Playtime in NYC

– This blog post was written in pieces over the weekend. However, it could only go live this morning. Hope it still makes (relative) sense!

I am starting to write this from a hotel room in Manhattan. I have just eaten a really nice dinner, taken a long bath, and watched a movie BY MYSELF. I may paint my nails later.
People, I am on my own!  

You are probably thinking “So what?” but let me explain myself more clearly:
I have not been on an overnight trip by myself, without my kids, since the eldest was born (that’s eleven plus years!). Better late than never; it’s pure indulgence. I have spent the whole day doing exactly what I want, eating and drinking what I want, and not having to search for bathrooms every thirty minutes. And that is only part of the joy of this weekend.

I am in Manhattan to attend Playtime NY, a trade show for the latest kids fashion brands. I thought it would be good to connect with other people in the industry, see some beautiful design, get an insight into future trends, and well, be inspired.  Job done. Thank you very much, Playtime, you were beautifully curated, and I now have a lot to think about. My head is full to bursting with all sorts of thoughts and ideas… and I got a free tote bag to boot. It was a good day.

Playtime only started on Sunday, and I arrived in New York at noon on Saturday, so I had a little time to play. Here is some of what I got up to in the big apple:

I visited MOMA
Of course!! Everything about MOMA puts stars in my eyes. Just looking at the sign on the building makes me happy. It is a mecca for anyone with a passion for contemporary art. Also, it has great cafes. Especially great when you don’t have kids with you, and can freely order delicious things with ricotta, eggplant, and caramelised onions in them, and eat all of them at your own pace. Yes, yes I am gloating. Not sorry.

Joan Jonas – digital art

I went shopping at the hugest Uniqlo I have ever seen!
Uniqlo has a flagship store on 5th avenue, with a whole half floor dedicated to it’s MOMA inspired t-shirts. Be careful if you visit though, I got lost twice in the store. I swear they place their mirrors strategically to confuse already directionally challenged shoppers like me and suck them into a spiral of endless shopping! I bought an Andy Warhol T-shirt with bananas on it for myself. No photo, but I’ll take one soon, promise.

I wandered aimlessly – because I could!
Well, mostly because I get lost easily, even in a city with a grid system. But wandering in Manhattan is good for the soul. I walked a lot, soaked up the atmosphere (literally – it was raining all day) and was thankful that there were no little ones getting damp and tired by my side. The rain drove me into unexpected places. This is how I discovered Eataly, a foodie’s paradise with every good thing Italian cuisine has to offer, including drinking chocolate that will almost stop your heart. Other happy discoveries  I stumbled upon whilst semi-lost were ‘Books of Wonder’ a lovely children’s bookstore in the Flatiron district, the Flatiron building itself, the beauty of Grand Central Station, and the weirdness of being in an Amazon bookstore opposite the Empire State Building, where I sheltered from the driving sheets of rain on Sunday afternoon and, of course, bought another book.


I visited the New York Public Library
Finally! I have wanted to visit this place for the longest time and see the library lions, and ask for a Paul Varjak book. I love libraries in general, but this is the queen of libraries (and the people who work there are the nicest). I attended a small but very absorbing  exhibition about the sixties counterculture and social revolutions, and  managed to squeeze in a visit to the beautiful rose reading room before closing time.

The New York Public Library
From a current exhibition at the NYPL

My time was limited, and I stuck to midtown Manhattan more than I would normally, because of the need to not wander too far from Penn station on Sunday (remember, I get lost easily). But, there will be another trip. My kids love New York too (read about their NYC favorites here).

One last thing. My seven year old wept uncontrollably when I told him that I was going to New York. He loves public transport, and was sad to be missing an opportunity to ride the subway. Whilst searching for a gift for him, I found the fabulous book below. It is the perfect book for Subway enthusiasts, and visual readers.

So happy to end on a book recommendation.

Happy Monday everybody!




The kids are all right – Town Planners,Trend setters and Visionaries

Fact one: Vienna has a new town planning director, and she is going to focus on the town’s walkability (yay!!!).

Fact two: The Vienna Patch site published an article yesterday, that includes a survey of people in Vienna. Question asked?… What is Vienna missing?


we got there first


Do you remember when we did our town planning summer camp last summer, and asked that same question of our campers?  Do you remember the sheer excitement when the mayor of Vienna visited that same camp, and reviewed our ideas? The trail of influence is not hard to trace my friends. 🙂

Pat yourself on the back, my little campers. You have possibly inspired a wave of change. So what were the top things that our campers wanted most for our town?….

  1. More sidewalks and walkability (gasp!)
  2. A large indoor playspace/bounce zone for cold seasons.
  3. More water fountains along the W/OD trail
  4. A community swimming pool and water playground
  5. A town central metro/bus hub, and less driving
  6. A multi faith worship/meditation center that encourages discourse
  7. A drop-in art studio/maker space (they are Noctiluna kids after all)
  8. More recycling bins in public places

Some of the more inspired answers on the Patch survey do actually echo these. These kids have their fingers on the zeitgeist, and I have high hopes for their generation.
This year’s summer camp enrollment starts soon, and I’m wondering whether we should do some town planning again. What do you think?