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Meaghan Martin, Actress. Image credit: James Joyce.
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EATING OUT Akira
101-111 Kensington High Street, London, W8 5SA Telephone: 020 3971 4646 High Street Kensington is a quintessentially English place, but there is a small part that bucks that trend, just next to High Street Kensington tube station, namely Japan House, as it promotes all things Japanese. As you enter Japan House, it has a similar feel to a well known mobile phone brand store, as it is all white, minimalistic and there isn’t a product out of place. Japan House is the new cultural home of Japan in London and showcases the very best of Japanese art, design, gastronomy, innovation, and technology. The gastronomy side is why we found ourselves in Japan House, as it houses their Japanese restaurant Akira, which is situated on the first floor. The restaurant is named after Chef Shimizu Akira, and shows off all that is best in Japanese food, including its presentation.
A restaurant experience is based not just on its food but also its welcome, and the ambiance at Akira ticks all these boxes with its understated, elegant design and the omotenashi welcome (for the uninitiated, which included me, a shouted greeting from the chefs when you enter the restaurant). The design is unassuming with wooden chairs and tables separated from the bar by a simple latticed black wooden screen, and the room is dominated by the open kitchen where the skilled chefs weave their magic. Choosing off a Japanese menu is, for me, a daunting experience, as the selection is always extensive and everything sounds wonderful. For that reason, my eye always looks for a selection or set menu, and Akira has a section called Omakase (the literal translation is “I’ll leave it up to you”), which includes a selection of 3 or 5 course menus. There is a Robata Omakase, which includes meats flamed on the Robata grill or the Sushi Omakase, for the sushi lover, and both are split between 3 (£60) and 5 (£75) courses.
We selected the 3 course Robata Omakase and our meal started with a wonderful appetiser of fresh blue fin tuna, caviar balls and crunchy rice all blended together with a slightly sharp sauce. The flavour explosion was intense and the mixture of textures inspired, and all this was served in a hollowed-out rock stimulating all of your senses, especially your sight. The next course was the sashimi which included an assortment of sashimi, Japanese osozai side dishes and a vegetable selection. In keeping with our dramatic experience so far, these dishes were served in a wooden box split into 15 identical compartments. Japanese style traditionally abhors different flavoured dishes touching each other on a single plate, so this was a novel way to adhere to the old ways and etiquette. The box contained wonderfully fresh sashimi of eel, salmon, and tuna, along with tempura prawn, an arancini ball, potato salad and crunchy vegetables. The best dish however, was a strip of smoked mackerel on a bed of steamed spinach which had been marinated in a punchy sauce. The main course was brought on a hot rock and included tender wagu beef, succulent lamb chop, chicken skewers and tempura vegetables all served with a rich miso soup. According to Japanese custom, the solid ingredients in a good miso soup are chosen to reflect the seasons and to provide contrasts of colour, texture, and flavour, and here strongly flavoured ingredients were mixed with delicately flavoured ingredients to provide a warming miso soup. Japanese food is healthy and prides itself on always using the freshest seasonal ingredients, and Akira is true to these principles, but it doesn’t just provide a great meal, it provides the diner with an overall Japanese experience which elevates your evening to a new level. WWW.AMERICANINBRITAIN.CO.UK
Level 32, The Shard, 31 St. Thomas Street, London, SE1 9RY Telephone: 020 7268 6700 As a child I loved the series of books about Asterix the Gaul and his constant battles with the Roman army which surrounded his village, but my favourite character was his reliable sidekick who always wanted to have the magic potion that Asterix drank, but was never allowed it. The sidekick’s name was Obelix, so my interest was piqued by a restaurant named after this loveable character housed in the Shard, until I realised the difference in spelling! The Shard is, in my view, one of the most beautiful buildings in London. It dominates the skyline just next to London Bridge station, and I have been passing it on my way to work for years, but had never ventured up it until now, and I’m sure it won’t be long until my next visit. The Shard is the UK’s tallest building rising to over 1000 ft in height, and has 95-storeys, and our destination was the 32nd floor which houses Oblix, the restaurant, not the literary character! Oblix offers the diner two options, as it is split into two restaurants, East and West, each offering a different experience as well as a different view of London. Oblix West serves an array of global classic dishes from its rotisserie and charcoal grill and its open kitchen has a vibrant feel, whereas Oblix East has a more contemporary and relaxed vibe which still offers an innovative mix of seasonal dishes and a bar bites menu. We opted for the more relaxed vibe and followed a dark corridor not too different from a corridor in an Egyptian tomb, and entered Oblix East, a light and airy room with stunning views of the city. We settled down at our table just before sun set and were treated, during our meal, to an ever changing view as the sun set and the lights of London were turned on. The menu is simple, but offers enough choice to even the most demanding of diners. Starters are designed to be shared, almost tapas style, and we selected the Crispy Squid Chilli and Lime (£9.50), Fried Octopus, sweet pepper garlic and olive oil mayonnaise (£16), Soft Shell Crab and chilli mayonnaise (£15) and a Burrata, olives and datterini tomatoes (£15). The light batter on the squid was perfectly offset by the hint of lime and the octopus was crispy on the outside and succulent on the inside, accompanied by a subtle mixture of flavours in the mayonnaise. The true star of our starters however, was the burrata, with its wonderful creaminess juxtaposed by the slightly sharp mashed olives and crunchy granola, a wonderfully designed dish. Mains are split into two sections meat and fish & vegetarian. I selected the 300g Rib Eye (£36) which melted in my mouth and my wife selected the BBQ Black Cod & coriander salsa (£42) which is such an underrated fish especially when cooked this well. Crunchy chips (£5.5) and tenderstem broccoli (£7) rounded off our mains. After all that food we paused for a while 4
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photo credit Richard Southall @ Emphasis Photography
and sipped our wine whilst enjoying the amazing view and listened to the contented murmur of other diners having a good time. Dessert is well worth waiting for and are all priced at £10. I selected the Chocolate Brownie Sundae which reminded me of my childhood favourite dessert, the knickerbocker glory, where I used to dig down to find the fruit, but here I was digging for the crunchy chocolate brownie. My wife selected the warm and crispy Apple Pie with sherry & raisin ice cream which the moist and comforting apple surrounded by light and crispy pastry. Oblix offers great food in a relaxed and sophisticated atmosphere with amazing views of London. Even if you just want a drink this is well worth a visit.
The Glass Room
Embankment Pier, Victoria Embankment, London WC2N 6NU Telephone: 020 7695 1800 When I first was asked about reviewing The Glass Room I thought I was being asked to review one of those TV dramas that are regularly on our screens at the moment in the genre of The Night Manager, but there is no drama here and certainly no mystery. The Glass Room is actually the name of a boat which is as open as it is possible to be, as it is made up almost entirely of glass and houses a restaurant that departs from Embankment every day/night taking its patrons on a journey along the Thames through one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The Glass Room leaves from Embankment Pier which is just beside the houses of Parliament, and you are advised to arrive around 7pm for boarding to allow a prompt 7.30pm departure, and for once I would recommend erring on the safe side when travelling there, as once the boat has gone there is no catching it up!! Once on board you are taken to your seat, and depending on your package (The Glass Room offers four dinner menus ranging
from £59 per person - the Deluxe, Superior, Premier or Signature, and offer either three or five courses with the differentials being the included wines, welcome bubbles and premier seating) you will either settle into some bubbles or peruse the menu and select from a surprisingly extensive and reasonably priced wine list. Our package was the Premier, which started with an Amuse-Bouche of Pea and Mint Velouté, coconut yoghurt, sumac and Cheshire cheese sable. Pea and mint is a classic combination, and their freshness was complemented by the sweetness of the coconut and the cheesy sable. This was closely followed by another firm favourite for a starter - Cherry Tomato, Caramelised Onion and Goat’s Curd Tart accompanied by a red pepper essence and dressed leaves. Whilst enjoying the food the really special part was cruising up and down the Thames and seeing all those London Landmarks, both old and new, from the comfort of your seat. What could be better than enjoying good food and drink in comfort, whilst having the most beautiful ever changing backdrop (London) as you gently float down the river. The main course was Chicken on a bed of Pearl Barley Risotto with asparagus, followed by a traditional dessert with a twist, namely a Bateaux Mess Strawberry, basil and elderflower infused white chocolate with meringue. This was my personal favourite as the crunchy meringue, rich chocolate and strawberries were wonderful together. The 360 degree glass with spectacular views from every angle truly makes this a magical experience, which is enhanced by toe tapping or romantic classics from the live band playing on board. Along with good food, this is a must do experience, and it is was amazing how quickly the time flew (the cruise lasts 2 hours 45 minutes). It is always the people who give every restaurant its ultimate review, and as we walked up the gangplank the positive buzz from the patrons said it all.
SingEasy at The Piano Works
47 Whitcomb Street, London WC2H 7DH Telephone: 020 7889 1966 If you are looking for a fun night out, with live music and the opportunity to sing and dance, then look no further than SingEasy, Whitcomb Street, London. Inspired by two of New York’s legendary sing-along institutions, Ellen’s Stardust Diner and Marie’s Crisis Café, this venue offers fun, entertainment and generally a good night out! Housed within Piano Works, just off Leicester Square, this small, intimate room has a piano on a slightly raised platform, and a pianist who only plays requests from the guests on the evening, and will play anything you wish – our choices included ‘Bring Him Home’ from Les Misérables, a couple of Madonna songs and a couple from Kings of Leon, but the less said about that, the better! We were warmly greeted by our waiter, Andrew, who having taken our order and brought us our cocktails, was then singing the Les Misérables song like a pro! In fact, all the staff at SingEasy can sing and dance, and are really quite talented, and all looked like they thoroughly enjoyed entertaining the diners. A rendition from Frozen by two of the waiters was absolutely incredible, and so professional that if I had shut my eyes I would have thought I was watching the actual film! We were invited to dine at SingEasy, and thoroughly enjoyed our two courses (we were meant to have three, but were so swept up in the music that we forgot about dessert!). SingEasy offers a two-course
pre-theatre menu from £15 per person or the two-course dinner menu from £21 per person with a bottomless prosecco option for an additional £20pp. The pretheatre menu features traditional British favourites with a twist including fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, bangers and mash; or dinner options of shrimp tacos, chicken Caesar salad and rib eye steak. Both come with vegan alternatives including to fish and chips and ‘shepherd’s pie’ with puy lentils, chickpeas, chestnut mushrooms and sweet potato. We chose the chicken and steak mains, and the plates were as clean as a whistle by the time we had finished! Every night comes with a different theme. On Mondays there is a Musical Theatre Takeover with your favourite West End stars, Tuesday SingEasy Goes Drag and Wednesday SingEasy Goes to the Movies with sing-along films from Grease to The Greatest Showman, which is what three friends and I enjoyed one
Friday evening. The party doesn’t stop there, with live music that you can sing-along to until 1am. From Thursday to Saturday enjoy the original SingEasy Experience with a mashup of different styles, from 5pm until 1am followed by a DJ until 3am, which is what three friends and I enjoyed one Friday evening. If it’s just drinks that you’re looking for, book your table at SingEasy and enjoy cocktails from their Top 10 list such as the Dancing Queen, with vodka, Chambord, extra dry martini, lemon juice and chickpea water or the Despacito with koko kanu rum, white wine, lychee purée, coconut cream, apple juice and fresh chillies. So, party hats on, vocal chords warmed up and dancing shoes polished, and off to SingEasy you go for a great night out, and if you are there on a Monday night for the Musical Theatre Takeover, you may even see my friends and I there, as we have vowed to go back fairly soon!
