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Eating Outï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ 3 Hotel Reviewï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ 8 Theatreï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½11 Education ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½14 Travel ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½16 Wealth Management ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½18 Tax Issues ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½21 UK Sports ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½23 Dentistry ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½26 Take Five ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½28 American Eye ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½32 A Letter From Scotland ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½34 Applying To University Via UCAS 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Paula Sides, photographed by Sussie Ahlburg
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Eating Out Restaurant Reviews The Cinnamon Club 30-32 Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3BU Telephone: 020 7222 2555 Maybe it’s just me, but when I heard about the Cinnamon Club I had visions of one of the many London Clubs that exist in our fair capital or a secret society like the ‘Riot Club’, rather than a fine dining Indian restaurant serving high quality dishes a stones throw from the Houses of Parliament, but a fine dining restaurant it is. The Cinnamon Club is the venture of Iqbal Wahab and executive chef Vivek Singh, with a vision to bring sophisticated Indian food to London. The Cinnamon Club is conveniently located near to the Houses of Parliament and Westminster tube station, (although when I visited I didn’t see any politicians of any party or lobbyists, but I am sure this is a favourite), on the site of the old Westminster library. Be warned, if you are not eagle eyed as you will almost certainly miss the entrance, as the only
The Cinnamon Club
external evidence of the pleasures to come was a small plaque by the door. The red bricked exterior bristling with Victoriana gives way to a compact entrance hall where you choose to go downstairs to the contemporary bar, or right into the main library, sorry dining room! The bar is a real contrast to the Grade II listed building and is minimalistic whilst boosting a unique glass projection screen which runs the whole length of the back wall, and it is here you can relax sipping a Lychee Bellini or Dehli Mule, setting the scene for the main course in the main restaurant above. Despite the lure of the bar, my companion and I decided to go to our table and on entering the main dining room I was struck by the light and airy feel. With its high ceilings, parquet floors and the high brown leather seating around the edges, this could have come straight from an English club in India in the 1920’s, although there is still a slight hint of library as the upper balcony is lined with books, and I suspect it was this that encouraged me to whisper and look behind me for the strict librarian to tell me to 'shush'. Indian cuisine encompasses a wide variety of regional cuisines which vary significantly given the range of diversity in soil type, climate and the availability of the locally available spices, herbs, vegetables and fruits, and the Cinnamon Club chefs use all their expertise to take the best of all, even if it is in the heart of London rather than the best part of four thousand miles away. If you hadn't realised by now that this is not your usual Indian restaurant, a quick glance at the menu will convince you. Here there are no onion bahjis or chicken tikka for your appetisers, instead your taste buds are treated to the perfectly spiced Bombay style vegetables with cumin pao pickled red onion (£8), or Green spiced Norfolk free ranged chicken breast with tandoori chicken rillettes (£9.50), or my personal favourite, and the stand out dish on the whole menu, is the Spice Crusted Kentish Lamb Fillet with smoked paprika raita and coriander chutney (£10). The lamb is exquisite and literally melts in your mouth and
the lightly spiced raita provides the perfect foil. The main courses continue the ‘around India theme’ with the Goan Sorpotel of Iberico pork presa with Goan spiced pork dumplings (£35), which was accompanied not by the usual sanna (a spongy white and slightly sweet steamed rice and coconut bread), but a steamed wine rice cake which had a similar texture, although the pork was cooked to perfection, the vinegar taste was a little too overpowering for this critic's taste buds, so be warned. Other dishes worthy of noting are the Spice Crusted Halibut with tomato tamarind sauce, ginger jaggery pickle (£25) where the tamarind provided just enough sweet-sour tang to the dense and firm texture of the halibut, and the Tandoori Wild Spencer Gulf King Prawns with malai curry sauce, dried shrimp rice (£20). All of these were accompanied by Pilau rice (£3), and a selection of breads (£7.50), which includes naan, paratha and roti. What I also like about Indian food is that it caters well for the vegetarian and The Cinnamon Club doesn’t disappoint here. A pan seared aubergine steak (£16) or the tandoori paneer with padron pepper and root vegetables (£17), were innovative and certainly not afterthoughts like many vegetarian dishes seem to be. Dessert is also a treat, and we selected the Gulab jamun and passion fruit tart with lime and mint sorbet (£7.50), and the Original Beans milk chocolate and pecan nut pudding, bitter chocolate mousse and thandai ice cream (£9.00), both fine ends to a lovely meal. The wine list is extensive and will cater for all tastes and pockets, and is cleverly chosen to truly accompany the delicate flavours of the food, but there is also a wide variety of beers for those who prefer. The Cinnamon Club has already passed its tenth year in London, and that is true testament to the quality of the food and service, which ensures that it continues to be a firm favourite with diners after all this time. Another reason is that the menu continues to change and evolve which keeps the restaurant's dishes fresh and contemporary, as it continues to use the freshest ingredients available season by season. 3
Bubba Gump Shrimp Restaurant
Bubba Gump Shrimp Restaurant 7-14 Coventry Street, London, W1D 7DH Telephone: 020 3763 5288 As a well known character once said ‘ Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get’. This quote comes from one of the best loved films of the 1990’s and is widely thought of as meaning life is full of surprises and you never know what you will encounter until you try, but in the case of Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, I don’t think you need worry, as when I looked at the menu there wasn’t an orange fondant (my least favourite flavour of chocolate) to be seen! The Bubba Gump Shrimp Company Restaurant is a seafood restaurant chain inspired by the 1994 film Forrest Gump, and although there are many in the United States, there is currently only one in the UK, which opened in 2012, as the owners are very careful to ensure that each restaurant maintains the high standards that have been delivered since 1996 when their first restaurant was opened in California. The name comes from the surnames of two of the main characters, Forrest Gump and Benjamin Buford “Bubba” Blue, who in the film were to go into the shrimping business but for the untimely death of Bubba in the Vietnam War. This first restaurant in the UK occupies a prime location near to Piccadilly Circus in the Trocadero, and although enormous inside, still maintains a cosiness and warmth. The restaurant is divided into two large interconnecting areas interspersed with corrugated iron, primary-coloured booths kitted out with Americana and Forrest Gump memorabilia, including fishing nets, car number plates and acres of planking. It was on a Thursday in half-term that I took my children to Bubba Gump’s and after passing through the doors we entered the world of Forrest. After passing through a shop where you can buy Forrest memorabilia, you go up the stairs to the first of the large main restaurant rooms dominated by an American 4
1950’s diner style bar with chrome and multicoloured leather seats. The menu is unashamedly geared towards kids and is predominantly based around shrimp. Putting it into the words of Bubba from the film, ‘shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, and sauté it. Dey's uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo, pan fried, deep fried, and stir-fried. There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, and shrimp sandwich'. 'That - that's about it' as Forrest would say and that explains all of the dishes you can have at Bubba Gump’s! Appetisers are extensive and if you fancy something different from the above shrimp dishes (you can even have Shrimp shack Mac and Cheese) try the Frizzled Onion strings (£4.50) or Crab stuffed Mushrooms (£5.95). The portions are generous and my family opted for the Run Across America Sampler which gave a selection of all of the starters and was plenty for all 4 of us, with a portion of frizzled onion strings which come with dippin’ sauces. The mains were more of a difficulty to choose as there is an extensive choice with the menu split into 4 sections. The first provides a variety of sandwiches (the Texas cajun sandwich is a favourite of mine from previous Bubba Gump restaurant visits in the US) and burgers which you can customise to suit your taste. The second is Bubba’s shrimp specials where you can elect to have shrimp any which way you want. The third is ‘Jenny’s Catch’ (Forrest’s girlfriend) where pan seared Tilapia laid over mash potatoes with a creamy Lobster butter (£15.95), rub shoulders with Steamed Crab legs (£22.95), and finally comes Forrest favourites, with Southern Fried chicken (£13.95), or the Jambalaya (£15.25), which nearly turned my head, but I eventually plumped for the fish and chips (£13.95), as I always like to see how well a supposedly simple dish is served and I wasn’t disappointed. My daughter selected the burger which she declared was ‘lovely’ and was impressed that the restaurant had tailored the
type of cheese and the no salad request so it was exactly how she wanted. My wife plumped for her favourite dish, which coincidently is Bubba’s as well! The Dumb Luck Coconut Shrimp, which I think, from recollection, she has had every time we have gone there, with the faintly sweet coconut complementing perfectly the shrimp and the Cajun marmalade. My son was on a shrimp mission and as a selftaught expert!, selected the Shrimper’s Heaven (£19.50) which isn’t for the feint hearted. This selection of hand breaded coconut shrimp, chilled peel ‘n’ eat shrimp, fried Shrimp and Japanese style tempura shrimp were served in paper cones branching out from a bespoke metal container nestling on a vast portion of fries. A true feast, which even my 16 year old son struggled to finish, and believe me he has an appetite of someone twice his size! Desserts are well worth leaving room for, and we opted for the Key Lime Pie (£5.50) and the Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundae (£6.25) the latter being the ‘best dessert I have ever had’ (a quote from both my children), and I had to agree, as the cookie was so deliciously gooey within a crisp outer shell and was smothered with ice cream, peanuts and chocolate sauce. The thing I love the most about Bubba Gump is the small touches, that although not essential, just add to the theatre of going out for a meal. The signs on the tables with Run Forrest Run if you don’t want a waiter to stop at your table or the Stop Forrest Stop if you do, the drinks menu put on table tennis bats (those who have seen the film will understand), and the genuine memorabilia from the film are things that make going out for a meal so different from eating at home, and it is this that makes eating at Bubba Gump’s exciting and different. The waiters are attentive without being ‘in your face’, and if you do want to impress your children when you go, mug up on the Forrest Gump film beforehand, as you will be tested on your knowledge by the waiters, and as a parent there is nothing better than looking intelligent in front of your children! Unfortunately, both my children knew more than me, and neither was born when the film came out! With regards to drinks, the kids are spoilt for choice with Speckled lemonades, secret mango quenchers and frozen slushies, where you can take the light up glass with you. Parents are equally well catered for with a multitude of cocktails and well priced wine for the centre of London (wines start from £18). All in all this is more than just a restaurant, it is an experience which your children will love, and you will love taking them to. It has something for everyone and is very well placed for the theatre district as well as the children’s attractions around Piccadilly Circus, and is a piece of the USA in the heart of London.
Ametsa with Arzak Instruction
AMETSA WITH ARZAK INSTRUCTION Halkin Hotel, Halkin Street, London SW1 Telephone: 020 7333 1234 Based within the trendy boutique hotel, The Halkin, situated in Belgravia, lies the one Michelin Star Spanish restaurant, Ametsa with Arzak Instruction, which was opened to replace Nahm, just over two years ago. Ametsa with Arzak Instruction is a unique collaboration between Elena Arzak – voted Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef in 2012 – along with her father Juan Mari Arzak, and Mikel Sorazu, Igor Zalakain and Xabier Gutierrez. Ametsa’s approach is rooted in the traditions of ‘New Basque Cuisine’, pairing the earthy flavours and techniques of Spain’s Basque region with modern, surprising twists featuring locally sourced and organic produce from land and sea. The unique interior of the restaurant was designed by London-based Ab Rogers Design, who took inspiration from the raw aesthetic of the original Arzak restaurant in San Sebastian, Spain. The focal point of Ametsa is a wave-like ceiling, created from 7,000 glass receptacles filled with a variety of different spices. The evening we were dining found the restaurant quite busy but the atmosphere was relaxed. There is no table turnaround, so diners can enjoy their meal at their leisure, without being rushed; quite an unusual, but very welcome feature in a Michelin Star restaurant. Apparently the best way to experience the menu here is via the Tasting Menu (£105 per person, £154 with 5 glasses of wine paired specially by the sommelier). There is, of course, an à la carte menu available, but as the Tasting Menu included a fish and meat dish from the
à la carte menu, it seemed like a good idea. The journey through the tasting menu began with a scene-setting selection of “aperitivos”, beautifully crafted on their platters and platforms. The aperitivos are delivered at the same time, as a piece of cleverly constructed artwork, which takes up the whole table. Each mouthful provides something to delight the taste buds, with a variety of flavour combinations; from onion and anchovy to mango and chistorra; these morsels were quite delicious. The entrées followed – ‘Scallops at Home’ is a variation on a classic dish that proves eternally popular, and with good reason; the scallops were among the best I have eaten. This was followed by Langoustine on a Bed of Lichens; another winner in my eyes, being a great seafood lover. Finally, in this section was the ‘Graffiti Egg with Green Sauce’. This dish was not to my wife’s liking, accompanied as it was by cold mussels. Whilst I enjoyed it, the contrast provided by the soft poached egg was certainly surprising, but then ‘surprise’ is something they do very well at Ametsa, as we were to discover. We both agreed that the fish course was the highlight of the meal so far. My wife opted for the John Dory with Crispy Beetroot Sauce, and I enjoyed the Grouper with beans. We couldn’t fault these dishes; delicious in their pairings, and with a soft flaky texture that makes good fish effortless to eat. The meat course offered a choice of Ox, Suckling Pig, Lamb and Beef fillet. My wife had the Suckling Pig on Carob Crumbs, a surprising combination, but one that worked. The empty plate was testament to that! I went with my curiosity and ordered the Lamb with Cottage Goat’s Cheese. The lamb was medium rare, and
very tender. Combining it with cottage goats cheese was certainly unusual, but that is the joy of Ametsa: a willingness to be bold and different. Creativity is clearly in the blood. The menu, which had been presented to us at the beginning of the meal in our own envelope, gave a brief description of one element of the dessert as ‘Mead Fractal’, this was a mystery to both of us. The only knowledge I have of mead is as an old English drink. The dish that was presented was a gift to the senses. A piece of art unfolds before your eyes as the dish is completed in front of you, and the result was a light, sweet clear soup, with a fruity addition. The Clove Custard, Toasted Milk and Pineapple Ice Cream that followed made this a most memorable and delicious dessert, but sadly one that I know I would never be able to recreate. You have the sense that each of these dishes has been through a rigorous creative process involving experimentation that only a truly passionate professional would be prepared to undergo in order to come up with something new. Naturally, the menus at Ametsa change to reflect the seasons, but without doubt, you could expect the same surprising twists at any time of the year. This is combined with friendly service from a staff that are visibly passionate about the restaurant and seem genuinely excited about the cuisine. Their knowledge of the menu and the wines is extensive, which is useful when you are sampling something out of your normal comfort zone! Ametsa with Arzak Instruction showcases an interesting Basque cuisine. The menu is highly creative and entertaining. Next time, it would be nice to enjoy a little of that Spanish sunshine too! 5
The Chancery 9 Cursitor Street, London, EC4A 1LL Telephone: 02080228501 Up until a few days ago I would not have associated the area between Hatton Garden to the north, and the law courts to the south, as being anything other than where Robert Maxwell used to preside over the Mirror newspaper, and where I was trained as an accountant, but now having revisited the area it is experiencing a significant change with new developments springing up everywhere. Amongst this change, nestled in one of the narrow side streets, is The Chancery, which, although having been there for a while, is undergoing a significant change with the arrival of new Head Chef Graham Long, (ex Pied a Terre and Gordon Ramsey), who joined approximately 6 months ago. Graham brings a new creative menu which expertly challenges even the most jaded of gourmets’ palates, with dishes using the freshest seasonal foods which are almost too good to eat! How fitting then, that the definition of a ‘Chancery’ is a building that houses a diplomatic mission or embassy, as my mission (should I choose to accept it), on a cold January evening, was to see if fine dining had finally reached this part of London, and I am pleased to report that it has. The Chancery is situated on the corner of Cursitor Street and is small enough to be intimate whilst spacious enough to allow generous space between tables, so if you are looking for a relaxed dinner for two, or a discreet business lunch/ dinner, this place is ideal, and as I tucked into my freshly baked bread which was warm and comforting on the inside and suitably crunchy on the outside, I looked around wondering if our neighbours at adjacent tables were going over the details of a particularly gruesome legal case, as we were just a stones throw from the Law Courts.
