New York in the Fall

October in New York was a month of settling in, of unseasonable warmth, of pumpkins, of red and gold and orange leaves, of new friends, new discoveries and Hallowe’en festivities.

For the most part, the skies have been blue and the air has been balmy, making it perfect weather to wander the streets of the city and take in the outdoor activities that New York does so well. One of my favourite things to do on a Saturday is to go to the Greenmarket at Union Square, where the smell of mulled apple cider lingers enticingly and vendors from upstate farms sell all manner of delights, from fresh fruit and vegetables to honey, jams, breads, cookies and fruit pies. Last Saturday I had a pleasurable morning just enjoying my own company, and I wandered through the sunny market delighting in the beautiful displays of pumpkins and gourds while sipping a cup of apple cider and munching on a fresh made rhubarb and strawberry pie. It really made me feel like I was part of the city, and as I ummed and aaahed over which of the delicious jams to buy and wandered around the stalls weighing up whether I could really be bothered to lug a pumpkin home on the subway, I had one of my what I term ‘New York moments’, where the fact of me, little old me from South East London, being in this amazing city of my dreams, happens to me all over again, and I get a thrill of excitement and disbelief that is almost overwhelming.

This weekend I had another of these moments when sitting on the subway, dressed up as a Jilted Bride, surrounded by a city full of costumed people, enjoying the uniquely American festival of Hallowe’en. Though England has become more embracing of Hallowe’en in recent years, en masse costume parties have never been a feature of London life, and it was truly amazing to see pretty much the entirety of Manhattan in fancy dress, wandering the streets, taking the subway, and having a wonderful time dancing the night away. It was quite something to be a part of.

However, the place that never fails to give me a ‘New York Moment’ is Central Park, and wandering through this beautiful oasis on Sunday after an impromptu visit to the Guggenheim was truly wonderful. The trees were ablaze in their Autumn glory, the first skaters were out on the ice rink, and little children dressed up for trick or treating were running around gleefully clutching little pumpkin shaped bags of sweets. Magnificent vistas of natural beauty juxtaposed with the majesty of the New York skyline opened at every corner, and I was filled with joy at the thought that I will get to experience this magical place during all four seasons while I live here.

New York is, for me, a treasure trove of sights, sounds and stories that take me by surprise afresh every day. There is always a new street to discover, a new building to admire, a different park I hadn’t seen before, or a delicious restaurant in an as yet unvisited part of town to try. Just wandering a couple of streets off my usual beaten path, or taking a wrong turn on the way to somewhere, can offer a wonderful new discovery, like the church in the East Village I stumbled across, complete with semi secret garden, and the ice cream shop just next door that sold the most delicious pumpkin icecream I have ever tasted!

As Kathleen Kelly says in You’ve Got Mail: ‘Don’t you just love New York in the fall?’. Yes, yes I do. I also love Persephone Biannuallies that arrive in the Fall, and last week I had a lovely moment of Englishness as I had a nice cup of tea and a sit down with the latest issue that found its way across the pond to me. Not only did I have the wonderful surprise of seeing myself quoted, but best of all – I discovered that next year, Greenbanks will finally be reprinted! Hoorah! My favourite Whipple, and the only one I don’t own. I can’t wait!

November is now well and truly here and the cold has come…for this month I will be briefly foregoing my American reading plans and joining Frances at Nonsuch Books in reading the new translation of Doctor Zhivago. I am greatly looking forward to that, and I am only sorry that the Russian Tea Rooms are no longer open, as they would have been the perfect place for me to sit and read this Russian masterpiece. Though one thing I will be able to do is ice skate, and pretend that I am Lara as I muffle myself up in (fake) furs and skate around the rink in Central Park!


  1. Yes, I love New York in the fall!! I am so excited to read about your journey in the Big Apple, and am thrilled that you are loving it so! The fall in the Northeast is what truly is magical there — make sure you visit the surrounding areas as well before it gets too cold!!

    LOVE the pictures!! 🙂

    1. Natalie you are so lovely! New York is SO gorgeous at this time of year and I’m lucky that I get to see the more rural parts of Westchester as I go up there for work. I’m off to the Hamptons this weekend so I’ll be interested to see what the Fall looks like out there.

      I’m so glad! I’m no photographer but I try my best! 🙂

    1. Mary, now we can save ourselves the extortionate second hand Greenbanks prices and sit tight for Persephone copies! Come on over – we can go to the Met for tea!

  2. Love love love reading about your NY moments. I’ve never been lucky enough to live there but have visited many times, in different seasons, and this time of year (or even later) is definitely my favourite. I bet the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is stunning at the moment.

    1. I’m so glad! Thank you. Autumn is my favourite time of year full stop and getting to experience it in New York has been a much dreamed of pleasure. I bet it is too – another place I need to get to before the winter comes and decimates the natural world!

  3. The Union Square Greenmarket is wonderful, and I’m enjoying seeing New York through your eyes. So much to see and discover! I hope my Persephone Biannually arrives soon.

