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AMERICAN IN BRITAIN Serving the American Community in the UK

FEATURES INCLUDE Eating Out  •  Travel •  Theatre •   Hotel Review Arts & Antiques  •   Taxing Issues  •   Wealth Management  •  Immigration Days Out With The Family  •   Setting Into The UK  •   Embassy Corner



AMERICAN FINANCE & NETWORKING EVENT Monday 4th November from 12.30pm

Smith & Wollensky, 1-11 John Adam Street, London, WC2N 6HT Please join American in Britain, American Tax Partners, London & Capital and Charities Aid Foundation for this fabulous, free afternoon of financial advice and networking with fellow Americans living in the UK. Registration starts from 12.30pm where tea, coffee and pastries will be served, and the following seminars will commence at 1.30pm Roland Sabates, President and Founder of American Tax Partners, will be addressing the cross border nuances that come along with living in the United Kingdom as an American. The discussion will cover annual tax and information reporting obligations, provide an overview of the tax implications of various pensions and investments, and outline some basic strategies that all American Expatriates will want to keep in mind. If time permits, the discussion will cover filing requirements for business owners and options available to individuals needing to catch up with their prior year US tax obligations. Jonathan Gold, Executive Director of London & Capital US Family Office will cover the turbulent investment landscape and discuss wealth management issues facing Americans living in Britain. As an American abroad there are various important considerations when planning your charitable giving. Mark Greer, Head of the CAF American Donor Fund, will share insight on the best ways to give to charities in the UK, US and elsewhere in the world, how to maximise the tax relief available to you, important pitfalls to avoid, making use of the UK’s Gift Aid scheme and vehicles to plan your giving over the longer-term. To register your place at this free event, please email with the names and email addresses of those who would like to attend. We look forward to seeing you there!





3 Eating Out 8 Travel 13 Arts & Antiques


16 Wealth Management 19 Taxing Issues 21 Theatre 24 Hotel Review 26 British Myths


28 American Women’s & Expatriate Clubs News


31 Settling Into The UK 33 Days Out With The Family 36 Immigration 38 Accommodation In London


39 Useful Numbers 40 Embassy Corner ADVISORY PANEL:

Dr. Bonnie Schneider PUBLISHER: Helen Elliott, Telephone: 020 8661 0186 Email: PUBLISHING DIRECTOR: Damian Porter, Telephone: 01737 551506 Email: American in Britain, PO Box 921, Sutton SM1 2WB

Christian McCaffrey, NFL Player. Credit - Dave Shopland

No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission of the publishers. Origination and Printing by Gemini Group



81 Duke of York Square, London SW3 4LY ‘Italian tapas’ they said! Or to put it another way ‘small sharing dishes’, or even better “cicheti”: the Venetian term to describe snacks and side dishes that are traditionally served in local bars knows as ‘Bacari’ all over Venice. These Bacari provided the inspiration behind Polpo, which now has restaurants in several London locations, as well as one in Brighton. Just a stone’s throw from landmarks like The Royal Court Theatre, Saatchi Gallery and Peter Jones, Polpo’s Chelsea home is a Georgian, Grade II listed building with a huge outside terrace which is reminiscent of the huge squares of Venice, Italy. The buzz of friendly chatter under the linen parasols called out to us as we arrived. We visited on a beautiful summer’s evening with our family, and there was a romantic holiday ambience in the air. Whilst browsing the menu, we enjoyed a speciality cocktail with Limoncello and Prosecco. They offer a nice range of classic spritz, including that popular Italian favourite; Aperol Spritz, along with a good variety of cocktails, Italian wines and Proseccos. The concept at POLPO is small Venetian plates, all perfect for sharing. We had the kids with us, so we ordered 2-3 plates each, and shared everything; starting with an arrangement of cicheti (Venetian snacks) including potato & parmesan crochette (£3.80), stuffed fried olives (£5) and all four samples of the bruschette (£14 – including my two favourites – the crab, celeriac, apple & caper, and the gorgonzola & cured pork shoulder) – we cut each one into four, and found them all particularly delicious and moreish … but with so much more to sample Polpo, Chlesea


we resisted the temptation of ordering another platter. In addition to the ‘Cicheti’. There is a range of larger plates, under the headings: fish, meat, vegetables & salads, and ‘Pizzette’ (small Pizzas). The fritto misto (£10) was a particular favourite amongst our family. It looks impressive; a selection of seafood including king prawns, calamari as well as slices of courgette, piled onto the plate with a delicate coating of crispy batter- it was gone in a flash! My wife’s favourite dish, however, was the sautéed tiger prawns with chilli and garlic – the prawns were succulent and complemented perfectly by the most memorable chilli and garlic sauce. Luckily, we had ordered some grilled focaccia to mop up the delicious remnants. The Pizzette options offered an interesting range of fresh toppings: from ‘asparagus, prosciutto and taleggio’ to ‘pork shoulder and pickled pepper’. We opted for the mozzarella, tomato & basil (£6), which was so delicious that we ordered an extra pizzette from the specials board (look out for this, as it offers seasonal specials). It turned out to be one of the best pizzas I have enjoyed in a long time. Another highlight were the meatballs with tomato sauce & parmesan (classic beef & pork with spaghetti; £9.50), which had the authentic taste of Italian home-cooking about it (bearing in mind, my limited English perspective on Italian home-cooking!). To accompany the meal, and introduce some healthy greenery, we ordered a baby gem, pea radish & rabiola salad (£5), this was fresh and deliciously different from the usual mixed leaf side salad you find in numerous chain restaurants. There are a number of other sharing platters on the menu including crab & chilli linguine, and flank steak, watercress & portobello Polpo, Chlesea

mushrooms, to mention just a couple that piqued my interest for a future visit. There is also plenty to choose from for vegetarians (there is a separate allergen and vegetarian menus), and the kids loved everything they ate, making this a great choice for the family. The kids were excited about the Nutella pizzetta (£6) on the Dessert menu. They both remained silent as they munched their way through this (fairly large) dessert despite everything that had preceded it. I really enjoyed my creamy and delicate tiramisu pot (£5.30), and my wife quietly devoured her chocolate & hazelnut cake with marscapone cream (£6.50), kindly allowing me to sample a mouthful. We enjoyed a cold bottle of Rosé wine (Pinot Grigio Rosato, Ponte Pietra) to complement our meal, and it seemed to particularly echo the ambience of this warm summer’s evening. As the sun went down and the air chilled, we made use of the cosy blankets provided to outside diners. We also spotted heaters under the parasols, which must be very welcome in the colder months. Inside, the restaurant is small, busy and romanticevoking the feeling of rustic Italian charm. It has a friendly atmosphere, which is enhanced by the helpful and cheery staff. Polpo’s philosophy is ‘one of humble, honest, unpretentious, stripped back beauty in everything we do’ and they certainly hold true to this. The overall feeling evoked is an uncomplicated celebration of good food and drink, making this the perfect venue to enjoy lunch or dinner with family, friends, or colleagues. Soho, Covent Garden and Chelsea are first come-first served at dinner, but they do take dinner bookings at Brighton and Smithfield. If you fancy a little taste of authentic Italy, then Polpo is just the place! Polpo, Chlesea



34 Mayfair

34 Grosvenor Square (entrance on South Audley Street), London, W1K 2HD Telephone: 020 3350 3434 Summer evenings in London are always memorable, especially when they are accompanied by sunshine. You could be happy just strolling around and soaking up the buzz, but even then, you’d need somewhere to be fed and watered. 34 Mayfair offers a little more than that! You’ll definitely want to linger over your meal and savour the stylish surroundings before resuming your stroll around beautiful Mayfair. The entrance to the restaurant is in South Audley Street just off Grosvenor Square in the heart of Mayfair (and a minute’s walk from the previous US Embassy location), I have walked passed this intriguing-looking restaurant on many occasions as it is hard to miss with the stunning arrangement of colourful flowers surrounding the entrance. The interior is seductive and sophisticated, the result of Martin Brudnizki Design Studio. The dark polished oak parquet floor feels like it’s seen centuries of footsteps. There are also hints of New York’s Upper East Side about this restaurant, with its colourful contemporary art collection balancing perfectly with the Art Deco, Edwardian and traditional English influences. A great deal of time was seemingly spent sourcing and creating bespoke items for the restaurant including the Turnbull, a beautiful copper and silver vessel adorned with bull’s heads to keep the steaks warm on the table. The steak knives were sourced in France, the linen from Italy, and the napkin rings, Edwardian-style lamps, crystal rock glasses, onion ring holders and ice buckets (both complete with bulls’ heads) and menu covers are all bespoke. In short, 34 Mayfair oozes style and understated elegance. We took our seats, to a background of jazz, played by the in-house pianist, and glanced over the cocktail menu. With a variety of specially created drinks and old classics, the cocktail menu cleverly interweaves the history

34 Mayfair Interior with piano



of Grosvenor Square into several themed cocktails, inspired by particular events. I opted for the Soul of Rock n’ Roll Daiquiri 1968; a blend of Havana Club 7yo, amontillado sherry, pineapple, lime and coconut (£14); inspired by Mick Jagger’s 1968 march on the US Embassy on Grosvenor Square to protest the war in Vietnam. Legend has it that the events he witnessed inspired him to write Street Fighting Man and Sympathy for the Devil. And what a delicious cocktail it makes. My wife enjoyed sipping her Three Kings Yard Fizz 1931 which combined Belvedere, vermouth liqueur, lychee, vanilla and prosecco (£14). This was inspired by an event from 1931 which saw the Italian Embassy being given a 200-year lease at number 4 Grosvenor Square by Hugh Grosvenor, 2nd Duke of Westminster. The building was entered via a private cul-de-sac Three Kings Yard, and was eventually joined to the home of the Italian Ambassador. To commence, I really enjoyed the 34 shrimp cocktail (£17.75). My wife ordered burrata & raf tomato salad with charred avocado, tardive and pine nut biscotti (£13.50). I should also mention the ‘Raw’ menu including mixed sashimi, yellowfin tuna takaki and steak tartare, which I am sure would all be all superb, whilst other options include a range of salads, roast summer tomato soup, chargrilled octopus and argyll smoked salmon. I was seriously tempted by the cornish crab with pink grapefruit, avocado and pistachio, but the size and succulence of the shrimps was enough to cure any potential food envy. 34 Mayfair is a modern grill restaurant, offering a seasonal menu of meat, game, fish and shellfish. The centrepiece of the kitchen is the bespoke Argentinean parrilla grill, which is fed by natural fuels. Beef plays an important role here, and is carefully sourced - they offer a wide variety of options including steaks from sSaltcoats, Scotland, Argentine Grass-Fed Angus, USDA Prime (including Chateaubriand for two, which our neighbours enjoyed) and Japanese Wagyu grade A5. Other main course

options include the 34 hamburger, chargrilled Iberico pork chop; some appetising fish dishes including roast fillet of cod, dover sole and Indonesian spiced stone bass; and finally, some ‘classics’ including spiced spatchcock chicken, meatballs with spaghetti and lobster macaroni. There is also an appealing weekend brunch menu and a good selection of vegetarian dishes. When overcome with choice (how to choose between steak and my all-time favourite lobster macaroni), I always seek advice, and I was not disappointed by the recommended bone-in rib steak (Saltcoats, Scotland) (£38.50). My wife opted for the tandoori monkfish & tiger prawn skewer (£29.50). We both shared some fries, spinach (with garlic and olive oil), and tenderstem broccoli (with chilli and almonds) – all priced at £5.50. The steak was medium-well and cooked to perfection. It was large, but the sheer flavour and melt-in-mouth texture meant it was no match to my appetite. It was one of the tastiest steaks I have enjoyed in a long time. Similarly, the monkfish with tiger prawns was positively devoured. My wife commented on the delicious chargrilled flavour of the fish, obviously, the result of that celebrated Argentinian grill. For dessert, I ordered the peanut butter crunch bar with blackcurrant sorbet (£8.75), and my wife went for the flourless coconut cake with roasted pineapple & coconut sorbet (£9.50). Of course, we sampled each other’s desserts, both of which left us feeling completely satiated at the end of a memorable meal. There is also a great range of ice-creams, a range of fruity infused desserts - including pavlova and baked cheesecake, and another favourite of mine (one for next time) the selection of English Cheeses. The service here is attentive, slick and friendly. Smartly dressed waiting staff were on hand to advise on the menu and wine. They offer a wonderfully diverse and extensive wine list, offering wines for every budget and taste; as it was a warm evening, we enjoyed a chilled bottle of delicious house rose wine with our meal. As we were in no rush to leave, we willingly accepted the invitation to view the private dining room located upstairs. This is the ‘Emin Room’ an impressive space, housing specially commissioned art by Tracey Emin. Opened in December 2013, The Emin Room is adorned with her signature neons and a stunning collection of charcoal drawings. It would make a fabulous venue for a private lunch, dinner or reception. Our evening at 34 Mayfair was relaxed and enjoyable. The food and atmosphere were perfect, making it one of the essential places to dine in London. If you want to visit to experience this for yourself, please note that reservations are essential. 34 Mayfair are also pleased to announce their Thanksgiving Menu for Thursday 24th November including turkey and pumpkin pie. Contact the restaurant directly to make a reservation or enquire further.