As mentioned before, the menu changes regularly in line with the availability of ingredients, but whatever is on the menu is both a visual and delicious treat. The à la carte menu contains 5 starters and 5 main courses (enough to allow you ample choice without having too many dishes for the kitchen to prepare well), with a wide variety of choices to suit everyone. In fact, it was so difficult for me to actually choose I ended up electing for the seven course tasting menu, accompanied by the flight of wines! Having forced myself to stop eating the terribly moreish bread, my partner and I settled down to our first course of a salad of heirloom carrots, radicchio, crème fraiche, black quinoa and corriander. Well, I really didn’t know that carrots could taste so good, and also come in so many different shapes and colours. The basic orange carrot was joined in the ‘heirloom’ by purple, red and yellow ones all with distinct tastes and textures and perfectly accompanied by a Visintini ‘Ramato’ Pinot Grigio, providing a mineral tinge via its copper hue from the skin of the grape. What a start, and the joys just kept coming. Next marinated raw hand dived scallops, cucumber jelly, avocado cream, sesame filo and shiso dressing, where the watery smoothness of the scallops and cucumber jelly combined effortlessly with the texture from the sesame filo, and the slight minty flavour of the Shiso. Again the dish was accompanied by a generous glass of a Portuguese Viognier, which is one of the delights of taking the flight of wines as you get to try different styles and vintages you would not have considered if you were selecting a bottle. Our third course was a tartare of holstein beef, English wasabi, smoked yoghurt, crisp rye crackers, capers and a cured egg yolk, which again was exquisite. I love clever combinations that have been put together not to be clever, but because they truly go together, and make more than the
sum of their parts, and the first three dishes did just that. The taste was only matched by the presentation and attention to detail which has clearly been ingrained into Graham working under exacting head chefs in the past. After flirting with a torchon of wild halibut with spiced cockles and roasted cauliflower, which combined the sharp vinegary cockles with the ultra low fat clean taste of the halibut, I was beginning to wish I had refused that extra slice (or two) of bread, but true to my original mission I hadn’t totally proved that there was a culinary life in this part of London so I had to continue. Next there was crusted loin of venison, crapaudine beetroot, date, walnuts and dried goats cheese. Venison due to its very low fat content does go well with cheese, but adding dates and walnuts is a combination which would not usually appeal to me and I wouldn’t expect to work, but in a crazy way it did. It is at this point that for those who are serious gourmands, there is an optional British cheese course (additional £5), and I would heartily recommend it, as it picks what I can only describe as some hidden gems. To wrap up my culinary mission in Holborn there are two ‘sweets’, one a light and fruity fromage frais mousse with poached rhubarb, cranberries and ginger, followed by an altogether more indulgent dark chocolate and lime. Both were a fitting end to what was a wonderful journey down memory lane for me, and proved once and for all that fine dining has definitely come to this part of town. The next pleasant surprise is the value for money, for what for me was a marvellous 2 hours for the price. The seven course tasting menu is priced at £68, with an extra £5 for the cheese course, and if you want the flight of wines it will be £95. The à la carte menu is equally competitively priced at £39.50 for 2 courses and £46.50 for 3. n
Hotel Review A
Careys Manor Hotel & SenSpa New Forest
s a Brit, I am truly in awe of my country and what a really special place it is. There is so much to see and do it is hard to prioritise what to do first, but what I would suggest to readers is, when planning a weekend away or something a little longer, don’t just focus on the more well known attractions/places, but look a little more off the beaten track where you will find places like the New Forest which, for my money, is one of the UK’s best kept secrets. Only 1½ hours away from London by car or train, nestled between Bournemouth and Southampton, is an area so unspoilt and tranquil it is a perfect place to unwind from the hustle and bustle of modern life. The New Forest was created as a royal forest by William I (William the Conqueror) in about 1079 for the royal hunt, (as he wanted to hunt mainly deer), and was allegedly created at the expense of more than 20 small hamlets and isolated farmsteads; hence it was 'new' in his time as a single compact area. This ‘new’ area now spans 219 square miles and is home to an abundance of wildlife, and is not only a 8
National Park but also a UNESCO heritage site. Two little known facts that you can regale your friends with are that this is the only place in the UK where horses have right of way over all motor vehicles, (even on the main roads, so be careful as these animals are truly wild), and the second is that it is the only place where you can find a New Forest cicada, the only cicada native to Great Britain. Just outside the charming village of Brockenhurst is Carey’s Manor Hotel, with its delightful mix of styles and character and all the class of the converted 19th Century hunting lodge interwoven with more contemporary accommodation and a modern Spa. All the rooms are well appointed and offer guests the choice of character rooms in the manor house, or more contemporary in the modern extension, but whichever you choose, after a hard day trekking through the unspoilt countryside (or in my case soaking in the Spa), there is a warm welcome waiting for you back at Carey’s Manor. The New Forest is worth a visit in its own right, but when you can add in fine dining and the lure of a luxury Spa, voted best Spa in the South East 2012, 2013 and now 2014 by the Good Spa Guide Awards, the mix is surely irresistible. The SenSpa is not merely an extra for hotels guests, it is a destination in its own right, with extensive treatments and an outstanding hydrotherapy suite. The SenSpa is an authentic Thai Spa with extensive facilities which cater for your total wellbeing as it provides relaxation for the mind as well as the body, and enhances the feeling of escaping the rat race if only for
a day or so. At the centre of the Spa is the 14 metre ozone treated pool, perfect for swimming or just splashing around in, and at one end tall glass doors afford you views of the Zen Garden, which, if it wasn’t the middle of February, would have been perfect to relax in. Off this pool, for those who are using the spa, is the hydrotherapy suite. Entry is via a smart band which unlocks the door to a huge spa pool. Water has many relaxing and recuperative powers, and here in this large warm bath they are all brought together. You can recline on the underwater benches and be gently massaged by the bubble jets, have your neck and shoulders pummeled by the water jets, or have your legs drilled by narrow water jets (my personal favourite), and stand in an almost circular ‘whirlpool’ Jacuzzi, and being the ever diligent reviewer, I opted to test all of the above and left the pool with a calmer disposition and a considerably less knotted body! A final mention must go to the ‘whirlpool’ which also provides your daily upper body work out for your arms as you really do need to hang on to stop yourself from being bodily pushed out by the force of the jets. Having tired myself out being massaged by the water, my next decision was to either choose the roomy herbal sauna or the steam room with a central crystal, and having seen so many films where energy crystals wreak havoc on the world, took the safe option and opted for the sauna! The additional benefit of it being herbal is that it enhances the revitalising and detoxifying properties, and the fragrance is nice too! After being in such a lovely contented place I opted to pass on the Experience Showers which include a Tropical
Storm one, a Health Shower (which has jets targeting different parts of the body) and the one that filled me with dread, the Ice Room, which I am reliably informed has a thunder and lightning shower and a tub where you can upend and dowse yourself with ice cold water, but as I was already too warm and relaxed for such ‘torture’, I didn’t even open the door! My journey through this tardis of treatment rooms finally took me past a Rasul and Hamman Thermal Treatment Room to my
final point of call, a relaxing Tepidarium where I stretched out on a heated ceramic lounger and drifted away whilst looking at the star studded roof – a perfect way to end a perfect day. The treatments at the Zen Spa are so extensive I could fill the next 5 pages with all the various different types, ranging from the standard usual offerings to the more unusual Thai inspired massages. These include the traditional Thai massage (90
minutes £97, 60 minutes £78) which is a strong deep and revitalising dry massage where you wear Thai pyjamas, and the Thai Herbal Poultice Full Body Massage (£97 for 90 minutes) which uses hot compresses and fragrant oils, but sufice to say, my journey to relaxation was taken a step further by the expert manipulations of my experienced Thai masseuse as she released the tensions in the muscles the water just couldn’t do. ‘Foodies’ are also well catered for at Carey’s Manor with a range of restaurants to choose from, including the fine dining Cambium restaurant which offers beautifully crafted dishes from ingredients sourced locally (tasting menu £70 for 6 courses), via the less formal French Bistro, Le Blaireau, serving simple clean dishes inspired by the French but supplied by the New Forest, to the Zen Garden. Following the Thai Spa theme the Zen Garden is situated adjacent to the Spa and during the day provides smoothies, snacks and afternoon tea for the Spa goers in their dressing gowns, but by night transforms to a chic Thai restaurant. I love Thai food almost as much as Thai massages, and this won’t disappoint, as the rich, warming, creamy curries mingle perfectly with the fragrant rice to satisfy even the most discerning palate. Carey’s Manor is perfectly situated in the New Forest and caters for everyone. Those looking for a base to walk and cycle through miles of breathtaking scenery are as well catered for, as are those just looking for a relaxing pampered break, and it is this relaxed welcoming feeling which remains with you long after you leave, which I think will entice you back time after time. n Careys Manor Hotel & SenSpa Telephone: 01590 624467 email@example.com www.careysmanor.com
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Theatre The West End cast of Beautiful-The Carole King Musical photo Brinkhoff Moegenburg
Reviews of London’s Theatre Productions by Lydia Parker Beautiful, THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL Carole King has always been a very private person and was unsure about a musical being made about her life. Apparently she’d originally planned to not participate at all in the production, but after her daughter, who is also her manager, saw the first readings for the Broadway musical, she convinced her to actively contribute to it. It is not easy to make a normal, shy person the centre of a story, but that is exactly what the writer, Douglas McGrath, has done. Those who know Carole King for her famous album Tapestry, with the hits It’s Too Late, I Feel the Earth Move, A Natural Woman and of course Beautiful, may think of her as the quintessential seventies singer/songwriter, along with James Taylor and Joni Mitchell. However, she also co-wrote many hits in the sixties with her former husband Gerry Goffin for Don Kirchner’s Aldon Music, and this is the period the musical focuses on.
We first meet Carole when she is a precocious sixteen year old, already enrolled in Queen’s College in New York and writing songs which she is determined to sell. After securing a writing deal for herself with Kirchner to churn out songs for bands like The Shirelles and The Drifters, she brings in new boyfriend, Goffin, who has ambitions to be a playwright. Luckily they are a winning team and between them produce hit after hit, including Up on the Roof, Will You Love Me Tomorrow and Take Good Care of My Baby. They also produce a baby, and get married when Carole is still only seventeen. Meanwhile a close and competitive friendship develops with another writing team, Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann. These two deserve their own musical, not only for their own wonderful songs, such as You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling, On Broadway and We Gotta Get Out of This Place, but for their fiery, unconventional relationship. Cynthia refuses to marry Barry for years as she has witnessed her own parents’ unhappy marriage. Both of them support Carole, however, when her relationship breaks down as Gerry starts to stray, having affairs and taking drugs. He is diagnosed eventually with mental health issues but only after causing a lot of pain all around. Carole takes him back after an episode lands him in the hospital and she convinces him a move to the suburbs will change their lives. It does inspire the ironic song Pleasant Valley Sunday, made famous by The Monkees, but it also sends Gerry back to the city and into the arms of yet another woman. It is this very personal story that keeps Beautiful from being just another jukebox musical. It may not be a new or exciting story, but as Katie Brayben portrays King with such depth of feeling, we are drawn in and root for her. We see each early song given a full production number by talented performers playing The Shirelles or The Drifters, which is fun. But
the best moments for me were hearing the compositions stripped back to a singer and a piano, as each actor playing a songwriter would first perform the original version. The dialogue often sounded like an old fashioned musical, quite stilted and unsubtle, with silly wise-cracking jokes. The book doesn’t have the finesse of Sunny Afternoon, The Kinks musical, which was written by renowned playwright Joe Penhall, nor will Carole King’s music have people up and dancing in the aisles. However, Miss Brayben and her fellow performers succeed in moving the audience with these lovely songs. All of the cast were excellent. Alan Morrisey struck the right notes as Gerry Goffin, first filled with self-belief and an edgy energy, but then torn apart by a hunger for more out of life than fatherhood, suburbs and hit singles for other artists. He actually makes Gerry somewhat sympathetic as poor Carole does seem rather boring and unadventurous in her early years. Lorna Want as Cynthia Weil not only has a fantastic voice but also terrific energy, nicely balanced by Ian McIntosh’s sincere hypochondriac Barry Mann. Glynis Barber was a stand-out in her small role as Carole’s mother, as was Gary Trainor as producer Don Kirchner. Katie Brayben gives an extraordinary performance as Miss King. Having previously seen her only as the ghost of Princess Diana in Charles III, I was pleased to see her successfully make a huge leap to this very demanding starring role with not only a lovely voice which has similar qualities to Carole King, but also a very moving and real performance. In addition, she plays piano like a professional throughout, a feat of which not many actresses can boast! Even if one is not a fan of Carole King’s work (which would be difficult, given the huge variety of music she produced), go and see Beautiful just for Katie Brayben’s heartfelt, passionate and truthful interpretation of her life. 11
The Nether The Royal Court Theatre has consistently been a source for West End hits, new plays which have been developed in the smaller theatre and then transferred successfully. These have included Constellations, Jumpy, Posh and now The Nether, which is at the Duke of York’s Theatre. This futuristic American play has caused some controversy as it asks a difficult question: can one be guilty for crimes which are undertaken in a virtual reality world? The play opens with a jovial man, Sims, being questioned by a detective, Morris, about a virtual reality website he runs called The Hideaway. It is seemingly an ideal world where innocence prevails, in a lovely Victorian house where Sims is known as Poppa to three young children. Trees, which are in short supply in the real world, are everywhere, as are Victorian touches - a dollshouse, a game of jacks, and an old gramophone. Even Iris, the sweet ten year old who greets guests and entertains them, is dressed in Victorian clothes. As we dip in and out of this virtual world, we try to piece together what has happened, why Sims is being interrogated for crimes on the internet (or the nether as it is now known). Another older man, Doyle, who is a science teacher, is also being questioned. It seems he has been identified as a visitor to The Hideaway, a fact he wishes to keep from his wife and teenage daughter. He says he enjoyed long conversations with Poppa about Victorian times, the inventions, the industrialisation of the era, etc. He became very close to Poppa but does not know who the man behind the character is. We see Iris being visited by Woodnut, a young, handsome man, who we realise is the avatar of an undercover detective trying to investigate the website. He seems to be there to help her, to stop other people from abusing her and to find out what is actually going on. However, Woodnut finds himself seduced by the little girl and is then encouraged by her and by Poppa to murder her repeatedly. Poppa does not want guests to get emotionally attached and so makes killing part of the package of a world to live out one’s darkest fantasies. As the investigation continues, real identities and relationships are revealed, which are more disturbing than we suspected. The Nether is constructed like a fascinating detective story which offers clues without giving away too much. Right from the beginning, as Sims admits he is a paedophile, that he has an illness which cannot be cured, he suggests that it is better to commit such acts in a virtual world where no one actually gets hurt. The fact that he has become rich from this creation is just a bonus. He declares that it stops him and other like - minded people from preying on friends, neighbours or their own family. The problem is, in his world, paedophilia is not only accepted, it is 12
encouraged. If one goes in just to check out a nice Victorian home, one will be drawn in and tempted by what is there, as Doyle asserts happened to him. Detective Morris, however, argues that serious crimes have been committed and Sims must be punished by not being allowed access to The Nether. If that is the greatest punishment that he can receive, it is a very sad world that is reduced to an entire dependence for happiness and well - being on the internet. There is mention of people who have become “shades” and gone on life-support while they remain permanently logged into a virtual world, letting their bodies go to waste. Doyle wishes to become a shade and Morris reveals her father was one, logged into some very dark world where he played out all of his fantasies. The frightening thing about The Nether is that it presents a world that is not so very different from our own. The night I saw The Nether, eleven year old Jaime Adler played little Iris. This is a big ask for any child actor, to have to act seductive and innocent at the same time and offer oneself up to be murdered. And put on an American accent, to boot. I didn’t feel she quite achieved what was necessary for the role, which was problematic as I never felt truly drawn into this horrific world. As long as this sweet little girl was on stage, the play could never go too far, even if nothing is shown and we are left to imagine the most horrible events. However, if she was more believable, it would have been a very uncomfortable watch, as some other audience members have experienced. And it brings up the worrisome prospect that some people may be interested
in this play for the wrong reasons. Personally I would have preferred to see an older actress believably playing younger. David Calder was quite affecting as Doyle, who sees his life being destroyed and feels powerless to do anything other than follow his impulses. Stanley Townshend was suitably creepy as the avuncular Sims who is so overtaken by his avatar that he can’t actually see right from wrong anymore. Ivanno Jeremiah, as Woodnut, provided much needed warmth and normality which is then perverted as he keeps visiting The Hideaway. The set and video design in the play were outstanding. Es Devlin did a fantastic job creating not only the spare interrogation room, on which Luke Halls’ videos are projected, but also the beautiful changeable world of The Hideaway, which hangs suspended as a fantasy, with a simple fireplace, a child’s bed or a couple of deer heads to suggest a grand old fashioned living room. Working together, they have created a multi-media piece of art, one which would impress in a gallery, let alone in a theatre. Jennifer Haley, the playwright, has written more plays about the dangers of the internet, virtual worlds and gaming, which seem to be a particular fascination for her and a rich source of material. Her work has been produced at theatres around the States, including The Centre Theatre in Los Angeles and the Lucille Lortel Theatre in New York, but The Nether is her first play in the UK. I am sure there will be much more demand for her timely and haunting plays which speak about very real horrors of the world of virtual reality. n
Doyle (David Calder) and Sims (Stanley Townsend) in The Nether at the Duke of York's Theatre. Photo credit Johan Persson
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Education Finding The Right Special Needs School In The UK
ou’ve just found out that you’ll be moving to Britain. Fantastic! Great stuff! A country that does pageantry better than anywhere else, that boasts thatched roofs and ancient cottages, that offers superb theatre in the most exciting capital in the world, that features wonderfully articulate and literate people and meanwhile pays little attention to the weather! Now you’ve found a wonderful house to rent. Finally, you’ve located equally wonderful schools for your children. Sounds great. But if you are the parent of a child who has special educational needs (SEN), euphoria may soon turn to anxiety. What, specifically, are your options? How will SEN education differ from what was on offer in Iowa or New York? And how do you get the information you need? Let me assure you that everything is here. But it will take some research and some careful planning. And you should get going on a multiplicity of tasks as soon as possible. Choices There are literally hundreds of schools that address SEN throughout the UK, and thousands more if we include the state schools sector. However, the state system is increasingly 14
hard pressed to accommodate children with learning challenges. Usually, what is on offer will be a regular class with about 30 students, and your child will be given some help by a ‘learning support assistant’ working under the direction of a specialist teacher. It is very much a ‘one size fits all’ approach. A second option involves what are usually called Independent Mainstream Schools with Specialist Provision. As the term suggests, these are, in the American sense, private schools that offer SEN support for a limited number of students, usually via individual tutoring through a withdrawal system. There are 43 such schools in London alone, including those that are co-educational as well as single-sex. Most deal with limited age ranges (boys, from 8-13; girls, ages 3-13 etc.,) and address only relatively few learning challenges. American expats may instead be drawn to a more convenient option: placing the SEN child in the same school as his/her siblings. Your focus will therefore likely be on one of the three American-International schools in the Greater London area: the American School in London; the American Community Schools (three sites); TASIS, the American School in England. All are good, with superb facilities, many American-trained teachers and American curriculums, including the IB and the American High School Diploma. All offer limited SEN support within the regular curriculum and all have some specialist teacher/therapists. Positive though these three options may be, there is a fourth and, depending on the individual child’s needs, one that offers an especially valuable learning experience. I refer to Independent Special Schools. These are private and they differ quite substantially from the other three groups. They are, for instance, small, with total enrolments usually numbering from 40 to 180; class sizes of between 5-8; highly experienced teachers with specialist qualifications; and on-site speech and language and other therapists. There are 10 such schools in London, all of which address a wide variety of learning difficulties and one of which offers the American Diploma. Of particular significance is the specialist environment: in mainstream schools, the SEN child is often inadvertently made to feel ‘different’ from the other children, something that can cause significant psychological damage and is often a major factor in low self esteem and a lack of confidence. However, in a school that is exclusively special needs, all students have difficulties hence, no one is different. SEN in Britain The UK and the US may enjoy a common language and a shared history, but their educational systems differ in some fundamental
ways. Scotland has its own system, but children in England follow the National Curriculum, which, as the name suggests, is prescriptive and embraces children through Year 13 (equivalent to Grade 12 in the US). In the lower years, there is significant emphasis on literacy and numeracy, and generally less choice than is the case in the US. Course content is also different. A subject such as mathematics in the UK will generally see a commingling of various aspects of maths; thus, maths for a Year 10 student might involve algebra, trigonometry and geometry in addition to fundamental arithmetic. In the US, however, the Grade 9 student will generally have a full year of algebra, and a full year of geometry in Grade 10 etc. Similar specificity is also apparent in the sciences and related subjects. The specific focus of the American approach is likely to be more readily organised and thus more palatable for the SEN student. Perhaps the major difference and the major difficulty is the British adherence to an examination-based system. Children here spend considerable time ‘prepping’ for this or that exam, and these efforts are intensified with GCSEs in Year 11 and A-levels in Year 13. A student who does poorly in these examinations will have few options for higher education. Study after study has meanwhile revealed that SEN students generally do not do well in examination situations; the culprit is not their lack of ability but rather the anxiety that they experience during an exam. Far too frequently, the examination mirrors that anxiety rather than measuring and assessing what the student knows. What might be termed the “American approach”, a system of continual assessment, is likely to offer a significantly fairer way of examining the knowledge and abilities of the SEN student. Enabling him to profit from regular and timely feedback that examines and credits a wide range of coursework including essays, research, presentations, quizzes and tests, this approach reduces significantly the anxiety that can give a very skewed portrait of the SEN student. As one educator recently noted, “examinations almost always discriminate against a student with special needs; by virtually removing anxiety, coursework gives that student a level playing field.” That said, virtually all SEN programmes in the UK will offer support in ways that will benefit most students who face learning challenges. There will be classes in social skills, and the specialist schools will also build in to every lesson certain aspects of these skills. There will be separate study, thinking and life skills, and many programmes will also feature art or other similar therapies; and in addition to speech and language, occupational therapy and physiotherapy, some schools will also distinguish themselves by offering yoga and other means of helping a child relax. Finally, a variety of sports will
be on offer; here, SEN educators will know that participation is more important than proficiency. Going Forward As you will know, students with special educational needs generally dislike change. Accordingly, parents really do need to ‘get it right’ with regard to finding a school that will serve the needs of the SEN student. Certainly, it may be one that will replicate as closely as possible the student’s previous school in the US. However, the key element is for the parents to define as specifically as possible what is needed, what will work. Only then will it be time to begin the admissions process. All SEN schools in the UK and many of the others that accept SEN students will want certain information, to include the following: (1) a reasonably current report by an educational psychologist or other similar practitioner; (2) an analysis by a speech and language professional or other therapists who have been working with the child in the US; (3) school reports for at least the last year or two; (4) any other information that the parent believes will provide additional insights about the child. It is essential to understand that no reputable school will accept a child whose needs it believes it cannot meet, so providing information that is timely and
accurate serves everyone’s interests and especially those of the child. As you are accumulating the information, the internet will provide access to lists of SEN programmes and schools in London and elsewhere. All of these schools will have websites that will be helpful. At a minimum, you will be able to gain answers to fundamental questions: co-educational or single sex, age range, special needs addressed, day, day and boarding, and location. The websites will also have information regarding the school’s latest assessments by various accrediting bodies, and they will explain the admissions process. You may also want to examine some printed material. The Gabbitas Guide to Schools for Special Needs” is published annually and is well worth your time. Similarly, the John Catt organisation puts out guides keyed to various parts of the UK. A particularly worthwhile publication is The Good Schools Guide, for each of the schools included in this publication has undergone a rigorous inspection by former headmasters and headmistresses; most of the schools in The Good Schools Guide are mainstream, but a few SEN schools have also been selected. As this process evolves, you will have started compiling a list of possibles. At this point, it is time to get in touch with these schools either by
telephone or by the internet. Do your research first, however; find out who you need to speak with or write to. Have specific questions ready. And then be instructed how you should best proceed. One especially important note: the admissions process for many of these schools will include a one, two or three-day trial period. For obvious reasons, you need to ascertain if this is so and if you will be able to arrange a visit to the UK during which the trial period can take place. Some schools, however, recognise that this is not always possible and in some instances, they may be willing to offer a place on the basis of the supporting material you would have forwarded to them. Let me conclude by reiterating that with the appropriate effort, you will find the right school for your child. And let me also note that as one who is a dual US/UK national and one who has been educated in both countries, I know that you will find your time here in the UK something to be enjoyed and, indeed, to be cherished. n Dr Duncan Rollo is the Principal and Administrative Director of two special needs schools in the UK, Centre Academy London and Centre Academy East Anglia. Both schools offer the American Diploma and the British National Curriculum – Website: www.centreacademy.net
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Mont St Michel
hard to imagine the drama, super human feats and complexity of what occurred there – not forgetting the self sacrifice of so many allied soldiers – some no more than boys.