The Ivy, by Paul Winch-Furness
By Sim Canetty-Clarke
The Ivy Club
1-5 West Street, London, WC2H 9NQ Telephone: 020 7836 4751 The Ivy restaurant is renowned not only for its modern British food but also for its glamour; becoming a much-favoured celebrity haunt in recent times. In fact, you may be unaware, as I was, that The Ivy has been a firm fixture on London’s dining and social scene since as far back as 1917, when it first opened. The Covent Garden restaurant and private room upstairs are the epitome of glamour – now more than ever after a triumphant redesign in 2015 by the acclaimed Martin Brudnizki Design Studio. The signature harlequin stained-glass windows and oak panelling are features that remain, being so closely associated with the restaurant’s history and identity, but it has been given an impressive modern makeover. In the same building as The Ivy, spanning the three floors above, you will find The Ivy Club, which opened in 2008. As a private members’ club, it’s existence is not obvious to passers-by, having a concealed entrance within a flower shop on West Street, Covent Garden. As with The Ivy, Designer Martin Brudnizki has created an Art Deco oasis in the heart of the West End, complete with the iconic stained glass windows. Art lovers will delight in the original pieces on display throughout the Club. The Ivy Club, whilst sitting so close in proximity to its older sister, has its own menu, kitchens and Chef. Adam Sutton is the Head Chef at the Club, having previously undertaken an apprenticeship in the kitchens of The United Oxford and Cambridge University Club in Pall Mall London, before joining The Ivy team in 2002 as Demi Chef de Partie. He worked his way up to Senior Sous Chef, under Executive Chef, Gary Lee, and then in April 2013, was promoted to Head Chef at The Ivy Club. Our visit to The Ivy Club took place on a weekday evening in early April. On arrival, we took a table in the Piano Bar. This ArtDeco inspired space provides a comfortable meeting place for the Club’s members at all times of the day, but takes on a different ‘vibe’ 6
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from the afternoon until late at night. There is a resident pianist and, twice weekly, jazz and blues trios entertain in the bar. We got ourselves comfortable with a drinks menu, close to the mirrored bar, and chose from an impressive array of beautifully presented cocktails. Our appetite well and truly whetted, we moved upstairs to our table in the Drawing Room. This is a beautiful oakpanelled room, lined with book cases and comfortably furnished with high-backed leather arm chairs and banquettes. The low lighting sets the mood; this is unmistakably a place to relax and kick back after the stresses of the day. A place to sink into the soft leather chairs, browsing your way through the array of carefully selected books (chosen to reflect members’ interests in art, literature, film, theatre, architecture and design), whilst enjoying a plate of something delicious. To start, I enjoyed Seared Scallops in the shell with smoked lardo, cauliflower and hazelnuts (£17.50). My wife ordered Tempura Prawns with chilli and sesame spiced mayo (£13). The perfectly crisp, fresh batter (I obviously had to sample one), highlighted to us, that the ones we have, on occasion, ordered from a local takeaway really aren’t comparable to these in taste and quality! For the main course, I opted for The Ivy’s most famous dish: Shepherd’s Pie. This most traditional of English meals comes with peas and carrots, and a delicious, crunchy cheese topping (£19.75). This is my idea of comfort food at its best, bringing back all the associated memories of childhood suppers, and school dinners, although it has to be said The Ivy’s version is pretty sublime in comparison. My wife opted for the whole Dover Sole (£42). This can be grilled or meunière she opted for the latter, and found it beautifully light and buttery. We both shared fries (£4.50), sautéed green beans with biquinhi peppers and crisp onions (£4.75) and steamed purple sprouting broccoli with gremolata (£5). Other main courses included Bannockburn Rib Eye, Seared Sea Bass, Crisp Pork Belly & BBQ Spiced Cheek, and Murgh Mumtaz Mahal with pilau rice and poori. There is a
separate Vegetarian Menu offering dishes such as: Spaghetti Pomodoro (vg) with tomato, basil and pine nuts (£11.25), Red Dragon Pie (vg) (£16.50) and Baked Macaroni Cheese (v) (£7.50). For dessert, I ordered the Chocolate and Passion Fruit Fondant with crème fraîche (£9). My wife opted for the Pistachio Crème Brûlée with Gariguette Strawberries (£9) - considering this would not have been her first choice, given that she was going chocolate-free for Lent, she declared it absolutely delicious and was pleased that she had been pushed out of her “chocolate dessert comfort zone” for once! This most memorable of suppers was washed down nicely with a bottle of Pinot Noir Bruno Sorg, Alsace 2017, (£60) selected for us by one of the Sommeliers. The wine selection, as you would expect, offers a fine range to suit every taste and budget. The waiters were all smartly dressed, and our particular waiter had an enthusiastic interest in Art, which he shared with us by chatting about the Art that adorns the walls. He had some fascinating facts about the work and the artists that had created them. We found the service professionally attentive yet most welcoming. Our evening at The Ivy Club surpassed our expectations. It is not hard to see why this restaurant is so renowned for its food and atmosphere, making it one of the essential places to dine in London. If you want to visit to experience this for yourself, please note that reservations are essential.
The Ivy Club is a private members’ club. The Club are pleased to offer ‘American in Britain’ readers a chance to arrange a preview meal at the club by emailing email@example.com.
FOUR SEASONS RESIDENCES Introducing our collection of bespoke Residences at Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square – perfect for a stay of 1 night or more. In a prime location, steps from the Tower of London, Tower Bridge and the River Thames, enjoy the comfor ts of home, enhanced by the services and amenities of Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square and the Ten Trinity Square Private Club. Embracing the philosophy behind the restoration of Ten Trinity Square - an iconic Grade II*-listed building and former headquar ters of the Por t of London Authority - these one-of-a-kind accommodations pay tribute to the legacy of the great British Empire. Each residence has been envisioned by London’s award-winning interior designers to deliver the very best of London living. MARTIN KEMP • DAVID LINLEY • RICHMOND INTERNATIONAL • FOX LINTON INTERIORS Arrive through the majestic Four Seasons Hotel entrance, or your very own discreet residential entrance. Options range from two to four bedrooms with select units offering fireplaces and terraces with spectacular views over the Tower of London, Tower Bridge and the River Thames.
Zahra ElAfany Residences Sales & Marketing Manager Mobile: +44 (0)7814 659 378 • Email: firstname.lastname@example.org FOUR SEASONS RESIDENCES, 10 TRINITY SQUARE, LONDON EC3N 4AJ FOURSEASONS.COM/TENTRINITY • +44 (0)20 3297 9300
HOTEL REVIEW South Lodge, Horsham, Surrey The English countryside has many wonderful places to visit and stay, and all of them have a colourful back story, and South Lodge, which is near to Horsham and about an hour and a half’s drive from London, is no different. The house started life as a modest neo Jacobean dwelling in 1883, but was considerably extended over the next 30 years, with Winston Churchill being a regular guest to the house during his time in Parliament. During WW2 South Lodge, like many other large houses around London, was used as a hospital and finally it became a hotel in 1985. As Winston Churchill found, South Lodge is conveniently located near to London and is also just 20 minutes from Gatwick, and has recently undergone an additional major change with the 8
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addition of a state-of-the-art spa. This spa is the final piece in the South Lodge jigsaw as it adds to its award winning restaurant, expert meeting facilities and unique wedding venue. As we turned into South Lodge’s drive we were struck by the beauty of the gardens and the bushy camellias and rhododendrons that flanked the regal façade of the hotel. We were greeted at reception and were swiftly checked in, our luggage taken to our room and our car taken off to the car park, not to be driven again for some time! The rooms in South Lodge are all different and each floor’s rooms are named after a different subject rather than having numbers. We were on the second floor (these were all named after butterflies) in the room named Camberwell Beauty. The room was
large and spacious, and was a wonderful mixture of old and new. As it was on the second floor it also had a lovely eaved ceiling. Our room had partially bricked walls, a modern TV and a state-of-the-art coffee machine, along with a colonial super king bed and a quaint seating area, but the real draw of our room was the amazing view across the 93 acres of land that South Lodge has, and past that to the South Downs. Our bathroom was also luxurious with thick fluffy towels, an aqua TV so you can watch TV in the bath, and a walk-in shower with five different jets which took me quite a while to work out how to use! Having settled in, we headed across to the restaurant in the spa at South Lodge, Botanica, to have lunch. The menu unashamedly selects
HOTEL REVIEW all that is best of the local produce and also has a strong focus on healthy food. There are only a few treats for the carnivores like me as the majority of dishes are vegetarian and feature many plant-based dishes, so I viewed the menu with some trepidation, but I needn’t have worried. For my starter I selected the English Asparagus, Buffalo Ricotta, Minted Broad Beans and Lemon (£9.50) and my wife had the Spiced Roasted Cauliflower, Mung Beans, Golden Sultanas and Seeds with Tarragon Tzatziki (£6). The asparagus was good but the cauliflower is one of the best dishes I have tasted this year. Mung beans are great at absorbing other flavours, and the sauce they had been soaked in was spectacular, and the cauliflower’s crispiness was offset by the creaminess of the tarragon tzatziki. For our main courses, emboldened by my starter experience I passed over the Steak or the Chicken Caesar Salad, and chose the Truffle and Artichoke Tortellini, Twineham Grange and Kent rapeseed oil (£17.50) and my wife the Cornish Hake, Broccoli Root Purée with Botanical Sunflower Salsa Verde (£16). The truffle and artichoke fillings taste was, as it should be, namely slightly nutty and surrounded by light pasta, and the hake and salsa combination worked well. Having enjoyed our lunch, we ventured down to the spa to enjoy some relaxation time before our treatments on the thick sun loungers surrounding the indoor pool. The spa is set into the contours of the land and is designed as to be at one with nature, so the roof is grassed and all aspects of the spa are designed with sustainability in mind whilst bringing the outside in and the inside out. The weather when we were there was warm and so we made the most of the terraced sun deck which surrounds an outside natural swimming pool with reeds and algae and if you swim in it, it is like freshwater swimming, so be warned as you do share the pool with normal pond life! There is also a large hydrotherapy pool where we relaxed whilst looking over the extensive natural gardens. Inside the spa there is a large infinity pool surrounded by padded loungers, a sauna with floor to ceiling windows again creating the outside/inside feeling, and a thermal suite with a number of different steam rooms.
Having enjoyed a relaxing time by the inside pool, we made our way to the treatment rooms for our treatments. I selected the Spa Massage (£115 for 60mins) where I had all my trouble soothed away, and my wife chose the Spa Bamboo Massage (£105 for 60 mins) which incorporated smooth bamboo sticks which were used expertly to knead her muscles to remove her aches and pains from previous sporting competitions. We had never heard of this form of massage before, but my wife has since been looking into buying bamboo to try to recreate the experience as it worked so well. After the massages we left the spa totally relaxed and made our way to our room to prepare for our dinner. South Lodge has two evening restaurant choices either the Pass or Camellia. The Pass is an award-winning restaurant run by Head Chef Tom Kemble, and provides a culinary journey through a seasonally selected menu, whilst Camellia, the two AA Rosette restaurant, offers a twist on classic dishes. We dined in Camellia, and were treated to a wonderful meal which blended the fresh vegetables from South Lodge’s own walled kitchen garden with the finest ingredients that Sussex has to offer. From the Amuse-Bouche which combined the tang of sweet pickles with a foam lightly flavoured by tarragon through to the dessert of Caramelised Apple Tart, spiced whipped ganache, green apple spherification, warm toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream, everything was a joy to the taste buds. In the morning, rather than having breakfast, we opted for a brunch at Botanica, and again we were treated to fresh and healthy dishes beautifully presented which were, I am reliably informed, good for me. Be brave with your selections because juice combinations such as pineapple, pomegranate and lime or apple and beetroot are a little out of left field, but taste wonderful and allegedly reduce stress levels and are good for your heart. A visit to South Lodge is a chance to not only relax in 5 star luxury, it is a chance now, with the introduction of the spa and its restaurant Botanica, to get closer to nature and to be kind to your inside as well as your outside, with its innovative uses of herbs and plant food offerings. For further information please visit www.exclusive.co.uk or call 01403 891711.
WEALTH MANAGEMENT Assessing Pension Drawdown Strategy In A World Of Increased Flexibility A little more than four years ago, changes were introduced providing UK pension holders increased flexibility in the way pension benefits can be collected in retirement. Many of the changes and options available generally apply to defined contribution pensions such as personal pensions, group personal pensions, self-invested personal pensions (SIPPs) and stakeholder pensions. The full range of flexible options do not generally apply to final salary pension schemes and some other occupational defined contribution schemes. The changes have resulted in an increased interest by many pension holders to look at transferring out of these company schemes into ones that allow for complete drawdown freedom. Whilst there can be instances that transfers are in the best interest of the pension holder, the FCA is understandably focused on ensuring that pension advice remains suitable for the individual seeking a potential transfer.
Flexible Access To Pensions From Age 55
Since the changes were introduced back in 2015, the government largely no longer mandates a particular way in which pension savings need to be accessed. From age 55, it is generally up to the pension holder to decide whether they want access to funds as a lump sum, through an annuity product or through some flexi-access drawdown product. There are three general categories that encompass the distribution options: 1) If you require greater liquidity or control over your finances in the short-term you can consider taking your entire pension in one lump sum and invest/spend the funds as you wish, although certain taxation rules apply. 2) If you desire a more secure and regular income stream you can look at purchasing an annuity, either at retirement, or at a later chosen date. 3) If you prefer to keep your assets invested in the tax wrapper for as long as possible and wish to access the funds over time, you can look at purchasing a drawdown product. Individuals can usually choose one distribution option for their entire pension fund or choose different distribution options for segments of their pension fund. The changes have increased tax planning opportunities as there is flexibility to manage potentially both liquidity needs and taxable income in any given tax year. 10
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UK Taxation Of Inherited UK Pensions Mean More Individuals Seek To Preserve Pension Pots
UK inheritance tax, there has been a trend towards individuals looking to transfer out of defined benefit (final salary) pension schemes into defined contribution pots that offer both the flexibility in drawdown options but also the ability to leave the remaining pension pot to heirs in the future. There can be valid reasons for individuals to desire increased access to their pension schemes. However, it is very important that individuals appropriately consider the potential long-term financial implications of drawing down pensions early. In order to transfer out of many occupational defined contribution schemes as well as company final salary schemes, individuals are required to undertake a Pension Transfer Analysis (PTA). A PTA outlines all potentially valuable benefits that the pension holder will lose if they transfer out of the particular scheme and also performs a cost comparison of the existing plan versus the plan that is being considered. Anyone considering moving out of the existing scheme must fully understand the advantages and disadvantages of making any change and this is the purpose of the PTA. The cost of a PTA is generally not immaterial. Therefore, regardless of assessing important individual financial considerations, it can often make less sense to undergo a PTA when the pension size is small. Pension holders should be aware that some Advisers may be more inclined than others to push the ‘benefits’ of a transfer. During a study published by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) late last year, it deemed less than 50 percent of pension transfer advice was suitable. As such, the FCA has placed increased scrutiny on firms providing PTAs to ensure proper practice is put in place to deliver consistent and suitable advice. Individuals should be aware of this increased scrutiny and the regulations around pensions when exploring whether or not a transfer is right for them.
Flexible Drawdown Options Have Resulted In An Increase In Pension Transfer Requests
Which Strategy Is Right For You?
