Category Archives: London

How To Live In The Now – social media, content and unplugging

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We live in a world of now, now, now, gimme, gimme, gimme.

How did we become so obsessed with now. We don’t even have time to focus on the futuresome, it seems do not even care about the past, we just want it all and we want it now.

We are so in need, in lust for the now that anything else makes us impatient.

We are surrounded by the ‘instant’ – Twitter, Facebook. Vine. Insta(nt)gram

I primarily connected my figurative life line to social media in 2007 as a way to connect with my family and friends at home in London and across the globe, an easy way to share what I was doing and get the social reach easily to everyone I cared about when I was on the run and didn’t have time for a call or to write a letter  – technology has allowed me to face time with my Mum while I am out shopping to get her buy in on a dress I like or some shoes I’m contemplating adding to the collection. While I am connected to my family, I am also, now, so conditioned to getting everything out there right now – real time sharing, real time experiences.
I want to know if I’ve won – now. I want to know what people think – now. Who is liking my status, who is viewing my blog, what is my friend in another part of the world doing right now, I want my food order in 3 minutes.  I need the information and I need it now.

Capturing the moment

Capturing the moment

Don’t get me wrong – I love social media and what it has enabled us to do as individuals and as a global community, I like a fast pace, I like to have everything at my fingertips, but I’ve become so motivated by instant gratification that I’m not stopping to smell the flowers. I’m not taking in my life – the memories. Yes; every inch of the memory is captured in 140 characters or a heavily filtered and edited photo stored in a virtual cloud for the future, but am I living in that moment? Or am I merely capturing it?
Am I really listening or am I merely hearing?
Am I missing what’s really going on around me, now, because I’m so obsessed with the now.

My husband has created a social (media) experiment for us, mainly me, but us – can we, one day a week, tune out, shut down and turn off – can we leave our iphones, our ipad and our computer alone and just live in the moment, see the world through just one lens.

It’s time to take my moments. To realise that to really appreciate the now. I need to stop, inhale and absorb. Otherwise, my life will have flashed by in a series of uploads, tweets and posts.

Life is too short to not really LIVE in the now.

For more on our figurative life lines and our constant connection here is a great article on Huff Post – Disconnect: A New Movie Sounds the Alarm About Our Hyper-Connected Lives.

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From Rule Britannia to God Bless America (pt2) – Ordinary Observations

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I have mentioned before that my time in the US has been interesting. Five plus years of American life and living the American dream. There are a few things which really stand out to me – three that won’t get me in trouble with political or religious agendas. Because the major, really major learnings I have had come from hot topics that I don’t feel are right for this blog.

So keeping it clean, I present to you – the London’s girls ordinary observations:


1)      Accents & Sayings – Y’all speak funny.

Every day people ask me about my accent. Frankly, I don’t think I have an accent. I sound pretty darn normal to me. It’s everyone around me who sounds funny. Although England has some incredible changes in accents as you move through the country, America isn’t too far different. When I first moved to Texas, I thought all Southerners sounded the same. Y’all’ing and drawling all over the place, but now I can detect a definite difference between Georgia and Texas and even East Texas and West. What could be more bizarre is that my very Texan fiancé who has only been to England twice can do a very convincing Brummy (Birmingham) or Scouse (Liverpool) accent, having never been anywhere near there.

As a Brit, I have learnt that I can get away with cursing. Which is good, because I am a frequent potty mouth.

My top 3 British curse words:

  • Bollocks
  • Bugger
  • Wanker

(Sorry Mum)

None of my English vocabulary comes anywhere close in comparison to the crazy arse sayings that I have heard since living in the South.

Top 3 Crazy Texan sayings:

  • Ticklin’ my tater
  • Like a goose on a June bug
  • All hat and no cattle.

I am still unsure as to the meaning of some of them. If you are interested in seeing more – here is a fun link

2)      Weather – It’s not normally like this

The stereotype of London is that it’s foggy in London and always raining. To be fair one of the main reasons I always state for leaving England is the weather.  (Although this weekend in England has been in the 80s and the highest recorded temperature in October ever). Where I ended up when I landed in the States wasn’t much better. New York. Cold winters, hot humid summers and a lot of rain, so, I loaded up my truck and I moved to Beverly, Hills, that is. Where it never rains. Or hardly ever. People say that Southern California has no seasons, it’s not true – California has  earthquakes, mud slides, flash floods and wildfires – some very distinct seasons of which I have experienced a few. Taking out the ‘force majeure’ – Southern California is a perfect climate most of the year.

