Monday, April 30, 2012

Zip Car

It can be very expensive to own a car in NYC.  Not only do you have to pay for the car, taxes and insurance, it can cost a fortune to park the thing.   Chances are the car will be parked at least a block away from where you live, and then you have the fun of trying to get it out of the garage.

We decided that we didn't need a car living in Manhattan as the public transport, although smelly and crowded, is pretty good.  However, there are always times when you need a car, so we joined 'Zip Car'.

'Zip Car' is a car sharing program that allows members to rent cars on an hourly basis.  You can pay by the hour or the day, depending on how long you need the car.  This rate also includes petrol and insurance, so it works out cheaper than hiring a car from a rental company.  They have loads of cars located throughout the city and you can search online to find ones closest to where you live.  The website is user-friendly and it's easy to book online.

You do have to pay a membership fee, but they have different packages available depending on your usage.  Car rentals start at $9 an hour during the week and $13.75 at weekends.

We have used the service a few times bid and it has always worked well.  Our car has always been ready for us and we have always been able to book a car when we needed one.
For more information visit http://www.zipcar.com/nyc/find-cars.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

UK Shops that deliver to the US

Although living in New York means access to an amazing variety of stores, sometimes it's nice to shop from places in the UK.  I have recently bought items from both the 'Next' and 'M&S' websites, who now deliver to the US.  


I don't care what anyone says, although I like Victoria Secret, I love M&S undies and missed shopping there when we moved to New York.  Now I can stock on up on all that stuff and it isn't too expensive either.  The items cost the same, but you have to pay £15 for shipping and wait 7-10 days to get your delivery, which I think is quite reasonable.  For more information and to get shopping visit http://www.marksandspencer.com/


I also bought a few bits from 'Next Direct'.  They offer free 2 day delivery to the US, which is amazing, but the products cost a bit more than in the UK.  For example a top that is £30 in the UK costs $55 (about £35) online.  So although you save on the shipping and get your stuff quicker, be prepared to pay a little more for it.  I like their Union Jack range of clothing in preparation for the Olympics, they have some fun stuff that looks great and you can be patriotic!  Visit http://www.nextdirect.com/us/en/home to view their full range.


Although 'Next' and 'M&S' aren't the most amazing shops, I bought a lot of my staple items from them in the UK.  They are reasonably priced and mostly good quality, which makes a difference as the washing machines in NYC are mostly dire!  There is also much less chance of bumping into someone with the same outfit as you!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

'Tea and Sympathy'-Restaurant Review

I really should have heeded the warnings from friends and other British expats about 'Tea and Sympathy',  an English restaurant located in the West Village, but I thought I should try it out for myself.

I went with my husband on a Friday lunch time and the place was really busy.  We went inside and it was tiny, everyone was squashed in and it was boiling hot.  Not a great start.  We were told that the wait would be 5 minutes and to wait outside on the bench.  Fair enough.

They also have a shop next door so I popped in to get some Branston pickle.  I found it to be very expensive and they were charging a lot more for items that you can easily get in your local supermarket such as Fairway or Morton Williams.  For example, they charge $4.95 for a bottle of HP Sauce, whereas Fairway only charge $3.49.

After 5 minutes I went back to the restaurant where my husband was still waiting on the bench.  Lots of people came out of the restaurant, so after a few minutes we popped our heads in again to make sure they hadn't forgotten about us.  We were met by one of the rudest English women I have ever come across.  She didn't even bother to look at me when she barked at us to wait outside, then as we were still in the doorway she kicked the door so hard it slammed on us.  Well, as you can imagine we didn't bother staying and found a lovely little French cafe down the street.

My husband was fuming and was adamant that he would write a review about the place when we got home.  However, it turns out that almost everyone who has been there was treated the same way and the Internet is full of negative reviews about the rudeness of the staff, this woman in particular.  I don't know why this place is still in business, but I would avoid it at all costs if I were you.

So, I still haven't tried the food at this awful place and won't be going back again either.  I should have listened to my friends when they told me the service was awful, the restaurant was cramped and the food was ordinary.  I'm sure you can get tea here, but I would definitely go somewhere else for sympathy.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Spa Week 2012

Spring 'Spa Week' runs from 16th-22nd April.  During this week spas taking part in the promotion offer treatments for just $50.  You can get facials, massages, luxury manicures and pedicures, acupuncture as well as a variety of other services.  

There are some good spas taking part in the event including 'Fresh', 'Exhale', 'State Salon at the Peninusla' and Elizabeth Arden's 'Red Door Spa' on 5th Avenue.  

It is a good way to try some of the more expensive places and try some treatments at a much more affordable price.  For a full list of spas taking part and the treatments on offer visit http://www.spaweek.com.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Equinox Gym

I wasn't happy at my current gym (New York Sports Club), so when my membership ran out I thought I would bite the bullet and join a more expensive place.  It seems that in NYC you have to pay a lot for a decent gym membership.  Although there are cheaper gyms out there, I found that I had to compromise on facilities, classes and in some cases, cleanliness.