Afternoon Tea at The Corinthia

Afternoon Tea at The Corinthia

Whitehall Place London, SW1A 2BD Telephone: 020 7321 3150 It was in 1840 that Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, noticed she felt a ‘sinking feeling’ around mid-afternoon, but once served with a pot of Darjeeling tea, some bread, butter and biscuits, she felt decidedly better, and the Afternoon Tea was born! A century later, Lady Astor, the first British MP, who often crossed swords with

Afternoon Tea at The Corinthia

Afternoon Tea at The Corinthia



Prime Minister Winston Churchill, once declared, ‘Sir, if you were my husband, I’d poison your tea’, and Churchill responded, ‘Madam, if you were my wife, I’d drink it!’. Luckily for me, I took my friend of 35 years who I get on very well with to Afternoon Tea at The Corinthia, a luxury hotel and former British Government building, located on a triangular site between Trafalgar Square and the Thames Embankment, and there was no chat of poisoning each other, rather what champagne and flavour of tea we were going to choose, and whether or not we had a second round of the delicious sandwiches, which we did! The Crystal Moon Lounge in which we enjoyed our Afternoon Tea is illuminated by a spectacular Baccarat chandelier and is adorned with exquisite flowers, and to make the atmosphere really special, a pianist was playing well known songs on a Steinway piano. The staff and their service were second to none, being attentive but not over bearing, and offering us as much of the delicious delicacies on offer that we could consume. We both started with a glass of champagne along with several finger sandwiches including cucumber, radish and cream cheese on white bread, truffle egg mayonnaise on malted granary bread, Severn and Wye smoked salmon and marmalade curd on brown bread, and tandoori chicken, green apple and raisin on white bread and these were so tasty we did, as previously mentioned, take up the offer of another round each! The sandwiches were served on their own as a first course which was nice, as some Afternoon Tea venues do bring the sandwiches along with the scones and cakes, but having them separately made the experience last longer which also meant we could enjoy an extra glass or two of champagne! The scones that were served to us next were gorgeously warm and generous in portion size and tasted delicious, and the beautiful cakes were brought to us on a trolley so we were able to choose which of the amazing creations we would like, rather than just being served certain cakes where generally at least a couple or two aren’t to my personal liking. The seven cakes we could choose were lemon, blueberry and mint cheesecake; strawberry, coconut and timut pepper eclair; Manjari 64% chocolate and raspberry sablé breton; apricot, vanilla and lavender honey chantilly verrine; strawberry and cream cake; canelés, and interestingly, marshmallows - violet, elderflower and strawberry, and were all a treat to the eyes as well as the taste buds, and a thoroughly lovely afternoon in The Crystal Lounge was had by me and my friend. Traditional Afternoon Tea at The Corinthia costs £55, or £65 with a glass of LaurentPerrier La Cuvée Brut Champagne , or £75 with a glass of Laurent-Perrier Rosé Champagne, but which ever option you choose you are in for a very special treat.




TRAVEL: DELIGHTS OF THE DORDOGNE Judith Schrut Enjoys The Food, Drink And Other Pleasures Of Dordogne, France Go with the Flow, cruising the Dordogne on board a traditional gabare

Expat American writer Henry Miller said of the Dordogne, “…this great peaceful region of France…must have been a paradise for many thousands of years”. My last visit to France’s Dordogne region was exactly 30 years ago and nothing like paradise. It was, instead, a long, harrowing trek from London in a cramped campervan with two grumpy toddlers at the height of summer’s tourist season. Not keen on being strapped in a hot speeding vehicle for hours at a time, staying in overcrowded campsites and subsisting on cold frites, Toddler A used every opportunity to show off her expertise in potty training and parental manipulation. Every 20 minutes or so she would howl from the back of the van, “Need potty!” My husband would then swerve into the nearest ditch and slam on the brakes. Pots and pans, towels and toddlers flew from front to back of the van, followed by a race to reach the rear chemical toilet in time … at which point Toddler A would declare, “Don’t need it any more”. This time, my visit to the Dordogne is strictly for grown ups. We’ve come to sample the delights of the Dordogne: its gardens, gastronomy and gabares, the best of its Beaux Villages, the most charming of its chateaux and the loveliest of its liquid pleasures. Paradise had arrived at last! 8


The stunning Marqueyssac gardens and chateau, Rogue Gageac

Chef Stephane Chambon’s roast saddle of Quercy Lamb

Chef Stephane Chambon’s asparagus with freshly smoked salmon

Chef Adrien Castagne’s walnut cream-laced Martel Brest

Gastronomy At Its Best

Is there any better way to start a French holiday than with a long, lazy lunch? After a short flight from Stansted to Brive-laGaillarde’s impressive new airport, it’s only a matter of minutes before we’re in our rental car, out of the airport and deep in the heart of rural Dordogne. We head straight to Martel, a once prosperous medieval town famed for its seven towers and elaborate 18th century wood-roofed marketplace. Fame and riches may be long gone but Martel’s charm, ambience and marketplace still flourish, especially on twice weekly market days and every Wednesday evening in summer, when locals gather for live music and dancing. And joy of French joys, dotted round the marketplace are several small but punchabove-their-weight cafés and bistrots, including Le Petit Moulin. There’s no ‘little mill’ in sight, but Le Petit Moulin’s award winning chef-proprietor Adrien Castagné is clearly pumping big energy into every dish and drink emerging from his kitchen. Lunch is a simple but scrumptious four-course affair served personally by the vivacious young Adrien. Adrien takes pride in a daily-changing

artisanal menu using local ingredients, mostly from his family’s farm, walnut orchard and vineyard. This means homeproduced foie gras, bread, meat and creamy Rocamadour cheese, riverfresh fish, just picked vegetables and the freshest walnut oil you will ever taste. It’s best enjoyed with Adrien’s own vintage red wine, La Castagne. Dessert is a fabulous Martel Brest, pure choux pastry bursting with whipped walnut cream. Oh dear. I could easily eat here every day and grow fat but happy!

Saints And Sustenance

It turns out that the best way to work off those stratospheric gourmet lunch calories lies just half an hour’s scenic drive south, to the extraordinary perched town of Rocamadour. We’ve come for a vigorous afternoon workout led by welcoming local guide, Cécile May. Rocamadour has been a famous Christian pilgrimage site since the Middle Ages. The town and its ancient holy shrines cling spectacularly to surrounding cliffs as if suspended between heaven and earth. For more than nine centuries pilgrims have, like us, trekked the 14 stations of the steep and winding Chemin de Croix or climbed

TRAVEL the 216 steps to the top of the site’s rocky plateau, often on their knees in penance, to worship at the statue of the Black Madonna or in the Chapel of our Lady of Rocamadour. More than one million visitors come here each year (… over 900 years? Do the maths for a mindblowing number). Notable past pilgrims include England’s King Henry II, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine and many other penitent royals and celebrities. Next, we’re off to a very different kind of sanctuary and our stop for the night, the chic Hotel Le Pont de l’Ouysse at Lacave. It’s scenically tucked into the hillside overlooking the banks of the River Ouysse, a tributary of the Dordogne, with emerald waters rushing below and the fairytale Château Belcastel towering above. The hotel has been in the Chambon family for five generations. We’re energetically greeted by Elliott, the family’s setter, and Michelin star chef Stéphane Chambon, who runs the show with father Daniel and brother Matthieu. After check-in, Stéphane leads us to the vast hotel kitchen where he creates daily changing menus with top seasonal ingredients from nearby farms and fields. Stéphane treats us to a demo on the astonishing art of asparagus, using succulent white and green spears he’s handpicked from the hotel gardens that morning. Before long it’s time for aperitifs and predinner chat on the hotel’s flower decked terrace and a stunning dinner in the stylish, nature-themed restaurant. Four courses, plus choice bottles from the wine cellar, include a delightful, truffle-topped amuse bouche, dressed asparagus and roast saddle of farmhouse lamb surrounded by fresh herbs and baby vegetables, followed by Stéphane’s signature cheese dish, Cocotte de Rocamadour, and an angelic lemon tart with limoncello and basil sorbet. Then, satiated and nicely inebriated, we’re ready for a good night’s sleep in the hotel’s comfy beds, lulled by the gentle sounds of the River Ouysse and sweet dreams of truffles, asparagus and velvety red Pécharmant.

Food With A View

If you’re on a Foodie trip to the Dordogne, or just an ordinary mortal who likes a good meal, you won’t want to miss market day at the first stop of our new day, Sarlatla-Canéda. Nicknamed “the Black Pearl of Périgord”, “the Medieval Jewel” and “Sleeping Beauty”, Sarlat is an attractive, historic town in its own right. But above all, Sarlat is Dordogne’s gastronomic capital, renowned for its food. As well as vibrant weekly farmers markets, Sarlat has a cornucopia of food events all year round. January’s Truffle Festival is packed with tastings, Michelin-starred chefs, truffle hunting demos with trained dogs, and a chance to compete in the famed Foie Gras and Truffle Culinary Academy. March brings WWW.THEAMERICANHOUR.COM

the Fest’Oie (Goose Fair), when Sarlat hosts gaggles of geese marching noisily through town and gastronomic goose meals where you may sample their less fortunate relatives. There are also organic food nights, Gourmet Celebration Days and Christmas markets. We hit town during les Journées du Terroir, a wondrous seasonal showcase of local game and produce. Sarlat’s medieval centre is packed with stalls, tents and tables full of plump strawberries, asparagus the size of baseball bats and mushrooms the size of footballs, tender Quercy lamb, sweet and fruity Vin Paillé (straw wine) and ubiquitous foie gras. The region’s walnuts are so superb they have their own appellation: AOC Noix du Périgord. And Sarlat’s market boasts walnuts galore: in cakes, tartes and crumbly biscuits; caramelised, creamed, chocolatecovered or whipped into cheese ‘sucettes’. There are endless varieties of walnut oil, walnut wine, fat cracked-open nuts offered up for tasting and bulging sacks of crushed shells, ready for use as cat litter. Naturally, stopping for lunch is a must. We wolf down an astonishing value for money three-course menu at Le Bistrot, a typical tiny mid-market café serving up the best of today’s fresh goodies. Particularly memorable is my steaming plate of naughtily nice Confit de Canard et Pommes Sarladaises (that’s roast duck with potatoes seared in generous amounts of duck fat, garlic and parsley to you and me). And when the market quietens down late afternoon, there’s plenty more to explore in Sarlat’s cobbled streets, courtyards and alleyways. The town is reputed to have the highest density of historic buildings in Europe, many now converted into one-room art galleries, antique shops and pretty boutiques. I snap up a handbag bargain at L’instant de Cuir, a leather goods store the size of a walk-in cupboard. And a final must do for any visitor to Sarlat: we ride on the curious glass elevator in the former church of Sainte Marie. It rises up through the centre of the church’s bell tower to give glorious 360 degree views of the ancient town below.

The Sanctuary, Rocamadour

Everything’s coming up truffles, Sarlat Market

Asparagus the size of baseball bats, Sarlat Market

The Most Beautiful Villages In France

The Dordogne region is not only rich in natural beauty, wildlife, history and cuisine, it’s home to no less than 16 of the coveted Le Plus Beaux Villages en France – the most beautiful villages in France. We’re introduced to this uniquely French accolade on our next morning’s visit to one of these jewels, La Roque Gageac. The village is spectacularly set between steep honey-coloured cliffs and the Dordogne River; its stone houses with their distinctive Périgord roofs line the riverside and spread up the hill behind. We toast all this beautifulness with a glass of walnut wine on board a gabare, a traditional flat-bottomed barge docked on the pier below

Collonges La Rouge, photo by Malika Turin, courtesy Dordogne Valley Tourist Office



the village. A gabare cruise is an unmissable, affordable treat, taking you on a relaxed ride down the most stunning stretch of river, surrounded by gorges, perched castles, vibrant wildlife and lush greenery. By the way, if you’re looking for more of the watery outdoors, the Dordogne has it in bucketfuls: opportunities for fishing, wild swimming, river horse-trekking, canyoning, canoeing, cave diving etc. are everywhere. As for us, we’re on way to perhaps the most beautiful of all the Beaux Villages, Collonges-la-Rouge. Collonges was the first to receive the prized title and certainly stands out from the crowd. It’s been called “a doll’s house village, dressed in red from head to toe”, probably because the entire village is built from rich, red sandstone. Hard to imagine this tiny place, now home to 80 permanent residents, was once a politically important town whose wealthy citizens built the remarkable houses, towers and monuments that ring the village. At the height of summer, Collonges’ narrow streets are packed with tourists, who come for its open air festival, comic fair, candlelight tours, fine little cafes and restaurants, or just to wander and wonder. Among the village’s most prominent citizens are Jacques and Camille Breuil, whose families have been here for generations. They run Le Cantou, where we’ve come for lunch. It’s a well loved, always full, country bistrot, serving hearty traditional fare from noon til night on red check-clothed tables, shaded from the fierce heat by vine covered trellis. We meet Monsieur and Madame Breuil as they zip from table to table, greeting, chatting, laughing and ensuring every diner eats well and stays as long as they like (four hours in our case), certainly not leaving until they’ve tried, say, the omelette with wild mushrooms and potatoes à la Collongeoise, or the Salade Terroir (fresh vegetables, smoked trout, duck confit, chestnuts and hot Cabécou goat’s cheese), and savoured a fat slice of Le Cantou’s walnut gateau Cheese selection at En Cuisine, Brive-la-Gaillarde



with some lovely, sweet Monbazillac. Other nearby Beaux Villages worth a detour are Turenne, Curemonte, Monpazier, Beynac and Carennac.

Dreams, Gardens And Imagination

Our next day begins early, in TerrassonLaVilledieu. The moment we arrive, crossing the Pont Vieux (literally, ancient bridge) footbridge, it’s clear this is no ordinary town but the French village of my dreams and imagination. I’m secretly pleased to hear that most visitors drive straight past this hidden gem. A breathtaking hike up the flower-covered Malpas cliff path brings us to the old town, perched high above the Vézère River, and the medieval church of Saint-Sour. Built in the 14th century and recently renovated, its gorgeous stained glass windows filled with legends of local saints and heroes, Saint-Sour is splendid by day but even more so on summer evenings when it’s the centrepiece of Terrasson’s nightly Son et Lumière, illuminating the church and surrounding buildings with 3D video projection mapping. We’re treated to a walking tour of Terrasson’s network of mysterious underground tunnels, “the Cluzeax”, its circuit of 10 historic water fountains and its maze of narrow streets filled with fragrant flower boxes and mini gardens. Even the village public toilets are covered in wisteria and climbing roses. Terrasson has also been converting crumbling old spaces into art studios, encouraging artists to come and stay. It was great to meet glassblowers, potters, jewellers and photographers and watch them work. The town’s unique passion for artists, gardens and imaginative projects has been led from the front by Terrasson’s infatigable mayor, Pierre Delmon. His team is working on its latest project, a Cluedo style village treasure hunt for children.

Simply unmissable for grownups is the extraordinary Les Jardins de l’Imaginaire (Gardens of the Imagination). Designed by French-American landscape architect Kathryn Gustafson after a prestigious international competition, Les Jardins is an enchanting garden for all the senses, re-telling history, myths and legends through 6 hectares and 13 garden ‘rooms’ including water gardens, a theatre of greenery, a sacred wood and a Rainbow Bowl.

