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Winter 2012

Free Subscription Offer Inside Serving the American Community in the UK

Features Include:  •  News  •  UK Sports  •  Travel • Eating Out   Wealth Management • Property • Top Tens • Foreign Currency • Health Theatre  •  American Women’s Clubs News • Arts & Antiques 


Contents

WINTER 2012

American Women’s Clubs News�������������������������������������������������������������� 3 Eating Out����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 8 Theatre���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������12 Travel�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������14 Travel Agent vs Internet����������������������������������������������������������������������������16 Settling In Mid-Year��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������18 UK Sports����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������20 Grosvenor House Apartments Review�����������������������������������������������22 Readership Survey����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������23 Top Tens�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������28 Property��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������32 Taxing Issues��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������35 Investments�����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������37 Foreign Currency�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������41 Arts & Antiques����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������42 Health������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������44 American Church In London��������������������������������������������������������������������46 Useful Numbers����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������47 Embassy Corner���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������48

Winter 2012

Free Subscription Offer Inside Serving the American Community in the UK

PUBLISHER: Helen Elliott Tel: 020 8661 0186 Email: helen@theamericanhour.com Publishing Director: Damian Porter Tel: 01737 551506 Email: damian@theamericanhour.com American in Britain, PO Box 921, Sutton SM1 2WB Advisory Panel:

Features Include: • News • UK Sports • Travel • Eating Out

No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission of the publishers

Wealth Management • Property • Top Tens • Foreign Currency • Health Theatre • American Women’s Clubs News • Arts & Antiques

Donny and Marie Osmond touring the UK in 2013. Image courtesy of Kililive

Origination and Printing by Gemini Group

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American Women’s Clubs News American Women of Surrey (AWS) HOLIDAY GIFT FAYRE RAISES MONEY FOR AND AWARENESS OF SURREY CHARITIES Cobham, Surrey, November 2012 - The American Women of Surrey’s (AWS) 22nd Annual Holiday Gift Fayre held on the 4th of November at the Cobham Hilton Hotel concluded successfully with over 600 attendees and raising over 15,000 pounds for 4 Surrey charities: Beatitudes, Momentum, Riding for the Disabled East Horsely and Bookham branches, and Oakleaf Enterprises. More than seventy vendors paid to secure tables at the event and sold a range of items including handbags, scarves, jewelry, pottery, gourmet foods, photography, and art. Sales from admission tickets, baked goods, a tombola, and My Sister’s Attic (gently used donated accessories and housewares) also contributed to total funds raised, and all proceeds

The Mayoress of Elmbridge Janet Turner opens the Holiday Gift Fayre, with Betsy Cook-Speer, President of AWS and Natasha Lowery, VP of Communications for AWS

benefited the AWS charity slate. Shoppers also enjoyed a Santa’s grotto with photography graciously supplied by Mango Studios. Brooklands Radio was on hand to provide live coverage of the event whilst providing festive Christmas music. Mayoress Janet Turner ceremonially cut the ribbon to officially open the fayre. AWS president Betsy Cook-Speer presented Councillor Turner with a lovely ornament from Artifactually, a Gift Fayre vendor, elegantly wrapped in a remnant of the decorative ribbon. The Mayoress was a delightful presence at the Fayre, as she amicably visited with AWS members and other Fayre attendees and was ever smiling and pleasant as she shopped for holiday items. Over the past twenty-two years, AWS’s Holiday Gift Fayre has built a very strong reputation, and this year’s Fayre was no exception. AWS carefully selects vendors so that the highest quality goods and services are made available to its shoppers, resulting in high attendance and delighted consumers, always toward the end of maximizing charity proceeds. The Gift Fayre is the largest AWS fundraiser, raising over 615,000 pounds for Surrey charities since it’s inception. It is a consistently well run and successful event with over 100 volunteers working nearly ten months to prepare for it. Kim Lee, AWS member and coordinator of the fayre’s baked good sales said, “I was so impressed with the amount of

Children enjoyed meeting Santa in his grotto

delicious contributions generously donated by all the bakers and so thankful for all the great volunteers that cheerfully staffed the tables. It was great to see so many new people join us in this wonderful charity event.” Hotels.com, APW, Whole Foods, and Neem Tree sponsored the Fayre. Hotels.com, which gave away a two-night hotel stay anywhere in the world, captured the spirit of the Fayre, stating in its sponsorship advertising, “Let us help you have fun or visit family whilst helping Surrey’s less fortunate have a happy holiday.” Holiday shopping to help those among Surrey’s neediest is AWS’s twenty-two year old effective formula in which both charities AND shoppers benefit. Northwood Area Women's Club The Northwood Area Women’s Club (NAWC) continues to attract members from all corners of the world including our newest members from Ukraine and Croatia. Speaking at the start of the club’s new season, president Bernadette Debnath said, “We are justly proud of our international character. The new Board consists of nine nationalities and many of our events are designed to offer members a taste of British life and history.” Since September our feet have barely touched the ground. Our new programme of outings included a day trip to the Henry Moore Foundation in Hertfordshire with a collection of the sculptor’s semi abstract sculptures set in 70 acres of countryside; a private tour of the Grade 1 listed Chenies Manor and Gardens in Buckinghamshire; the Battle of Britain Bunker at RAF Uxbridge which played a key role in aircraft operations during World War Two; and the theatrical 19th century Gothic-style Strawberry Hill House, Twickenham.; We also enjoyed visits to Butterfly World near St Albans, the V&A Hollywood Costume Exhibition, the largest Knitting and Stitching Show in Europe at Alexandra Palace, a private tour of Lincoln’s Inn and later this month we are off to the Charles Dickens Christmas Festival in Kent. Foodie fans were well catered for with a traditional English afternoon tea at the charming 3


We learn about the important role of women in World War Two on a visit to the Battle of Britain Bunker at RAF Uxbridge.

The outing to Strawberry Hill House, Twickenham, proved a truly theatrical experience with its famous Gothic style architecture.

Grimsdyke Hotel in Harrow Weald, former home of W S Gilbert, one of the most original dramatists of the 19th century. Equally popular was the Foodie Walk through London’s theatreland led by food journalist, Ann Jones. Monthly club meetings and our 12 interest groups have also been well attended. September got off to a flying start with a lively social and getting-to-know-you game. October had us competing in teams in a hilarious musical cabaret quiz presented by Entertaining People. Our November guest speaker, Peter Jones, regaled us with his experiences as a professional toastmaster at functions attended by royalty and celebrities. We end the year with a Winter Arts and Crafts Fair and a Xmas foodie quiz with an international flavour. Fundraising plays an important part in club life with monies raised for our Charity of the Year, the local Northwood Live in Scheme which supports elderly people to remain independent in their homes. For more details please contact us at : info@ northwoodareawomen’sclub.co.uk Chiltern American Womens Club CAWC Annual Charity Christmas Bazaar – The Bellhouse Hotel in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire November 18, 2012 The Chilterns American Women’s Club opened its doors to over 1,000 people this year to raise money for the National Society for Epilepsy and Williams Fund – Cancer Research for Children. This year we are excited to announce that we’ve had one of the most profitable CAWC Christmas Bazaars in recent years! With over 65 outstanding specialty vendors, crafters, and local artisans, shoppers looking to find unique gifts were spoiled with selection and style. The marketplace consisted of quality hand-crafted 4

items including jewelry, fine wine and chocolates, luxury hampers, woodcarving, original art, cashmere, needlework, custom Christmas decorations and so much more! This year our Luxury Hamper Committee created over 240 beautiful hampers to be sold. Prices ranged from £8 to £200. Each hamper was carefully selected, designed, wrapped, and decorated with a gorgeous bow. A detailed label and name were given to each hamper in hopes that a very lucky individual will find them under their Christmas tree this year. A special thank you to Karen Bates and Lety Wicks, for chairing this year’s committee. The Café and Bake Sale combined teams to create a mouth-watering experience! No matter your appetite; chocolate, chili con-carne, carrot cake or a chicken sandwich, the Café offered an array of smells and tastes. Over 75 members donated home-baked goods to be wrapped and decorated, then sold at the Café. Thank you to our Café chairwoman Yvonne Tilley-Landmark and our Bake Sale chairwomen Kate Harman. The CAWC Christmas Bazaar also offered shoppers a chance to purchase £1 Raffle Tickets in hopes of winning one of more than 65 unique items donated by each of the exhibitors. This year we also introduced a Grand Prize Raffle. £5 tickets were sold for two lucky winners to stay at the luxurious Chancery Court Hotel & Spa in London. Congratulations to Peggy Manz for winning the hotel stay! Thank you to our Raffle Chairwoman Carrie Hanlon and our Grand Raffle Co-Chairwomen Pam Houghton and Kyla Gulliver. The excitement and energy that comes each year with our CAWC Bazaar always rests on the shoulders of a few super individuals. Thank you to our Christmas Bazaar Co-Chairwomen, Stacy Bowmen and Kym Bryant. Their hard work and determination to make it the BEST really paid off! We are pleased to announce that our 2012 Christmas Bazaar made over £18,000. Additional thanks must be sent to Chairwomen; Jan Flowers, Heather Collins, Denise Abdussamad, Anne Mehr, Bonnie Mauer, Jennifer Webzell, Debbie Delorge, Deborah Lennertz. And last, but certainly not least, a huge thank you to our CAWC President Robin Smirnov.

We are proud to donate all the proceeds to the National Society for Epilepsy (NSE) and the Wiilam’s Fund for Cancer Research for Children. Please look for us next November at the Bellhouse Hotel, to join in on the excitement and shopping experience! The CAWC is an active group of over 100 expatriate individuals from all over the world. We provide assistance to newcomers in Britain. A very important part of the club is to give back to the community. We are proud to have raised over £225,000 for local charities over the past 20 years with our annual Christmas Bazaar and look to do much more in the future! Visit us at http://www.cawc.co.uk For further information, please contact: cawcbazaar@gmail.com AMERICAN WOMEN OF BERKSHIRE AND SURREY (AWBS) The American Women's Club Berkshire and Surrey Craft Fayre 2012 exceeded our expectations with a positive response from the community, over 1,000 visitors and 97 vendors. The one day event raised over £12,000 for AWBS local charities. Sir Bruce Forsyth and Russ Abbott set the Ascot stage with their bubbly persona for the local fund raising event that added a real sparkle to the festive day. Ascot Race Course was, as always, a perfect venue for the AWBS annual fundraiser and was praised by our visitors and vendors alike. We are most grateful for their attentiveness. The AWBS has a committee that carefully selects local charities to offer our support to. The club offers not only financial donations, but also want opportunities for their members to get involved with volunteer hours helping others. Many of our members are reading mentors, including our Club President Gretta Flint. We also support Ascot Day Centre, Eikon, and Your Sanctuary. AWBS VP of Philanthrapy, Maria Gordon noted, “the tremendous support of the entire community, our charities, the AWBS volunteers, and attendees made the day a huge success. Thank you one and all. The AWBS Board and members appreciate the outpouring of well wishes for this annual function and note that the event would have raised £20,000 if the venue fees were covered.


American Women of Berkshire and Surrey Gift and Craft Fayre 2012

We are actively seeking Event Sponsors for our 2013 Gift and Craft Fayre so that even more can be donated to local charities. If you are interested in becoming a Sponsor, please contact us at info@awbs.org.uk.

LONDON WALKS GROUP A group of ladies took a close look at the statues, monuments, memorials and art that decorate Westminster area. They heard the stories behind each structure during their walk.

kcwc kcwc has 30+ Activity Groups catering to its membership with diverse nationalities and interests. Some of the activities are Open to the Public; however, you need to become a member to attend the Members Only activities. If you’d like to become a member, please send an email to membership@kcwc.org.uk.

TRAVEL GROUP Travel Group enjoyed the beauty of the Chianti Hills in Tuscany, nestled between the great art cities of Florence, Sienna and Pisa. They had 3 walking days of 8-10 miles/day and ended their walks with the famous red wines of the region.

OUR NEWS ANNUAL NEARLY NEW SALE kcwc’s Nearly New Sale took place on Saturday, 10 November at Notting Hill Community Church. It was a well-attended event and the sales generated a handsome amount for kcwc’s chosen charities: The Haven and Independent Age.

Antiques & Design Group members after their tour of Hermès Museum and Boutique

KCWC 30TH ANNIVERSARY HERMÈS SCARVES ARRIVED! kcwc members will be enjoying the privilege of wearing an Hermès scarf exclusively created for the Club. Jami Christen, Activity Leaders Liaison, and Gail Reichert, Activity Leader for Antiques & Design, collected them this month from the Hermès boutique. MAGIC OF THE EAST GROUP Members of this group went to the Westminster Synagogue in Knightsbridge in October to learn about the Jewish New Year 5773

Clockwise from top left: volunteers getting the Hall ready; rows and rows of children’s clothes; toys, games and books; Nona Liang, former kcwc Events Coordinator, surrounded by prams and tricycles; buyers in the Hall; Jennifer Nettles, organizer of this event, taking a break

ANTIQUES & DESIGN GROUP A small group of Antiques & Design ladies travelled to Paris and had an exclusive tour of the Private Hermès Museum above the Hermès Boutique. The Museum is not a museum in the traditional sense; it is a series of rooms filled with collections of personal items owned by the Hermès family members over the years. Group members saw the items that inspired the designs of Hermès products. BRITISH HISTORY GROUP British History Group had four walks around various areas of London, visiting 2-3 churches on each walk. They learnt the history of the city through these places of worship, from the Temple of Mithras built in the Roman Period to large monasteries and convents within the City of London area. Their final walk was a visit to St Paul’s Cathedral. 5


British History Group

festivities and their significance. They sampled a selection of traditional sweet food after the talk. In November, the group members went to the V & A to learn about and celebrate the Islamic New Year 1434 H. They had special desserts made and shared on the day before they attended a short talk. NEW ACTIVITY GROUPS STARTING IN JANUARY: After Six in the City: An exciting and fun group (sometimes with partners) who wish to socialise in the evenings - from evening sports events and fun activities to concerts, spa indulgences adventurous international cuisine experiences, champagne cocktails and fine dining!

Ballroom Dancing: If you can walk, you can dance! kcwc members will be trying their dance skills with this group, get together and learn the steps to Cha Cha, Rumba, Quickstep, Jive, Waltz and Tango, just in time for the 30th Anniversary Gala. Fabulous Single Ladies: This new group is for single kcwc members (divorced/separated/widowed/never married) who would like to meet other fabulous singletons and go out together to the many events London has to offer. The group will also offer valuable support and friendship to members who are newly single or who have arrived in London on their own. Latin American Culture: This group aims at disseminating knowledge of Spanish and Latin American cultures. They will be discussing arts, history, politics, gourmet food and dance through a mix of outings and events. NOVEMBER GENERAL MEETING kcwc’s November General meeting took place on Thursday, 1 November at the Royal Geographical Society. Activity Group Leaders were at hand to register members for the activities while several small businesses promoted their services and merchandise. The guest speaker was Jill Shaw Ruddock, author of The Second Half of Your Life and founder of The Second Half Centre at St Charles Centre for Health and Wellbeing in North Kensington. She talked about what comes after middle age and how best to prepare ourselves for the second half of our lives. DECEMBER GENERAL MEETING - OPENTO THE PUBLIC (LUNCH: MEMBERS ONLY) Thursday 6 December “THE SPIRIT OF GIVING” Holiday Bazaar: 9:30 am Christmas Luncheon: 1 – 2 pm Royal Automobile Club 89 Pall Mall, London SW1 5HS (Nearest tube: Green Park or Piccadilly Circus) Our General Meeting this month, held at the elegant Royal Automobile Club, is all about “The Spirit of Giving”. The morning starts out with a fabulous Holiday Bazaar -

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there will be special vendors offering lots of goodies to get you into the holiday swing of things! Our vendors range from top-end fashion designers to high-quality vintners to chocolatiers and luxury skincare providers. At 12:30 pm, we will hear the representatives of our charities talk about their work, the communities they serve and kcwc’s involvement in the process, followed by a two-course lunch at 1 pm – MEMBERS ONLY. Join us for some cheer in this holiday season! Get your Christmas shopping out of the way, mingle with old friends and meet new ones, hear about kcwc’s chosen charities, and help give back a little to those in need. We look forward to commencing the holiday season in true kcwc spirit! PLEASE NOTE: NEW IN JANUARY: There will be a £10 non-member fee for kcwc General Meeting and lecture admissions. JANUARY GENERAL MEETING - OPEN TO THE PUBLIC Thursday 10 January Royal Geographical Society 9:30 am – 12 noon Royal Geographical Society No. 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR (Entrance on Exhibition Road) Nearest tube: High Street Kensington GUEST SPEAKER: Mary Nightingale, ITV News Presenter on “My Life in the News” Twice named Newscaster of the Year, Mary Nightingale fronts ITV’s award-winning Evening News at 6 and 10 o’clock. She also presented two series of Britain’s Best Dish and Best Dish: The Chefs, both for ITV1. GENERAL MEETING SCHEDULE: 9:30 – 10:30 am Coffee and activity sign–ups 10:30 am – 12 noon - Announcements followed by guest speaker 12:15 – 2:30 pm Hospitality luncheon at the Gore Hotel, 190 Queen’s Gate, SW7 REMINDER: Spouses, partners and friends are welcome. Please note that we cannot accommodate babies and small children at General Meetings. If you need to leave early please sit at the back of the lecture hall and exit ONLY during breaks between the talk. As a courtesy to the speaker and fellow members, please switch mobiles OFF or onto SILENT. FEBRUARY GENERAL MEETING OPEN TO THE PUBLIC Thursday 7 February - For details please see 'The American Hour's Monthly Email Newsletter' in January and February. n


Eating Out London Restaurant Reviews Naga 2 Abingdon Road, London, W8 6AF Telephone: 020 7795 6060 I had the pleasure the other day of visiting a wonderful restaurant just off Kensington High Street called Naga. Naga is a stylish bar and restaurant that serves Chinese and Vietnamese dishes and is the deserved recent winner of Best Chinese Restaurant in the prestigious 2012 Asian Curry awards. The warm and cosy bar area was a welcome respite from the bitter London winter and my companion and I happily swapped the biting wind for a stylish cocktail created especially for Naga by joint owner Tri Van Dang. Other cocktails to look out for include the Tri Smashed, Chinese Tea Cup (sharing) and Naga Fire Bowl. If the atmosphere of the bar is warm and cosy the main restaurant is one of light and 8

