AMERICAN IN BRITAIN Serving the American Community in the UK
FEATURES INCLUDE Tax Matters • Legal Issues • Wealth Management Education • Voting From Abroad • Days Out With The Family Eating Out • Travel • Theatre • Arts & Antiques • Interior Design
AMERICAN IN BRITAIN
CONTENTS 3 Eating Out 8 Wealth Management
10 Tax Matters 12 Legal Issues 14 Vote From Abroad 15 Travel
18 Theatre 20 Days Out With The Family 21 Arts & Antiques
25 Education 26 Interior Design
28 American Clubs News 32 Useful Numbers
PUBLISHER: Helen Elliott, Telephone: 020 8661 0186 Email: email@example.com American in Britain, PO Box 921, Sutton SM1 2WB WWW.THEAMERICANHOUR.COM
Harry Shearer, photo supplied by David Burns.
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EATING OUT TAKA
18 Shepherd Market, London W1J 7QH Telephone: 020 3637 7677 Shepherd Market is a small square, akin to Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter books, and just oozes quaintness and an oldy worldy charm, and is teeming with boutique shops and quality restaurants, including the wonderful TAKA restaurant. TAKA, like its surroundings, is cosy and high end, and when full, would only be able to serve 28 customers. This enables them to treat their customers like royalty and make them feel so very special. Japanese food has grown on me over the years, so I now have extremely high expectations when visiting a restaurant serving Japanese food as the emphasis has to be on the freshness and quality of the food. On both counts TAKA excels. What is also clear is that, because there are only a few patrons, TAKA’s attention to detail is second to none, and on a Wednesday night just after lockdown was relaxed my wife and I were treated like royalty for the night. TAKA is cosy, but the tables are separated enough to enable you and your partner privacy, and the service is spot on. Visiting a restaurant is like going to the theatre, it is a combination of experiences, and your evening is not just based on the quality of the food, it is also the service, the ambiance, and the presentation, and at TAKA every aspect is focused on and nailed. The decor is an eclectic mix of contemporary sharp décor with wooden floors and tables, and 1970’s style chairs (which, I am reliably informed, are very much in fashion again), and the wooden ceiling panels extenuate the cosy vibe. The music is WWW.THEAMERICANHOUR.COM
also there to enhance the experience rather than to drown out conversations. For a small restaurant the menu is actually quite large, and after wrestling with a number of almost impossible choices, including a Lochard Salmon (£14), which is actually smoked at your table (wonderful theatre!), we chose the Tasting Menu (£85) as it gave us a great selection chosen by the experts. The first course was Snow Crab, Seared Wagyu Tartar, Truffle and Crispy Seaweed, where we had to roll our own crab cone, and despite mine not looking as good as it would have been if it had been made by, frankly anyone else!, it tasted wonderful. Crab is a delicate taste and can so easily be swamped, but here the flavour bursts through triumphantly. Next was Yellow Tailed Tuna, Smokey Aubergine and Edible Flowers. Fresh tuna is just a delight, and this was complemented perfectly by the sharpness of the pickle. Our third selection, Wild Sea Bass Broth, or ‘Soil Soup’, is not necessarily something you would choose when reading a menu, but you really should! It is so called as it is made from all of the peelings from the vegetables boiled down with miso paste, sake and salt, and some of the soil the vegetables are grown in, and is served with a side of black olive “soil” producing a rich and slightly salty broth. The fourth offering was the Summer Garden Salad which has crunchy vegetables, pickled Myoga and crispy shallots on a light creamy edamame paste topped with a miso foam, and you can see why it takes 3 days to make it, as it is a work of art. Although this salad takes 3 days to make, the diner is advised to take 3 seconds to break it up, as you need to mix it up so you get all the flavours in each mouthful. After this course we were treated to a main of Monkfish wrapped in Roasted Seaweed.
Monkfish is a really meaty fish, and if overcooked can become tough, but here they are parcels of delight and the monkfish’s sweet and mild flavour has been enhanced by the Den Miso marinade. People can also modify the sweetness or tartness using the accompanying grilled lime or sauce. Our sixth course (yes sixth, and we weren’t flagging at all) was Tuna 4 Ways, with a chef ’s selection of Nigri and homemade ginger. My love of tuna I have already mentioned, but you should also be aware that TAKA’s attention to detail is so acute that they bind their rice with 3-year-old rice vinegar which adds a unique taste and texture and is only allowed to be used by four restaurants in the UK. It was with heavy heart that we had to leave the mains to move to the desserts as we had loved everything we had been served, but our first dessert quickly raised our spirits again. The wonderfully named Duck Egg arrived in a bowl nestling in straw and contained gooey Meringue Ice Cream with Japanese Salt, Yuzu Fog and Charcoal. The ice cream was rich and creamy and tasted almost as good as the dish looked. We finally
reached our last course, and despite every previous course being incredible, this was the “piece de resistance” and finished the meal off triumphantly. This final course was probably the best dessert I have tasted ever and, as those who regularly read my reviews, was obviously based on chocolate. The Chocolate Nemesis Monakal is made with 70% Amazon Cacao and something this good needs a health warning! The chocolate mousse/cake is succulent and indulgent and is just so good it is frankly beyond words, and is served with a light crème frêche and a sweet compote. Personally, I would not dilute the chocolate explosion with either, but it is subject to taste! TAKA is a restaurant which understands the premise that they need to provide an offering which combines fresh produce, a contemporary décor and exceptional service, along with a little bit of theatre with the presentation of the food. Great food deserves to be served well, and TAKA does this in a loving and sympathetic way and, watch this space, will, we hope, be Michelin starred soon, as something this good cannot be kept under wraps for too long!
Sam’s Riverside 101 Queen Caroline Street, Hammersmith W6 9BN Telephone: 020 8237 1020
As I write this, we are still in certainly the strangest and most frightening period of most peoples lives, and it is in times of such turmoil that it is critical for people to stay in their comfort zones. My comfort zone is maybe a strange one, but it is to enjoy wonderful food in the most vibrant city in the world, London. In such a small space it never fails to amaze me how diverse places can be with small restaurants in narrow back streets, to light and airy ones with wonderful views, and in the current times I believe that it is critical that we support these places or we will lose them forever. Sam’s Riverside is firmly in the latter airy camp, with a chic modern vibe with lots of glass, wood and large windows that allow the diner wonderful views over the Thames. Nestled in the shadow of Hammersmith Bridge, Sam’s Riverside has maximised its location (in the wonderfully named Crisp Street),
with its large windows affording the diners a perfect view of the Thames, and when we visited we were fortunate with the weather and were able to sit outside and watch the sun twinkling and dancing on the Thames surface giving a lovely calm in such troubled times. The other joy is that you can watch the world go by whilst enjoying the wonderful food and drink, as the Thames Path passes right in front, so all those people watchers (of which I am one) will have a field day. We were greeted on arrival by a friendly member of staff who explained all the new measures and rules expertly, took our temperature, and then asked us whether we wanted to sit inside or out, and as the day was bright and sunny we opted for the latter and settled down to our first restaurant visit for many months. Just sitting there looking at a menu (albeit on my phone via an app!), made me realise how much I had missed eating out, and what a joyous thing it is. There is truly nothing better than having a few hours of being spoilt and pampered and Sam’s Riverside does just that. What is also lovely is Sam is actually there and speaks to everyone, making everyone feeling special. My first port of call is usually a glass of bubbles, and it was great to see the Kent Vineyard Gusbourne on the menu as British sparkling wines are exceptional and underrated. To accompany this we also selected the Parmesan Churros (£5) and the Devon Crab toasts (£9). The toasts were crisp and fresh and it was lovely to have the dressing complementing the delicate crab flavour rather than overpowering it, but my favourite was the Churros which I always thought of as a dessert. These are just the best canapé I have had, as they just burst with a rich cheesy flavour covered in flakes of parmesan, and are absolutely a must, and we could have continued to order another and another and another! Having been brought back to earth by my wife, we then focused our attention on the starters, and the choice again was difficult. Fresh fish dominates with platters of Oysters, Lobster and Crevettes which were tempting, but my wife selected the Isle of Wight Tomatoes, Graceburn Soft Cow’s Cheese, Lovage (£9) and I chose the Hereford Aged Ribeye Beef Tartare, Dripping
Toast (£12). Simple dishes both, but they do need care and attention, and both were perfectly executed. The cheese was light and creamy and the tomatoes crunchy and vibrant, whilst the beef in the tartare just melted in the mouth and was well-seasoned. The mains are a lovely mix of Anglo British fare with Lobster, Steak, Chicken and fresh Fish all available, and I selected Sam’s Cheeseburger and Chips (£17.50), and my wife the Shrimp Cocktail Salad (£18.50). The burger was succulent and juicy (as served medium pink) served with a generous portion of chips, and my wife’s crispy salad surrounded the large juicy shrimps which were generously smothered in a slightly piquant cocktail sauce. After such a feast we paused for a while, sipping our crisp Sauvignon Blanc, and just sat back enjoying the buzz of people starting to enjoy eating again in restaurants, which was music to my ears. Having rested, we turned our attention back to the desserts and I selected the Chocolate Mousse, Cocoa Tuile (£7) and my wife the Lemon Posset, Raspberries, Meringue, Lemon Balm (£7). Both were rich and indulgent and both hit the right spot, and were a perfect end to our first meal out for months. Independent restaurants this good need to be supported so they thrive, and I for one will be returning soon, and if you don’t believe me, why not watch Celebrity MasterChef, as Sam’s Riverside featured in the latest series showcasing the skill and care each dish is prepared with.
