How to stay on holiday forever

Scent is so amazingly powerful, isn't it? Tommy Girl will always take me back to my early teens, as will the Body Shop's fuzzy peach shower gel (would you believe they no longer seem to make it?!). Combined, I'm on holiday in New Caledonia with my French class again.

Every time I travel, I keep this in mind and buy myself something that will take me back to that holiday every time I smell it. The last few times it's been perfume – London is Coco Mademoiselle, Paris is Hermès Un Jardin en Mediteranée, and now, LA and New York are Le Labo Neroli 36.

The best way I find to ensure it has the effect you want it to is to wear it a few times while still away, on days or evenings when you're pretty sure it's going to be a good one. For example, I wore Neroli 36 when we took Amelie to the Imagination Playground, and again when H1 and I went out to dinner by ourselves (gasp!).

Then, just bring it back home and wear it whenever you want to relive those holiday good times.

Room fragrance can have the same effect. If you're in a store, hotel or restaurant that smells particularly good, ask what they're using – it may well be a scented candle that you can buy and burn at home to recreate the same vibe. Sometimes it won't be available (as happened to me in the Marina del Rey hotel, which is literally the best smelling hotel I've ever been in) but often, it will be, and this is such a nice way of making your home feel just a touch more relaxing.

Finally, a scented candle or diffuser that pulls together different components of your holiday can help you relive it in a less direct way. This is what I'm looking for now, seeing as I couldn't buy the Marina del Rey scent. I'm after something a little citrus-y (for the fruit in LA), a little salty (the ocean) and a little cedar-y (Central Park). I'll let you know if I do end up finding the scent I know I'm after – it's one of those ones where I'll know it when I smell it! 

Have you ever done this to extend that holiday feeling, deliberately or otherwise?

Friday reading

It's Friday! The weather is horrendous here and all over New Zealand. My in-laws are meant to be coming up from Hawkes Bay for the weekend but have already had to delay their journey by a day. Fingers crossed there's no snow stopping them tomorrow!

Hawkes Bay during better weather times.

Hawkes Bay during better weather times.

Cosying up and reading seems a very good way to get through this – and below is a great list of reads for those of you who are keen. There are also some cool things going on around Auckland this weekend, though, like the last few days of The Body Laid Bare at Auckland Art Gallery, and the first weekend of Wildlife Photographer of the Year at Auckland Museum. The Remuera Bastille Day Festival sounds fun too. Ideally, you'd make a whole day of it and start at La Cigale for pastries and coffee (tip: coffee at La Cigale itself is rubbish, stop at Red Rabbit on your way up). before heading along to the festival, then spend your evening at Augustus Bistro or Paris Butter making friends with du pain et du vin. That's how I'd do it, anyway.

On with the weekend! And here are some fun links...

Man Repeller bought a shirt on Instagram. (The story is not about the shirt.)

Is anyone else watching The Block? Jane Yee's recaps are laugh-out-loud funny, whether you are or not. 

Contemplating the future of work is so interesting. Could your job work in a flash organisation?

I bought these pants and am now eagerly awaiting their arrival. Apparently they look good on everybody.

When should kids get their first mobile phone? (If Amelie had her way, at nine months!) There doesn't seem to be an easy answer...

Oh, I love cookbooks so much. (True story: nearly bought the first one on this list in LA but decided it'd be too heavy to cart around. Regrets, I have them).

Speaking of cooking, you can't go past a great grilled cheese in winter. 

Have a great weekend! Let me know if you end up eating French food. Or any great food, I'm not here to discriminate. x

 

 

Three weeks of New York gloriousness!

I am SO HAPPY we got to back to New York this year. It had been nearly three years since I had last been there, but not much has changed. I felt at home instantly. It helped that we were staying on the Upper West Side, which I do very much consider my own neighbourhood. We were further down than we used to live, but I headed up to the 80s a few times for yoga classes, and time just compressed as I walked around there. It could have easily been four years ago, when I still lived there. But it was better, because Hayden and I were there with Amelie.

The Bethesda Fountain in Central Park.

The Bethesda Fountain in Central Park.

Amelie and me in Central Park.

Amelie and me in Central Park.

Boaters on the lake in Central Park.

Boaters on the lake in Central Park.

We were lucky enough to be staying in an apartment mere steps away from Central Park, thanks to the generosity of our friends who were in Italy. This meant we went into the park a lot – nearly every day, in fact. Absolutely no complaints here. Such a beautiful park, and such a great place to take Amelie! The Heckscher Playground was close by, so she got lots of playtime (she's not big enough yet for most of it, but she likes the swings and she loves watching the other kids play).

Get off me Daddy, there's a whole city to explore!

Get off me Daddy, there's a whole city to explore!

We also went into the park a few times for early dinner picnics. So much fun, and something I'm really looking forward to doing here in summer also. We may not have anything quite like Central Park in Auckland, but we have plenty of beautiful spots to hit up! 

Afternoon picnic/early evening dinner in the park.

Afternoon picnic/early evening dinner in the park.

Travelling with a baby is obviously completely different from travelling without one, but in no way do I feel that we missed out on anything. We made sure we put lots of activities for Amelie on the agenda, as well as for ourselves. Luckily, New York has many very cool things for babies. We went to the library several times, for music and storytime, down to South St Seaport for a morning at the Imagination Playground, and to the Seaglass Carousel in Battery Park. 