One factor that has become important to consider when assessing distribution options alongside your broader financial situation is that UK pensions are generally held outside of UK Inheritance Tax at your death. In addition, there is slightly different treatment on inherited benefits received by beneficiaries depending on whether you die before or after reaching age 75. The treatment is outlined below: • Die before age 75 A defined contribution pension can be passed to anyone as a tax-free lump sum, regardless of whether then pension is in drawdown or remains uncrystallised. The beneficiary will pay no tax on the money they subsequently withdraw from the pension, whether it is taken as a single lump sum, or accessed through drawdown over their own lifetime. This is generally only applicable to defined contribution schemes that have not been used to purchase an annuity or are being paid through a pension scheme. • Die at or after age 75 If you die after age 75, the beneficiary will be able to access withdrawals from the pension flexibly over time and there are no restrictions on the amount that can be withdrawn at once. As funds are withdrawn, whether as a lump sum or over time, the beneficiary will pay tax at their marginal rate of income tax. The above treatment can potentially lend itself to individuals wanting to preserve their pension pots longer in order to avail themselves of the inheritance tax benefits versus assets held outside of pensions which form part of the individuals UK taxable estate.
As noted earlier, with the increased flexibility in options to access pension benefits alongside pensions being held outside of
With the general removal of restrictions and limitations placed on the amount of drawdown individuals can take each year, there is greater ability to maintain control over the investment of the pension fund. It also allows increased flexibility on when and how much to drawdown and how one wants to pass funds on to heirs. It
WEALTH MANAGEMENT is important to note, however, that this option also bears some risk as it is no longer a secure annuity and requires careful management to ensure funds are not unknowingly depleted through excessive income drawdown. In order to begin to assess which distribution strategy is right for you, you need to have a good understanding of your financial goals and objectives as well as your income needs from your pension and other assets. You should give some thought to some of the questions outlined below: • What does retirement mean to you? Will you stop work altogether or will you continue to earn a partial income stream? • Will you want to continue contributing to a pension scheme in the future? • How do you want to live in retirement? How much income will you need your assets to generate and will that income be needed regularly or at reaching certain milestones? • Where do you want to live in retirement? Will you live in the UK or back in the US, or perhaps settle abroad somewhere else? • How much risk can you afford to take with your income? How much risk do you feel comfortable with? Will short-term volatility affect your ability to meet your everyday needs? • Do you feel comfortable in retaining an ongoing involvement in managing your retirement income? • Do you have dependents or other family members who will be reliant on your income when you die?
• Do you want to leave an inheritance to a specified individual? It would be remiss to ignore that the flexibility now offered allows US individuals to liquidate their pensions in a tax-efficient manner that makes sense for their individual situation. Individuals no longer potentially face liquidity restrictions if accessing large lump sums is a suitable drawdown strategy for their needs. Many planning opportunities for Americans present themselves as they approach retirement and decide where their retirement years will be spent. The best place to allocate your pension dollars and the amount you should ultimately seek to contribute to a pension, as well as your planned drawdown strategy in the future should become a planning point of discussion with your Tax and Wealth Adviser.
Risk Warnings And Important Information
All investments involve risk and may lose value. The value of investments can go down depending upon market conditions and you may not get back the original amount invested. Your capital is always at risk. Currency exchange rates may cause the value of an investment and/or a portfolio to go up or down. The information in this article is provided for information purposes only and does not take
into account the specific goals or requirements of any particular individual. You should carefully consider the suitability of any strategies along with your financial situation prior to making any decisions on an appropriate strategy. The information is based on our understanding of current tax law and practice and sets out some basic information about certain tax considerations from an investment perspective. However, MASECO Private Wealth is not a tax specialist. All tax rules may change and we strongly recommend that anyone considering investing seeks their own tax advice. The tax treatment of any investment or particular strategy will depend on the individual circumstances of each person and may be subject to change in the future. This document does not constitute and should not be construed as investment, tax, accounting, legal or any other advice. The information contained herein is subject to copyright with all rights reserved. MASECO LLP (trading as MASECO Private Wealth) is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales (Companies House No. OC337650) and has its registered office at Burleigh House, 357 Strand, WC2R 0HS. MASECO LLP is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority for the conduct of investment business in the UK and is registered in the US with the Securities and Exchange Commission as a Registered Investment Adviser.
TAXING ISSUES How To Navigate Foreign Investment Pitfalls Foreign investments are what make a global economy possible. Any financial advisor would tell you that foreign investments are part of a balanced portfolio, and it can also be exciting to take part in direct investment in a foreign company. No matter how you choose to invest abroad, there are several things to consider.
Currency Exchange Risk – The Big “Unknown” Known
When determining whether to invest in a foreign corporation, the exchange rate is the one factor that distinguishes it from domestic investing. Many different factors go into exchange rates, such as: • Government debt – if a country has large public debt, it can make them less attractive to foreign investors. This would drive down the demand for its currency, resulting in a decreased exchange rate • Political Stability – political unrest can greatly increase volatility and thus send the exchange rate to either dizzying highs or staggering lows • Current Account Deficits – this is the balance of trade. It reflects payments between two countries for goods, service, interest and dividends. If a country has a deficit, it means that it is spending more on foreign trade than what it’s receiving. This can lead to increased borrowing of foreign capital and an oversupply of its own currency than what the other country demands. Thus, the exchange rate weakens • Terms of Trade – related to the balance of payments, this a ratio of export prices to import prices. If a country’s export rate is greater than its import rate, then it creates more revenue from those exports, resulting in a higher demand and then a higher exchange rate for that currency • Inflation – low inflation is related to an increased currency value • Interest Rates – higher interest rates equal a higher return of investment, which creates a higher demand for that currency, thus driving up the exchange rate. As a result, the exchange rate differs from day to day, hour to hour. Fluctuations caused by these factors can expose an investor to what is called currency exchange risk. This can turn an otherwise stable investment into one that delivers larger than average returns or losses. When we think of exchange rates, we tend to believe that a strong currency means a strong economy: where the home country has the stronger currency, it can be a boon to 12
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travel to another country and take advantage of their lower priced goods. It can also make goods imported from that country cheaper. But a strong currency can actually slow down an economy as certain goods and services could become too high, thus rendering them noncompetitive. On the flip side, having a relatively weak currency can result in exports with a more attractive price point and thus more competitive on the global market. As a result, when deciding to purchase stock in a foreign company, or a fund comprised of foreign assets, not only will you need to perform the usual due diligence, you’ll also need to examine that country’s exchange rate and how it can affect its stock price. For example, a company based in Italy produces luxury leather goods and does brisk business in the UK. When the Euro is stronger than the pound, those goods will be more expensive than usual in the UK. This would likely lead to decreased sales, which could depress the company’s stock price. When the pound is stronger than the Euro, those goods become cheaper than usual, which leads to more sales, which can bump up the stock price.
Currency exchange risk can also play an important role when deciding when to sell an investment Currency exchange risk can also play an important role when deciding when to sell an investment. Let’s say you invested in the Italian company above six years ago, and now you’re deciding whether to sell or not. The company stock made steady gains over the years. If the pound is weak relative to the Euro, your gain will increase even more, as you are able to get more pounds when currencies are exchanged. But if the pound is stronger against the Euro, your gain will be smaller, as you would receive less pounds when exchanging currencies.
Declaring Your Investments – The Annual Hurdle
You’ve done meticulous research and selected the companies and/or funds, so now you can just relax and let your investments work for you. Not quite: now you have to make sure those investments are properly reported every year on your US tax return. There are two issues you may have to confront.
Perhaps the most common concern with foreign investments is avoiding double taxation. Many different investment vehicles tend to benefit from favourable tax treatments in their native country. However, when filing your US tax return, such income (be it capital gain, interest or dividends) is generally treated the same as if that income was earned from US sources. So, you can be in for a rude awakening if those dividends that are tax-free in the UK turn out to be taxable in the US. However, there are tax treaties between the US and various countries with provisions that can ameliorate or eliminate double taxation altogether. It’s best to seek the advice of a tax advisor for this, as the elimination of double taxation varies from country to country, and it is important to remember that although elimination is the goal, that goal is not always achieved.
Finally, when you get ready to file, you may be faced with another dilemma – reporting PFICs. Foreign mutual or index funds, (or any securities that contain a bundle of assets) are considered Passive Foreign Investment Corporations, or PFICs. These funds become PFICs if the company that holds such funds (your brokerage firm) passes one of two tests: • Asset Test – 50% or more of its assets are passive; or • Income Test – 75% or more of its income is passive. The vast majority of brokerage firms would certainly pass one, if not both tests. Each fund equals one PFIC, thus, if your portfolio has 5 funds, you have 5 PFICs. Once the total value of all PFICs reach $25,000, they have to be reported. US tax law takes a rather punitive approach to foreign investments generally, and perhaps none more so than toward PFICs. First, all distributions and dispositions are subject to tax – from dividends (realised or reinvested), to dispositions, even to any rollovers to new funds (whether elected by you or by the brokerage
TAXING ISSUES firm) - and part of any gain can be taxed at the highest rate. To make matters worse, a daily compounded interest charge can be added. Treating such mundane transactions in this matter are punishing indeed! Second, when it’s time to file your taxes, there are two main elections to make, and none of them are particularly appealing: • Excess Distribution – this occurs when the current year’s distribution is more than 125% of the average of the prior 3 years’ distributions. There may be years in which there is no excess distribution, but in order to determine this, every transaction must be tracked, and if you tend to trade a lot, tracking can be very tedious and very expensive from a tax preparation perspective; • Marked-to-Market – here you are electing to treat any year-to-year increases in the fair market value as ordinary gains and decreases as ordinary losses where allowed. Again, this wouldn’t feel like favourable treatment, but it’s definitely better than being taxed at a higher rate and paying interest charges. To avoid investing in PFICs, invest in the following instead: • Company shares, foreign or domestic; • Funds with US assets (no matter where the brokerage firm is based); or • Funds held by US brokerage firms (no matter the origin of the underlying assets).
As a result, extreme care is due when deciding to invest in foreign companies or funds. Let an experienced financial or tax advisor guide the way.
SAVE THE DATE The next
AMERICAN FINANCE & LEGAL EVENT
Letitia McGuigan, JD Tax Manager - H&R Block Expat Tax Services www.hrblock.com/americaninbritain Before joining the Expat Tax Services team, Letitia worked on a tax research team that focused on health care inquiries. Prior to coming to H&R Block, Letitia was an elder law attorney and she also has a background in consumer finance. In her spare time, she likes to travel, knit and see movies and live music. Visit www.hrblock.com/expats for further advice.
will take place on Monday 4th November 2019 at Smith & Wollensky, London. THIS EVENT IS FREE TO ATTEND AND FURTHER INFORMATION WILL BE PUBLISHED IN THE AUTUMN ISSUE OF AMERICAN IN BRITAIN
LEGAL MATTERS Whether you’re a Hollywood celebrity like Julia Roberts, an intrepid traveller, entrepreneur, expatriate moving for work or simply relocating for love, moving is always an exciting time, and as an American who has moved to the UK in particular, you will no doubt have a list of interesting and exciting things you may want to do on your arrival, such as check out the vibrant theatre and gastronomic scene, visit Buckingham Palace to catch a glimpse of The Queen, or decide which football team you are going to declare undying allegiance to for the rest of your life. Understanding your tax status and ensuring your estate planning arrangements are in order are often not a top priority when blinded by so many exciting new experiences and challenges. This article will give you a few pointers as to why you should give these issues some attention and consider whether your existing planning arrangements, such as if your Will and Nuptial Agreements are still effective. What happens if you fall ill whilst you are living in the UK? We will explore some key points for you to consider, as well as covering what happens if you take to the British lifestyle and wish to consider purchasing a UK property and putting down more permanent roots.
The UK does offer a favourable tax regime for foreign nationals relocating to the UK. This can be particularly advantageous for individuals who have non UK source income and funds held outside of the UK. It is possible to elect to pay tax on foreign income and gains only once it is remitted to the UK as opposed to on an arising basis which UK citizens are charged on. There is also opportunity to identify ‘clean capital’ prior to your arrival in the UK. These funds can be remitted to the UK without charge. The rules are quite complex and it goes without saying that advice should be sought on this as soon as you are considering relocating to the UK, as the opportunity to identify clean capital may be lost on your arrival.
Ownership Of UK Property
With a stable democratic political and financial system compared to many countries around the world, buying a property in the UK can be an attractive proposition. Even more so at this time in light of the relatively weak pound. There are a number of options for owning property and, although it is beyond the scope of this article to consider them all, advice should be sought on these options. 14
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This is the most common form of ownership. Property can be purchased in your personal name; this can be as a sole owner or if you own a property with another person (such as a spouse) there are two ways this can be achieved. As ‘joint tenants’ or ‘tenants in common’. Joint tenants means that each ‘tenant’ owns the whole of the Property, so that when one person dies the ‘whole’ of the Property passes automatically to the surviving owner, despite any Will they may have. Married couples often hold Property in this way. By holding as tenants in common, each party will own a specified share in the Property which will pass in accordance with their Will and not automatically to the surviving co-owner. For people who own property in this way, it is essential that they have a valid Will which covers who their share in the Property should be left to.
Following the introduction of the annual tax on enveloped dwellings (ATED) and higher rate SDLT charges, corporate ownership of a residential property, worth over £500,000, has become less popular The most suitable method of joint ownership for you may be based on your home country’s tax rules. For instance, where a US citizen is married to a UK national, it may be more beneficial for the property to be held in the
name of the UK spouse. Circumstances of each family arrangement will need to be considered. UK property is subject to UK inheritance tax regardless of your residence or domicile status. Briefly, UK inheritance tax is payable currently at 40% of the net value of a ‘death estate’ which exceeds £325,000, the current ‘Nil Rate Band’. If a Property is purchased using a mortgage to acquire it, the mortgage is a deductible liability for inheritance tax purposes as inheritance tax is payable on the net value of an estate. The rules surrounding the use of debt to reduce the liability to UK inheritance tax have been tightened therefore if a foreign national is considering the use of foreign debt, care should be taken to ensure that the debt will be effective for estate planning purposes.