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10 Paddington St, Marylebone, London, W1U 5QL Telephone: 0207 487 5088 It has been a while since I was in Marylebone, a much underrated part of London, whose Southern boundary reaches down as far as Oxford Street. Marylebone, does in fact, have much history and was home to such luminaries as Charles Dickins, JMW Turner, Charles Babbage (inventor of the first computer) as well as John Lennon. Indeed, in the 18th century it was known for the raffish entertainments in Marylebone Gardens, the scene of bear-baiting and prize fights by members of both sexes, and for the duelling grounds in Marylebone Fields where pistols at dawn were common. Considerably less ‘raffish’ and much more normal than these pastimes is dining out, and it was for this reason that I travelled to Marylebone to eat at OPSO, a restaurant which continues to showcase all that is good about Greek food, in the heart of Marylebone. OPSO has been open for many years now, and with the average restaurant failing within the first year, it is testament to the adage that if you serve quality food in a welcoming environment, people will flock to your restaurant, and even in these difficult times when we visited, on a far from sunny Wednesday night, the restaurant was full with a lovely chatty vibe. OPSO is the perfect name for this restaurant as it is an ancient Greek word for a delectable morsel of food, and we certainly had a few ‘OPSO’s’ on our visit! Our journey through the olive groves of Greece started with a fresh and slightly tart Sea Bass Sashimi (£19) with the fresh and delicate flesh offset by a sharpness from the lemon bitters and a crunch from flakes of rock salt. Similar to restaurants in Greece, dishes are designed to be shared here, and the Taramas (£9) which was our next course, sorely tested me, as I really didn’t want to share this at all. Many believe that taramasalata is shocking pink, but the better the quality the more beige it is, and this one was very beige! OPSO’s taramas is indulgently creamy and was covered in olive shavings which provided a slightly bitter contrast to the creamy roe. All of this would have been special enough, but it was served with pitta bread soaked in herbed olive oil and salt which gave it a slightly crisp outer layer and a moist centre - heaven! Our next choice was the Feta Kataifi (£11), where feta cheese is covered in a sesame seeded crispy outer layer and smothered in sweet honey. This is my wife’s favourite Greek dish, and the last time we tasted this it was pre-lockdown on a balcony overlooking the cliffs in Santorini at sunset, so there was no pressure on how it tasted! Thankfully OPSO’s stood up to the test with WWW.THEAMERICANHOUR.COM
the light batter and not overly sweet honey complementing one of my favourite cheeses. Having indulged so far we decided on a healthier option for our next selection, so opted for the Calamari Salad with basil pesto, baby leaf salad and bacon salsa (£21). The calamari was moist and chewy and having been grilled had a slightly singed outer layer, and were generously dotted around crisp baby lettuce all sitting on a base of creamy pesto with small lardons of salty bacon. Not as dietary as I thought, but very tasty. The two mains we chose came out together and consisted of the Fish and Beets (£29) and the Octopus Giouvetsi (£34). The fish varies as it is whatever is available fresh that day, and we had sea bass lightly grilled, perched on wilted rainbow chard with a beetroot sauce. The combination of the slight sweetness of the beetroot and the hint of bitterness remaining in the chard brought out all the flavour of the fish, and the Octopus Giouvesti I am sure, is the Greeks’ answer to an Italian risotto. The tasty octopus sits in a creamy orzo with tomato jam, and created a lovely warming feeling as we ate it in direct contrast to the inclement weather outside. As you know, I love desserts, especially chocolate ones, and I was sorely tempted with the Choco & Caramel Fudge Brownie (£12), but I have overdosed on chocolate recently so opted for the Strawberry Profiteroles (£12). When the dish arrived it looked so good it was almost too good to eat. Delightfully light and cream filled Choux Profiteroles formed a ring around the bowl and the cut strawberries were arranged so it appeared that they were exploding out from the middle. Visually stunning, but tasting even better. The profiteroles and strawberries sat on a light and creamy white chocolate & lemon cream (I got my chocolate fix after all), and caramelised almond flakes in a strawberry jam which provided a wonderful contrast of flavours and textures in my mouth that was well worth leaving room for. Having been to Greece recently, I know that Greece has an abundance of fine wines, and OPSO has many on its wine list from all areas, including rich red’s, delicate whites and even sparkling, and we selected a fruity Thema Pavlidis Macedonia which uses Assyritiko grapes from Santorini, to remind us again of our trip to that idyllic island. OPSO also has a delivery service for those who live in the Marylebone area, and a take out delicatessen, where you can purchase a number of Greek delicacies, and is a beacon in the area of all that is good with Greek food. At present it is difficult to travel to Greece, but luckily there are places like OPSO which enable you to experience all that is Greek a little closer to home. My wife says I must also mention the White Sangria Cocktail she started our evening with, as it was one of the best cocktails she has ever had and has now tasked me with trying to recreate it at home! WWW.AMERICANINBRITAIN.CO.UK
8 Hanway Place, London, W1T 1HD Telephone: 020 7927 7000 One of my abiding rules for life is, always be wary of revisiting somewhere you have been a number of years ago and have loved, as it may not live up to your memories. It was therefore, with trepidation, that I revisited Hakkasan in Hanaway Place, but I really shouldn’t have worried. Clearly the location hadn’t changed as the restaurant is still situated where an underground car park once was, in a back street just off Oxford Street. The location really is in contrast to the restaurant itself, as even though I knew the restaurant was there, I still felt I was on the wrong road as it is a quiet, narrow, unassuming backstreet with just offices and no shops. The contrast between the back street I had just left and the incense infused stairs I was walking down made me feel like I was entering a James Bond villain’s secret lair, and that feeling grew as I entered a subterranean world with dining areas separated by carved wooden screens and a striking bar that spans the whole of the back wall. Christian Liaigre designed Hakkasan, and followed his brief to a tee – create an authentic interior, and ‘bring back the dragon’. This décor has stood the test of time and hasn’t changed for years, but still remains contemporary, and is a delightful contrast to many restaurants nowadays which have a more stark and modern feel. To me dining out is an experience, and part of that is your surroundings, and from the moment you descend the subtly lit stairs your experience begins. The last time I visited we were not in pandemic times, so unfortunately this time, we could not visit the dramatic 16 metre oak bar to read the menu and play a game I love to play at restaurants which is ‘find a spirit they don’t have’, as the selection on display here is mind blowing! Due to the pandemic
the menus have been replaced with an app which you access via your mobile, and after an embarrassingly long time to get this to work (yes, I am a technophobe at heart), I managed to get the menu on my screen to view. The conundrum here is that there are so many dishes you want to try, as they all sound delicious, but be careful, the portions are generous, so it is very easy to order too much food. A must from the starters is the Dim Sum of which there are four choices, including a vegetarian one, but we chose the Dim Sum Supreme (£42) which consists of eight wonderfully decorated parcels filled with Phoenix Eye Lobster, Abalone and Chicken Shui Mai with Prunier Caviar, Royal King Crab and Dover Sole with Black Truffle. Our first dim sum was superb, and we thought it could not be beaten, but each subsequent one proved that premise wrong. We also chose Salt and Pepper Squid (£19) and Sesame Prawn Toast (£22). Each one was a delight, and again as a devotee of the dining experience, the way the prawn toasts were served up just added to the joy of the evening. The prawn tails reared up over the toast like a scorpion’s tail just waiting to strike. Hakkasan
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Other recommended starters are the Morel Mushroom and Vegetable Spring Roll (£15), and the Golden Fried Soft Crab Shell (£19), but frankly whatever you order will be good. The main courses probably pose an even greater dilemma as the choices here are extensive, but after considerable debate and a lot of compromising (on my part of course), we chose the Grilled Chilean Sea Bass in Honey (£52), the Crispy Fresh Water Prawn with dried chilli and cashew nut (£31), and Stir Fried Rib Eye Beef with lily bulb in black bean sauce (£39). Clearly in the past my sea bass at restaurants have not been caught on a line, they have been run over by a steam rollers, as I thought sea bass fillets are flat, but this fillet was large and chunky with a vibrant colour from the honey. The honey provided a sweet contrast with the flaky fish, complementing the fish rather than overpowering it. The quality of the beef was clear, and it was cooked to perfection, but beware of the chillis with the prawns! The large chillis are fine, but there are small chillies hidden which are lethal!! I always find that Chinese food caters well for vegetarians, and at Hakkasan that is no different, except they do them with that Hakkasan twist which adds that something extra. To finish off our meal we selected a Livara Bomb (£10) which consisted of a rich and creamy hazelnut praline bomb surrounded by rice krispies coated in white chocolate. That is lovely in its own right, but the addition of a hot milk chocolate sauce takes the dessert to another level. Well worth leaving room for! Hakkasan has consistently served quality food in an opulent and distinctive environment, and makes diners feel special. The quality of their service is second to none, and the waiting staff are always on hand to answer any questions you may have about the menu. This combination will keep people coming back again and again, and from the moment you descend the incense bathed steps you are transported into a concept which fuses great food with a very special atmosphere.
WEALTH MANAGEMENT A Brave New World: Tax Changes In The Time Of COVID-19 One could be forgiven for not having tax at the forefront of your mind over the past six months - or ever for that matter! However, as the world now slowly adjusts to the new realities of the world, financial or otherwise, it is worthwhile considering some of the regulations implemented in April as well as changes that could be expected in the near future.
One of the most publicised corollaries of COVID has been the increase in working from home and the subsequent exodus from cities to the countryside. Understandably, some may have opted for a taster of such a change of lifestyle, choosing to rent a property in the countryside whilst simultaneously renting out their own home in the city. Individuals finding themselves in such a situation who have subsequently decided to permanently escape to the country have potentially been impacted by tax changes implemented on 6 April, 2020. As these changes came into law less than a month after the UK entered lockdown, it stands to reason that many homeowners may have missed some of the crucial details.
Mortgage Interest Relief Now Fully Limited To Basic Rate
In a phased implementation that began in 2017/18, private landlords with a mortgage on their rental property have been subject to a tapering of mortgage interest relief. Before the changes, a landlord could deduct mortgage interest from their rental income in full. However, as of 6 April 2020, mortgage interest relief is given as a basic rate tax allowance rather than a reduction in taxable rental income. Consider this example of an individual with the following rental income and expenses: • £15,000 of rental income • £4,000 of mortgage interest • £1,000 in other costs Prior to 2017/18, based on these figures, a basic rate (20%) taxpayer would have paid tax of £2,000, a higher rate (40%) taxpayer would have paid £4,000 and an additional rate taxpayer £4,500. From 6 April, 2020 onwards, a basic rate taxpayer would still owe tax of £2,000, however, a higher rate individual would have tax payable of £4,800 following the credit for £800 (£4,000 at 20%). An additional rate taxpayer would pay £5,500 following the £800 credit. 8
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In the circumstances outlined above, these changes result in a significant decrease in net return of approximately 13% and 18%, respectively.
Principal Primary Residence (PPR) Relief Changes
In addition to the phased implementation of the mortgage interest rules, 6 April, 2020 marked the commencement of new laws impacting so-called ‘accidental’ landlords. The term ‘accidental landlord’ applies to individuals renting out properties that was previously their primary residence. The UK allows for some Capital Gains Tax (CGT) relief where the property being disposed of is, or has been, one’s main residence – alternatively known as one’s PPR. Broadly, this relief allows for full CGT relief for the years the home was occupied as a PPR. However, in addition to the relief for years of occupation, until 6 April, 2020, the last 18 months of ownership also qualified for full CGT relief, regardless of whether it was occupied as a PPR. As of 6 April, 2020, this 18-month period was halved to nine months, with no concessions announced due to the impact of COVID. In addition to the shortening of this final period of ownership, a valuable tax break known as ‘letting relief’ has also been curtailed. Letting relief allowed a homeowner to reduce the gross capital gain on their PPR by a minimum of £40,000, provided the home was commercially let for any length of time during ownership. From 6 April, 2020 onwards, letting relief is only available where the homeowner shares occupation with their tenant. The erosion of PPR relief could dissuade pre-existing accidental landlords from selling their properties in the future. As can be seen, the rules regarding PPR are extensive and detailed and professional tax advice should be taken when disposing of a PPR.
Role Of Property In An Investment Portfolio
Although the changes in taxation regarding rental properties were not enacted in connection to COVID-19, 6 April, 2020 nonetheless signified a significant change to the taxation of buy-to-let properties. As landlords may be seeing increases in their exposure to income tax and CGT on rented properties, it will be important for
an investor to review their rental returns following the aforementioned changes and determine whether the rental yields, net of fees and taxes, justifies the continued ownership of an investment property. Despite the tax changes widdling away at a landlord’s profits, property remains an important element of a diversified portfolio. Additionally, an investor looking to gain exposure to bricks and mortar without becoming a landlord, could consider an allocation to real estate via other methods such as Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT), companies listed on a stock exchange that finance or own income producing real estate.
Potential Capital Gains Tax (CGT) Increases
Unfortunately, the changes to the taxation of property will only go a short way in helping Chancellor Rishi Sunak recoup the multibillionpound stimulus package implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, it would stand to reason that we are likely to see other tax reforms, particularly surrounding CGT. In what feels like a lifetime ago, in April 2016, then Chancellor George Osborne announced a cut in CGT on many assets from 28% to 20% (18% to 10% for basic rate taxpayers). From the enactment of this tax cut until present, CGT rates have remained at these historic lows. An increase in CGT rates is particularly likely as Sunak has already proposed a review of CGT in his letter to the Office of Tax Simplification in mid-July. Should CGT rates increase, it is currently unknown the extent to which this will happen – back to the previous 28% or perhaps alignment with income tax rates.
Impact On Rebalancing
A benefit of low CGT rates is the ability for investors to rebalance without fear of triggering excess tax liabilities. Rebalancing one’s portfolio – selling assets that have been performing well and buying others that have performed less well – ensures that a portfolio’s risk level remains in line with the investor’s emotional risk tolerance. If equity markets have a positive expected return, over time, one can expect equities to outperform the fixed income portion of an investment portfolio. This outperformance eventually leads to a portfolio with a higher proportion of risk assets than defensive assets. Rebalancing allows investors to bring the risk allocation back to the status quo.
