Serving the American Community in the UK
THIS ISSUE’S FEATURES INCLUDE: Travel • Tax Issues • Eating Out • Wealth Management A Letter From Scotland • Theatre • American Women’s Clubs News Days Out With The Family • Arts & Antiques • Spring Into Action Hotel Review • Embassy Corner • UK Sports • Reader’s Lives
American In Britain
3 Eating Out 8 Travel 13 Hotel Review 16 Wealth Management
19 Tax Issues 21 Theatre 23 Days Out With The Family 24 Shakespeare: My Hero 27 Spring Into Action 32 A Letter From Scotland 34 UK Sports
36 American Women’s Clubs News 41 Moving Back To America 42 Reader’s Lives 44 Subscription
45 Arts & Antiques 48 Useful Numbers IBC Embassy Corner
PUBLISHER: Helen Elliott, Telephone: 020 8661 0186, Email: email@example.com Publishing Director: Damian Porter, Telephone: 01737 551506, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org American in Britain, PO Box 921, Sutton SM1 2WB www.theamericanhour.com
Matthew Perry starring in The End of Longing. Photo credit: Jay Brooks
No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission of the publishers. Origination and Printing by Gemini Group
American In Britain
22 Charlotte Street, London W1T 2NB Telephone: 020 3019 0880 The Ninth, aptly named as it is the ninth restaurant that Jun Tanaka has worked in, although the first he has owned, is situated in Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, a street well known for its successful restaurants throughout the years, and offers French-Mediterranean dishes that are creative, and showcase the skills that Jun Tanaka has gained during his 20 years’experience of working in top London restaurants. Jun has spent a decade under the tutelage of Michel Roux Jnr, Marco Pierre White and Eric Chavot. Most recently, Jun was Executive Chef at Pearl Restaurant in Holborn, where he gained three AA Rosettes. Together with his business partner Mark Jankel, Jun created the sustainable mobile Street Kitchen brand, which launched its fourth – and first permanent – site earlier this year in Broadgate Circle. He’s a regular face on cookery-based television shows, both in the UK and US, as well as the author of Simple to Sensational, published in 2009. The Ninth offers relaxed neighbourhood dining at its finest, in a smart but warm atmosphere, with a menu that marries simple yet refined French-Mediterranean sharing plates with casual, friendly service, and an expertly curated and approachable wine list, which consists of approximately 25 red and 25 white, plus a small selection of rose and dessert wines, and focuses on small producers and lesser known bottles. We chose the house white wine, a Sauvignon Blanc, and I can thoroughly recommend it to fellow white wine lovers out there. The menu is divided into eight sections – Snacks, Hot Starters, Salads, Raw & Cured, Meat, Fish, Vegetables and Desserts – and www.theamericanhour.com
diners can choose to eat as much or as little as their appetites allow. Luckily my husband and I have great appetites, so we chose from almost every section! To start with we chose two of the snacks - the Oxtail Croquettes and the Scotch Egg, both of which were fried to perfection, as they were crispy on the outside and the croquettes were full of thick oxtail meat nestling on a delicious wasabi mayonnaise, and the scotch egg had a perfectly cooked egg in the middle. The idea of the menu as mentioned above, is that all the dishes are sharing plates, so you can imagine my husband’s face when he heard this, as he had pre-looked at the menu and had chosen his dishes, and as his tastes are very different to mine, his face fell and a full blown negotiation had to take place! We finally compromised, with me choosing the Flame Grilled Mackerel, which had a subtle smoked taste that perfectly complemented the fish that was served slightly on the rare side (this was a good thing though!), and my husband chose the Rabbit Lasagne. Having had a pet rabbit when I was young, this is one of a few meats that I don’t tend to choose on a menu, but I have to say it looked delicious when it arrived, and my husband’s face when he ate it was one of pure joy. I was sorely tempted to try it, but memories of Pixie overtook my conscience, although I do slightly regret that! For our mains we chose the Monkfish Risotto and Lamb en Croute, with sides of Beetroot Tart Tatin and Gnocchi, all of which were delicious. The gnocchi was very clearly home made and was cooked to perfection, and is a definite must in my opinion, and something I will return for. Even though we were full to the brim, having thoroughly enjoyed all these dishes, we did decide to share a dessert and between us very
quickly decided upon the Apple Tart Tatin, and what a treat it was! The pastry was light and crispy and the apple was sweet enough without being over powering, and was soft enough to melt in the mouth. Again, a definite must! The restaurant itself is situated on two floors, and we sat upstairs at a window table which had a lovely view of the flowers just outside the window and the restaurants on the other side of the road. The atmosphere was buzzy without being too loud, and for a Wednesday night was full to capacity. Always a good sign! There are a couple of tables outside at the front of the restaurant, which would be perfect for a lunch, or a balmy summer’s evening, as Charlotte Street is one of my favourite streets in London, not only because it is full of boutique style restaurants, but because it is actually quite a pretty street. The Ninth has everything you could wish for in a restaurant – great ambience, lovely staff, delicious food and good wine at a reasonable price, and I am sure it will be the first of many restaurants for Jun Tanaka.
11 Park Walk, London SW10 0AJ Telephone: 020 7255 9299 I love Mazes! In fact, some of my best memories as a kid were of being hopelessly lost in the maze at Hampton Court, despite being assured all you had to do is continue to turn right! And now I have another lovely memory of a Maze, this time courtesy of Gordon Ramsey and the Maze Grill, Palk Walk. The restaurant is on the same site as Aubergine was, where the infamous contretemps between AA Gill, Joan Collins and Gordon happened, but this was in the 1990’s and things have changed considerably since then. This is in the smart part of town and I am reliably informed that this is a favourite haunt of many celebrities and it is easy to see why, with such warm and welcoming décor and top notch food. The concept is delightfully simple, being a fusion of Japanese and American served impeccably in a comforting environment, and the staff deliver this perfectly. As you enter Maze Grill you know instinctively that you are going to have a good time, as the staff are attentive, but not overly so, and I was soon seated in a spacious avocado coloured leather banquette facing my wife over a fabulously designed table. I have never seen one in the shape of a squashed oval, and the design gives plenty of room for the food, whilst allowing you to get closer to your dining partner - a perfect combination! It is heartening to see that Gordon’s restaurants follow the same advice that Gordon gives to restaurants on his various TV shows, which is, that to turn themselves around, they need to keep it simple and make sure everything is fresh, and that is exactly what Maze Grill does. Whilst we scanned the menu we nibbled on some Buffalo Chicken Fillets with chilli and lime (£4) and Shrimp Toast with Siracha mayonnaise (£4) from the small bites menu designed to share. My wife decide to select
American In Britain
a number of dishes from the daily Japanese Kozara menu which is served Monday to Friday between 12 and 6, and the concept here is that you can choose either 3 or 5 kozara, or small plates (£15/£20) from a selection of vegetarian, fish and meat sections. I plumped for dishes off the main menu and I am glad I did. Whilst my wife was served 4 perfectly created Snow Crab California Rolls, I had the Soft Shell Crab Sliders (£11), and we were both delighted with our choices. The Californian Rolls were packed with crab and avocado and the sticky rice encased the wonderful texture contrast between the smooth avocado and soft crab. My sliders were just as delicious, with a subtly spiced cocktail sauce giving just enough heat to the crunchy crab which bursts out from the bun. This snow crab roll is also on the main menu, as the Kozara menu ends after 6, so don’t worry, you will be able to enjoy this dish whatever time you are there. For mains, whilst my wife tucked into Steak Yakitori, Chicken Satay, Beef Tataki Wakame and a kale and seaweed salad, I cast my eye over the marvellous array of steaks available. Steaks come in 3 categories, the British Native breeds which are dry aged for 21 days and come with little fat, the Rare Breed selection dry aged for 28 days and fed to increase the marbling and taste and then the US & Japanese Breeds (the cattle are solely grain fed) with USDA steaks and the ultimate, Wagyu triple seared fillet at £14.50 per oz. Every steak is matured in Maze’s Himalayan Salt Block ageing cabinets which I understand allows the salt and minerals to be absorbed by the meat improving its flavour. I finally plumped for a 12oz rib eye (£36) from the rare breed selection as I personally love more marbling, triple cooked chips (£4) and a portion of onion rings with two dips ( £4). The steak was charbroiled at 400 degrees on a Montague grill and my medium rare was just heavenly. When the crispy outer layer yielded it gave way to a succulent core which just melted in my mouth. I have tried many steaks in my time and this was right up there with the best. The triple
cooked chips also followed the example the steaks did with a crispy outer layer cocooning a light and fluffy interior, making them a perfect accompaniment. The onion rings also didn’t disappoint, and the hot sauce dip was a winner. Having delighted in the first two courses we were unsure as to whether we had room for a dessert and that lasted right up until we saw the dessert menu. I selected the Chocolate Cake with crème fraiche (£6) and was rewarded with a rich and smooth chocolate rush accompanied with a light crème fraiche subtly flavoured with lime. This was good, but Helen’s Frozen Lime Yoghurt with toasted meringue (£6) was for me the perfect end to the meal. The yoghurt was light with just enough lime and sat on a bed on granola which added a lovely crunch, and the meringue added just enough sweetness. Gordon Ramsey is renown for his straight talking, and it is a pleasure to go to a restaurant that follows a similar path. The menu is plain talking, and so rather than using words you need to google to understand, it simply describes the dishes just how they are, and how they are is fresh, generous and bursting with flavour.
Ed’s Easy Diner 50 restaurants across the UK www.edseasydiner.com
As the theme tune to a well-known American TV show from my youth said ‘Sunday, Monday happy days, Tuesday, Wednesday happy days, Thursday, Friday happy days, the weekend comes, my cycle hums, ready to race to you’…., and although I wasn’t on “a cycle”, choosing a rather more sedate and sensible saloon, and I didn’t “race”as the speed cameras on our roads are primed to catch those daring to venture over 30 MPH, the tune came totally to mind as I entered Ed’s Easy Diner for the first time. This is now a chain of 50 restaurants which opened in 1987, offering a slice of 1950’s American style service and food across the UK. The décor is straight out of the 50’s with shiny leather seats, cosy booths with each table sporting retro style condiments and a mini jukebox, which enables the diners to select the music being played for 20p a song (all proceeds go to the charity Action for Hunger), and I half expected Biff and Marty McFly or the Fonz himself to plonk themselves down in the next door booth and order themselves one of Ed’s legendary Malt Shakes. What also distinguishes Ed’s from many other establishments selling similar food is that the kitchen is open so you can see your food being freshly prepared, and in some diners actually sit at the counter just like you see in the films/TV. Ed’s Diner sticks to the mantra of doing a few things well rather than trying to be everything www.theamericanhour.com
to everyone, and so sticks to Burgers, Chicken, Hot Dogs, Salads and a few other favourites, and makes sure they are made from quality ingredients. For example, the burgers are produced from Farm Assured beef and are always fresh, never frozen, and served on their own toasted bun, and the chicken is breast fillet. Diners have two choices when ordering burgers, chicken and hotdogs and can go ‘solo’ where they just get the burger and can
separately choose any sides they may wish to order, or having the ‘Ed’s plate’ where the burger is accompanied by Fries, Onion Rings and Coleslaw, but be warned, the portions are big! For those who don’t fancy a burger or hotdog there are healthier salad options, or those favourites I mentioned earlier that include Ribs (£13.50), Steak (£12.95) and Ed’s Nacho Meat Feast (£13.50), but you really come to Ed’s for the burgers and hotdogs. There is also a dazzling array of options for your chips, seven to be precise, and a more manageable two options for onion rings. Drinks, like the food, follow the American theme with bottomless soft drinks and rich and creamy Milkshakes taking pride of place. All are made with Ed’s own hand scooped ice cream and flavours range from the basic Mint and Chocolate (£4.55) to the more deluxe shakes including Nutella, Lotus Biscoff and my daughters favourite, Oreo (£4.95). Adults are also catered for with Alco-shakes including Dark Rum, and Chocolate and Baileys (£5.65). Those with a sweet tooth are also well catered for if you still have room for a dessert and my personal recommendation is the Kit-Kat Chocolate Sundae, where chunks of Kit-Kat are smothered by creamy vanilla ice cream all generously coated with Hersey’s chocolate (£4.95). Ed’s Easy Diner is a welcome throwback to the 50’s and its restaurants across the country provide fresh food in a fun environment, and who doesn’t like a little bit of fun now and again in their lives? www.americaninbritain.co.uk
MK Bar & Grill
25-35 Gloucester Road, London, SW7 4PL Telephone: 020 7589 1383 www.mkbarandgrill.co.uk So readers probably know by now that we can accommodate a steak any night of the week so when visiting Kensington, it would be very remiss of us not to try out a new Brasserie Grill in the area. MK Bar & Grill is located in Mid-Kensington, close to the Royal Albert Hall and conveniently located for the nearby Science, Natural History and Victoria and Albert Museums. This spacious Brasserie has a relaxed vibe. The warm colour palette and contemporary style of décor puts you at ease, making dining here a comfortable and happily informal affair- rather like going to a friend’s house for dinner. The menu features many of my own personal favourite comfort food dishes, and could best be described as falling under the umbrella of ‘contemporary/classic British and European dishes’. There is nothing too showy or fancy here, but I would confidently predict there is something to satisfy every appetite. The starters, ranging in price from £5.25 to £19.50 (sharing Platters for 2), include Chargrilled Calamari, Shredded Duck Salad and Traditional French Onion Soup. I opted for the Jumbo Tiger Prawns (£7.95) in white wine, chilli garlic and lemon. I always find it can be hit or miss with prawns, especially when described as ‘jumbo’, which sets an expectation for something impressive; fortunately on this occasion they did not disappoint in their succulence, size and flavour. My companion ordered a starter portion of the Spaghetti Carbonara, which she enjoyed so much she commented it should have been her main course choice! The main course options offer familiar favourites such as: Lasagne, Sausage & Mash, Baked Cod, Grilled Salmon Burger, and a good range of Pasta dishes and Salads – all appetising in their descriptions, and ranging in price from £9.50 to £15.50. That delicious French classic Boeuf Bourguignon (£13.50), served with mash, was my companion’s choice and gave me a brief spell of food envy (until my own main course was served!) The combination of tender chunks of beef with a creamy red wine sauce is comfort food at its best. With the Steak options coming highly recommended, I had opted for the 190g Fillet Steak (£27.50), with my favourite Béarnaise Sauce. Served with Fresh Cut Fries and some Wilted Spinach (£3.95), I was a very happy man! The steak is sourced from Aberdeenshire, from cattle that are naturally reared, grass fed on traditional farms, and then matured for 31 days. You could easily discern the excellent quality of the meat, through its tenderness and flavour: the two things that matter most in a steak. As you’d expect for a Bar and Grill the drinks options are pretty extensive and include a good selection of wines, ranging in price from £18.50 6
American In Britain
to £70.00. We opted for a standard House Red to accompany our main course choices and were pleasantly surprised by the quality and flavour. There is a mix of traditional and modern cocktails on offer as well as craft beers bottled and brewed in London. Desserts are priced from £4.25-£5.95 and continue the theme of offering comfort classics such as Crème Brûlée with a contemporary edge (theirs has an Espresso and Kahlua twist). I can never resist a Banoffee Pie, but after our
generously sized main courses, we were happy to share. Happily, it was deeply filled and wonderfully gooey, as all good Banoffee pies should be! At MK Bar and Grill the service is friendly and laid back, providing a good match with the whole ambience of the place. We found it hard to leave our cosy table on what was a chilly February evening, but next time we’ll go in the summer to enjoy the pavement dining with a hefty side order of sunshine!
