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WINTER 2016/2017

Serving the American Community in the UK

THIS ISSUE’S FEATURES INCLUDE: Tax Issues   •   Eating Out   •   Wealth Management Days Out With The Family   •   Theatre   •   American Women’s Clubs News Travel   •   Arts & Antiques   •   Take Five   •   Hotel Review Embassy Corner   •   UK Sports   •   US Sport   •   Reader’s Lives


EMBASSY CORNER Just Married and Moving Back to the States? Getting married can be stressful. But how much more nerve-racking must it be when the spouses hail from different countries and have to worry about immigration issues on top of all the other logistics. If you’re an American who has recently married a foreign-born citizen (or you’re about to) and you expect to move back to the United States together, this article is for you. With advance planning, you can help avoid unexpected obstacles to starting your new life together back home as a married couple. Tourist travel to the United States is relatively straightforward, requiring at most a nonimmigrant visa that can be obtained quickly. But moving permanently to the United States is a different story. While the US Embassy aims to make the process run as smoothly as possible, there is no question that the system for obtaining a visa for permanent immigration, as established by US law, requires more steps, more time, greater expense, and close attention to detail. You’ll need to start planning well in advance at least 7-10 months in advance, depending on your circumstances - if you want to be safe.

Requesting a US Immigrant Visa for Your Foreign-Born Spouse For your foreign-born spouse to be eligible for an immigrant visa, you - the American citizen spouse - must complete a petition on your foreign spouse’s behalf, after the wedding, and send it to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (known as USCIS), along with a fee. If you live in the United Kingdom, you can file that petition directly with USCIS’s London office, located at the US Embassy, by following instructions on the Embassy website at uk.usembassy.gov. The processing time for your petition, after filing the petition at the Embassy, is generally about seven months. If, on the other hand, you’re an American living back home in the United States, you’ll need to file that petition for your spouse by mailing it to a dedicated USCIS address back in the States, which you’ll find on the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov. USCIS will spend some five months evaluating the petition and, if there are no problems, will approve it. At that point, USCIS will send the approved petition to a US Department of State office called the National Visa Center (or NVC). As the petitioner, you’ll receive instructions from NVC by mail, including a list of forms and other documents you must send in before the case can go forward. NVC will next set up an interview appointment for your spouse at the US Embassy in London, and request that your spouse undergo a physical examination at a local doctor’s office. American In Britain

In total, you can expect NVC’s role in the process to last about five months. When the interview occurs at the Embassy, the adjudicating officer will determine whether the applicant is indeed eligible for the visa under US law, and will ensure that all documentary requirements have been met. At this stage there may be additional processing delays in certain cases, so you should avoid booking nonrefundable tickets or making other irrevocable commitments until a visa is in fact issued and in your spouse’s hands. Once the visa is issued, it will be sent to the applicant by courier about 1-2 weeks after the interview. Your spouse will become a legal US resident right after landing in the United States and being admitted into the country by an immigration officer.

What About My Spouse’s Children? If your new spouse has unmarried children under 21, you may be able to file a separate petition for each of them to join you in the United States as legal residents. See uk.usembassy.gov and www. uscis.gov for further guidance.

Can My Fiancé(e) Move to the United States Before We’re Married? If you and your foreign-born fiancé(e) have not yet married but plan to do so in the United States and then live there, your soon-to-be spouse may qualify for a fiancé(e) visa. The process and timeline are similar to what is described above for couples who are already married, although the petition must be filed domestically with USCIS. Instructions are available at www.uscis.gov.

Do Your Homework! If your spouse or fiancé(e) plans to move to the United States, don’t wait to begin researching the process in more detail. Visit the Embassy and USCIS websites listed above to learn about the documentary requirements, and begin gathering that paperwork now. Some documents, like birth certificates, police records, and divorce decrees from other countries, may be difficult and time-consuming to obtain, so start right away. In complicated cases, some visa applicants hire immigration lawyers to help them with the process; consider whether that might make a difference for you. The United States issues more than a halfmillion immigrant visas each year worldwide, and the US Embassy in London is one of our largest immigrant visa operations in Europe. Each of the different offices and agencies involved in the immigrant visa process is dedicated to working quickly and diligently to serve you, while also ensuring the protection of US borders.

EMBASSY INFORMATION US Embassy, 24 Grosvenor Square, London W1K 6AH uk.usembassy.gov Switchboard: (020)7499 9000 Business Hours: 8:30am- 5:30pm, Monday-Friday. Closed on American and UK holidays. An officer is available via the switchboard all day, every day, for a life or death emergency involving a US citizen in the United Kingdom. Passport and Citizenship Services: By Appointment Monday - Friday Notary Services: By appointment Appointments available only online at uk.usembassy.gov Federal Benefits Unit: uk.usembassy.gov General Social Security information: ssa.gov Travel Advice: travel.state.gov


WINTER 2016/2017

CONTENTS

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IFC Embassy Corner 1 Contents 2 Eating Out 6 Days Out With The Family 8 Travel

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10 Hotel Review 12 Wealth Management 14 Tax 16 Reader’s Lives 18 US Sport

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20 UK Sports 22 Take Five 26 A Letter From Scotland 29 Theatre 31 American Women’s Clubs News

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37 Arts & Antiques 40 Free Annual Subscription IBC Useful Numbers

Advisory Panel:

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

Cover Image: Jay Ajayi is an American football running back for the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League. Image Credit: NFL UK

No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission of the publishers. Origination and Printing by Gemini Group

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EATING OUT

Restaurant Reviews

Ormer Mayfair

7-12 Half Moon St, Mayfair, London W1J 7BH Telephone: 020 7016 5601 If you have ever been to Jersey in the Channel Islands you may be thinking that the name‘Ormer’ sounds familiar. That is because the original Ormer restaurant has its home in St Helier, the island’s capital, and is renowned for its Michelin Star winning cuisine. Named after the Channel Islands’ prized local abalone, the man behind Ormer is Shaun Rankin; a world-renowned chef and respected gourmet on the world’s food stage. Gaining his first Michelin star in 2005 for his work at Bohemia restaurant in Jersey, he subsequently spent 18 years promoting the Island’s gastronomy, winning a further Michelin star shortly after opening Ormer, Jersey. In the UK he is well known for his performance on BBC Two’s Great British Menu and is a regular on Saturday Kitchen; essential Saturday morning viewing for anyone with even the slightest interest in food. Shaun has now brought the Ormer name to London, along with his love for the island and its local food. Having visited Jersey on a couple of occasions it is not hard to see why it should be the inspiration for a restaurant in London. The island itself is a really charming place, with many unspoilt beaches and a fascinating history (having been occupied by the Nazis during the Second World War) along with a reputation for superior produce, perhaps most notably Jersey Royal potatoes, and dairy from Jersey cows. Ormer Mayfair offers seasonal Jersey produce 2

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including fresh lobster, crab, oysters, hand dived scallops, Jersey royals and hand-picked shoreline foraged herbs along with handmade butter that will have you spreading ever thicker slathers over your bread (guilty as charged!). In fact, a high proportion of the ingredients are sourced from the island, as much as 90% in the summer months, according to the website. The restaurant itself is a fairly new addition to the gastronomic scene in London, having undergone a major refurbishment prior to its opening in October. The extensive work, and impressive attention to detail, has resulted in a glamorous yet sophisticated interior. There is a strong Art Deco influence at work, with stunning geometric marble flooring, glass tiles, velvet banquettes and mirrored columns. Being housed in the historic Flemings Hotel, established in 1852, Ormer feels like it has established its own identity whilst managing to retain an atmosphere perfectly in keeping with the hotel and its history. On the night we visited, the restaurant became steadily busier and busier until there was a real buzz about the space. Looking around there was a group clearly engaged in business discussions, a large group celebrating a special occasion, guests from the hotel who appeared to be visiting from abroad, and other couples and groups of friends out for an evening of fine dining. It’s always reassuring to see the popularity of the place where you are eating, although we needn’t have concerned ourselves with this! Before our meal, we were treated to a glass of fizz from a selection that included English Sparkling

wine from Sussex amongst Champagnes and Prosecco. The English wine scene has been doing very well in recent years and the sparkling wine we sampled stood up to any of the alternatives we could have chosen. Making a difficult decision seemed to be a continuing theme of the evening as we studied the menu. In the end, I opted for the Hand Dived Scallops with chicken wings, creamed corn and basil, whilst my companion chose the Jersey Lobster ravioli. Teaming scallops with chicken seemed like an unusual combination, but my empty plate bore testament to the fact that it really worked. The starters range in price from £13-£18, and include other tempting options such as Jersey Crab and Roast Foie Gras. Our main course choices continued the island theme, with both of us choosing fish. I opted for Turbot with a pine nut crust with cockles and sea vegetables. The fish was sublime served with the sea vegetables- which are foraged from the Jersey coast. My partner chose Dover Sole with smoked salmon, potato and leek risotto and pickled caperberry salad. We also enjoyed sides of mushrooms and broccoli. The mushrooms were quite delicious and a much healthier alternative to the triple cooked chips we had been considering! We are both real food lovers (you may have sensed this) and enjoy eating out in a whole range of places, but you really can tell when the food you are eating comes from the highest quality ingredients, and has been prepared with skill and passion, which is certainly the case here. The meat choices include Iberico Pork, Roast


EATING OUT Duck, Scottish Venison and Chateaubriand. These main courses are priced between £29 and £35 with a tasting menu available for £75. It is also worth mentioning that Ormer caters very well for specific dietary requirements and offers separate vegetarian and vegan menus. The dessert selection at Ormer reads like a list of all-time favourites, including Baked Alaska, Treacle Tart, Chocolate Brownie and Apple Crumble. I chose the Cherry Soufflé, in an attempt to branch out, and I was glad I did. The dessert was stunning. A large soufflé sat alongside a boule of cherry sorbet and a mini black forest gateau. The chocolate mirror glaze finish on the gateau added to the overall impact. It was quite delicious, the perfect combination of textures and flavours; with the sweetness of the gateau balanced out by the tartness of the sorbet, and combined with the light fluffy texture of the soufflé. My companion chose to round off his meal with a selection of British and French cheeses, which he enjoyed, but I am sure I detected a serious case of food envy after he sampled my Cherry Soufflé. Desserts vary between £9 and £16. We desperately wanted to conclude with a visit to the bar -a really fabulous looking spot to curl up with an after-dinner drink, or coffee, but unfortunately the need to catch the final train of the evening dictated otherwise. This is a great destination for food lovers, and with a bar menu, and newly created Afternoon Tea menu, there isn’t any occasion unaccounted for here. The only thing you’ll be left wanting at the end of the evening is an opportunity to dine at the original Ormer in Jersey.

Absurd Bird

25 Peter Street, London W1F 0AH Telephone: 020 3198 8444 When you see a name of a restaurant you can usually get an idea of what type of restaurant it is, and Absurd Bird sums this quirky restaurant up perfectly, as the bird (the chicken) you get is absurdly good. Nesting behind the well-known main streets of Soho, this Absurd Bird is truly a hidden gem (I know this comment is over-used, but here it is valid), and it is testament to the quality of the food and the buzz that has been created, that even early on a Wednesday evening in October, the restaurant was full, as unless you knew it was there it is not a place you would walk past and go in. The company kicked off its chicken-focused takeover of London in March by launching two outlets, one in Spitalfields, and the one my family visited in Soho, and they seem to have already built up a dedicated following - will they be called Absurders?! The great thing about their offering is its pure simplicity. There are a few gimmicks, which I think are designed to attract people initially to their restaurant, but once you visit, it will be the food that will keep you coming back. The simplicity is top quality chicken combined with American deep south cooking, and that quality is based upon a link up with Fosse Meadows Farm where they have bought every single www.theamericanhour.com

one of their chickens whilst still in the egg, all 14,000 of them. Fosse Meadows Farm birds are additive and hormone free, fed on maize and bred for half as long again as the average free range chicken, and this makes their chicken succulent and incredibly tasty. As I said, this restaurant is not easy to find, but the effort is worth it, and once you enter the small upstairs and pass the open kitchen you descend to the main seating area. The downstairs is cosy and is dominated by an old school saloon bar and has the feel of an illegal drinking den, which is fitting, as no Southern den should come without its own moonshine which is brewed exclusively for Absurd Bird by Signature Brewery in Leyton. On taking our seats, and whilst my daughter scanned the menu after selecting a diet coke, I had the much harder choice of selecting one of the array of cocktails on offer from specialist mixologists Soulshakers (does anyone else think this sounds like a music group from the 70’s?). There are many twists on old favourites, but being adventurous, I selected the Cock Shot which combined a shot of Moonshine with a shot of chicken consommé, which sounds a bizarre combination, but is actually a must-try. I picked up the menu and immediately got a warm feeling about the food we were going to eat, as the selection is large enough to satisfy everyone’s tastes, but small enough to ensure that everything is done well. The menu fits on one page and is split into 5 sections. The first has the smallish plates which are perfect to have with your drinks. The Jalapeno Cheese Biscuits with apple butter (£5.20) have lovely warmth, and the Spinach and Artichoke Dip with Fried Tortilla Chips (£6) is very moreish. For those more healthy than me, and that is probably more than it should be!, there are 4 exotic salads under the Greenish Plates heading offering Quinoa and Mango (£8.50) or a Baby Kale salad with roasted pumpkin and dried cranberries (£8), but my eyes were drawn to the next section ‘From the Wingshack’. Absurd Bird are famous for these and it isn’t hard to see why. These wings are not the usual wings you find in supermarkets or other restaurants, these are super wings and are enormous, and your next dilemma is to work out what flavour you want as there are a large number of different choices. I used to work in Boston a number of years ago, and when there I tasted some of the best Buffalo wings, so I am overjoyed that I have found a place in England that serves wings of a

similar standard. The sauce is perfect with just enough spice to give you that zing when eating, and Buffalo wings just have to be accompanied by a blue cheese dip which was rich and creamy. My daughter and wife also ordered some Crispy Fried Buttermilk Wings where the succulent chicken contrasted well with the light and crispy outer shell. Other choices are Smoked Garlic Parmesan and Lemon Wings, Smoked Chicken Wings and BBQ Wings, and the final dilemma is the number you want, as you can choose from 4 to 24 (£6 - £24), and although absolutely delicious, be careful, as these wings are big, so factor that in when ordering as these are probably the largest wings in the UK. Having gorged on wings we all turned our attention to the main course, and my daughter and wife selected the Crispy Fried Chicken Burger with BBQ sauce and coleslaw (£9.80). The bun was light and surrounded the largest piece of chicken I have ever seen. My daughter usually picks at her food, but this time there was a marvellous silence as she devoured her burger and delighted in her chips served in a copper flagon. My wife was equally silent and they both declared that this was the best chicken burger they had ever had. After my wingfest, I chose a small portion of Big Mama’s Favourite, which was succulent Southern style smoked chicken served with a sweet gravy (1/4 £7) as I needed to save some room for dessert! Again the chicken was melt in your mouth and as a true chicken lover, I was in heaven. This heavenly experience continued into dessert, where my daughter picked the Choc Chip Cookies (£4.50), and my wife and I chose the Crack Pie (£4.80). The cookies were crunchy and came with some milk, and the crack pie is a sweet toothed persons dream, as it is a glorious explosion of caramel and sugar and is probably as addictive as its namesake! Absurd Bird is a welcome addition to the UK food scene and has 2 restaurants in London, one in Exeter and one in Bath, and I for one will be coming back again and again for their wings, and one of these days I will get them to give me their Buffalo sauce recipe as it is not only amazing, but takes me back to my youth. Go once and I will bet you will return again and again, as this is soul warming comfort food with roots in the London Street food scene all wrapped up in a bohemian styled restaurant, and although you may feel these styles shouldn’t go, the bizarre thing is that they do. I for one am now an Absurder, and if you go I think you will be one too.