Back To Brive

All too soon, we’re back in Brive-la-Gaillarde for a final, jampacked dose of Dordognaise eats and treats. An en route stop at the Bovetti Chocolate Museum. A picnic feast from Brive’s brilliant market. Walnut liqueur tasting at Distillery Denoix. Dinner under the stars at regional hotspot En Cuisine and an overnight stay at swish new boutique Hôtel Le Miel des Muses, which serves possibly the most generous breakfast in all of France. Brive is a wonderful, surprising, relaxing small town, full of heart. Like everywhere else in the Dordogne, it just wants us to stay a bit longer. Judith travelled to Dordogne as a guest of Dordogne Valley Travel and Brive Dordogne Valley Airport. You can visit their excellent English website at Further information: Le Petit Moulin, Martel, Hôtel Restaurant Le Pont de l’Ouysse, Lacave, Le Bistrot, Sarlat-la-Canéda, Le Cantou, Collonges-la-Rouge, Les Jardins de l’Imaginaire, Restaurant En Cuisine, Brive-la-Gaillarde, Hôtel Le Miel des Muses, Brive-la-Gaillarde,







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ARTS & ANTIQUES La Biennale di Venezia: An International Encounter With Art Of All Mediums By Dr Susan House Wade ‘May you live in interesting times’ is the theme of this year’s much anticipated 58th annual Venice Biennale, a major celebration of art, design, architecture, cinema, dance, music and theatre, held across a number of sites, all around Venice. Running from May 11 until November 24, 2019, it effectively transforms the city into the focal point of the contemporary arts world, a position it has held in most alternate years since its inception in 1895. In fact, some writers call it the ‘Olympics’ of the art world. Attracting art dealers, journalists, academics, art collectors and enthusiasts from an international audience, the Biennale draws a real mix of ages and demographics. Interestingly, more than half of the visitors in 2017 were less than 26 years old. Biennale Curator Ralph Rugoff (b.1957), the director of London’s Hayward Gallery, hails from New York City, and attended Brown University. In an interview conducted before the show’s opening in May, he talked about the ideas at work this year. “Artists are people who pay they’re teaching us how to pay attention, and when you pay attention, the world is a much more interesting place”. This theory plays out in virtually every aspect of the Biennale--in exhibits which command attention and, as a result, must ultimately inspire us to embrace a “richer way of thinking”, according to Rugoff. “The Show focuses on artists who challenge existing habits of thought and open up readings of objects and images, gestures and situations,” he points out. President of the Biennale this year, Economist Paolo Baratta (b.1939), suggests that “in times of great change...we must pay attention to the evolutions of the world and of art”. The Biennale offers the viewer an intense encounter with art of all mediums. In total, this

Venetian public transport (vaporetto) with Biennale di Venezia design


year there are 79 international artists showing their work, alongside 90 national participants, 35 national pavilions and 40 collateral events, with numerous special projects being offered across the historic centre of Venice. Securing the opportunity to exhibit work at the Biennale is certainly one of the most unique and highly regarded privileges which can be accorded to a living artist by a nation. Every year, there are also a few new entries added to the Biennale mix, and this year, that includes participation by Ghana, Madagascar, Malaysia and Pakistan. Looking at some of the entries for the 2019 Biennale, the expansive Ghana Pavilion, with its thought provoking and highly relevant exhibition, entitled Ghana Freedom, takes a profound look at the consequences of independence from the United Kingdom, from 1957 onwards. Scandinavia is represented via a united effort on the part of Finland, Norway and Sweden, with the theme Weather ReportForecasting Future. The relationship between human and non-human is examined in an age when climate change and mass extinction are threatening life on earth, and, at the time of this writing, by the fires raging in the Brazilian rainforest. Isuma is the title of the contribution at the Canadian Pavilion, and consists of a profoundly moving series of videotaped interviews with Inuit families, all who were forcibly relocated from their ancestral lands in the 1950s. This is the first time, surprisingly, that Inuit art has been featured in the Canadian National representation, and it holds particular relevance in this UNESCO Year of Indigenous Languages. Representing the USA in 2019 is Martin Puryear (b.1941), who deals with the concept of liberty, considering freedom

as a fundamental component to the human condition. Primarily known as a maker of objects in wood, bronze, iron, tar, mesh, granite and fieldstone, he is a classical sculptor who explores ideas of identity and cultural cross-currents in his representations. Puryear’s work is widely recognised for its independence, and for the frequent exploration of how everyday objects are manipulated and transformed over time. The USA Pavilion, in which Puryear’s extraordinarily large scale works are housed, was opened in 1930. As with many other national pavilions on the Biennale festival sites, it is characterised by a readily identifiable national style. Since 1986, ownership has been situated with the Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation, and managed by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice (another must visit while in town), which works closely with the US State Department. In the case of the Venezuela Pavilion, a well known Italian architect was secured to design the structure (1953), with the intent of creating a dynamic and modern national image. Carlo Scarpa (1906-1978), famous for his masterful interplays of light and shadow, designed a memorable structure, and in doing so, created an impressive statement for Venezuela very close to the main entrance of the Biennale grounds at Giardini, right next door to the Russia Pavilion. In some instances, in fact, we find that the national pavilions, in and of themselves, capture just as much, or sometimes more, of the viewer’s attention and imagination as the contents they hold inside. These pavilions reveal much about how countries were and indeed, are, trying to establish a representation of themselves. Striking

Martin Puryear (USA) Big Phrygian. 2010-14 Historically worn to express freedom/liberty by Dacian prisoners; during the French Revolution; and by enslaved blacks in the Caribbean in their quest for equality under French rule.

Martin Puryear. (USA) Tabernacle. 2019 (L) Based on caps worn by Union and Confederate armies in the Civil War, symbolic of American gun violence. Aso Oke. 2019 (R) Based on contemporary national dress of Nigerian males.



Natali Rocha (Venezuela) De tripas corazon. (detail) 2019

Venezuela Pavilion. Carlo Scarpa 1953

Hungarian Pavilion. Column featuring heroic figures Kupa Vezer and Balassa Balint. 1906-1909

Swatch Art Peace Hotel, Shanghai 2019



parallels can be drawn between this and the manner in which countries competed for position in the hierarchy of nations at the international and worlds’ fairs, which began to appear in a big way from about the middle of the second half of the 19th century. The Hungarian Pavilion, for example, was designed and built between 1906 and 1909, during the period of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and shows the vigorous art nouveau decorative influences, characteristic of the period, but something of a novelty in a contemporary art exhibition of the 21st century. The building is adorned with mosaic representations of figures of elegantly dressed, legendary heroes in period costume, alongside an ornately decorated entrance covered with fanciful tilework. The British Pavilion, (under the jurisdiction of The British Council) has featured, since 1938, such luminaries as Henry Moore (1948), Barbara Hepworth (1950) and Anish Kapoor (1990) exhibiting their works. This year’s contribution is by Cathy Wilkes (b.1955) in Belfast, but currently working and living in Glasgow, her works are all untitled, and feature a series of floor-bound, sculptural installations, paintings and prints. British potter Edmund de Waal (b.1964), author of The Hare with Amber Eyes (2010), and inspired from early in life by Venice and by John Ruskin, has featured this year in an exhibition in two remote locations, away from the main Biennale grounds of the Giardini and the Arsenale. His contribution, psalm, comprised of two parts, has dealt with the subject of exile, and examines the concept of forced relocation to a different country and learning to speak a new and unfamiliar language. As a major Biennale sponsor in 2019, Swatch showcases the Swatch Art Peace Hotel project in Shanghai. Situated in one of the most iconic buildings in the Bund district, artists from everywhere come to live and work via the sponsored residency programme there. Emanating from diverse cultures, backgrounds and disciplines, the artist-in-

residence initiative allows participants to experience a dynamic cultural environment conducive to exploration and experimentation. Artists work and live in the Art Peace Hotel for periods of between three and six months, as many as 18 people at a time, with a primary focus on creative exchange. If the Biennale can aid in the formation of new visions and fresh attitudes, even on a small scale, it will have achieved its goal. As Rugoff states early on in his manifesto, “When I look at what I think are bad things happening in the world, they usually come out of very simple minded thinking. So, I think the more we can help people to develop the idea that, actually, there’s more than one perspective, the better.” In the pursuit of that end, the Biennale 2019 succeeds remarkably well. Access to the two main Biennale sites is simple via the Venetian public transport boat system, which are called vaporetto. For Giardini: Numbers 6, 41, 42, 51, 52, 1 and 2N. For Arsenale: Numbers 1, 41, 42. It is also possible to take the vaporetto to one site and then proceed to the other site on foot. Opening Hours for the Biennale are 10:00 am to 6:00pm every day except Monday. Further information: (Cathy Wilkes) Dr Susan House Wade is a design historian who specialises in the visual culture exchange between East and West during the first half of the 20th century. She recently spoke about Queen Marie of Romania as a part of the Queen Victoria Bicentenary 2019 commemorations, and is currently researching cultural aspects of Queen Marie’s tour of the USA in 1926.

Salamoia. 2019 from Dillio Plaza; Acqua di Georg water cooler




WEALTH MANAGEMENT HM Treasury Receives Feedback From Office Of Tax Simplification Regarding Inheritance Tax Regime Back in January 2018, the then Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, asked the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS), an independent body, to review the structure of the existing inheritance tax regime. The tax framework has undergone little change since the 1980’s and there have been rumblings among the public and some professionals about the fairness and complexity of the existing structure. With this in mind, OTS undertook a two-part process to carry out a review and make recommendations for the government to consider that would ultimately lead to the system being simpler and easier to understand. The recommendations were published in July. Below we outline the main parts of the system in its current form and review some of the OTS findings and recommendations.

What Is Inheritance Tax And What Form Does It Currently Take In The UK?

Inheritance tax is a levy that is assessed by the government based on the net value of an estate. In its simplest definition, the net value of an estate is based on the fair market value of all assets on the date of death, less any debts, such as: • Cash in the bank • Investments • Any personal property • Any real property or businesses owned • Cars • Life insurance policy pay-outs. In the UK everyone is currently allowed a net estate valued up to £325,000 before any inheritance tax is assessed. This is called the nil-rate band. Any estate valued above this threshold is subject to tax at 40% (or 36% if at least 10% of the residual assets are left to an HMRC qualified charity). Generally, at death, any assets left to a spouse or civil partner, are exempt from inheritance tax as long as they are considered to be UK-domiciled (it is possible to make an election to be treated as UK-domiciled, if appropriate). This means that together a couple can currently pass on up to £650,000 before being subject to UK inheritance tax. Back in 2017, an additional nil rate band 16


of £175,000 per person began being phased in when a main residence is passed on to an immediate family member (defined as children, step-children and grandchildren). This additional threshold is generally available unless estates are in excess of £2,350,000. The current structure encourages lifetime gifting. During an individual’s lifetime, the UK allows gifts to be made to individuals free of tax, if it meets certain conditions. This is known as a potentially exempt transfer, or PET. A gift will be free of inheritance tax as long as the individual giving the gift does not die within seven years of giving. If the individual who makes the gift does die within seven years then part or all of the gift will be added back to the taxable estate under a tapering system. There are some exceptions to the potentially exempt transfer. Individuals are allowed to gift up to £3,000 each tax year. If the £3,000 gift allowance hasn’t been used in the prior year, it can be carried forward and two years combined. Contributions to charities and political parties are also excluded as are gifts in consideration of marriage up to a £5,000 if given to a child (different thresholds apply for grandchildren, great-grandchildren and non-family members). Additionally, if regular gifts are made out of income (as opposed to capital) and this does not affect the lifestyle of the individual who is making a gift, this may also be exempt.

Highlights Of The OTS Findings And Subsequent Recommendations

Within the report, the OTS makes eleven recommendations that focus on three key areas: lifetime gifts, interaction with capital gains tax and business and farms. Below we highlight and discuss the five most broadly interesting and relevant recommendations. (1) Gifting exemption allowance should be simplified and replaced with a higher threshold. As mentioned earlier, there are a fairly large number of gifting exemptions in place that fall outside of the potential exempt

transfer rules. It is often noted that many of these allowances are confusing in terms of how they can be applied. For instance, the annual £3,000 exemption is a cumulative total whereas some of the other allowances like the £250 exemption or the marriage gift exemption are individual amounts. It can be complex as to how they work together, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed that the original thresholds have been largely static with no inflation adjustments since the early 1980s. As such, the OTS has recommended that the structure be simplified to one total gifting allowance for all types of gifts. They haven’t recommended a specific limit that should be considered but just that it should be one figure that represents a more realistic amount in today’s monies. (2) Potentially exempt transfer exposure period should be reduced to five years with no tapering relief. As outlined earlier, the potentially exempt transfer exposure period is currently seven years. For the first three years, potentially exempt transfers remain fully exposed to inheritance tax and then between years four and seven the portion of the gift that remains exposed to inheritance tax is staged down to the point where after seven years the gift would fall entirely outside of the individual’s estate at death. Many people have commented that the length of time individuals are expected to hold onto gifting records and the overall length of time the exposure continues is too long. The OTS has recommended that the exposure period be reduced from seven years to five years with no tapering relief available after three years. Essentially, the gift would remain fully exposed to inheritance tax for five years which means this new structure would represent a cliff’s edge of sorts. (3) Gifts given within the potentially exempt transfer period should be subject to tax by the estate. If an individual dies within the current seven year potential exempt transfer period, the original gift (in its entirety or in a stepped down percentage) is included in the individual’s estate. There are ordering rules as to where the gift falls within the estate

WEALTH MANAGEMENT valuation and any residual inheritance tax is generally only applied to those gifts that end up being in excess of the nil rate band of £325,000. There is no pro-rata allocation to all gifts given during the potential exempt transfer period which means that one gift may have no residual tax and one gift may be fully subject to tax. In addition, what many people don’t understand is that should any portion of a previous gift be included in the taxable estate, currently the recipient of that lifetime gift (as opposed to the residual estate) is liable for paying inheritance tax payable on the gift. Given the difficulty of sometimes trying to get money back from the original gift in the instance that the gift is subject to inheritance tax, the OTS has made the suggestion the estate be made responsible for paying any tax associated with gifts given during the potentially exempt transfer period. (4) Capital Gains uplift should be removed in instances where an inheritance relief or exemption applies. Traditionally assets that are inherited at death are received at the fair market value of the asset on the date of death, rather than the price that the asset was originally acquired for. The thought behind this approach is that an individual should largely not be subject to both an inheritance tax and a capital gains tax. However, the report highlighted that under the current rules, there were instances where some beneficiaries of an estate could be liable to both capital gains tax and inheritance tax on the value of inherited assets (for instance, investment assets gifted by donor during their lifetime but donor dies before seven years) and also instances where beneficiaries may be subject to neither (for instance, where the spousal exemptions apply). As a means of removing the apparent inequality, the OTS has suggested the

structure should be reformed so that capital gains tax should apply in instances where an inheritance tax relief or exemption applies. Professionals have commented that removing any uplift of assets at death would almost certainly lead to higher capital gains tax bills at all levels of wealth and ultimately make it harder for individuals to plan the sale of assets in the future. Nonetheless, the recommendation stands in its current form as a way to mitigate any distortion that the interaction might cause. (5) Term Life insurance death benefit payments should be excluded from inheritance tax even if payable to the individual. It is common for individuals to hold term life insurance with a death benefit that is payable if the person whose life is insured dies within the term of the policy. When these policies are written into trust, then they do not need to go through probate, meaning that is often faster for beneficiaries to receive funds. This also often means that policy proceeds do not get included in an individual’s estate for the purposes of inheritance tax. This is not the case when the policy is payable to the individual and many policies are not structured in a manner where the policy is written in trust. The OTS report advocates for a more consistent approach for structuring insurance policies making the advantages available to the broader public. A recommended simplification is for all insurance death benefits to be treated in the same way for inheritance tax purposes, regardless of whether the policy is held in trust or in an individual’s name. It remains to be seen whether any of the recommendations are taken onboard and any potential changes that come from this report will not be overnight. All of the usual channels would need to be pursued, including a public consultation and a review of draft legislation.

