with tourist destinations is almost necessary when there are thousands of things to see and do, but some of the best parts of my latest trip were more candid. When we grabbed a happy hour drink at a local bar and got chatting to the waiter, or getting an impulsive palm reading on the street, or the day I hunted for an eye brow salon in China Town and spent an hour among the hustle and bustle. It doesn't have to always be go-go-go; just take a moment to breathe in the city and enjoy all of the wonders that await!

This post was sponsored.

The Belfry Spa & Afternoon Tea Review, Sutton Coldfield

I will start this review with revealing that I have never been to a spa... ever!!! I have had plenty of facials and usually a monthly massage, but I have never had a girls' weekend or hen do situation at a spa. It's not quite the activity I'd embark on alone as I had no idea on spa etiquette until The Belfry invited me to try their Fire & Ice experience. A massage, afternoon tea and spa experience sounded sublime! I've had a really hectic few months and had a job change, so could a spa day slow down my whirring brain cogs for once?

It was a sunny Sunday when I travelled to the legendary golfing resort and strode into the leisure area. There is a swimming pool and gym area, but there are no screaming children here - it's a calm, clear space and much of the spa lounging facilities are tucked away in a zone upstairs, swathed in warm nudes and creams. After combing through the brochure of what to bring, I was already in my cozzie on arrival, and so I just wrapped up in my towelling robe in the changing room area. It was complete with dressing tables with hair dryers, plus huge cupboard lockers so I could lay out my things and store my fluffy towel.

My back massage was definitely one of the best I've had. When I visit a local salon for my usual 30 minute session, I hurriedly arrive carrying all of the stress of the day, just about unwind, and suddenly I'm throwing my clothes back on and setting out again. I completely appreciated the upgrade of having the chance to relax into the setting and let the effects of the massage continue all day. It was the perfect start to the day; drifting off with the tension kneaded out of my tense shoulders. Oh, the perils of working at a computer all day long! The knots in my back could support a ship! I had a chance to sniff and choose the oils used too, and the bed was firm, rather than the fold up variety, set in a real room rather than a sectioned corner of a salon.

Next up was the Fire & Ice experience, so I padded back down to the circular tunnel housing various doors into small rooms. I began with a sauna and travelled across to an aromatic caldarium, igloo, hydrotherapy pool, and steam room... wow! The description of each stop and suggested timings were labelled at each door so even a novice like me could navigate clearly! There were quite a few people on their own and a few couples, so many times I was alone in the rooms despite it being a weekend. I spent around an hour exploring the different zones as I was curious to see what was next, but you could spend around 1.5hrs enjoying the contrasting experiences. I wasn't brave enough to tip the bucket of ice water over my head but I might have been if I were with a friend!


I had a good hour before my scheduled afternoon tea once I had showered and was back in my robe. My next destination was the relaxation room; a zen lounge full of sofas, beds and snug little cubby corners with tassel curtains. Other guests were chatting softly or mostly napping, and I picked out the corner sofa, drew back the curtain and dived into my book (HPDH if you're wondering). I cannot tell you just how relaxed I felt, it was like I couldn't have been brought back to the woes and to-dos of reality even if I tried! I was absolutely loving the feeling after soothing my body with the warming spa experience and now being contained in my soft bubble. My book was even slipping out of my hands, I was so chilled!

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Soon I was soothed into a dream-like state and was floating around in an alternative universe! I felt safe and warm, and my to-do list was so irrelevant as I was completely in the present moment, doing exactly what I needed to be doing. I was definitely peckish by the time my afternoon tea was scheduled and I tucked into quaint sandwiches, fluffy, warm scones piled with sweet jam and thick cream, and sampled delectable little cakes. I had the time to savour each tasty bite and really enjoyed the lunch. As it was a Sunday, my instinct was to now head home and make a start on my endless task list, but I ignored that familiar nagging voice and was drawn back to the relaxation lounge where my own corner was still vacant and welcomed me in. I spent a few more hours reading and continuing the feeling of utter contentment. What bliss!