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Tootoomoo

287 St Paul’s Road, Islington, London N1 2LH Telephone: 020 7704 6687 I have visited Highbury and Islington station many times, as my father-in law is an Arsenal season ticket holder, and I am now delighted to have an amazing venue to have either pre- or post-game drinks and dinner, as Tootoomoo is just a stone’s throw away from the Emirates Stadium. Tootoomoo is set up as both a restaurant and takeaway, and if we hadn’t known it was there we could have easily missed it or passed it off as just another local takeaway, which would have been tragic, as this is a great little spot for dining. Although it is also a takeaway, this doesn’t detract from the restaurant itself, and in fact adds a busy vibe to the restaurant. The warm lighting coming from the bare light bulbs and the bird cage designs, coupled with the colourful furniture and tables inlaid with pretty tiling patterns, gives a fusion Asian street market themed restaurant. Tootoomoo’s food has an Asian fusion menu, which combines Malaysian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese styles, and does so really well, taking the best of each to satisfy everyone’s tastes, and certainly mine. I understand that the food also takes a strong influence from their great matriarch Grandma Pang, whose secret ingredients and recipes have been incorporated with modern techniques, and I wish I had such a Grandma, as the food is truly delicious. My wife and I visited on a Sunday and opted for the bottomless brunch which allows you to select anything off the menu for a set price. This brunch is flexible, allowing either 1 1/2 hours or 2 hours, and offers a food only price or a price that includes unlimited drinks. Prices range from £30 to £45 per person and are excellent value. After we ordered a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (£23) we started our trip across Asia with some Edamame (£2.95) followed closely by some Crispy Duck Rolls accompanied with a lovely rich hoisin sauce (£4.50) and a lovely Wanton Soup with Chicken Dumplings (£2.95). These were quickly followed by some fabulously rich and meaty BBQ Pork Ribs (£4.95), and Satay Chicken (£5.75) which was slightly crispy on

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the outside and succulent in the inside. Our final starter was some Crispy Smoked Chicken in chilli salt and spicy mayo (£4.95) which was just perfect and hugely enjoyable to eat. After another glass of wine we turned our attention to one of my favourite part of any Asian menu, the Tempura and Grill section. As we were on the bottomless brunch we selected the Popcorn Rock Shrimp with nori dust and yuzu mayo (£7.50), the Soft Shell Prawn Tempura with shichimi salt and jalapeno mayo (£7.95) and Aromatic Duck in pancakes (£8.95), with more of that rich and warming hoisin sauce. The shrimp was almost addictive, and the saltiness of the shrimp was well supported by the gentle citrus tang of the yuzu mayo and the spiciness of the jalapeno added substance to the Soft Shell Crab Tempura. What I do know is that the chefs know how to deep fry things, as the batter was light and crispy and as good as you would find anywhere in Asia. What is nice is that dishes come when they are ready, so our table kept being filled with goodies, but after such a feast we decided to take a slight break before tackling the Wok section of the menu. This break allowed me to fully investigate the mains, and the more I looked, the harder the choice became as all appealed. After much deliberation we chose a Thai/Chinese combination with Singapore Noodles with squid and shrimps (£6.95), Pad Thai Noodles with chicken (£6.95) and a Chicken Thai Green Curry (£6.95). The Singapore Noodles had just enough heat as did the Thai curry, all be it this time with a lovely creamy sauce, but the Pad Thai was a little sweet for my taste, but maybe that is me being picky considering the quality of the rest of the food. Desserts are limited to a selection of Frozen Yoghurts, but after such a complete meal a light ending is always sensible. The service matched the impeccable food, and please look past the frontage, because if you do you will be treated to exceptional street food all served in a restaurant environment all under the shadows of the Emirates stadium, and if you are an Arsenal fan you may need cheering up after the game!

The Bear Oxshott

Leatherhead Road, South East England KT22 0JE Telephone: 01372 842747 Surrey is a marvellous place to live, as it is an easy commutable distance from London, and one of its more exclusive areas is Oxshott village, which, in 2010, was voted the village with the most footballers, as it is very close to Chelsea’s training ground. Indeed, the alleged who’s who of celebrities that live in Oxshott is very impressive, as it includes Andy Murray, Jamie and Louise Redknapp (she of Strictly Come Dancing fame and the band Eternal), Colin Montgomerie and David Lloyd to name but a few, and The Bear, one of two local pubs, has just had a complete overhaul, so who knows, you may see some of this celebrities here now over a pint or two! As mentioned, The Bear has been lavishly renovated and extended, and they have taken the old design and modernised things to give a classically designed interior with rich fabrics and finishes which provides a lovely relaxing space to enjoy fine pub food, and for those looking for a place to hold a party or large family lunch, there is a private dining area available and flexible spaces throughout. My wife and I visited The Bear on a Tuesday lunchtime, and although not full, it still had a lively buzz (I would suggest booking as this Pub gets very busy in the evening), and having drunk in the pub a number of years ago I was immediately struck by the change. We were taken to a comfy booth adjacent to the new conservatory, and after ordering a crisp and light Chilean Sauvignon Blanc (£22) we perused the menu that has been updated to complement the new décor. It was then I started scanning the room for those well known stars, but to my disappointment they must have all been working that day! ‘Our food is all fresh, seasonal and British’states the menu, and you will find classic dishes along with more contemporary items and an extensive wine list to suit all tastes. We started our meal with two dishes from the nibbles section, the Crispy Pork Fritters with chilli jam (£5) and the Smoked Salmon Pâté with seeded wholemeal loaves (£4), and although the pâté had just enough horseradish and lemon to bring out the flavour of the salmon without overpowering it, the pork fritters were a little over fried, which slightly detracted from their lovely meatiness. I would also say that for me fritters are flat, whereas these should be more like pork balls. For our starters I chose Cod and Salmon Fish Cakes (£7) and my wife the Spiced Bramley Apple and Roasted Parsnip Soup (£6). These fish cakes were this time lightly fried and were suitably fishy, whilst my wife’s soup was warming with a perfect amount of sweetness from the apple. The main courses are split between a range of pub favourites and The Bear’s Signatures Steaks, and although I love steaks, and these are all hand selected 28 day dry aged certified English Aberdeen Angus beef, I chose a British classic, Young’s Beer Battered Cod,Triple Cooked Chips, mushy peas and chunky tartar sauce (£13), and my wife chose The


EATING OUT Bear Beef Burger, cheese, ale onions, and pickles in a brioche bun with fries (£13). The fish and the chips mirrored each other in that both were light and fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside and this is just how I like them and my wife, who is usually not a burger type of girl, loved it, as the meat

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was crispy on the outside and soft in the middle and the cheese and other fillings complemented the burger perfectly. For dessert I had a thick and fudgy Brownie (£6) which certainly satisfied this chocoholics taste buds, whilst my wife opted for a lighter option of

Cookies and Jude Ice Cream scoops (£6). Oxshott is a very fashionable suburb of London, and it now has an equally fashionable gastropub to cater for its residents, and next time I come hopefully I will be luckier with my celebrity spotting.

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DAYS OUT WITH THE FAMILY

Thames Rockets Finding the best way to view London is a hardfought business; from the top of a bus, the top of a skyscraper, on foot via an organised walk, from a Rickshaw or from practically any mode of transport you can imagine, not forgetting the glass capsules of the London Eye, there are so many ways to view the glorious capital city that you could waste many hours, even days researching the best option. Of course, you could argue that any of these will give you a different perspective of London and an enjoyable experience into the bargain, and as such are all brilliant sight-seeing options in their own right. Having lived all my life a shortish train ride from London (give or take the recent train strikes!) I have been lucky enough to sample a fair few of these, and never tire of seeing London from a different view pointthere is just so much to see, so much history, so 6

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many anecdotes and stories, so many hidden treasure troves, so many curios and so many opportunities to people watch. Of course, there is also the ever-changing skyline with new architectural wonders seeming to pop up constantly. What I am trying to say is that that there is probably no one ‘view’, or experience, that can be declared ‘the best’, but taking a high-speed boat ride along the Thames rated for me as the most exhilarating sight-seeing experience I have ever had, and one I know I will never forget! There are several companies offering these high-speed rides, but our experience was through ‘Thames Rockets’, the original speedboat tour operator in London. We arrived around 20 minutes before our departure at the London Eye Pier to be fitted with life jackets and listen to a quick safety briefing. Taking to our seats, our guide introduced himself as ‘Little Mike’; somewhat confusing,

being a man of average height! However, Little Mike was extremely jolly, friendly and good humoured, as he briefly outlined what we could expect in the next 50 minutes. Initially we cruised up the Thames taking in sights including The Houses of Parliament, Cleopatra’s Needle, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe and the Tower of London, amongst too many others to mention. Our guide had interesting and amusing quips to share, most of which I had never heard before...of which the most memorable for me was the fact that Waterloo bridge, sometimes known as ‘Ladies’ Bridge’, was in fact built largely by women during the Second World War, a fact that has been pretty much forgotten since, as the women were never acknowledged when the bridge was opened in 1945. Our cruise continued as far as Tower Bridge and then the whole tone of the trip changed completely. As the boat surged forwards, I tightened my grip on the ledge in front of me. The guide took to his seat and suddenly a soundtrack of music became the accompaniment to our ride. It really is pretty exhilarating to zig zag across the Thames at high speed, with the spray from the boat creating a plume around you, whilst leaning heavily into the sharp turns, stifling screams (or not, in my case!) The music is a great back drop to this, as tracks from well-known films and TV shows pump out of the boats’ sound system. If you are used to high adrenaline activities you may be able to take in the sights that whizz past whilst this is going on, but I was more focused on clinging on and looking at the expressions on the faces of my family; which were a mix of joy and terror! If you are looking for something fun and memorable to do in London then I can’t recommend this trip highly enough, and neither it seems can Trip Advisor, as this experience rates as the number one attraction in London according to the reviews. There are range of different trips available, including a night tour, and a longer trip that extends as far as the Thames barrier. Our trip ‘The Ultimate London Adventure’ is priced at £39.50 per adult and £25.95 per child, with a couples’ ticket priced at £75. It is also possible to charter your own trip from £435. If you have anything like a ‘bucket list’, even if it is all in your head as it is in mine, then you should definitely add this one to it! Visit www.thamesrockets.com for further information Address: Boarding Gate One, The London Eye Millennium Pier, Southbank, London SE1 7PB Telephone: 020 7928 8933


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TRAVEL I really am not a fan of UK winters, with the temperatures dropping down so low that every morning you have to scrape your car windscreens to clear the ice, and what sun there is disappearing long before you leave the office, so when Helen and I were asked whether we would like to go to Antigua to review Keyonna Beach we jumped at the chance! Antigua or, Antigua and Barbuda to give it its full name, is one of the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean, and is well served from the UK by a number of well known airlines flying every day into VC Bird International Airport that is situated just outside the capital St John’s. Antigua is divided into 6 parishes, all named after saints, and our destination was the boutique hotel, Keyonna Beach, situated right on Turners Beach in the Parish of St 8

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Keyonna Beach, Antigua Mary’s. The journey from the airport was just over 1/2hr, even though we hit Antigua’s rush hour on the way, and we soon turned off the road into what looked like a private drive, which is when I started to realise that Keyonna Beach was going to be very different from other hotels I have been to in the Caribbean. In the past, I have always gone to larger hotels, but as of now I really don’t think I want to go back to such impersonal places, as I just loved the personal touch Keyonna Beach provided. On getting out of the car I was feeling pretty tired having been on the go for over 10 hours, but the feeling of fatigue just dropped away when I saw the view as we walked into the main building. Framed in the doorway was the setting sun, sending shafts of light over a crystal blue sea, no more de-icer or windscreen scraping for me!

The main building is set around a large tree, and has a relaxed castaway feel, and this area also doubles as the main reception, the bar and the restaurant, indeed apart from the rooms it is the whole hotel! It is also a gentle stone’s throw from the sea on Turners Beach, a stunning sandy beach. Keyonna Beach is a couples only, all inclusive resort, with only 25 rooms which are designed for couples who want to get back to the simpler things in life, but still with 5-star comfort. The majority of these 25 rooms are luxurious cottages that are a short walk, or actually on the beach, and all have king-sized four poster beds with mosquito nets, spacious bathrooms with external showers and those on the beach have personal plunge pools. The unique thing here is that nowhere on the property will you find a television or radio, as


TRAVEL

the aim here is to relax and get away from the drudgery of everyday life and focus on recharging your batteries and reconnecting with your partner, and this is the perfect place to do that. The one compromise to this is that there is Wifi, but I guess this is a must for most people. The cottages also have large veranda’s with comfy deck chairs, and as they all face the sea, you can sit outside sipping a drink from the complementary minibar and watch the spectacular sunsets. Keyonna Beach is all about relaxation and being pampered, and Turners Beach is the perfect location to do this. All beaches in Antigua are public, and so although Keyonna Beach occupies the centre portion of the beach, it is not exclusively theirs, and there are restaurants at either end which catamarans visit, but few of their passengers venture on to the hotel area and past your Bali bed, and it is only the beach staff coming to bring you drinks that breaks up the tranquillity. The vibe is all about enjoying the beach and the crystal blue sea, but for those who prefer a pool there is a small communal pool to use, but www.theamericanhour.com

frankly with a beach and vast sea so beautiful, I cannot understand why you would want to, and that is coming from someone who usually prefers pools as I used to worry that sand gets everywhere! The main building also incorporates the beach-front restaurant which has two distinct parts. The first is an arc of tables almost on the beach surrounding a large tree, which is used for lunch and provides an amazing view of the island of Monserrat, and the second is a multitiered, wooden terrace offering al fresco dining beneath a canopy of seaside grape trees. Despite being all-inclusive, there are no buffets, and everything is cooked fresh especially for you. The menu is an eclectic mix of West Indian cuisine and fresh local seafood, including King Fish and Wahoo, and caters for every taste. The menu is large enough to satisfy even the most discerning foodie, but if you don’t see what you want just ask, as every additional request I made was accommodated with a positive can-do attitude. Mealtimes are special, and there is nothing more relaxing than listening to the waves lapping at the beach as you indulge

in sensational cuisine! Keyonna Beach makes you feel special and the staff play a major part in this, as they are so attentive and go out of their way to make your stay special. Because of the size of the hotel they can get to know what you like, and it makes you feel at home when you come down for dinner and the waiter knows what drink you like and your food preferences! If you need daily entertainment and numerous activities Keyonna Beach is not for you, as although there is music and singers most nights, the emphasis is on getting back to nature, reading books, and enjoying time to talk to your partner. Many other activities can be organised by the hotel so just ask. Keyonna Beach Hotel is a perfect place for couples to relax and reconnect with each other in a truly idyllic location, and to get back to nature. As you are immersed in nature don’t forget bug spray, as nature can, and does, bite back, but don’t let that put you off, as this is the perfect place to relax and unwind. For further information please visit: www.keyonnabeachresortantigua.com www.americaninbritain.co.uk

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HOTEL REVIEW

Zetter Townhouse Hotel, Marylebone, London

Having visited many different types and sizes of hotels all over the world, I have never really been able to decide whether I prefer large or small hotels, but what I do know is that I love places that are different and quirky, and the Zetter Townhouse Hotel, Marylebone has both in spades. This amazing Townhouse opened its doors the summer of 2015, and is a 24 bedroomed Georgian townhouse in the ultrachic Marylebone, a short walk from Marble Arch and the plethora of shops on Oxford Street.

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Marylebone used to be called Tyburn and was, like most places in London, originally a secluded rural area. Its transformation into a well-to-do suburb began in the early 18th century, when smart townhouse-lined streets started being built in the Middlesex countryside. Tyburn was also the site of the infamous and popular gallows where many a villain met their end, and its exact location is now Marble Arch. Over the years Marylebone has been home to many a famous resident, both real and fictional. While Sherlock Holmes is Baker Street’s most well-known tenant, the building that houses The Zetter Townhouse Marylebone, was once the home of the Victorian artist and poet Edward Lear, who is best known for writing nonsense rhymes in particular the poem ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’. The first thing that struck me when I got out of the taxi was that the feel was not of a hotel, but rather a private home, as there were no large signs or flags, but instead a lovely Christmas garland hung on the door, just like my Mum and Dad have. Once you cross over the threshold that feeling of being in a home continues, as you enter a parlour set in the bygone age with a cosy cocktail lounge off to the right, delightfully named Seymour’s Parlour, after Wicked Uncle Seymour, one of the Zetter family. The Zetter Townhouse is a boutique hotel with 19 bedrooms, 4 studio suites and a spectacular rooftop apartment, which boasts a roof terrace and an alfresco bath. All the rooms

are individually decorated, and the feeling of grandeur is extenuated by the high ceilings. Having taken our bags up to our room and taken a quick walk around the area to build up our appetite, we settled down in Seymour’s Parlour to have Afternoon Tea (£28). Afternoon Tea is a quintessentially English pastime and one that Zetter Townhouse Hotel excels at. There are two offerings, both having freshly made scones and cakes, but where they differ is in the fillings of the sandwiches as one is more fish based and the other more meat. To accompany this there is an impressive selection of teas to choose from, and for those feeling a little more celebratory, you can supplement the tea with a cocktail or bubbles. The main hub of The Zetter Townhouse is Seymour’s Parlour which is a cocktail lounge open from breakfast until late. This lounge is well known for its cocktails, and whilst we were there, there was a constant lively buzz from visitors enjoying unique drinks designed by the pioneering drinks creator Tony Conigliano, including an interesting twist on Kir Royale where the champagne is exchanged with Poire Cider. The Zetter Townhouse doesn’t have a fully blown restaurant, which considering where it is located isn’t really a problem, but they do provide a range of light bites and sharing boards to complement the cocktails, and I would recommend the pigs in blankets (£4) and homemade sausage roll with homemade brown sauce (£4), but there are many others to choose from.


