Family travel with flair

New York City: A girls’ day out in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Tweet No visit to New York City is complete without a visit to Williamsburg in Brooklyn — one of the coolest places in the city, at least for the next minute or two, if you listen to the buzz. (A lot of New Yorkers will tell you Williamsburg is past-it, and in my experience when the is-it-cool-or-is-it-over debate gets going in earnest, you know that the area has probably lost some of its edge and artsy cachet, but you can at last get a good meal and the loos in the bars actually flush.) The first time I visited Williamsburg was in the ’90s, when one of my coolest, most creative friends lived there. The walk to her loft from the Bedford Street subway stop went by a handful of trendy cafes on Bedford Street. The rest was a vision of ramshackle buildings, small houses with vinyl siding and guys loitering on street corners. Note: The guys were not wearing porkpie hats nor working as software developers. Nobody had a fixed-gear bike out of choice. Why go to Williamsburg now Now Williamsburg is home to a landslide of groovy shops, packed coffeehouses, and restaurants that give Manhattan’s best a run for their money. It’s got a reputation for being a hornet’s nest of hipsters, a place that could have artisan knot shops and is definitely well-furnished with bearded men. Either way, I firmly recommend anyone visiting New York make the journey out on the L train. It’s still a bit gritty and modish, where old-school Brooklyn residents mix with young families and with 20somethings whose lives, frankly, we just don’t understand anymore. No doubt your kids will like it. But on a recent girls’ weekend sans famille, my girlfriends and I did a grown-up version. Here, what to do and see: Top 9 things to do in Williamsburg 1. Go vintage shopping Williamsburg is lousy with cool vintage shops selling clothes, furniture, and home decor items. If your American aunt sold it in a garage sale 30 years ago, you can reacquire it here. I found a first-class 1950s structured ponyskin bag at Lavai Maria, which displayed its lovely selection of clothes, shoes and bags not in a dusty jumble but like a Soho boutique. One of our best-dressed friends (along with French Vogue) swears by Beacon’s Closet, a clothing exchange known for its designer labels at great prices. Even if you aren’t buying, come to wander the streets and stumble upon shops where you can browse vintage wooden...

The superhero Grandma “Mamika”

TweetThrow out the knitting and spit out that Humbug. There’s a new granny role model in town. Check out these pictures that French photography Sacha Goldberger shot with his 91-year-old Hungarian grandmother to cheer her up. Now they are cheering up thousands of people. The project has gone viral with everyone from Boing Boing to the Huffington Post to Harvard Press writing or Tweeting about it. Check out the story and the photos. (Hat tip to The Bloggess.) You still have 3 days to see the exposition in Paris, or you can buy the book for the supergranny or grandpa in your life....

What can happen when you go away for an adult weekend

Tweet So it was supposed to be just a fun little jaunt to Copenhagen. Just a short little anniversary getaway with some friends who got married the same month we did. No pressure, no stress. Drop the daughter off at granny’s, catch the plane the next day, sleep in, walk ‘round, have afternoon drinks, eat well. Perhaps some adult situations. And it was that. Copenhagen is an incredibly liveable city. On Sunday, the sun was out so we sat by the canal, had a beer. People tucked into lunch with blankets tucked around the legs. Even a minor Easyjet delay couldn’t take the glow off the afternoon. Then the next morning I arrived at granny’s to discover that my daughter has spent Sunday evening vomiting over herself, the bed, the brand new slippers granny bought her, her favourite oversized teddy bear, the nursery rug. Grandpa's note read: 12:15 – Projectile vomit covers nursery. Child in guest room. Grandpa in deep shock. 1:15 – Sick again. Yet to make that list: granny’s car, in abortive outing the next day. She had also developed a rash around her mouth that didn’t go away when pressed by a glass, necessitating a quick run to Casualty to be told that she had none of the symptoms of meningitis. Even the rash was the wrong type. I’ve never been so glad to hear she had failed a test. Everyone involved behaved impeccably – grandparents being very che sera sera, daughter not vomiting in the car on the way back to London, smelly teddy bear leaving graciously. But I can’t help feeling this might be the last grown-up weekend away we have for a very long time....

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