It almost seems a bit silly to dedicate a post to a month spent indoors, but despite seeing less of New York City in this installement of NYC Life, it is still very much a life.
March was full of anxiety, April felt more like a mellowing out as I started to accept a new normal, but May feels like a rollercoaster. We’re still here, and just as it seems like brighter days are around the corner, things get worse. A little bit of hope, and then a little bit more anxiety. It’s exhausting. But we’re still here!
Throwback: May 2019
SoHo & NoHo architecture peeping
Washington Square Park
We had our first non-essential outing in May, taking a stroll to Washington Square Park in West Village. It was a gorgeous spring day, and so lovely to be outdoors again! The park was pretty crowded, but we found a spot on some steps where we had plenty of space to watch the world go by for a while.
Art exhibit on the side of an NYU building
Just outside Washington Square Park, we passed an NYU building which was hosting an art exhibition, plastered against its external walls. It was a photo exhibition of multi-cultural families, with interesting interviews posted alongside. I miss art galleries and museums!
Rockefeller Park & Tribeca architecture
On the hunt for a closer green space, we discovered Rockefeller Park on the edge of Tribeca. It’s a bit of a walk from our place, but we made a couple of trips here this month to enjoy the park – it was so nice to stretch out on the grass, and the view of the water was a huge bonus.
I don’t usually spend a lot of time in Tribeca, but I love the architecture – there are some really beautiful streets.
Getting to know the North Fork
I’ve been spending a few days a week out on the North Fork on the east end of Long Island (to The Hamptons’ South Fork). In contrast to well-manicured Southampton and Bridgehampton, the North Fork is all verdant landscapes, wide open skies, farmland and vineyards. It’s been a lovely place to spend some time, and it feels so different to New York City right now.
Glimpses of Elizabeth Street Garden
Elizabeth Street Garden is closed, but David and I have still stopped by when we’re out for our morning coffee to peek through the fence. Admiring greenery from a distance, for now.
Da Toscano is a recently-opened Italian restaurant in West Village, which marks a return to the city for the owners, who shut up shop & moved to Charleston to open a restaurant a few years ago. Da Toscano is the goods – definitely try and visit if you can.
One of my favourite coffee shops at the moment is Cafe Integral, which specialises in Nicaraguan coffee. I’ve added it to my Nolita neighbourhood guide!
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen – This is Austen’s dreary one. It’s not my favourite Austen novel because the heroine, Fanny Price, totally lacks a backbone, but I didn’t mind escaping 2020 while I read it. The other characters were entertaining at least (albeit, morally bankrupt).
Reporting Always by Lillian Ross – I adored this book. Lillian Ross is one of the New Yorker’s longest serving writers, since 1945 to the present day. This collection of her sharpest essays covers her reportage of Robin Williams, Ernest Hemingway, a delightful short piece about Dames Judi Dench & Maggie Smith on a tear (press trip) in New York, Coco Chanel, Wes Anderson and more. It made me wish I’d seen my journalism degree through.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote – A breezy re-read & a welcome reprieve, again, from New York City in 2020. Much juicier than the 1960’s film.
Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport – Another re-read, providing renewed inspiration to break up with my smart phone and social media. It’s impossible in my current job, but I can do better in my downtime. I love the focus on high quality leisure time, which solves the puzzle of what to do with your time (and your hands), once you’ve finally put down your iPhone.
Love in A Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford – Nancy Mitford is one of my favourite writers, because her books are so bubbly and witty. They’re just the thing to lift your spirits on a glum afternoon or complete the perfect picture on a sunny one. This is the sequel to The Pursuit of Love, which I might have slightly preferred, but still thoroughly enjoyed.
Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder & Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe – An escape for sure, but if anything it delivered some sobering perspective on life in lockdown. A fascinating portrait of Northern Ireland during The Troubles. I have not-too-distant Irish ancestry, but haven’t learned much about Northern Ireland’s recent history before. It managed to be very readable while detailing a very complex and painful political situation.
The English Game – A period drama about soccer didn’t sound like my cup of tea, but I put my faith into Julian Fellowes and was not disappointed. It’s only a short series, and I was absolutely hooked. The plot focuses on the beginnings of professional soccer, and how the ruling Etonian soccer club fought to keep it a “gentleman’s sport.”
Mansfield Park – After reading the book, I wanted to watch the film. It’s tough material to be fair, but I really didn’t enjoy this adaptation. Some major veering from the script in an attempt to make Fanny Price a feisty modern heroine (sometimes) was confusing and fell flat.
The Royal Tenebaums – Vintage Wes Anderson, and an instant favourite.
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