Naga

airiness as the room opens up with the main dining area spanned by a galleried second level all beneath a glass panelled ceiling. In the corner the wooden staircase snakes its way up to the mezzanine level lined by ferns and palms, and in conjunction with the glass creates a calm and peaceful energy throughout the room. The food is Chinese with strong Vietnamese influences and in keeping with the traditional Vietnamese style the food is cooked with minimal use of oil. For starters we had a selection including Crisp Chilli Salt Squid (£7.50), Vietnamese Spring Rolls (£6), Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce (£7.50) and Sesame Prawn Toasts (£5.90). The salt perfectly offset the delicate tastes of the squid without overpowering it and the batter was light and crisp. The Sesame Toasts again were light and generously filled and a cut above anything I have tasted elsewhere. Other notable starters are the Duck and Watermelon Salad (£8.50) and the Honey Glazed Ribs (£5.90,) but be careful you could lose yourself in the starters and neglect the other delights to follow. We followed with a quarter of Aromatic Szechuan Duck with the usual accompaniments (£11.50). The duck skin was crisp and slightly salty and the flesh moist and succulent just as it should be and the plum sauce rich and welcoming. Vietnamese cooking is strongly influenced not only by the principle of yin and yang where contrasting textures and flavours are important, it also is influenced by the Asian principle of five elements. Dishes usually include five spices, typically five types of nutrients and if possible five colours. The dishes at Naga follow this philosophy as they not only incorporate the five elements enhancing the diners wellbeing it also appeals to the diners' five senses; the presentation for visual, crispy ingredients for sound, five spices for taste, aromatic herbs for smell and the contrasting texture and consistency for touch. Farchri Syarief, Naga’s head chef, has expertly created these balanced and stimulating dishes taking inspiration from the North as well as the Southern regions of Vietnam. The Crispy Shredded Beef with fresh chilli (£9.90) shows its Southern roots with

a subtle sweetness contrasting expertly with the power of the chilli as does the Naga Black Cod (£19.50) again with a hint of sweetness to compliment the flaky flavoursome flesh all beautifully wrapped in a palm leaf. Flash fried Beef Fillet with Scallions (£14.50) and the Slow Cooked Pork Belly with crackling on Asian mash (£10.90) are also notable but frankly there isn’t a weak dish on the menu. The menu is selective and combines the best that this region of the world offers, with each dish featuring light and balanced flavours, the result of the subtle combination of many different fresh ingredients. As with the menu the wine list is not large but will easily accommodate all tastes and budgets and it is nice to see prices in such a quality restaurant starting at under £15. In Hindu mythology the Naga were a group of serpent deities who, amongst other things, were reportedly the guardians of a great treasure. That treasure, just off Kensington High Street, is the food and you really must try it.

Naga


Bodean's BBQ Smokehouse Tower Hill, 16 Byward Street, London EC3R 5BA Telephone: 020 7488 3883 Recipients of 'The American Hour's Monthly Email Newsletter' will know that Bodean's BBQ have been offering fantastic prizes to our readers for nearly two years, and to see what our prize winners were enjoying we visited the Tower Hill branch (very close to the Tower of London and one minute walk to Tower Hill tube). In my opinion, a meat feast is a great idea on most nights, but especially appealing on a cold, wintry night in November. On a Friday evening in The City, we entered the restaurant to a buzzing atmosphere. The large bar at the entrance has a sports bar feel and is very welcoming. We were subsequently surprised by the Tardis feel of the place, as we were taken to our table. The downstairs restaurant area is huge! There was a mixture of large parties and intimate diners, all enjoying the lively surroundings. Bodean's was opened in the UK in 2002 by an American, Andre Blais, who had a dream to bring the taste, the style, and the soul of his beloved Kansas City barbecue to London town. Andre is a keen ice hockey/sports follower, and his goal is to ensure guests feel they are getting the real thing, as if they were sitting 3775 miles away in KC, USA. Whilst I have never been to Kansas City, the restaurant certainly feels as if it is achieving its goal. To start I ordered the Crab Cakes and Gamba Shrimp (£8.95). The Crab Cakes were cooked

to perfection; flavoursome and crammed full of delicious crab meat. The Shrimps were among the meatiest I have eaten in a long time. My guest enjoyed the substantial Clam Chowder (£4.50). There are a wide range of 'Teasers' on offer including Nachos (and homemade dips), Wings, Chilli Con Carne, BBQ Ribs and Buffalo Chicken Wings. For our main course we chose the Boss Hog Platter for 2. At £34.95 this consisted of all the meat you could dream of - Spare and Baby Back Ribs, a Jacob's Ladder Beef Rib, Burnt Ends, Pulled Pork, Chicken Thighs and 2 smoked Sausages - a huge platter served with Fries and Coleslaw. The varied meats on this platter provided a flavour of the many popular dishes Bodean's BBQ is renowned for. All their meats are slow cooked at low temperatures, which keeps all the natural juices in the meats and enhances the flavour. This process also gives a wonderful smoke flavour and colour to the meat. We found the meats to be both delicious and varied in their flavours and textures. The accompanying sauces complemented the meats well, and added extra dimension of flavour. Needles to say, we couldn't manage the whole platter, and were both provided with doggie bags so we could enjoy the meats the following day! Among the other main course choices are Sandwiches (you can choose between regular and large), Burgers and Hotdogs, Salads, Home Specials, Chargrilled Steaks, Grilled Chicken, Fish and a great range of Bar-B-Q-Ribs, Chicken and Pulled Pork - not to mention the Burnt Ends (which were one my favourite meats in our platter). Many of my favourite side dishes are also

available including Macaroni & Cheese, Onion Rings and Sweet Potato Fries. Prices for the main courses range from £6.25 to the reasonable price of £34.95 for our platter for 2. I like to enjoy a red wine with these kinds of meats, so chose the Malbec. The cocktail list is very good and makes a fantastic aperitif - try 'Blush' or 'Stormy Weather' as favourites recommended by our waitress. We could probably have passed on dessert, so large was our main course, but my guest was tempted into ordering the Pecan Pie, which we shared with some ice cream. This was comfort food at its best...homemade, sweet and delicious. The dessert choices included most of the traditional American flavoured options. Instead of my own dessert, I indulged in a Mud Slide cocktail, the perfect alternative to dessert, providing the sweet and creamy flavour that concludes a very enjoyable and filling meal! Bodean's BBQ is a fun, lively restaurant, with a great vibe. For meat lovers, there is undoubtably a fantastic range of meats, and possibly (and surprisingly!) more food than we could manage in one sitting. It is a great place to visit with your family or a group of friends or to catch a 'Game' (they have screens all around the restaurant, screening everything from Premiership football to American football, and be sure to check out the Game Day specials). Do book in advance where possible, as they can be busy. There are also some great take away options and the offer of full catering for parties and events. You can even buy some of their signature sauces to take home with you - perfect for that doggy bag. Arrive hungry!

Bodean's BBQ Smokehouse

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Apero Restaurant and Bar 2 Harrington Road, South Kensington, London SW7 3ER Telephone: 020 7591 4410 On a freezing, crisp winter evening, I crave warmth, comfort, good company and a laid back atmosphere. Sometimes it is difficult to find all these qualities away from your own sofa, let alone outside your own front door, and it can be especially difficult to find them in the restaurant of a hotel. However, it was just such an evening as this that my partner and I visited Apero restaurant in the basement of the Ampersand hotel in South Kensington. Luckily for me, my wish list had been ticked off nicely by the end of the evening, with the added bonus of discovering some delicious new dishes and flavour combinations. Softly lit, with cool white metro tiles and exposed brick walls, Apero has an intimate, laidback ambience. It is located in the original 19th century vaults of the hotel, which first opened in 1888, and it is satisfying to see that the décor has been carefully chosen to bring this sense of history to life, whilst maintaining a fresh modern tone. A genuinely friendly welcome set the tone for the evening to come, and we were left in peace to peruse the menu, whilst we enjoyed two of their signature cocktails – Americano and Aperol Spritz. The concept of this modern Mediterranean menu is based on the culture of communal eating that is so much a way of life in that part of the world. Head Chef, Chris Golding, offers a selection of sharing plates that are grouped by course. If you find the chore of choosing too much, there is a sharing menu (£26 a head), offering the Chef's selection of Apero signature dishes. After some debate, and helpful advice from our waiter, we selected Cured ham Mikados (£3.50), Flat bread, stracciatella and sweet chilli (£4.50) and Pata Negra (£10.00) as our appetisers. Whilst the homemade chill sauce accompanying the flat breads was among the best I have sampled, my favourite of these was the Pata Negra, a simple combination of authentic Spanish ham, served on thin toasted croutons. The flavour of this supreme quality ham was superb. We had chosen two salads to accompany a plate of Plaice goujons with Avocado mayonnaise (£8.50). The first; Chicory and apple (£4.50) was fresh and light, beautifully cleansing the palette in preparation for what was to follow. The second; smoked mackerel, with celeriac, chestnut and pear (£6.00) was a dish in it’s own right, providing contrasts of texture and flavour that worked in harmony. My partner’s choice for the next course was O’Shea’s grilled beef onglet, cavolo nero, onions and celeriac (£12.50). Served medium 10

Apero

rare, the beef, although not to my personal taste, was a huge hit with my partner who assured me of its succulence and melt-inthe-mouth texture. Not a morsel was spared! I opted for Norfolk free range chicken with sherry, mushrooms and bacon (£12.50) proper winter comfort food that I would happily go on eating long into Spring. There is also an inspired range of accompanying dishes on offer, from which we sampled the Autumn truffle croquettes (£4.50) and Grilled pumpkin with bacon and goat’s curd (£5.50). There is a good range of European wines available, from which our waiter matched a carafe of Gaillac sec, France 2011 (£17) for the initial courses. This was followed by a carafe of Rosso Piceno Bacchus, Italy 2011 (£18) to complement our choice of main courses. The highlight of the meal, for me, came in the form of dessert. The menu has been designed by pastry chef Ji Sun Shin, and you can sense the passion she has for her craft. My choice of Almond Parfait and salty toffee (£6.00) was a work of art; encased in dark chocolate which was melted by a shot of espresso coffee to reveal the parfait within. My partners choice of Pistachio and Olive oil cake with cherry, nutella and vanilla (£6.00) was equally well received. This was a different dining experience, in the most relaxed and friendly of surroundings. If you seek something more interesting than the standard 3 course meal, yet more satisfying than Spanish Tapas, I urge you try Apero. The Anthologist 58 Gresham Street, Greater London EC2V 7BB Phone: 0845 468 0101 The city is not most people’s first thought when thinking of fine dining, which is strange considering the market, but over the past few years the quality of the restaurants and the food has risen exponentially. The Anthologist is a perfect venue right in the heart of the City.

An anthologist is someone who makes selections of literary works for an anthology and the literary works here are good honest dishes accompanied by quality wines. All of this in a spectacular venue and at a price that will surprise and delight in the heart of the city. Many city bars/restaurants are cold and sparsely furnished, which I guess is to enable them to get more people in or go to the other extreme and are overly chintzy, but on entering The Anthologist you get a totally different feel. As you enter the first thing you notice is the size. Almost tardis-like the inside is considerably bigger than the outside, and the large airy space is split into two distinct parts. Directly ahead of you a large wooden bar dominates the lefthand side of the room, whilst to the right a metallic open kitchen presides over the restaurant. Both sides are different in feel, but despite the obvious differences in colour and texture they seems to combine well, even though you feel it shouldn’t. Between you and the bar is an eclectic combination of soft chairs and tall wooden benches but again despite the obvious clashes here it works. The seats hint at cosy intimate chats over a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or a full bodied Merlot for those who have time to spare whilst the tall wooden benches are more akin to accommodating groups of friends or work colleagues who need to relax and unwind after a hard day at the office. On the restaurant side the opposites continue with intimate tables for two around the sides on a slightly raised platform and more informal central wooden tables thus catering for the romantic meal, the power lunch, right through to just a great night out with friends. Usually when you try and cater for everyone you end up satisfying no one, but here the contrasts blend well and go a long way to explaining the lively and vibrant atmosphere and the murmur of voices created by people having a good time We visited one lunch time and we were grateful we had booked as the bar and restaurant


were pleasantly full, creating a lively and buzzy atmosphere. As you look around you realise how varied the clientele is, from those who just have an hour for lunch, those having business lunches and those who were intent on enjoying the experience and spending as long as they wanted and all are ably accommodated by the knowledgeable and personable staff. We had limited time and were grateful that menus were quickly brought (something lunchtime diners will appreciate as you don’t want to start clock watching and wondering if your food will arrive before your lunchtime is over), especially as there was so much to mull over. In keeping with its desire to cater for a variety of customers at a variety of times, the menu is extensive and ranges from sharing platters via flatbreads to substantial mains. There really is something for everyone so for those who like traditional ‘pub’ food there are Burgers, Fish and Chips and Steaks, but for those who like a little variety how about an Indonesian Fish Curry or a Pumpkin, Sage and Parmesan Risotto or one of my favourites the Somerset Cottage Pie with slow cooked venison, bacon and swede mash. For starters I had Smoked Haddock Kedgeree with curried basmati rice, garden peas and hard boiled egg (£8), one of the

specials of the day and my companion chose the Prawn Lollipops with citrus-soy dipping sauce (£7.95). The smokiness of the fish was perfectly complemented by the curried rice rather than being overpowered and the prawn lollipops always delight with a light crispy batter adding a pleasant crunch to the succulent prawns. The sharing theme was continued for the mains as my companion chose the Chicken Satay (£5.95) and the Aromatic Shredded Crispy Duck (1/4) with pancakes and a rich hoisin sauce (£7.95) where as I went for the Hand Beer Battered Fish with chips and mushy peas (£9.95). Service is quick without being pushy. Crockery is now a thing of the past with all of our meals being served on wooden boards or, in the case of my fish and chips, an army rations metal mess tins. My fish was light and fluffy which was perfectly offset by the crispy batter and was served with an almost creamy tartar sauce which was thankfully not too vinegary. Despite our best intentions, when confronted with the dessert menus we succumbed and rather than having many chose the Mini Pudding Shots (£7.95) giving us a taste of Chocolate Brownie, White Chocolate & Raspberry Crème Brulee and Knickerbocker Glory. The brownie was just as I like it thick

and fudgy (not sure it’s a word but it ought to be), the crème brulee light and creamy and the salted caramel and roasted plum knickerbockerglory calorie free! The wine list is extensive providing something to suit all tastes and budgets. Prices start at £13.95 for a light and crisp Chenin Blanc and there is an extensive range for under £20 which is rare to see so close to the heart of the city and there are few better places than The Anthologist to spend time and get good quality food and fine wines whilst not having to break the bank. n

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Theatre Some Reviews Of London's Theatre people The fate of England’s great houses and the aristocracy who own them is the subject of Alan Bennett’s much anticipated new comedy, People, at the Lyttleton, National Theatre. Fans of Downton Abbey, accustomed to the grandeur and elegance on display there would have a rude shock to see Lady Dorothy Stacpoole, a brilliant Frances de la Tour, hunched near an electric fire in a moth eaten fur coat and wellies and surrounded by dust sheets at the beginning of the play. Lady Stacpoole, also known as Dotty, is a former model who has no money and lives only with her “companion”, Iris, played by Linda Bassett. She would be happy just for some central heating and hot water and to that end intends to sell off the valuable family possessions to a smooth talking auctioneer named Bevan. He also mentions the possibility of selling the entire house and all its contents to a private international “concern” he works for - they have discussed moving the whole house to somewhere more fashionable than South Yorkshire, such as 12

People

Dorset or Wiltshire. Dotty prefers this offer to the arrangements being made by her sister June, an Archdeacon, to give the house to the National Trust. The innate snobbery of Bevan and “The Concern” who do not share properties with the common people because “people spoil things,” appeals to her. She can’t bear the thought of people tramping around her house, looking at her like a relic in a museum. This prospect is exactly what Ralph, the man from the National Trust proposes when he arrives. He would put Dotty up in a flat in the house with the “chintz of her choice.” He says that the Trust is interested in every aspect of the house, the scullery is as important as the drawing room. He is fascinated by the piles of newspapers from the 1980’s in the attic- Dotty is reading them, catching up on old news that she missed. Even more unusual is the collection of chamber pots with urine of famous visitors to the house: Rudyard Kipling, Thomas Hardy, George Bernard Shaw. The point that Ralph makes is that although the house is spectacular and “throbs with history”, the Trust needs an angle or quirk to make the house interesting to the people who visit. When their other options are Cilla Black’s childhood home and a prison cell in Belfast, how do they decide what is important to save? Dotty thinks she has found a solution to her problems when an old boyfriend from her modelling days, Teddy, turns up at the house, looking for a filming location. We know from the teaser opening scene of the play that the film in question is a low budget porno flick. Most of the second act is taken up with the silliness of the film crew, all terribly nice and helpful people, trying to get on with the business of making “Reach for the Thigh” while Iris and Dotty get in the way and a bishop comes to visit. One of the crew fixes the plumbing while another helps Dotty to rediscover her haute couture collection, dressing her in a series of beautiful outfits for a bit part in the film. Dotty is transformed into the glamorous aristocrat she once was and even Iris seems to come alive with all the fun. Dotty suggests that Teddy and his crew regularly film in the house, it would help her

financially and it is clear she is still in love with him. Unfortunately Teddy does not have the money he pretended to have and has to move on, scrapping around for the next location. When Bevan reveals that “The Concern” can no longer buy the house because of a “hiccup in the Middle East,” Dotty has no choice but to let the National Trust take it. While the house is restored to its former glory, Dotty reverts back to her moth-eaten fur coat and wellies to guide the people around her ancestral home. People is full of superb one liners: when Dotty says to her Archdeacon sister “I thought the clergy were supposed to like people,” June replies “No, we’re supposed to love them, it’s not the same thing.” Although it does descend into farce with the porno film storyline, the play has serious points to make about the preservation of the past. Frances de la Tour shines in the role of Dotty, who like the house, has been left to decay but is still the same strong, eccentric, charming person inside. Linda Bassett is reliably funny as Iris, the companion with a hidden secret, and Selina Caddell is excellent as the ambitious, prickly June. They receive fine support from Nicholas le Prevost as Ralph, Miles Jupp as Bevan and Peter Egan as Teddy. Although People cannot match the brilliance of some of Bennett’s former work, such as The Madness of George III or the History Boys, it is an entertaining play, deftly directed by Nicholas Hytner. Review by Lydia Parker Let It Be I was looking at my teenage son the other day and bemoaning the fact that he really needed his hair cut, and that no one with any selfrespect would have such a mop of hair, but little did I know that a day later I would have to eat my words when I was confronted with not only one, but four people with similar styles adorning probably the most famous musicians of all time. When you think of music greats I am of an age when I immediately think of the Beatles, and it is great that this show brings their music to a whole new generation who wish we had seen them live, and it was heartening to see such a mix of ages in the audience.


