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Posts from the ‘Travel’ Category

eve·ry·thing ˈevrēˌTHiNG/

1. all things, all the things of a group or class

2. the current situation, life in general

Lately, I’ve been thinking about what it is to have ‘everything’. It’s been niggling at me. On the outside, I’m beginning to seemingly; have everything. I live in New York, one of the world’s most idealised and sought after cites. I’m a stylist, and I’m freelance. I’m a mother and I’m a wife.  As a generation, since our thirst for adventure and success became so huge; marriage and children seems to have fallen a little by the wayside for so many of us.  I’m very lucky as it is something I always wanted as well as a career. And yet, do I have everything?

There are so many mantras strewn all over the internet that lead me to believe I am extremely lucky, or I made my own luck at least. ‘Do what you love/love what you do’.. Live Life Love… Dream Big, Work Hard’ .. and so on. Yet somehow we have been programmed to feel that no matter what we achieve, we must achieve more.. earn more.. see more .. spend more. The huge growth of reality television and our voyeuristic nature towards delving inside the somewhat empty lives of the grossly rich and famous (for apparently nothing); doesn’t help.

I often consider what life would be like had I chosen to live it very differently. I’ve had so many choices over the years,  I could just as easily now be running a small hotel in Devon with endless countryside, an interiors store in Bondi with nightly sundowners over the ocean or a retreat in magical Southern Thailand.  But I chose this, fast paced, unforgiving New York City. Succeed or jog on. My brother once told me a story about a Mexican fisherman… and it made me question my choice for a moment. But no, I know that I am here, living the fast and sometimes exhausting life for a reason, I’m loving it.

As yet another year here almost draws to a close, it’s very easy for me to sit in my warm dining room, cup of tea in hand and ponder the whole work to live/live to work debate. But in the light of all of the global happenings of 2015, I don’t think that either of those things are what is so important to me any more. I’m simply happy to be. If we choose to move on from New York one day, and back to a slower pace of life, more space less money then so be it. For now, I’m living in the moment. Whichever path we choose, I know that my family and I will most likely have warmth, shelter and love; and for this I am extremely thankful.

In the world in which we live now.. to have everything, for many millions of people, really is only to be loved, be safe and be free.

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Pai, Northern Thailand. Relax, respite, renew.

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Devon, England. Where my heart feels complete

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NY – SF – LON all have stolen a piece of my heart

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up·state ˌəpˈstāt/ tivoli

An upstate area (of New York) 

Of, in, or to the northern part of a state

We’ve been visiting Tivoli for over two years now, ever since our now friends (then aquaintences) moved here. I love it. Each time I come up here my dear friends are always asking, why not move? Leave Brooklyn? It’s SO much cheaper? Life is SO much better. I think they still miss elements of NYC. I do love it upstate; with almost all of my heart… but if I’m honest, I’m not sure I’m quite ready to say goodbye to the high rent, small un-maintained spaces, smell of rubbish everywhere, chicken bones in all the flower beds.. sirens… it’s just too soon. I’m not quite done with that stuff. I enjoy cramming my weekly shopping into the bottom of a stroller and lugging up the hill.. half caff almond latte in hand.

However, after so long without a blog and too many work commitments of late, last week I went Tivoli once more. This time alone, on a solo prop hunting, head-hunting (my own ‘clear’ one) jaunt. I needed a break from the city craziness. My first mid week trip upstate. I was also extremely curious to try out the recently opened by Brice and Helen Marden, Hotel Tivoli. I’ve been admiring it from afar on our last few visits.

Found the perfect writing nook.. Hotel Tivoli

Found the perfect writing nook.. Hotel Tivoli

Hotel Tivoli is the newest kid on the block in the tiny and picturesque village of Tivoli. The village lies on the East of the Hudson River about 115 miles north of NYC.  With a population of only slightly over a thousand people, it feels quite the retreat from the bustling city. The vibrant hotel; joins other locals such as Tivoli Bread and Baking, whose sticky buns pretty ace, and Murray’s who make a delicious latte,  Santa Fe,.. for a tasty taco, (I’ve heard it’s great but why leave NYC for one night only and eat Mexican, right?), and the Traghaven Pub. Good old Irish eatery. (Drinkery). The village also offers tapas, japanese, pizza and is now home to a little general store.  What more could you want? My home away from home.

Home away from home at Hotel Tivoli

Home away from home at Hotel Tivoli

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Perfect morning wake up….

Every time we visit we have such a ball.. and are generally there for one of the annual events like the street painting, the yard sales or the pie contest. This time, I opted for a mid-week break. I wanted to see what it is really like upstate. On a normal day. A rainy grey Tuesday to be precise. To see how it made me feel.

