AMERICAN IN BRITAIN Serving the American Community in the UK
Wishing you a Happy & Healthy 2021 FEATURES INCLUDE American Clubs News • Arts & Antiques Eating Out • European Travel • Immigration • Take Five Tax Matters • UK Travel • Wealth Management • Well-being A D V I S O RY PA N E L
AMERICAN IN BRITAIN
CONTENTS 3 Eating Out
8 Tax Matters
11 Wealth Management
16 Take Five
20 American Expatriate Clubs News
23 Arts & Antiques
26 UK Travel - Bath
29 Overseas Travel - St. Tropez
31 Free Subscription
32 Useful Numbers
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EATING OUT Xier
13-14 Thayer Street, London, W1U 3JR Telephone: 020 7486 3222 Marylebone is now becoming a more and more fashionable place to eat and drink, and I think I have just found one of its jewels in the recently opened Xier, a fine dining restaurant with 36 covers situated above its more casual sister restaurant, XR. Xier is run by one of the up-and-coming young chefs, Carlo Scotto, and it is his first venture into owning his own restaurant, having fine-tuned his craft under the watchful eye of Angela Hartnett (who herself was mentored by Gordon Ramsey), so the pedigree is there, and boy does it show in the dishes we were treated to. To reach Xier you ascend the stairs, and once at the top you pass through large, plush curtains, leaving the more casual vibe of XR below, and you find yourself in a clean, crisp and very minimalistic setting, that has a slightly 1930’s feel with its fabric and black wood lined chairs, and crisp white tablecloths. It is stylish and chic, but it is clear that the
décor is designed to support the true stars of the show here, namely the service and food. Xier only serves a 10 course tasting menu for £90, or an essential 6 course tasting menu for £70, and with the dishes and the way they are presented and served, it is hard not to make comparisons with a more established tasting menu only restaurant based in Marlow (The Fat Duck), but Xier’s dishes are not copies of anyone else’s and are instead brand new creations inspired from Carlo’s extensive travels, in particular in Scandinavia and Japan. A chilled elderflower drink, to cleanse the palate, was the start of this journey through these creations, closely followed by a glass of a light and crisp Sauvignon Blanc for me and a rum cocktail for my wife. The first three courses all come together, and you realise that it is not only your tastebuds that will be stimulated, it will be your eyes and nose as well. A Kumquat Purée Tartlet provides both a crunch and a burst of citrus, and the Doughnut Fondue was a combination of a light doughnut ball flavoured with Gruyere, a wonderfully creamy and slightly salty cheese. These are accompanied by
a doughy, but light, small naan, which was served with a smokey butter. Course four was the intriguingly named Poison and Antidote. Both the poison and the antidote were served in little bottles that wouldn’t be out of place in Alice in Wonderland, and all that was missing was the label saying ‘drink me’. The poison was a red onion and korma spiced broth, providing a rich warmth, and once you have taken your ‘poison’ you enjoy a smooth sweet potato purée and chestnut gratin in a light crispy pastry before taking the antidote, again in a small bottle, but this time a vibrant green and sitting in ice. As you go through the menu you can’t help but be amazed at the work and effort that has gone into every aspect of every dish, and our next two courses were truly intricate and innovative, both inspired by Japanese cuisine. The first was a block of the freshest salmon you could imagine, covered by wafer thin shards of granny smith apple and coriander leaves, accompanied by the most indulgent foie gras. The sharpness of the apple provided a great foil to the salmon and the richness of the foie gras. The second was Scallops & Caviar Chawanmushi. The
Bar + Block
www.barandblock.co.uk Various Locations throughout the UK
delicate scallop was diced, and its slippery texture was mixed with caviar, which created an opposing texture as it literally popped in your mouth. The twist here is that Chawanmushi is usually a solid egg custard, but here it was a sauce providing the tell-tale tastes of soy sauce, dashi and mirin. The final starter was a Nasu Nibitashi Goyza, a Japanese dumpling filled with eggplant flavoured with soy, dashi and ginger, all bathing in a delicately flavoured Liquorice Tea. The mixtures of flavours just burst in your mouth and you end the starters by drinking the tea from the bowl. The next dish, The Chef’s Eye, is probably the most visually stunning dish on the menu, as it is a creamy eye shaped delight and cleanses your palate again before you move on to the main courses. The first main, Black Cod & Butterfly Pea Dashi, again has its roots in Japan, and the combination of flaky cod and the sweet marinade is a classic combination. Our second main was the French Pigeon & British Wood. Wood pigeon is a delicate meat and is therefore very easy to overcook making it dry and tough, but here the pigeon had a pinky tint and was moist and slightly nutty, and the delicately rich and sweet beetroot sauce that accompanied it was a perfect foil. The British wood is exactly what it says it is, it is British wood that is finely shaved and added to the sauce which provides a woody contrast to the sweet beetroot. The desserts are again served together and are described on the menu as a Flaming Pleasure, which says it all!! I think, however, the flaming pleasure may actually refer to one of the desserts which is a light meringue ‘hedgehog’ which is browned with a blow torch. I won’t spoil it by saying what it encases, but it is wonderful. The other desserts are a chocolate mousse in a cube covered with gold leaf, and a biscuit crumb and some indulgent petit fours, which was the perfect way to finish our culinary journey. The menu at Xier is so inventive, the mixture of ingredients and flavours are so good, and the service just faultless, so it is hard to see how it won’t attract the attention of the Michelin guide very soon, as this is fine dining with a capital F. 4
