Brooklyn Bridge

5 Reasons Brooklyn ‘Trumps’ Manhattan

Ok excuse the topical pun but we need to let you know that New York isn’t just all about Manhattan.

Sure, you have the famous landmarks, Central Park, Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Wall Street to name just a selection.  But you also have a very tourist oriented version of the wonderful, diverse, sprawling urbanisation of New York.

Sticking to Manhattan means you won’t get to see the beautiful oasis that is Prospect Park – in our view a much more pleasant green space than Central Park.  You’ll miss out on walking the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset and enjoying the delights of Dumbo and Brooklyn Heights, maybe taking in a pizza at the famous Juliana’s (you might need to queue up!).

So here’s our 5 top reasons for taking in Brooklyn over Manhattan.

1) Brooklyn Bridge

Ok, so it is possible to venture onto Brooklyn Bridge without actually going to Brooklyn, but it’s hard to beat a stroll across the wooden pedestrianised walkway as the sun sets behind the Manhattan skyline and then end up in Brooklyn Heights or Dumbo (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) for a quick look round the shops before pizza at Juliana’s (he used to own Grimaldi’s and is the original Grimaldi, so don’t be fooled into going to the wrong place as they are almost next door to each other!).

Word of caution while crossing the bridge – there is a section for pedestrians and one for cyclists, don’t get run over trying to take a perfect picture because you’ve wandered onto the cycle path!

And once you’ve made it across, the views back to Manhattan from either Dumbo or Brooklyn Heights across the water are truly spectacular.

View from Dumbo at night

View from Dumbo at night

 2) Prospect Park

Manhattan’s Central Park is ranked as the top thing to do in New York by TripAdvisor – but we believe that Prospect Park is superior for those looking for a retreat to nature in the midst of dense urbanisation.  With over 240 bird species sighted in Prospect Park, alongside turtles, bullfrogs, bats and the impossibly cute chipmunks, it’s an urban nature lover’s paradise.

Prospect Park

Prospect Park


Cute little chipmunk in Prospect Park

The design and flow of the Brooklyn park is perfectly designed with a wonderful mix of open grassland, water, and forest. Lose yourself among the twisty windy undulating forest trails surrounded by birdsong and the chirping of the chipmunks.  Laze out in the sun on the mile long field and get some grounding on the lush grass, feeling the earth beneath your toes.

Prospect Park is smaller than Central Park, but more manageable to navigate.  And the neighbourhoods to the north and east are some of the best in the city.

3) Local Neighbourhoods

Away from the tourist trails are the Brooklyn neighbourhoods that make up some of the best parts of New York.

Brooklyn Stoop Sale

Brooklyn Stoop Sale

You’ll feel more at home here than in any part of New York and the more relaxed atmosphere is the perfect antidote to a hectic day of sightseeing in Manhattan.  Parts of Brooklyn are among the most desirable in the whole of New York (Park Slope being ranked as New York’s most desired neighbourhood) but it’s still not recommended to just go anywhere.  Stick to the following locations and you’ll be doing fine:

  • Park Slope
  • Prospect Heights
  • Carroll Gardens
  • Brooklyn Heights
  • Williamsburg
  • Greenpoint

Although many other areas are delightful and bring their own flavour to this lovely part of New York.

 4) Shopping/Dining

A day perusing the independent outlets dotted around Park Slope mixed in with a beer and a bite to eat in one of a number of fantastic bars and restaurants is a day well spent.

Brooklyn Industries Store

Brooklyn Industries Store

From Park Slope’s main 5th and 7th streets, you are only a few blocks east from Prospect park and the weekly farmers market at Grand Army Plaza, outside the Brooklyn Library.

North of Prospect Park is Prospect Heights, another expensive brownstone neighbourhood with less going on but still some great bars and shops.  A trip to Cheryl’s Global Soul is an absolute must – try the pancakes with chantilly cream and berries, with lashings of maple syrup.

Further north and only a couple of stops from Manhattan on the L train, Williamsburg is a key location for the trendy artist and hipster.  Lots of independent bars, stores and home to one of the biggest flea markets in the city, it is also home to the UK’s very own world-famous doodler Jon Burgerman.

If mixing with hipsters isn’t your thing then head down to Carroll Gardens – not completely dissimilar to Park Slope – but a little more affordable and with a distinctly Italian influence and plenty of leafy streets, cafes, and boutiques to enjoy.

Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

5) Accommodation

It’s generally cheaper to stay in Brooklyn than in Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn is under an extensive redevelopment with new hotels popping up all over the place. It’s perfectly situated for walking distance to Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, and all the important and trendy areas.

You’re also not far from the Barclays Centre for major sporting events including basketball and ice hockey (depending on the time of year) check before you travel for listings and tickets.

One of the new hotel developments Even Hotels has health and fitness at its soul, with free gym and fitness equipment in every room, weird fitness videos on the TV every time you turn it on, and a lovely range of healthy eating options in the bar/cafe on the ground floor.

The hotel is just steps from easy access into Manhattan on the subway and you can be at Times Square in 30 minutes, Wall Street in just 12 minutes (3 stops).

Even better, you are a few minutes from the main shops including an H&M, Banana Republic, Macy’s, and a massive Century 21 (think TK Maxx for UK readers).

The Century 21 is located within a major new development that incorporates a cinema, shops and an incredible food hall named Dekalb Market Hall that contains all and every cuisine you can imagine and seems to be the go-to place to eat for locals.

Dekalb Food Hall

Dekalb Food Hall

So, in case you missed them, the five reasons are:

  1. Brooklyn Bridge
  2. Prospect Park
  3. Local Neighbourhoods
  4. Shopping/dining
  5. Accommodation

Stay in Brooklyn and you’ll be feeling like a local in no time.

Some helpful links below:

Even Hotel Downtown Brooklyn

Dekalb Market Hall

Carroll Gardens

Park Slope Guide

New York Subway Map



The Grand Tour

No, not the Amazon Prime version of TopGear with Jeremy ‘Marmite’ Clarkson and his gang. This Grand Tour is a cultural journey across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire at four of the UK’s most distinguished arts institutions.

Running March to June 2018, this series of landmark exhibitions includes major shows by photomontage artist, Linder Sterling, at Nottingham Contemporary and Chatsworth, a delicate range of lithophanes by Clare Twomey at The Harley Gallery, and a compelling show celebrating ‘The Art of Industry’ at Derby Museums.

The theme across the four exhibitions is the celebration of both the artistic process and the the impact of industrial creation.

Foundry Scene Derby Museums

Foundry Scene Derby Museums

The House of Fame at Nottingham Contemporary (24 March – 24 June 2018) is an ambitious exhibition convened by Linder, informed by her time at Chatsworth. At the heart of the presentation will be a retrospective of Linder’s work, spanning more than 40 years of photomontage, graphics, costume and performance.

Stretching from the early 17th century to today, The House of Fame will host 150 works – drawings, sculptures, furniture, jewellery, photographs, banners – by dozens of artists selected by Linder and will run across all 800 square metres of gallery at Nottingham Contemporary.

In Harley Gallery’s exhibition, Half in Shadow: Half in Light (24 March 2018 – 30 June 2018), British artist Clare Twomey explores life on the historic Welbeck Estate through a series of lithophanes.

Twomey reinvents the traditional technique of the lithophane through a series of portraits of people who live and work on the Welbeck Estate, representing the contemporary life on the grounds. The artist will shed light on the repurposed buildings on the estate such as the Poultry House, the Dairy and the Brewery, depicting people in their working environment and allowing new stories to be told.

Lisa Gee, Director of The Harley Gallery and Foundation says: “It’s incredibly exciting to be working with such an acclaimed artist as Clare Twomey, just months after her exhibition as lead artist at the Tate’s Exchange space opened.


Linder Untitled, 2018 Courtesy of the artist and Stuart Shave Modern Art

This Grand Tour, British artist Linder Sterling – best known for her photomontages and influential role in punk/post-punk aesthetics – has become the first-ever artist resident at Chatsworth. Linder draws inspiration from the house itself and its exceptional surroundings, using Chatsworth as a kind of ‘sensorium’.

Linder has immersed herself in the life of the stately home and its 500-year history, producing a series of works to be experienced through a variety of senses; creating incense from the aromatic plants on the estate, recording oral stories, and using the everyday sounds of the house for new musical compositions alongside new photomontages. A series of interventions created from her residency will be displayed at Chatsworth between 24 March – 21 October, as part of The Grand Tour programme.

Derby Museum and Art Gallery’s exhibition The Art of Industry: From Joseph Wright to the 21st Century (24 March – 17 June 2018) will look back at the region’s industrial history and manufacturing landscape through both historic artefacts and contemporary artistic interpretation.