Additionally, it is quite possible that any upcoming changes in government would cause any reforms to take a very different form from the above. However, there is no doubt that this space is one to watch as any changes introduced could result in common wealth transfer planning strategies to take a different shape in the future.

Risk Warnings And Important Information

MASECO LLP (trading as MASECO Private We a l t h and MASECO Institutional) is registered in England and Wales as a Limited Liability Partnership (Companies House No. OC337650) and has its registered office at Burleigh House, 357 Strand, London WC2R 0HS. MASECO LLP is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority for the conduct of investment business in the UK and is an SEC Registered Investment Advisor in the United States of America. This article does not take into account the specific goals or requirements of individuals and is not intended to be, nor should be construed as, investment or tax advice. Information contained in this article is based on MASECO’s understanding of current tax law and legislation which is subject to change. MASECO Private Wealth is not a tax specialist. The tax treatment of any investment strategy or investment in a financial instrument depends on the individual circumstances of each person and may be subject to change in the future. You should carefully consider the suitability of any strategies along with your financial situation prior to making any decisions on an appropriate strategy. We strongly recommend that every person seeks their own tax advice prior to acting on any of the tax opportunities described in this article.



Where American Tax Partners, London & Capital and Charities Aid Foundation will give you useful information and advice on financial issues facing Americans living in the UK. This event is FREE TO ATTEND and is taking place from 12.30pm at Smith & Wollensky, 1-11 John Adam Street, London, WC2N 6HT. Spaces are limited, so please email with the names and email addresses of those who would to attend. We look forward to seeing you there!





RE-LAUNCH OF THE AMERICAN HOUR WWW.THEAMERICANHOUR.COM We can’t believe how quickly time has gone, but at The American Hour we are celebrating our 20th birthday, and to further our support of the American expatriate community living, working and moving to the UK, we have just re-launched our newly designed website This well-established, well-respected website, and key resource for the American community living in and moving to the UK, was set up in 1999, and continues to provide information to assist and support this community. There are a number of pages and information relevant to the American community in the UK including: • American Food Products • Restaurants • Dentistry • Schools & Universities • Events • Serviced Apartments • Healthcare & Hospitals • Taxation • Hotels • The American Embassy in London • Legal • Theatre • Moving & Relocation • Travel • Private Medical Cover • Wealth & Investments • Residential Lettings • Women’s Clubs & Expat Clubs Visit our newly designed website now to enter competitions to win fantastic prizes and to read vital information to help your life in the UK. Please share with friends, family or colleagues who may be new to the UK or arriving anytime soon!

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PENSIONS British Pensions For Americans - Not All Bad News Developing an efficient retirement savings strategy is an ongoing challenge encountered by American expats who spend considerable time living abroad during their careers. In many countries, retirement savings options for Americans are limited and those available may be plagued by onerous reporting challenges and punitive tax exposure back home. Fortunately, American expats in the United Kingdom have access to a number of retirement savings options that can be managed effectively from a US tax perspective on account of the US/UK Income Tax Treaty. With tax implications manageable, handling the additional information reporting that will be required in the US to disclose UK pensions will generally be worth the effort. But, even here, working with a qualified tax or financial adviser to design a personalised retirement savings strategy is crucial. This article will offer a brief overview of the options available to Americans in the United Kingdom and explain the tax relief that applies. It will go on to discuss information reporting and tax implications in the United States and identify several of the key decision-making factors that should be considered when developing an individualised retirement savings strategy that incorporates UK pensions.

1. Overview Of UK Pension Rules

Types of Pensions. In many ways, the private pension system in the United Kingdom is quite similar to that of the United States. Contributions are tax protected and earnings grow tax-free until the individual reaches retirement age and begins taking distributions. There are two primary categories of private pensions that will be encountered in the UK: workplace pensions and personal pensions. Employer-funded or workplace arrangements can have a variety of different features and every company will offer unique funding options. Personal pensions are established separately from employment, though it is possible for certain companies to fund personal pensions as a benefit to employees. These pensions may offer broad latitude with investment options but can require more effort and expense to set up. Tax Benefits. The tax benefits provided in the United Kingdom for contributions to pension schemes are significant. UK taxpayers can obtain tax relief on up to £40,000 of WWW.THEAMERICANHOUR.COM

contributions to a registered pension scheme. This allowance is reduced for individuals with income in excess of £150,000, including pension contributions. The high rate of 40% in the United Kingdom for anyone earning over £50,000 (2019/20) means that maximising the full contribution can produce up to £16,000 in tax savings annually. With such meaningful savings produced by UK pension participation, Americans will inevitably be faced with the obligation of having to coordinate the benefits provided in the United Kingdom with the tax and reporting challenges that can arise in the United States.

2. Obligations As An American With A UK Pension

The general rule for Americans who are participating in pension schemes outside the United States is that contributions to any non-US plan are not eligible for deferral from US tax. Even if pension contributions are tax protected in the country where the plan is organised, the amount contributed will remain taxable as wages in the United States. With this type of arrangement, undistributed income earned within the pension each year will escape US taxation only if the plan has been funded predominantly with employer contributions and additional strict requirements are met with respect to the plan’s treatment of highly compensated individuals. Employer pensions that do not meet this standard and private, non-employer pensions will be afforded no tax protection on planlevel earnings in the United States and will generally be taxed as foreign trusts. The annual compliance costs, lack of tax protection, and potential for double taxation can undermine any retirement savings strategy. US/UK Income Tax Treaty. Fortunately, the US/ UK Income Tax Treaty offers generous protection against US taxation for American participants in UK registered pension schemes. This treaty is one of only a handful that offers Americans the ability to participate in local pensions without the tax challenges described above. The treaty provides that contributions made to a UK pension will qualify for exemption from US tax up to the amount that would be tax protected if it had been made to a US qualified plan. Combining employer and employee contributions as well as other additions to the plan, up to $56,000 (2019) could be contributed to an employer funded arrangement each year with protection from the treaty.

The treaty also provides that plan-level earnings within all registered UK pension schemes will be protected from US tax until funds are actually distributed. This provision expressly covers transfers between UK arrangements allowing for plan rollovers without fear of triggering a US tax liability. Once retirement age is reached and distributions begin, the treaty ensures that tax obligations are coordinated between the United States and the United Kingdom and gives priority to the recipient’s country of residence at the time of distribution to tax the payment. This means that Americans who move back to the United States will be able to claim protection from UK tax by leveraging the benefits available under the Treaty. Foreign Asset Reporting. Americans with non-US accounts are required to file an FBAR report when the combined balance of all accounts exceeds $10,000 at any point during the year. UK pension arrangements should be disclosed on the FBAR report each year if the threshold is passed. No tax is assessed on the maximum value but penalties as great as $10,000 per unfiled report can be assessed for negligent late filings. UK pensions would also need to be disclosed on the Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets (Form 8938) that is included with the annual tax return but has higher reporting limits than the FBAR. Again, no tax is assessed with this report, but a $10,000 flat fee penalty can apply for failing to file. Of mention, arguements can likely be made that defined benefit workplace pensions that do not have any type of cash surrender value would not be FBAR reportable and would be valued at zero for purposes of the Form 8938 if no distributions were received during the year. Regardless, a conservative approach is always recommended with foreign account and asset reporting. Foreign Trust Reporting. For personal pension schemes that are not established and funded through a UK employer, there is a strong likelihood that the arrangements would be defined as foreign trusts for US tax purposes and require annual reports on Forms 3520 and 3520-A to be filed. Some grey area does exist with respect to this requirement as the tax protection offered by the treaty renders this reporting largely unnecessary. Nevertheless, the IRS would likely require the filings to be submitted annually on these arrangements WWW.AMERICANINBRITAIN.CO.UK


if the issue were to be presented directly. Again, the penalty exposure attributable to late filed foreign trust reports can be significant and protective filings would often be advisable.

3. Strategy And Decision-Making Factors

With the UK tax benefits applicable to participation largely outweighing the additional compliance challenges arising in the US, establishing an individualised strategy based on plans for the future and retirement savings goals will be key. Interaction with UK Inheritance Tax. UK inheritance tax is outside the scope of this article, but it should be noted that registered pension schemes are an important tool in mitigating any inheritance tax exposure. Americans who do intend to remain in the United Kingdom indefinitely would be advised to develop an understanding of how pension vehicles can be leveraged to reduce exposure to inheritance tax. With UK inheritance tax kicking in for estates valued at ÂŁ325,000, compared to the $11.4 million estate tax threshold in the US, exposure to UK inheritance tax will be a concern for many individuals residing permanently in the United Kingdom. UK Pension Access Limitations. Though almost never advisable, many American taxpayers are forced at some point in their lives to access a portion of the funds they have contributed to a 401(k) or IRA in the United States. When this happens, any portion of the distribution that is not treated as a return of capital from the retirement arrangement will be subject to income tax as well as a 10% penalty. By contrast, accessing UK pensions before retirement age (currently age 55) is generally not an option. While the pension can be tapped in certain scenarios, the amount forfeited through penalties and other charges can be as much as half of the amount of the distribution. Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs). While not qualified as registered pension schemes, Individual Savings Accounts can be another way for Americans to save money without permanent tax and reporting requirements. These arrangements do not qualify as pension schemes and can be accessed without penalty at any point after the account was funded. Keep in mind, however, that while the earnings in an ISA are not taxed for UK purposes, they will remain taxable for US purposes as they are afforded no protection under the treaty. Accordingly, avoiding stocks and shares ISAs that will be actively traded and invested in unit trusts and mutual funds is wise as such investments can create a US tax nightmare. 20


Options for Self-Employed Individuals. The decision to participate in a UK pension scheme may not always be so easy for self-employed individuals who receive no employer support and are obligated to establish personal pensions independently. For Americans in the United Kingdom on a short-term basis, when inheritance tax planning is not on the horizon, the lack of early access to UK pension arrangements coupled with the potential for complex foreign trust reporting may render other options more favourable. One option would be to continue making contributions to a traditional or Roth IRA in the United States. Note, however, that this may not be possible if the foreign earned income exclusion is being used to reduce US taxation as this benefit can eliminate the taxable income that creates eligibility for making these contributions. The maximum IRA contribution that could be made in 2019 was $6,000. Additional reporting aside, the tax savings in the United Kingdom, even for self-employed individuals, will make personal pensions very interesting. With a small amount of planning, these arrangements can still be effectively used to produce UK tax savings without creating a US tax and information reporting burden. Decision to Elect Treaty Protection. For most American expats, the decision will be made to participate in employer pension schemes while working in the UK if the option avails itself. An entirely separate question is whether to elect to defer contributions to the arrangement under the treaty. As with all non-US pensions, a possibility exists that even without the US/ UK treaty, plan-level earnings would still escape annual US taxation pursuant to the rules for nonexempt employees trusts and highly compensated individuals. If these rules were applicable, contributions would remain taxable on the US side, but earnings would still escape US taxation until distribution. However, the tax rates applicable in the United Kingdom will be considerably higher than in the United States at every level of income. Many scenarios will arise where foreign tax credits available will eliminate US tax exposure on the contribution even if no tax is assessed on that amount during that year in the UK. The higher rate of tax on the other income and carryovers from prior years will often be sufficient to cover any shortfall. Utilising this strategy results in a large amount of after-tax contributions having been made to the UK pension for US tax reporting purposes without triggering US tax in the year of contribution. Consequently, highly tax efficient results could be produced if distributions are claimed after a move back to the United States. Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS). Unfortunately, applying this strategy will almost never be a plausible solution for Americans with UK pensions. At a very high level, the QROPS strategy allows individuals to transfer their UK pension holdings

to a country with more advantageous tax rules without paying current tax in the UK on the transfer. From a US perspective, this is a fully taxable transfer. Additionally, after the pension funds are moved to another country, subsequent earnings and contributions would no longer be afforded the benefit of the US/UK treaty. To complicate matters, due to strict rules on qualified plan rollovers and limitations on annual contributions, QROPS strategies cannot be used to transfer a UK pension to the United States. Ultimately, while participation in UK pension schemes is not entirely without compliance challenges for American expats, the tremendous tax savings options offered in the UK will generally make participation a smart economic decision. American Tax Partners is a US-based tax services company dedicated to providing expert global tax support for American expats in the United Kingdom and UK Nationals with business or investment activities in the United States. Offering flat fee pricing, we serve as a single point of contact for managing all your international tax compliance obligations. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation at or visit our website at


THE AMERICAN FINANCE & LEGAL EVENT MONDAY 4TH NOVEMBER Smith & Wollensky, 1-11 John Adam Street, London, WC2N 6HT Roland will be addressing the cross border nuances that come along with living in the United Kingdom as an American. The discussion will cover annual tax and information reporting obligations, provide an overview of the tax implications of various pension and investment, and outline some basic strategies that all American Expatriates will want to keep in mind. If time permits, the discussion will cover filing requirements for business owners and options available to individuals needing to catch up with their prior year US tax obligations. To register your FREE place please email


THEATRE Review of London’s Theatre Productions by Lydia Parker L-R Elliot Morris (Jason), Oliver Savile (Whizzer), Joel Montague (Mendel), Laura Pitt-Pulford (Trina) & Daniel Boys (Marvin) - Falsettos - The Other Palace Photo by The Standout Company.

