Recently, after years of yearning and a couple of almost-made-it moments, I went to New York for a short holiday. Now, this isn’t a review of New York but it’s safe to say it was awesome. If you haven’t been, go. And if you have been, don’t you just want to go again?
On arrival at my hotel, I was surprised but extremely happy to find a couple of New York Passes had been left at reception for my boyfriend and I to use on our trip. The card allows you entry to over 70 New York tourist attractions, so we had a quick re-think of our itinerary and then hit the streets!
Thanks to the New York Pass, we visited the following attractions:
- Brooklyn Botanic Garden
- CitySightseeing Cruise
- Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum
- Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Museum of Modern Art
- On Location Tour of Central Park - TV and Movies Sites
- Rockafeller Center (including Top of the Rock)
What quickly became apparent to me was the more places you go and visit with the card, the more you want to visit other attractions! We certainly went to a couple of places that weren’t on our original agenda (looking at you, Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum), and we enjoyed both immensely. If we’d had more time in NYC, we’d definitely have visited many more attractions - I can see this saving visitors a lot of money, if they use it wisely. Look at it like this - once the card’s paid for, you don’t have to pay to get into any of the attractions covered by the pass and the more sights you see, the more money you save. So it could turn out to be a huge money-saver (giving you some spare dollars for the expensive cocktails that you’ll come across!)
I’d definitely think about purchasing a New York Pass, should I visit the city again, so I can tick the other attractions off my list. It also comes with a really handy guide that helps to get you excited about the places you can visit! You can also buy different cards, depending on how long you’re visiting for, which range from $85 to $200, so there’s some flexibility depending on your needs.
The katysaidwhat promise
I only write about things I genuinely like and have used - I can’t be bribed, not even if you deliver a puppy to my door, in a basket and wearing a bow. If I’m lucky enough to get something for free, I’ll always tell you.
It’s now been six months since I moved back in with my mum, at the age of 28. Overall, it’s been a (very) long six months, but I’d be lying if I said it was all bad.
All being well, I’ll be moving out in the next couple of months, so I thought it was a good time for me to share my experience with you - if you don’t live with your folks, and have no intention of doing so, it might not be for you. But look on the bright side - you can laugh at the fact I did.
If you do find yourself back in your childhood bed, here’s my guide to not killing your parents:
A simple one to kick us off. There was never ever doubt I’d be paying rent. Admittedly, it’s much less than I used to pay for my city centre flat but it suits both parties. But, be aware: paying rent doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t still be asked to do plenty of guilt-laden chores. You know the ones; “oh, can you just walk the dog…” or “can you stay in and wait for the neighbour to pop round with the Tupperware box she borrowed last Christmas?”
I’m all for helping, but my past flatmates didn’t take these liberties. The guilt-chores were probably my least favourite part about moving back. Once I move out, I can experience the guilt of not helping, from afar. Perfect.
Try not to moan
Trust me; this is easier said than done. But I’m closer to 30 than I’d like to be and moaning about living with your mum just makes you look like a right sad case. Instead, why not set up a blog and moan about it there?!
See your friends
My mum lives in a place where not very much happens. The day a Subway opened up in the village, it was big news. I mean, BIG news: it made page two of our local newspaper. So it was important to go out as much as I could. Due to a distinct lack of public transport, this has varying rates of success. Waiting at Manchester Piccadilly for an hour, alone, after three glasses of wine just didn’t appeal to me by the fifth time it happened.
Also, be aware that there is a fine line to tread here; don’t go out enough and you will drive yourself mad. Go out ‘too much’ (mum’s words, not mine) and chances are your parents will drive you mad with all their questions about where you’ve been and if you’re going to be in for tea tomorrow.
Embrace the routine
Parents are, by all intents and purposes, weird creatures. And if you haven’t lived with them for years, the routine that you followed last time will seem even weirder. My mum likes to do things a certain way and if I suggested a different way, that would save her time, you’d think I’d spat in her eye. So smile, happily talk about the neighbours’ lives (at length) and leave everything in the bathroom exactly how you left it. And I mean, exactly.