Normandy And The D Day Beaches
ast year, you will remember from the extensive publicity, was the 70th anniversary of the ‘D DAY LANDINGS’, and Normandy was bursting with many world leaders, veterans and ordinary tourists. But why wait for another milestone before you visit this historic region yourself? Until 1944, Normandy was a peaceful rural area best known for its camembert cheese, cider and Calvados (Apple Brandy). D- Day was one of the pivotal events of World War II, and the beginning of the end of Nazi Germany. Americans, Canadians and Brits have, of course, been visiting the beaches and monuments almost since the end of the war, and experiencing the food, scenery and history of this part of Northern France. On a visit to Normandy there is still plenty to see apart from the landing beaches themselves, although these will, no doubt, be the central theme of any visit. Peaceful and serene and thankfully largely uncommercialised, it is 16
WHAT YOU SHOULD SEE WHEN VISITING If you are planning to visit Normandy, it is obviously best with an experienced guide, but if you do come on your own, there are a number of sites that you should not miss. These include the beaches themselves, where you can contrast the difficulties which faced the planners and the assaulting troops. For instance, the flat sparsely populated hinterland behind Utah Beach (which was heavily flooded) and the bluffs at Omaha, which gave the defending Germans a panoramic view of the attackers. The British and Canadians on Gold, Juno and Sword, faced an entirely different problem, that of fighting through seaside villages and resorts
US Cemetery Normandy
which lay immediately behind their beaches. The little Norman town of St Mere Eglise, made famous in the film ‘The Longest Day’, where the American airborne forces landed, to secure the Western flank of the seaborne landings, can again be contrasted with a visit to Pegasus Bridge, on the Eastern flank, captured by British 6th Airborne on the dawn of D-Day, in a ‘coup de main’ operation. Both sites should not be missed! Neither should Pointe du Hoc, where you will be amazed by the great feat of arms carried out by the US Rangers. This battle site has been left largely untouched since 1944. Of course no trip to the Landing Beaches would be complete without a visit to the beautiful and moving US Cemetery overlooking ‘Bloody Omaha’. There are, of course, many museums in the area, with some opening as recently as last year, in time for the commemoration. However, well worth a visit is the unique museum at Arromanches, which explains all
Pointe du Hoc
about the incredible artificial harbour built by the allies in only a few days, and where the remains can still be seen today. The little town of Arromanches is also a great place to buy souvenirs. Other museums certainly worth a visit, if you have the time, are The Museum of the Battle of Normandy, in Bayeux (allow minimum of one and a half hours), The Memorial Pegasus (again allow minimum of one and a half hours) and The Memorial de Caen, which is probably the biggest museum, so allow half a day to see everything. If you would like to take a break from all
this war history, then a visit to the spectacular Island of Mont St Michel, with its magnificent Benedictine Monastery is only a couple of hours drive away. This is the second most visited place in France, after Paris and attracts tourists from all over the world as well as pilgrims. WHERE TO STAY There are, of course, a number of places you could stay in the area, but our preference is the charming medieval town of Bayeux, one of the very few towns or villages in the region which was not destroyed in the 1944 campaign. Bayeux is also home to the world famous Bayeux Tapestry, depicting the history of the Norman conquest of England and dating from the 11th century. Bayeux also features a fine Norman Cathedral, interesting shops and many good and reasonably priced restaurants. Be aware, however, that there is only one (rather expensive!) 4 star hotel, but a choice of several 3 star hotels, which are perfectly good and many are in charming old medieval buildings. Location wise the City of Caen is another good alternative, where you will find a reasonable selection of both 3 and 4 star hotels. Caen is a much bigger and more modern city than Bayeux having largely been rebuilt following the devastation resulting from the fighting in 1944. There is also accommodation available at some of the smaller beach resorts, or you may like to try staying on a farm in the area.
HOW TO GET THERE Normandy is not the easiest place to get to from the UK! There are no direct flights, and even if you plan to go by train, this would involve various changes. The best way is either to take an organised tour or drive. If you drive there are a number of ferry crossings which go directly across to Normandy, including Portsmouth to Cherbourg, Le Havre or Caen. Another ferry route is Newhaven to Dieppe. However, most of these routes entail a crossing time of 7 – 8 hours. The alternative is to take the Battery of Longues
shorter Dover to Calais ferry crossing or the Channel Tunnel from Folkestone to Calais. The drive to Normandy from Calais will take approximately four and a half hours. However you go, don’t miss the opportunity whilst you are living in Europe, to visit Normandy! n
Gemmaway Travel is a small family run travel company. We have been working with the Ex Pat community for many years and we personally accompany all our tours, which are fully guided and aimed to appeal to all ages, families, couples and singles. Our Normandy tour has always been very popular. Our expert guide will bring alive the momentous events of 6 June 1944, as well as giving you a detailed background to the whole campaign. If you would like to join us, we have space on our next scheduled tour to Normandy 20 – 23 June which also includes a half day visit to Mont St. Michel. We are also happy to tailor make and guide small groups (minimum 15 persons), to Normandy and many other destinations. GEMMAWAY FORTHCOMING TOUR SCHEDULE: HOLLAND IN SPRINGTIME: Sat. 2 – Mon.4 May (bank holiday) This tour includes The beautiful Keukenhof Gardens, Amsterdam, Delft, The Hague, etc. SCENIC NORTH WALES WITH CHESTER AND LIVERPOOL: Sat. 23 – Mon. 25 May (bank holiday). BOURNEMOUTH & CORFE CASTLE: Sunday 14 June (Day trip) NORMANDY, D DAY BEACHES AND MONT ST MICHEL: Saturday 20 – Tuesday 23 June EDINBURGH FESTIVAL AND ROYAL MILITARY TATTOO Every Weekend in August Choice of 2 or 3 nights hotel accommodation plus THE VERY BEST SATURDAY NIGHT MILITARY TATTOO TICKETS. Contact Laraine at GEMMAWAY TRAVEL for more details on any of our tours. Tel: 01923 286150 Email: email@example.com Or visit our website at www.gemmway.com
Wealth Management Why The Upcoming UK Pension Changes Equal Good News For US Citizens In The UK
y now you have probably heard some chatter about UK pension changes taking effect from 06 April 2015. The changes, first outlined by the Chancellor last summer, equate to good news for UK and US citizens 18
alike. Not only will pension holders have more flexibility in the way pensions can be taken and also how they can be passed on to beneficiaries, but the 55% Lump Sum Death Benefit tax on pension funds will be abolished allowing individuals to pass on more money at death. Below we will outline the changes and, more importantly, what the changes mean for US citizens living in the UK. The options generally apply to defined contribution pensions such as personal pensions, group personal pensions, self-invested personal pensions (SIPPs) and stakeholder pensions. The options will not normally be available to final salary pension schemes (unless they are first transferred to a defined contribution pension). If you choose to do this, you could likely lose some very valuable benefits, so it will be important to take individual advice from a pension transfer specialist before making the decision. Flexible access to pensions from age 55 From April 2015, individuals aged 55 and over with a UK defined contribution pension will have the ability to drawdown their pension however they wish. Under the new rules, the government will not mandate a particular way in which pension savings need to be accessed. It will be up to you to decide whether you want access to your funds as a lump sum or through some other financial product. There are three general categories that encompass the distribution options: 1. If you require greater liquidity or control over your finances in the short-term you could have the ability to take your entire pension in one lump sum, and invest/spend the funds as you wish, although certain taxation rules would apply 2. If you desire a more secure and regular income stream you will have the ability to purchase an annuity, either at retirement, or at a later chosen date 3. If you would prefer to keep your assets invested in the tax wrapper for as long as possible and wish to access the funds over time, you will be able to purchase a drawdown product. Individuals will have the ability to choose one distribution option for their entire pension fund or choose different distribution options for segments of their pension fund. Up to 25% of the pension fund will still be available to be taken tax-free. The changes increase tax planning opportunities as you have the potential flexibility, to manage both your liquidity needs and your taxable income in any given tax year.
New changes in more detail In addition to the continued option to purchase an annuity, there are three new changes to be aware of with respect to pension contributions and distribution options. 1. Flexi-access drawdown will replace both capped and flexible drawdown From April 2015, distributions under drawdown will no longer be capped by the annuity tables published by the Government Actuaryâ€™s Department (GAD) or by a Minimum Income Requirement (MIR). Under flexi-access you will be able to draw down as much or as little as you want over any period of time. New capped drawdown pensions will not be available, but if you already have some funds in a capped drawdown plan, you may be able to add additional pension savings to the plan. As long as no more than the maximum income level is withdrawn each year, the plan can remain as capped drawdown, if desired. 2. Uncrystallised funds pension lump sum (UFPLS) You can withdraw a single or series of lump sums from your pension without the need to move the funds into a drawdown product first. If the entire pension fund is not withdrawn at once, then 25% of each lump sum may be taken tax-free with the balance taxed at your marginal rate of income tax. Not all pensions will offer this flexibility so if this is something that you want to take advantage of it is possible that you may need to transfer to an arrangement with more flexibility. Additionally, in order to take advantage of UFPLS there will also be a number of conditions that need to be met as well including the need to have some lifetime allowance remaining. 3. Money Purchase Annual Allowance (MPAA) If you access your defined contribution pensions flexibly post April 2015, either by taking the UFPLS, by taking more than the tax-free lump sum from a flexi-access drawdown plan or by exceeding the income limit from your pre-April 2015 capped drawdown plan, then your annual allowance will now be reduced to ÂŁ10,000 for future contributions to defined contribution pension plans. You will not receive tax relief on any contributions that are made in excess of this amount. It is important to note that this reduced allowance does not apply to anyone who purchases a lifetime annuity. 55% Lump Sum Death Benefit Tax Abolished You will now have the ability (regardless of age) to nominate a beneficiary to inherit your
pension at your death, rather than pay the 55% charge. There is no requirement for the named beneficiary to be an immediate family member or dependent. There is slightly different treatment on inherited benefits depending on whether you die before or after reaching age 75. The treatment is outlined below: • Die before age 75 You will be able to pass on the remaining defined contribution pension to anyone as a tax-free lump sum, regardless of whether it is in drawdown or uncrystallised. The beneficiary will pay no tax on the money they subsequently withdraw from the pension, whether it is taken as a single lump sum, or accessed through drawdown. It is important to note that the changes are only applicable to defined contribution schemes that have not been used to purchase an annuity or are being paid through a pension scheme. • Die at or after age 75 If you die with uncrystallised pension funds or while in drawdown, the beneficiary will be able to access withdrawals from the pension flexibly over time and there are no restrictions on the amount that can be withdrawn at once. As funds are withdrawn, the beneficiary will pay tax at their marginal rate of income tax. If they choose to receive the pension as a lump sum payment, a one-time tax charge of 45% will apply. HM Treasury states that the Government intends to also make lump-sum payments subject to the marginal rate of tax (not a flat rate charge of 45%) and will aim to put this into effect for 2016-17. Which strategy is right for you? With the general removal of restrictions and limitations placed on the amount of drawdown you are able to take each year, you will maintain more control over the investment of the pension fund. It will also allow you increased flexibility on when and how much to drawdown and how you want to pass funds on to heirs. It is important to note, however, that this option also bears some risk as it is no longer a secure annuity and requires careful management to ensure you do not unknowingly deplete the account through excessive income drawdown. In order to begin to assess which distribution strategy is right for you, you need to have a good understanding of your financial goals and objectives as well as your income needs from your pension and other assets. You should give some thought to some of the questions outlined below: • What does retirement mean to you? Will you stop work altogether or will you continue to earn a partial income stream?
• Will you want to continue contributing to a pension scheme in the future? • How do you want to live in retirement? How much income will you need your assets to generate and will that income be needed regularly or at reaching certain milestones? • Where do you want to live in retirement? Will you live in the UK or back in the US, or perhaps settle abroad somewhere else? • How much risk can you afford to take with your income? How much risk do you feel comfortable with? Will short-term volatility affect your ability to meet your everyday needs? • Do you feel comfortable in retaining an ongoing involvement in managing your retirement income? • Do you have dependents or other family members who will be reliant on your income when you die? • Do you want to leave an inheritance to a specified individual? Why these changes mean good news for US citizens with UK pensions The April 2015 changes are a welcome development for many people including US citizens. As the UK Lump Sum Death Benefit Tax on pensions is not considered to be an Inheritance Tax it cannot currently be used as an offset against US estate tax. Any US citizens who would be subject to a US estate tax liability will not be subject to double taxation on their pension assets. Previously, with appropriate tax planning, certain Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS) were sometimes viewed as more favourable when it came to estate tax planning benefits. If the QROPS member was a non-UK resident for 5 complete tax years, there was no Lump Sum Death Benefit tax due (depending on the QROPS jurisdiction). Therefore, for individuals who planned to retire in the United States, holding a QROP may have meant their pension pot would not have been subject to the 55% Lump Sum Death Benefit tax and allow for beneficiaries to receive a greater inheritance. However, with the pension changes, there is less perceived benefit from a QROPS and there is more incentive to keep UK pension assets onshore. Additionally, with the increased flexibility of distribution options, the changes will allow US individuals to liquidate their pensions in a tax-efficient manner that makes sense for their individual situation. Individuals will no longer potentially face liquidity restrictions if accessing large lump sums is a suitable drawdown strategy. The changes open up many planning opportunities for Americans as they approach retirement and decide where their retirement years will be spent. The best place to allocate
your pension dollars and the amount you should ultimately seek to contribute to a pension, as well as your planned drawdown strategy in the future, should become a planning point of discussion with your Adviser in the near future. Risk Warnings and Important Information The value of investments can fall as well as rise. You may not get back what you invest. MASECO LLP trading as MASECO Private Wealth is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, the Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate tax advice. MASECO Private Wealth is not a tax specialist. n
Andrea Solana is Head of Advanced Planning at MASECO Private Wealth. Andrea spent the first 9 years of her career with a well-known Washington DC based international tax and global wealth management firm where she provided advisory services to US expatriates abroad and foreign nationals living in the US. Andrea has gained considerable experience advising high net worth individuals with multijurisdictional financial interests to design and implement strategies for tax efficient and risk managed asset growth. She has written numerous whitepapers regarding financial planning and investment strategies for US connected individuals and has previously been invited to speak on financial planning topics at both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Andrea graduated from the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce with a degree in Finance and Management. She recently completed her MBA at Imperial College London and holds her US Series 65 license. For further information visit: www.masecoprivatewealth.com 19
Tax Issues H&R Block Expat Tax Services Answer Readers Questions On The Latest Tax Issues
o you have to make a certain amount living abroad before you pay taxes back to the US? Bruce Alford Dear Bruce, Thank you for your question. US citizens and residents are taxed on their worldwide income. So regardless of where you work, you must report your income as if you worked within the United States. However, certain rules and benefits are available to expats, such as the foreign earned income exclusion and foreign tax credit.
