Miami South Beach…

I really enjoyed our stay in Miami, everything from the warm sunshine kissing our ghostly pale winter skin to the gorgeous pastel painted Art Deco buildings lining the streets. Miami was a real treat.

I feel like you can’t visit Miami without having a day at the beach. The beaches are just divine with powdery sand and ‘water so clear you can see to the bottom’ (thanks Will Smith). So on a sunny Sunday in February we hit up the infamous South Beach.

The atmosphere was great – everyone was out from families to girl gangs and people who looked like they were taking a break from a Men’s Health photo shoot. People were having picnics, playing music and generally just frolicking. I love a beach day and couldn’t wait to slip into my new Seafolly swimsuit, however, there wasn’t a changing facility in sight! So I landed up hiding behind a little shed with Phil holding a towel whilst I shimmied my starkers body into the new cozzie. I can assure you it wasn’t my finest moment, but completely worth it for a swim in that turquoise sea.

I must also mention that somehow I got fried despite wearing factor 50! Although luckily it turned to tan, which almost never happens. I’m not sure if the sun was extra strong that day or my winter skin so pale after a few months of cloud, either way I definitely returned home with a holiday glow!

I also introduced Phil and his Dad to Texas Roadhouse where we had amazing bread (seriously it’s so good), drank sangria and generally stuffed our faces whilst watching birthday go-ers mount a wooden horse. It was grand.

In the evening we went to a bar along the water which was a really nice end to a really nice day.

Have you visited South Beach?

L x

Visiting Universal Studios, Florida…

Orlando is well known for being the theme park capital of the world. From the gigantic Disneyworld right through to Busch Gardens, there really is something for everyone. With so much to do and being completely spoilt for choice, it’s hard to formulate a plan to include it all. In the few times that we have visited Orlando, only once have we managed to squeeze in both Universal and Disneyworld. On this occasion, we only had time for Universal, which I wasn’t hating on because who doesn’t adore a trip to Universal Studios?!

I’ve only been to Universal in Hollywood and the one in Florida. Both have a completely different feel and whilst I like Hollywood’s take, I love Universal in Florida. I think that it’s because it is that much bigger, spread out and quite unique. Their entire Harry Potter sections are great and I love all of the HP themed rides. There are also more shows over in Florida and the Hulk rollercoaster which is a firm favourite with Phil.

I think what I love the most about Universal in Florida is the memories. How magical it was on our first visit years ago. Lounging in the sunshine shovelling chocolate flies into my mouth with my gal pal whilst waiting for the boys. Realising that The Mummy ride is different in Florida compared to Hollywood. The memories are definitely my favourite part.

We had such a nice time revisiting rides we have ridden many times and trying out new additions (we were all disappointed with the new Jimmy Fallon simulator). I like how detailed Universal Studios is as well as the variety on offer. Plus they have a Panda Express in the food court at City Walk, so I can end my day stuffing my face with my favourite fast food place Stateside.

It’s never a goodbye when leaving Universal, always a ‘see you soon’ and I can’t wait until we go again.

Have you visited Universal Studios?

L x

The Everglades, Keys and Fort Lauderdale…

Of all the times that we have travelled to Florida, we have never quite managed to make it to the Everglades or The Keys. We always seem to become swept up in the lights of Orlando and the beaches in North Florida. I think that there’s just so much to do and explore that we always seem to run out of time. Anyway, on this occasion, we decided to fly to Miami and explore the southern part of the sunshine state.

Our first stop was The Everglades, a gorgeous national park oozing with wildlife and greenery. We went on an airboat tour from The Everglades Holiday Park . The airboat was super fun and our host very knowledgeable. I loved feeling the wind in my hair and looking out for gators. Luckily we managed to spot quite a few on our trip. They are such majestic creatures and I feel like I learnt a lot about them from our trip. The only downside to the airboat tour was the part at the end where you have the option to hold a baby gator. It had its mouth tied shut and I just felt like it was completely unnecessary. Nobody needs to hold an alligator and the poor little thing must have felt terribly vulnerable. That being said, I would still highly recommend the boat tour and I think that overall they have good intentions with the wildlife.

Next stop was a trip to Key Largo. I had heard how dreamy the Keys are, but I didn’t imagine that they would be quite so lush. I immediately fell in love with the chilled atmosphere, crystal clear sea and how genuinely beautiful they are. The sea was warm and inviting. Possibly the clearest sea I have ever seen and still as a Polaroid. I could see fish everywhere and it was just so, so lovely. We found a little hidden beach tucked away behind some (also dreamy) houses and just existed there for a while. The winter has felt terribly long (and appears to be never ending – snow over Easter, say what?!), it was so, so nice to soak up the sun and feel it on my skin. I loved walking around in flip flops and a sundress. The temperatures were 27/28 degrees every day and it was absolutely divine. What a treat.

