nw3 to nyc

Observations on moving my family across the Atlantic


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The six foot sandwich?

And just before I go to bed, here’s a sign from this evening’s outing that made me stop dead in the street and read twice. A six foot sandwich? Nope. A foot long sandwich that is six dollars. I was so bothered about the fact that it was six foot long that I didn’t even realise until just now that a foot long sandwich is pretty barking too. That’s one way to notice a Blimpie on the way home.

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It may be Thanksgiving, but

Today seems to be mostly about Black Friday. Not a concept that exists in the UK, but in the US, Black Friday is huge. It’s a massive selling day where shops offer large discounts to entice shoppers in after a day of stuffing themselves with turkey. I suppose it’s a bit like Boxing Day, the day after Christmas Day, in the UK. Although I don’t think Boxing Day is quite the shopping mecca it once was.

In my New York Times this morning, there were 18 separate pieces of advertising making the newspaper bundle on my doorstep super thick. Here’s what it looked like: this is Black Friday on Thanksgiving.

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How many Jaffa Cakes?

Ah, August, time for big fat issues of fashion magazines to hit the shelves with the much anticipated September issue. they arrive with a thud. Best issue of the year but my god they are thick here. US Vogue comes in at a whopping 902 pages, compared with the UK edition which is a mere slip of a thing at 430 pages. US Vogue takes until page 208 to get to the table of contents, such is the weight of adds vying to be near the front of the magazine. Want some words? Best go buy a book. Want to luxuriate in the promise of Autumn/Winter fashion? Read September Vogue.

I considered how to share quite how thick US Vogue is and came up with the Jaffa Cake measurement. Vogue is three Jaffa Cakes thick. Yep, that’s three Jaffa Cakes (kindly imported by R’s brother just last week). It would take me the entire packet to read the whole magazine. No chance I’ll be wearing any of the fashion if I do that. Must exercise self control. This is what your $5.99 buys you:

vogue jaffa

And if you need any more convincing, here is the September issue of W magazine, which I think is only published in the US. It is a mere two Jaffa Cakes thick as it is only 454 pages for just $4.99:

W jaffaPhotos brilliantly photo-shopped by R after being bribed with a cup of tea and a Jaffa Cake, of course.


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In the land of the coupon

So, my take on coupon sites is that the company or organisation selling their wares at a discounted price want to drive new traffic to their business. Treat your new customer with their discount like a king (or queen) and you may get a loyal new customer who returns time after time without a discount. I think I may be being a bit naive here. My experience of the NYC coupon scene is varied, verging on poor and if you read Yelp reviews, I have to wonder why anyone bothers at all.

I’ve taken my $20 for $10 from Amazon Local to a deli to buy lovely smoked fish, bagels etc and been treated like I was trying to rob them and treated appallingly – I’ve not been back, but I did just find another discount there on another site, so I’ll try again, as the food was pretty good. Perhaps they were having a bad day?

I’ve been to the Science Museum out in Queens with my coupon and been treated beautifully, it made no difference to them. I forget I had this one and Amazon helpfully told me it was about to expire, so I could only use half of it in time – beware expiry dates.

I’ve been to my local pizza place, had to walk there and collect (yes, no delivery on this coupon, that was a mistake) and found my coupon code was not on their rag eared list so I had to rely on their largesse. I love their pizza anyway, so it was just a bit of a bonus – no need to get my loyalty, it’s already there Two Boots!

I would buy a coupon for a cheap massage or pedicure but quite frankly I wouldn’t dare. I don’t fancy being treated like crap because the staff think you are a cheapskate, not an experimental customer who may become a loyal customer, and given a terrible experience when such things should be an absolute pleasure. Check out Yelp to see what I mean.

I’ve just bought a Groupon (probably the most well known discount coupon site) to experiment at a vegan (yes, vegan) restaurant nearby that I’ve been curious about for some time but will never get R to visit.  I will lure him with cheap food and allow him to be as insulting as he likes about the lack of meat afterwards. Who knows, maybe we will become loyal customers and give up meat! Fat chance.