The Beatles were, for me, head and shoulders above the other bands, and seeing Let It Be reminded me of just how many great songs they had. The show does not tell you the story of the Beatles and their ups and downs, instead, it is a tribute concert where you are transported back in time to the swinging sixties from the Beatles birth to their break up some eight years later.

It starts with the Fab Four in the Cavern club circa 1962 and immediately gets your feet tapping with the classics ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’, ‘She Loves You’ and their first single ‘Love Me Do’. The quality just keeps coming with hit after hit (well they did have 17 no. 1 hits and 15 no. 1 albums), and with the proximity afforded by the Prince of Wales Theatre

the atmosphere is electric and you almost forget that this is not the 60’s and you aren’t actually there. This feeling is encouraged by the movie reels played from the era, covering amongst others the Moon Landing and the bombing of Vietnam. You also get a delightful glimpse into a more innocent world with adverts including Capstan cigarettes, which has to be seen to be believed. This is a fun packed musical tribute to one of, or more likely, the most influential band in history, and takes you on a Magical mystery tour from their roots in Skiffle and Rock n’ Roll,to Psychedelic rock, via poignant pop ballads and string quartets in two hours. The quality of the music is there for everyone to hear and the cast members carry off the almost impossible job of ‘being the Beatles’ with aplomb. There is no dialogue, with the cast relying on creating the look and the sound so you believe you are back in the 60’s at a Beatles concert without the hysteria which is good considering that The Beatles stopped playing live in 1966 because the noise of the audience was such that no amplifiers were powerful enough for the music to be heard above the screams. Due to its success, Let It Be is transferring to The Savoy Theatre on 1st February. For further information please visit www. letitbelondon.com/tickets/ n

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Travel Hillside of Porto

Port, Porto & Portugal, Hidden Jewels of Europe by Lynne McAlister

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ecently on a warm Autumnal evening outside a small town in the Douro Valley, in northern Portugal, I had the privilege of checking an item off my bucket list! I stomped grapes! Surely, I’m not the only person who has wanted to see how it feels to be a part of a tradition that’s older than Christianity. I wanted to feel the squish of grapes between my toes as it becomes juice up to my knees. I wanted to see if the locals really dance and sing while they crush - they do! To see if the grapes turned feet purple - they do! I wanted to know if I’d make friends in the huge granite tub - I did! Marking off this bucket list item fitted quite conveniently with learning about a new interest. Port! As I was preparing for my trip to Portugal, my guide book cautioned, “Many Americans consider port an acquired taste.” Nevertheless, as someone who attempts to embrace all the cultural norms of my adopted home, I diligently set myself to the task of researching port. This included following it from vine, to barrel, to bottle. It required picking a few grapes, visiting a variety of vineyards in the Douro Valley, wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia, and

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finally tasting the final product. All of course at great personal sacrifice, but for you, faithful reader, no sacrifice is too great. First, why is port such a favourite with our British friends? Like most stories in England it begins a long, long time ago. In her book, The Wine Bible, Karen MacNeil says "If Portugal is the mother of Port, Britain is certainly its father." A VERY BRIEF HISTORY OF PORT England has been purchasing wine from Portugal since the 12th Century, but that wasn’t port, that was non-fortified wine. And while the Portuguese and English signed a treaty in 1386 to foster a diplomatic alliance, the British have always favoured French wines. With such a close border, trade was easy. That is unless the English and French crowns were in one of their many political or military conflicts. During these times, the English would look elsewhere for their libations. I heard many stories about how port became a favourite with the English, but the most prevalent theory is that in 1678 English wine merchants were on a buying trip to Portugal. While touring, they visited a monastery in the

Portuguese town of Lamego, along the Douro River. There was an enterprising abbot who had begun to add spirits to the wine during the fermentation process. The brandy would kill the active yeast in the wine leaving high levels of sugar. This method of fortification, according to the friendly guides, was a new concept. It produced a wine with high alcoholic content and a sweet flavour. An added benefit is that the fortified wine was stable for the long distance shipping. Over the years, punitive taxes, or all out boycotts, would be placed on French wines. Given the favorable relationship the Portuguese and English shared the port trade would soar. In 1756 the Douro valley was defined and established as a protected region. This, as every wine-maker I met bragged, means it’s the oldest defined and protected wine region in the world. GRAPES The vine-laden, terraced hills that spring from the Douro River rise so steeply that riding or walking along the bottom make it impossible to see the top. What I could see were dozens of middle-aged women, dressed in mid-calf, full skirts, complete with headscarfs picking

Grapes dropped onto conveyor


Mercado Do Bolhão

The Riverside quarter of Porto is Ribeira, a UNESCO World Heritage site

grapes into large round buckets. I ventured into the vines myself, but quickly saw that my help was not needed. I still picked a few for my own consumption. As our hotel was also a vineyard, I chatted with the owner (as much as I could given the limitations of my Portuguese) about the process. We watched as grapes came in, were turned onto a short conveyor, stems removed by the destemmer, then dropped by a long pipe into the grey, granite flat-bottomed tub. As the last of the day’s bounty was brought in, I was told, if I wanted to stomp on grapes come back about 10pm that evening. After dinner that night, my husband and I returned to crush grapes with the locals while music played on a boom-box. We chatted, in broken English, with college-age kids who earn extra money by using their feet. PORT After the grapes are crushed, they are barreled at the vineyards, and the spirits are added. (There is of course a great deal of art and

Vines in the Douro Valley

science that I'm skipping over here regarding how one actually creates the elegant elixir.). Eventually the barrels are floated by boats on the meandering Douro River to Porto and its neighbour across the river Vila Nova de Gaia. Porto is Portugal’s second largest city. It doesn't flaunt flashy boutiques on wide boulevards like Lisbon. Porto's medieval tall grey buildings and cobbled streets reveal a working city whose long history leaves it with nothing to prove. The riverside quarter, Ribeira, is the busy hub for tourist and fishermen. This UNESCO World Heritage site, has been inhabited for over 2000 years. Multi-coloured skinny houses face the wide, slow river as it makes its way to the Atlantic. In front of the tiny abodes are dozens of al fresco restaurants. Each promising better salted-cod than its neighbour. They all look across the river to Vila Nova de Gaia. Gaia is home to over fifty producers of port. The lodges, or caves, look like monopoly houses cascading down the hill towards the south bank of the river. Massive signs boasting the best known port producers Quinta do Noval, Taylor’s, Cockburn, Warre, Sandeman, Croft, Offley, and Graham beckon.

When beckoned I must answer. I chose Taylor’s and Cockburn for touring. Not because I really know much about either of those ports, but because I thought they were the prettiest lodges. (I’m afraid I choose wines by the prettiest labels too). Both Taylor’s and Cockburns offered excellent English tours by knowledgable guides who had a passion for their work. Tastings are included in the tour price (€3 to €10 depending on the quality of ports you choose to taste). Taylor’s offered tastings in either a lovely library-like setting or on a grassy terrace with sweeping views of Porto. So in a long weekend we followed the grapes from vine to bottle. Then ofSorriso course Il Dolce brought some bottles home. I question Rick Steves on his earlier proclamation that port is an acquired taste for Americans. Really? It’s wine mixed with candy! n Lynne McAlister is on a diet at her home in Notting Hill and may be reached at lynnemcalister@me.com.

Street scene of Porto

15


Travel Agent vs Internet Why should you use the services of a Travel Agent as opposed to using the Internet

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he sixty-four thousand dollar question! Why do so many people book their travel requirements on the Internet as opposed to using a travel agent? • Is it because so many people have had bad experiences in the past with travel agents? • Is it because many people think they can get better prices on the Internet rather than through their travel agent? • Is it because we are brain washed by the media that this is the way forward? • Is it because somewhere inside us we are all make believe travel agents?

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• Is it because many members of the public fail to compare apples with apples? • Is it because it is more comfortable to book travel in the comfort of your home? There is most likely an element of truth in all the above reasons, but they do not stand up when put to the real acid test. Commercially, using the services of a good travel agent will benefit the corporate traveller every time. There is no doubt that there are many travel agents that have no right to trade. In my view it is because they are badly paid and receive very little training. For those reasons, the potentially good travel agent does not stay around long enough to make the right impression with the public. There is a misconception within the industry that ‘benefits in kind’ are an important part of the salary package. The simple fact is you cannot pay your mortgage with an educational trip taken out of season to a resort that most likely will not reflect the same atmosphere, in season. As a result, salaries paid to travel consultants were traditionally low. I am of the view that price price price has become first, second and third in the minds of the client and this should not be the case. Yes, price is an important item, but flexibility is also a major consideration to many business travellers. Our experience shows that most of our corporate clients will change their original booking at least once, and more so, two or three times before they travel. People tend to forget, but it is the airlines that set the rules and regrettably in the past they did not uphold or police them until recently. As a consequence, realising that the airline would not take any action when the travel agent broke the rules on behalf of the client, the client was comfortable booking with the travel agent. I met an ex-client recently. By the way, she is a very affluent lady. All she wanted to do was to express as many flattering remarks she was able to utter in our short meeting about a consultant of ours who has now passed on. It came to our knowledge that he broke every rule in the book and if he were around today, would most likely be inside one of our ‘holiday homes’ with high walls and strong doors that the government runs for people like him. However in the eyes of that person, he was a great travel agent, a good friend and he did everything they wanted. I would say she does not book with us anymore...nor do we wish her to. Yes, in today’s world the airlines make, control and actively police the rules. We, acting as an agent, are booking on behalf of the client, a product owned and controlled by the airlines, hotels, car hire companies etc. We are all ruled by the computer, be it booking the airline, hotel or whatever ground arranger. The difference being, when booking through

the Internet we are dealing with an inanimate machine. However, in today’s world, the travel agent is better paid, generally more intelligent, understands and is generally able to interpret those rules and, where necessary, in favour of the traveller. He/she knows his or her way around the computer and internet far better than Mr and Mrs John Smith. As far as a better price is concerned, a good travel agent at last resort will quote the internet price if it is the best fare at the time of booking. There are many occasions when booking with a travel agent, that the client can be offered the advantage of “having an option” for a limited period of time as opposed to “having to book immediately” on the Internet. The travel agent, because of his/her experience will refer to many sources to compare prices on behalf of the client. This takes time and time costs money. The public fails to realise how much time is wasted surfing the internet for their needs. Be it the Managing Director or the Secretary of a company, they all cost time and are better off using the services of a travel agent. Time and time again I hear they will generally lose patience and will still not get the best price or flexibility. We have experienced many people booking hotels far away from their business appointments and money is wasted in cab fares that on occasion make the price far more expensive than booking a slightly more expensive local hotel. How much thought does the internet booking client give when there is a problem on his/ her travels? How are they going to sort out the issue? Forget about the Volcanic Ash or Tsunami which are not an everyday occurrence. However, what if your appointment is delayed, cancelled, or overruns for whatever reason. What if you or a member of your family falls ill and you are forced to change your travel arrangements. What if there is a strike or you are delayed in heavy traffic, your flight is cancelled or the weather forces the airline to reschedule. Unbeknown to you, a flight can also be overbooked [believe it or not, where possible, the airlines regularly overbook as there are many ‘no-shows’]. OK, you may have travel insurance, but do you really want to go through all the trouble of filling out claims forms and waiting for payment. If you have the right travel agent he/she will resolve insurance claims. The travel agent is most certainly entitled to charge for his services. Little do people realise that whether the airline ticket is cheap or expensive, the work is always the same. And yet most travel agents recognise that the client expects a differential in the service charge. And remember, if the client needs to change the travel arrangements before or after travel, the agent is always there and the additional cost is minimal.


Time and time again, we find that people do not compare apples with apples. At any time there can be at least a couple of dozen different fares offered to a single destination that are on offer to the public, notwithstanding many more fares that would be available to specialist travel companies, each fare with a different restriction. On many occasions we find potential clients very vague as to the time and date of departure and return and when we are accused of being too expensive we find that the air fare the person has accepted is not the same time and date given to us. The travel agent is far better equipped to handle wait-lists, seat allocations, special dietary requirements and many other services the client may need. Press and television advertising are misleading on many occasions. The word “from” is often ignored and people will book after reading the large print in an advert and miss the small print. I often ask myself why if people have all this time in the world, do they not read the small print? I have many friends who consider themselves travel agents. It seems to be a secret wish of many of us to be travel agents. I had a client who insisted that we gave him the monthly airline and rail timetables for him to use once we were finished with them. They

were heavier than the phone books. Notwithstanding frustrated friends or otherwise, the requirements of The Association of British Travel Agents [ABTA] is two years working experience and many travel corporations like ourselves require five years airline experience before we would consider them for employment in our corporate department. Just reading the information on a computer screen is not the be all and end all. I was told recently that one advantage of booking through the internet is that you are able to do it in the comfort of your own home. I ask myself is it worth it to book ones travel arrangements in the comfort of one’s home with all the potential problems that I have mentioned. Travel Companies like ourselves operate a twenty four hour service, where you will get all the help you may need and able to speak to someone who will attend to your issues. They will most likely sympathise with your problem as opposed to having to go to the airline, if after closing time, most likely having to go to the local airport and queuing up and end up being addressed by an overworked and frustrated airline employee who will insist that they can only issue you a one way airline ticket, which is the most expensive way to travel and leaving you with the possibility of

having to reclaim any balances of your internet purchased ticket. Because it was the cheapest you most likely will not have any refund. You have no immediate redress if you book through internet. You will not have the opportunity of speaking to an individual. You will be required to go through a process that is most likely biased and not in your favour. To sum it up, it is important to pick the right travel company, where you should be treated as if you are the only client in the world and you are an important person. Yes, price is important but so is time flexibility, and insurance. What better way to have the best insurance, have a good travel agent! n For over 50 years, Mark Scott has worked at the top end of the travel industry and now owns Cassis Travel Services Ltd, based in London’s affluent St. John’s Wood. After being heavily persuaded by his previous ‘key’ employees and due to the success of Cassis, he proceeded to open up once again in Los Angeles and Manhattan. Mark, now into his eighties, still actively engages in the business although spends a lot of his time on his passion which is writing about hotels, restaurants and resorts. If you would like to contact Mark Scott please email: marks@cassistravel.co.uk

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Happy New Year? Tips For Families Relocating To The UK In The Middle Of The School Year

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or families who arrive in the UK in the new calendar year, their children are joining a school mid-way through the academic year. While schools, particularly international schools who aim to serve an international community, have many programmes and strategies in place to help new students and families at the beginning of the school year, for those who join mid-year it can be a very different story. It’s best to be equipped with some pro-active strategies to make the most of these first weeks, and some suggestions for parents to consider to help ease 18

the transition into a new school, home and life in the UK follow: At School The orientation and transition support offered for mid-year arrivals varies and although international schools aspire to serve expatriate families in this way, anecdotal evidence confirms that although intentions are there, the follow through is patchy at best. The British independent and state schools may not be focused on this issue at all, and so parents must be the advocates for their children who are joining classes that have worked through a good portion of their curriculum and have established routines and procedures, and as they enter in to social groups that have their own way of doing things. 1. Information is Power Be sure that you have access to as much information as possible. Be sure that you have received all of the publications that the school has available including a student and parent handbook, and a curriculum guide. Some schools may also have guides for high schoolers about college applications, or on International Baccalaureate study skills and deadlines. If there have been any important letters of substance sent out prior to your arrival from the Director, Principal or class teacher/s, be sure to ask for a copy. Sometimes these contain information that may modify or update information in handbooks, or may be written in response to a situation that has arisen that will still affect you. There may be letters about events to come (such as a school winter ski trip) that may be of interest and that could by-pass you if you were not there when the information was sent out. PE teachers or sports coaches may have sent out information on try-outs and new seasonal sports teams. Engaging in these activities may be important to your child’s settling in, so don’t miss out! If you are a non-English-speaker and have difficulties understanding any written information you receive, find help! 2. Meet the people Who’s who? Find out who is responsible for what in your child’s school. The school secretary may be your new best friend. This is more complicated for students in secondary school where they have different teachers for different subject areas and activities. This may be set out in the school handbooks but if not, start making a chart! In primary school the first point of contact may be the class teacher, in secondary the homeroom teacher, form tutor or advisor could be the point person. But, if you need to make changes to after school buses, change the lunch plan, or find out about after school activities, it may be someone different.