Following the introduction of the annual tax on enveloped dwellings (ATED) and higher rate SDLT charges, corporate ownership of a residential property, worth over £500,000, has become less popular. However, corporate ownership may be tax efficient for properties which are being rented out and are exempt from the ATED charge. Trust ownership may also be beneficial and all prospective property purchasers should take specific legal advice to ensure that they purchase property in the most tax efficient way for them, taking into account their individual requirements.
Estate Planning: Wills
Many people move to the UK and already have a Will in place in their home country. Will it be valid if you die whilst UK resident? Is your Will tax efficient for my needs whilst I live in the UK? Generally, if a Will is validly executed in the country where it is made, it should be recognised and enforceable in the UK. However, from a practical perspective, if your Will is drafted in a language other than English, the UK probate office will require a certified translation, and if some of the estate planning language is different to that used in the UK, it can be more difficult to obtain grant of probate to administer your estate and sell or distribute your UK assets. When you purchase UK property it can be preferable (and is recommended) to cover this using a UK Will which can be co-ordinated with your existing Will in your home country (and any other Wills in other countries) to prevent any delay. In any case, having your current documentation checked can prevent problems. For example, many US citizens have a revocable or living trust. The trust should be reviewed to
LEGAL MATTERS see how it is treated under English trust laws, as a trust which holds UK assets is subject to the ‘relevant property regime’ – a lifetime inheritance tax charge, which is an expensive trap for the unwary. Indeed it is often best to take advice on these matters prior to arrival in the UK.
Lasting Powers Of Attorney (LPA)
What happens if I become seriously ill or lose my ability to make decisions whilst I am UK resident? Making a LPA ensures that you choose who you trust to make decisions on your behalf when you are no longer able to. There are two types of LPAs: • A Property and Financial Affairs LPA, which gives your Attorney/ Attorneys authority to deal with your property and finances, as you specify • A Health and Welfare LPA, which allows your Attorney/Attorneys to make welfare and healthcare decisions on your behalf, but only when you lack mental capacity to do so yourself. You can also decide whether you want them to be able to give or refuse consent to life sustaining treatment. An attorney (you can have up to 4) basically ‘steps into your shoes’ and makes decisions on your behalf. Attorneys can be appointed jointly (so that they have to make decisions in agreement) or jointly and independently. LPAs are useful to ensure that if you or your
spouse falls ill whilst in the UK, your chosen attorney will be able to make decisions for you, and this prevents what is normally a costly, time consuming and stressful formal court application which is the only alternative. Jeremy Duffy and Julie Man at Mundays advise on tax, trust and estate planning for individuals and trustees, with an emphasis on advising non-domiciled clients and work with an international element.
Contact email@example.com tel: 01932 590597 or firstname.lastname@example.org tel: 01932 590643. The contents of this article are for reference purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action based on this publication.
COMPETITION We are offering our subscribers the chance to win a family ticket to see BIG the Musical!
We have two family tickets for four people to be won. To enter this competition, answer the following question: Who played the title role in the film BIG? a) Tom Thumb b) Tom Hanks c) Tom Hiddleston Email your answer, name and contact details to email@example.com by 15/07/19, and put BIG The Musical in the email subject. Terms & conditions: The prize is for a family of four, best available tickets valid for Monday to Thursday performances 9 September until 17 October 2019, excluding 17 September, strictly subject to availability. Tickets are nontransferable. No cash alternative is available. Travel is not included. The winner will be emailed after the competition has closed.
AMERICAN IN BRITAIN
A HISTORIC LOCATION TEN TRINITY SQUARE In the peak days of the Port of London Authority, more than 1,200 people each day came to the rotunda to pay port dues for all the boats that were arriving in London. Such was the importance of the building that, in 1946, the General Assembly of the United Nations held its inaugural reception here, in what is now known as the UN Ballroom. During the Blitz in World War II, Ten Trinity Square was badly damaged by enemy bombing and the domed rotunda was destroyed. In the 1970s, after the Port of London Authority moved to its current location in Tilbury, the building was renovated and occupied by the European headquarters of insurance broker Willis Faber Limited until it was eventually bought by Reignwood in 2010.
Located in London’s most historic area – close to illustrious neighbours such as the Tower of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral – Ten Trinity Square has long been regarded as one of Britain’s finest architectural landmarks. Now home to Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square, this Grade II-listed building possesses a fascinating history. Ten Trinity Square was purchased in 2010 by Chinese investment company, Reignwood. The firm brings a deep respect for London’s history and culture, and began the process of restoring the building as a hotel and residences. During excavations to support the original foundations, a number of significant Roman archaeological finds were made, including chalk-walled cellars, cesspits, animal remains and a well. All of these items were given to the Museum of London Archaeology. Rather than create reproduction interiors, Reignwood chose to restore and preserve as many surviving original features as possible. A team of stone-restoration experts spent years on the exterior stonework and carvings. Inside, specialist restorers have brought new life to the original plasterwork, wood carvings, marble floors, and the soaring grand staircase. Following this six-year, multi-million-pound renovation – and now with the renowned management of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts – Ten Trinity Square stands once again as one of London’s most desirable addresses in London. The property comprises 100 bedrooms, 10 luxury Residences, 3 dining outlets, a luxurious spa and fitness-centre, a private members club and two spectacular events spaces. WWW.THEAMERICANHOUR.COM
Building Ten Trinity Square
The headquarters of the Port of London Authority was opened in 1922 at Ten Trinity Square. Designed by renowned architect Sir Edwin Cooper – who won the project through a design competition – the building was constructed at a then-astronomical cost of EUR 1 million. Built in the Beaux-Arts style, which was fashionable for civic buildings in the Edwardian era, the quality of Ten Trinity Square represented the status of the organisation. Its majestic façade hints at trade links going back to Roman times, while the original central rotunda was topped by a magnificent glass dome, created to emulate that of nearby St. Paul’s Cathedral. Rising atop the building at the front entrance, a sculpture of Old Father Thames stands proudly, holding his trident and pointing east, paying homage to the trade between nations.
Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square – A Landmark Reborn in The City’s Historic Heart. Set in the heart of the City, overlooking Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, Ten Trinity Square is the starting point for discovering London’s historic past, alongside its exhilarating present. As impressive inside as out, this famous building remains the centre of attention, as a new chapter begins in its history. The property also offers individuallydesigned Residences from one to four bedrooms, some with private terraces and views of the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. They offer open-concept living and dining areas and fully-equipped kitchens complete with Gaggenau appliances. Address: 10 Trinity Square, London EC3N 4AJ Visit www.fourseasons.com/tentrinity Phone: 020 3297 9200
TAKE FIVE Spirit Of Summer By Judith Schrut
Elmer the Elephant and friends at the Underbelly Festival, image courtesy Borkowski Arts & Ents
The fabulously family friendly Port Eliot Festival
The sun has got its hat on and the clouds are right as rain! Welcome to the great British summer, bringing you traditions like strawberries and cream, village fêtes and country fairs, green parks, fragrant gardens and daily chit-chat about the weather. You’ll also find an amazing choice of music, arts, festivals and other cracking cultural treats. We invite you to enjoy those fabulous long days and late, light nights with our pick of this summer’s savouries.
1. Midsummer Night’s Steam
With many of us thinking long and hard about global warming, climate change and ways to reduce our carbon footprint, environmentally friendly holidays have become attractive options. Hiking, biking, boats, trains and the joy of slow travel are definitely in this summer, while UK ‘Staycations’ are more popular than ever. If you enjoy slow travel, breath-taking scenery, the sight, sound and smell of steam and a bygone era, why not make the journey the destination - aboard a magnificent, old fashioned steam train? Steam Dreams is the first rail company to be completely carbon neutral. They’ve just launched two sparkling summer steam train services running from London’s Waterloo Station. The Royal Windsor Steam Express carries travellers to the historic city of Windsor by beautifully restored steam trains three times daily on Tuesdays, while the Sunset Steam Express offers fabulous evening trips from London to the scenic hills, villages and downs of rural Surrey, designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. 18
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This is the first time a regular steam service has run from Waterloo to Windsor in many years. Adventurous, hungry travellers on both services can choose to dine in elegant 1950s Pullman carriages or comfy 1960s style restaurant cars. Windsor trips offer a fabulous Champagne brunch, while sunset journeys offer a threecourse chef-prepared dinner. Alternatively, bring your own picnic on-board or take a trip down memory lane by purchasing traditional British Rail bacon rolls and freshly brewed tea. For serious steam train fans, Steam Dreams has loads of thrilling day and multi-day rail trips throughout the year. Anyone for hopping aboard the Highlands and Islands Flying Scotsman, the Emerald Isle Craic Express or the Bluebell Railway to Oxford and Cheltenham? What about a steamy frolic to the Isle of Wight to visit Queen Victoria’s country house in her bicentenary year? (More on that to follow). Further information: www.steamdreams.co.uk
The Journey is the Destination with Steam Dreams, photo by Ben Collier
2. Family Fun
Families with school-agers will want to make the most of Britain’s notably shorter-than-US summer vacations, and we’ve got lots of ideas on how to do just that. Summertime is festival time in the UK, with more festivals than ever turning full-on family friendly. With free entry for under 14s, a Children’s Parade, dedicated Kids Zone with hundreds of activities from dawn to dusk and a relaxed vibe, WOMAD is always a top choice for families. We’re also huge fans of Cornwall’s Port Eliot Festival, magical for families in so many ways, including the enchanting Wildlings Wood, canoeing, kayaking and wild (but safe) river swimming, a forest school, bedtime stories read by celebrated children’s authors and much more. We’ve also heard good things about the family-oriented Deer Shed Festival in North Yorkshire, the Great Wonderfest in the Isle of Wight and the Boomtown Festival in Hampshire. For the best in ferociously family friendly music, magic, circus and comedy, head to London’s Southbank for the annual Underbelly Festival. Underbelly proudly presents affordable live entertainment for all ages, with many shows priced at £10 or less, along with plenty of street food, refreshment bars and River Thames-side views. This year ’s Underbelly has stage adaptations of children’s story favourites, Shark in the Park, Elmer the Patchwork Elephant and CBeebies Twirlywoos Live! There’s a heart stopping new show from Flip FabriQue, the Canadian circus sensation renowned for world class acrobatics, thrilling theatrics and daring aerial routines. Look
The Unstoppable Showstoppers Kids Show
out too for the popular return of Morgan and West’s Utterly Spiffing Spectacular Magic Show for Kids, Monski Mouse’s Baby Disco Dance Hall and Showstoppers Kids Show, where young audiences get to help make a musical on the spot. Strict house rules forbid adults to participate! Summer Screens brings movies to unique outdoor venues around the UK including Bristol Zoo, Coventry Cathedral Ruins and University Museums Oxford. Speaking of museums, if you’re looking for something completely different for your brood this summer, why not treat them to a museum sleepover? Choose from DinoSnores at London’s Natural History Museum, AstroNight at the Science Museum, BedBugs at London Zoo or a Sleeping with Sharks Aquarium Overnight at the National Maritime Museum, Plymouth. While you’re at it, be sure to check out the dozens more museums and galleries participating in Museums at Night events in October and May each year. Further information: Underbelly Festival at the Southbank until 29 September 2019, www.underbellyfestival.com WOMAD, 25-28 July 2019, womad.co.uk Port Eliot Festival, 25-28 July 2019, www.porteliotfestival.com Summer Screens, summerscreens.co.uk Museums at Night, museumsatnight.org.uk
3. Brush up your Shakespeare
Shakespeare’s Globe is one of the world’s greatest open air theatres. It’s also a hugely popular must-see for Americans in Britain, whether serious Shakespeareans or virgin ‘groundlings. The Globe is a painstakingly faithful recreation of the original 16th century round, Michelle Terry raises the flag as Hotspur in Henry lV, Part 1 at Shakespeare’s Globe, photo by Tristram Kenton, courtesy Globe Press Office
