Sunday, 7 February 2016

5 Essential Items of Clothing You Need For Your USA Road Trip

Ah clothes and travel my two favourite things!

Last year I embarked on a two month road trip of the USA, which was one of the most amazing things I have ever done. 30 plus states, starting in New York, heading to the West Coast and looping back round, through all kinds of terrain, cities, countryside - the works. As unbelievably fun as it was, packing was quite a task! Being ready with something for every occasion, but being careful not to take too much was a real challenge.



One thing became clear as the days went on, there were just some items I used over and over again and were my hero items for the trip. Here are my top 5...

1. Chuck Taylors 


What could be more American than the Converse classic? These babies go with everything, shorts, summer dresses, jeans, skirts and are perfect for jumping out of the car to go off exploring whatever you've come across!


2. A Neutral Playsuit





A playsuit you can dress up or down will get you through a multitude of occasions. You can change your entire look with just the use of some well placed accessories. Changing a different colour belt, or chucking on some statement jewellery can create the affect of an entirely different outfit. Opt for something cool enough to wear with a pair of sandals in the day, but can be dressed up with some wedges for evening drinks!

3. Denim shorts 










Dark denim, neon, ripped, covered in stars and stripes, studded, - (or if you are like me all of the above),   - a trusty pair of denim shorts are your best friend on a summer road trip in the states. And give you a great excuse to show off your tan!

4. Summer dresses 








A summer dress is versatile and fun, easy to throw on and go. I grabbed a whole selection from Primark for £5 each! H&M and New Look are also fab for inexpensive cool dresses , meaning if you leave one in a hotel room, or get one messy you don't mind ditching it and leaving it behind.

5. Oversized Sunnies 




Sunglasses are a an essential piece of kit for any serious road tripper. As well as protecting your eyes from the glare of the sun, they are perfect to cover tired peepers, or for those no make up mornings. Even if you've just rolled out of bed and slung something on, an oversized pair of shades gives you instant cool points. Whack your hair up in a messy bun, don your favourite shades and you're ready for any photo op at any time!

I'd love to know your essential travelling items. What can you just not leave behind? Let me know your essential items of clothing below, or get in touch on my social channels!




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Things to do in Denver (while you're still alive!)

Denver, Colorado. The 'Mile High City' nestled right alongside the Rocky Mountains, with red rocks and white water rapids, it is one of those truly American places. For me it conjures up images of the great outdoors, the infamous 'Gold Rush', Buffalo Bill and the Old West. But not all is as it seems in Denver...

For instance, it's now the busy, bustling capital city of Colorado but until as late as 1858 there wasn't a soul living in the area. 1858 marked the start of the Gold Rush, causing, well just that, a rush of people to head across the plains and settle in the area hoping to make their fortunes on a lucky gold seam. Turns out there wasn't even that much gold to be found there, but that didn't stop people settling in the area. Just the thought that there may be gold to find kept people coming in their thousands.

The Denver of today is a cool place, it manages to have the very best of both worlds; the city centre is packed full of trendy restaurants, shops and bars, home to some fantastic art galleries and museums yet it's also the go to destination for outdoorsy, adventure trips with the open plains, and Rocky Mountains on the doorstep.

You will find everything from fishing, camping and horse riding, to rafting, rock climbing and even more extreme sports, its paradise for the adventurous.

But if you are like me and don't have time to scale a rock face or two, then I've brought you some things to do in Denver that anyone can handle!

The State Fossil - Stegosaurus 

Dinosaur Ridge


Unless you are a palaeontologist, (and yes I only know that word because of 'Friends' - you got me), I doubt very much your usual trips take you to an ancient site of dinosaur remains and tracks. For me, as a child I was very much obsessed with dinosaurs so when I found out Denver was home to Dinosaur Ridge, it became a must see.






Dinosaur Ridge is one of the worlds most famous fossil and track sites, now run by a not for profit organisation to preserve and share some of the most amazing dinosaur discoveries. The scenery surrounding the site is absolutely stunning, with mountains, forests and the unmistakeable red rocks as far as the eye can see. It's easy to imagine these giant creatures living together against such a backdrop.

However the dinosaurs that were found here are a staggering 150 million years old, so things would have looked pretty different back then, and luckily there are some extremely knowledgeable people on hand to describe to you just how different the world was.