WEALTH MANAGEMENT Should CGT rates increase significantly, it is conceivable that investors will be less willing to rebalance and crystallise capital gains. In such a case, it may be difficult for investors to remain disciplined as their portfolios become more exposed to risk assets and, therefore, volatility.
Consider The Benefit Of Accelerating The Payment Of CGT
Given the historically low CGT rates, it may be sensible for some individuals to consider accelerating the sale of assets subject to capital gains to lock in these current rates. Where an asset has been held for many years and is standing at a significant gain, for some, depending on their personal circumstances, it may be worth considering selling the asset ensuring the payment of CGT at 20%. ‘Better the devil you know’, as the saying goes. Of course, for Americans, there are currency movement considerations and foreign tax credit considerations, so it is important that investors take these into account with their tax adviser before taking action to accelerate CGT.
The world of investing during and post COVID is likely to be severely impacted by tax
changes implemented to recover funds spent in the stimulus packages introduced. As any tax changes will impact certain asset classes more than others, it is important to seek advice and ensure that one’s portfolios are optimised to mitigate the impact of any changes in tax.
Risk Warnings And Important Information
Nothing in this article constitutes investment, tax or any other type of advice and should not be construed as such. The information in this article is provided for information purposes only. You should consult with your financial adviser before making investment decisions. All investments involve risk and may lose value. The value of investments can go down depending upon market conditions and you may not get back the original amount invested. Your capital is always at risk. Currency exchange rates may cause the value of an investment and/or a portfolio to go up or down. Information is based on data which MASECO considers reliable, however, MASECO gives no assurance or guarantee that the information is accurate, current or complete and it should not be relied upon as such. Information about tax changes or potential tax changes is based on our understanding of current tax law and practice (which may be subject to change) and sets out some basic information about certain tax considerations from an
investment perspective. The levels and bases of, and reliefs from, taxation is subject to change. However, MASECO Private Wealth is not a tax specialist. We recommend that anyone considering investing seeks their own tax advice. The tax treatment of any investment or particular strategy will depend on the individual circumstances of each person and may be subject to change in the future. The information contained herein is subject to copyright with all rights reserved. MASECO LLP (trading as MASECO Private Wealth) is established as a limited liability partnership under the laws of England and Wales (Companies House No. OC337650) and has its registered office at Burleigh House, 357 Strand, WC2R 0HS. MASECO LLP is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority for the conduct of investment business in the UK and is registered in the US with the Securities and Exchange Commission as a Registered Investment Adviser.
Stephen Johnson Stephen.Johnson@masecopw.com
TAX MATTERS Recent US Tax Developments For The American Expatriate Community The Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) brought about sweeping tax reform that significantly impacted the American expatriate community. Additional assistance channeled to expatriate parents through expansion of the child tax credit was largely offset by fresh tax compliance aggravations for expatriate entrepreneurs with the new Global Intangible Low Tax Income (GILTI) regime. The international tax landscape has remained dynamic since and several new developments over the past year continue to have relevance for American expatriates. Fortunately, the changes since the TCJA have been overwhelmingly favourable and continue to signal an understanding of the burdens Americans living abroad have faced with respect to tax reporting back home. Importantly, several less prominent provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of March 27, 2020, may also have the potential to provide some assistance to American expatriates. And much of this assistance will lapse at the end of 2020. Additionally, while many business owners abroad were ineligible to take advantage of the CARES Act business provisions, recent changes to the GILTI regime create a new tool to efficiently manage this tax exposure. Finally, a new relief programme was launched for American owners of foreign retirement vehicles and certain savings arrangements that will eliminate a challenging annual tax reporting obligation.
The $1,200 Economic Impact Payments issued by US Treasury earlier this year provided much needed support to eligible members of the American expatriate community who had been impacted by the pandemic. In addition to the cash payments, several lesser-known elements of the CARES Act may also have the potential to help expatriates who have needed to tap into savings or have incurred losses from their business during the shutdown. Changes to Qualified Retirement Plan Access. During the 2020 calendar year, qualified individuals may access up to $100,000 from their US retirement accounts under preferential rules. The 10% penalty on early distributions is waived and income tax exposure can be spread across the year of distribution and the two following years. 10
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In order to qualify for this relief: 1. The taxpayer, a spouse, or dependent must have been diagnosed with COVID-19 by a test approved by the CDC; or 2. The taxpayer must have experienced adverse financial consequences as a result of: a. being unable to work due to lack of child care; b. being quarantined; c. being furloughed or laid off; d. having work hours reduced; or e. closing or reducing hours of a business due to COVID-19. These provisions also allow any qualified plan distributions to be returned to the arrangement within three years without adverse tax consequences. Any tax paid on distributions that had been included in income, but later recontributed back to the plan within the three-year window, can be reclaimed by filing an amended return requesting a refund. Note that while tax relief on such retirement distributions may be offered in the United States for eligible individuals, it will be important for American expatriates to determine how such a distribution would impact their UK tax exposure. The US-UK Income Tax Treaty does contain a provision that is designed to coordinate tax exemptions on pensions between the two countries; however, the exact language of the treaty may not be broad enough to encompass this specific treatment. Taxpayers living in the United Kingdom and claiming CARES Act-related retirement distributions will need to discuss UK tax implications of any distribution with their tax advisor.
Changes To Net Operating Loss (NOL) Rules
The TCJA changed the rules for personal NOLs, eliminating the two-year carryback provision and allowing for an unlimited carryforward. The new CARES Act unwinds the TCJA treatment for NOLs incurred in 2018, 2019, or 2020. The carryback mechanism has been reinstated and expanded to five years from the two-year provision in place prior to the TCJA. NOL planning may not create much opportunity for American expatriates who are using foreign tax credits or the foreign earned income exclusion to manage their
US tax exposure; however, if the move abroad has been recent, this may still be a very valuable option. If a loss is incurred following the move, it could potentially be carried back to a year when income was fully taxed in the United States. Of importance, when claiming the foreign earned income exclusion, expenses are disallowed to the extent attributable to excluded income. Taxpayers who have been claiming the foreign earned income exclusion may find that their net operating losses are reduced or eliminated by application of the exclusion. If the foreign earned income exclusion is revoked, it cannot be claimed again for five years without IRS consent. Additionally, the TCJA had created a cap on NOLs, limiting the amount that can be claimed in any year to 80% of adjusted gross income for the year the loss is applied. The CARES Act relief also removes this restriction, allowing NOLs applied in years prior to 2021 to offset 100% of income reported in a carryback or carryover year. Any losses carried over beyond the 2020 tax year will be subject to the TCJA 80% limitation.
New Rules for Charitable Contributions
For 2020, Taxpayers who will be itemising deductions are permitted to deduct charitable contributions up to 100% of their income, instead of the 60% limitation that would have otherwise applied. Taxpayers who do not itemise will be permitted to claim a deduction of up to $300 in addition to the standard deduction for contributions to certain public charities with their 2020 tax return. Typically, in order to claim a benefit for charitable contributions, Taxpayers must elect to itemise deductions, thus losing the standard deduction ($12,200 for single taxpayers in 2019).
Changes to the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion
Ordinarily, the foreign earned income exclusion will require that a taxpayer meet either the physical presence test, requiring 330-days of foreign presence during a 12-month period, or the bona fide residence test, which requires a full calendar year of presence in a foreign country along with strong connections. In Revenue Procedure 2020-27, the IRS indicated
TAX MATTERS that a waiver of these time requirements will be offered to individuals who left China after November 30, 2019 and before July 15, 2020, or any other foreign country after January 31, 2020 and before July 15, 2020. In order to qualify for this waiver, a taxpayer must establish that he or she reasonably expected to meet either the bona fide resident or physical presence test but for the COVID-19 emergency. Historically, the waiver of time requirements for the foreign earned income exclusion has been very narrowly applied; however, with travel restrictions still in place for Americans as of the date of this article, this policy will clearly be expanding.
High-Tax Exclusion For GILTI
The GILTI regime initiated by the TCJA added a challenging new compliance burden for American expatriate entrepreneurs. While various elections and planning strategies did allow for this incremental tax burden to be managed, the added costs of compliance and hassle were considerable. On July 20, 2020, final Treasur y regulations for the GILTI high-tax exclusion were adopted, now allowing Americans doing business in countries with a corporate tax rate that is at least 90% of the US corporate tax rate to avoid much of the compliance associated with this tax regime. Americans paying an effective rate of tax of at least 18.9% (90% of 21%) on the income from their corporate activities are eligible to make this election. Notably, the final regulations were decidedly more lenient than the initial version of the high-tax exclusion law proposed last year. The new regulations establish an option for retroactive relief and permit the election to be made on an annual basis. The high-tax exclusion rules are still complex and making the election will not be the best option for many US owners of limited companies abroad. Nevertheless, the simplicity in process of making the new election will be a breath of fresh air for expatriate entrepreneurs who have battled onerous reporting obligations in an attempt to mitigate past GILTI exposure.
Relief For Owners Of Certain Foreign Retirement And Savings Plans
Largely overshadowed by the CARES Act aid package, in March of 2020, the IRS issued Revenue Procedure 2020-17 establishing a new relief programme for American expatriates who had been forced to comply with complicated foreign grantor trust tax rules and annual reporting obligations after having opened retirement and other savings vehicles in their countries of residence. WWW.THEAMERICANHOUR.COM
American owners of common retirement vehicles organised outside the United States were obliged to submit annual foreign trust reporting documents on Forms 3520 and 3520-A, with many being penalised for reporting errors. Failure to file Form 3520 and 3520-A can result in a penalty equal to the greater of $10,000 or 5% of the value of the trust, in addition to a range of other penalties for various levels of inaction or noncompliance. This new programme eliminates the annual trust reporting obligations.