The Art of Industry will show the evolving relationship that artists have had with the manufacturing heritage that helps define the Midlands as a hub of industry in the UK.

For more information visit:

Top Featured image: Linder, The Goddess Who Makes All Principles Work, 2017


Manchester Icon to be Commemorated

An iconic artwork of one of Manchester’s most famous figures is to be created from hundreds of pictures of everyday Mancunians.

Images taken last year at a unique social experiment that captured a day in the life of the city will form the collage of one legendary local.

Artist Nathan Wyburn is asking the public to vote for who he should commemorate in the piece from a shortlist of 12 memorable Mancs:

  • LS Lowry
  • Alan Turing
  • Emmeline Pankhurst
  • Anthony Burgess
  • Caroline Aherne
  • Victoria Wood
  • James Joule
  • Pat Phoenix
  • Les Dawson
  • Ian Curtis
  • John Dalton
  • John Rylands

Votes can be cast online at and will stay open until February 19th.

The Day In The Life project in April 2017 was led by award-winning photographer Mark Waugh and saw an army of street photographers capture 24 hours in the city with their cameras.


Salford street art by Liz Bleakley

More than 1,500 images were collected, ranging from the city’s rough sleepers, to party goers, buskers, hipsters, footie fans, bikers and wildlife.

Once the votes are cast, Nathan, 28, who first came to prominence after reaching the semi-final of Britain’s Got Talent in 2011, will set to work creating one of his famous collage artworks.

The artist, who is based in Wales, has recently created collage portraits of Prince Charles and Justin Bieber, as well as attention-grabbing artworks of Stephen Fry out of coffee, Adele from ketchup, Rowan Atkinson from beans, Bob Marley from reggae sauce and Ed Miliband from toast.

Nathan says: “I love the idea of finding someone synonymous with Manchester in the eyes of the public and then creating a piece of artwork using so many diverse images of life in the city. It’s perfect.

“A Day In The Life is a brilliant concept that captures everyday life and people and I’ve greatly enjoyed looking at all the images that were created. They will last forever in their own right and also as part of my collage.”


Note – the featured image at the top of the page is titled Fancy dress on Market Street Manchester by Les Telford


THePETEBOX in New York


To call THePETEBOX a musical genius is not overstating the fact in any way.  Seeing him perform live can be almost hypnotic in the way he effortlessly layers incredible vocals on top of all manner of instruments created by his mouth, while tapping and bashing away on an array of technical loop equipment.

It’s live art at its very finest.

THePETEBOX has over 30 million views on youtube and is in the process of finishing a new album in amongst his first tour of the U.S. – where we caught up with him after his gig at Rockwood Music Hall in Manhattan.

“This tour has been crazy” THePETEBOX enthused, after another incredible show.  “We’ve been traversing vast distances, making new videos everyday, played shows to super diverse crowds, and seeing America in all its glory.”

THePETEBOX had to make a last minute dash across Manhattan for a new guitar just minutes before getting on stage.  If he hadn’t explained to the crowd during the gig you’d never know, such is the adaptability of the guy.

THePETEBOX playing in New York

The Rockwood Music Hall is in the Lower East Side district of Manhattan and boasts its own label and three live stages that cater to a wide range of musical tastes.  We took advantage of the warm evening to talk a stroll around the neighbourhood after the show.

We were keen to find out more about the recording project THePETEBOX had been working on earlier in the day: “I’ve been recording a few acoustic sessions in beautiful scenery out here with a portable recorder and with friend and videographer Seb Drewett on the camera. We’re super inspired by the nature out here so I’ve also been arranging a song where each part is recorded in a different location.”

Seb was accompanying THePETEBOX for the entire tour and had already created some stunning images and videos by the time the pair had reached NYC.  You can keep up to date with the artwork on instagram

It was a few days later that we had word back from THePETEBOX while he was travelling across America for the last few dates of his tour.  We wanted to know what he had enjoyed most about the adventure. “The whole thing is a highlight really. The West coast is always very good to me as I’ve toured here before but that’s the nature of the hustle – you play somewhere once, you smash it, more people come on your next visit. Crowds – they’re the same all around the world. People like to drink, like to dance, like to have a damn good time.”

With the tour coming to a close it was nearly time to focus on life back in the UK and what was next on the agenda for the award-winning beatboxer. “I finished recording my album Use The Fire before I left for the USA so just reconnecting with that, finishing the final bits and planning the release schedule.”