Thank you to The Belfry Spa for having me - hope I'll see you again very soon!

A City Break in Malaga, Spain

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Take a peek at my Ibiza series and there will be the standout theme of embracing beach holidays for the very first time. For years I just didn't see the pull of bikini shopping, hours of sun lounging, or copious amounts of sun cream. I was much more excited to pack a full makeup bag and step into a buzzing city. However, Ibiza offered such an incredible mix of relaxation and vibrancy that I realised a beach break doesn't have to mean watered-down cocktails by the pool day after day. 

When planning destinations for an August break with two old friends, there weren't many European cities left to choose from! Certain destinations may have been overrun with tourists or couples, and a package break led into that Brits abroad territory that we wanted to avoid. Since our ultimate New York trip of 2015, we know our perfect holiday mix means hitting attractions in the day and lively party spots by night, mingling with locals while also spending that quality time together. After much Sky Scanner browsing, Malaga jumped out for the local beaches, the city vibe and cheap flights straight from BHX. Sorted! 


A great apartment bargain was secured and soon we were jetting off with cases full of cozzies. We were shown around our apartment by a teenage boy but were very pleased with the two bathrooms and spacious living area, plus French window balconies that opened out above a colourful side street. I love the still vibe that heat can give a city as Malaga is bustling yet chilled.

The first night of a trip is always awkward as you get your bearings and inevitably end up falling into a tourist restaurant with laminated menus. We only had a few cocktails outside at a small bar, enjoying the fact that we were dressed up and drinking on a school night, the Out of Office firmly on! 

Our plans on the first day were to do all of the cultural tours so we could then relax for the rest of the holiday. We visited the beautiful Catedral de Malaga and took the trip to the very top to look out across the entire city, and then trooped up the steep hills right to the top of Castillo Gibralfaro, stopping at the pretty gardens along the way. There are awesome views here and a great excuse to work up an appetite before sampling local tapas dishes at the restaurants dotted around the castle walls. It was so hot that I didn't realise my only option was to completely cover up, so I bought a shawl and draped that over my shoulders so the sun couldn't get me! I'll remember for future holidays that it's just not an option for me to swan around in the sun's rays. 

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We stopped by a local supermarket and enjoyed that precious time in the early evening where you shower, snack and slowly start getting ready. The apartment has a smart TV so we watched about 30 episodes of Friends this holiday! I gave my friends a full contour and highlight lesson in the bathroom - the highlight being that I asked them to 'lay out their kit' and each turned up to the bathroom mirror brandishing one brush and one bronzer - and we headed off to ZZ Pub on foot, as we were so central that we didn't need to grab a taxi anywhere! That coupled with it being so warm really added to the chilled vibe. There was live music on that night so we danced to a rock rendition of Proud Mary and then continued on to a different bar that I have completely forgotten the name of, though I think it cost 50 cents to use the toilets! 

The next day was beach time and we took the 20 minute walk through the city, stopping off at a few shops in the centre to stock up on loads of makeup for that night's second lesson! I'd been warned that Malaga beach has some seriously scorching sand, and we literally hot-footed it over to hire an umbrella and set up camp with our books. My beach holiday mind is changed because it was so lush to feel so warm and relaxed with a perfectly trashy read (Paige Toon's The Longest Holiday, FYI). We cooled off in the cool sea, daring each other to go far enough for your feet not to touch the seabed, and came home totally chilled out and feeling accomplished, despite not actually doing anything all day! 


That night we didn't actually leave the apartment until around 2am because when our balcony doors were open, the street outside was so lively and packed that we felt like we were already at the party! We made cocktails and gossiped, then headed literally three steps to the local club that was suitably cheesy. We went to another nearby bar too but it was actually my birthday once the clock struck midnight and for some reason, my birthday puts me in a super low mood! Am I the only person that feels super uneasy on their birthday?