When I first moved to California, I laughed at the people in their wooly hats and gloves and big warm winter coats when it hit below 60. Seriously – 58 degrees and you are walking around like we live in Buffalo during the winter. Then the joke was on me, just two years in to living in LA and I would have the heat on high, and be complaining of being “freezing” when it got to low 60s. I became a soft southerner, a California southerner.

The craziest weather has to be in Dallas though. Summers over 110 degrees, winters with ice storms and snow, hail stones as big as golf balls, electrical storms and of course, tornadoes. I never knew when I moved to Dallas, that I was moving to such a meteorological mess. This place is insane. People in Dallas are STILL trying to tell me “it’s not normally like this” – uh huh, apart from 100% of the time I have lived here.  So forgive me when someone tells me that the weather in England is awful, or how smoggy LA is. I’ve never had to huddle under a sink in an airport bathroom as a tornado touched down in London, or worry about my car being smashed in by weather in LA. Dallas takes the prize for crazy.

 

3)      Fashion – Style, trends and flaunting it

Clothing and fashion is really the main thing I miss about living in Europe (after family and friends of course). I miss being able to shop in TopShop or Kurt Geiger and spending Saturdays browsing Selfridges– a shoppers mecca (quick time out to mention how much I want some Miu Miu heels this season).

Miu Miu Curbed Heel pumps

Black suede and glitter - curved heel Miu Miu pumps

I miss the people watching on the streets of London, wishing I could pull off the latest styles. The more and more I live in America, the more I have become average in my dress sense. My weekender wear is simple and boring, my office attire – not a stitch on my old style. It’s not because America doesn’t have style or a sense of fashion. It’s because, unless you have the disposable income of a celebrity, or are young enough to shop in Forever 21, there aren’t really any cool stores to go to. In Dallas especially, I miss H&M and Bloomingdales. So, lately I have taken it upon myself to spice myself up a little. The crazy boot wedges, the bright green brocade mini skirt or the mustard yellow heels. Im bringing myself back. I have learnt that I don’t need to be a skinny Minnie to look good. I am embracing my curves and flaunting my God given assets…one European clothing item at a time.

The Queen’s English, a gruff New York accent or a Southern Drawl. Come rain or come shine, Gucci, Pucci, Escada or Prada,  my main observation is that I have learnt that you can recreate your life, reinvent yourself, and be whoever you want to be. Live the American Dream. There is opportunity everywhere.

A food tale of 3 cities

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I hear time and time again about how food in England is terrible…well yes it is terrible if you eat in the tourist traps, just like with any major city. As a New Yorker, would you eat at in Times Square given a choice? As an Angeleno, would you eat at pizza spot on the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Blvd?

London in particular has some incredible places to eat. From mid range to out of my price range. Great food can be found all over the place. None of my friends or colleagues have ever been disappointed with my suggestions while they were in town. I have given them my top 3, so I will share my favourite places with you as well:

The Wolseley – A stone’s throw from The Ritz this restaurant is classy, sophisticated yet very understated. My number one recommendation while in London.  Great for brunch, lunch, afternoon tea or dinner. Excellent service, great atmosphere and the food is exquisite.

The Wolseley

Pizza Express – A pizza joint, but not the average pizza joint. Don’t let the name fool you. This isn’t a fast food kind of place. I may be biased as I have grown up eating (and working) at this pizza chain. This is hands down the best pizza I have ever eaten and it is the pizza I compare all pizza to. Neapolitan style thin crust, individual size, no funky new world toppings – i.e. no pineapple. This pizza place is the type of place you could take a date and has been around for over 40 years. The pizza won’t let you down. (But, the service might)

Gaucho Grill – Argentinean steak house – with steak that is actually from Argentina (go figure). Ambience is sultry and sexy. Great for a date or romantic meal. Service and knowledge about the menu is strong to match the flavours of the food.

Everyone knows Los Angeles is my favourite place to be. Living in California it’s all about great sushi, trend setting cuisine and fresh healthy food.

Some of my favourite spots to dine in LA:

Sugar Fish Sushi– INCREDIBLE – melt in your mouth, you have never had better , amazing sushi. Order the Trust Me menu from Chef Nozawa. You won’t go wrong….trust me! 😉

CiCi’s café– If you can dare to trek in to the valley you are in for a big surprise. A delicious surprise. This is THE breakfast spot of all breakfast spots. Be warned – portions are huge and incredibly rich.Forget Me Not Waffles

RH (at Andaz)  Housed in the Andaz hotel on Sunset Blvd. I wouldn’t normally frequent a hotel restaurant unless I expected mediocre food for overpriced menu items but things have changed in the last few years and RH definitely hits the spot – that spot being heavenly. The restaurant has an open kitchen, so you can watch the chef create your meal, even see through to the fridge to see sous chefs’ selecting your vegetables. Food is modern French inspired and beautiful fresh flavours. With a seasonal menu that has never disappointed – I make this one of my must-do’s whenever I am in town.