One thing I learnt extremely quickly; is that if you want to visit this area and its surrounding towns for food, experience, shopping, exploring  – Tuesday is not the day to do it. Almost everything is closed. Everywhere. Lesson learnt. Do not visit areas of rural beauty and antique foraging, on a Tuesday in NY State. My journey took me to Red Hook, Hudson, Rhinebeck.. with a stopover in Tivoli. Quick squeeze and a cuddle with my pals, a bite at the pub and then back in the car for a mammonth journey East to Milford NY the next morning.

Yes MOST days open at 11..

I’d been given inside information about a barn of wonders. Wood Bull Antiques. Luckily, it IS open every day. And when I arrived at the three level (bursting at the seams) barn of antiques.. I knew my trip had been worth every moment alone in the car singing at the top of my voice.

A stylist’s heaven….I spent over four hours in there rummaging around. And came home with two more chairs that I don’t need, but absolutley do love.

Taking a road trip alone.. via a place I love… to look for things I love.. along roads unknown. There is something to be said for just getting in the car, blasting out your favourite music and driving through the sheets of grey rain and misty mountains.

It charged my dwindling batteries.

I’m back.

Chair.. welcome to your new life.. time for a re -vamp

Chair.. welcome to your new life.. time for a re -vamp

Channeling Liberty of London with beautiful florals..

Channeling Liberty of London with beautiful florals..

ad·ven·ture adˈvenCHər,əd-/

1. An unusual and exciting, typcially hazardous, experience or activity

2. Engage in hazardous and exciting activity, especially the exploration of unknown territory

Late this past summer, for the first time in many years, and the first time as a family, we decided to take a trip – to Mexico. I thought it was something we would be doing all the time when we arrived in NYC, but sadly, life in NY takes over. Many holiday budgets are spent on the high brow NY lifestyle and visits to the Motherland.

We were recommended a tiny island a a little more off the beaten track than the ususal tourist haunts. Something my husband and I both really strive to acheive – adventure; even with a little one in tow.

Isa Holbox, (pronounced Holbosh) is in the Quintana Roo region of Mexico, about 2.5 hours North East of Cancun, including a thirty minute ferry ride. There are no vehicles on the island, apart from golf buggies, and it’s not an overly popular destination with American and European tourists at that time of year.

The obligatory and shameless pedi shot...

The obligatory and shameless pedi shot…

Speeding to the airport in our usual ‘by the skin of our teeth’ fashion, always adds a layer of travel excitement. We made it and hopped aboard the leisurely three hour flight to Cancun. For many, the travelling stops here. Or for the slightly more adventerous and party hungry, a hop to Isla Mujeres. Not us. We stepped outside into the sweltering Mexican heat, and searched for a minivan that would take us on the two and  a half hour journey throught the national park to the ferry. The journey was a breeze for my sleeping daughter and husband.  I like to travel awake. I love to take in the sights of a new country. The journey to Chiquila through the national park takes you through several tiny towns and villages. There are roadside shacks offering freezing cold cervezas out of a makeshift ice box, and empanadas out of a crumling hole in a wall, or someone’s back door. I expected to see lots of amazing Mexican colours.. but I felt that the landsape was laced with more poverty than I had envisaged, which saddended me.

Once we got the ferry terminal, with only minutes until departure (always our style) in the sweltering midday heat we rushed over to board. We chose to sit in the air conditioning, not another gringo in sight. As the boat slowly hummed away from the shore, we noticed a sturdy little man at the front, with a guitar, slicked back hair and a pair of loafers any man would envy. He was like Del Boy meets Carlos Santana. I also noticed I’d left my favourite fedora and my baby changing mat on the van. Oh the hellish fear of first world problems, how would I cope?! Del Santana sang my worries away whilst my little bundle bounced and sang all the way.

After twenty minutes or so, the ferry began to drift into the turquoise waters and palm lined shores of Holbox and I knew we’d picked the right island. Famous for its swimming with whale sharks, magical sunsets and seafood I couldn’t wait to settle in to island life.IMG_2087

We had booked into Las Nubes, what I understand to be the most exclusive hotel on the island. Right at the very west tip. With steps right into the azure ocean, and 3 swimming pools I had wanted a clean, secure and easy place for my micro family. Service, staff and location were definitely all they cracked up to be. Unfortunately it really lacked that romantic careless island feel which my husband and I both strive for. A highlight on the other hand for  Hotel Mawimbi, one of the highest rated on the island by tourists, but perhaps more no frills. But the most excellent taste in textile and furniture.

Custom cushions from Peru.

Custom cushions from Peru.

We divided our time between the two… swam, lazed in the sun.. got sand in our knickers and nappies.. and generally soaked up as much as we could in the far too short five days. The icing on the cake on this trip was two of my nearest and dearest from London holidaying on the very same island. We shared sunshine, seafood and created some unforgettable memories.  Holbox carved a little place in all of our hearts. As I sit huddling into this cold November evening in Boston, I can almost hear the waves licking at the shore, and feel the warmth of the sun on my skin.. and so I plan my next adventure….

