nw3 to nyc

Observations on moving my family across the Atlantic


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Santas everywhere

It has been very surreal in New York today. The subways and streets are filled with people dressed as Santa. Some have just donned a hat, others have added a beard and full fur trimmed outfit. There have been some liberal interpretations of what a Mrs Claus might look like and quite frankly if many of these wanna be female Santas were working in the North Pole for real, they would freeze to death!

Santas crossing Madision Avenue.

Santas crossing Madision Avenue.

And the reason for all this merriment? Well today is New York’s annual Santacon. This is basically a pub crawl through Midtown Manhattan in fancy dress. It’s funny how seeing them on the subway on the way out for lunch in Korea Town it seemed quite odd but by the time you’ve seen a hundred of them, it all seems quite normal.

My favourite Santa was hanging out on the platform at 59th Street. He/She was wearing an outfit that showed Santa’s muscles, bare arms, bare torso and bare legs, just wearing Santa red shorts. Coupled with white wig, beard and glasses, the only hint it might have been a girl under it all was the purple nails, but even then I couldn’t be sure. Kind of like a Marvel style Santa, with special powers to visit every house in the world in one night. Maybe.  Such a shame I didn’t get a photo to share here.

Ho ho ho.

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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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Wow. Barneys. Amazing.

Barneys is a high end department store on 5th Avenue. It’s pretty flash, bit clinical inside, but seems to be pretty popular. Like all its competitors, Barneys has revealed its Christmas window displays. Having perused them all this weekend, they take the award for the most amazing windows. Well, one window in particular. They have constructed a viewing room on the pavement so that you are in pitch black when you look at the window. The display is 3-d and shows a kind of utopia of the future, buildings kind of floating in a sea of black. Accompanying the changing display is the music of Shawn Carter, also known as Jay-Z, also known as Mr Beyonce. And he wasn’t swearing.

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So, imagine you are standing in a freezing cold black room with a bunch of strangers, having just stepped in off 61st and 5th Avenue and you are looking at the image changing over time. The pictures came out surprisingly well, but they don’t tell you anything about the movement, as this is entirely animated. But, hey, the images are amazing in themselves. So put on on some Jay-Z  and enjoy.

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Happy holidays

No one says Happy Christmas in NYC. There are Christmas trees, Santa is around and stores said they were open Christmas Eve and closed Christmas Day, so it does exist. There is no Boxing Day, it is all back to normal on 26 December (to the extent that I am going to the dentist in the morning, which just seems strange). The mad post Christmas sales rush isn’t quite the same either as the big sales day here is the day after Thanksgiving, ‘Black Friday’, which sounds pretty ominous. So all back to normal tomorrow. Oh, and the 24 hour Christmas tree seller has gone.


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24 hour Christmas

In search of the perfect Christmas tree in New York City. Having dismissed the Rockefeller Tree as a bit too big, we search for the slightly smaller one for our apartment. Down the avenues of New York are the tree sellers, lines of trees all standing slightly at an angle against wooden teepee style structures, snuggled up together, waiting to be claimed. Two days before Christmas and there are plenty to still to be had. We enquire about what time one of the bigger sellers shuts. We are stunned by his reply. “We don’t”. In the 24 hour city of New York you can even buy a Christmas tree at 4am.


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Rockefeller christmas

We visited the Rockefeller Centre (Center) to see what all the fuss was about. New York stopped on 28 November when the christmas tree lights were switched on. It is magnificent. A 30 foot tree covered in 30,000 lights on a staggering 5 miles of wiring. This tradition started in 1933, the year the Rockefeller Plaza was opened. The fabulous TV series, 30 Rock is based on this famous address, with the wonderful Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin. Just around the corner is the famous Radio City, a venue currently hosting the christmas Rockettes, but soon to host Ed Sheeran and Keane, both British, I think. So many people there on Saturday, late afternoon. We tried to flag a taxi down but many were reluctant to go to the Rockefeller, we ended up changing our approach and asked for a street nearby. The streets are shut off to allow pedestrian access, tourists cram into the small spaces and I heard the inevitable comment about why bring a stroller (buggy) to this? I note this wasn’t directed to any of the many users of wheelchairs also enjoying the spectacle. Yes it was horrifically busy and a slow grind through the crowds to look at a tree may seem an odd way to spend a couple of hours, but it was worth it to share this New York tradition. Somehow the lighting of the tree donated by the Norwegian nation that sits in Trafalgar Square just isn’t the same.