Serving the American Community in the UK
THIS ISSUE’S FEATURES INCLUDE: Tax Issues • Eating Out • Wealth Management Education • Theatre • American Women’s Clubs News Travel • Arts & Antiques • Take Five • Hotel Review Embassy Corner • UK Sports • Reader’s Lives
American In Britain
2 Eating Out 6 Travel 10 Hotel Review
12 Wealth Management 14 Tax Issues 16 Days Out With
The Family 20 Education 22 American Women’s Clubs News
28 Take Five 32 Reader’s Lives 34 UK Sports 36 Theatre 38 Arts & Antiques
40 Embassy Corner IBC Useful Numbers
PUBLISHER: Helen Elliott, Telephone: 020 8661 0186 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Publishing Director: Damian Porter, Telephone: 01737 551506 Email: email@example.com American in Britain, PO Box 921, Sutton SM1 2WB www.theamericanhour.com
Arlington, TX - September 3, 2016 - AT&T Stadium: Jalen Hurts (2) of the University of the Alabama Crimson Tide during the regular season 2016 Cowboys Classic game. Image credit: Allen Kee/ESPN Images
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Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7XL Telephone: 0203 819 8888 You don’t normally associate a department store with good restaurants, but then Harrods is no ordinary department store. How great to be able to combine an afternoon’s shopping with a really exceptional meal at the end of it, without even needing to leave the building. Perfect for a cold or rainy day when you don’t want to venture out too much, but equally acceptable on a warm summer’s evening after a long leisurely walk from the station through Knightsbridge, with all the colour, glamour and jaw-dropping sports cars cruising by, to keep you entertained. Chai Wu is on the fifth floor of Harrods, but as soon as you are seated you completely forget that fact, as the restaurant has a strong identity of its own. The concept and design are inspired by the five Chinese elements of wood, fire, earth, metal and water; with the finishes a mix of marble, leather and timber.This use of natural elements, along with the charcoal grill at the centre of the space, gives the restaurant a sophisticated, sexy vibe. The service here was really impressive; attentive but not obtrusive, with an obvious passion for excellent customer service and detailed knowledge of the menu. Our waitress was keen for us to sample as wide a range of specialities and signature dishes as possible. The diverse menu has been created by chef Ian Pengelley, one of the UK’s leading experts in Asian cuisine, and represents modern Chinese cooking through the use of speciality and luxury ingredients. We were guided by the recommendations of our waitress when it came to ordering, and enjoyed a whole range of dishes, but one of the highlights was the Traditional Beijing Duck which was carved in front of us and served in the traditional way with pancakes, spring onion and hoisin sauce, but with the addition of some exciting twists. Mantou Buns were served along with the pancakes, 2
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which were deliciously soft and sweet, providing the perfect combination with the duck. There was also an impressive selection of sauces and condiments including szechuan sauce, ginger salsa, plum sauce and an unusual garlic and white truffle sauce, which was my personal favourite. The balance of the duck was then used to make another dish; we chose the duck fried rice over the alternative which was minced duck with lettuce wrap. At £48 for half a Beijing duck, this is one of those dishes that I would never tire of eating. The Dim Sum platter (£38) that followed featured dumplings with Alaskan Crab and spinach, Seabass with gold leaf, Lobster topped with caviar, Prawn and a tasty Scallop Foie Gras. These delicious morsels disappeared pretty quickly, and I could have eaten a whole plate of the Scallop Dumplings, which were my favourite of the selection. Being big fans of prawns my husband and I found it hard to choose a favourite between the Popcorn Shrimp, Grilled Tiger Prawns and Coconut Prawns, all of which we were lucky enough to sample. The Popcorn Shrimps, £21, served with a creamy spicy dressing, would be perfect as a starter or accompaniment with drinks, being light, tasty and easy to eat. The Coconut Prawns went down well with my husband as he loved the coconut coating combining sweetness with the intensity of the spices. The Grilled Tiger Prawns, £23, from the Charcoal Grill, were among the largest tiger prawns I have eaten and their impressive size was matched by their flavour. Another popular dish that works well as a snack or side is the Salt and Pepper Squid, with chilli. This is something I often choose as a starter and Chai Wu’s version did not disappoint. It was beautifully fresh, lightly battered and not at all chewy- one of the pitfalls of squid, I often find! You may be wondering how we were able to eat all this food, and at about this point in the meal, I was wondering the same thing. But in the name of dedication to the cause we carried on, in the knowledge that we may not need to
eat for the next day or two! From the Charcoal Grill we enjoyed that staple of Chinese menus: Chicken Satay, £15, with its rich peanut sauce and an especially good Stir Fried Chicken with szechuan sauce (£22). To conclude we sampled the ‘Harrods Special Roll’ from the Chilled and Fresh menu. These beautifully presented bite size morsels are a combination of fresh Snow Crab, avocado and chopped scallops topped with orange and black caviar and spring onion. It was really delicious, but impossible to manage, so we took it home to enjoy the next day. My teenage son always tells me he has two stomachs- one for dinner and another completely separate one for pudding, in other words there is no situation, however much he has eaten, in which he doesn’t have room for dessert! There was certainly a bit of this theory at work, as we were presented with a Green Tea Chocolate Fondant, £8. I had doubts that I could eat any of it, but once I sampled a little, I kept going back for more, until between the two of us, like Jack Sprat in the nursery rhyme, we had literally licked the platter clean. This is a delicious take on the popular dessert, with its liquid chocolate centre, and the delicate green tea of the sponge was a delight. Our evening of indulgence was brought to a close with pots of their fresh tea, of which there is a good choice of speciality Chinese teas, amongst all the usual coffee and tea options. I opted for a fresh mint tea, whilst my husband chose the jasmine flowering green tea. I should also mention that Chai Wu has an extensive cocktail menu, from which I sampled the Chai-Wu Special, one of their non-alcoholic choices, before our meal. As you would expect, the wine list is also excellent, offering a great range of superb wines. We left the restaurant, and Harrods, in need of a good walk, but with memories of a really excellent meal. The Harrods name is associated with quality and excellence and Chai Wu certainly delivers on both of these.
24 Aberdeen Place, St Johns Wood, London NW8 8JR Telephone: 0207 289 9898 Even in a city as busy and celebrated as London there are hidden gems to be found- sometimes you just need to be pointed in the right direction. On this occasion a reader contacted us to recommend that we visit Crocker’s Folly in St Johns Wood, and we are very glad that we listened to his recommendation, as we had a really memorable meal here, in the unexpected splendour of the restaurant’s interior. Crocker’s Folly is a Grade 2 listed former Victorian Gin Palace and from reading up on its history, it is a testament to one man’s optimism. In the mid-1890s, on hearing that the new terminus of the Great Central Railway was to be sited in St John’s Wood, local entrepreneur Frank Crocker decided to build a new hotel to capitalise on the increasing numbers of people that this would inevitably bring to the area. Hiring architect Charles Worley, Frank spared no expense building his Crown Hotel. Every wall, window and ceiling was decorated in ornate style, with Romanesque columns, carved mahogany panelling and gambolling cherubs. Its grand saloon used 50 types of marble to create a magnificent bar-top, archways and an enormous fireplace. Then there was the opulent part-gilded beamed ceiling. Even the chimney and walls were faced with marble. The development included a sumptuous restaurant, a large billiard room, a concert room and several different bars, including one reserved for women only. Unfortunately, Crocker’s ambitions were scuppered by the wealthy local residents who campaigned vigorously to have the train route changed. Their opposition resulted in the line terminating not at the door of the Crown Hotel, but about a mile away, where Marylebone Station now stands. The Crown Hotel became the grandest folly in London. Legend had it that Frank went bust and killed himself by jumping out of an upstairs window, with his ghost haunting the pub ever since. In reality, Crocker died in 1904 of natural causes, and was a much respected member of the community. The tale of his death might not have been true, but it did lead to the pub changing its name to Crocker’s Folly in 1987. For nearly a century the pub remained a popular venue, particularly on match days at nearby Lord’s Cricket Ground, but by the dawn of a new millennium things had begun to change. The quality of the ale and the food declined. Less events were held there. Crocker’s Folly eventually closed in the autumn of 2004 and was placed on the English Heritage Buildings at Risk Register. Despite many protests, its future looked bleak, until its purchase by The Maroush Group. The Group sympathetically and painstakingly restored the venue as a stylish restaurant and bar and the new Crocker’s Folly was born. It has certainly given locals and visitors the chance to enjoy the renaissance of one of the capital’s most striking www.theamericanhour.com
examples of Victorian design. The venue is divided into sections: The 1898 Bar, with its lovingly restored stucco walls and gilded ceilings, is an opulent yet warm and inviting room providing the perfect backdrop against which to enjoy drinks; The main restaurant area is in the stunning Marble Room which houses the building’s legendary and imposing saloon bar and huge open fireplace (we must also mention the summer harvest images on the richly decorated ceiling); The Lord’s Dining Room, named in honour of famous neighbour Lord’s Cricket Ground, is a more intimate dining room, boasting a dazzling Baccarat crystal chandelier and original Victorian Bay windows - Diners can even watch their food being prepared in the open kitchen- making it a great location for a private event or party; and finally The Outdoor Terrace – a covered area where guests can choose from an expertly selected cigar, brandy and whisky pairing menu. Hopefully we have set the scene for this stunning venue and as you would hope, the modern European menu is as interesting and imaginative as the venue itself. The starters, ranging in price from £6.50 to £17, include Roasted Octopus with Pappa Al Pomodoro Sauce and Crocker’s Folly Quinoa Salad. I opted for the Beef Tartar & Black Truffle with Chives, Paprika, Red Onions & Free Range Egg Yolk (£17). This was a great combination of flavours and was beautifully presented. My wife ordered Scallops with Cod Croquet & Pea and Beetroot Cream (£14), which she enjoyed so much that I had to beg to sample one of the scallops! The main course options offer a good variety including Pan Fried Whole Sea Bass (£22), Roasted Mediterranean Quiche (£12), and Pan Fried Lamb Cannon (£22). There is also a selection of options you can choose from the Josper Grill including Rib Eye Steak 300g, Angus Beef Fillet, Rack of Lamb and Whole Grilled Baby Chicken (£20-£28). How could I resist one on my favourite dishes, Lobster Tagliolini (£24), cooked in Lobster and Tomato Bisque? The lobster meat was deliciously tender and
generously portioned, being complemented perfectly by the delicious Bisque. My wife’s choice was the Pan Fried Whole Sea Bass (£22), flavoured with Chopped Tomato, Fresh Basil and Black Olives and served with Rosemary & Thyme Potatoes. Our son chose the Soy Marinated Pork Belly (£16), served with Potato Ponte Nuovo & Apple Cream, which provided another tasting opportunity for me and was quite delicious and not too fatty, as pork belly can sometimes be. The wine list is extensive and includes a good range of wines, priced from £24 a bottle. We opted for a bottle of Te Kairanga Pinot Noir (New Zealand) to accompany our main courses and were pleasantly surprised by the quality and flavour. Housed behind the huge bar, the cocktail and spirit options are extensive, and it seems from the menu that they can pretty much create whatever drink you feel like! I imagine a cold Gin & Tonic is perfect on The Outdoor Terrace in the summer, whilst I think we would have no problem in sampling some of the Crocker’s Folly Signature Cocktails in The 1898 Bar is the winter months. There are also over 30 options of tea and coffee to enjoy all year round. Desserts are priced at £6.50, apart from the Selection of Cheeses with Biscuits & Chutney, which is £9. I opted for this, as it seemed like the perfect follow on from my Lobster dish, and I managed to polish off most of the cheese platter. My wife had the Pistachio Mousse Mille-Feuille, as recommended by our waiter, served with Lavender Cream. She (along with a little help) www.americaninbritain.co.uk
ate every morsel and declared it to be one of the best desserts she had ever eaten! Our son chose the Chocolate Mousse Bombe, and stayed very quiet for the next ten or so minutes, sadly not leaving any for me to try. Filled with Raspberry Coulis and 70% Dark Chocolate Mousse, he really enjoyed the flavours, which was somewhat of a surprise as he doesn’t usually like dark chocolate, with its high cocoa content. The service at Crocker’s Folly is friendly and laid back, providing a good match with the ambience of the place, which in spite of its grandeur, retains a ‘pub’ like feel. On a pleasant and balmy summer’s evening, we found it hard to leave our comfortable table, but we would have been equally happy sitting outside, or even sipping cocktails in The 1898 Bar. Next time we’ll go on a chilly wintry evening and sit somewhere cosy, hopefully near the fireplace – I bet it’s wonderful! You must give this restaurant a visit, and when you do go you may even recognise the place as we hear it’s been given a starring role in a host of films, among them Gregorys Girl, Reds, An Education and Captain America: The First Avenger. I am sure that Frank Crocker would have been pleased to know that his great ‘folly’ has found its way into stardom (of a sort), and he would be delighted at the superb job The Maroush Group have done in bringing this true gem back to life.
35 Great Queen Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2B 5AA www.shoryuramen.com Japanese food is really popular nowadays, as it is not only very tasty, but also healthy, and that is a heady combination in this weight conscious world. There are many restaurants providing a variety of foods from the orient, but Shoryu Ramen is a cut above these and it has been recommended in the Michelin Guide 2014 and 2015. Shoryu Ramen specialises in Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen from the Hakata district of Fukuoka city on the southern island of Kyushu, Japan. As I am sure everyone knows Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen is a style of ramen made with a thick, rich, white pork soup and thin, straight ramen noodles, and the recipe is specially crafted by their executive chef Kanji Furukawa, who was born and raised in the area. Creating the rich and creamy pork stock which forms the basis of all of the ramen bowls takes over 12 hours of cooking, and rather than explaining all of the ingredients and the process, as this may put you off(!), suffice to say that the time and effort taken, to create the ramen produces a final soup that wouldn’t be out of place in Japan. To make the perfect Ramen you also need the right noodles and Shoryu Ramen have used exclusive Soryu flour to make the perfect hoomen (thin noodles). You can then customise these noodles by choosing how you wish them to be cooked – very hard, hard, medium or soft. The final components are the added ingredients to make the various offerings, 4
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and these vary depending on what you order. I visited the Covent Garden restaurant, located just a short stroll from the main plaza. Please note that you can’t book tables, so it is just a turn up and dine system, but be warned you also will not be seated until all of your party have arrived. The décor is minimalistic, but there is a cool buzz in the restaurant and the wooden tables are reasonably spaced to allow diners to have privacy, but also not feel all alone. As we entered Shoryu Ramen, one of the staff banged a gong, a gesture I hope to welcome me to the place, rather than a warning we were coming! I like restaurants that know what they do best and focus on this rather than having a menu that resembles War and Peace. Shoryu Ramen has one of the shortest I have encountered, as it is only a one page menu with two sections, Ramen Noodles and Sides. On seeing this I thought excellent, as it would be easy to make a choice, but how wrong was I? Under the ramen heading you have a variety of options including a Kimchi Seafood Tonkotsu (£14.90) with a variety of prawns, scallops and squid nestling in the noodles and also the more indulgent Truffle Tonkotsu (£18) (only found at the Covent Garden restaurant) which was a large bowl of a rich comforting soup packed with noodles and slices of tender pork, all delicately flavoured with truffle. I was struggling again to decide, and turned to the waitress for some much needed advice, and after explaining what my tastes were, I was recommended the Green Curry Ramen (£12.50). This was a perfect choice, as a generous portion of prawns and chicken along with the noodles, seaweed, red chilli and lime all bathed in a tangy rich and creamy green curry sauce was delicious, and will keep me coming back again and again. I am reliably informed that you can’t have ramen without gyoza, even though they are normally considered Chinese food and not Japanese, and at Shoryu Ramen these fried dumplings are filled with tender pork and served in a scalding hot cast iron skillet, so watch your hands (£4 for 3 pieces, £7 for 6). I personally prefer my gyozu to have a little more umph, so added a little garlic which I
crushed myself from the bulb provided on the table, but that is down to personal taste. The other sides we selected were the Shoryu Bun and the Tiger Prawn Tempura (£9). The buns are light and fluffy and it is good to see that they are made daily at Shoryu Ramen’s own bakery. There are a number of fillings for these buns including Soy Marinated Chicken, Grilled Halloumi and Shimeji Mushrooms, and Tiger Prawns, and our selection, the Char Siu Pork Belly with Japanese Mayo (£4.50 for 1 piece, £7.50 for 2 pieces), and these were a perfect accompaniment to my creamy ramen. If you feel a little extravagant then go for the Wagu Beef filled ones as the meat is perfectly marbled and melts in your mouth (1 piece £8.50). I love tempura and prawns, and when they are put together they just tick every box, and here this is no exception. The prawns are meaty and the batter light and crisp, just how I like it. I usually find that healthy food rarely fills me up, but this time, after my Ramen and sides, I was comfortably full, and was grateful that the desserts recognise this and there is nothing too heavy on offer. I selected the Yuzu Cheesecake (£5.90) and my wife chose a Salted Caramel Mochi Ice Cream (£3 for 1 piece, £7.90 for 3 pieces). The Yuzu fruits taste closely resembles a mixture of grapefruit and mandarin orange, and is quite tart, which gives the cheesecake a fresh and clean taste. Mochi Ice Cream is a small, round dessert ball consisting of a soft, pounded sticky rice cake (mochi) formed around the salted caramel ice cream filling. The ice cream flavours the confection, while the mochi adds sweetness and texture, and the ice cream was a great way to end a lovely meal. The wine list, including numerous sake’s, caters for all tastes and pockets, and you will always find something to complement your dishes. The Liverpool Street and Soho restaurants have a particularly large range of wines and specialise in Japanese favourites, Shochu, Umeshu and of course Sake, and indeed have the largest range in the UK with over 130 to choose from. I passed on sake this time, but when I return, and I will, I may just take that plunge and partake.
