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Travel Guide: Philadelphia

I want to start today’s blog by wishing my lovely husband a Happy 31st Birthday!

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I like to think of Philadelphia as New York’s friendlier, leafier and artier little sister. It is rich in history and was actually Ian’s favourite stop on our East Coast road trip this summer. We both loved our three days here and managed to pack a lot in! Here are my recommendations for a long weekend in this beautiful city.

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EAT

Chifa Food Truck

Found at the Spruce Street Harbor Park, this Peruvian-Japanese fusion may sound like a strange combination but it works brilliantly! We had ribs, chicken wings and fish tacos (pretty much my three favourite foods!) and they were all delicious.

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Franklin Ice Cream

Something of a Philadelphia institution, the ice cream selection was amazing and scoops are served in these cool cardboard boxes too.

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Reading Terminal Market

One of my favourite places in the city, this huge market houses so many different food shops and restaurants, you can get a great meal here. We stopped off for breakfast where I had a hot, buttery pretzel, followed by a doughnut!

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Campo’s

You cannot go to Philadelphia and not have a Philly cheesesteak and my tour guide assures me Campo’s does one of the best! I cannot claim to be an expert but it was pretty damn good.

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The Foodery

Like beer? If so, then you will love this place. Ian and I worked our way through several craft ales and I know we would be here on a weekly basis if we lived nearer! We ate here too which was tasty but the fridges full of beers are the real stars.

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DO

A Bus Tour

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Yes, you will look like a total tourist but we felt that there was so much history in this city and we wanted to find out as much as possible without having to walk around with our heads in a guidebook. We saw things we probably wouldn’t have seen had we just explored the city by foot and our tour guides were all local so we got some good bar and restaurant recommendations from them!

Swing in a hammock at Spruce Street Harbor Park

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My favourite place in the city! We walked here on our first night and it was amazing to sit by the river as the sun set with cocktails and a selection of food trucks to eat at. You get a fantastic view of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and if you’re lucky, you will find a free hammock to relax in.

Visit the Eastern State Penitentiary

If you fancy a slightly alternative museum then you will love this derelict prison. It was quite spooky in places but I loved wandering around with my audio tour, finding out a bit more about this fascinating site.

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Run up the ‘Rocky Steps’

It’s just got to be done!

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STAY

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We stayed at the Doubletree by Hilton which I would highly recommend. It was very central, had amazing views from the corner windows and you also get warm chocolate chip cookies when you arrive!

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Sunday Catch-up #32

This week I have been…

Making: pie!

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Going: to watch Bristol City play with my bestie

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Wearing: my new winter boots…in August!

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Eating: one of my Spanish omelettes

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Drinking: this Earl Grey Tea Latte

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Reading: To Kill a Mockingbird

Watching: Jurassic World (for the second time!)

Buying: lots of fruit and veg

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Planning: on making the most of my last week off

Cooking: a new Coca Cola chicken recipe

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Baking: white chocolate and chai tea bread

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Writing: my holiday posts and reminiscing

Favouriting: the Dismaland website, then we decided to just try our luck queuing up and we had the best day here!

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Working on: the three essays I need to do

Trying to decide: who my favourite is on GBBO…Tamal maybe?

Wishing: for a few more weeks of light nights and pink sunsets

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Enjoying: our new lawn

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Needing: to remember the words on my new mug (thanks Lu!)

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Feeling: strangely happy at the thought of going back to work

Giggling at: my lovely colleagues (we had a grown-up sleepover and a lot of sangria!)

Travel Diaries – Atlantic City

If you haven’t already, you can read Part One and Two of our New York trip!

Day Six – Saturday 1st August

It was our final morning in New York so we went for one last run in Central Park, packed our suitcases and popped out to a deli for breakfast bagels before being picked up by our airport shuttle. We picked our car up at Newark Airport (which meant we avoided scary central New York traffic!) and set off to Atlantic City. We shared the driving there, stopping off for lunch at the busiest service station before getting our first glimpse of the city – it reminded me so much of Vegas!

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We were staying at the Sheraton Hotel which was a couple of blocks from the Boardwalk and absolutely huge (we had two double beds in our room.) This hotel is also where Miss America is held each year so there was memorabilia everywhere and some sort of child beauty pageant going on too so I kept finding little girls with full faces of make-up on in the lifts!

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When I booked this holiday, even my travel agent wasn’t sure why I wanted to go to Atlantic City, and people we met whilst in the States looked bemused with this choice of location too. I think it has a reputation similar to our Blackpool but I have to say I absolutely loved it and would definitely go back! Yes, it’s brash and has casinos and a funfair but it also has excellent shopping, beautiful beaches, great restaurants and every evening we enjoyed walks along the Boardwalk with gorgeous pink sunsets. We were only here for three nights but it was a lovely mini beach holiday.

