I can’t remember how old I was when Dad said it… 16 at most.
“The Americans would love you!”
A bold remark for anyone, let alone someone who hadn’t – at the time – spent a lot of time with Americans.
Flattered but puzzled, I asked why he thought this. My English accent was his primary reason. I love my Dad for this. I have it on good authority your parents are your cheerleaders. They think that whatever you do, you are, hands down, the best at it – apparently even if it is simply speaking English.
The remark wasn’t totally out of the blue; I’d had my sights set on visiting America for quite some time. A scrap book with magazine cuttings about New York, California and Texas, complete with colourful sticky stars and my best hand-writing would be one of the first things I’d show my boyfriend some 10 years later.
When I first met Mikey I was thrown by his odd accent. In honesty when he told me he was American I thought he meant he’d spent a gap year there and was trying to fake an accent. He didn’t sound American like they do in the movies, I thought to myself – and certainly not like my relatives living in the Deep South! It transpired he was born and raised in New York, to British parents. At the time, I wasn’t sure what it was about this boy but for six blissful months I lost myself in his mop of bright blonde hair, and yes, that gorgeous soft mid-Atlantic accent. I guess my Dad’s prediction wasn’t too far off the mark.
“I’m moving back home to New York to help launch Escape the City in the States.” Mikey’s business was taking him stateside. Paloma Faith wrote a song for me. The pages turned and the tale unfolds…
Put away those hankies, people! That wasn’t the end of the line for us. After all, long distance romance makes the best stories…
Back and forth we flew for a year and a half, often apart for 2, 3, even 4 months at a time. I lived for that rush when I came into land at JFK. Having spruced myself up in the miniature aeroplane facilities, I sat beaming from ear to ear looking out over Long Island. Skipping through arrivals with an aching face, I can tell you… that feeling you get when you see someone you miss so much it hurts… it’s like nothing else.
I fell in love with that boy and as he showed me around New York I quickly fell in love with his city too.
At that time I’d spent six years getting to know London. I had found my place in the city and felt proud when people asked after London life when I went home to the country.
Then one chilly day in March, the opportunity arose for me to spend a year in New York! I gave notice on my flat, selling everything in it; I even sold my beloved Mini. Bought a ticket to New York and joined Mikey.
While Captain America busily worked on Escape the City, I explored. I started a blog to document my adventure – I felt anonymous and fearless when I wrote – proud of myself for adventuring around the city on my own.
It became apparent there were commonalities to the places I was drawn to – commonalities I also sought out when we came home to London. My transatlantic foraging taking me to stylishly inspiring, unique places: cafes, bars, restaurants, hotels – you name it. Not a particularly thrifty hobby considering I was a consciously unemployed blogger!
I would seek out places with ‘the look’ I felt drawn to. Picking out my favourite items from the menu, I’d sit with my notepad and pen, dreaming up how I could re-create the looks I loved in our own home. I loved sharing my stories of adventure and deepened my interest in the huge part hospitality plays in inspiring residential design. Writing and sharing this passion gives me so much pleasure, what happened next was a natural progression.
A year later we were back in London and I was a workin’ girl again. Keen to keep pursuing my passion, I would work late into the night and all weekend drawing up ideas of how I could bring together all the places I love and showcase inspiration for like-minded people on how to recreate ‘the look’.
I first designed the beginnings of a wireframe for NYLon Black Book in my notebook. I then taught myself Adobe Illustrator – which is where the site started to look real.
We’ve come a long way from the original mock-up and now NYLon Black Book has come to life, inviting you to experience unique and inspiring eats, drinks and sleeps – and perhaps bring a bit of it home with you.
I am delighted to see my passion out there for public consumption!
This is NYLonBlackBook.com. Dreamt up by me, for all of us.