New York, it’s been good.

As many words as I’ve written on this blog trying to express my joy in this city, I feel like it’s nowhere near enough. Because there’s so much I didn’t write about.

All the people who are so damn unafraid to be themselves.  

How can you not be happy looking at this

Getting on the train at Grand Central station, travelling for an hour through warm valleys with the sun glinting off the river, to hike to the top of a mountain near Cold Spring and Beacon; throwing off sweaty clothes at the bottom, to swim in the Hudson River. My friend and I watching in dismay from the water, our mouths opening in horrified slow motion, as a small dog – its owner chilling casually with a beer- cocks its leg and pees lavishly over my pile of clothes. Trying to wash my shirt out in the river with my friend dying with laughter at how much I was sulking. Cold beer in a pub garden by the train tracks, and icecream cones on the way home. Breakneck Ridge was the best workout; Bull Hill was the most beautiful and special.

One of the walks near Beacon and Cold Spring : Bull Hill, then the Northgate ruins in the forest

Nights of pulling five hours of solid dancing to heart-thudding techno; at dimly lit warehouse parties, or at two of the best nightclubs in New York, a few blocks from my house. (And the lovely people I met who danced with me as regularly as they could, thanks guys!).

The beautiful architecture. My heart belongs to the Chrysler building and to brownstone Brooklyn buildings equally. 

 Chysler Building 

My local deli, with the chatty staff who make me unbearably calorific breakfasts when I am hungover. 

The Frick Collection, I think you have won my heart as the most enjoyable gallery experience. (Beating MOMA for sure). With a special mention to the Earth Room for being exactly what it sounds like, and somehow still being astonishing.

My wonderful climbing group; this bunch of spectacularly special people, from all professions and sectors, smart and funny and warm; all with the same crazy understanding of what fun is made of. You see a big high thing, and you climb up it. You rip a hole in your hand, you cover it in tape and you climb up it again. A terrible hangover will feel better, if you climb up the big thing and rip a hole in your hand and then have a beer afterwards. Rock and Ice crew: I will miss you. Tear it up outdoors this summer, guys. (Come visit the UK; we have some decent climbing . It will rain, but trust me, wet clothes adds to the satisfaction of climbing the 5.10. Which you’ll have to call a 6b, just to warn you.)

  

The nights I’ve spent at my desk, eyes awake and mind burning only on adrenaline; writing a presentation or a statement I have to deliver in front of insanely important people. Then the next day having someone say to me “Thank you so much, that was really interesting.” I’ve overreached myself to an extraordinary degree this year; and it nearly broke me, but it didn’t in the end, so I guess somehow I win. 

All you crazy fuckers on the subway. 

The amazing women I have met; climbing chicks ( <3) and the inspirational and supportive bunch of women that is the Coterie. Thank you for your warmth and support and laughter through the tough stuff. I’ve realised as a result of knowing you all, how much more there is to learn – and how much further it is possible to reach.

Central Park in the snow. 

  

Stand-up comedy in Union Hall, Brooklyn; watching the Moth at Housing Works bookstore (real life stories, told to a live audience); the exhilarating immersive theatre ride that is Sleep No More; the strange experience that is watching the Book of Mormon when one works in the international development sector and finds it funny but also sorta not-funny. (In the end I decided it was too expensive to be funny.) 

I’m getting on a plane on the 20th, and I can’t quite believe it. 

Bristol, I’m ready to start seeing you…but, we’ll have to take it slow, I’m kind of getting over someone. 

From the top of the Rockefeller Centre at sunset

From a friend’s rooftop right before watching Fourth of July fireworks

  

   

The Cloisters Museum and Fort Tryon Park

Today I woke up with a terrible cold. After blundering around the sleep-funnel back and forth for a while, I decided that I couldn’t stand staying in bed when it was so sunny outside, even if I had to suffer for it later.

I’d been meaning to go to the Cloisters for a while- the part of the Met museum that’s way uptown and houses all the medieval artifacts and art- so in a haze of snuffles and anti-cold medicine, I made my way through the sunshine to Penn Station, and boarded the M4 bus uptown, as instructed by my guidebook.

The bus takes you along Madison Avenue, past a bunch of stores I will never shop in (Ralph Lauren, Cartier, ‘American Girl’ – dear lord, I wish I’d never found out about that one). At every stop, hundreds of elderly women, crinkly and powdered, got on, and hundreds got off. (The women got more crinkly and less powdered as we went uptown.)

The bus takes a good hour and a half to get to the Cloisters, but it’s worth it for the view of the city you get from the road. I thought about how for the entire year I’d lived here, I’d basically spent most of my time scurrying underground on the subway, like a hamster in a maze- it’s quicker, but much more boring. Now, watching the lurid shop frontages for 99 cent stores and the equally lurid frontages for designer boutiques, and the sweaty joggers and the gardeners and the screaming taxi drivers and the laughing couples in the sun from the bus window, I realised I’d been missing out on ‘being in New York’- the subway feels like a New York experience, but it’s really just another circle of hell, and I could happily do without it.

The M4 takes you all the way to the museum door, at the end of a cul-de-sac, high above the Hudson River in a pool of leafy quiet. Most people have got off by the time you get there; I was so quiet in the back of the bus all by myself that the bus driver stopped for a toilet break at the bottom of the park, thinking the bus was empty. He was just getting out of his seat when I emerged from the back of the bus, and he jumped a mile. “Damn girl! I didn’t know you was there…Mind if I go to the restroom?’

Continue reading

(Audio) These old men talking about their NYC childhood are the best thing that’s ever happened to me before 8am

This morning I stopped to get coffee and breakfast at my local coffee house- Oslo, in Williamsburg, which makes the best iced Americano I’ve had in New York.

I’ve never been in there before 9am, and was immediately very Britishly overjoyed to discover I had stepped straight into a New York movie set. The pretty red-head behind the counter was wearing a giant straw hat as she served espresso, bantering coquettishly with the dudes in the queue, saying “Yeah, when I was a kid, I just always wanted to be Anne of Green Gables!” I was hoping that while I was waiting, Hugh Grant or maybe Mark Ruffalo would be gazing at the redhead in such a daze that they would spill coffee awkwardly on their trousers (PANTS), and then she would have to mop it up in a cute fashion and they would giggle together …).

Continue reading