Falsettos at The Other Palace

The complete two act version of Falsettos by James Latimer and William Finn is making its West End debut at The Other Palace after winning two Tony awards for the original production in 1992 and more nominations for its 2016 Broadway run. The musical was ground breaking when it opened, for the subject matter of a married gay Jewish man who leaves his wife to move in with another man. This production has recently been clouded in controversy as it features predominantly Jewish characters and yet reportedly there was no input from British Jewish artists either as performers or creatives. It is a fact, however, that most West End productions of American plays unfortunately have no UK based American performers or creatives involved either, so this reviewer has learned to not expect authenticity in British productions of American plays. I’m happy to say Falsettos succeeds despite this lack of authenticity due to the excellent music, lyrics and performances. Falsettos, set in 1979, tells the story, completely through song, of Marvin, who was married to Trina until he fell in love with Whizzer and left his wife and son, Jason, to move in with him. Trina starts to see Martin’s therapist Mendel who falls in love with her. Their relationship blossoms when Marvin and Trina insist Jason needs to see a therapist, despite him being the most well-adjusted person in the play. Marvin is clearly the one who most needs therapy, treating Whizzer like a housewife, upset when he’s not there to make dinner for him. He then starts becoming WWW.THEAMERICANHOUR.COM

jealous over Trina and Mendel’s relationship. He is competitive with Whizzer and they have a tempestuous relationship which they seem to enjoy until Marvin goes too far and pushes Whizzer away in a fit of temper. Act Two has a very different tone as it centres around preparations for Jason’s Bar Mitzvah and introduces two new characters, Charlotte and Cordelia, the lesbian neighbours of Marvin. After Jason invites Whizzer to his baseball game, Marvin is reunited with him and all seems well, until we remember that this is 1979 and the beginnings of the AIDS crisis. The titles of the songs cleverly tell the story of this dysfunctional family from the opening number of Four Jews In a Room Bitching where Trina is present but somehow left out, to the ironic A Tight Knit Family sung alone by Marvin and My Father’s a Homo, where Jason matter of factly states his father is “is morbid and dissatisfied”. One of the most striking numbers is I’m Breaking Down sung superbly by Laura Pitt-Pulford as Trina, an up-tempo number about her heartbreak and desperation at the disintegration of her marriage: “The only thing that’s breaking up is my family”. The musical is full of brilliantly witty and often unexpected lyrics: “I’m so tired of all the happy men who rule the world” she later sings in Trina’s Song. These characters are not clichés, they are complicated and full of flaws. Although we are happy that Marvin has found love in Whizzer and come to terms with his identity as a gay man, he’s also a man who is used to thinking of himself first, no matter how devoted he is to his son. We see here another father who cannot comprehend the needs of his child as he is too caught

up in his own life. Marvin is often unlikable and the playwrights are unafraid to show him as such. Mendel is positively unethical in his pursuit of his patient’s wife who also becomes his patient, yet he is generous and kind to all. Jason is clever and fearless, stating the obvious when all the adults around him are confused and unhappy. Jason just wants to play chess and be left in peace, which makes his parents decide he’s in desperate need of therapy. The talented company work well together as an ensemble, often melding their voices together in stunning harmonies. Laura PittPulford was a stand out as Trina, portraying a woman who is vulnerable yet powerful at the same time, as was young Albert Atack as Jason, who previously shone in School of Rock The Musical. It is a difficult role and one that he carried off with heart and real skill. There was lovely chemistry between Daniel Boys as Marvin and Oliver Savile as Whizzer. It would have been nice to see more of Natasha J Barnes and Gemma Knight-Jones as the underwritten Cordelia and Charlotte. Falsettos is a wonderful and moving musical and this production is full of heartfelt, beautifully sung performances. It did feel, however, a very British production of a play which is firmly set in New York Jewish culture and would have benefited from some knowledge or background in that world. As previously stated, I find this a problem with many British productions of American plays but have learned to appreciate them for their own merits. Falsettos is a unique, important musical with some of the finest lyrics and music I have heard in a long time and well worth seeing. WWW.AMERICANINBRITAIN.CO.UK


The Son at Duke of York’s Theatre

Florian Zeller, the celebrated French playwright, has created yet another searing family drama, The Son, now at the Duke of York’s Theatre in a transfer from the Kiln Theatre. Unlike his recent successes, The Father and The Mother, this play has a clear linear narrative to tell the heart-breaking story of mental illness in a teenage boy. Nicolas has been suffering ever since his father, Pierre, divorced his mother, Anne. Their once happy, “sunbeam boy” has been skipping school for three months, become withdrawn and angry at his mother. Anne is at her wit’s end and considers sending him to boarding school. Instead, Nicolas decides to move in with Pierre, his new young wife Sofia and their baby son. He thinks a change would take him away from his dark thoughts and is clearly desperate for attention from his father, a hard-working political adviser who spends all his time in the office. Sofia is clearly unhappy about this new arrangement, not having counted on having to take care of a teenage boy as well as a new-born. She assures Pierre that his leaving his family had nothing to do with his son’s mental health but reluctantly agrees to take the boy in. Nicolas seems to be settling into his new school, getting along well with Sofia, aside from questioning her about starting a relationship with a married man, and



John Light (Pierre), Amanda Abbington (Anne) and Laurie Kynaston (Nicolas). The Son. Photo by Marc Brenner.

relishing his time with his father. A hilarious scene where Pierre demonstrates his unusual dance moves to encourage his son to go to a party changes the mood abruptly when Nicolas runs out of the room, distraught. Pierre has no idea how to deal with his son’s depression when he discovers Nicolas is selfharming. He seems to think it is a passing phase or trouble over an ex-girlfriend. His only method is to forbid Nicolas to cut himself, “it is unacceptable”. Pierre declares that when Nicolas hurts himself, it is like he’s hurting his father to which Nicolas retorts “When you hurt Mum, you were doing it to me”. Pierre erupts in fury when he finds out that Nicolas has not been attending school, losing his temper and physically assaulting him. The play is shocking and moving at the same time. Nicolas cries out for help constantly, stating clearly that he cannot handle life, cannot see the point of it, yet his parents are just confused by his depression, only able to see life through their own lens. They look back to the past and wonder what they did wrong without actually seeing how their lack of understanding contributed to Nicolas feeling abandoned and hurt by his parents’ divorce. Zeller tries to just tell the story clearly and not make a judgement call on any of his characters while also showing their flaws. Pierre is furious that his son hates him for trying to change his life and find happiness with a new woman. Anne spent too long exposing her son to all of her bitterness and rage after Pierre left her, leaving him feeling also abandoned by a father who obviously forgot

about him in the throes of his new relationship. Although Sofia repeatedly tells Pierre he is not to blame for his son’s mental illness, there is a suspicion that she is saying this just to protect her own interests and absolve her own guilt in the situation. Nicolas is manipulative and deceitful yet is barely able to get up in the morning or deal with other people as he is so deep in despair. There are no easy answers; mental illness is very often a combination of chemical imbalance and psychological issues, which are difficult to separate. What Zeller does make clear is that not addressing the illness leads to tragedy. The performances are superb, beautifully and sensitively directed by Michael Longhurst. Amanda Abbington as Anne and John Light as Pierre start out as two people who can hardly be in the same room with each other without friction and end up close friends again, brought together by their love for their son. Just the physicality of the actors tells a story, as in the first scene Pierre won’t let Anne even touch his arm and by the end is holding and kissing her hand. Laurie Kynaston as Nicolas shows his pain and despair through his whole being as he constantly flinches when people come near him and then flings himself into their arms. His performance embodies his character completely. Amaka Okafor is also brilliant as Sofia, who could seem to be the wicked stepmother who has broken a once happy family, until we see her cleaning up Nicolas’ messes while caring for a tiny baby, completely overcome with exhaustion in a life she hadn’t anticipated. The white, spare set by Lizzie Clachan, with a huge black bin bag hanging over the room like Nicolas’ depression and the fine music and sound composition by Isobel WallerBridge also contribute greatly to this excellent production. What really stands out is of course the writing by Florian Zeller, and translation by Christopher Hampton, which manages to sound realistic and poetic at the same time. This is a riveting play and although not an easy watch, is rewarding in the tradition of theatrical greats like Chekhov and Ibsen who hold a mirror to the human condition. Don’t miss this outstanding production.

Dr. Bonnie Schneider Health is wealth and this includes your emotional well-being... I am an American trained Clinical Psychologist with a Masters and Ph.D. from Columbia University in New York. In my private practice I support individuals and couples to address difficulties they are facing in their lives and relationships. I am experienced in working with clients in acute emotional and psychological distress, as well as those seeking a space to engage in a process of self-exploration. Individuals presenting with the following difficulties have found working with me helpful: • Anxiety (including rumination and indecision) • Depression (including suicidal feelings) • Bipolar disorder • Self destructive behaviour • Borderline Personality Disorder • Addiction • Low self esteem/self worth • Anger and rage • Bereavement • Interpersonal difficulty - with family members or in romantic relationships • Parenting issues (including pre and post partum) • Acute or chronic medical issues • Individuals seeking to enrich their self awareness and understanding. I practice from three locations - Waterloo, London Bridge and North West London and also offer sessions on-line. If you are considering therapy, bear in mind is that ultimately the “best” therapist for you will be subjective, based on whether you feel a sense of rapport and trust with the therapist. Please do reach out to arrange a telephone conversation to begin to explore whether I might be that person. • • 07478657881




Highbullen Hotel

HOTEL REVIEW Highbullen Hotel, Golf & Country Club, North Devon I truly love the UK as it is such a wonderful place with a multitude of diverse things to do, visit and see, and many of these are off the beaten track and therefore are not so well known. One of these off the beaten track delights is the heart of North Devon with areas such as Exmoor and the Jurassic coast, and the Highbullen Hotel is perfectly located to explore these hidden gems. Highbullen Hotel started its life in the late 19th century as a family home and has survived intact through two world wars, becoming a hotel in the 1960’s. What is clever, is that despite it being a hotel, you get the feeling that you are a guest of the Lord of the Manor rather than a hotel guest, and I love that, as it elevates your stay to something more special. 24


The first thing my wife and I realised, as we made our way to Highbullen Hotel, was how far into the country it is, and a good tip we can give you is to believe their website when it says to ignore your sat nav directions, as we made the mistake of following our sat nav’s directions and have never driven along so many singletrack roads in our lives, where meeting another car would have been a real issue! Despite this isolation, Highbullen Hotel is in fact well placed, as it is nestled between Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks and is within easy reach of Exeter (Devon’s county town), the spectacular Jurassic coast to the South, and the Atlantic Coast a few miles to the north.

Highbullen Hotel is wonderfully selfcontained, and if you don’t want to take advantage of the country pubs and quaint villages there are plenty of activities on site. On arrival, there really is a feeling of country gentry as you enter the gates and sweep your way up through the golf course to the main house. Parking is in the front courtyard, and you enter the manor house via a high arched door where it becomes clear that this was a country house that has been converted to a hotel. Check-in was quick and efficient, and our room was one of eleven in the manor house. Each of these room has been individually designed and ours was at the back of the house with stunning views across the Mole Valley to Exmoor. A super

HOTEL REVIEW large very high double bed dominated the room and all the antique furniture replicates the feeling of a bygone age. There are other accommodations available in the grounds of HIghbullen Hotel, including 26 newly refurbished Estate rooms which have all the mod cons, including smart TV’s and wifi throughout, but if you fancy something a little different, or are coming down with family and/or friends, another option is a cottage in the grounds. There are 5 cottages dotted around their extensive grounds, each with a unique feel, and each offering luxury accommodation with the ability to self-cater in their well-equipped kitchens or to relax in a conservatory with wonderful views over the rolling Devonshire countryside. As mentioned, the facilities here are extensive, and my wife and I were determined to make the most of the summer sun by trying as many as we could. Having unpacked we ventured down from the manor house to the modern leisure and golf club


house and ventured out on the golf course. The course is a true gem and tests all abilities without being too difficult, and the condition was very good. After an exciting battle, I managed to pip my wife on the 18th green, so it will remain a favourite of mine for some time to come!! Having recovered from our golfing exertions with a luxurious bath we were ready for our dinner and following a predinner drink in the Cellars Bar we went into the Devon View restaurant for our evening meal. The restaurant has 2 AA Rosettes and offers good food with wonderful views. I always believe that fresh country air always aids a good night’s sleep, and having had a great one in our vast bed wrapped in a soft duvet I was ready to tackle more of the activities on offer. After breakfast, my wife and I started with a gentle game of tennis where she evened up the score from the golf the day before on one of the new all-weather courts. After this we visited the gym (only

to look at it!) and the indoor pool and sauna and jacuzzi. We didn’t use these facilities however, as the weather was lovely, so we spent a happy morning and early afternoon sunbathing by the outdoor pool. There are so many other things to do it is impossible to try everything, but other activities include shooting, croquet, fishing, and snooker, and there is also a golf simulator if the weather is poor. The final treat of our stay was Afternoon Tea in the Laura Ashley room attached to the leisure centre, where we were treated to crumbly scones, indulgent cakes and succulent sandwiches all washed down with a few bubbles. A wonderful end to a wonderful and packed weekend break where there is so much to do you will need to come back again and again. Highbullen Hotel, Chittlehamholt, Umberleigh Bridge EX37 9HD Telephone: 01769 540561



BRITISH CULTURE & MISCONCEPTIONS “I thought that you just lived in a place with funny accents and quirky shops”, my sister said after visiting me in Liverpool for a week. She was in the middle of explaining to me that her perception of the United Kingdom was very different before she had arrived, because she didn’t properly anticipate the amount of cultural differences and alternatives this country would have in comparison to the United States. As an American student in England, I went through this same process of underestimating how every little detail would change once I went overseas. From the things they eat, to the head-spinning amount of British slang, even to the layout of their houses, everything seems designed for one massive culture shock. Three years removed from the first time I stepped foot in Britain, I’m still learning a new difference almost every single day. There are several different angles of misconceptions that Americans have before visiting or moving to the United Kingdom. Deprived of much British representation in the media (although that’s changing, thank you Black Mirror), Americans are left to assume the few stereotypes of a British person that we’re force fed through movies, television, and especially history books. As some like myself assumed that the internet had completely homogenised the planet, I’ve noticed that certain friends and family of mine still buy into the Hollywood concept of every British person having this posh accent and fancy lifestyle, therefore radiating intelligence. I would love to personally present each and every one of those Americans with a Scouse hen party stumbling in their heels on the cobblestones after a night on the town. While that posh caricature does exist in some forms, the variety of what it means to be British is wildly extensive and unfortunately lost in translation. My other sister told me that she found it hilarious to hear dirty words in a southern English accent, and it made me really wonder why that would be particularly humorous to her. I believe seeing someone who fits this polite British stereotype break that rule incites a bit of shock value. I’ve even seen tweets that assume British people would continue this same level of impossible politeness during sex, and other situations in which it would be entirely irrational. It’s almost impressive how we can buy into this concept and assume that same standard is met in all possible scenarios. Aside from the juvenile assumption that all Brits have terrible teeth, the most common misconception I confront is that 26


it’s always raining in the UK. Although some Britons or American Expats would hyperbolically agree with that statement, it would do every blazing hot day in London a disservice to automatically confirm that. The weather is even more unpredictable than in New England, but with that region comes a different type of a rainy day. Whereas in the US we might have a day in which it’s torrential from dawn to dusk, there are at least several cities here in which it’ll rain for about fifteen minutes to an hour at a time. So in a week, it could rain every day and still be less wet than a rainy day in the States.

