nw3 to nyc

Observations on moving my family across the Atlantic


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Rain? What rain?

Here are my top tips for visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island:

1. Don’t go on the rainiest day of the year. Especially when that rain is really cold and forms slushy puddles everywhere you walk. Go equipped with snow boots and heavy duty rain gear including thick gloves and umbrellas

2. If you do go on the rainiest day of the year you can wave goodbye to crowds and all those who booked to come here but didn’t come because of the rain. You will breeze on to the ferry, find a seat easily and despite the rain and general cold, have a pleasant journey from Battery Park to the Statue of Liberty.

3. Be happy you booked to go inside the Statue of Liberty – the Crown tickets. This is because there are no crowds (see 2. above) and because climbing hundreds of steps inside a copper statue in the cold is actually OK. Imagine it is 30 degrees C + and you are inside said statue, now that’s unpleasant.

4. Rejoice reaching the crown of the lady liberty, be slightly freaked out by being so incredibly close to the eyes inside the statue, staring at you; look outside the tiny windows of the crown and think ‘blimey, her hands are massive’ as you realise quite how large this statue is when you get inside it.

5. Congratulate yourself when you emerge at the bottom for not slipping on the incredibly narrow spiral staircase that goes up and down the inside of the statue. Forget the fact that you slipped on the way up the first, less narrow stairs, missed the bannister and bashed your head on the wall in a spectacular feat of clumsiness.

6. Freeze in the queue for the next ferry that will take you to Ellis Island. Feel smug that you brought lunch in the form of Bob’s Bagels stuffed with lovely cream cheese and other delights; no greasy over priced food for you on this trip.

7. Lament the shortness of the crossing that does not allow your tea to cool down enough that you have to dump it in the bin on the way out as you need both hands to drive the buggy. Buggy very necessary on very wet day to control toddler who is liable to sit down in protest anywhere and anyhow regardless of foul weather conditions.

8. Feel pleased for making the effort to get off the ferry at Ellis Island as it is a poignant reminder of the adversity of New York’s immigrant population. Think warm thoughts of 8 year old daughter who is actually interested in the history and listening with interest to the audio guide, taking us around the building where thousands, maybe millions of immigrants were processed to be allowed to enter America.

9. Smirk at your 3 year old toddler who is wearing headphones and no audio guide but thinks he’s just like his big sister. Chuckle when he picks up a phone in the exhibition where there is oral history on a loop and says ‘it’s Nana on the phone’. Bribe with Smarties smuggled in from England when he starts to get bored.

10. And leave, feeling like this was money well spent and that we really should have done this earlier in our stay in New York.

11. Trudge home from Bowling Green station and emerge at the other end full of thoughts of the past as well as more pressing thoughts about getting that cup of tea and actually drinking it this time.

12. New York tourist spots? Tick done.

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Stoop stories

Stoop isn’t a word I’d used before I lived in NYC. I knew of it because I’d watched Sex and the City and seen Carrie Bradshaw sitting the steps outside her building, smoking a cigarette and watching the world go by. The stoop is those steps. It’s the steps up to a ‘walk up’, which is mostly a four storey building with an apartment on each floor. Originally many of these would have been single family homes, but in more recent years they’ve been divided up into apartments. They line the streets of Manhattan and make you feel like you’re really in New York when you walk down one.

I write about this simply because I took a walk around the block with J, who is now nearly 21 months, and he likes to walk without his buggy. It took us an hour to walk not very far because when you’re that age, everything is interesting. Everything is a place to run your 1970’s-style matchbox car. And just after the rain storm of this morning, lots of people are sat on their stoop, escaping from the non air conditioned oppression of their own apartments and enjoying a dry moment in the open air. J enjoys this. He walks up the steps and sits with random men, mostly men, to say ‘hi’ and show them his car. We chat, they share. We remark on his hair colour and mine, his size, my accent and then move on and repeat it on the next stoop stop. I think this is the friendliest I’ve seen Manhattan so far. And this is reassuring, as according to a survey I read the other day, New Yorkers are the rudest people in the US. I’d agree mostly, but today, I just enjoy the friendliness and the joy of having a toddler.


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No jacket required

My apologies for invoking the spirit of Phil Collins and his 1985 album in this post. He called his album by this name after an incident at The Pump Room in Chicago, where Collins was denied admittance to this establishment because of his attire. I think of it only because it is so incredibly humid here in NYC that to wear more than a t shirt on your upper body is  a mistake. My British side sees rain and thinks, ‘yes, it is raining, I must wear my raincoat and perhaps some Wellington boots*’. But my newly adopted NYC self knows this is wrong. It is raining, but it is hot: it is counter intuitive. Don’t wear a rain coat as you will melt. In fact, wear as little as possible, but always carry an umbrella, that way you will be a true New Yorker.

*Oh, and by the way, if you say Wellington boots or ‘wellies’ here you will get a funny look as no one will know what you are talking about. They are rain boots.