And what next in terms of gigs and tours – who will get to enjoy THePETEBOX next? “I’ll be heading out for shows in India and Kenya, then onto Australia – global travels through music.”



Raqib Shaw Whitworth Gallery Review

Raqib Shaw  – Whitworth Gallery, Manchester.  A refreshing change from the norm.

If you haven’t taken a trip to the Whitworth Gallery already this summer then treat yourself to a brew in the relaxing Whitworth cafe and check out Raqib Shaw’s solo exhibition.  If, like me, you enjoy a little fantasy and opulence once in a while, then this is a must see.

Drawing on his family’s troubled past in India, current politics and Indian mythology, Kashmiri born Shaw’s surreal paintings and sculptures are fantastical, weird and wonderful with overtones of irony and eroticism. Rich in detail and colour, Shaw’s paintings are incredibly intricate and he even includes his family dogs within the scenes which are often luxuriously encrusted with rhinestones for extra opulence.

Inspired by an ancient Byzantine pottery technique known as ‘cloisonné’, Shaw’s unique painting practice involves a process of outlining each individual motif with embossed gold using a porcupine quill, then pooling and meticulously manipulating enamels and metallic paints to create a jewel-like surface – pretty impressive, I’m sure you will agree.

The exhibition is on until November so there is plenty of time to catch it.

For more information on Raqib Shaw go to


#MigrateProject - Alice Aedy

MIGRATE Photography Exhibition London

The MIGRATE photography exhibition on the theme of human migration opens on 29th August at Omeara in London Bridge.

Eight international photographers will display their work and an accompanying book featuring the photographs and the stories behind them will be on sale with proceeds going to Unicef’s Children of Syria Emergency Appeal.

The exhibition features a panel discussion on 31st August examining the role of photography and social media in humanitarian crises. Visitors interested in instant photography can benefit from workshops on 2nd September teaching photo techniques using classic Polaroid cameras.

The event is organised by Unicef’s NEXTGen London and supported by analogue instant photography company the Impossible Project.

MIGRATE is running an Instagram competition for submissions from anywhere in the world, giving entrants the chance to be included in the exhibition in the form of a carefully-selected digital display.

#MigrateProject - Cyrus Mahboubian

#MigrateProject – Cyrus Mahboubian

For more information visit:
To buy tickets go to:
For the Instagram competition keep an eye on:

Featured image at top of page by Alice Aedy


Give Peas A Chance

On a mission to cut down the meat and try more vegetarian meals we’ve created this pea-based dish in homage to the tasty British staple.  Perfect at this time of year too!

Pea Fritters with Parmentier potatoes, Parmesan Crisp, Pea puree, Basil emulsion, Horseradish creme fraiche, china rose and rambo radish sprouts.

This is a great summer dish, light and colourful.  Use vegetarian versions of Parmesan cheese and edible flowers instead of the sprouts to decorate.


Pea Fritters (inspired by

400g frozen petit pois

3 free range organic eggs

200g self raising flour

75g feta cheese crumbled

2 tbsp chopped parsley

Pinch of salt


  • Boil peas for 3-4 minutes and drain
  • Mix flour, eggs, and half the peas in a food processor to make a batter (add a splash of water if the mix is too dry)
  • Fold through the remaining peas, feta and parsley
  • Fry batter mixture in a splash of oil for a couple of minutes on each side until golden
  • For presentation, cut out a circle using a cookie cutter


Parmesan Crisp (inspired by

50g Veggie equivalent of Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon thyme

½ teaspoon paprika

Black pepper to taste


  • Finely grate the vegetarian hard cheese and mix with thyme, black pepper, and paprika.
  • Sprinkle a fine layer of the mix onto a baking sheet or silicone sheet and grill for 3-4 minutes until golden.
  • Remove and leave for 30 seconds before cutting discs from the mixture – or break into shards when cool.



Parmentier potatoes (inspired by

3-6 Maris Piper potatoes (or your favourite variety) cut into 1cm cubes

2-3 sprigs of rosemary finely chopped

Sunflower oil

1 tablespoon melted butter

2 tsp dried parsley

Salt and pepper


  • Cook the cubed potatoes in a frying pan in a tablespoon of sunflower oil stirring to prevent sticking.
  • Melt the butter and mix with the parsley
  • Transfer the potatoes to a baking tray and combine with the melted butter/parsley mix and sprinkle with the chopped rosemary and seasoning.
  • Roast in a hot oven for approximately 30 minutes shaking half-way through.