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After a quick change and cup of tea, we headed out to explore. We were staying right next to a huge outlet shopping centre (my dream location!) but wanted to go straight down to the Boardwalk and see the sea.

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We walked all the way along to the Taj Mahal (Sex and the City fans will remember this episode!) where I persuaded Ian to have a go on the fair ground with me before going for our belated anniversary meal.

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We ate at Ruth’s Chris Steak House (which always makes me laugh as my Mum is called Ruth and my brother is called Chris!) and had an amazing meal of steak, lobster and lobster mac ‘n’ cheese followed by cupcakes in our room!

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Day Seven – Sunday 2nd August

We woke up and I had a lie-in whilst Ian was good and went for a run along the Boardwalk. That morning was dedicated to shopping and I did some serious damage!

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We met for lunch in what became our favourite place to eat and drink during our stay – Wingcraft, dedicated to chicken wings and craft beers.

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After we were fed and watered, I was itching to get in the sea so we dropped off our shopping bags, got in our swimming costumes and hit the beach for the afternoon.

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That evening, we walked along the Boardwalk to the Tropicana hotel and a restaurant called Cuba Libre where I had found a 15-course Cuban taster menu…yep, 15 courses!

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I really liked this hotel and would probably stay here should we visit Atlantic City again. The restaurant was also fab. We started with Cuba Libres (cherry for me, coconut for Ian) before embarking on the biggest meal of my life!

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We started with plantain chips and three delicious dips including an amazing black bean hummus I will definitely try and recreate, before moving onto our starters which consisted of shrimp ceviche, chicken empanada (a South American pasty!), beef filled potato croquettes and spinach and manchego balls. All four of these starters were served with their own sauce and salad and I loved them all.

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We were pretty stuffed at this point but powered on to the main courses which included steak, mahi mahi fish with squid ink rice and pulled pork with black beans. We had rice, beans and plantain wedges on the side but barely touched them if I’m being honest. Sadly, we were defeated and had to ask for our puddings to go…and they were delicious for breakfast the next morning!

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Day Eight – Monday 3rd August

Today was quite possibly our favourite day of the whole holiday! After our Cuba Libre puddings in bed, we hopped in the car and headed to Cape May. I read that this was voted the best beach resort in New Jersey and I am so glad we made the trip.

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This was possibly the most beautiful and quintessentially American beach resort I have ever been to. There were no chain restaurants or huge malls, just local family businesses and cafes, pretty pastel-coloured beach front houses and a stunning beach.

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We parked up and hit the beach first. You do have to pay a daily rate to use the beach here but it was absolutely spotless on there so we didn’t mind too much.

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Now one thing my Mum and I have in common is our love of big waves – you know, the kind that almost knock you over! Cape May had these huge waves and it was amazing playing in them and trying to stay on your feet when a particularly big one hit. My highlight of the whole holiday however came when we were in the sea and looked out to the horizon to see a pod of about 15 dolphins playing about 20 metres away from us. It was so beautiful and I could have stayed in that moment forever.

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We were getting peckish then so had a quick shower, dried off and went to a little beachfront café for clam chowder, grilled cheese sandwiches, the seafood catch of the day, fries and root beers.

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After lunch, I surprised Ian with a trip to the Cape May Brewery. I had tried to get us a tour of Brooklyn Brewery when we were in New York but couldn’t so thought this would be a good substitute. The bar staff here were so friendly and we spent some time in the garden working our way through the various ales.

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For our last night in Atlantic City, after washing the sea and sand off, we went for one more meal at Wingcraft where I combined two of my favourite foods; chicken wings and pizza. Sounds weird but was amazing!

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We realised through dinner that we hadn’t done any gambling in AC so walked along the Boardwalk (where we saw a cool light and sound show and my hair grew inexplicably huge due to the heat, sea breeze and humidity) and managed to lose all of our dollars on the slots and roulette!

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Not a typical holiday destination for us Brits, I would wholeheartedly recommend Atlantic City and Cape May for a mini beach break whilst on the East Coast – we had a fantastic time! x

Restaurant Review – Timbrell’s Yard, Bradford on Avon

Today’s post was an unplanned lunchtime visit but one that made me very happy to have found this restaurant! A few weeks ago, Ian and I were having a wander around Bradford on Avon’s summer fair and felt a bit peckish. There weren’t that many food stalls so we were on our way to buy some picnic ingredients when we stumbled across this place.

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Timbrell’s Yard is tucked away from the main high street, right next to the river, and is housed in a beautiful Grade 2 listed building. As it was a lovely sunny day, we opted to sit outside as we looked through the menu. We decided to get some little bites to share from the bar menu and I think this was a great way to get a feel for how good the food is at this place.

