nw3 to nyc

Observations on moving my family across the Atlantic


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NYC to NW3

As I sit here in London, munching chocolate covered pretzels, my last paean to New York, I am just working out how it feels to come home, to repatriate. Not quite in NW3 yet, we move in later this week, but near enough.

The familiarity is good; the accents natural and the food the same as usual. Paddington station was confusing, someone moved the taxi rank and didn’t tell me. No sign of Paddington Bear either, which was a disappointment to J.

Taxi cabs are wider, well, they seem wider according to E; and the driver chattier. They’ve got credit card machines in now and I’m sure that’s new. I asked the driver whether most people use cards now. No, he says, mostly cash. I think that may have more to do with the 10 per cent surcharge. New York taxis rides are mostly paid for with credit cards, which is odd that New York should be more advanced, as we found the finance system in the US to be pretty backward in many ways.

Starbucks was surreal this afternoon: sitting in an identikit cafe, sipping the same old drink in the same old cups but surrounded by British accents. It is far more expensive than New York. I was just desperate for a decent cuppa as where we are staying the kettle is ingrained with the deposits from the super hard water of London. No water filters here.

So it’s really just a slow process of assimilation now. Doing all the boring stuff you do wherever you live, but this time it’s normal, I am normal and my accent is irrelevant. I am not having to learn everything anew.

Over time I expect the New York experience to fade and become the ‘can you believe we used to live in New York’ type of memory. Only the photos and the videos; the Fairway’s reusable bags, the Zabars mugs and the love of salty sweet snacks evidence we were ever there.

This is my last blog post. Amazingly I have written 312 of them.

I have loved doing this blog, it’s been a fun way to record our experience and share it with anyone who cares to read it. It doesn’t matter than you don’t know who I am (unless of course you know me anyway) but hopefully what I’ve recorded is useful, interesting and above all amusing.

Someone told me once that I was being ‘snarky’. I think that’s a bit harsh. I may have been occasionally sardonic and often sarcastic, but it’s all done with humour and a layer of exasperation resulting from getting to know another culture. And that’s what this has been all about.

And there I leave it. I was nyc-newbie.

 

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I can’t feel my thighs

This is our final day in New York. E, J and I will travel back to London later today and leave R to do all the fun stuff like packing and handing back the flat. I love our flat so much that I want to pack it up and take it back with us. Luckily I don’t have to see the flat all empty, as it will make me very sad. It is the best place we’ve ever lived; R says it will be the best place we ever live. I think he’s right. The luxury of the expat life has some great perks.

Some nice men came round early this morning and took all our air freight, so that’s done. I will leave with just two suitcases, a sports bag and no buggy. J is all grown up now.

It is also a very cold day. In fact, I think it may be the coldest day since we’ve been here. It is minus 13 at the moment and over night it got down to minus 17! I was wrapped up to the extent that all you could see was my eyes shielded by glasses. My thighs were the least covered, just in jeans from mid thigh where my coat stopped to mid calf where my boots began, and they were tingling in the cold. They have only just defrosted.

I went to the phone shop to cancel my US mobile and went past Fairway’s. No more visits there. It reminded me that Whole Foods is due to open today so I went to have a nose, but I was two days early. Typical, we live here for over two years and then they open Whole Foods two days after we leave.

The streets around where we live are pretty grotty at the moment. There are huge chunks of ice everywhere, as it hasn’t warmed up enough to entirely melt everything. But where it has melted a bit, it reveals all the dog poo, the rubbish that people threw in the snow and it’s so dirty.

We’re going to the ever lovely Mansion Cafe for lunch and a final round of pancakes and bacon – why does that combination work so well? Then we’re off.


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Will miss you Kobe

Here’s my favourite New York lunch delivered to our apartment in about 20 minutes courtesy of a few mouse clicks on Seamless, which is every New Yorker’s favourite delivery service website.

Top left – a boring mixture of iceberg lettuce, cucumber and strange orange coloured sauce

Top middle – seaweed salad. Should be vile, but is actually quite nice if a bit wet and stringy and gets stuck in my teeth

Top right – the peak of sushi, the shrimp (that’s prawn to me) tempura (battered) sushi. A glorious mixture of prawns, avocado and crispy batter in a brown rice roll. Yum.

Bottom – the lunchtime $9.50 bento box. Yes, that’s about 6 quid for a pile of rice, big piece of salmon in sauce, some fried dumpling thingies and some less interesting sushi.

I didn’t photograph the miso soup because I don’t like it. Too salty.

