nw3 to nyc

Observations on moving my family across the Atlantic


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Thanks, Fresh Direct!

It’s Thanksgiving today, our first one, as we just missed it last year. We decided to take the plunge and let Fresh Direct sort out the dinner. They are an Ocado-style supermarket delivery service. I ordered the entire meal from them with a view to not having to do very much. This is what it looked like out of the box:

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So here’s the verdict:

  1. When ordering your turkey dinner know what you are ordering. Think you are ordering a fresh turkey that has to be cooked from scratch? Think again. You have ordered a pre-cooked turkey that you will re-heat. You will discuss in detail with husband about said turkey timings comparing Delia Smith to Fresh Direct and saying you will go with Delia, because she’s British. But no, on second or third reading of the helpful Fresh Direct cooking guide provided with your meal, that it is indeed pre-cooked so you are just reheating. Ignore Delia and proceed.
  2. Sellotape Fresh Direct instructions to wall by cooker and follow religiously (see below).

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You can’t read this very well, but essentially it says heat and eat food. We had creamed spinach, mashed potato, roasted root vegetables and forgot to heat the beans, so they are still in the microwave. There was gravy and cranberry sauce and a pile of ‘dinner rolls’ which were basically little rectangle white bread rolls. 

R is obsessed with bread sauce, so I cracked open the Delia Smith cookbook and made some, starting at 8am with infusing the milk. Many wife brownie points earnt there. It was lovely, but not as nice as his mum’s.

So here is the finished product:

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All in all a very nice, if overly salty meal. It involved very little effort from me, a lot of plastic for the recyling and enormous plates to accommodate it all. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Thanksgivukkah

It’s hard to escape from the preparations for Thanksgiving here in New York. It’s on Thursday 28 November. It’s made even harder by the coincidence that the Jewish holiday of Hannukah is at the same time (well, day 2 of Hannukah to be precise) – the first time since 1888 apparently. The press are dubbing it ‘Thanksgivukkah’, which is quite hard to say.

We are learning about both, mostly through E who is bringing home various turkey themed objects and even J has stuck a few feathers and a strangely located eye on a turkey cut out. E came back home from school with a few Hannukah goodies including a dreidel , a four sided spinning top played during this Jewish holiday and tonight will bring home her home made menorah (candle holder) replete with stuck on metal nuts and glitter.

It’s all ‘happy holidays’ and ‘happy Thanksgiving’ at the moment and a trip to a supermarket invariably involves turkey, stuffing and anything dressed as a turkey. I particularly like the Fairway Hannukah signs above the cheese aisle, showing what to eat on each of the eight nights of Hannukah. I think it might be stretching it a bit to have a cupcake day, but hey, why not, if it sells more cupcakes!

Hannukah Fairway style

 

 


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1 year on

So we’ve been in New York for exactly one year now. I didn’t quite get to 200 posts, but close at 187. I’m conscious that the blog has become fairly obsessed with food and art with a smattering of politics. I don’t think I really intended this, but it’s just the way it’s turned out.

I think I’ve probably said most of what can be said about the people here. I’ve got used to the language and cultural differences. It still bugs me when people don’t say ‘thanks’ when you give way to them on the pavement, but I try not to let it bother me too much. But I have got used to the fact that no one gives a toss that I’m British. And I am so pleased that New Yorkers are as obsessed with the weather as us Brits.

It’s nice to feel almost a sense of community after one year. Cities are lonely places, but when you come here with small children, they kind of open up for you. I bump into people I know via the school in the street and at the lovely playground near us. It’s nice when the butcher knows your name and baffling that the dry cleaner is excited to see your toddler and knows his name but can’t remember mine despite the fact I go there every week.

I have staked out my favourite food places and have become a creature of habit in what I buy in each. I spend a fortune in Fairway; I treat myself from Dean and Deluca; and am selective in the lovely Agatha and Valentina. I thought I’d cook a lot more, but I don’t. In fact the food here is so easy to buy all done for you, that really there’s no point in doing lots of it yourself. And of course everything can be delivered, so you don’t even have to leave your home. I’d been concerned about portion size, worried about becoming larger than when I arrived. Perversely I have lost weight since being here, but I put that down to the miles I walk with J and the running in Central Park.

And the weather? I love the fact that summer starts in May and pretty much goes on until late October. Basking in the beautiful northern parts of Central Park on 2 November was a real highlight and a huge contrast to NW3. The colours of the trees changed throughout October and some are still hanging on now. When we arrived last year I hated the greyness of the city, how drab it all looked with bare trees and brutal architecture. Now that I’ve seen New York through its four seasons, I don’t mind so much, knowing it won’t last too long.

I have felt hugely privileged to see as much art as I have this last year. I am blown away by the range and choice of places to visit. Visiting the Bronx to see the Gramsci Monument earlier in the summer was a real highlight and I was pleased we got to see 5pointz before it was painted over last week. There’s still so much more to see and I have a long list of where to go next, with strategic public transport planning to minimise the number of steps to drag my buggy being key to all visits.

So here’s to another year.  I’m excited to continue to discover the more obscure parts of New York, including the recently refurbished Queens Museum. I plan to spend lots more time in Central Park, visiting every one of its 21 playgrounds with J, having been to about half of them so far. We must go to Long Island and visit the Hamptons, just to see what it’s like. And of course I will be following the travails of the new Mayor of New York. I have just loved learning about New York politics.

And most importantly, I am looking forward to the arrival of Whole Foods on the Upper East Side. This is hugely exciting for us (err, me). Perhaps I should get a job and stop fretting about food?


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Mind the red snails!

