nw3 to nyc

Observations on moving my family across the Atlantic

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6 months in and 100 blog posts later

Hard to believe I have been writing this blog for six months now and that this is my 100th post. I thought I would reflect a little on how it’s gone so far.

Well, I now know that I am slightly obsessed by food.  I am in love with brunch and iced tea. There are many posts on various aspects of food and the category cloud shows that loud and clear. Food in New York has been a revelation and continues to be so. My food posts are my most popular and I think I have joined a community of bloggers who are even more obsessed by food than me.

I have made a lot of observations about people. I probably don’t get out and about enough to reflect the diversity of New York but I do like to share the little vignettes about what I do see. I keep getting annoyed about New Yorkers and their manners but I will continue to say ‘thank you’ and ‘cheers’ as often as necessary. The subway has been a rich source for people watching as have the dog owners – I could have done a post a day on the dog lovers of New York.

New York City politics has increasingly grabbed my attention and is likely to be a great source of blog material as the election nears. I suspect this won’t gain my many followers or pique too much interest, but I find it fascinating, so I won’t be able to resist the more bizarre stuff. National politics is less of interest so far but that could change.

And the weather: it’s all about the weather in New York. When you’re British it is comforting to know that New Yorkers are as obsessed by the weather as we are. I’m dreading the humid, hot summer and will no doubt write about it in graphic detail. I am already very well acquainted with the local park and the sandpit as J has his own obsessions too.

So do I like New York? Do I prefer NW3 to NYC after six months? I’d have to say that I still hanker after NW3, it is lovely: the buildings, the history and of course the beautiful Heath, location of the much missed British Military Fitness. If I could export the latter to Central Park, I’d be happy. I’ve enjoyed witnessing the changes to Central Park during my weekly run but it’s not quite the same.

Lots of people have said they would love to have done what we have done and live in New York, but the reality is that you do just end up staying in your own bit of the city, making that your home territory. We explore the city at the weekends, but not always as sometimes it’s nice just to stay put. There’s a list of things to do and places to go and we will do them all before we leave. Just have to remind ourselves quite how lucky we are to have this chance to be in NYC before we return to NW3.

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Tea retraining

Oh dear, I appear to have started to like iced tea. A lot. It is easy to feed this new addiction as iced tea is everywhere. I get it now with a sandwich at lunchtime. It comes in large vats behind the counter and can be slightly sweet or plain. It is black tea or sometimes green tea, lots of ice cubes in a plastic lidded cup with a straw. Piece of lemon optional. I have tried it from a lot of different places now and had oolong tea with my Japanese meal just last night. I’m so sorry Tea Horse, I feel like I am betraying you. I still love hot tea – you have to say hot here to distinguish from its cold cousin. I say it quite naturally now, I think I’ve been here long enough. And for US Mother’s Day yesterday what did I get? Yes, you’ve guessed it, more iced tea. Peach flavoured, not sure about that one, but ginger? Really? Maybe a step too far.

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If you want to get ahead, get a hat

It is hot here in New York today. After two days of rain, it’s now officially summer. I am in downtown Brooklyn, which is a world apart from the Upper East Side. It is busy, there’s a lot of flesh on show and not in a good way. The pavements of Fulton Street are lined with all sorts of stalls selling hats, jewellery and clothing.  Music blares out, competing with noise from stalls nearby. There are crowds of people in Macy’s (Brooklyn branch). I listen to harassed mothers who yell at their small children to ‘shut the f*** up’. I buy a hat in Macy’s:  I am gratified that my head is not large in Brooklyn. I queue in the equally crowded Gap Outlet next door and am barked at by the cashier, ‘next guest!’. I know now that means next in the queue. I don’t feel much like a guest as I’ve queued for 20 minutes and put up with the horror of the outlet experience. I buy E a hat too and hope that head size isn’t hereditary. I walk back to the subway and find I am the only one wearing a hat. I will set a new trend. Alone.

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All aboard!

So I have discovered Amtrak. What a contrast to taking the train in the UK. Here you go to Penn Station, you sit in a pleasant waiting room until your train is called, with the announcements ending every time with “all aboard”.  You then queue (line) up and go down to the platforms and get on your train. If you need help you can call on a red cap: does exactly what it says on the tin, it’s a little old man dressed in red wearing a red cap. Looks more like he might need you to help him. The trains are comfortable, clean and the seats widely spaced out. I love the ticket collector with his fabulous hat and his charming manner. He calls me ma’am and wishes me a good day. The announcements are helpful, they tell you how long to your next stop; they tell you about the catering but don’t list every item they sell, unlike Virgin in the UK. I laughed when the announcer said at Washington DC, that the train would be there for 30 minutes, so passengers could get off the train and stretch their legs but warned, “you left the train, the train did not leave you: it will go with or without you!”. On the return journey to New York the train is packed and the announcer keeps wishing us a happy holiday. I keep thinking, what holiday? I didn’t know there was one, maybe it’s a Washington DC thing. I ask the lady next to me who knows that he means Mothers Day! How nice, I will definitely be using Amtrak again..

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Where have all the mothers gone?

Well, they’re not in the playground, that’s for sure. It is unusual to find any mothers looking after their kids full time during the week. Maternity leave is so bad here that to get three months off is seen as good! And after that, they all go back to work and hand the kids over to the nanny. The playgrounds are full of nannies from all over the world. I stand out like a sore thumb. I am probably the only mother in our local playground. Gaggles of nannies congregate to chat and watch over their charges, when they can rip themselves away from their phones. Giving a child any attention seems to also be a luxury as phones lure nannies from actually playing with the children they look after. There’s no shortage of people, mostly women, looking for nanny jobs. I spoke to one mother who had sacked her nanny on the spot for the way she treated her child and within a week another appeared. I advertised for a one day a week ‘babysitter’, a common term here, to look after J now and then and I was overwhelmed with responses from one of the many sitter web sites, mostly students looking for a bit of extra cash. And whilst the mothers are all riding the subway to work , J and I just trundle along to the park in the sunshine and play in the sandpit. Not sure who’s got the best deal there.


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Meringue con

I bought a lemon meringue pie today. Looked forward to eating it this evening with a nice cup of early grey tea. Took one bite and realised it was an imposter. A key lime pie. Yuck. Turns out that the reason the key lime pie looks like a lemon meringue pie is because the pile of vile cream on top is whisked with egg whites to make it look like its finer cousin. Reminds me of a photo I took a while back of the king of lemon meringue pies available from Eli’s on 3rd Avenue for a snip at $95. That’s a lot of pie. And no, that’s not gold dust on top, but it should be for that price.

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