It doesn't take long to get up close and personal to some real dinosaur bones, Iguanadon footprints and Brontosaur bulges and you can take a shuttle bus to everything, meaning even the tiniest legs don't miss out on a thing. If you are up for the walk there is a 2 mile round trek that takes you past hundreds of tracks, and into the heart of the dinosaur quarry.

Dinosaur Ridge is a very unusual, fascinating day out and whether you are old or young, a family or travelling solo, it's definitely worth a stop by.

For more information visit their website here - Dinoridge.org







So after the science and history part is over, there's still plenty of nature to explore in present day! It doesn't take long to drive up the winding roads heading up into the Rockies from Denver city centre and it's definitely worth the trip.

The drive winds up the hillside and gives a fantastic view of the town of Golden below and the world famous Coors brewery. But we'll talk about that later!



Go even further up,  and it's easy to forget about the real world down below. You suddenly become surrounded by unbelievably stunning scenery.






Back down to earth again, and the town of Golden is waiting for you at the bottom, and it's well worth a visit. It's the home of the early 'Gold Rush' settlers and still has an Old  West feel to the place.

Right at the heart of the town is the Coors brewery, the  worlds largest single site brewery. It was established in 1873 by Adolf Kuhrs, (later changed to the spelling Coors), who had come to America as a stoway from Hamburg. Starting as a gardener in Denver he soon acquired a bottling factory and a year later he was producing and bottling his very own beer on the banks of Clear Creek. The history of the man and his brewery is pretty impressive and you can take a tour around the brewery for free to see for yourself. Make sure you check what times and days the tour is operating when you visit, as this can vary with the seasons.




On the streets of Golden


Another top spot to head to is Confluence Park. It's marks the spot where the first search for gold begain in May 1958, causing thousands to up sticks and move to Colorado in search of their fortune. 
It looks a little different today.

It's an urban park, situated in a redeveloped area of Denver where the Cherry Creek and South Platte River meet. It's a very, very cool place to be. 

Full of walkers, joggers, cyclists, (and other people with far more energy than me), it's a place for many to let off steam. The water rapids mean that kayak enthusiasts take advantage and there are even weekly meetings for drummers and fire performers to practice together. It's an exciting mix of people and activities and there is always something going on.

I went on a scorching afternoon and sat with the locals on the waters edge, sunbathing. There are plenty of spots to relax in the sunshine, you can take a dip in the waters to cool down, and if your feeling brave a local kid might even let you have a go on their rubber ring in the rapids! 

Local people bring down BBQs and fire up on the grass, kids bring tubes and lilos to take on the fast flowing water and their younger siblings enjoy splashing in the shallows. 


Underneath Confluence Park



Depending on the season don't forget to take in a ball game, for American football you need the Denver Broncos, baseball Colorado Rockies and the basketball team are the Denver Nuggets - as modelled by me below. American sports are always a fun way to spend a few hours, with great food and entertainment and you will be chanting along with your new favourite team in no time!


We were just passing through the city on our road trip, so only had a couple of days but if you are in Denver for a longer stay there are so many trips, trails, and adventures to be had exploring the local area. Great websites to look at when planning your trip are : 


I'd love to hear your recommendations for Things to do in Denver, and great tips to share. Let me know in the comments below, or by my social channels above.





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Friday, 5 February 2016

Top 5 Things To Do In New York


New York. The Empire State. The Big Apple. The City So Nice They Named It Twice. 

What ever you call it, there's no disputing New York is probably the most famous city in the world. So it was an obvious choice to begin and end my two month USA road trip last year. Home to some of the most recognisable buildings and well known tourist spots on the planet, New York can seem overwhelming when planning a trip. Fear not, whether you've got two weeks, two nights or 24 hours in the city there are 5 things you really should see, and here they are.




1. Empire State Building 



 I really do hate being obvious but it's such an iconic, beyond famous building it really should be top of your To Do List when heading for New York.

Dominating the New York skyline and featured in countless movies and TV shows - it's a pretty great view from the top. It's a cool 1050 feet above street level and over looks of some of the other amazing architecture such as the Chrysler and Flatiron buildings.

Marvel at it from the bottom and then experience the dizzying heights of the top. It's quietest early in the morning so make it first thing on your agenda for your day of sight seeing. If you can get there for 8am you will have a much better chance of beating the crowds and a fantastic morning view of the city coming to life. You can  then head to one of the many diners and bakeries in the local area for a good breakfast before hitting the rest of the city!