I was running in Central Park yesterday and came across a large circle of red snails. After checking my lenses were in and that I wasn’t hallucinating, I could see that they were about 6 feet tall and about the same in width. What on earth are they doing there?

So J and I went and had a closer look earlier today. It’s another bonkers art installation in New York. This time it’s a red snail invasion from Florida. You’d think in the winter they’d want to stay in warmer climes, but no, they hanging out in Central Park, around 72nd Street on the east side, if you fancy a visit.  They are here courtesy of the Villa Firenze Foundation and here until 5th December when they decamp to Columbus Circle for Christmas.

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5pointz

After the excitement of a month long Banksy residency, New York now has to settle for its own graffiti artists and go over to Long Island City in Queens to get its fix. There’s an empty warehouse opposite MOMA PS1, the Long Island City outpost of the Museum of Modern Art, and it’s covered in graffiti. At first glance you may think it’s all a bit of a mess and says something about how much people care about this area, but actually it’s all very organised and the graffiti artists have been using this building as a canvas for decades. The 5pointz website tells us:

“5Pointz Aerosol Art Center, Inc. is an outdoor art exhibit space in Long Island City, New York, considered to be the world’s premiere “graffiti Mecca,” where aerosol artists from around the globe paint colorful pieces on the walls of a 200,000-square-foot factory building.”

Constantly under the threat of demolition, 5pointz continues to argue (even in the courts with some help from Banksy himself) that this is art, this is somewhere that should be protected. Unfortunately the gentrification of Long Island City is creeping and with the enormous Citi building nearby and the renovated Court Square subway station making this a surprisingly accessible stop on the 7 line, the price of real estate is growing. Putting up an apartment building to replace the graffiti strewn building is going to make someone a lot of cash and there’ll come a point soon when the fight will be over.

So here are some of my pictures so that you can see what the fuss is all about. Make the most of them, they may be some of the last to adorn the building.

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graffiti 3


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From Hopper to Copper

One of the great things about being a full time mum is that you get to go out and do things during the day that people who work can’t. One of these is wandering around auction houses, looking at art that is completely unaffordable. So, you know now that I love art and seeing the weird and wonderful in and around New York.

Today was another level. Christie’s Auction House is located in the Rockefeller Center. It is hosting a massive art sale of post war and contemporary art this week and has all the art work on display. It’s a phenomenal collection of art and comes from all over the place. The most expensive is likely to be the Francis Bacon triptych of Lucian Freud from 1969. It’s yellow, pretty odd and enormous. I had a chat with a lovely English art lady, who said that the last one of his went for $85 million; so this should go for more. Blimey. Think of the commission on that for Christie’s.

I’ve never been to an auction viewing before, but you get lovely shiny catalogues and feel super important ear wigging all the lah di dah conversations around you with people mostly dressed in black, looking cool. I wasn’t. J was asleep, thankfully, otherwise I don’t think they would have let us in.

It made it worth the trip to see an Edward Hopper for sale. I love Edward Hopper. It appeals to my melancholy self and I always look out for them in any art gallery. Here the one for sale is from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. They are flogging it because they want to boost their endowment. It’ll get quite a boost as the guide price on this fella is $22-28 million. The nice man behind the reception counter gave me a catalogue for just the Hopper. Must have cost a fortune, but who cares when you’re selling art for that much. Take a look and see what you think.

East Wind over Weehawken by Edward Hopper (1934)

East Wind over Weehawken by Edward Hopper (1934)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the copper? Well, it’s two actually. And they are upside down. I have no idea what this is about, but it made me laugh and I spent a lot of time with my head turned sideways trying to work out if they were NYPD, but I couldn’t tell. Barking. Oh, and the price? $1.5- 2 million.

Frank and Jamie by Maurizio Cattelan (2002)

Frank and Jamie by Maurizio Cattelan (2002)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And nearly as barking was a large box covered in pins. Eh? I did wonder if it was simply a magnet to hold pins needed to attach all the signs to the walls, but it was a hundred grand. That’s a lot of pins.


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Bare foot running by choice?

So I read about bare foot running in the New Yorker not that long ago and I have never seen anyone doing it in Central Park. It’s nuts and given the amount of dogs in this city, it can’t be hygienic. But today I saw one and he was not only bare foot running but bare chested. He was wearing just a very brief pair of shorts and let’s just say I wasn’t staring because he had a great tan and great abs. He was huffing and puffing his way along the east side part of the loop road. I did wonder if he had been mugged. Blimey.


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And the winner is…

Bill de Blasio. He will be the 109th Mayor of New York on 1 January 2014. He won by a landslide, with his Republican opponent only scraping a small percentage of the overall vote. To be honest, I’m not sure I’d have even known about the election yesterday, it was so low key around here. R said it was because the Democrat was so likely to get in that it would have been a waste of money to plaster the place with posters. There are 4.3 million voters in New York; 700,000 of them are registered Democrats, so I suppose that makes sense, but even so, there hasn’t been a Democrat mayor in 20 years.

I saw a lonely de Blasio poster out in Queens on Monday and a lot of City Councillor posters locally and that was about it. Public school kids got the day off as their buildings got used as polling stations. R shook hands with Joe Lhota and Rudy Guliani (Mayor before Bloomberg) who were hanging around the subway station in the morning, which was about as exciting as it got.

Here’s today’s newspapers, just to prove it actually happened.

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The smallest park in the world

This is Short Triangle.  It is outside Court Square subway station in Long Island City, Queens.  It is owned and maintained by the New York City Parks Department. It is not a park. If it was, it would be named Tiny Triangle (not really a park, but a bit of soil with a shrubbery) Park. Hardly worthy of a name, let alone a sign.

See?

Short Triangle Park