HOTEL REVIEW The Zetter Townhouse Hotel is quirky and awash with unique antique furniture, as well as all the mod cons, and has a feel all of its own, and I think that is what I liked the most about it, in a world of hotels that all feel the same. Its old owner, Edward Lear, was known for being different, and the décor mirrors that humour and personality, and to sum up our stay in Lear’s own words from his most famous poem: ‘we dined on mince and slices of quince, which we ate with a runcible spoon, And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand, we danced by the light of the moon, the moon, the moon, we danced by the light of the moon’. For further information please visit: www.thezettergroup.com

reader offer

10% off the Flexible Rate and a complimentary Continental breakfast

Available on bookings until the 28th February 2017, subject to availability. Please quote American in Britain when booking.

www.theamericanhour.com

www.americaninbritain.co.uk

11


WEALTH MANAGEMENT It’s A New Year! Review Your Wealth Plan (Especially) In Light Of Upcoming Changes The New Year provides you with an opportunity to review your personal wealth goals and objectives and consider the implications of any changes you may need to make. With some substantial changes coming into effect in April 2017 with respect to the treatment of long-term UK non-domicile individuals, now is the perfect time to review your situation and, if needed, develop effective solutions. Doing so early will potentially afford you additional flexibility in implementation. Below we discuss the areas that are beneficial to consider and review. A few easy steps can ensure that your current wealth planning strategies remain optimal.

Revisit And Evaluate Your Wealth Goals And Objectives The investment process begins by defining your goals and objectives. Consideration should be given to how much money is needed to achieve the goal, the time horizon of the goal and the willingness to take risk to meet that goal. Once a year, it can be beneficial to sit down with the dedicated purpose of determining whether your current financial targets and the time horizons associated with them are still appropriate. Some questions to consider: * Do you have any new goals that haven’t previously been considered? * Are the amounts you previously considered to meet your goals still appropriate? * Has the time horizon changed for any of your goals? * Have you met your assumed annual saving target for meeting your goals? * Have you received any inheritances or gifts that dramatically change the overall level of your investable assets? Reviewing the above will allow you to work out whether the growth rates of your investments continue to meet your projected eventual needs. This can be very helpful when you assess the performance of your portfolio and whether it is still positioned properly to meet your goals.

Measure Portfolio Performance And Assess Asset Allocation If the first step is reviewing your goals and objectives the next step is to take a closer look 12

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at the performance of your current portfolio and determine whether or not it is meeting expectations. If you are falling short of your growth targets, you could consider whether individual investment changes, an increase in your overall exposure to growth assets, an adjustment of your goal or an increase in your level of current savings is needed. If you are exceeding your growth targets, consideration can be given to whether you should decrease your exposure to growth assets or perhaps explore other goals. And, if you are meeting your growth rate targets then your focus can move to asset allocation and tax-efficiency.

With some substantial changes coming into effect in April 2017 with respect to the treatment of long-term UK nondomicile individuals, now is the perfect time to review your situation A sound wealth plan is built around an appropriate asset allocation. Even if your objectives haven’t changed, your portfolio will have. Different asset classes will perform better than others during different time periods and a diversified portfolio of assets will help to ensure that you benefit from the outperformance of each asset class as and when it is realised. This varying performance will likely lead to what is

called style drift within the portfolio. An annual rebalance will help ensure that you maintain an optimal risk and reward trade-off for your set of financial goals.

Maximise The Tax-Efficiency Of Your Wealth Plan In light of the above, consideration should be given to how to meet your goals in the most tax-efficient and optimal manner. As an American living in the UK, you want to make sure you carefully navigate the tax traps that are littered within the world of investing and take advantage of tax opportunities available. Investing in a tax-efficient manner will help ensure that you do not need to make your capital work harder than it needs to for you. Below are some planning areas to consider. You should consult with a US-UK tax adviser on which strategies make the most sense for your individual needs. * For retirement goals, maximise your contributions to tax-deferred growth vehicles. Generally, employer pension plans allow individuals to receive tax deferred growth in both the US and the UK. As of tax year 2016/17, the UK current year pension contribution allowance is reduced for individuals with earnings in excess of £150,000. If individuals have not done so already, additional rate taxpayers could give consideration to using up any prior year carry forward contributions that remain available for UK pension funding. Catch up contributions remain relevant for tax years 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16. There may also still be opportunities to contribute to Traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs in the US. The tax benefits of these accounts are generally recognised in the UK as well. For instance, distributions from a Roth IRA are generally tax exempt in the UK under the US-UK tax Treaty * Understand how various UK tax wrappers are viewed from a US perspective. In general, many different tax advantaged accounts in the UK do not enjoy the same treatment from a US tax perspective. For instance, ISAs and offshore bonds are ‘looked through’ from a US perspective and taxed on the underlying investments. For some, investing in SIPPs may be a good opportunity to use excess foreign tax credits and establish


WEALTH MANAGEMENT cost basis in the pension for US tax purposes * Avoiding PFIC investments. As many know, US persons should avoid investing in non-US registered collective investments as these are taxed unfavourably in the US * Investing in US mutual funds with UK reporting status. If a US person taxed on the arising basis invests in US funds that do not have UK reporting status, capital gains earned on the funds are taxed in the UK at ordinary income tax rates. This is known as offshore income gain (OIG) rules. As of April 2017, all non-domicile individuals who have been UK resident for 15 out of 20 years will be required to be taxed on the arising basis. Any individuals who have relied on paying the Remittance Basis Charge (RBC) due to OIG assets will need to take care to restructure their assets in light of the new rules taking effect * Review your offshore assets to determine whether you are properly segregating your remittable and non-remittable funds. If a non-domicile individual lives in the UK for a period of time and pays UK tax based on the remittance basis (as opposed to the arising basis), then if an automatic income sweep wasn’t in place for any offshore income producing assets, it is likely that the account is considered to be‘mixed’containing untaxed foreign income or gains as well as clean capital. If this is the case bringing money into the UK at a later date will result in a UK tax charge. As part of the upcoming nondomicile rule changes, HMRC is offering all non-doms the opportunity to re-arrange the composition of an account and segregate mixed funds into remittable and nonremittable pots. This relief will be available regardless of how long the individual has been resident in the UK (it will be available to those who are both “Deemed Domicile” and those who remain Non Domicile). If relevant, give consideration as to whether performing this exercise will provide increased access to offshore assets that you would like to be able to access onshore in the UK in the future * Asset locate investments to achieve maximum tax-efficiency. In general, dividends and capital gains receive more favourable tax rates. Therefore, these investments should be held in taxable accounts. Whereas, interest income is taxed as ordinary income and can be optimally sheltered in tax-deferred accounts. This is even more favourable with the introduction of the £5,000 dividend tax allowance last April. Additionally, if one spouse is a non-US person, consider whether your wealth is invested optimally to take advantage of the differing tax status.

Consider Your Inheritance Tax Planning And Estate Provisions Your estate provisions and any inheritance tax planning, whether basic or more complex, should be reviewed periodically to ensure that any required updates are made when needed. www.theamericanhour.com

The suitability of your current plan, if you in fact have a current plan, may evolve as a result of a change in your financial situation or a family event. Additionally, modifications may be appropriate in light of the upcoming changes around long-term non-domiciles that will take effect in April 2017. Below are some life events that may trigger a need to review your estate plan: * Getting married – Generally, a new spouse will warrant an update in your current estate provisions. You need to address joint and separate property and also ensure that beneficiary designations are up-to-date * Divorce or death of a spouse – similarly, the end of a marriage or loss of a spouse triggers the need to review the documents you have in place and make appropriate changes * Child events – having a new baby, adopting a child, or having a new stepchild all would trigger the need to review your estate provisions to ensure that guardians are appointed and beneficiaries are updated * Purchasing or refinancing a home – when you purchase a home, consideration should be given to the ownership structure of the property and how that impacts any inheritance planning * Family members acquiring or renouncing US citizenship – the composition of families is becoming more and more complex. Families with more than one nationality need to pay even closer attention to inheritance planning and estate provisions. Gifting assets during your lifetime and passing assets at your death can become tricky when there are varying nationalities and domiciles * Approaching 15 out of 20 years living in the UK – Under current rules, UK nondomiciles become deemed domicile for UK inheritance tax purposes after being UK resident in 17 out of the last 20 years. However, in April 2017, the threshold becomes 15 out of 20 years. There is specific planning that may be beneficial before crossing the deemed domicile threshold that may help mitigate UK inheritance tax and should not be overlooked * Net worth approaches estate tax exclusions in US or UK – sometimes a large inheritance, gift or simply your own wealth accumulation will result in your net worth surpassing the estate tax exclusions in the UK and/or the US. The UK threshold for inheritance tax is currently £325,000 and the US lifetime allowance for estate and gift tax purposes is $5.49 million (2017). Looking at ways to structure your estate provisions to minimise taxes between the two jurisdictions can potentially save millions of dollars.

Summary Undergoing a regular review of your financial life, especially in light of upcoming changes in the UK, allows you to maintain a clear picture of where you stand financially. It is an opportunity to ensure you are still on track to meet your goals and help identify areas in need of adjustment.

Being pro-active allows your plan to evolve as your needs change and leaves you with a level of comfort that you have implemented an optimal strategy to meet your needs.

Risk Warnings And Important Information The value of investments can fall as well as rise. You may not get back what you invest. The above article does not take into account the specific goals or requirements of individuals and is not to be construed as advice. You should carefully consider the suitability of any strategies along with your financial situation prior to making any decisions on an appropriate strategy. MASECO LLP trading as MASECO Private Wealth is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, the Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate tax advice. MASECO Private Wealth is not a tax specialist.

Andrea Solana is Head of Advanced Planning at MASECO Private Wealth where she helps to provide financial planning and wealth structuring advisory services to US expatriates in the UK and British nationals in the US. Andrea spent the first 9 years of her career with a well-known Washington DC based international tax and global wealth management firm where she gained considerable experience advising high net worth individuals with multi-jurisdictional financial interests to design and implement strategies for tax-efficient and risk-managed asset growth. She has written numerous white papers regarding fundamental financial planning and investment strategies for US connected individuals and has previously been a speaker on financial planning topics at numerous places including both The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). Andrea graduated from University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce with a degree in Finance and Management and completed her MBA at Imperial College London. Andrea holds her UK Investment Advice Diploma and US Series 65 license. www.americaninbritain.co.uk

13


TAX ISSUES Beware! The Big 4 Accounting Firms Can Produce Shoddy Work With tax season looming on the horizon, people are beginning to think about whether they should risk preparing their own tax returns or hire a professional. First, let me say it is always advisable to hire a professional, and the average taxpayer, with uncomplicated income and deductions, can generally find a reputable tax preparer to do the job for a reasonable price. However, when a taxpayer has a tax return with international components, it is a whole different story. There is a special expertise required for the preparation of tax returns with an international aspect, especially since the penalties for getting it wrong are significant. We have always taken pride in our dedication to offering precise tax preparation services to taxpayers with international aspects to their tax returns. These particular taxpayers generally include: Americans living abroad; Americans with foreign income or assets; nonresident aliens with US source income; branches and subsidiaries of foreign companies; and US companies with foreign branches or subsidiaries. I usually caution these types of taxpayers that low-cost tax preparation services - even those who advertise that they are experts in international taxation don’t have the expertise to competently prepare these specialised tax returns. Until recently, however, I thought it was a given that the “big” accounting firms - The Big Four as they are usually called (KPMG, PwC, Deloitte, and E&Y) - set the benchmark for preparing international tax returns. I assumed that if one of these firms prepared a tax return, it would be correct. However, two recent events have shown me that you don’t always get what you pay for, even with the most prestigious firms. The first incident came to my attention while we were preparing a long-time client’s 2015 tax return. The client, let’s call her Janet, is a US citizen who is married to a non-US citizen. The couple lived abroad for many years, and recently moved to a community property state in the US. For those of you unfamiliar with community property states, they are states with laws that consider income community property; i.e. each spouse’s income is viewed as belonging equally to both spouses.

Back to Janet Now settled in the US, Janet’s husband has a US filing obligation. For personal reasons the couple decided to file using the filing status “married filing separately” rather than “married filing jointly.” Janet hired Esquire Group to prepare her 2015 tax return. Her husband’s tax return was to be prepared by one of the Big Four firms as part of his employment package. When married couples living in a community 14

American In Britain

property state file separately, each of their income must be allocated 50/50 to one another; i.e. half of the husband’s income needs to be reported on the wife’s tax return and vice versa. This meant that we could not prepare Janet’s tax return until we had her husband’s draft tax return in order to do the income allocation. Likewise, the firm preparing Janet’s husband’s tax return would need her draft tax return so they could do the income allocation. To our surprise, the Big Four firm never requested Janet’s draft tax return from us and when we received the husband’s tax return, it was not a draft, but the final version. The tax return reported 100% of his income and none of Janet’s. We informed Janet of the mistake, and her husband contacted his preparer at the Big Four firm, who told him that the income allocation was not needed. We told Janet that this was absolutely not correct and asked that her husband go back to the Big Four firm and question them as to why they believed this was the case. This time the Big Four preparer admitted he had made a mistake and that he would have to amend the tax return to reflect the income allocation.

I assumed that if one of these firms prepared a tax return, it would be correct. However, two recent events have shown me that you don’t always get what you pay for, even with the most prestigious firms. Strike one for the Big Four! The second incidence of Big Four ineptitude came to my attention when I was reviewing a relatively complex tax return prepared by a CPA experienced as an international tax manager at a Big Four firm. A tax manager is someone just below a partner and who generally reports directly to

a partner. The tax managers are also the ones responsible for managing a team of preparers and for reviewing their work. When I began to review the tax return I was surprised to see that there was no currency gain or loss reported pursuant to Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) Section 988. This was especially surprising given the client had a relatively large investment account, which generally requires an IRC 988 calculation. I realise that unlike me, most of you aren’t tax dorks and have never heard of IRC 988, so let me explain briefly. Basically, IRC 988 requires you to track currency like stock. For example, let’s assume you exchange USD 1,000 to EUR when the exchange rate is 1.25. You have to log that you now own EUR 800 (1,000/1.25) at an exchange rate of 1.25. If you later receive a dividend of EUR 100 when the exchange rate is 1.5, you have to log that you now own EUR 100 at an exchange rate of 1.5. Then, almost every time you conduct a payment transaction, whether a stock purchase, bond purchase, withdrawal, fee payment, etc., with few exceptions, you are treated as having sold that currency and an IRC 988 currency gain/loss must be recognised. So, continuing with the example above, assume you buy a stock for EUR 850 when the exchange rate is 1.1. You will be considered to have sold all of the EUR acquired at 1.25 and 50 of the EUR acquired at 1.5.

Are you still with me? Based on this example, you would recognise a currency loss of USD 140; the loss is due to the decline in the exchange rate. Generally, the only exception to IRC 988 are personal transactions where the IRC 988 currency gain/loss is less than $200. Having an investment account, however, like the client in this instance, does not have personal transactions because the account is held for investment purposes. I questioned the CPA as to why there was no IRC 988 currency gain/loss reported on the tax return. Her reply - are you ready for this? - was that they generally don’t do those calculations for individuals because it is too much work! I could not believe my ears. Failing to report IRC 988 gains/losses could result in having unreported foreign income, which may cause a taxpayer to be noncompliant. Noncompliance may require the taxpayer to take part in one of the IRS’ amnesty programmes, which is a long and costly process.

Strike two for the Big Four! My point in sharing these two stories, is that pricey tax preparation services do not always translate to quality work. While our own Firm is not a low-cost tax preparation service, our


TAX ISSUES

International tax is complex and the penalties for noncompliance are high. Your international tax preparer needs to be an expert in international taxation. fees are nowhere near those of the Big Four. The Big Four are by far the most expensive tax preparation services available and they consider themselves the best in the business. For the fees they charge, a client’s tax return should not just be accurate, but delivered in a golden envelope with platinum staples. Whether their mistakes were due to complacency (we don’t make mistakes) or ignorance of the tax code is irrelevant, their mistakes can cost their clients dearly.