Keep it quiet
Plenty of people my age live with their parents (if the stats are to be believed), but whenever I told somebody new, there was usually a look of pity which made me feel a bit sad. If worse comes to the worst, lie but I’d probably just gloss over it to save yourself the pity party.
I asked my mum the best bit about having me under her roof again. Her response?
“The weeks you weren’t here; there was no hair in the bathroom.”
Thanks, mum, love you too.
After years of thinking about going wine-tasting, I was recently invited to Vinopolis to finally try it. I’ll never look at wine in the same way again!
I was booked on the Classic Experience (£32), with which you get 12 tokens that are pre-loaded on to a ‘wine debit card’ - simply insert the card above the wine of your choice and, as if by magic, your wine is dispensed.
But first, it was a 15 minute ‘how to taste wine’ session in the venue’s theatre. Our guide, the fabulous Vincent, was the star of the night. Before visiting, and thanks to multiple watches of Sideways, I was worried that the environment would be pretentious, so I’m happy to say that Vincent’s relaxed, humorous approach put me at ease immediately. And I learnt stuff too!
Following the talk and taste (I think there was some apple in there…) we were taken on a short tour through the building. And what a building! Open brick, airy and full of wine. At Vinopolis you can explore over 100 wines; red, white, fortified and dessert. If you’re interested in how climates affect taste, check out the geography zone or if you’re feeling adventurous, explore the discovery zone, including a selection of English sparkling wines. I know, English wines; who knew?
Wines are worth 1-4 tokens and the choice is incredible. I’m usually a white wine (light and fruity) kinda gal but I tried all manner of wines, including some powerful and robust reds that I hold responsible for my heavy head the next day!
As well as your tokens, staff are on-hand to offer you samples of their wines of the week and it was here that, once again, we were advised by Vincent. I’ve come to the conclusion that the man is a miracle-worker - he got my boyfriend to try - and enjoy - a rosé! As a staunch hater of the pink stuff, this is an impressive feat.
If you’re thinking of visiting, I’d suggest leaving a couple of hours for the Classic Experience - there’s plenty to do to fill the time and I really appreciated being able to do the tasting at my own pace.
I’m pleased to say after this visit I’m armed with a better knowledge of wines and understand more about which bottles I could enjoy both in restaurants or at home - which is exactly what I was looking for from the experience.
Now, somebody hand me that bottle…
No.1 Bank End,
0207 940 8300
But how will anybody make any money?!
I left Didsbury for pastures new about ten months ago and I’ve missed it pretty much every day since then. So when my boyfriend and I were planning a weekend away recently, it seemed like the obvious choice to spend a night.
We were looking for a bit of luxury with the hotel and booked (arguably) the best one in the area - Didsbury House. We received great customer service from the outset and upgraded to the Opus Loft Suite on arrival.
We weren’t disappointed; the spacious surroundings were perfect for that ‘at home in a hotel’ feeling, with two cast iron roll top baths and an awesome walk-in monsoon shower (love them!) being just two of the highlights.
The only criticism I have is, despite paying a substantial amount for the room, breakfast wasn’t included (boo!), and we weren’t going to pay an additional £30 for it - so it was off to The Deli in Didsbury Village the following morning. Actually, it was pretty damn delicious, so I have no real complaints at all about having to go elsewhere for a bacon butty!
We booked Albert’s for our evening meal. And with it being a Friday night, we took full advantage of their Champagne deals!
I was completely bowled over by the food and enjoyed the most tender pork belly I’ve ever tasted, followed by a steak cooked exactly as I’d requested. What more can you ask for? Full marks to Albert’s.
Didsbury Village itself is suffering from chain fatigue. You’re unlikely to get an independent shop or bar in the area, so if you want to find something more interesting, venture down to the lovely West Didsbury. Worth a punt are The Violet Hour, Mary & Archie’s and my personal favourite, The Drawing Room. Don’t let its diminutive stature put you off; the atmosphere is fantastic both across the week and the weekend (take note, Northern Quarter try-hards) and the cocktails are delicious. The jukebox might only hold indie music from the ’90s, but that in itself is quite comforting!
It was only a short visit but my night in Didsbury confirmed something that I already knew - at some point in the future, whether it be in two years or in twenty years, I’m going to be a Didsbury resident once again.
