nw3 to nyc

Observations on moving my family across the Atlantic


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B-icicle-s

This is how cold it has been and how long it can take for the snow to melt in NYC. Don’t fancy their chances of getting these out for a ride any time soon!

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So it wasn’t the end of the world, then?

Indeed not. The promise of several feet of snow falling on New York City overnight on Monday and forcing its icy grip on its residents just didn’t happen. I woke up yesterday around 6am and peered outside expecting to see snow piled as high as the cars but could see less than a foot. Admittedly from the 35th floor, it’s hard to get perspective on this, but it clearly wasn’t two feet.

It was eerie though. Normally the streets and avenues of New York are bustling at all times of day of night. But at 6am yesterday there wasn’t a soul around; the streets were weirdly empty and quiet. It was the quiet that got me. It’s never quiet here.The Mayor had decried that no one should be on the streets after 11pm Monday night. No food deliveries, how would New Yorkers cope?

Around 7.30am yesterday the Governor of New York State, Andrew Cuomo, said it wasn’t so bad after all so the subway would start again around 9am, running a Sunday service. Bit by bit the traffic started appearing on the streets and the white roads became their usual mucky colour and it looked fairly normal for a winter’s day. The Mayor said he was right to be cautious and shut the schools, put the 11pm curfew in place, etc. But on this occasion it was an over reaction. He seemed pleased but apologetic for the inconvenience. He would have been criticised whatever he had done.

There was, however, enough snow to do some sledging in the local park. It was cold enough to freeze my feet after an hour despite two pairs of socks and some rather unattractive snow boots. J and E had a great time. I was glad to be back in doors, in the warm and feel my toes again.

And today, well of course the aftermath was dissected ad nauseum in the New York Times. We didn’t get ours yesterday, so it appeared snuggled inside today’s copy.  The kids went back to school as normal; the pavements are slushy and the crossings deep with melted, disgusting dirty snow. I went to Fairway’s and they had a fair bit on the shelves despite all the panic buying. No fish mind you, or my favourite bread, but that’s not so bad when the end of the world has been averted.


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Apparently we are hunkering down

I have never used this term before, but it seems to be used mostly for bad weather. We are then hunkering down for a massive snowstorm.  It even has a name, Winter Storm Juno. In fact, judging by the behaviour of the people near where we live in NYC, it appears to be the end of the world!

In true British panic fashion, people are emptying the shelves of the supermarkets and there’s an odd look in everyone’s eyes as they attempt to navigate the snowy pavements with enough food to last a long time. The local stores that usually remain open into the night all have hand written signs saying they are shutting early. I went into one with the slightly deranged idea that I could get something nice for tea, but when I saw the queue backed up through the entire shop, so I baled.

I collected E from school, just four blocks away, and kids everywhere were having fun in the snow. Perversely I decided that we would have ice cream from our local ice cream place, because it seemed like the right thing to do but even that was shutting down shortly after we bought ours, as the owner was fleeing to Queens. E did look a bit insane eating hers in the snowy streets, but no one batted an eyelid.

The schools are shut tomorrow, both state and private as the Mayor learnt from the last storm that keeping the schools open in fierce snow isn’t a smart move. Even Central Park is shutting at 6pm today. Let’s hope its open tomorrow for some snowy fun.


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And it all grinds to a halt

Oh dear, New York was not a happy place yesterday. The snow started falling from about 9am and didn’t stop for a long time. I watched it from our apartment, 35 floors up, and it was mesmerizing. I emerged late morning to pick J up from pre-school and it was 2 inches thick, a powdery loose snow that swirled up into the air. It was minus 7 degrees C. Our avenue was chock full of cars, taxis, buses and trucks warily edging their way up the road. People were angry: they clearly hadn’t read the forecast and were beeping and shouting, at what, I don’t know. All a bit pointless really.

I had to take J with me to the orthodontist to get my new aligners to finish off my Invisalign treatment and he was in heaven stomping in the fresh virgin snow. It took us 40 minutes to sort of walk 3 and a bit avenues. And then we got caught by the funeral of ex Governor of New York, Mario Cuomo, which was taking place at a church on Park Avenue. TV cameras and crews everywhere, blocking the traffic even more. Had a nice chat with and bored looking NYPD officer nearby which made J’s day (and mine, I suppose), so something good can happen in sub zero temperatures in New York.


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Now that’s fancy

In what I hope will be one of the last winter-related posts of this winter at least, I am amazed at the ingenuity of some people who live in New York. They have everything and now they have heated pavements! Yes, some buildings are so fancy that they have paid the city for the rights to dig up the nearby pavement and install a heating system so that when it snows they don’t need anyone to shovel the snow. Now that’s what I call lazy. The New York Times will tell you all about it, but it will say sidewalk and not pavement, of course. Have a read. And laugh.


