Thursday, 30 November 2017

The LA Travel Diary

 So recently I spent 7 nights in Los Angeles. This was my second time in the states and it certainly didn't disappoint. Some may say 'wow only 7 days' but personally  I found this to be the perfect amount of time - enough to see all the sites we wanted to see but also enough time to just chill and have some down time. To be honest as well, 7 days was enough-  I took the longest amount of time I've ever took off work (week and a half) as I'm normally a 3/4 day city break kinda girl. My job is quite demanding in that, if I want to have time off I need to plan ahead quite a lot and well, as much as I love getting away and seeing new places, when it comes down to it, I'm a home bird and I love nothing more than lounging around in my pjs at home! Anyway, lets get to the point of this post, which is of course, what I got up to in LA and my recommendations of places to go/things to see.

Day 1 - Manhattan Beach 
So the flight from London to LA is horrific 11 hours. I mean I love the excitement of airports and the anticipation of getting away but the flight was just longggg. Luckily I got us a flight that got us to LA around 2pm local time meaning that we still had almost a full day still to explore. LA is 8 hours behind the UK so you can imagine how much the jet leg messes with you - but on the first day you're just excited and want to explore. (Side note-  the jet leg only affected me a little whilst out there, if anything I would just wake up at like 5/6am which isn't a bad thing. It mainly hit me when I got home and all I did was sleep and lounge around for 3 days). So we actually stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn at Redondo Beach, which by the way is a great hotel - the rooms are spacious and modern. The staff just can't be helpful enough, they really did make our visit extra special. The hotel also has a gym, spa and pool. I visited the gym a handful of times and its mainly cardio equipment and dumbells - oh and a functional trainer so pretty basic but great nether the less! I didn't actually go to the spa and pool but my friend did and said it was really good.

So something I discovered was that all these beaches in the city - they aren't just referring to the actual beach, its an 'area' - so Manhattan beach/Venice beach are all their own little scenes with their own different quirks.

We walked from the hotel to Manhattan beach and arrived just before sunset and it was so picturesque - the photos just don't do it justice! We headed to the Manhattan Post for some food which was basically tapas. A lot of the places we ate in LA had this kind of vibe. What I liked about Manhattan beach was just how chilled it was.

Another side note FYI - Public transport in LA is rubbish! They have the odd metro and they have buses - which if you happen to get one - are super cheap. However I found the best way to get about the city was Uber & Lyft. When speaking to the locals the general thoughts was that most people got around using their cars - it was very different to London for example where the public transport system is brilliant. The good news is that Uber/Lyft were both pretty cheap. If you do get public transport, I would recommend a tap card (equivalent to the oyster card in London) you just load your balance. I only put $10 on for the whole week and still had some left over.

Day 2 - Venice Beach/Santa Monica

So I had heard a lot about these places so had some pretty high expectations. On this day we walked over 13 miles so it was tiring but this was such an interesting day, strange but interesting. The beach at Venice was beautiful and so vast. However there was hardly anyone sunbathing, everyone was interested in everything else that was going on whether it be watching street performers, people skating or somebody just casually biking along the beach with a snake around their neck - yes this legit happened! Anything seems to go down in Venice. Must see places there are Muscle Beach (both the new and original one). We walked from Venice to Santa Monica and there are some cools stalls along the way - artwork etc. We also went to Egg Slut for breakfast which if you like eggs of any description, you're definitely gonna like it there (Although I didn't because I picked the worst option, boo). I can't really say too much about Santa Monica as we only went to the Pier and if I'm honest I really didn't rate it. It was just a small fairground and a bit tacky so we never really explored the area - although I've been told I'm missing a trick there. Venice also has some beautiful canals with some amazing houses along it - none the same and all different in their own little way. For lunch I'd recommend The Butchers Daughter - their Pina Colada's are insane and funnily enough the place is actually entirely plant based. In the evening the Rooftop at Erwin Hotel is a must visit for a great atmosphere and even better views - they provide blankets which is always a bonus to me!!
Day 3 - West Hollywood/ Melrose Avenue

Its so difficult to a favourite day from the trip because I genuinely had an amazing time but this for me was such a highlight. In the morning we headed to Hugos for breakfast.  I had been dieing to try some good old American Pancakes and were hoping they were just as good as the ones I had in New York. Well, word of warning, if you're ever feeling hungry and I mean HUNGRY then head to Hugos for breakfast in West Hollywood. I had the chocolate chip pancakes and as you can see they were huge. If I say so myself, I feel I made a good attempt though at polishing them off.
 After breakfast we headed to the place of instagram dreams - Melrose Avenue. If you're all about getting that perfect insta worthy photo or if you're hoping to see some cool artwork or inspirational quotes, this is the place to go for sure. The famous Paul Smith Pink Wall is located there - who knew a plain pink wall could be so popular. If only a pink back drop would have been cool when I was 15 as my bedroom was this colour! I'd have been super rich by now! It was so strange to see people queueing up and having mini photo shoots just in front a very pink but very plain wall. Don't get me wrong, I joined in on the fun haha! It was quite funny, actually as whilst we were waiting in line and these girls were having a fully fledged vogue'esque photo shoot, some guy drives past and shouts out 'The pink wall is BASIC!!'. He was correct though! The other must see photo scenes are the rainbow, the famous angel wings (there are a few located around LA in variations).