thatched playhouse which stood a hop, skip and a bow away from its current Thameside location and where many of the Bard’s works were performed for the first time. The Elizabethan Globe thrived until an unfortunate accident: a stage cannon misfired into the theatre’s thatched roof mid-performance. In less than one hour the entire theatre had burned to the ground. Astonishingly, there were no serious casualties, although one theatregoer’s breeches reportedly caught fire. Luckily, flames were swiftly extinguished with a swash of ale. Today’s reconstructed Globe was founded by late American actor, activist and tireless fundraiser, Sam Wanamaker, who would have been 100 years old this year. Since opening in 1997, the Globe has been a success story beyond all expectations. This summer’s theme is ‘Our Sceptr’d Isle’, with a focus on Shakespeare’s history plays. There are standout productions of Henry IV, Parts 1 & 2 and Henry V, with women playing all three lead roles of Falstaff, Hotspur and King Henry. You can also see a Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Merry Wives of Windsor and Ben Jonson’s comedy of London life and society, Bartholomew Fair. A dedicated touring cast will take productions of Twelfth Night, Pericles and Comedy of Errors to castles, open air theatres and other stunning venues around the UK and abroad. In addition to plays, the Globe produces staged readings, concerts and midnight matinees. storytelling events, fascinating guided tours and a Young Actors Summer School. Globe seats sell out fast, but hundreds of ‘groundling’ tickets are available for every performance on the day. An inflation-busting £5 guarantees you a standing spot in the stage pit, just like indigent theatregoers back in Shakespeare’s day – although their tickets cost just one penny. Be forewarned that the Globe is verily open to the elements and whatever the weather the show will go on. But come rain or shine— and yes, we’ve witnessed hail, lightning storms, sweltering heat and set-shaking winds— we promise your visit here will be a magical experience. Further information: Shakespeare’s Globe summer season, April-October 2019, www.shakespearesglobe.com
4. Pride of the Proms
Hailed as the world’s greatest festival of classical music, the BBC Henry Wood Promenade Concerts, affectionately known as the Proms and a national treasure since Victorian times, roll into town in mid-July, filling London’s Royal Albert Hall with 90 concerts and 8 weeks of sumptuous sound, ending with the legendary Last Night of the Proms. This year’s Proms are surely the most diverse ever, a feast of international orchestras, conductors, choirs and soloists, and a huge variety of music. Visits by the musical great and
good from around the world including thrilling Chinese pianist Yuja Wang, Italian pizzica sensations Cantoniere Grecanico Salentino and Angelique Kidjo from West Africa. You’ll find Proms celebrating earth and the environment, outer space, sci-fi and the 50th anniversary of the first man on the moon. There’s a Prom saluting the summer of 1969– think Woodstock, the Beatles’ Abbey Road album, Vietnam War protests, Moog synthesisers blasting switched on Bach and movies like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Midnight Cowboy. The CBeebies Children’s Prom takes the whole family on a musical trip to the moon. There are Proms dedicated to one composer including a Bach night, Wagner night and a Beethoven night. You can also tap into dozens of free and extra events, talks, films and workshops. North American musicians and performers are always well-represented, with this year no exception. Look out for the gorgeous Joyce DiDonato singing with the National Youth Orchestra of the USA, top violinist Joshua Bell plucking his 300-year-old Stradivarius and the Proms debut of 21-year-old piano sensation Eric Lu. The European premiere of John Luther Adams’ In the Name of the Earth celebrates the natural world in a musical spectacle with 600 singers and eight choirs. The evergreen Barry Manilow, Chrissie Hynde and charismatic mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton are sure to set the Last Night Prom on fire. Two Proms with an American slant we’re particularly excited about are Mississippi Goddam, an homage to singer and social activist Nina Simone, and a dance and song extravaganza of Duke Ellington’s Sacred Music. The ever-popular John Wilson and his Orchestra are back with a stylish toast to Hollywood’s Golden Age. Prom seats are affordably priced and every concert famously features hundreds of Promming tickets for £6 each. These give you the unique chance to stand in the central Arena or stand, sit or lie down in the Upstairs Gallery. For the Last Night on 14 September, the Proms spill out from the Royal Albert Hall onto open spaces around all four countries of the UK for the atmospheric Proms in the Park. There will be music and merrymaking at Belfast’s Titanic Slipways, Glasgow Green on the Scottish banks of the Clyde, Singleton Park in Swansea, Wales, and Hyde Park in London, culminating in a cross-country link up of flag-waving, fireworks and passionate The fabulous Yuja Wang, photo Ian Wang, courtesy BBC Proms Press Office
Last Night of the Proms, photo Chris Christodoulou, courtesy BBC Proms Press Office
singalonging to Land of Hope and Glory, Rule Britannia, Jerusalem and the like. If you’re not able to get to a Last Night event, you can still watch, wave your flags, pop your party poppers and singalong via giant public video screens around the UK, or enjoy the magic of the evening live on radio, laptop or TV in the comfort of your own home, courtesy of the BBC. Every Prom is broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and online, with many also televised. Further information: BBC Henry Wood Promenade Concerts, 19 July-14 September 2019 Proms in the Park, 14 September 2019 bbc.co.uk/proms
5. Awesome Anniversaries
Make a date with history this summer as 2019 Britain celebrates a bevy of birthdays and anniversaries. Two of our most famous Royals, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, spouses and soulmates, were born 200 years ago within months of each other, on 21 August and 24 May 1819, respectively. There will be festive birthday events and exhibitions at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, Kensington Palace and the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace, and at Osborne House, the couple’s palatial getaway
on the Isle of Wight. A number of other celebrated Victorians are also hitting their bicentenary year. These include writer Mary Ann Evans, better known by her pen name, George Eliot, philosopher John Ruskin and engineer Joseph Bazalgette, creator of London’s sewage system. Music lovers can look forward to a bumper crop of anniversaries in 2019. Female classical composers were a historical rarity, but this year we blow out big birthday candles for two of the few. You’ll need 200 for German Romanticist Clara Schumann (1819-1896) and 400 for Venetian composer Barbara Strozzi (1619-1677). It’s fifty years since Woodstock, the greatest music festival of all time, the world’s first rock opera, Tommy by the Who, and the Beatles’ last public appearance, an impromptu concert on the rooftop of Apple Records, as seen in the movie, Let it Be. 1969 also saw the release of their brilliant Abbey Road LP, with the eponymous north London pedestrian crossing gracing one of pop
music’s most famous album covers. Why not mark the glorious occasion by walking the crosswalk with at least three of your best friends, stopping for another of those iconic photos that drive local motorists into a frenzy? This year is a huge one for fans of Leonardo Da Vinci, the extraordinary Italian artist, scientist, inventor, all around genius and the original ‘Renaissance Man’. His Mona Lisa is probably the most famous painting on the planet. He invented the bicycle, the airplane, the helicopter and the parachute some 500 years ahead of their time. Da Vinci also developed plans for floating snowshoes, a breathing device for underwater exploration, a life preserver, and a diving bell that could attack ships from below. His private notes and scribbling reveal his eccentric habit of writing backwards, starting at the right side of the page and moving to the left. The world, and particularly the country of his birth, will be celebrating all things Leonardo, with festivities in Florence, Rome, Turin, Vinci (his Tuscany birthplace), Milan (where he spent his most productive years) and the French Loire (where he spent his final years). If you can’t make it to the pageantry, pay homage to the great man with a visit to Leonardo, A Life in Drawing at London’s Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace. This is the UK’s largest Da Vinci exhibition in many years, showing over 200 rarely displayed, exquisite drawings from the Royal Collection. It will leave you breathless. Further information: The Victoria & Albert Museum, www.vam.ac.uk Queens Gallery, Buckingham Palace, www.rct.uk Take Five is our quarterly feature bringing the best of British to Americans in Britain. Let us know how you’ll celebrating this great British summer- we love sharing your ideas with our readers. Get in touch with Judith at firstname.lastname@example.org
Portrait of Queen Victoria and the Queen’s costume for the Stuart Ball, Royal Collection Trust, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Leonardo Da Vinci Studies for the Head of Leda, c 1505-8 Royal Collection Trust (c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
AMERICAN IN BRITAIN
THEATRE Review of London’s Theatre Productions by Lydia Parker Rosmersholm at the Duke of York’s Theatre
It is a treat to see an Ibsen play being produced in the West End when his work is usually performed at The National Theatre or smaller venues. It is even more of a treat to see the rarely performed masterpiece Rosmersholm; no doubt the fact that it has been adapted by Duncan Macmillan (People, Places and Things, 1984) has added to the commercial viability. Indeed, Macmillan manages to breathe new life into this complicated play while still remaining mostly faithful to the original. The story of a man who finds himself torn between his moral conscience and his duty to family traditions in a time of political turmoil where the press can change the course of an election is extremely relevant today. John Rosmer is a pastor who has lost his faith. He does not know what to believe anymore but wants to help mankind. Ever since the suicide of his wife, Beth, he has holed himself away in his crumbling family mansion with his wife’s companion, Rebecca West, and his servants. As the play opens we see a huge room shrouded in mourning; all the furniture and even the family portraits are covered in black sheets. Rebecca enters and starts letting in the light; a year has passed and it is time to bring life back into the room that belonged to Beth. She has also invited Governor Kroll, Beth’s brother to lunch. He has not visited since his sister’s death. The governor is concerned that his family and most people in the town, are being radicalised by a left-wing newspaper, The Lighthouse, run by a disgraced school teacher, Peter Mortensgaard, who had an affair and a child with a married woman. Rosmer had been responsible for shaming this couple and running them out of town, unaware that they were left in complete poverty. Kroll has decided to take over a rival newspaper to battle this extremism and wants Rosmer’s support; his family name still holds much influence. Rebecca, who is great friends with Kroll as well, completely opposes this and sends a note to Mortensgaard saying that Rosmer will support his newspaper instead. Kroll is suspicious of Rebecca’s motives in staying on in the house; does she want to influence Rosmer politically or are her intentions more personal? Meantime, Rosmer’s old tutor Ulrik Brendel turns up out of the blue, dishevelled and broke. Rebecca is impressed to meet him, having read all of his books. He had intended to give a speech about equality but needs a venue to speak in; Rosmer WWW.THEAMERICANHOUR.COM
happily offers his church. Kroll is appalled that Rosmer is so easily swayed; he believes that “equality reduces everything to the lowest of the low”. Rosmer counters that he wants to “raise people to nobility”. In one scene, he tries to do just that with his confused servants, refusing to be waited on by them. As the play continues we learn more about the mystery of Beth’s desire to kill herself, Rebecca ‘s unconventional relationship with her father-figure mentor and Rosmer’s disgust at his wife’s desperation to conceive. In the centre of all this drama is the impossible yet chaste love affair of Rosmer and Rebecca. Rosmersholm is a difficult play in one respect because the characters are so complex with seemingly contradictory motives and ideas. Rosmer turns from being a stern and religious moralist who condemns and punishes an affair and finds his wife’s sexual demands animalistic, to being an atheist who wants to imbue the working classes with “nobility” and is overcome with desire for a free-thinking, liberal woman. Perhaps Kroll is right when he states
that Rosmer has no conviction. Rebecca is full of life, love and passion, wanting to be treated as an equal to men, and yet will do anything to prove her love to Rosmer. Kroll is a charming, highly educated and reasonable man who will stop at nothing to enforce his beliefs. These three people love and respect each other while destroying one another’s lives. Although the play is filled with long discussions about class, society, morals and ethics, it still has an urgency. With a plot bordering on melodrama, it is full of surprises which are not overplayed as shock moments but allowed to slowly sink into our consciousness. The cast in general are superb. Giles Terera, a West End veteran who is known not just for Hamilton, but also for Book of Mormon, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Avenue Q, is a standout. A hugely versatile actor, it is a pleasure to see him take on the stern yet charismatic Governor Kroll, proof that he is as much at home in the great classics as he is in musicals. He is eminently watchable and a strong foil for Hayley Atwell’s fiery Rebecca.
Lucy Briers and Hayley Atwell in Rosmersholm. Photography Johan Persson
Atwell, always a fine actress, makes this enigmatic woman almost understandable and sympathetic, despite her confessions of outrageous manipulation. One can understand why Rosmer is completely overwhelmed by this Rebecca who is a powerful life force. Tom Burke’s Rosmer, however, comes across as not only without conviction but completely spineless; it is difficult to imagine him inspiring passion in anyone. It is an odd choice for a central character but then again Rosmer is not a conventional protagonist. Peter Wight, so brilliant in many Mike Leigh films, plays the over the hill radical Ulrick Brendel to perfection, a man who once wanted to “set the world on fire” but now is an object of ridicule. Lucy Briers lends unexpected warmth to housekeeper Mrs Helseth, perhaps the only steady influence in Rebecca’s life. Jake Fairbrother rounds out the cast as the left leaning and now embittered Mortensgaard. Ian Rickson directs this adaptation with a focus on the characters rather than laying on unnecessary theatrical flourishes to “modernise” the play. He lets the words speak for themselves, which is a refreshing approach. The set design by Rae Smith beautifully evokes Norwegian paintings of the 19th century, creating an atmosphere of intimacy, sadness and weight, despite the spaciousness of the setting. At two hours and thirty minutes, including an interval, this production never seemed slow and kept me engrossed in the story and philosophical debates, surely a sign we need more Ibsen in the West End. Although some plot points and character revelations may seem old fashioned, such as Rosmer finding female sexual desire repulsive and unseemly, this play is not a museum piece, and Duncan Macmillan’s adaptation has brought it steaming into the twenty first century.