TRAVEL York is one of England’s finest and most beautiful historic cities and is less than 2 hours from London on the train from Kings Cross, making it accessible as a day trip, or if you have more time, as a great weekend away. The Romans knew it as Eboracum. To the Saxons it was Eoforwick. The Vikings – who came as invaders but stayed on in settlements – called it Jorvik. Its more recent history also characterises the city – its Minster and medieval architecture, its Georgian town houses, and its wonderful Victorian railway station. The York of today is a fashionable city that successfully combines its heritage and superb historic architecture with sophisticated designer shops, smart restaurants, bars and cafes, to attract tourists from all over the world. Visitors soon discover that every aspect of York’s modern life is inextricably linked with its past. Even their evening entertainment includes ghost walks through the city’s shadowy snickleways and ginnels to find haunted pubs – of which York boasts a great many. Within its ancient, encircling walls, York’s medieval streets and buildings are beautifully preserved and the historic heart of the city is largely traffic-free, making it quiet, clean and very pleasant to stroll around, day and night. Stonegate and Petergate, York’s two most stylish shopping streets, still run along the same routes as they did 2,000 years ago, when they were called Via Praetoria and Via Principalis and led to the massive Roman headquarters which once occupied the site where the vast gothic Minster stands today, dominating the city. Possibly the most famous visitor attraction, the beautiful York Minster is just a stone’s 8
American In Britain
York throw from York Station. This magnificent building took 250 years to build and was consecrated in 1472. It contains England’s greatest concentration of medieval stained glass, including The Great East Window which, measuring 186 square metres, is thought to be the largest area of stained glass in the world. This world-class cathedral, with its medieval stained glass and stone masterpieces, and foundations rooted in the nation’s earliest history, is a must for all visitors, and my tip would be to see if you can find out what time evensong is taking place, as the music is enchanting and creates a beautiful atmosphere in which to explore the Minster’s vast spaces, along with the quiet corners that reveal great treasures, unexpected stories and human inspiration. Take a fascinating 2000 year journey through interactive underground chambers in Revealing York Minster in the Undercroft. Follow in the footsteps of Roman soldiers and discover the stories of some of the people whose lives have been influenced by York Minster. The underground chambers have been totally transformed with dynamic new audio-visual displays and interactive galleries revealing the significance behind the cathedral’s most treasured artefacts as never before. See the best views in York after climbing the 275 steps up the Central Tower leading you to the highest point in the city. Explorer Backpacks are available to younger visitors and contain everything a budding detective needs to uncover secrets and surprises. There’s free discovery trails and make a new friend with the Minster’s own Monkey, Monty. After all that exploring relax in the children’s chapel with a book from
the story chest. All year round, there is also a magnificent programme of special events, including performances by the Minster Choir, one of the UK’s leading choirs and hands-on family fun activities. Listed as one of the History and Heritage Experiences in Visit England’s ‘101 things to do before you go abroad.’ It is also recommended by Wallace & Gromit as one of the ‘Cracking things to see and do.’ The local legend about the ‘Heart of Yorkshire’ window, which is a part of the cathedral’s Great West Window, states that all the loved up couples to kiss under the window will stay together forever...we actually missed this, but hopefully that’s not an omen! www.yorkminster.org York city is recognised the world over as an archaeological treasure trove. JORVIK, now a state-of-the-art visitor attraction, is one of the best-known sites in the city, and since the dig here began in 1976 it has captured and sustained public imagination. Over 15000 objects were recovered in the process of uncovering a Viking village complete with workshops, rubbish pits, latrines and wells. The most spectacular find was an exquisitely-preserved Anglo Saxon helmet, now on view in the Castle Museum. At JORVIK Viking Centre you are standing on the site of one of the most famous and astounding discoveries of modern archaeology. Thirty years ago the archaeologists from York Archaeological Trust revealed the houses, workshops and backyards of the VikingAge city of Jorvik, as it stood 1,000 years ago. They removed eights tonnes of rubble and over 40,000 artefacts! York Archaeological Trust then built the JORVIK Viking Centre on the very site where the excavations had
Shoppers on Low Petergate under York Minster
View of York Minster
People sat outside a bar on the river in York
taken place, creating a groundbreaking visitor experience that changed the face of museums. Their determination to recreate a Viking city as authentically as possible from the layout of the houses, the working craftsmen, the language of the gossiping neighbours, to the smells of cooking and the cesspit meant it has now been visited by more than 15 million people during its 25 years of opening. Over 800 of these extraordinary finds discovered on site can be seen and you can meet the famous JORVIK Vikings in three exciting exhibitions that delve further into life 1000 years ago. The JORVIK Viking Centre unfortunately was severely damaged by the floods this winter, and at the time of writing is still closed, so if you are still interested in visiting this attraction, which according to my husband is well worth the visit, please check its status with visityork.co.uk before your trip. www.jorvik-viking-centre.co.uk There is nothing more evocative of York’s medieval era than the narrow streets and snickleways, winding haphazardly through the city centre. These days they are home to fashionable boutiques and cafes, with unforgettable names such as Coffee Yard, Swinegate, Grape Lane (formerly Grope Lane), Mad Alice Lane and - most famous of all - The Shambles. This former street of butchers’ shops has survived as one of the most complete medieval streets in Europe, and remains in such remarkable condition that you can still see the wide windowsills on which goods were displayed for sale and even the hooks upon which cuts of meat were hung. The Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, the Guildhall (finest medieval example of its kind in Europe), and the Minster itself are all enduring examples of extraordinary medieval endeavour, and a relatively recent discovery was Barley Hall – a timber-framed hall house dating from the Wars of the Roses, tucked away in the snickleways off Stonegate. It had been hidden away for centuries behind brick buildings, but was found to be well preserved, and has now been restored and furnished in full colourful medieval style and is open to the public. We even know that Alderman William Snawsell, goldsmith and Lord Mayor of York resided here at the end of the fifteenth century. In the 18th century York was regarded by the monied classes as an attractive and elegant alternative to London and the city’s many remaining Georgian town houses and buildings are a precious reminder of its most elegant manifestation. The Assembly Rooms, now an imposing restaurant, were designed by Richard, Earl of Burlington, in 1731, and were some of the earliest neo-classical buildings in Europe, along with the Red House near the Minster, now Red House Antiques and home to an impressive collection of Georgian, Victorian and art deco artefacts. But perhaps nowhere sums up Georgian York as well as Fairfax House, one of the most distinguished 18th
century townhouses in Britain and now the ideal backdrop to the Noel Terry (of the famous confectionery firm) Collection of Furniture, also one of the finest of its type. York’s first railway station was built in 1839, and the present magnificent edifice dates from 1877 – when opened it was the largest in Europe. The city is therefore a natural setting for the National Railway Museum, an attraction that will suit families of all ages as visitors can walk through carriages, climb into the drivers compartment and view the first class carriages used by Britain’s Royal family over the years. Close to half a million visitors visit each year, enjoying over 100 engines, interactive displays and lavish exhibitions. There is also the opportunity to dine in a lavish railway carriage within the Museum, where a decadent afternoon tea can be enjoyed by all. York has long had a reputation in the chocolate world, in part due to the sizable factories created by Rowntree’s and Terry’s during the 20th Century. York is home to some big names in the chocolate aisle, Rowntree’s created Kit Kat, Smarties and Aero, whilst Terry’s created the Chocolate Orange, which originated as the Chocolate Apple!, and their rich dark All Gold collection. The history and evolution of these chocolates, that we still enjoy today, is intertwined with York’s social history and industrial development with as much to be celebrated as the artwork, buildings, fashion, Railways and the Vikings for which the city is already famed for. The popular visitor attraction, York’s Chocolate Story, is located in the heart of York, and is an entertaining and informative guided tour through the history of York’s most famous chocolate-making families and their finest creations. You’ll discover chocolate’s origins, how to make it, how to taste it like an expert and even the sustainable future of chocolate. We took this tour whilst we were in York and it lasted just over an hour. We were taken from room to room where we were given a detailed history of chocolate, tasted various forms of chocolate, and at the end of the tour made and decorated our own white chocolate lolly that we thoroughly enjoyed on our train ride home! Clifford’s Tower stands as a proud symbol of the power of England’s medieval kings. Originally built by William the Conqueror to subdue the rebels of the north, it was twice burned to the ground, before being rebuilt by Henry III in the 13th century. The tower takes its name from one grisly incident in its long history, when Roger de Clifford was executed for treason against Edward II and hanged in chains from the tower walls. With sweeping panoramic views of York and the surrounding countryside, it isn’t hard to see why Clifford’s Tower played such a crucial role in the control of northern England. Summer brings the racing season to York. From May to October the Ebor Races lend a frivolous, excited air to the city as everyone heads for the Knavesmire to cheer on their hot tip. As is the tradition with Britain’s big racing www.americaninbritain.co.uk
Station Hall at National Railway Museum
events, many people are more interested in the fashion than the horses, as the races provide the perfect excuse to dress up and don lavish and extraordinary hats for a day. Besides the racing, York has events all year round, including the Jorvik Viking Festival in February, the Early Music Festival in July (York is the location of the National Centre for Early Music), and the Festival of Food and Drink in September. My first trip to York was at the age of 11 on a school trip, and my two memories were brass rubbing in the Cathedral (although this is sadly no longer available, but there are other areas to do this activity), and the day we spent at Castle Howard, one of Britain’s finest historic houses, situated just outsideYork in the Howardian Hills, and the setting for the well known television programme Brideshead Revisited. Built over 300 years ago by Sir John Vanbrugh, today it remains 10
American In Britain
The Shambles on a busy day looking down to Little Shambles in York
Viking battle formations at the Jorvik Viking Festival
home to the Howard family. Discover the house at your own pace, admiring its awe-inspiring architecture and interiors, with something to capture everyone’s imagination. Friendly and knowledgeable guides are on hand to share stories of the house, family and collections with visitors of all ages. Enjoy stunning scenery all year, with almost 1,000 acres of Grade 1 listed parkland and gardens to explore. Spend the day in a monumental landscape studded with statues, temples, lakes and fountains and admire sweeping countryside views. Meander along woodland paths and in the tranquil walled garden. Children will love the lakeside adventure playground and can run wild in the gardens with a free children’s trail leaflet. Exhibitions and events throughout the year include Easter activities, the award winning Duty Calls exhibition, a flower festival in June and Christmas opening. Leave time to browse
the shops and cafes, including farm shop, gift shop and garden centre. There is a huge selection of activities and places to visit in York, including art galleries, museums, dungeons, boat trips, guided walks and much more. A great source of information is found at www.visityork.org where there are listing of attractions, special offers (we used our York Pass which saved money on many of the attractions and which was bought from Visit York, also a stone’s throw from the station and very close to the Cathedral), as well as details on accommodation, where to eat, maps and guides. Whilst we were there we stayed at Middlethorpe Hotel & Spa, which is located very close to York Racecourse and only about 10 minutes from the town centre, and is the feature for our Hotel Review in this issue.
American In Britain
Middlethorpe Hall Hotel & Spa, York
Britain as a country, and especially its people, are renowned for their quirkiness. We have a quirky sense of humour and quirky music tastes (well who else would buy songs by a large pink egg shaped Mr Blobby!), but what people might not know is that we have quirky buildings as well. These buildings are around every corner and all are unique, and some have even been converted into hotels, like this Yorkshire hotel Middlethorpe Hall Hotel and Spa. Middlethorpe Hall was built in 1699 for a prosperous business man who wanted to establish himself as a country gentleman, and is a perfect example of a Queen Ann house with mellow red brick with limestone dressing. Like all such houses of this period there is more than a passing influence of Sir Christopher Wren, and if you have visited Hampton Court you won’t fail to notice the similarities, which just shows what an impressive building Middlethorpe Hall is. The house has had a varied history, being a girls boarding school as well as a night club, but in 1980 it was acquired by Historic House Hotels who improved and restored the 20 acres of grounds bringing Middlethorpe Hall back to its old glory, as well as sympathetically extending the stable buildings and converting them into www.theamericanhour.com
accommodation. In 2008, the Hall was gifted to the National Trust, but still operates as a hotel and spa, and a very good one at that. It is that sense of history that strikes you most when you pull up in front of Middlethorpe Hall, and as you enter through the front door you are greeted by a stone-flagged entrance hall with high ceilings. To the left is a side room where you check in, and ahead the imposing carved oak staircase spiraling its way to the upper floor. Check in is ultra-efficient and following this we wended our way up the staircase to our room. Middlethorpe Hall has 29 individual rooms either in the main house or the restored 18th Century Courtyard, ranging from single rooms to deluxe suites in the main house, and all are uniquely decorated and furnished. Our bedroom boasted an imposing four poster bed and a fabulous view over the gardens, and what I loved was the authenticity with its high ceilings, crooked door frame and the uneven and creaking floorboards; all adding to that sense of history. The room also boasted period antiques and fine paintings consistent with the Georgian period, but it did have a few imposters in the form of a flat screen TV with DVD player, luxurious bathrobes and a trouser press.
Although the rooms are well equipped, those who want their bedrooms ultra-modern should stay away, as the beauty and pleasure of these rooms is their period charm, not a plethora of modern gadgets. Having settled in, we decided to take a walk through the gardens, past the restored dovecote built in 1681, and down to the lake at the South East end of the garden, and although there is some noise from the nearby A64 when you get near, the mixture of formal and more deformalised areas is as fine as you would see anywhere. It is also from these gardens that you can truly get a feel for the beauty and symmetry of the main building. Having finished our walk we were happy to freshen up and come down to the elegant drawing room to have an aperitif before tackling the challenge of the dinner menu. To reach the dining room you pass through the smaller library, and both rooms are sympathetically decorated with period pieces, and as you sink into a welcoming sofa you can just feel yourself being transferred back to Middlethorpe Hall in its heyday - a far cry from the hustle and bustle of today. Middlethorpe Hall’s restaurant was voted “Restaurant of the year 2015’’ in the Visit York Tourist Awards and it www.americaninbritain.co.uk
is not hard to see why, with its panelled dining room, crisp white tablecloths and superb views over the gardens, coupled with fresh local produce cooked to Head Chef Ashley Binder’s exacting standards. I started with the Fillet of East Coast Cod wrapped in crisp ham with clams and an aromatic broth (£14), and Helen plumped for the Roast Diver-caught Scallop with crispy pork belly nestling in a lovely a dashi wakame (£16.50) providing that sea-flavoured taste. The mains are equally tempting and compare favourably with anything in London. Helen selected Pan Fried Fillet of Stone Bass, Langoustine, Asian Vegetables (£29), which was delightfully flaky and full of flavour, and I chose the Forty-day aged Rib-Eye of Waterford Farm Beef (£31), with a truly amazing celeriac accompaniment which offset the succulent beef perfectly. For dessert I had the White Chocolate Cheesecake (£12.50), which was deconstructed, so be warned, it’s not as you would expect a cheesecake to be, but was still rich and moreish. The ‘piece de la resistance’ however, was the Hot Banoffee Soufflé with banana ice cream (£14). This was so light but full of sumptuous flavours and is certainly one I could eat again and again.
American In Britain
Middlethorpe Hall also has a spa, and as with everything here it is out of the ordinary. The spa has been built in the shell of two cottages opposite the main building and has a good size swimming pool, spa bath, steam room, sauna and club room where meals and drinks are served. There are also 3 beauty salons with qualified therapists who provide a multitude of treatments. I chose the simple back massage and the skilled hands were soon working on my tight muscles applying just the right amount of pressure to ease the tension. What I love about Middlethorpe Hall is that it is unashamedly different. All the rooms are different shapes and sizes, the décor is fitting with the period of the house, and the quirks are embraced and celebrated rather than being fixed. It is not often that you have a chance to stay in a National Trust property and be able to immerse yourself in a bygone age whilst still enjoying modern comforts and fine food just on the outskirts of York and all it has to offer. Take it while you can. Middlethorpe Hall & Spa, Bishopthorpe Road, York, YO23 2GB Telephone: +44 (0)1904 641241 www.middlethorpe.com
WEALTH MANAGEMENT Direct Lending - A Burgeoning New Asset Class In Investing In the aftermath of the Financial Crisis, a new asset class has emerged. Investors continue to look for diversification and wealth preservation. Whilst they are dissatisfied with the low yields on traditional fixed income there is hesitation about increasing equity exposure as an alternative given equity market volatility. Additionally, banks have become less willing to lend to individuals and small businesses as a direct result of increased regulations and capital adequacy requirements on unsecured consumer loans. The void created by the inability to raise funds from banks has begun to be filled through non-bank originators. New non-bank originators, known as platforms and often referred to as “peer to peer”, have emerged to connect borrowers with lenders online. Borrowers apply online and provide access to credit information to the platform, who in turn analyse the data and price the loan using automated algorithms. Typically, platforms originate the loans and sell them to investors, charging fees for the origination and for the on-going servicing. Owing to its ‘peer to peer’ origins, marketplace lending is oriented towards individual borrowers and small businesses. For personal loans, sizes typically range between $1,000 and $35,000 and the terms vary between 3 months and 5 years. In terms of pricing, marketplace lending fills a void between bank consumer loans (average rate 10.2% based on Fed data) and incumbent non-bank lenders, such as credit cards and payday loans (typically APR in excess of 30%). Small businesses, commonly known as SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises), were early adopters. Small business loan sizes typically range between $5,000 and $500,000, and the loan terms between 6 months and 3 years. In terms of interest rates, marketplace lenders have stepped in and filled the gap between banks (rates of 4%-20%) and incumbent non-banks, such as credit cards and merchant cash advance (upwards of 35%). Satisfaction surveys show that the main benefits to the borrowers are the speed of the web based application / approval / funding process, the lower rates and fees, and the convenience of the direct debit repayments. The growth of online marketplace lending is also underpinned by a new web-based customer experience, better suited to current consumer behaviour. Investors into this new asset class were 16
American In Britain
Source: Company data, Morgan Stanley Research estimates initially ‘peer’ entrepreneurs and HNW individuals, but today professional and institutional investors dominate the funding side. For investors, marketplace platforms provide direct, transparent and granular exposure to the credit segment. Yields to investors exceed bank deposit rates and are also higher currently than bank subordinated debt. The small size and the diversity of the loans offered by marketplace platforms help achieve a meaningfully diversified, high yielding loan portfolio even with limited capital.
Landscape, Evolution Of Direct Lending US consumer unsecured lending is the most mature of the online marketplaces, with $7bn loans underwritten in 2014 and projections in excess of $15bn for 2015. The market is concentrated with the two largest platforms making up a combined 80% market share. The volume of loans originated, the availability of historical loan data, and the yield pick-up have attracted large ticket institutional investors. Based on Fed data, the total outstanding US consumer debt was $3.5trillion in September 2015, of which $925bn is revolving. Banks and credit unions currently provide 88% of that amount, the balance being supplied by consumer finance companies and non-financial businesses. Even with marginal market share gains, marketplace platforms have ample room for asset growth. However, capital inflows on the dominant
platforms are already driving a yield compression. New entrants in the unsecured consumer segment are forced towards higher yielding niches, taking the risk of being exposed to lower credit quality borrowers. Professional investors snap up the best loans in nanoseconds using automated algorithms during loan auctions creating intense competition among those who ‘cherry pick’loans. Today it can be more attractive to gain exposure to legacy loans, underwritten in the past couple of years, at higher yields. ‘Seasoned’ pools have also undergone a degree of self-selection, as the riskiest loans tend to default during the early months. The US online marketplace for small businesses is smaller than consumer loans, estimated to have originated $5bn in 2014. The market is also more diverse in terms of the number of significant players. According to the US Small Business Administration, there are 28 million small businesses in the US, with outstanding small bank loans totalling circa. $300bn. Oliver Wyman estimates the unmet demand for small business loans to be between $80m and $120m. Even a marginal growth in market share represents for market place lenders a multiple fold growth opportunity. The operating history of small business loan platforms is shorter than consumer lending, the loan ticket sizes are larger and the analysis more complex. The SME loans generated by the lending platforms are often amortising: a portion of the principal is repaid together with the accrued interest on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. From the borrower perspective, this feature
WEALTH MANAGEMENT reduces the overall interest cost of the loan as the principal amount decreases progressively. From the lender or investor’s perspective the loans are cash flow generating,“self-liquidating assets” to use the jargon. The frequent payments can allow a closer monitoring of the credit performance of the borrower.