Finding a silver lining for 2020 is difficult. At least it can be said that current US tax policy is continuing to make steps towards easing the pain The exemption from reporting is reserved for trusts that meet the definition of a “taxfavoured foreign retirement trust” as follows: 1. The trust is established in a foreign country to operate exclusively or almost exclusively to provide pension or retirement benefits; 2. The trust is generally exempt from income tax or is “tax-favoured” under the laws of that trust’s jurisdiction. For this purpose, “tax-favoured” would include arrangements where contributions are taxed at a reduced rate, give rise to a credit, or produce a separate tax benefit, in addition to straight deductibility or exclusion. The plan must also provide that taxation of investment income earned by the trust be deferred until distribution or that the investment earnings are taxed at a reduced rate. 3. Annual information reporting with respect to the trust is provided to relevant tax authorities in the trust’s jurisdiction. 4. Only contributions with respect to income earned from the performance of personal services are permitted. 5. Contributions to the trust are limited by a percentage of earned income of the participant, an annual limit of $50,000, or are subject to a lifetime limit of $1,000,000. 6. Withdrawals, distributions, or payments from the trust are conditioned upon reaching a specified retirement age, disability or death, or penalties apply to withdrawals, distributions, or payments
made before such conditions are met. 7. For employer-maintained trusts, the trust must be nondiscriminatory, the trust actually provides significant benefits for a substantial majority of employees, and the benefits provided to employees are nondiscriminatory. American taxpayers with personal pensions in the United Kingdom have been forced to deal with a tremendous amount of uncertainty related to the annual reporting obligations for their accounts. The spirit of the law would seem to cover this type of arrangement, but eligibility of specific arrangements is unclear and there are certain nuances with personal pensions that could impact qualification. This relief from foreign trust reporting is also reserved for certain non-retirement vehicles established for a specific protected savings purpose. “tax-favoured foreign non-retirement trusts” will be exempt from foreign trust reporting if all the following requirements are met: 1. The trust is established to provide medical, disability, or educational benefits. 2. The trust is generally exempt from income tax or is otherwise “tax-favoured” under the laws of that foreign jurisdiction. 3. Annual information reporting with respect to the trust is provided to the relevant tax authorities in the trust’s jurisdiction. 4. Contributions to the trust are limited to $10,000 annually or $200,000 on a lifetime basis. Importantly, this new Revenue Procedure offers relief for taxpayers who have previously been assessed a penalty for not filing foreign trust reports for qualifying vehicles. Taxpayers who have been penalised for failure to file Form 3520 or 3520-A may request an abatement of penalties provided the statute of limitations has not expired. Finding a silver lining for 2020 is difficult. At least it can be said that current US tax policy is continuing to make steps towards easing the pain American expatriates have been experiencing since the difficult adoption of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). While the number of Americans choosing to relinquish their citizenship continues to increase, hopefully, those who do decide to keep their passports will face a US tax compliance burden that continues to evolve pragmatically. American Tax Partners is a US-based tax services company dedicated to providing expert global tax support for American Expatriates 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at amtaxpartners.com. WWW.AMERICANINBRITAIN.CO.UK
LEGAL ISSUES “When In Rome, Do As The Romans Do” Who knew in 1963, when the Sherman Brothers composed “It’s a Small World (after all)” for Walt Disney’s popular children’s attraction, that England’s rolling hills and quintessential pubs would soon become a misleading backdrop to just how cosmopolitan this country is? In an increasingly mobile world it is now a way of life to have friends, neighbours and colleagues of different nationalities who have settled here. Whether you are a Hollywood celebrity coming to Notting Hill, an adventurous Indiana Jones, entrepreneur, or an expatriate relocating for work or following your heart, an international move is always an exciting time. If you are moving to the United Kingdom you will no doubt have a list of interesting and exciting things to do when you get here. Knowing your legal position in relation to English law in areas such as your: • Tax status • Estate planning; and • Family matters is understandably unlikely to be top of your priorities when preoccupied by the big move and so many exciting new experiences. However, what happens if you: • Fall in love and get married whilst in the UK? • Fall ill whilst living here? • Go through a marriage breakdown? • Disagree about the children’s schooling? As they say, “when in Rome do as the Romans do”. Be ahead of the game and take local legal advice on your arrangements.
Owning UK Property
If you take to the British lifestyle you may wish to consider purchasing a UK property and putting down more permanent roots. You should always take advice on your arrangements to ensure that they meet your requirements. With a stable democratic political and financial system compared to many countries around the world, buying a property in the UK can be an attractive proposition. Even more so at this time in light of the relatively weak pound. There are a number of options for owning property and, although it is beyond the scope of this article to consider them all, advice should be sought on these options.
The UK offers a favourable tax regime for foreign nationals relocating to the UK. This is particularly advantageous for individuals 12
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who have non-UK source income and funds held outside of the UK. It is possible for you to choose to elect to pay tax on foreign income and gains only once it is remitted to the UK as opposed to on an arising basis which UK citizens are charged on. There is also opportunity to identify ‘clean capital’ before arriving in the UK. These funds can be remitted to the UK without charge. Advice should be obtained as soon as relocation is considered, as you will need to take action before your arrival in the UK otherwise the opportunity to identify clean capital may be lost on your arrival.
Estate Planning: Wills
Many people will already have a Will in their home country. • Will it be valid if you die whilst a UK resident? • Is your Will tax efficient? • Is it sufficient for your needs whilst living here? If a Will is validly executed in the country where it is made, it should be recognised and enforceable in the UK. However, if your Will is drafted in another language, the UK probate office will require a certified translation. If some of the estate planning language is different to that used in the UK, it can be more difficult to obtain grant of probate to deal with your UK assets. When you purchase UK property it is strongly recommended to cover this using a UK Will which can dovetail with your existing Will in your home country (and any other Wills in other countries) to prevent any delay. Having your current documentation checked can prevent problems. For example, many US citizens have a revocable or living trust. The trust should be reviewed to see how it is treated here. A trust holding UK assets is under the ‘relevant property regime’ – involving lifetime inheritance tax charges, an expensive trap for the unwary. It is best to take advice on these matters prior to arrival in the UK.
Lasting Powers Of Attorney (LPAs)
What happens if you become seriously ill or lose your ability to make decisions whilst a UK resident? Making a LPA enables you to choose who you trust to make decisions for you when you aren’t able to. There are two types: • A Property and Financial Affairs LPA, which gives your attorney(s) authority to
deal with your property and finances, as you specify • A Health and Welfare LPA, which allows your attorney(s) to make welfare and health care decisions on your behalf, but only when you lack mental capacity to do so yourself. You can also decide whether you want them to be able to give or refuse consent to life sustaining treatment. An attorney ‘steps into your shoes’ and makes decisions on your behalf. It ensures that if you or your spouse fall ill whilst here, your chosen attorney can make decisions for you avoiding a costly, time consuming and stressful Court application.
In the event of you marrying, or your relationship breaking down as you adapt to your new lives, there will be additional legal issues to deal with. Any husband or wife with international connections should take legal advice from a solicitor who specialises in international family law.
These provide how assets are shared between a couple if they divorce. They are common and binding in many countries. This is not the case here, although their status has increased considerably in recent years. For couples who wish to have a prenuptial agreement, current guidance is that each seeks independent legal advice as to what would be a fair and reasonable provision on divorce. It is prudent to include a review clause in the event of children arriving. Full details of your respective wealth must be provided and any agreement signed well ahead of the wedding. Providing these guidelines are followed, a prenuptial agreement can potentially carry considerable weight in divorce proceedings considered by the Court. Alternatively, it is possible to enter a post-nuptial agreement at any point after your marriage.
In the unfortunate situation where your marriage has “irretrievably broken down”, then it is important that you seek legal advice about where you can start divorce proceedings urgently if there are other countries that either of you have connections with. The English Courts’ approach to divorce and family law will differ to that of other
LEGAL ISSUES countries. The choice of country can have a huge impact on the outcome of financial arrangements. If there is an English divorce then the English Court will only apply English law and consider all of your worldwide assets. The English Courts are well known for being financially generous to wives.
If you are unable to agree about your children living here, an application can be made to the English Court. The Court will base its decision on what is in the best interests of the children taking into account their ascertainable wishes and feelings, their physical, emotional and educational needs, any likely effect on them of a change in their circumstances, any harm which they have suffered or are at risk of suffering, and how capable each of their parents are of meeting their needs. It is crucial that you either obtain consent from the other parent to return home (or stay longer here, if they have returned first), or obtain a Court order. Failure to do so could see you inadvertently committing child abduction which is a criminal and civil offence. In the event you think an abduction has taken place, then you must take prompt legal advice from a family solicitor.
Julie Man is a partner in the private client team at RussellCooke. She advises on the full spectrum of private client matters including Wills, lifetime tax planning, succession planning, trusts and estate administration. She has substantial experience representing international clients on cross-border issues, and has a strong background in the elderly care space where she assists with care home fee planning, Lasting Powers Of Attorney and Court of Protection applications. Recognised as a full STEP member and a fully-accredited member of Solicitors for the Elderly, Julie is noted in the legal directory Chambers High Net Worth (2020) for her “effective approach which allows her to engage well with clients and create an easy rapport building trust and confidence rapidly”.
Miranda Green is a partner in the family team at RussellCooke. Her expertise covers the full gamut of family law matters with a particular focus on financial settlements especially those involving international issues, pre and post-nuptial agreements and private children issues arising from divorces. Of ten working with high net worth individuals, her experience in cohabitation, family-run businesses and Inheritance Act claims also distinguishes Miranda as a true family law specialist. A s a n a c c re d i t e d Re s o l u t i o n Specialist, a trained collaborative lawyer and a longstanding member of Resolution’s International Committee since 2003, Miranda has garnered impressive reviews in both Chambers UK and The Legal 500.
VOTE FROM ABROAD US Citizens Living Overseas? Vote From Abroad In 2020! HOW TO VOTE IN 2020: WILL MY BALLOT ARRIVE IN TIME TO BE COUNTED? US citizens abroad have been hearing about severe postal mail delays, both to and within the United States. As overseas citizens only get their ballots 45 days before the general election, and air mail has been taking that long in some states, what can citizens do to ensure that our ballots will arrive in time? The answer: make a plan now! 1. Make sure you have requested your ballot this year. Even if already registered, overseas citizens should request their ballots every calendar year they want to vote. Go to www.votefromabroad.org to fill out the one page form. Choose to receive your blank ballot by email, because you’ll get it faster. Then, make sure to check that your state election official received your form. 2. Find out how you can submit your voted ballot. For the most up-to-date info, go to www.votefromabroad.org/states. Most states allow some form of electronic submission: email, web portal and/or fax - but 19 states require ballots be mailed. Check what methods your state allows - and be aware that rules are changing! Some states that previously allowed only postal mail ballots have recently changed their rules to allow electronic ballot submission including IA, MO and RI.
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3A. If you do have electronic ballot submission options, take advantage of them. Check for your blank ballot in your inbox on September 19, and return it right away! For more information, go to: https://www. votefromabroad.org/faqs/22. Most states allow you to track your ballot, or you can email your election official to confirm it was received and accepted: votefromabroad.org/ states - scroll to to ‘Where is my ballot?’. 3B. If you must return your voted ballot by postal mail, you can vote today using a Federal Write In Absentee ballot, or FWAB. This is a special back-up ballot for overseas voters. For complete instructions, go to votefromabroad.org/fwab.
The answer: make a plan now! If you vote by FWAB, you should still check your inbox for your state ballot on September 19 and mail it in too. This is NOT voting twice! If both your FWAB and your
state ballot arrive in time to be counted, your election official will discard the FWAB and count only the state ballot. Why send in the state ballot too? Voters make fewer errors on official state ballots, they are easier for election offices to process, and some states will only allow you to use the FWAB to vote for federal offices (President, US Senate and US House) - so if you vote in state and local elections, you may only be able to do so on the state ballot. Remember: Election officials are going to be coping with record numbers of absentee ballots this year. Make your voting plan now, vote by the fastest method your state allows, and vote early. Questions? - Mail to: email@example.com Follow votefromabroad on FB and Insta, and @vfaglobal on Twitter for nonpartisan information and voting updates. US Citizen living overseas? Vote from Abroad in 2020! https://votefromabroad.org Instagram: votefromabroad; students. votefromabroad Twitter:@vfaglobal Facebook:@VotefromAbroad
TRAVEL Postcards from Puglia
Judith Schrut Sends Greetings From Italy’s Sunny ‘Deep South’
Antonella’s Pasticciotto Lecce, photo Judith Schrut
Pedals in Puglia, photo copyright Antonello Naddeo
Puglia, famously known as the heel in Italy’s beauteous boot, can be summed up in three words: past, present and Primitivo. Just add pasta, panini and prosciutto, and you’ve pretty much got the ingredients of this wonderful place. There are a great many reasons you might want to spend a week or two exploring and enjoying this unique, unspoilt region, and they all involve pleasuring your senses. There’s the impossibly pretty scenery, small towns full of charm and history which dot the hillsides, and ancient seaside villages which line the rugged coastline. A near-perfect climate produces the region’s fabled food and wine. which might be described as out of this world yet down to earth. Local cheeses like burrata and smoked meats like spicy capocollo, rich red wines from Primitivo and Negroamaro grapes, superb seafood and shellfish from the morning catch, stretched orecchiette ‘little ears’- and other pastificious treats, and wow-factor gelato, make Puglia a no-contest foodie paradise. And if you like being close to nature, exercising in clean air, generous, welcoming local hospitality, waking to the smell of freshly baked breakfast cakes and the world’s best coffee, this region is definitely for you. At time of writing there seems an added bonus: this distant part of Italy appears sheltered from the worst of the pandemic, with relatively few Covid-19 cases to date. WWW.THEAMERICANHOUR.COM
Marino the Panini King of Noci and wife Anna
The perfect place to begin our holiday in the heel, and less than an hour’s drive from Bari airport, with direct flights from the UK, is the legendary city of Matera. Matera is actually one of the oldest cities on earth, inhabited for over 9,000 years. It’s a place of infinite beauty and picture postcard views, prehistoric cave houses car ved into limestone rock, meandering streets and narrow alleyways. This is where Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, and Richard Gere’s King David were filmed, because of its astonishing likeness to Jerusalem. And it’s probably the most stunning European city you’ve never heard of. En route to being named 2019’s European Capital of Culture, Matera underwent an incredible transformation. The city’s aged heart, the Sassi, has been lovingly cleaned and polished whilst losing none of its charms. Many of its cave houses have been reborn as 21st century bars, hotels and restaurants. This includes tonight’s joyful dinner destination, Ristorante Soul Kitchen, a tastefully restored cave eaterie run by charismatic brothers Pietro and Mimmo and serving a daily changing menu sourced from local farmer’s markets. Four courses and a bottle of Aglianico del Vulture later, we’re not quite legless and just in time for a guided tour of Matera by night. As evening falls the city becomes an illuminated
Yours Trulli, Alberobello, photo Judith Schrut
Along the Adriatic, photo Judith Schrut
fairy tale. As a canopy of lights covers the panoramic old town with its timeworn buildings clinging to the cliffside, we retire to our cave-hotel, Corte San Pietro.
