nw3 to nyc

Observations on moving my family across the Atlantic

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A 3 pack of dusters, how exciting

Oh dear, it comes to something when your husband returns from a business trip to London and the thing you are most excited about is the 3 pack of dusters he brought back from Sainsbury’s. And I’m not being in the least bit sarcastic. It really was a highlight as I just can’t find them here. I did ask in Basics Plus (the local homeware shop that sells lots of useful things but at eye watering prices) but they just looked at me quizzically and showed me to a bunch of feather things on sticks. R said they didn’t know that a duster is a soft yellow cloth mostly sewn around the edges in orange thread that you use with polish, something like Pledge, to keep the dust off the furniture. I used one today and it was lovely. I really must get out more.



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Red hot chili flowers

How’s this for an unusual bunch of flowers for your window sill? $7.99 from Fairway earlier today. And yes, they are chilis, lots of them. We can’t work out if they are coated to stop them from leaking chili on to your hands or if they might even be edible. I don’t think we will eat them, but they look great next to our (now growing mould) pumpkin.




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T is for Tea

I spend a lot of my life at the moment reciting the alphabet and saying ‘A is for apple’ etc. in an attempt to teach J his letters and get to grips with the written word. T is usually for Thomas or Teddy, but today it is for Tea in honour of the following conversation I had in Teavana, a chain of shops that sell loose tea and various things to go with that tea.

Me: “I’d like some tea bags please”.

Tea man: “We don’t sell tea bags. We sell loose tea.”

Me: “I know that. I want the bags for the tea to go in, please.”

Tea man: “Oh, you mean filters. Yes, we have those.” And he wanders off to get them.

Tea man: “You know that you should use a tea pot or a tea ‘pod’ (?). These don’t make good tea.”

Me: “I just want the tea bags, thanks.”

Tea man: “You mean tea filters. Oh, OK.” Wanders to till looking disconsolate but deigns to sell them to me. Five bucks for 100 single cups.

When I get home, I examine the box the tea filters (not bags, must learn) come in and it says: Perfect tea filter. Brew PERFECT tea anywhere.

Someone should tell this man that being rude about the products in your shop isn’t good sales technique and annoys customers, especially me.

Oh and the reason I have to buy filters in NYC now is because my beloved Tea Horse, seller of lovely loose tea all the way from exotic St Johns Wood in North London has gone bust. Should have bought more tea. And filters.

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I don’t mean to be inane, but

I will, because I need to share this. I have terribly dry hands, mostly because of the weather but also because with a snotty two year old I wash and dry them a lot. I have given up having manicures because they don’t last, so I have horrible British hands. Until today. Someone told me about a magical place that washes and exfoliates your hands and makes them like new. Could such a place repair and renew my hands? Why yes it did. Courtesy of Sabon, an Israeli firm that makes body lotion, soaps etc.

I had always ignored the people standing outside their shop on 86 and Lex as they handed out pathetic sized samples of soap. But not any more. Having hauled J’s buggy into the ridiculously narrow door (they all face outwards – why is that?) I was taken to the font of soft hands, a large round font-like brass coloured sink in the middle of the shop. A very nice man washed my hands, used a creamy liquid with bits in to slough off the dry skin and then a brutal gel with what felt like rocks to just beat my hands into submission and followed by a funny oil and then a lovely moisturiser. Bliss. My hands are like new.

And yes, I bought some of the stuff. And no, I won’t ignore them any more.

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A trip down Canal

Off to Chinatown today. I’m searching out exotic ingredients for a special Valentine curry. Yes, I know, romantic stuff. I like Chinatown, I like that Canal subway station has a lift and when you pop out on to Canal (the street) it’s like being in another world. It’s a Wednesday lunchtime, so not busy and there are only a few tourists around. There’s a calm about the place, with locals shopping, eating and walking with a purpose in the bitter cold. I am heartened by the great people in the Bangkok Center Grocery store on Mosco (yep, no w in Chinatown) Street and the masterful way they took my recipe and found almost everything I needed. I am brave and go into two Chinese bakeries and buy random nice looking cakes and buns with the hope of liking something new (and I do – I like Taro buns!).

And after a lovely trip out, I come across these t-shirts hanging from a tourist shop. Who would wear these?

Tourist t-shirts

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Sometimes there’s just no answer

So I go into the local shoe repair shop, where the man behind the counter looks like he has seen a lot of shoes and a lot of polish in his time. I ask to collect R’s black work shoes which needed a new sole. He passes them to me and I look at them and say ‘wow, they look like new’. He looks at me quizzically and responds ‘what? You think I run ‘ot dog stand ‘ere?’ And what exactly am I meant to say to that?

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Apparently we speak the same language

Update: This competition closed on 20 December. I came 3rd in the US bloggers section, so thanks for all the comments!

I felt inspired to enter a competition to share my expat experience. I have written a top tips post which was published on the Expats Blog website yesterday. Take a look using the link below, you may see some common themes from things I’ve written about before and some new observations. If you have a moment, leave a comment and tell others what you think. Thanks!



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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.


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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All aboard the Martha express

Martha Stewart and her American Made market arrived in New York City this week. Based in the beautiful chandelier lit Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central Station, dozens of small retailers from across the US had set up shop to show their wares. It was surprisingly good, with loads of samples to munch on and keep J quiet as we wandered around. This rather grand sign dominated the centre of the hall.

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The lady herself was doing a book signing, and seemed small under the enormous glittery sign in the shape of a map of the US. The queue for book signing wasn’t too long; I didn’t join it, but overheard many a camp conversation about how wonderful she is. Her hair looked nice.

Sorry she’s so tiny in the photograph below, it’s as close as I could get!

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