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Friendships in faraway places

 

am·biv·a·lence amˈbivələns/

The state of having mixed feelings or contradictary ideas about something or someone New York I love you… New York I don’t even like you….. no, I love you.. no, oh I’m not sure…….. On a recent breezy Brooklyn morning, my day started out full of positivity, joy and with a perfect cool summer breeze.   I took my daughter to an outdoor music event at 10am; in the park, with several other Brooklyn parents. Sipping on my latte, while my mini-me bounced around on the grass in her Saltwater Sandals.. I thought, yeah BK, I can do this. I kind of love you. For a minute….

Fort Greene Park, live music for little ones

Fort Greene Park, live music for little ones

My day ahead was already planned. Prepping for a shoot in Manhattan that week. Bring it on New York, with this life;  maybe I can stay forever? Maybe it will all start to make sense as to why so many milllions of people fall in love with this place…. As my husband and I swtiched roles at 11am (a nanny free day means tag-teaming parents… how very on trend we are), I clicked on my UBER app to see a taxi would pick me up a few minutes later. With a spring in my step.. I hopped out of our apartment and into the cab.

The day was really starting to heat up, and the cab had no aircon. His driving was like something out of a 1990’s Bollywood film and as we careered through Chinatown, stop/start stop/start, I started to feel a little sick. The smells that began to drift through the car, city smog, mixed with sweat, dirt and a slight fishiness of the LES.. Ugh, New York I don’t love you. It wasn’t even 11.30….. We hopped a couple of avenues west and then slowly jolted our way up 6th Av, stop/start stop/start. Nausea, sweat. Yes, NY, the love can fade fast. I arrived at my first prop shopping destination, a mere 5 miles and 50 minutes later, relieved to be inside cool and now familiar surroundings. Ok NYC, you are forgiven.. for a moment.

My assistant arrived with iced coffees and a ready eye for propping… how dreamy life can be. The coolness, the convenience, the fast paced ‘get it all done yesterday’ vibe. New York we could really be something. The late afternoon involved another child handover. I stepped into my husband’s place of work. A super cool, (I felt far too old to be there), communal creative hub. I was not laden with bags as my assistant and two messenger services had taken control of that. So easy, NY. My next mini challenge was to get the subway up to Union Sq, and continue with my shopping, stroller in tow. (Pushchair, or pram, for those of you reading from afar). I walked around a few immediate subway entrances. Not a single disabled access sign. They are labeled for wheelchair accessibilty, but being a Mum in Manhattan with a baby… this is the entrance we were looking for. Nothing. So I embarked on bumping my baby down three huge flights of stairs to the subway line, one slow sweaty step at a time. Not one single person stopped to ask me did I need any help. Not one. Until I got to the penultimate step, and a guy casually offered his assistance. NY.. at that moment, I hated you. We stood sweating on the stifling platform, praying for a train to come. There are no little screens telling you what is coming. It’s mostly a gamble as to what is happening when; on most lines.

Not even 6 pm, and I had already done the make up/break up scenario with New York in my head many times over.  After a few more pit stops we decided upon a short playground break in Union Square. Such a lovely playground, right in the middle of the city. So easy and safe.  Sandpits and swings surrounded by high-rises and high rollers. What a place. My heart filled with a little bit of joy, seeing my mini Brooklynite hanging with the city kids in their hood. photo 1 As the evening drew in we met up with my husband and headed for an early dinner in Tribeca.  Sitting there, surrounded by other professionals, familes and young hopefuls all shaking off the buzz of the day from the melting pot of energy, creativity and ambition that is NYC, I looked at my daughter taking it all in. What a lucky little girl so see the sights and sounds so many yearn for and never get to see. My relationship with NY is like a relationship with a highly unsuitable, yet mesmersising boyfriend.. up and down.. off … on…  should I stay or should I go?  I’m still trying to work out what all the fuss is about.. high rents, no space, terrible winters, scorching summers… and yet, here we are. Not letting go. For now, we stay. I want to see what else  you have to offer me Empire State. New York I remain forever, yet ambivalently.. yours.. For now……

LES. We have only really recently bonded. And I want to know you more.

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Miss Liberty at her very finest. Photo credit Gary Hershorn. Instgram.

 

day·dream ˈdāˌdrēm/

a series of pleasant thoughts that distract one’s attention from the present

I feel terrible for thinking of this as my AK definition of the day! I never realised the definition would actually describe not living in the present. This is a mantra we are all often told to do, live in the present… don’t live in past.. concentrate on the here and now. I’m sorry universe, but my here and now is another 10 inches of snow, on top of the already 25 we’ve had. Throw in a few polar vortex days… some icy sludge, and a biting wind.

Yes, sadly, I’m leaving my present in my mind today. I’m imagining London, in the summer, with a nice cold drink in hand and some fab company to go with.

Coming? One click… all it takes……

London town….. 

AK xx

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