Continuing our beach theme, we headed over to Fort Lauderdale for a sunset stroll on the beach followed by dinner at a restaurant with live music that kisses the coastline. We also had a look around the shops. Fort Lauderdale is quite lively in the evenings, so I would definitely recommend a visit.

Have you visited Southern Florida?

L x

Welcome to Miami…

I have wanted to travel to Miami since Will Smith blasted onto the scenes in the 90’s with his aptly named track. The connotations of sun, sea, sand, warmth and fun called my name and I knew that one day I had to go. When booking our annual air miles trip for this year, I was originally looking to fly to Orlando for theme park fun (I’ve been desperate to go again since Volcano Bay opened at Universal). There wasn’t any availability for Orlando on the dates that we needed, but there was availability for Miami – result!

Flash forward a few months and I’ve found myself back in the sunshine state. We’ve got a few things planned whilst we are here but I’m mostly looking forward to enjoying some time soaking up the sunshine. It’s been so terribly grey over winter and I had forgotten what temperatures above ten degrees felt like. It’s dreamy.

Anyway, I can’t wait to explore and share!

Have you travelled to Miami?

L x

Barcelona part two, La Sagrada Familia and beach fun…

We were so lucky with the weather during our time in Barcelona. Travelling in Europe during January is always a risk in terms of weather but we lucked out and had sunshine with blue skies everyday during our time in Barcelona. Having good weather meant that we could make the most of being outside and were able to walk everywhere without resembling a soggy raccoon upon reaching our destination.

With the sunshine smothering us, we decided to walk to the beach from our hotel near Eixample. I’m at my happiest at the beach and I just feel so grounded and chilled out whenever I’m near the sea.

We meandered down to the marina which was such a lovely surprise. I didn’t realise that the marina would be so lovely, laced with palm trees and pretty views. There is also a shopping centre which is open 365 days a year and is home to a variety of shops and some great restaurants too.

I wasn’t expecting a particularly special beach in Barcelona. I’d been told that it wasn’t that great, so I was thrilled when we arrived at the beach and were greeted with golden sand and clear blue sea. In all honesty, the beach was much more desirable than many of the beaches here in the U.K., so I’m so glad that we weren’t put off and still popped along for some salty air and a stroll along the sea front.

I love gazing out at the ocean and seeing absolutely nothing connected to human life. Just the waves meeting the Earth, the ocean filled with life and the sky above. It makes me feel so chilled out and grounded. Exactly what you need on a birthday!

After we had embraced beach life, we decided to head on over to a cafe for coffee and cake. Unfortunately my Spanish is not so great and we actually found ourselves in a gluten free cafe where I had the weirdest crepe I’ve ever seen. It looked like a prawn cracker and had a spongy consistency. Anyway, I’ve decided I need to work on my Spanish before our next trip!

Following on from our gluten free cafe experience, we walked over to La Sagrada Familia because have you even been to Barcelona if you haven’t gawped at Gaudi’s masterpiece in the flesh?!

What a beauty! Such sumptuous architecture bathed In Mediterranean sunshine. Phil said that it was the most beautiful building he has ever seen and I am inclined to agree (although Italy has some real treasures).

We then walked back over to Eixample where we stumbled upon a traditional Spanish restaurant and had a glass of Sangria with our seafood paella. Not going to lie, the paella was a bit too fishy for my liking, but I was instantly hooked on the Sangria. It was divine!

Have you visited La Sagrada Familia?

L x

Beach fun with Holly…

I’m always my happiest when at the beach. It can pretty much be any beach, but there’s something about where the land meets the sea that just resonates with me (I’m the English Moana). I just feel super chilled and I love everything from the sand beneath my feet to the sound of the waves crashing and that salty sea air smell. 

Our little furball Holly also loves a beach day, so we scheduled in a date at the end of the summer to take her for some beach fun. 

Many beaches have restrictions throughout the summer as to whether or not you can take dogs, so we needed to find one that Holly would be welcome at. We found a little one near Southampton, which was certainly not the nicest, but served its purpose none the less.

Holly is a frisbee addict, so we were sure to bring one along for beach fun. Holly absolutely loved it. She had a ball paddling in the sea and digging in the sand. It’s funny because Holly literally only digs at the beach and she isn’t fond of water unless it’s her paddling pool or the hose. She isn’t one to swim in lakes or anything of the sort, but simply adores the sea!

Once we had grown tired of the beach, we drove over to Portsmouth for some food and shopping. Holly was so well behaved throughout and I loved how dog friendly Gunwharf Quays is. 

Soon it was time to head off back to London with sandy fur and shopping bags. We will no doubt be returning next year!

Have you visited Portsmouth?