    1. Isn’t it? I go every week just about and only last weekend did I finally allow myself to buy something! Everything is so expensive but so tempting! Thank you – I am enjoying showing the New York of my limited experience! I hope it does too – it’s a great edition and I read it cover to cover with much delight. The Dorothy Whipple Random Commentary was an especial treat!

  4. It is such a delightful pleasure to see New York City through your eyes, Rachel. I’ve been, but in the springtime (which is so lovely) and do so enjoy all of your explorations there. You make quite a fetching bride and a great tour guide as well.

    Ah, just the mention of Kathleen Kelly makes me want to see You’ve Got Mail again.

    1. Thank you Penny, I’m so pleased you are enjoying my posts on this marvellous city! Haha I thought so – by the end of the night my ‘crying stains’of mascara had rubbed off and several people stopped to congratulate me – obviously my fake dress was so good that it looked real!!

      I am getting my mum to send my DVD of You’ve Got Mail – it’s my favourite film and I listen to the soundtrack on my way to work – my desire to move to New York largely came from the movie!!

  5. I’m loving your posts on NYC — you are giving me an appreciation for it that I wouldn’t otherwise have. And, the pics are beautiful. I have to echo lifeonthecutoff — you made me want to pull out my copy of You’ve Got Mail and rewatch! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Susan! What a lovely thing to say. New York isn’t for everyone but I do think it has something everyone can appreciate, whether they’d want to stay here for a long time or not! Oh You’ve Got Mail…could a film BE more cheesy and perfect? I think not! 🙂

  6. I think you’ve summed it all up with that quote from You’ve got mail. So glad you’re having a good time Rachel.

  7. Love the pumpkins and the jilted bride look! Also You’ve Got Mail, it captures the beauty of all the seasons so well, but especially the fall and winter.

    1. Hehehe thank you! It took a lot of effort! (not!) Yes doesn’t it? It’s just as much about New York as it is Meg and Tom I think! I adore it. I must watch it again, soon! I love the Christmas bits..’the horn, the horn, the horn…’ cracks me up every time! 🙂

  8. I feel like all I comment on your blog about lately is ice cream – but Sundaes and Cones, yum! My boyfriend used to live on 23rd St and 2nd Ave, and Sundaes and Cones was our favorite ice cream place within walking distance. Aren’t their decorated cakes so excellent?

    1. Ha! I feel like all I write about is ice cream, Heather! I’m jealous you used to be in such close proximity – I wish I was! The cakes were amazing but that pumpkin icecream took me to a whole new level of sensory pleasure!!

  9. You really are having the best of times aren’t you, Rachel! Love the jilted bride look too, hahahaha!

    I’m going to throw my coat on this very minute and run down to the mailbox. If you have your biannually then mine must be here too!

    1. I am truly am, Darlene!! Glad you like the costume! Hilariously, the woman behind me in the queue at the thrift store where I bought the outfit asked me if I was getting married, and said that I’d make a beautiful bride in my super 80’s tiara. When I told her it was for Halloween she looked disappointed and told me to save it for my real wedding. Somehow I think that WON’T be happening!

      I hope your biannually has arrived! It’s a particularly good one, and I loved it! I seem to have got mine very quickly – not sure why that was.

  10. I’m having trouble focusing on New York in the fall because I’m so excited about New York at Christmas. My mother always went on and on about how good New York is at Christmas, and now I’m actually going to get to see it! Yayyyy! :p

    1. Oh Jenny! So much Christmas delight is in store for us! I can’t wait for the Rockefeller Christmas tree – I have longed to see it for as long as I can remember! Finally my dream will come true!

  11. I am enjoying seeing NYC through your eyes. I have never been there, but of course, have seen it in books, movies, television, etc. I believe living there as you are is the way to see anyplace. You are not just getting a quick glimpse, you are experiencing New York. Your pictures are lovely and I am enjoying your travels. You are having such fun and are so generously sharing.

    1. I’m so glad I am providing you with a window into this fantastic city, Janet! It is a magnificent, unique place with an energy I have never felt anywhere else. I love it! And I love sharing it too. Thank you for reading along!

    1. You are so welcome, Willa! I hope my pictures give you a push to come and visit – New York is one of thise bucket list places you really have to see once in your life at least!

  12. Ha, I think I just had a New York moment reading your post! Wonderful.
    I’m doing the Dr Z readalong too, can’t wait!

    1. I love New York moments! Glad you will be joining in with Dr Z, Jane – I am enjoying it so far, and feeling very intellectual when reading it on the subway. 🙂

  13. I have to say this (at the risk of creeping you out!), that I totally live in New York vicariously through your blog. I love that place and I have only visited it once but I loved it instantly. I have always been a big city girl and though I live in the mid-west in the US I always crave for the 3S of big cities – the sounds, the sights and the smells.

    1. I’m not creeped out at all, Vipula! I do many things vicariously!!

      I fell in love with New York on my first visit when I was 15 and swore to myself I would one day come back and live here, even if it was just for a year. It took me nine years to achieve it, but I’m so glad I’m here now! The 3S’s are definitely the most prominent features of life here – the sounds, especially! I hope you can make it back soon.

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