Find out how ‘hands on and approachable’ the school head or director is. This may vary greatly from school to school, so don’t think that ‘starting at the top’ is the best approach. If this is not the school’s modus operandi, you may actually alienate the people you are meant to deal with who feel devalued or sidelined by your ‘I only deal with the top man (or woman)’ stance. The school may have a settling-in policy (again, ask about this) but whatever the case, make an appointment to see your child’ class teacher (or in the case of secondary, the form tutor, homeroom teacher, or advisor). Parents of primary pupils may wish to do this two weeks after arrival, at which point teachers should be able to comment on how the new child is adapting to the class and fitting in socially and academically. In the case of secondary pupils who have several teachers, it may be more productive to contact the teacher after two weeks to make the appointment, but to give the teacher a week or so when they can speak to other teachers to get an overview on how your child is managing. Don’t just ask about their academic adjustment, but how they are coping with new routines and requirements, and how they are integrating socially. With the various timetabling models for secondary schools, it is possible that after two weeks, some teachers may have only seen the pupil for 4 or 5 lessons. It is a good idea for you to get a sense of what the teacher knows of your child, particularly if your child has an unusual educational history with lots of moves and language changes. Despite the fact that many UK schools request lots of information on the previous schooling and other information during the application stages, it seems that all too often much of this information never filters down to the teacher. Be sure your child’s teacher is aware of your child’s circumstances – educational, social, and emotional. It may be a bit early to evaluate, but particularly in the case of secondary school students, ask whether any tutoring may be required to help your child get up to speed with what his or her new class is learning. Also, be sure that the teacher is aware of your child’s interests and passions. Some children keep this to themselves when they are new at school, but if your child is a star athlete, musician or thespian, be sure to find out how they can become involved in those activities at the school as sometimes this accelerates your child’s integration into the new school. It is also a good idea to get to know how the parents’ association operates. Fellow parents can be very helpful and informative in all sorts of ways. Find out if there is a ‘class representative’ who might be able to give you some insights into how things work at the school. These parents can help you understand how


after school activities and play dates (in the case of primary) or how adolescent social life plays out. They can help you understand how others handle weekly allowance or pocket money for your child. What you personally think or what worked in your last place of residence may not be the norm here. Find out what the ‘birthday party protocol’ is here. What sorts of presents (costing how much) do children exchange? Most schools will frown upon distributing party invites through the class UNLESS everyone is invited. So will a class trip to Pizza Hut suffice, or do you have to hire a double decker party bus to come to your home? This may all seem superficial and unimportant, but one of your child’s main concerns will be fitting in and if you are wildly off base, you will need to manage the collateral damage with your child! Learn about how the parents association works and whether there are services, activities that may be helpful for you and about any events that may be beneficial for you to attend. These people may be able to help you find babysitters, doctors, hairdressers, places of worship, orthodontists and peanut butter. Some international school parent associations publish guides to London and the local area and these can contain many useful nuggets overlooked from more widely published guides. At Home: Staying Healthy and Safe Obviously this can be a stressful time for the whole family – the experts on international mobility say that culture shock sets in during the first two months after arrival and unfortunately the gloomy British winter can exacerbate this, so don’t be surprised if a bit of depression or remorse sets in. This affects different family members in different ways. How newly-relocated children respond emotionally can be unpredictable. There have been instances where the child seems miserable at home, but appears happy as a lark at school; or, vice-versa where the child is unhappy at school, but cheerful and upbeat at home. Children can be very intuitive and if they sense that parents (particularly mom) is unhappy, they can behave in an empathetic way and mirror that at home in a sort of gesture of solidarity, even though they are quite content with their new class, school and friends. Similarly, because they can pick up on the fact that the parents’ employment and the family’s situation is vested in a happily settled family, they can feign enthusiasm and contentment at home, where at school they are showing their true feelings of sadness and melancholy. Parents and schools need to be aware of this and stay in touch when these situations arise so everyone pulls together to make the transition successful.

Find a family doctor and register right away. Moving to a new country and climate means physical adjustments, and perhaps not helped by the stress of it all that can reduce our physical resilience, it is not unusual to get sick. I call it the ‘London lurgy’: colds, flu, SAD can all hit, as do new ‘germs’ circulating in a new school community. It’s not unusual for children to succumb to these things and you may need medical advice sooner than you think. Make a point, also, of finding out about your local Accident and Emergency at your local hospital, and if it’s not easily located, make a dry run. If your child slips on the ice, or if your first encounter with the notorious ‘black ice’ on British winter roads leads to an accident, you may need to know where to go. Unfortunately the British ambulance services are stretched to the limit so you may find you need to deputise for them. You may have private health insurance giving you access to private hospitals, but most of them do not have an Accident and Emergency service, as many newly-arrived expats have learned the hard way. An issue that many families deal with is level of ‘street wisdom’ or ‘stranger danger’ skills their children have. English towns typically have good public transport, London is fantastic, and children begin to pressure their parents to allow them to travel independently. All schools in England must address this as part of their Personal, Social and Health Education curriculum, but if this was already covered before your child joined the school, this may be overlooked. Parents need to take time to explore the options (bus, train, underground) to identify safe and practical routes convenient to their homes, schools, friends, and gathering places. The older they get, the more the pressure on parents to allow this, but parents should be satisfied that their children can manage the responsibility of this privilege. Identify a local car or minicab service that your family can use. Many children now have mobile phones which are a vital means of communication with home, but unfortunately also make children possible targets of minor crime, particularly with more students using laptops, iPads and other technology devices that they take to and from school, personal security becomes a big concern. Parents, students and schools need to have ongonig conversations and agreements to help children manage this safely. n Mary Langford a US/UK dual national with over 30 years’ experience in international education. She is a London-based independent consultant, working with the Good Schools Guide International and also supporting schools and families in the area of strategic approaches to transition, admissions, school selection and planning educational pathways for children. Contact: melangford@hotmail.com

FREE SEMINAR Third Culture Kids - Raising Portable Children There are many challenges associated with an international move, and how global mobility impacts children is a concern for many families. This session on Third Culture Kids will discuss what research tells us about these unique youngsters and how we can best support them during this life-changing experience. This session is for parents, but also educators, human resources and relocation professionals who want to understand more about raising and educating children abroad. Presented by Mary Langford, an independent international education consultant, who has over 30 years experience working in international schools with families of many nationalities. As a TCk who spent a transient childhood in Europe, the USA and Latin America, her personal insights and professional experience make her a strong believer in the many advantages gained by internationally-mobile children when they are supported by parents and schools.

This seminar is taking place on Monday 4th February 2012 at The 2013 Corporate Relocation Conference & Exhibition, Hotel Russell, Russell Square, Bloomsbury, London. To register your free place in this seminar please email helen@theamericanhour.com

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UK Sports Our Quarterly Overview Of UK Sports

O

ur winter sports are now well under way but, sorry guys, we cannot not start this edition without mentioning one of our summer sports that took place at the end of September. The Ryder Cup What an amazing, fantastic competition this year’s Ryder Cup turned out to be. After the foursomes and fourballs of the first two days the Ryder Cup was heading back to the USA. Europe, 10 - 6 down with only the 12 singles to come looked down and out. Indeed, the score could well have been 12 - 4 to the USA at this stage but for two amazing fight backs in the final two fourballs when Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald came from behind to beat

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Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker by one hole, and then Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter also came from behind to beat Jason Dufner and Zack Johnson also by one hole, Poulter finishing with an incredible five birdies. Those two matches gave the European team, which included seven Brits, a faint glimmer of hope for the final singles matches but really nobody gave the European team a chance. Oh those who were of little faith (including me!). The impossible happened; as the Europeans began to beat away at the USA lead with early victories for Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Paul Lawrie the tension began to get at the American team. Jim Furyk seemed to collapse over the last few holes; one up with two to play, he lost by one hole to Sergio Garcia and the last three matches were won by Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Francisco Molinari. An outright victory for team Europe to retain the cup. This was probably the greatest victory in Ryder Cup history and certainly the most dramatic. A special mention should go to Ian Poulter who won all four of the matches in which he played. Poulter exhibits the same enthusiasm and determination in the Ryder Cup as the late, great Seve Ballasteros - and what shoes to step into they are. Cricket Whilst on the topic of summer sports, the England team’s current tour of India is going rather well. Many doubted England’s ability to deal with batting and bowling conditions in the sub-continent where spin bowling generally rules the match, and the team’s performances against the Pakistani spin attack in Dubai did nothing to dispel the idea that England’s batters could not cope with top class spin bowling on turning pitches. However, perhaps inspired by the European Ryder Cup team, England, at the time of writing, are leading the four Test series by two matches to one. After a disastrous start, losing the first Test emphatically by nine wickets, England hit back to win the next two by ten and seven wickets respectively. The star of the show for England has been new captain, Alistair Cook, who has now scored more Test centuries than any other England batsman, twenty three in total. In the three Tests in India so far he scored 176 in the first Test, 122 in the second and 190 in the third. Only six other international batsmen have recorded more Test centuries, Brian Lara (West Indies), Sunil Gavasker, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Medullar (all India), Ricky Ponting (Australia) and Jacques Kallis (South Africa). Tendulkar holds the record with fifty one centuries in one hundred and ninety three Tests. Cook’s twenty three centuries have come in just eighty six matches (at the time of writing).

Soccer In the European Champions League competition, the two highest spending clubs in recent years, Manchester City and Chelsea, have both been eliminated at the Group stage. Indeed, Manchester City have even failed to make the transfer to the Europa Cup competition by finishing third in their four team group. Last year City also failed to progress to the knock out stage of the ECL tournament but did make the Europa Cup but this season is even worse. City do have a problem in the ECL; because they have only recently started to qualify for European competitions they are assigned to ‘Pot 3’ in the Group stage draw, meaning that there are two stronger European experienced teams drawn into their Group. This season’s result will not help their cause should they qualify for the 2013/4 ECL - ‘Pot 3’ again!! Chelsea, the reigning ECL champions, are also out but did finish third and will go into the Europa Cup; but they did set a new ECL record that they would rather forget. They became the first reigning champions to be knocked out in the Group stage of the following season’s competition!! Somewhat surprisingly, Celtic of Scotland have also reached the next stage having beaten Barcelona at Celtic Park. Manchester United comfortably won their Group and Arsenal finished second in theirs. The next stage, the knock out ‘Round of 16’, will include, as usual, some very famous names - Barcelona, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Juventus and Ajax. But, keep an eye out for Shaktar Donetsk of the Ukraine and Germany’s Borussia Dortmund. The ECL is a fantastic competition and there will be some mouthwatering matches to watch in 2013 after the draw for the first knock out round is made on 20 December. Joining Chelsea in the next stage of the Europa Cup will be Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United who all came through their group stage. The draw for the next stage will also be made on 20 December. Charles Dickens wrote a famous story about ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ but this season the Premiership is already becoming a tale of one city - Manchester. United and City have established a strong advantage over their competitors and United, at the time of writing, also hold a six point advantage over City having recently broken City’s thirty nine game unbeaten home record in the Premiership. Robin van Persie, bought to United from Arsenal in the summer transfer window, is proving to be a major asset and his partnership with Wayne Rooney in attack is fast becoming a deadly strike force. The London clubs, Chelsea and Arsenal, have provided the main competition from the capital but both have been weak in recent


weeks. The Chelsea management decided to sack the manager who took them to the European Champions League title and FA Cup title last season. Roberto di Matteo had been a Chelsea player before becoming coach and then manager and is beloved by Chelsea fans. His number 16 shirt as a player is now the focal point for Chelsea fans to sing his name in the sixteenth minute of every game. Rafael Benetiz has been appointed as a temporary manager, the belief being that he can rejuvenate the Chelsea striker, Torres, for whom Chelsea paid £50million and who played under Benetiz at Liverpool. Will Chelsea get Guadiola, the ex-Barcelona manager who is currently on a one year sabatical? It may be that Bayern Munich may emerge as strong contenders for his signature. After so many managers in recent seasons, the rumour is that whoever is appointed at Chelsea for next season will be offered a twenty four hour rolling contract! That, at least, would reduce the owner’s compensation budget. At the wrong end of the Premiership table, Harry’s back. It’s fabulous news for Harry, Queens Park Rangers fans, their supporters and the management - truly fabulous! But, can Harry rescue a QPR side that has failed to win a single game so far this season and sits

precariously at the bottom of the table? It will be very difficult. Regrettably, soccer has again been in the news for all the wrong reasons - John Terry’s racial abuse against Anton Ferdinand of QPR, Chelsea’s allegations of “improper language” to one of their players by a match referee and the continuing problem of racial abuse from the fans to players and, more recently, the return of coin throwing at players. It is all a disgrace and it brings great discredit to the game. Fans who are identified as perpetrators of such actions are banned from attending future matches, sometimes for life. But maybe punishment of a more deterrent nature should be applied - any suggestions, email helen@ theamericanhour.com and we will print them in our next issue! Rugby Union The autumn internationals against Australia, South Africa and New Zealand did not start well for England who were beaten by both the Aussies and the Springboks and, like the final day of the Ryder Cup (sorry to mention that yet again, guys) England were given no chance against the mighty All Blacks. But “there you go again” (to coin a famous Ronald Reagan phrase), the tables were turned and England produced a stunning

victory by 38 points to 21, England’s biggest ever victory margin over New Zealand. Next up is the Six Nations championship and England, if they can repeat the level of their performance against the All Blacks, must surely be championship favourites. After that, England will head off to New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup. The team have been given a tough draw in the Group stage that includes both Australia and Wales but, hey, who are tournament favourites and who just destroyed them 38 - 21? Boxing What is he doing? Freddie Flintoff, once a star of the England cricket team, has turned his hand to heavyweight boxing! Whilst a four round fight ended in a points victory over his American opponent, Richard Dawson, one can only hope he does not allow his ego to start thinking about one of the Klitchko brothers. Ryder Cup inspiration could not go that far! Well, everyone at ’American in Britain’ hopes you had a fabulous (Harry’s influence again!) sporting 2012 and we will endeavour to bring you more sporting news in 2013. Have a very happy and healthy sporting Christmas and New Year.

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Grosvenor House Apartments Review

T

he Grosvenor family (better known as the Dukes of Westminster) in the 19th century decided to build a house worthy of their wealth, status and influence, and built the largest town house on Park Lane overlooking Hyde Park. This house was eventually replaced by the current building, which houses the Grosvenor House Apartments, in the 1920’s, but still commands those fabulous views over the park and has lost none of its grandeur. The Grosvenor House apartments combine the benefits and facilities of a 5 star hotel in the heart of Mayfair with the personal touches of your own residence in the heart of London. The facilities are extensive with a well-appointed fitness room, 24hr room service and resident only dining at the Atrium restaurant, and if you book one of the penthouses complimentary use of an Aston Martin Rapide.

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There are 131 luxury apartments surrounding the dramatic floor to ceiling Atrium ranging from studios to 5 bedroom penthouses each having its own charm and character. Some have commanding views over Hyde Park whilst others have magical views over the chimney tops of Mayfair, both of which are charming in their own way. All are luxuriously furnished giving the guest the feeling that they are in their own flat rather than a hotel room. The style is unashamedly Art deco, in keeping with the age when the building was built, but with a contemporary twist having light and dark greys subtly offset by hints of purples and reds. In conjunction with this 1920’s /1930’s style, each room is a gadget persons dream as the lighting and blinds are all electronic and I spent many happy minutes playing with the controls to get the atmosphere just right. Those into media are also well catered for with large digital TV’s with movies on demand, ipod docking stations and DVD players, but unlike many hotels where these can dominate the rooms, here they just blend in. Every detail is thought of, and in the open plan kitchens as well as the expected cooker, microwave, dish washer and washing machine with built in dryer, there is everything you would expect in your kitchen at home with a proper coffee maker, toaster etc . This is a home away from home right in the heart of London but what truly makes it special is the little extra touches where they have gone that little bit further. Children have activity packs and toys as well as their own sized dressing gowns, the room service is 24 hr (the menu is not reduced at any time) and my personal favourite, after a late Saturday night in London, no final time for serving breakfast on a Sunday (or any day for that matter) to name but a few. Having spent many nights in hotels and hotel rooms it was lovely to be somewhere where there was a warmth and personality, somewhere where it would be nice to come

home to, and for those of you who stay in hotels a lot, this is so important and so hard to find. The Penthouses are just breathtaking, and naturally occupy the upper floor of the Grosvenor House Apartments. They are some of the largest suites in London and range from 2,3 and 4 bedrooms starting at 368 square metres to the 5 bedroomed Grosvenor Suite which houses a baby grand piano and is 448 square metres. This is living at its finest and rather than listing out all of the things they have, it is easier just to say I defy you to think of anything you or your children would need that isn’t there and if you did manage to think of something I am certain that within the hour your own butler, who comes with the suite, would have sourced it and had it delivered. Access to these suites is by your own private lifts so discretion is assured at all times. Whether you are staying one night or staying a year the Grosvenor House Apartments will delight you and at a price that will surprise for such quality and space. For further information please visit www. jumeirah.com/gha.


American in Britain Readership Survey In order to ensure we are publishing articles that fit our readers profiles, we would be grateful if you would take a few minutes to complete this questionnaire and return it to us. All those who participate in this survey will be entered into a free prize draw to: Win a one-night stay at The Millennium Hotel London Mayfair, including dinner in Avista and breakfast* The survey will close on March 30th 2013. The draw will take place on April 1st 2013 so if you would like to be entered please put your email address here (please write in capitals) .................................................................................................................................. You can also participate in this survey online by visiting www.theamericanhour.com and sourcing the Research Survey icon. Please return this completed survey to Helen Elliott, Readership Survey, American in Britain, PO Box 921, Sutton, SM1 2WB. Thank you for helping us to help you. Are you:

Male

Female

Age:

25-35

36-45

Married Yes

Single No

18-25

Marital Status: Do you have children: Ages of children: Do they go to an

55+

..................................................................................................... American

International

Do your children go to a Summer Camp? If yes, where?

46-55

UK

Yes

British school? No

US

Other

Are you planning on having children whilst living in the UK?

Yes

No

How long have the adult Americans in your household been resident in the UK? (tick all that apply) Less than 3 years

3 - 7 years

7 - 17 years

More than 17 years

Did your company arrange your relocation or did you manage it personally? Company Personally Have you stayed in a serviced apartment during your relocation? Yes No If yes, in UK, Europe, US, Asia, Other .............................................................................. *Terms & Conditions: Subject to availability when booking. Friday / Saturday night only Any extras must be paid for upon departure. Dinner in Avista: ÂŁ100.00 voucher (ÂŁ50 per head) - any extras must be paid for directly to Avista


How long do you intend to live in the UK? Less than 5 years 5 – 10 years

10 – 20 years

More than 20 years

Where do you live? .......................................................................................................................................... How often do you fly to America? .......................................................................................................................................... Do you fly business or economy? ......................................................................................................................................... How often do you go away for weekends? ......................................................................................................................................... Where do you go away for weekends? UK Europe Other ......................................................................................................................................... Do you have a US bank account or UK account or both? .......................................................................................................................................... Are you paid in dollars or sterling?

Dollars

Do you rent or own your current property?

Sterling

Both

Rent

Own

How long have you lived there? .......................................................................................................................................... If renting, how many times have you moved whilst living here?.......................................... How many times have you moved within the UK if you own a property? .......................................................................................................................................... What was the main driver for you to live where you do? Proximity to school; proximity to place of work; to be near friends; other. .......................................................................................................................................... Do you plan to move again soon?

