New York New York

So, just before I jump two feet first into an exciting launch with Not On The High Street, I thought I would take a little look back over the most carefree, wonderful days that January had to offer.

I've been meaning to write up this post for weeks but it seemed, that as soon as we touched back down at Heathrow, life had a strong dose of 'busy' (sickness/ school runs/ more bugs) you know the score. So excuse me for a while I have a little reminisce.

Before we left for New York we (mainly Sam) did lots of research, asking friends via social media for their 'top tips'. Over a bottle or two on New Year's Eve we sat down and sifted through all the 'must-do's we'd been given and put together our own list. So, if you're reading this ahead of your own trip then save yourself some research and just take your pick from the below. No, I'm KIDDING, there's SO much to do there that this is just a tiny slice.

We arrived late on a Saturday night and I remember looking up at Sam as we stepped off the subway, fresh from the airport, into the chaos that is Time Square. His jaw literally dropped as we pulled our suitcases along the busy pavement (sidewalk) to find our hotel. They don't call it the city that never sleeps for nothing and we got to experience the buzz within the first few minutes of arriving.

The pace of things the next day couldn't have been more different though. We had a leisurely start, our hotel did a great breakfast (unusually provided apparently), then layered up to take a walk and soak it all in. We walked and walked.... just around the corner to Central Station where we promptly headed to the food court for a milkshake. Start as you mean to go on.

The main concourse at the station was even more beautiful than I'd imagined and we sat for ages just taking it all in. Then, just as we were leaving we stumbled across a big glass box tucked away in the corner. It was only the world's champion squash players having a knock! As a big fan of the sport Sam was so chuffed to find the tournament and we had a good enough view from the sideline to enjoy a few games. Such a treat for him!

We then headed outside to walk off our milkshakes, strolling around and taking in the sites from foot. It was amazing to see landmarks that we'd seen in books, slap bang in front of us. We even walked past some, doing a couple of blocks before we found them again. It seems funny to think that it was so easy to pass these giant buildings that towered above.

Our next stop was Chelsea Market, an absolute favourite and somewhere we returned a few days later and hopefully will again. The market is housed in a stunning old building in the Meat Packing District, an area of downtown Manhattan that we loved. Packed with a whole host of food vendors, there was so much to choose from, obviously the lobsters won though!

We picked out a freshly steamed lobster and stood, each with a pint and a pot of butter, enjoying every minute of what would become my 'champagne moment' of the holiday. The fact that it was washed down with a pot of clam chowder, well, I'll say no more!

The city had such a laid back feel to it that day, we passed people who lived there going about their regular slow Sundays - on their way back from the gym, out with their families and walking their dogs (there are SO many dogs there!) After the long journey the day before it was lovely to take it all in at a slower pace and without the crowds.

In the evening we headed to 'The Dead Rabbit', a cocktail bar that we'd heard great things about. It's a tiny pub (taproom) located in downtown Manhattan just off Wall Street which, when we walked down it that evening, was DESERTED! The streets in that part of town move away from the straight long avenues to more windy, cobbled roads, more like the lanes of Brighton than New York City.

The pub is SO small inside, only as wide for about 3 people to stand next to each other. We arrived to the sound of a live Irish band playing in the corner and pulled up two bar stools. The atmosphere, sliders (which 'researcher' Sam reliably informed me were mini burgers) and the grog couldn't have been better for our first proper night.

We woke Monday to bright blue but FREEZING cold skies! Before we left for our trip we'd planned ahead to make sure we could enjoy a helicopter ride of the Hudson to take in the sights. We were SO glad we did! We managed to get a great deal that morning on Travel Zoo and after breakfast (the biggest waffle ever) we made our way downtown to the pier. The flight itself was only 15 minutes but plenty of time to see all of the sights.

I was lucky enough to get to ride up front, obviously I played 'co-pilot' in my head for the duration of the flight!

We'd heard great things about Brooklyn so once we'd touched down, and in a bid to walk off the waffle, we decided to make our way over the Brooklyn bridge on foot.

We'd only walked a few hundred yards when Sam suggested trying to find a pizza place he'd read about, I didn't take much persuading. The views back over the city were amazing and, with the walkway raised above, you'd never know you were on top of  queues of traffic below.

Brooklyn is beautiful, we loved walking around the residential streets and admiring the old town houses. It's another place that's firmly on our 'explore more of ' list next time we go.

We ate at a pizza place called 'Julianas', the original Grimaldi's, now a more well known Pizza franchise across America. The history behind the restaurant and it's founder Patsy Grimaldi, is a brilliant story of how an independent, family run business has triumphed over the 'big boys.' It's well worth a read and you can find it here.