Deprived of much British representation in the media (although that’s changing, thank you Black Mirror), Americans are left to assume the few stereotypes of a British person that we’re force fed through movies, television, and especially history books A real wake up call for me moving here was the overwhelming amount of accents I eventually learned to decode. It’s common (and given the media portrayal, understandable) to assume that all British people would have the same accent. I still find it baffling that after all these years, they

haven’t amalgamated into one singular British accent. I can think of several different dialects (Geordie, for example) which Americans probably wouldn’t even guess is British, and I can point out more differences in the accents of bordering English towns than I can between the American and Canadian accent. Even just the vast amount of distinct cultures compacted within the United Kingdom is astounding and often misunderstood by first-time foreigners. As an example of this, more often than not my friends will check up on how I’m doing in Liverpool by asking “How’s London”? To them, it’s all the same, but I’ve experienced many Americans expressing their surprise when learning how vastly different Wales, Northern Ireland, England and Scotland are. The United Kingdom is not equivalent to England, and England is not equivalent to London. There is still a rigid perception of how many Americans think a British person acts, talks and sounds. Maybe one day the general perception will adapt to be more representative of modern British folk and not outdated stereotypes, but I believe that due to the vast collection of local cultures, it’s impossible to expect a foreigner to acknowledge so many identities and associate them all with one country. That is, until they go there and find out for themselves. AJ Marks is a Boston-born songwriter, pop/rock artist and podcast host who started studying in Liverpool, England in 2016. His podcast about being American in the UK, titled American Idiots Abroad, is currently in its first season and features an episode based around American Misconceptions of Britain with guests Lydia Parker and former American in Britain cover model Meaghan Martin. AJ’s new song “The Switch” is available on iTunes and all streaming platforms.





AWBS - Anton du Beke

AWBS International Women’s Club

Located 20 miles west of London serving the Berkshire and Surrey counties, AWBS International Women’s Club is a social and philanthropic club for women. We are a resource for transition, learning, connection, friendship and philanthropy. Our Club offers over 20 different fun activities and events each month. There is literally something for everyone! There are famous speakers, fun monthly meetings, events, tours, trips, sports and activities. Activities are lead by Activity Leaders who utilise their own personal and career skills in organisation, communications, planning and creativity. We are also a strong supporter of small local businesses offering our members discounts called the Preferred Business Network, In addition, our “Best of Britain” group of small businesses attends our monthly meetings offering our members the latest in fashion, seasonal and practical items, as well as medical/health products and services. We support several charities within the area as part of our philanthropic charter. Last year we donated over £13,000! We are 260+ members strong and look forward to new members as they move to the area and wish to become part of this dynamic organisation! Check out our website at and on Facebook at AWBS International Women’s Club AWBS International Women’s Club. If you are lucky enough to live here, you’re going to love AWBS! 28


AWBS - Pinewood Film Studios


Kensington Chelsea Women’s Club (kcwc)

Kensington Chelsea Women’s Club is a vibrant organisation of international women offering a variety of social, cultural and lifestyle activities. Our daytime and evening events appeal to those who wish to experience London and the UK at its best. We invite you to visit to learn more about our organisation. We have over thirty activity areas run by our amazing volunteers. Join us to study Art and British history with expert lecturers, explore art galleries, join our French, German, Italian, Spanish language groups, or our book club, enjoy tennis or golf, or exercise with friends. In the evening, we invite you to attend a play or concert, or participate in our Wine Society. Our Travel group offers local and international trips. kcwc has something for everyone including exclusive Member Benefits. kcwc organises regular General Meetings between September and June featuring prominent guest speakers. Leaders in their respective fields, they appeal to the varied interests and backgrounds of our membership. We have hosted authors and journalists, scientists and explorers, politicians, activists and philanthropists. Our meetings are also your opportunity to socialise with members, shop at our exhibitor tables, and register for our classes and special events. To provide you with a flavour of the many high profile guest speakers attending kcwc, most recently we enjoyed Lady Carnarvon talking in May about the history and heritage of Highclere Castle and the Carnarvon Family. We invite you to attend our October and November General Meetings at 9.30am on Thursday 3 October and Wednesday 6 November at the Royal Geographical Society. We very much look forward to welcoming you there. On Thursday 3 October our General Meeting introduces guest speaker Stewart Pearce, Master of Voice and Voice Alchemist. Stewart was the Head of Voice at the Webber Douglas Academy London from 1980-1997, helped pioneer Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre between 1997-2010, and has coached many luminaries such as Margaret Thatcher, Eddie Redmayne, Hugh Bonneville, to name just a few. Stewart aims to inspire, uplift, and entertain whilst imparting extraordinary information. Come and join us at these



special General Meetings to experience all that kcwc has to offer. We’ll be delighted to refund your guest fee if you join on the day! Visit our website or email to find out more about kcwc. We look forward to welcoming you to a year of fun and engaging activities. Invest in friendship at kcwc - an organisation of international Women in London.


CAWC Hosts 32nd Annual Christmas Charity Bazaar 2019 CAWC International will host its annual Charity Christmas Bazaar on Sunday 10 November 2019 from 10 am to 4 pm. This year’s event will take place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire and will raise funds for the South Central Ambulance Service Community First Responders. More than 65 artisans will participate with their craft and gift stalls with a wide variety of products on offer including crafts, clothing, jewellery, gin and food items. In addition, there will also be an American Bake Sale, the Texas Chili Café serving delicious food and drinks all day, two raffles, and the much sought after CAWC holiday gift baskets. Over the past 32 years CAWC has raised over £320,000 for charities in the Buckinghamshire area and is very proud to be supporting the Community First Responders for the third year in a row. For more details and updates about the event or our club please visit www.cawc. WWW.THEAMERICANHOUR.COM or follow us on the CAWC International Facebook page. Many of the stalls for the event have already been reserved, but those still wishing to have stalls or explore other eventrelated sponsorship opportunities should visit CAWC International is a group of International women who call the Chilterns their home either temporarily or permanently. CAWC members have the opportunity to network through meetings, social activities, and charitable events. We currently have around 100 members and are a great resource to newcomers and returning members. We always welcome visitors and new members. Please visit our website for more information: Comments from Kate Harman, CAWC Bazaar Co-Chair: ‘We hope our collaboration with Community First Responders will raise

much needed funds but, also engage with new audiences, provide opportunities to inspire people to support CFR in the longterm, and help them deliver lasting change to the community. We take our philanthropic responsibility seriously - rather than simply writing a cheque, we are building a connection with CFR by educating our club members with first aid training. The Bazaar also boasts a sense of closeknit community spirit for the CAWC that can be felt as soon as you walk through the front doors of the Crowne Plaza. The time and energy our members put into every detail of the Bazaar is absolutely inspirational. You have to see it to believe it!’ Comments from Lety Wicks, CAWC President: “As the President of CAWC International and having been a member of the club for 19 years now, I have witnessed the amazing passion, hard work and enthusiasm that all our members put into the creation of this event. During this time, we have benefited many local charities and this year promises to be another successful one, with more than 60 different vendors offering all sorts of gifts, crafts and wares to prepare you for Christmas. All the proceeds of this Christmas Bazaar will go directly to our chosen charity Community First Responders. We look forward to seeing you at the Bazaar!”



action and leadership of trained volunteers. Learn more about our organisation and follow us on your favourite social media: @jrleaguelondon, #Happy35thJLL.

Independence Day Celebration

The American Society in London

The American Society in London was founded in 1895 by the then US Ambassador Thomas F. Bayard. Indeed, the serving US Ambassador, Robert Wood Johnson IV, remains our Honourary President and we are fortunate to have the generous support of the US Embassy. Membership is open to both US and UK citizens and draws heavily on the US expatriate community here in London. The intention of our founder was to improve and cement relations between the citizens of our two countries, fostering mutual respect, understanding and affection. We continue to fulfil this goal in part by arranging celebrations of major American holidays. In this regard, we think the original objectives have been successful and they continue to be as relevant today as in 1895. We hold three receptions each year building up to our marquee event in November – our elegant and glamorous Black Tie Thanksgiving Dinner – where guests from the US and UK military are invited to join our members for a traditional Thanksgiving feast with all the trimmings. This year we kicked off the summer in style with our spectacular Early Independence Day celebration at Wychwood House hosted by our new Deputy Chief of Mission, Yael Lempert. Guests and Embassy representatives mingled in the elegant surroundings as we were entertained by ‘barbershop-o-gram’ who performed nostalgic and witty tunes to put us in a

celebratory mood. We indulged with relish in a delectable selection of All-American fare specially prepared by the chef in bite sized proportions. Oh, the mini mac and cheese! What a delightful and delicious evening! The Society would like to extend a warm invitation to Americans in the UK to join us at our elegant Black Tie Thanksgiving celebration in November. It is the original and the best and guests can look forward to a mouth-watering Thanksgiving feast with all the trimmings. Are you more ‘Team Pumpkin’ or ‘Team Pecan’? No need to choose at our celebration. It’s not to be missed! To learn more about our events or to join the American Society please email info@ and follow us on Facebook @americansocietyinlondon or Twitter @ASL1895. Independence Day Celebration


Independence Day Celebration



The Junior League of London is thrilled to celebrate 35 years of service to the London community! This autumn we have signature events and community programmes we invite you to attend with your friends, family and colleagues. Proceeds from our events support our Mission: to promote voluntary service, develop the potential of women and improve our community through effective

Strike Out Poverty! 80’s Themed Birthday Bowling Bash A night of celebration and bowling for a great cause! Join the Junior League of London to celebrate our 35th anniversary for Strike Out Poverty – A Birthday Bowling Bash! We will be bowling in style, while also paying homage to the year of our founding, with a stellar 80’s soundtrack and fancy dress (optional). Whether you prefer bowling, karaoke, indoor cricket, shooting pool, playing video games, or dancing – this event is for you, your family, friends, and all Junior League of London supporters! Tickets include all entertainment and light food refreshments. All proceeds support the Junior League of London’s mission. Date: Thursday, 17 October 2019 Time: 18:30 – 22:00 BST Location: Kingpin Suite, Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes, Tavistock Square Tickets: Tickets are £35 per person or £120 for four tickets Details: Boutique de Noel Shopping, friends, family, refreshments, local exhibitors and supporting the community all in one evening! The Junior League of London Boutique de Noel holiday market is the place for you to find lovely items for all on your list. Visit: and follow #JLLBoutiqueDeNoel on social media for tickets, the exhibitor list and special announcements! All proceeds support the Junior League of London’s mission. Date: Monday, 18 November Time: 18:00 – 22:00 BST Location: Chelsea Old Town Hall Tickets: Tickets available in late September: Create a Holiday Hamper! Holiday Hampers is the Junior League of London’s signature community project and our longest-running community programme; now in its 23rd year! The programme provides customised hampers filled with gifts, food, toiletries and other essentials for some of London’s most vulnerable populations during the holiday season. Help us spread the holiday spirit and goodwill this year by purchasing, building, or donating a Hamper. You can organise a drive with your neighbours, colleagues, friends and family. Or help us build hampers by purchasing supplies from our Amazon Wish List. Hampers and supplied received by 25 November. Email to receive a profile for a person/family for a Hamper or with questions! Website: Social Media: @jrleaguelondon #JLLHolidayHampers

SETTLING INTO THE UK It Was The Best Of Times, It Was The Worst Of Times. The Tale Of Relocating Countries “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times....” So, begins A Tale of Two Cities by the immortal Charles Dickens. When it comes to relocating countries, we may find ourselves in the midst of our own paradoxical tale. It involves dismantling a life we have worked hard to create and inevitable losses. Our decision has a domino effect, impacting those close to us - immediate and extended family, circle of friends and community. This intense emotional experience is the backdrop against which we have to deal with the endless practicalities of a move. No wonder, relocating, particularly countries, ranks right up there in terms of stressful life events. Yet, it is hard to resist the exciting opportunity. In 2014, I moved from New York to London - the impetus, my husband’s career and the desire to be closer to our families. During our 10 years in New York we had built a life and while our furniture was coming with us; our friends, professional networks, home, my hairdresser and favourite bagel spot were not! Managing the myriad of feelings that arise when moving countries is an inevitable part of the process. That they will run the gamut from positive to negative is selfevident. However, what is less apparent is the danger of becoming polarised, or “stuck” in either our positive or negative sentiments. My understanding of this potential pitfall has been gained through personal and professional experience - including working with relocated clients. Although my husband and I had tentatively discussed moving to London, the opportunity to do so presented relatively quickly. The actual move followed soon after. Given the timing there was little opportunity to fully consider and process all I was leaving behind. I focused on the positives and practicalities. Once the boxes were unpacked, my son settled in school and I had spent a few weeks as a “tourist” in London, reality set in. My overly positive perspective did a 180’ turn (extremes have a way of swinging the other direction). My excitement dissipated and was replaced by feelings of loss for my personal and professional networks. I felt daunted by the prospect of recreating what I spent years building and had come to take for granted. I had been viewing the move through rose tinted glasses and felt blindsided by the unanticipated challenges and negative 31


feelings. It took time to process these; but ultimately my seemingly dichotomous feelings around relocating became more integrated. While I acknowledged the difficulties and felt overwhelmed by them, I could simultaneously feel excited about the opportunities moving to London offered. I was able to respect both perspectives as true and not mutually exclusive.

