How British expats cure homesickness in New York

My homesickness  – when I get it – manifests itself in two ways. Family and food. Sometimes one or the other, but usually both. C’s mother is staying with us at the moment, the extra pair of hands with the kids is so appreciated after all these months out here just the four of us.

Yesterday I took advantage of the childcare during Spring Break (that’s Easter holidays to us Brits), and nipped out for an afternoon’s English nostalgia with my v. pregnant friend from University and fellow New Yorker, H.

We met at my old favourite, Tea & Sympathy, and gloated over the menu. Welsh Rarebit with bacon and baked beans. Bangers and mash made with actual, real English sausages. (Have to agree with T; American sausages do taste weird). A pot of leaf Earl Grey tea and a sticky toffee and pudding with custard later, my craving for English food was sated. I’ve blogged before about this cafe, and can’t recommend it enough, with the one caveat that it’s not big enough to handle small children. Once they’re old enough to appreciate a full English afternoon tea, then you’d be able to enjoy it with kids.

Real sausages at Myers of Keswick butcher
Real sausages at Myers of Keswick butcher

There is a little shop attached to Tea & Sympathy, but we were drawn to another British food shop a couple of blocks away that produces the English sausages served in the cafe. Myers of Keswick’s strapline is ‘England’s Glory’, and it goes all out with the Union Jack bunting and British fare. Rows and rows of such glories as Heinz Baked Beans, Tetley teabags, Gentlemen’s Relish, Branston Pickle, Ribena, Robinson’s Squash, Angel Delight and classic chocolates like Cadbury’s Flake and Chocolate Buttons. I was drawn to the butcher’s section, with heaps of Cumberland and classic sausages, pork pies, shepherd’s pies and sausage rolls.

British classics
British classics
Myers of Keswick - England's Glory
Myers of Keswick – England’s Glory

Greenwich Village is a great lure for the homesick British expats. Tea & Sympathy, Myers of Keswick and A Salt & Battery fish and chippie are all within walking distance, and there are some lovely shops in the area while you’re at it. I can’t be in the area without popping into my two favourite stationery shops; The Ink Pad at 37 7th Avenue (corner of 13th Street) and The Paper Source at 344 W 14th Street (between 8th and 9th Avenue).

The Paper Source and The Ink Pad - my two favourite stationers
The Paper Source and The Ink Pad – my two favourite stationers

The Ink Pad specialises in rubber stamps, which is one of my latest obsessions since moving here. I’ve got a growing collection of them, and the girls and I love to stamp on blank postcards to send home. Whenever T gets upset about missing her grandparents or friends, we sit down and make them a card. She actually much prefers that to Skype, which gives her stage fright more often than not.

The Paper Source is wonderful for wrapping paper, cards, and crafty projects, and also stocks rubber stamps too. It’s great for stationery lovers.

So that is my cure for homesickness – lunch (or afternoon tea) out with another English friend, buy a shed load of imported food, and some lovely stationery to write home with. Nice.

The girls stamping cards to send home. B sporting an A4 file box on her head, naturally
The girls stamping cards to send home. B sporting an A4 file box on her head, naturally

For your own orgy of all things British in Greenwich Village, visit:

  • Tea & Sympathy shop and restaurant – 108 Greenwich Avenue, between West 12th and West 13th Street
  • A Salt & Battery – 112 Greenwich Ave, right next to Tea & Sympathy
  • Myers of Keswick – 634 Hudson Street, between Horatio and Jane Street

This week’s Highs and Lows:

Highs: Buying my first sewing machine! C’s mum is teaching me the basics, and I’ve started quilting T’s own Cows in a Meadow quilt. It’s interesting to compare the difference in texture to B’s bunny quilt which was sewn entirely by hand for Christmas. I feel a new obsession coming on… watch this space for more photographs.

Other highs include spending the Easter weekend at Hudson, seeing snowdrops bloom at long last, and venturing outside in a mere coat – goodbye balaclavas, gloves and scarves. Hurray.

Lows: **very small voice** I accidentally dislocated poor little B’s elbow. It actually happened two weeks ago, but was too traumatised to write about it until now. And if anything could make that experience worse, it happened within 45 minutes of my mother-in-law’s arrival from England. It’s called Nursemaid’s Elbow, and is apparently frequently caused when adults swing young children between their arms singing “One, two, three, wheeeee.” In our case, I was leading B to the kitchen with her dirty plate, and she was pulling back and trying to sit down. When she couldn’t stop crying and refusing to use her arm, we called Tribeca Pedriatrics’ medical emergency line, who referred us to a wondrous place – a specialist children’s A&E unit in Brooklyn called PM Pediatrics. Before even asking for B’s name, the receptionist made four phone calls to confirm they wouldn’t accept our insurance and that we had to pay upfront. The paediatrician popped it back in with two fingers. B gave a little squeak, but was using the arm again within two minutes. Think it’s going to take me much longer to recover…

T's Cows in a Meadow quilt - work in progress
T’s Cows in a Meadow quilt – work in progress

Author: Alex

Hello. Toddling Round New York is my own little blog of our family's experience of moving young kids from London to New York... And of having a baby out here. They are my own baby steps of exploring this incredible city. I lived in five countries in four continents growing up, so you'd think I'd be good at this by now. Here you'll find stories and photographs of our adventures, the highs and the lows of expat parenthood, and some ideas I hope you'll find useful if you're in New York with young kids.

7 thoughts on “How British expats cure homesickness in New York”

  1. Oh, it sounds wonderful…if only ‘real’ English food had made its way to California – not yet I’m afraid! Sounds like I need a trip to NY

    1. Hi Gobby Brit (feels slightly strange addressing you like that), I can confirm the sausages tasted perfectly English and would be well worth a visit to NYC. Go on, you know you want to…

  2. I know the food feeling!! We need to have care packages sent out to Dubai whenever people come to see us, cadburys chocolate,proper bread, kid snacks, real sweeties! And I miss pork, its not quite the same when you get it in a muslim country! #myexpatfamily

    1. Hi Laura, I can imagine food packages being almost as exciting as your guests’ arrival! Ours always have to come bearing newspapers and Dairy Milk.

  3. I really enjoyed reading this! All in all sounds like a pretty fantastic way to cure homesickness!!! I too find that home sickness comes down to food and family! British sausages is definitely something that there really is just no replacement for so nice that you can go somewhere to get it!!

    The quilt looks fab I love the pattern such cool fabric!!
    How awful about the dislocated elbow you poor things! It’s amazing how quick or little ones bounce back, if only we could get over events like that so quickly too, instead we beat ourselves up forever about it!!!
    Thank you so much for joining in with #myexpatfamily lovely to have you! Hope you enjoy the other posts that have linked up too and that we will see you again next month 🙂

  4. We stumbled across your blog today and loved it! Great content and beautiful visuals. Have retweeted to all our followers who are also mostly Brits in NYC!

    1. Hello, and thanks for the retweet. I sometimes worry only my mother really reads these, so it’s encouraging to know they’re trickling through…
      I’ll keep an eye out for your activity too, Alex

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