What Are The Risks? Credit The main risk of the asset class is the credit performance of the loans. The large number of loans in a portfolio benefits from diversification and mitigates the exposure to any single borrower. The higher yield of the loans reflects a greater risk concerning the borrowers’ ability to pay interest and repay principal, particularly if the economic conditions deteriorate. If the losses exceed expectations, the profitability of the portfolio is reduced, and in the worst case capital can be lost. If the portfolio is leveraged the effects are magnified. Loans can be delinquent (late or stopped paying) for a period and go back on track without defaulting. A rise in the proportion of delinquent loans lowers the yield of the portfolio and reduces its liquidity. Small business loans are often secured, with assets of the business or assets of the business owner. However, in an economic downturn, the value of these assets can decline and affect the amounts recoverable in the case of default.
Illiquidity The other key risk is the illiquidity of the asset class. The underlying loans are not securities listed on an exchange or traded in a market. They cannot be sold at will, like shares or bonds. For most platform loans this introduces illiquidity considerations although there are some secondary markets that are starting to emerge on some platforms in the UK and the US. This liquidity issue could be a major problem if defaults rise and investors demand an exit as mark-to-market prices might vary dramatically and significant discounts could emerge. Investors in a portfolio of loans must adopt a buy and hold approach, and ensure that the duration of the loans is consistent with their investment horizon. The lack of liquidity means that an investor will not be able to quickly reduce exposure or exit the asset class in response to rising defaults.
Lack of Information Many other similar platforms do not disclose all their information as they are privately held and most others have shorter operating histories. The online platform lending industry as a whole has only gained significant scale in the recent years, post 2008. The automated underwriting models, investor loan selection models are predominantly relying on data reflecting the current economic up-cycle and low interest rate environment. As a result, the assessment of the risk of future defaults may be incorrect and investments in this asset class may experience higher than expected loan losses. www.theamericanhour.com
Platform Failure Additionally, due to their short operating history of the marketplace lending platforms, there is a risk that some of them may fail, during an economic and credit downturn or for any other reason. If a platform goes out of business, the servicing of the loans it has originated would be disrupted. To alleviate this risk, Fund managers that invest in marketplace loans appoint a “back-up servicer” whose role is to step in and take over the servicing of loans in the event of a platform failure. However, there can be delays and uncertainty during the transition. In a platform default scenario, the investor may not be able to quickly (or at all) trade out of the position when they require. Therefore, it is important for an investor to be diversified across loans, to be invested in shorter-term loans and to avoid leverage.
goals or requirements of individuals and is not to be construed as advice or a recommendation to invest. Investing in this asset class is for Sophisticated and Certified High Net-Worth individuals and will not be suitable for all investors. You should carefully consider the suitability of any strategies along with your financial situation prior to making any decisions on an appropriate strategy. Always consult a Financial Adviser before making a decision to 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.
Multiple Parties Involved There are risks relating to the “open” business model of the marketplace lending platforms. Unlike traditional bank lenders, who integrate all the functions of origination, underwriting, funding, clearing, servicing, the platforms outsource some critical functions to third parties: clearing banks processing the payments and technology providers for example. In many jurisdictions, the marketplace lending platforms are not regulated, or lightly regulated, and investors do not benefit from the corresponding protections. Changes in laws and regulations are difficult to predict, but can affect the asset class in the future.
Yield Compression The marketplace lending is currently experiencing a sharp growth in volumes. Institutional inflows have already caused yield compression in loans generated by the largest and oldest consumer loan platforms. Pricing pressure is not yet visible in the small business lending area. However, there is a possibility that in the future the asset class ceases to offer an attractive risk reward.
Conclusion Growth in direct lending is projected to outpace other riskier areas of fixed income as an attractive alternative investment for investors seeking a higher level of income whilst still maintaining a focus on downside risk protection. If shortterm liquidity is not a concern for a part of the investment portfolio, qualified investors could consider incorporating the asset class as part of an overall diversified portfolio strategy.
Risk Warnings and Important Information The value of investments and the income from them can fall as well as rise. You may not get back what you invest. Past performance is not an indicator of future results. The above article is for educational purposes and does not take into account the specific
Andrea Solana is Head of Advanced Planning at MASECO Private Wealth where she helps to provide financial planning and wealth structuring advisory services to US expatriates in the UK and British nationals in the US. Andrea spent the first 9 years of her career with a well-known Washington DC based international tax and global wealth management firm where she gained considerable experience advising high net worth individuals with multi-jurisdictional financial interests to design and implement strategies for tax-efficient and risk-managed asset growth. She has written numerous white papers regarding fundamental financial planning and investment strategies for US connected individuals and has previously been a speaker on financial planning topics at numerous places including both The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). Andrea graduated from University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce with a degree in Finance and Management and completed her MBA at Imperial College London. Andrea holds her UK Investment Advice Diploma and US Series 65 license. For further information visit: www.masecoprivatewealth.com www.americaninbritain.co.uk
American In Britain
TAX ISSUES Expat Tax: US Taxability And Reporting Of UK Businesses 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. Remember that due to the complexity of US tax reporting for expats and its highly fact-specific nature, this article is general in nature. To take advantage of the current dividend tax structure, it has been common practice in the UK to incorporate your business. Individuals were able to be paid a salary under the Personal Allowance amount and be paid a dividend up to the basic rate income level of £31,785 (in 2016)(1) resulting in a little to no UK tax liability. However, with recent legislation, the dividend tax credit system was abolished and replaced with a new tax-free £5,000 dividend allowance. With this change, individuals may be rethinking the way they want to remunerate money from their foreign corporations. Typically, there are three ways to remunerate money from a corporation, which are shareholder loans, wages or salary and dividends. In this article, we discuss the US tax implications of these transactions.
FTC can be carried forward for up to 10 years and used to offset foreign sourced income that has not been subject to foreign tax, such as the UK 25% tax-free lump sum from an employment related retirement distribution or the tax-free portion of a redundancy payment.
Prior to April 2016
Commonly referred to as directors’ loans, shareholder loans can either loan money to the owner or loan money to the corporation from the owner. Regardless of the direction of the loan, interest must be computed on the outstanding balance for US tax purposes. This will either generate interest income or interest expense to the shareholder. If an interest rate is not stated on the loan, interest must be imputed based on the Applicable Federal Rates (AFR) for interest issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Additionally, if you are a 10% or greater shareholder in a Pvt. Ltd. in which more than 50% of the shares are owned by US shareholders, a loan issued by the business directly to you may actually result in a deemed taxable dividend rather than a loan payment under Internal Revenue Code Section 956.
Wage or Salary If you receive wages from your corporation, the corporation will deduct income taxes and National Insurance (NI) contributions from your payslip. The corporation will also make a contribution into the NI system on your behalf. For US tax purposes, these wages are included in your worldwide income which is reportable on your Individual income tax return (Form 1040). To avoid double taxation, you are able to claim the foreign tax credit (FTC) or the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE) or in some cases, a combination of them both. Any unused www.theamericanhour.com
Dividends If a corporation is profitable, a dividend can be paid to the owners based on their ownership interest. Starting in April 2016, the following dividend tax rates will replace the existing dividend tax rates(2) and apply to dividend income above the annual £5,000 Dividend Allowance: • 7.5% for basic rate taxpayers • 32.5% for higher rate taxpayers • 38.1% for additional rate taxpayers This new taxing structure may reduce the incentive to incorporate and remunerate through dividends instead of wages. Also, small investors may not be impacted because dividends earned within ISAs and exempt pension funds are not subject to tax, and they still receive the £5,000 exemption for dividends paid outside of those tax-advantaged accounts.
Prior to April 2016, dividend income was taxed at a more favourable dividend tax rate structure. The tax-free amount of dividends could have been as much as £31,785(1) for individuals who did not earn other income above the Personal Allowance amount. Because the 10% notional tax credit would have adjusted the actual tax rate to 0% for those taxpayers, they would not have paid any out-of-pocket income tax on dividends. Amounts that were above the basic rate band were taxed at an effective tax rate of either 25% or 30.56% after the adjustment for the dividend tax credit. For US tax purposes, the UK dividend would be reportable as fully taxable on the US return. Ordinary dividends are taxed at your marginal income tax rate. However, qualified dividends are taxed at the following rates: Qualified dividends are dividends received US Income Tax Rate
Qualified Dividend Tax Rate
from US corporations or foreign corporations located in a country with which the US has an Income Tax Treaty, such as the UK, and that meet holding period requirements. Usually if you are paying yourself regular dividends from the profits of your own Pvt. Ltd. business, you will meet the qualified dividend requirements and be subject to the lower rates. While the prior tax law consequences were beneficial on the UK side, a taxpayer in the lower tax band with large dividend payouts meant that they would typically owe tax on the US side since the notional tax credit could not be used as a credit on your US return. Comparatively, the changes in how dividends are taxed in the UK may actually result in lowering US taxes owed due to the ability to use foreign tax credits on actual UK taxes paid on the dividends. There is also the possibility of an additional 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax on the dividend payment for taxpayers over certain income thresholds. Unfortunately, this tax cannot be offset by a foreign tax credit.
US Reporting Requirements for Foreign Corporations In addition to reporting shareholder loan income, wages and dividend income on your Individual Income tax return, a US officer, director or shareholder in a foreign corporation may need to file Form 5471, Information Return of US Persons with Respect to Certain Foreign Corporations (and possibly Form 926). There are substantial penalties for US citizens and residents who are required to file Form 5471 and do not file the Form. There are four categories of Form 5471 filers. Before filing, the officer, director or shareholder must determine which category he or she belongs in. This is important because different categories of filers complete different schedules, statements, and other information. It is also important to determine when you need to file Form 5471. For example, if you purchase a 10% interest in a foreign corporation during the calendar year, you would need to file a Form 5471 in the year of acquisition. You would not need to file another Form 5471 unless you acquire additional shares in the corporation or you dispose of your interest in the corporation. Once your ownership interest exceeds 50%, you will start to have an annual filing requirement. If you have either acquired a 10% interest in a non-US company or maintain more than a 50% interest in a non-US company but have not filed Form 5471, Information Return of US Persons With Respect To Certain Foreign Corporation, there may be an opportunity to amend your tax return without penalty under certain IRS provided compliance procedures. www.americaninbritain.co.uk
Income Tax rates through April 2016
Taxable income above your Personal Allowance
Basic rate 20%
£0 to £31,785 People with the standard Personal Allowance start paying this rate on income over £10,600
Higher rate 40%
£31,786 to £150,000 People with the standard Personal Allowance start paying this rate on income over £42,385
Additional rate 45%
UK Dividend Tax Rates through April 2016 Band
Dividend tax rates
Rate adjusted for dividend tax credit
Basic rate (and non-taxpayers)
Additional rate (from 6 April 2013)
Additional rate (dividends paid before 6 April 2013)
Nancy Paustian, H&R Block Expat Tax Services. Nancy 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
American In Britain
tax professional, she has experience in coordinating IRS tax audits, foreign tax audits and various state tax audits. Due to the complexity of US tax reporting for expats and its highly fact-specific nature, please consult an H&R Block Expat Tax Advisor at www.hrblock.com/expats for advice on your specific tax situation.
HM Revenue & Customs Website – Guidance Income Tax rates and allowances: current and past (www.gov.uk)
Review of London’s Theatre Productions by Lydia Parker
The End of Longing by Matthew Perry at the Playhouse Theatre Matthew Perry has built a reputation as one of the most popular stars on American television. Not only did he create the iconic character Chandler Bing in the long running series Friends, but has also recently starred in the successful sitcoms Go On and the The Odd Couple. I suspect, however, that most of the enthusiastic audience at the press night of The End of Longing, Perry’s playwriting debut, were diehard Friends fans. As Chandler is such a loveable character it was very brave of Perry to cast himself in the lead role of Jack, an unapologetic alcoholic who goes out of his way to be unlikeable. This dark comedy centres around four friends who become two couples: highly paid escort Stephanie falls for photographer Jack, while his best friend, the self-declared “stupid” Joseph is already dating highly strung Stevie, a pharmaceuticals rep and best friend of Stephanie. As Stevie is well educated she feels she can’t possibly have a relationship with sweet-natured Joseph who is a man of few words. Not only is he thrilled and supportive when Stevie becomes pregnant, he also puts up with the bitter and sarcastic Jack, who is full of self-loathing and refuses to see his drinking as a problem. Stephanie is also deceiving herself as she at first proudly declares herself a whore, a profession she has chosen for herself as she is
“in complete control“ and even sees it as “the new feminism”. She later talks about the dangers of the job as she has occasionally been beaten up by her clients and reveals she has low self-esteem because of a poor relationship with her alcoholic father. She wants to help Jack, however, despite his insistence that she is just as messed up as him because she chooses to be a prostitute. After a nasty confrontation that sees neither willing to change their lives, they decide to go their separate ways until a crisis in Stevie’s pregnancy brings them together again. There is something quite old-fashioned in Perry’s writing, which structurally resembles a sitcom with its very short scenes. You feel that the writer very much wants things to work out for these couples and believes that love can conquer all, even self doubt, prostitution and addiction. When Jack finally goes to AA and then confesses to Stephanie his battles with alcohol, it is a very real, heartfelt and dramatic moment, in contrast to the light banter of the first act. Matthew Perry has been very public about his own struggles and has obviously followed the maxim that playwrights should write what they know, to great effect. However, the other characters do not seem as fully realised. Stephanie, played by American actress Jennifer Mudge as a classy whore with a heart of gold who is looking for love and a man to redeem, seems too good to be true. Not to mention most feminists would balk at the idea of prostitution as a successful small business
when intelligent women today have so many more options. It is difficult to tell if it is Perry ‘s character Jack or the playwright speaking when he compares her profession to his addiction. Stevie and Joseph, supposedly an incompatible couple because of his stupidity and her neuroses, come across much better as they seem relatively normal. Lloyd Owen, familiar to TV audiences on both sides of the Atlantic, plays Joseph as an uncomplicated, gentle soul, so the constant reminders from the others that he is extremely dim just never ring true. The talented Christina Cole makes Stevie so charming that we root for her the whole time. Matthew Perry has a strong stage presence and completely inhabits the skin of his difficult fictional character Jack, who wants to be loved but won’t allow himself to be. It is a bold choice for Perry and one that is to be applauded. Mention must be made of the beautiful set by Anna Fleischle, which transforms from a cool LA bar to Stephanie’s loft-like bedroom to a coffee shop, all by moving just a few pieces around. With so many quick scene changes, the designer more than meets the challenges set by the script in a very fluid fashion. The End of Longing is, as Matthew Perry states in the programme notes, “a play about the Friends generation”, humorous but with a dark side. As in the popular sitcom, you know the characters will show their weaknesses, make us laugh and then get their happy ending. Box Office: 0844 871 7631
Jennifer Mudge (Stephanie) & Matthew Perry (Jack) - The End Of Longing - Playhouse Theatre - Photo By Helen Maybanks
Hand to God - Harry Melling (Jason) and Tyrone
Hand to God by Robert Askins at the Vaudeville Theatre
Hand to God, a Broadway hit with five Tony nominations, is unlike anything else in the West End. Although one could call it a cross between Book of Mormon and Avenue Q, both of which I loved, it is actually a bizarre and hilarious comedy about religion, mental health and a very scary puppet. Margery, recently widowed, runs a Puppet Ministry in her local suburban Texas church, because she “can’t sing or preach and my brownies taste like old tyres.” She can only muster up three teenagers to participate, The Christketeers: her socially awkward son Jason, mousy but sarcastic Jessica, and bad boy Timothy who bullies both of them. Pastor Greg encourages this Puppet Ministry as he is in love with Margery and forever hopeful she will come round to returning his feelings: “I got empty arms and ears to hear you cry”. Young Timothy also declares his love for her and inspires what can only be called a violent passion in Margery. Meanwhile, Jason has become attached to his hand puppet whom he has christened Tyrone. This is no ordinary sock puppet, however; it becomes Jason’s alter ego, revealing his true feelings for Jessica and helping him stand up to Timothy. Things take a turn for the the worse 22
American In Britain
when Jason discovers his mother’s tryst with Timothy - Tyrone aggressively takes over in a demonic fashion and everyone believes Jason/ Tyrone has been possessed by the devil. This may sound like the plot to a horror story, but as the action unfolds it gets funnier and more outrageous in every scene. Tyrone may be evil but he has great one-liners and as animated by Harry Melling, who plays Jason, he is incredibly expressive. The scenes where Jason battles with Tyrone, attempting to rip him off his arm while furiously arguing with him are feats of technical skill and impressive acting and direction. Melling is best known for playing Dudley Dursley, Harry Potter’s spoiled, chubby cousin in the film series, but he has grown into an accomplished and svelte stage actor with many credits to his name. The wonderful Janie Dee is perfectly cast as Margery, a combination of despair, sweetness and unbridled, yet long repressed, sexuality.You can see where Jason’s problems stem from. Neil Pearson, also a West End veteran, makes Pastor Greg a surprisingly sympathetic character whom we first despise for his inappropriate advances on Margery, whose husband only died six months ago, but later admire for his compassion in wanting to help Jason. Jemima Rooper, known to Jane Austen fans as the endearingly quirky star of Lost in Austen, was unrecognisable as teenage geek Jessica, who