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Sun, snow and sadness

I’m getting used to running in minus temperatures. It’s bloody hard to start with, but once you get going, you warm up a bit and with just my face exposed to the elements, I’m covered from head to toe. Running along the streets, it’s cold and sunless, despite the fact that I know it is a beautiful sunny day and not a cloud in the sky.  I pop out on to Fifth Avenue and breath a sigh of relief as the light returns and the pristine snow of Central Park beckons. It is lovely.

The 6 mile inner loop road used by runners is clear but the bordered by walls of snow. Vast swathes of the park are just covered in a blanket of white snow and everyone just seems quite happy. I run the bottom half of the loop road from north to south, all the way past the ice rink at 61st Street which looks great in this weather. Too cold to hang out at the reservoir for some stretching today, so I tootle back down to Fifth Avenue and the sun disappears in the shade of the tall buildings of Manhattan.

I pause at Park Avenue as I just miss the lights and am faced with a wall of photographers and TV cameras camped out in the central reservation of Park Avenue. What’s this? I quickly realise it’s the funeral of the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. It’s not yet started, but the press are out in force, flanked by many NYPD officers. In the few minutes I wait for the lights, I see no one arrive but the anticipation is great and they clearly expect Hollywood stars to appear at some point to pay their last respects.

The lights change and then I’m off. It’s a surreal pause in my journey today, where sun, snow and sadness mingle together in the freezing streets of New York.


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What is it with the weather?

I still haven’t adjusted to living in a New York winter. I keep expecting it to just rain and be a bit cold. I’m sure it was like that last year, bar one snow episode. But this year, it’s all snow, freezing temperatures and a bit more snow. New York was on tenterhooks last week as the Super Bowl was due to be played at the Metlife Stadium across the Hudson in New Jersey. Jointly hosted between the states of New York and New Jersey, but mostly seemed to be about New York City, not New Jersey  at all; in fact, I can’t remember the name of the town where the stadium is located.

Bitter weather hung on for a long time and I got used to saying, ‘oh yes, it’s minus 10 today’, like it’s normal. I have become a weather obsessive, frequently consulting the weather app on my iPhone. I get excited when the app tells me it’s going to be above 0 degrees Celsius, ‘that’s quite warm!’ I respond. So by yesterday afternoon, as New York bathed in 13 degree weather and it was  sunny and really quite pleasant, I thought that’s it, we’ve turned the corner, no more snow.

Err, no. It appears that the Super Bowl was so powerful, mostly the advertising, that it got the weather to get warm enough to satisfy the players and the audience, melt all the residual snow and encourage me not to wear a hat yesterday. But all that lovely warmness stopped as soon as the game did last night.  When I woke up this morning it was white outside. Snow, lots of it, falling fast. We are due 8 inches today. It hasn’t stopped. Time to hunker down, it may be some time before my hat comes off again.


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Will someone pick up the trash?

There was a huge snowstorm on the North East coast of the US last weekend. New York got off relatively lightly and the city enjoyed a weekend of playing in the snow. Central Park was beautiful and whilst the snow was soft and powdery, people managed to make the most incredible snow sculptures. We saw a snow horse, lots of snowmen and on one park bench a man had sculpted a woman reclining on the bench, she was possibly a mermaid, I couldn’t quite tell. It’s now Tuesday, the temperature is up and the snow is melting. People cleared the pavements leaving great mountains of snow like the sides of canyons. Now they are no longer pretty, but dirty from exhaust fumes and muddy footprints. The city looks ugly as it shakes off the snow and what it has revealed is the rubbish: mounds and mounds of rubbish lining the pavements where the snow is melting. It is horrible, great bags of recycling and household rubbish piled up and added to by the ubiquitous coffee cup and take out bags. I don’t know how long it takes for the rubbish men to resume their schedule, but I hope it’s soon, otherwise the rubbish will be taking over Manhattan.


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Brrrr, it’s cold out there

I listen intently to Radio 4 on the Internet each day and follow the typical British response to the recent snow. Supermarket shelves emptied in a frenzy of panic buying, schools shutting and travel chaos. Same as usual then. You might think that it would be the same in New York but no. Here it is bitterly cold, temperatures last night went down to minus 9 degrees. I had considered going out for a pedicure last night until I realised I’d be walking back up the street in my sandals on the coldest night of the year so far and be in considerable danger of losing a toe. But still, there’s no snow and no chaos. The padded coats are out in force, everyone is in a big hurry to get out of the cold and in particular the wind. You can tell which direction it’s coming in because of the grid structure of the streets. Walk along the street and get knocked down by the wind then it’s East/West; walk down an avenue and get hit by the wind, then it’s North/South. But it’s deceptive when you’re in a warm apartment, high up, looking out at the blue sky, crystal clear and bright. Lovely. I am gratified that New Yorkers comment on the weather as much as British people do and even they think it’s cold.