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Salcombe & South Hams, South Devon
Holidays to Devon and the West Country were the staple of my childhood, even the mere mention of the county conjures up memories of huddling in small coves behind colourful windbreaks, jumping through crashing waves and trying to dig to Australia, which was the eternal quest of my brother and I. Years later I was drawn back to the region to study for a degree, and fell in love with Devon all over again. There is the charm of the many quaint, chocolate box villages, the raw rugged beauty Copyright The Winking Prawn â€“ Seafood Platter Special
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of Dartmoor and the beautiful coastline with its abundance of small rocky coves and sandy beaches. One place I had never visited, but had heard a great deal about was Salcombe, so it was with great expectation we set off with our two boys to visit the South Hams region on the South Coast of Devon. The South Hams is a region of rural and coastal Devon, much of which is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, stretching as far as the edges of Dartmoor
National Park and featuring one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the UK which spans between Torbay and Plymouth. Our initial destination was the Thurlestone Hotel where we would be staying for the next two nights. This hotel is nestled in the small village of Thurlestone; a charming place that provides the ideal base for exploring the region, complete with a shop/post office, pub and golf course with stunning panoramic views. From here you can access the South West coastal path within a few minutes and can walk in either direction to access sandy beaches along with smaller secluded coves. We were blessed with good weather during our stay, so following our breakfast on both mornings we set out to explore on foot, ending up at beautiful Bantham beach one day and Thurlestoneâ€™s own beach the next, with its iconic arched rock from which the village takes its name. The Thurlestone Hotel is family owned and has an impressive array of facilities making it an ideal place to visit with the whole family, including the dog! Indeed, while we were there we noticed quite a few family groups spanning several generations who had all come on holiday together; we could see why, because there is something here to please everyone. The choice of sporting activities includes a 9-hole golf course, badminton, squash and tennis courts, an outdoor heated swimming pool, croquet lawn and table tennis. For those with relaxation in mind the spa comprises a swimming pool,
The Thurlestone Hotel
fitness suite, hydrotherapy pool, steam room, sauna and laconium, along with treatment rooms. I had never (knowingly) used a laconium before, but Google reliably informs me that it is a dry sweating room in which the heat radiates evenly and is held at around 60° making it a good alternative for anyone who finds a traditional sauna too hot, i.e. me! For the dogs, there is the myriad of ‘walkies’ opportunities just outside the door, along with thoughtful touches such as blankets and water bowls. The attractive gardens offer tucked away nooks ideal for enjoying peace and quiet over a cup of tea, or alternatively there is the outside terrace, with its stunning views across the coastline and Thurlestone Rock. In fact, you are really spoilt for choice when it comes to eating and drinking as the lounges, bar, restaurant and poolside dining area all offer spectacular views in the most comfortable surroundings. After spending time in the outdoor pool we checked into our room which was spacious and comfortable, with a separate lounge/ bedroom for the boys. They were delighted to find that just along the corridor were the children’s play rooms, featuring a whole array of activities, including games consoles, board games and large screen for watching movies. These rooms have been recently refurbished with great attention to detail, and offer a really appealing, well equipped space for children of all ages. There is also entertainment for children through the school holidays at Big T’s Surf Club which includes, amongst many other activities, magicians, movies & popcorn, cocktail making, arts and crafts and sports. Breakfast was a very civilised affair. The buffet offered a good selection of cereals, fresh fruit, yoghurts, pastries and juices. Our boys’ measure of a good breakfast is whether or not there is Nutella available - and I’m pleased www.theamericanhour.com
to report that it made the grade! The muffins and pancakes were an added bonus. Cooked breakfast is ordered from the menu, and I particularly enjoyed the smoked haddock with poached egg, whilst my husband tucked in to the full English complete with a side of baked beans - his measure of a good breakfast! Visit www.thurlestone.co.uk for further information. A great place to start any visit to a new area is the Tourist Information Office, and the Salcombe branch is so friendly you may end up chatting away a whole morning. There is so much on offer in the area; you can learn to sail, hire a dinghy, charter a yacht, go canoeing, kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding. Then there’s surfing, fishing, power boating, rib riding, coastal walking, golf (both Thurlestone and Bigbury golf clubs have stunning coastal views) or just relaxing on one of the beautiful beaches. Equally enjoyable is the opportunity to mooch round the characterful streets of Salcombe or Kingsbridge taking in the atmosphere, views and shopping opportunities. If you love arts and crafts, like I do, then you will be totally spoilt by the abundance of galleries and small shops selling local artists work, along with the many independent retailers selling everything from designer clothing and shoes to hand made pottery, jewellery and accessories. Further afield you can visit Woodlands Adventure Park, Pennywell Farm, South Devon Chilli Farm, Sharpham Vineyard and Avon Mill Garden Centre, along with many other places, including a local cinema, which you can find leaflets and information about at the Tourist Information
Centre in Salcombe or Kingsbridge. From this enormous range of activities, we had booked a family lesson in Stand-up Paddle Boarding (SUP). The weather was perfect as we set off to Bigbury-on-Sea, a short drive round the coast through some of Devon’s narrowest country lanes. Bigbury has a large sandy beach and looks across to Burgh Island, which can be reached by walking across the tidal causeway or taking a ride in the sea tractor, the only one of its kind in the world. Burgh Island served as a retreat for Agatha Christie in the 1930s, and she wrote and set two of her novels here. We headed to the Discovery Surf School to get kitted out and meet Hazel, our instructor. The lesson began on the beach, and after a quick familiarisation of the board, paddle and introduction to the technique, we were in the sea wading out beyond the body boarders and paddled to the calm waters where we could practice. Our 13-year-old and 10-yearold proved to be naturals, mastering the art of balancing and paddling within the first ten minutes. My husband and I, however, were a different matter! Getting up onto your knees it the first step, and not too tricky. From this position you can paddle around happily, but the very name suggests that this does not really count as real Paddleboarding, so we were determined to get on our feet and stay there for more than a couple of minutes! It is very satisfying once you manage to stay balanced and paddle around, and is a really enjoyable, relaxing sport (when you stop falling in at every wobble), and one which I
Discovery Surf School
would love to return to. Hazel, our instructor was really relaxed and encouraging and we would thoroughly recommend Discovery Surf School if you visit the area. They offer a whole range of lessons including kayaking, for groups, families, or one to one. A 2-hour private family lesson for Paddleboarding is £125. Visit www.discoverysurf.com or email martin@ discoverysurf.com for further information. I cannot write about South Devon without mentioning food and drink. The other abiding memory of family holidays here, apart from the ones I mentioned at the beginning, are the delicious ice cream and cream teas - both of which you must sample if you visit, especially the locally made Salcombe Dairy Ice Cream. As you’d hope for by the sea, there is an enormous choice of pubs, restaurants and cafés serving local produce, and in particular locally caught crab and seafood. We visited ‘The Winking Prawn’ in North Sands, Salcombe. This popular beach café/restaurant has a really relaxed vibe. Looking onto North Sands beach there is an outdoor dining area where barbeque food is served until 8:30pm, or you can choose to dine inside, as we did. The shabby chic interior with its pastel coloured décor along with whitewashed wooden flooring, tables and chairs gives it the perfect seaside ambience. Being a family of great prawn-lovers we ordered the deep fried Pop Corn Shrimps with chilli dip, along with the Whole King Prawns Cooked with Crushed Garlic Butter to start. These were quickly devoured, and followed by our main course choices of Sea Bream Fillet with Chilli, Soy & Ginger Salsa and Half a Lobster Grilled with Garlic, Parsley & Lemon Butter. The table next to us tucked into an impressive Fruits De Mer platter with half a Lobster, which looked amazing (see the photograph for an idea as to what this looks like!). Our boys ordered the Tempura prawns and fries from the children’s menu. Our empty plates were testament to the quality and taste of the food. We just about had room to share a couple of their impressive ice cream sundaes, made with the aforementioned Salcombe Dairy Ice Cream. The Banoffeebocker Glory was my personal favourite, whilst the Nutella lovers in my family were fighting over the Chocolate Chip Cookie Rocky Road
Image Courtesy of The Salcombe Maritime Museum
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Sundae! We also loved the fun touches at the Winking Prawn such as the dressing up box, buckets and spades and ‘face stand ins’. Visit www.winkingprawngroup.co.uk for further information and please note that reservations are recommended. Salcombe and nearby Slapton have a strong American connection, as we discovered through our visit to the Salcombe Maritime Museum. This small, quirky little museum has display cases filled with artefacts, booklets and many photographs dedicated to the time that the American forces were stationed here during the Second World War. During 1943 many of the homes, hotels and public buildings in Salcombe were requisitioned and occupied by the United
States Navy. Nissen huts were assembled to house the troops, and the waterfront became a hive of industry as the repair and maintenance of landing craft became the primary objective. In 1944, much larger ships, along with barrage balloons, appeared in the harbour as D-day preparations were made. Boats were moored two and three abreast as the day approached, and then on the 4th June 1944, 66 ships of the US Navy sailed from Salcombe to the Normandy beaches to take part in the assault on the enemy. This invaluable contribution to the war effort is commemorated by a plaque on one of Salcombe’s streets bearing the name ‘Normandy Way’. The Maritime Museum is a treasure trove of other artefacts and interesting tales of shipwreck and bravery at sea and really is worth a visit if you are interested in the town’s colourful history. Visit www.salcombemuseum.org.uk. After taking in a final morning of walking, swimming and table tennis at the hotel, our trip to South Hams had sadly come to an end, and it was time to embark on the journey home. This part of the country holds a very special place in my heart and now that I have had a taste of all that South Hams in particular has to offer, I will definitely be back in the near future with my family, hopefully to improve on those Paddleboarding skills. For further ideas, help or advice contact the Salcombe Tourist Information via their website www.salcombeinformation.co.uk or call them on 01548 843927.
Tewkesbury Park Hotel
The UK has many unsung areas within its shores, bursting with amazing history and stories, and Tewkesbury is a perfect example of this. With a rich, vibrant history and a beautiful waterside setting, there is plenty for everyone to discover in Tewkesbury. You can take in the stunning scenery by taking a stroll beside the River Severn, or a boat trip along the Avon, or head to Tewkesbury Abbey, an imposing feature of the town’s landscape for nearly 900 years. Renowned the world over for its fine Norman Tower, ornate 12th Century ceiling and stunning stained glass windows, the Abbey is one of Gloucestershire’s most popular tourist attractions, second only to Gloucester Cathedral. The Abbey is just the start of your insight into Tewkesbury’s history, as it is also the site of one of the most influential battles in the War of the Roses, where in 1471 the House of Lancaster was completely defeated by the House of York, putting King Edward IV firmly on the throne. Tewkesbury is also a stone’s throw away from
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the Cotswolds, and just 10 minutes from the M5, and whilst visiting this are we stayed at The Tewkesbury Park Hotel, which has wonderful views over the Cotswold Hills on one side and Malverns on the other. The hotel’s core is a beautifully proportioned 18th century property which, although I don’t know, I can surmise from the size and class of the building, was the property of a wealthy individual, and to this a number of additions have been added once the building became a hotel and golf club. The new décor inside belies the slightly dated exterior, as it is smart-casual, clean and fresh, and the vaulted ceiling gives a feeling of light and space. Once you pass the check in desks and traverse a few stairs you are presented with a cocktail bar and the public lounges, all newly decorated with modern blues and mellow yellows where bar snacks and small bites are served and diners can sit to take their after dinner drinks. My wife thought the décor was stunning, and would now quite like to redecorate our house to a similar style!
Tewkesbury Park Hotel has a variety of rooms, all recently decorated ranging from what the website describes as ‘just right’ rooms which are cosy, through a ‘touch of class’, which are stylish rooms with breath-taking views, luxury interiors, Nespresso coffee machines, Grohe rain showers and Smart TVs, through to the ‘Indulgence’ and ‘Opulent’ rooms which are located in the main building. These suites would grace the best hotels in London with beautiful bay windows, sumptuous furnishings, Neal’s Yard toiletries, many with double ended baths and bathroom TV’s, but with something even better, sumptuous views over central England’s rolling hills. We were lucky enough to stay in the Richard III Suite, and I have to say it is one of the best rooms we have stayed in anywhere in the world. The quality of the rooms continues with the facilities on offer with a par 73 golf course, which provides a good challenge for both the good and not so good golfer. Other facilities include two tennis courts and two squash courts, a gym and an indoor swimming pool.
HOTEL REVIEW There is also a sauna and an outdoor hot tub for those who prefer to relax rather than workout. Also new this year are onsite treatment rooms, and although the initial offerings are limited for now, the quality of the massages make up for this, as my massage really eased away all the stresses of the day. The owners of Tewkesbury are really putting their money where their mouths are as they are making a significant investment to make this a premier resort, and it is well down the road to becoming just that. It is a perfect location to visit not only historic Tewkesbury but also the Cotswolds and central England and when you do visit go that extra bit and book an opulent suite, you wonâ€™t regret it. This is a hotel of two halves however, which is reflected in its star rating of 3 stars. On entering the hotel my wife was amazed that the rating was only 3 stars, but not all of the hotel has been refurbished yet, so if you are dining in the restaurant we suggest that you request the top tier as that has been refurbished. The golf club area needs updating, although we were told that this is happening in the near future, but donâ€™t let this put you off. The rooms are of a very high standard, there are several leisure facilities, and once finally complete, I am sure this hotel will have four, if not five stars, and they will be well deserved. For further information please visit www.tewkesburypark.co.uk
WEALTH MANAGEMENT The Role Of Foreign Exchange In Investing Wealth management is the art of managing risk in an effort to optimise reward. For US citizens living in the UK, risk management needs to go beyond the classic issues of retirement planning involving how much money will be needed to retire, or at what age is retirement feasible. Expats need to also understand whether any foreign exchange risk lurks in their underlying portfolios. For expats who are settling overseas for the long run, foreign exchange risk is complex but highly manageable – if you know how to identify and then anticipate the hazards. This has become even more important in the wake of Brexit and subsequent Sterling weakness. There are three areas where US citizens are likely to take on risk without always understanding the pitfalls. This includes: (1) Planning investments in terms of their future liabilities - Will future expenses be mostly in dollars, pounds, or a combination of currencies? (2) Being mindful of how to hold cash - Should cash be held in dollars, euros or some other currency? (3) Not converting currency from one to another to make an investment decision due to exchange rate costs - subsequently ignoring the eventual underlying currency exposures of the investment made. We explore each of these in a bit more detail below and provide tips for US expats on how to take charge of foreign exchange risks.
Maintain buying power by selecting the right currency now for fixed income investing Traditional investment portfolios generally break down into three basic categories – fixed income, stocks, and cash. Each category plays a special role. Cash is important for emergencies; stocks are the growth engine, and fixed income investments should provide the basis for daily expenses after retirement or for mitigating the overall level of volatility in a portfolio. Foreign exchange risk in fixed income portfolios is singularly important to manage, and you should consider having the right mix of dollar and pound-based fixed income investments. US citizens living overseas should look at matching the income from their investments to the local currency where they will be incurring most of their expenses. This will protect from exchange 12
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rate fluctuation. You don’t want to suddenly discover after decades of saving that the largest component of your portfolio is in dollars rather than the currency of your liabilities or vice versa.
Pay attention to cash – is it in a local currency? Everyone needs to keep cash – or cash equivalents – on hand for emergencies. In our experience we sometimes find that globetrotting clients can be indifferent to the currency in which they hold cash. If you are living in the UK and keep cash accounts in euros as well as dollars, then you are subjecting yourself to currency risk. This is true for cash equivalents, like US Treasury bills or money market funds. If you suddenly need £30,000 to replace your car, you don’t want to convert your cash from another currency. The foreign exchange market is vast – more than $5.3 trillion trades daily. But the price volatility is considerable. You could get lucky, and the currency you hold could strengthen. But in effect, you are playing roulette with your reserves.