The foreign earned income exclusion allows US citizens and residents working abroad to exclude up to $99,200 USD from their 2014 taxes. But, you still need to file a tax return to claim this benefit. Expats can exclude only earned income, which includes salary, wages, and so on. So, retired expats living off of Social Security and pension income most likely will not qualify for the exclusion. There are some tests you must meet before you can claim the exclusion. The foreign tax credit allows you to offset your US tax liability with taxes paid in your country of residence. Often you will owe no tax, but the rules are complex depending on the country where you live and which foreign taxes can be claimed for the foreign tax credit. I've heard there's a form to file with the IRS to declare that your LTD Company is for self-employment income so you can claim foreign earned income exclusion. I would love to know more. Joshua Jost Dear Joshua, Thank you for your question. Choosing the tax status of your Company is not an easy decision and it should involve both business and tax implications. The US allows an eligible business to use Form 8832, Entity Classification Election, to elect how a business will be classified for federal tax purposes, as a corporation, a partnership or an entity disregarded as separate from its owner. The latter two classifications will be subject to the taxpayers flow-through tax treatment rather than taxing at the LTD Company level. An election made outside of the initial tax year can have significant tax implications. Additionally, there can be different tax rules and informational reporting for whichever business is selected. Because of the specific circumstances surrounding each business, it would be recommended to seek professional advice before forming a business, or subsequently making an election. Currently, I participate in a UK employer sponsored pension in which I make a monthly contribution and my employer makes a contribution as well. I also make a voluntary contribution in excess of the minimum required employee contribution. I do not have signature authority over it but obviously have a financial interest. Furthermore, the current value is less than $50k USD. My query is, am I required to report the pension value on FinCen 114 and if so, where? Secondly, I was reviewing the H&R Block free tax preparation page and I believe specifically, I was looking at Form 2555, the form for foreign income tax exclusion. I noticed a question about visa status. Why is this important and what is the purpose of the IRS asking this question? Eileen Moore, London, UK
Dear Eileen, Thank you for your questions. FinCEN Form 114, Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) is used to report a financial interest in, or signature authority over, a foreign financial account. A Form 114 is required to be filed if you have foreign financial accounts where the aggregate value of the foreign financial accounts exceeds $10,000 USD at any time during the calendar year. Foreign Pension Plans and Deferred Compensation Plans are generally reportable on Form 114. The Plan would typically be reported on the section of the form that asks about accounts owned separately, Part II. IRS Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets may be required in addition to the Form 114. Form 8938 is required to be filed if the value of the assets exceeds a certain threshold. For instance, a taxpayer who does not file jointly and lives abroad must file Form 8938 if the value of the assets is $200,000 USD on the last day of the year or $300,000 USD at any time during the tax year (different thresholds apply to joint filers and filers who reside in the United States). Foreign Pension Plans and Deferred Compensation Plans are also reported on Form 8938. The failure to file penalty due to reasonable cause is up to $10,000. If the failure to file was willful, the penalty is up to $100,000 or 50% of the total account balances, whichever is greater, and may include criminal penalties. Form 2555 is used to calculate your foreign earned income exclusion and your housing exclusion or deduction. In order to qualify, you must meet the tax home test and meet either the bona fide residence test or meet the physical presence test. The Form asks about the visa status to help determine the nature of your stay and the length of your stay for purposes of determining bona fide resident status. For instance, if you were a permanent resident of the other country there is no issue, but if you only held a year-by-year visa, or visa for a particular purpose the chances of being considered a bona fide resident of that country can be reduced. Lots of people are asking about their ACA penalties, phantom gains from house sales abroad (like Boris!), limits to file FBARs and form 8938, how to report pensions abroad, how to best protect inheritance for your kids if abroad, and how to get current if you've never filed. Can you help with some of these questions? Shelby Lyon, London Dear Shelby, Thank you for your questions. ACA penalties: US citizens spending 330 full days outside the US or who are bona fide residents of foreign countries are considered covered and not 21
subject to the tax penalty imposed under the American Care Act. Phantom gains from house sales abroad: US citizens living aboard are required to report on their US tax return the sale of their principal residences located in the foreign countries. Since the sale is reported in US dollars based on the transaction dates and not the sale dates, currency exchange gain or loss can occur in addition to the actual gain or loss from the sale of the house. The same taxes and tax benefits that apply to your home in the United States also apply to your foreign home. So, a gain on the sale of your foreign home is usually tax-free provided the gain is below these thresholds: $500,000 - if you’re married filing jointly and $250,000 - if you use any other filing status. If the gain from the sale of the house is a taxable transaction, the gain would be treated as foreign source income and foreign tax credits could be used to offset the US tax liability. Limits to file FBARs and form 8938 and how to report pensions abroad: Your pension arrangements are generally required to be reported on the FBAR and Form 8938. An FBAR is required to be filed if the combined value of your pension and other financial accounts exceeds $10,000 USD at any time during the calendar year. Form 8938 would be required if the combined value of your pension and other financial assets is greater than the thresholds below. While your pension may be subject to information reporting, the UK treaty with the US has special protection that allows for you to deduct contributions and defer tax on planlevel earnings up to certain amounts. How to best protect inheritance for your kids if abroad:
Unfortunately, our singular focus is expat tax preparation for Americans abroad and we are not able to provide a response to this question. How to get current if you've never filed: The IRS has several voluntary disclosure programmes available to expats living overseas. The most common programme is the streamlined filing compliance procedures, which requires the filing of 3 years of US tax returns and 6 years of FBAR filings. The streamlined programme is a good option for Americans living abroad who have honestly overlooked their US filing obligations. Is the 25% UK tax-free lump sum from a Defined Benefit Plan also US tax free based on the US/UK Pension Tax Treaty? Charles Campbell, London Dear Charles, Thank you for your question. Distributions from a Defined Benefit Plan would be taxable in the US, including the tax-free lump sum amount. The UK Income Tax Treaty with the US does not afford any relief to the tax-free lump sum portion of the pension payment as it falls under a different section of the pension distribution treaty article that the US reserves the right to tax. I am a UK-US joint citizen relocated from New Hampshire, USA to London in September 2014 and am getting ready to file my US taxes, with some dread. I have been working in the UK since September and I wonder how straightforward it is for the UK taxes on my UK earnings to be offset against my US taxes? Do I get what amounts to a credit that goes against my total US tax liability? Or can the UK taxes only offset what would have been equivalent taxes on those earnings if they had been in the US? Or does it work some other way? I also wonder, more in hope than expectation, whether there is any prospect of the US adopting
Taxpayers living in the Us (in USD):
Anytime in 2014
Married Filing Jointly
Married Filing Separate
Taxpayers living abroad (in USD):
Anytime in 2014
Married Filing Jointly
Married Filing Separate
systems like the rest of the known world that taxed earnings are based on where they are earned? I am proud to be a UK citizen and to have recently become a US citizen also and know I have to put up with the overbearing US approach to taxing US citizens – but I don’t see how it can be justified when the rest of the world does something different? Tom Randell, London, UK Dear Tom, Thank you for your questions. US citizens and residents are taxed on their worldwide income. To minimise double taxation, the US provides expats with benefits such as the foreign earned income exclusion and the foreign tax credit. For 2014, the foreign earned income exclusion allows US citizens and residents working abroad to exclude up to $99,200 USD from their 2014 taxable income. The foreign tax credit would allow your resident country income taxes to offset your US tax liability. The rules are complex and tests must be met before you can claim the exclusion or claim the foreign tax credit, and which foreign taxes qualify for the foreign tax credit. Regarding US taxation, there has been much debate regarding a change from the worldwide approach to a territorial approach or even a hybrid approach. Any change will require action from Congress. CIRCULAR 230 DISCLAIMER: Pursuant to US Treasury regulations, any federal tax advice contained in this article is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. This notice is required by IRS Circular 230, which regulates written communications about federal tax matters between tax advisors and their clients. To the extent the preceding correspondence and/or any attachment is a written tax advice communication, it is not a full "covered opinion". Accordingly, this advice is not intended and cannot be used for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by the IRS.
Nancy Paustian leads the expat team specialising in tax preparation for clients living in Europe. She is a CPA with over 20 years’ experience in tax accounting, compliance, planning, research and management experience in public accounting and private industry. A seasoned tax professional, she has experience in coordinating IRS tax audits, foreign tax audits and various state tax audits. H&R Block Expat Tax Services is a highly specialised team of tax attorneys, CPAs, and enrolled agents whose singular focus is expat tax preparation for Americans abroad. Due to the complexity of US tax reporting for expats and its highly fact-specific nature, our responses to your question are general in nature. Please consult an H&R Block Expat Tax Advisor at www.hrblock. com/expats for advice on your specific tax situation.
UK Sports Our Quarterly Overview Of UK Sports
isaster in Australia and New Zealand for our cricketers, disaster for our soccer teams in Europe - is there any good news for UK Sports in this Spring 2015 issue? There is, but once again we rely on some of our British sportswomen to give us something to shout about together with our Davis Cup tennis team! Cricket The One Day International (ODI) World Cup in Australia and New Zealand never had England (or Ireland or Scotland for that matter) as favourites but it was expected that England would at least reach the quarter final knock out stage of the championship; after all, their round robin Group Pool A included Scotland, Afghanistan and Bangladesh and
with the top four of the seven teams in each Group progressing to the quarter finals, England could hardly fail to go through. Well, they did!! Thrashed by Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka (not so surprising) we also managed to lose to Bangladesh. The good news is that we did beat Scotland - but then so did every other team in Pool A - and Afghanistan (whose only victory was against Scotland!) in a rain affected final match. England were hopeless. Recently appointed head coach (for the second time), Peter Moores, faces an uncertain future. In his first spell as head coach he quickly fell out with England’s new captain, Kevin Pietersen, and both were sacked. This time England had appointed an Irishman (can you believe that!) although with England credentials, Eoin Morgan, as ODI captain. England’s Test match captain, Alastair Cook, had been dropped from the ODI team because he was deemed to bat too slowly in limited overs cricket and did not score enough runs. Well, poor old Morgan was out for nought in five of his nine innings prior to and during the tournament!! Will history repeat itself with head coach and captain facing the axe? Readers may remember from previous issues that Kevin Pietersen was sacked by England from all forms of the game because of his tendency to create discord among his team mates and to send tweets to England’s opponents about how to get the England captain out cheaply!! Now there is talk of Pietersen being recalled and that in a gesture of humiliation he might forgo his lucrative contract with the Indian Premier League (a Twenty20 competition) and join a County team (possibly Surrey again) in order to achieve a recall for the next Ashes Tests against Australia. Players from around the world are bid for by auction by the Indian teams in the IPL. In 2009 Pietersen went for £1million and last year he captained the Delhi Daredevils. Unfortunately, the Daredevils did not dare enough and finished bottom. This year he was bought for around £205,000 by the Sunrisers Hyderabad. Eoin Morgan was bought by the same team for £110,000. These values compare to India’s Yuvraj Singh who has joined the Delhi Daredevils for £1.6million!!! Would Pietersen still be considering giving up the IPL for County and Test match cricket if he was still worth as much as Singh; who knows? Anyway, time will tell if Pietersen gets the recall to the England set up he has always wanted. If he does, how well will he integrate with some of the England players who were clearly not too disappointed when he was sacked, or those who he maligned in his autobiography? This all sounds very reminiscent of all the problems the Australians were having a couple of years ago and which
gave us so much joy to report. What goes around comes around - watch this space!! Nevertheless, whilst our men were returning home early with their tails between their legs, England’s Ladies cricket team were, once again, saving the nation’s cricketing reputation. Playing five One Day Internationals against New Zealand in New Zealand, England’s Ladies won a five match series by three matches to two. How about if England appoint the head coach and the captain of the Ladies team to the same positions in the Men’s ODI team? Or, at least appoint them as consultants!! Athletics Great Britain has had great success in both men’s and women’s athletics in recent years and we have reported on some great team and individual performances. Once again, however, this time at the European Indoor Athletics championships in Prague, it was one of our star female athletes who took centre stage, Katarina Johnson-Thompson (KJT) aged 22, in the Pentathlon (the indoor equivalent of the outdoor heptathlon). The Pentathlon consists of five events (as opposed to seven in the heptathlon), the 60 metres hurdles, the high jump, the long jump, the shot put and the 800 metres. KJT produced four personal best performances in the five events and set a championship record in the high jump. She became only the second woman to break the 5,000 points barrier, which broke Jessica Ennis-Hill’s British record of 4,965 points and came within a whisker of breaking Nataliya Dobrynska’s world record of 5,013 points. Despite these achievements KJT was in tears at the end of the competition for coming so close but failing to beat that world record. What a competitor we have here. Britain also had Morgan Lake, aged 17, competing in her first senior Pentathlon. She broke KJT’s Junior Pentathlon record but was as upset as KJT at the end of the event as she failed by just 8 points to beat the European junior record and by just 108 points to beat the World junior record. She also recorded personal best performances in the 60 metres hurdles, the shot put and the 800 metres. Great Britain is developing an amazing record in the women’s pentathlon and heptathlon events. Denise Lewis led the way with an Olympic Gold and has now been
followed by Jessica Ennis-Hill who won Gold at the London Olympics and who in turn is now being followed by KJT and Morgan Lake. We could dominate these events for some time to come. Tennis Britain’s Andy Murray reached the final of the Australian Open in January against Novak Djokovic but after two close opening sets which went to each player on a tie break, Mr Djokovic dug deeply into his books of gamesmanship to win the third and fourth sets 6-3 6-0. Was Djokovic feigning physical fatigue, giving the impression of cramp in his legs and falling to the ground a couple of times at the start of that third set? Whether intentional or not, Murray fell for it, lost concentration and Djokovic took the last nine games in a row. However, Murray recovered from that experience to lead Great Britain to a famous victory over the USA in the round of sixteen in the Davis Cup sealing an unassailable 3-1 lead with a straight sets victory over John Isner. The real drama, however, occurred on the first day. After Murray had beaten America’s second string player, Don Young, as expected, in four sets, America’s number one, John Isner was expected to beat GB’s second string player, James Ward, who is ranked nearly 100 places below Isner. True to form Isner won the first two sets 7-6 7-5 and things looked bleak for GB with America’s Bryan brothers red hot favourites to win the doubles match on day two which would have left GB with the task of winning both the reverse singles on day four. Ward v Young would then have been the likely decider. However, Ward fought back against Isner to win the third and fourth sets 6-3 7-6 and then took an amazing fifth set 15-13 to give GB control of the tie. The Bryan brothers duly won the doubles, but only after another fright when Jamie Murray and Inglot also fought back from two sets down only to lose the fifth 7-9. Andy Murray naturally received most of the plaudits for winning both his singles rubbers but it was surely the astonishing come back and victory for James Ward that truly deserved all the praise. Next up are the French, beaten in last years final by the Swiss who had Federer and Wawrinka playing for them. The French will be difficult with players like Tsonga, Gasquet, Monfils and Simon as singles choices and Benneteau and Roger-Vasselin as their experienced doubles pair. Great Britain in a true example of British sportsmanship and fair play have chosen Queens Club as the venue for the quarter final. The reason? The French are not so good on grass courts!! Wimbledon will soon be upon us again 24
from 29 June to 12 July. Every year we look at the likely victors hoping for new names on the trophies. The women have produced new players reaching the latter stages with Marion Bartolli winning in 2013 and Eugenie Bouchard reaching the final last year. But the men’s singles is still dominated by Djokovic, Federer and Murray if not Nadal so much these days. Our predicitions - Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic yet again! Soccer The Premiership had looked like a two horse race between Chelsea and Manchester City but the latter have fallen behind somewhat and it is really Chelsea’s title to lose. The real race is for the second, third and fourth places which qualify for next season’s European Champions League. These places are being closely fought over by Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool with Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton close behind. Our predictions - Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool to repeat last season’s qualifiers.