2. Central Park






Central Park might actually be one of my favourite places in the whole of my trip. Granted I went in August so the weather was scorching, the trees green and the flowers blooming, but whatever time of year you are visiting it's a beautiful surrounding.



It's a refreshing break from the hectic, heaving streets and hustle and bustle elsewhere in the city. You can walk through the gates, and even if the crowds are still there, there's something peaceful and soothing about the leafy, open spaces.

Grab a drink and take a stroll, visit the zoo, go cycling, or my recommendation for a top activity - go boating!





 It's a fantastic, serene, (if not a little bit of a work out at times for a wuss like me), way to spend the afternoon in one of the busiest cities on earth. Take your time, float away and watch out for the turtles chilling on the rocks!



3. Times Square 


The hub of New York City centre, some times referred to as the 'Crossroads of the World' and you can stand in right the centre of it. There is always something crazy going on here and if you like people-watching, you'll be in paradise! I'm not sure there's ever a 'quiet time' to visit but the throngs of people are part of the attractin. You should be heading to Times Square for the flocks of tourists, street food vendors, neon flashing adverts and sea of yellow taxi's - so embrace the madness and enjoy being part of it!




4. Grand Central Station


Grand Central Station, yes lets be real, it is just a train station, but there's just something magical about standing inside a place made so legendary by film and literature. It's just so New YorkThe building itself is incredible, not just it's impressive size, high ceilings and giant concourse, but the chandeliers, marble floors and of course the famous astrological ceiling.  



Everything is so classic and opulent from the polished brass, to the opal clock faces, it's a timeless place, managing to hang on to it's rich past in a way many other places in America have not.

It also has it's little secrets - although, not very well kept ones. In the dining gallery you'll find what appears to be a normal arched doorway. However the accoustics of the arches mean that you can stand at one side and have some one stand at the other side talking quietly under the noise of the station and can still be heard clearly! 

Try it- it works! 





5. Statue of Liberty



The Statue of Liberty rivals the Empire State building for status in New York and definitely earns it's place on the top 5 list. However if you don't have time to wait around for the ferry trip to Ellis Island where she resides, I would recommend taking a walk to view the Statue from a distance. Much like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, this is a sight you want to take in from the outside, seeing the in all her glory with the city in the background is breath taking.



Top tips for girls!


Wear comfy shoes! Forget the false expectations SJP and Blair Waldorf have given you, you need flats baby! My trusty Converse saw me through the long walks sight seeing all day on my stay and I would recommend a pair. Sandals are an option too, but no wedges or heels! Just bear in mind if you are wearing sandals to walk the streets of New York, your feet will be covered in black grime, it's unavoidable. So if you are a clean freak, or just would prefer to keep your feet the same colour as they are now, go for the sneaks!


Make sure whatever bag you take out and about with you make sure you take one you can fasten up properly. Don't try and get away with open top totes as there's a bloody good chance you will get pick pocketed. I took my trusty Longchamp Le Pliage tote everywhere with me in America. It was perfect as it goes with everything, it zips and has a flap to make it doubly secure and it's roomy enough for everything you need to take!


If you have time make like Audrey Hepburn and visit the flagship Tiffany store. Don't be afraid to go for a snoop inside, it's not all 5 carat diamonds, they are used to tourists piling through their doors and even have some reasonably priced gifts as a momento of your visit.



As a massive Marilyn Monroe fan I had to visit the subway grate made famous as the location for the scene in the 1955 film The Seven Year Itch. You know the one, where Marilyn's skirt blows up in the air. It might not a top attraction in the city but I like to think of the crew filming the shot not knowing it was going to be one of the most famous movie scenes ever.



Ok food now! You have to try some New York specialities. Make sure you manage to cram in a proper New York Deli sandwich, a slice of New York cheese cake,  some street food, and of course a slice of New York pizza!



And on that rather delightful photo of me here ends my Top 5 Things To Do In New York. I'd love to hear your suggestions for your top places, or tips when visiting New York. Is anyone planning a trip this year? Let me know in the comments or contact me through my social channels at the top. 

Any one with any questions or wanting more info please feel free to get in touch, if I can help in anyway I will! 



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