Don’t be afraid to change dollars to invest in US-based global stock funds Stocks, real estate and commodities – these are the assets that can help to power growth in a nest egg. For many US investors living abroad, buying US-based funds is typically the most efficient way to build a globally diversified portfolio of real assets. Diversifying is critical: it helps to outweigh the true risk of currency fluctuation and keep the return engine of a portfolio humming. We have found that a number of investors hesitate to swap their pounds for dollars. They think that they will get killed on exchange rate costs. However, if your wealth adviser has correctly set up efficient foreign exchange banking services, those transaction rates should be trivial. Investors also mistakenly assume that they are taking on dollar risk if they exchange pounds for dollars in order to invest in a US global stock fund. Buying US funds is often considered the most tax-efficient venue for expats and the investor needs to distinguish between the denomination of the investment and the true foreign risk exposure. The currency risk for a US person permanently living in the UK, buying a dollar denominated fund, that buys stocks in Europe, is the movement between the euro and
pound - not the relationship between the US dollar and pound. If you exchange pounds to buy a dollar-based emerging market fund, then the foreign exchange risk is pound vs. emerging market currencies. There is no dollar risk. The dollar is merely a reporting currency. A detailed example helps illustrate this point: Suppose you are a US person living in the UK and want to buy 100 shares of the euro stock fund denominated in dollars. At the time, the fund is priced at $1.30 – or a total $130. Before buying the fund, you need to swap your pounds for dollars. Let us say £1 can buy $1.30. So you will need to exchange £100 to buy 100 shares of the fund. Finally, you should also consider the underlying value of the stocks in the euro stock fund in euros. Let us assume that it is worth €1.15 /share or €115 for 100 shares. Based on these values, how many dollars can a euro buy? It’s a simple ratio. Divide the value of the dollar ($1.30) by the value of the euros (€1.15) - or 1.30/1.15. That equals $1.13. The euro/dollar exchange rate is therefore €1:$1.13. Fast-forward a year and the euro stock fund has appreciated 20% in local currency: The underlying investment has gone from €115 to €138. But the dollar hasn’t stood still; one pound can now buy $1.50, up from $1.30 a year earlier. In this example, the relationship between sterling and the euro remains unchanged. £1 is still worth €1.15. (Of course, in real life, currencies are constantly changing relative to one another. But the point here is that the risk remains between the sterling and the euro). Bad news for you? Sharpen your pencil. Euro stock fund value = €138, up 20% from a year earlier. How much is that worth in weakened dollars? Remember, this is a ratio. If £1 = $1.50 and £1 = €1.15 then €1 = 1.50/1.15 = $1.30 Can you guess whether the US investor who will convert his dollar investment back into sterling has lost anything by using a dollar vehicle for a euro-based stock fund? First convert the value of the euro stock fund into sterling. To calculate the new value of the fund in sterling, divide by 1.15 €138/1.15 = £120 Finally, let’s convert Sterling into dollars. Remember, sterling can now buy $1.50, up from $1.30 earlier; Again, we just multiply the values: £120 x 1.50 = $180 ...which turns out to be the exact same result
WEALTH MANAGEMENT you would have achieved if you had invested directly into the Euro fund with your dollars: €138 x 1.30 = $180 You can clearly see that investors receive the same return whether they invest in the local currency investment or an investment vehicle investing in the same underlying investments but denominated in a different currency. Using investment vehicles denominated in dollars reduces the regulatory, transaction and operational costs and does not change the investment risk. It does add marginally to the transaction costs as you will convert currency at the beginning and the end of the investment, but if the investment is held, like it should be, for an extended period of time, then this cost should be immaterial. When it comes to stocks, the ups and downs of foreign exchange can indeed enhance or hurt returns in the short-run. Some managers may use fancy techniques to hedge – or protect - investors from the vagaries of the foreign exchange market. In the long-term, however, academic studies show that hedging isn’t all that effective when it comes to stocks. Global diversification is seen as the best friend for savers. When investors understand just where currency risk lies, they can make choices about how to manage that risk. A misunderstanding of these risks can result in investors not being able to achieve their goals.
Risk Warnings and Important Information The value of investments and the income from them can fall as well as rise. You may not get back what you invest. Past performance is not an indicator of future results. The above article is for educational purposes and does not take into account the specific goals or requirements of individuals and is not to be construed as advice or recommendation to invest. You should carefully consider the suitability of any strategies along with your financial situation prior to making any decisions on an appropriate strategy. MASECO LLP trading as MASECO Private Wealth is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, the Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate tax advice. MASECO Private Wealth is not a tax specialist.
financial interests to design and implement strategies for tax-efficient and risk-managed asset growth. She has written numerous white papers regarding fundamental financial planning and investment strategies for US connected individuals and has previously been a speaker on financial planning topics at numerous places including both The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). Andrea graduated from University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce with a degree in Finance and Management and completed her MBA at Imperial College London. Andrea holds her UK Investment Advice Diploma and US Series 65 license.
Andrea Solana is Head of Advanced Planning at MASECO Private Wealth where she helps to provide financial planning and wealth structuring advisory services to US expatriates in the UK and British nationals in the US. Andrea spent the first decade of her career with a well-known Washington DC based international tax and global wealth management firm where she gained considerable experience advising high net worth individuals with multi-jurisdictional
TAX ISSUES Mid-Year Tax Round-up What follows is somewhat different to the type of tax article you might expect to find in “American in Britain”. The editor understands that most readers are only interested in being presented with a limited amount of tax content. Furthermore, that material should be precise in its presentation and seen to have direct relevance to the everyday affairs of the readership. Unless there is a really ‘hot topic’ which everyone is asking questions about, articles concerning tax will normally appear late in the year and combine some year-end planning ideas with a general review of developments over the previous 12 months. However, because we are presently living in ‘interesting times’, the editor thought a mid-year review to be appropriate. Writing the present piece within the editor’s precision guidelines on tax content has involved a novel challenge. Considering the ongoing tax environment for US citizens and US ‘green card’ holders living and working in the UK bears a startling resemblance to playing musical chairs, but with the added challenge of having the lights turned off. You know where the chairs were located when it went dark, but have no certainty as to what you will see when it becomes light again. Even how long the light switch will remain in the ‘off’ position is a matter for speculation.
Remittance Basis Taxation In The UK
The Path We Thought We Were On In the UK, a major change to the taxation of individuals not domiciled in the UK (non-doms) was announced in the 2015 Budget presented by George Osborne. For two categories of nondoms, the remittance basis of taxation would no longer be available. This change was to take effect in April 2017, but would be legislated in two tranches. A consultation in 2015 on the ‘easier’ aspects would lead to draft legislation for inclusion in Finance Bill 2016. A second consultation on the more difficult stuff would be launched in early 2016, leading to draft legislation to be included in Finance Bill 2017. This was always an ambitious timetable given the inherent complexities of making the change. In the meantime, no significant change was expected to the way the US taxes its citizens and residents working abroad. Even without the gridlock on tax matters which has gripped Capitol Hill for some time, there was no sign of any real push to change the way that the US taxes Americans overseas. Things Start To Go Off Course The first indication that the UK was suffering a timetabling difficulty came in January 2016. A consultation document on the second tranche 14
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of proposed changes failed to materialise. It finally appeared in mid-August. The Referendum On EU Membership The referendum had two impacts on the Cameron government’s non-dom project. Firstly, there was a period of ‘purdah’ ahead of the referendum itself. If the second nondom consultation document was not released to the public prior to the purdah curtain coming down, then, even if ready, it could not be published until after the referendum vote had taken place. No consultation document emerged pre-purdah. In the wake of the referendum vote for Brexit, along came a new spanner in the works. George Osborne is no longer either Chancellor, or to be found anywhere in government! Rightly or wrongly, the non-dom project had always been seen as bearing his personal stamp. In the Treasury team, David Gauke had been the minister with responsibility for taxation matters for the past six years. He has now been promoted, which leaves the non-dom project in the hands of both a new Chancellor and a new ‘Taxation Minister’. Unsurprisingly, the priority of both is to get to grips with their new briefs rather than simply let what was in the pipeline proceed on autopilot. So, albeit on a smaller scale, there was a ‘pause for thought’ similar to that on the proposed Hinkley Point nuclear power station. When the long delayed consultation document finally appeared, it posed many new questions. We are currently in the midst of a new period of formal consultation in which The Treasury is actively seeking input on how to frame workable legislation. The results of this exercise will not see the light of day until draft legislation is published about a week after the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement on 23 November 2016. However, there was one really welcome piece of news in the consultation document. There is to be an one-off opportunity to clean up offshore ‘mixed funds’. Taking advantage of that one chance to put matters in order will enable any currently ‘trapped’ non-taxable constituent to be brought into the UK. A full discussion of mixed funds is beyond the scope of this article. If you think you might currently have nontaxable money ‘trapped’ offshore, you should speak to your UK tax adviser. As A Non-Dom, What Should I Do? There will be a major change to the UK tax landscape in April 2017. You need to be thinking about that now and are definitely in the ‘too dangerous to delay’ category if you are a non-dom, currently claiming the remittance basis of taxation, and either:
• You were born in the UK with a UK domicile of origin, or • As at 6 April 2017, you will have been resident in the UK for 15 or more of the previous 20 tax years. The remittance basis taxation will no longer be available to you after 5 April 2017. If you have not already done so, you should be speaking to your UK tax adviser now. You need to make use of all the time that is available in order to thoroughly discuss what planning might be appropriate, and then to implement any course of action agreed with your tax adviser. For anyone in either category who is not already treated as having a deemed domicile in the UK for Inheritance Tax (IHT) purposes, the conversation with your UK tax adviser needs to cover IHT planning as well.
Other UK Uncertainties Quite apart from the non-dom changes which may affect some of them, participants in the funds industry also have to come to terms with new rules that have brought a major change to the tax topography which impacts them. Unfortunately, affected individuals find themselves in a similar situation to sailors trying to navigate home waters in the aftermath of a major storm. In the latter situation, it might be common knowledge that the storm shifted a major sandbank. However, even for those who think they know its new location, that sandbank represents a hazard until such time as its new co-ordinates have been accurately charted. A seemingly unrelenting wind of change has presented the funds industry with a series of UK tax changes. Although these are all enshrined in legislation, the situation is not as straightforward as that of the sailor looking at his new chart of the sandbank. Some of the tax changes interact with one another, meaning that there is not a straightforward generic ‘answer’. Additionally, there are areas where the bare bones of what is complex legislation need to be augmented with formal guidance from Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC). In the absence of straightforward ‘generic’ answers, individuals working in the funds industry need to evaluate with their tax adviser how their own situations play out in this new tax landscape. Once again, this process should start as soon as possible.
Do You Receive UK Tax Relief On Pension Plan Contributions? A US expatriate working in the UK might receive UK tax relief on pension plan contributions in a
TAX ISSUES number of different ways: • Relief given automatically on any employer contributions to a UK registered pension scheme • Relief claimed via the person’s selfassessment tax return on individual contributions made to a UK registered pension scheme • Relief claimed via the person’s self-assessment tax return on ongoing individual and employer contributions to a home country scheme with an established history of contributions prior to that person having become UK resident. Individuals in any of these scenarios are subject to the UK lifetime allowance (the LA). In the case of a UK registered scheme, the LA takes into account both contributions and growth within the plan. When an overseas scheme is involved, only the contributions which receive UK tax relief are considered. The LA does not prevent a pension pot from growing beyond a particular limit, but should the pot exceed the LA, then a penal charge of 55% applies at the time when that excess is distributed. The LA is currently £1 million, but was previously higher. As of 6 April 2016 it reduced from £1.5 million to £1.25 million. The latest reduction to £1 million took place on 6 April 2016. Whenever there is a reduction in the LA, there will be some individuals, the value of whose pension pot was within the old limit but exceeds new one. Provisions exist which allow affected individuals to protect their LA at the previous level by filing an election with HMRC. Three varieties of LA protection are currently available for election: • Fixed Protection 2016 • Individual Protection 2016 • Individual protection 2014 A detailed discussion of these rules is beyond the scope of the present article. If you think you may be affected, you should discuss the matter with either your tax adviser or a UK accredited financial adviser. The important practical point to note is a recent HMRC announcement that applications for all varieties of LA protection can now only be made online. To make an online application, a pension scheme member will need to login via their personal HMRC Online Services Account. If you do not already have one of these accounts, the online application process to create one is straightforward. However, for security reasons it is a few days before the account becomes operational. Thus, if everything is left to the last minute, your online account may not be operational in time to utilise it for a timely LA protection application.
company which are non-transferrable and forfeitable if you cease to be an employee before a specified date. However, it is possible to elect to have an income recognition event in the year the employer makes a grant of restricted property. This is called a Section 82(b) election and in the correct circumstances can be good tax planning. A detailed discussion of the circumstances in which this election might be beneficial is beyond the scope of this article. To be effective, the election is made in the form of a written statement. This must be submitted to both the IRS and the employer not later than 30 days after the employer grants the restricted property. None of the above has changed, but previously there was a further requirement that a copy of the election had to be attached to the US Federal Income tax return for the year in question. New regulations have removed that requirement. The new rule takes effect for 2016 tax returns, but any individual taxpayer has the option to apply the same rule to his/her 2015 tax return. So if you made a Section 82(b) election in 2015 and have still to file your 2015 tax return, there is no need to attach a copy of the election to that return.
And Finally, Some Non-Tax News US citizens who have lived outside the US for a long time may experience difficulties with opening/maintaining a US bank account if they are unable to provide the bank with either evidence of a US residence or a US mailing address.Anyone in this situation might want to look at the website of “American Citizens Abroad”. This organisation is often simply referred to as ACA. ACA members are now able to become members of the State Department Federal Credit Union and open a US-based, US dollar denominated bank account with that organisation.
taxation with over 35 years’ experience. John’s career and tax training started within a Big 4 accountancy firm before he became Regional Director of Tax for a global law firm, overseeing that firm’s own tax affairs in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. John returned to public practice in 2011 and joined Westleton Drake in 2016. John is an acknowledged expert on how the US taxes its citizens living and working outside the USA. His ‘in house’ law firm experience is of great value to international professional partnerships seeking to conduct business in the UK. John has had articles published in several US industry titles including the Tax Planning International Review, the Tax Management International Journal, and BNA – Daily Tax Report. In the UK, John has in the past contributed to Tolley’s Tax Planning, providing the chapters on working in the UK and working overseas. He has served on the British American Business Inc (BABi) tax forum for over 20 years and represents BABi on HMRCs Expatriate Forum. John is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, and a Chartered Tax Adviser. To contact John, please call directly in London on +44 20 3714 1876 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
US Federal Income Tax – A Helpful Relaxation If you receive restricted property from your employer, the default treatment is no taxable income for US purposes until the tax year in which the relevant restrictions cease to apply and you acquire full beneficial interest. The most common type of restricted property award involves shares in the employer www.theamericanhour.com
John Havard, Ta x D i r e c t o r, Westleton Drake, is a specialist in international www.americaninbritain.co.uk
DAYS OUT WITH THE FAMILY
Up At The 02 Ever since I turned 40, several years ago, I have wanted to climb over the O2. I am not a climber, but do enjoy walking, especially when there are stunning views involved, and knowing that I may not make it to Sydney any time soon to climb over the Harbour Bridge, this seemed like a good alternative, especially as I had heard that climbing over the O2 has been compared to that. A good friend and I talked a lot about doing it, but never actually put our plans into action. So I was very excited to finally be taking on the challenge. Originally built as the Millennium Dome for the year 2000, it was created as a monument to space and time, and originally housed an exhibition to celebrate the new millennium. The large white marquee- type structure is one of the largest of its type in the world. It has twelve 100 m-high yellow support towers, one for each month of the year, or each hour of the clock face, representing the role played by Greenwich Mean Time; in fact the meridian line runs just to the left of the Up at The O2 walkway. In plain view it is circular, 365m in diameter (one metre for each day of the year)! and the summit of the walkway is 52m high (you guessed it, one metre for each week in the year). Now a building of architectural significance in the UK, the O2 is a well-known venue for concerts and has become one of the UK’s most recognisable landmarks, appearing in many films and TV productions. Perhaps the idea for Up at the O2 came from the dramatic sequence in the James Bond film The World is Not Enough, which sees Pierce Brosnan rolling down 16
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the roof of the O2 after a spectacular speed boat chase through the Thames. Wherever the idea came from, it has certainly captured the public’s interest as since its opening in June 2012, Up at The O2 has seen over 300,000 take the walk across the roof of The O2. Although it is possible to just turn up and buy tickets, it is strongly advisable to book in advance via the website, where you will have the choice of undertaking either the Original Climb (during the day), Sunset Climb, Twilight Climb (for views of the twinkling lights of the City after dark) or a private group climb. The cost is £28 per person for the original climb and £35 for the Sunset and Twilight options. There are a few restrictions regarding age (10 years minimum), height (at least 1.2m), and weight (not more than 21 stone), and these are detailed on the website in the FAQs section. We went as a family group of 2 adults and 2 children (aged 10 and 13) and it was a great introduction for our boys to climbing, and gaining that sense of achievement when you reach the summit; although my only previous experience of this was climbing Snowdon many years ago! On arrival you are asked to fill out a form (next of kin details required!), and introduced to your Climb Guide who takes you through everything you need to know and helps with any issues you may have with your climb suit, shoes and a safety harness. We were part of a group of around 15 people and after the obligatory photos of everyone in their climbing attire we were ready to set off. The surface is a fabric walkway suspended 2m above the roof of the O2 and has a slight bounce
to it, mirroring the surface of the tent. Initially the incline is quite steep (28°), but after a short distance it starts to level out. The safety harness is attached via a carabena to a line running the whole length of the climb, so you feel very safe, and your guide is on hand at all stages of the climb, should you need assistance. Our ascent was accompanied by beautiful sunshine, so it was a really enjoyable climb. Along the way the guide pointed out various landmarks and gave us interesting snippets of information, and when we reached the observation platform at the summit, there was the opportunity to spot many more places, ask questions or simply gaze at the spectacular 360° views. I had been told by a neighbour to ask about the only lighthouse in London, which has an interesting history, and is easily spotted from the observation platform. Our guide was pretty knowledgeable and told us about this and other landmarks that we hadn’t spotted. The descent feels quite steep, particularly the last section, but is very manageable with the strong grip provided by the footwear we had all been given. At the bottom there was a genuine feeling of achievement as we walked back to collect our belongings and took in the last 90 minutes. For anyone wanting to view London from a different perspective, and get the adrenaline pumping at the same time, Up at the O2 is the perfect way to spend an afternoon (or evening). Prices for Up at The O2 start at £28 for adults and children (over 10). To avoid disappointment, advance bookings are suggested. Book your date and time now at www.theo2.co.uk/upattheo2.