Mind you, the way things have gone in this season’s European Champions competition next season may not prove to be a success story. This season, Liverpool failed to qualify from their Group stage for the knock out Round of 16 and Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal all went out at the first hurdle to Paris St Germain, Barcelona and Monaco respectively, Chelsea and Arsenal on the away goals rule. It is a golden rule of European football not to concede goals in the home leg. The clubs in the Europa Cup also suffered with only Everton progressing to the round of 16 only to lose 4-6 to Dinamo Kiev. So England does not have one team in the quarter finals of the European tournaments for over twenty years! The FA Cup has produced some amazing upsets. On one weekend in January a number of top Premiership clubs lost in the fifth round to teams they were expected to defeat. Chelsea lost at home to Bradford City 2-4 after leading 2-0, Manchester City lost 0-2 at home to Middlesbrough, Tottenham Hotspur lost 1-2 at home to Leicester City and Southampton lost 2-3 at home to Crystal Palace; and Manchester United and Liverpool were both held to draws at home, although
they subsequently won their replays. What a weekend that was. At the time of writing, Arsenal will play Reading and Liverpool will play a resurgent Aston Villa in the semi finals at Wembley. Will Arsenal retain the Cup they won last season, will Liverpool send off their long serving captain, Steven Gerrard, to the American football scene with a major trophy or will Reading or Aston Villa spoil both parties ambitions before the final in May? Rugby Union At the time of writing three countries have a realistic chance to be crowned Six Nations Champions; England, Ireland and Wales with France also in with a mathematical but highly improbable chance. Everything will be decided in the last matches on 21 and 22 April, almost certainly on the difference between points scored and points conceded. All eyes are already looking forward towards the World Cup to be played at stadiums (mainly soccer stadiums) throughout England and at the Millennium Stadium in Wales between 18 September and 31 October. The New Zealand All Blacks will start as favourites but home advantage should give England good support. Four Groups of five countries will contest the Group stage with the winners and runners up progressing to the quarter final knock out stage. England have probably the hardest Group with Australia and Wales in Pool A along with Fiji and Uruguay. Fortunately, England’s match against Wales will be at Twickenham and not at The Millennium stadium in Cardiff!! Scotland will face South Africa, Samoa, America and Japan whilst Ireland take on France, Italy, Canada and Romania. New Zealand have the easiest Group playing Argentina, Tonga, Georgia and Namibia. More information will follow in our Summer issue. NFL at Wembley The NFL are bringing three further matches to Wembley stadium in the autumn. First up will be the Miami Dolphins who will host the New York Jets on Sunday 4 October. Next the Jackson Jaguars will host the Buffalo Bills on Sunday 25 October and a week later the Kansas City Chiefs will host the Detroit Lions. The latter two games will feature the first back-to-back NFL games at Wembley. This will be the first visit to London for an NFL game for three of the teams - the New York Jets, the Buffalo Bills and the Kansas City Chiefs. Let’s hope they enjoy the experience. Americans in Britain can look forward to a touch of home sport instead of soccer, cricket et al!! n
Dentistry Smile Design No Drilling, No Injections
r Hugo Furstenburg Hagen writes about some of the latest updates and procedures available in Dentistry to help with that all-important SMILE! These procedures include Tooth Whitening, Conventional Veneers, Aesthetic re-contouring of teeth, Orthodontics and Invisalign (www. invisalign.co.uk). Many practices in the UK now use the latest technology, materials and techniques to improve your smile. Minimal intervention is the main aim, and they strive to keep the healthy natural tooth in this state; nothing is as strong as a natural tooth. Teeth Whitening This is the first thing a Dentist will look at when they have a smile design consultation with a client; everyone can have a nice smile! The majority of people’s issues stem from the colour of their teeth, which can be yellow, dark or just stained. Whitening or bleaching brings back the natural tooth colour and can restore the shade beyond the natural colour. Primary and adult teeth differ in colour as adult teeth 26
become darker due to changes in the mineral structure of the tooth as the enamel becomes less porous. Causes of discolouration include Bacterial pigments, food stuffs, carotenoids and xanthenoids, coloured liquids like tea, coffee and red wine, tobacco, chlorhexidene mouthwash, antibiotics- tetracyclines, enamel defects and hypolplasia, fluorosis, trauma and root canal treatment on single front teeth. Most suitable smiles for this treatment: • Natural tooth surfaces – yellow teeth respond the best • Tetracycline discoloration – more intensive treatment would be needed • Single tooth discoloration – internal bleaching needed Unsuitable smiles for this treatment: • Artificial tooth surfaces like crowns • Large bonded fillings • Severe tetracycline staining Method The Dentist will do a thorough assessment to check dental health and suitability for whitening. Impressions are done to make home bleaching trays. They will do an isolation of gums, application of Zoom bleaching gel, activation of the gel with a Zoom light and then fitting of home maintenance kit. You will be supplied with custom-made trays and enough gel to complete the treatment at home to reach the optimal tooth shade. The bleaching agent is either carbamide peroxide, which breaks down in the mouth to form hydrogen peroxide, or hydrogen peroxide itself. The home bleaching gel typically contains between 10% and 44% carbamide peroxide, which is roughly equivalent to a 3% to 16% hydrogen peroxide concentration. In Office gel: 15% carbamide peroxide = 6% Hydrogen Peroxide gel. Some of the risks include temporary sensitivity, although generally on rare occasions. There can be pain where gums have receded and dental tubules are exposed. These areas are never bleached and protect the exposed dentine with a barrier gel during treatment. Special toothpastes and gels are generally also supplied to reduce sensitivity. Tooth whitening does not damage the tooth surface but excessive bleaching can be harmful to the enamel surface.
Cosmetic Dental Re-contouring Using Composite Dental Materials This technique is used with great success to improve the shape, angulation and symmetry of the teeth. After an assessment recommendations are made on how your dentist will improve your smile by enhancing the contour of your natural teeth. Ensure that the best quality composite materials are used to achieve wonderful results. The natural teeth are cleaned and polished, then they will etch the enamel areas where they intend to add composites with a special enamel etchant gel. Through a series of bonding techniques they will then sculpt and shape the teeth to achieve a symmetrical smile. The beauty of re-contouring is that the treatment is completely reversible and ideal for treating younger patients who have issues with the appearance of their teeth. They can close gaps, make small teeth large and improve the appearance of misaligned or misshaped teeth. In some cases they can even use composites to do full composite veneers on the teeth. Composite re-contouring is a more affordable alternative to traditional porcelain veneers. It means that you can customise your smile design to suit your age, your needs and also your budget. You don’t have to be restricted to expensive porcelain veneers.
Porcelain Veneers Emax porcelain veneers can be made by dentists with their own specialist laboratory. Emax veneers are made from ultra-strong porcelain, which means the veneers do not have to be too thick. They will select the case carefully which means that most of the cases they can produce require minimal or no drilling. They can achieve outstanding results with this procedure. With some veneer cases they would consider doing orthodontic treatment or Invisalign treatment first. They can then plan the veneer case on teeth, which are in the ideal position, which means minimal drilling. In some cases once they have done the consultation and assessment all they do is take high precision silicone impressions. These are sent to the laboratory and the technicians then make the veneers on the models poured from the impressions. They will specify the size, shape and sometimes unique characteristics. At the fitting appointment the veneers are individually fitted. This veneer protocol means that veneers are fitted to healthy enamel. The bond strength is very high compared to cases where there has been too much drilling and the veneers have to be bonded to dentine. Once again the treatment is completely reversible.
Orthodontics And Invisalign Treatment These traditional methods of smile improvement form an integral part of smile design planning. When a patient is assessed for smile design treatment they would often send them to an orthodontist for an Orthodontic
assessment. If a patient is deemed to be suitable for treatment they often find that they are so happy with the results that no further treatment is needed to improve the smile. Orthodontic and Invisalign treatment is a great way to achieve that beautiful smile as the natural teeth are repositioned without further intervention, especially with younger patients. It is important to undertake careful monitoring and orthodontic inter vention at the right stage of development. The key to successful orthodontic treatment is communication, so time should be spent discussing all available treatment options employing the latest evidence based principles. Orthodontists can offer a number of different appliance systems including aesthetic systems, and they will treat both simple and complex problems in adults and children. Patients are generally referred by their dentists, so orthodontists often work closely with local dentists to ensure that the highest standards of total dental care are achieved.
Dr Hugo Furstenburg Ha g e n a t The Highgate Dental Practice Our multi-award winning practice was established in 1914. We are based in the heart of leafy Highgate Village in North London. Dr Hugo qualified in South Africa in 1991 and he has created a unique dental experience with an excellent professional team, the latest equipment in a welcoming environment provided in a traditional building. There is a close relationship between our Dentists, Specialists and Hygienists. We follow a multidisciplinary approach and our treatment planning. This means we do not have to refer you to a different clinic if you need to see a specialist. Visit www.highgatesmiles.co.uk or call 020 8340 2138 for further information or to make an appointment.
Take Five Breakfast Britain by Judith Schrut
o eat well in England, quipped writer Somerset Maugham, you should have breakfast three times a day. It was the Victorians who turned British breakfast into an art and the most important meal of the day, leisurely consumed and aimed at showing off wealth and a quality kitchen. A lavish Victorian breakfast table might groan with more than 20 dishes, including delights like hashed mutton, kidney omelette, fried bloaters and guinea fowl in jellied aspic. Today, breakfast in Britain can take many forms, from a bowl of creamy porridge to a Weetabix bar and coffee on the run, and a classic fry up in a greasy spoon café to a sumptuous spread in a top hotel. Let us help get your day off to a great start with some of our favourite British breakfasts. 1. FIRST RATE FRY UP: THE REGENCY Café The Full English is the world’s most famous breakfast and the only one named after a country. Also known as 'the Fry Up' and 28
Alastair and Chef Raul, Regency Café
Tucking into the Full English, Regency Café
'the Full Monty', this enormous, traditional morning meal, we must warn you, is not for the fainthearted, for those counting calories or for eating every day of the week. It's a meal which will keep you full for the entire day and, according to The Breakfast Bible, requires key components of eggs, bacon, sausages, grilled tomatoes, black pudding, baked beans and fat slabs of buttered toast, washed down by builder's strength mugs of tea. Optional addons include potatoes, bubble and squeak and, if you dare, lashings of deep fried bread. It's wise not to attempt anything requiring mental alertness for at least four hours afterwards. In our fast moving, click-and-collect world, it’s rare and reassuring to find a place that never changes. The Regency Café in Pimlico is exactly that sort of eatery. What’s its secret? Quality ingredients, cheap-as-chips prices, and a menu that’s stayed pretty much the same since its doors opened in 1946. Current owners Claudia Perotti and Marco Schiavetta, who took over the business from their parents, know that if they were to change anything there’d be an uproar. From dawn to dusk, the Regency serves up non-stop platefuls of its acclaimed fry ups and
never ending pots of tea. First to dine are the plumbers, electricians and scaffolders. Then come ‘the Ties’ (politicans and civil servants– the Houses of Parliament are just round the corner), followed by queues of customers from all walks of life: tourists, teachers and taxi drivers, poets, postmen and policemen. 90% of customers are regulars and the café regularly features at the top of Yelp’s popularity polls. A mere £5.50 buys you a deeply satisfying plateful of bacon, egg, sausage, buttered toast, baked beans or tomatoes and a mug of brewed tea. Popular extras include blood pudding, bubble and squeak and hash browns. Still hungry? Come back at lunchtime for one of Regency’s homemade pies or daily specials like fish and chips, curry and braised steak followed by a classic British pudding (dessert) smothered in hot custard. A sign by the door reminds customers they must place their order before being seated. But don’t worry– although that breakfast queue might be snaking out the door now, you can be sure that once you’ve ordered, an empty table will appear as if by magic. Waiting for the manager to bellow loudly when your meal is ready is all part of the Regency’s charm. You won’t be surprised to hear that the Regency Café has starred in many movies and television shows, most famously Brighton Rock and Layer Cake. Café staff told us about the thrill of being there during the filming of Layer Cake’s infamous ‘teapot scene’. We also heard about the American teenager who had stopped by recently, asking to buy the Regency’s huge teapot so he could recreate that violent scene. How disappointed he was to learn this was not the actual teapot used in the film: that one was probably made of theatrical clay. It’s harder and harder to find this traditional greasy spoon experience in Britain today, but if you’re keen to sample a few more fry ups before it’s too late, try E Pelicci in London, The Street Café in Norwich, Hylton Café in Birmingham, Snax in Edinburgh and Ramones Café in Cardiff. Regency Café, Pimlico All day breakfast (closed Sundays)
2. A TOUCH OF CLASS: CLARIDGE’S A mere hop, skip and a couple of London Underground stops away, just beyond Buckingham Palace as the crow flies, a very different kind of breakfast is being served in the splendid Foyer and Reading Room of Mayfair’s Claridge’s Hotel. It’s a breakfast everyone should experience at least once in a lifetime, more frequently if possible. On the morning of our visit we were seated near a gentleman who clearly agrees with this proposition, as he has famously breakfasted at Claridge’s every morning for the past 40 years. Impressive breakfasts have been served here for well over a century, to royalty, world leaders, celebrities and guest regulars like Sir Winston Churchill, Tom Cruise, Alfred Hitchcock, Madonna and the Emperor of Japan. But one need not be a celebrity to receive royal treatment at Claridge’s: each and every guest is made to feel special. “When I die I don’t want to go to heaven,” declared Spencer Tracy, “ I want to go to Claridge’s.” We found something to savour in every luxurious moment of our visit: the grand marbled foyer, the sweeping staircases and chandeliers, the sumptuous flower displays, and the blazing fireplace. The relaxed, comforting dining space with no clink of cutlery, complete lack of traffic noise despite the busy central London location and the absence of music and mobiles were all appreciated. Even our visit to the ladies room, where a talented squad of artists was busy painting tropical forests amidst the Lalique glass lamps and Art Deco mirrors, was an alluring treat. Elegance and good taste came with the food, too. The menu offers six generous set
Breakfast at Claridge's
Claridge's dedicated breakfast bakers work all through the night
breakfasts, including the Full English, the Japanese and the Vegetarian, and equally tempting à la carte choices like Mixed Berry Pancakes with Cornish cream and maple syrup, Brioche French Toast or Eggs Royale with smoked salmon and truffles, so there’s something for everyone. Naturally, the Full English breakfast is a Claridge’s favourite, although we understand more and more guests are lately opting for healthier items such as quinoa and flaxseed porridge with supergreen juice. Claridge’s bakes are made in-house nightly by a dedicated team who start at midnight and work till dawn to ensure the superfresh croissants, pain au chocolate, buttery brioches and other delectable pastries are hot and ready for the breakfast crowd. Whatever items you choose – and do take time to savour-read your way through the giant menu’s many delights – you can be certain they will involve the freshest, most carefully selected quality ingredients, prepared expertly for even the pickiest diner. British-sourced products like Burford Brown eggs, Severn & Wye smoked salmon and Middlewhite sausages are used wherever possible. For those unfamiliar with the Burford Brown hen, it’s a rare, free range breed laying only 180 eggs per year, but every one’s a winner, with thick and glossy brown shells and the tastiest, orang-est yolks you’ll ever encounter. And we adored the impossibly cute pots of jam handmade on the Tea Together Farm, and a fruit salad where each morsel was fat, ripe, sweet perfection. Beverages include a vast choice of juices, smoothies, hot chocolates, coffees and teas including two distinct types of Earl Grey and a fresh mint or lemon verbena infusion, with leaves grown in a specially designated hotel cupboard with its own irrigation and lighting system. Everything is served faultlessly by confident, well informed and non-intrusive staff for whom nothing is too much bother– soft boiled eggs are perfectly timed, warm, fresh Hollandaise is swiftly produced on request for the poached eggs – and who appear
just at the right moment to refill tea or coffee, whisk away crumbs or replace a fallen fork. If you’re hungry for more stylish breakfast options, we recommend The Wolseley, The Hawksmoor and Cookbook Café in London, The Old Parsonage Hotel in Oxford, Hotel du Vin in Cambridge and Sam’s of Brighton. (Our thanks to Claridge’s Christina Norton and Food and Beverage Director, Eugene Leonard). Claridges Hotel, Mayfair Breakfast daily til 12 www.claridges.co.uk 3. PASTRY WITH PANACHE: GAIL’S BAKERY 'When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,' said Piglet, 'what's the first thing you say to yourself?' 'What's for breakfast?' said Pooh. Winnie the Pooh’s fondness for breakfast is one shared by Gail’s Artisan Bakery. Gail’s specialises in handmade bread, cakes, pastries and some damn wonderful hot breakfasts. Dotted around London, many of its branches offer a breakfast menu til 3, and Gail’s Kitchen in Bloomsbury hosts a splendid brunch at weekends. This is the place for Brioche French Toast, buttery, fluffy, sweet, creamy with a tickle of maple, Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes, bursting with berries inside and out, and warm and comforting Shakshuka, a rich baked egg, feta and roasted pepper casserole with a Mediterranean zest. But where Gail’s goes beyond heaven is in its bakes and breads. Gail’s thinks bread is beautiful and so creates around 30 types of fresh, delicious, imaginative bread every day. Difficult to pick favourites, but it has to be said that Gail’s Potato and Rosemary Loaf, fragrant with fresh rosemary, nigella seeds and baked, mashed potatoes, the Caramelised Garlic Bread, generously spiked with whole cloves of caramelised garlic, and the signature French Dark Sourdough are out of this world. Order a few thick slices with your hot breakfast or expertly brewed coffee, or enjoy toasted with melted butter and housemade chunky marmalade. Take home a loaf or two for a post-breakfast treat. Gail’s pastries and cakes are no less blissful. There’s a wondrous Cinnamon Bun, all flaky croissant dough wrapped round a pouch of cinnamon sugar which caramelises as the dough bakes, a voluptuous Blueberry and Custard Brioche, a wicked Chocolate Pecan
Pastry with Panache, Gail's Bakery 29
Astrid, Isaias and Beata serve up breakfast with a smile at Gail's Exmouth Market
Brownie, reputed to be the best in Britain, and a tangy Apple and Crumble Tart. Celebrate Spring with Gail’s thickly-frosted Bunny Cupcakes or sweet and spicy Hot Cross Buns packed with currants, sultanas and cranberries, each bun topped with a glaze of spiced syrup. We could go on and on, but we would get very fat. Gail’s slogan says it all: “We cannot live by bread alone, so let us eat cake!” If like us you’re a sucker for breakfast with great breads, bakes and killer coffee, you’ll also enjoy Ottolenghi and Caravan in London, Pierreponts in Goring-on-Thames and the Black Cat Café in Cambridge. Gail’s Kitchen and Gail’s Artisan Bakery, locations around London Breakfast daily; weekend brunch at Gail’s Kitchen gailsbread.co.uk/our-food/breakfast 4. THE FULL PERUVIAN: ANDINA Andina is a term of affection for a woman from the Andes, and so it was the memory of his beloved Peruvian grandmother and her homely cooking which inspired renowned chef and award-winning cookbook author Martin Morales to give his Shoreditch restaurant its name. Like the typical Peruvian ‘picanterias’ – traditional, family run, community restaurants – on which it has been styled, Andina offers diners a feast of tasty and distinctive dishes using Peruvian superfoods such as maca, quinoa, amaranth and lucuma. For its breakfast and weekend brunch menu, Andina uniquely melds Peruvian flavours with local and seasonal British produce, guaranteeing a healthy and delicious kick-start to your day.