Horseradish Creme Fraiche (inspired by

2 tbsp creme fraiche

1 tsp horseradish (or more to taste)

Squeeze of lemon

½ tsp paprika


  • Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and chill for 10 minutes


Basil Emulsion (inspired by

Bunch of fresh basil

3-4 ice cubes

½ cup olive oil

Juice of ½ a lemon

Pinch of salt

Bowl of iced water


  • Blanch basil for 30 seconds in boiling water
  • Drop into a bowl of iced water to stop further cooking and retain the colour
  • Squeeze out the water from the basil and put in a blender with the ice cubes and oil
  • Squeeze in the lemon juice and pinch of salt if required and blend well
  • Store in a presentation bottle in the fridge
  • The emulsion will separate so shake before use.
  • Nutri bullets are great for blending this up.


Pea and Mint Puree (inspired by

400g frozen petit pois

Handful of mint leaves

Knob of butter

  • Blanch peas for 2 minutes in salted water
  • Add mint leaves and leave for 2 more minutes
  • Drain (but reserve the water) and put in a blender
  • Add 100ml of the cooking water and blend
  • Add more water if required and blend to the desired consistency
  • Pass puree through a fine sieve (push through with the back of a ladle) to create a smoother puree
  • Add in a knob of butter and blitz in the blender
  • Put in the fridge to cool


We paired this meal with a Pinot (Pea-no) Grigio from Sainsburys.



Statue of Liberty

Five Reasons To Visit New York In September

It must be the most iconic city in the world and should be on everybody’s bucket list.  If you’ve been before see what you think to our suggestions below and if you haven’t then go book your tickets for September immediately!

It’s not as expensive as you think – see our tips at the end of this article – and we’ve chucked in a bunch of free activities while you’re over there so travelling on a budget is not a problem in the city that never sleeps.

1: New York Weather

Manhattan skyline

September sees the oppressive heat of the summer die down and a much more pleasant 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit (23-26 Celsius) with temperatures often peaking over 90 degrees (32 Celsius) in the early part of September.

While the subway stations can still be hot, the trains are air conditioned and if you’re the kind of New York visitor that prefers to stay in Manhattan then you’ll find the breeze flowing through the skyscraper-lined straight streets a little refreshing.

Pack light – shorts and t-shirts can usually be worn in the evenings as well in Brooklyn – but take a waterproof and something to wrap up in in case the nights get a bit chilly.  Sensible footwear (cross trainers are a good bet) is imperative to avoid blisters and sore feet. 

2: Sports

Americans love their sport and September gives you the best combination of events.  It’s the final stages of the soccer season (New York Red Bulls playing out of the Red Bull Arena and the recently established New York City team whose home is the Yankee Stadium).

The New York Mets and New York Yankees are both seeing in the end of the baseball season while the NFL begins during September providing opportunities to see the New York Giants or the New York Jets.

For tennis fans the US Open runs from the end of August into September at Flushing Meadows in Queens and is the scene of the first ever Grand Slam title for Britain’s Andy Murray.  Tickets are much easier to come by than for Wimbledon and it doesn’t tend to rain as much.  The night sessions can run past midnight on occasion and offer a unique atmosphere for watching tennis matches.

US Open Tennis

Arthur Ashe Stadium

3: Festivals/events

Arriving in September you won’t be too late for the tail end of the various free summer music events and gigs (and the paid events at the big stadiums).  For example 2015 saw Beyonce play in Central Park along with Coldplay and Pearl Jam for the Global Citizen Festival.  There are endless other events around the city in September including:

Feast of St Gennaro – Held each year in Little Italy this 11-day festival showcases the best Italian cuisine and party atmosphere with live music and pizza and cannoli eating contests among the parades and cooking demonstrations.  All in honour of the patron saint of Naples.

New York Fashion Week – Not everyone’s taste but for the glamourous among you then the glitzy New York Fashion Week may well feature highly on your agenda.  There are always a number of free events each year if you haven’t bagged tickets to the A-list parties.

Film Festivals – September sees a glut of silver screen celebrations which incorporate: Harlem International Film Festival, Coney Island Film Festival and the biggest of the three – the New York Film Festival.

Broadway Week – Broadway gets into the September spirit with its annual two for one ticket offer. If you’ve got a Broadway show on your ‘must see’ itinerary then this option makes it more affordable.  (Important note: It might still be possible to get cheaper tickets from the TKTS office in Times Square if you’re prepared to chance it on the day).