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International tax is complex and the penalties for noncompliance are high. Your international tax preparer needs to be an expert in international taxation. That is why you must seek tax preparers who specialise in international taxation. Jimmy Sexton, LL.M. is the President and CEO of Esquire Group, a company he co-founded in 2005. Mr. Sexton focuses primarily on advanced tax planning strategies and corporate structuring aimed at reducing clients’ global effective tax rate. His areas of special competence include corporate structure design and implementation, tax treaties, expatriation, and tax compliance.

• Foreign Businesses Owned by US Persons • Foreign Businesses Investing or Doing Business in the US • US Individuals with Foreign Assets or Income • US Individuals Residing Abroad • Foreign Individuals with US Assets or Income By embracing and exploiting new technologies we are able to maximise productivity and efficiency, while communicating and working safely and securely with clients wherever they are located. Visit esquiregroup.com

Esquire Group is a boutique international tax advisory firm with a global presence. We specialise in tax planning and compliance for both corporate and individual clients. We are a team of dynamic professionals that have dedicated our careers to international taxation. Our organisation includes LL.M.s in international tax, accountants, CPAs, enrolled agents, and consulting attorneys who are experts in both domestic and international taxation. Our core client bases can be broken up as follows: • US Businesses with Foreign Assets or Operations

www.americaninbritain.co.uk

15


READER’S LIVES In this issue, we focus on Brian Schatz, who works for Uber in London, on the Uber for Business Team

While sitting on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral catching a break from the rain I told myself “I have to live in London.” It was March 2013, and I was on a trip to the world’s capital visiting friends and enjoying my first exploration of London as a young adult. Although I did visit once before, maybe 15 years prior, it was only in transit and I vaguely remember Piccadilly Circus and my fascination with the iconic red phone booths. At the time, I was already an expat living in Spain having transferred from the US six months prior for work. Spanish life was wonderful. Beautiful weather, access to the Mediterranean, delicious food, and a dynamic culture, were all contributing to my exuberance of living abroad. Yet only a few months in and I was already pining to relocate again. I wanted to trade in the Iberian life for island life...well, UK island life. Six months after sitting on the steps of St Paul’s, I was on a plane bound for London, with my life packed up once again, in whatever I could carry on board. I made it. I was in London. My dream had become a reality. It was late-September and the city was transitioning from the final rays of summer to the crisp, autumnal season. For me, I was accustomed to the rhythmic American timing of fall holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas; each giving a clear break and cadence in the lead up to the new year. But by the first week of October, barely a few weeks into my “American in London” fantasy, it was all things Christmas. Rapidly ascending lights, baubles and decorations, the fully lit Christmas tree in Covent Garden, and everyone’s eager anticipation of the John Lewis Christmas advert clearly signalled that London is ridiculously festive...in a good way! In the US we’re used to Black Friday being the true kickoff for the Christmas season. Ironically, the day after 16

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we give thanks with friends and family we then wake up before dawn to go on insane shopping sprees in a relentless endeavour to get the best deal just four weeks ahead of Christmas Day. Blame it on my naivety, but I was enamoured with getting so much time to actually enjoy the Christmas season in London rather than a ‘sprint to the finish’ after Thanksgiving. While it didn’t take long to accustom myself to the quarter-long festive season, it certainly took quite some time to begin grasping the nuances between American English and, well, English. Perhaps I just assumed that being back to speaking my native language would be pretty seamless. People would just get it, that I’m obviously not a local, and would pardon me of innocent linguistic errors, right? Wrong. One of the first lesson’s learned was that there is no ‘British’ English. It’s just English. I easily recall being corrected repeatedly by colleagues, (strangers too), that there is a proper way to speak and that one shouldn’t lose any emphasis on the value of elocution. It really counts! In three years I’ve definitely progressed, and although friends and family back home have noted I ‘sound’ a bit different - I’ve had my fair share of funny moments bridging the differences between dialects. Case in point, let’s talk about pants. The fashion in London is stellar, and I love how vibrant and intentional people are with what they wear. I sometimes cannot help myself when I feel compelled to tell someone

that I love their style. One time, I was at a Caffé Nero, near Holborn, plotting out an upcoming adventure to the Italian Riviera. A lady, perhaps in her forties, sat down in one of the big armchairs next to me and was wearing some funky leopard-print trousers which I thought were really cool. She had just sat down, about to open up her laptop, when I blurted out in the most friendly way possible “hey, I love your pants!”. The look she gave me instantly triggered that I had said something wrong, yet I didn’t get the feeling that it offended her. She smiled and chuckled a bit to herself before looking me in the eyes and simply stating “you must be new here” to which I replied, excitedly, that I was. She politely educated me that ‘pants’ in the UK means ‘underwear’ in American English. Realising what I had said, and what it meant or implied, not to mention that this was a public place and surely other patrons must have overheard, I’m surprised she didn’t throw her scalding coffee right in my face! I began apologising immediately and saying that it was only meant as a compliment. She was empathetic, and of course forgave me, but she was still smirking about something. Feeling like I had humiliated myself I tried to laugh things off and pretend like nothing happened. She sipped her coffee and opened up her laptop before looking at me again and simply stating “it’s ok, these things happen. Had I not known you were new to London I would have simply replied back to you ‘how did you know?’”. She actually was wearing leopard print pants.


READER’S LIVES I’ve never drank hot coffee so fast before rushing out of the cafe to avoid any more conversation! Along with the ins and outs of day to day life in London, I would be remiss if I didn’t share how much I love and appreciate the amazing architecture and history that shapes the foundation of the city. I’m a fanatic for finding the subtle Blue Plaques that are dotted all throughout London, and for taking the time to pause and really reflect on their significance in English heritage. It’s an amazing way to link the people of the past with buildings of the present and, for just a moment, travel back to an earlier time when the city was quite different. I love stumbling upon the plaque honouring Tom Cribb, the bare-knuckle boxer, which is just a block away from the bursting tourist hotspot of Leicester Square. Or even a few streets south of King’s Road in Chelsea, where Mark Twain lived for a year before the end of the 19th century. Apparently there are over 900 of these Blue Plaques and I’ve still got plenty to track down. I believe it’s impossible to feel like you’ve covered all of London’s streets and the history within. I love walking through the City of London, especially on the weekends, visiting St. Bart’s Church and Hospital, walking through the iron gates at Smithfields, admiring the remains of the original London Wall, and

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touring through the grandiosity of Guildhall and its crypt. Having grown up in southern California my experience of ‘history’ wasn’t ever really visual in terms of buildings and cities. I knew early on that I had this insatiable appetite for acknowledging how important history has been in shaping who we are today. In fact, part of the reason why I moved to Boston for university was to live in a place that seemed ‘older’ and had traces of the beginnings of the United States, so I could essentially be a student of my own history. Nowadays, when I fly back to Boston it no longer seems ‘old’ anymore, because relatively speaking it’s quite young! As I reflect on my time here thus far I can easily say that London, to me, truly is the world’s capital. While London won’t be my home forever, and my return to the US is on the horizon, I know that when the day comes, parting with this city is going to be extremely difficult. However, I’m comforted knowing that I can at least say London has been a part of my history and I can only hope I’ve made my positive impact here. And yes, I’m still fanatical about the red phone booths.

If you would like to feature in our Reader’s Lives article in a future issue, please contact helen@theamericanhour.com

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US SPORT New Uk Nfl Team ‘Inside Five Years’ An NFL team will be based in the UK within five years, it was predicted by the specialised American Sports betting firm redzonesports.com recently. This follows the announcement that four NFL games will be staged in the capital next year. Warren Llambias, co-founder of Redzonesports. com said:“This is a giant step forward towards an NFL team moving to Britain. “Our sources are telling us that there will be a UK team within five years. NFL is exploding in Britain and the fan base is growing rapidly. “You only have to look at the SKY TV coverage on a Sunday night and the sell-out games at Wembley and Twickenham to see the growth. The NFL is coming, and it’s coming to stay.” He added:“Take Daniel Levy, the Tottenham Hotspur Chairman for instance. He is not known for wasting money and yet the redevelopment of White Lane includes an extra retractable ‘field’ made of astro turf and changing rooms that can take up to 50+ players, the size of an NFL team. “This is not a publicly funded stadium so what is this extra expense all about - it isn’t to cover the hosting of just two games a year.” Four games will be hosted in the capital next 18

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year – with two games at Wembley and two at Twickenham. There are only eight home games in a regular season, so four games represent half of a team’s entire home schedule.

“Our sources are telling us that there will be a UK team within five years. NFL is exploding in Britain and the fan base is growing rapidly.” Since the first NFL game in London at Wembley Stadium in 2007, the sport has become the fastest growing in the UK, attracting a fan

base of 13 million. Speaking at the glittering redzonesports. com launch party, which included stars such as Poldark’s Chris Brassington and Dancing with the Stars judge Gary Edwards, at Kensington Roof Gardens, the Co-Founder and Director of Trading Stephen Baumohl said: “Everybody in the media seems to presume that the team that moves to London will be the Jacksonville Jaguars because they play a game here every year and they are from a State that has 3 teams, but I am not so sure. Both New York State and California also have 3 teams, so it could just as easily be the Buffalo Bills, San Diego Chargers or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who, like the Jags, are from Florida. Or it might just be a failing franchise, like the Cleveland Browns, that isn’t really challenged geographically but has plenty of commercial challenges facing its ownership. The team will come from that list and they will be here by 2021 - of that I am sure.” Stephen, who is a Syracuse University alumni, went on to say how he often has to explain to US expats living in the UK that it’s perfectly legal to gamble here. “My father is American and my Mother is English and I very


US SPORT

Gary Edwards @ballroomgiant with the RedzoneSports Cheerleaders

Director of Trading Steve Baumohl with the RedzoneSports Cheerleaders

much grew up both sides of the Atlantic so I understand the cultural differences. The Brits can’t understand the concept of Gun stores in every town and the Americans can’t understand the concept of Betting Shops on every corner! As long as you aren’t resident in the US you are free to bet in much the same way as you would be if you had flown into Las Vegas.

“At Redzonesports.com we are offering the best odds in the industry on US Sport, including College, to Americans living over here and British fans alike.” “We believe in creating our own lines and odds for American sports and we are prepared to back that up by having high limits for all customers.” Whether it is NFL, NBA, MLS or MLB,

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RedZoneSports will have the best prices and biggest markets for the punter who loves all things North American. While also offering a comprehensive range of odds on traditional European sports, such as football, horses and tennis, RedZoneSports believes its launch finally offers fans of major US leagues the level of coverage that they desire.

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UK SPORTS The year 2016 saw two 100% win records set by an English sports team and an English sports team manager but they could not be further apart in the history books!!

Rugby Union Pride of place goes to the England Rugby Union team whose record for the 2016 calendar year reads; played 13, won 13, points scored 424, points against 292. If the match against Uruguay on 10th October 2015 is included, then England have gone 14 matches with 14 wins, and five more wins in the 2017 Six Nations Championship in February and March would see England set a new record of 19 straight wins. We reviewed England’s results between January and June 2016, including the incredible 3-0 Test Series against Australia in Australia, in our last issue. Since then England played four home autumn international friendlies against South Africa, Fiji, Argentina and, yes, Australia again winning all four scoring 159 points against 71. The return match against Australia was a real needle match with the Aussies still smarting from their home defeats in June and determined to bring England’s winning run to an ignominious end. But not only are England an excellent rugby team, they still maintain that British characteristic of sportsmanship towards their opponents. They did so by allowing the Aussies to quickly gain a 10-0 lead before reminding them of the summer tour and condemning them to a 37-21 defeat!! All credit goes not only to the English players but to their amazing Australian coach, Eddie Jones. Despite England’s record since he took charge he maintains that no member of the current England squad would be an automatic choice for a World XV team. That demonstrates the standards he sets and expects his players to attain. He praises his team but demands more. Now to the 2017 Six Nations Championship which starts with a home game against France at Twickenham on 4 February, followed by an away game against Wales a week later, then home games against Italy and Scotland on 26 February and 11 March, and a final away game against Ireland on 18 March. Eddie Jones’ stated objective is to make England the World Number 1 ranked team and acknowledges that to do so England will need to win the next World Cup tournament to be held in Japan. England have yet to face New Zealand, the current World number 1 nation, since Jones took over; what a game that promises to be whenever it takes place.

Soccer The other 100% win record, which will probably never be broken, was achieved by the England soccer manager, Sam Allardyce who was appointed by the Football Association after England’s disasterous performance in the 20

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European Championship. Sam’s record reads: played 1, won 1, goals for 1 (a last minute goal away at Slovenia!), goals against 0. Allardyce’s reign came to a quick and undignified end following certain Press revelations and a mutual parting of the waves. No doubt he will be back before too long, probably with a managerial appointment at a struggling Premiership club with a mandate to avoid relegation – ah well. The next England Manager is Gareth Southgate, once an England international himself, and very successful coach of the England Under 21 team. This could be an exciting choice and his reign has got off to a good start with 2 wins and 2 draws in his first four games in charge. On the European scene three of the four Premiership clubs that qualified for this season’s European Champions League progressed to the knockout stage (the round of 16). Arsenal and Leicester City both won their Groups with Manchester City taking second place in their Group. Tottenham Hotspur, though, came third in their Group and were transferred to the Europa League. Arsenal had been desperate to win their Group to avoid being drawn against other Group winners believing that this would avoid being drawn, yet again, against the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich, both teams having knocked them out in recent seasons at this stage of the championship. But, guess what, Bayern finished runners-up in their Group and were then, naturally, drawn against Arsenal!!! Leicester City were much luckier being drawn against Spanish side Sevilla who have, however, won the Europa League in the past two seasons. This will still be a very tough tie. Can last season’s surprise Premiership champions perform yet further miracles and progress, or even win, the ECL? Not likely but then we all said they would not win the Premiership last season! Manchester City, although finishing runner-up in their Group have drawn French side Monaco and probably have, at least on paper, the easiest draw in the Round of 16. We are half way through the Premiership season and, as last season, it is looking like a close fight between six teams, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United in the order they are placed, at the time of writing, in the league. So far, it could be said that Chelsea and Liverpool are playing much better than last season, Arsenal about the same and the other three a little below their previous level. But the title is still up for grabs and injuries to key players and strange results against lesser clubs can, and probably will, play a part. Matches between these six clubs will, of course, have a major bearing on the final outcome. The FA Cup has now reached the stage where the clubs from the Premiership and

Championship leagues have joined the competition, but more of the progress of this competition in our next issue.

Cricket After a tour of Bangladesh, and becoming the first major Test team to experience a Test match defeat against the home nation, England are now touring India where, at the time of writing, England have lost the five Test Series 3-0 with one game drawn and just one Test left to play. In the drawn first Test England had played well and had even had a chance to win the match but in the following three Tests England were decisively beaten by 246 runs, 8 wickets and an innings and 36 runs respectively. Playing cricket in the sub-continent is not easy with pitches favouring spin bowling, an art that has diminished over the years in England, but at which India, and indeed Bangladesh, excel. These tours are a big learning curve for England’s young and developing team. Nevertheless, it looks like England have, at long last, found another star for the future, a young 19 year old from Lancashire County Cricket Club, Haseeb Hameed. Plucked from nowhere, Hameed opened the batting with England’s captain, Alastair Cook, in the first three Test matches against India and has been a revelation. England have been searching for a consistent opening partner for Cook ever since the previous captain, Andrew Strauss, retired. In his 2016 County Championship games, Hameed scored 1,189 runs. In his first three Test matches in India he scored 31 and 82 in the first Test, 13 (when badly run out by Joe Root) and 25 (these off 144 balls when England were fighting a rear guard action to try to save the second Test), and 9 and 59 not out in the third Test. The quality of his batting has been an eye opener but it was his last innings that brought high praise from the whole England camp and, indeed, from India’s star captain and batsman, Virat Kohli. Why was this? Well, in that first innings Hameed suffered a broken little finger from a blow that left his finger in two pieces. In the second innings when England were again trying to stave off a big defeat Hameed was unable to open the innings but, despite his broken finger, came in to bat at number 8 and scored 59 not out!! Forced to make a late change for another opening batsman, England have chosen another relatively unknown player, South African born Keaton Jennings. Playing for Durham in the County Championship in 2016, Jennings was the highest run scorer in Division 1 with 1,548 runs with seven centuries. Jennings had the dream start to his Test match career in the Fourth Test scoring 112 runs in his first Test match innings, only the fourth England batsman to achieve that feat. The Indian fielding side dropped a simple catch off Jennings before he had scored a run!! However,


UK SPORTS Jennings was brought back to earth when, in his second innings, he was out for nought of his first ball!! Cricket can be as fickle as golf!!