The Starry Messenger Wyndham’s Theatre
The Starry Messenger, now playing at Wyndham’s Theatre, is a revival of the play by Kenneth Lonergan, originally presented in New York ten years ago. The production starred Matthew Broderick as the central character Mark, who is based on the teacher of an astronomy class they both took as teenagers at the Haydn Planetarium. Mr Broderick reprises that role for his West End debut, giving a nuanced yet powerful performance as a quiet man who is so defeated by life he manages to make the wonders of the galaxy sound boring. Mark is a full-time professor at City College but teaches a beginner’s class in astronomy two evenings a week. He worries as he hears laughter emanating from the next-door class room where the more vibrant and successful Arnold is teaching. “Don’t let it interfere with my hilarious remarks”. Mark’s humour is more understated and rarely appreciated by the motley crew in his class which includes Mrs Pysner who constantly has a question because she truly doesn’t understand anything she is hearing, and 22
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the outspoken Ian who seems eager to take over teaching the class himself. When the beautiful Angela wanders in, asking about classes for her nine-year-old son, Mark is completely smitten. He offers to show them around the planetarium which is soon to be knocked down. As the play progresses, they become friends and then much more, as he bonds with her son and is made to feel important. Mark’s home life is not all that bad, he is just clearly fed up with the humdrum existence. His wife Anne only talks about plans with relatives. His son, who is an offstage presence, shouts from the basement where he loudly plays guitar. Everyone is very polite and pleasant to each other and passions rarely surface. Mark is competitive with Arnold who seems to have a lot of “irons in the fire” but is reluctant to accept his help in getting a job on an important research project. He is dissatisfied but doesn’t know how to make his life any better. We also follow Angela’s life as she cares for an elderly man as part of her weekend nurse training in a cancer ward. She has grown close to the grumpy Norman and is optimistic for his recovery. His highly-strung daughter Doris is furious and confused when she catches Angela giving Norman a kiss, an inappropriate action which shows Angela’s weakness in setting boundaries for her own kindness and generosity. Mark is a nice, gentle person, but his growing frustration seeps through at moments, such as when Mrs Pysner states that everything he is teaching is just a theory and how do we know that the earth is actually round? Mark suggests that sending a rocket into space and seeing that the earth is round is probably a good indicator. He also cannot stand to hear any more plans from Anne about who is coming to stay when, but never raises his voice. He is almost pushed to the limit by Ian who has prepared a mid-term critique of Mark’s performance as he “traditionally” does for all teachers of the many classes he takes. His criticisms hit home, however, and obviously hurt. The dialogue is beautifully written, naturalistic but with masses of subtext. Conversations range from the banal minutiae of everyday life to discussions of faith in the face of death. The scenes are snapshots of these characters’ lives, written in a style verging on cinematic, no Matthew Broderick & Rosalind Eleazar in The Starry Messenger by Marc Brenner
surprise, as Kenneth Lonergan is also an awardwinning TV and screenwriter (Manchester by the Sea, Howard’s End, You Can Count on Me). Matthew Broderick may be a Hollywood star, but he is a superb stage actor, one of those rare American talents who can straddle both art forms. It is difficult to imagine anyone else playing the role of Mark; Broderick imbues the dialogue with so much humour in his deadpan delivery that despite it not being technically a comedy, it’s one of the funniest plays I’ve seen in years. With Lonergan, he has created a character for whom one never feels less than sympathy, even when he is cheating on his lovely wife. Elizabeth McGovern’s Anne is adorable and fun, you never feel that she is the stereotypical nagging wife. She probably wants much more out of her own life than just teaching fourth grade and being a mother to a moody teenager. She is patient and supportive to Mark and yet how is she rewarded? I suspect Ms McGovern has given the character much more depth than was actually written. Rosalind Eleazar’s Angela, is a far more complex person than she first seems. She is star struck by Mark’s knowledge and education, but he is also a welcome alternative to her macho, domineering ex. She is humble yet not afraid to go after what she wants, in a gentle fashion. It’s a performance full of subtleties and impressive for being only her second stage appearance. Sid Sagar is a stand out as the opinionated Ian, also doubling as the voice of Adam, the teenage son in the basement. The rest of the cast are equally excellent: Jim Norton as the straight-talking Norman, Sinead Matthews as his overwrought daughter Doris, Jenny Galloway as the ignorant yet indignant Mrs Pysner and Joplin Sibtain as the overachieving Arnold. Sam Yates’ production is a moving look at mid-life crisis and the fear of our own insignificance in the universe. The Starry Messenger ends on a jarring note for today’s audience, but is unmissable for the stunning performance of its star, Matthew Broderick, who provides a masterclass in stage acting. Although the play is long, it is always absorbing. We are lucky to have Mr Broderick on the West End stage; be sure to catch this production which runs only to 10 August.
MEAGHAN MARTIN: An American Actress In Britain Interview by Lydia Parker The course I took focused on classical acting, Shakespeare, Jacobean, Restoration, with difficult language and complex characters”. Which brings us to her latest project, The Actor’s Nightmare, in which all the actors will be playing many different roles. Meaghan confesses it will be a challenge to distinguish the very different characters she’ll be taking on, but she relishes the chance to explore the possibilities in the rehearsal room. “You don’t get to do that in TV and film. In theatre, actors are much more valued for their ideas and choices”.
From Las Vegas to Finsbury Park, via Hollywood, Meaghan Martin’s life has taken many interesting twists and turns to get to where she is today, making her London stage debut in Christopher Durang’s The Actor’s Nightmare. Having found fame at a young age for her role as the mean girl Tess Tyler in the teen film favourite Camp Rock, she is determined to reinvent herself in London by showing some serious acting chops. Meaghan describes herself as a “weirdo child actor” who got into performing so that she could play with dolls in TV commercials. At fourteen she begged her parents to move from Las Vegas so that she could work in LA. They reluctantly agreed to stay for one pilot season to see if she could make it as an actress. Meaghan ended up booking work constantly on shows such as The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, House, 10 Things I Hate About You, Mean Girls 2, and of course the hugely popular Camp Rock and its sequel. So how does a Disney Channel star end up in the UK? Meaghan’s true passion has always been the theatre, and London offered more high calibre drama schools per square mile. After a two-week workshop at Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts where she met her future husband, Oli Higginson, she moved across the pond to train at the prestigious London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. “Drama school was exactly what I needed, a reminder of why I loved acting in the first place. I’d reached a point in LA where I was playing the same type of character over and over, the bitchy, rich teenager or the dumb blonde. I wasn’t challenging myself to grow. In drama school, you have no choice but to challenge yourself. 24
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Meaghan confesses it will be a challenge to distinguish the very different characters she’ll be taking on, but she relishes the chance to explore the possibilities in the rehearsal room The work of Christopher Durang was an easy choice for her; she’s long admired his plays since seeing the Tony award winning Vanya, Sonia, Marsha and Spike in 2014. Despite being revered in America, Durang‘s work is largely unknown to UK audiences. Meaghan hopes her latest outing will change all that. This collection of theatrically themed comedies, especially curated by 3 Hearts Canvas, Meaghan and Oli’s production company, focus on all the ways things can go awry in a performance. As Meaghan points out, everyone enjoys a bit of schadenfreude, “we all love to watch things go wrong, it’s human nature”. These Durang shorts are a mixture of loving parodies of great plays by Tennessee Williams, Samuel Beckett, Noel Coward and Euripides, and brutal yet comic
portrayals of the world of show business. “Hopefully, the audience will be on the edge of their seat as they dive into this absurdist world with us where nothing is as it seems and everything gets flipped on its head”. Meaghan is thrilled to be working with fellow expat Americans on The Actor’s Nightmare; cast members Kate Sumpter and Stefan Menaul are both from the West Coast of the US, and Director Lydia Parker is originally from New York. Designer Anna Driftmier is from Colorado, lives in New York and works internationally. “I think this piece is going to be a lovely marriage of American and English comedy and sensibility. We’ve got a cast with incredibly varied backgrounds, and a text that is quintessentially American, but it will be exciting to put a globalised spin on it”. Meaghan was happy to find an American community in London, and she herself has family that has moved to the UK. “When I first moved here, I’d hear an American accent and my heart would jump a bit. It can be such a nice reminder of home”. Although she gets pangs of homesickness, Meaghan feels settled in London for now and is enjoying all the city has to offer: “I never get tired of walking through this incredible city. I’m such a history nerd and love seeing buildings that are older than America. And the public transport is amazing!”. Meaghan lives in East London and still can’t get over how walkable it is, compared to LA. “I feel like I’m always discovering something new in my own neighbourhood! When family and friends come to visit, I show them around Spitalfields Market, and take them to some of my favourite local restaurants”. She lives on the route of the Jack the Ripper tour, “It’s very funny, every evening tour groups walk through our street, and with the window open you can hear the guides tell their stories”. However, her favourite part of her neighbourhood is the close proximity of the Tower of London, “I think it is absolutely stunning, it always takes my breath away. Whenever I walk by the Tower or along the Southbank, I feel so lucky to have all this history in my backyard!”. Meaghan’s dream is to have an international career, working in LA, New York and the UK, but envisions always having a home in London. Let’s hope that The Actor’s Nightmare will help Meaghan’s dream come true. The Actor’s Nightmare runs at the Park Theatre 16 July to 10 August 2019. Visit www.parktheatre.co.uk/whats-on/theactors-nightmare
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DAYS OUT WITH THE FAMILY 10 Quirky Things To Do With The Family
Walk into Sherlock Holmes’ Home ©itchySan/iStock
Visit a 300-year Old Tea Shop ©Krblokhin/iStock
Discover London’s Street Art ©georgeclerk/iStock
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1. Walk into Sherlock Holmes’ Home There is no better way to step into Sherlock Holmes’ shoes and get into detective mood than to visit his apartment. The apartment is a detailed replica of Holmes’ fictional apartment, featuring everything from pistol shots in the walls to the legendary character’s violin. Every piece of this apartment was a part of an exhibit created by the Marylebone Borough Library and the Abbey National for the 1951 Festival of Britain. The apartment is located just above the Sherlock Holmes pub in Northumberland Street, near the Charing Cross railway station. 2. Admire the Wildlife in a Jar at the Grant Museum of Zoology The original purpose of the Grant Museum of Zoology, which is a part of the University College London, was the teaching and research in zoology and comparative anatomy. To cut costs and save storage space and preservation fluids, the Grant Museum of Zoology would store several specimens together in big glass jars. This natural museum still keeps the same zoological specimens and material for dissection, and there are around 67,000 specimens to discover, among which you shouldn’t miss the dodo bones, the quagga skeleton, as well as the jar with eighteen tightly packed moles.
Kayak on the River Thames ©Dutodom/iStock
3. Discover London’s Street Art London is home to some of the world’s finest street art, which could also serve as a backdrop for some truly stunning photos. You can find it everywhere, but the streets around Shoreditch and Hackney in East London offer the best testimonial to the ever-changing street-art landscape. Instead of waiting in the long lines in front the mainstream museums, you can take a walk around the city to admire countless gems of this contemporary urban artistic movement, free of charge. 4. Wander Around David Bowie’s Neighbourhood On January 8, 1947, a star was born at 40 Stansfield Road, in the London neighbourhood of Brixton. Fans of legendary David Bowie can head over to this neighbourhood to take a walk down the streets where he grew up. There is also a painting on the wall of Morley’s Department store on which you can see the famous British musician with the recognisable lightning bolt makeup all over his face. 5. Visit a 300-year Old Tea Shop Twinings is the oldest tea shop in London, with more than 300 years of history. This centuriesold place is real proof that no one likes to drink tea more than the Brits. Located in the heart of the city, opposite the court of Justice, Twinings is a must-visit spot for tea lovers. In this historic shop, you can buy premium teas from
DAYS OUT WITH THE FAMILY all over the world as well as unique blends of coffee and various gifts. 6. Stay Overnight at the London Zoo At the London Zoo, you can spend a night with the lions and other fierce animals without actually fearing for your life. The Gir Lion Lodge offers a unique after-dark experience where you’ll get to discover what happens in the zoo when all the visitors go home. There are three after-hour tours of the London Zoo the sunset tour, the after-dark tour, and the early morning tour, where you can enjoy a private viewing of the animals accompanied by experienced hosts that will reveal fun facts and secrets about the zoo and its residents. 7. Kayak on the River Thames London’s Thames is not the best place for inexperienced kayakers, but some clubs in the city offer activities for paddlers of all abilities. The river’s high tidal range is what makes kayaking through London a big challenge, even for the most seasoned kayakers. Whether you want to escape the hassle of the concrete jungle or simply need an energetic fitness activity, kayaking on the river Thames is bound to give you an adrenaline rush. 8. Step Inside a Masonic Lodge London is one of the rare places where you have a chance to get inside an opulent Masonic temple. During renovations of the Great Eastern Hotel, which was one
Visit the Oldest Prison in England ©icenando/iStock
of London’s most luxurious railway hotels (with its own train line) engineers found the majestic Masonic lodge hidden behind one of its walls. As cars replaced trains as a primary mode of transport, the hotel became a dusty old mansion and the temple was completely forgotten about. Known as the Grecian Temple, this opulent room features 12 different types of marble on the floor and an impressive gold celling. You’ll find it on Liverpool Street. 9. Visit the Oldest Prison in England The Clink Prison Museum offers one of the quirkiest experiences in London, with its unique appearance and an atmosphere filled with tension. London’s most notorious prison operated from the 12th to the 18th century, and its inmates were locked in heavy irons and
lived in horrible conditions, with very little food and water. Nowadays, this unusual tourist attraction gives an insight into the prisoners’ lives in the Clink. 10. Visit the Last Tuesday Society The Last Tuesday Society is a distinctive and diverse experience that includes a Museum of Curiosities, a gallery and a cocktail bar. You’ll get a chance to see a bunch of unusual, even bizarre objects that, according to this organisation, deserve to belong in a museum. Some of the curiosities include a two-headed kitten and occult artwork. The Last Tuesday Society hosts all kinds of events, such as exhibitions, parties, lectures, and taxidermy classes. Supplied by Internationalliving.com
TRAVEL Santorini, Greece It had been many years since my first visit to the Greek islands, and now, having just returned from the stunningly picturesque island of Santorini, I am wondering why it took me so long to return! Santorini is situated between the mainland and the island of Crete, and for such a small island has so much history. Indeed, Santorini 28
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is not actually the true name of the island as its official name is Thera, but I think its old names of Kalliste and Strongyle are more apt as they mean ‘the most beautiful one’ and ‘the circular one’, which perfectly describes the shape and beauty of this island. The island has been created from a number of repeated volcanic eruptions which has created
sheer precipices which rise majestically from the crystal blue waters and forms one of the most magical parts of the island where the houses perch seemingly precariously against the cliffs. There have been at least 12 significant eruptions spanning back over 650,000 years which have created the Caldera and the spectacular vista. Indeed, the explosions of the
TRAVEL volcano at Santorini have been attributed to a number of significant events in history, including the story of Exodus and also the fall of Atlantis, and have also provided one of the most amazing archaeological site’s not only on Santorini, but in the world, namely Akrotiri, to the south west of the island. In fact, its discovery was actually down to the building of the Suez Canal. Back in 1860, workmen were quarrying for rock to be used in the construction of the famous waterway, but what they found were the remains of an ancient Minoan town. This large town has been partially excavated and is Greece’s answer to Pompeii, as Akrotiri was also frozen in time by ash from a volcanic eruption, and there are over 40 buildings to be explored which include ones that have pipes with cold and hot water (heated by the volcano) which provides a fascinating insight into Minoan culture. One of Santorini’s other main attractions is its wonderful beaches. Perivolos Beach is just 3 kilometres from Perissa. The dark sands and clear waters here come with a side-order of watersports, with jet skiing, windsurfing and scuba diving among your options. Despite all the activities though, it’s one of the quieter beaches in Santorini. Kamari Beach boasts volcanic sands and pebbles that roll out for over 5 kilometres and also got the added bonus of a prestigious Blue Flag. The whole place is backed by cafés and tavernas, and overlooked by an enormous rock called Mesa Vouno, which is lit up come nightfall. Akrotiri isn’t just famous for its Minoan past – its beach pulls in the crowds, too, the reason being, this coastal sweep is framed by huge red and black cliffs. It is an impressive sight and a lot of people come here just to admire the quirky colours. This is also a great place to go snorkelling, thanks to the interesting rock formations and exceptionally clear waters. Whatever your preference there is a Santorini beach for you and whichever one you choose the crystal blue waters remain the same. Despite its size, other sites include the Ruins of Ancient Thira. This 9th-century settlement is on the summit of Mesa Vouno, an enormous rock that separates Kamari and Perissa. Historically, Ancient Thira is a bit of a melting pot – over the centuries the cultural baton was passed from the Greeks to the Romans to the Byzantines. As such, you’ll spot everything from Hellenic temples to early Christian churches here.