4: Sales/shopping

Curiosity Shop Soho

Curiosity Shop Soho

Labour (Labor) Day sales to get rid of the summer clothing lines and bring in the winter collections mean an opportunity to pick up a bargain or two. Century21 is a bit like a massive TKMaxx over 5 floors while areas such as Park Slope in Brooklyn feature plenty of independent stores if the Manhattan madness is not your shopping scene.

The pound is still relatively strong against the dollar so there’s plenty of opportunities to bag a bargain (or even to bag a bag!) from the huge department stores such as Macy’s (the biggest in the world), Bloomingdales, Barney’s, or try a spot of window shopping from the pricey boutiques along 5th Avenue stretching from the Upper East Side down to Midtown.

Farmers Market New York

Farmers Market New York

Markets – Brooklyn is home to dozens of markets throughout September and among the biggest are the Brooklyn Flea (incorporating Williamsburg and Fort Greene flea markets), Smorgasboard (a food flea market), and the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket.  Chelsea Market near the High Line in Manhattan is worth a look as well.

5: Free Sights

Ok so technically these are available all year round but September is a great time to experience them.

Parks – Both Central Park and Prospect Park (Brooklyn) are spectacular feats of environmental design and engineering with rolling fields, forests, lakes and zoos, they are both worthy of a stroll barefoot in the September sunshine. (There is an entrance fee for the zoos).

Central Park

Great Lawn Central Park

Brooklyn Bridge – probably our number one attraction in New York a visit is not complete without a walk across the 1.8km iconic structure built in 1883.  Aim for just before sunset to get the shots of the sun descending behind the Manhattan skyline, or very early in the morning for a photo uninterrupted by commuters and tourists.  Once you arrive in Brooklyn head for pizza at Juliana’s just a block away (ok we know this bit isn’t free).

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

9/11 Memorial – a very solemn and moving tribute to the events of September 9th 2001 – the ‘footprints’ of both towers of the World Trade Centre have been retained and transformed into a water feature with all the names of those that lost their lives in the tragedy.

Grand Central Station – You’ll have no doubt seen this in countless movies and photos but there’s nothing like the real thing.  A huge train and subway station Grand Central contains a food market, bars, restaurants, shops, and much more.  Get there at rush hour for the craziest experience.

Staten Island Ferry – A free ferry service that runs past the Statue of Liberty giving you ample opportunity to get your classic NYC holiday snaps.  Don’t waste your time walking around the island unless you’ve got tickets up in the crown.

Chelsea Galleries – Dozens of completely free galleries available for your perusal in Chelsea, Manhattan between about 20th and 27th streets and 10th to 11th Avenue.  Not open Sundays and Mondays but turn up on a Thursday evening and you might find yourself in the middle of opening night for the latest exhibiting artist.

Tom Fruin's Color Study

Tom Fruin’s Color Study at Mike Weiss Gallery

The High Line - An old elevated freight train track along Manhattan’s west side has been transformed into a 1.5 mile urban park with planted areas, water features, and several seating areas for watching the world go by on the streets below.

Wall Street / Financial District - While you can’t actually get in to the see the trading on the stock exchange you can walk around the Wall street area with your head pointed up at the seemingly endless rows of skyscrapers or wait patiently to get your perfect snap at the statue of the bull of Wall Street – don’t forget to look up!

Almost free:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) and the American Museum of Natural History face each other across Central Park and both have pay what you want schemes.  While they suggest a $25 and $27 entry fee for adults respectively, you can actually pay anything you like.  Of course, we recommend that you pay what you feel you can afford but the schemes are a great way to make the museums accessible for all.

If you don’t think you’ll get round the whole museum in your visit or you’re only interested in one or two exhibits then you might want to pay less.  If you find that you’ve enjoyed your visit so much then you can always pay more on the way out!

If you only have time for one then it’s a no-brainer – The Met wins hands down and don’t forget a glass of wine or a cold beer on the roof terrace overlooking the park.

The Met Museum's Rooftop Bar

The Met Museum’s Rooftop Bar

New York City on a budget?

Getting there:

We tried Norwegian’s new transatlantic flights on the Dreamliner ‘planes taking 7 hours from Gatwick to JFK with prices from £199 each way (plus luggage and food on board).  Don’t expect endless free alcohol or first class service but expect comfort and great in-flight entertainment systems.  Another option would be Virgin from Heathrow who appear to have reduced their prices to compete with Norwegian.