We had chorizo sausage rolls, served with fennel seeds and a great crunchy apple slaw, salami chipolatas with a spicy hummus, popcorn cuttlefish with paprika mayonnaise (a lovely twist on calamari and aioli) and cauliflower and smoked cheese croquettes with a truffle aioli. I loved the way everything was served with an individual dip or accompaniment which really completed the food.

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My favourite dish however was the BBQ beef brisket served with a very spicy hot sauce. The meat was so tender and well-cooked and absolutely delicious – I was very tempted to order a second portion!

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I popped inside to have a look at the dining area and it is such a gorgeous space. The menu is seasonal and local and we are definitely looking forward to coming back soon.

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I am now off to carry on tackling our mountain of holiday ironing and packing up our suitcases ready for our holibobs! x

This Week’s Nails – Peach ‘n’ Birdcages

It has been a lovely sunny Saturday here and after a lazy morning we headed over to South Wraxall (down the road from us) for their village fete. It was a real country village affair with cider, BBQs, music, dog agility and even some little piggies snoozing in the sun!

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I know today’s post has quite a random title but I realised I hadn’t shared any nail art for a while! In an attempt to use up some more of my nail stickers and transfers before I buy anymore, I rediscovered these pretty bird cage transfers and paired them with a pretty peach colour – this is Sorbet by Sally Hansen.

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This shade took three coats until I was happy with it but it a beautiful shiny pink with a hint of shimmer too.

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I decided to use these birdcage water decals on my ring finger and thumb and I love the finished result. x

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Latest Purchases #76 – A Summery ASOS Haul

I may have been a tiny bit excited at being able to be outside without a coat on so I made a little ASOS order for some summery items. I am holding off buying too much for our holiday this summer as a) I have loads b) I am trying to lose a few pounds before we go and c) I plan on doing a lot of shopping when we are in the States too!

ASOS had a mini sale on their dresses and playsuits so I decided it would be a good time to invest.

First up a dress

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Pretty standard for me – I wear a dress to work every day and I like the light material and the print of this although Ian told me it is bordering on slightly gangsta/ bandana material but I think I can pull it off?!

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It is smock-style so not quite as flattering as my usual skater-style dresses but it is so light and floaty that I think it works.

Next, a bit of a daring buy for me…my first ever playsuit!

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Now I have never even tried on a playsuit yet I am now a convert. I thought these would only suit super skinny girls but it turns out that certain styles are really flattering on hourglass shapes i.e. those of us with boobs, a bum and a waist! I love the print on this playsuit and it is made from a really light, floaty, silky material. There are lots of nice details such as capped sleeves, pockets, a tie-waist and pretty wooden buttons. It is really flattering on and will be a perfect summer outfit…the only thing I’m slightly worried about is having to unbutton everything when I need the loo but I’m sure it’ll be fine!

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The final items are footwear. I had been after some of the Chanel-style espadrilles (plain white with a navy leather ‘cap’ on the toes) but whilst perusing ASOS I saw this double pack and thought I would get so much wear out of them.

This two-pack of espadrilles come in a pale denim and anchor print and a dark denim bleached-effect. It goes without saying that they are super comfortable and you know I can’t resist an anchor-print item.

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An easy way to rock the double-denim look too!

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So there you have it – a nice mini haul with a nod towards sunnier days. I am off into Bath today to get my hair cut and coloured then have coffee and cake with my bro in the sunshine x

Our Next Adventure…

Today I wanted to share some very exciting news. Nope, not pregnant…we’ve just booked our summer holiday!

Ian and I are off to the States again in July and August for a few weeks to explore a bit of the East Coast. We love America and despite a few visits there, there is still so much we haven’t seen.

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So far, our itinerary involves flying to New York (where we’ll be for my 30th birthday), driving down the coast to Atlantic City for a few days by the sea (and our 2nd wedding anniversary), driving to Philadelphia and then ending up in Washington DC.

We have been to New York before but the other three places have been on my ‘to-do’ list for a long time and I think all four stops offer something completely different from the fast-paced city life of New York, to the boardwalks and casinos of Atlantic City to the historical cities of Philly and DC.

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Obviously the countdown has already begun for me (186 days!) and it is acting as great motivation to keep up with eating healthy and exercising more as well as having something to look forward to in these cold and wet months.

My planning instincts have already kicked in and I am busy researching places to eat and drink at, where to visit and what to add to my shopping list (so far it looks like there will be a huge Sephora haul for some new make-up and beauty brands!) I am open to any recommendations for shops, restaurants and must-see places in all 4 locations but I also very much enjoy this stage of shopping around and reading reviews to find the perfect place for brunch or a burger.

I’ll try not to bang on about this trip too much on the blog although I’m sure my excitement will overspill from time to time!

Finally, I have to mention our amazing travel agent Natalie! I email her with all sorts of crazy travel ideas and she always manages to piece everything together, find amazing hotels and take a large amount of stress away from someone as indecisive as me. I highly recommend dropping her an email next time you are planning a getaway.