DAYS OUT WITH THE FAMILY
Go Ape!’s Segway Tour In the past I have had many amazing times at Go Ape!, swinging and climbing through trees, but when I heard that there was another option that didn’t require me to wear a harness and struggle to keep up with my kids, I was even more interested, as I am not getting any younger! This option is a Segway tour which initially didn’t appeal, but after a little thought I was more positive, and how glad was I that I went. My only other exposure to segways was the one that tried to run Usain Bolt over after winning the Olympic 100m Gold, and as they were probably very experienced, my thought was what chance did I have?! Well the simple answer is, quite a lot really, as this isn’t as hard as it may appear. Once signed up, you are given a helmet and taken to a practice area where you get an initial brief lesson on how to use it, and then it’s all hands on practice. This terrified me, as I really didn’t think that I could do this, but to my amazement it really isn’t that hard, and all you have to remember is to keep your balance and legs straight and only apply pressure forwards when you want to go forward, and lean back when you want to slow down. In no time my wife, daughter and I, were whizzing around the practice area along with everyone else. Once everyone in the group was proficient, we left the practice area and segged (not sure if it is a word, but it should be) through the forest to a designated area which had 3 different routes. These routes, listed A, B and C, increased in difficulty, ranging from the relatively easy route A to the very challenging route C, and we were left to zoom around any of them practicing our new-found skills. The routes test you to the full, and my main problem was segwaying downhill as the temptation www.theamericanhour.com
is to lean back which will just slow you down more. After about 30 minutes of zipping up and down and around challenging trails, the group all congregated again and after having our segways supped up (so they would go even faster) we started a cross country trail through the forest. This trail involved long roads (no cars) where you can get up to full speed, and although I have no idea what speed that was, it felt very fast, with the wind whistling through my helmeted hair. At the end of the hour my daughter (and to be honest I), were gutted that it was over, as we really felt like we had mastered how to use the segways
and had had such fun we really wanted more. This is a great thing to do with your children, who have to be aged 10 and over, and weigh over seven and a half stone, and on our trip there were many families, all showing that children really can learn a new skill faster than their parents, and I for one had a great time. There are several Go Ape!’s around the country, but not all do the Segway Tours, so for further information please visit www.goape.co.uk We spent an enjoyable couple of hours at Bracknell’s Go Ape!, and the staff were superb, putting safety first, although there is also a huge emphasis on enjoyment.
Longleat Ever since I was a small boy, as I was driven down to Cornwall via the A303, I have seen the sign to Longleat House, and I have always wondered what it was like, and so this summer, for the first time ever, instead of travelling on and passing by, I turned off and followed that enticing sign to Longleat, and I was not disappointed! Having left the Cornwall Road and followed the signs, my wife, daughter and I, soon arrived at the entrance to the impressive example of an Elizabethan prodigy house, the seat of the Marquis of Bath, and I wished I had visited earlier. Longleat House dominates an enormous estate of approximately 1,000 acres of landscaped parkland and 4,000 acres of woodland, and accommodates a Centre Parcs Holiday Village, as well as all of the attractions around the house, including the first drivethrough safari park outside of Africa. This safari park opened in 1966, and is home to over 500 animals including giraffes, monkeys, rhino, lions, tigers and wolves and the latest additions, cheetahs in 2011. The safari tour is an eclectic mix of large and small animals, and there are also places where you can get out, or at least have your windows open, although there are enclosures where you must have all the windows closed. It starts at Wallaby Wood, where you can get out and view the red necked wallabies, and then goes through African pygmy goats, warthogs and then ring tailed lemurs, who show amazing agility on their rope swings, before getting to the larger animals. Having cleared those zones you start seeing the more iconic African animals namely Rothschild giraffes and Grant’s zebras. I will never stop marvelling at the gracefulness of giraffes as they lollop over the ground, and to see them at such close range is a privilege. After driving through Flamingo Valley and Vulture Venue, you reach the enclosure which was my daughter’s favourite, the Monkey Jungle. Here, as you drive through the enclosure, your car is
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greeted by the monkeys who clamber over your car and take great interest in your windscreen wipers and washers. If you don’t fancy having your car examined at such close quarters you can skip this part of the tour, but my advice is take any aerials etc. off, and just take a chance, as it is great fun watching the monkeys clamber on to the cars, and if you want them on your car, my tip is flick on your windscreen wipers occasionally as this intrigues them. We spent about 20 minutes in the Monkey Jungle, and my wife and daughter didn’t want to leave it! After visiting Anne, an Asian elephant and the Big Game Park with rhinos, ostriches and camels, you can then take a break by feeding the deer out of your window by buying a cup of feed before the main attraction of the big cats. The big cats are the highlight of the safari, and their enclosures are well segregated with high fences and double gates to enter and leave through, but between these enclosures are the home to two prides of African lions, tigers, cheetahs and Canadian timber wolves, and it is a rare privilege to be so close to such majestic animals, all from the comfort of your car. The safari takes approximately 2 hours, so leave enough time to fully enjoy the experience and make sure you have a cd player as you are provided with a cd to play when you first enter Longleat, giving you informative commentary
in a really accessible way, perfect for providing information to both children and adults. Longleat is not just a safari park, with visitors also being able to visit the house and also travel on the Half Mile Lake Boat and the Jungle Express Train. The lake boat takes visitors past the enclosure of Nico, the oldest gorilla in captivity, and over to a lagoon, the home of two hippopotamuses and a colony of gorillas. On the way back the boat is followed by a number of Californian sea lions who you can feed from the side of the boat. Bags of food are on offer for £1, but be warned, the food we were given were two fish heads, so what my daughter thought would be a lovely experience, was soon given over to me, and we had great fun watching and listening to the grateful sea lion who was lucky enough to catch his lunch from us! There is also a zoo with stingrays, penguins and a number of other smaller animals, and a number of rides for smaller children, so makes sure you have allowed enough time to see all there is to see. I am so glad I decided to make that turning to Longleat and my family and I spent a lovely and fun-filled day at one of England’s premier attractions. Tickets can be bought online in advance, where you can take advantage of discounted prices, so for further information, please visit www.longleat.co.uk
Education Supporting Students Experiencing Transition At School September traditionally marks the beginning of a new school year. Long, lazy summer days with family, friends and travelling, becomes careful planning and anticipation of change and new beginnings. For some students this might be their first year going to school, or just simply the start of a new year group or senior school. For others, it could be the fresh start at a new school. Whatever transition your child might be facing, your support is key.
Starting At A New School
Starting at a new school can be daunting, even for the most confident learner. Students may feel quite unsure about establishing themselves in a new peer group and environment. Combining this challenge with getting used to new routines and new teachers takes a great deal of energy and can sometimes take longer than expected. Parents could help by talking with their children ahead of the new school year about all the positive and exciting things to look forward to, but also be realistic and reassuring about the fact that it will take time to settle and feel a sense of normality. Staying in touch with old friends reminds students that they have been successful in establishing relationships in the past and therefore, will be able to do it again. Younger children might enjoy a scrapbook or memory box of established friends. Reassuring young children about everything that will stay the same during a transition, could also offer some comfort. Parents could encourage children to draw pictures or write a list of what they are looking forward to and what they may feel concerned about. Parents and children could then think of ways to tackle the areas of concern together. Acknowledging feelings as valid and real and reassuring that the parent and child are in this together, is often far more comforting than just
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a simple assurance that “you’ll be fine”. International schools are generally well placed to support students and families through transitions. School counsellors usually meet with new students in groups or individually, giving them the opportunity to meet other new students and share experiences. It is also helpful when students understand that changes, and especially international transitions, impact all family members differently and that things usually normalise over time. A parent could further be proactive by setting up play dates or signing children up for sport and extracurricular activities where they could meet other students and build new friendships. Every school should make students feel welcome and build a sense of community in the first weeks of school. In Early Childhood and Lower School, schools can follow a Responsive Classroom approach in all classrooms. This means that teachers give much attention to students feeling safe and comfortable in the group, doing team building activities and encouraging every student to have a voice. Students start their day with Morning Meeting and special attention is given to new students integrating. Social events such “Newcomer Picnics” and the popular “Ice Cream Social” organised by some PSOs, are all ways the community reaches out and include new families.
Moving Between Year Groups
Learning patterns evolve as students move between year groups, particularly between lower and higher levels, to include a greater emphasis on independent learning and responsibility. Parents are well positioned to help students prepare for their next step at school, which can be an anxious moment for many. Initially, it may prove beneficial for parents to
monitor their child’s developing organisational skills. As they become more independent however, their confidence and motivation levels will increase along with their productivity. It will be important for parents to make time to connect with their children. Activities such as outdoor games, enjoying a book or magazine together or going for a family walk, are all ways to reassure children of the constant support and belonging they have within the family unit. In our highly technological world, taking time away from electronics and investing in relationships is more important than ever before.
“Starting at a new school can be daunting, even for the most confident learner. Students may feel quite unsure about establishing themselves in a new peer group and environment.” Anneke Theron, ACS Cobham’s Lower School Counsellor At ACS International Schools there are dedicated counsellors for each year group, who support new students and families as they settle into the school community. The school offers Parent Transition Workshops twice a year for new and leaving families and dedicated staff are available for both students and parents to lend support and help navigate through the first few weeks of school. Parents and teachers play a vital role in helping students find their feet in a new class or a school community. Ultimately, a smooth transition is all about helping students realise their full potential and ensuring they continue to enjoy learning. If you’d like to meet ACS counsellors, the schools will be hosting a series of open days this fall. To register, visit www.acs-schools.com/opendays.
AMERICAN WOMEN’S CLUBS NEWS Junior League of London (JLL)
The Junior League of London (JLL) is hard at work preparing for the 2016-17 year, and it is sure to inspire! This autumn, we have a number of events planned to help support our London Community Partners. We hope you will join us for one or more of our upcoming events! JLL’s 37th annual Boutique de Noel (BdN), our annual Holiday Season fair, will take place on Thursday, 8 December 2016, at Chelsea Old Town Hall. Don your festive frocks and join us for a celebratory day of shopping (13:00-17:00) and an elegant evening soirée (18:00-23:00), featuring live and silent auctions, canapés, drinks, and live entertainment! You are sure to find the perfect holiday gift from one of our select, premiere exhibitors. Funds raised at Boutique de Noel support the JLL’s mission to promote voluntary service, develop the potential of women, and improve communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Interested in donating an auction item? Want to be an exhibitor at BdN? For more information on these questions and to buy tickets, please visit www.jll.org.uk.
programme through our Virgin Giving Page. Looking ahead to early 2017, our members will be gearing up for the fourth annual Little Black Dress Initiative (LBDI). LBDI is a povertyawareness campaign during which members fundraise and wear one black dress for five days, coinciding with London Fashion Week, 17-21 February 2017, to illustrate how poverty can limit access to resources, confidence and employment opportunities. Following the campaign, participants will donate their dresses and other business wear to Smart Works, a charity that helps women from low-income backgrounds prepare for job interviews, by providing them with professional attire and career development advice. Keep an eye out for updates on the JLL website. If you are interested in volunteering in the London community, then the Junior League of London (JLL) may just be the organisation for you. Please visit our website to stay up-to-date and learn more about what we do at www.jll.org. uk/join-us/ or contact the office at 020 7250 8104 or email@example.com. We would love to have you join us and help us realise our Mission!
Hampstead Women’s Club (HWC)
The Hampstead Women’s Club (HWC) is a multinational social organisation for women living in the London area. Our purpose is to provide a sense of community through social, educational and charitable activities. We provide an abundance of wonderful activities to help you meet people and experience London. Most of our members live in the northern sector of London (Hampstead, Swiss Cottage, Belsize Park, Primrose Hill, Hampstead Garden Hampstead Women’s Club (HWC)
Holiday Hampers is the JLL’s signature, and longest running, community programme. Each year around the holidays, the JLL sources and assembles customised hampers filled with gifts, food, toiletries, and other essential items, for some of London’s most vulnerable populations. In 2015, Holiday Hampers touched the lives of over 1,300 Londoners, 596 of which were children. For some recipients, their hamper may be the only gift they receive during the holiday season, so we try to make it as special as possible. How to give: Our 2016 goal is to deliver over 750 hampers, once again benefiting over 1,300 individuals. If you would like to help this effort, you can make a much appreciated financial contribution to the Holiday Hampers 22
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Suburb, Golders Green, St. John’s Wood, Maida Vale, Kilburn, Marylebone, etc.), though we have members throughout the greater London area - and, in fact, around the world! Currently, we organise a variety of activities per month from September through June. Activities range from pub nights and book club to wine tastings and tennis, fitness walking and playgroups, to evenings out and foodies, not to mention all the theatre events and highlights of London we visit. These activities are coordinated by member volunteers, and all members are encouraged to sign up for as many activities as they choose. We also meet monthly, September through June, to greet newcomers, share adventures and enjoy guest speaker insights. In addition, a Weekly Email is sent to members, providing current updates on activities and items of interest. Whether you’ve been here your entire life or have only just arrived, you are bound to find something that interests you. HWC has standing committees that have monthly scheduled events for members. They include: • Arts & Antiques • Evenings Out • Family Activities • Highlights of London • Link-Up Mornings • Theatre HWC also hosts interest groups, which are a great way to get involved with a smaller group of members on a regular or occasional basis. If you have an idea about starting a new group, it is easy to get it up and running. We have a committee chair just for this purpose to assist you in getting your idea implemented. Groups
AMERICAN WOMEN’S CLUBS NEWS
kcwc – International Women in London
Are you new to London or interested in attending lectures from leading experts, enjoying exclusive experiences, and meeting new friends? Then kcwc is a great starting point. As one of London’s longest established and largest women’s organisation, we have over 800 British and international members from over 48 countries. Each month kcwc holds a General Meeting with an interesting and relevant guest speaker at a prime London location. Past speakers have included Zac Goldsmith, Earl Spencer, Philippa Gregory, Rebecca Stephens, and Kate Williams. The general meetings are a good way to meet other members, sign up for activities, enjoy listening to a high profile keynote speaker and join fellow members for an optional lunch at a local restaurant afterwards. In addition to the General Meetings, kcwc also offers approximately 35 activities. These are organised by fellow members who volunteer their time and skills by running a wide variety of weekly and monthly activities which range from history, culture, art, design, fashion, music, theatre, local tours, UK and international travel, special events, sports, golf, languages, arts and crafts, food, dining, wine tasting, book and lecture groups, bridge, feng shui, and much more. There are also a variety of evening and weekend activities which working women can enjoy. These include theatre, happy hour, dining out, jazz and music appreciation, evening speakers, and special events. There is so much on offer at kcwc and members get to discover London while making new friends at the same time.
party in Scotland, and a charity ball. Hats were provided by Jane Taylor who regularly features in Vogue magazine and is a favourite of the Duchess of Cambridge. Radio presenter, Lexie Carducci explained the etiquette and the do’s and don’ts for each special event. The London Season fashion show was very timely, as fifty members prepared for a day at Phyllis Court to watch the Henley Royal Regatta as they enjoyed fine food and sipped champagne. Each year kcwc organises at least one event for their members to experience the fun and glamour of season’s events. Meanwhile, the Travel, Country Walks, Contemporary Art Club and British History activity groups were also making the most of the summer weather. The travel group spent the day at Cliveden House learning about its history with a tour of its National Trust formal gardens. The Country Walks group did a 10 mile walk in the Cotswolds and they also held another walk along the Seven Sisters to view the unspoilt coastlines. The Contemporary Art Club held their own ‘urban’ walk in June. The art lovers walked ‘The Line’ from the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to the O2 to view the exciting outdoors art displays from the biggest names in contemporary art. The Line is a project to display sculpture in areas needing rejuvenation and which have little access to culture and the arts.