Golf Our congratulations go to team USA for winning the Ryder Cup. This was redemption for America’s captain, Davis Love who previously captained the USA to a cruel defeat by Europe that was“the miracle at Medina” four years ago. This time the USA posted their biggest winning margin over Europe for over thirty years, 17 points to 11. Europe were poor, captain Darren Clarke made questionable team decisions and too many players were inexperienced and out-of-form. But that does not detract from team USA who dominated from the start. The best American players were Patrick Reed (3 ½ points out of 5), who played the best match of the Cup in the singles against Rory McIlroy winning by one hole, Brandt Snedeker (3/3) and Phil Mickelson (2 ½ / 4). Europe’s best players were Thomas Pieters (4/5), Rory McIlroy (3/5) and Rafael Cabrera-Bello (2 ½/3). One bit of good news for British golf since our last issue – 20 year old Charley Hull won her first Ladies Professional Golf Association tour championship in America. Many more titles should follow.

Sportswoman of the Year This year the Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year award was won by Laura Kenny, better known to Olympic and World cycling fans as Laura Trott.

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Laura probably rates as Britain’s most successful female Olympic athlete. She has won four Olympic Gold medals, seven World titles, ten European titles and a Commonwealth Games title. All in all she has won nearly one hundred national and international titles, a truly breath-taking record. The Young Sportswoman of the Year award went to swimmer Siobhan-Marie O’Connor who won a Silver medal in the Rio Olympics after fighting a battle against long-term illness. The Olympians of the Year award was won by Helen Glover and Heather Stanning after rowing to consecutive Gold medals in the London and Rio Olympics. Helen and Heather have been unbeaten for nearly forty races but now the pair have split. Heather has returned to her career in the army and newly married Helen has yet to decide whether to find a new partner and go for a third Gold medal. The Team of theYear Award went to the Women’s GB Hockey team who also won Gold at the Rio Olympics beating Holland in a shootout in the Final. Perhaps they could have a word with England’s soccer team about how to win penalty shootouts!! The Paralympian of the Year award was won by Kadeena Cox. Kadeena became the first Briton to win Gold medals in two different sports at the same Olympic Games since Isabel Barr in 1984, winning her medals in both athletics and cycling. The Inspiration award went to Hannah Francis. Hannah died at the age of eighteen in August this year after a fifteen month fight against a rare bone cancer. During that fight Hannah continued to compete and win

equestrian events, even during periods of chemo and radiotherapy. Her parents and brother were very proud to accept the award. Hannah is clearly an inspiration to all those who knew her and, indeed, through her story to those who did not. The Community award was won by Kirsty Cameron who set up ‘Ladies Leisurely Cycles’ in her community in Forfar, Scotland. Not only does Kirsty coach cycling she is also a gymnastics and football coach and helps at a Riding Stable for the disabled, all in her local community. Finally, the Lifetime Achievement award went to Celia Brackenridge for her contribution to the ethics and values of sport. She was known for asking awkward but justifiable questions of the Football Association regarding child protection, hooliganism and ‘bungs’. From 2001 she became an adviser to the NSPCC Child Protection in Sport Unit. She also advised FIFA and UNICEF on the movement of young footballers between African and European football clubs. Celia was unable to complete her inquiry fifteen years ago but wrote a paper entitled ‘Child Welfare in Football’. Celia was clearly a visionary recognising the dangers that could befall young sports men and women. Appallingly, it has taken the recent exposure of such dangers in football clubs to bring these issues to the wider public domain. Another year of great British sport has now passed and we hope that 2017 will bring even more excitement and enjoyment to all those who participate, at whatever level, and to those fans who watch.

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Take Five

Winter Warmers by Judith Schrut

The beautiful and heartwarming Giselle, English National Ballet, photo Jason Bell.

By the time you are reading this, the holiday bright lights and seasonal buzz will be fond memories, and it will be some weeks before winter’s thaw and the first snowdrops of spring are with us. Well, we say that just gives us more time to snuggle up and savour the new year’s best toasty treats. We are delighted to share with you some great ways to cheat that chill and warm those cockles.

1. Dare To Dance You might have heard of “the Strictly Effect”, after Britain’s favourite television show, Strictly Come Dancing, but have you ever wondered why we humans get such pleasure from all things dance? Growing scientific evidence shows deep-seated reasons for our excitement at watching others in motion and being in motion ourselves. Apparently, rhythmic movement stimulates and rewards important parts of our brain that other things just cannot reach. Adding music to the mix increases this effect, which may explain why watching others dance or taking part ourselves gives us a double dose of pleasure and food for the brain. Whether you dare to dance or just wish to watch, you’ll find Britain’s 2017 dance scene packed with opportunities to indulge in this healthful habit. The English National Ballet’s new season features a classic production of the spellbinding 22

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Tango Fire lights up Sadlers Wells, photo courtesy Sadlers Wells Press Team

love story, Giselle; Rudolf Nureyev’s sumptuous version of romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet; and My First Ballet: Cinderella, everyone’s favourite rags-to-riches story in a beautifully adapted ballet version for children aged three and up. This promises to be a very special treat for the whole family and will include children’s workshops in London and on its UK-wide tour. ENB also hosts an impressive programme of master classes, open rehearsals, ‘ballet buddy’ days and courses for all ages and levels. The Barbican Centre presents its most ambitious dance programme ever, with dance-connected performances, exhibitions and screenings taking place across the year and a treasure trove of guest companies and artists from around the globe, across its stages. Highlights include the world premiere of the Royal Ballet’s Les Enfants Terribles as part of a weekend celebrating Philip Glass at 80; bold, original works from Ballet Black, an expressive feast from the London International Mime Festival and a unique season of films in the Barbican cinema with dance at their heart. Sadler’s Wells brings the world’s best contemporary dance to its three London stages, with a vibrant year-round programme of tango to hip-hop, ballet to flamenco, Bollywood to cutting-edge modern. Although its current space was extensively re-designed in 1998, there

has been dance and body-based entertainment on Sadler’s Wells historic Islington site for over 300 years. Back in the 17th century, visitors to Sadler’s Wells might be entertained by jugglers, tumblers, rope dancers, ballad singers, wrestlers, fighters, dancing dogs and, reputedly, a singing duck. Its 2017 season won’t include either dogs or ducks, but does have some splendid options for dance buffs. Look out for the annual Flamenco Festival, setting the stage alight with exciting figures from the global flamenco scene and culminating in the Gala Flamenca. Japan’s astonishing Yamato drummers push their limits in a display of physical strength, using their whole bodies to produce thunderous music with drums weighing up to half a tonne. New York’s awardwinning Dorrance Dance imaginatively takes the traditional American art of tap dance to a new level. With its astonishing use of electronic tap boards, the Company’s every step, swipe, and scrape sets off an element of sound, turning the stage into a musical instrument in its own right. Twenty years ago, Matthew Bourne turned the ballet world upside down with his unforgettable all male Swan Lake. Now he and his ever innovative company, New Adventures, debut a mesmerising Red Shoes, a ballet version of the classic movie, before heading out on an extensive UK tour.


take five If all those top taps and tango turns give you the urge to get up and boogie, there are dozens of dance options you can try for yourself in halls, churches and community centres around the country. Apart from all that brain food we mentioned, dancing is a wonderful way to warm up in winter as well as meet new people, keep fit and have tremendous fun. Top of the stops for DIY dance lovers is Cecil Sharp House, the delightful North London headquarters of the English Folk Dance and Song Society for the past 80 years. With a wide variety of classes, workshops and events on offer, you can dance your way around the world with a choice of Irish Set Dance, Quadrille Club, Lancashire Clogging, Balkan, Morris Dancing and regular live band Celtic Ceilidhs, American Barn Dances and Filet Gumbo Cajun. Further information: www.ballet.org.uk www.sadlerswells.com barbican.org.uk www.cecilsharphouse.org

2. Meandering Museums For a simple, pleasurable and often free way to come in from the cold on a winter’s day, it’s hard to beat a visit to one of Britain’s huge range of museums and art galleries. With over 2500 to choose from, there’s sure to be one for every interest, age or attention span in your household. And 2017 promises to be an extra-ordinary year for museum lovers. If you’re in London, why not start at the top, literally? The new Tate Modern’s recent expansion added ten stories and multiple galleries of cutting edge design, event and display space. An awe-inspiring place to begin is its 10th floor open viewing gallery, with panoramic views of the city’s skyline and the River Thames below. Entry to the Tate remains free, although you really won’t want to miss ticketed shows like the retrospective of American mixed

media innovator, Robert Rauschenberg, and upcoming displays of 20th century Italian masters, sculptor Alberto Giacometti and painter Amedeo Modigliani. You don’t need to be ‘radical’ to enjoy Tate Modern‘s Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection. Sir Elton has been passionately collecting photographs for 25 years, hanging them in every nook, cranny and wall of his Atlanta, Georgia home. This show treats you to roomfuls of gems from his 2000-item collection, one of the largest private collections in the world, and is a chance to see the best of American and world photography, by pioneers and innovators like Edward Steichen, Dorothea Lange, Imogen Cunningham, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Man Ray, each of whom helped change the way we see. Start your visit with the show’s introductory film, in which Sir Elton speaks with honesty and warmth on why he collects, how he loves living in a house covered with wall-to-wall photographs and why he’s so keen to share his collection with us. Down the river at Tate Britain, David Hockney’s 80th birthday is celebrated with a major show. From portraits and images of LA swimming pools to his Yorkshire landscapes, drawings on the iPad, and photography, this is a rare chance to see a lifetime of Hockney’s unforgettable works in one place. Opening in April, the first exhibition dedicated to Queer British Art showcases the rich diversity of LGBTQ (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, queer) visual art created during the oppressive 100 years before UK law partially de-criminalised male homosexuality. There’s still time to dig out those bellbottoms, fringed leather waistcoats and Twiggy wigs and make your way to the Victoria and Albert Museum’s “You say you want a Revolution? Records & Rebels 1966-1970”. If you, your parent or, indeed, grandparent hung around Carnaby Street, Haight Ashbury or Granny Takes a Trip in the Swinging Sixties, this show will surely blow your mind. Explore the upheaval, explosive

sense of freedom and radical changes of the time through music, fashion, film, design and political activism. Revolution is followed by another V&A big bang, the Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains, a multi-sensory journey through Pink Floyd’s universe, from the 1960’s psychedelic scene to the present day. Recently honoured with the prestigious Art Fund Museum of the Year prize, the ever innovative V&A is the world’s greatest museum of art and design. View British, European and Asian fashion, furniture, glass, toys, jewellery and instruments through the ages, and so much more - all exquisitely displayed - and enjoy free activities, special events, late night openings and daily guided tours, including the unique and award-winning LGBTQ tour. Turning to the many wondrous small museums and galleries, it’s hard to know where to start. No, that’s not entirely true: we’d start with London’s Charles Dickens Museum, in the only remaining home of the beloved Victorian writer and social activist and one of the most intimate and enchanting small museums we know. In this renovated Georgian terraced house in a Bloomsbury back street, you can immerse yourself in the sights and sounds and the living spirit of the man, explore the family home of the great writer, his wife Catherine and several of their 10 children, the furnished rooms where Dickens dined and entertained many famous David Hockney, Portrait of an Artist,(Pool with Two Figures)1972, photo credit Art Gallery New South Wales, Jenni Carter, courtesy Tate Press Team

A warm welcome, Charles Dickens Museum, London, photo courtesy Michael Barrett, the Press Office

Radical Eye, Gems from Sir Elton John’s photography collection,Tate Modern

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guests, the working rooms where he wrote Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby. From amongst 100,000 treasures in the Museum’s collection, you can view original manuscripts and drawings, his writing desk and more unusual items like a commode (chair with a concealed chamber pot) and hip bath. There’s a cosy and charming café and walled courtyard garden to sip hot chocolate and sample some enticing cakes. A bonus to discover that the museum’s lovely new director is an American expat and lifelong Dickens aficionado, Dr Cindy Sughrue. The Dickens Museum is only one masterpiece in London’s Museum Mile. A walk along Museum Mile will provide you with fascinating insights into London past and present, and a chance to discover 13 museums and galleries and their diverse collections. These include Sir John Soane’s Museum, the Foundling Museum, Hunterian Museum of Surgery, the Cartoon Museum and the British Museum. Amongst the many other small but perfectlyformed gallery gems, we highly recommend the International Slavery Museum, Liverpool, telling the history of the transatlantic slave trade through stories of resilience and resistance; the Galleries of Justice Museum, Nottingham; Wales’ Dylan Thomas Centre and Big Pit National Coal Museum, with its astounding underground tour. The delightful American Museum, housed in an 18th-century manor outside Bath, is the only museum of Americana outside the USA. Our favourite small museums in Scotland include Edinburgh’s Museum of Childhood and the People’s Story. Further information: dickensmuseum.com www.vam.ac.uk www.tate.org.uk museum-mile.org.uk

3. The Wonder Of The Wander It’s official: walking is good for you- it boosts your memory, lung capacity and sense of wellbeing. It prevents cancer, cuts the risk of heart attacks by half and strokes by a third. Walking an hour a day adds up to 1000 miles in 12 months. But those frosty winter mornings, shorter daytimes and early darkness make us all feel a little more sleepy. Resist the urge to hibernate! Instead, pull on your furry boots, pack up the waterproofs, energy bars and hip flasks and walk yourself warm. Whether you’re up for a short stroll in your lunch hour, an energetic trek at the weekend or just long for some fresh air hygge, Britain’s got an endless choice of great wintertime walks and wanders, from forest tracks to urban Californians Walk London: Eric, Rikki, Toni, Pete, 2016

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ambles, hilly byways to waterside towpaths. Try the enchanting illuminated stroll through Isle of Wight’s Electric Woods, a sound and light spectacle set amidst glowing glades and trees. Witness early Spring as it’s sprung, with a fragrant walk around Sussex’s West Dean Gardens or Surrey’s Winkworth Arboretum, with its 1,000 different trees and shrubs and 10,000 snowdrops. Late spring brings the glorious British bluebell season and a chance to experience the special magic of bluebell woods. Think blue and violet perfumed floral carpets, sweeping through ancient woodlands adorned with birds, butterflies and winding paths. Try the bluebell woods of Ashridge Estate in Buckinghamshire or a guided bluebell walk on Norfolk’s famous Blickling Estate, once home to Anne Boleyn’s family. Whatever the season, Britain offers some of the most exhilarating coastal walks imaginable. Sample, for instance, the stunning castle-tocastle walk along Northumberland’s coast, with an optional boat trip to seabird and seal sanctuaries of the nearby Farne Islands, or follow in the footsteps of Ross and Demelza Poldark, with a bracing stroll along Cornwall’s scenic Southwest Coast Path. If social walking is your thing, consider joining that very British institution known as the Ramblers Association, or new kid on the block, Walk Unlimited. Both feature annual winter wanders, walking weekends and free guided walks as well as advice, training and maps galore. Walk London has seven beautiful walking routes covering 390 miles across all 33 London boroughs. Check out Walk4Life to find a UK walking group, or make use of their incredible “Walkfinder”. Here you can source over 100,000 (yes, really) walks, or create your own to suit individual wander-wishes and needs. Walk4Life also encourages GPs to ‘prescribe’ a local walk to patients using its ingenious Dr Maps prescribing pad and invite you to join one of hundreds of groups like the Wishful Walkers, BodyBlitz Walk Fit, Dog Trotters, Walking Wobblers and Clothes Optional Walking. Further information: www.ramblers.org.uk www.walk.co.uk www.walk4life.info

4. Hot Tickets Anyone in the drama-know will tell you that some of the UK’s best theatre can be found on its many wonderful regional stages, venues like

