24 March 2013

New York 2013

The first of my New York posts finally! After our amazing Costa Rica and Panama travels we stopped in New York for a week . We had visited almost exactly three years before and were very relieved to experience a much warmer winter week. It was still a huge shock after a month of summer heat in Central America but we lucked out with sunny skies and a much milder temperature than last time.

We stayed at the Marcel at Gramercy close to the Flatiron and spent our first day in search of warm clothes! We tried not to repeat too many of the sights we had seen last time and even after two visits we still have a lot left to see.


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You have to take a classic NYC cab shot!

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Brilliant sunshine in the city.

We decided to bite the bullet and pay way over the odds to watch the NY Knicks play again, they were playing the Boston Celtics who we've also seen play before . Matt's a big basketball fan and I love the atmosphere, the entertainment and a little star spotting! I'd definitely recommend to anyone visiting to go to a game and book months in advance if you want to get reasonable priced tickets.

Head to the merchandise store, kit yourself out in team colours, grab a foot long dog and pitcher of beer and cheer along with the die hard fans!

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My favourite star spot - Mr Big (SATC) is sat on the front row..!

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Next stop.
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We didn't see much of Brooklyn on this visit (something for next time maybe) as we spent quite some time heading across the bridge into Manhattan. The skyline is incredible and the bridge is beautiful. Again if you get a nice day it's an hour or two well spent.

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Who's that lady standing tall!

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Flag flying proud.

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Lovers locks.

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A very special memory for someone.

Do you have a favourite place you visit in NY?


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17 March 2013

An Elemis and Benefit treat at Harvey Nichols Birmingham

Last Saturday I had a treat of a morning lined up for me at Harvey Nichols, Mailbox, Birmingham. I arrived expecting a little chat through the products at Elemis and maybe a little make-over at the Benefit counter, instead I was thrown into a luxurious pampering experience.

I was taken to the Elemis counter and offered Champagne and macaron, before being offered a hot stone back massage or facial. Having never experienced the hot stone treatment before I was very excited and opted for that. The treatment room was lit by a Space NK candle and I immediately started to relax whilst lying down on the treatment table. 

Kerchia my therapist lightly exfoliated my de-hydrated skin and chose the famous Frangipani Monoi oil from the Spa at Home range for my massage. If you have smelt the oil before you know it will whisk you away to tropical shores with one little sniff. The oil was applied liberally over my back and I was massaged into a deep relaxed state, that was before the hot stones were smoothed down and around my back deeper into the knots and tension.The heated stones have longer lasting benefits to a hands only massage as the heat works deeper into your muscles. I was by now, ready to drop off and most disappointed when the treatment came to the end.

I did get a little micro facial to take off any make-up and moisturise my skin ready for the next appointment at Benefit.......



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I sat down at the Benefit counter greeted by Ros the Benefit Brow Bar aficionado, handed another glass of pink Champagne and offered my brows a magical make over. Ros was a little excited when I revealed I hadn't touched my eyebrows in nearly ten years, not even tweezing at home! First off my brows were trimmed through a comb before being tinted, we selected the light brown colour. Two applications of the tint were applied as I have several white blonde hairs that needed taking down a shade.

Next was the wax shaping, desperate not to end up with skinny mini brows I was assured we'd keep my natural shape just accentuating the natural arch a little more. I was shown where your brows should start, arch and end and i'm lucky enough to have a good natural shape to them. The waxing isn't that painful, just a few little stings and it's all over. Despite the pinkness, I was over the moon, all of the little invisible blonde hairs that the eye doesn't see but your make-up clings to were gone!

I switched to the other side of the Benefit counter where Farkanda was waiting to beautify me even more. I chose a natural look with a little colour for my eyes. 

The World Famous Neutrals pallette was used and a light smokey purple was applied with the shimmery white for highlighting in the corners and up to my newly preened brows. A smokey grey eyeliner smudged along the upper and lower lashline and the famous They're real mascara swept over my lashes. I really like the brush for this mascara very similar to my much loved Chanel Inimitable.

I was then handed an exotic cocktail and we commenced!

Porefessional was applied over certain areas before the Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow foundation was swept over my face. I was pleasantly surprised with the foundation as so many are drying on my skin, this gave my skin a glowing healthy look with a medium coverage.

The very pretty Sugar bomb blusher was dabbed on my cheeks and a pink lipstick added. My brows needed very little attention but the Brow Zing pallete filled in any natural little gaps.

This is the finished look which I was over the moon with, I never wear colour on my eyes always opting for smokey smudgy or natural creams and browns and loved the lilac that made my blue eyes pop a little. 



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If you fancy a relaxing treat, the Elemis hot stone massage should be top of your list and for an instant polished look you must book a Benefit Brow treatment, I am totally converted and will be heading back once a month for more of the same!

Thank you Harvey Nichols Birmgham and all of the lovely ladies that transformed me last week.

What are your favourite Elemis and Benefit products, what should I try next?





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8 March 2013

Cote Brasserie - Mailbox Birmingham

Last Saturday Matt and I were invited to dinner at Cote Brasserie in the Mailbox, Birmingham. The restaurant was described to me as the jewel in the Mailbox's crown and having never been there before we jumped at the chance. 

If you hadn't guessed from the name it is a French brasserie with several others dotted around the country. This location is perfect with the canal literally steps outside the door and neighbours some great bars for after dinner drinks.

When we were seated we were bought a bottle of the house filtered water whilst browsing the wine and food menu.

Matt opted to order a bottle of French Sauvignon for us both and here is what we had to eat.....

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The saucisson sec as a little nibble, my favourite cured meat with cornichons.

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My starter was the Boudin Noir, a creamy soft black pudding served with a perfectly poached egg and apples. I could eat this every day, simply divine.


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Matt ordered the Scottish smoked salmon with capers, shallots, dill and creme fraiche which arrived with some toasted crusty bread.

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My rare 7oz fillet steak was melt in the mouth, so soft and I spread the Roquefort butter over which melted into a strong creamy glaze. The frites were crisp and although I didn't eat much of the watercress it was a nice to have a little green on the plate. The beef was 30 day aged Hereford cattle and chargrilled to perfection.

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Matt chose the lamb rump cooked medium, served with roasted vegetables, new potatoes and veal jus. I had a little taster of this and the lamb was succulent, sweet and meltingly soft, a very good choice!

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I was absolutely full after my main course but really wanted to sample a pudding so chose the slightly lighter option of frozen berries with warm white chocolate sauce. The perfect decision for anyone wanting something refreshing yet sweet to finish their meal.

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Matt had the Cote pudding special, their creme caramel. Oh my gosh I have never tried anything that comes close to this.  A traditional set vanilla custard with dark caramel sauce and a drizzle of cream. This was so indulgent and rich with the dark caramel adding a hint of bitter and sweet, i'll be dreaming about this for a while.

The restaurant is modern yet cosy, the flooring and tables feel authentic and the level of service was superb. Leslie who served us during the evening really knew the menu inside out and revealed they taste the menu and wines every two weeks to really get to know and recommend to their customers.

My only suggestion would be to make more use of the great location outside. There is a good amount of outside seating and dining tables and it would be great to have some outside heaters and blankets where you could wrap up in the colder evenings when you might not want a meal or have a table booked whilst enjoying a glass of wine and maybe one of the creme caramels ....

Promise me if you visit, that you'll order one!

You'll find the restaurant here on the canalside of the Mailbox 0121 6311587 and more locations here Cote restaurants