L x

Venice Beach and Santa Monica…

When we visited LA in February this year, we decided to stay in Marina Del Rey so that we could explore Venice Beach and Santa Monica easily. We absolutely loved all three places along the beach and I knew that I categorically wanted to visit again when we were on the West Coast in the summer. Flash forward six months and Phil and I found ourselves in the exact spot that we spent Valentine’s Day at, eating cheesecake and taking in those gorgeous Marina views. What a treat!

The area is currently undergoing development and we were surprised to see just how far it had come in those six months. It’s such a lovely area with lots of outdoors activities going on – including paddle board yoga!!! Defo giving that one a go next time although I’m almost certain I’ll end up in the water.

When people ask me if I enjoy cycling, I reply with ‘only in LA’, which whilst I’m aware it sounds a bit ridiculous, it’s true! I just love cycling along the beach on the concrete paths adorned with skaters, Segways and fun. It’s just so effortless with gorgeous views of the sea. 

I like to cycle from Venice Beach to Santa Monica pier, it’s not far at all and really enjoyable. Sometimes we make a couple of stops, for example on this occasion we stopped at Muscle Beach to have a nose (which resulted in a detour to Gold’s Gym after Phil saw someone wearing a hat that he liked!!).

P Diddy was super reluctant to go cycling, we almost literally had to drag him onto the bike and move his legs for him at first, but after a few minutes he loved it and was even singing whilst he cycled! We had to prize him off once we had finished.

On this occasion, Phil and I shared a tandem because we haven’t done that before and we thought that it would be fun. It was great! I sat on the back whilst Phil did all of the hard work. I would highly recommend it!

Once we reached Santa Monica, we hung out for a while on the beach enjoying the sumptuous sunshine that SoCal offers. I really, really love LA and the lifestyle.

On our cycle back, Phil spotted a pair of sunglasses that he’d been after for over a year on a stall (it was a good day for Phil), so we stopped in Venice Beach for a little shop. I love the atmosphere in Venice, so fun and colourful. No doubt without hidden dark sides, but mostly fun and bright.

Although we currently have no plans to travel back to the West Coast, I know that LA is somewhere we will definitely be visiting again. I just love it there so much!


Have you visited Santa Monica?

L x

That Vegas sign and the Grand Canyon…

We were lucky to be spending a few days in Vegas and I was so excited to show Phil’s Dad all of my favourite places in and around Las Vegas. 

Of course our trip wouldn’t have been complete without a trip to that sign. I mean are you even in Vegas if you haven’t stood in a queue in forty degree heat waiting for your turn to have a photograph taken without a stag do in the background?!

Day or night, there’s always a queue (and often either a topless lady or Elvis impersonator) surrounding that bright sign in the middle of the road, although my top tip would be to go in the morning if you can, I think it definitely gets busier as the day goes on.

Anyway, I’m a fan of the sign and it was definitely a must stop place to take Phil’s Dad. I was pleased that we managed to take him!

Vegas is also famed for its shotgun weddings (think Britney in the early noughties), and there are so many little chapels dotted around the place, they are to some quite tacky, but I personally think they are quite cute and offer an alternative to the traditional weddings that we are accustomed to. In all honesty, I quite fancied getting married in Vegas myself, but Phil wanted all of our family there and it wasn’t an option for them to travel. Never mind!

We had a good old mooch around the strip whilst melting in the oven-like temperatures that fall on Vegas during the summer months. I just love looking at all of the elaborate buildings. It’s such a vibrant place!

Once we had had enough of the colours along the strip, we returned to New York, New York for a dip in the pool and jacuzzi. I remember thinking how funny it was that the jacuzzi felt cool in the dizzy temperatures of around 46. Anyway, we read, danced around in the pool and hung out in the jacuzzi until it was time to dry off and wait for our taxi to catch our helicopter.

I really love riding in helicopters. I just find them so fun and the views are breathtaking. Floating above the Earth is just magical and I would highly recommend travelling by helicopter to the Grand Canyon if you can. 

We’ve been to the Grand Canyon twice now and we’ve used Papillon both times. Sure, it can work out quite pricey, but in my opinion it beats sitting with a coach load of people for a few hours. I’ve seen that there is a company offering ‘doors off’ tours, which I would love to do because I think that sounds super fun.

Anyway, on this occasion we went at sunset and it was such a treat. The temperature was slightly lower which made it much more comfortable than when we visited in the blistering heat. It also made this trip a completely different experience, watching the sun kissing the tips of the Grand Canyon as we sipped on champagne and looked down at the river. 

The GC is such a magnificent place, so untouched with warm browny red tones. It’s really peaceful (even with the helicopters) and I just love reflecting on our gorgeous world there.

Have you visited the Grand Canyon?