My current State of residence – Texas

Now food in Texas is a whole other story. My experiences are that you can get good food here. Just don’t bank on it being healthy. Dallas people await the Texas Fair each year to see what fried food is the culinary delight of the year. Since living here, I have heard about fried oreos, fried oysters, chicken fried bacon, fried butter (don’t even ask) and  fried beer. Not exactly good for your cholesterol or  items that get my mouth watering. But this is the South. Since living in Dallas I have tried my hand, or more, tried my palate at:Chicken fried bacon

  • Fried green tomatoes
  • Fried pickles
  • Fried ice cream
  • Chicken fried chicken
  • And the most weird to say – chicken fried steak.

As you can see – frying things, is kind of a thing here.

Aside from the love affair with deep fat fryers Dallas does have some good dining spots. Some of my favourites:

Cane Rosso – Great flavours, fresh ingredients and the best pizza I have had since living in America. Get there early and grab a seat at the bar to watch the masters in action.

Five Sixty by Wolfgang Puck – The revolving restaurant at the top of  Reunion tower – it sounds super 1970s but I was very pleasantly surprised. Service  is great and the sushi is easily the best in Dallas not to mention, I  can actually say their black cod with miso is in fact better than, dare I say it…Nobu. Wolfgang Puck's Five Sixty

Marquee Grill – Highland Park’s new hotspot in Dallas. Yes it’s pricey, and has a celebrity chef (Tre Wilcox) and the name is being dropped in all Dallas’ luxe magazines and websites, which pretty much would usually turn me off, but, I have to give it to them..Marquee Grill is excellent. The menu has a definite Southern flare and a spicy kick to get your motor running. Wait staff are attentive and informative about the menu and the cocktails aren’t shy of flavor or alcohol.  Chocolate Box

From  London to LA and the land of Southern Hospitality great food can be found everywhere. Fortunately a de-tox, a diet and a workout can be found a few short steps away from the dining table.

Bon appetit

My Life in Travel – An Interview With Myself

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My flight last weekend had me reading  The Independent – Travel Section – I enjoyed reading the article so much, I thought I would make my own ‘My Life in Travel

First Holiday Memory?

Meeting Mickey Mouse at Disney Land, when I was 3. I remember standing on Main St, waiting for the parade. The Flying Dumbos my first ever ‘roller coaster’ and getting ice cream in Vegas with my parents.

Havana

Best Holiday?

My feelings have always been split between Cape Town and Havana. I’ve blogged before about how incredible my experiences were in both cities. I’ve made the connection that both Cape Town and Havana have similarities: extreme poverty and governments that either were, or still are troubled but beyond those issues, are two cities and countries that are beautiful. Cape Town has it’s beautiful coast, vineyards and such motivational history that empowers you to do great things and to think beyond your four walls – you can do anything you set your heart and mind to. Cuba’s people show such generosity, honesty and warmth. The decaying architecture has a charm that I don’t think I will ever find again and I cannot begin to recount the incredible evening I spent in the presence of members of the Buena Vista Social Club, sipping Havana Club daiquiris and enjoying a Cohiba.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

Britain has some beautiful scenery and wonderful sites and things to experience, but hand on heart, my favourite place in the UK, has to be London – my home town. London has so much culture. I discover something new every time I’m in the city. The architecture is so diverse – from 500 yearBig Ben old structures to incredible new buildings such as the Shard. London continues to impress me – and I feel that I love it more and more with each trip home that I make. One of my favourite things to do when I am in London is to enjoy the fashion. Although shopping is a lot more economical in the US, I don’t think you can beat the variety and selection of style and fashion that London has to offer. If you are thinking of a city holiday in Europe, London has to be on your list, from history and culture, to fashion and food – London has everything you need in a vacation.

Quick tip: Make sure you tour London by night – it’s incredible.

What have you learnt from your travels?

  1. Always budget for more than you think you will need
  2. If you can, don’t scrimp (point #1 helps with this) – it’s usually a once in a life time experience, and you don’t want to regret what you didn’t do, so you could save a few bucks.
  3. Remain respectful at all times. Always leave somewhere in the same or better condition that you found it in.
  4. Lastly – If the locals do it, it must be good – enjoy the local cuisine and embrace the culture that you have chosen to experience.