Melrose Avenue is also amazing for shopping. If you're a Kardashian fan, then you must hit up to DASH store. I found this one to be so much better than the one in New York. They also have some other amazing clothing stores down Melrose. The lunch spot I'd totally recommend is a cafe called Urth. It is a typical LA brunch spot that does huge salads and juices etc.

Of course, the Hollywood walk of fame is a must see. I was actually quite surprised,  I didn't realise quite how many stars are on the footpath, I legit thought were was like 15 but they cover both paths on the side of the road for a good few hundred metres! I do have to say, although this area of Hollywood is one of the most famous and iconic, it was slightly disappointing in that it was a little scruffy to be totally honest. The must go place for cocktails in the evening is Mama Shelter which is a rooftop bar. This place was so cool, we actually went twice. They do cocktails and snacks - the boujee fries are unreal FYI. It had a very cool, hippie almost vibe but the service is great and everything is so chill.

Day 4 - Downtown LA 

Initial impressions of Downtown LA were 'wow these buildings are tall' and 'I feel like I'm going to get mugged'. Okay, slight exaggeration, it's not that bad - but Downtown LA can be quite dangerous in places. However, don't let that scare you off, as it has some really good perks. The first being Bottega Louie - the breakfast place of dreams! From the outside it doesn't look like much but when you walk in the place is huge and bustling. It has a really special feel to it - you almost feel like you're in a 5 star hotel or something, the staff are super attentive and the food just looks so aesthically pleasing. It was so busy but for sure worth the wait.
After this we headed to do a little bit of shopping and also hit the 'last book store'. This place is beyond cute and a must see for any bookworm! It's basically just a huge book shop.

My favourite part of Downtown LA is without a doubt the newly built 'Skyspace'. This place is only around 9 months old but is essentially LA's answer to the empire state building - a huge observatory with incredible views of the city. It even has a glass slide you can go down which was terrifying but good fun.

In the evening we had a reservation booked at The Nice Guy. This is located just in between Beverly Hills & West Hollywood. It's a big celeb hangout area. I can see why as well - the place is almost in darkness and you only get a tea light candle at your table. I really struggled to read the menu let alone spot any celebs! Good job I'd already decided online before arriving what I wanted to eat! Jokes aside, this place is really cool. It's very discreet, not photos are allowed - except in the photo booth. If you've seen any of the Kardashians famous photo booth pics previously, they were taken in this place. There is a curtain you have to go through upon arrival. The cocktails are all amazing. The food was pretty basic but I couldn't fault it. It was a very special evening and it was lovely to get dressed up!
Day 5 - Universal Studios 

So having been a Hazza P fan since day one, I could barely contain my excitement to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! The full works of the diagon alley and the hogwarts castle were insane, you genuinely felt like you'd be transported into the Wizarding world. The ride in the castle is worth the wait but the flight of the hypogriff is nothing special. Unfortunately neither is the leaky cauldron restaurant-  even though it looks pretty spectacular from outside... grumbles aside - trying Butter Beer is a must! You even get the chance to buy a wand at Ollivanders, visit the owls post, the sweets store the get your very own chocolate frog or packet of bertiebots every flavour beans!

They also have the Jurassic park ride which is a good laugh! I will say no more.

I would totally recommend the wait for the studio tour, it is so much fun and a lot better than what I expected.

The donuts from krustyland are also obligatory!!

Day 6 - Beverly Hills

Ah the epitome of LA! This part of the trip was long anticipated and something I was so excited for, I definitely was let down neither. I had been so looking forward to my Pretty Woman moment hitting Rodeo Drive and also visiting the famous Beverly Wiltshire hotel. All the way down Rodeo Drive there are fairy lights on all the palm trees and also speakers with music playing as you walk along. This is all accompanied of course by the luxury stores such as Gucci, Prada, Saint Laurent etc. We didn't see any celebrities but we certainly spotted some amazing cars.
Round the corner from Rodeo Drive is also the famous Beverly Hilton where the Golden Globes are held and also the hotel where Whitney Houston sadly passed away. We visited this hotel also for cocktails and although the building was pretty impressive, I can't help but say how disappointed  I was. The drinks weren't great and we had really dressed up for the occasion only to have accidently immersed ourselves into a business networking event, oops!

If you're into make up, the Anastasia Beverly Hills studio is also a must see!

