nw3 to nyc

Observations on moving my family across the Atlantic

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Dazzling, dangerous, daring dogs…

You may recognise this from one of Lauren Child’s books, where Trixie Twinkle Toes Trot Alot Delight is a pampered pooch living in a fashionable apartment in the lap of luxury with her owner Mademoiselle Verity Brulee. Think it’s fiction? Think again. They live right here in New York City. There’s the white ball of fluff in a pink jacket, treated like a child. The glamorous maltese in matching purple coat and bootees (I kid you not) whose owner loves the attention we give her dog as we admire her dog’s attire (I am incredulous, E is in raptures). And my favourite so far (there will be more no doubt given the obsession with dogs around here – no change from NW3 there) another ball of white fluff, so small it was in the owner’s pocket wearing hair clips on the fur on her ears!! I am lost for words. Trixie, by the way, didn’t like her life, she wanted to get muddy and splash in puddles in the rain but most of all she did not like her name, she wanted to be called growler or gripper. I’m sure her NY peers would agree.

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I am a former fat person

Now, like most women, I am conscious of my weight and as per my previous post am figuring out how to remain well and truly in my jeans whilst in New York. Puzzling over which cake to buy for J’s birthday we met a self confessed ‘former fat person’. I have never heard this phrase before. How is it possible to work behind the bakery counter and not eat the cake? She showed me how large her bakery clothes were and how she never wants to be that large ever again. We bought the smallest chocolate cake, munched on oatmeal cookie samples and I pondered on this vignette of New York life. The battle with food is a constant here.

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Foot and mouth

I am amazed at the number of nail bars in our neighbourhood. I think there is one on every street. Why is this? I love a pedicure, even in Winter and am eying up the nail spa near our building but how do they keep going all year round? Same goes for eating places. I think there must be dozens of cuisines within a street or two. I see now why the realtor who showed us the flats (apartments now) said that New Yorkers don’t cook. I am more worried about putting on masses of weight due to the portion size. R was delighted to learn yesterday that you can get a half sandwich – which to any non American means a normal sized sandwich. We went to 40 Carrots in Bloomingdales at the weekend – chosen purely because of the name – and discovered frozen yoghurt ( check pronunciation before ordering to save blank looks). Horrible. Why would you do that to perfectly fine yoghurt? Our waitress, with her fabulous retro 50’s hair and carefully drawn on eyebrows, was called Betty. Perfect.  And of course, my favourite food place so far has to be ‘you don’t know nothing’ food and produce. Fabulous. Joey from Friends would be proud although probably hanging out in the ubiquitous Starbucks and not Central Perk which would have gone bust by now or taken over by the green mermaid.

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Air, store, sea

It’s been a few years since we moved house, so moving to NYC was a great opportunity to declutter and reduce our stuff to a manageable amount. Well, thats what I thought before the packers arrived. Normally you get rid of the crud and pack the rest. Job done. Moving temporarily overseas means deciding: air, store, sea. Storing is pretty easy, we have a high rise flat in NYC so no need for garden stuff. Store. Anything electrical that likes a lot of power won’t work in the US, so store that. Box of CDs not opened in 3 years? Store – you never know (well, actually they will go the same way as my tapes, stored for years before being unceremoniously dumped in the tip) we might use them again. Unlikely. And various miscellaneous stuff we can’t quite part with but has no place in NYC. Air is hard. What does 70 cubic feet look like? A 3 seater sofa apparently. I have been eying mine up for weeks, imagining what I can’t do without for 2 weeks as the stuff being shipped takes 4-6 weeks to wander across the Atlantic. Turns out it’s a big pile of stuff that is thrown fairly randomly onto the 2 seater sofa in a ‘just in case’ approach to packing. I’m not sure I did a very good job there. And the rest gets packed beautifully by the 3 packers who have spent 2 days conscientiously wrapping everything in brown paper. And they are quick. I have put stuff down, thought ‘I’ll get that in a bit’ and it’s gone. Packed. I may have to confess to R that his jeans are somewhere safe and should arrive in January. And I’m pretty sure the rubbish bag is in there too.

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Heath to Park

Late November on Hampstead Heath. What a beautiful, unique space. Going for my last run (everything is the last at the moment) the colours are amazing: trees the colour of red hot pokers; carpets of leaves cover the grass. One huge, now bare, tree looks like a giant came along and gave it an almighty shake. There are the ubiquitous dog walkers but my favourite sadly absent: the polar opposites of the lolloping Bassett hound with his long legged, horse-like great Dane friend always make me smile. I remember the many British Military Fitness sessions, running in the rain, the snow and the mud. Oh, the mud. I will so miss BMF and lament my failure to persuade anyone of the merits of getting a wet bum on the Heath first thing on a Saturday. Hope there’s something similar in Central Park. Hampstead Heath is 800 acres and Central Park only a little larger. The Heath has its own flasher who we are all warned about; pockets of undergrowth where sadly people end their lives and its toilets have a certain reputation. Regardless of this – I expect Central Park has similar – I will miss the place where I trained pre and post natal in the early morning mists and ran for miles to blow away the cobwebs. I will look to learn to love Central Park in the same way.

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Admin city

Oh my word, what a lot of admin. I currently have a list of 68 organisations or people that need to know that we are moving to New York. It’s exhausting dealing with every single one. The Internet makes a huge difference but everyone assumes that we are moving within the UK, so anything involving a move overseas involves either a frustrating conversation in the branch of well known high street banks (not an experience I would recommend) or writing a letter (how much are stamps these days!!). I also seem to have got on to the mailing list from hell and have had so many catalogues recently, I’ve heard trees crying there’s so much wasted paper. E calls them scribble books and slowly desecrates each one with moustaches and horns on models. An improvement in many cases. I just have to send yet another email via yet another Contact Us form on yet another website of yet another company who’s stuff I would never buy. What a complete pain in the proverbial.

And if I have one more conversation with a complete stranger about how exciting it is to move to New York and are we affected by Sandy, I’ll scream. I’ve decided we need to stay in NY forever now as I’m not doing this again.