Ideal travelling companion?

Some travels call for your best girl friends (weekend shopping in NY or a girls trip to Vegas), others call for some Mother-Daughter or Parents-daughter time (I adore my time with my parents – especially, since we live so far apart) and for the rest of the time I can’t think of a better travel partner than my incredible fiancé. We always manage to laugh through the stressful times (delayed flights, dragging heavy suit cases across airports, parking lots and hotels and hairy flights) and enjoy the good times together. I cannot wait for our honeymoon together.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

Yes, yes and ehhhh not so much.

I love the beach and seeing the ocean, but I need more than just catching rays to make my vacation time count. I love experiencing new cultures and learning all that I can behind the local area or region.  However, saying that…if my time is limited – I’m all about lazing by the pool, enjoying the spa and taking in the views. Nothing is more calming and relaxing to me that hearing the waves crash against the beach, or surrounding myself with gorgeous scents and flowers, mountains and peaceful environments.

As far as the adrenalin junkie goes – I will leave that to others.

Hilton Los Cabos, Mexico

Greatest travel luxury?

Time! Since I have moved to the States, I have really learnt to appreciate my time off. It has become a luxury that I adore.

Holiday reading

I have good intentions when I go on holiday. I pack 2 or 3 books, but unless I have no other distractions the reading just doesn’t happen. I have now started to use the Kindle app on my iPad to avoid lugging around heavy hardbacks that I won’t actually read unless I am on the plane. I actually read a lot more at home than I do on holiday now.

Currently reading: The Thank You Economy’, by Gary Vaynerchuk

Where has seduced you?

Marbella, Spain. It’s stunning. Mountains, palm trees, ocean, fresh food and beauty every which way you look.

Better to travel or arrive?

Unless I am fortunate to fly first class, then it’s always better to arrive. I have so rarely been on a flight in the last year that has been on time, if it hasn’t been cancelled – so I’m all about ‘just get me there’.

Worst travel experience?

I think the worst travel I have ever experienced was as a teenager – travelling around Eastern Europe. As a student the history that I got to walk through and places I explored were fantastic and so crucial to my learnings, we went to Belgium, Luxembourg, Prague where we stayed in a haunted, converted prison, Berlin and on to Krakow to visit Auschwitz. An experience I can never forget.

What made it my worst experience was that we travelled all across Europe by coach – sometimes over night, cramped in to a coach with 30 other girls for hours upon hours upon hours. Definitely not the luxury standards I had become accustomed to. 😉

Best hotel? La Quinta Resort & Spa

I have been very lucky, at a young age, with my parents and as an adult now, with my work, to be able to stay in some incredible hotels in some wonderful locations. My all time favourite hotel is one that I discovered outside of my parents and work and I make it a goal to make sure I get there at least once a year, although I wish it was every weekend.

Which hotel, you ask…. my all time hotel destination of choice is La Quinta Resort & Club. The resort has everything I love about Spain and California rolled in to one. 5* luxury, Waldorf Astoria name tag and old world Spanish charm with golden era Hollywood history. Adobe inspired casitas, in-room fire places, small swimming pools dotted around the resort, on property restaurants & bars and an incredible spa.

I should probably insert here, that I work for Hilton Worldwide, yet my opinions about the resort are my own and I am not taking any kick backs for waxing lyrical about how heavenly I find the hotel. (same goes for my image of the Hilton Los Cabos – above)

Favourite drive?

Pacific Coast Highway, California. Nothing beats driving along the coast in California. It’s iconic and far from a letdown from Northern California and the 17 mile drive all the way down to San Diego.

Dream trip?

Good question – we are working on that right now as we discuss where to go on our Honeymoon. Koh Samui, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, Greek Islands, Bora Bora, Maldives or Fiji – I’m dreaming big.

Favourite city?  Chicago

I have a passion for Los Angeles. I feel like it’s my home away from home. Scrap that – it’s my adopted home. I never feel more like I belong than when I am in LA. The ocean, the sushi, the wide, palm tree lined boulevards, full of world class people watching.

After LA which is a given, I do love Chicago. Having never been there until a few years ago, I have been making annual trips since 2008. A real city with a buzz about it that warrants a mention. My top hotel for style, views and rooftop dining and drinking is The Wit, A DoubleTree Hotel (another obligatory disclaimer that this is my personal opinion and I am a Hilton Worldwide employee). If you happen to be in the Windy City the rooftop is a must.  With my sushi obsession, I have to add in here that Sunda is incredible for sushi and cocktails. I hear that brunch there is good enough to write home about.

Where next?PCH - Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles, of course!