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The power of TV

I am a big fan of Project Runway – or Project Catwalk it was called for the short time the UK version ran with Liz Hurley hosting and mangling her vowels. It’s another reality type TV programme, with a dozen designers all coming together to design various outfits based on various themes and each week one is eliminated until one wins the big prize at the end. A familiar theme. I’m very excited to watch the finale this week with my 7 year old who has also become a big fan and takes it very seriously. It has become increasingly commercialised over the  years with more and more brands included in the show and one in particular in this season’s show is Lord & Taylor. I’d never heard of them before, but they have a big presence on the show, they inspired a challenge and I was intrigued. So off I went to 38th and 5th Avenue earlier today, in the beautiful New York sunshine.

Lord & Taylor was established in 1826 and was the first department store to move to 5th Avenue. It’s a fairly large store with the usual cosmetics and accessories on the ground floor and then floors of clothes above. It was pretty quiet for a Wednesday which made the rows and rows of clothes look a bit lonely. I was particularly taken with the shoe displays, with reflective round tables beautifully showing the sparkly shoes to their best advantage. It was quite mesmerising, but I didn’t need shoes, so I tore myself away. Summer, must find summer gear, otherwise New York will be unbearable. New York is hot, hot, hot in summer and like most Brits, I have a minimal summer wardrobe because we have no summer. Lord & Taylor did me proud and with 25 per cent off everything in some random sale, I was in heaven. I did try to find a funky summer hat, but I appear to have an enormous head as none of them fitted. No runway for me then.


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Did you see the game?

This is the conversation of the day. No explanation needed, everyone is talking about the Super Bowl. I had never seen it before nor had any interest in its existence but you could not escape it here. Every bar, every cafe had some sign up encouraging people to watch it on the big screen, eat lots of junk food and drink beer. Even when I went for a run in Central Park early on Sunday morning there were reminders, as the fun run also going on in the park split a section of the road into the San Franciso 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens who were the competing teams. In honour of the great day, Animal Planet, a cable channel shows Puppy Bowl, which is in its 9th year. It is a mini American football field filled with puppies and goes on for two hours, over four quarters, just like the real Super Bowl. However after half an hour of ‘ahh, aren’t they cute’ it does get a bit samey. Although I did enjoy the hedgehog cheerleaders and the guinea pig commentators. I did watch the entire Super Bowl which started at 6.30 pm and went on until past 10.30, not helped by a power outage just after half time which the conspiracy theorists say gave the losing team time to recover and stage a come back. R explained the rules to me all the way through, quite how he knows all about this, I have no idea, but it did make a bit more sense that way. Because each play of American football is so short, it’s a great excuse to show lots and lots of adverts and because each break is variable in length, it’s hard to watch on time lapse, so I saw a lot. Beyonce strutted her stuff during the half time break and put on an impressive show, her legs seem to go on forever!  Oh, and Baltimore won. I put it down to their kit, so much nicer than the San Francisco ensemble of red and brown.


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NYU sugar daddies

When I went to university it was free, in fact I got a grant to pay for accommodation and living expenses. It wasn’t much, but I did leave university with no debts. There were no tuition fees back then either. In last week’s New York Post, which is a bit like the Daily Mail crossed with the Sun, they were very excited at the high number of New York University students who had enrolled with a sugar-daddy dating site called seekingarrangement.com. The article is pretty superficial and full of comments from people who only gave their first name, probably out of sheer embarrassment. The Sugar Daddy Blog on the front page of the website rather cleverly wrote about the high numbers of students and provided the figures by university to the media which resulted in some great free publicity as not only did the Post pick it up, but USA Today, Cosmopolitan and the Huffington Post.

I looked up the cost of undergraduate tuition at NYU and for one semester in the Arts and Science Faculty, the fees are a staggering $22,000. Multiply this by three for the three semesters per year and then over three years and you get tuition fees of around $200,000 just to get a degree! And of course, don’t forget, they have to then live, so it’s no wonder that students here in New York need to work or find some way of earning cash through sites like this one to get by.