There were quite a few gyms in my local area that I looked at, but I chose Equinox as they had the best facilities and classes that suited my needs.  I have been a member there for 4 months now and have to say that it's the best gym I have joined since I arrived here.  The classes are excellent and there are loads throughout the day.  If you get an all access pass membership you can use any of the Equinox gyms, which is great as some of the locations have swimming pools and offer different classes.

I'm lucky enough to be able to work out during the day, but it can get extremely busy during the evenings and weekends.  However, I rarely have to wait for a piece of cardio equipment during these times, which is good as the group classes are often extremely crowded.

The classes are great at Equinox and the majority of instructors are friendly and approachable.  'Powerstrike!' and 'Barre Burn' are my favorite classes, but there is enough of a choice to suit everyone.  You can try 'JuKari-Fit to Fly' which is based on 'Cirque Du Soleil' training, or 'FORZA' which is based on Samurai sword movements. They also have all of the regular favourites including 'Zumba', 'yoga' and spin classes. They have separate studios for spin, cardio and mind & body classes.

I have always found the staff to be friendly and the facility is always clean and tidy.  There is an endless supply of clean towels and 'Kiehls' toiletries in the changing rooms.  They have a great spa (separate post to follow), a small cafe, shop and a creche.  You can also make use of the computers and free wi-fi available throughout the gym.

There is a good atmosphere in the gym, but Equinox does have more than it's fair share of posers and people more interested in looking at themselves in the mirrors rather than actually exercising.  I find these characters amusing and they help me pass the time when I am looking for distractions while on the running machine.

Equinox is very expensive ($179 a month), but you can get a free 3-day trial if you go online.  Also, never pay the full joining fee, it is ridiculous and they often run promotions where you can get it much cheaper.  They also have special offers for referring friends (I got $250 to spend when my husband joined).

I really enjoy working out at Equinox and would recommend you give it a try.  For more information on the gyms and to get a free pass, visit http://www.equinox.com/.

Celeb Spot! Kevin Bacon!

I have seen loads of celebs lately, I must have a good eye for spotting them in the crowds!  Today I have another good sighting to share with you.

I was walking to meet a friend and saw actor Kevin Bacon crossing the road on Columbus Avenue.  Kevin Bacon has been in loads of movies including 'Footloose', 'Apollo 12', 'Hollow Man' and 'X-Men: First Class'.  He looked very inconspicuous in a black hat and dark glasses, and blended into the New York crowds without recognition.  I thought he looked great and was very excited to see him walking around my neighborhood!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Celeb Spot! Matt Dillon!

I was lucky enough to see the actor Matt Dillon heading towards Central Park in his running gear.  He was with two friends and looked great in his black outfit.

Matt Dillon has been in loads of great movies including 'Crash' and 'There's something about Mary'.  I will definitely be keeping an eye out for him on my next run in the park!


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Churchill Pub-Restaurant Review

I found out about The Churchill Pub when they started following me on Twitter and after researching them online I thought would try this 'traditional English pub' for lunch.  The pub has only been open a few months and is located on E 28th Street between Madison and Park Avenue.

I went for a late lunch on a Friday and the pub was fairly quiet which meant it was easy to get a table.  I was impressed with the layout and decor of the place, it looked very much like a British pub.  The menu consisted of typical English fare and during the week they offer lunch specials which include a soup or a salad to start.  They have an array of sandwiches for $10 or if you want something more substantial like sausage and mash or pie and chips it's $15.

I chose to have a salad followed by a cheese and Branston pickle sandwich.  My friend went for the streak pie and chips.  My salad came out pretty quickly and was fine but a bit salty.  However, we then waited over half an hour for the rest of our lunch, which isn't great if you have to get back to work or are hungry!

When our food did eventually arrive mine was less than impressive.  It was 3 slices of toast consisting of one very thin layer of cheddar cheese and one extremely thick layer of Branston pickle.  I love pickle but even I couldn't eat that much of the stuff.  It made me wonder who was cooking the food, as based on what I was served I doubt they have ever eaten an English cheese and pickle sandwich.

However, my friend's steak pie and chips was delicious.  The crust wasn't soggy and the meat was tender and of good quality.  The chips tasted authentic and luckily my friend was willing to share, otherwise I would have left hungry.

Before I left I made a quick trip to loo where they play Winston Churchill speeches into the stalls.  I'm not sure if I found that creepy or funny, but it was a talking point when I returned to the table!

I wouldn't rush back to The Churchill, but I might give it another go if I'm in the area in the future.  Some of the other dishes I saw looked great, so maybe I was just unlucky that day.

Their website (http://thechurchillny.com/) doesn't offer much information, so I would visit http://www.menupages.com/restaurants/the-churchill/ to get a better idea of the menus available and overview of the restaurant.


Celeb Spot! Ralph Lauren!

Last night I went to Madison Square Garden to watch 'Michael Jackson The Immortal" by Cirque du Soleil.  While waiting for the show to start I spotted designer Ralph Lauren taking his seat a few rows from me.  He was with a group of beautiful people and of course looked great himself!