If you’re planning a trip to Didsbury in the future, have a look at didsburylife.com - it’s got all the bases covered.
Whichever side of the fence you sit on the subject of Valentine’s Day, it’s always nice to get cards and presents. So I’ve chosen a few select items for your perusal, in case you deem your beloved worthy of something nice on February 14.
Call me a softie, but I enjoying marking special dates - first dates, anniversaries, other peoples’ birthdays - and this ‘What a Difference a Day Makes‘ print is ideal. But if you’re displaying it in a public room, maybe skip the ‘first time we had sex’ date.
One for 30 Rock and Tina Fey fans. This illustrated card by Catherine Palmeno uses a Liz Lemon quote to perfectly channel the collective feeling of single guys and gals on Valentine’s Day.
You can’t ask for more than this.
I love the blurb for this - ‘Sloth has a piece of valentine in his mouth, he was hungry.’ Fair play sloth, we’ve all been there.
To be honest, I probably wouldn’t want this on my wall but I like the sentiment. After all, if we’re supposed to believe the ‘there’s someone for everyone’ mantra, we must be a little weird from time to time.
Because Valentine’s Day isn’t a time for being serious.
Will you be sending anybody a Valentine’s card this year? I’m a sucker for cards, so if you are, share them with me!
For a fussy eater who heaves at the very idea of mayonnaise touching her food, or throws up if somebody serves cream-based sauce without asking if it’s ok, having waiting staff decide to not write down an order is stressful. But that seems to be the norm these days. And as it so often goes wrong, it winds me up.
Ah, to see a notepad and pen. With them, I feel secure and comfortable; without, I’m pretty much convinced that I’ll have to return whatever misjudged concoction arrives at the table.
What’s the obsession with not writing down orders these days? I asked a friend of mine who works as a waitress and apparently, it’s to ‘give the customer confidence’. According to her company, not writing down an order makes the server look more professional. What a load of crap - I can’t remember ever getting exactly what I ordered when it hadn’t been written down. Instead, the server gets distracted, mumbles a quick ‘OK’ and goes off to ruin my order.
Part of me feels sorry for the waiter/waitress; did they know that they had to have a good memory when they went for the job? Why should they have to remember a list of items that they don’t really care about? Most of the time in restaurants, I just want to eat nice food and then leave. I don’t want to subject the staff a Dr Kawashima brain training exercise. I just want the food I ordered!
And what’s worse, I know when I won’t get it. I know when a mayo-laden sandwich is going to arrive in front of me and there’s nothing I can do about it other than ask if they will remember the order and then I’m shot down with a look that says ‘er, that’s my job?’
And then the wrong thing arrives. Sigh.
Frankly, if a server refuses to write things down, they are just asking for trouble. If you think not writing my order down will make me come back to your restaurant, you’re wrong. But you know what might? Picking up a pad!
Tom ‘McFly’ Fletcher posted his wedding speech/song on YouTube and left a trail of mascara-stained faces and high expectations in his wake.
Warning: not for the unromantic!
I love this. Really, really love it. It helps that I like McFly (aww, they’re still best friends after all these years etc. etc.) but even the darkest of souls must agree that it is a lovely wedding speech. But I worry. Worry that the men in our lives don’t stand a chance when it comes to grand gestures.Seemingly every day there’s a new proposal video, professionally produced with beautiful couples looking oh-so-natural and sickeningly happy in front of a camera and, quite simply, expectations are just not being managed. The video above means that no longer will a mumbling ‘thanks for coming… cheers!’ cut it.
Men, I’m sorry but Tom McFly has sold you down the river.
The turkey has been eaten and the mammoth chocolate pile is getting smaller, so I thought some fresh air was needed – step forward Kew Gardens and its ‘12 Days of Christmas’ promotion.
Until 04 January, Kew Gardens is offering a number of free tickets (usually £16 for adults) to visitors wishing to explore its 300 acres. Armed with my camera, ticket and boyfriend, I had a wander around:
If you’re feeling a bit lethargic after all the festivities, Kew Gardens is a great option – and if you’re quick, you could bag some of the free tickets; they have just released some more. Just make sure you wear comfortable shoes – you’ll be doing a LOT of walking!