Recent Highlights Late spring and summer are always a busy time for our members and the club. The highlight of the summer was kcwc’s annual June luncheon and this year the theme was The London Season, to celebrate all the very British occasions to be held over the summer. London celebrity and royalty fashion designer, Elizabeth Bessant, dressed kcwc models in her glamorous apparel designed especially for Royal Ascot, the Queen’s Garden Party, Henley Royal Regatta, Cartier Polo, celebrity wedding, a shooting change each year to reflect the interests and needs of our current members. The current HWC interest groups include: • Book Club • Entrepreneurs • Hiking • Fitness Walking • Playgroups • Tennis Membership Benefits include: • Weekly emails • Monthly coffee mornings • Quarterly General Meetings • Private Facebook page where you can interact with other HWC members • Access to all interest groups • Activities for you and your entire family. www.theamericanhour.com
In addition to the many cultural events over the past months, kcwc’s After Six in the City group has been out and about town, dining in some of London’s finest restaurants and swaying to the gentle rhythm of the best jazz clubs in the city. Following an exclusive tour of Fortnum & Mason, the ladies had dinner at The Café Royal, which is one of kcwc’s member benefit partners. Bibendum was also the host to another dinner in July, and the After Six in the City ladies were treated to the music of Count Basie and Ella Fitzgerald, performed by London City Big Band at Spice of Life Jazz Club. Upcoming Events With the close of summer, kcwc has a full programme of events and activities planned for the autumn. The September General Meeting will be held at the Royal Geographical Society on 15 September followed by lunch at the Polish Club. The guest speaker will be HRH Princess Michael of Kent who will be speaking about her latest book in the Anjou trilogy. The Art History group has a full line up of lectures on Georgia O’Keefe to tie in with the exhibition at the Tate Modern, plus art expert Ben Street will be lecturing on Abstract Expressionism: The First Great American Art Movement. There will also be two series starting this autumn, Understanding Cubism and also Understanding Contemporary Art, plus A History of English Portraiture and its European Influences. The British History group will also be repeating a much acclaimed autumn long series on the History of London which will examine the many periods of the city of London. The Travel Group will be packing their bags and heading to Oslo to explore Norway’s rich Viking heritage; exploring the art in Provence in France; walking in North Cyprus and visiting Canterbury and Leeds Castle. The Wine Society will be holding Decanter Fine Wine Encounter with world renowned critic, Steven Spurrier. These are just some of the many activities planned ahead. Kcwc will also be hosting a Roaring 1920’s Dinner Dance Gala in November. Members and their guests will start their evening sipping cocktails in the Speakeasy
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at the Lansdowne Club before indulging in a classic 1920’s style meal, followed by dancing and surprise entertainment. The attire for the evening is flappers, dappers, gangsters and silent film stars. Save the Date Kcwc General Meetings are open to nonmembers for a guest fee of £10. The meetings are usually held on the first Thursday of each month between September and June. Prospective members are welcome to attend the monthly Coffee Mornings or Happy Hours where guests can come along for an informal chat over coffee or a drink and enjoy the company of other international women. There is no need to preregister to attend the Hospitality events and the cost is your own tab. For further information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website: www.kcwc.org.uk. To join kcwc please visit www.kcwc.org.uk and click on Join US or email email@example.com. Save the Date November General Meeting: Thursday, 3 November 2016, Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR, 9:30am – 12pm, Guest speaker: filmmaker Anthony Geffen on his ground breaking 3D work with Sir David Attenborough.
The colours have begun to change and the weather has that certain autumn chill. The sun rises later each day and it seems to get darker and darker each night. Our first instinct is to pull the covers up, sleep a little longer and wish for those warm sunny summer days again. But don’t! Autumn can be a fantastic time of year to be outside visiting gardens, taking in some of London’s great Museums, travelling to some far away land or volunteering at a local charity close to home. It’s all what you make of it! The AWC can help you settle in, answer all of those crazy questions, help you transition into the London area and all the while making some wonderful friendships along the way! The American Women’s Club of London, the AWC, is an international organisation to help women transitioning into a new area and to help meet and greet other women to form true friendships. Our mission is to provide social, cultural, educational and philanthropic activities for our members living in and around London. We have some perfect opportunities coming up for you to learn more about the club and make some new friends! Join us for a“New Member Wine and Cheese Party” on November 3rd from 7-9 pm. No need to explain this event! It’s a great way to meet new friends, current members and do a little socialising! Come and learn more about the Club and London and mellow out with a glass of wine. It is open to everyone and please RSVP – we hate when we run out of wine! It’s at the AWC Office on 68 Old Brompton Road, SW7 3LQ. If evenings don’t work, then come along on
October 20th or November 17th at 10:00 am for a “New Member Coffee”. It is just what it says, a coffee for women who are thinking about joining and want to know a little bit more about the Club. It’s a great way to meet members or make a new friend. It’s in this safe environment that you can ask all those silly questions we all have about being new and living in a new country. The coffee is open to everyone but please RSVP so we have enough coffee and pastries! It’s very casual and at the AWC Office on 68 Old Brompton Road, SW7 3LQ. Each month we host a meeting with a special guest speaker to provide members with an opportunity to learn something new! We also use the time to talk about AWC club news and upcoming events, and of course, it is always fun to see and meet other women in a social environment. Our next meeting is October 25th, from 10:00 am – 12:00. Our speaker is Emma Dupont, and she will take us on a journey through British social etiquette by discussing dinner etiquette, fashion etiquette and etiquette in the workforce. All the things we need to understand if we are living in London! It is at the Royal Thames Yacht Club, 60 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7LF. For more information and to RSVP please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7589 8292. There really is no need to look further! Join the AWC and you can take advantage of all the events and activities on offer throughout the year! For example, you can get involved and travel to see the Christmas Markets or support one of our charities and make a difference to families in need. Take an adventure with the AWC Travel Group as they set out from December 5th-8th for a Christmas Market tour through Europe! Enjoy the lovely city of Salzburg, Austria, with a morning walking tour by a local guide, featuring a visit to Mozart’s Birthplace, and take a funicular ride up to the Hohensalzburg Castle, where there is a fantastic Christmas market. Then explore the historic mines, lovely lakes and mountains, and even more charming Christmas markets around the area. Then cross the border into Germany to discover some of the wonders of the Bavarian area and travel to Munich before heading back to London. The Christmas Market travel trips are always fun and lively and the perfect way to explore new sights! If you want to stay closer to home and would like to support a charity, come and help out at the Ronald McDonald House. This AWC supported charity enables families to maintain a degree of normal life while their child is undergoing medical treatment in partnered specialist children’s hospitals across the UK. We specifically support the Guy’s and St Thomas’ House in London, by cooking dinners twice a month for families staying at the house. For more information about these events and to RSVP, or for more information about the Club in general, come by the AWC office at 68 Old Brompton Road, SW7 3LQ or call and talk to Lauren, our Office Manager, on 020 7589 8292, or check out the website at www.awclondon. org or email the office email@example.com
AMERICAN WOMEN’S CLUBS NEWS No matter how you look at it, the AWC is a great resource and a wonderful way to make some new friendships! Start something new this autumn! Hope to meet you soon! Cheers! American Women’s Club of London 68 Old Brompton Road, London, SW7 3LQ firstname.lastname@example.org www.awclondon.org 020 7589 8292
American Women Lawyers In London – AWLL
American Women Lawyers in London (“AWLL”) is an organisation of Londonbased women with ties to the American legal community. Our aim is to provide professional development support to members through educational events, networking and mentoring opportunities. AWLL has also partnered with several top companies to offer exclusive discounts and benefits to members. For more information about AWLL, please visit our website at www.awll.org.uk or contact AWLL Marketing Director Joanne Skolnick at email@example.com.You can also connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. We have an incredible line-up of professional development and networking events throughout the year and look forward to seeing you!
www.awbs.org.uk WELCOME TO AN EXCITING 2016-2017 AWBS YEAR This September marks the 15th anniversary honoring 9/11 victims and survivors, so we were extremely privileged for the unique opportunity to hear Mr. Sujo John speak. Sujo was on the 81st floor of Tower I, when the first airliner struck just above his office, and his pregnant wife’s office was in Tower II. His story has been covered in The New York Times, the BBC, The Times - London, Associated Press, and many more. 2016 also marks the 35th Anniversary of AWBS, and WHO doesn’t like turning 35?! Whether you are a Super Trooper, a Super Freak, (or just enjoy a good party…it is Halloween) add October 29, to your calendar!! Last but certainly not least – please join us for our festive annual Craft Fayre at Royal Holloway on November 5. Vendors will be nestled all snug in their stalls in the hope that members’ glee will soon fill the hall!! GUEST SPEAKER: SUJO JOHN Sujo moved from India to America in February 2001 seeking a new life of adventure and prosperity. He and his wife began careers in the North and South Towers of New York’s World Trade Center. Just six months later, the unthinkable happened when a terrorist attack brought both towers crashing to the ground. Sujo’s survival that fateful day proved to be the launching point for his motivational speaking www.theamericanhour.com
career. Today he shares his story of hope, restoration and change, to universities, sporting events, Fortune 500 companies, and festivals in hundreds of cities in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Sujo is the founder of YouCanFree.Us, an international humanitarian organisation dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of human trafficking victims. His fight against modern day slavery has encouraged a network of global leaders to raise its voice against this evil of our times.YouCanFree.Us presently operates safe houses in India and Poland and runs awareness and prevention campaigns in North America, Asia, and Europe. 35 YEAR ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION 29 October at the Runnymede-on-Thames Hotel and Spa Travel back to the 1980’s and join us in celebration 35 years as a club! Enjoy a Rad night of dancing, party games and fun. Costumes encouraged late 70s/ early 80s attire (Might win a prize...it is Halloween!). ANNUAL CRAFT FAYRE 5 November at the Royal Holloway University in Egham The annual Craft Fayre is THE largest charitable fund raising event of the AWBS year. This is a fulfilled event with Santa Claus, baked goods, and of course...holiday shopping opportunities! Looking for members to volunteer to distribute flyers, bake, make crafts, set-up, and clean-up.... there are many volunteer opportunities to choose from. ACTIVITIES Adventures Abroad trip to the scenic town of Innsbruck and its Christmas Market - 2nd-4th December and Norway in a Nutshell: Planes, Trains, Boats, & Snowshoes - 26th-29th January. Booked For Lunch: Join us on the first Wednesday of each month at one of our member’s homes for coffee, discussion on the chosen book, followed by a delicious pot luck lunch! Everyone is welcome, the only requirement is that you read the book and are prepared to discuss it! Botticelli Babes: Art Appreciation: Who? What? When? Where? Why? Have you ever wondered what makes an artist great? Or how they choose topics to express? If so...then this class series is for YOU! We will meet the Great Artists, such as Holbein, Brueghel, El Greco, Velazquez, Rubens and Caravaggio. Art historian Marcia Page brings her a wealth of knowledge and wonderful perspective that has come from teaching at TASIS for 40 years. Crafts For Fun is a fun morning or afternoon out to learn how to make interesting crafts for gifts, home decor, or just because. There are all sorts of interesting choices of crafts to make. All materials are included. All crafts can be done by complete beginners or the experienced crafting ladies.
English History: Our Historian and registered Blue Badge Guide Amanda Bryett has put together a serious of interesting talks with a day trip which will enhance your knowledge and understanding of this country. This is a series of four talks and 1 field trip to Blenheim Palace. Find Your Spark: What makes me fulfilled? What am I capable of excelling at? What is my formula for happiness and productivity? What do I want to spend my life doing? Learn everyday, practical tools to discover what makes you unique, what keeps you fulfilled, what makes you happy and productive and what you should focus your life’s energies on! This is a 6-week workshop facilitated by well-being coach and AWBS member K. Mongia. French Classes: Have you ever wanted to speak a little French? The French adore it when you make even small efforts at their language! Whether you are just beginning or already know some French, please consider joining these fun lessons. We meet every Monday at our instructor’s home in Sunningdale. Tennis: Are you a tennis player looking to get a workout and meet some other players from all over the world? We’ve got the group for you! We are a group of intermediate players who are always looking for others to join us for great play, exciting rallies, and lots of laughter. Hatha and Beginners Yoga classes take place at Sunningdale Parish Council Offices, Broomhall Lane, SL5 0QS on Thursday mornings from 22 September – 8 December (except 27th Oct). To register please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
43rd Biennial Conference Registration for the FAWCO 43rd Biennial Conference is now open! Be sure to register early and take advantage of the Early Bird Special for the first 100 registrants before October 30th! Please note that there is also a special Club Registration for those clubs whose elections happen after the Early Bird deadline. If your club would like to take advantage of the Early Bird discount but don’t know yet who will be the FAWCO Rep or President, this is the way to go! More conference information can be found at www.fawco.org. (Be sure you are logged in on the FAWCO website).
In case you missed it, on the FAWCO website there is a conference newsletter, Spotlight on Mumbai. You can get both practical and fun information about the conference as well as all of the important links to booking your hotel and planning your pre-conference tours and post-conference experiences. Remember, the deadline for the Butterfly Warrior Golden www.americaninbritain.co.uk
Triangle Tour is October 30th. Click here for the dedicated FAWCO tour webpage and see how you can book your tour. As your clubs get back into the swing of things, please let your members know all about the conference and share this information with them. It’s rewarding to experience a FAWCO conference and catch FAWCO Fever!
Announces Packed 2016-17 Progamme For Members CAWC International (CAWC), the social organisation with philanthropic goals and with a focus on the Chilterns, the region to the west of London, has announced a packed programme of events and activities for 2016-17, with a wide range of tours, lectures and other activities around the region and beyond. Among events will be a Christmas lunch at Pinewood Studios with a talk on the history of filmmaking at Pinewood. There will also be a talk by Alan Murdi of the Ghost Club, a May Tea Party, and a Cake Decorating Extravaganza, as well as specialist speakers on the Suffragette Movement, the double life of Hughenden Manor and the Chinese New Year, among other topics. A key highlight for the organisation is its Christmas Charity Bazaar at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Gerrards Cross, in support of two local Buckinghamshire-based charities, on Sunday 20th November 2016, with monies raised going to two chosen regional charities - the Epilepsy Society and Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity.
CAWC is preparing for the forthcoming 2016 Christmas Charity Bazaar made popular by its wonderful gift baskets and hampers.