Liverpool’s Everyman and Playhouse, long famed as launching pads for groundbreaking drama and talent like Julie Walters, Jonathan Pryce and Bill Nighy. The E&P’s upcoming season has been proclaimed‘a dream come true season’. It includes an eagerly awaited production of Fiddler on the Roof, a rock ‘n roll Beauty and the Beast and The Story Giant, marking the 50th anniversary of The Mersey Sound. March winds blow in some thrilling regional premieres. One Love: The Bob Marley Musical debuts at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Sleepless in Seattle, the New Musical, opens with an all star cast at the Theatre Royal Plymouth before transferring to London’s West End. Naturally, you’ll expect more than a few hot tickets to warm the London stage. An American in Paris, a gorgeous, awardwinning reinvention of the Hollywood film and Gershwin musical, has its eagerly awaited UK premiere at the Dominion Theatre. 42nd Street, the classic song and dance American dream fable of Broadway comes to Theatre Royal Drury Lane, and Doctor Who and Broadchurch star David Tennant will play the title role in Don Juan in Soho at Wyndham’s Theatre. At long last, Hamilton, the critically acclaimed Pulitzer Prize-winning play and multi-awarded Broadway musical, hits the Victoria Palace Theatre, with tickets on sale from January and an opening date in late 2017. Hamilton tells the story of America’s Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the West Indies who became George Washington’s right-hand man during the Revolutionary War and was the nation’s first Treasury Secretary. The score blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B and Broadway and is described as “the story of America then, as told by America now”. For something completely different as well as historic, beautiful and reasonably-priced, you’ll love an evening at Wilton’s Music Hall. This one-of-a-kind gem in the heart of London is the oldest Grand Music Hall in the world. Recently re-opened after a glorious restoration and re-design, Wilton’s offers a year round programme of exceptional productions and community events. Highlights of 2017’s first season are an electrifying Frankenstein and the renowned and hilarious Reduced Shakespeare Company in Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play. Wilton’s also has terrific stuff for the whole family, like time-travelling magicians Morgan & West’s Utterly Spiffing Spectacular Magic

An American in Paris comes to London, photo Matthew Murphy


take five Hamilton, Broadway production, Daveed Diggs as Thomas Jefferson and ensemble, photo Joan Marcus, courtesy Raw PR

Show for Kids (and Childish Grown Ups!) and Silver Electra, an inspirational show about American pioneer aviator, Amelia Earhart. Further information: www.wiltons.org.uk www.hamiltonthemusical.co.uk www.everymanplayhouse.com

5. The Magic Of Music To many music lovers, Britain is Music Heaven, with hundreds of venues, concerts and gigs to suit every taste or genre. Whether your favourite is rock, jazz, folk or classical; grime, gunge or gangsta rap - or a sound so new it doesn’t have a name yet - the UK hosts a breadth and variety of music unequalled anywhere on the planet. London’s Southbank Centre, a particular jewel in the nation’s musical crown, starts the new year with a passion, offering plenty to stir the heart and warm the soul. Expect a glittering array of classical pearls, historic gems and

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The magic of music, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Southbank Centre, photo copyright Benjamin Ealovega

contemporary sparklers, as the world’s most gifted musicians take centre stage and wave batons, show off vocal vim and make their instruments sing. Belief and Beyond Belief is the Southbank Centre’s rich, ripe central theme for 2017, bringing with it an ambitious year-long festival of music, performance, film, debate and exhibitions. If you’ve ever asked yourself “Being human: what’s it all about?”, this is the festival for you. In a fruitful partnership with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, there will be eight themed weekends across the year. A creative mix of music, words and ideas will explore massive themes like “The search for the meaning of life”; “How do we live with death?” and “Can science and religion live side by side?”. The coming Southbank year will also see dozens of musical premieres and artist

debuts, movie screenings with live orchestra, an international piano series and a Nordic season, as well as the annual Women of the World, EFG London Jazz, Darbar Indian Music and Imagine Children’s festivals. You’ll be spoilt for choice with evenings of Mozart masterpieces, the Sounds of Musicals, the Glenn Miller Orchestra and concerts from the cream of classical soloists like Mitsuko Uchida, Pinchas Zukerman, Maurizio Pollini and Vladimir Ashkenazy. You can always depend on the Southbank to have plenty for families and young people, including its popular FUNharmonics family concert. This year’s Imagine Children’s Festival will have a strong Nordic focus. There will be dancing, singing, wiggling, giggling and other childish fun for all ages, from Groove Baby, dance for the very youngest set, to Rave-a-Roo, a brand new clubbing experience for the whole family. The Southbank offers many attractively priced or free options, such as over-60s concessions, student and family tickets, series savings, Friday Tonic after-work concerts and other free foyer events. Further information: www.southbankcentre.co.uk Take Five is our quarterly feature bringing the best of British to Americans in Britain. We’d love to hear how you’ve been warming up this winter: you can email Judith at judith0777@gmail.com

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A Letter from Scotland Tapestries by Yvonne Willcocks Many years ago, when my husband and I first met, we visited“The Cloisters”in New York, part of the Metropolitan Museum, where we saw the series of wonderful tapestries called “The Hunt of the Unicorn.”After living in New York, Zurich and London, we retired to Scotland, and recently saw “The Hunt of the Unicorn” again! This time in Stirling Castle, which is perhaps the ‘jewel in the crown’ of Scotland’s ancient buildings and has recently undergone major refurbishment by Historic Environment Scotland. Scotland’s King James IV built the Great Hall of Stirling Castle and it has now been renovated, followed by work on the Royal Apartments built by his son James V. This block had previously been used as a military barracks! Recreating the sumptuous decoration of the royal palace took years of research before work could begin. A ceiling in the Presence Chamber that was covered with carved roundels of classical and historical heads, was re-carved by hand. But the ‘piéce de resistance’, according to the castle’s sixteenth-century records, had been a series of

tapestries of “The Hunt of the Unicorn”. So the idea was born to recreate these lost works of art. Through the benevolence of Helen Danforth of Providence, Rhode Island, and her family foundation, the Quinque Foundation (which aids the training and preservation of conservation skills for the built and natural heritage) in partnership with Historic Environment Scotland, a group of professionals brought together to work on the project. The team of eighteen weavers from different countries took fourteen years to complete it! “The Hunt of the Unicorn”was a well-known allegorical tale in the middle ages, and there were three variations on the theme. In Christian symbolism, the pure spirit (the unicorn) descends from God to the Maiden (symbolising Christ) who is attacked by non-believers. Then there was the “Frail Stag” (Everyman) assaulted from birth to death by vanity, disease, ignorance, fear, desire and old age. Also the “Unicorn as Lover”, is subdued by his beloved, and chained to a pomegranate tree (symbol of marriage and

Stirling Castle, Hunt of the Unicorn The unicorn leaps from the stream. The unicorn is captured and fenced in. The unicorn is killed. Crown Copyright HES

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American In Britain

fertility), in a delightful garden of flowers. The ‘Unicorn Tapestries’, with thousands of coloured threads entwined to make up the picture, is a true ‘tapestry’. But the famous “Bayeux Tapestry”, relating the story of William I’s conquest of England, is strictly an ‘embroidery’, where the design is stitched on a canvas backing. Recently other great series of needlework panels have been produced to celebrate 12,000 years of Scotland’s history.“The Great Tapestry of Scotland”, consisting of 160 embroidery panels, stitched by a thousand talented volunteers, took over 55,000 hours, using over 300 miles of woollen yarn. The story starts in the Ice Age and continues through partial Roman occupation, battles with England, the Reformation and right up to modern times. “The Prestonpans Tapestry” displays the romantic history of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, affectionately known as “Bonny Prince Charley” and his doomed attempt to regain the throne of Great Britain for the Stuarts. It is worth retelling the story of the 103 embroidery panels to give some idea of the work that involved more than 200‘stitchers’from Scotland, England, France, Australia and the USA, who spent a total of 25,000 hours on the project. The series of 103 panels starts with Prince Charles taking his leave of his father, King James VIII of Scotland, and III of England, followed by his joining (incognito) a French fleet planning to invade England. But the weather scattered the fleet and Charles had to make his own plans. His ships were attacked by the English, but he sailed on with the remaining one to Eriskay on the Western Coast of Scotland. Charles contacted many of the Clan were Chiefs and they joined him with their warriors and started their march through the Highlands, where many more clans joining the uprising. A force of English ‘Redcoats’, commanded by Sir John Cope, rapidly set off from Edinburgh to confront the Highlanders. Surprisingly the two armies missed one another and Charles made a rapid march to Perth in the east, raising many more supporters on the way. Meanwhile Cope travelled north to Inverness then east to Aberdeen, where barges took his troops down the coast, landing at Dunbar, to the east of Edinburgh. In the meantime, Charles had peacefully captured Edinburgh City, but not the castle. Hearing of Cope’s landing, Charles and his army set off to do battle. Cope likewise was anxious to confront the upstart Jacobites and marched his troops eastwards towards


A LETTER FROM SCOTLAND Battle of Prestonpans Tapestry 1745 © Panel 63,Victory for the Scots. Panel 64, Col. Gardner’s last stand.

Edinburgh, along the flat fields bordering the Forth of Firth. Charles’ army approached from the south, along the low hills, suddenly appearing close to the Redcoats, but separated by impassable, marshy ground. So the scene was set for what was to become known as the Battle of Prestonpans. After trading insults across the marshland, the two sides retired for the night, but the commanders racked their brains for the best strategy to win the battle. One of Charles’ young officers was a local man who showed them a

little-known route through the marshes to the east and rear of Cope’s position. When the sun came through the mist in the early morning of September 21st, 1745, the Redcoats were taken completely by surprise, from the rear, unable to re-align their cannons or their cavalry. It took scarcely ten minutes to rout Cope’s army. Charles’ Highland army soon set off for London in high spirits, but here the Tapestry ends, reluctant to expose the deterioration of control by its leader, their return to the Highlands, and their final defeat at Culloden,

Great Tapestry of Scotland © Panel 30, Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn. Panel 36, Apprentice’s Pillar, Rosslyn Chapel. Panel 95, Railway Bridges in Scotland.

near Inverness, on 16th April 1746. Embroidery is also the link to an earlier tragic Scottish monarch – Mary Queen of Scots. Although she became queen almost at birth, she was whisked away to the family of her mother, Mary of Guise, in France. There she received the training and education (including embroidery) fit for a queen at one of the leading families of the time. Married at sixteen to the sickly Francois II, she returned to Scotland after he died in 1560. As Queen of Scots she had a turbulent life which climaxed with imprisonment in Lochleven Castle. Mary escaped, but her flight to England resulted in her imprisonment for the next twenty years. She had need of the embroidery skills she had learned in France to pass the dreary days away. A number of examples of her workpieces have been preserved to remind us of this accomplished but hapless monarch. Mary Queen of Scots: said to be her Needlecase. Courtesy Traquair House.

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THEATRE

THEATRE

Review of London’s Theatre Productions by Lydia Parker

School Of Rock, The Musical At The New London Theatre School of Rock, The Musical, is based on, and owes, much to the Mike White/Richard Linklater film starring Jack Black. An unlikely combination of music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and book by Downton Abbey’s Julian Fellowes has produced a certifiable hit. This stage friendly version is more than an imitation of a wellloved film as the outstanding performances of David Fynn and a host of multitalented children bring it to rip-roaring life. For anyone who somehow missed the wildly entertaining film, School of Rock, the story follows would-be rock musician Dewey Finn who is thrown out of the band he created for being, well, not handsome enough and a bit too rock and roll. The stage musical begins with the lead singer of Dewey’s band, No Vacancy singing the hilarious “Too Hot for You” as he writhes around in skin tight jeans. Dewey is also being badgered for rent money by his friend Ned Schneebly’s girlfriend, Patty di Marco. Ned used to be in the music business but gave it all up to be a substitute teacher. When Dewey receives

a call one day with a job offer for Ned at the prestigious Horace Green School, he decides to impersonate his friend and grab the cash. The Head Teacher, Miss Mullins, is surprised by his unorthodox methods but doesn’t question him too much. Dewey still has revenge on his mind though, and decides to win the Battle of the Bands once he hears his little pupils in music class. His task is to train them to be hard core rock musicians within two weeks without either Miss Mullins or the parents finding out. Meanwhile, in a new twist for the stage version, Dewey and the high-strung Rosalie Mullins develop a bit of a romance over beer and a passion for Stevie Nicks. So much of the excellent and memorable dialogue is taken directly from the film, as are the original songs “School of Rock”,“In the End of Time” and the “Math is a Wonderful Thing”. However, a couple of the Lloyd Webber/Glenn Slater songs stand out,“You’re in the Band” and “Stick It to the Man”, lifted by the energetic, thrilling performances of the young actors who stomp, jump and thoroughly rock out. The song “Where Did the Rock Go?”, a ballad for Rosalie Mullins, is beautifully sung by Florence Andrews but feels like it belongs in a different Lloyd

Webber musical; there is nothing rock and roll or even Fleetwood Mac about it. In this respect the film’s original concept of a love of pure rock such as music by Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, AC/DC, Cream and The Doors, is somewhat watered down into the Broadway/West musical ethos of playing it safe and family friendly. Despite this, School of Rock, the Musical, taken on its own merits, is thoroughly entertaining. It is genuinely funny, with witty dialogue and a hilarious, boisterous, joyful performance from David Fynn as Dewey Finn. A skilled guitarist and singer, he hurls himself about the stage with abandon, an overgrown child who can still win the hearts of all the children, and Miss Mullins, to boot. It is difficult to step into the shoes of Jack Black without imitating him, but Fynn has done just that, creating a loveable, larger than life character. I think we will be hearing much more from this hugely talented performer in the future. Florence Andrews was sympathetic as the uptight yet dying to let go Miss Mullins, an almost Mary Poppins type figure in this version. The performance begins with a recorded announcement by Andrew Lloyd Webber stating that the children all play their instruments live. There is a backing band for the other

The West End cast of School of Rock The Musical. Photo credit Tristram Kenton

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David Fynn (Dewey Finn) & Lucy Simmonds (Summer) photo by Tristram Kenton

performers and filling out sound, but my word, these young musicians can really play! There are three rotating casts of children because of UK child labour law; it is an achievement that the producers managed to find so many outstanding young musicians. Tom Abisgold is a first rate and confident rock guitarist and is given plenty of opportunity to display his riffs as Zack. Jude Harper-Wrobel as Freddy, the drummer, also showed a flair beyond his years as did James Lawson as Lawrence, the keyboard player. The biggest surprise of the evening was tiny Lois Jenkins as Katie, the bass player, who looked hardly big enough to hold her instrument, but proved any detractors wrong. Nicola Dube as Tomika, the shy girl who wants to be in the band but refuses to be a backing singer, grew in confidence and size as the evening progressed, eventually belting out her own solo in the School of Rock theme. Eva Trodd as Summer, the bossy, know-it-all, whom Dewey assigns to be the manager, was brilliantly mature for her years and very funny. On top of being accomplished musicians, all the children also had credible American accents. The rest of the cast looked like they had great fun switching between roles of teachers, parents and band members, no mean feat in a fast-paced musical like this. This is a very enjoyable evening out at the theatre. The raucous energy of the production is contagious and despite missing some of the wonderful songs of the film, I actually came out humming the oft repeated “Stick it to the Man.” Children will absolutely love this musical but beware; they will be bugging their parents for music lessons afterwards so that they can be in the band. To book tickets visit schoolofrock.seetickets.com

as the rain pours outside the farmhouse and his wife, Halie, shouts down to him, unseen, from upstairs. He occasionally wryly comments or shouts back an answer, while smoking, coughing and sipping whiskey from a flask. As Halie continues chattering on about their three sons, one of whom, Ansel, died mysteriously, we start to wonder what sort of family this is. When Tilden, the eldest son, enters with his arms full of corn, covered in dirt and looking like a bit like a zombie, we know this is no ordinary family. While Tilden keeps insisting he picked the corn from out back, Dodge declares no corn has grown out there since 1935. We learn Tilden has recently returned home after being away for twenty years and getting into some unexplained trouble in New Mexico. Halie eventually comes down and seems to not even see Tilden as she goes on about Ansel who was a soldier and should have died a hero instead of in a motel room, probably murdered by the Catholic woman he married. Halie is working with Father Dewis, their local pastor, to have a monument erected in Ansel’s honour. She leaves to go meet him, ordering Tilden, while not speaking to him, to stay with Dodge who is afraid that Bradley, their second son, will wander in and not only tidy up the house but cut his hair while he sleeps. Of course as soon as Dodge falls asleep, Tilden leaves, and Bradley, who lost a leg in a chainsaw accident, hobbles in straightening up the place and then setting to Dodge’s head with an electric razor. The second act sees the arrival of Tilden’s son, Vince, and his girlfriend Shelley, who was hoping for something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Instead no one seems to recognise Vince, despite his growing up there; he runs off in a disturbing rage, leaving Shelley to look after the incapacitated Dodge while being threatened by a clearly mad Bradley. Dodge, Bradley and Tilden slowly start to reveal details of a horrible event in their past, something Dodge is reluctant to tell but feels drawn to confide in Shelley. As we piece together the jigsaw puzzle, as Shelley calls it, and notice what is missing in this picture- Vince’s mother, for instance- we begin to realise that the horror of the story is equivalent to those in Greek tragedies.