Next stop was the One World Tower, a magnificent new building built on the site of the World Trade Centres. The lift up to the observatory on the 102nd floor took just 60 seconds and we didn't feel a thing! We were then given the most incredible presentation about how it was built, followed by a jaw dropping surprise! I won't ruin it for you in case you go, but let's just say the view from the top was breathtaking. Cocktails and calamri followed and we just sat, taking in views up the Hudson, pinching ourselves just a little bit.

The 9/11 memorial outside the tower, was incredibly moving and such a beautiful place for people to take a moment to remember. The fountains were powerful but peaceful to watch at the same time and were surrounded by the names of those that lost their lives. I was glad we had the opportunity to go as it was a very poignant reminder of what the city has been through.

Our evening was written off by jetlag and exhaustion, so we cancelled our dinner reservation in favor of sleep. Call us light weights but I'll have you know sleeping is a perfectly legitimiate activity on a child free holiday, gotta grab it while you can!

Tuesday was filled to the brim. Starting off with a walk through Central Park, it was lovely to get away from concrete for a bit and enjoy the peace and quiet. It must have been the time of year that we visited but again, there were parts of the park that just seemed deserted! At one point we didn't see a a single soul for a good 5-10 minutes. Sat opposite a lake, with take away coffees, having a long D&M about life (definitely not something we normally get time for at home) is another snapshot of our trip that will remain with me for a long time.

We left the park in search of food....are you surprised? Not just any food, but the best burger I have ever eaten, and probably will ever eat, in my whole life. The 'burger joint' at Le Parker Meridien Hotel is an absolute must in my opinion. Tucked away behind a floor to ceiling red curtain, in the lobby of a swanky 5 star hotel is a small, grungy room with posters and graffiti all over the wall, benches and a small serving hatch.

We strolled up, asked for 'the works' and 4 pint pitcher of Samuel Adams and my word, were we NOT dissapointed. We both left about an hour later, me in a slightly 'I've just had 2 pints at lunchtime' bubble and both in a food induced delightful haze.

We then walked and walked, exploring the avenues and popping into shops along the way. I told Sam "we're not 'shopping' just going in them if we see them." I think he bought it.

That evening we went to see the New York Knicks at Maddison Square Gardens, an amazing experience and one that I'd highly recommend. It really didn't matter that I didn't have a clue about basketball, except the need to score hoops, the atmosphere and 'time-out' entertainment was enough by itself.

We booked through a website selling unwanted season tickets so were sat with lots of people who were die hard fans and regularly went to games. The banter and chants against the opposition (Boston Celtics) was brilliant and I'm sure if Sam was a local would have been well involved with.

After the game we were lucky enough to be able to go to a private members club called Norwood. We were invited as guests of a friend of mine who I met through my shop (thanks Instagram!) Works of artwork adorned the walls of the beautifully restore old town house, we enjoyed a few drinks and bar meal before jetlag (and tiredness from our walking marathon) set in and we headed back to the hotel.

On Wednesday, after checking out, we had the chance to meet my kind Insta-friend in person. We'd arranged to meet over coffee so that we could thank her for her tips and the Norwood passes. We also had the pleasure of meeting her partner and beautiful daughter Amelia and left feeling very lucky to have made such lovely new friends.

The food we ate throughout our trip was brilliant (mainly as our research had revolved around it) and our final stop did not dissapoint. I'd been tipped off about 'Jack's Wife Freda' by a friend on Instagram and it was every bit as beautiful as their online gallery. We both had Eggs Benedict and coffee but somehow missed the fact that everyone else was drinking free cocktails at 11am to celebrate the restaurants 4th birthday. We'll just have to go back to join in when they're 5!

More walking (we did over 40 miles in total), hand in hand by the water, down avenues and streets, through Broadway and Time Square, we enjoyed the last few hours of this captivating city before heading back to JFK.

It really was the most wonderful 4 days together, of course we missed the kids and beamed when we had What's App photos from Sam's parents, but it did us so much good to have time just the two of us. Time alone is such a tonic for any relationship, we have such a laugh and have made a pact to find time for 'us' more often.

New York absolutely stole our hearts and since we've been back there's been numerous 'I've found some cheap flight' conversations. It'll be some time before we make it back, but with the invitation of somewhere to stay from our new friends, a return trip hopefully won't be too far away.

If you're still with me after this essay of a tale, then thanks for reading! You might not believe it but there's plenty of little things I haven't mentioned above (thought I'd save you the time!) If you're planning your own trip then I'd be more than happy to share any other tips we picked up along the way.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Lowri x