Yes

No

Which websites do you use to purchase American groceries? .......................................................................................................................................... How often do you send items overseas? .......................................................................................................................................... How often do you eat out – personally/ business? .......................................................................................................................................... How often do you go to the theatre? .......................................................................................................................................... Does your spouse or partner work?

Yes

No

What newspapers/magazines do you read? .......................................................................................................................................... Do you own a car in the UK?

Yes

No

Are you registered for overseas voting?

Yes

No


Are you a member of a Women’s club?

Yes

No

Are you a member of an alumni association?

Yes

No

Would you be interested in attending networking events for Americans living here? Yes No Have you registered with the US Embassy?

Yes

No

Are you interested in cookery courses?

Yes

No

Are you interested in learning another language?

Yes

No

Did you have any cross-cultural training before you came to the UK?

Yes

No

Have you visited a hospital since you have been in the UK and if so, was it Private or NHS? Private NHS Have you visited a Private hospital in central London? Yes No If Private, which ones/s? ………………………………….…………..........................… Do you have Private medical insurance?

Yes

No

What criteria, if any, do you use when you choose to visit a hospital? ................................. ......................................................................................................................................... Do you use the services of a UK accountant or a US one in the UK? UK accountant US accountant Both Have you had to consult an immigration specialist whilst in the UK?

Yes

No

Have you had to consult a lawyer whilst in the UK? Yes No What is your salary bracket? 0-50k 50k – 100k

100k – 150k

150K+

Do you have a pet here? Yes No .......................................................................................................................................... Is your dentist American?

Yes

Where do you plan to retire? UK USA

No Multiple Jurisdictions

Other (please specify)

.......................................................................................................................................... Where is your financial adviser or private banker located? US only UK only Both in the US & UK In another country

Not Applicable - I do it myself

Do you own any of the following types of investments or accounts? (tick all that apply) US Based Investments

US Based Investment AccountUS Based Bank Account

US Based Mutual Funds, ETFs or Money Market Funds 529 College Saving Plans US Deferred Variable Annuity

IRA, 401(k) or 403(b)

US Life Insurance Wrapped Investments


What are your biggest financial concerns (tick all that apply): Running out of money in Retirement The Risk of Inflation and your future spending power Children's Financial Future Spending more money than you are currently making Not Saving Enough to meet your financial goals Main Bread Winner Losing their job Too much debt Other (please specify)……………………………………….…………………… Are you aware of the UK tax implications of owning the above investments or accounts? Yes No Do you own any of the following types of investments or accounts? (tick all that apply) UK Based Investments UK Based Investment Account UK Based Bank Account UK or European Based Mutual Funds, Exchange Traded Funds (ETF) or Money Market Funds Self-Invested Pension Plan (SIPP) or Personal Pension Plan UK Occupational Pension ISAs Child Trust Fund (CTF) or Junior ISA Offshore Pension Plan UK or Offshore Life Insurance Wrapped Investments Are you aware of the US tax implications of owning the above investments or accounts? Yes No Do you generally make the maximum annual contributions to? (tick all that apply) IRA, 401(k) or 403(b) 529 College Saving Plans Self-Invested Pension Plan (SIPP) or Personal Pension Plan UK Occupational Pension ISAs Child Trust Fund (CTF) or Junior ISA If not, why: ……………………………………….…………..........................………… Do you receive The American Hour monthly email newsletter? Yes No If not would you like to? (If so, what email address would you like it sent to?) .......................................................................................................................................... Please return your completed questionnaire to Helen Elliott, Readership Survey, American in Britain, PO Box 921, Sutton, SM1 2WB. Thank you!


You are cordially invited to

The 2013

Corporate Relocation Conference & Exhibition on

Monday 4th February 2013 10.00am - 5.00pm at

Hotel Russell, 1-8 Russell Square, Bloomsbury, London, WC1B 5BE

This event is FREE TO ATTEND

FREE SEMINARS 10.30am — Third Culture Kids - Raising Portable Children

There are many challenges associated with an international move, and how global mobility impacts children is a concern for many families. This session on Third Culture Kids will discuss what research tells us about these unique youngsters and how we can best support them during this life-changing experience. This session is for parents, but also educators, human resources and relocation professionals who want to understand more about raising and educating children abroad. Mary Langford is an independent international education consultant who has over 30 years experience working in international schools with families of many nationalities. As a TCk who spent a transient childhood in Europe, the USA and Latin America, her personal insights and professional experience make her a strong believer in the many advantages gained by internationally-mobile children when they are supported by parents and schools.

11.30am — I’m Settled....What’s Next? - A Focus On Long-Term Relocation Support

Often all of the attention is placed on the first few weeks of an international move. Join FOCUS to learn the longer-term support factors which have been proven to ensure a successful relocation for the whole family.

12.30pm — Tax Planning Tips For Expatriates

Imperative tax issues for foreign nationals living in the UK including understanding the UK tax system as it applies to a non-UK national, choosing between the remittance and arising basis of taxation, maximising foreign tax credits and dealing with investment considerations”. Presented by Frank Hirth

2.00pm — Global Immigration

Hosted by Ferguson Snell, this seminar will be a practical session providing advice on the latest Immigration developments and the implications for businesses and will cover: Immigration Policies Updates, Global Immigration Management, Compliance and Risk Management, and United Kingdom Sponsor Licencing and Management. If you have an immigration enquiry that you would like our consultants to cover on the day please email your enquiry in advance to fs@fergusonsnell.co.uk

You will need to pre-register for the seminars as places are limited so please email helen@theamericanhour.com If you would like complimentary invitations for your friends, club members or colleagues, please email helen@theamericanhour.com with the quantity and where you would like them sent to. For further information on this event please call Helen Elliott on 020 8661 0186. We look forward to seeing you there.


Top Tens Top Ten Winter Warmers by Judith Schrut

W

ith seasonal cheer well behind us and Spring just around the corner, are you wondering what to do with those wintry waiting weeks? Easy, Britain's got loads on offer this time of year, so resist that urge to hibernate and try some of our Top Ten great ways to cut those frosty feelings down to size and embrace the Big Chill. 1. HOT TICKETS UK Theatreland has a steamy array of toasty treats to snuggle up to this winter. Two of the new season's hottest tickets are Chorus Line, the much anticipated revival of this classic award winning musical, and The Book of

A Chorus Line at the London Palladium, image courtesy of Cornershop PR 28

A Winter Wander with Walk London

Mormon, that irreverently irreligious Broadway smash hit and recent winner of nine Tony awards including Best Musical. Produced by the combined creative talents behind South Park and Avenue Q, it's sure to take the West End by storm. Meanwhile, Matilda the Musical, the Royal Shakespeare Company's triumphant runaway hit which last year swept the boards at Britain's Olivier Awards, is still going strong with an energetic new cast and a London run extended by popular demand, while its sister production opens soon on Broadway. Matilda has all that you might want in a great show: in turns clever, terrifying, charming, rude, hilarious and uplifting, with extraordinary lyrics, music and design and, above all, an astonishing cast of mainly young performers. We cannot recommend it highly enough. You can also catch some brilliant shows touring the UK this winter, such as the 60th anniversary tour of Agatha Christie's Mousetrap, the dark Ealing comedy The Ladykillers and the wonderfully uplifting Goodnight Mister Tom. Finally, if you're looking to treat yourself to a show this winter, remember the Golden Rule: there's no need to pay full price! Check out the official half price ticket booth in Leicester Square or one of many discount sites such as Broadway Box, and for useful tips on seats and insider reviews, consult Theatre Monkey. Further information: www.achoruslinelondon.com www.bookofmormonlondon.com www.tkts.co.uk, www.theatremonkey.com

2. WINTER WANDERS Why not pull on those furry boots, pack up the waterproofs, trail munch and hip flasks and walk yourself warm? There are loads of great walking ways to explore the British countryside this winter. Whether you're looking for a short stroll in your lunch hour or an energetic walk at the weekend, a place to watch the birds, feed the ducks or hug a tree, Walk London has put together a huge network of big and small selfguided walks and wanders to try this winter or any time of the year, available on its impressive website. Or join one of the free guided walks taking place across, around and beyond London as part of Walk London's annual 'Winter Wanders' weekend on 26-27 January 2013. There's also an annual Festival of Winter Walks organised by the Ramblers Association, and you can find dozens of DIY routes, maps and directions on Walkit.com. Further information: www.walklondon.org.uk www.ramblers.org.uk, wwwwalkit.com 3. COLD HANDS, WARM ART Britain is happy host to three of the world's top five favourite art museums. The National Gallery and Tate Modern between them attract an astonishing 10 million visitors each year (a figure topped only by the British Museum). With free entry, first class collections, splendid late night events, cosy eating options and lovely gift shops, they offer ideal easy escapes out of the chill and into the imagination. Tate Modern and its gallery siblings Tate Britain, Tate St Ives and Tate Liverpool are readying themselves for another record-breaking visitor year in 2013. Tate Modern kicks off with a Pop!Boom!Whaam! in February with its huge show celebrating the life, times and art of Roy Lichtenstein, one of Pop Art's leading lights. Renowned and instantly recognisable for his works based on comic books and ad imagery and filled with his signature dots, Lichtenstein was also the first American to exhibit at the Tate nearly 50 years ago. Tate Britain opens with the

Roy Lichtenstein, Whaam! 1963, Tate. Copyright Estate of Roy Lichtenstein/DACS 2012


unique Schwitters in Britain, focussing on the last years of surrealist collage artist Kurt Schwitters, spent in the UK as a refugee from the Nazis. The always innovative Tate Liverpool gives us the must-view Glam!, a celebration of the extrovert and extravagant arts, music, film and fashion culture of the early 1970s, and Tate St Ives, majestically perched on the sands of Cornwall's loveliest coastal town, features paintings by William Scott and photographs by Peter Fraser. If you are visiting Tate Modern, be sure to check out The Tanks, its newly opened, vast and raw underground performance and art space. The Tanks is also the first stage of the massive Tate Modern Project, due to transform this hugely popular museum with a much needed extension. Over at the National, you can de-chill in the warm glow of some of Europe's greatest paintings – on tap are must see treasures by Van Gogh, Monet, Turner, Leonardo daVinci, Rembrandt and hundreds more. Upcoming special exhibitions will focus on American artist Frederic Church and Italian Renaissance virtuoso Federico Barocci. We especially recommend the Gallery's Family Sundays and its Friday Lates, where you can enjoy free weekly concerts, talks, tours and more. Further information: www.tate.org.uk www.nationalgallery.org.uk 4. DARE TO DANCE Britain has long been home or host to diverse nationalities and cultures. One recent study showed London as the world's most multicultural city, with over 270 nationalities and 300 different languages. And wherever folk go, their traditions come with them, so it's not too surprising to find a world of dance and other folk flavoured activities thriving across the UK. Folk dance is a simply brilliant way to cheat the chill, as well as meet new people, keep fit, and have tremendous fun. From Bhangra to Balkan, French to Flamenco, Klezmer to Capoeira, there are dozens of dance options in halls, churches and community centres around the country.

Hotter than a Hoedown: Appalachian dance, Cecil Sharp House, photo by Jo

Marvellous Mikado at the ENO: photo credit Chris Christodoulou

Top stop for international dance lovers is Cecil Sharp House, the delightful and cocklewarming North London headquarters of the English Folk Dance and Song Society for over 75 years. Here you'll find endless ways to ‘discover your inner folk’, with a wide variety of dance workshops, classes and other events on offer. Dance your way around the world with Appalachian clogging, English Morris dancing, Tango, Baroque and Quadrille, live band Ceilidhs, Barn Dances and Cajun Nights. Cecil Sharp House was recently voted one of the capital's best live music venues by Time Out readers. Further information: www.efdss.org, www.folkandroots.co.uk www.sifd.org 5. COUNTRY Cosy Few things wear the label 'winter warmer' better than an English country pub. Think roaring log fires, oak beamed ceilings, warming drinks and hearty pub food, and you're nearly there. Cosy pubs don't get much better than The Cock, a Cambridgeshire treat and recent winner of the Good Pub Guide Pub of the Year. Acclaimed for imaginative food, outstanding ales and local cider, its winter wardrobe includes seasonal decorations, giant church candles and open woodburning stoves. Other top recommendations are the Wykeham Arms, a characterful old pub tucked away in gorgeously historic Winchester town, and the homely Kings Head in Norwich. If you're in the Lake District this winter and seeking refuge after an icy fell hike, you're sure to defrost quickly at the Watermill Inn, known for its friendly welcome, open fires and popular on-site micro brewery. Here's the place to sample home brewed delights such as A Bit'er Ruff, Collie Wobbles and Dogth Vadar. If you can't get to the country any time soon, don't fret. You can get that cosy pub feeling in many city pubs too. Amongst our London favourites are the atmospheric Holly Bush in Hampstead, The Princess Louise and Ye Old Mitre Tavern, two historic hidden gems in Holborn, and the traditional and memorabilia filled Churchill Arms in Kensington. For a more comfy, battered feel plus a dose of culture, go for The Kings Head Theatre Pub in Islington, renowned for music nights and an in-house theatre where many famous stage names launched their careers.

Further information: www.thegoodpubguide.co.uk 6. SOMETHING TO SING ABOUT The British opera scene burns bright any time of the year but seems to have an especial glow in the chillier season. There's just something about the rich mix of human voice, costume and stage design combined with tragedy, romance and emotion set to music on a grand scale that works together perfectly to inflame passions and raise temperatures. This winter's UK opera bag is truly packed with warming wonders. The multiple awarding winning English National Opera (ENO) prides itself in offering a richly diverse seasonal mix of new works, classic revivals and rarely performed masterpieces. In 2013 this includes Jonathan Miller's inventive and stylish classic production of the Mikado, first UK performances of the French baroque Medea featuring US tenor Jeffrey Francis, and an exciting new production of La Traviata, with outstanding young American soprano Corinne Winters in her European debut. The ENO is particularly proud of its strong and longstanding American links. This is perhaps best illustrated by the American Friends of ENO. A group originally set up to encourage tax favourable giving to flourish, it has since become so much more. The Friends provide generous and much valued support for ENO artists and productions, while its members enjoy many benefits of this 'special relationship' including private recitals, receptions and other unique events. Other choices for the opera buff in your family include Cosi Fan Tutte and Simon Boccanegra, touring the UK with the ever innovative English Touring Opera, La Boheme, Tosca and Nabucco at the Royal Opera House and classic or new productions of Madam Butterfly, Lulu and The Cunning Little Vixen from Welsh National Opera. If your first choice is sold out or too far to travel, there’s no need to miss a note. Many productions will also be available to enjoy at synchronised live cinema screenings around the UK or in the comfort of your own living room via BBC Radio’s Opera on 3. Further information: www.eno.org/support-us/individual-giving/ american-friends www.englishtouringopera.org.uk 29


Skate mates, Somerset House

7. GET YOUR SKATES ON Whether you're a champion figure skater, a rink regular or a nervous novice, this winter you'll find more UK outdoor ice skating options than ever. Hyde Park's popular Winter Wonderland is back again this year in spectacular form. It features the UK's largest outdoor ice rink, wrapped round a picturesque Victorian bandstand and illuminated by over 100,000 lights. Other chill thrills at the free basic entry site are two circuses, a giant Observation Wheel, refreshments and the revolving Carousel Bar. New this year is the Magical Ice Kingdom. Layer up and enter the -8C surrounds of this unique display, where 20 sculptors have created more than 500 frozen sculptures from 200 tonnes of ice and snow. There are plenty of other attractive skate sites this year including rinks at the Natural History Museum, Tower of London and Canary Wharf. Nestled beneath the soaring buildings of Canada Square's financial giants and surrounded by glamorous shops, bars and restaurants, the Canary Wharf rink features London's first off-rink skate path, allowing skaters the chance to leave the main rink and skate through tree lined surrounding streets. Somerset House's magnificent 18th century courtyard rink features a skate school, club nights and a Penguin Club for younger children. Skaters outside London have plenty of choice too, with rinks at the Eden Project in Cornwall, Hampton Court Palace, Henry VIII's Thames Riverside home with its majestic fairy tale setting and Brighton's glorious Royal Pavilion. Further information: www.hydeparkwinterwonderland.com www.icerinkcanarywharf.co.uk 8. CALL OF THE WILD Ice hockey, skiing, bobsledding, snowball fights – all great sporty ways to get fit and hot in the chilly season. But how many of us will be opting for an outdoor swim this winter? More than you might imagine – apparently 'wild swimming' is one of the UK's fastest growing 30

sports and perfectly illustrates Britain's love affair with its beautiful countryside. Whatever the season, wild swimmers proclaim the experience a healthy and liberating one, and a unique chance to get up close and personal with birds, fish, swimming insects and other waterside wildlife. This winter why not take the plunge and join the growing ranks of the wild swimming community as they explore the wonderful, often secret world of outdoor swimming spots in lakes, rivers, sea caves, pools and waterfalls. Choice winter dip spots include the breathtaking Welsh mountain forest pools and waterfalls of Coed y Rhaeadr ('Waterfall Woods'), Cornwall's Treyarnon Bay, which holds an annual Wild Weekend every March, and Brighton Beach, with a popular yearround ocean swim club since 1860. Brighton hosts a yearly Christmas Day run into the sea near its famed Palace Pier, with participants dressed in either wet suit or Santa suit. Thousands of Scots celebrate New Year's Day doing the Loony Dook, a mad, annual communal plunge into the icy waters of Edinburgh's Firth of Forth accompanied by bagpipes and cheering crowds. Wild Swimming in Wales, photo courtesy of Dan & Gabby, Gone Swimming

If you'd prefer something more leisurely, the lovely Dan and Gabby at Gone Swimming organise safe, relaxed and memorable wild swimming holiday adventures in North Wales. Back in London, the famous freshwater Ladies, Men's and Mixed Ponds on Hampstead Heath are popular with brave swimmers every day of the year and Hyde Park's Serpentine Swimming Club welcomes members to enjoy a bracing round of early morning winter swims and races, no wet suits permitted. According to David Start, author of Wild Swimming, “nothing compares to the extraordinary feeling of plunging into ice cold water”. Took the words right out of our mouth. Further information: www.goneswimming.co.uk www.outdoorswimmingsociety.com www.wildswimming.co.uk 9. SOUL MUSIC Many of London's historic churches hold free lunchtime concerts throughout the year, providing an especially warm refuge on a cold winter's day. Try piano Mondays at St Lawrence Jewry, organ Wednesdays at Temple Church or recital Thursdays at St-Mary-Le-Bow, famed for its bells, magnificent steeple, gourmet café in the crypt and American colonial connections. Complete the weekly set with Tuesdays and Friday concerts at St Brides, a deeply historic Wren Church, long associated with the newspapers and journalism of nearby Fleet Street. Atmospheric, welcoming and acoustically superb, both St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square and St James Church, Piccadilly, have long been quality music venues, offering three lunchtime classical concerts each week plus other events year round including innovative jazz evenings. St James is a true gem, a Sir Christopher Wren-designed church with exquisite wood and marble carvings by the master Grinling Gibbons and celebrity past parishioners like poet-painter William Blake. Further afield, St Albans Abbey is the magnificent setting for weekly lunchtime organ recitals, and first class choral concerts can be enjoyed at St Johns or Keble College, Oxford. A few counties away, Kings College Cambridge has free Sunday afternoon organ recitals in its wondrous Gothic Chapel, where you can warm your soul and bathe your spirit in the vibrant tones of top musicians performing on Kings’ gorgeous and ancient pipe organ. Further information: www.st-james-piccadilly.org www.cityevents.org.uk 10. MEANDERING MUSEUMS For a simple, pleasurable and often free way to come in from the cold, it's hard to beat a visit to one of the UK's huge range of museums


and galleries. With over 2500 to choose from, there's something for every interest, age, place or attention span in your household. If you're in London, why not start at the top? The UK's favourite, The British Museum, has an unparallelled collection of eight million objects in 2 1/2 miles of galleries covering all continents and periods in human history, so don't try to see everything in one go. Perennial favourites with veterans and first time visitors alike are the Egyptian galleries with their jawdropping mummies and the Rosetta Stone, medieval treasures like the stunning Lewis Chessmen, carved from walrus ivory and whale teeth, the Elgin Marbles and the Mildenhall silver hoard. The museum also has first rate special exhibitions, free tours and talks throughout the day and superb Friday evening events. We urge you to book early for this Spring's much anticipated new show, Life and Death: Pompeii and Herculaneum. This stunning major exhibition will transport visitors back 2000 years to the life and times of the people of these two Roman cities before Mt Vesuvius' devastating volcanic eruptions buried them alive in just 24 hours.