My birthday was equally as chilled though as we lolled on the beach again and had loads of ice cream in the town. Another night of a 5 hour getting ready to go out-out marathon ensued and we once again checked out the local bars, before spending the next few days relaxing after our dawn-til-dusk partying by visiting other local beaches by train further along the coast. Malaga beach has the traffic and city just behind you, whereas further towards Marbella hosts stretches of sand and cool beach bars with epic fruit smoothies. We did take out a pedalo but my fear of deep water coupled with all of our valuables being on the creaky, lurching boat too made me say mayday and literally make a break for the shore! I'm much more at home on the sun lounger with my book and just the sound of the waves in my ears. We also hit the marina/port area at night to dine outside with plenty of sangria.


While we went to Malaga for a party break, I'd definitely recommend staying further out and just visiting the city in the daytime if you'd prefer the majority of your holiday to be a beach break. If you're looking for a fun trip with a dose of culture and beach time too, I'd say Malaga is the perfect cheaper alternative to Barcelona. Enjoy

Palette Profile: Huda Beauty Desert Dusk

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In the past 12 months or so, I've gone a little nuts for eyeshadow palettes. With 500+ makeup screenshots saved on my phone, there's always a new colour combination I need to try, and any makeup hoarder will know that a "similar" shade just will not cut it (or cut the crease shall we say).

I've also grown to appreciate how palettes are designed as a family of shades, and generally sticking to the curated selection will mean all colours work and blend together seamlessly, resulting in that dream of wearing ten different shades without looking like a clashing rainbow. You can dive in and dabble without very much planning, and only need one set for a whole week when travelling.

It just so happens too that the current trend for pinks, purples, warm oranges and reds are totally my shades. Each palette offers a billion new looks and once received, I'll be absolutely scrolling through hashtags and searching YouTube for tutorials, fawning over my new obsession. I'm going to start a series of posts called Palette Profiles to share my favourites and not-so favourites with you. I'm totally an enabler! 

First up is the shining star of my palette collection right now: the Huda Beauty Desert Dusk palette. At a hefty £50+, this bad boy offers a range of 18 matte, pearl, duo-chrome and glitter shadows in opulent sunset hues, each almost 1 gram, plus a hugeee mirror. 

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Starting with the mattes, they do air on the chalky side but a tacky primer will allow you to pack them on and maximise on the warm peach of Eden, the coral pop of Saffron or the surprisingly flattering orange Blazing. This palette offers the ultimate rose gold eye! Amethyst is by far my favourite though as it's so hard to make a magenta classy rather than barbie.

Cosmo is a satisfyingly chunky glitter that definitely needs the aid of a wet brush or balm.  I've dabbled in the pearls as a contrasting layer over the lid and inner corner, with Twilight and Retrograde lighting up any look without being frosty.

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Here are a few (rather filtered) looks I've pulled from the past few months, from deep purple to a fiery sunset. If you're thinking 'oh that bottom right picture looks ten times better than the rest' it's because I had my makeup done by a local artist to get some new inspiration and damn, those brows were amazing! She used the rose shades and a gold pigment for a sparkling lid, plus heavy winged liner that I never thought I could pull off. I did inquire about a Huda makeover but the new counter in Selfridges Birmingham only offered foundation matching at the time as they were so busy! I really want to do the full sunset package next with the burnt oranges and bright purples, so I'll need to hit YouTube!

Despite the price, this really is a shape-shifting palette for bold looks. The colours will surprise you and it is much easier to use than you would assume at first look. If you like playing with colour and going to town on the eyes, you definitely need this to complete your palette arsenal. Thank me later!

New York Solo 2017 - Part 4: Day Clubbing, Aladdin, Comedy & 1OAK

This is the final installment of my solo NYC trip as you'll have to forgive my lack of photos from here on in! I always seem to do this; I'll be the super keen tourist as a holiday begins but once you're totally in the zone, I'm too absorbed in being in real time to pick up the camera. After my eventful Thursday and Friday, Saturday was a totally different vibe as it was again super hot in Manhattan, and West Village was heaving with people. 