While I acknowledged the difficulties and felt overwhelmed by them, I could simultaneously feel excited about the opportunities moving to London offered. I was able to respect both perspectives as true and not mutually exclusive By integrating the dichotomy in my experience and feelings I avoided becoming stuck in the negative. This is limiting and can give rise to depression and anxiety. When a client, Alison, relocated from a beautiful seaside city to a small, remote town she was very unhappy. Although the move was time limited and a good opportunity, my client was focused on missing her extended family. In this entrenched position Alison was miserable and

unable to recognise or engage in the positives of relocating. Longing for “home” was understandable; but she could not see past her loss and yearning. In our work together, it was initially important to understand Alison’s overwhelming negativity. Her difficult feelings around moving, were reminiscent of childhood (as they often are). Relocating reminded her of visiting her biological father. Her mother had remarried, and during these visits she felt very alone, and longed to be “home” with her loving, close family including half siblings. Once this was better understood, validated and explored, Alison’s feeling and thinking around relocating expanded. Alison embraced technology to stay connected to family members. She recognised living in a small town meant she had more time and pursued previously neglected passions. Couples and families are also impacted by dichotomous feelings around a move. Individuals within these units can experience relocating very differently. A younger child may easily create a circle of friends while their teenage sibling finds it challenging. An exciting work opportunity may await one individual, the other may struggle to find a job. When relocating is due to one individual pursuing an opportunity, a partner or children may feel moving was forced on them. Feeling disempowered, unhappy, or struggling to adjust can lead to resentment and blame which is typically projected onto partners or parents. They in turn feel guilty and/or defensive. Battle lines are drawn. One individual (or alliance of family members) focuses on the negatives of moving; the other camp focuses on the positives. Parents often play this out with their children by trying to make the move as “positive” as possible in the hopes of “distracting” children from their losses. In couples, blame is often redirected by accusing the “negative” individual of being unsupportive or ungrateful for the opportunity. When these dynamics play out arguments ensue, making a stressful period all the more difficult. For relocated couples and families polarisation can be prevented and redressed. Avoid tackling difference by convincing, arguing or “fixing” feelings with practical suggestions. Rather, be curious and mentalise. Mentalising is the capacity to understand the feelings, intentions, desires and thoughts that motivate another’s behaviour - while simultaneously understanding your own. By


For relocated couples and families polarisation can be prevented and redressed. Avoid tackling difference by convincing, arguing or “fixing” feelings with practical suggestions. Rather, be curious and mentalise


truly considering where the other is coming from, you may locate ways in which you relate. For example, there may be aspects of the move which you have found difficult. When you validate the other persons position and also share how you identify they feel understood, less alone (because their experience is normalised) and can appreciate your vulnerability. This will help diffuse tension and aid connection. Ultimately, the experience of moving is subjective and there should be place for everyone’s feelings. Unpacking our possessions is relatively simple but unpacking the myriad of sentiments around relocating is a more complicated process. When individuals, couples and families are able to recognise, respect and integrate their dichotomous feelings, the experience of moving is more authentic and enriching. After all, isn’t that what we hope relocating to a different country will be all about.

Dr. Bonne Shneider

Dr. Bonnie Schneider is a Clinical Psychologist, with a Masters and Ph.D from Columbia University in New York. In her private practice Dr. Schneider works with individuals and couples presenting with a range of difficulties. She practices from three locations - Waterloo, London Bridge and North West London and offers sessions on-line. Visit to find out more.




DAYS OUT WITH THE FAMILY MIMO COOKERY SCHOOL BASQUE COOKING CLASS: San Sebastián, Bilbao & Beyond Mimo London Cooking School Ground Floor, 1 Cathedral Street, London, SE1 9DE When looking for inspiration for a family ‘day out’ in London with two teenage boys, a cookery class might not immediately spring to mind. However, given their fondness for food (one is an expert in eating, the other a budding chef) we thought we’d give it a go. Our class was called “Basque Cooking Class, San Sebastian, Bilbao and Beyond”, and our ‘culinary journey’ promised to bring to life the rich history and traditions of the Basque Country in Spain through hands-on preparation of various dishes, and culminating in a delicious gourmet lunch where you get the chance to gather around a communal dining table with fellow classmates, and enjoy the fruits of your labour - along with carefully chosen wine pairings for each course. We were welcomed into the kitchen area by our teacher, and Head Chef at Mimo London; Basque-born Joseba Lasa. Joseba brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from both his cultural background, and his previous role as an executive chef, where he has cooked for everyone from world leaders to the Royal Family. The impressive sight of all the fresh produce we would be working with, laid out before us, added an air of excitement and anticipation about what we had to look forward to. You may well have experienced ‘Kitchen Envy’ in the past, but if not, you are likely to have a dose of it when you step inside the cookery school. Gorgeous Caesarstone tables provide the work space. Original floor-to-ceiling sash windows look onto Southwark Cathedral opposite. Brass fixtures pair effortlessly with the contemporary kitchen, equipped with state of-the-art Gaggenau appliances and sleek induction hobs. It certainly looks the part and you will too, once you have been kitted out in the obligatory ‘chef’s whites’. With our fellow classmates, we made a team of 7, who would work together to prepare, cook and assemble the dishes. What could easily have proven a tricky organisational challenge, ran extremely WWW.THEAMERICANHOUR.COM

smoothly under Joseba’s expert guidance. Each of us were given tasks, from preparing artichokes, to gutting and filleting a fresh hake - we learnt tips and techniques that will be remembered forever. Even the simplest bits of advice, such as using a knife in the most effective way, would prove useful. I find myself transported back to this experience whenever I am chopping vegetables! There were an amazing number of stages involved in creating the dishes - but it didn’t feel like it. We moved deftly from one task to another; making fish stock at the same time as simmering rice pudding, braising ox cheeks and caramelising vegetables. We even found time to break off for a glass of Txakoli wine (the pouring of this lightly sparkling tapas wine is an art form!) and to enjoy some delicious pintxos (bite-sized snacks) that we had somehow managed to prepare in the midst of everything else. After this welcome break, the preparation continued apace - purees were blitzed and sieved until silky smooth, artichokes steamed and then seared, rice pudding attended to, and finally our first dish was ready for presentation: Artichokes with Jamon, Almonds and Olives. We broke off from our hard work, to sit down and enjoy this dish. I have eaten artichokes a handful of times, but they never tasted like this. The dish was sublime, but the greatest surprise was watching my two picky teenage sons devouring their plate, with lip-smacking delight. Back to work, and the job fell to me to pan-fry the hake, adding the salsa verde we had made earlier, and finally the clams. What a satisfying sound it was hearing the Mimo Cooking Class

clam shells pop open at the final stage of steaming - as if telling us that the dish was ready! Straight from pan to plate, with a flourish, and we were back seated around the table enjoying the freshest tasting hake with a glass of crisp white wine. The main course had been quietly braising in the oven for a couple of hours - in fact I had all but forgotten about it. But the smell that wafted from the pot couldn’t be ignored - it was like waiting for the turkey to be served at Christmas, so great was our anticipation. Ordinarily no one in our family would ever have chosen ‘Ox cheek’ from a menu, but once again we were amazed by the intensity of the flavours, the tenderness of the meat and the delectable pairing with the celeriac puree. Dessert was a traditional Basque-style Rice Pudding, infused with cinnamon and vanilla. This was comfort food at its best - the perfect, sweet creamy conclusion to a wonderful meal. We were sad that the experience was nearly over, although I don’t think I could have eaten another morsel. The 4.5 hours had gone by in a flash. I didn’t look at a watch or clock once (luckily, I wasn’t in charge of timings), but what a fantastic experience we’d had. In fact, this rates as one of the best days out we have had as a family in London and I would recommend Mimo cookery classes to anyone with an appreciation for good food (apparently, they cater from the age of 4 upwards). Cookery classes are priced from £175 per person, and group sizes are between 1 and 10. Visit for further information. Mimo Cooking Class



Hever Castle

Hever Castle English history is littered with amazing stories of skulduggery and betrayal, which fascinated me as a child, and Hever Castle has played a key part in some of the more lurid stories. Hever’s history spans more than 700 years and is rich and varied. It was built in 1270, but the real interest started in the 15th and 16th Centuries when it was the home to one of the most powerful families in England, the Boleyns. It was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, one of the most famous Queens of England whose affair and eventual marriage to Henry VIII sparked scandal, as well as the birth of the Church of England and Henry renouncing Catholicism. The Henry VIII connection was then renewed when another of his wives, Anne of Cleeves, owned the castle. This colourful episode in English history is expertly handled on your tour of the castle and you get a real feeling of what life would have been for the Anne’s before one of their lives was brutally cut short (at the age of 29). Radio guides and curators in the rooms provide you with additional information, so by the end of your tour you and your children will be experts in this fascinating period of history, along with knowledge of the torture instruments used in the day and the workings of the castle toilets in the 15th Century! The castle did fall into disrepair over the years, but was lovingly restored by the Astor family in the early 1900’s and the magnificent gardens and lake were constructed along with the ‘Tudor Village’, now called the Astor Wing, where you can stay. I am sure this is the most historic B&B in the UK, and along with the sumptuous bedrooms it allows you to enjoy Hever’s grounds and castle before and after all of the day visitors have arrived and left which is a real treat. 34


Hever Castle has not rested on its historical laurels, and has turned itself into a fabulous family attraction, and in addition to the truly beautiful castle there are other attractions which will keep the most demanding of children occupied for hours. I am not sure that wonderful gardens ever kept me amused as a child, but whilst the adults enjoy the design and colours of the various gardens the kids can play hide and seek in the less formal areas which lead you away from the castle and down to the lake. For those budding Steve Redgrave’s there are rowing boats for hire, or for the more sedate, pedalos. A quick tip - before venturing into the heart of the lake, go left from where you set off, past the pagoda and row/pedal down a narrow water way as you get a lovely view of the castle from the water,

and if you are lucky you may see ducklings and cygnets paddling through the lilies. Children are well catered for at Hever Castle with a water maze which has a false step that will result in a wet rebuke, and there is only one way to reach the centre and keep dry, but I suspect that for many it is more fun to get wet! For the older children there is also an adventure play ground with a fort, ropes etc., which will not only keep them occupied, but tire them out leaving you free to enjoy the stunning grounds and all the ornamental gardens. If that wasn’t enough, Hever Castle has a host of events throughout the year, so keep an eye on their website and you will be treated to a wide range of events including jousting tournaments and a host of other medieval activities. What makes Hever Castle special is that all the staff you meet really love what they do and where they work and that love is infectious and will leave you marvelling at Hever’s history and beauty. If you would like to spend a night at Hever Castle, prices start from £175 for a deluxe double/twin and breakfast. There are 28 luxury bedrooms and plenty of restaurants and pubs within a short distance from the Castle where you can head to for dinner. We enjoyed a wonderful breakfast sitting on the lawn outside the breakfast room, overlooking the Castle and it’s moat, before enjoying a walk around beautiful grounds before the gates to the public were officially opened. We then followed this by 18 holes of golf at Hever Golf Club, which is just up the road and is a stunning course suitable for all abilities – in fact it is one of my favourite courses in the country! For further information on staying at Hever Castle, please call 01732 861800 or email

Hampstead Orthodontic Practice E: T: 020 7284 2827

Over 23 years’ experience providing healthy, beautiful smiles for thousands of patients across all ages Dr Alvanos, our expert orthodontist, uses the most advanced and effective orthodontic techniques to ensure all of our patients achieve stunning results Leading the way for orthodontic treatment in North London

We are a respected orthodontic practice located on Constantine Road in Hampstead, London. Since being established in 1994, the practice has gained an unrivalled reputation as one of the most innovative and successful orthodontic practices in North London.

Our treatments - Orthodontic treatment to suit your individual needs:

Adult braces • Invisalign • Children’s braces • Incognito Damon braces • AcceleDent • Inspire! braces Why choose us

Happy Patients

We’ve treated over 10,000 patients who consistently report being highly satisfied with their results.

Flexible appointments

We offer appointment times to suit you, with evening and weekend appointments.

Affordable for all 0% finance plans available, making orthodontic treatment affordable for everyone.

Leading orthodontists

We are proud to have a highly qualified and experienced orthodontist and clinicians in-house.

We’re experts in creating beautiful smiles

We offer a range of orthodontic treatments to simultaneously improve the health and beauty of your smile. Our expert clinicians ensure Hampstead Orthodontic patients achieve a smile they’re proud of.

Our mission

Our practice is focused on excellent patient care, quality of service and providing high standards. We work as a team to provide the best care to make sure patients feel comfortable and are looked after as individuals. We understand our respective roles in the team and work together to achieve excellent results.

Hampstead Orthodontic Practice 4 Elm Terrace, Constantine Road, Hampstead, London. NW3 2LL E: T: 020 7284 2827

IMMIGRATION Services For US Citizens At The US Embassy In London And Update On The Closure Of The USCIS International Field Office In London US citizens living abroad have a variety of needs that are not typical for those living within the United States. Luckily for Americans living in Britain, the American Embassy in London offers many services to meet these needs. Currently, one of the greatest benefits of being in the UK is that if US citizens wish to move back to the US with non-US citizen family members, they are able to file the requisite I-130 Petition for Alien Relative with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Field Office in London. This cuts processing time down by roughly five to twelve months, however, the London Field Office is set to close in early 2020. Once the Field Office has ceased operation, all family petitions must be filed in the United States and will be subject to lengthy processing times unless there is reason to request an expedited review. USCIS will only expedite petitions in very exceptional circumstances, including urgent humanitarian reasons, severe financial loss, compelling US government interests, or clear USCIS error. However, once the Field Office closes, it may be possible to bypass USCIS altogether and request that the Department of State accept jurisdiction over the I-130 Petition, which it will only do in specific exceptional circumstances. We assume this policy will continue but we do not yet have firm guidance whether this will be the case. Even once the London Field Office is no longer operational, the Embassy itself will still offer a host of beneficial services for Americans in Britain, such as: citizenship services for children, passport renewal, social security numbers, name changes, and renunciation of citizenship.

Sponsoring Family Members For Permanent Residency

While the London Field Office is still in operation, Americans living abroad are able to directly file I-130 Petitions for qualifying family members. In general, a petition may be filed on behalf of a spouse, parent, child, or sibling; however, the London Field Office only accepts petitions for spouses, parents, or unmarried children under the age of 21. All other petitions must be filed with a Service Center in the US. Due to the planned 36


field office closure, it is advisable that American citizens who plan to move back to the US with their non-US citizen spouse, child, or parent should file a petition as soon as possible.

When a child is born to a US citizen living abroad, it is possible that the child will be eligible for automatic US citizenship if the child’s US citizen parent lived in the United States (or one of its outlying possessions) for at least five years, two of which were after the age of 14 Once an I-130 petition is approved, the beneficiary family member may apply for an immigrant visa and attend an interview at the Embassy. Upon approval, this visa allows family members into the US where they will then receive a green card for permanent residency. Being a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) bestows numerous benefits not available to non-immigrant visa holders – namely permission to reside permanently in the US and immediate work authorisation.