What’s really great about Andina is that you get to enjoy the usual morning favourites done exceptionally well – outstanding coffee, excellent eggs, fresh pressed juices, for example – and try some new and exciting takes on breakfast classics. There’s the Full Peruvian, a cheeky twist on the Full English breakfast, Eggs Benedicto and an extraordinary Quinoa Porridge topped with fruit and liquid jewels of purple maize syrup. For weekend brunch Andina adds a tempting range of grills, salads and street food (the Chicharrones are a revelation) and superb seafood Ceviches, which you can watch being prepared with passion in the dedicated Ceviche Bar. As well as serious, full-bodied South American coffees, you can sample traditional Andean hot drinks like the re-invigorating Emoliente, the nourishing Fuerza and a choice of Peruvian teas. The menu changes regularly and new dishes are being developed all the time by Andina’s innovative chefs. All that fabulous food and drink is enhanced by charming, attentive service from staff who look like they are enjoying themselves as much as the diners. The atmosphere is comfortable and relaxed with décor inspired by a traditional Andean house: all warm wood furnishings, beautiful wall hangings, exquisite handcrafted retablo boxes. We’re not normally fans of music in restaurants, but at Andina music is an essential part of the ambient groove, with wonderful Peruvian sounds from Martin’s in-house label, Tiger’s Milk Records. Martin
Andina's Full Peruvian
formerly worked in the music industry and is passionate about helping young Peruvian artists and rediscovering vintage musicians from an earlier age. Even a visit to the (unisex) restroom with its colourfully painted cubicles and genial lighting was a joy. Throughout our Andina visit we kept repeating words like delicious, incredible, ‘mmmm’ and ‘och ay’ (from the Scotsman in our party.) When asked about his best moments at Andina, Martin Morales told us, “my memorable moment happens every time I hear a member of my team saying how much they love working at our restaurant.” Every inch of Andina lives up to its motto, “qui se cocina con cariño” (Here we cook with love). We were thrilled to hear about Martin’s latest venture, Ceviche Old St, opening soon with a promise to “push the boundaries of Peruvian food, bring magic and make you go Wow”. (A big thank you to Martin and his team for their generous help). Andina Peruvian Kitchen, Shoreditch Breakfast daily, Brunch all weekend Andinalondon.com 5. DISTINCTIVELY DOWN UNDER: LANTANA CAFé Australia has a thriving breakfast and brunch culture to rival the best American traditions. As London’s first truly Australian café, Lantana has turned the idea of down-under on its head, bringing Aussie café culture to the UK and gaining a loyal following of foodie fans. Lantana was founded in 2008 by Shelagh Ryan and Michael Homan, who spotted an antipodean gap in London’s food scene and acted on their belief that breakfast should be given the care and attention it deserves as the first meal of the day. The difficult part may be deciding at which branch of Lantana to dine, with a choice of the bustling original in Fitzrovia, spacious City-Shoreditch branch and youngest sibling, Ruby Dock, in Camden Lock Market. Australian-flavoured breakfast is not just about great food and an obsession with coffee, but a relaxed social get together with friends and family. All the same, it’s hard not to get excited about Shelagh Ryan’s impressively broad cooking palette. Using a wide range of flavours, colours, textures and combinations, she has created some really interesting menu choices, offering diners something they wouldn’t normally make at home. That means unique delights like Lantana’s take on the Full English, English muffins with sausage, bacon, fried egg, smoked cheddar, fresh spinach and chilli jam, the scrumptious Maple French Toast with grilled bananas and toasted pecans and Lantana’s most popular breakfast item, Corn Fritters stacked with streaky bacon, spinach, slow roasted tomatoes, smashed
Lantana's brilliant bakes
Lantana's magical corn fritter, bacon and veg stack
avocado and lemon crème fraîche. From time to time Shelagh and Michael have attempted to take this last item off-menu to make room for the new, only to be besieged by customers begging, ever successfully, for its return.
It’s said that coffee is to Australians what bread is to the French. Australians are famously serious about their coffee, so at Lantana you’ll find the renowned Flat White, a single origin filter blend which changes daily, plus a host of other perfectly prepared brews. There are other beverages you’re unlikely to find elsewhere in Britain, such as Hibiscus Limeade and housemade Gingerade. Lantana really comes into its own with a glorious range of baked goodies. Savoury fans can enjoy courgette, potato or sourdough toast, whilst the hopelessly sweet-toothed will be tempted by fruity Friands, Lemon Polenta Cakes and Cherry Ripe Slices. Look out for Sheila’s sublime Crack Cakes— banana,
pineapple, cinnamon, pecans with a lethal amount of cream cheese frosting. No, there’s nothing illicit about them but we’re told the chefs can never bake enough and they’re said to have addictive qualities. The recent publication of a first cookbook, Café Kitchen, means fans can now recreate the Lantana experience in their own kitchen. All menu favourites are there, along with lovingly posed images that will make you drool with desire. There is no place quite like Lantana but if you’re interested in quality regional breakfasts, go for Scottish at Café Gandolfi in Glasgow, Toast and Urban Angel in Edinburgh, Welsh at Blue Sky in Bangor, Wales, and Indian Sunday brunch at Curry Leaf Café in Brighton. n Lantana, City Road, Charlotte Street & Camden Market Breakfast daily til 3, morphing into brunch at weekends www.lantanacafé.co.uk Take Five is our quarterly feature bringing the best of British to Americans in Britain. A special thanks to Ivor, Jane, Ariel, Jeremy, Naomi and Toby for help with our research. If you’d like us to share your experience of breakfast in Britain with our readers, email Judith at firstname.lastname@example.org
American Eye Paula Sides in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi for the English Touring Opera, photo by Richard Hubert Smith
Judith Schrut Meets AwardWinning Soprano, Paula Sides
his issue’s American Eye enjoys the effervescent company of American in Britain, Paula Sides, lyric soprano and leading light of the English Touring Opera. We understand you were born and raised in Tennessee. What brought you to Britain and what made you stay? I had a very traditional Southern upbringing. After finishing my first degree at the Schwob School of Music in Georgia, I had a choice of moving up north to the Yankee states or going abroad. I chose the bigger, further adventure, to spread my wings by moving abroad. At first I knew no-one in England, but I quickly found that I loved it here and decided to stay. I studied at London’s Royal College of Music on the opera course, where I received the Tagore Gold Medal as well as meeting my future husband, Jonathan. He was in the audience at a student concert and I was singing on stage! It was instant, love at first sight for both of us. You’re set to sing the lead role of Mimi in La Boheme in the new ETO touring production. What are you most looking forward to? I have always loved singing this piece. When I was starting out in opera, aged 21 and touring with a small company, Mimi was my first major role. Now I have the chance to rediscover afresh a role that I did when I was so young. I am incredibly excited to be performing a show that I love with a company, orchestra and director, James Conway, who I absolutely adore working with. It’s a marriage made in heaven.
Tell us about some of the inspirations along the way in your career. Well, first there’s my amazing, dynamic voice teacher, Llyndall Trotman. She’s a livelife-to-the-fullest, make-every-moment-count sort of person who shook me out of my fairly restrictive Southern upbringing, inspired me and empowered me to grab life with both hands. Then, at the Royal College of Music I was encouraged by everyone and inspired by the whole experience of being immersed in that very special musical world and atmosphere. What do you most enjoy doing when you’re not working? I love spending time with my husband and one year old daughter, Aurelia Ruth, in the beautiful Yorkshire village cottage where we live, just relaxing or walking on the moors. What essential things would you advise Americans in Britain to be sure not to miss? I would advise Americans here to see as much of the country as possible, it’s all so varied and different. They should try climbing mountains in Wales and the Lake District, see the coast in Cornwall, explore Scotland’s islands, visit Yorkshire for the moors and the Bronte connections. London’s concert halls and theatres are great, but I also recommend visiting all the local UK venues where the ETO is performing. My favourites are the beautiful Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton and Buxton Opera House. Do you have any guilty pleasures? For me at this stage with a baby it’s a guilty
Schicchi. It was the first aria I ever sang, aged 19. That feeling of being on stage and opening up your soul for a minute, performing, giving something to the audience, was both terrifying and exciting. I felt every emotion you could imagine. And I was completely addicted.
Paula Sides in Handel's Agrippina for the English Touring Opera, photo by Robert Workman
pleasure just to go to dinner with my husband and stay out past 9.30! One of our favourite places is the White Lion in Hebden Bridge. I really like going to the pub, which may seem funny as I don’t drink beer at all! But the whole experience is great. So many pubs in the UK and Ireland have wonderful traditions of music and folk singing. I’m reminded of all those Southern USA connections, which makes me feel right at home.
Are there any American comforts you really miss? Yes! Peanut butter and real grape jelly, soft drinks with lots of ice and fresh popcorn with hot butter. Can you think of a moment that changed your life? That moment would be the first time I sang “O Mio Babbino Caro” from Puccini’s Gianni
'American in Britain' magazine is always keen to promote cross-country relations– please share with us your fantasy BritishAmerican dinner party. This would be a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with lots of Southern hospitality. I’d pack the table with all the people I love– a mixture of British and American friends we’ve been so lucky to meet in our life here. I’d cook lots of food, including at least five desserts and every pie known to man. And copious amounts of champagne. At about 3 in the morning, when we’ve had plenty of food and champagne, we’d finish off with a great musical jam session. Don’t miss Paula starring in English Touring Opera’s productions of La Boheme and the Siege of Calais at Warwick Arts Centre, Buxton Opera House, Cambridge Arts Theatre and other great venues around the UK this spring and summer. Further information at: englishtouringopera.org.uk
A Letter From Scotland
From Yvonne Willcocks
ha-hey” as Robert Burns might have said, there are lots of snowdrops everywhere! That means Spring is on the way! Soon there will be daffodils, and then bluebells, and then tree blossoms, and before you can say Jack Robin, we will be sunbathing! Maybe I sound optimistic but the weather in Scotland has not been at all bad this winter. I should really only speak for my area, Dunfermline in Fife, as there certainly have been snow problems in the Mountains. 34
I have lived in Dunfermline for nearly eleven years and at first it seemed rather small after over thirty years in London, and before that New York City, Zurich, Antwerp and The Hague, where I was born in Wassenaar. But it quickly grows on you and we are very happy here. One reason that brought us here was that my younger daughter got married and has two of our lovely grandchildren. Meanwhile my elder daughter also had two children and lives in the south of England, which means that we trek happily back and forth. Edinburgh is about 30 minutes away from Dunfermline by car (or rail), over the Forth Road Bridge. Next year the new “Queensferry Bridge” will be completed, making a trio with the iconic Forth Rail Bridge which has just celebrated its 125th anniversary. Of course almost everybody knows about Edinburgh, but we have found that
Dunfermline is a great place to live, and we love its royal and ancient history. Its origins go back to King Malcolm III who defeated Macbeth and married Margaret, a Saxon princess fleeing from William the Conqueror of England. The pious Queen Margaret was later canonised and her son David built a Benedictine Abbey on the hillside which must have been a wonderful sight to the pilgrims who visited her shrine. Malcolm’s dynasty reigned for over 200 years when Edward I of England tried to subdue Scotland, but finally Robert the Bruce triumphed. His grave is in Dunfermline’s Abbey Garden
Church. Much of the Abbey was destroyed by zealous Protestants during the Reformation in 1560. However, the magnificent Romanesque nave survived as the parish church, and in 1824 a new church was added. From its earliest days Dunfermline was the seat of Royalty and a Palace was built next to the Abbey for the family and for visitors. Both Robert the Bruce and Edward I lived here (but not at the same time!). James VI lived in the Palace, and Charles I was born here. When Queen Elizabeth died in 1603, James and his Court moved to London. After this the Palace soon decayed and now only one magnificent wall remains. Not to be missed in Dunfermline is Abbot House (or “The Pink Hoose” as locals call it) just across the ancient Graveyard. Dating from the Abbey’s heyday, it is both a museum and a café. You must try their home-baked scones and cakes! It was probably not the Abbot’s home but it has had many uses in its time. Lady Anne Halkett (Hackett), a teacher, herbalist and midwife, lived here for many years following an exciting life at the Stewart Royal Court in London. In the 1990’s the house was carefully renovated, the café installed in the barrel-vaulted lower rooms while the upstairs chambers displayed Dunfermline’s history and its notable residents. Taking tea in the herb garden over-looking the Abbey is delightful. Pittencrieff Park, known locally as “The Glen”, was once a royal hunting ground below the great monastery. The name “Dunfermline” is said to derive from a hill with a tower, surrounded by a winding ‘burn’. Although the tower has been reduced to its foundations, it still sits on a rocky outcrop making a loop in the stream at its base as it flows gently through the deep, tree-covered valley. To the west is a landscaped park which was owned by a succession of landowners. One notable laird was General John Forbes whose home was Pittencrieff House, an imposing orangecoloured, lime-coated building overlooking the Burn and with commanding views of
the Park. Forbes was the general who, in 1758, engineered the successful 300-mile trail through Pennsylvania to take Fort Duquesne from the French - with the aid of a young George Washington. Forbes named the captured settlement Pittsburg in honour of William Pitt, the Prime Minister, and it is where Carnegie made his millions. Later owners of the Park have landscaped the grounds and added features like the ‘Laird’s Garden’ and the tropical greenhouses. Andrew Carnegie was born in 1835 in a tiny
cottage in Dunfermline near the Park, and the story goes that when ‘Andra’ was young, radical members of his family fell out with the owners of the Park and his family was banned from coming there. The great philanthropist got his own back when he returned as the richest man in the world. He bought the whole place and ‘gifted Pittencrieff Park to the people of Dunfermline for ever’. The cottage has since been expanded into a museum of the great man’s life and achievements, and it is well worth a visit. The ancient county of Fife is surrounded by the sea on three sides with a succession of charming old fishing villages. During the last few years a scheme to construct the Fife Coastal Path, a continuous footpath all round the coast, has been completed. We particularly enjoy a section of the path around the little port of Aberdour, past its golf course, between fields to a ruined church where we sit and look out across the Firth of Forth to Edinburgh and “Arthur’s Seat”, the volcanic hill on the far side of the city. Scotland is a great place for walkers and recently the availability of distance-walking, or ‘pilgrimage’ has become a topical issue highlighted by the revival of the European pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostella in Spain. It’s not just for religious pilgrimages, although that is reviving, but health pilgrimage is increasing, and cultural history pilgrimages are popular. People are realising that sights and folks met along the way are just as important as arriving at their destination. With local and national support, Scottish Pilgrim Routes Forum is planning off-road routes across the country. Scotland has its own saints including St. Columba, St. Kentigern and St. Andrew. Dunfermline’s own St Margaret will feature in a re-created Fife Pilgrim Way across the county to St Andrews. n
Fourth Rail Bridge
Applying To University Via Ucas A
pplying for university is both nerveracking and exciting for students as they plan their futures and think about post-school options. University in the UK is often better suited to students who already know what they would like to study as they must choose a course when they apply. By contrast, students in America can study many subjects while they decide what to focus on. 36
Cobham Graduation 2014 ©Chris Pearsall Photography
As a college counsellor at ACS Cobham International School, I have helped numerous students through the university application process which can at first seem daunting but is actually much more streamlined than it first appears. In the UK, applications are made online via UCAS – the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. A visit to the www.ucas.com is an essential first port of call providing excellent guidance for applicants - and their parents and guardians. Applicants must first register with UCAS Apply to create their own personal UCAS ‘account’ complete with user name, password and security questions. Buzzwords, which will be used during the application process, should be provided to students from their school counsellor or administrator as a way to connect the student’s application to their high school. UCAS Apply allows applicants to save and store their information as they go. Nothing is sent to UCAS until the submit button is pressed – still some way off at this stage. In addition to information such as contact details and qualifications, a personal statement is required. This comprises a 4000-character essay presenting ambitions, interests, successes, and the applicant’s rationale for choosing a particular course. Sometimes just thinking about their personal statement can send students into a blind panic, but it’s actually nothing like as onerous as it sounds, and we will consider a bit later what universities look for and what to include. Applicants may choose to apply for up to five universities (four if applying to study medicine, dentistry or veterinary sciences). Predicated exam grades will help decide which to choose, but we advise some variation to allow for higher or lower than anticipated grades. Don’t forget, applicants might not receive offers from all five universities so it’s important that all five institutions are equally carefully selected. Ideally applicants will have visited each institution beforehand which will
help with their decision making. After submitting the completed application form, the seemingly long wait for offers begins. Places are offered either conditionally, pending actual exam results, or unconditionally if the applicant has already achieved the required grades. From their received offers, applicants must then select two universities to proceed with and decline the other offers. A ‘firm’ and ‘insurance’ decision has to be made by a given date that is dictated by when the last admissions decision is received by the student. If subsequent exam grades meet the offer requirements, all well and good. If they are below expected and do not meet the course requirements, applicants should check with the university first (they may be lenient) but, failing that, can apply to other institutions through a process known as Clearing. All applications received by UCAS after 6pm on June 30 automatically enter the Clearing process with no further offers being made until exam results are known. This underlines the importance of getting applications underway early! Course vacancies remaining and available through Clearing are presented on the UCAS website but applicants must liaise with the universities directly to apply. Both parties, applicant and university, then confirm acceptance though UCAS. While the Clearing process starts officially in July, activity escalates massively in midAugust when A level results are announced. For those who lose out on a place by missing the required grades, the plan is generally to find an alternative place through Clearing as quickly as possible so it is a busy few days post exam results. If, however, an applicant’s grades are higher than predicted, they may wish to try for a course more closely aligned to their higher grades. They can do this through the UCAS Adjustment process which allows them to apply for alternative places without
jeopardising existing offers. Places available through Adjustment tend to be very limited and are not listed – applicants must research in advance where they may like to go and approach each university individually. What do admissions personnel look for in applicants? The annual ACS University Admissions Officers Report presents research conducted amongst university admission officers and explores the qualities they look for in prospective students in addition to exam results. While good written English and a reasonable grasp of Maths are essential, most look specifically for evidence of a genuine passion for the chosen subject, plus a positive attitude towards study, and an ability to think and work independently. They will also look at work experience undertaken, and be interested to see evidence of activities demonstrating initiative, responsibility or leadership. A clear passion for the chosen subject was cited by 98 per cent of UK admissions officers as important or very important. Applicants can demonstrate this by presenting current and past study of subjects related to their chosen field, but also though work experience or hobbies undertaken beyond academia but still related to the chosen subject.