Day 7 - Hollywood Sign / Griffith Observatory

We decided to spend our last full day in the city as tourists! Rather than getting an Uber as close to the Hollywood sign as possible, we did the right thing and walked as far as we could to get the best possible view. The photo doesn't do it justice, we were a lot closer to the sign than the camera suggests.

We did a bit of exploring and landed ourselves at the most strange but interesting shop I've ever been to in West Hollywood. It's called 'Wacko Soap Plant'. Its got a 70s style feel to it and is full of taboo but fun items including books, memorabilia and  other useless yet somehow very interesting products. You know them things that you don't need at all but somehow want it all. It's that kind of store. We were in there for at least at hour and I would totally recommend it.

On the last evening we wanted to make it special, so we headed to the Griffith Observatory just before sunset. I totally underestimated this place, I don't know what I was expecting but it certainly exceeded my expectations. It had a stargazing museum that taught you all about space, planets, black holes, stars etc - all very interesting stuff. Once we were done in there we headed outside to watch the sunset and for the sky to light up, it was such a memorable evening and I feel so grateful I got to experience such a cool view!

Day 8 - Our last day 

Having experienced a heat of 37 degrees in LA, but being too busy to sun bathe, we chose the last day to head to Manhattan beach and top up our non existing tan. We did this for the majority of the day then headed for LAX.

I found people to be so friendly in LA and I feel grateful that I made such amazing memories and got to experience so much in a short space of time!

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

My Week In Photos: Angelica Leeds & Violet Hair

So its been a while where I did one of these posts. To be honest lately, I have just been super busy. I've had a lot going on and had such a hectic social schedule (for once!). June is always a busy month because its my two sisters birthdays and of course with birthdays and being female comes a weeks full of celebrations. So without rambling on too much I'll let the pictures do the talking...

The other day a huge group of us headed to Leeds for a day session. We spent the majority of the day being civilized sipping on lovely cocktails but also bit of time playing beer pong at Roxy Ballrooms! We went to the usual cocktail hotspots such as Angelica  - this was my first time there and it was such a lovely day so it was great to sit on the terrace/balcony area (picture below). We also went to The Alchemist. I've been to this place a fair few times now and I'm never disappointed. The cocktails are amazing and I would recommend it to anyone. I went for the Screwball cocktail which tasted like bubblegum and ice cream mixed together - it was unreal! We also went to Skybar on the top floor of the Double Tree Hilton, upon arrival we got put in the VIP area where there was a supposed party going on - I didn't think much to it but the Saxophonist was pretty cool. The view of the city was a bonus but the prices of the cocktails were ridiculous and they weren't anything special. 

Okay so I think we can all agree I look extremely gormless on this photo but I love this picture as its with two of my favorite people - Emily & Sophia.

So this week most definitely had its ups and downs but I was so chuffed when these beautiful flowers got delivered to me at work which was such a lovely gesture and really brightened my day.

I also really liked my make up at the weekend as I made more of an effort with it! 

I also got my hair done at my usual Salon - Soul. Soul have recently moved premises and are now located in Bawtry. The Salon experience was wonderful as ever and I wouldn't trust anyone else with my hair. As usual I went for something a little different, still sticking with my ombre but I decided to have a voilet toner on the blonde. This will fade to blonde/silver but I like to mix things up as I get bored easily! 

We recently recruited a new family member - Stanley! Unfortunately this little hound isn't mine - he belongs to my brothers in laws but my brother invited me round for puppy cuddles and as we're a close knit family I'm sure there will be many moments where Stanley will be spending time with my brothers' dogs and I have already requested designated dog sitter duties!

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

The Perfect Protein Pancakes

Okay so the title of this post is somewhat debatable and I'm sure there some other pancakes out there that are game changers but for me, I have found the perfect recipe for protein pancakes. These take 5 mins! They have the appearance and texture of them amazing american fluffy looking pancakes we all love, they taste pretty good and can be made to taste even better depending on what toppings you like or how naughty you want to be!

So for the pancakes you'll need:
1 Scoop MyProtein Gluten Free Instant Oats (Or you can blend your own oats to make oat flour)

1 Scoop My Protein Powder (I used Chocolate Caramel but to be honest you can use any flavour you like really. I didn't find the flavouring added much to the flavour anyway!)

1 Egg

A tiny bit of Oat Milk (or any milk alternative)

Blend all of these and add milk to make the mixture more a liquid formula but quite a thick consistency.

Put some Fry light (coconut one is my preference) or any type of oil in a flat pan and let it heat.

Add in the pancake mixture. I find this makes 3 good size pancakes.

Now I usually add in fresh blueberries to the pancakes as soon as I put the mixture in the pan. However if you want to make this a bit of a cheat meal you could always add in some Chocolate chips or something. I haven't tried that yet but I'm sure it work out a treat!
I topped the pancakes with fresh blueberries, chopped banana, a drizzle of agave syrup and a dusting of cinnamon.

I find these pancakes really satisfy my sweet tooth!
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