Staying there:

Use Airbnb (possibly one of the greatest ever Internet innovations) and bag yourself some affordable accommodation ranging from around £40-£60 per night ($60-$90) in the best areas of Brooklyn (Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn Heights).  Find somewhere with kitchen access so you can make your breakfast or pack lunches for more savings.

Eating there:

Eating out doesn’t have to be expensive – particularly at lunch as you can grab a hotdog or a slice of pizza for around $2-$3 to keep your energy up.  Mains at reasonable restaurants in Brooklyn should set you back around $12-$18 (£8-£12) and look out for the happy hour offers to get cheaper beer as it can be expensive – although the local beers are much stronger than your typical English ale.

Travelling there:

The subway is incredibly cheap and a 7-day pass is only around $30 (£20) for unlimited travel anywhere in the city.  Are you reading London?!

Even cheaper is walking – and you’ll do a lot of it.  It’s the single best way to experience the sights, sounds and smells of the great city and it’s well worth investing in some decent trainers to get you safely through the miles and miles you’ll inevitably walk (great for burning off the pizza, burgers, and beers!)

Have fun – don’t forget to tip!




Rich Hall

Comedian, actor, author, playwright and quite possibly the lovechild of Tommy Lee Jones and the Simpson’s Moe Szyslak, American funny man Rich Hall is an all round ‘stand up’ guy. Fresh from regular performances on our best telly shows in the UK, he’s embarked on a mammoth live tour and we caught up with him in Nottingham four dates in.

You had the responsibility for opening the new Glee club recently…
I didn’t really think about it that much. The expectations are that it’s going to be a good show regardless of whether it’s a new club or not. I’ve got to come out and be the best Rich Hall that I can. Everything seemed to go fine.

You interact a lot with the crowd – how much of the show is pre written and how much is off the cuff?
A lot of it is written, at some point it got written down and worked out. It’s kind of a safety net. It’s always there and eventually you get round to it but because I have that, I have a tremendous amount of confidence to go off and people are there thinking, ‘oh is he making this up?’ well then, some of it’s not made up, it’s kind of a mixture of both. Even a song that apparently sounds improvised has some structure to it otherwise you wouldn’t know what to play. So, I know where I’m going. But I think it creates an element of originality, It’s more fun for me if I try and wing it a bit.

And of course, you have several hundred dates to do.
Yea, and they’re not all going to be as glamorous as Nottingham, there’s Yeovil, er, some real shit holes. Nottingham is one of the more classy gigs.

As a US comedian, you’ve done a lot of stuff in the UK, how do you find the difference over here to the US?
It’s not a lot different, I don’t really change, I haven’t developed some different persona for the British audience, this is what I do. I work in the UK and I work in the US as well and obviously there’s things I can talk about here that Brits can relate to and if I talked about in America they wouldn’t be interested and vice versa. But in America it’s still my sense of humour, I still do what I think is funny.

Americans are actually used to people staying on the script. American comedians are a bit slicker and a bit more polished and a bit more ‘this is what I’ve written, this is what I’m going to do’ and so when you kinda come out of that and actually talk to them, they really sometimes go ‘ahh, woah!’ I think they’re probably more impressed than Brits about that. Brits want you to talk to them, they kind of want you to break the barrier and acknowledge where you are. I want to entertain myself as well and the only way to do that on stage is to keep it interactive.

rich-hall-2In the show you talked about President Obama, do you think the time has come when it’s OK to ‘diss’ him? Do you really think he’s doing a bad job?
Er, I had higher expectations. He seems to be doing lots of things for his self accomplishment, like pushing through a health care programme, that’s great but it seems more like ‘look what I did and what the last president didn’t do.’ But that doesn’t really affect me and it’s a bureaucratic mess. I don’t know, I think by nature I’m going to be sceptical of anyone and I was very celebratory about when he got elected and I was very much for him, and I’m still for him, but it’s been two years now and there’s a lot of unrest in America and a lot of money just being wasted.

Britain has a sort of slash and burn kind of approach to being in recession, Britain’s going to cut and cut and cut and you’re going to have to sit back and take it. And America’s trying to pretend that nothing’s wrong, and it’s not working, there’s a lot of f**king unemployment and a lot of stuff going under you know. I’m from a small town so I see it really manifest itself very specifically, there’s a bar that was open two weeks ago and now it’s closed. I don’t know, it’s two different approaches. Americans are blind or something, Obama’s such an eloquent speaker I think he’s convinced people to do stuff but I think he’s convinced them to do the wrong thing.