bravely comes to rescue Jason with her own sock puppet. Kevin Mains was also excellent as randy Timothy who never imagined his much fantasised seduction of Margery would involve her ordering him to break things in the Sunday school room while she yells“Don’t be nice!”and smacks him around. Playwright Robert Askins was inspired to write Hand to God from his own childhood memories of a Puppet Ministry run by his mother in a Texan church. This personal aspect gives the play real heart no matter how surreal and extreme it becomes. He developed it over a period of five years and the witty, sharp writing is testament to the care put into the play; there is not a wasted line of dialogue. Moritz von Stuelpnagel has directed the play from its start as a reading off Broadway and helped develop it to its success on Broadway. The collaboration is a winning one as it is a complicated, edgy play which, while poking fun at the peculiarities of some American churches, shows a mother and son in crisis, trying to understand each other. This is a superb production and not to be missed. While the humour is too mature for children, older teenagers will love it as will anyone not offended by raunchy puppet sex. It is a welcome and very enjoyable change to more traditional West End fare. And the American accents are very good! Box Office: 0330 333 4814
DAYS OUT WITH THE FAMILY
Brooklyn Bowl When I heard that Brooklyn Bowl had opened in the O2 my initial reaction was one of surprise, as I wasn’t sure that the location fitted with that quirky live music and bowling venue that they have over the pond, but how wrong I was! Most of the venues surrounding the main O2 arena are restaurants solely catering for those going to a show, but a few changes are happening with some outlets bucking the trend by offering an experience without having to have a concert ticket. For those new to the O2 (are there any?), there was already a cinema in the O2, but now it has a marvellous bowling alley coupled with a good restaurant to while away the hours. This venue also offers live music of its own at times during the week, so check before you go, as the O2 is now so much more than just a large concert hall. We headed to Brooklyn Bowl on a Saturday afternoon, and my wife, my 13 year old daughter and I decided to lock horns down a 60ft lane where the only thing standing between us and glory, were10 large pins seemingly daring us to knock them down. My love of bowling started early in life when I was taken to the local bowling alley by my Dad, and 35 years later I now love taking my own children to this great past time which is fun for all the family. Brooklyn Bowl is definitely the best bowling alley we have been to, as it caters well for kids as well as adults and its ambience and style is a cut above the rest. As you enter the main bowling area the first thing you realise is the size of the area. To your left is a well-stocked bar and to the right the 12 bowling lanes and straight ahead a large screen which, when we arrived, was showing cartoons. The décor is unashamedly retro American and I especially loved the ceiling with its exposed pipework giving the feeling of being in a basement, albeit one with a high ceiling! The first hint that things are different is that, unlike other bowling lanes, you don’t swap your shoes www.theamericanhour.com
DAYS OUT WITH THE FAMILY
at the entrance, but instead you go to your own luxurious chesterfield sofa by your lane and your bowling shoes are brought to you by your own waiter/waitress. The lanes are modern and the balls shiny and new, but despite all of this help, our bowling didn’t match that quality, but we had a great time trying. When you pay, you pay for the lane, so for £15.95 eight of you can bowl for 1/2hr. To give you an idea of timings the 3 of us bowled 2 ½ games in the hour we had and we had a number of breaks for nibbles and drinks. When I first went bowling the food and drink served could, at best, be described as patchy, but over the years the quality has improved considerably, and at Brooklyn Bowl the food is so good you could be forgiven for forgetting to bowl! The food can be eaten by the lane, in the bar area or in the restaurant, and the menu is so crammed full of delights it is as hard to list them all here as it was to choose them on the day. We decided to eat before the bowling, and although the appetisers looked very good with light and Crispy Calamari (£8.50) or one I will definitely return for, namely the Cajun Prawn Cocktail (£8.50) which sounds intriguing, we passed so we had room for the other courses. The menu is undeniably American, and between us my daughter chose the Mac & Cheese (£8) which, much to my dismay, she declared was ‘infinitely better than the one I cook, as it was creamy and had just the right amount of cheese’, and a side of chips (£4). My wife had the ½ Rack of Pork Ribs with french fries and coleslaw (£15.95) which even the most blasé of diners would say was enormous. The rich and succulent pork just fell off the bone and was generously covered in a robust bbq sauce and frankly, unless you are ravenous, was plenty for two. I chose a mixed Fried Chicken Platter (mixed being a selection of white and dark chicken) and a side of chips. The chicken is offered in portions of 4, 8, 12, 16 or 24 ranging in price from £10 to £44. I have had fried chicken many times in the UK and all over
the US, and this offering compares favourably to the best I have had, with the succulent chicken covered in a delightfully light and crunchy batter perfectly seasoned. As mentioned the pieces of chicken are truly large and a portion of 8 pieces would happily feed 3 hungry people, so beware, as you may find you have ordered too much food. Luckily staff happily provide doggy bags for any left overs (however, please note that if you are going to the O2 after, they don’t allow food into the arena). Desserts were worth leaving room for, with Chocolate Frosted Cupcakes or Becca’s Brownie (£6) well worth a look for those with a penchant for chocolate, although for me, a Hot Fudge Sundae (£6.50) was more to my taste. Brooklyn Bowl also caters for those who want just a few drinks whilst they bowl or listen to the music, including a wide range of beers you would usually find, and a few you that you wouldn’t, including Samuel Adams and Knockdown Punk. The latter has been specially brewed for Brooklyn Bowl London, and is crisp and light with a hint of hops, and was so good it may be worth coming back for on its own. Wines are reasonably priced, and the selection caters for all tastes, palates and price ranges, and although I didn’t try any as we opted for the special beers, the cocktails I saw being prepared looked suitably exotic enough to satisfy even the most discerning of tastes. I love this type of venue as it has something for everyone, from the young to the old, and is so much more than just a bowling alley. The skill which Brooklyn Bowl shows however, is whilst offering all of these different things, each doesn’t infringe or detract from the others. If you just want to bowl you will love it and I, despite my lack of talent, will be visiting again, but will make sure that next time I won’t eat any food with my bowling hand, as I am sure that was the reason for my score! For further information please visit www.london.brooklynbowl.com T: 0207 412 8778 www.americaninbritain.co.uk
Shakespeare: My Hero Okay, guilty as charged. I’m an unrepentant Shakespeare groupie, dating from age 17 when I saw my first professional production in NewYork City. In the years that followed, I’ve managed to see and/or read 36 of the 38 plays attributed to him. So it is no wonder that I’m having a dinner party on April 23rd to celebrate his birthday – which also happens to be the date on which he died, exactly 400 years ago. Although there is no actual record of his birth, there is a record, in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford, of his baptism, which was April 26th, 1564. Back then, baptisms usually took place three days after a baby’s birth, which is why it is assumed that William Shakespeare was born on April 23rd. Because 2016 marks the 400th anniversary of his death, there will be many celebrations around the country, especially in Stratford-on-Avon. (As it so happens, April 23rd is also St. George’s Day. How clever of Britain’s most famous playwright, with a dramatist’s sense of timing, to organise both his birth and death on the anniversary of the patron saint of England). There is a fair amount of controversy regarding the authorship of the plays, and a lively group of naysayers, which includes actors Mark Rylance and Derek Jacobi. I’m definitely in the camp that gives Shakespeare full credit for 38 plays and 154 sonnets. In my mind, their enduring popularity is attributable to their portrayal of timeless, universal truths: jealousy, love, loyalty, political intrigue, ambition, revenge, betrayal, redemption, lust, regret – all so very human. Shakespeare was born and raised in Stratford. His father, John, was a town official and a glove maker. His mother’s family, the Ardens, were landowners. Shakespeare was educated at the local grammar school where the curriculum would have included the study of classical authors, Latin composition and possibly some Greek. He did not go to university. At age 18, he married Anne Hathaway, eight years his senior and pregnant with their first child, Susannah, who was born in 1583. Their twins, Hamnet and Judith, were born in 1585. Sadly, Hamnet died at age 11. Shakespeare’s whereabouts from 1585 until he appeared in London in 1592 are a mystery. But from then on he acted, wrote plays and became a shareholder in a company of players, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, which on the accession of James I to the throne after the death of Elizabeth I, became the King’s Men. He spent his last years in Stratford and it always amused me that in his will he left his ‘second best bed’ to his wife – until I discovered that the best bed was for guests, and the second-best was the marriage bed. Before I became an expat, I lived in New 24
American In Britain
By a painter called John Taylor who was an important member of the Painter-Stainers’ Company. (Official gallery link) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons from Wikimedia Commons
York City and was lucky enough to have seen Shakespeare in Central Park. One of my theatre programmes from that time shows Meat Loaf in the cast! Another ‘old’ theatre programme from the Royal Shakespeare Company here in the late 1970s lists Ruby Wax in a minor role. Well, you’ve got to start somewhere! Nothing beats seeing Shakespeare on the stage. For those of you who live in or near London, a visit to the Globe Theatre is a must. (www.shakespearesglobe.com). In this replica of the theatre where Shakespeare’s plays were performed from 1599, until destroyed by fire in 1613, you can sit on a cushion on bleacherlike seats or you can brave it as a ‘groundling’ and stand in the central area where you might find yourself interacting with the players. But be prepared with a raincoat as here you are open to the elements. I am proud to say that the prime mover in getting the Globe built was an American, the actor Sam Wanamaker (father of Zoe), who sadly died before its completion. Nearby is the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, named in his honour. But Stratford-on-Avon is the place where you feel Shakespeare’s presence on every street corner. I first went there as a student, during my ‘Junior Year Abroad’ at Nottingham University. Of course, when I moved to England in the late 70s, I made a beeline for Stratford where
I saw several wonderful productions staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Over the years, my friends and I have made regular visits to Stratford. We’d drive up on a Saturday, having booked tickets for both the matinee and evening performances. On one insane weekend, when the RSC was performing ‘Henry VI’, Parts I, II and III in the same day, we sat through them all – mid-morning, then matinee, then evening. You really have to be a Shakespeare groupie to do that! Besides the theatres operated by the RSC (the main 1040-seat theatre in Waterside, plus the 450-seat Swan), you can also visit various sites in and around Stratford that are associated with the Bard. Not to be missed are the house in Henley Street where he was born, his wife Anne Hathaway’s cottage and garden, Hall’s Croft (where his daughter Susannah and husband lived) and New Place (which Shakespeare owned during the last years of his life). Also well worth a visit is Mary Arden’s farmhouse, a short drive out of town. Near the main theatre, in Bancroft Gardens, is a large statue of the Bard. He is perched on a pedestal surrounded by smaller statues of Hamlet, Lady Macbeth, Prince Hal and Falstaff. These characters have been chosen to represent Shakespeare’s range and versatility – philosophy, tragedy, history and comedy. Another famous
Shakespeare: My Hero to appear on the stage. In ‘Kiss Me Kate’, the musical version of The Taming of the Shrew, Cole Porter’s clever lyrics urge: “Brush up your Shakespeare, start quoting him now.” The fact is that without actually realising it, we quote him all the time. Here’s just a small sample: “Eaten out of house and home” (Henry IV, Act 2),“A wild goose chase” (Romeo and Juliet), “The world is my oyster”and “What the dickens” (Merry Wives of Windsor), a “forgone conclusion” (Othello),“Love is blind”(The Merchant of Venice). A favourite of mine comes from Hamlet and attests to how profound Shakespeare’s messages can be: “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” Would the Bard be pleased with all the fuss being made on his account, on this 400th anniversary of his death? Or would he simply dismiss it as ‘much ado about nothing’? One thing’s for certain: All’s well that ends well.
Shakespeare’s tomb in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford. Public domain photo , via Wikimedia Commons from Wikimedia Commons
Public domain engraving of Shakespeare. By William Shakespeare [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons from Wikimedia Commons
statue of Shakespeare is to be found, quite naturally, in Poet’s Corner of Westminster Abbey. In Holy Trinity Church, where he is buried, the bust of him on the funerary monument is said to be a genuine likeness. As we get closer and closer to April 23rd, there will be many and varied celebrations. The London ones will be well advertised – but if you want to go back to ‘his roots’, then Stratford is
THE place. Websites to look at are: www.shakespearecelebrations.com; www.discover-stratford.com; www.visitstratforduponavon.co.uk. For a schedule of plays, see: www.rsc.org.uk. And for a bit of fun, try to see the 1998 film, ’Shakespeare in Love’ which really captures the period – including the tradition that male actors had to play women, the latter being forbidden
Mari Zipes Wallace hails from Pleasantville, New York. She has worked in publishing in New York City as well as London. She is a founder member of Britain’s Society of Picture Researchers and Editors, and a member of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. Since living in England, she has had pieces published in a range of UK magazines, including Sussex Life, Best of British, The Oldie, Saga, The Photographer and enjoyed a 15-month stint writing a column for Countryfile magazine. Contact details: email@example.com; www.marizipeswallace.co.uk
American In Britain
Spring Into Action
Chesterton’s Polo In The Park, photo by Mark Mueller
SPRING INTO ACTION by Kimberly Mueller
Weather is often the topic of conversation when small talk seems necessary. Spring time welcomes a refresh from the stale subject of rain. As summer approaches, days lengthen and the sun becomes more predictable, overcoats are traded for lighter, more colourful jackets and we find ourselves with less inclination to chat about the weather and more likely looking for opportunities to enjoy it. If this impending season puts an extra spring in your step, take action!
1. Bet on the Ponies There are 59 racecourses in Great Britain and around 1250 fixtures held each year spanning the months of March to December with a total economic impact of British Racing in excess of £4bn. If you brought a passion for the ponies with you from home, or are a one-off visitor to the track Ladies Day, Music Night, and Family Day schedules affords everyone the opportunity to witness the prowess of the jockeys and if so inclined, experience the thrill of betting. Major events draw large crowds with socialising and fashion spotting as much on the mind as www.theamericanhour.com
jumping, sprinting, and race cards. Chester is the oldest racecourse in Britain and has organised racing events since Roman times. Its largest meeting of the season, The Boodles May Festival known as The Roodee stages trials for colts and fillies on their way to greatness and the famous Chester Cup fascinates spectators with a thundering two and one quarter miles around the track. Travel with crowds of over 20,000 to descend on the two-day Scottish Grand National Festival at Ayr to watch the country’s top long distance chasers compete or converge on the spot regularly voted one of Britain’s top racing venues, Sandown Park, which hosts the finale of the jumping season. Ascot offers horse racing at its finest steeped in over 300 years of heritage and tradition with Royal Ascot in June serving as the centerpiece of many British social calendars and destination to spectators from around the world. The Queen herself, as lover, owner and breeder of racehorses, takes a keen interest in the races having attended every Royal Meeting during her reign. The Royal Procession welcomes the start of every race day and traditionally she presents the Gold Cup and
The Diamond Jubilee Stakes. The Gold Cup is the busiest of the five day celebration, featured on the third day and affectionately deemed “Ladies Day”. Trophies for each of these occasions are uniquely designed each year and presented to the winners to keep. Royal Ascot is a magical exhibition of fashion, colour and panache, with a strict dress code interspersed with six top-class races. It has become famed for the millinery that race-goers wear to attend. Ladies Day promised a show of some of the most extravagant creations with hats that claim rare feathers, sculptures, fresh flowers and fruit. Style rides high at The Crabbie’s Grand
Grazing Horse, Dreamstime © Lidian Neeleman www.americaninbritain.co.uk
National Festival Ladies Day at Aintree as well. A three day extravaganza packed with racing day action and followed by live entertainment. Televised to the world, over 600 million will be watching from home. Seize the opportunity to see it in person. Chesterton’s Polo in the Park, the largest polo tournament in Europe, takes place in Hurlington Park, Fulham in early June and appeals to those savvy enough to know what a chukka is, and others looking for yet another excuse to party. The rumble of the earth, the sound of the mallet smacking the ball, and the obvious power of the horses, draws crowds to a fast and furious polo format over a three day event featuring International Friday, Ladies Day, and Family Finals Day. Eat, drink, and shop your way through the event with a ticket to the grounds that includes Grandstand seating, Champagne Lanson Garden, Mahiki Bar, Polo Bar and Garden, PIMM’s Bus and Garden, Fentimans Botanical Bar and Garden, Street Food Market, Luxury Shopping Village and Kids Club. Pitch Invasion offered on Family Finals Day only, is a unique party for children kicked off with champagne for the parents. You’re sure to enjoy great music, endless entertainment and enticing food selections at this event of the season. Perhaps you’re less a spectator and more into sport. If that is the case, Britain offers riding courses and training centres where you can ride, learn to ride, improve your skills or adopt a new discipline. Hyde Park Stables provides riders with both group and private rides and lessons year round on five miles of bridleways and in two outdoor arenas designed for dressage, riding, and jumping for children. Access individual and group lessons for the beginner to the experienced adult, jumping clinics and dressage league at Vauxhall City Farm convenient to the City of London. Weather is never an issue when using Colgrain Equestrian Centre’s indoor arena in Scotland, age is not an issue at Gleneagles Equestrian School where bespoke lessons are available for all ages starting at age 3 and upwards, and ability is of no consequence with Mount Mascal Stables “Horsemanship for All”motto. They take adult or child beginners, rusty returners or accomplished horseman. There are 1.3 million people in the UK who ride, the majority of which happen to be female (74%). The British Horse Society is the UK’s largest and most influential equestrian charity designed to protect their interests and is a valuable source of information if horses and riding are your passion. Further information: www.bhs.org.uk
Camden Beach At The Roundhouse, Photo By Stuart Leech
Hampstead Heath photo by Azem Kola
jaunt to the beach or lido, sunning in the park or finding enjoyment on the shoreline. Traditional and unconventional opportunities to get sand between your toes and water up your nose await. Get ready for the return of Camden Beach to the Roundhouse, the fab arts venue in Camden, for another year bringing practically everything associated with a beach holiday in England to central London. The terrace will be filled with 150 tonnes of sand, pop-up restaurants, bars, deckchairs, beach huts, raucous laughter and the opportunity for people watching. Opening times for this manmade experience vary, but historically have run for several weeks through the peak summer months. Exact dates will publish soon, so plan to get there early as it tends to draw a crowd. Families can make a day of it, so bring your buckets and spades, but beware, the party can get hardy and leans to kid unfriendly towards evening.