Yours Trulli, Alberobello
The trulli of Alberobello: you’ve probably seen them loads of times – in adverts for romantic getaways, stylish snaps on WWW.AMERICANINBRITAIN.CO.UK
Instagram and front covers of Italian travel guides. But there’s a perfectly good reason why that’s so. For the extraordinary UNESCO World Heritage town of Alberobello is truly, or should I say trulli, an enchanted place. To get the most out of this magic, we’re spending a few nights in a traditional beehive-shaped trullo cottage in the exquisite Rione Aia Piccola area. For the uninitiated, a trullo (plural: trulli) is a whitewashed drystone hut with a conical roof, found only in Puglia’s Itria Valley. Alberobello is filled with hundreds of trulli, built many years ago as simple shelters for farmers and shepherds. Here they lived, in one round, domed room, along with spouses, children and animals. Nowadays, many trulli have been turned into smart but reasonably priced holiday accommodation. We were overjoyed with our cosy trullo, complete with underfloor heating, kitchenette, luxury bathroom and comfy alcove bed.
Apart from its unique’ trulliness’, one of the best things about Alberobello is its proximity to many other wondrous sights to see and things to do Apart from its unique’ trulliness’, one of the best things about Alberobello is its proximity to many other wondrous sights to see and things to do. For us that includes a visit to the ancient olive orchards at Masseria Brancata to sample ‘liquid gold’ from its 3000 year old trees, tasting organic Puglian wines at Amastuola vineyards and DIY mozzarella cheesemaking with Giorgio ‘Big George’ Spalluti, at Itria Bontà dairy farm. For Burrata cheesemaking with ‘Big George’, Itria Bonta, photo Judith Schrut
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refreshment, there’s a four-course sandwich lunch at Noci’s legendary Il Panino di Marino and a four-course dinner from the kitchen gardens of Trattoria Terra Madre. Ideal for children, and children-at-heart, are the ‘Meriviglia di Puglia’, the magnificent underground caves at Castellana. With the price of admission comes an expert 3km guided tour (in English), taking you past crystallised curtains, canopies and needles, down to the grotto’s deepest reach, the spectacular White Cave.
Whether you’re an Easy Rider, Whizz-Bang Wheeler or Velo Virgin, I truly believe the best way to explore Italy is by bike. And joy of joys, that’s how we’re spending the next part of our hiatus in the heel. That’s thanks to the amazing folks at Puglia Cycle Tours of whom I am an unabashed fan. I’ve toured with them before and wouldn’t bike Puglia with anyone else. Their guided and self-guided routes are well organised and supported, your luggage is transported between stops, and their lovely staff have a knack of making you feel part of a cuddly Puglian family for however long you’re visiting. (Don’t take my word for it; feedback on social media says it all). Cyclist-in-chief Giovanni excitedly tells our assembled group about the fabulous hills on today’s tour, so I’m thrilled to be kitted out with an Atala B-easy E-bike. However, if you’re reasonably fit, you’ll do just fine with the excellent standard bicycles provided. Our route follows the splendid Ciclovia dell’Acquedotto Pugliese – the Apulian Aqueduct Cycle Route. A joint project of Bicitalia and Puglian Regional Transport, the route literally lets you cycle and walk on water, the first stretch of a 500 km path over the ‘hidden river’ of Europe’s oldest and biggest aqueduct. The route is completely devoid of road traffic and surrounded by a majestic mix of natural beauty and manmade wonders: wooded canyons and lush valleys, farmland and vineyards, perched villages and a multitude of trulli. The shimmering blue Adriatic is always with us, just over there on the horizon. Simply put, this is slow tourism at its very best. There are plenty of diversions and photo-ops along the way. We stop to pet horses, watch wild rabbits, smell cabbages Sunset, Puglia, photo Judith Schrut
growing by the roadside and rest in the shade of trulli. There’s an espresso pause in scenic Cisternino and a long, lazy lunch in Locorotondo. Known for its distinctive circular shape and spectacular hilltop position with 360 degree views of the surrounding countryside, picturesque lanes and storied white wines, Locorotondo is considered one of Italy’s most beautiful villages. Our final kilometre is a glorious downhill ride to Ostuni, Puglia’s famed ‘white city’, we’re just in time for sunset and twilight aperitivo and wine-tasting on Ostuni’s panoramic walled terrace, hosted by the friendly folk at Walking Wine.
Our final kilometre is a glorious downhill ride to Ostuni, Puglia’s famed ‘white city’, we’re just in time for sunset and twilight aperitivo and wine-tasting on Ostuni’s panoramic walled terrace, hosted by the friendly folk at Walking Wine Speciality of the House, Ristorante Il Guazzetto, Monopoli
Andiamo All’adriatico! (To The Adriatic)
All great holidays must come to an end, and so too must our glorious gambol down the heel of Italy’s boot. We’ve wisely chosen to spend our last few precious days cosying up to Puglia’s Adriatic coast. This gives us the chance to see the renowned cliff-perched village of Polignano a Mare, with its wandering alleyways, hanging balconies and sea caves, memorable gelato from Gusta Caruso and superfresh fish paninis from Pescaria, to explore the nature reserves, golden beaches and rugged coastal paths of Salento, take a dip in the natural pools at La Grotta della Poesia (the Poetry Cave) and gasp at the crystalline waters surrounding the sea stacks of Sant’Andrea. It means an afternoon in the baroque jewel of Lecce and a final night in the port of Monopoli. With its characterful harbour and historic town centre, Monopoli is a dream come true if you like waking to the sounds of gulls and fishing boats instead of road traffic. It’s also a fine place to sample outstanding, just-off-the-boat, seafood. For such a small and unpretentious town, Monopoli punches way above its waistline, with more than 285 eateries listed on Trip Advisor.
With its characterful harbour and historic town centre, Monopoli is a dream come true if you like waking to the sounds of gulls and fishing boats instead of road traffic. It’s also a fine place to sample outstanding, justoff-the-boat, seafood
The mere thought of Puglian cuisine makes us ravenous and in need of another four-course banquet. The chef at Monopoli’s Il Guazzetto does not disappoint. Our long communal table heaves with start-platters of octopus and branzino carpaccio, mussels in olive oil, garlic, parsley, marinated anchovies and salmon. This is followed by an enormous platter of seafood calamarata pasta, assorted grilled fish and vegetables, fish soup and a tugload of Bianco Locorotondo from Il Guazzetto’s excellent, easy-priced wine list, with dolci and housemade liqueurs still to come. Just as well we’re staying at nearby Hotel Indelli Palazzo, a boutique hotel overlooking the attractive town square, although Monopoli has plenty of equally comfy options. If you’re on a tight budget or just keen to support a worthy local project, check out the studios, apartments and other beautifully renovated properties run by the Albergo Diffuso Cooperative. Judith travelled to Puglia and Basilicata as a guest of Puglia Cycle Tours and Puglia Promozione. For further information please visit: www.pugliacycletours.com and www.agenziapugliapromozione.it.
THEATRE Lydia Parker Interviews Harry Shearer About His New Songs And Much More Harry Shearer
Harry Shearer is best known as an actor and musician, having starred in ‘This is Spinal Tap’, ‘A Mighty Wind’ and ‘For Your Consideration’, amongst many other films, and as the voices of Mr Burns, Smithers, Ned Flanders and over twenty other characters on ‘The Simpsons’. He is a documentary maker (The Big Uneasy), a multimedia artist and a political satirist, with Grammy nominations for his albums ‘Songs Pointed’ and ‘Pointless’ and ‘Songs of the Bushmen’. He is also host of his own radio programme, ‘Le Show’, which has been running in one form or another since 1983 on public radio stations and as a podcast. His latest satirical songs, ‘The Many Moods of Donald Trump’, are being released once a week and include a hilarious video of his song ‘Son in Law’, with Shearer as Trump, created through motion capture technology. The Many Moods of Donald Trump is going to be an album, with songs released one at a time each week until the US election. What was your inspiration for doing a Trump song cycle, so to speak? I do a radio show in the States, Le Show, and it’s on in London as well, on Soho Radio London. It’s a weekly show, and I make fun of the news, so obviously I’ve been writing a lot of both sketches and songs about this guy. The radio versions are kind of like demos and so I went into the studio with my friend and producer, CJ Vanston, and we made proper 18
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recordings of them. And almost all of them are sung in the voice of Donald Trump. So I thought, “I’ve got to make a video or two, and I want them to look like it’s Donald Trump singing”. I’ve had some experience with motion capture animation. I was in Australia with my wife in mid-March, and just before they closed the borders I happened to meet a guy who has a visual effects studio down there, Matt Hermans. So then I came back to the United States, shot my performance here and, Covid-style, was Skyping with the studio down in Sydney every few days. We’re just in the process of doing the second video now, so it turned out to be more fun than I would have expected to work this way. Son in Law has a very catchy tune which got completely stuck in my head! Which song will be in your second video? The second one is called “Executive Time”. Trump’s daily scheduling includes huge gobs of time, hours in a in a block called “Executive Time”. No further explanation available, so one is free to speculate on what he’s doing during that time. He clearly watches a lot of TV because he’s always referring to it. So that’s part of what I imagine that he’s doing during Executive Time, is communing with his pals on Fox News. What has it been like getting into Trump’s mindset? There are many weeks where I’m proud to say that I’ve never mentioned his name in an hour of my radio show. But there are weeks when it’s demanded of me. I had to get into the mind of another similar character, Richard Nixon. I did a series for Sky TV on the verbatim conversations in the Nixon White House tapes. But there are differences between them. One, Richard Nixon, no matter how “out there” he was, still abided by the then-failing American tradition that you had to dress it all up with a façade of dignity. If you listen to the tapes, he’s absolutely as whacked out and as racist and unpleasant as Trump. It’s just he did it in private and believed you had to hide that from the public. And Trump, I think uniquely, has no sense of shame. You’d think “Why would a guy who sort of revels in this semi-fraudulent state of being the richest man anybody knows…so successful he’s only had eight bankruptcies, why would that resonate with his voting base?”. And I think it’s because his resentments, his grievances are always on his mind. He’s on a loop about that stuff. He can’t
keep it to himself. And strangely I don’t think this was a strategy. That’s what resonated with people, is that sense of grievance. They had been poorly dealt with in the recovery from the Great Recession and this guy had a grievance as strong as theirs. The other difference is that Trump grew up with one of the worst fathers. My song “Very Stable Genius” is after a phrase he’s used about himself several times. And if you let it sit with you for a while and not just slide past you, you realise every word of that phrase is defensive. As if he’s replying to a father who says, “He’s a stupid and worthless piece of crap, and crazy to boot”. “No, I’m not stupid, I’m a genius. I’m not crazy, I’m stable. I’m not just occasionally stable, I’m very stable“. You know, it’s like, there’s a conversation going on there, you just hear one side. Each song is so different stylistically. With “Covid 180” I definitely picked up on the 1980’s disco, Studio 54 reference, as that was Trump’s hangout then. What was your inspiration musically for the other songs? “Stormy Daniels” is sort of a torch song, so it felt like it needed to be kind of melancholy. We know nothing about Trump’s musical tastes, I just looked at the chronology of his life and tried to keep my choices, stylistically, within the confines of what he might have been exposed to. “Very Stable Genius” is one of my favourites because it really sounds like Trump could have written it. If I just close my eyes and listen to it I can start imagining Trump as this crooner or lounge singer, singing his greatest hits. That’s a picture I’d like you to cherish. I’m trying to write from inside Trump, so that song contains what I consider a sort of signal in terms of mixing up Da Vinci with The Da Vinci Code. “Son in Law” was inspired by a hit song in the 60’s, recorded in New Orleans, sung by Ernie K-Doe, called “Mother in Law”. And it’s the only song on my record that was recorded in New Orleans because it needed New Orleans musicians on it. It needed “the sauce”. These are guys who didn’t have to be told how this song sounded or how to play it. It’s in your bones if you’re from there. This one was recorded before Covid, just before Mardi Gras. And then my producer, CJ, was getting other instrumentalists in after Covid struck, socially distanced and solo. So, the record was built that way.