As a rule of thumb, a personal statement should be 80 per cent related to the chosen course of study while 20 per cent should reference co-curricular activities, such as sports, clubs, volunteer work or personal projects. Part-time jobs, such as childcare, retail or hospitality work can be used to evidence different skills. Start early! Any student considering higher education
Cobham Graduation 2014 ©Chris Pearsall Photography
should start looking and preparing early. They should also be aware that different universities and courses have different application deadlines – some are much earlier than others. A considered approach is better than a rushed approach so researching and visiting potential universities the year before applying is highly recommended. Ideally applications should be submitted by Christmas preceding the start date. Ryan Hinchey, College Counsellor at ACS Cobham, shares his insights into applying for university in Britain. ACS Cobham International School is part of ACS International Schools and serves international and local communities. ACS Cobham is non-sectarian, co-educational day and boarding, enrolling approximately 1400 students aged 2 to18 years. The school is located to the South of London between Gatwick and Heathrow Airports. The school offers a fully international curriculum including the International Baccalaureate. The school has state-of-the-art facilities and an on-going programme of building investment with impressive grounds. The strong core academic programme and extensive arts, sports and cultural activities support a studentcentred philosophy.
Our Website To Assist Americans Living In, Or Moving To The UK
Our website is updated regularly with content and information beneficial to any American moving to, or living in the UK. There are over 40 pages of information full of resources and useful contacts and links. Our pages include: Competitions & Offers – competitions and offers are added each month Living In – A page dedicated to key residential areas in London & the Home Counties popular with the American Expatriate Community Serviced Apartments – Moving to live in the UK? Consider the benefits of a serviced apartment Theatre – See information on the latest shows Moving – Moving overseas this summer? Expatriate Clubs – See a comprehensive listing of the many expatriate clubs & associations operating in the UK Tax – Need the latest tax advice and links to taxation websites? Visit this page for updates and information Events – Catch up on the latest activities and events, and meet and engage with the American expatriate community in the UK Having A Baby In The UK – What you need to know if you are planning to have your baby in the UK Please do tell and of our partners or advertisers that you have obtained their details from our site or magazine when you communicate with them! Please also give us any feedback via the Contact Us section of the website.
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American Women’s Clubs News American Women of Surrey The American Women of Surrey are looking forward to a wonderful spring in southeast England! In the first half of our year we hiked, toured, explored, shopped, learned new skills and dedicated our time to others. We enjoyed a very successful 24th annual Gift Fayre, Holiday Homes Tour, Free the Girls event, and Giving Tree, raising more than £25,000 for our designated charities. In the coming months we will begin planning for the 2015 Gift Fayre to be held 15 November, and celebrating our 40th Anniversary as an organisation with a fun night of dinner and dancing. With 37 clubs, activities and classes, our membership continues to grow and enjoy life in the beautiful county of Surrey. New members of all nationalities are always welcome. Please visit awsurrey.org for more information. 38
American Women of Surrey
American Women of Surrey
American Women of Surrey
JLL Spring has sprung! The Junior League of London (JLL) has been busy, and there is no shortage of activities as the days get longer! Little Black Dress Initiative: In February, 45 members of the JLL took part in the Little Black Dress Initiative (LBDI). LBDI is a poverty awareness and fundraising campaign, where each participant wears a single black dress for five days, to illustrate the effects poverty can have on access to resources, confidence and opportunities. Following the campaign, participants donated professional clothing to Smart Works, a charity that helps women
on low incomes prepare for job interviews, by providing them with professional attire and career development advice. This year we raised over £25,000, which support the JLL’s community work. To learn more, please visit our website - www.jll.org.uk All Service Day: On 7 March, the JLL held its annual All Service Day. This year, more than 70 volunteers participated in a range of Done-in-a-Day (DIAD) volunteering activities across London. The day was packed with community service projects that all aim to enhance the lives of those in need in the London community. Volunteers completed more than 200 hours of voluntary service with our various community partners, including: • Organising the stock room at Smart Works to allow their clients the ease of selecting an interview outfit • Enjoying a fun-filled day of face-painting, story-time, games and an art project with women and children who shelter with Hestia; and • Helping to paint an elderly woman's kitchen in Kensington. In addition to these exciting initiatives, our members have continued to work to improve our community through supporting West London Churches Homeless Shelter by preparing and serving food to the guests, sorting food donations for the Hammersmith and Fulham Food Bank, and helping sort and distribute donated clothing to homeless individuals at The Manna Society. 30th Anniversary Events: As this is our 30th anniversary year, our members held a 30th Anniversary Pub Quiz at the end of March, where members, partners and friends gathered to put their knowledge of random facts and the JLL to the test. The celebrations will continue at our Spring event, 'Party Like It’s 1985!', on 25 April at Beaufort House in Chelsea! Please invite your friends, family and colleagues to dance the night away to a playlist of ‘80’s classics, try their hand at vintage games such as Twister
and Operation, and visit our Throwback Photobooth for fun snaps in flattering neon and big hair. The night will include a live and silent auction with luxury retail items, fitness packages and unique experiences. Prizes will be awarded to the best dressed man, woman and group, so start planning those outfits now! Buy a Patron Ticket for £100 or Standard Ticket for £65 on Eventbrite. You may also contribute to our ‘30 for 30’ campaign, which celebrates the legacy of the JLL as we set our sights on the next 30 years. Join the JLL: If you’re interested in volunteering, enriching your community and keen to lead and learn, then the JLL is for you! Register your interest to receive details about the new member programme or email the New Member Development Committee (NMDC) Co-Chairs, Claire Roper and Cynthia Ward at NMDCJLL@gmail.com. To learn more about the JLL, please visit our website, or contact the office at 020 7250 8104 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Chilterns American Women's Club The next CAWC General Meeting will be held on Thursday 16th April, featuring Jacqueline Greaney from Boutique Hats. Jacqueline will be teaching us a little about millinery and helping us to get ready for Royal Ascot in June. We will also be discussing potential charities to benefit from next year’s
fund raising. General Meetings are held at the Buckinghamshire Golf Club and begin at 9:30 with a chance to shop from a selection of local vendors. CAWC also has several activity groups for our members to enjoy, including Moms and Tots, Day Hikes, Stitch & Chat, Golf, Tennis, Christian Corner, Let’s Go, and so much more. What a wonderful year it has been so far! CAWC members have enjoyed great events such as, Moms-and-Tots sponsored Trunk-orTreat, another successful Christmas Charity Bazaar, and a fabulous Christmas Luncheon at Stoke Park Country Club, Hotel & Spa. Even with all that, CAWC still has has several spectacular events planned for the spring and early summer. On Thursday, 14 May, we will hold our annual May Tea Party. This event combines a traditional English Tea with a themed table decorating contest and our end-of-the-club-year member’s only raffle. Thursday, 11 June, brings BBQ, Bubbles, and Bunco! CAWC members will enjoy a scrumptious BBQ luncheon while playing a few rounds of Bunco on the beautiful patio of the Buckinghamshire Golf Club. Sadly, this is also when we will say our official “see you soon” to those members moving on to their next adventure. We will finish up this year’s club events at Royal Ascot on Tuesday, 16 June. Members and guests will enjoy a day at the races with a catered lunch. We will take a summer break from official meetings and resume another fantastic CAWC year on Thursday, 10 September, with a General Meeting at the Buckinghamshire Golf Club. CAWC’s primary fundraising event is our Annual Charity Christmas Bazaar. The November 2014 Bazaar raised over £14,000 for local charities. We recently had the pleasure of presenting the Epilepsy Society and Horizon Sports Club each with a cheque for £7,144. We are already actively planning for the next Bazaar, which will be held at The Bellhouse Hotel in Beaconsfield, on Sunday, 8 November, 2015 from 10:00 to 16:00. CAWC is an active group of over 100 North American and International women who call this area home, either temporarily or permanently. Our club offers the opportunity to network through meetings, social activities, outings, and charitable events. We are a great resource to newcomers and returning
members alike. A very important part of the club is to give back to the community. We are proud to have raised over £240,000 for local charities over the last 28 years with our Annual Christmas Bazaar and look to do much more in the future! For more information visit us at www.cawc.co.uk or email us at membership@ cawc.co.uk. FAWCO Rwanda's Strength of a Woman Tour: Update The FAWCO Human Rights Task Force is sponsoring a first-of-its-kind educational trip for FAWCO members and their guests to Rwanda to explore implications of women's leadership and human rights issues in this fascinating and beautiful country. The trip will be led by Women, Peace and Conflict Chair, Therese Hartwell. Since the genocide that tore Rwanda apart twenty years ago, the nation has become a model for the involvement of women in all levels of government. Women have been at the heart of the country's recovery, and currently over 60% of the Rwandan Parliament is made up of women, the highest percentage in the world. A trip is tentatively planned for May 31 to June 8. FAWCO is also considering alternative dates at the end of October 2015, if there is more interest in a later programme. For the detailed itinerary, go to www.fawco.org. As time is short to sign up for the June trip, please email Therese right away at email@example.com if you are interested in either June or October. One Billion Rising 2015: Rise for the Raise One Billion Rising (OBR) is the biggest mass action to end violence against women in human history. The campaign launched on Valentine’s Day 2012. It began as a call 39
to action based on the staggering statistic that 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at 7 billion, this adds up to more than ONE BILLION WOMEN AND GIRLS. On 14 February 2013, people across the world came together to express their outrage, strike, dance, and RISE in defiance of the injustices women suffer, demanding an end at last to violence against women. Last year, on 14 February 2014, One Billion Rising for Justice focused on the issue of justice for all survivors of gender violence, and highlighted the impunity that lives at the intersection of poverty, racism, war, the plunder of the environment, capitalism, imperialism, and patriarchy. Events took place in 200 countries, where women, men, and youth came together to Rise, Release, and Dance outside of court houses, police stations, government offices, school administration buildings, work places, sites of environmental injustice, military courts, embassies, places of worship, homes, or simply public gathering places where women deserve to feel safe but too often do not. The campaign was covered widely by media in all corners of world including The New York Times, The Guardian, NPR, and many more. This year's campaign entitled Rise for the Raise, took place on 14 February 2015 and was dedicated to fair wages, union rights, and job security worldwide. Rise for the Raise has demanded economic equality for women because it is key to eliminating violence against women, demanding governmental and corporate accountability, helping, encouraging, and enabling women worldwide to stand up for their rights. FAWCO's Economic Empowerment Committee has encouraged member clubs to learn more about OBR. Some FAWCO members participated in OBR community events. Go to onebillionrising.org and learn more about the activities that took place on Valentine's Day 2015, and see how supporters of women rights united to create "a radical shift in consciousness." Read how women are "being braver, bolder and more creative, and making more determined actions to bring about CHANGE to END violence against women and girls." AWC Spring has Sprung in London Talking about the weather is a national pastime and great source of fascination for the Brits! In the springtime the temperatures creep up and some glorious warm sunshine pokes through the clouds. Yes, London comes alive in the spring! Shake off the cold and wet from the winter 40
… it’s time for new beginnings! Spring is here!! This is probably the most unpredictable time of year weather wise and hardest to dress for – but there is so much for you to do! The best advice is to select a range of winter and summer clothes (making sure you have at least one warm jumper with you at all times!) and get out and explore! The American Women’s Club of London (AWC) can help you explore London and Europe, access cultural events, go to socialising activities, take part in educational programmes and be a part of a unique group of women all living in and around London. To give you a better idea of some of the things we do, here is a look at what the AWC had to offer earlier this year. The Food, Glorious Food Group was busy with a Vietnamese Street Food Cookery Class in March. They enjoyed a spicy and exciting morning of Vietnamese cookery at Jamie Oliver’s Recipease in a private class just for the group. They prepared beef pho, summer rolls, pork balls and a zingy dipping sauce and enjoyed lunch after the session. The recipes were included and there was even a discount in the shop that day to buy supplies and cook again at home! It was great fun and they even did a bit of celebrity spotting as they cooked! In addition to cookery classes, the AWC offered other educational programmes too. As you might know, as an expat, international tax issues can be complicated. To help prepare for April 15th – Tax Day – the Business Women’s Group hosted a Tax Seminar along with London & Capital and US Tax & Financial Services. Through a round table discussion, they worked through some of the key issues like US/UK wills, US/UK trust planning, Inheritance tax planning, FBARS and other related topics. It was a great event to learn about tax requirements and network with key professionals.
Business Women’s Group - Tax Seminar
The Gardening Group at the Chelsea Physic Garden
Earlier this year a new group formed to explore the wealth of fantastic gardens in and around London. The Gardening Group explored the Chelsea Physic Garden and met with Naomi Slade, an award-winning horticultural journalist and show garden designer. She presented a fresh way to look at snowdrops – a much loved spring bloomer – and how they can be used in gardens both large and small. This talk got those gardeners excited enough to plant some snowdrops in
pots and place them around their flat. They are now watching them bloom! The annual Stoke-on-Trent pottery trip was yet again a huge success! Many women took advantage of the sales on the annual trip to the pottery outlets in January! A private luxury coach drove to the individual factory stores where we shopped to our heart’s content. Burleigh, Emma Bridgewater, Waterford/ Wedgewood/Royal Doulton, Portmeirion and Moorcroft were on the shopping list! The bus had a storage compartment just for our purchases and many of the factories also shipped to a US address free of VAT! We brought our own lunch, shared a few laughs and really enjoyed the day! That’s just a sampling of some of the great activities and travel trips the AWC members have been involved with in the colder months. As the cold gives way to warm sun and spring flowers, it’s time to meet new people and socialise! One of the most important events of the year for the AWC is the annual Founders Day Celebration - dating back to 1899 and in honour of our founding members! On April 18th at the Bloomsbury Hotel, in London, we will host a fantastic cocktail party – and this year it’s inviting everyone to join in on the fun! You don’t need to be a member to attend, so bring along a friend, have some fun and meet new people! In addition to enjoying the great cocktails and heavy hors d’oeuvres, take part in the silent auctions, live auctions and raffles. The silent auction items will include three
categories this year: travel, experiences, and shopping. Travel will include trips and overnight stays. Experiences will have classes, tutorials, and restaurant vouchers. Shopping will include jewellery, pottery, and vouchers for stores. The live auction includes a sailing trip, an all day shopping excursion to Bicester Village and more. (The other live auction details are being kept a ‘top secret’!). One secret is out though … back by popular demand, the Wall of Wine is back! The Wall of Wine is yet another fun way to participate in the evening. Half the fun of drinking wine is discovering something new! For just £20, you’ll be able to take home a mystery bottle to try. We’ll have a wall of covered wine bottles (valued at no less than £20 each) that you can choose from and later enjoy! In addition to the thrill of raffles and the live and silent auctions, the night will include some fun entertainment. So put on your fancy dress or optional black tie and don’t miss out on the fun. It’s Saturday night, April 18th from 6-10pm in the Queen Mary Hall at the Bloomsbury Hotel, 16-22 Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3NN. Tickets are £55 per person. For more information and to purchase tickets email the AWC Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 020 7589 8292. If you love to meet new people and travel, join us for a trip to Spain for a gastronomic experience in May! The Travel Group, Cellar Dwellers, and Food, Glorious Food, team up to invite you to come along from May 1st to May 4th on this gastronomic adventure to the Basque region of Spain. San Sebastion food culinary experts will guide you to the best Pintxo taverns, a Basque cookery class, a day trip to a fishing village on the Cantabrian Sea, a winery, and a 3-michelin star dining experience. If you love travel, food and wine you won’t want to miss this trip! For more information email the AWC office at email@example.com or call on 020 7589 8292. Travelling around Europe is one of the
many benefits of living in Great Britain – yet there is so much to do here at home in London. The Art and Antiques group is very active in the spring with tours of the Wallace Collection and the Tate Modern. Dr. MarieAnne Mancio from, The Course, which host hundreds of lecture series and tours on Art and History, will provide both tours. Join the group on April 27th for The Wallace Collection Tour at Hertford House. This beautifully restored and recently reopened home that belonged to the Marquess of Hertford has an exquisite set of paintings, furniture, porcelain, clocks, and other artifacts that once graced the boudoirs and dressing tables of the French aristocracy in the years before the French Revolution. See famous paintings like Fragonard’s ‘The Swing’ and learn about the intrigues at Versailles in the era of Louis XV and his Official Mistress, Madame de Pompadour. On May 11th there is the Tate Modern to explore. This is one of London’s iconic buildings. The Tate Modern has an eclectic series of displays ranging from Picasso to conceptual art to the famous Seagram murals donated by Rothko and received by the gallery on the very morning he committed suicide. Often controversial, and increasingly international in its focus, the art here never fails to provoke debate. If you are looking for more regular activities to socialise and meet new friends on a weekly basis, then join the Mah Jongg, Bridge or Poker groups. Almost every day of the week, in the AWC Offices on 68 Old Brompton Road, SW7 3LQ, you’ll find something fun to do! Mah Jongg players meet every Tuesday and Friday to take part in the classic Chinese game. Bridge players meet every Monday afternoon and Poker players meet every Thursday afternoon, so if you love games these are the groups to join! For more information about these activities visit our website at www.awclondon.org or email the office. As evening time comes, it may be nice to socialise in one of those great traditional pubs. Join us for afternoon drinks every Thursday at 4pm at Paxtons Head, one of those old traditional British Pubs on Knightsbridge Road in Kensington. Enjoy the conversation, share some experiences and have a few laughs with other Americans. It is not necessary to RSVP – just join us! It is easy, just look for a group of women having fun and enjoying each other’s company. Every month there is an American Women’s Club of London Meeting for all members, and prospective new members, to learn more about the club, upcoming special activities, meet new people, network with others or just talk to an old friend. Join us on Tuesday, May 26th at 41
AWC Women enjoying the Pub
10am at the Lansdowne Club, 9 Fitzmaurice Place, Mayfair, W1J 5JD, and on Tuesday, June 23rd at 10am at the Royal Thames Yacht Club, 60 Knightsbridge Road, London, SW1X 7LF. For more information visit the website at www.awclondon.org or email the office firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, the AWC hosts New Member Welcome Coffees that are open to all members, but especially helpful if you are new to London or thinking about joining the club. Come by the AWC offices at 68 Old Brompton Road, SW7 3LQ at 10am on the third Tuesdays of each month - April 21st, May 26th, and June 23rd. No need to RSVP, just show up! You can meet other women and ask all those questions about settling in and living the life of an expat in London. Call the AWC office at 020 7589 8292 on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 10am-2pm for directions and other inquiries. Yes, Spring is here! You know it’s time to check out our website at www.awclondon. org or email the office. Learn more about the club, take part in any of the activities, travel and meetings, and make some new expat friendships! American Women’s Club of London 68 Old Brompton Road
London, SW7 3LQ www.awclondon.org email@example.com 020 7589 8292
and how it scars women’s lives physically and psychologically. There is a £10 non-member fee to attend a kcwc General Meeting and Lecture.
kcwc MAY GENERAL MEETING Thursday 7 May 2015 9:30 am – 12:30 pm The Royal Geographical Society 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR (nearest tube: South Kensington or High Street Kensington) GUEST SPEAKER: ASSITA KANKO, author of Parce que tu es une fille: histoire d’une vie excisée, (Because you are a girl: the story of a life circumcised) Female Genital Mutilation is a difficult subject, and yet it is one that we should understand in order to help in the fight to protect girls. It is estimated that 140 million girls worldwide are victims of FGM. Every minute seven girls between the age of 5 and 15 will undergo FGM. This practice does not only take place in Africa and the Middle East. It is estimated that between 3,000 and 4,000 procedures are performed in the UK each year. Seeking to raise awareness, Assita Kanko will explain her personal experience of FGM
ALTHORP LITERARY FESTIVAL Charles Spencer has once again kindly invited kcwc to be inspired by a stellar cast of authors whilst enjoying the beauty and history of Althorp. From The Hon. Earl Spencer to kcwc, “It is such a treat to have such a charming, cosmopolitan, and knowledgeable group come to enjoy Althorp. May you come back as long as you wish”. When: Friday 12 June, 8 am departure and return approx 6:30 pm Where: Althorp, Northamptonshire Cost: £115, or £90 for those who provide their own transportation; guests welcome. June **Annual General Meeting and Luncheon** When: Tuesday 2 June 2015, please note this meeting will take place on a Tuesday. Speaker: Bridgid Keenan on Trailing Spouses Where: The Hurlingham Club, Ranelagh Gardens, London, SW6 3PR.