2. Soak, Sun, and Find Shoreline Fun It seems that we inevitably return to the discussion of the weather, but when the sun shines, we suggest declaration of a holiday, a 28
American In Britain
Mudflats And Thames Barrier, Dreamstime © Lance Bellers
The dank mudflats of the Thames are probably not the sunny beach venue that you imagine soaking in, but they do offer a rather unique shoreline experience, ‘mudlarking’, when the tidal river withdraws. Find yourself among amateur archaeologists scavenging treasures cast away from cargo boats and river workers that transported items from all over the world for centuries, continuing to reveal items from London’s past just under the surface of the muck. London’s history as a world port dates back to the Roman era and the Thames mud is anaerobic, without oxygen, so things don’t decay, making it possible to find preserved medieval treasures even today. To dig below the surface, a license issued by the Port of London Authority is required, but to explore and find things on top, a pair of waders, some patience, and time to kill are the only tools necessary. Licensed mudlarks dig on the foreshore in exchange for having their finds officially recorded by the Museum of London continually building a record of life on the river. The selection for lidos or open-air swimming pools where one can satisfy their lust for laps, wash off the Tube, or train for the next triathlon they learned about at the The National Triathlon Show at Lee Valley Velopark in April abound in Britain. Hampstead Heath’s three swimming ponds and the Serpentine in Hyde Park offer non-chlorinated alternatives to improve one’s breast stroke and refresh their senses, while Charlton Lido’s 50-metre outdoor pool is heated, extending the outdoor swimming season beyond the summer months. For those not keen on the idea of being seen in a swimming costume, but interested in swimming for sport nonetheless, The London Aquatics Centre will play host to the 2016 European Aquatics Championships. The
Spring Into Action
Lulworth Village Image: www.freeimages.co.uk
events which feature swimming, diving and synchronised swimming will be held at the centre within the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and will be the first major event to be held at the Olympic pool since the 2012 Games. Britain’s Jurassic coastline activities boasts areas steeped in history and geographical significance and attracts over 500,000 curious travellers every year fancying a walk on the beach, primarily during the peak summer months of July and August.You’ll find coves and beaches all along the coastline. Visit Lulworth, a great starting point from which to walk the South West Coast Path, England’s longest waymarked long-distance and a National Trail stretching 630 miles. The path climbs out of Lulworth quickly, but gives views of the cove below as you climb continuing to the top of Dungy Head, passing the Man O War Cove. As you reach the top, get views of Durdle Door, one of the most photographed views of the coast path. The beaches are brilliant, and there are steps down to both Man o War Cove and Durdle Door beach after which the path climbs steeply away. If you continue on as far as Bowleze Cove walk on the beach into Weymouth where there’s a holiday resort and beach with soft sand and sea for swimming. Blackpool Pleasure Beach delivers a stimulating day with the UK’s award winning theme park featuring 125 thrill rides, attractions, and legendary stage shows. Ken Webster, mentalist, hypnotist and entertainer is on stage at Pleasure Beach starting this spring with award winning magician Russ Brown’s Carnival of Magic and Hot Ice 2016 - 80th Anniversary Production gliding into town later in the year, with glamorous costumes and showmanship from a cast of world championship performers. Further information: www.outdoorswimming society.com www.220triathlonshow.co.uk www.euroaquatics2016.london www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk
3. Feel Like a Kid Again We think that kids and adults should seize the season with time at the playground jumping, www.theamericanhour.com
climbing, swinging, and spinning to keep spirits up and waistlines down. In most cases the kit requirements are easy, comfortable clothes and trainers, but that does depend on how you define “playground”. Grounds are found in all sorts of places. Some themed, some part of larger, more elaborate activity areas for all ages and abilities. The Diana, Princess of Wales’ Memorial Playground inspired by the story of Peter Pan and the princess’ love of children, is located in the northwest corner of Kensington Gardens and boasts a huge, wooden pirate ship. It’s a truly a special park for less able bodied as well as able bodied children to visit. Jubilee Gardens, located on London’s South Bank, opposite the Houses of Parliament and next to the iconic London Eye has a contemporary playground constructed almost entirely out of massive timbers, attached to create a lengthy climbing structure with challenging nets and balancing logs underneath. If you have a penchant for adrenaline rushes Salcey Forest in Northampton, a semi-natural woodland adventure with three walking trails, family cycle route, horse riding trails, and fenced children’s play zone features a tree ninja aerial high ropes course. Choose one of six courses and six heights up to 40 feet based on your skills (and your nerve). This is certainly not for anyone suffering from acrophobia. Just north of Cambridge centre Jesus Green’s completely fenced natural play area caters to children of all ages and is based on a railways theme. Younger children play on the railway engine itself with its wagon, a mini roundabout, spring tractor, cradle seat swings, and agility climber, while older children can exhaust themselves on the net climber, group swing or slide. Continue the varied activity in other areas of the park with the longest outdoor swimming pool in Europe complemented by a sunbathing space. Jesus Green will play host to The 43rd Cambridge Beer Festival this May and to summer Sunday afternoon band concerts. The beer festival is currently one of the largest regional beer festivals in the United Kingdom featuring a wide range of local and national beers of all styles, as well as cider, perry, mead, wine, bottled ale and draught beers from around
the world. The festival is also famous for its Cheese Counter, sporting a very wide range of fine cheeses, together with locally produced bread, pork pies, ham and other savoury items available for your enjoyment. After the beer festival ramp up playground time with a workout at a trim trail, sometimes also referred to as an adventure or fitness trail, like the one recently refurbished in Prim Rose Hill next to the children’s playground. Trim trails are made up of simple pieces of exercise equipment placed around parks, and are free to use. The equipment can be used to do various exercises that develop balance, strength and coordination. They are a great way to make a run or jog in the park more interesting and work a few more muscles. Go alone or with friends or family and share a workout in the fresh air. Head to Scotland’s Dock Park or Warwick’s St. Nicholas Park for a fantastic day of play. The award winning Dock Park has equipment suitable for all ages and abilities with bright and pleasing colours; all surrounding the historic maze, which has been in place since the 1970’s. In addition to the playground and outdoor paddle pool, St Nicholas Park has its own Fun Park complete with rides, games and amusements! St Nicholas Park is picturesque and is perfect for picnics, a long walk, or jog around the Measured Mile Route. The lawns and gardens are ideal for a stroll or a sit down, and there are designated picnic areas as well as a tea shop serving snacks, meals and drinks. The 18-hole Mini-Golf Course is a fun challenge for everyone, as is the Boating Centre, with a range of different boats from pedal and rowboats to kayaks and canoes. Entertainment off the water can be found at the Skate Park, perfect for skateboarding or BMX.
4. Garden Party Gardens for viewing, tending and education are prolific throughout all of Britain. Inexhaustible choices exist for the enthusiast to enjoy throughout the calendar year. The blooms and aromas change along with the season and locations, Japanese gardens, Royal gardens, topiary, water, wildlife and woodland gardens. Finding them is not difficult, choosing one for the day may be. Perhaps gardening is not an affair for your family, however, many lovely gardens throughout the British Isles do boast plenty of youth activities, without spoiling it for everyone else. Some will have trails or adjacent museums, others may have play areas or animals for delighting children. Hever Castle & Gardens is the perfect setting for horticultural lovers whether alone, with friends or family. More than 20,000 spring bulbs and 15,000 bedding plants are planted in the gardens annually guaranteeing you a breathtaking display no matter what time of year you visit. For history lovers this castle in Kent is a great place to learn about the Tudors. Spend the day admiring the interiors and historic www.americaninbritain.co.uk
Kent Countryside Image: www.size-isnt-everything.co.uk
elements as well as the awesome grounds with statues and a variety of ornamental gardens laced throughout the 125-acre grounds. There is an adventure playground, complete with Water Maze and the 100 year old Yew Maze, miniature model houses and a beautiful lake to take a boat ride on or stroll around. Practice archery, paint a shield, watch a jousting event or marvel at the giant topiary chess set. Festivals and events are scheduled throughout the year including a Rose Festival. It’s no wonder with 4,000 rose bushes in the English Rose Garden and its own ‘Hever Castle Rose’ which was launched by Dame Judi Dench, the awardwinning British actress, in 2011. The signature rose produces velvety deep-red blooms which fade to cerise, offset by golden-yellow stamens and has proven resistant to disease in rose trials. Be sure and see it if you visit between May and October its long blooming season. Everything that you need to fuel your own appetite for gardening is present at The Chelsea Flower Show held by the Royal Horticultural Society and the most famous garden show in Britain, if not the world. For five days in May walk the grounds of the Royal Hospital and witness their transformation into a festival of flowers, festoons and fragrance that attracts over 150,000 visitors from all over the globe. Indulge in the display gardens by some of the most prestigious garden designers of this generation and marvel at the plantings. The Great Pavillion is roughly 11,775 square metres or 2.90 acres, enough room to park 500 London buses and serves an exhibition of almost everything that blooms and thrives in Britain. More than 100 nurseries will be present and flower arranging displays are held daily during the Show. Community gardens provide fresh produce and plants as well as another opportunity for getting physically, socially, environmentally active this spring. Culpeper Community Garden in Islington, London, Redhall Walled Garden on the west side of Edinburgh, and Camden’s Phoenix Garden support 30
American In Britain
the premise that gardening has therapeutic benefits. People from all walks of life come to these spaces to improve their lives and their environment and for respite from urban stress. All details for this year’s event were not yet in at the time of printing, but Open Garden Squares Weekend in June bears witness to around 200 gardens, including some private, opening their doors to the public, with no scaling of walls or entries required. The lineup includes traditional private squares, contemporary roof gardens, as well as skips, barges, museums, schools and allotments. Unfortunately, this year 10 Downing Street will not be accessible. Bummer. Further information: www.greatbritishgardens.co.uk www.rhs.org.uk
5. Get a Jump on Summer Jumping or rebounding can help you reap a lot of health benefit. It is so easy and a great way to keep yourself fit. Wanting to drop those excess pounds this spring? Try jumping whether on a trampoline or using rope. Both can provide you similar effects and are fun to do. Jump to your heart’s content on 150 connected trampolines. Oxygen Free Jumping is open for 30,000 square feet of jumping mania obstacle course, foam pit, slam dunk basketball hoops, dodgeball, runway and airbag! We’re tired just thinking about it! Jumping is currently available in two locations with five additional locations planned throughout England and Wales. Why would anyone jump from a perfectly stable platform or a perfectly good airplane? The thrill of the fall and the bragging rights that follow. Get active this spring with indoor or outdoor bungee jumping and skydiving in Britain. Start out small, if any of it could be construed as small, with an indoor 160 foot plunge and advance up to a 400 foot crane jump. The Chepstow Bungee Jump
located in South Wales is a truly iconic jump. Participants are raised to the top of a 300ft crane overlooking a 100ft quarry. The surrounding Welsh countryside stretches for miles around so imagine the view from the platform while you muster the courage to take that leap of faith. 3, 2, 1, Bungee! Bungee jumping includes a tether, but very few experiences compete with the thrill of skydiving, no strings attached. For one whole adrenaline-fuelled minute you can freefall reaching terminal velocity at 120mph as a novice. Tandem parachuting allows you to experience the thrill of freefall skydiving without any extensive training and is a popular UK skydiving course. After a short briefing, jump harnessed to the front of a fully qualified parachuting instructor from an altitude of 15,000ft and live to tell your friends about it. If you’re unsure about jumping from a plane from these heights have a go at indoor skydiving. Either option is available at reputable centres that specialise in providing these thrills safely. If not for you, give a jump as a gift. Jumping a rope has been practiced for centuries around the world. There are many elements to skipping rope including single rope, Double Dutch, long rope, partner and group skipping. It is a sport not only for competition and recreation, but for keeping fit and healthy. Remember Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky character working the speed rope? Unlike other sports, competitive jump ropers practice year round with very minimal breaks. The combined skills necessary include speed and agility and require tremendous endurance and strength. Jump Rope UK, training specialists for schools, colleges and clubs introduces the sport of jump rope, demonstrating and teaching at all level the skills associated with single, partner and team skipping. Pick up a regular or weighted rope yourself and get moving or witness the sport in action at The National Jump Rope Speed Championships and Jump Rope Festival 2016 in May at the Lilles Hall National Sports Centre in Shropshire, near Newport. Further information: www.ukbungee.co.uk www.bpa.org.uk www.brsa.org.uk
Photo Courtesy Of Jump Rope UK
A Letter from Scotland by Yvonne Willcocks It was an unbelievably bright day in February, and after so much bad weather this winter, we decided to have lunch at the ‘Peacock Cafe’ in Pittencrieff Park in Dunfermline, Fife. Being a holiday, it was crowded with children but we got a table in the sun on the balcony. On one side through the trees was Pittencrieff House with its extensive lawns, and on the other the Peacock House. In his youth, Andrew Carnegie and his family, who lived nearby, had been banned from the park for political reasons, but when he retired the richest man in the world, he bought out the owners and gave the park to the people of Dunfermline. It was just one of his many gifts to his town, and the world. This got us thinking about some of Scotland’s many personalities who left their homeland before achieving greatness and becoming world leaders. At the time of Andrew Carnegie’s birth in 1835, Dunfermline’s main industry was weaving, and “Andra’s” father was one of the many weavers in the town. At that time weaving was a cottage-industry and one of the two downstairs rooms in their tiny cottage was almost filled with the timber framework of the ‘jacquard’ loom. An original loom in the original room, complete with cards to control the linen pattern, is displayed in Dunfermline’s Carnegie Birthplace Museum. But competition was fierce and times were hard in early 19th century Scotland, so in 1848, when Andrew was 13, the family decided to emmigrate to Pennsylvania where they had family connections. While his parents found basic employment, Andrew became a
Andrew Carnegie, (Courtesy of the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum, Dunfermline, Scotland.) 32
American In Britain
telegraph messenger boy in Pittsburgh at the princely wage of $2.50 per week, but he got to know the businesses around town, and the men who mattered. In 1853, he moved to the Pennsylvania Railroad Company as a telegraph operator with a salary of $4.00 a week, but he was soon shifting his interest from telegraphy to the expanding railroad industry, rising through the ranks thanks to his friendship with Thomas Scott who also advised him on investing his money on the stock market. At the time, the expression ‘insider-trading’ was not known, but Carnegie and his friends undoubtedly took advantage of their prior knowledge of business opportunities, particularly in the supply of iron and steel for rails and bridges. The start of the Civil War in 1861 was a great opportunity for Carnegie who was appointed Superintendent of military railways and telegraph lines for the Union Government. He supervised the evacuation of the defeated Union troops after the Battle of Bull Run, but his handling of communications, supplies and troop movement contributed significantly to the eventual defeat of the Confederacy. Carnegie had started to invest in the steel industry before the War, and took advantage of the massive demand for munitions, ships and related industries. Leaving the railways he formed the Keystone Bridge Works and the Union Ironworks in Pittsburg where he used his connections with the Pennsylvania Railroad to get much of their business. By adopting the Bessemer process to produce steel more cheaply, Carnegie was able to take over competing companies and add ore and coke producers to his business, which he renamed the Carnegie Steel Company. By the turn of the century Carnegie was planning his retirement and sold his company to John Pierpoint Morgan for $480 million. Carnegie’s share was over $225 million (worth $13.6 billion in 2016). Then he started giving it away! Carnegie’s philanthropy reached around the world, benefitting and founding organisations that reflected his multi-faceted interests, but on carefully defined terms. Celebrating his own early studies, he donated many libraries and also organs to a wide range of cities. He was a convinced pacifist, and donated $1.5 million for the building of the Peace Palace and the setting up of the International Law Courts in The Hague. Moira Shearer, the internationally-known prima ballerina, was also born in Dunfermline, in 1926, but moved with her mother to Rhodesia – now Zambia – when she was five years old to join
her father. Her first ballet lessons soon showed that she had unusual talent and before long she returned to Scotland and continued her training at Bearsden Academy. When Moira was ten years old she started her professional training in London at the acclaimed Russian Dance Studio of Nicholas Legat. When she was fifteen, soon after the start of World War II, she joined the new International Ballet and performed professionally for the first time. In 1942, she joined Sadlers Wells Ballet where she performed all the classical ballets, her first starring role being “Sleeping Beauty” at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in 1946. She made the new ballet“Cinderella”by Frederick Ashton, an outstanding success in 1948, went on to star in Roland Petit’s “Carmen” in Paris, and in George Balenchine’s “Ballet Imperial” at Covent Garden, both in 1950. However, it was the movie “The Red Shoes”, adapted from the Hans Anderson story, that brought Moira international acclaim in 1948. The tragic story is about a girl with flaming red hair, like Moira, whose red shoes would not stop dancing. Ironically enough, it was reported that she hated the movie because some people said she was prostrating her art. However, it also brought a taste for acting, and she went on to make other movies including “The Tales of Hoffmann”and“Black Tights”. “The Red Shoes”, and her marriage to Edinburgh-born Ludovic Kennedy in 1950, marked a complete change in her life as she moved from ballet to theatre drama where she could really bring characters to life. From Shakespeare to Sheridan and Chekhov to
Moira Shearer in“The Red Shoes”with Leonide Massine, by Russell Westwood, (© estate of Russell Westwood, Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, London)
A LETTER FROM SCOTLAND Giraudoux and Bernard Shaw, she played them all. The change also allowed her the time to bring up her family of three girls and a boy, as well as becoming involved in her husband’s high-profile life as a journalist, writer, broadcaster and politician. The name John Buchan is known today principally as the author of a series of exciting stories, particularly“The Thirty-Nine Steps”which was later made into a film. But the 1st Baron Tweedsmuir had a distinguished and multifaceted career. Born in Perth in 1875, and raised in Kirkcaldy, Fife, Buchan was the son of a Free Church of Scotland Minister. He spent holidays with his grandparents in Broughton in the Scottish Borders where he loved to roam around the countryside near the River Tweed, later weaving the Scottish landscape into a number of his books. He was an avid pupil and won a scholarship to the University of Glasgow when he was seventeen, studying classics, writing poetry and becoming a published author. In 1895, he went to Brasenose College, Oxford, where his friends included Hilaire Belloc. Buchan won prizes for essays and poetry and was elected president of the Oxford Union. He was already marked out as ‘a man with a future’. His first job was private secretary to the High Commissioner for Southern Africa, which enabled him to become familiar with Cape Colony, Transvaal and the Orange Free State. This experience provided background for much of his future writing. When he returned to London, he became a partner in Nelson’s publishing company and became editor of The Spectator. He also studied law, and was called to the bar but did not practice as a lawyer. In
1907 he married Susan Charlotte Grosvenor, a cousin of the Duke of Westminster, one of the wealthiest men in the country. Using his experiences in South Africa, Buchan wrote Prester John in 1910 and, although suffering from illness, made his first sortie into politics as a candidate for Selkirk and Peebles where he used to go exploring during his school holidays. In 1915, soon after the outbreak of WWI, he published his best-known thriller, The Thirty-Nine Steps, set against a Scottish background. The sequel novel Greenmantle was published the following year. He joined the army as an officer in the Intelligence Corps and was appointed Director of Information in 1917. He assisted in writing the official history of the war which was later published in twentyfour volumes. After the war he continued to write novels as well as historical books, and he became President of the Scottish Historical Society and a trustee of the National Library of Scotland. In 1927, Buchan was elected as the Unionist Party Member of Parliament for the Combined Universities. 1935 was a momentous year for Buchan. His spy-thriller The Thirty-Nine Steps was brought to the cinema by Alfred Hitchcock and it was a great success. And this was the year that Buchan was honoured with the Order of St. Michael and St. George. In addition he was elevated to the peerage as Baron Tweedsmuir. In fact, this honour was made in preparation for the crowning stage of his life, his appointment by King George V as Governor General of Canada. Buchan already had a wide knowledge of the country and soon visited the length and breadth of Canada to promote greater national solidarity.