I haven't touched on my hotel for a while but it was still as small as ever, and was feeling more and more cramped by the day. The daily routine of the shared bathrooms had become even more of a hindrance as I tentatively checked each day what sort of state I would find it in, despite there being cleaners constantly in there throughout the day. Transporting all of my toiletries each time was getting old and my teeny room served no comfort. The only option was to head out each day but after a few busy ones, I was deflating in energy. If I were at home, I would have spent some still time after hectic days pottering around my room, visiting my nan or chilling out, but the onus of being in NYC is to go, go, go. If I were with friends, you bounce off each other and brighten the mood, but solo travel means its all down to you. 

It would have suited better if I'd have arrived on a busy weekend and then had the quieter weekdays to continue exploring, but this Saturday was bright and bustling, and I could feel the energy crackling outside on the streets. I selected my coolest, breeziest outfit of an off-shoulder crop top and crochet trousers, and headed off into the still heat. I planned to stroll around West Village, Soho and onto East Village, but after browsing a few stores, I headed back to By Chloe for a guac burger, though the line was huuuge. I took it as take out and sat in nearby Washington Square Park amongst the chatting friends, musicians and board games. I would have loved a pal to chat with too, but I chilled with a book and snacked. 

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The day took a wild turn as my friend was at a day party at a club nearby. Yes, essentially clubbing in the day. When travelling solo you need to be much more forthcoming, so I basically invited myself to this and shoved away that little voice that no one likes me! The club was every bit as identical as an evening event, even up to the stern bouncer. I hadn't actually anticipated this and when met with the typical closed barrier initially, I strutted up and declared I was here with the promoter, even though the doormen did ask if I was lost. I was granted access and luckily my friend was at the door waiting to bring us back to a table complete with a bar cart-worth of spirits, girls continuously bringing more out, old school '90s tunes and a heaving crowd dancing as though it was 2am. I'd been to this club last time I was in New York (one of Rihanna's haunts), but it wasn't as busy as today's mass of partiers. Quite surreal to spend hours in the dark club and then emerge into daylight later in the early evening but hey, only in New York! I also took my polaroid camera and found that's a truly easy way to make new friends.

After my completely random Saturday, I had a few tasks ahead of me on Sunday. It was still super warm and I booked another blow dry to save from the horror of trying to sort my own hair out in the communal bathrooms. Waking up and having to gear up and gather your things before you even pop to the bathroom was still rather annoying! I'd had such a lovely experience meeting Nathan for my last blow dry that I booked another with him, even though I wondered if he'd really want to see me. In hindsight, I'm not sure my self belief levels were heightened enough for an extended trip. Sure, I was full of confidence and gusto but also I only had myself to contribute and care for my energy levels, and not having a comforting place to rest didn't help, nor did the silence. When experiencing something new alone, I realised you have to have such an open, strong mind, ready to take hold of every opportunity and assert yourself enough to not get shy or lonely. If you doubt yourself for a second, it's easy to curl away. There's strength in numbers, so you must know yourself inside out and always be highly aware of your needs. It sounds strange, but when you have no schedule, it's easy to get caught up in your battle instead of assessing how tired/hungry/thirsty you are. I put the pressure on myself to go, go, go instead of taking time to chill in a safe space and not feel so swallowed up by the city.

An example at this point was not feeling hungry for breakfast, not being able to decide what to tempt myself to eat, and wandering around until I stopped at an awkward juice bar. It's small, but in those moments when you're flagging, you need that familiar face, that friend to take the reigns, the mood to be lifted by chatter, and the energy to be reset. Booking the blowdry was a great choice as seeing Nathan was like seeing a friendly face and as he did my hair, we got on so well that he gave me his number and invited me to hang with him and his boyfriend if I had any more free time in the city. I texted him after just how his kindness really made the difference to my trip! That's the thing about New York, there's no British shyness - it's very forward!