Always high up on our fabulous, free and mustsee London list are the Museum of London, the V&A and the Imperial War Museum. Outside the capital, we think you'll love award winning and family friendly Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter, the Ashmolean in Oxford or the Haslemere Museum in Surrey. If you're not sure what you're looking for, organisations like Culture 24 can help. Further information: www.britishmuseum.org www.culture24.org.uk This is the latest in our featured series of Top Tens for Americans in Britain. If you’ve got a hot Top Ten tip to share with our readers, we'd love to hear from you: contact Judith at judith0777@gmail.com

Wall painting, Pompeii, AD 50–79 © Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei / Trustees of the British Museum

London CTS Ltd. 2 - 4 Circus Road, St. John’s Wood, London NW8 6PG Phone: 0207 483 1933 E-mail: mariad@cassistravel.co.uk Leisure Manager: Maria Dunn

“We deliver the world” Cassis Travel is your local Travel Agent who knows the American way of travel. Cassis Travel is a Virtuoso Member. Cassis Travel offers Luxury Travel customised to your dreams. Experienced dedicated travel consultants who know their way around the world. Ability to pay in UK Pounds or US Dollars. V.I.P Concierge and full Advisory Service. Destinations where ‘kids take their parents’. Hotel based vacations, Cruises, Villa and Apartment Rentals. Yacht Charters Winter Ski. Meet and Greet Airport Service.

Leisure Division • Corporate Business House Division VIP Concierge Division • Groups and Conventions Division

Thames Valley CTS Ltd. at Camberley Travel 2a Princess Way, Camberley, Surrey GU15 3SR Phone: 01276 64366 E-mail: gail.seakens@camberleytravel.com Leisure Manager: Gail Seakens Los Angeles CTS Inc. 9200 Sunset Blvd. Suite 320, Los Angeles, California 90069 Phone: 310 246 5400 E-mail: pato@travelcts.com Leisure Manager: Pat O’Neill New York CTS Inc. 90 Park Avenue, Suite 1700 New York, NY 10016 Phone: 212 333 3633 E-mail: linas@travelcts.com Leisure Manager: Lillina Spatola North Carolina CTS Inc. One Woodlawn Green, Suite 350, Charlotte, North Carolina

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Cassis Travel Services Ltd. 2 - 4 Circus Road, St. John’s Wood, London NW8 6PG Tel: 0207 483 1933

E-mail: mariad@cassistravel.co.uk

Phone: 704 522 1419 E-mail: alan@travelcts.com Leisure Manager: Alan Farlowe

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Property Focus On Primrose Hill

T

he prosperous adjoining neighbourhoods of Primrose Hill and St. John's Wood are the epitome of North London elegance. Countless celebrities and public figures of note have lived in the area enjoying its handsome architecture and attractive parks. One such park is Primrose Hill, situated to the north of the capital. Located in between the City and the suburbs, Primrose Hill is one of the first primarily residential areas situated on the threshold of the City. Beholding an idyllic village atmosphere, Primrose Hill is a relatively quiet area preserved as a capsule of London from Century’s past. The Hill itself and the land surrounding it were first documented in the 13th Century as part of the forest of Middlesex. Once forming part of Henry VIII's hunting ground it was eventually declared a public space in 1842. Named after the primroses that grew upon it, the park has been renowned for centuries as an iconic and treasured green space famous for its panoramic views. The poet, William Blake, a former resident of Fitzroy Road, famously said to his companion, Henry Crabb Robinson, “I have conversed with the spiritual Sun. I saw him on Primrose Hill”. After standing upon the hill in the early morning light, Blake portrays the transcendent experience of witnessing the sun rising above the city. Several features of Blake’s view can still be seen today from the viewpoint at the top of the hill such as the Houses of Parliament, St. Pauls Cathedral and the top of London Zoo; as well as

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Cumberland Terrace

new additions including The London Eye, the Gherkin and the Shard. Often referred to as the 'Village', Primrose Hill is built around the charming and eminently dignified high street Regents Park Road. Its assorted restaurants serve a variety of food able to fulfil your every craving such as Italian, Greek-Cypriot, Vegan, Japanese and French. There are also several cafés and bakeries, ideal for a coffee and light indulgence. In addition to this, Primrose Hill also offers a selection of independent designer fashion and furnishing boutiques, art galleries and beauty salons as well as a local pet shop, Post Office and well-stocked book shop. Amongst the variety of independent amenities is Shepherd’s, an international supermarket selling many loved and missed home brands, especially popular with the American community. As well as William Blake, Primrose Hill has drawn in many more well known residents, lured in by the traditional and scenic village atmosphere. The area is home to a diverse range of film directors, actors, poets, musicians and politicians, including the likes of Tim Burton, Sienna Miller and Jamie Oliver. The most desirable parts of the neighbourhood retain many of its original features, Ainger Road

including the popular restaurant Lemonia which was first recorded as an inn in 1678. Furthermore, the sought after houses of the delightful Chalcot Square, once forming part of Lord Southampton’s Estate, were auctioned as freeholds in 1849 making them some of the earliest houses in the area. In the middle of the square is Primrose Hill’s most famous public garden space with a children’s playground and plenty of space for little ones to run around. It’s hugely popular in the Summer for families and nannies to meet and socialise. Directly opposite Primrose Hill Park is London Zoo. Home of the Zoological Society of London, the zoo emphasises its important international role in conservation and research work. Today, the zoo sprawling 36 acres houses just over 17,500 animals from more than 650 species. Its architecture includes two Grade I and eight Grade II listed buildings designed by leading architects such as Decimus Burton and Lord Snowdon. One of its most famous previous residents was Winnie, an American black bear who arrived at the Zoo in 1914. Winnie was visited by A.A. Milne and his son Christopher and lives on in the stories of Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin. The zoo provides the perfect opportunity for a day-out


Albert Terrace

attracting visitors from all over the world. Situated just south of Primrose Hill and close to its nearest tube station, Chalk Farm, is The Roundhouse, a Grade II listed converted railway engine shed which now houses a performing arts and concert venue. Famous for hosting artists such as The Doors, Bob Dylan and many more, it’s also commonly associated with hosting music award ceremonies such as the Mercury Music Awards. A short walk south from here you’ll also find Camden, a long time epicentre of the punk movement and multi-cultural melting pot. Thanks to the canal that runs through it, Camden has been a centre of trade for many years. Once home to a horse hospital, its Stables Market is famous for its motley assortment of stalls selling a wide array of goods. Moments away from Primrose Hill is the neighbourhood of St. Johns Wood, home to both Lord’s Cricket Ground, “the home of cricket”, and the legendary Abbey Road Studios, where the Beatles recorded their music. However, most importantly at One Waverley

Regents Park Road House

Place is The American School in London. Founded in 1951 by Stephen L. Eckard, the school has developed from one small classroom taught in Eckard’s own Knightsbridge flat to its current location where an American curriculum is taught to just over 1,300 students aged between 4 and 18. Whilst most students hold American citizenship its alumni spans some 70 countries demonstrating its strong international flavour. Essential for those relocating from overseas the school promotes a strong sense of ‘community’; a family of individuals that work together to drive the success of its students. If you’re planning a weekend away, one of the world’s most popular transport hubs Kings Cross/St Pancras is less than two miles away. Home to Eurostar, St Pancras International is London’s only high speed rail link with Paris, Brussels and continental Europe. Alternatively, Kings Cross Rail Station provides routes to and from the north and east of England as well as Scotland. So whether you’re crossing country lines or staying at little closer to home, its close

proximity to Primrose Hill certainly makes it a convenient feature of the village. Regardless of it forming part of the City, Primrose Hill embodies a village community and encourages newcomers to feel at home. It undoubtedly has a lot to offer, whether it’s the close proximity to the city, the local amenities and attractions, the chance of bumping into a favourite celebrity or experiencing its rich history. Visitors and residents become encapsulated in its charm. With its panoramic views, Narnia like lamp posts, tree-lined streets and elegant, colourful townhouses, Primrose Hill is an enchanting place to be a part of. In the words of one of our residents, ‘Primrose Hill is one of the very unique places in London that feels like it belongs to you. A place where you recognise the faces of those roaming the quaint village high street’. n For further information on living in and around Primrose Hill, please contact Stuart Small on ssmall@johndwood.co.uk or 020 7586 9882. www.johndwood.co.uk

Regents Park Road High Street

The Canal

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The 2013 Corporate Relocation Conference & Exhibition

Monday 4th February, Hotel Russell, Russell Square, Bloomsbury, London, WC1B 5BE

FREE SEMINARS

Chaired by Martin Humphrys, Humphrys’ Education Winner of Relocation Personality of the Year 2009 10.30am — Third Culture Kids - Raising Portable Children

There are many challenges associated with an international move, and how global mobility impacts children is a concern for many families. This session on Third Culture Kids will discuss what research tells us about these unique youngsters and how we can best support them during this lifechanging experience. This session is for parents, but also educators, human resources and relocation professionals who want to understand more about raising and educating children abroad. Mary Langford is an independent international education consultant who has over 30 years experience working in international schools with families of many nationalities. As a TCk who spent a transient childhood in Europe, the USA and Latin America, her personal insights and professional experience make her a strong believer in the many advantages gained by internationally-mobile children when they are supported by parents and schools.

11.30am — I’m Settled....What’s Next? - A Focus On Long-Term Relocation Support

Often all of the attention is placed on the first few weeks of an international move. Join FOCUS to learn the longer-term support factors which have been proven to ensure a successful relocation for the whole family.

12.30pm — Tax Planning Tips For Expatriates

Imperative tax issues for foreign nationals living in the UK including understanding the UK tax system as it applies to a non-UK national, choosing between the remittance and arising basis of taxation, maximising foreign tax credits and dealing with investment considerations”. Presented by Frank Hirth

2.00pm — Global Immigration

Hosted by Ferguson Snell, this seminar will be a practical session providing advice on the latest Immigration developments and the implications for businesses and will cover: Immigration Policies Updates, Global Immigration Management, Compliance and Risk Management, and United Kingdom Sponsor Licencing and Management. If you have an immigration enquiry that you would like our consultants to cover on the day please email your enquiry in advance to fs@fergusonsnell.co.uk

3.00pm — How Do You Apply Procurement Practices to Mobility?

Procurement in the mobility industry can be a complex task, as the concept of supplier management is in its infancy when compared to industries such as technology or retail. SIRVA utilises proven procurement principles that are the foundation of this presentation. As we walk through each step in the process, we provide best practices as well as examples that will simplify the application of procurement to mobility management.

4.00pm — Payroll Compliance For Mobile Employees

As the pressure on internal and external compliance gets greater, the challenges of reporting compensation data for international assignees, in particular relocation expenses and third party vendor expenses, get no easier. Data is invariable embedded in multiple data sources, often in different locations. At the seminar we will discuss what the reporting requirements are, what challenges are faced by organisations and explain some of the ways in which companies are deploying global processes to collect and report relocation expenses and third party vendor expenses. Presented by Deloitte LLP.

Places at these seminars are free, but visitors must pre-register as there is limited availability. To register your place on any or all of these seminars, please email helen@theamericanhour.com or telephone Helen Elliott on 020 8661 0186 We look forward to seeing you there.


Taxing Matters W

hile I thought about the topics I would cover in this article I realised it has been another “interesting” year from a US tax perspective and an especially “interesting” year for Americans living in the UK. I say interesting as quite a few things have happened or are currently happening that will affect Americans abroad. The fiscal cliff is looming; there is a new Medicare Surtax in place for high income earners; the US and the UK have recently signed a bilateral FACTA agreement; the latest IRS commissioner has stepped down; and in September the IRS has come out with a new approach for how non-compliant American tax filers can get back onside with the IRS. Although there have been a lot of changes recently, unfortunately some things have not changed. One thing that has not changed is that all US citizens (and Green Card holders) residing abroad must continue to file a US tax return every year to report worldwide income, regardless of how long they may have lived overseas. As crazy as this seems to a lot of people it is unfortunately the truth in that the US has a unique tax system based on citizenship and permanent residency status. Failure to file can result in significant penalties if taxes are owed as there are various failure to file and failure to pay penalties. The key thing to note is that these penalties are only applied when there is US tax owing. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how

35

you look at it) most Americans living in the UK who work and have their investments in the UK don’t owe any US tax as the UK tax rate on their income is higher than the tax rate on their US return. As the US grants a foreign tax credit for taxes paid to the UK and the UK tax rate is higher the credits on the US return often results in no amount of US tax owing. This being said even if the tax liability is nil an individual still needs to file a US return to report their worldwide income. Even if you are up to date with your tax return filings, one thing that is often overlooked is the additional requirement to file a ”Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts”. The rule is that if the balance of all foreign accounts (when taken together) totals more than $10,000 at any time during a calendar year, an individual must file Form 90-22.1, known more commonly as the FBAR. The penalties for failing to file are steep – up to $10,000 for non-wilful violations and the greater of either $100,000 or 50% of the account balance for wilfully failing to file. In a further effort to ensure Americans abroad, are paying their fair share, the US government introduced the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FACTA) in 2010, requiring foreign financial institutions to provide information on accounts owned by US citizens. Although certain FACTA rules have been in place for a while, on September 12, 2012 the US and UK signed a bilateral agreement to implement the various withholding tax and reporting requirements that were set under FACTA. The signing of the bilateral agreement between the US and the UK will no doubt put additional pressure on noncompliant individuals. Under the “FACTA” rules, a US citizen considered to be a foreign resident for the entire tax year, or who meets the physical presence test for living in a foreign country, was required to file a Form 8938 starting with the 2011 tax year if: • For single persons: aggregated foreign assets totalled USD 200,000 at the last day of the year or USD 300,000 at any time during the year; or • For married people filing jointly: aggregated foreign assets totalled USD 400,000 at the last day of the year or USD 600,000 at any time during the year. The penalty for failure to file Form 8938 is $10,000 with an additional penalty of up to $50,000 for continued failure to file after IRS notification. We have seen numerous situations where taxpayers have not included this form with their 2011 return simply because they were not aware they were required to file it. If, by this point in the article, panic is beginning to set in because you are non-compliant, all is not lost. In an effort to persuade overseas taxpayers to bring their outstanding filings up date, the IRS has, since 2003, made available

a number of Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiatives (OVDI) under which there are significantly reduced penalties for non-filing of FBAR forms. Following on from the 2011 OVDI, which expired in September 2011, a new 2012 OVDI has been made available, although the maximum penalty for failure to file FBAR forms is still quite punitive. As the IRS realised the penalties for non-compliance were quite punitive for the many innocent Americans abroad who were simply not aware of the requirement to file the IRS announced a simpler “streamlined approach” programme as of September 1, 2012. The new streamlined approach is simpler than the last few programmes the IRS has had as this programme only requires individuals to file the past 3 returns instead of 6 years of returns (or 8 under the OVDI programmes). However, the programme still requires the filing of 6 years worth of FBAR forms (Form TD F 90-22.1 Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts). Of course there are restrictions to who can use the streamlined approach for becoming compliant and of course some of the factors are a little ambiguous. The key factors for an individual to be eligible to enter this programme are as follows; the individual must have lived outside of the US since January 1, 2009; the individual must have filed tax returns in their country of residence; after applying foreign tax credits the individual must not owe more than US$ 1,500 in taxes; the individual must not have material economic activity in the US and finally the most ambiguous item; the individual’s situation must not include “high risk factors”. Whether to go through the streamlined approach or through the OVDI process is something that should be carefully considered. What is clear is that if you are not fully compliant, the time to become compliant is now and you will need to discuss with your tax adviser what approach you should take to becoming compliant. As with any tax planning matters, the warning to take advice from an international tax specialist before acting has never been more important. Whilst we would hope that things become a little simpler, it is clear that overseas taxpayers have never before been under such scrutiny and continue to remain a key target in helping fill the black hole in both the US and UK treasuries. n Global Tax Network is a specialist provider of UK, US and Canadian tax services with offices in London and Guildford, consisting of UK Chartered Tax Advisers and US Certified Public Accountants specialising in cross border tax planning and compliance issue. For further information please contact Richard Watts-Joyce CTA or Wayne Bewick CA, CPA CFP on 0207 100 2126 or help@globaltaxnetwork.co.uk.