THEATRE Obviously your musical influences are varied, but what is your favourite music? What’s inspired you along the way? It’s so varied. My Dad trained to be an operatic tenor, so I was really heavily exposed to classical music as a kid. And I took classical piano as well, for eight years. I was the one kid in school who didn’t like rock ’n roll. I was humming the Frank Sinatra, Nelson Riddle records in my head as I walked through the hallways in high school. And then rock ’n roll came and smote me when the Beatles played that chord, the start of “Hard Day’s Night”. I discovered Brazilian music pretty early on and fell in love with it. I’ve always been listening to jazz and later bluegrass. And then of course, the huge, diverse pile that is New Orleans music. And because my wife is a musician, there’s always music around, and she has a lot of the same influences as I do. Your wife, Judith Owen, is Welsh. Do you live part of the time in the UK, or do you visit? We’d come over to London about three or four times a year, we have a place there. Judith, being British and having grown up in London, always yearned for a foothold in London. We do spend a huge amount of time in New Orleans. That’s really our home. And then we also have a place in LA, which is where we are right now. With everything else that you’re doing, how do you find the time to come up with an hour-long radio show every week? Every week I think, “This is stupid, I shouldn’t be doing this”. And then I feel the pull to do it. It’s partly because I have a trepidation about taking any time off from it. Time slots are a really precious thing in radio. And if you give it up you’re probably not going to get it back. Now, of course, it’s so ridiculously easy to have self- expression and public exposure, thanks to all the digital tools, YouTube and all the rest. But starting when I started, it was really the one place I could be that I could have my little space to create and think up new characters and write, every week. But it’s totally my baby. That’s really why I keep doing it, because I don’t have to ask anybody permission to do anything. I think of stuff, I do it, it’s done. It’s aired. Next. You’re an actor and a musician, a satirist, you’re an artist, you’re a writer. Is there anything that you haven’t done that you would like to do? I have this film which is something I haven’t done. I did one really low budget little comedy film. This is a middle low budget musical comedy with a political theme. Aside from that, I mean, I have never done anything on ice. I think that would be fun. Spinal Tap on Ice, for instance. Yeah. I try to get stuff done that I want to do. I did a solo project with Derek Smalls a couple of years ago. And we did a live concert WWW.THEAMERICANHOUR.COM
tour and shot it, the concert video will be out very soon. Because of the world of music he exists in, it was preposterously pretentious and bombastically huge. So, we couldn’t do it a lot, but I definitely wanted to do it a few times. I think the Trump songs will go down a treat in the UK not only for the Americans here, but because British people are so invested in American politics. Two years ago there were massive anti-Trump protests in the UK, but he also has his keen supporters here. Trump’s personality just has an effect on people, worldwide. He’s a uniquely American type. You have to go back to somebody like PT Barnum to get his ilk. I think, in essence, the best way to understand him is he’s, at base, a salesman, that was his big skill. He sold his own wine, he sold his own steaks, he’d slap his name on everything. It’s fun to go back and look at his commercials for Trump Steaks because they’re exactly the kind of, as he himself used to say when he had a larger vocabulary, “harmless hyperbole”. His euphemism for lying in those days. If you watched him when he was nothing more than a blowhard New York Real Estate guy, all the behaviours were present then that are present now. I don’t know if you know this, but, in the 90’s, he would call up the tabloid newspapers in New York, pretending to be his
own press agent, dropping tips like “Marla Maples said it was the best sex she’s ever had”. And they knew it was him. And they printed it anyway. And that’s the dance. He’s wooed the media ever since. They can’t help themselves and he knows it. Cause his modus operandi is “Made you look!”. And now we have an election coming up. My personal thought is that Americans, except for, you know, a rather self-selected few, don’t really like to pay all that much attention to politics every day. I think the American kind of preference would be “We vote, and then you go and do what you’re supposed to do, and leave me alone for a while”. And Trump has upended that norm as well, demanding public attention every day. I wouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t something called “Trump Fatigue”, where you just don’t want to hear about this stuff every day anymore. The Many Moods of Donald Trump will be released in October. For more details and to listen to his radio programme, Le Show, have a look at Harry Shearer’s website www.harryshearer.com. You can also tune into his YouTube channel for weekly releases of his songs and videos: www.youtube.com/channel/ UCaHPn0mmPSZ7kqahq5Jw9iQ. WWW.AMERICANINBRITAIN.CO.UK
DAYS OUT WITH THE FAMILY Thames Rockets For thrill seekers who enjoy sight-seeing with a difference, Thames Rockets may well be what you are looking for. Located just under the London Eye, these speed boats that comfortably seat up to 12 people are a great fun way of sight-seeing from the Thames, combined with a fabulous 20 minute speedboat ride that the entire family will enjoy. Unfortunately for our family, we chose the wettest day in what has been an incredibly hot summer, but even the pouring rain couldn’t dampen our spirits! Following our safety briefing and once our life jackets were fitted, we climbed aboard our vessel where the seating is in pairs, all with bars in front to grip on tightly to once the speed is increased. The Thames has restricted speed limits within the centre of London, so our journey started sedately, cruising past Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, where Isobel, our tour guide, regaled us with stories and facts of these famous London landmarks, including the fact that it is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament, but if you did, you would be entitled to a State Funeral despite breaking the law! 20
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The journey continues past many of London’s most iconic sights, but for some reason they all look different when you view them from the water, and you realise just how much history London has. You pass by Somerset House (universally disliked as it houses part of the Inland Revenue!), the Globe, the Oxo Tower, HMS Belfast, the Ministry of Defence, and the Anchor (the oldest pub in London). There are many bridges crossing over the Thames, but none compare to the majesty of Tower Bridge. This is a bascule and suspension bridge which opened in 1894, and on our trip we were lucky enough to see it open as well as closed. London is a city of contrasts, and this is no better shown from the water when just opposite the Tower of London (dating back to 1066) is the ultra-modern City Hall building and the newly pedestrianised Southbank, with its restaurants and glass dominated offices (dating to late 2002). Once you head past Tower Bridge the river’s speed limit is relaxed, although we wisely waited until we just passed the police station a little further up, and our driver opened up the custom 880 HP engines and we were off on a thrilling (and
very bumpy that day) ride. The music is turned on (spanning all the decades so something for everyone) and the engines revved, and off you go! We hadn’t told Emily and Hamish (aged 18) that this was going to happen, and they were thrilled, and soon singing along whilst I was heard myself letting out the odd squeal! Rocketing past Canary Wharf and the O2, twisting and turning to maximise the excitement is exhilarating, and the rain just added to the experience. Thames Rockets have held the Number 1 spot in their category on TripAdvisor for over 10 years – and your safety is always their priority, with your enjoyment a very close second. Thames Rocket trips are a great mixture of education and thrill, and are perfect for all ages and all weathers, and I can see why they are rated so highly, as they are a great way to spend about an hour whilst visiting London. Try it, you will probably like it more than your kids do! Prices are £44.95 for adults and £39.95 for children, although at the time we travelled a few offers post-COVID were on offer, so please check out Thames Rockets website: www.thamesrockets.com.
ARTS & ANTIQUES
KIMONO images courtesy V&A Press. Outer-kimono for a young woman. Probably Kyoto, 1800-1830. Image Courtesy of the Joshibi Art Museum.
ARTS & ANTIQUES Learning To Love Virtual Exhibitions - 2020 By Abby Cronin When the lockdown began in mid-March this year, many of us suddenly woke up to a stay-at-home routine and lifestyle. Our daily habits changed overnight. Any plan for stepping out into town to visit that blockbuster exhibition, Picasso and Paper, at the Royal Academy was put ‘on hold’. If you were planning to attend the June Art & Antiques Fair at Olympia London, unfortunately it was postponed due to Government guidelines following COVID-19. But don’t despair. There is a wealth of virtual art and antiques out there
to satisfy your taste and curiosity. Go online in the comfort of your home. Check out the Art & Antiques Olympia website and take their virtual tour. Meet the galleries remotely. Still interested? Then you’ll have to wait to see if dates for the November 2020 Winter Olympia Fair will go ahead. While you wait for museums, galleries, fairs and auctions to open up, when they do, new visiting conditions will mean more regimented visits. Everyone will need to book ahead, ensure social distancing on site and wear a mask. But if you’re someone who is cautious
about travelling during lockdown, why not just be there online? It seems that virtual exhibitions are 2020’s ‘new normal’. An early victim of the lockdown was the Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk show at the Victoria and Albert museum. Originally scheduled to open in February 2020, it had to close when the V&A shut down in March. But now there is good news! This brilliant exhibition has reopened. And a wealth of information about it is accessible online. In keeping with the V&A’s recent showstopping fashion exhibits - notably Dior, Mary Quant and McQueen, this is truly an exceptional show. For starters you will learn that Kimono, a term first adopted in the mid19th century Japan, simply means “the thing to wear”. It describes a classic Japanese garment. A Kimono is a simple, straightseamed piece of fabric that is worn wrapped left side over right and secured with a sash called an obi. The exhibit charts the evolution of the kimono from its origins in the 1660s to present day. It features kimonos as dynamic and evolving garments both in Japan and the rest of the world. Before the museum closed its doors in March, the V&A made a series of five films of the Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk exhibition. You can view the films on YouTube (Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk) and enjoy learning about Kimono with the curator Anna Jackson. WWW.AMERICANINBRITAIN.CO.UK
Men’s Kimono photo by Abby Cronin
She takes us through the different galleries and explains the history of kimono and its iconic status in Japanese culture. Over 315 works are featured in this truly remarkable exhibition. Kimono is, Jackson tells us, essentially a unisex garment worn by men, women and children. Until now the V&A fashion exhibits have focused on western designers, but here we learn how the kimono has influenced global fashions. Look out for a new wave of design in contemporary kimono fashion. There are several original examples, such as the kimono designed by maverick John Galliano, the garment worn by Alec Guinness as Obi-wan Kenobi in the Star Wars film and Bjork’s kimono by Alexander McQueen. Today Kimono has assumed an evolving status. Anna Jackson tells us: “From the sophisticated culture of 17th century Kyoto to the creativity of the contemporary catwalk, the kimono has been subject to local and global reinvention, earning it a fascinating place in the story of international fashion”. Museum and gallery virtual tours have mushroomed during the period of lockdown. So if you find yourself at loose ends on a rainy afternoon, take a cup of tea and relax in front of your computer. All you need to do is log on to any one of London’s numerous museums and gallery websites where you will find their videos and virtual tours. The Royal Academy of Art has several, and they all have first class production values. Archival material is often available. If you missed the remarkable Picasso and Paper exhibition before it closed with the lockdown and re-opened briefly in the summer months, you can still see it. Go online to the RA website. A comprehensive curatorial video tour of this exhibition is easy to access. Curator Ann Dumas escorts 22
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Kimono for export, probably Kyoto, Japan, 1905-15 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Museum and gallery virtual tours have mushroomed during the period of lockdown. So if you find yourself at loose ends on a rainy afternoon, take a cup of tea and relax in front of your computer viewers around the gallery and explains how Picasso innovated by tearing, sculpting, burning and collaging with any paper he came across. It’s a special treat - even if you were fortunate enough to visit this show in person. Stay online at the RA a little longer to view a documentary made in 1956: ‘Watch Picasso Make a Masterpiece’. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nxes8pyHkJc; www.facebook.comwatch/?v=1327743584084590 www.royalacademy.org.uk/search-results?q =Video+Picassso+and+Paper).
