Park Slope, Brooklyn. Wednesday morning. We are jet-lagged and spaced-out after a flight that seemed to last forever (thank God I got over my phobia of plane loos long ago, as I seemed to spend half of the time in one with Littleboy 1) and the immigration queue from hell (Littleboys shouting and dancing round in circles, headbutting other passengers in the arse as we wait at JFK). New York is just starting a heatwave, so we stumble out into the 85 degree heat.
Then I almost do a double take, as the first thing I notice is the buggies. I have never seen so many Bugaboos and Phil and Teds doubles. Then there are the organic food shops, the thirtysomething parents walking around carrying babies strapped to their chests in all manner of trendy slings, the shops selling ethical baby gear. In short, it is as if we have been transported...to a US version of Nappy Valley.
But if Brooklyn reminds me of home in some ways, in some ways it's completely different. Kids playing under a water fountain in the local playground, dripping wet in their vests and shouting in English or Spanish. Whole families sitting out on the street on the steps of their Brownstones in the early evening heat, chatting and simply watching the world go by. Books, DVDs and paintings left outside people's houses for others to enjoy, rather than taking them to a dump or a charity shop as you would in the UK. There's a laid-back, hippyish vibe to the place, which reminds me of San Francisco's Haight Ashbury.
Then there is Prospect Park itself; a huge, verdant space with massive trees, dotted with super-safe playgrounds, a zoo, a carousel and a lake. Maniac cylists pedal furiously around its perimeter, joggers are super-muscly. Last night we picnicked there till 9pm, surrounded by other large family groups sipping sodas and beers and playing baseball.
But although I am totally smitten with Park Slope, The Doctor and I both agree that we didn't come to America to live in a super-sized version of Nappy Valley. And there are other downsides; for one thing, the traffic is a total nightmare and parking is crazy (no residents' parking but no spaces either, and you just have to know that you can't park anywhere near a fire hydrant).
There is also no way that The Doctor could commute out to his job on Long Island,, unless he fancies spending two hours each way cowering from ten tonne trucks in a jam on the 'Expressway' (ha!). So, we have stuck to our original plan and have spent the last two days househunting out there, where things are very different. Definitely more Desperate Housewives than Woody Allen. Of which more in the next post....