This astonishing play moves between the very real rawness of human emotion and a surreal quality that pushes it almost into farce. Scott Elliott, the acclaimed American director, expertly builds a world that is frightening and always veering off balance, but is rooted in truthfulness. Ed Harris gives a superlative performance as Dodge, perhaps the only likeable member of this bizarre family who also turns out to be the cruellest. While hardly moving from the filthy sofa he sits on, he creates a character of incredible size and depth; even when he is covered by a blanket or corn cobs, Mr Harris still manages to have a stage presence. Amy Madigan, the real life wife of Ed Harris, is outstanding as Halie, who manages to terrify every member of her family into submission while acting like she is the only normal person in the house. She blithely carries on with the clueless Father Dewis, beautifully played by Jack Fortune, who also sips from a flask as he professes himself out of his depth while the family falls to pieces. Barnaby Kay plays Tilden as a sort of simple gentle giant, quite similar to Lennie from Of Mice and Men, who means no harm but could suddenly turn dangerous. Gary Shelford was also excellent as the unhinged and sadistic Bradley, both of them damaged men-children who have never really grown up and have trouble leaving home. Jeremy Irvine, better known as a film star in War Horse and The Railway Man, feels like he is still finding his feet as a stage actor, but turns in a fine performance as Vince. Charlotte Hope, making her West End debut, is wonderful as Shelley, creating a character who is a mixture of strength, vulnerability and insatiable curiosity. This production is worth seeing even for people who are not fans of Sam Shephard’s work, just for the central performances of Ed Harris and Amy Madigan. They are skilled actors both on screen and on stage, performers who have honed their craft through years of experience. It is a pleasure to see them shine on the West End stage. To book tickets call 0845 505 8500 or visit www.londontheatredirect.com/play/2487/ buried-child-tickets.

Buried Child At Trafalgar Studios Although Buried Child was written by the great playwright/actor Sam Shephard in 1978, it feels extremely timely; if not for the absence of mobile phones, it could be a contemporary play. Buried Child’s themes of isolation, rural poverty, disappointment, family dysfunction and malleable memories, create a Gothic American tale for all times. As the play opens, we see the elderly Dodge, sitting quietly alone in his shabby living room 30

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Ed Harris & Barnaby Kay in Buried Child, Trafalgar Studios, photo Johan Persson


AMERICAN WOMEN’S CLUBS NEWS

AMERICAN WOMEN’S CLUBS NEWS kcwc

Are you new to London or interested in attending lectures from leading experts, enjoying exclusive experiences, and meeting new friends? Then kcwc is a great starting point. As one of London’s longest established and largest women’s organisations, we have more than 800 British and international members from over 48 countries. Each month kcwc holds a General Meeting with an interesting and relevant guest speaker at a prime London location. Past speakers have included Princess Michael of Kent, Anthony Geffen, Zac Goldsmith, Earl Spencer, Philippa Gregory, and Rebecca Stephens. The general meetings are a good way to meet other members, sign up for activities, enjoy listening to a high profile keynote speaker and join fellow members for an optional lunch at a local restaurant afterwards. In addition to the General Meetings, kcwc also offers approximately 35 activities. These are organised by members who volunteer their time and skills by running a wide variety of weekly and monthly activities. Topics include history, culture, art, design, fashion, music, theatre, local tours, UK and international travel, special events, technology, sports, golf, tennis, languages, arts and crafts, food, dining, wine tasting, book and lecture groups, country walks, bridge, feng shui, weekend activities, and much more. There are also a variety of evening and weekend activities which working women can enjoy. These include theatre, happy hour, dining out, jazz and music appreciation, evening speakers, and special events. There is so much on offer at kcwc and members get to discover London while making new friends at the same time. Recent Highlights Autumn is always the busiest time of year for our members and the club. We returned from summer holidays to begin the season with our September General Meeting at the Royal Geographical Society, where we were honoured to have HRH Princess Michael of Kent as keynote speaker. The Princess spoke about her latest book in the Anjou trilogy. In October, leading up to the US elections, Jamie Coomarasamy of the BBC World Service regaled us with stories from his time as a Washington Correspondent reporting on US politics. In November, filmmaker Anthony Geffen shared behind-the-scenes details of his groundbreaking 3D work with Sir David Attenborough. Also in November, kcwc hosted a Roaring 1920’s Gala Dinner Dance. Members and their guests began www.theamericanhour.com

the evening sipping cocktails in the Speakeasy at the Lansdowne Club before indulging in a classic 1920’s style meal, followed by dancing. It was a memorable evening with members and their guests enjoying music and entertainment fit for Broadway. Meanwhile, our activity groups hit the ground running in September with numerous diverse offerings. Our Travel group laced up their hiking boots for a walking trip in Northern Cyprus and journeyed to France for a week exploring the art of Provence. Our Foodies group and Italian Conversation group jointly hosted a tour and tasting at the first Italian butchery with tables in London, Il Macellaio Restaurant, and participated in a pasta master class at Giovanni Rana. The Wine Society group hosted a bespoke wine tasting tour at the Decanter Fine Wine Encounter with world-renowned wine critic Steven Spurrier. The British History group continued its successful History of London series, learning about the city from Roman times to the present day. The British History group toured Claremont House, the Tower of Esher, and the William Morris Gallery, along with an exclusive tour of the Parker Library at Cambridge University. The Interior Design group took an exclusive tour of Harrods, while both the Evening Speaker Series group and Travel group toured the New Design Museum in Kensington. kcwc’s After Six in the City group has been out and about town, dining in some of London’s finest restaurants, from drinks and dinner at the Sanderson Hotel to an evening enjoying sumptuous authentic Persian dishes at Apadana Persian Restaurant. The After Six in the City group also attended lectures at the V&A with Kelly Hoppen MBE, Interior Designer, and Louise Trotter, Creative Director of Joseph Fashions. And after the work week was finished, the Weekend Activities group visited the Columbia Road Flower Market and took a river cruise to Hampton Court Palace. Upcoming Events With the start of the new year, kcwc has a full programme of events and activities planned for the winter and spring. The February General Meeting will be held at the Royal Geographical Society on 2 February followed by an optional lunch at a local restaurant. The guest speaker will be Art Critic Estelle Lovatt, who will be speaking about the art world, collectors, and discovering one’s own inner art critic. The Art History group has a full line up of lectures including A History of English Portraiture, the long-running Western Art www.americaninbritain.co.uk

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Survey, and a Picasso Portraits lecture led by art historian Jacqueline Cockburn, along with a day outing exploring Post Impressionism in Paris. The Asian Culture group will celebrate the Chinese New Year with lunch, and the Fun with Feng Shui group will discuss the astrology of the 2017 Fire Rooster, plus how to design logos and business cards with feng shui principles. Classical Music and Opera will tour Leighton House and enjoy a recital by the Phoenix Piano Trio. The After Six in the City group will meet for a fireside dinner at Beach Blanket Babylon, dine on classic Sardinian cuisine at Olivocarne Restaurant, and enjoy an evening lecture at the V&A with Sam McKnight, one of fashion’s leading master hairstylists. Following their successful spring 2016 World War I lecture series, the British History group will be featuring a four-part lecture series on World War II. The Travel group will be heading to Oslo to explore Norway’s rich Viking heritage, Portugal to tour picturesque Lisbon and Sintra, Petworth House in the South Downs, and BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, popularly known as the Neasden Temple. The Techy Teas group will be learning tips and strategies for managing emails and calendars on tablet computers, and the Book group will discuss The Luberon Garden by Alex Dingwall-Main. The Dog Walking group will take their weekly walks from Hyde Park to parks slightly outside central London for a change of scenery. Save the Date Kcwc General Meetings are open to nonmembers for a guest fee of £10, redeemable if joining on the day. The meetings are usually held on the first Thursday of each month between September and June. Prospective members are welcome to attend the monthly Coffee Mornings or Happy Hours where guests can come along for an informal chat over coffee or a drink and enjoy the company of other international women. There is no need to preregister to attend the Hospitality events and the cost is your own tab. For further information please contact potential@kcwc.org.uk or visit the website: www.kcwc.org.uk. To join kcwc, please visit www.kcwc.org.uk and click on Join Us or email potential@kcwc.org.uk. Save the Date February General Meeting: Thursday, 2 February 2017, Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR, 9:30am – 12pm, Guest speaker: Art Critic Estelle Lovatt on the art market, collectors, and discovering one’s own inner art critic.

American Women’s Club Of London

With all the anticipation surrounding the election, and winter holidays you may not have realised, that 2017 is finally here! Whether you just arrived in this magical city or have been living here for a while, AWC can help you settle in. We can answer all of those 32

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crazy questions, help your transition to the London area, and at the same time help you make some wonderful friendships along the way. Our club’s mission is to provide social, cultural, educational and philanthropic activities for our members living in and around London. So, to give you a little taste of what it’s like to be an AWC member, let’s take a look at a few events we held in the last few months. Our Welcome Back Halloween party that took place on Sunday, October 30th, was a smashing success! Whether you are a Halloween fan who loves to dress up or not, you would have loved this place - a mysterious speakeasy that has been considered one of London’s most soughtafter venues for years. Highlight of the night included: crafted to order cocktails, yummy hors d’oeuvres, and a best costume competition. My advice to you is - try not to miss it next year! There are so many wonderful things all around us; they make us happy, blessed and grateful. So, when Thanksgiving comes around, most of us are very passionate about celebrating it. However, trying to figure out where to buy the best turkey, at what temperature to cook it and what plate to serve it on (because most of our serving plates are likely sitting in storage back home), can be very exhausting. That is why we, at AWC, left the stress of it all to the culinary artists

at the Four Seasons Hotel! With their help, on Thursday November 24th at 7pm, we celebrated our first official AWC Thanksgiving Dinner at this luxurious Hotel on Park Lane. We had a decadent and traditional turkey meal, with trimmings, generous sides and of course, dessert. Unlimited soft drinks and bottled water was included in the price of each ticket. Friends, family and especially children were welcome at this event. Are you passionate about baking? If so, then you would’ve loved this class we took on Tuesday, November 29th in the Notting Hill boutique, where we learned how to ice our own Christmas collection of cookies – from tophatted snowmen to delicate snowflakes. Forget Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, it’s all about the Biscuiteers School of Icing! They provided all the biscuits, icing and edible decorations. At the end of the lesson, we were able to take our finished creations home with us! Not to mention, plenty of Biscuiteer icing techniques and secrets! Every year around Christmas time we also plan a Hampstead Holiday Hike and Pub Lunch. Luckily, this year was no different. On Thursday, December 15th, 10am - 4pm, thirty AWC ladies bundled up and enjoyed a short winter hike through Hampstead Heath - a slice of beautiful English countryside right here in London. We walked about 3 miles before heading to the atmospheric Spaniards Pub for a festive lunch. As one of London’s oldest pubs (1585), The Spaniards has earned itself a place in the history books, quite literally. Dickens immortalised it in “The Pickwick Papers”, and it’s said that Keats wrote“Ode to a Nightingale” here over a claret or two. We plan similar hikes every month, so stay tuned for future day trips. If some of this sounds like fun to you, then we have some perfect opportunities coming up


AMERICAN WOMEN’S CLUBS NEWS for you to learn more about the club and make some new friends. Join us for a“New Member Wine and Cheese Party”on January 25th, from 7:30 pm till 8:30 pm. No need to explain this event! It’s a great way to meet new friends, current members and do a little socialising! Come and learn more about the Club and London and mellow out with a glass of wine. It is open to everyone and please RSVP – we hate it when we run out of wine! It’s at the AWC Office on 68 Old Brompton Road, SW7 3LQ. If evenings don’t work, then come along on January 10th or February 2nd at 10:00 am for a “New Member Coffee”. It is, just what it says, a coffee for women who are thinking about joining and want to know a little bit more about the Club. It’s a great way to meet members or make a new friend. It’s in this safe environment that you can ask all those silly questions we all have about being new and living in a new country. The coffee is open to everyone, but please RSVP so we have enough coffee and pastries! It’s very casual and at the AWC Office on 68 Old Brompton Road, SW7 3LQ. Each month we host a meeting with a special guest speaker to provide members with an opportunity to learn something new! We also use the time to talk about AWC club news and upcoming events, and of course, it is always fun to see and meet other women in a social environment. Our next meeting is on January 24th, from 10:00 am till 12:00 pm. It is at the Royal Thames Yacht Club, 60 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7LF. For more information and to RSVP please email awc@awclondon.org or call 020 7589 8292. There really is no need to look further! Join the AWC and you can take advantage of all the events and activities on offer throughout the year! For example, you can take advantage of the sales on our annual trip to the pottery outlets

in Stoke-on-Trent! There are many deals to be found! A private coach will transport us to the individual factory stores, where you can shop to your heart’s content. We will stop at such shops as: Burleigh, Emma Bridgewater, Waterford/ Wedgewood/Royal Doulton, Portmeirion and possibly Moorcroft, if time permits. The bus has storage room for your purchases and many of the factories will ship to a US address free of VAT! For more information about these events and to RSVP, or for more information about the Club in general, come by the AWC office at 68 Old Brompton Road, SW7 3LQ or call and talk to Lauren, our Office Manager, on 020 7589 8292, or check out the website at www.awclondon. org or email the office awc@awclondon.org . No matter how you look at it the AWC is a great resource and a wonderful way to make some new friendships! Start something new this winter!

North American Connection (NAC)

West Midlands What an amazing day we had on 20th November for our annual NAC Thanksgiving celebration! The NAC is a social group for expats living in Birmingham, West Midlands, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and all points in between. For Thanksgiving there were 80 of us, including our families, enjoying a fabulous lunch in an elegant, private dining room at the beautiful Hogarth’s Hotel in Solihull. The hotel spoiled us with welcome drinks and a fantastically delicious turkey dinner with all the trimmings, including some traditional Thanksgiving side dishes made from recipes that were provided by our expat members! Each family group brought a homemade dessert too, so the dessert table was beautifully abundant with amazing cakes, pies, puddings and cookies! Between courses the whole room played a lively game of ‘heads and tails’ and managed to raise over £300 in the process to donate to our nominated charity this year, which is MacMillan.org.uk. The NAC organises many monthly social events throughout the year, and this often includes educational and philanthropic activities too. We hold monthly coffee mornings, mom and tots days, craft days, day time and evening book club gatherings. We also organise

NAC - ‘Bunco Evening’

regular pub lunches, day excursions and dinner evenings to include spouses as well. We have a ‘Third Thursday’ evening event for ladies every month, which is well attended. It might be cinema, theatre or even our popular Bunco evening which can get very lively – especially after a few glasses of wine! If you’ve never played Bunco, be assured, you would never have believed a simple game involving dice could be so highly entertaining and fun, or maybe it’s the ladies here that just make it that way! This regular event also raises money towards our chosen charity. Most of us are women from the United States or Canada, but we welcome other expatriates with a particular connection or interest in joining. We’re quite a diverse group ranging from short or long-term expats to those who have been here for many years and chosen to live in England permanently. We live in the West Midlands with members reaching as far as an hour radius outside Birmingham, including Solihull, Leamington Spa, Lichfield, Stratford upon Avon, Worcester and Oxford. We are always happy to extend a very warm welcome to new members who wish to join our expat ‘family’! For further information about meeting us at one of our events or becoming a member please visit us at www.naconnect.com

UK Friends of NMWA – the National Museum of Women in the Arts Have you visited the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) in Washington

NAC - Annual Thanksgiving lunch at Hogarth’s Hotel

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DC? It is the only museum in the world dedicated to exhibiting and raising awareness of the historic and contemporary work of female artists. The museum’s collections hold over 4,700 art works by more than 1,000 women artists. Indeed, you’ll be surprised to learn that the home of the museum - a handsome and rather majestic neo-classical edifice - used to be the headquarters of the Freemasons, a bastion of male supremacy! The museum involves members from all over the world. International committees, such as the UK Friends of NMWA, work to increase awareness about the museum and women artists of the past and present, especially in their own regions. This network of ambassadors donates artwork to the museum and organizes lectures, panel discussions, talks, walking tours and visits, frequently exclusive, to artists’ workshops, private collections, museums and commercial galleries. The international committees participate in the bi-annual ‘Women to Watch’ programme by discovering and nominating regionally based women artists to showcase their work at the museum in Washington DC. Two such talented women showcased by UK Friends of NMWA have been painter Rose Wylie and sculptor Polly Morgan, now both highly acclaimed throughout the realm of art. The UK Friends of NMWA arranges events that are just a little bit different from those that are easily accessible and on offer in the UK world of art. Recent events have included an exclusive visit to the New Hall Art Collection of contemporary art by women at Cambridge University, a talk about the forgotten women composers of classical music, with music, song and intriguing stories, and a panel discussion and reception at the Norwegian Embassy about Norwegian women artists. In the New Year we will be celebrating our tenth anniversary as UK Friends of NMWA and the 30th anniversary of NMWA. In honour of the occasion, we are sponsoring an exhibition (18 January until 16 April 2017) at the renowned

Whitechapel Gallery in London of photography by 17 artists from five continents from the museum’s rich collection of contemporary photographic work. The exhibition Terrains of the Body: Photography from the National Museum of Women in the Arts presents stunning images that focus in extraordinary ways on the female body, some are self-portraiture cast in uncanny ‘lights’, through a mirror, for example; others feature tattooed bodies that can have political or social implications. They are aesthetic creations, rather than photojournalism, a genre in which women first attracted significant attention and acclaim in the early twentieth century. The Whitechapel Gallery is hailed for its ground-breaking exhibitions of contemporary art. In 1939 Picasso’s masterpiece Guernica was displayed at the gallery on its first and only visit to Britain; in 1958 the gallery presented the first major show in Britain of American abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock; and the first shows of David Hockney, Gilbert & George and Richard Long were staged in 1970 and 1971. Another upcoming UK Friends of NMWA event is a private tour of the Government Art Collection in central London on the 25 January. We will see a selection of works from the collection and learn about the history and role of the collection, which holds more than 13,500 works, the vast majority of them by artists born in Britain or those with strong British connections. Some artwork, such as Andy Warhol’s portraits of Queen Elizabeth II, is part of the collection because of its British subject matter. Some of the work has been commissioned directly from artists. Many of the works are displayed in the public spaces of British government buildings. Some of it is on loan to public exhibitions. Search the collection for your favourite painters’ work. We hope you will join UK Friends of NMWA. Many members are American expats or those of other nationalities. We share an interest in the arts and enjoy each other’s company. A warm feeling of camaraderie exists among our members, some of whom are professional working women, while others are home based, bringing up a family, busy creating a fulfilling expat life. There are opportunities to become more involved with UK Friends of NMWA. What we offer is unique among the many dynamic groups established to capture expats’ interests and help widen one’s circle of friendship, so that Britain feels like home. Please sign up for our newsletter or join us by visiting www.ukfriendsofnmwa.org.