One of my favourite things to do whilst there was sampling the Santorini wines! I thought Greek wine began and ended with retsina (which is one of the worst wines you could ever taste!), but now I know I was wrong! In fact, you’ll find some of the oldest Greek vineyards and wineries on this island. The Canava Roussos Winery in Kamari was founded back in 1836, and offers cellar tours and tasting sessions. In terms of settings though, the Santo Winery, near Pygros, is the big one – it’s right at the top of the island’s caldera. Wines are crisp and fruity and are up there with the best in the world, and I for one am on the look out for these wines now I am back home. One of the must do visits is to the picture postcard town of Oia. Head through the maze of cobblestone passageways and you’ll come to the island’s most famous snapshot – a bluedomed church that has graced a thousand postcards. It’s the best place for taking in those famous sunsets, which are truly spectacular. The town is small, so do review the cruise ship schedule online and choose a date when there are fewer ships in, as the streets are narrow and not designed for too many people! Looks-wise, Santorini’s capital Thira, is textbook Greece. But with its trendy bars and boutiques, it’s got the St-Tropez factor too. It’s also the place to get the inside scoop on Santorini’s 4,000-year history. Take your pick from the Museum of Prehistoric Thira, the Thira Archaeological Museum and the frescoed Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral. Dotting the waters around the caldera, there are three islands you can visit, each with a unique draw. Thirasia is Greece on a go-slow, with its geranium-clad balconies and vine-wrapped tavernas. Paliaameni is renowned for its natural hot springs, which are said to have healing powers, and Neakameni is a hiker’s paradise – people flock here to scale the slopes of its volcano. Ferries leave from the port of Ormos Athinios, which is a 10-minute drive from Thira. Santorini has its own small airport and can be reached from a number of UK airports, and is truly an exciting mixture of culture and picturesque views. The views over the caldera are breathtaking, and the food and wine top notch, and when you combine the two you have a magical combination which is unrivalled. Go there and I defy you to not be blown away with its beauty, and I truly hope the ‘powers that be’ protect this special place and don’t allow it to be spoilt.
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ARTS & ANTIQUES Chihuly At Kew: Reflections On Nature - A Magical Exhibition By Abby Cronin Imagine transforming sand into glorious glass sculptures. Well that is exactly what Dale Chihuly, the internationally renowned avant-garde studio glass artist does. His organic sculptural forms fuse every colour of the rainbow into patterns 30
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weâ€™ve only ever seen on close inspection of the veins in leaves and petals of flora. In keeping with his lifelong love of botanical settings, Kew Gardens is the perfect venue for his blown glass sculptural artworks. They are currently
installed throughout the gardens and inside the glasshouses. Visitors will marvel at the diversity of 32 artworks in 13 locations. Many have never been seen before in the UK. Commanding space, these luminous artworks create unrestrained
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Sapphire Star – 2010. Photo-Abby Cronin
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Scarlet and Yellow Icycle Tower – 2013
Summer Sun - 2018
bursts of colour amidst the glorious greenery of Kew. They blur the boundaries separating the applied arts. Mesmerising, these dazzling glass artworks transform the vistas of Kew and the ornate glasshouses into multiple galleries. Chihuly’s enduring fascination with glasshouses began in 2001, and has continued as a series of exhibitions installed in botanical settings around the world. Known as the Garden Cycle, his work has featured in numerous locations. Garden Cycle installations such as Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory and the New York botanical Garden are perhaps best known. In May 2012, Chihuly Garden and Glass opened at the Seattle Center showcasing his studio glass. Today, his 2019 exhibition in Kew feels like a homecoming after the success of his show at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in 2005. No doubt British interest in his unique blown glass sculptural eye-popping pieces increased once the public saw the huge Chihuly ‘’chandelier’’ permanently installed in the entrance hall at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2001. And his pieces are in hundreds of museum and private collections around the world.
Known as the Garden Cycle, his work has featured in numerous locations. Garden Cycle installations such as Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory and the New York botanical Garden are perhaps best known Dale Chihuly was born in 1941 in Tacoma, near Seattle, Washington. His early fascination with this medium is explained by Jennifer Hawkins Opie, V&A Curator. Chihuly told her: ‘I had this little studio in south Seattle... [where] I began to learn how glass melted and how you could fuse it together. One night I melted some stained glass between four bricks and put a pipe in there and gathered some glass and blew a bubble... From that point on I wanted to be a glassblower... I was totally infatuated, WWW.AMERICANINBRITAIN.CO.UK
completely absorbed in the concept of being a glassblower because to see this bubble come out at the end of this blowpipe [was] magical’. Magical indeed it is. The sheer diversity of Chihuly’s designs falls into several categories. There are floats, tentacles, reeds and stem shapes as well as a dozen well-known series of works which include Cylinders and Baskets, 1970s, Seaforms, Macchia, Persians, and Venetians in the 1980s. As you enter Kew through the Victoria Gate you will meet Sapphire Star, a stand-alone tall sculpture with individual blown glass forms which all radiate outward to create a celestial visual experience. With its vibrant blue colour, Sapphire Star is deeply concentrated in the centre where the individual glass elements meet and appear opaque. Inside the Temperate House, one of the largest surviving Victorian glasshouses which has just undergone a major restoration, gaze at the spellbinding beauty of the Temperate House Persians, a 10-metre long creation specially designed for the exhibition. Suspended from the centre of the roof of Kew’s Temperate House, the Persians’ intense deep blue hues invite you to study their complexity and remarkable assemblage. Be sure to visit the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art where you will be able to see a stunning variety of some of Chiluly’s most technically challenging glass sculptures. Displayed in vitrines and on pedestals, these pieces will expand your appreciation of
Turquoise Marlins & Floats - 2015
Chihuly’s artistic vision. Seaforms organic forms have a distinct underwater presence while his Macchia series combines unexpected colour combinations with coloured spots for a speckled effect. Macchia sculptures are a series of brilliant billowing bowls in blazing colours. While inside the Sherwood Gallery don’t miss the truly remarkable film about Chihuly’s creative process and his methods of working. We get to meet some of his team, observe workshops and appreciate how meticulously difficult making and installing glass sculptures are. Watching the film you will understand how unpredictable glass-blowing variations of organic forms in nature are, especially when you are a glass artist with a specific image you wish to create. The film is screened in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art. It’s a vivid visual record of the complex and often dangerous stages of how the process of blowing glass into unique sculptural art forms. How easily things can go wrong with the way materials react, colours blur. Glass blowing is hardly a precise science; it is technically complex and riddled with risks. In their finished state, Chihuly’s glass installations offer exceptional painterly rewards. The film also documents the extraordinary complexity of organising and presenting major exhibitions throughout the world including Chihuly Over Venice (1995-96) and Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem (1999).
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Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Chihuly: Reflections on Nature 13 April – 27 October 2019 Images courtesy of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and Chihuly Studio www.kew.org Abby Cronin. PhD E: email@example.com W: www.abbycronin.co.uk Get in Touch - I am available to consult if you are interested in collecting or researching the decorative arts and arts heritage.
Indoors in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery
Chihuly Nights, an after-dark experience at Kew, is an added bonus. See the sculptures in an entirely different light when the pieces are atmospherically lit. The after-dark experience is enhanced by music featuring wind instruments and the human voice, almost a reminder of Chihuly’s breath in creating his artworks. The mood of an ever-changing soundscape aims to enhance the visitor’s experience and appreciation. Be sure to book one of the summer series of special night-time tours. Immerse yourself in Chihuly’s balletic sculptures. They writhe with movement and echo the unpredictable variations of organic forms in nature. They dance –their silhouettes and forms revolve as we walk around them. Light changes what we see. It’s an endless joy to gaze at these ever-moving-revolving organic sculptures.
Cattails and Copper Beach Reeds - 2015
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
FOOD TOURS PROVIDE TASTE FOR A PLACE From Traditional Fare To Modern Delights, A Food Tour At The Top Of Any Trip To Britain Is Just Right Food tours help bring folks from all over the world together for a night of belly-filling fun.
A selection of fine meats, cheese and wine to sample on one Eating London tour.
Josh, one of Eating London’s knowledgeable tour guides, sets the stage for an evening of foodie fun in the Capital City’s SoHo district.
What better way to discover the taste of a place than by trying some of its local culinary delights, and what better way to do this than by signing up for a few food tours? Whether you are looking for traditional haggis in Edinburgh or the latest in food trends tantalising taste buds in the English capital, there are food tours in most major cities throughout the British Isles eager to take you on a culinary journey. Here we highlight a trio of tours explored in London, Manchester and Edinburgh. Love what you see here?
LONDON (Eating Europe)
An exciting part about food tours is the discovery of tastes you never expected a city to share. While some places will likely touch upon traditional items such as British pie and mash, others will offer far less expected culinary experiences. Care for some delicate dim sum in SoHo’s Chinatown district? How about spectacularly porky thinly-sliced jamon served with a glass of red wine? The Twilight Soho Food Tour by Eating Europe (eatingeurope.com) provides foodies a fun way to spend an evening in one of the capital city’s hippest and most bustling destinations. Let one of their expert tour guides take you from place to place across three hours that will pass by in a beat. Launched in the Testaccio district of Rome in 2011, Eating Europe now has branches in Rome, Florence, London, Amsterdam, Paris and Prague. Nicole Monaco, Senior Operations Manager for Eating London, says the business often looks for more traditional food experiences when entering a new city, then WWW.THEAMERICANHOUR.COM
expands its offerings as new tours are added. “However, the neighbourhood we choose also plays an integral role in what exactly we will be eating,” she says. “We believe the history really impacts our decisions and takes us on a journey of the past through its food”. Monaco notes London’s dining scene is incredibly diverse, “from authentic little food trucks to pop up interactive food experiences”, which is reflected in the tours offered. “The food scene in London is just on the rise”, she adds. There are some fantastic sites to behold on the Eating London tour besides the food.
What better way to discover the taste of a place than by trying some of its local culinary delights, and what better way to do this than by signing up for a few food tours?
Rob Kelly, founder of the Scranchester food tour in Manchester, is happy to show off his favorite city.
Sensational migas was enjoyed on one recent Scranchester tour.
What kind of “scran” (a local term referring to food) is Manchester known for? Is it densely rich fudge brownies enjoyed at Mackie Market for tea? Is it a modern take on traditional sausage rolls? Is it migas, the Spanish breakfast dish that makes use of the previous day’s breads, blending them with eggs, veggies and luxurious spices? Is it all of these and more? Find out for yourself with Scranchester Tours (scranchestertours.com), hosted by Rob Kelly, expert tour guide and lover of all things Manchester. It turns out tourists aren’t the only ones enjoying food tours. Just ask Kelly, who left his 9-5 job at Marketing Manchester to launch his own tour company a couple of years ago. “I enjoyed promoting my city to people”, he says of his former employment and the natural transition into running a business with similar focus. “I am big into food and food history and spend a lot of my free time cooking and talking about food. So, I thought if I could combine telling people about Manchester with my love of food and get paid for it, then it would be an ideal job for me”. Besides food, Kelly shares Manchester history during his three-hour walking tour across Manchester’s compact downtown. “Manchester is the world’s first industrial city with a story that is relevant to the whole world”, he notes. “It is also a city that has reinvented itself as the cultural capital of the north. Its food scene is booming with new restaurants opening every month, with the majority of them being small independents”.
Some sensational smoked salmon kicked off the food tour in Edinburgh
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A modern take on traditional sausage rolls in Manchester.