‘Design for a Kimono’ photo by Abby Cronin
While you’re on the RA website, go inside the exhibition: Gauguin and the Impressionists with curatorial narration. All of this is art literally at your fingertips. Stay online and head over to view the popular Andy Warhol exhibition on Tate Modern’s website. (www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/ tate-modern/exhibition/andy-warhol). Click on the Andy Warhol exhibition. Suddenly you are back in the heady and artistic 60s and 70s decades in New York City. Watch the excellent curatorial tour with Muir and Moran. They discuss Warhol through the lens of his immigrant story, his LGBTQI identity, and preoccupation with death and religion. Their narration unpacks the depth and complexity of Warhol’s subject matter and his innovative experiments with media. It’s a compelling view of Warhol’s flamboyant personal life. Warhol at Tate Modern closes on 15th November. Try to squeeze in a visit to see this retrospective. While there, don’t forget to admire his famous Cow Wallpaper featuring a fluorescent pink cow installed in the exhibition café on level 6. Today, the world of virtual exhibitions, galleries, fairs and auctions is literally global. But finding one that suits your taste may take quite a bit of surfing. Be patient. You need to try the virtual on, so to speak. Not everyone is keen to pursue their artistic tastes this way. One writer has described the virtual tour as a “grand term for these lonely digital ‘experiences’. So before clicking a link, ask: is the virtual exhibition designed as an introductory overview or an in-depth, focused one? Was it made for a museum, an independent gallery, auction house or is it essentially commercial advertising? A good example of a virtual introductory overview can be found on New York’s Metropolitan
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Andy Warhol Marilyn Diptych 1962 Tate Purchased 1980. © 2020 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. Licensed by DACS, London
Museum of Art’s website. www.metmuseum. org/. New visitors to the MET website are offered an almost hour long comprehensive journey through its galleries, with brief glimpses of different historic periods, paintings and objects. The tour includes comments from specialist curators and the museum director. It provides a virtual/visual map for first-time visitors. As a general overview it opens the MET’s door and puts out the welcome mat.
By contrast, smaller galleries, auctions and fairs may be more satisfying because they focus on specific artists, their biographies and show their work. A good example of a smaller private gallery is Eames Fine Art established in 2013 (www.eamesfineart.com). If the lockdown keeps you at home, enjoy surfing through their website where you will meet both established and contemporary artists. Their film archive is seriously informative – almost
a series of lectures in art history. Look out for their online auctions of works of art. The gallery is easily accessible on Bermondsey Street, SW1, near the SHARD. By contrast THE NET GALLERY (www.thenetgallery.com) uses state of the art technology which offers a virtual gallery experience and brings exhibitions to life. 3D exhibitions at The Net Gallery take you up close to the work using 3D scans. This fascinating technology is used by the Halcyon Gallery on Bond Street (www.halcyongallery. com/galleries/29-new-bond-street). Halcyon offers a virtual experience which takes you into the gallery where viewers can scan art in the different rooms. We love auctions and they can be global or local. Check out both high end (such as Sothebys, Christies) and low end like Criterion online listings in London. They have weekly sales (www. criterionauctioneers.com/auctions/). Whether you learn to love virtual exhibitions or not, when real life re-emerges, post lockdown, as art lovers we will again cherish that unique personal relationship with art, an experience which only comes when we engage with the work face to face. Do Get in Touch Contact: Abby Cronin Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: abbycronin.co.uk Photos Courtesy V&A Press Photo Men’s Kimono by Abby Cronin
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EDUCATION The Benefits Of Boarding For 21st Century Learners Boarding schools have a long, rich history in Britain; the concept is thought to have first originated in medieval times when boys were sent to be educated at a monastery or a noble household where a literate cleric was able to teach them. Over time the requirements for, and purpose of, boarding schools have of course changed dramatically, but what is the relevance of the long tradition of boarding in the modern world and what are the benefits for the modern day learner? With many boarding schools today, the reality is that they are extremely forward looking. No longer is the objective to simply facilitate a student’s academic progression through suitable, safe accommodation; the aim goes way beyond this - to develop the ‘whole’ child, giving them the best overall school experience possible. Boarding schools offer a unique sense of community for young people. Students are able to live, learn and grow among people of their own age, building life-long friendships and, particularly in international schools, they are able to interact and engage with other students from all over the world, building understanding, empathy, internationalmindedness and cultural awareness. Many boarders see their boarding house like one big family, and that’s exactly what it should be - a home away from home, with a diverse range of siblings, but also with dedicated House Parents to seek guidance and support from. The provisions in place for student wellbeing in modern boarding schools are truly unparalleled and light-years ahead of what I imagine they were in Medieval times. Rigorous support systems are in place 24 hours a day – whether it’s an academic or personal issue or question. Reserving time specifically to check in on teenagers’ mental wellbeing is enormously valuable, and, however reluctant they may appear, many will flourish with this additional support. On top of the sense of community and the advanced support, the activities boarders are able to take advantage of is really what makes boarding schools stand out from other educational settings. A rich boarding experience today must include a variety of fun and educational extra-curricular activities as an integral part of boarding life. Boarding students benefit from a wide range of activities outside of the classroom - this could include service and volunteering opportunities, cooking with friends in the boarding house, sports and performing arts clubs, or even trips to a local city or the countryside. These experiences - that WWW.THEAMERICANHOUR.COM
go far beyond the classroom walls - are so important for the development of modern day learners who are well-rounded, resilient and ready to thrive in the 21st century world. Of course, while the extra-curricular timetable is important, school is still school, and the key purpose of boarding is, as it has been for centuries, excellent education. For today’s boarders, the benefit of living amongst your peers as well as specialist boarding house professionals is that there is always someone to turn to for academic help. Boarding staff are required to work very closely with teachers to support and encourage each student to reach their potential, and extra help should always be available for those who need it. Boarding houses will also often provide plenty of quiet study spaces where students can work each evening with support close at hand. In a world of frequent change, modern day boarding schools can provide muchneeded flexibility for families. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many families and students who live in London or other busy cities, and usually commute to school each day, are now turning to boarding as an alternative option. While the world is still navigating this new normal, the need to avoid public transport, coupled with a greater appreciation for green space, means families are placing a renewed value on escaping from the busy city and enjoying the spacious, rural environment that boarding school campuses can provide. So, whether your child’s school is just down the road, or across the Atlantic, the modern boarding school offers a wide range of benefits. No longer is boarding
simply a necessity that ensures a student can continue their education - it’s a way of life that provides so much more than just an academic education. Barnaby Sandow, Head of School, ACS International School Cobham www.acs-schools.com/cobham email@example.com +44-(0)1932-867251
INTERIOR DESIGN From Chicago To London: Top Interior Design Duo, SKIN, Brings Their Boundary Pushing Style To The Capital For The First Time
When interior designer Lauren Lozano Ziol and graphic designer Michelle Jolas decided to join forces in 2016 to launch their Chicagobased lifestyle brand SKIN, the aim was to take interior design to a whole new level. Four years on, the pair have established themselves as one of Chicago’s top interior design brands, and they now have their sights set on a London launch later this year. With a design philosophy that stems from the belief that our surroundings have a profound impact on emotions and behaviour, SKIN aims to use design as a means of unveiling the many layers of a client’s personality to create a home that is truly theirs. While many find themselves still working at home for the foreseeable future, the idea that interiors can have a transformative effect on our wellbeing has never been more apposite. “We believe a beautiful space has the power to alter a person’s mood and wellbeing,” says Lauren, 26
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With a design philosophy that stems from the belief that our surroundings have a profound impact on emotions and behaviour
“now, more than ever, people want to be in a space that makes them feel uplifted and good design can be a means of unleashing people’s creativity and passion”. Lauren is considered one of Chicago’s top interior designers, while Michelle worked as a creative director for big ad agencies and more recently owned her own boutique agency before merging with Lauren. In bringing together their different skills and styles, the pair push each other out of their respective comfort zones, resulting in a classic yet edgy style defined by provocative combinations and use of the unexpected. Nowhere can this be seen more clearly than in their Breaking Trad project where SKIN was enlisted to decorate the recently renovated 1896 Lakeview home of April Bridgeman in Michigan. April called upon her friends at SKIN to make the house “comfortable and sophisticated, but also colourful and fun.” In answer to this, Lauren AD V ER T OR IAL
INTERIOR DESIGN broke with traditional colour schemes and styles, introducing her love of deep, dusky blues to the period property. “We flooded the original bones of this Lakeview mansion in Chicago with a striking and contemporary design, resulting in a traditional, yet modern elegance,” she comments. To balance the moody tones, SKIN used an eclectic mix of unexpected furnishings, wallpapers and vibrant art and photography, such as a Slim Aarons’ iconic image of a Palm Beach poolside party which hangs against the petrol blues of the living room. In the bedroom, SKIN selected a traditional Gracie wallpaper pattern and installed it as framed panels – complete with gold leaf bamboo frames – which established an unexpectedly exciting yet sophisticated colour scheme in the master suite. Meanwhile downstairs, an Osborne & Little wallpaper introduced a veritable butterfly garden to Bridgeman’s home office. “It’s bright and playful, but also strong and chic,” says Michelle, whose eye for graphic wallpaper designs is seen throughout any SKIN project. Indeed, the name SKIN was initially a play on Lauren and Michelle’s mutual love of wallpaper, but the duo quickly realised that it had many more meaningful connotations too, from digging below the surface to get to know and understand a client’s personality,
to the in-depth layering of colours, paints and style references that they apply to their projects. Getting under the skin of each client is essential – something that is set to be showcased in their forthcoming book, which looks at past projects and how interiors can have a transformative impact on someone’s life. As part of each project, Lauren and Michelle aim to educate their clients along the way on design, art and furniture while listening to their particular needs and vision. In this way, SKIN ensures that each space is as unique and diverse as the homeowners themselves.
SKIN ensures that each space is as unique and diverse as the homeowners themselves
As well as interior design projects with private residential clients, SKIN also works with developers and commercial and hospitality clients and offers design consultancy for smaller projects. As part of this aspect of the brand, they have recently announced a new venture, Trinity Luxury Group, which is poised to take on the ambitious task of transforming beautiful European châteaux into art-minded luxury hotels and creative havens. For now, SKIN is focusing their attention on bringing their avant-garde style to the UK. “We are so humbled to be able to work alongside the British design landscape and to find new inspirations and influences,” says Lauren, who has a longstanding connection with Europe, having previously studied at Oxford, and worked in Paris. “It’s exciting to be launching in London at this time,” she says, “there is a significant opportunity in the interior design market as many homeowners are taking this time to preoccupy themselves with refurbishing and reinvigorating their homes in time for winter.” To find out more about SKIN, visit skinyourworld.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an appointment.