My mission next that day was to head for Broadway to see Aladdin! Being bustled into the crowded theatre full of tourists and taking a seat alone is quite an odd experience, as though you have lost your friend or are indeed yourself simply lost! I styled it out as I took my circle seat, and got ready for a grand show. This won't be a popular opinion but I wasn't really feeling it! I hoped Aladdin would be a flurry of exotic colours and would dramatically transport you to Arabia, but it felt more like a kid's pantomime with a heavy dose of artificial gloss. The characters were so perfect that it almost took the emotion out of the performance, and as we all already know the storyline, it played out simply. The soundtrack is amazing and I loved the inclusion of Proud of your Boy, but it didn't lift me up, and as I left the theatre I felt drained. I think I walked all the way back to West Village after grabbing some quick food as I had plans for that evening.

I love the Sorry About Last Night gals (if you know you know) and there wasn't a podcast show that night, but Corinne Fisher was doing a stand up comedy show at The Stand in East Village called The Comedienne Project. I was delighted she was in town and had booked the ticket before coming, despite eyeing up the Travis Scott show that night. It's weird but I'd been hoping Travis Scott was touring at the time I was visiting as I'd been listening to his stuff non-stop around the time, but something stopped me from getting a ticket. Going to an insane show alone was potentially a step too far and would have meant I'd really have to fake it in the look-completely-casual-and-normal-while-having-no-friends department, and I knew I could get a ticket from a tout on the day if I wanted to go. I was happy with my comedy show though, and also I still had my dress to wear. The dress. Before my trip, I was searching sites and shops for hours to find great clothes but nothing amazing surfaced until I saw this iiiincredible SCK the Label dress on Naked Dresses. Yes, I own this dress and it's insane. Truly!

As I hadn't worn it yet, I put it on over dark tight skinny jeans with ripped knees, super tall lace-up sandals and threw over a huge, oversized denim jacket that hung around my shoulders, the sleeves pushed up. I hope that doesn't sound too crazy but it seemed to work in some way, looking effortless but slightly revealing this major statement dress behind the casual jacket. Definitely a Carrie Bradshaw moment!

I took a cab east and walked into the comedy club, heart beating but feigning that I knew exactly what I was doing. I think that was the most draining aspect of the holiday - constantly having to appear like you weren't completely clueless, sometimes for safety reasons and sometimes to not look like a bumbling idiot. Maybe I put too much pressure on this, but I was here to live as a New Yorker and not a tourist, or at least appear to be. I was strapped with a wristband and sent downstairs to the basement, where a small stage was surrounded by around ten small round tables. I took a seat against the wall facing the stage so I would lean back and have the view of the room, and observed the cool groups out on a Sunday night. I was there in my extreme plunge dress and high heels, casual jacket slung over, and felt pretty damn cool. In moments like that I did feel in my element, a mysterious solo girl about town. The show was awesome; I've never really watched live comedy and each act was hilarious, especially Corinne, who felt such a privilege to see live after listening to absolutely hours of her podcasts. The show closed up just as my friend messaged me that he was heading to a club that night - 1OAK to be precise, for none other than the Travis Scott afterparty. I was there! I couldn't leave without approaching Corinne and gushing a little, before chatting with some girls in the loos and inviting them to 1OAK too?! They had work but I was seriously feeling great after a few hours of laughter and chill, and jumped in a cab back to my hotel to ditch my jeans, as the club was right around the corner from my hotel in West Village.