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The events are in addition to the CAWC’s regular member sessions held at the Buckinghamshire Golf Club in Denham including hiking, book bunch, lunch club, golf, tennis, stitch’n’chat, mums and tots, as well as fabulous outings. Comments: CAWC President Robin Smirnov - “It is another busy year for CAWC with opportunities to learn about, explore and engage with the Chilterns region and beyond. New members are always welcome and love having access to a wonderful set of social activities and exceptional experiences. We’re a group dedicated to engaging with culture, making things happen and having fun.” For further information about events and membership please contact: www.cawc.co.uk or contact: 07789 076238. Cawc Sets Date And Announces Chosen Charities For Its 2016 Christmas Charity Bazaar CAWC International (CAWC) will host its annual Christmas Bazar in support of two local Bucks charities on Sunday 20th November 2016. This year’s event will again take place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel , Gerrards Cross, and will see the popular event raise funds to be split between two chosen charities - the Epilepsy Society and Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity. There will once again be more than 70 artisans, craft and gift stalls. In addition, there will also be the bakery bar, the Lone Star Café featuring Tex-Mex food, two raffles, and the much sought after CAWC holiday gift
baskets. The two raffles include a Grand Raffle featuring prizes from the Crowne Plaza with an overnight stay for two, and a VIP Shopping Day at Bicester Village & Value Retail, as well as a 4-Ball from the Buckinghamshire Golf Club and diamonds from jewellers Pelugi Diamonds. There will be a general raffle featuring vendor-donated prizes. CAWC International has raised more than £250,000 with their fundraising events over the years. Comments: Pam Showalter, CAWC Bazaar co-chair - “We’re delighted to be hosting this important charity-focused fundraising event again in support of two very worthy charities. This is the 29th year CAWC has worked with the community to fundraise and we hope that people will come, have a fabulous time shopping and, by shopping, help donate to some worthy causes.” Comments: fellow co-chair Pam Houghton - “Last year we managed to raise more than £15,000 which was split between our incumbent charity The Epilepsy Society and The Pepper Foundation. We’re delighted to welcome the Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity as a joint recipient of this year’s fundraising efforts and we invite everybody to get on board either as donors, sponsors and exhibitors or as shoppers”. The event will run from 10am – 4pm. Many of the stalls for the event have already been reserved, but those wishing to either have stalls or explore other event-related sponsorship opportunities should visit www.cawc.co.uk
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Everything Stops for Tea by Judith Schrut
Our friends from University of Nebraska enjoying Very High Tea, the Old Parsonage, Oxford, photo by Geoffrey Davies
“It’s a very good English custom, ‘tho the weather be cold or hot, When you need a little pick-up, You’ll find a tea-cup Always hits the spot!” “Everything Stops for Tea” (Goodheart/Sigler/Hoffman) So went the 1940s hit song which, like the cup of tea, did wonders to help British soldiers at the Front and the nation at home get through the darkest days of World War II. The great British love affair with its ‘cuppa’ endures to this day, getting Britain awake each morning, perked up each afternoon, through Olympic moments and Brexit moments, through good times and bad. In 1837, Queen Victoria’s first command on mounting the throne was “Bring me a cup of tea and the Times!” The present Queen enjoys daily cups of English Breakfast while Prime Minister Theresa May is partial to Earl Grey. Tea is the supreme national cure-all, from strong sugary cups served up with buttered toast to new mothers in maternity wards, to the infamous ‘builders tea and two sugars’ seen on work sites across the land. After 28
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a brisk country walk, nothing beats curling up in front of an open fire, with a steaming mug of tea and a chocolate biscuit. Some say it’s the effect of BBC’s Great British Bake Off, attracting audiences upwards of 10 million per show, that’s re-invigorated an interest in tea-time, along with ever-rising sales of specialty teas, cake stands, tea sets and bakeware. Others suggest it’s due to tea’s newly discovered health benefits– from preventing diabetes, strokes and cancer to protecting the heart, bones and teeth. Whatever the reasons, UK’s Tea and Infusions Association reports that 70% of Brits over the age of 10 had a cup of tea yesterday– that’s 165 million cups of tea a day– 98% with milk, 30% with sugar, and 96% from tea bags. In Britain, any time is cuppa time— so why not come and have one with us?
1. Tradition With A Twist: The Old Parsonage Hotel, Oxford American expat and Anglophile Henry James famously quipped, “there are few hours in life
more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea”. But for a long time tea was a drink only the very rich could afford. Absurdly high tea taxes– peaking at 119% in the late eighteenth century– kept the humble tea leaf out of reach for the average Brit for many more years and led to the profitable business of tea smuggling. Once the price of tea finally plummeted, it swiftly replaced ale and gin as the drink of the masses. It’s been the UK’s Number One beverage ever since. One late afternoon in 1840, or so the legend goes, in that languid lull between lunch and dinner, a desperate Anne, 7th Duchess of Bedford, called for a pick-me-up pot of tea and a light snack to stop“that sinking feeling”….and the venerable tradition of Afternoon Tea was born. Sitting in the open air, ancient walled courtyard of the Old Parsonage Hotel sipping fresh brewed leaf tea from bone china cups and nibbling dainty raspberry tarts, you could easily imagine you are in the heart of a rural Cotswold village instead of a cobblestone’s throw away from the bustling centre of modern Oxford. Only envious glances of upper deck bus passengers taking a bird’s eye view over the wall as they pass by might steer your attention
take five that perfect afternoon with a visit to Alice’s Old Sheep Shop, a punt on the Cherwell River and a sunset pint of beer at the historic Victoria Arms. Afternoon Tea, The Old Parsonage Hotel, Oxford. Very Savoury Tea or Very High Tea £25, Champagne Tea £32, www.oldparsonage-hotel.co.uk Quod, Oxford. High Tea £16.95, Graduation Tea £26 www.quod.co.uk
Teatime Treats, the Old Parsonage, Oxford, photo credit Carol Sachs, courtesy of Fraser Communications
from a truly magnificent afternoon tea. Ordering both the traditional Very High Tea and the Very Savoury Tea menus results in a veritable feast, and the best way to try everything the Old Parsonage has to offer. For savouries, think rabbit Scotch Egg, anchovyrich Gentleman’s Relish, potted shrimp and toasted sourdough soldiers, while the Very High Tea might include Bakewell Tart, choux pastry with coffee cream and rhubarb and custard macaroons. Both menus come with excellent sandwiches and wonderful scones– cheese scones for the Very Savoury Tea and fruit scones for the Very High Tea, all made fresh daily in the hotel’s kitchen, and no one minds whether you put the jam or clotted cream on first. But beware: expect lethally generous portions of both. To help those sweets and savouries go down, the Old Parsonage offers a solid choice of fine teas, like the bright and balanced Old Parsonage Blend, classic Earl Grey, deep, smooth, second flush Darjeeling and a rich, nutty wild Rooibos. Excellent service from the genuine and gracious Natalya, and everyone else we meet on the hotel’s tea-team, plays a big part in making teatime at the Old Parsonage the unforgettable, come-back-soon experience that it is. During our visit we also had the pleasure of tea-timing next to a large, friendly party of University of Nebraska students, on a summer course at an Oxford college and enjoying their first ever British tea-time with obvious enthusiasm. We thank them for letting us share their cheery photograph with our readers. Should you choose to take tea inside– a cozy choice for upcoming autumn afternoons– you’ll be greeted by a roaring log fire and enveloped in soft lighting, stylish décor, comfy seating and wonderful portraits from hotel owner Jeremy Mogford’s private collection. If you can’t get a reservation for tea at the Old Parsonage, try its nearby sister, Quod at the Old Bank Hotel, under the same ownership and with another uniquely Oxford tea experience. If you are minded to stay overnight so you can enjoy the Oxford magic a little longer, both the Old Parsonage and the Old Bank Hotel have comfortable, award-winning accommodation. That will give you plenty of chance to round off www.theamericanhour.com
2. Tea Back In Time: Vintage Lindylou, Crayford Once upon a time, every high street in England had its tea shop. While sadly that’s no longer true, tea-time tradition is still very much alive and thriving in towns and villages across the UK. When Linda Rogers was five, her father Ronald bought her a Victorian glass photo slide for one penny. Enchanted by the pictured lady’s clothing and surroundings, little girl Linda wondered who the lady was and what her life was like. From that day on, she’s nurtured a lifelong love and fascination for vintage everything. Today, tea room Vintage LindyLou, which Linda runs with husband Brian and a close and dedicated team of bakers in a secret corner of Crayford, South-East London, surrounded by water gardens and reed beds, is the successful embodiment of that love as well as a chunk of living history. And a big success it certainly has been, fully booked daily with customers aged 2 to 102. They’re here not just for the freshly-prepared, delicious and affordable homemade cakes, sandwiches and scones, but also for the warm atmosphere and an environment where customers are encouraged to share memories and memorabilia, to touch, talk, explore and add their own old photos, postcards, tea-ware and trinkets to LindyLou’s displays, albums and old-fashioned memory boxes. Every nook and cranny of the tea room is filled with nostalgia. Here you can listen to comforting and familiar music from the 1930s
& ‘40s, read original newspapers, books and magazines donated by customers and reminisce in the remembrance garden. The purposely mismatched tableware and china are not a gimmick, says Linda, but a chance to admire the beauty in each separate piece. There’s child-size china and a special menu for younger visitors and a ‘Cozy Corner,’ where you can sip and nip on comfy sofas covered in crocheted cushions and throws. The tea room also hosts special events, like cake-tastings, a Father Christmas breakfast, charity fundraisers and jazz afternoon tea dances. Pride of display in the Cozy Corner is a stylish knee-length crepe dress, lovingly hand sewn and painted with orchids by Linda’s newlymarried mum Bianca. She wore it one day in 1947, when she boarded a train arranged by the Red Cross and forever left a life and family in post-war Italy to meet her English bridegroom at Paddington Station. And oh yes, there are cakes! Magnificent, daily-changing sweet temptations, like coffee and walnut, chocolate fudge, lavender, Victoria sponge and the aptly-named LindyLou’s Lemon Eat-Me, are set out under domed glass on a long counter. Linda’s personal favourite is the moist and tasty courgette, lime and pistachio cake, while, unsurprisingly, top customer favourite is the Sharing Cake Platter, a selection of half portions of cakes and scones so you can try a bit of everything. Tasting feedback and recipe suggestions are warmly welcomed. But for Linda, the greatest compliment is from customers who tell her, “This is just like my Nan’s house!”
The Cozy Corner at Vintage LindyLou’s, photo Judith Schrut
Lovely Linda & Jolly Judith doing what they do best at Vintage LindyLou’s, photo Judith Schrut www.americaninbritain.co.uk
Joy, calm, music, nostalgia, scrumptious cakes, comforting cuppas and the feeling of being amongst old friends: we think today’s world could do with a whole lot more LindyLou’s. Vintage Lindy Lou, Crayford, Kent Afternoon Tea £7, Cream Tea £5, Sharing cake platter £4 per person www.vintagelindylou.co.uk
It’s no secret that afternoon tea is top of the list for visitors to Britain and an immensely enjoyable treat for the rest of us. And we Americans have a particularly soft spot for the tradition, and are quick to learn to use a tea strainer, put milk in our brew and deftly layer those tender scones with clotted cream and jam. With an ever-growing list of top hotels, restaurants and cafés offering their versions of afternoon tea, the competition for the annual Afternoon Tea Awards, the Oscars of the tea world, is a stiff one. Proud winner of this year’s Family Friendliest Tea is Grosvenor House Hotel’s wonderful Park Room. There is almost nothing more delightful than a late summer afternoon’s stroll through London’s Mayfair, with its historic streets, charming mews, elegant arcades, past gracious Grosvenor Square with its clear views of the US Embassy’s iconic golden eagle, as we approach our goal: a luxurious afternoon tea in the Park Room. The Park Room has recently been re-designed in a refreshing country house style. Details like peacock carpets, crystal butterfly lights, enormous fresh floral displays and plush green sofas overlooking Hyde Park all help to create an oasis of peace, calm and all things botanical. The Park Room boasts an innovative,
seasonally-changing tea menu created by an international team of chefs. Anna’s Afternoon Tea gives guests a chance to sample the very best of British traditional tea treats: delicate finger sandwiches followed by a second course of large open ones, pastries like strawberry and cream choux or black cherry and custard with shortbread, lavish helpings of clotted cream and handmade preserves along with reputedly the best scones in London, (complementing the hotel’s JW Steakhouse nearby, which serves up the world’s best American cheesecake outside the USA). Tea-timers have the very challenging task of selecting their fresh brew or infusion from a beautifully described list of Newby teas, blends like English Breakfast, Fujian Oolong, Jasmine Pearls and Silver Needle. The award-winning Park Room Children’s Menu is a mix of art and joy, starring the imaginative Grover’s Children Tea.Your junior teatimers will lap up goodies like double chocolate Brownie cornets, fruit skewers with yoghurt and coulis and miniature Knickerbocker Glories,* child-friendly sandwiches, and a cuddly present for little ones to take home. The list of special children’s tea blends includes Apple Strudel, Tropical Delight and Rooibos Tiramisu. The global village which makes up the Park Room’s tea-team has but one aim– to ensure your afternoon tea experience is practically perfect in every way, noble Wunderkinds like floor manager Mikhail Pop, waitressextraordinaire Deanna and Igor the Pianist, who delights in playing tea-timers’ requests. “More sandwiches Madam?”, “Different tea with each of your pastries, Sir?”, “A fat slice of chocolate cake or Victoria sponge to take home in a fancy box, little Miss?” Our advice? Just say,Yes please. *for the uninitiated, a Knickerbocker Glory is a quintessential British ice cream sundae, served in a
The gracious Deanna, Park Room Grosvenor House Hotel
Award-winning tea in the Park Room, photo courtesy of Grosvenor House Hotel
3. Tea On The Park: Park Room, Grosvenor House, London
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tall glass with alternating layers of crunch, cream, fruit and syrup with a cherry on top, as featured in the Harry Potter books. The Park Room, Grosvenor House Hotel, London Anna’s Tea £42.50 (with champagne options), Grover’s Children’s Tea £15.00 www.parkroom.co.uk
4. Tea And Ting: Ting Lounge, The Shard We surely won’t be either the first or last guests to remark that Afternoon Tea at Shangri-La Hotel’s Ting Lounge, on the 35th floor of London’s tallest building, takes tea-time to new heights. With its unsurpassed views of London’s stunning skyline above and riverside below through floor-to-ceiling windows, Ting is actually a Tale of two Teas. First, there’s a Classic Afternoon Tea, a perfectly lovely, traditional affair of finger sandwiches, house-made pastries, fruity scones heaped with clotted cream and strawberry jam and a curated selection of teas. For those seeking an extra layer of luxury, a glass or two of fine Champagne is an option. But what makes tea at Ting really special is its alternative Asian-inspired Afternoon Tea. Here’s your chance to sample savouries like spiced crab wrap, Banh Mi chicken and steamed prawn dim sum, and sweet things like scones with yuzu and orange marmalade, Thai Pandan custard and Malaysian layer cake. These tantalising treats are accompanied by a choice of unusual brews, like an intensely flowery and spicy Formosa Oolong, White Tea Snow Buds, smoky Keemun and Pu’erh, an earthy black tea double fermented and buried underground for two years. Ting’s Asian Tea begins with a ritual known as Teh Tarik. We’re not ones to spoil a surprise, so let’s just say it involves a fragrant Malaysian hot milk
The author enjoying tea at the Crooked House, Lavenham, photo by Geoffrey Davies Tea with a Ting, Ting Lounge, Shangri-La at the Shard, photo Judith Schrut
The Teh Tarik Ceremony, Ting Lounge, Shangri-La at the Shard, photo Judith Schrut
tea, generous lashings of dry ice and a dramatic pouring ceremony. As that old Chinese proverb goes, “a day without tea is a day without joy.” As you’d expect, tea-time at Ting is a comfortable, relaxing and unrushed affair, with welcoming service from an international staff. As the late afternoon sun sets over the River Thames below, you’ll be ready to set off home with your exquisite box of tea leftovers. Or, you may consider extending the high-glamour time with a cocktail on level 52’s Gong Lounge, a visit to the luxurious Ladies Powder Room with its scented, heat controlled toilets and unrivalled range of gadget chargers, a dip in the hotel’s sky pool or an overnight Shangri-La splurge. Ting Lounge, Shangri-La at The Shard Southeast Asian Tea or Classic Afternoon Tea £54 www.gong-shangri-la.com/afternoon-tea
5. A Very Crooked Tea: The Crooked House, Lavenham Behind the crooked-timbered rose-tinted façade of the Crooked House, in the picture postcard town of Lavenham, Suffolk, you’ll find exactly the kind of charming, old-fashioned tea shop of your dreams. Except this is no dream, www.theamericanhour.com
this is Munning’s Tea Room, run by the talented Mrs Everyl Madell. Back in medieval days of yore, Lavenham was one of England’s wealthiest wool towns, so called due its huge success in the wool and weaving trades of the day. Today’s Lavenham is remarkably well-preserved and picturesque, with dozens of wonderful timber-framed buildings, quaint old cottages and the highest village church tower in the land. During the Second World War, Lavenham’s Guildhall served as the welcome club for hundreds of American troops stationed nearby. The historic walls of the Airman’s Bar at The Swan Hotel are still covered with handwritten messages, medals and mementoes of American and British airmen, like the Boot Record, a list of men in uniform able to down three and a half pints of ale from a glass boot in record time. Over on the High Street, the timbers of the Crooked House have warped over time causing its upper floors to look crooked. It’s even said to be the inspiration for the eponymous nursery rhyme. Inside, Mrs Madell offers a tasty range of cakes, pastries and scones, with everything freshly baked in her kitchen and, whenever possible, from local organic ingredients. Her Full Afternoon Tea is the real deal: generously-
It’s true, Everything Stops for Tea! Theme song, Come Out of the Pantry, 1935
filled fresh sandwiches like Suffolk ham and mustard or cheddar cheese and red onion chutney, followed by Mrs Madell’s acclaimed scones, voluptuous pots of clotted cream and fruit conserve, an enormous piece of cake and plenty of tea. For a change, try her Fat Rascals, Frangipane or traditional tea loaf. Before leaving, be sure to take a short and crooked climb up the crooked stairs to the dizzying crooked heights of the Crooked House Art Gallery, and enjoy a post-tea browse through its tempting selection of antiques, prints, cards and giftware. Munning’s Tea Rooms at the Crooked House, Lavenham, Suffolk, Full afternoon tea £13 www.munningstearoom.co.uk Take Five is our quarterly feature bringing the best of British to Americans in Britain. A special thanks to Val, Damian, Geoffrey
and our wonderful friends at Fraser Communications. We’d love to hear about your favourite tea-moment and share it with our readers; email Judith at email@example.com. www.americaninbritain.co.uk
READER’S LIVES Just On A Boat Passing Through
I first came to England as an undergraduate on exchange from Eastern Michigan University. I studied at Reading and fell in love with my wife Kate, and the boats on the Thames and the canal. It was really hard to leave when the exchange was finished but I needed to finish my BSc in Physics and obtain my teaching credentials to find a job. Kate came to the states the following summer and we decided to return to the UK to live and work here; she had finished her studies and had already lined up a teaching job-clever girl! It was not easy convincing the Dept of Education that my degree and teaching qualifications were valid; the result of too many bogus diploma mills in the states. But I persevered and eventually got both recognition and a job. Not long after that we decided to build a boat to live on so we could be mobile and take up any job offer in a more rural area should one become available (Kates’ idea-told you she was clever)! 32
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I had filed my application with the American schools on the NATO bases but had not heard anything for several years until they contacted me. So began a long career with schools on 6 different bases in three different countries all thankfully in Europe, mostly in the UK. I lectured undergraduate science and maths courses in the evenings via the education centre on the bases. I still try to remain active in education by helping out both The Association for Science Education (UK) and The National Science Teachers Association (USA). I will be presenting a lecture about The Arbour Project at the ASE’s annual conference in January at the University of Reading and taking delegates to Stonehenge for a private viewing for graduate credit. I never thought retirement would be so busy! Along the way we restored a lock cottage and then found some land for sale along the canal in Oxfordshire with 18th century derelict stone barns. One of the good things about teaching is that you have long holidays to do things. We eventually got planning permission to turn the largest barn into a house so came off the boat and now live on the land. We have been registered Organic for many years and have a few hens, an orchard, hives of bees, and grow lots of different types of pumpkins and squash. We grow lots of trees as we heat and cook and have hot water almost exclusively via wood burners. Sarah, our daughter lives not too far away with her husband Jonathan and our grandson Gabriel; they come often to help around the farm. Sarah is a Forest Schools Instructor which we are really proud of. Sometimes I think that is the only salvation for the world-grow trees and pray we are not too late to at least slow down global warming. Most of the squash and pumpkins go to London to high end restaurants like Kew Gardens,
Royal Academy, National Gallery, and Michelin starred restaurants like Murano, or River Café. We also supply high end places like Quo Vadis or Mildred’s in Soho, or all of the Palpo restaurants and we have been supplying Lidgates for pies for at least 30 years. Oliver’s Wholefoods in Kew is one of my first stops on delivery days. We also have supplied Stella McCartney the last few years for a big Halloween party. We never advertise but I do make sure I take my tipi to Wilderness Festival to give samples out to all the chefs who make the festival such a brilliant success each summer; Glastonbury, Secret Garden Party, and the local festival in the village of Cropredy are also nice distractions from weeding the pumpkins. I would love to take the crop to London by boat, but finding a wharf that would be available for the season is impossible with all the live-a-boards stacked up three deep on most moorings. Maybe when the new Embassy opens there might be a chance for me to moor up alongside; we will have to wait and see who Hillary sends over.