KEY RESOURCES FOR AMERICAN EXPATRIATES LIVING IN THE UK

Please visit American in Britain’s sister website www.theamericanhour.com: A website for American expatriates moving to, and living in the UK, containing useful information, news, events and contacts. There are also some fantastic competitions and offers available exclusively for our visitors. If you would like to receive The American Hour Monthly Email Newsletter, please email helen@theamericanhour.com. This invaluable Newsletter is sent at the beginning of every month, and covers all the latest events, news and content relevant to any American living in the UK. For further information please email helen@theamericanhour.com or damian@theamericanhour.com


Investment I

Opportunities In Pension Planning For Americans In The UK

n the UK, the government promotes saving for retirement by encouraging people to contribute money into a tax-deferred pension to be used at retirement. In general, money contributed into a pension is not taxed, the growth is tax-deferred and distributions are predominantly taxed as income when taken in retirement. For Americans living in the UK, things are not that simple because of US tax implications. There are many areas open for debate in the professional community when it comes to UK pension planning for US tax payers and if understood, properly considered and executed correctly, UK pension planning can be a very worthwhile and sophisticated wealth planning tool. Please note that due to limitation of space, this article is a slimmed down version of our Whitepaper on the subject and if you would like the full version please contact us at the email address at the end of this article for your free copy. Who is eligible to invest in a UK pension? Nearly everyone in the UK (including children) is eligible to establish and contribute to a Self Invested Pension Plan (SIPP) or can transfer an existing pension into one and benefit from tax relief on contributions up to age 75 if you are a resident in the UK, a Crown

Servant serving overseas, or their husband, wife or civil partner. After-Tax contributions are grossed up From a UK perspective, SIPPs have the same tax benefits as other personal pensions, with up-front basic-rate tax relief added by the government. For every 80p you pay into your pension, the government adds another 20p, boosting it to a ‘gross contribution’ of £1. This basic-rate tax relief is claimed by your SIPP provider, and will be added into your pension account automatically. Almost everyone under 75 years old who contributes to a SIPP qualifies for this tax relief, even children and other non-taxpayers. If you are a higher rate taxpayer you may enjoy greater tax relief as you can claim back up to a further 25p of every £1 gross contribution through your tax return or via your local tax office. This means, for example, that a £10,000 gross contribution to your pension would ultimately cost you £8,000 if you are a basic-rate taxpayer, and from as little as £5,000 if you are a higher rate tax payer which equates to a 100% return on your out of pocket cost (at the time of this writing). Pre-Tax contributions don’t pay National Insurance Typically employer contributions are paid gross and should not count as a taxable benefit so should not be liable to tax or National Insurance which could save the employee and employer up to an additional 23.8%. How much can I save annually? As long as you earn more than £3,600 unlimited contributions are allowed, but tax relief will only be given on the higher of £3,600 or an amount of 100% of "relevant UK earnings" to a maximum of £50,000. In the tax year 2012/13 you can also look back at your contributions over the past three years and make top up contributions for those years to a maximum of £50,000 gross per year (as long as you were a participant in a UK pension plan). Be aware though that if total contributions over two tax years exceed £50,000 you could face a tax charge. If you earn less than £3,600 you can contribute up to £3,600 gross. The rules on exactly how much you can contribute will depend on your individual circumstances and as with all rules, they may change in the future. The US tax perspective A large number of Americans earning a living in the UK pay more income tax to the HMRC than they pay to the IRS and the surplus taxes

are called Foreign Tax Credits (FTCs). These FTCs are only valuable if you can ‘use’ them to reduce your taxes, and a SIPP is an excellent way to do this. Essentially, SIPP contributions lower your UK taxable income but are usually not fully off-settable against your US taxable income (as the US does not recognise all contributions into UK pensions as tax deductible). The most tax efficient SIPP contribution from a US perspective is whereby you reduce your UK income to the point where the UK and US taxes are equivalent. For many investors this may be a difficult calculation, so we would recommend discussing this with your tax advisor. The right amount of contribution can essentially eliminate your FTCs and gives you tax cost ‘basis’ in your SIPP from the IRS’s perspective. This is extremely valuable, as you will see in the later section that discusses distributions. SIPP growth from a UK and US perspective In addition to up-front tax relief, the earnings on your investments within your SIPP grow free of UK capital gains and income tax (tax from dividends cannot be reclaimed). For US taxpayers it is not that simple and this has been the core of a debate within the UK professional community. Here are some different scenarios: 1) It could be argued that a SIPP should be taxed as a Foreign Grantor Trust from the US perspective and that you cannot elect the pension treaty as the SIPP is a trust. If this is the case, then the growth is taxable in the same way any other of your investment accounts would be and subject to Long-Term Capital Gains, Short-Term Capital Gains, Dividend, Income tax rate, etc. If so, you acquire ‘basis’ not only on your contributions but also on the growth when you come to make a distribution. For many people it is more helpful to pay a lower rate of tax annually (such as Long-Term Capital Gains tax or Dividend tax rates which is 15% at the time of this writing) as opposed to deferring the growth until it is distributed and paying Income tax (currently as high as 35% at the time of this writing). This option would require an additional annual filing on your tax return (form 3520) and your wealth advisor would need to file an SS4 form to get the SIPP an EIN number so that the IRS can keep track of the Foreign Grantor Trust/SIPP. If you are subject to this scenario, it is important to avoid investing in non-US registered mutual funds or other collectives as these are Passive Foreign Investment Companies (PFICs) and will be taxed inefficiently from a US perspective (see our article on this topic). For most of our clients, we recommend using a SIPP Trustee and wealth advisor who is familiar with this kind of SIPP and, if suitable, investing 37


in unregulated collective investments (such as US mutual funds, ETFs, Hedge Funds, etc.). Investing a SIPP in a Deferred Variable Annuity (DVA) may make sense for investors, particularly those who are very young or those who will be in a lower tax bracket at retirement. In general, due to the additional cost and illiquidity characteristics of a DVA, a young investor would need to maintain above average rates of return for many decades for this option to be cost effective. Care should be taken before adopting this strategy if you intend to take retirement benefits outside of the United States as you may be taxed twice on your portfolio returns. 2) It can also be argued that the SIPP will be treated as a Foreign Pension and the growth (not the contribution if FTCs are used) is taxed at the investor’s marginal income tax rate when a distribution is made. If an investor expects to be in a lower tax bracket when a distribution is made, then this option may be more attractive. Under this scenario, investors can invest in PFICs, US Mutual Funds, Offshore Funds, etc. You should check with your tax advisor to see if your SIPP is structured under trust law. Within this structure most investors would probably custody their portfolio offshore and therefore have to file a 3520 form annually. This requires individuals to capture the highest value of the portfolio in dollar terms annually for the form. The investor would additionally have to file a 8938 form that highlights to the IRS that they are holding PFICs within their SIPP. This opens the SIPP up to scrutiny by the IRS and the potential for them to argue that the pension is in fact a Foreign Grantor Trust. The investor (and the pension trustee) might also have to file a 3520 trust reporting form annually. If working with experienced advisors, you can also easily structure a SIPP of this type that would avoid these issues, namely the PFICs, FBAR and 8938 forms. Investors should speak with their tax advisors to determine which of these options is relevant to their own personal situation. There is no clear answer and the best advice MASECO can give in this regard is to become educated and to take advice from your tax advisor. Distributions In the UK you can normally take up to 25% of your fund as a tax-free lump sum between the ages of 55 and 75. The rest must be used to provide a taxable income in one of the following forms starting no later than at 75 years old: Lifetime Annuities, Income Drawdown (Unsecured Pension), Flexible Drawdown and Phased Retirement (these options are explained further in our full Whitepaper and beyond the scope of this article). If you die prior to taking retirement benefits, the fund can be used to provide a taxable income for your dependants or can normally be paid as a lump sum, free of tax, to your nominated beneficiary. 38

UK rules on when you can take benefits are different from the US rules on IRA distributions where there is no limit on the amount you can withdraw when you turn 59 ½ years old. From the IRS’s perspective, you will most likely have ‘basis’ on your contribution (if you franked your FTCs when making contributions) and potentially the growth in your SIPP while you were UK resident (see section above) and you would need to pay income tax only on the value above your ‘basis’ at your regular income tax rate. Irrespective of your residency, you would be subject to UK withdrawal limits on distributions and hence the reason why you should pay close attention to the fees that the SIPP provider charges for administration and distributions. If you are a US citizen living in the UK it is worth checking with your tax advisor as to whether the UK 25% tax-free lump sum is considered tax-free in the US when distributed. If it is not considered tax-free then calculations should be performed to see what your level of ‘basis’ is within the pension, as this will reduce your effective tax rate on distributions. You may even be able to use excess Foreign Tax Credits to offset US taxes on the 25% lump sum distribution. It is therefore of vital importance to keep excellent records of contributions to UK pensions and what your level of ‘basis’ is for US tax purposes. These records can go astray if you change tax advisors throughout your life. What is the lifetime allowance? There is a lifetime allowance that applies to an individual’s entire pension savings of £1.5 million. This came down from £1.8 million in April 2012. When calculating the size of your UK pension you must also include your Defined Benefit plans in this calculation. In general you take your defined benefit and multiply by 20. Add this figure to the value of all your pension savings to calculate your current balance. If your total pension benefits taken exceed the lifetime allowance, they will be taxed with a lifetime allowance charge of up to 55% on the excess amount when distributions are made. Estate planning considerations It is worth considering both the US and the UK estate tax considerations on your UK pension. In it’s simplest form there is no UK estate tax charge on your UK pension if you haven’t starting making distributions. It can therefore be an efficient vehicle to use for estate planning purposes, as it could pass onto your heirs without any UK inheritance tax charges. The US, however, would tax the pension as it would fall part of your estate for US tax purposes. If you are drawing an income from your UK pension under the drawdown rules the remaining funds can be used to provide an

income for a dependant or it can be passed onto a beneficiary as a lump sum subject to a 55% tax charge. This is not an inheritance/ estate tax charge and the US could also charge inheritance/estate tax on the pension therefore potentially being double taxed. If you are currently drawing an annuity then there is no tax liability as generally the annuity will stop payments either on the first or second to die. SIPPs investment flexibility An important feature of SIPPs is their investment flexibility. The SIPP itself is merely a tax-efficient wrapper over your investments. You can make many different types of investment within the wrapper, including funds, shares, bonds, gilts, futures and options, commercial property and more. In this respect SIPPs are superior to occupational, personal pensions and stakeholder plans in the investment choices they offer. Occupational and Stakeholder pensions generally have low charges but tend to offer only a limited choice of funds. Traditional personal pensions tend to offer a wider choice of funds - anywhere between a dozen and several hundred - but can carry significant charges, particularly on older plans. SIPPs offer possibly the widest choice of investments, allowing investors to select funds and investments from across the market. SIPPs come in many different guises and costs vary as well and care should be taken to assess the fees and costs of SIPPs as well as any extra fees SIPP providers charge in drawdown or for US citizens. Is a SIPP right for you? SIPPs aren’t for everyone. Some investors do not want the investment choice, while others may already have adequate pension provision through an occupational plan. But for many US citizens who will be retiring back in the United States and therefore do not wish to be holding sterling based fixed income when their long-term liabilities are in dollars, investing in a SIPP can give you flexibility around the currency denomination of your investments and you can run a dollar (or sterling) based portfolio. You may also avoid some additional US tax filings if the SIPP is set up correctly. If you are starting a personal pension for the first time with a small contribution, you should look at all options, as a stakeholder pension may be a cheaper option than a SIPP. Investing in pensions is a complex area when you look through the prism of the UK and US tax code but if done correctly, there could be many tax and other savings. Always take professional advice before making complex financial decisions. For a full copy of our Whitepaper on Pension Planning for UK Residents, please contact us at MASECOcommunications@masecopw.com. n


Foreign Currency Sending Money From The Usa? It Pays To Manage Your Foreign Exchange When Sending Money From Overseas

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oreign exchange can be an afterthought. Moving money from the US to the UK is not always a simple process and banks often make life difficult for foreign nationals living aboard. Managing your international payments effectively can save money as well as time and with the back drop of the global financial crisis causing volatility in the currency markets, keeping in touch with the market themes will ensure you make informed decisions. 41

The cost of making international payments Banks can make life difficult and expensive for US citizens living overseas. Often it seems they are not effectively set up for dealing with international customers even when they say they are. Obstructing international payments and transfers and offering up poor rates of exchange and high fees is a common theme. The basic cost of a foreign exchange transfer is calculated in two ways: 1. The difference in the quoted ‘midmarket’ exchange rate and the rate that is obtained from the provider (the “Spread”). 2. The fees that are charged for moving those funds between accounts. When able to affect a transfer, banks can often offer up a spread of 3% on smaller payments and up to 1.5% on more substantial transfers. A significant charge when you consider the sums involved. For example, if you were to bring $50,000 over to the UK your bank might be charging you up to $1,500 on the spread by providing you with an uncompetitive rate and this is before the fixed fees. These fixed fees can vary greatly depending on the method used to wire the funds from the US to the UK. Often customers will find their US bank charges a fee of up to $30, then what is known as an intermediary bank can deduct up to $20. Some UK banks also then charge a handling fee to receive the funds. This process is costly and can also be frustrating due to a lack of transparency. There can also be a further sting in the tail. US banks will sometimes not authorise payments if they are being instructed to send funds internationally by a customer that is not residing in the US or in some cases present in a US bank branch. In some instances this scenario can cause customers the inconvenience of having to fly back to the States to make the payment, particularly when a large oneoff sum - required for a house purchase for instance – is required. However, there are alternatives. Some foreign exchange specialists offer a wide variety of options for making payments to and from the US and UK and can eliminate fees and reduce ‘spreads’, providing customers with a cost-effective alternative to the bank for all international payment requirement. Their online and phone based service ensures that your transfers are simplified and can eliminate the costly bank charges. What affects the currency markets? The strength or weakness of currencies have historically been derived from the level or expected future level of that countries interest

rate. A high interest rate (savings return) led to a strong currency and low interest rate, led to a weak currency. The markets would rise and fall on the back of key economic data that gave insight into these interest rates and subsequent demand for that currency. In a post Lehman world, this dynamic has shifted with markets buying and selling currencies increasingly on the basis of a so called “risk on” (investors are willing to take more risk) to “risk off ” (investors are risk averse) environment. Currently the US Dollar will tend to benefit from a “risk off” market stance, strengthening on the back of concerns – such as the current Fiscal Cliff in the US or European Debt Crisis – and weaken when such concerns are temporally resolved or off the table. Current key theme – The “Fiscal Cliff” At the time of writing, one of the core themes affecting the price direction of the USD is the “risk on”, “risk off” implications of the impending fiscal cliff in the US. The fiscal cliff consists of approximately $650bn of expiring tax cuts, automatic spending cuts and other fiscal tightening measures scheduled for 2013, with many due to be automatically introduced on January 1st 2013. The total cost of these measures is expected to amount to 4% of GDP and if unchanged could have a significant impact on the US economy, potentially sending it back into recession. Should Congress not have reached a compromise on a range of reforms to the expiring tax cuts and spending cuts, the US will go over the fiscal cliff and this will represent a significant case for a “risk off ” environment. Any anticipation of this or protracted negotiations in resolving these laws should see the USD strengthen as markets seek the low risk USD. Equally the converse might happen if compromise reforms are passed. However, the currency markets are not always straight forward and in the present environment staying on top of key themes is essential for managing any exposure to exchange rate fluctuations. A specialist will not only be able to save customers money by offering improved rates and reduced bank fees, they can also provide a host of relevant data and simple tools for keeping on top of current themes that affect the markets. Dedicated currency dealers will be on hand 24 hours a day to help guide you through any news and to give peace of mind that you are actively managing this unpredictable and often less than transparent aspect of your finances. n Preferential exchange rates for American in Britain readers across 52 currencies – with a best rate price promise. Quote American in Britain when you register to receive fee-free transfers. Visit travelex.co.uk/AIB


Arts & Antiques The Hampstead Antique & Crafts Emporium by Abby Cronin

there are seventeen traders, including a wellestablished auctioneer. You will find everything from antique textiles and quilts to vintage and retro clothing and accessories and dolls houses and miniatures, marble sculptures, kitchenalia, antique and modern jewellery, furniture and even the renowned Button Lady. Take a leisurely stroll through the emporium and meet dealers who are eager to tell you about their unique items and collectibles. Collectors and browsers will find a rich selection of ‘must-haves’. An irresistible selection in antique textiles and quilts fills floor-to- ceiling shelves and tables in the Antiques Textiles Company. Christopher Wilson-Tate, the owner, has been buying and selling antique quilts and luscious paisleys for thirty-two years. His early passion for quilts was nurtured while growing up in Newcastle, where a lot of the British quilts were made. His current stock is remarkable in its diversity and quality. He told me “There’s always a selection of about 700 quilts for sale here in the shop. Seventy per cent are British; the remainder are North American and a few European ones. Most range in age from about the 1840s to the 1930s but there are also quilts from the 1750s. Some quilts even come with a provenance from the maker. I have the best selection of American quilts in the UK and many American customers living in London buy American quilts from me and take them back to the States – many blue and white and indigos all laundered and cleaned.” You are bound to be attracted to the extraordinary

visual delight of colours and patterns which surround you in this shop. And if your shopping list includes quilts and paisley shawls, be sure to check out Chris’ stock. His collection feels like a ‘global village’ of textiles. Jewellery from all periods can be found in various dealers’ collections. Nicole, the owner of the shop The Modernist, specialises first televised broadcast,jewellery 1957 in pieces Queen's by known mid-century designers. They date from 1930 to1970. The shop displays a kaleidoscope of excellence in design, wearable for all occasions. I was particularly drawn to pieces by well-known American copper jewellery designers Rebajes (1932 – 1967), Matisse (1952- 1964) and Renoir (1946 -1964) and the Scandinavian enamel jewellery. Examples are pictured here. The copper range includes sculptural studio pieces by Rebajes and diverse designs by Renoir and Matisse. In the 1950s copper pieces often had enamel added. At the time they were worn as whole sets but today people mix and match. Even a single piece makes a statement. The Modernist’s Scandinavian enamels come mainly from Norway. These designers gave the pieces a silver and gold finish and added wonderful rainbow colours. The Danes and Italians also worked in enamel, and silver and several examples are displayed. In addition to copper and enamel jewellery, there is a varied assortment of period Bakelite, retro pieces, cufflinks and a wide selection of American and Scandinavian silver and studio pieces. If you fancy sparkly gorgeous evening accessories from the ‘40s and ‘50s then head for Antium Antiques where there is glitter