I was a gal with a plan as I cobbled my bag together and headed back out into the night - so New York. I met my friend near the club and we walked past a huge queue to the side of the barriers, where the promotor met us and attracted a bouncer to let us in. It was like a military operation. My friend randomly asked if I had my ID and oh noooo, I hadn't packed it! In my haste it had slipped my mind and I felt so stupid! The doors are SO strict in New York, you can't just queue up to a club and walk in even; you have to be invited or on the guest list. True to my luck, I was asked for my ID right away by the bouncer. I shouldn't have really said anything but in those tense few milliseconds of decision, I shook my head loftily in what I thought was my best Made In Chelsea-style, cool girl vibe and said in a posh accent 'In England we don't need ID', looking at the bouncer as though this was a strange foreign occurrence and I was quite outraged and bemused that was being questioned for my ID. I hoped I looked like a cool actress or model or just a somebody and somehow my guardian angel was looking down on me and we were let in. YESSSS!

I was kicking myself but it didn't matter because I was IN! We strutted across the club that two years ago I was in with Miley Cyrus and Rumer Willis at the next table. This club is lit! I was so happy to get in that I bought my friend and I a drink, which ended up being £80. EIGHTY Great British Pounds for two drinks!!!! Luckily I paid by card so I didn't realise this horror until my return, but this club is seriously in the big leagues. What ensued was plenty of dancing, being part of a table that was constantly showered with drinks, and partying until the wee hours.

There was talk of Travis Scott and Tyson Beckford (!!!!!!) turning up but I had already seen another club was boasting his after party and wasn't too concerned about a sighting. However when we spilled onto the buzzing street a few hours later, my friend shouted 'Tyga!' and turned around shouting hey. Yup, it was the Tyga, just strolling down the road! Embarrassingly my friend shouted 'she's a big fan!' about me (I'm certainly not) and my face probably looked like a cross between a freshly caught fish and a deer in headlights. I was pleased to have at least one celeb sighting though!

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I slept into the morning of the next day, and woke to take on my final hours. My flight was the next day so I wasn't so sure what to do. There's of course plenty to do in NYC but I didn't have anything specific on my list, and so I walked the High Line as the entrance was right by The Jane, and sat for a while looking out onto the water, knowing I was soon to leave this crazy place. If it was now I would have listened to music or a meditation, but I was exhausted from the series of events the past days had offered! If I'm going out-out at home, I'll prepare to spend the next day relaxing at home, but my hotel room really was a coffin of despair at this point and being in it for more than 5 minutes felt like it was closing in on me. I did some last minute souvenir shopping and grabbed my final pizza slices, where embarrassingly as I ordered I said 'we'll have a slice of this and a slide of that' and the guy responded 'erm, you're not with anyone...' to my mention of 'we'. I was so without company that I was inventing people at this stage!

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I paid a last minute homage to SATC hotspot Magnolia Bakery (bonus points if you know which episode it was featured  - 'I have a crush!') and spent the evening packing and watching TV with those awful medical/addiction adverts, before bedding down for my final night after a last visit to that damn shared bathroom!

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I was truly ready to go home by the end of the trip and I don't always feel like that on holiday, but this one had me feeling some kinda way! I've reflected on the experience a lot and realised a few things.

I can look back now and see that not having a comfortable base made the difference when I was recuperating from the day or setting myself up ahead of one in the mornings. I didn't think it mattered much before I went, but when you are alone in a big city, you need a place to call your own. I arrived with confidence but it was rather daunting to do everything by myself. Now before another solo trip, I'd make sure I was absolutely hyped up to take anything that came my way. I'd take fabulous outfits, plan a stricter dining itinerary, stock up my hotel with snacks and drinks, keep in touch with family and friends at home more, and book in even more 'people time', whether that's watching shows or hanging out with friends. Eating and going to attractions alone wasn't so fun for me, but going to shows and museums, and of course shopping, was great solo.

I'd probably only take a number of days rather than a week, and I'd go with no expectation or comparison to any other trip, as travel is such a different experience when it's just yourself. I'd choose my seasons wisely and either go for summer vibes or Christmas magic maybe, rather than an in between, generic season.

It was certainly a learning curve! Would you ever consider solo travel? I'd love to hear your thoughts! I hope you enjoyed my posts.