AMERICAN EXPATRIATE CLUBS NEWS The Chiltern American Women’s Club (CAWC)
Now in our 33rd year, the Chiltern American Women’s Club (CAWC) continues to thrive in our Chilterns’ communities, offering social, cultural and philanthropic opportunities to our membership. We are a group of international women who call this area home, either temporarily or permanently. Our common goal is to share friendship, fun and philanthropy. While we certainly offer support, helping newly arrived expatriates and repatriates alike assimilate into life in the UK, we are also a women’s membership of British and international locals who seek to get the most out of living in this amazing area. In addition to monthly General Meetings (held in Buckinghamshire) and events like our annual Christmas party, May Tea Party and end-of-year celebration, CAWC members can enjoy special interest activities together. Activity groups are established and organised by members who are interested in pursuing their personal interests and hobbies with other CAWC members. Special Interest Activity Groups include like hiking/ walking, movies, book club, lunch bunch, sports (including tennis and golf), bible study, cooking, crafts and much more. In response to the situation with Coronavirus, meetings and activities continued over the summer but we adapted to allow a broad and exciting virtual platform wherever possible. We are currently
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adapting to the lifting of lockdown with a selection of activities in smaller groups as is appropriate following government guidance. We will still continue to build a fun and engaging monthly virtual calendar to ensure our membership stay connected and can benefit from inspiring and timely content during these unprecedented times, especially where people are still isolating but want to explore their interests with friends. Our philanthropic work is an important part of club life. Our annual charity Christmas Bazaars have raised over a quarter of million pounds for local charities. For the next two club years, CAWC International is proud to be supporting the Motor Neurone Association, www. mndassociation.org, registered in England (registered Charity no. 294354). This charity will specifically benefit from 100% of the proceeds from the 33rd Annual Charity Christmas Bazaar, which will be virtual this year. Last year our Christmas Bazaar raised £22,000 in support of the Community First Responders – South Bucks (registered Charity no. 1049778) through sales generated by our famous gift hampers, Texas Chili Café, American Bake Sale, 60+ Specialty Vendors, raffles and various other festive activities! In addition, special outings are arranged several times a year in the local and surrounding areas and are always well-attended. Recent past outings have included organised trips to Ascot, Stoke-on-Trent, Bletchley Park, and Highgate Cemetery to name a few.
By joining CAWC you will become part of an amazing group of women from all corners of the world (including those born and raised locally), from all walks of life, with all sorts of interests! Ever yone is welcome at CAWC International. To join in the fun and find out more, visit us at https://cawc.co.uk/ or on Facebook at CAWC International. You can also see what our club members are up to on Instagram at @cawc_international. We are always happy to welcome new members, so for more information please contact email@example.com.
AWBS - All Women Of Berkshire & Surrey
AWBS is a sisterhood of international and local women in the Berkshire and Surrey area, who come together to enhance their UK experience through fun and fulfilling volunteer-run activities. We have 300+ members, with 32+ activities per month, representing 46 countries. We offer cultural, social, sports, learning and networking enrichment. You may enjoy virtual live and recorded programme events to view from the comfort of your own home.
AMERICAN EXPATRIATE CLUBS NEWS Join us today, start making friends and upgrade your UK life! Come AWBS with us! To find out more about becoming a member of AWBS, visit our website or contact firstname.lastname@example.org who will be more than happy to help and answer any questions you may have. Our diversity makes us unique, but also brings us together!
American Women Lawyers in London â&#x20AC;&#x201C; AWLL
AWLL is an organisation of Londonbased women with ties to the American legal community. Our aim is to provide professional development support to members through educational events, networking and mentoring opportunities. AWLL has also partnered with several top companies to offer exclusive discounts and benefits to members.
The American Society in London
We have a new website and Facebook page! Visit awll.org.uk to learn about membership benefits, upcoming events and to join our group. For more information about AWLL, please visit our website at www.awll.org.uk or contact AWLL President Eryn Hanlon at eryn@awll. org.uk. You can also connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. We look forward to seeing you!
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 Honorary President and we are fortunate to have the generous support of the US Embassy. The intention of our founders
was to improve and cement relations between the citizens of our two countries, fostering mutual respect, understanding and affection. Membership is open to both US and UK citizens and draws heavily on the US expatriate community here in London. On September 4th, a small group of our members were very privileged to attend a Mayflower 400 celebration river cruise. Guests cruised upstream from Butler’s Wharf Pier to the Palace of Westminster where they witnessed the handing over of a celebratory scroll which was then carried aboard to Rotherhithe. The scroll will be delivered to the US House of Representatives later this fall. Since the start of lockdown we have also held numerous virtual events including two recent voter registration workshops hosted jointly with the US Embassy London. The latest seminar, held on September 9th, was particularly popular with some of our younger members who will be doing their civic duty and voting for the first time in November! Be a #ProudOverseasVoter and register to vote using the user-friendly Federal Voting Assistance Programme website www.fvap.gov. We look forward to resuming a full schedule of in person events as soon as restrictions on large social gatherings are lifted. In the meantime, please visit our website at www.americansocietyuk.com where you can find some beautiful photos of our past events and get a flavour of what is to come! To learn more about our events or to join the American Society please email email@example.com and follow us on Facebook @americansocietyinlondon, Instagram @americansocietyuk or Twitter @ASL1895.
KCWC is an organisation of international women who wish to enjoy everything London
has to offer. We provide over 30 activities, feature special events and our trademark General Meeting Speaker Series. These are meetings where our members convene to socialise and hear prominent leaders in their respective fields address a variety of topical issues as well as the questions of our wellinformed audience. Women of all ages are welcome to join KCWC. Our club includes international and British women, those new to London or longterm residents. A desire to experience the UK at its best links us all. We have something for everyone, day or night. Members may hear a lecture about art or history, visit a gallery, learn a language, exercise, share city or country walks with friends, or meet “After Six” for drinks, dinner, theatre and opera. KCWC also offers special discounts through our Member Benefit companies who generously tailor exclusive rates for our membership. And our members receive our magazine three times yearly. Please log into our easy to use striking new website www. kcwc.org.uk. There you will learn about our “38 year young” organisation and all we have for you to enjoy as a member. Our Autumn season is filled with interesting activities and events all conceived and organised with special attention paid to government guidelines for Covid-19 safety. Tuesday 15 September, we kick off our Speaker Series with a virtual visit to the podium when we welcome City Banker and Financier, Marisa Drew of Credit Suisse. One of Fortune Magazine’s “50 Most Powerful Women in International Business”, Ms. Drew understands the particular struggles women face having successfully risen in one of the most male dominated industries. Long an outspoken advocate for gender parity at international symposia, she will share some of her “lean-in” moments while introducing us to sustainable and impact investing - her specialist field attracting a new younger generation who
seek more purposeful responsible finance. Thursday 8 October, we convene at the Royal Geographic Society, One Kensington Gore, where we welcome back a favoured friend to KCWC, Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer. Lord Spencer returns to discuss his latest historical book “The White Ship” which he describes, with characteristic wit, as a cross between “Titanic and Game of Thrones – with a slice of Sliding Doors”! Signed copies of his work will be available for sale. Lord Spencer has authored seven non-fiction books as well as articles for The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and Vanity Fair. The steward of one of England’s most beloved stately homes, Althorp, Lord Spencer is the brother of the late Diana, Princess of Wales. Thursday 5 November, KCWC welcomes Kate Stephens, CEO of Smart Works. Catering to the disadvantaged, women in shelters or those who need a self-assurance boost and job-hunting skills, this charity uses mentoring and the transformative power of clothes to propel women back into the workplace. Smart Works is proud to have the Duchess of Sussex as their patron. We invite you to log into our website for information on the virtual visit in early December of author Francesca Cartier Brickell. She will speak from her grandfather Jean Jacques Cartier’s French home about her best-selling book on the Cartier dynasty and its transformative role in jewellery design. Signed copies of “The Cartiers: The Untold Story of the Family Behind the Jewellery Empire” will be available for advance sale. Again please log into our website www.kcwc.org.uk and learn all about our additional exciting events. Be it a lecture on the Bloomsbury Set or a Journey through 1920s Jazz Fashion and Social Revolution, you will find something for every interest. Join KCWC to experience friendship and the Best of London.
Helen Elliott & Ben Everson wish all our readers a very Happy Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Year and hope you all stay safe and well 30
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USEFUL CONTACTS EDUCATION - SCHOOLS TASIS THE AMERICAN SCHOOL IN ENGLAND Coldharbour Lane, Thorpe, Surrey TW20 8TE Contact: Sarah Travis Telephone: 01932 582316 Email: email@example.com Website www.tasisengland.org The educational pathways TASIS England offers to day (3-18) and boarding (13-18) students include a broad-based American 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 second-choice 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: 2-3 Conduit Street, Mayfair, London W1S 2XB Contact: Oliver Taylor Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone +44 (0)1932 590523 Website: www.mundays.co.uk 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.
PET SITTING SERVICE SECURE HOUSE PET SITTER 11c Compayne Gardens. West Hampstead, London NW6 3DG Telephone: UK Cell - 0776-837-4677 USA Toll Free: 1-866-290-0504 Contact: Winston Hayles Email: SecureSitter@hotmail.com Website: www.SecureSitter.com Adding colour and fun times to your pet’s lives in their own home whilst you are away. 32
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US TAX & FINANCIAL SERVICES 3 Harbour Exchange Square, London, E14 9GE Telephone: +44 20 7357 8220 Contact: Joni Trulock Email: email@example.com Website: ustaxfs.com Twitter: @ustaxfs With over 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.
AMERICAN TAX PARTNERS Website: Amtaxpartners.com Telephone: +44 330 808 7539 Contact: John Carlos Sabates Email: firstname.lastname@example.org American Tax Partners provides bespoke tax compliance services to American expats, US investors, and global entrepreneurs with US activities. The company offers transparent, flatrate pricing while delivering unique solutions that address the filing obligations you face as a global taxpayer. EXPAT LEGAL SERVICES GROUP Website: Expatlegal.com Telephone: 1.888.502.8579 Contact: Roland Sabates Email: email@example.com Expat Legal Services Group, with its background in international taxation, offers unique legal services for American expatriates and foreign nationals with financial interests in the United States. We leverage a suite of modern technology solutions that enable us to bring our international expertise directly to you no matter where in the world you might be living. FRANK HIRTH 236 Grays Inn Rd, Holborn, London WC1X 8HB Telephone: 020 7833 3500 Contact: Michael Lewis Email: Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.frankhirth.com Twitter: @Frank_Hirth With years of experience in helping owner managed businesses to expand overseas, as well as advising individuals on their personal tax needs, Frank Hirth has established itself as the leading US/UK tax compliance and consultancy provider. We focus on providing high quality tax advice and compliance services for those with the most complex needs. 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: Kader@taxandaccountinghub.com Contact: Kader Ameen, US Tax & ITIN/EIN Specialist Website: www.taxandaccountinghub.com Website: www.itincaa.com We are UK based American expatriate personal tax and ITIN (IRS approved CAA) specialist
WEALTH MANAGEMENT LGT VESTRA US LIMITED 14, Cornhill, London EC3V 3NR Telephone: +44 20 3207 8181 Contact: Paul Nixon, CEO Email: email@example.com Website: www.lgtvestra-us.com 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: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.masecoprivatewealth.com MASECO Private Wealth gives peace of mind by providing expert guidance to US families on how to simplify their cross-border 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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