A

re you are curious about where to shop for antiques and crafts? Look no further than the Hampstead Antique and Craft Emporium located in Perrins Court, a short walk from the Hampstead tube. Perrins Court is a narrow alley just off the high street between Victorian buildings saved from developers some forty years ago. The buildings retain Hampstead’s unique character and since 1967 they have housed many specialist dealers offering a variety of goods ranging from antiquity through to contemporary antiques and crafts. Today

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Quilts- courtesy Christopher Wilson-Tate

Courtyard- courtesy Christopher Wilson-Tate


and glitz galore. The owner has been dealing in the Emporium for twelve years. He has a wide range of period antiques and vintage items which include a huge selection of Art Deco glass ware and an immaculate selection of 1940s and 50s costume jewellery. It doesn’t matter if the vogue for evening accessories reflects bygone days. The compacts and evening bags in Antium Antiques are vivid reminders of what Hollywood stars wore. Perhaps you have memories of seeing them in your mother’s even grandmother’s cabinet of curiosities – those unique items worn for special occasions. Take a moment to look at a stunning vintage Volupte evening case of black silk with gold and a floral motif in rhinestones circa 1950. The design and craftsmanship of these pieces speak for themselves. Across the hall from Antium Antiques is Antium Two, a densely furnished shop. You might find the perfect piece for your home amongst a selection of Edwardian and Victorian occasional tables. Vintage mirrors, period clocks, light fixtures and tea sets are reminders of how many Hampstead homes were furnished during the first half of the 20th century. These furnishings are still sought after because they help to retain a period atmosphere and also work well when integrated in minimalist contemporary interiors. Dolls, dollhouses in Georgian, Edwardian and Victorian architectural periods, miniature animals and soldiers, furniture and much more are found in the London Dolls’ Houses and Toys shop. But as Liliana, the owner of the shop explained, “It isn’t just for little girls; it is for the big range of collectors. Musicians often like to buy miniature violins, artists buy miniature hand-painted pictures or just prints—there is a wide range of people who come in and enjoy this.” There are even miniature wallpapers to decorate the dollhouses. “I have been here seven years and many collectors come from Europe and now I am wellknown.” Liliana showed me miniature books including one of the Diamond Jubilee and one of poems by Keats. With the aid of a magnifier you can read them; they are a mere one inch tall and make delightful presents. Outside in the Court look out for The Button Lady, Phyllis Caras. She told me she has been in the Hampstead Antique and Crafts Emporium for seventeen years, and before was in the Community Centre for twenty-five years. Phyllis explained, “It all began when I had changed the buttons on the blouse I wore at an antique fair. The buttons were admired and I was asked if I had any more buttons and I thought, well, I do have a few. Buttons were in my family. My grandparents were garment manufacturers and my late parents were manufacturers and

retailers and buttons went hand in hand with that. When I took a tray of buttons to the next antiques fair, they all sold. In the end I changed to selling buttons. The shop I’m in now is one of the smallest shops here. We’ve got vintage, antique and modern buttons and we’re always interested in buying collections. I’ve had a lot of publicity.” You can get a good idea of her stock from the photo here –but it shows only a modest sample. Her customers fall into different categories. There is the general public who rummage through and find something to transform a garment into something individual. Then there are designers (even a shoe designer), and collectors looking for rare and expensive ones. Exploring the Hampstead Emporium will even refresh your memory of long-forgotten domestic interiors and vintage fashions. Peruse Monica’s Loved Again shop. She has a vast inventory of nostalgic retro items including funky kitchenalia. There is a 1940s kitchen storage cabinet which reminds me of the sets in 1960s kitchen-sink dramas. The Moon Doll Boutique describes itself as an ‘imaginarium’ – a place to shop and pick up old and new fashionable pieces handbags, shoes, silk and ethnic dresses. A treasury of gifts and jewellery are just waiting to be admired and purchased in the shop, Treasure. An abundance of other specialist dealers have vast inventories of period jewellery, china, glass, silver and antiques. And there are two stalls selling marble sculptures and fossils. Find them in Del Maestro by Camilla, dealers in bespoke, one-off handmade pieces of Jewellery, designed and made from natural semi-precious stones and sterling silver. If you have time and energy after you have gone on a shopping spree in the Hampstead Antique and Crafts Emporium, you may be ready to enjoy a meal or just take tea. Not far from the Emporium is Burgh House, in New End Square. Here you can rest in the Buttery Café and enjoy home cooked food. Burgh House incorporates the Hampstead Museum, a Grade 1-listed building with permanent displays on Hampstead history. Plan another outing to Hampstead and visit Fenton House and Garden, a National Trust property which is a 17th century merchants’ house with its stunning walled garden. The treasures of Hampstead extend well beyond the Hampstead Antique and Crafts Emporium but the Emporium is a ‘must visit’ first stop. n

http://www.hampsteadantiqueemporium.com Contact: Abby Cronin artsjournalist@abbycronin.co.uk Website: www.abbycronin/co.uk

Button Lady- courtesy Christopher Wilson-Tate

Copper Jewellery-courtesy Christopher Wilson-Tate

Antium - Edwardian Tables- by Abby Cronin 43


The Healthcare System In The UK Welcome To The UK - Accessing Medical Services

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hen relocating to a new country, quickly establishing a first class healthcare provision for your family is a top priority. In the UK you have two main options to choose from regarding healthcare. In the NHS, the UK has an established free healthcare system with easy access to both front-line emergency services and secondary specialist treatment. If choosing to join the NHS your first point of call would be to register with your local NHS doctor’s surgery where you can receive appointment-based, day-to-day medical care from the General Practitioners (GPs) at that surgery. GPs offer

44

primary care services such as health education, medical advice, vaccinations and even some simple surgical operations. If they believe that further specialist treatment or diagnosis is required, GPs can refer you on to secondary care specialists and clinics. Visiting www.nhs.net will give you a comprehensive overview of the NHS, including what services are available near you. An alternative chosen by many new visitors to the UK is to seek out self-pay, private healthcare where any costs are commonly covered by medical insurance. Due to extreme demand for NHS services amongst patients, there may be occasions when you are not able to receive medical advice or treatment as swiftly as you’d like. The number of people eligible to use the NHS is more than 50 million and one of biggest casualties of the system is the speed at which appointments can be offered. Also, as surgeries are usually close to home and not work, half a day can easily be lost in attending an appointment. Private healthcare is tailored to provide ultimate standards of care as well as convenience, since waiting times are usually shorter and appointments are better tailored to the individual. Many specialists in the private healthcare sector offer appointments outside normal working hours and at weekends. You are still able to access private healthcare services, even if you have already registered with an NHS GP. For example, if further tests or specialist medical advice is required, you may choose to be referred on to secondary care at a private or NHS Hospital. For serious, acute illnesses or injuries, Accident & Emergency (A&E) departments based at NHS Hospitals can be accessed without appointments. It is important to note that, if you think someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk, your first action is to immediately telephone the NHS emergency services on 999 and ask for an ambulance. Patients going to A&E are assessed by a specialist nurse and then prioritised according to urgency. Depending on how busy the department is, waiting times can stretch to hours for some patients. It is often reported in the news how overrun certain NHS trusts and hospitals are becoming. This is reportedly due to cuts in staff and funding for certain services, but a contributing factor is patients themselves coming to A&E for treatments that can be dealt with elsewhere. In non-emergency situations, one service which is becoming increasingly popular is that of walk-in and urgent care centres. An example of this is Casualty First, a private self-pay walk-in urgent care centre based in St John’s Wood. For coughs, colds, chest and ear infections, rashes, injuries such as sprains and broken bones, stomach pains, removal of ear wax, wound dressings,

vaccinations, travel consultations, prescriptions and same-day consultations, where it may have proven difficult to see your NHS GP urgently but an A&E visit is inappropriate, services such as Casualty First may just be the answer, especially since treatments are generally covered by insurance. Most urgent care centres offer no appointments as all patients are seen on a walk-in basis, with the aim being to provide an excellent level of care whilst offering very short waiting times. n Dr Yumnah Ras is one of the urgent care doctors based at Casualty First. For more information on Casualty First please visit www. casualtyfirst.co.uk. For more information on services offered by your local, private urgent care centres, call our dedicated hotline 020 7432 8300. Dr Yumnah Ras

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The American Church In London Revd. John A. D’Elia Senior Minister Of The American Church In London

H

appy New Year! Can it be that we’re already saying that again? Say it with me: “It seems like just yesterday we were bringing in 2012!” The older I get, and I’ll turn 50 this year, the faster the years seem to pass by. It’s not true, of course, but the feeling is real. As much as it made me laugh to hear my parents and grandparents say that when I was younger, I understand much better now. The passing of time gives us all a chance to reflect. We can look back on achievements in the past year: promotions, recognition for accomplishments, and other kinds of success. We can also look back on things that didn’t go so well—the economy is challenging, to 46

say the least, and t h e presidential campaign last year was something more to be endured than enjoyed. As we get to the start of a new year, we can all think back on how the last one went. During this season we can look ahead to our plans and hopes and concerns for the coming year, too. The inauguration of President Obama for his second term on January 21st ought to give us all some cause for celebration. Whatever your political leanings might be, it’s still a wondrous thing to watch a wealthy and powerful nation transfer power peacefully between administrations. And then there’s the fiscal cliff. As I write this, an agreement remains far off on how to address the changes that all seem to be coming at once. A new year can bring hope and a fresh start, but it can also carry a sense of worry too. Jesus has some things to say about how we can let worry affect our lives. In his Sermon on the Mount he said: “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” Now Jesus isn’t talking about being careful or aware or vigilant here. He’s talking about the kind of worry that steals our focus, saps our energy, and clouds our understanding. He’s talking about the choice to obsess over our concerns, rather than trusting God and acting for ourselves. It’s always a question that catches me by surprise, no matter how many times I read it and hear it. Who can add to their time, or their accomplishments, or even their pleasure, by allowing themselves to be paralysed by worry? The answer, really, is no one, of course. And yet it’s so tempting sometimes to let our worries weigh us down so much that we give up some of the best gifts we have in this life. First, worrying can make us forget that we can be a part of communities of people who care about us and who will step in and help us when we need them. That’s one of the roles a church or community of faith can play in our lives. We have the privilege, if we choose it, to share our lives in church families, and when hard times come we know that these friends

John A. D’Elia

will stand by our sides and help us make it through. If you’re new to life in the UK, let me encourage you to seek out a faith community, and to invest a part of your life there. You never know how you might be helped, or even how you might help someone else. Being a part of a faith community will give you a chance to discover (or rediscover) the other great gift this life has to offer: a sense of God’s presence in your life. Faith in God, even when we struggle with it, helps us develop a sense of our place in the world, and it also reminds us that we are loved by someone far greater than us. Learning to trust God—practicing that trust on a daily basis—can place our concerns and worries in the proper perspective. None of this is escapism. It’s just a gentle reminder of who we are and whose we are in the grand scheme of things. People are forever making New Year’s resolutions, and by the time you read this you may already have abandoned yours. But let me encourage you, as you reflect on the last year and dream a little about the year to come, to seek out a community where you can share your life with someone else, and get a glimpse of what God is doing in your part of the world. Happy New Year! And may God bless you and yours, today and every day. n


Useful Numbers EDUCATION - SCHOOLS

ACS International Schools Heywood, Portsmouth Road, Cobham, Surrey, KT11 1BL Telephone: 01932 869721 Email: frose@acs-england.co.uk Website: www.acs-england.co.uk Contact: Fergus Rose Three superb locations close to London, ACS provides a stable environment, high educational standards and a happy social life for relocated youngsters. ISL Group of Schools ISL Surrey Old Woking Road, Woking, Surrey GU22 8HY Contact: Claudine Hakim Telephone: +44 (0)1483 750 409 ISL London 139 Gunnersbury Avenue, London W3 8LG Contact: Yoel Gordon Telephone: +44 (0)20 8992 5823 ISL Qatar PO Box 18511, North Duhail, Qatar Contact: Nivin El Aawar Telephone: +974 4433 8600 Website: www.islschools.org Email: hmulkey@islschools.org Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2012, the International School of London (ISL) Group has schools in London, Surrey, and Qatar. The internationally recognised primary and secondary curricula have embedded language programmes (mother tongue, English as an Additional Language, and second language) which continue throughout the student’s stay in the school. A team of experienced and qualified teachers and administrators provides every student with the opportunity to grow and learn in an environment that

respects diversity and promotes identity, understanding, and a passion for learning. TASIS THE AMERICAN SCHOOL IN ENGLAND Coldharbour Lane, Thorpe, Surrey TW20 8TE Contact: Karen House Telephone: +44 (0)1932 582316 Email: ukadmissions@tasisengland.org Website: www.tasisengland.org TASIS England offers the International Baccalaureate Diploma, an American college preparatory curriculum, and AP courses to its diverse community of coed day (3-18) and boarding (14-18) students from 50 nations. The excellent academic program, including ESL, is taught in small classes, allowing the individualized attention needed to encourage every student to reach their potential. Outstanding opportunities in art, drama, music, and athletics provide a balanced education. Extensive summer opportunities are also offered. Located close to London on a beautiful and historic 46-acre estate.

IMMIGRATION Legal Services

FRAGOMEN 4th Floor, Holborn Gate, 326-330 High Holborn, London WC1V 7PP Contact: Charlotte Slocombe Telephone: +44 (0)20 3077 5250 Email: cslocombe@fragomen.com Website: www.fragomen.com As the world's leading provider of immigration legal services and advice, Fragomen has served the immigration needs of clients ranging from individuals to the world’s leading multinational corporations for 60 years. With 36 offices in 15 countries worldwide, Fragomen has the resources and the reach to provide strategic and effective immigration solutions for over 140 countries around the globe.

INTERNATIONAL PAYMENTS

TRAVELEX INTERNATIONAL PAYMENTS UKForex, 2nd Floor, 48-54 Moorgate, London. EC2R 6EL. Telephone: 0845 609 1356 Website: www.travelex.com/aib Contact: Chris Humphrey – Head of Private Clients Email: ChrisHumphrey@ukforex.co.uk Save money when you make international money transfers For a secure, safe and fast way to perform all your overseas money transfers. We regularly check the rates of major banks and key competitors to ensure we give you the best overall quote on your money transfer – that’s the International Payments Price Promise. With international money transfers to over 50

countries and 24 hour customer service Monday to Friday, it’s easy to see why we are the preferred solution for your international money transfers.

MOVING

DT MOVING 49 Wates Way, Mitcham, Greater London CR4 4HR Tel: 020 7622 4393 Email: london@dtmoving.com Web: www.dtmoving.com Contact: Tim Daniells DT Moving is a long established and awardwinning international moving company. Founded in 1870 as Davies Turner, DT Moving has vast experience in moving Americans to and from the United States and to other worldwide destinations. With a customer satisfaction rating of 96% for 2011, DT Moving offer a quality service at competitive rates. 1st class storage facilities are available.

TAXATION

WESTLETON DRAKE LLP 9 Devonshire Square, London EC2M 4YF Telephone: +44 (0)20 3178 6041 Fax: +44 (0)20 3178 4083 Email: info@westletondrake.com Website: www.westletondrake.com US and UK tax advisors who specialise in assisting Americans living in the UK, and corporations and partnerships doing business in the US and UK.

WEALTH MANAGEMENT

MASECO Private Wealth Buchanan House 3 St James’s Square London SW1Y 4JU Telephone: +44 (0)20 7043 0455 Email: enquiries@masecopw.com Website: www.masecoprivatewealth.com MASECO Private Wealth gives peace of mind by providing expert guidance to US families on how to simplify their cross-border wealth management needs. We serve and care for Americans living at home or abroad through the planning and implementation of rational, practical and tax efficient wealth management strategies. LONGLEY ASSET MANAGEMENT Address: 44 Clancarty Road, London SW6 3AA Phone number: 020 7731 0888 Website: www.lamasset.com Contact name: Melissa Longley and Paul Stevens Email: Melissa.longley@lamasset.com Longley Asset Management is a boutique investment firm providing tailored solutions to US individuals and families situated in the UK, and who may be seeking traditional and comprehensive investment strategies. Our investment offering includes direct equity and fixed income portfolios. 47


The US Embassy wishes you a Happy New Year We congratulate the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who are expecting an addition to the Royal Family! Are you also “expecting” your family to grow? If so, and you believe your child will have a claim to US citizenship, please visit http://london.usembassy.gov/cons_new/acs/passports/robirth4.html for information about obtaining your baby’s Consular Report of Birth Abroad, Social Security number and first passport. What is your ideal vacation? Palm trees and sand? Snow skiing? Family reunions? Whatever your destination, it is not too early to start thinking about spring break and summer vacations. Please double check the expiration dates of your US passports and apply early if they need to be replaced. Spring and Summer are very busy times in the Embassy’s Consular Section, so early planning ensures you will get the appointment that suits your schedule and have sufficient time for the new passports to arrive. For more about Passport Services at the US Embassy, check out http://london.usembassy.gov/cons_new/acs/passports/index.html. OK, I have my new passport, my tickets, and my trip insurance – is there anything else I should think about? Yes! Before you travel abroad, please take a few moments to sign up for the State Department’s free Smart Traveller Enrollment Program (STEP) at http://www.travel.state.gov/travel/tips/registration/registration_4789. html. Remember in the past when you had to go in person to the US Embassy to “register” by filling out a 3X5 index card? Now STEP has put that process online, and it is easier than ever. By signing up, you will automatically receive travel updates about the regions in which you will be travelling, and you assist us in providing assistance in case of emergencies. Remember that our website has useful information ranging from security updates to travel and safety tips, so visit us at http://london.usembassy.gov/service.html. We also encourage you to “like” our facebook page http:// www.facebook.com/uk.usembassy/app_128953167177144 The US Embassy in London wishes everyone a safe and prosperous 2013!

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American in Britain Winter 2012  

The winter 2012 issue of the quarterly magazine for American expatriates living in the UK, American in Britain. Articles in this issue incl...

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