Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Fun in the sun in the USA

Best holiday ever?  Pretty much.

We've just returned from nearly four weeks in the States.  Chicago, The Hamptons, NYC, Cleveland (!) and finally Laguna Beach in the OC to chill out before heading home.

We loved every last nano-second of the trip and each city/area wooed us with just how divine they all were.

Chicago ..

We started out in Chicago to celebrate our great friend Doug's birthday.  Three days of the Festival of Doug included much hillarity, gorgeous lunches and dinners, shopping with the girls and attending an obligatory game of baseball to watch the Chicago Cubs in action.  Dinner at the Rancic's RPM Italian was a highlight as were our many visits to Eataly - what an amazing food emporium it was - please open one in Sydney!

Hot Mamas actually!


The Hamptons ...

After saying a fond farewell to our Sydney buddies we headed to The Hamptons for a few days.  What an amazing area it is.  I so understand why people rave about it, it's such a pretty part of the world.

Our abode for the time we were there - so divine.

Everyone was in total 'get ready for July 4th weekend' mode.  Gardeners were working all over the area with interior decorator trucks parked outside many of the mansions - it is a massive weekend for sure.

The hedges were clipped into a cm of their lives - some were worked on every day we were there - over and over! 

Beautiful blooms everywhere - made us miss our own garden.

We stayed in East Hampton, in a gorgeous BnB, which we loved.  I'd leave the boys snoring away and go walking each morning, strolling down the different lanes, admiring just how beautiful the village was.  The BnB had a huge kitchen area where you could help your self to their array of homemade organic lemonades and iced teas, not to mention six different types of cookies they baked each morning.  They were so sweet - and had bought in some gorgeous gf ones for Moo and I from the local deli - and they had a hamper of our favourite drinks and cookies ready for us when we left to drive up to NYC.  Such gorgeous hosts.

I think I counted four different Ralph Lauren stores along the main street - huge in the Hamptons!

Dinner in the early evening sun at Sag Harbour

An afternoon strolling on the beach admiring the gorgeous houses was the perfect way to end our time there.  I hope we get back there again sometime soon as I loved the area so much.

Next stop ....

NYC ...

Amaze alright!

Wow - I have NO idea why I had never managed to get to the East Coast before - especially to NYC.  I fell deeply in love with the city the moment we arrived as did B and Moo.

We walked and walked and walked Manhattan - from dawn to dusk we were out and about exploring the different areas and sampling the most amazing gf food wherever we went. Ohh and a spot of shopping and art gallery dipping in and out of.  Not to mention sitting in parks just taking it all, enjoying hanging with the locals throughout the city.

Foodie highlights started with The Butcher's Daughter in Nolita, which a blogger I adore, Anna Watson Carl from The Yellow Table had mentioned many times on her blog as she lives next door and eats there regularly.

We LOVED everything about it - the menu, the atmosphere, the gorgeous staff - I wish we had a chance to return as it was soooooooo yummy and divine.  Sadly Anna was out of town when we were there - cooking her way across the country to publicise her amazing cookbook that she self published!

Risotteria in the West Village was a gf foodie's idea of heaven, with its extensive menu of amazing risottos and gf paninis and pizzas.  The gf bread sticks were out of this world and we loved it so much we returned the very next day - if only they were in Sydney too.  David's Teas across the road was divine as well and yes we bought loads of tea home - I'm sipping his Queen of Tarts right now and regretting I didn't buy more as we have nearly finished it already - it is so divine..  Eataly NYC was pretty amazing as well  (but we thought Chicago was better - sorry NYC)!  ABC Kitchen was also a firm favourite - what an amazing place and the store along from it was pure heaven.

We heart Risotteria!

It went without saying that we spent many hours exploring The Stand - what an incredible bookstore!!! I think we managed to pop in there at some stage nearly every day!  Needless to say we needed extra luggage to get us home as we bought such a swag of books.  The three of us are as addicted as one another to book shopping!

Leaving NYC was hard - we could have easily stayed another week. Moo us already planning how he can go to college there - B and I would move for a year or so in a heart-beat, although leaving the dogs and Exeter behind would be a struggle.  We need to think that through some more!

The silver lining on the dark cloud of moving on was out next stop - Cleveland Ohio.

Cleveland ...

Our travel agent did a double take when we mentioned going to Cle - it's not on everyone's 'must must must visit' lists after all.  No - it isn't however great friends of ours had moved there from Sydney and we were on our way to see them and explore their new city.

It was so lovely to spend time with them, go to yoga, which I had been missing dreadfully and slow down to a leisurely pace - no up at dawn to explore the city all day etc.

Sara took us up to Amish country for a visit which was incredible to see and explore.  Such a different way of living and the quilts the women made were incredibly beautiful.  I bought an Amish bonnet which I keep threatening Monty I'll wear around Sydney or to his school for his teachers' meetings to really wind him up!  I haven't yet - but there is still ample opportunity to spring that on hi!

Monty loved hanging out with Patrick, Belle and Tildy and the trip to the theme park went down a treat no end.

Our visit went too quickly and leaving was so hard and sad - Cle is a v long way from Sydney - and it's hard when you miss your friends so much.  Luckily they were planning on coming down to Australia for our summer over Christmas so I know it wouldn't be too long before I saw my BFF again.
The last leg of the trip was upon us and B had smartly booked for us to spend some time down at ...

Laguna Beach ...

Right in the heart of the OC - it was such a contrast being back on the West Coast after so much time of the East.  The colours are so bleached out - and the pace down in the OC is so much slower - a perfect way to end our jam-packed holiday.

We lay by the pool, swam, went for coastal walks and I popped to a yoga class or two.  It was such a lovely area and yes, we saw three of the Real Housewives looking not so very real!  Hysterical!

Such a beautiful view - we spent a lot of time loving that pool!

Leaving was hard in some respects but not in others - we were looking forward to being back home and to seeing the hounds again.  They had been on holiday with a mad older couple who adore them to heaven and beyond down in the country near our place in Exeter.  It was their first time having Sooki stay - and man did she princess it up for them.   Apparently she would only eat if sitting on Rae's lap and she liked to be hand fed!!!

Little minx - that came to a crushing end for her on her first evening back with us.  Bootcamp 101 Jossie-style!

Woody rolled his eyes in disgust at her i am sure!  Then again - he sleeps on their bed when he stays with them - he is one of their favourites - so I guess that's his version of a Princess moment too!

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