If you would like to feature in our Reader’s Lives article in a future issue, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
UK SPORTS The summer has seen many success stories for British individuals and sports teams – all except one that is – and we give you one guess!!
RIO Olympics and Paralympics We have to start with the exceptional performances from Team GB in both the Olympics and the Paralympics. In the Olympics, Team GB secured more medals in Rio than in London 2012, and produced their best medal result ever on overseas soil. What was exceptionally impressive was the number of different sporting events in which Team GB gained their medals. Gold medals were won in fifteen different events, silver medals were gained in thirteen events, and bronze medals were won in ten different events. Cycling produced Team GB’s best results with six golds, four silvers and two bronze medals. Rowing produced three golds with two each in gymnastics, canoeing, athletics, sailing and equestrian. In the Gold Medal table Team GB finished second with twenty seven golds (sixty seven in total and two better than in London 2012), behind the USA who won forty six (one hundred and twenty one in total), and one ahead of China on twenty six (seventy in total). With so many successes it is difficult to pick out specific team or individual performances, but the one success we must highlight is that of Mo Farah, who became only the second man to defend both the 5km and 10km titles, the events he also won at London 2012. He said he needed to retain both titles to give him four gold medals so he could give one to each of his four children!!! Well, if Team GB’s results in the Olympics was a great success, it was overtaken by our Paralympians who won sixty four golds, thirty nine silvers and forty four bronze medals finishing second only to China who won one hundred and seven golds. The most prolific events for gold medals were swimming (nineteen golds), athletics (sixteen golds) and cycling (thirteen golds). If we were to add the gold medals from the Paralympics with the Olympics, Team GB would still be second with ninety one golds behind China with one hundred and thirty three and ahead of the USA on forty six!!
Wimbledon Tennis Congratulations go to Andy Murray, winning his second Wimbledon title and his third Grand Slam overall. His three straight sets 34
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victory over Canada’s Milos Raonic 6-4 7-6 7-6 was the first time he had played a Grand Slam final without having to face the then current world number one, and he played as if he knew it was his destiny to win the Wimbledon title again. Both Murray and Raonic possess big first serves, and there was only one break of serve in the whole match, the seventh in the first set. Murray has joined Jimmy Connors, Stefan Edberg, Rod Laver, Rafael Nadal and John Newcombe, as double Wimbledon champions, and is only one title behind Boris Becker, Novak Djokovic and John McEnroe. Bjorn Borg won five consecutive Wimbledon titles and Roger Federer and Pete Sampras won seven in total. How far will Murray go? In the Ladies Championship, Serena Williams won her seventh Wimbledon title, fourteen years after her first, and equalled Steffi Graf’s record of twenty two Grand Slam titles. Although the final was a 6-3 6-4 straight sets victory, the match was much closer than the score suggested, with Serena’s opponent, Angelique Kerber, making Williams play her very best tennis. Kerber had already won the Australian title earlier this year and subsequently won the US Open title. Serena also played the Ladies doubles final with her sister Venus (combined age of 70!!), and defeated Shvedova and Babos to win their fourteenth Grand Slam doubles title. Britain had another victory, this time in the Mixed Doubles when Heather Watson and her partner, Henri Kontinen, defeated Robert Farah and Anna-Lena Groenfeld 7-6 6-4. Watson and Kontinen had never played together before and it looks like they will not renew their partnership in the future!! Ah well.
with Leonardo Mayer for the fifth and deciding singles, and Britain nominated Dan Evans. Mayer played a brilliant match and beat Evans 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-4.
Davis Cup Tennis
The Open Golf Championship
After Murray’s Wimbledon triumph followed by his Olympic Gold medal in Rio, hopes were high that Britain would again reach the Davis Cup final and defend the title they won last year. Murray had beaten Argentina’s Juan Martin Del Potro in a marathon final in Rio, and the two met in the first rubber between Britain and Argentina in the semi-final in Glasgow. This was always going to be the pivotal match of the tie and this time, after another marathon five hour five set match, it was Del Potro who won the day. Britain then lost the second singles rubber when Kyle Edmund lost to Guido Pella. The Murray brothers kept Britain in the tie with a doubles victory and Andy Murray winning his second singles rubber against Pella. Surprisingly, Argentina replaced an exhausted Del Potro
Rugby Union Following England’s dreadful World Cup in 2015, and the appointment of new coach, Australian Eddie Jones, it would not have been possible to imagine the transformation of the England team. Having won the Six Nations championship earlier in the year with a one hundred per cent record and a one-off victory in a match against Wales (Old Mutual Wealth Cup!), England set off for their three Test Series in Australia. For the first time England won all three matches against Australia; 39 points to 28 in the first Test, 23 points to 7 in the second and an amazing 44 points to 40 in the third. Absolutely brilliant, and Eddie Jones must take the praise for the way he has transformed this England team. Always smiling in the Press conferences but ruthless when team changes are needed, Jones was not euphoric after the third Test. “It is a great start for us, but it is only a start”, he said,“we were not at our best, we had a number of players who were under par. We are pleased with the 3-0 result but we realise we have a lot of work to do”. England’s Australian tour was probably best summed up in Australia’s ‘Sunday Mail’ newspaper whose headline after the third Test and Britain’s referendum result to leave the EU read “Well done England. Now a second Continent hates you as well”. Australians are always generous in defeat, especially to England!!!
Congratulations to Henrik Stenson in winning one of the most dramatic Open Championships which came down to a two man shoot out in the last round between Stenson and America’s Phil Mickelson. Playing together in the final Group of the final round, Stenson started the day 12 under par with Mickelson 11 under. Mickelson won the first hole by two strokes to take the lead, but Stenson squared the match at the second hole and went one up at the third. Mickelson squared the match at the fourth. Stenson then went one up at the eighth before Mickelson squared the match at the eleventh. At the fourteenth Stenson went one up and then two up at the fifteenth, at which it stayed until Stenson went three up at the eighteenth.
UK SPORTS This does not really explain either the excitement or the brilliant golf played by both players. What does explain both is the scorecard of both players; Stenson finishing the day 8 under par and Mickelson 6 under. To start a final round, one shot behind the leader, hit a 6 under par final round, and lose by 3 shots is unimaginable – but that was what poor Phil Mickelson had to endure! Stenson finished 20 under par and set a new Open record, beating Tiger Woods 19 under in 2000. Next up in the golf world will be the Ryder Cup to be played at Hazeltine in the United States. Will the two captains pitch Stenson and Mickelson together in the singles? That would be worth watching again.
Cricket England hosted two countries in the summer, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Sri Lanka are in transition with a number of experienced players retiring, and it showed in the early summer results with England winning two of the three Test matches, the first by an innings and 88 runs and the second by 9 wickets. The third was drawn with rain delays. England then won all three One Day Internationals, the first by 6 wickets, the second by 122 runs and the third by 8 wickets. Two
Twenty 20 matches also resulted in wins for England, the first by 6 wickets and the second by 10 runs. Next up was a much stronger touring side from Pakistan, but England’s young team again played well. The four Test series was drawn 2-2 with Pakistan winning the first and fourth Tests and England the second and third. Each game was surprisingly one sided, England’s wins being by 330 and 141 runs and Pakistan winning by 75 runs and 10 wickets; strange results. However, England dominated the five One Day Internationals winning the first four by 44 runs, 4 wickets, 169 runs and 6 wickets before being denied a whitewash as Pakistan won the fifth by 4 wickets. Pakistan did finish with a flourish in the one and only Twenty20, winning by 9 wickets. England are next off to tour Bangladesh with our ODI captain, Eoin Morgan, and opening batter Alex Hayles, withdrawing from the tour on security grounds. Let’s hope their fears will prove to be unfounded.
Soccer Well it’s all been pretty good news for British summer sport so far but now we come to our usual chestnut, England’s soccer team in the finals of an international tournament and do
you know what – same result. After England’s dreadful performances in the 2014 World Cup finals in Rio, when we drew two matches and lost one and failed to get past the Group stage, England emulated that non-achievement in the Euro 2016 finals in France. This time England achieved an even bigger blow to their reputation losing 1-2 to Iceland!! The manager and his assistants resigned. Therefore, no further reports on soccer until our next issue by which time, hopefully, our memories of Euro 2016 will have faded!!
NFL in London Back to more positive news and three NFL games will be played in London and Middlesex this October. On 2 October the Indianapolis Colts will host the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium. On 23 October Twickenham Stadium will be the venue for the Los Angeles Rams hosting the New York Giants. Finally, on 30 October the Cincinnati Bengals will host the Washington Redskins at Wembley Stadium. The NFL has extended its commitment for a further five years to play at least two matches in London, so our readers can look forward to at least some home town sport in the UK for some time to come – enjoy.
Dear American Friend, As you may be aware Tentazioni Restaurant has now moved to sunny Notting Hill Gate after almost 19 years trading in an upcoming area in South London. We are very pleased to introduce ourselves in our new venue offering a quality Italian cuisine through the work of our chef’s brigade led by yours truly Chef Patron Riccardo Giacomini (Grand Hotel Rimini, Grano (Chiswick)). Most of the menus offerings are hand made daily in our kitchen (all breads, fresh egg pastas, all sauces, cakes, biscuits, petit fours). We only offer one pasta course made with dry pasta, available usually at lunchtime but also on request; it is from quality pasta maker Columbro (which is based in the Marche) and it is a dry pasta made with ﬂour obtained from a quality Italian grain variety Senatori Cappelli: you will be able to taste the difference! Please know that at Tentazioni we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, this year on Thursday 24th November, as we have done now for 11 years for our loyal American guests. Note that you might also want to consider our ad hoc promotion: quote code AME101 and you will receive a complimentary aperitif drink of your choice at arrival (valid until 30th December 2016). We look forward to seeing you at Tentazioni.