Maybe it’s a sign that the president doesn’t run the country but the people behind him do?
Well there’s a lot of bitterness between parties. I don’t give a f**k whether you’re Democrat or Republican, it drives me nuts. Americans are like ‘oh I’m a Democrat because my dad was a Democrat’ so you follow the party line when in fact you might have some really conservative ideas about certain things. I refuse to tow either party line.

I think there should be some real conservative stuff done in America so people say ‘oh you sound like a Republican’ well, no I’m not but I think this needs to be done it’s pretty austere and maybe it’s right wing but it depends on the issue. Electing Obama was such a big moment in America, it’s an achievement, it kind of overshadows so much other stuff you know. If Obama wasn’t a black president, he’d just be a kind of good president, like Clinton, to be honest I think at this point in his tenure, Clinton had accomplished a lot more.

So he’s in danger of being a token gesture?
No, it’s not token because it’s very significant gesture. But if the greatest achievement happened before he set foot in office, because he went in there a black president, then it would be sad. If I could predict it now, I’d say Hilary Clinton is gonna be the next president of the United States.

Setting new ground?
Yea, and Obama would have paved the way for it. Then he’d be like ‘oh great, I’m the black guy that made a woman president’ but I kinda think Hilary would be a better administrator, it’s hard to say. I’m as impatient as anybody, I just want the economy to get better you know, turn Detroit around, get the f**k out of Afghanistan get out of Iraq, stop wasting money on something you can’t win and start making cars that run on grass, do something!

It’s clear that it can be turned around really quickly if you’re someone who’s not led by huge global corporations… Or greed, greed is worse, you say corporations but I actually say greed and greed isn’t a corporate thing, there’s so much f**king greed. And there was so much money that was made and things had so much value, overvalued to a point where, lets say you have a house that’s worth a million dollars and now a real estate agent comes along and says it’s only worth 700,000 and you’re thinking ‘but it was worth a million so I’m not going to sell it for 700,000 because it was worth a million’, but it’s not now! People have a hard time letting go of that, and there’s a certain amount of greed in that. Think about cars and all that, you can go back to the 60s and 70s when they paid people to design f**king kick ass cars and that’s true all over the world. The minute someone designs a really good looking car no-one will give a f**k what it runs on. ‘Oh I gotta have that, what does it run on?’ Canolo oil? Ok, then put canolo oil in…as long as it looks cool.


This article was originally published in November 2010.


A Message To Christians For The Election

Christianity and Conservative politics are completely incompatible.

Voting for the Tory party and for Theresa May is electing a government that doesn’t care about the ordinary people.  A government that wants to cut funding to vital services such as the NHS and the police, services that take care of us all, but importantly look after the more vulnerable people in society.  Cutting those services is in direct opposition to a Christian belief where Christians are tasked with taking care of those less fortunate than themselves.

For years the Tories have mismanaged our economy, paying billions to prop up bankers, but not offering considerably less to help nurses. Their ongoing desire to reduce the state and allow big companies to exploit our systems has increased the gap between the elite and the rest of us – and we all know the love of money is the root of all evil.

And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”

Luke 3:11

You might be a Conservative voter.  You might not realise or fully appreciate the harm that party does when in control of our society.  You should care very deeply though, as it is set to get much worse.

The growth of food banks in the UK shows no sign of slowing.  Many of these are funded and operated by local churches up and down the country.  The Tory government expects you to foot the bill and pick up the fallout of their damaging policy decisions.

The Conservative election pledges on the environment are in stark contrast to Christian beliefs too.  They want to provide MPs with an option to bring back fox hunting and allow fracking.  They have been criticised by the Green Party for a ‘scandalous’ lack of focus on the environment. Christian’s first purpose on this planet was to look after it – the Tories are not the party to make this a reality.

 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.

Genesis 2:15

If you are a Christian Tory voter, you should consider very carefully how you can possibly rationalise the two beliefs.  You should consider very carefully whether what the bible and Christian teaching tells you about helping the poorest and weakest, about the feasibility of a rich person to enter heaven, and about the obligations to care for our environment.

If those things matter to you as a Christian – and if they don’t you should consider finding a new religion – then your vote should be for anyone but the Tories on Thursday.  There is even a website to help you work out the best way to vote to do just that –

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.

Acts 4:32

What Would Jesus Do?


(image credit)