Arts & Antiques Bohemian Chic in London and Paris by Abby Cronin Thea Porter in London Imagine yourself back in London’s swinging sixties when Soho was a seedy area where bohemian artists, writers and poets frequented coffee bars and jazz joints. Just as exotic non-Western and hippie clothing were becoming fashionable, Thea Porter arrived in London from Beirut. Soho was exactly the right place for her to open a small shop on Greek Street. The summer of 1966 was perfect timing and her shop resembled a bazaar similar to the ones she had known as a child growing up in the Middle East. As an experienced interior designer, Thea furnished the shop with rugs, embroidered textiles, traditional kaftans and garments mainly imported from Syria, Persia and India; they covered virtually every surface. The shop was an immediate success. Her kaftans sold so quickly that her imports couldn’t keep up with demand, so she began to design and produce them herself. She wrote in her archival memoir: “my shop almost immediately attracted rich hippies, actors, musicians and their
women, who rummaging excitedly through my fabrics, demanded that I make clothes for them”. Indeed, that is exactly what she did. Thea Porter’s background was ideally suited to the bohemian atmosphere of Soho in the 1970s. Born in Jerusalem in 1927, she had grown up in Damascus and her earliest memories were wandering around the covered bazaars with her mother. Her life-long passion for Eastern textiles, trimmings, gold, buttons and lace stemmed from those early years. Even the smells of perfumes and oils remained with her. In 1949 the family moved to Beirut where in 1953, Thea met and married a British diplomat and found herself in the swirl of Embassy life. Their daughter, Venetia, was born. Restless, she split from her husband and finally settled in London in 1964. Why has it taken so long for Thea Porter’s ‘Bohemian Chic’ to be remembered? The short answer is that curator Laura McLows Helms, a fashion historian, initiated and researched Porter’s archive for four years. She has her own collection of Porter’s clothes and conducted numerous interviews with Thea’s friends and daughter before the exhibition could be mounted. Now, at last, Thea Porter 70s Bohemian Chic can be seen at the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey until May 3rd 2015. The exhibition is a tour de force – a comprehensive display of Thea Porter’s life and times. As visitors stroll along the entrance corridor they can study displays of family photos and letters which provide an introduction to Porter’s personal background. Several of Thea’s paintings emphasise vivid colours which influenced her designs for Middle Eastern clothing. But there is much more than Porter’s fashions on display. McLows Helms explained how she was able to find and assemble Thea’s authentic dining room just as it appeared in her flat. “Thea was known for her parties at her amazing flat on Bolton Street. She had been an interior designer before she was a fashion designer. Her mirror dining room was something we were able to recreate using her mirrors, cutlery and original furniture. We reupholstered her original
Thea Porter, FTM
chairs and reprinted the peacock fabric for the chairs – and included her books and records.” The display features models wearing Thea’s clothes sitting as though they were guests at a dinner party. Thea’s journeys took her from Beirut through to London, Paris, New York and Los Angeles. Each location is represented in the exhibition. Several settings feature fashions worn by Thea’s high-profile clientele such as the Beatles, Pink Floyd and Barry Humphries, who bought flowing garments from Thea to wear as Dame Edna Everage. Elizabeth Taylor and Barbra Streisand wore her clothes in their films and multiples of Thea’s designs were bought by Faye Dunaway and Henry Fonda’s wife. The producer of Hair, the hit musical, ordered a new jacket from Thea whenever a new production opened anywhere in the world. Henri Bendel, one of the chicest stores in New York, briefly opened a Thea Porter boutique department in 1971. Vogue,
Thea Porter, FTM
Harper’s Bazaar and Women’s Wear Daily featured fashion photography of her clothes. In Paris, Porter’s shop was short-lived with clothes designed for Parisian customers - Parisian with an exotic edge. The fabrics were combinations of blacks in velvets, silks, chiffons and lace - stunning and graceful. Thea’s rich legacy is perhaps best summed up by noting her seven key pieces. The kaftan was the first and basic design. From that basic shape she adapted the kaftan and extended her range using intricate styles echoing historical forms to create an exotic street and party chic. Famous designers such as Fortuny, Poiret and Leon Bakst’s costumes for the Ballets Russes inspired her. But her seven key garments on display in the exhibition include the Abaya, the Gipsy dress, the Faye dress, a brocade dress with sheer panels, the wrap-over dress, the Chasara jacket and a Sirwal-like skirt. Each one has a distinct modernity. She felt that “whatever else clothes may be about, I believe they must add to the enjoyment of life”. Today Thea Porter’s ‘bohemian chic’ is back in vogue. It is sought after by celebrities who buy her clothes for high prices at auction and her designs can be seen in current ready-to-wear collections which feature a diversity of Porter’s iconic elements. Sonia Delaunay in Paris If your interest in textile design has been stimulated by reading about Thea Porter’s bohemian 1970s fashions, be sure to head over to Tate Modern where the first UK retrospective exhibition of Sonia Delaunay’s work is on until August 9th 2015. To appreciate Delaunay’s work, imagine yourself back in Paris in the early years of the 20th century. Delaunay (1885-1979), a Russian émigrée to Paris, married the French artist Robert Delaunay after a brief marriage to William Uhde, an unconventional German art collector. Together Sonia and Robert moved in avant-garde circles that included artists, writers, musicians, poets and intellectuals. Her art and practice reflects elements of Russian constructivism and designs from the late Bauhaus school. Both Sonia and Robert shared a
Sonia Delaunay, Simultaneous Dresses (The three women) 1925, Museo ThyssenBornemisza, Madrid. © Pracusa 2014083
Sonia Delaunay, Coat made for Gloria Swanson 1923-24, Private Collection. © Pracusa 2014083
strong visual aesthetic for multiple combinations of colour and abstraction. The artistic schools of Fauvism, Dada, Surrealism, expressionism and abstraction developed in bohemian circles in early 20th century Paris. And it was in this period that Sonia Delaunay’s creativity and practice flourished. Moving away from her early concern with figurative painting she went on to experiment with colour expressed in terms of vivid geometric images both on and off the canvas. In 1918 a unique opportunity came when she accepted Diaghilev’s invitation to design costumes for the Ballets Russes. The costumes were modern, daring, eccentric and featured her geometric designs. Her decorative textile patterns for fashion were most unconventional. She developed a concept of ‘simultanism’ which involved putting movement into clothing in order to suggest the transformation of a woman’s body. Illustrated here is an example of ‘simultanism‘- Simultaneous Dresses (The three women), 1925. When she opened a fashion house in Paris in 1923, she attracted clientele from stage, screen and high society; Nancy Cunard and Gloria Swanson were delighted to be seen in Sonia Delaunay coats. The Coat made for Gloria Swanson 1923-24 embodies Delaunay’s ability to merge colour, texture and design and perhaps best expresses Delaunay’s creativity. Throughout the
Sonia Delaunay, Rhythm Colour no. 1076 1939, Centre National des Arts Plastiques/Fonds National d'Art Contemporain, Paris, on loan to Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille. © Pracusa 2014083
twenties her designs were manufactured in Lyon where multiples of her fabrics were produced and used clothing and scarves. Several will1867. be on © for Frederic Edwin Church. Niagara Falls of the National Gallery. display in the TateCourtesy retrospective. Delaunay was fascinated by the rapidly modernising urban environment in Paris. The Eiffel Tower was symbolic and influenced her composition Electric Prisms in 1913. She expressed her fascination with advances in technology in a composition entitled: Propeller Air exhibited in the Palais de l’Air in the 1937 Paris exposition. All aspects of modern urban life served as stimuli and Sonia responded to these challenges continuously. Even though a few decades separated them, both women were genuine originals. These were years when women rarely managed to create viable enterprises yet both Thea Porter and Sonia Delaunay were successful pioneering textile artists and fashion designers. Their textile designs, costumes, interiors and paintings deserve to be seen again so a 21st-century public can appreciate them. They represent more than a little bit of fashion and art history. n Exhibition Dates & Location Thea Porter 70s Bohemian Chic 6 February - 3 May 2015 Fashion and Textile Museum, 83 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XF www.ftmlondon.org Images Courtesy: Fashion and Textile Museum Thea Porter: Bohemian Chic by Laura McLaws Helms &Venetia Porter V&A publications 2015 Sonia Delaunay - 15 April - 9 August 2015 Tate Modern, The Eyal Ofer Galleries, Level 3 Bankside, London SE1 9TG www.tate.org.uk Images courtesy Tate Modern Get in touch. Contact: Abby Cronin Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.abbycronin.co.uk
Magazine n 2014
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The American International Church Revd. John A. D’Elia Senior Minister Of The American International Church
’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of home lately. I moved to London with my family at the end of 2006 to serve as the pastor of the American Church here, and this wonderful place has become home for all of us. As we prepare to move back to the US later this year, 46
John A. D’Elia
I’ve been reflecting on our time here. It has been such an intense learning experience for our whole family. We struggled at first, like a lot of expats do, with different systems and different ways of doing some things. But after a while, living in this country became second nature to us. That’s something we never thought we’d say 8 years ago. We moved from Southern California right after Christmas in 2006. It was a warm winter there, and we’d celebrated the holidays outdoors in short-sleeves, hard to imagine over here. When we arrived in London it was cold, and it was dark, and we wondered what we’d done to ourselves. It was no help that we didn’t know any of our neighbours. It was a lonely start to our time in this country. Then something strange happened: the power went out. That’s right, the electricity shut down all along our street, and we were left without any light or power for our computers or televisions. Out of that darkness, people came out of their homes and started introducing themselves. Some had been on that block for decades, while others were new like us. We met a newly married young woman in our building who was terrified of being alone in the dark, and stayed with her in front of the house. We met another one of our neighbours who had been involved in the music business back in the 70s, and heard some fascinating stories about her life. We all chatted together and got to know each other a little, before the lights popped back on and we all went back inside. The whole thing was a little odd, but it was mostly a wonderful event in our settling into life in London. We met people, we learned about our neighbors and neighbourhood, and,
much to our surprise, the street where we lived started to feel a little like home. The Psalmist writes: “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty,” and later adds, “even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself.” The idea of having a home, a place where we’re safe and loved, the idea of a home is central to so much of what God wants for us. Whether we moved to this place with our families, or if we made this leap of faith on our own, I believe God wants us to feel secure, and to make ourselves at home. I know that can be a challenge as you settle into a new place, but my prayer for all of us in the expat community is that we’ll have that sense of belonging that is sustaining and nourishing. Living in a new place can be so exciting, but it’s best when we find a familiar place that can be our refuge too. In some ways, California will always be our home. Our families and so many of our friends still live there. When we visit we slide right back in as if we’d never been away, and now that we’re returning we’re so happy to be reconnecting with people who we’ve known for years. But our lives are different now. We have learned to make a home in a place where we never thought that would happen. We have made friends and developed traditions and even became British citizens just last year. We’re blessed with two hometowns now—two home countries. Funny how a little disruption in electricity could spark a new way of thinking about what it means to come home. I hope that you are finding your way home in this amazing country. May God bless you and yours as you make your way here in Great Britain. Rev. John D’Elia, Pastor The American International Church
Useful Numbers EDUCATION - SCHOOLS
ACS International Schools Heywood, Portsmouth Road, Cobham, Surrey, KT11 1BL Telephone: 01932 869721 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.acs-england.co.uk Contact: Fergus Rose Three superb locations close to London, ACS provides a stable environment, high educational standards and a happy social life for relocated youngsters. DWIGHT SCHOOL LONDON 6 Friern Barnet Lane, London, N11 3LX Contact: Alison Miley Email: email@example.com Telephone: + 44(0)20 8920 0600 Website: www.dwightlondon.org Twitter: @DwightSchoolUK Dwight School London, formerly known as The North London International School is an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School and is one of the first schools in the UK to offer the full IB Programme. ISL Group of Schools ISL Surrey Old Woking Road, Woking, Surrey GU22 8HY Contact: Claudine Hakim Telephone: +44 (0)1483 750 409
ISL London 139 Gunnersbury Avenue, London W3 8LG Contact: Yoel Gordon Telephone: +44 (0)20 8992 5823 ISL Qatar PO Box 18511, North Duhail, Qatar Contact: Nivin El Aawar Telephone: +974 4433 8600 Website: www.islschools.org Email: firstname.lastname@example.org The International School of London (ISL) Group has schools in London, Surrey, and Qatar. The internationally recognised primary and secondary curricula have embedded language programmes (mother tongue, English as an Additional Language, and second language) which continue throughout the student’s stay in the school. A team of experienced and qualified teachers and administrators provides every student with the opportunity to grow and learn in an environment that respects diversity and promotes identity, understanding, and a passion for learning.
TASIS THE AMERICAN SCHOOL IN ENGLAND Coldharbour Lane, Thorpe, Surrey TW20 8TE Contact: Karen House Telephone: +44 (0)1932 582316 Email: email@example.com Website: www.tasisengland.org TASIS England offers the International Baccalaureate Diploma, an American college preparatory curriculum, and AP courses to its diverse community of coed day (3-18) and boarding (14-18) students from 50 nations. The excellent academic program, including ESL, is taught in small classes, allowing the individualised attention needed to encourage every student to reach their potential. Outstanding opportunities in art, drama, music, and athletics provide a balanced education. Extensive summer opportunities are also offered. Located close to London on a beautiful and historic 46-acre estate.
DT MOVING 49 Wates Way, Mitcham, Greater London CR4 4HR Tel: 020 7622 4393 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.dtmoving.com Contact: Tim Daniells DT Moving is a long established and awardwinning* international moving company. Founded in 1870, we have vast experience in moving Americans to and from the United States and to other worldwide destinations. With a customer satisfaction rating of 96% throughout 2014, we offer a quality service at competitive rates. First class storage facilities are available.
SANTA FE RELOCATION SERVICES Central Way, Park Royal, London, NW10 7XW Contact: Mark Rising Telephone: +44 (0) 208 961 4141 Fax: +44 (0)208 965 4484 email: Mark.Rising@SantaFeRelo.com website: www.santaferelo.com Thinking Relocation? Think Santa Fe Relocation Services. Santa Fe Relocation Services provides the full range of relocation services to support businesses with international interests from diverse industry sectors. Santa Fe is conveniently located across six continents and offers holistic relocation solutions to support businesses and relocating employees. Last year, we handled 120,000 relocations globally. Our core services are Immigration, Moving, Relocation, Real Estate and Records Management. We make it easy.
WESTLETON DRAKE LLP 9 Devonshire Square, London EC2M 4YF Telephone: +44 (0)20 3178 6041 Fax: +44 (0)20 3178 4083 Email: email@example.com Website: www.westletondrake.com US and UK tax advisors who specialise in assisting Americans living in the UK, and corporations and partnerships doing business in the US and UK.
MASECO Private Wealth Buchanan House 3 St James’s Square London SW1Y 4JU 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.
If you would like to advertise your company or organisation on our Useful Numbers page please contact email@example.com. Entries cost £175 per issue or £700 for the year.
*Awarded nine global relocation awards since 2010. 47
US Citizen Services is an essential part of the work we do at the Embassy. So, whether you are a visitor to the UK, or a resident here, check out the ways that we can help you! Visit our website at http://london.usembassy.gov/service.html
Here at the Embassy we process over thirty thousand passport applications per year, providing passport services to US Citizens that live in the United Kingdom, or those just passing through as tourists. We also registered over 3000 new US Citizens, and Ambassador Barzun even welcomed some personally! The Special Consular Services unit provides Notarial Services for all nationalities, performs welfare checks for citizens in prison or hospital, assists families of US Citizens who die abroad, helps victims of crime in the UK and provides local resources for the US community in the United Kingdom. Information about all these services and links to our resources is available from the Embassy website - http://london.usembassy.gov/service.html.
Published on Apr 1, 2015
This issue features theatre reviews of Beautiful, The Carole King Musical and The Nether at The Royal Court Theatre; restaurant reviews of T...