John Buchan, 1st Lord Tweedsmuir (Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, London)
It was during the following year that George V died, but the reign of the popular Edward VIII soon ended in abdication in favour his brother George VI. Tweedsmuir commented that in his first year as Governor General of Canada, he had represented three kings. To ensure the continuation of loyalties, he set about planning a royal tour of Canada for the new royal couple in 1939, which included a visit to the USA. The tour was a great success but was rapidly overshadowed by the outbreak of war with Germany. Lord Tweedsmuir died in Canada in February 1940 after suffering a stroke, but 100 exciting and scholarly published works will keep the memory of John Buchan alive.
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 Living In Serviced Apartments Moving Expatriate Clubs Tax Events Having A Baby In The UK
Competitions and offers are added each month A page dedicated to key residential areas in London & the Home Counties popular with the American Expatriate Community Moving to live in the UK? Consider the benefits of a serviced apartment Moving overseas this summer? See a comprehensive listing of the many expatriate clubs & associations operating in the UK Need the latest tax advice and links to taxation websites? Visit for updates and information Catch up on the latest activities and events, and meet and engage with the American expatriate community in the UK What you need to know if you are planning to have your baby in the UK
Please do tell any 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. JOIN US! American in Britain magazine and www.theamericanhour.com
We are now also blogging and our blog is available to view on www.theamericanhour.com/?blog=
UK SPORTS Some More British Sports Successes To Report But Will Soccer Provide The Biggest Upset And Surprise Of 2016?
Soccer This time last year Leicester City FC was battling to remain in the Premiership having been bottom of the League at Christmas 2014, a position which traditionally spelt doom and relegation. Amazingly, they survived and after a pre-season tour of Thailand involving some unacceptable behaviour by certain players, a new manager was appointed. Claudio Ranieri managed Chelsea for four years before being sacked and has also managed Monaco,Valencia, Fiorentina and Cagliari. His appointment at Leicester was certainly questioned by many pundits but, so far, he has proved them all wrong. Some new players were acquired last summer, notably the strikers Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, and Leicester City now look favourites to win the Premiership title. With nine games to go they are five points clear of second placed Tottenham Hotspur and have a relatively easy run in, if any game in the Premiership can be considered “easy”!! What a story that would be. The other major contenders have slipped up in recent months. Tottenham Hotspur have been the most consistent of those teams but Arsenal and Manchester City have struggled to find their earlier good form. Chelsea have recovered from the relegation zone they found themselves in thanks to the dismissal of manager Mourinho and the appointment of Gus Hiddink for the remainder of the season. Manchester United have continued to blow hot and cold and only remain with an outside chance of finishing in the top four (for next season’s European Champions League qualification) due to the inconsistency of the teams above them. But watch out for West Ham United who, under new manager Slaven Bilic, are playing well and could yet make that coveted and financially rewarding top four. 34
American In Britain
The Round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League is, at the time of writing, in the process of the second leg ties. Manchester City are certain to progress to the quarter finals but Chelsea have a difficult return match with Paris St Germain, a match that is on the proverbial knife edge, and Arsenal look doomed in their away tie with Barcelona after a 0-2 defeat at home in the first leg. The Europa Cup has paired Liverpool with Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur have a difficult tie with Borussia Dortmund. The FA Cup quarter finals involve Arsenal (hoping for a third consecutive FA Cup title) against Watford, Everton against Chelsea, Manchester United against West Ham United and Reading (the only non-Premiership team left in the competition) against Crystal Palace. Could this be an all-London semi-final round with Arsenal, Chelsea, West Ham and Crystal Palace making up the last four? Reflecting back on Leicester City’s chances of winning the Premier League, it is worth noting that, being out of the FA Cup and not in a European tournament, they do not have any other competitions to distract them, weary them or cause potential injuries. That adds to their chances of success.
Cricket England pulled off a magnificent Series win in the four Test matches in South Africa. England won the first Test by 241 runs, drew the rain affected second and won the third by 7 wickets to give them an unassailable Series lead, although South Africa did win the fourth match by 280 runs. The highlight of the Series was Ben Stokes astonishing innings in the second Test when he scored 258 runs off just 198 balls with thirty 4s and eleven 6s. It was the highest-ever Test score by a number 6 batsman and his eleven 6s was
a new record for an England batsman in a Test innings. He scored 150 off 135 balls, the fastest in England history. The One Day Internationals proved a big disappointment as England won the first two matches by 39 runs and 5 wickets respectively. After losing the third match by 7 wickets they were on the verge of winning the fourth when they managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and lost by 1 wicket. The momentum was then with South Africa and they sealed a Series win by 5 wickets in the fifth match. The two Twenty20 matches both went to South Africa by 3 wickets and 9 wickets, not the best preparation for England in the forthcoming World T20 tournament in India. In the World T20, which started on 8 March, England have been drawn in Group A with South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies and the winner of the preliminary Group A which is likely to be Bangladesh. Group B consists of Australia, India (the tournament favourites), New Zealand, Pakistan and the winner of Preliminary Group B which is likely to be Zimbabwe or Afghanistan. The two top teams from each Group will progress to the semifinals with the Final on 3 April. We must not forget our successful Women’s team which has been drawn in Group B with India, Pakistan, West Indies and Bangladesh. Group A has Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa and Sri Lanka. The Women’s World T20 starts on 15 March with the Final also on 3 April. This summer, England will host Sri Lanka in a three Test Series followed by a four Test Series against Pakistan. ODIs and T20s will also be played against both countries.
Cycling Team GB Cycling has recorded another great performance, this time in the UCI Track World
UK SPORTS Championships at the Lee Valley Velopark. The team won five golds, the highest of any country, one silver and three bronze and the total of nine medals put the team in first place. In 2015 we finished in tenth place and in 2014 in fourth. Gold medals went to Laura Trott in the scratch race and omnium, Jon Dibben in the points race, Jason Kenny in the sprint and the Men’s Madison team of Mark Cavendish and Sir Bradley Wiggins. The silver medal went to the Men’s pursuit team and the bronze medals to Becky James in the keirin, Andy Tennant in the individual pursuit and the Women’s pursuit team. These championships were a great boost for the Rio Olympics where hopes will be high for a repeat of the team’s success at London 2012.
Tennis After GBs victory in the 2015 Davis Cup, the 2016 tournament has already begun and Andy Murray and his team have continued where they left off last year with a first round victory over Japan. Once again it was left to Andy to win both his singles and, with his brother Jamie, the usual vital doubles. However, in the reverse singles with GB leading 2-1 Andy had a tough fight against the Japanese number 1 and world number 6, Nishikori, who fought back from two sets down to level at 2-2 before Andy took the fifth set to secure the tie. The next round will not be easy. GB will play
away to Serbia and if world number one, Novak Djokovic, decides to play alongside his team mate, Troiki, it will be a very, very hard tie to win. Apart from Andy Murray, however, we have another rising star in the women’s game. After her excellent run in the 2015 US Open, upon which we reported in our Autumn 2015 issue, Johanna Konta went even further in the Australian Open in January reaching the semi-finals before losing 5-7 2-6 to the eventual champion Angelique Kerber who beat Serena Williams in the Final. Konta’s rise after Wimbledon last year has been remarkable. From barely surviving on the WTA Tour with a ranking around 150 going in to Wimbledon she is now ranked at number 26 in the world. As she has very little points to defend before Wimbledon her ranking can only improve even further and a seeding at both the French Open and Wimbledon is virtually guaranteed. We should also congratulate Heather Watson who won the Monterrey title in Mexico in March. Having lost her British number one ranking to Konta, Watson may be fired up to improve her own game. Then we also have Naomi Broady who is also now ranked in the top 100 at around 75 in the world. We now need to see Kyle Edmund and Dan Evans on the men’s side follow the example of Konta. We hope you will enjoy a spring and summer of UK sport.
Trophy Presentation after the match Serena Williams (USA) plays against Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) during the match The Final of the Ladies Singles on Centre Court. The Championships Wimbledon 2012. The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club Wimbledon.
AMERICAN WOMEN’S CLUBS NEWS
AWC Women – Another successful meal prepared at Ronald McDonald House
American Women’s Club London (AWC)
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. Spring really is right around the corner in London and that must mean the AWC is getting ready for it’s annual spring party! And you’re invited!! Please join us at the Masquerade Party! On April 8th the Paradise Night Club of Kensal Green will open their doors to the AWC for a great party! Everyone is welcome so join us for some free drinks, canapés, live entertainment, silent auction and live auction. The AWC party is to celebrate 117 years of the American Women’s Club existence and to
American In Britain
London Walk – Beachcombing the Thames!
raise money to benefit the Ronald McDonald House. The London Ronald McDonald House specifically supports families with sick children at the Evelina London Children’s Hospital. Throughout the year the AWC supports the families by cooking meals and donating money and goods. It is a Masquerade Party - so don’t forget to bring your mask!! For tickets and more information please visit the website at www. awclondon.org or email the office awc@ awclondon.org. Ronald McDonald House is one of the AWC key charities that we support. Twice a month ladies from the AWC get together for a cooking feast! We cook the meals and bake desserts for the families residing at the home while their child is being treated at the hospital. It provides a warming comfort to the families so worried about their child. We hear from countless
families that this little piece of kindness means so much to them. AWC women cook twice a month for the families. After cooking the meals we often go out to the local pub to share a drink and a laugh and strengthen our friendships. It’s a lovely way to end the day! If you would like to get involved in charity work and volunteering for a great cause then let us know! You can join us! Check the website at www.awclondon.org or email the office firstname.lastname@example.org for questions and registration details. If you are looking ahead to the warmer weather and getting outside, then join us for a unique and totally fun London Walk! Beachcombing on the Thames! on Sunday, March 13th at 10.30am. Find broken clay tobacco pipe from the 1500s, shard pottery from the early 1800s and a horse’s bone from the Victorian slaughterhouses on the Thames. These are just some of the items found by the activities director, then interpreted by the on hand Archaeologist for this fascinating day of sleuthing among the sand. One of the best London walks EVER! This walk is only offered during Thames low tide, and the moon determines the date! Lunch after, for those who would like to show and tell what they found! For more information visit the website at www.awclondon.org or email the office email@example.com. If you want to learn more about the AWC, come to the New Member Evening with Wine and Cheese! On Thursday, March 10th at 7pm join us at the AWC office. No need to RSVP - just show up! It will be a wonderful way for those working during the day to connect
AMERICAN WOMEN’S CLUBS NEWS with AWC members after work. If you want to meet some interesting people this would be a terrific first event to attend. Come by the AWC office at 68 Old Brompton Road, SW7 3LQ or for more information visit the website at www.awclondon.org or email the office firstname.lastname@example.org. Every month there is an American Women’s Club of London Meeting for all members, and perspective 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, March 22nd and May 24th at 10am. Check the website at www.awclondon.org or email the office email@example.com for questions and location details. Don’t just talk about the weather! Get involved and get moving! There are so many new and different things to do in London and the AWC can be your best friend and resource! Hope to see you out and about over the spring!
American Women’s Club Central Scotland (AWCCS)
American Women’s Club Central Scotland get together once monthly for Coffee Plus to chat and try out a variety of coffee houses and gallery restaurants - a good way to get to know each other better and learn more about Scotland. February’s visit was to the Dean Gallery (now AWCCS visit to The Dean Gallery (now Mod Two)
labeled with the unlovely name Mod Two), part of the Scottish National Gallery. We toured the gallery’s special exhibit, ‘Modern Scottish Women Painters/Sculptors 1885-1965”, their art and objects are vibrant, exquisite and provoking. But in 1885 many agreed with Sir William Fettes Douglas, that the work of a woman artist is “like a man’s only weaker and poorer”. Many of the women artists/sculptors worked in London and Europe, and were able to develop their talents, and contacts, because they were married to artists. As an example, Francis Henry Newbery, appointed in 1885 as the head of the Glasgow School of Art, established craft workshops where his wife, Jessie Newbery, played an important part.1965 marks the death of Anne Redpath, who was the first woman painter appointed as a full member of the Royal Scottish Academy. The Marriage Bar, which barred married women from teaching, was not repealed until 1945, and as late as 1955 Joan Eardley’s painting of a nude male was greeted with shock and horror that a woman should paint a naked man! Despite barriers, talented women continued to develop their work and contribute to their professions. Visiting Edinburgh? The exhibition continues to 26 June 2016. Our next event: Handbag Exchange Event, 13 March, where money raised will go to FAWCO Charity. February’s ‘Culture Vultures’ are posed in front of Eduardo Paolozzi’s monumental statue “Vulcan”, standing two storeys tall as he strides across the cafe below.
JLL - Food Service
Junior League of London
It is approaching the year-end for The Junior League of London (JLL), on 31 May. As we look forward to the year ahead - under the leadership of now President-Elect Zena Martin, we’d like to share a few highlights from the 2015-16 League year. Community Impact June 2015 - March 2016 Collectively, the JLL’s nearly 400 members have contributed in the following ways: • Giving time at monthly volunteer shifts at Venture Centre, where we have enjoyed doing arts & crafts with over 55 children • Providing school supplies, an author/ illustrator event with Knife & Packer and a book on World Book Day to nearly 400 students at Colville Primary School • Serving over 780 people through our community partners, Glass Door, Manna Centre, ReStart, various Foodbanks & Hestia • Sorting 785 coats for Wrap Up London; and • Collecting 65 items of professional clothing for Suited & Booted December 2015: 36th Annual Boutique de Noel and Holiday Hampers December is one of the JLL’s busiest months as this is the time we hold our largest fundraiser, Boutique del Noel and our largest, longest-running community project - Holiday Hampers. The 36th Annual Boutique de Noel took place at Chelsea Old Town Hall on 2 December 2015. The new venue provided a beautiful backdrop for shoppers and exhibitors to enjoy a fun, festive evening, with drinks in hand and holiday music playing throughout. JLL President Erin Northey and JLL member Meg Grogan represented the League on stage, articulating the importance of the night in terms of its impact on the London community. Speaking about the Holiday Hampers programme, Meg shared “It is our privilege to belong to
eventually she understood that the hampers were a donation. She smiled and was grateful to ‘be able to give gifts to her sons’ especially as it was going to be a very quiet Xmas. It is an honour to be able to bring joy to people across London each holiday season, which makes Holiday Hampers a muchcherished tradition within the League.
Cynthia & Natasha in the Kitchen
an organisation that inspires service, enacts positive change, and enriches the lives of our community partners as well as our own.”The night raised £24,000 in profit for the Junior League of London to put towards its mission: promoting voluntary service, developing the potential of women and improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. In its 19th year running, Holiday Hampers provided personalised gifts to 1,332 individuals in need over the Christmas season, including 596 children. Feedback from Family Friends, a partner agency of the JLL who helped deliver the Hampers included the following story: “Mum opened the door … Anxious at first as thought we were a scam looking for money but 38
American In Britain
February 2016: JLL’s 3rd annual Little Black Dress Initiative During the end of February, 55 members of the JLL took part in the 3rd annual Little Black Dress Initiative (LBDI). LBDI is a povertyawareness and fundraising campaign, where each participant wears a single black dress for five days. Following the campaign, participants donated professional clothing to Smart Works and Suited & Booted - charities that help people on low incomes prepare for job interviews, by providing them with professional attire and career development advice. During the initiative, we also held a Poverty Awareness Panel discussion, with leaders from each of these JLL community partners, to learn more about their work and how we can meet their current needs. The campaign even earned recognition by the Evening Standard and the Telegraph, which published a blog by the initiatives co-founders, discussing the background and purpose of the LBDI. 16 April 2016: All Service Day All Service Day is a highlight of the JLL calendar. More than 100 volunteer shifts will take place across London on the day. JLL members, as well as their friends and family, are encouraged to join the fun! A range of activities will be planned – from games and face-painting with children, to spending time with the homeless and socially excluded – each of our 23 community partners will be involved.