Review of London’s Theatre Productions by Lydia Parker
1984 At The Playhouse Theatre Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan have returned to the Playhouse Theatre with their stunning adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984, after opening at the Nottingham Playhouse in 2013 followed by a run at the Almeida Theatre and tours to the States and Australia. Although this is a second revival and may not be the last, this is a production that is not to be missed. Icke and Macmillan have taken as their starting point the appendix to Orwell’s novel, The Principles of Newspeak. Their contention is that it puts the novel in a whole new context as it is written in a time long after the events of the book, lending some optimism to the nightmarish world that Orwell builds for us. The play begins with a book club discussing 1984 and the truth of the unreliable narrator, Winston Smith. As we see him attempting to write, constantly asking “Where am I?” the actions of the play become confusing and a jumble, often repeating scenes with slight alterations, such as someone is missing or the characters’ intentions seem different. It could be that we are seeing things from Winston’s viewpoint as he struggles to remember what happened and whether it really happened at all. For those unfamiliar with the novel 1984, it is set in a time in the future (Orwell wrote it in 1948) when the Party, led by the omniscient Big Brother, rules a land called Air Strip One (Britain) in Oceania. Winston Smith is a lowly member of the Party, poorly paid and working in the Ministry of Truth, rewriting history to suit the needs of the party. He recognises that some changes he is asked to make about which countries Oceania is at war with are not true, but that to think it or speak about it is a thought crime. He has illegally bought a diary in which we see him writing at the start of the play. Although he wants to write he wonders who will ever read it in this world where words, events and people are so easily erased from history. When Winston meets an attractive co-worker, Julia, he first thinks she is a spy for the thought police and is surprised when she asks to meet him out of the city. They fall into an affair, another act which is prohibited as a sex crime, as only relations between married people to produce a child are legally permitted. In the meantime, Winston becomes intrigued by an inner party leader, O’Brien, convinced that he is a member of the secret underground resistance group, the Brotherhood. When both Winston and Julia are invited to O’Brien’s luxury home, he confirms Winston’s suspicions and gives them a copy of the book by Emmanuel Goldstein, a 36
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former founder of the Party but now the leader of the Brotherhood and the resistance. When Winston is asked by O’Brien how far he would go for the resistance, Winston surprises himself by stating he would throw acid into the face of a child. He answers without thinking, eager to pledge allegiance to a movement that will fight the absolute control he lives under. Winston and Julia read the book to each other in their secret love nest, a hidden room in the shop where Winston bought his diary, owned by the kindly Charrington. Their sense of freedom and hope is quickly squashed as they are betrayed by the shop owner and arrested. These scenes, set offstage in the play, are filmed, giving a sense of a fantasy world that may or may not exist, as in this production we never know what is true, and also of the couple being spied on by Big Brother’s hidden cameras. Winston is sent to Room 101 in the Ministry of Love and interrogated by O’Brien, who was only trying to entrap him and now has the task of brainwashing Winston, through torture, into the correct way of thinking. Although set in a future time, the design, by Chloe Lamford, gives the production a post war Britain feel, with 1940’s clothing, wood panelled Ministry offices and the stark appearance of an impoverished country with little resources to spare. It reflects how Orwell felt in a time when he was disillusioned with the British government and its oppressive and omnipresent war-time propaganda from Winston Churchill’s Tory Party. He was also fearful of Russia’s Communist party led by Stalin, from whom apparently the inspiration for Big Brother’s moustachioed appearance on the posters all over Oceania derives. As horrifying as the events of Room 101 are, the most frightening aspect for me was the constant iteration that everything can be wiped from history. No matter what Winston thinks,
does or says, none of it will matter in the future. Or will it, considering the beginning of the play with the book group? This Winston seems to be in a state of perpetual confusion, and, as wonderfully played by Andrew Gower, is not actually a very bright person. How can one be, when one is constantly being told what to think? He wants to rebel but does not know with what to replace these falsities. Gower conveys the ordinariness and vulnerability of Winston, which is a new take that works brilliantly in the context of the play. Julia, played with a nervy airiness by Catrin Stewart, also comes across as someone a bit rebellious but not much of a thinker. Their relationship is one based on the thrill of sex, not of love or any real attachment. All of the cast are excellent in individual roles and as part of an ensemble, including Rudi Dharmalingham as the shop keeper Charrington, Anthony O’Donnell as Parsons, who is proud of his own daughter for reporting him to the thought police, and Rosie Ede as Mrs Parsons, a friendly neighbour. Her character, so seemingly normal and content, reminds us that the inhabitants of this world are generally blissfully ignorant of the government that controls them as they go about their day to day lives. If anything, it would have been nice to see more of this to contrast with the disjointed, chaotic horror that we see throughout the rest of the play. Duncan Macmillan (who also wrote the remarkable People, Places and Things) and Robert Icke have created a fascinating yet faithful adaptation of 1984, making an extraordinary theatre piece that discomfits and disturbs the audience. It also made me want to reread the original novel and delve further into Orwell’s masterful work. This production is only on until the 29 October. For a visceral, stimulating night at the theatre that will leave you thinking and debating, don’t miss 1984. Box office: 0844 871 7631 The cast in 1984. Credit Manuel Harlan
The Entertainer At The Garrick Theatre In John Osborn’s play, it is 1956, but England is still reeling from the effects of World War II. The country is in the throes of the Suez Crisis and despite Archie Rice’s constant assurances that “We’re alright!” - they clearly aren’t. The economy is crippled, the empire is in decline and so is Vaudeville, which has provided employment for many years to Archie and his father Billy before him. At the start of the play, old Billy is astonished by an unexpected visit from his beloved granddaughter Jean, who claims she’s just come for a brief stay; she has drunk four gins but won’t tell him what’s bothering her. Billy catches her up on the family news: step mother Phoebe is always at the pictures, Jean’s father Archie is performing at a theatre and spending too much time at a seedy pub, “every tart and pansy goes there!”. Jean’s half-brother, Frank, was recently freed from prison where he spent six months as a conscientious objector. Billy rails against a world that is changing too rapidly and going downhill in his eyes, to the point that his local pub now has a TV and his neighbours are “Bloody Poles and Irish!”. Aside from a brief appearance, tap dancing in the shadows at the start of the play, the first we see of Archie Rice is performing in his element, in a run-down Vaudeville theatre. He selfdeprecatingly tells terrible jokes, ogles the show girls and shuffles out a few dance steps. His
routines are full of mock respect for the British Empire while showing off half naked women. As Archie returns home, he finds his wife, daughter and father all plastered on gin. Phoebe is worried about their son Mick who has gone off to fight in the Suez. She also despairs about her dead end life working for Woolworths while Archie brings other women home, having sex with them in the sitting room while she pretends to be asleep upstairs. Billy is worried about Jean who has attended an anti-war rally in Trafalgar Square and has left her safe fiancé Graham as he doesn’t understand her need for a career. Archie, meanwhile, wants to celebrate his twentieth anniversary of not having paid income taxes. Despite anger, resentment and bitterness in this family, they share the belief that it’s nothing a good stiff gin can’t cure. Until Archie quietly reveals to Jean that Mick has been taken prisoner and we see his despair quietly creep out. Archie is very good at hiding his feelings throughout most of the play, under a veneer of cynical cheerfulness, until the second act when he describes to Jean his emotion at hearing an old black American woman singing years ago with a passion he has never had; “I’m dead behind these eyes” he tells her. He knows his life is falling apart and despite a last ditch attempt by Phoebe to start a new life in Canada, he dances on in a downward spiral. Kenneth Branagh is superb as Archie Rice, following in the footsteps of his hero Laurence Olivier who originated the role. His stage
craft is remarkable, as he brings us a three dimensional, vulnerable, flawed man whom we cannot help but care for, despite the damage he does to those around him. Greta Scacchi also shines as Phoebe, a working class woman who has soldiered on for years trying to keep her family together but never finding a way to do anything special in her life. Gawn Grainger gives a stand out performance as Billy Rice, a man with principles who cannot understand the world he is now living in. There is also nice work from Jonah Hauer-King as young Frank and Sophie McShera as Jean, better known as kitchen maid Daisy in Downton Abbey. My only objections would be appearances at the end of the play by Jean’s ex fiancé and Archie’s brother Bill. I always find it odd when playwrights suddenly find the need to bring on extraneous characters for a few lines late in the day. I also found the choice of portraying Archie’s dancers as elegant West End showgirls an unusual choice for this production, when scruffy, down at their heels hoofers may have been more suitable. Despite that, this final production in the first season of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company’s Plays at the Garrick, is a worthy revival which is worth seeing for outstanding performances from the lead actors. While not an easy play to watch, as it excruciatingly pulls us into the midst of a dysfunctional family, it is a fascinating look at the decline and fall of a British tradition. Box office: 0844 482 9677
The Entertainer (Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company) Kenneth Branagh (Archie Rice). Credit Johan Persson
ARTS & ANTIQUES
Beauty In The Message: Mary Watts And Her Chapel At Compton
There’s a little known village called Compton, set in the scenic Surrey Hills, about 35 miles south of London. It features a spectacular chapel dating to the Arts and Crafts period (c1880-1910). One of the many things that makes this chapel so unique is that it was created almost entirely by the local people. Mary Seton Watts (1849-1938), the wife of prominent Victorian artist GF Watts (1817-1904), was at the helm of the enormous construction task. Born in India to Scottish parents, and trained at the Slade and South Kensington School of Art in London, she made an indelible mark on the arts world in Surrey. The historically significant Watts Chapel (fig 1) was built between 1896 and 1898, designed by Mrs Watts, and financed by portrait commissions of GF Watts. Elements of Art Noveau, Byzantine, Romanesque, and Celtic Revival styles are all represented (fig 3) there. Now Grade 1 listed, it is situated a short walk from the main compound of what is called ‘The Artists’ Village’, on the outskirts of Compton. Included in this genuinely idyllic situation are the (GF) Watts Gallery, the Watts Studios (fig 2), Limnerslease (the former home of GF and Mary Watts), Watts Contemporary Gallery, and now also the DeMorgan Collection of Ceramics.
A Tea Shop, which serves all sorts of really delightful offerings, and a substantial Gift/Book Shop round out the compound. Playing a major role in the formation of the Chapel was the Home Arts and Industries Association (HAIA), which was a central component of the Arts and Crafts Movement in Britain. Founded in 1884, the organisation maintained, as its primary objective, the promotion of the revival of traditional rural crafts. Some of the classes offered by the HAIA were woodcarving, pottery, textiles and brasswork. Mrs Watts recruited a large group of local people, some of whom were HAIA members, to assist in the creation of her Chapel. She believed that everyone had a contribution to make, regardless of their particular educational level, trade or occupation, and Mrs Watts was eager to nurture their abilities (fig 3). She was firmly committed to the concept that decoration must be beautiful. The Chapel stands as a timeless example of the success of her theory, as it continues to stand in virtually pristine condition as the focal point of the village burial ground in Compton. Based on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the Chapel’s design is inspired
by Byzantine models of the Greek cross. The physical structure is made from naturally occurring clay found on the Watts’ property, but the interior, unlike anything seen before in Britain, was created using a primarily gesso technique. Watts adopted two methods for using gesso. The first, known as gesso duro, was a plasterwork technique which originated in Italy, and which became widely acknowledged and used by British artisans of the period. Gesso duro was desirable mainly due to its hardness and durability when dry. Another technique which Mrs Watts found useful in the interior decoration of the Chapel was gesso grosso, which was deemed superior for adding layers, textures, and colour. The Chapel is brimming with spiritual iconography, and the visitor can spend as much or as little time as desired to either investigate every precise detail, or to appreciate the workmanship solely from a decorative perspective. It is preferable to try to visit on a sunny day, as there is artificial illumination available, but the imagery can be best enjoyed in some degree of natural light. Tours are scheduled throughout the week, when the Watts home, Limnerslease (fig 4), can
Fig 3 - Mary Watts and her collaborators decorating interior panels for the Chapel, c1902. (Source: Watts Gallery - Artists’Village)
Fig 1 - Watts Chapel, Compton (Source: Author)
Fig 2 - Watts Studios, Artists’Village (Source: Author) 38
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Fig 4 - Limnerslease, Home of Mary and GF Watts, Compton (Source: Author)
Arts & Antiques
Fig 5 - Limnerslease ceiling panel, Home of Mary and GF Watts, Compton (Source: Author)
Fig 6 - Main entrance to Watts Chapel, Compton (Source: Author)
Fig 7 - Interior of Watts Chapel (Source: Watts Gallery - Artists’Village) also be viewed. Because the gesso technique was also employed by Mrs Watts on the ceilings at Limnerslease, and because she drew upon the same universal symbolism there, it www.theamericanhour.com
provides a useful and interesting comparison to her work when observed alongside that in the Chapel (fig 5). Many ornamental features of the Chapel, both internal and external, have specific relevance to the village, as in the case of the 15 terra cotta angels which are situated around the archway surrounding the entrance door. Modelled based on actual relations of the sculptor, they provide a depiction of identifiable Victorian residents of Compton. Below the angel figures lie the massive carved chestnut and oak doors, which were also created by a local artisan, and which were shown at the 1898 HAIA exhibition at the Royal Albert Hall in London (fig 6). Mrs Watts’ extensive travels, both before and during her marriage, stimulated her profound interest in the study of foreign cultures (anthropology as a science was emerging around this time), and she conducted research into religions and ancient civilizations. This, combined with works such as Margaret Stokes’ Early Christian Art in Ireland (1878), The Lindisfarne Gospels (c 700) and The Book of Kells (c 800), provided a ready source for much of the authentic imagery she included in the Chapel. Design influences also came from the likes of friend and mentor Walter Crane (1845-1915), the widely known illustrator and designer of the era. Mrs Watts drew heavily on her Scottish background in order to specifically reference and convey, via first hand knowledge, the visual imagery of Celtic tradition. She often used Celtic symbols as a medium for the transmission of her own contemporary ideas. Mrs Watts wrote, ‘…the character of our own Celtic Art-Ancient British, Irish and Scotch as it is - has been followed, and many of the symbols are taken from carved stones and crosses… now the treasures of National Museums and Libraries, but once the most sacred possessions of the Celts…’ But she further speaks of imagery even older than the Celts being used in Watts Chapel, when she describes, ‘Some of the symbols…are immeasurably older than any Celtic art, and have travelled here, and all over Europe, like the root words of languages, from their birth-place in the East…’ (The Word in the Pattern 1905). Images from nature are also frequently used. Decorative bird motifs abound, and these include the peacock, representing immortality; the owl, a traditional symbol of wisdom; the eagle, to represent light; and the pelican, reflective of love. A number of other creatures feature on the Chapel’s exterior walls, too, such as a flying fish, a spider, an ox and a lion. The interior (fig 7) contains multiple images of cherubs and winged messengers, as well as various representations which originate with both Western and Eastern spiritual and religious practices. Mrs Watts draws on symbols from Christian, Buddhist, Egyptian and Judaic iconography, in addition to her native Celtic motifs, for inspiration, with the occasional flourish provided by the presence of Sanskrit. A wealth of symbolic floral material is
evident, such as snowdrops, crocus, poppies, daffodils, and nasturtiums. The Dome of Heaven depicts God symbolically appearing at the highest central point of the Chapel. It’s essential to note that, as mentioned earlier, all these elements were incredibly created using gesso as a medium. The fact that they have withstood the variations of weather for well over 100 years, and that the Chapel can be viewed today in much the same way as it was viewed then, is nothing short of remarkable. Mrs Watts was known well beyond Surrey. In 1895, she organised her Terra Cotta Home Arts Class to show the chapel tiles they’d produced at the HAIA Exhibition at the Royal Albert Hall in London. She was involved with the Whitechapel Gallery, which strove to stimulate the appreciation of art for the working classes in London’s East End. Mrs Watts’ established the Compton Potters’Arts Guild, whose production was marketed as Compton Pottery up until 1955, and this work featured in Liberty & Co. catalogues. In 1904, some of her terra cotta garden containers decorated with Celtic motifs were shown at the World’s Fair in St Louis as part of the Irish Industrial Exhibition. Several books which are currently available at the Gallery Shop specifically address the structure and decoration of the Watts Chapel, and these include: Mark Bills. Watts Chapel; A Guide to Mary Watts’s Arts and Crafts Masterpiece. London: Philip Wilson Publishers 2010. Mark Bills and Desna Greenhow (eds). The Word in the Pattern (1905) by Mary Seton Watts; a facsimile with accompanying essays on Mary Watts’s Cemetery Chapel drawn from the Watts Gallery Symposium 2010. Surrey: The Society for the Arts and Crafts Movement in Surrey 2012. A visit to the Watts Chapel and Artists’Village can easily provide an entire day of educational entertainment. Photography is allowed in most areas, and the Tea Shop features a wide choice of solid menu options. The Book/Gift Shop carries much more than just that which relates to the Village, and there is all sorts of locally produced material on offer. Tickets can be purchased online in advance, or at the door. Visit the website at wattsgallery.org.uk and follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. NOTE: Not so far from Compton lies another significant Victorian church (1892), which features painted murals by the American artist Anna Lea Merritt (1844-1930). Her work can also be found in the Tate Britain in London. The St Martin’s Church in Blackheath, Surrey contains paintings of the life of Christ, created by Merritt between 1893 and 1895. Its patron is Selwyn College, Cambridge. Currently in use as a place of worship, its architectural inspiration was an Italian wayside chapel. The church welcomes visitors to services and at most other times when it is not in use for ceremonial purposes. Dr Susan House Wade, specialises in early 20th century cultural exchange between East and West. E: email@example.com. www.americaninbritain.co.uk
EMBASSY CORNER Last Call for Voting in the US Election! With Election Day on November 8, time is running short to request an absentee ballot if you have not already done so. It can take a while for your request to reach local election officials in the United States, and for them to process your request, so don’t wait till the last minute. You can find all the information you need about requesting a ballot from your home state, including deadlines, by visiting FVAP.gov, the website of the Federal Voting Assistance Programme. If you don’t receive your absentee ballot by mid-October, you may wish instead to submit a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (or “FWAB”), which can be printed from the FVAP website. If you submit an FWAB and then receive your state ballot, go ahead and send in the state ballot as well, and if local officials receive both, they’ll disregard your FWAB. At this late date, the easiest and surest way to beat deadlines for sending voting materials to local election officials is through Royal Mail or an express delivery service. Please remember that the US Embassy in London and our consulates in Edinburgh and Belfast are not polling places, and there will be no in-person voting available on Election Day. You can always contact us with questions about voting at LondonVote@state.gov.
Passport Expiration Dates Can Be Closer Than They Appear Like objects in a rear-view mirror, the expiration date on your US passport may be a lot closer
than it appears. While the US and UK governments both consider your US passport to be valid until its date of expiration, many other countries will accept your passport only if it has at least three or even six months of validity remaining. For example, to enter the so-called “Schengen” countries (that’s a large group of European countries that includes France and Belgium), your US passport must be valid for three months beyond your planned date of departure from the Schengen area—and some of those countries will assume you plan to stay for three months, effectively requiring six months of validity on your passport. Countries sometimes apply these rules inconsistently, making it impossible to say for certain whether your soon-to-expire passport will get you through a border. You may even run into problems if you’re merely transiting a country at an airport. Each month, the US Embassy hears from dozens of unhappy travellers who have run afoul of these requirements, resulting in great inconvenience and expense. To play it safe, we recommend that you never let the validity of your US passport wind down below six months. And since replacing your passport from abroad can take several weeks, the time to start planning for renewal of your passport is when it has 8-9 months of validity remaining. If you haven’t looked at your or your family’s passports in a while, now is the time to check their expiration dates. Complete guidance for how to renew your passport at the US Embassy can be found on our website at uk.usembassy.gov. There you’ll also find instructions for how to renew your passport at our consulates in Edinburgh and Belfast.
EMBASSY INFORMATION US Embassy, 24 Grosvenor Square, London W1K 6AH uk.usembassy.gov Switchboard: (020)7499 9000 Business Hours: 8:30am- 5:30pm, Monday-Friday. Closed on American and UK holidays. An officer is available via the switchboard all day, every day, for a life or death emergency involving a US citizen in the United Kingdom. Passport and Citizenship Services: By Appointment Monday - Friday Notary Services: By appointment Appointments available only online at uk.usembassy.gov Federal Benefits Unit: uk.usembassy.gov General Social Security information: ssa.gov Travel Advice: travel.state.gov
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The features in this issue include Mid-Year Tax Round-Up by Westleton Drake; Wealth Management: The Role Of Foreign Exchange in Investing by...
Published on Sep 30, 2016
The features in this issue include Mid-Year Tax Round-Up by Westleton Drake; Wealth Management: The Role Of Foreign Exchange in Investing by...