The General Society of Mayflower Descendants

The General Society of Mayflower Descendants is pleased to announce that in recognition of the 400th anniversary of the voyage of the Mayflower, a new local member society, the Society of Mayflower Descendants in Europe, has been chartered specifically for Mayflower 34

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descendants resident in Europe (including the United Kingdom). Both current members of the Mayflower Society resident in Europe, and non-members interested in joining, are welcome to request additional information via the Mayflower Society in Europe page on Facebook, or via email at mayflower.europe. info@gmail.com.

American Women of Berkshire & Surrey (AWBS)

2016 was vibrant year full of fun and celebration. AWBS commemorated 35 years of being a club with a radical 80’s themed anniversary party at the Runnymede Hotel. We celebrated our Spring Hats and Handbags luncheon with a relaxing cruise on the River Thames in Windsor. Our annual hallmark fundraising event, the Christmas and craft fayre at the Royal Holloway University was a festive and a fun filled success. We surpassed the funds earned in 2015! We enjoyed attending General Meetings at enchanting venues like Wentworth Club, Windsor Guildhall, and Pinewood and Shepperton Studios. Inspiring Guest Speakers captivated us with their charismatic words and presence. Anton de Beke (Strictly Come Dancing), Kathie Lette (comedian and author), Sujo John (9/11 survivor and found of You Can Free Us –an international humanitarian organisation), Sharron Davies (GB Olympic swimming champion), and Simon Seabag Montefiore (British historian and best-selling author – The Romanovs) are just a few examples. We expanded our minds with art appreciation, English history, book club discussion, mahjong, Italy trip planning, and French language classes. We exercised our bodies with meditation, yoga, Pilates, tennis, country walks, and kayak trips on the Thames. The beautiful coastal chalk hills of Seven Sister under blue sky and warm sun was my favourite country walk! We broadened our existence with Find Your Spark, museum, historic castle, and iconic neighbourhood walking tours in London and the countryside. We enriched our inner creative sides with hands-on drawing, ikebana, photography, healthy cooking, and crafting classes. We travelled to St. Petersburg, Russia; Valletta, Malta, Porto, Portugal; and Innsbruck, Austria. By the end of the week, we always looked forward to winding down with


AMERICAN WOMEN’S CLUBS NEWS the TGIF pub night for drinks and chit-chat. We closed 2016 by giving back. We spent time celebrating Halloween with seniors at a local centre, feeding those in need during Christmas at a local soup kitchen, and donating food and children’s items to a local food bank and hospital for the holidays. We look forward to another vibrant year in 2017. We will kick off the year with our first General Meeting at the Wentworth Club. New venues include the historic Great Fosters in Egham, the delicious Piccolino in Virginia Water, and the beautiful Windlesham Golf Club in Bagshot. We welcome back our Best of Britain vendors and look forward to our Guest Speakers, which include HRH Princess Michael of Kent and actress Martine McCutcheon from the movie Love Actually. Mark your calendars for Quarter 1! With a plethora of activities in January-March to choose from, members will continue to keep their minds, bodies, existence, and philanthropic sides enriched and engaged with: Art appreciation, book club, English history, French language, Italy trip planning, mahjong, meditation, yoga, Pilates, country walks, tennis, ikebana, photography, art, drawing, crafting, Find your Spark, healthy cooking, pot luck lunch bunch, and TGIF pub night. Absorb the talent of artists and musicians who made a mark on history at the Watts Gallery, Basildon Park, and the HendrixHandel House. Learn about London’s cultural and architectural past and present through walking tours of iconic London neighborhoods. Shoreditch, Fitzrovia, and Chelsea, Hampstead, and Camden are a few. Save room for the scrumptious food walking tours in Soho! Open your heart and give back - volunteer during Valentine’s Day. Dust off your passports from your Christmas holiday journeys. Exciting trips abroad are planned - Norway in a nutshell and Riga, Latvia! So as you can see, 2016 was a memorable and exciting year for AWBS. The exhilaration continues on. Whether it’s enriching and expanding our minds, bodies, hearts, and existence with activities, tours, travel, and philanthropy, we have much to look forward to in 2017. There are more memories to create. Happy New Year Everyone!

CAWC International

Christmas Bazaar Event Raises £15,100 To Be Equally Split Between Two Buckinghamshire Charities The recent annual Christmas bazaar sponsored by CAWC International has raised £15,100 which will be equally split between two charities - The Epilepsy Society and Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity with each charity receiving £7,550. The figure was announced at the annual Christmas lunch for members of the CAWC, which is a social organisation with philanthropic goals which has a focus on the Chilterns. This was the 29th annual CAWC International Christmas Bazaar and it was opened by a www.theamericanhour.com

(From the event) l to r: (Marvin the Marvellous Crocodile from Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity, along with Councillor Zia Ahmed, Mayor of High Wycombe; Robin Smirnov, President of CAWC International; Cllr. Mimi Harker OBE, Chairman of Chiltern District Council; Cllr Patrick Hogan, Mayor of Beaconsfield; The Countess Howe, Deputy Lord Lieutenant; Brooke Bourgeois (CAWC) and Erin Wolfe (CAWC). For more information about CAWC which is a social organisation with philanthropic goals, please visit: www.cawc.co.uk

leading-line up of dignitaries and officials, and one crocodile, on Sunday 20th November. The annual event, which took place at the Crowne Plaza, Gerrards Cross, saw more than than 70 artisan and gift stallholders and service providers take part. “We are delighted to have raised such a significant amount for these two charities,” says Pam Houghton, co chair of the CAWC Bazaar. “The work of CAWC over these past years has seen more than £250,000 raised to support charity activity in the region and we look forward to next year’s landmark 30th annual event.” “Our thanks go out to all those who donated items, sponsored the event and took stalls or helped in all sorts of ways,” says fellow co-chair Pam Showalter. “We have always been about giving back to the community and once again it was marvellous to see the support we

had for this great community-focused holiday shopping opportunity with a charitable aspect to it.”

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American In Britain


Arts & Antiques

Mary Turner photo-Layton Glassblowing

ARTS & ANTIQUES Blown Away - The Art Of Studio Glass By Abby Cronin

The London Glassblowing Gallery is a mere stone’s throw from the Shard on Bermondsey Street, a short walk from London Bridge. It nestles in one of the few original corners of 18th-century London – not a tower block in sight. Established by Peter Layton in 1976, this gallery is one of the leading glassmaking workshops in Europe with an outstanding reputation for excellence. This year Peter, together with fellow artists and gallery staff, celebrate a double anniversary. Glasses will clink in honour of Peter’s 80th birthday plus 40 years as a designer-maker and mentor to aspiring glassmakers. He enjoys the distinction of being the ‘grand old master of studio glass’. The gallery has a welcoming atmosphere. Its front door is always open, and people passing by tend to stop, look and enter. What they find is a stunning display of diverse pieces by Peter, alongside work by a number of the finest contemporary glass artists from the UK and abroad. Shelves, vitrines and tables display an array of vibrantly coloured free blown pieces of art frozen in glass. Assistants and resident artists are on hand to discuss this amazing collection of designer pieces. The range of gracefully sculptured vessels combine brilliantly coloured painterly patterns with opaque and transparent www.theamericanhour.com

elements. The studio pieces come in a multitude of shapes and sizes. Be blown away by this original work. They are three-dimensional, flat, round, rectangular and often floral or a fusion of features. Each one is unique and all are for sale. Unusually, the London Glassblowing is a creative collective space with a strong team of resident artists and technicians working beside one another. The resident artists work in a large multifunctional studio space alongside Peter, where they design and make their own pieces. The kiln is in constant use. Numerous

events scheduled throughout the year are open to the public. There are glassblowing classes, exhibitions, an occasional auction, a Christmas Open House, a pop-up shop at Alfies Antiques, the Bermondsey Street Festival and even an Own Art Scheme used in galleries throughout the United Kingdom. And - their website is a remarkable resource! Before you visit, take a while to check it out. It’s a great introduction to London Glassblowing and features videos of the various activities held in the gallery. You can take a virtual tour, learn about the gallery’s

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Layne Rowe working in the hot shop history and watch demonstrations of the multiple stages involved in glassblowing. Think about which classes you might like to take and read bios of glass artists. The ‘wow’ factor is being able to see stunning images of individual pieces of contemporary studio glass made by established artists online. The website feels like the gallery’s archive. Peter’s artistic journey in studio glass began while he was working in the ceramics department at the University of Iowa in the 1960s. Some of the potters there were experimenting with the pioneering hot glass techniques. He became mesmerised by the material’s immediacy and infinite potential, and came under the spell of using hot glass methods for creating art. He explains, ‘Glass is magical and extraordinarily seductive…..Every piece is a challenge and an adventure…..You never know exactly what you have created until you open the annealing kiln and see how a piece has turned out.’ Since those early days in Iowa, Peter’s canvas has been glass. His inspiration and continuous interpretation stems from ancient Roman Mosaic glass which he has re-interpreted as blown forms. Peter’s Burano series consist of stunning examples known as the VETRO collection. The Burano series focuses on themes inspired by the tradition Venetian filigree work from the small Italian islands of Burano and Murano, not far from Venice. Burano is known for its excellence in glassmaking and in his VETRO collection Layton fuses different patterns: lace is set inside bold forms of colour. There are Red, Black, Green and Blue Burano versions in the series which enfold bubbles of colour at the centre of the vessels. A black version is pictured. Paradiso, one of Peter’s signature series, has evolved over the years. It continues to serve as a canvas for incorporating both flattened forms and vibrant colours which combine opaque and transparent designs with a glacial backdrop around the pattern. The series is an ongoing exploration of how to heighten the brilliance of form and colour and recent pieces have succeeded in achieving a hot and cold balance. They are among one of Layton’s most iconic series. Pictured here is Turquoise Paradiso. But there are numerous other colourways and shapes. Examples include pink, green, blue combinations and the different forms with names like Small Dropper, Small Stoneform, Medium V-form. 38

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Throughout the past few years Peter has taken on challenging commissions from major museums and art galleries. Working with the National Gallery, Tate Modern and the Royal Academy of Art has been exceptionally productive. He has created an entirely new body of painterly-inspired work. His brief was to transpose the essence of the bold colours and patterns in paintings by Monet, Van Gogh, Klimt, Hockney and Pollock into hot glass. In 2012, the Royal Academy of Art held a major retrospective of David Hockney’s work, entitled ‘The Bigger Picture’ and the Academy asked Peter to interpret Hockey’s paintings in glass. Peter and David were old friends who had grown up together in Bradford, and Peter has always had great affection for Hockney’s work. So - Peter and his team at Glassblowing worked closely with the RA over many months to realise Hockney’s artistic vision. The result is a spectacular series entitled ‘Arrival of Spring’, which captures Hockney’s vision. They are available in the RA shop or from the Gallery. Additional commissions from the National Gallery have challenged Peter to transpose the impressionism of Monet’s garden at Giverny into glass spheres, cylinders, and discs. Magically these pieces fuse the flow of leaves and undergrowth with pink, lilac and red petals. A further commission in 2013 for the National Gallery, gave Peter the opportunity to select a painting by Van Gogh to interpret in glass. Van Gogh’s painting Wheatfield with Cypresses was chosen, and after months of experimenting, once again, Peter and his team were able to portray the wheatfield in the foreground with swirling blue skies above. A few images from the Monet series are pictured. The recent Abstract Expressionism exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art, was a reminder of the contemporary artistic scene in 1950s USA. While Peter was in Iowa in the 60s, it is likely that a few of these painters must have influenced him and nurtured his love of for their art. Perhaps the artist who made the strongest impression was Jackson Pollock. Elements in Pollock’s drip paintings are not that far removed from some of the drips and speckled features in Peter’s studio hot glass pieces. The shop at the Royal Academy currently features a spectacular glass plate by Peter Layton in the style of Jackson Pollock’s Turquoise Paradiso Pair by Peter Layton

paintings. Indeed, in the 1960s Peter felt himself to be a part of the clay movement, known as Abstract Expressionist Ceramics - an offshoot of the Abstract School of Painting emanating from New York. In the signage next to the plate Peter explains:‘…Jackson Pollock was among my heroes. The immediacy and spontaneity of Action Painting, emphasising the importance of process, material and gesture, chimed exactly with my own work in clay. Just as Pollock’s organic lines, drips and splashes ‘capture the moment in flux’, so glassblowing freezes a moment of decision and discovery, recording controlled chance and drama in glass.’ Peter’s interpretation of Pollock’s style in glass is pictured. The creative team inside London Glassblowing is busy and buzzing all year round. Exhibitions and demonstrations take place in select venues and partner galleries throughout the UK. In 2016, the Gallery participated in ‘Art Antiques’ in Kensington Gardens. Coming up in February 2017, Peter’s London Glassblowing Gallery has been selected to participate in the prestigious crafts fair COLLECT: The International Art Fair for Contemporary Objects. From 2nd-7th February COLLECT will exhibit museum-quality work from the world’s finest contemporary crafts galleries. Be sure to attend the fair in the Saatchi Gallery on the Kings Road. The Glassblowing Gallery will exhibit Peter’s work together with established glass artists. Later this year, Peter will travel to the Tacoma Museum of Glass (Washington State in the USA) where, as a visiting artist, he will demonstrate his work to a new audience. Inevitably the natural beauty of the Northwest landscape is bound to influence and shape a new series of studio glass designs. Look out for them. Plan a visit to Peter’s gallery where you can see and handle some of the finest studio glass anywhere. You will simply be blown away. Peter Layton London Glassblowing at 62-66 Bermondsey Street London SE1 3UD T 020 74033 2800 www.londonglassblowing.co.uk Get in Touch: Abby Cronin artsjournalist@abbycronin.co.uk Website: www.abbycronin.co.uk Pollock Vases by Peter Layton


Arts & Antiques

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American In Britain

American in Britain Winter 2016/2017  

This issue includes: Beware! The Big 4 Accounting Firms Can Produce Shoddy Work by Esquire Group; Wealth Management: It’s A New Year! Review...

American in Britain Winter 2016/2017  

This issue includes: Beware! The Big 4 Accounting Firms Can Produce Shoddy Work by Esquire Group; Wealth Management: It’s A New Year! Review...

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