J eats all the rice and most of the salmon and I scoff the rest. What a marvellous way to eat lunch for $27 including delivery and tip (about £17.50). And today is the last time we will have this. I’ll miss you Kobe Sushi on 78th and York.

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Good job we’re off soon

Because it looks like the only way you’ll get decent Cadbury chocolate will be by importing it in your own luggage. The New York Times reported that “as a result of a settlement with the Hershey’s Company, Let’s Buy British Imports or LBB agreed this week to stop importing all Cadbury’s chocolates made overseas.” The woman who owns the British cafe, shop and chippie way downtown was not happy and another retailer of British goods was quoted in the article saying “Cadbury’s is about half of my business.” Crikey, are there that many people in New York who buy British chocolate to sustain half a business? Not me, I always get mine from Fairway’s and I’m pretty sure they are UK made, unless I’ve lost too much of my UK tastes in the last two years. I suppose Fairway’s will stop selling them too, let’s hope they don’t stop selling Walkers crisps, because we have definitely been their best customers – so much so they put the price up three times since 2012.


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Mmm, malt loaf and moving home

I’m in the land of malt loaf, a surprisingly tasty, squidgy bread that’s low in calories and high in loveliness. I just had some with some Anchor butter because in the UK it’s in every supermarket and there’s nothing like it in New York.

But really I should be writing about the new year and not going on about food. Again. Yes, 2015 the year we return to the UK. We will be leaving New York within three months as R’s job is relocating back to London again. The New York years are nearly over.

This changes things. It now means that all the ideas on our bucket list need to be either abandoned or booked. We still haven’t been up the Statue of Liberty, so that’s all booked for late January; not the greatest time of year to see it, so fingers crossed for no snow. R is woefully behind in his New York tourist excursions so he is doing some things alone, like the Tenement Museum, but of course that means a return visit to the nearby Katz’s Deli, the home of the enormous salt beef (corned beef to the Americans) sandwich. Yum. Plus a trip to the New Museum, which is likely to be very J unfriendly, but we’ll give it a go.

I want to make the most of these three months and not lose them to moving preparations, obsession about schools and flats to rent in NW3. So, lots to do and lots to write about as we head towards our exit.


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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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Ah, always read the small print

My advice for the day: if you want to eat Thanksgiving lunch at 1pm make sure you read the instructions on your lazy lunch from Eli’s. When you read the instructions that say ‘heat for 20-25 minutes in a 350 F oven’ (not shown in the photo below) and you think ‘hmm, that doesn’t seem like very long’, then you are probably right. When you take it out after 25 minutes and probe it with a meat thermometer and it says ‘I am 10 C and you cannot eat me because you will contract food poisoning’, then it’s probably right too. Best re-read the smaller but crucial print at the top of the instructions that says ‘make sure you take everything out of the fridge in good time to get them to room temperature otherwise all the timings below will be wrong, you idiot’. Or something like that. Lunch at 230pm anyone?

I’m sure we did something similarly stupid last year.

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Mincemeat!

I could hardly contain myself in the queue at Fairway this morning. An entire section dedicated to Christmas and an English Christmas at that! There were Maltesers in the shape of Christmas crackers, boxes of jelly babies, selection boxes filled with McVities biscuits and even selection boxes of chocolates like I had when I was a kid.

But most exciting of all was the jars of mincemeat to make mince pies. Mince pies! I didn’t see one here last year and I certainly didn’t see any mincemeat. I was so excited I made some this afternoon.  Unfortunately I can’t find any icing sugar here, so they don’t have that lovely dusted with snow look. They were so nice, warm out of the oven with a cup of Darjeeling tea. E said the pastry was a bit bland picked out the mincemeat and left the pastry. Tut, tut, fussy so and so. Here’s the result.

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Recognise this?

Yes, it’s the Empire State Building seen from the 39th floor of a building on 32nd and Broadway. Isn’t it beautiful? Bit like a Sin City scene. This is where we had dinner at a Korean BBQ place called Gaonnuri. This isn’t a part of town we generally go to, it’s too near Penn Station and the horror of that area, but it’s also home to a few streets called Korea Town. K Town, as R is now calling it, was a revelation on a Saturday night. It was buzzing with young Koreans out on the town, cigarette in hand, hanging around the bars and restaurants. I liked the look of Bunn which was a tiny cafe with large steel vats in the window which sold pork buns. R liked the fact that if you glance at the name, it looks like bum. Hmm. Anyway, we are going to go back in daylight with E and J and check out Bunn for the buns and maybe some other new foods. I also loved the Korean supermarket, a vast place packed with unpronouncable and unrecognisable foods. Still open near midnight when we stopped by. Only in New York.

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