We have also held two membership Conferences this year, in October 2015 and February 2016, which included inspiring speakers to educate and inspire our members to become civic leaders. Interested in becoming a member of the JLL or learning more about our work? Please visit our website or contact the office at 020 7250 8104 for more information. For details about becoming a JLL member, please email the New Member Development Council at NMDCJLL@ gmail.com. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
We have a new name, CAWC International! At our February 4th general meeting, the Chilterns American Women’s Club (CAWC) voted to rebrand our name to CAWC International. The clubs history dates back to 1950 when the Beaconsfield American Wives Club and the Gerrards Cross American Wives Club were formed. Both clubs had a cornerstone based on friendship, fun and philanthropy. They joined together in 1987 to form the Chilterns American Women’s Club, known as the CAWC while keeping the same purpose and presence in Chilterns community. CAWC International, (known as CAWC), intends to expand our membership and welcome new faces while keeping the same cornerstone of 1950, sharing friendship, having fun with women, and having philanthropic goals in the community. In February we presented each of our chosen charities, Epilepsy Society and Pepper Foundation, with a cheque for £7428.82. This was the money raised at the CAWC Annual Christmas Charity Bazaar in November 2015. March was a big celebration month marking the 65th anniversary of the club’s activity in the Chilterns community. Some of our members, their partners, and friends gathered together on
AMERICAN WOMEN’S CLUBS NEWS kcwc - girls enjoying dinner at Chutney Mary in January
CAWC International - Giving our two chosen charities cheques from our Christmas Bazaar in February
Saturday, March 19th, at the beautiful Crowne Plaza-Gerrards Cross, for a fun evening at the CAWC “Emerald Ball” that included dinner, dancing, Guinness tent, photo booth. Our two charities, benefited from the evening with a “members only” raffle that had some amazing prizes to be won by our guests. The March General Meeting featured Richard Furnival Jones, who gave us a rare, behind-the-scenes, glimpse into the world’s most famous department store, “The Palace of Knightsbridge”, better known as Harrods! Richard worked for over 40 years at this national institution and shared his entertaining insight into the history and tales surrounding it. April’s General Meeting guest presenter, Matthew Palmer, Senior Gardener/of Cliveden, a National Trust treasure, will give us an insightful presentation about his colourful gardening experiences at Cliveden, and share his “secret garden” tips with us about this “green and pleasant land”. Hopefully some of us will feel more confident in our horticultural skills. We have a busy end of the year planned with two celebration events, our annual May Tea Party, on May 14th, and June BBQ Luncheon to be held on Monday, June 6th both held at the Buckinghamshire Golf Club, home of the Ladies European Tour. In addition to General Meetings CAWC also has several activity groups for our members to enjoy, including Day Hikes, Stitch & Chat, Lunch Bunch, Moms’ n Tots, Golf, Tennis, Running Club, Bunco, Let’s Go, Christian Corner, Book Bunch, and so much more. CAWC International is an active group of 90 International Members 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. For more information visit us at www.cawc.co.uk
Members can participate in activities organised by fellow members who volunteer their time and skills to run events - from history and culture, art and design, tours and travel, special events, sports, languages, hobbies, book and lecture groups, to just having fun with like-minded women. There are also a variety of evening activities including theatre, music and opera appreciation, life-styling, wine tasting, dining out, and evening speakers. kcwc ended 2015 with a wonderful Christmas “Bazaar” in the historic setting of The Royal College of Surgeons, followed by a festive Christmas Lunch at Kensington Hotel. There have also been two inspiring speakers at recent General Meetings, with a presentation in January by the renowned lecturer and expert on the Middle East, John Osborne, who gave an interesting insight into the rich Islamic culture of Iran. February’s meeting enjoyed a fascinating talk by Sonia Purnell, the acclaimed biographer and author of “First Lady: The Life and Wars of Clementine Churchill” – the remarkably stoic wife of Sir Winston Churchill and a pioneer of women’s rights. The last few months have been busy for kcwc, with a visit to the BBC Headquarters in February by the “After Six in the City” activity and a delicious dinner at the opulent five star Bulgari Hotel; the Art History group enjoyed a day in Paris visiting the Musee d’Orsay viewing the world’s largest collection of Monet, Degas, Cezanne and Manet; Antiques and Design visited the Design and Textile Museum to view the “Liberty in Fashion” exhibit; Passion for Fashion spent the morning with 60’s Italian
kcwc - presentation on Islamic culture by guest speaker, John Osborne
fashion designer Cleonice Capece at the East India Club; London Walks & Treasures spent a few hours discovering the “nooks and crannies” of historic Covent Garden and another day exploring Borough Market. New additions to our variety of Activities include: New and Expectant Mums - offering new mothers and mothers-to-be an occasion to socialise and support each other; Interior Design for ideas and tips on adapting the latest trends to create your perfect stylish room; Foodies and Dog Walking in Hyde Park. Spring will see the Travel Group off to study the Norman influences in Sicily. They will also visit the artistically rich areas of Brescia and Bergamo in April and travel to Normandy, France for an inspiring 3 day Impressionist heritage tour, including Monet, Giverny, Rouen and Honfleur in May. London Walks will explore the artists, music and mistresses of St John’s Wood, and British History will be spending the day in Cambridge, including viewing rare books in the Parker Library. Lifestyling will be lunching with the Duke of Somerset in the formal dining room of his historic family home, Bradley House in Wiltshire, before strolling around the grounds and chapel of the estate in the afternoon.
kcwc is an organisation of British and international women who enjoy everything London has to offer. Established for over 30 years and with hundreds of members from over 48 countries, kcwc is a truly international activity-based social Club. www.theamericanhour.com
kcwc - After Six group tour of BBC on 10 February www.americaninbritain.co.uk
kcwc - members enjoying festive Christmas lunch at Kensington Hotel
kcwc General Meetings are open to non members for a guest fee of £10. They are usually held on the first Thursday of each month between September and June, however, once a year, it is held in the evening so members can invite their partner and guests along to enjoy a catch up chat over drinks and canapés. This year it will be on Thursday 7th April at 7.30pm at the beautiful Lansdowne Club in Mayfair, and the theme is “A Night at the Opera” where two professional operatic singers, Alex Anderson-Hall and Anne Bourne will entertain us with wonderful arias and songs from musicals. Tickets are £30 per person payable in advance and limited to members and their guest/s. SAVE THE DATE: May General Meeting: Thursday 5 May 2016, 9.30am at The Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AR. June General Meeting, Fashion Show and Luncheon: Thursday 2 June 2016, 9.30am at The Hurlingham Club, Fulham SW6 3PR. Guest fee £10 for meeting (lunch additional cost and pre booking required). Hat optional! There will also be a number of wonderful social events this summer for members and their guests including Phyllis Court at Henley Regatta on Wednesday, 29 June and Althorp Literary Festival on Friday 1st July. kcwc also welcomes non members at their monthly Happy Hours and Coffee Mornings hosted by their Hospitality group which are held at fabulous London locations, where guests can come along for an informal chat over a coffee or drink and enjoy the company of other international women in London. Coffee Morning: Tuesday 12 April, 10.00 am The Orangery, Kensington Gardens, W8 4PX (closest tube: High St Kensington). Happy Hour: Tuesday 26 April, 5.00 pm The Booking Office Bar, St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, Pancras Road, N1C 4QS (closest tube: Kings Cross/St Pancras). 40
American In Britain
There is no need to pre-register to attend the Hospitality events, and the cost is your own tab. For further details contact: firstname.lastname@example.org To join kcwc please visit www.kcwc.org.uk or email email@example.com
Spring is almost upon us and AWBS International Women’s Club of Berkshire and Surrey has many exciting events and activities to look forward to. We officially kick off Spring with a General Meeting on April 19 at Shepperton Studios, the base for independent films and production work. Gandhi, Love Actually, and Avengers: Age of Ultron are a few films associated with Shepparton Studios. Our last General Meeting will be held on May 17 at the beautiful and historic Virginia Park in Virginia Water. On May 4, members will be given the exclusive opportunity to participate in a private tour of Highclere Castle, the home of the TV show Downton Abbey! Lord or Lady Carnarvon will lead the tour of the public rooms including the Egyptian artifacts discovered by the 5th Earl of Carnarvon. A delightful lunch in a specially erected marque on the lawns of the castle follows, concluding with by a talk by Lord or Lady Carnarvon. Dreams of sipping a crisp Port under sunshine and blue skies will come true with Adventures Abroad’s trip to Porto May 19 - 22. Porto, in northern Portugal lies on the banks of the beautiful Douro River. Porto is famous for its port wine. Highlights include: • A day excursion to Braga, including a visit to the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte and Guimaraes • A trip through Douro Valley, including a cruise on the river • A visit to a port winery • Sightseeing in Porto. Closing an eventful AWBS year before summer break, is our annual Spring Hats and Handbags Luncheon. On May 26, the ladies
will enjoy a lovely cruise up the River Thames on the Queen of the Thames for a view of the gardens of Windsor Castle, while pleasantly passing through the beautiful Romney Lock and village of Datchet. Intertwined with these exciting special events, are many ongoing activities that members can always look forward to. Book club will be discussing Mr. Mac and Me by Esther Freud and How to be Both by Ali Smith. Botticelli Babes Art Lectures continues its series on“Why have there been no GREAT women artists”? Members can stay fit with the monthly Country Walks in the beautiful English countryside and then reward themselves with lunch and chit chat at an authentic local village pub. Our crafty members will show their talent with creating many things, such as a vintage farm crate and a fabric painted pillow. English History lectures is celebrating Her Majesty’s 90th birthday with a bulge badge walking tour of Mayfair, Piccadilly, Buckingham Palace, Lancaster House, Clarence House, and St James Palace. Hairy Goat Photography is kicking off its Intermediate and Night Photography Workshops. Members will learn the proper and elegant way to enjoy tea with a special Let’s Go event: Afternoon Tea and Etiquette Class with “The Royal Butler” at The Ritz, London. Glorious Gardens plans to celebrate National Open Gardens in April. Members can round it all off with Hatha Yoga on Thursdays and Tennis on Fridays. The fun starts again in September 2016. Best Regards from AWBS International Women’s Club!
Moving Back to America A Quick Guide So that’s it. You’re off. You’ve made all the necessary arrangements, hugged an enormous number of people goodbye, and watched your last episode of whatever daytime soap opera you’ve been secretly watching for years. So how do you make the transition as smooth as possible? Presumably there will be friends and family to help you during this time, so just the simple act of letting everyone know your whereabouts will make your journey easier. Draw up a spreadsheet that explains your movements, where you will be on certain dates, how you can be reached, etc. Make sure all your contacts both home and in Britain have a copy. Oh, and make sure they read it otherwise that tip won’t work!
The Big Move American customs are pretty strict - as an excess baggage company, we know all too well. You’re probably aware that most animals and plants cannot be taken into the country, but there are other items that could lead to a dreaded ‘inspection’. For instance, if you’re taking shoes or boots with you, wash them thoroughly before packing. Any mud on your footwear could lead to them being confiscated. If you find you have packed a fair amount of household items and furniture for the move, it may be in your best interests to ditch some of it, or in other words ‘eBay’ some of it. It’s understandable that you would take items of sentimental value, but if you can replace an item with something similar in America, take that option. It will cost less and you won’t have to worry about transportation. Yes, we know this is being written by a relocation company, but just think of this tip as a selfless act on our part. We’re nice like that. There’s no denying that if you’re moving to be with friends or family who have also made the big jump, then you will be in a better position than someone who is not. You just have to know how to make a connection. If you like sports, join a local club or a gym. If you have children, get them involved in community activities. Despite America’s myriad of bustling, lively cities, you should have no trouble finding a community in your area to be a part of, and if you’re going back home, things may have changed, but this should be a little easier!
Finding a Job Back in America You’re lucky enough to be living in the digital www.theamericanhour.com
age. Seriously, you’re tremendously fortunate, we can’t stress this enough. Do you realise how amazing that is? To just type something into a search engine bar and receive billions of pages on the subject in question? It’s incredible. And with that in mind, surely a little research on your employers won’t go a miss. Hit up their official website, find out about their business, think about how you’d fit into the company dynamic and how your talents could be successfully employed there. Take a notepad and pen in with you. Your interviewers will usually tell you a bit about themselves and the company so it’s good to jot down any relevant information that you can refer to later. It’s best not to use your phone as a notepad. No matter how you style it, you’ll always look like you’re texting. It always looks a bit rude. Try not to do it. Perhaps at the end of the interview when they ask if you have any questions, you can fashion a question from your notes. It’s good to have a question than not have one. It’s important to be friendly, assertive and, if you can, funny. Throwing in the odd joke or humorous observation during the interview could make all the difference. After all, a sense of humour is important to the dynamic of any team you’re working in. Oh, and dress smartly. It doesn’t matter what the job is, you need to show you care enough to make an impression. Oh, and make sure your hands aren’t clammy before shaking theirs and go get ‘em’.
Finding a New Home Ripples from the economic crash of 2008 are still being felt throughout America, so bear in mind that locating your dream home could be a bumpy ride. If you can buy a property that, as they say, ‘needs a bit of work’ and knock the seller down on the asking price, you could find yourself with a desirable investment – particularly if you’re lucky enough to find the property in an up-and-coming area or one going through extensive regeneration. You’ll know which areas are undergoing regeneration – there will be a lot of bright colours, straight edges and hipsters in red jeans wearing nonprescription glasses. Of course there’s a chance you might not be so lucky. New houses are being built all the time. (Obviously. You don’t build old houses. But I digress.) However, not enough new
houses are being built to cope with the influx of new arrivals which is pushing the prices up. A house which may have been within your reach a few years ago, may now be as far off as the Disneyland Castle. A tip worth mentioning is that if you’re throwing your net wide, it’s always a good idea to look at coastal towns when viewing property. Should you wish to move at a later date, you will never find a shortage of prospective buyers whatever the price. The best way to ensure a smooth transition is to talk to your chosen bank in the States about house prices and house-buying in general in America. So there you have it - a handy and concise guide to moving back to America, and we wish you a smooth transition to your next adventure! Another way of ensuring a smooth transition is to use the services of Seven Seas Worldwide. We have a global shipping network, collecting, delivering and storing personal belongings throughout the world. We’re very proud of our shipping network because it means we have total control over each consignment. Many of our competitors hand over items to a third party when they leave the country leading to a lot of uncertainty. Seven Seas Worldwide will be with your belongings from A to B, allowing you to track your consignment online. Peace of mind and all that. We also offer what we believe to be a revolutionary approach to moving – the MoveCube®. The MoveCube® is essentially a mini shipping container inside a trailer that can be brought directly to your home for loading. Check out the website www.sevenseasworldwide.com for more information.
READER’S LIVES This issue we look at the life of reader Ginger Irvine living/volunteering in Paris, we pooled our understandings of needs of arriving expatriates to offer an umbrella group to refer newcomers to appropriate resources. Initially we thought of the telephone helpline (no mobile phones in those days) as an annotated yellow pages to make the transition faster and more efficient. We expanded our services to include both educational and career services, and thirty-four years later the goals and objectives of this non-profit organisation are being fulfilled and have changed to meet the needs of global movers.
What are your best ideas for newcomers to the UK?
Where did you move from and what brought you to the UK? We moved to continue my husband Glenn’s banking career with a Californian bank. Driving from Brussels to London we took the hovercraft to Ramsgate with two young girls, an au-pair and lots of luggage! We stopped for the night at a B&B in Canterbury, and arriving in the dining room for breakfast we were told we were an hour too early- the clocks had “fallen back”in the night, so we spent some time in the Cathedral - our first history lesson.
What places in the US does living here remind you of? As a New Englander, sailing off the west coast of Scotland reminds me of Maine, with gorgeous vistas (presuming no fog), some uncharted rocks and friendly natives willing to share and help with any contingency. Raised in a small town south of Boston named after Hingham in Norfolk, the close ties between the two towns cement the feeling that we come from a long line of sturdy folk! As a cosmopolitan city, London has similar features to Boston and New York City where I last lived in the US. 42
American In Britain
What was your transition like? Forty-three years later means my memory may be faulty, but I do remember finding friends of friends from Seoul, Brussels and New York to be most informative, and I rang them all no matter where they lived. Also, having been an AFS exchange student when in high school I did volunteer work with the branch here in Oxford, organising American students to spend summers volunteering with the National Conservation Corps, the Red Cross and others which required learning the geography of the UK, to send them two by two to various parts of the UK for work and home stays; camping in a barn in Chorley, Lancs was a highlight of the orientation event. Attending AFS events from Edinburgh to Shrewsbury to Brighton meant I met many locals with an international outlook. Our two young girls attended the French Lycee which meant our French friendships developed quickly.
Why did you and others set up FOCUS? Meeting Hazel Stoddart with educational credentials and Pam Perraud who had career development qualifications plus experience
Get on a bus, tube or overland train and head for the end of the line or nearby town; take a hike, view the local market and pub and hear the patter. Take an adult education course in British history and a walking tour of your local area. We also played badminton at an evening course, meeting British people we would likely never have met elsewhere. Exploring the wilds of Scotland, visiting gardens in the West Country and Isles of Scilly and attending musical events at small venues are all avenues to establish a new life in the UK. Volunteering is another entrance to learn about the culture and meet new people; through my local council I drove a partially disabled woman to the library - a small effort to participate in neighbourhood activities. If newcomers have lived in another country other than their own, join the association or club of that country in Britain; we joined the British Korean Society and have participated in many events and eaten wonderful Korean food.
What places would you take out of town guests to? The John Soane Museum and Wallace Collection, Kew Gardens and the Physic Garden in Chelsea are favourite haunts. The Babylon restaurant and Rooftop Garden in Kensington High Street are less well known, but offer spectacular views and excellent dining. Theatre is an obvious choice, but try some of the fringe theatres with new writing, more intimate venues and a diverse crowd. Edinburgh’s festivals in August are highlights of the summer. My daughter Jen (stage manager) and I (called a producer but actually a “gofer”) took “Journey West” co-written and performed by the talented Singaporean Ivan Heng to the fringe in the ‘90’s when the show won a Spirit of the Fringe award.