United States Citizenship For Children Born Abroad

When a child is born to a US citizen living abroad, it is possible that the child will be eligible for automatic US citizenship if the child’s US citizen parent lived in the United States (or one of its outlying possessions) for at least five years, two of which were after the age of 14. If the child’s father is a US citizen, while the mother is not, and the parents are unmarried at the time of the child’s birth, in order for the father to transmit his citizenship he must acknowledge paternity and agree to provide financial support for the child until he or she turns 18. Additionally, for couples who conceive using assisted reproductive technology, it is important to note that for the US citizen parent to pass citizenship automatically, he or she must be the genetic or gestational parent of the child. If the child is not automatically eligible for US citizenship, he or she may be able to apply for citizenship right away after being admitted to the US as an LPR instead of having to wait the requisite five years that most LPRs must wait before applying for naturalisation. If the child does qualify for transmission of citizenship through a parent, he or she will need a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) which serves as evidence of US citizenship. At the same time, applications should also be made for the child’s US passport and social security number. In most circumstances, both parents (regardless of whether they are both US citizens) must appear in person with the child in order for the CRBA and passport to be issued.

Passports, Social Security Numbers, And Name Changes

The US Embassy in London offers passport renewal and replacement services which typically take about two weeks to process. However, if someone has urgent travel, they may be able to apply for an emergency passport which can be processed quicker but will be limited in validity and pages. In addition, US citizens living in the UK who need to change their legal name following a marriage, divorce, or other event can do so through the Federal

IMMIGRATION Benefits Unit stationed within the London Embassy. There, they can also apply for a social security number if they do not already have one.

Renouncing United States Citizenship

American citizens who wish to renounce their US citizenship may do so with the Citizenship Unit at the US Embassy in London. In order to renounce, the person must have another citizenship to fall back on so as not to become ‘stateless’. Additionally, they must appear for an interview before a Consular Officer to establish that they are renouncing their citizenship of their own volition and fully comprehend the ramifications of their decision. The Embassy will not review a person’s US tax filings, yet it is strongly advisable to obtain tax advice before renouncing US citizenship.

Maintaining Lawful Permanent Resident Status While Abroad

There are many requirements in place for LPRs in order to maintain their status. One of the most important is that an LPR who has been outside of the US for longer than one year is typically considered to have abandoned their status and will not be admitted into the US with their green card alone. If the person


has been outside of the US for longer than one year, but is able to show they remained abroad for reasons beyond their control, he or she may be granted a Returning Resident Visa which permits entry to the US without the need to apply for a brand-new immigrant visa. If an LPR knows that they plan to be outside of the US for longer than one year, he or she should apply for a re-entry permit, which is generally issued for two years at a time. With a valid re-entry permit in hand, an LPR has the freedom to enter the US after being away for more than a year without the presumption that their residency was abandoned. If two years is not long enough, the individual will have to return to the US and apply for a new re-entry permit as there is no mechanism for extending an existing permit. For those who have been living outside of the US for more than a year without a re-entry permit, and are ineligible for a returning resident visa, the only option for returning to the US is to reapply for an immigrant visa. This means going through the I-130 Petition process again and appearing for an interview at a Consulate. Alternatively, if someone no longer wishes to keep their LPR status they may voluntarily abandon it by filing a form with USCIS. As of July, this particular form is no longer accepted at international field offices, and instead must be filed with the Eastern Forms Center in the US.

Rikkilee Moser is an Associate Attorney at US Visa Solutions, a full-service law firm which offers tailored US immigration advice on a range of individual and corporate matters. Although she works on a variety of cases from intra-company transfers and investor visas to criminal waivers of inadmissibility, Rikkilee’s specialty is in family-based immigration, including: immigrant visas for immediate family members, fiancé(e) visas, and adjustment of status. Rikkilee earned her law degree from Northern Illinois University College of Law; and afterwards moved to London where she completed an LLM (master of laws) at UCL. Please note this article is for reference only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Contact Info: 6/7 Hatton Garden, Third Floor, London, EC1N 8AD Telephone: 020 7092 6830 Email:



MOVING TO LONDON Live Like A Local While You Choose Where To Settle Permanently American by origin, Merilee Karr is an adopted Brit, having lived in London for the last 18 years. She founded London’s premier short-term lettings company back in 2014 and has built everything to deliver the vision of providing professional shortterm rentals for both homeowners and guests. Passionate about providing guests with the quality of a hotel in the comfort of a home and not leaving homes empty when their owners/tenants are away, when others could enjoy them, meant that UnderTheDoormat was born. Coming to the UK from America is a big step which takes a huge amount of planning and organisation. It’s not just a case of buying all new appliances or knowing the difference between pants and trousers (which can be very valuable to know in certain situations!), but finding a whole new community and moving your family away from everything they know – which can take a bit of getting used to. The concept of ‘moving to London’ is exciting but in reality ‘London’ is huge, and it is always difficult to choose which part of London is most suited to your needs. An expat herself, here Merilee gives her top tips for relocating to London and how it can definitely be one of the best decisions you will ever make; 1. Make plenty of trips before the big move; Take advantage of the relocation package before you arrive. Visit London a couple of times and check out everything from potential areas to live, social clubs, schools etc. Finding an area that you feel comfortable in and can feel a part of the community will make all the difference. 2. Make contact with others in the same situation; Social media is great for this. There are so many groups, for example ‘Americans in London’, that you can connect with and get into the nitty gritty of living in London. 3. Get comfortable that things take longer than you think they should; From setting up Wifi to getting your furniture in your new home, the instantaneous approach you are used to in the states doesn’t always happen here, so being comfortable with extra patience will make your transition smoother. 4. The very first thing to do is to open a local bank account: Having a UK bank account will help you get a mobile phone, 38


sign a rental contract and everything else you might need. Having a letter from your employer will help you do this, and you may want to enquire with your bank in the US so you can set up with the same or an associated bank here. 5. Choose a frequent flyer programme: For Americans who know they will be going back and forth to the US a few times a year, I highly recommend that you pick one airline and stick with it. Membership has its privileges and the occasional upgrade on the overnight flight is always a bonus. 6. Use public holidays to make the most of your annual leave: While you’re here, you’ll want to explore some of the fantastic and diverse European destinations, so making sure you’re up to speed on when there are public holidays in the UK will mean you can maximise your opportunities for city breaks or trips back home. Of course, you could even top up your income by putting your home on a short lettings site when you travel. Finding a new home is undoubtedly one of the toughest challenges when relocating. Even though the job opportunity is likely to be in central London, you might decide on a completely different spot, and it is very normal for commute times to be anything up to an hour in London. London has superb transport links and thinking about direct transport links rather than distance is an important perspective. It’s a good idea to try short-term rental options whilst you figure out the right area for you. Advice from Founder & CEO of UnderTheDoormat, Merilee Karr. Being American herself, Merilee’s team has been handpicked to help people with a personal service and they can explain everything from the difference in king size beds in London vs. the US to what to look for in a bathroom - the cute little separate taps in bathroom sinks for hot and cold water might look nice as first glance, but can get annoying when you are used to a single faucet with variable temperatures. We look forward to welcoming you to London as you begin your move so you can make your transition to London as smooth as possible, and who knows, like many of us who have adopted London

as our home, you may find you stay here longer than your original plan. UnderTheDoormat has over 250 homes across London where guests can stay for short periods to really get a feel for the location. St Pauls is very different to Wandsworth and Shoreditch to Notting Hill. The UnderTheDoormat ethos is to enable guests to ‘live like locals’ – so what better way to research an area or try several places in one visit so you can find the one which is right for you. When you first arrive, UnderTheDoormat also gives you the chance to stay in a home until you can move into your permanent accommodation. Most companies will pay for 1-3 months of temporary accommodation when you arrive, and it means you have a wonderful home to live in until you can move into your long-term home. Once you are all settled, it’s also a great service to use for friends and family who come to visit. With UnderTheDoormat, you can host them nearby and they will still get the experience of living in London without them (or you!) feeling squeezed into your home. Merilee Karr, CEO & Founder of UnderTheDoormat

USEFUL CONTACTS EDUCATION - SCHOOLS DWIGHT SCHOOL LONDON 6 Friern Barnet Lane, London, N11 3LX Contact: Karen Strickland Email: Telephone: +44(0)20 8920 0600 Website: Twitter: @DwightSchoolUK Dwight School London, formerly known as The North London International School is an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School and is one of the first schools in the UK to offer the full IB Programme. ISL GROUP OF SCHOOLS ISL LONDON 139 Gunnersbury Avenue, London W3 8LG Contact: Yoel Gordon Telephone: +44 (0)20 8992 5823 ISL QATAR Po Box 18511, North Duhail, Qatar Contact: Admissions Telephone: +974 4433 8600 Website: Founded in 1972, the International School of London (ISL) Group comprises two International Baccalaureate (1B) primary schools situated in London (UK) and Doha (Qatar) plus an IPC primary school in Surrey (UK) providing education for internationally mobile students. Although the languages of the school is English, the schools are known for integrating home languages and English as an Additional Language (EAL) into the internationally recognised curricula. The schools are culturally diverse communities which foster a passion and enthusiasm for learning, and where students’ cultural and linguistic identities are valued and nurtured. ISL Schools develop the attitudes, skills and understanding needed for further education and to become active and responsible contributors to local and global communities. The ISL Group enrols over 1800 students from 88 countries, and teaches 25 languages. TASIS THE AMERICAN SCHOOL IN ENGLAND Coldharbour Lane, Thorpe, Surrey TW20 8TE Contact: Simon Fitch Telephone: 01932 582316 Email: Website The educational pathways TASIS England offers to day (3-18) and boarding (13-18) students include a broad-based American WWW.THEAMERICANHOUR.COM

curriculum, AP courses, the International Baccalaureate Diploma, and EAL support. Taught in small classes, every student in our diverse community from 50 nations is encouraged to reach their academic potential. Participation in co-curricular activities, the arts, athletics, and leadership programs provides balance, fosters curiosity, and develops Individual talents. With excellent exam results and one-to-one college counseling, 97% of TASIS graduates gain acceptance to their first- or secondchoice university in the US, the UK, and worldwide. Extensive summer opportunities are also offered to students from all schools. Located close to London on a beautiful and historic 46-acre estate.

LEGAL MUNDAYS LLP Surrey Office: 400 Dashwood Lang Road, Weybridge, Surrey KT15 2HJ London Office: 1 Berkeley Street, Mayfair, London W1J 8DJ Contact: Oliver Taylor Email: Telephone +44 (0)1932 590523 Website: Twitter: @MundaysLaw Mundays LLP are a top UK law firm based in Surrey and London. Ranked in The Legal 500 UK, Chambers & Partners UK and Chambers HNW legal directories as a leading law firm in the South using expertise to deliver the full range of legal services to individuals, families and businesses. Our highly experienced friendly team offer a range of knowledge. Delivering not just legal advice, but tailored advice that is appropriate to your specific circumstances.

TAXATION TAX AND ACCOUNTING HUB Hallings Wharf Studio Office, 1A Cam Road, London E15 2SY Telephone: +44 (0)208 221 1154 and +44(0)7914393183 Email: Contact: Kader Ameen, US Tax & ITIN/EIN Specialist Website: We are UK based American expatriate personal tax and ITIN (IRS approved CAA) specialist service team with many years of big 4 US/UK tax experience (FATCA, Tax Treaty, 1040 tax return, UK tax return, ITIN, Foreign Bank Account PFIC Reporting, US/ UK Tax treaty claims). Our team aims to provide personalised professional service at affordable fixed fees.

US TAX & FINANCIAL SERVICES 3 Harbour Exchange Square, London, E14 9GE Telephone: +44 20 7357 8220 Contact: Joni Trulock, Group Marketing Manager Email: Website: Twitter: @ustaxfs With 30 years’ experience, our US/UK expat tax specialists provide US and UK tax return preparation, planning, compliance, and expatriation as well as all US business tax services, wherever you are in the world.

WEALTH MANAGEMENT LGT VESTRA US LIMITED 14, Cornhill, London EC3V 3NR Telephone: +44 20 3207 8181 Contact: Paul Nixon, CEO Email: Website: Twitter: @LGTVestraUS A fresh approach to wealth management with a global, personalised and transparent service designed around our clients’ best interests. We are a specialist subsidiary of wealth management firm LGT Vestra LLP, set up specifically to help clients with personal and financial connections to the US. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK and a Registered Investment Adviser with the Securities & Exchange Commission in the US. MASECO PRIVATE WEALTH Burleigh House, 357 Strand, London WC2R 0HS Telephone: +44 (0)20 7043 0455 Email: Website: MASECO Private Wealth gives peace of mind by providing expert guidance to US families on how to simplify their crossborder wealth management needs. We serve and care for Americans living at home or abroad through the planning and implementation of rational, practical and tax efficient wealth management strategies.

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EMBASSY CORNER Easing The Pain Of UK Immigration Queues, One Swipe At A Time Are you tired of the long queues at UK Immigration desks? Fear not, did you know as of June 2019, US citizens are permitted to use any one of the 250+ ePassport gates at 15 air and rail ports? This includes some of the United Kingdom’s major airports such as Heathrow and Gatwick, and the Eurostar terminals in Paris and Brussels! So what are the benefits to using the e-gates? Well, the ePassport gate relies on facial recognition, so by simply inserting your passport into the machine, you can have your photo taken and enter the UK without having any human interaction, and the process literally takes seconds! As a result, this means that you can avoid the painfully long queues at some of the major airports, especially during popular travel periods, such as school holidays and Christmas. Whilst you may be overjoyed at the prospect that your travel into the UK may have now become a whole lot easier, you should be aware you can only use the ePassport gates if you: • Are a holder of a valid US passport • Have a biometric symbol on the cover of your passport • Are aged 12+ (12 to 17 year olds must be accompanied by an adult) So do you meet the criteria and are now wondering how to use the e-gates? It’s easy! Here are a few tips: • Remove all hats, headphones, glasses and sunglasses • Put mobile phones or tablets away • Stay together when travelling as a family • Have your passport ready. If it is in a cover, remove it, and have it open to the photo page • Wait for the green light to show which gate to use • Enter one person at a time and keep your luggage in front of you • Place your passport (making sure it is on the photo page) down with the front cover facing first • Hold the photo page of the passport firmly 40


on the reader for a few seconds, making sure you keep the passport in the same position. (Don’t worry, there are border officials nearby to help you with the process if you require assistance) • Look ahead at the screen until it turns green • Remove your passport • Walk through the gate. Remember though, not everyone is eligible to use the ePassport gates. You should still see a UK Border Force officer and get your passport

stamped if you’re coming to the UK: • On an Emergency limited Validity Passport • If travelling with children under the age of 12 years. Remember, 12 to 17 year olds will need to be accompanied by an adult • With a Tier 5 Creative and Sporting Certificate of Sponsorship for short-term assignments (up to 3 months) • To carry out Permitted Paid Engagements. Now that you have all the information, happy travels!

EMBASSY INFORMATION US Embassy, 33 Nine Elms Lane, London, SW11 7US 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 Federal Benefits Unit: General Social Security information: Travel Advice:



American in Britain Autumn 2019