Amelie in the sandpit at the Imagination Playground.

Amelie in the sandpit at the Imagination Playground.

The Seaglass Carousel.

The Seaglass Carousel.

Down at the bottom of Manhattan.

Down at the bottom of Manhattan.

For us, we did a little shopping, saw friends, and ate some very good food. We also spent quite a bit of time just relaxing outside and walking aimlessly – not necessarily a thing you think of when you think of New York, but it's actually a really good place to just be. And then, of course, there was that park...

SUCH good times. New York is a fantastic city. Can't wait until we go back.

This kid! Amelie in the park.

This kid! Amelie in the park.

A few good things

It's so nice being home. Holidays are amazing but there's no place like home, is there? Feeling very fortunate these days to have lovely holidays and a lovely home I'm always happy to return to.

We spent the weekend up north, doing some work around the weekend home. It was such a nice weekend! The sun came out (in patches) and so did all the people. Walking around the market on Saturday, bumping into friend after friend, I realised how much I love that little community. Such great people up there. Such great times.

How was your weekend? Tell me a few of your good things!

This little girl is growing up so fast!

This little girl is growing up so fast!

When you see your name in a adorable bookshop in Brooklyn, you take a picture.

When you see your name in a adorable bookshop in Brooklyn, you take a picture.

This kid thinks I'm hilarious (I'll take it).

This kid thinks I'm hilarious (I'll take it).

New York style brunch with friends to celebrate our return.

New York style brunch with friends to celebrate our return.

Schippers beer at Mangawhai market. Tried the Scallywag over the weekend. Insanely good.

Schippers beer at Mangawhai market. Tried the Scallywag over the weekend. Insanely good.

A few days in LA

So my little family is just back from a few blissful weeks in the States. We spent most of our time in New York, but spent a couple of nights in LA on the way over, and another night on the way back, in a bid to ease the travel for all of us. And I cannot recommend highly enough doing this if you are travelling with little ones. I'm still delighted at how well it worked, and how much fun we had.

Relaxing on our deck in Marina del Rey on the last night of our holiday.

Relaxing on our deck in Marina del Rey on the last night of our holiday.

We stayed in Santa Monica on our way over, basing ourselves at the Shore Hotel. H1 and I have stayed there before and just love it – the hotel is beautiful, the staff are smiley and friendly, and it's right by the beach. Upon check-in, they gave us a stuffed starfish toy and a bucket and spade for Amelie, which is one of the cutest things I've ever experienced in a hotel. The bucket and spade is now one of her very favourite toys (she likes to turn it upside down and use it as a drum).

Swimming in Santa Monica. This kid is such a water baby!

Swimming in Santa Monica. This kid is such a water baby!

Santa Monica is a pretty great spot for kids and adults alike. I was really keen to see more of downtown and central LA this time, in particular Silver Lake, Griffith Park and LACMA, but with such a short time and Amelie along for the ride it just didn't make sense. What we did in our time in Santa Monica – swimming in the pool, exploring the beach, the pier, the farmer's market, and bussing down to Venice to spend some time around Abbot Kinney and explore the beautiful, faded old architecture and the sleek, contemporary new architecture that sits alongside it (and is no less beautiful, in my opinion) – kept all of us happy and entertained. It may change as she gets older, but for now we're finding that any compromise in our lifestyle is really minimal, and what compromise there is just doesn't matter all that much for us. We do things for the baby, then we do things for ourselves, and the balance just works. Taza has written about how in her family, each person chooses something they want to do when travelling, and when they're doing that thing there is no complaining, because another person's choice is coming up. I love this. Amelie is obviously too young to choose what she wants to do, but I see this working so well for us in our future, as it's already what we're doing now (we may choose for her, but we choose honestly!)

On our way back, we spent a night at the Marina del Rey hotel, in Marina del Rey (fancy that!). This is the perfect place to be if you need to be close to the airport, without actually staying in an airport hotel. We were feeling pretty jaded by the time we landed back in LA, and had that end-of-holiday feeling where you just can't wait to be home. The service cross-country had been typically terrible (I have never had good service on an American airline – how do they get away with it?!) and after getting stuck in a stuffy, hot lift for about 15 minutes, and our driver not turning up to collect us, we were all rather grumpy by the time we checked in. None of this was the hotel's fault, but they cheered us right up by upgrading our room, giving us room service credit, free breakfast, and a super-late checkout of 6pm the next day. Anyone who's tried to work travel around a baby's naptime can appreciate how amazing that last perk in particular was! 

Golden Road IPA. How beautiful is that design! It's really good beer, too.

Golden Road IPA. How beautiful is that design! It's really good beer, too.

There's nothing to do in Marina del Rey, but for such a short amount of time that really doesn't matter. We swam in the hotel pool, went for a walk around the marina, and relaxed outside while Amelie crawled around. It was wonderfully relaxing and such a perfect way to break up the flights home. The hotel itself is beautiful, and having a suite with a deck overlooking the water meant we were totally content to stay put and just relax. Having a stopover on the way back also helped reduce our jet lag down to almost nothing. It was brilliant, and I'm definitely planning on having stopovers both outbound and inbound next time we travel any great distance. It may be my number one travel tip, actually, especially when travelling with children.

Sunset over the marina.

Sunset over the marina.

Thanks LA – you're pretty great. Can't wait until next time. x