EDINBURGH (Eat Walk Edinburgh)
When crafting a food tour, how much local and how much perceived local must be considered (just ask a native Scot how much haggis they consumed in the past few years to get a better idea what we’re talking about). This was at the forefront of Alan Chalmers’s mind when he launched Eat Walk Edinburgh (eatwalkedinburgh.co.uk) in 2011. “People kept commenting that some stops weren’t Scottish”, he says. “But, at the same time they wanted to visit venues that locals used”. That first tour, connecting the Old Town and New Town sections of Scotland’s capital, sought to bridge the gap between perception
and reality. It obviously succeeded. Since 2011, the tour has grown from 100 satisfied patrons on sporadic tours in Edinburgh to more than 3,000 participants last year through Edinburgh, St. Andrews and Glasgow. Our recent tour had a little of that aforementioned haggis, but also included some stunning Scotch, succulently tender oxtail, even a local orange-flavoured soda, Iron Bru, that is closer to modern Scotland than any offal and barley boiled in a sheep’s stomach. Chalmers says food tours are a great introduction to a city that should be pursued when one first arrives. “You can then use the rest of your time in the city to go back and visit the premises for a full meal or explore other places your guide had pointed out on the tour”, he says. Ultimately, Monaco says, food tours provide a way to “share a taste of local life through immersive food and cultural experiences that are fun, social and leave curious travellers feeling like true insiders”. John Dunphy, a native of New Jersey, spent six years in South Korea as an English teacher and newspaper editor before leaving in March 2019. Before returning to the US, he and his girlfriend travelled through Britain and enjoyed the trio of food tours written about in this issue’s article. Check out more of his work at jpdunphy.wordpress.com. All photos by John Dunphy.
The only thing to rival the food in Edinburgh is the view.
All this cheese in Edinburgh was meant for two people. Note: the plate was cleaned thoroughly.
Of course there was haggis on the Edinburgh tour.
SAVE THE DATE The next
AMERICAN FINANCE & LEGAL EVENT will take place on Monday 4th November 2019 at Smith & Wollensky, London. THIS EVENT IS FREE TO ATTEND AND FURTHER INFORMATION WILL BE PUBLISHED IN THE AUTUMN ISSUE OF AMERICAN IN BRITAIN
AMERICAN EXPATRIATE CLUBS & NEWS
Kensington and Chelsea Women’s Club - kcwc
Kensington and Chelsea Women’s Club is a vibrant organisation of International and British women who want to enjoy everything London has to offer. We offer over 30 different activities and special events, as well as regular General Meetings with prestigious Speakers. kcwc General Meetings are open to non-members for a guest fee of £10, redeemable if joining on the day. We are a non-profit group and all our activities are organised by members who volunteer their time and skills. We appeal not only to expatriates and to those new to London, but also to those who want to experience the UK at its best. We have something for everyone, during the day, or evening, and offer a calendar of cultural events. Please visit www. kcwc.org.uk to find out more about membership and participate in our activities. Our vast array of regular activities includes, Art History, Antiques & Design, British History, Fashion, Lifestyle, Foodies, Travel, Spanish, Italian, German and French Conversation, Tennis and Golf. If your preference is for Evening Activities, then attend our Evening Speaker Series, join our Book Group, or enjoy 36
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a wine tasting session with our Wine Society. For a fun night out, try our After Six in the City or attend plays and shows with our Theatre Group. kcwc hosts a General Meeting regularly at The Royal Geographical Society in Kensington and this is a great opportunity to meet other members and hear our high-profile guest speakers. Members can also meet Activity Leaders at these meetings and hear more about our wide range of activities. Please join us for our next General Meetings on Thursday 5 September at the Royal Geographical Society at 9.30am with our guest speaker at 10.30am. Please join us to hear more about our wide range of member’s events and activities. To provide you with a flavour of the many high profile guest speakers attending kcwc, most recently we have enjoyed Lady Carnarvon talking in early May about the history and heritage of Highclere Castle and the Carnarvon Family. Lady Carnarvon has written several books including “At Home at Highclere” and her next book, publishing in September 2019, is ‘Christmas at Highclere – recipes and traditions from the Real Downton Abbey’. Other guest speakers in 2019 have included award winning Royal Photographer, Chris Jackson, who is acclaimed for his photographs
of the British Royal Family, Royal Weddings and Royal Tours; Trinny Woodall, successful and acclaimed Fashion Adviser and Television Presenter, who launched the beauty brand TRINNY London in 2017; and Noëlla Coursaris Musunka, a model, humanitarian and global ambassador for several leading charities, talking about Malaika, a non-profit grassroots organisation empowering Congolese girls and their communities through education and health programmes in the DRC. Other speakers have included Celebrity Chef and Restaurateur, Marcus Wareing; Fashion Designer, Samantha Cameron; as well as, Broadcaster, Writer, Adventurer, Ben Fogle, and, Mellissa Fung, highly acclaimed veteran journalist, who covered the war in Afghanistan for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, a philanthropist for women and children’s education in Afghanistan. We have impressive guest speakers planned for all our 2019 General Meetings so please join us on Thursday 5 September, Thursday 3 October and Wednesday 6 November. You will find more details on our website, kcwc. org.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org to become a member. Please join us on Thursday 5 September and become a member to enjoy all our wonderful activities.
AMERICAN EXPATRIATE CLUBS & NEWS
American Women Lawyers in London AWLL
American Women Lawyers in London (AWLL) is an organisation of London-based women with ties to the American legal community. Our aim is to provide professional development support to members through educational events, networking and mentoring opportunities. AWLL has also partnered with several top companies to offer exclusive discounts and benefits to members. We have a new logo and website! Visit awll. org.uk to learn about membership benefits, upcoming events and to join our group. In April we went to see On the Basis of Sex at the Picturehouse Central. In June, we joined the London Legal Support Trust in the annual London Legal Walk to raise money for legal aid. In May, we held a joint event with the Society of English and American Lawyers (SEAL) and Laura Devine Solicitors, covering some interesting US and UK immigration law issues. Upcoming Events: • July 4th 2019: Annual General Meeting and 4th of July Party! • September 2019: Panel discussion re US and UK tax matters • October 2019: Ghost Walk For more information about AWLL, please visit our website at www.awll.org.uk or contact AWLL President Eryn Hanlon at email@example.com. uk. You can also connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. We look forward to seeing you! Joint event with the Society of English and American Lawyers (SEAL)
Annual London Legal Walk
The American Society in London
The American Society in London
The American Society in London was founded in 1895 by the then US Ambassador Thomas F. Bayard. Indeed, the serving US Ambassador, Robert Wood Johnson IV, remains our Honorary President and we are fortunate to have the generous support of the US Embassy where we once again held our AGM in March. Membership is open to both US and UK citizens and draws heavily on the US expatriate community here in London. The intention of our founder was to improve and cement relations between the citizens of our two countries, fostering mutual respect, understanding and affection. We continue to fulfil this goal in part by arranging celebrations of major American holidays. In this regard, we think the original objectives have been successful and they continue to be as relevant today as in 1895. We hold three receptions each year building up to our marquee event in November – our elegant and glamorous Black Tie Thanksgiving Dinner – where guests from the US and UK military are invited to join our members for a traditional Thanksgiving feast with all the trimmings. This year’s events kicked off with our soldout Spring Drinks Party in May at the exquisite Benjamin Franklin House in Craven Street. This gem of a museum, housed in the building where Franklin happily resided for 16 years prior
The American Society in London
to the American Revolution, was the perfect setting for an evening of good conversation and good wine. As members and guests mingled, Franklin’s spirit was with us as we each took a turn playing the glass armonica (a musical instrument invented by Franklin) in the (LED) candlelight on a stormy evening. We were privileged to have representatives from the Mayflower 400 project and from the US Embassy with us that evening. As Ben would say, “There cannot be good living where there is not good drinking” and all present would agree the event was a testament to good living! The Society would like to extend a warm invitation to Americans in the UK to join us at our upcoming 2019 events including our famous Early Independence Day celebration later this month. It is the original and the best All American celebration with a few modern touches to give it that extra sparkle. It is not to be missed! To learn more about our events or to join the Society please email info@ americansocietyuk.com Upcoming Events: • Early Independence Day Celebration in June • Chairman’s Cocktails & Canapés in September • Black Tie Thanksgiving Dinner in November and follow us on: Facebook @americansocietyinlondon or Twitter @ASL1895.
The American Society in London
AWBS International Women’s Club
Located 20 miles west of London serving the Berkshire and Surrey counties, AWBS International Women’s Club is a dynamic, social and philanthropic club for women. We are a resource for transition, learning, connection, friendship and philanthropy. AWBS offers over 30 different activities, including cultural tours, organised sports, events and social offerings. Bringing out the adventurous, we offer “Let’s Go” and “LoveLondon” tours, Country Walks, and Trips Abroad for our curious ladies. Trips Abroad have travelled to St. Petersburg, Iceland, Jerusalem, Austria, France, Spain, and Italy, etc. over the years. There is literally something for everyone! An opportunity for large gatherings of friends and in setting the tone for the month, we invite famous speakers, authors and actors to our fun-filled monthly meetings. AWBS is also a strong supporter of small local businesses offering our members discounts called the Preferred Business Network. Attending our monthly meetings, our “Best of Britain” group of small businesses offers our members the latest in fashion, seasonal, practical items, and medical/health products and services. AWBS also supports several charities within the area as part of our philanthropic charter. Last year we donated over £13,000 and this past year promises much more! We are 270+ members strong and look forward to meeting all our new members as they move to the area and wish to become part of this active and spirited organisation! Check out our website at www.AWBS.org. uk and on Facebook at AWBS International Women’s Club AWBS International Women’s Club. If you are lucky enough to live here, you’re going to love AWBS!
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and to become active and responsible contributors to local and global communities. The ISL Group enrols over 1800 students from 88 countries, and teaches 25 languages. TASIS THE AMERICAN SCHOOL IN ENGLAND Coldharbour Lane, Thorpe, Surrey TW20 8TE Contact: Simon Fitch Telephone: 01932 582316 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website www.tasisengland.org The educational pathways TASIS England offers to day (3-18) and boarding (13-18) students include a broad-based American curriculum, AP courses, the International Baccalaureate Diploma, and EAL support. Taught in small classes, every student in our diverse community from 50 nations is encouraged to reach their academic potential. Participation in co-curricular activities, the arts, athletics, and leadership programs provides balance, fosters curiosity, and develops Individual talents. With excellent exam results and one-to-one college counseling, 97% of TASIS graduates gain acceptance to their first- or second-choice university in the US, the UK, and worldwide. Extensive summer opportunities are also offered to students from all schools. Located close to London on a beautiful and historic 46-acre estate.
LEGAL MUNDAYS LLP Surrey Office: 400 Dashwood Lang Road, Weybridge Surrey KT15 2HJ London Office: 1 Berkeley Street, Mayfair, London W1J 8DJ Contact: Oliver Taylor Email: email@example.com Telephone +44 (0)1932 590523 Website: www.mundays.co.uk Twitter: @MundaysLaw Mundays LLP are a top UK law firm based in Surrey and London. Ranked in The Legal 500 UK, Chambers & Partners UK and Chambers HNW legal directories as a leading law firm
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EMBASSY CORNER Planning Your Visit To The US Embassy Whether you are a first time applicant or coming to renew your visa or US passport, visiting the Embassy in London can seem like a challenge. However, it is a relatively straight forward process to get you from the street to your appointment with one of our consular officers.
Here’s What To Expect
Location, location, location – remember, we are now located south of the river Thames where we recently celebrated our one-year anniversary in our new building. The Embassy’s address is: Embassy of the United States of America 33 Nine Elms Lane, London, SW11 7US The closest tube station is Vauxhall (on the Victoria line), with the Embassy roughly a 10 minute walk along Nine Elms Lane, or alternately you can reach the Embassy by bus – it’s the large glass, cubed building opposite the river. You can’t miss it! When you arrive at the Embassy please follow the signs for Visa Services and American Citizen Services to the rear of the building. Once you have joined your relevant queue, Embassy staff will confirm your appointment and do a quick documents check. You will then pass through airport style security, after which you will make your way into the Embassy itself. Once inside, Visa applicants will be issued with a ticket by staff and then proceed to the 1st floor. Passport & Citizenship applicants go straight to the 2nd floor, where they will receive their ticket from our receptionist. These tickets are important as the numbers on them are used to call applicants to the interview windows at various stages of the application process, so make sure you hang onto it! At the end of your appointment you just head out the way you came. Simple! A few keys things to remember when coming to the Embassy:
Items You Can And Cannot Bring In
You can bring your mobile phone, e-reader, or tablet device. Key fobs and cycle/motorcycle helmets are also permitted. WWW.THEAMERICANHOUR.COM
Large bags/suitcases (above cabin baggage size) and laptops cannot be brought in. Other non-permitted items include perfume, cologne (above 30ml), weapons and glass bottles. A full list of the items prohibited can be found our website: https://uk.usembassy. gov/embassy-consulates/london/.
Items cannot be stored at the Embassy. We therefore recommend leaving them at home or storing them before you arrive. Luggage facilities are available for a fee at several airports, coach stations and train stations, including Waterloo and Victoria.
Our website has further information about attending the Embassy, based on the service you are applying for: Nonimmigrant Visa applicants: uk.usembassy.gov/visas/niv-london Immigrant Visa applicants: uk.usembassy.gov/visas/visiting-embassylondon-iv US Passport & Citizenship applicants: uk.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/ acs-london Now you know what to expect when you arrive at the Embassy. You’re all set and we hope to see you soon!
EMBASSY INFORMATION US Embassy, 33 Nine Elms Lane, London, SW11 7US uk.usembassy.gov Switchboard: (020)7499 9000 Business Hours: 8:30am- 5:30pm, Monday-Friday. Closed on American and UK holidays. An officer is available via the switchboard all day, every day, for a life or death emergency involving a US citizen in the United Kingdom. Passport and Citizenship Services: By Appointment Monday - Friday Notary Services: By appointment Appointments available only online at uk.usembassy.gov Federal Benefits Unit: uk.usembassy.gov General Social Security information: ssa.gov Travel Advice: travel.state.gov
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