L x

USS Iowa and a tour of LA…

We kicked off our Sunday in Redondo Beach before heading south to San Pedro to visit the USS Iowa. Phil’s Dad (Steve), had always wanted to see a warship in the flesh and that’s pretty much why he chose the West Coast for our holiday.

The USS Iowa is a huge ship oozing with history and character. It’s really fascinating to walk around and Steve loved it.

Once we had finished having a nose around, we headed over to Hollywood to visit the Griffith Observatory and that iconic sign.

It was mega busy over at Griffith Park, but we managed to get parked right outside the Observatory- result! 

I think that the observatory is fantastic for views of the city and the sign. The observatory itself is also great. Both times that we have been we watched a show in the planetarium. It’s so interesting and relaxing. I love how visiting the observatory reminds me of just how small I am – we are. It’s so easy to get swept up in modern day life and forget that in the grand scheme of things Earth is rather insignificant. 

My view on life is to enjoy what we have now. Think about the future, but don’t stress it. Don’t take anything for granted. Anyway, visiting the planetarium helps to keep me grounded!

Cap: Borrowed from Phil, made by Billabong Sunglasses: Kate Spade about 8 months ago, T Shirt: I picked up from Ocean Park when we were in Hong Kong, Shorts: I picked up in Target last year.

After our trip to the planetarium, we took a trip to Rodeo Drive. We wanted to make sure that Steve sees all of the iconic places whilst we were in Los Angeles, so Rodeo Drive was a must see.

We also took Steve to the Chinese Theatre which is honestly one of the most disappointing places I’ve ever been to. It’s not glamorous at all and it’s always rammed. It’s such a seedy area and a complete contrast to the glamorous, exciting image I had conjured up before my first visit. 

Anyway, although Phil and I despise that area, we felt that Steve needed to see it and took him along. We parked right nearby ($2.50 per 12 minutes!!!) and had a nose at the handprints, footprints and stars.

Another place that Steve had mentioned he would like to visit was the La Brea tar pits. Which are basically naturally occurring tar pits where asphalt has seeped through the ground. 

It was completely new to Phil and I and fascinating to see. They have been excavating fossils there for years and have found so many animals including a mammoth.

The animals would come close to the pits for drinking water without realising that they were filled with asphalt and get stuck in the tar. It’s really sad, but awesome that we can gather fossils. I would really recommend a visit. 

Have you visited any of these tourist hot spots?

L x

Long Beach loving and a Taking Back Sunday Saturday…

I’ve decided to create a little diary series of our trip to the West Coast of America because I think it will be super lovely to look back on one day and I can share our experience with you all. It’s going to be quite raw in terms of photography because as I’ve said before, I like my blog/Instagram/life to be unedited, so don’t expect any mad photography skills! 

What you can expect though, is an insight into our trip, some tips and inspiration if you are planning your own trip to the West Coast.

We started our trip in Redondo Beach, but headed over to Long Beach on our second day. Phil and I spent a week in Long Beach whilst on our honeymoon exactly two years ago and we loved it. There’s so much character in Long Beach with its beautiful Marina and pastel coloured boardwalk. 

Top: last year from Hush, Shorts: last year from Sainsbury’s, Sandals: years ago from Roxy, Sunglasses: Michael Kors (again from last year!).
The three of us had a mooch around the Marina until Phil left us to go to the LCS studios to watch League of Legends. He gets terribly seasick, so his Dad and I seized the opportunity to head off on a whale watching cruise.

Harbor Breeze Cruises are great for whale watching tours. I went on one in February with my friend Kate and we were lucky enough to see Gray Whales and sea lions!

The migration path along the west coast is great for spotting all sorts of sea life and on this trip we were lucky enough to spot two humpback whales! Unfortunately, one had become entangled in fishing paraphernalia and so a rescue team was on its way. The second whale was loving life wild and free.

My recommendation is to make sure you take a jumper and wear lots of sunscreen. It gets a bit chilly out in the open and quite windy when you are travelling 30 odd knots. I did cover up but I still got wind burn on my face (I’ll wear a balaclava next time 😂), but thankfully I didn’t fry. 

I then took Phil’s Dad for his first ever trip to Hooters. I really like Hooters because I love their chicken wings although on this occasion I accidentally ordered them a tad too spicy!

We then took an Uber back to Redondo Beach. Uber is really cheap in the States, presumably because the cost of driving is much cheaper. We filled up our car for under £20! It costs me over £50 back home.

It was in this Uber that I realised Phil’s Dad had not put suncream on one of his hands and was now sporting one really tanned hand. I laughed a lot in the back of that car.

I had booked Phil and I tickets to see Taking Back Sunday in the evening at The Wiltern in Los Angeles. Although we were jet lagged, it was an incredible gig with a great, well balanced set. I loved it!

Have you been to Long Beach?

L x