“Men and women confronting change are never fully prepared for the demands of the moment, but they are strengthened to meet uncertainty if they can claim a history of
What has been your life challenge? Our younger daughter Alexandra, a Tufts graduate, presented us with our biggest challenge. She was diagnosed in London with an ultra rare neurological disease called Neuroacanthocytosis which robs young adults of motor, speech and other abilities keeping them independent. Glenn and I started an Advocacy for patients and for 14 years have seen knowledge of and research into this cruel disease increase profoundly. Alex and other patients (less than 1000 worldwide) benefit from the dedicated work of clinicians and researchers from many countries. We continue to network with patients, families, medics and friends to raise funds and offer avenues to share experiences and to use grants to study the genes. Alex lives with us and is able to design greeting cards and use email on the computer, painstakingly finishes jigsaw puzzles, completes tapestries and creates lovely watercolours. She adores going to the cinema and social events with us all. Thank you National Health Service.
improvisation and a
When did you finally feel settled?
habit of reflection.”
I learned my way around, learned some British history and cultural values and learned how to play communication games, especially when to use the word “gobsmacked”. Learning
about and following cricket, football and rugby assured I could start and enter many conversations and surprise many locals. Spending time with Scottish friends, working with English, Welsh and Irish colleagues, and meeting other expatriates has been a rich experience to enhance my British life. While I do have a British passport to add to my American one, I feel very mid-Atlantic and try to balance all the responses to questions to fit the people and circumstances.
Have you any words of wisdom for our readers? Mary Catherine Bateson has revealed many insights for me. In Peripheral Visions, Learning Along the Way she says “Men and women confronting change are never fully prepared for the demands of the moment, but they are strengthened to meet uncertainty if they can claim a history of improvisation and a habit of reflection.” Ginger Irvine directs the charity Advocacy for Neuroacanthocytosis Patients and works as an intercultural consultant. Contact Ginger at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website www.naadvocacy.org
If you would like to feature in our Reader’s Lives article in a future issue, please contact email@example.com
New Website To Support Expatriate’s Moving To, Or Living In The UK Www.Expatsguidetotheuk.Com This brand new website, where you can also view The 2016 Expatriate’s Guide to Living in the UK online, supports expatriates who have moved to the UK from anywhere in the world, by providing key information about living in the UK. Living and working in the UK can provide a fantastic opportunity to any individual expatriate and their family. The UK offers a diverse range of cultures and if you have relocated for business, family or lifestyle reasons, this website will prove to be an invaluable resource. The site currently contains over ten Useful Advice pages covering: Banking & Wealth • Expatriate Clubs • Embassies & High Commissions Driving & Transport • Education - Schools & Universities Healthcare & Hospitals • Immigration & Residency • Legal Issues Moving & Relocation • Residential Lettings Serviced Apartments • Taxation These pages contain detailed information on these subjects, with valuable advice, information and links to our partners.
PLEASE SHARE THIS WEBSITE WITH ANY FRIENDS, FAMILY OR COLLEAGUES WHO ARE RELOCATING TO THE UK!
VISIT WWW.EXPATSGUIDETOTHEUK.COM TODAY! www.theamericanhour.com
FREE ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION TO SPRIN
g the A
I would like to take advantage of the free annual subscription to American in Britain* Name: ........................................................................................................................................................... Address: ....................................................................................................................................................... ........................................................................................................................................................................ ................................................................................................ Post Code: ................................................... Telephone: ........................................................................... Date: ............................................................. Email: ........................................................................................................................... Would you like to receive our monthly email newsletter? YES
To apply for your free subscription please complete this form and return to us at Subscriptions Department, American in Britain, PO Box 921, Sutton SM1 2WB or email your details to firstname.lastname@example.org. * Details sent to us are confidential but will be shared with the sponsor. 44
American In Britain
THIS Trav A Letter el t Tax Is ISSUE’S FEAT sues URES From Sc t Ea INCLU Days O ot ting O DE: ut With land t Th ut t eatre Hotel Wealth t A Review The Family Manag merican t A t Em rts & A Women ement bassy ntique ’s Clubs Corne s t r t New Spri UK Sp orts t ng Into Actio s n Reade r’s Live s
Arts & Antiques
Master Bedroom-photo: Roelof Bakker
ARTS & ANTIQUES Setting the Scene
Dennis Severs’ House: 18 Folgate Street By Abby Cronin
This is the story of an American who fell in love with England even before he left his home town. His name is Dennis Severs. He was a young Californian who pursued a unique and passionate vision of life in Britain long before he ever came to live in London. By the age of seventeen, Dennis had absorbed visions of England while watching black and white adaptations of Charles Dickens stories on television. The films were windows“where I saw life set in locations which were so different from the bleached light….in southern California. Deep down, I always believed that a day would come when I would travel past picture frames and into the marinated glow of a warmer… more romantic light…. identified as English.”(1) After a brief visit in 1965, Dennis moved to London just five days after graduating from high school in 1967. He found temporary digs in the run-down inner suburb of Spitalfields where he fell in love with the atmosphere of this historic Georgian village. At the time the area was still a wholesale vegetable and fruit market, not at all like today’s regenerated and gentrified district so popular with tourists seeking chic www.theamericanhour.com
restaurants and a variety of arts and craft market stalls. In the 70s, however, Spitalfields was still a deteriorating neighbourhood. When Dennis found his ideal home in 1979, it was a decaying George I brick terraced house at 18 Folgate Street built in 1724. His task was to restore the house to reflect its original state. He moved in as the sole resident, camping inside while he worked his way from one room to the next, ten in total. Gradually he understood how each room functioned, the use of space and crucially, the importance of interior light. When his restoration project commenced, he had no intention of modernising or updating. There would be no electricity or plumbing; chamber pots and candles would be sufficient. Severs learnt that a large population of Spitalfields residents in the 18th century were Huguenots, French Protestants, who fled religious persecution in the 1780s because they were unwilling to convert to Catholicism. By profession Huguenots were skilled master silk weavers and their presence meant that the textile trade and silk weaving industry flourished throughout the 1800s. Indeed, the East End was well known as a prosperous textile centre in this
period. Historical records show that Huguenots lived in the well-appointed Georgian terraces built between 1718 and 1728, very close to the major commercial centre of the City of London. Dennis was fascinated to learn about the original inhabitants of 18 Folgate Street. How, Severs wondered, would the family of an affluent Huguenot silk weaver organise their domestic household? He set about finding out with meticulous attention to detail. He would furnish each room in the house to reflect the purpose and function it would have had for a Huguenot family. His passion for collecting was insatiable and in the 1970s and 80s antiques and artefacts were plentiful and cheap. They were easily found in East End street markets, at auctions and from dealers. He bought and stored bric-a-brac, textiles, furniture, crockery, china, an array of paintings, and all forms of art which suited the period—whether they were absolutely right or not. All domestic needs were to be met. In his earlier student days his visits to the Victoria and Albert Museum introduced him to a room seen through a window in the Furniture Department. He wrote in his memoir, “At least once a week I left my student squalor www.americaninbritain.co.uk
to gawk through a plate glass window at a museum display, ‘a room of the early Georgian period.”(2) Today his collection of art and antiques fill every nook and cranny in the rooms at 18 Folgate Street.
On Location Travelling Through Picture Frames, Into The House Itself To Find Out Who Lives There
Regency Room-photo by Roelof Bakker
Drawing Room closer
Dickens Room-photo by Roelof Bakker
American In Britain
The front door opens and visitors pass through a picture frame into an 18th century home: time seems frozen. In the marinated glow of a warmer…more romantic light, we can understand that this is what Dennis craved. But - shush! Walk carefully and whisper.‘Do not disturb the Jervis family’. Do you see the owner’s name? A French name, Mr Issac Gervais. The Gervais family, now the anglicised Jervis family; they are Severs’ imaginary Huguenot residents. When the house is open to visitors, they have left so that movement can be conducted quietly around the house without disturbing the residents. Halls and staircases are dark brown aged varnish; fire burns in the grates, beds are unmade as though their occupants have just left—but we don’t know where they have gone. Drapery draped across chairs. Lace covers windows; furniture and shelves are filled to overflowing with china, trinkets, clocks, clothing, fans, books; pamphlets are strewn here and there. Wood floors are warmed by an array of oriental rugs. Is the clutter in the way of domestic life or is it just an integral part of it? The atmosphere is of a home well lived in - if a bit over-furnished. The tour takes visitors along the entry hall and down the narrow staircase. There are two small rooms: the cellar and kitchen where a fire glows and a table is laden with bowls filled with fruit and bread. Jugs, kettles and pots sit on grates in the fireplace; a dresser seems stressed as it supports shelves of assorted crockery. On the soundtrack we hear clanking, the creaking of floorboards, footsteps, bells ring reminding us of the time when there were horses hooves in the street. Severs reminds us to go upstairs. His phrase: “join smart Georgians in rising above low prejudice” by which he means the best floor is yet one more flight up - the ‘first’ or ‘best’. Here you will find order and refinement and be safe from the bully below.(3) Upstairs move toward the front room - the Smoking Room - which Severs sees as accommodating all-male extremes pure Hogarth. Don’t miss the stunning crystal chandelier on the landing - but be careful not to disturb the lit candles. The Jervis’ affluence is more conspicuously on show in the Drawing Room. Portraits of (presumably) Mr and Mrs Jervis and the King hang handsomely on the far wall. Period chairs sit casually around the table suggesting that the family has just left the room. Their wealth is overtly displayed in the bedrooms. In the main bedroom on the second floor a huge bed
Arts & Antiques
Simon Pettet pottery detail-photo by Roelof Bakker
Outside 18 Folgate Street-photo by Abby Cronin
Master Bedroom Dressing table detail Justin Barton
the domestic life of an 18th century Huguenot family in the East End of London. A mere five minute walk from Liverpool Street Station will take you back nearly 250 years. Few would doubt that Dennis Severs, with his bohemian–eccentric tastes has achieved his idealised English home. Go and visit: immerse yourself in the Georgian atmosphere of England as this American envisioned it.
Master Bedroom-photo: Roelof Bakker
with its sumptuous silk coverlet and drapes ensures a warm night’s sleep. Pictured here is a luxuriously crowded dressing table: jewellery, feathers, candlesticks, and a fan - everything the well-appointed Georgian woman of the house needs to complete her wardrobe. Tea is on the table, a dress is waiting to be donned. A remarkable collection of Delft is displayed above the mantelpiece. Ascend to the attic, www.theamericanhour.com
which is perhaps less engaging. Well-worn clothing and cloths hang as though forgotten. Stay a moment longer to study the Dickensian garret with a desk placed next to a window in the corner; books, paper and pens are scattered in this office-like space. A tour through Dennis Severs’ Georgian home ensures that you will see arts and antiques in a real domestic setting. Here is a living painting of
References & Notes (Dennis Severs: 1948-1999) Website: www.dennissevershouse.co.uk Photos curtesy: Dennis Severs’ House Severs, Dennis. 18 Folgate Street: The Tale of a House in Spitalfields. Vintage & Chatto & Windus 2001 (1) page 4 (2) page 34 (3) THE PLOT on Dennis Severs websitewww.dennissevershouse.co.uk/the-plot/ Further information: Spitalfields Historic Building Trust, formed in 1977. https://en.wikipedia.org.wiki/Spitalfields_ Historic_Buildings_Trust Get in Touch. Contact: Abby Cronin Email: email@example.com Website: abbycronin.co.uk www.americaninbritain.co.uk
USEFUL NUMBERS Computer Services
Online PC 11 Queens Way, NW4 2TN London Contact: Yaron Samuel Telephone: 07973190201 / 02031918116 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.onlinepc.biz COMPUTERS AND HOME TECH SUPPORT, REPAIRS AND SALES. Whatever the needs, we can help. Virus removal and protection, Broadband setup, Wifi Signal boost, Laptop repairs, SKY TV support, Home Entertainment systems – Sonos, Spotify, Netflix. We specialise on PC and Mac. Give us a call. We are here to help!
EDUCATION - Schools
ACS International Schools Heywood, Portsmouth Road, Cobham, Surrey, KT11 1BL Telephone: 01932 869721 Email: email@example.com 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. American SAT/ACT Tuition 207 Regent Street, 3rd Floor London W1B 3HH Contact: Elizabeth von Nardroff Email: Elizabeth@AmericanSATtuition.com Telephone +44 (0)20 7692 0766 Website: www.AmericanSATtuition.com Twitter: @elivonna American SAT/ACT Tuition is a small, independent company based in the London, UK area. Our focus is on the needs of American, British and International students applying to US Colleges/Universities or Prep Schools. We offer SAT/ACT/PSAT/SSAT advice, tutoring and bespoke online courses, as well as help with applications, admissions advice, and interview technique coaching. Our specialists are knowledgeable, experienced, and we love what we do! Plus we’ve shown results - past students now attend Yale, Princeton, MIT, Harvard, Dartmouth, and other top US Universities. DWIGHT SCHOOL LONDON 6 Friern Barnet Lane, London, N11 3LX Contact: Karen Strickland Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 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. 48
American In Britain
EIFA 36 Portland Place, London W1B 1LS Contact: Sabine Dehon, Head of School Email: email@example.com Telephone: 020 7637 5351 Website: www.ecole-ifa.com Located in London’s prestigious Marylebone, EIFA is an independent, co-educational school offering international and bilingual education for children aged 3 to 18. EIFA will be the first school in the UK to offer the subjects of the IB Diploma Programme half in French and in English. TASIS THE AMERICAN SCHOOL IN ENGLAND Coldharbour Lane, Thorpe, Surrey TW20 8TE Contact: Karen House Telephone: +44 (0)1932 582316 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 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 programme, 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: email@example.com 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. *Awarded nine global relocation awards since 2010. FOX INTERNATIONAL 10 Somerset Road, Cwmbran, NP44 1QX Telephone: 01633 488100 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.fox-moving.com Contact: Stephen Denning Fox International is one of the UK’s largest removal companies, offering a full range of moving and storage service to Americans throughout the UK, Europe and Worldwide.
SEVEN SEAS WORLDWIDE Seven Seas Worldwide Head Office Hythe Road, Smeeth, Ashford, Kent, TN25 6SP Contact: Carl Wiltshire, Global Business Centre Manager Telephone: 0800 216698 Email: email@example.com Website: www.sevenseasworldwide.com/ publication/aib Facebook: www.facebook.com/ sevenseasworldwide Twitter: twitter.com/7seasworldwide Seven Seas Worldwide Shipping services help you move excess baggage, personal belongings and commercial items all over the world at an affordable price. Whether you’ve packed one suitcase too many for a holiday or moving abroad for good, we can be there with you from A to B and Door to Door.
ADVANCEDAMERICANTAX.CO.UK Telephone: +44 (0)7554 905 143 Website: www.AdvancedAmericanTax.co.uk Email: Derren@HTJosephCPA.com Our international tax team has over 80 years experience and we are fully qualified and licensed to practice before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). We are 3 independent but allied offices in the United States, the United Kingdom and now Singapore. Our team is united in our drive to serve the US Tax needs of our clients. WESTLETON DRAKE 9 Devonshire Square, London EC2M 4YF Telephone: +44 (0)20 3178 6041 Fax: +44 (0)20 3178 4083 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 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 Burleigh House, 357 Strand, London WC2R 0HS Telephone: +44 (0)20 7043 0455 Email: email@example.com 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.
To advertise please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
EMBASSY CORNER New Legislative Changes May Affect Your US Social Security Benefits Are you married and receiving US Social Security benefits, or approaching the age when you could do so? If so, you’ll want to be aware of two new changes in the way Social Security benefits are paid, both the result of legislation enacted in November 2015. These legislative changes close loopholes in Social Security law that have long been popular with married couples. Both changes concern the payment of spousal benefits and the use of Delayed Retirement Credits - the mechanism that allows beneficiaries to receive a higher monthly benefit if they delay the start date of their benefits.
The End of “Claim-thenSuspend” The practice of “Claim-then-Suspend” has permitted workers to file claims for Social Security benefits, but to then suspend payments so as to accumulate Delayed Retirement Credits, while still allowing their spouse to receive a spousal Social Security benefit. What’s more, workers who subsequently changed their minds, and decided not to suspend payments after all, could request a lump-sum reimbursement of those suspended benefits with no penalty incurred. Until now many couples have availed themselves of this option because of its potential for allowing them to
receive a higher total benefit, with no risk. Beginning April 30, 2016, no further requests for “Claim-then-Suspend” will be accepted. In other words, April 29 is your last day to take advantage of this option.
The End of “Spouse-thenWorker” Under the Social Security programme, married persons may be entitled to both a worker’s benefit and a spousal benefit, but they cannot have both at the same time. According to the law as it existed until November 2015, married workers at full retirement age (currently 66) could elect to receive a spousal benefit while allowing the worker benefit to accumulate delayed retirement credits. Then, prior to turning 70, they could switch to the worker benefit. As with“Claim-then-Suspend”above, the “Spouse-then-Worker” option allowed some couples to maximise their total benefits. Based on the new legislation, this option is no longer available for workers who turn 62 on or after January 2, 2016. Instead, when such claimants are eligible for both a worker and spousal benefit, they will be deemed to have requested the larger of the two benefits, and they cannot later switch from one to the other.
Questions? The Federal Benefits Unit at the US Embassy in London stands ready to answer your questions. Please send an email to FBULondon@ssa.gov
EMBASSY INFORMATION US Embassy, 24 Grosvenor Square, London W1K 6AH www.uk.usembassy.gov Switchboard: (020)7499 9000 Business Hours: 8:30am- 5:30pm, Monday-Friday. Closed on American and UK holidays. An officer is available via the switchboard all day, every day, for a life or death emergency involving a US citizen in the United Kingdom. Passport and Citizenship Services: By Appointment Monday - Friday Notary Services: By appointment Appointments available only online at www.uk.usembassy.gov Federal Benefits Unit: www.uk.usembassy.gov General Social Security information: www.ssa.gov Travel Advice: www.travel.state.gov
American In Britain
The features in this issue include Expat Tax: US Taxability And Reporting Of UK Business by H&R Block; Wealth Management: Direct Lending – A...
Published on Apr 11, 2016
The features in this issue include Expat Tax: US Taxability And Reporting Of UK Business by H&R Block; Wealth Management: Direct Lending – A...