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Luckily for us, just as Sutton was put in Tier 2 with regards to the Covid restrictions last October, we were able to still review Bar + Block as there is a restaurant based in Sutton within walking distance from where we work and live, so we were still able to enjoy a great night out whilst adhering to the regulations! Bar + Block is a chain of steak restaurants, offering much more than steak, and can be also be found in Bath, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Leamington Spa, London, Nottingham, Whitely, Wimbledon, Winnersh, Newcastle, Portsmouth and Milton Keynes. Ideal for all the family, Bar + Block offers an extensive menu that will suit all tastes, but they do specialise in satisfying meat lovers, as there are a wide range of steaks on offer, with various sauces and sides. Whilst perusing the menu we both enjoyed a cocktail, one being a Rhubarb Gin Fizz, that was refreshing and zesty, and my favourite, a Porn Star Martini, and neither of us were disappointed, in fact, we had to have a second! The menu suggests that diners choose up to three starters to share between two, but as we both have a sweet tooth and were looking forward to dessert, we just chose one each, and enjoyed Mac + Cheese Bites that were delightfully light, and Scallops with Truffle Mash and Crispy Bacon, a great combination where the flavours complemented each other perfectly. We were torn however, as all the starters were to our liking, and we could have chosen Korean BBQ Pork Ribs, Salt + Pepper Squid, Mini-Baked Camembert, Cauliflower Wings, Nachos, King Prawns, Asian Crispy Beef, or you could have a large selection of these if you choose the Sharing Platter. These are priced from £3.95 - £6.95, with the sharing platter being £13.95. When it comes to the mains, as previously mentioned, Steaks are their speciality, and you have the choice of a large selection of cuts and sizes, reared from British and Irish Angus breeds that are renowned for their taste and tenderness and unique marbling that runs throughout each cut. When cooked, these natural fats infuse into the meat creating a delicate melting texture that
Bar + Block
is consistently tender and delicious, and the knife just cuts through the meat like butter. The first word I heard my guest utter as she tasted the steak, was ‘gorgeous’, and many more complimentary adjectives followed throughout the course! I chose a Tandoori Chicken Burger, simply because I had never had one, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Instead of fried onions it had two onion bhajis, as well as salad and was served with crispy chips. Other options on the menu include Chicken, Lamb Chops, Duck Leg and Mixed Grill, all under the Grill section, as well as Salmon, Fish + Chips, and Chilli Non-Carne, Salads, and a selection of Burgers. The mains are priced from £9.95 for burgers, the grills are from £13.50, and steaks range in price from £15.95 for an 8oz Rump to £30.95 for a 12oz Fillet. Sides are priced from £2.95 - £3.75 which are a fair price, as I have seen some restaurants starting to charge £5 and more for a bowl of chips! Adults and children alike will thoroughly enjoy reading the Pudding Menu, and I have to say I could have chosen about five of them, as with Eton Mess Sundae, Churros, Triple Chocolate Brownie, Zesty Lemon Tart, Sticky Toffee Pudding and Crumble on the menu, what’s not to love?! However, I eventually chose The Signature Chocolate + Hazelnut Dome, with a chocolate mousse filling and caramel centre, and once I got to the centre I was definitely in food heaven! All the desserts are priced at £5.95, which again are very well priced, apart from The Melting Chocolate Dome that is £6.95, and I am sure worth the extra £1. There is also a Breakfast Menu, Kids Menu and a Festive Menu, and restaurants are usually open from breakfast until late, although during the current pandemic opening times may vary. The ladies who served us on the night were truly lovely, each waiting on us with a smile, which was great as I am sure during these difficult times it is challenging managing clients with regards to the restrictions, but they did so politely and were a pleasure to chat to. The restaurants are modern, and we were lucky to get a booth, as we do love a booth, and families and friends would have a great evening enjoying good food in an informal atmosphere, at reasonable prices, all around the UK.
Bar + Block
30 Upper Grosvenor Street, London, W1K 7PH Telephone: 020 3848 6710 The UK has a very diverse culture, and an even more diverse cuisine, but although many cuisines have made giant strides in the UK, Turkish cuisine has yet to make much impact. That, I think, is because most people are ignorant of what it has to offer, as they think it is simply kebabs and insanely sweet desserts, and I too was in the dark until I visited Ruya, and was treated to the best that Turkish cuisine has to offer. Turkish food, because of the country’s location, can probably be best described as a fusion of Central Asian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Eastern European, Armenian and Balkan cuisines, and with so much variety to choose from it really can’t fail to impress. Turkish restaurants are not abundant, even in London, but Ruya, in Mayfair, is a place that is worth visiting to try this fusion food, expertly served in a relaxed environment. The restaurant has a contemporary Souk feel and is an oasis of calm, situated just off the hustle and bustle and the serenading horns from the gridlocked traffic on Park Lane. Once you enter you immediately feel at ease in the intimate, but strangely also airy restaurant, and all around you see many ‘Nazars’ (or Turkish eyes as they are more colloquially known as) protecting all who visit from ‘the evil eye’. Our table was large and well-spaced from the other diners (a blessing in the current climate!), and to get there we passed the central bread oven which produces some of the finest breads in London, but more about that later, and we settled down to peruse what Ruya has to offer. The menu is a collection of wonderfully crafted dishes taking the best of all the different cuisines, and we started with an Ottoman speciality, Borek (£12), which was a mild and salty feta cheese encased in a light and flaky pastry, but the perfect final touch was the addition of carrot and courgette strips which added an additional complementary texture.
Turkish food is designed for sharing, so when you order dishes they come when ready, and along with the Borek we also got a dish from each of the cold and hot starters - Levrek (£15) and Umut’s Bayildi (£14). Levrek was thinly sliced pieces of raw sea bass with mustard, apple and shaved radish, and the delicate and wonderfully fresh sea bass flavour was complemented, and not swamped, by the slight sharpness of the mustard. This was masterful, as the delicate sea bass taste is often dominated by an overpowering sauce. The Umut’s Bayildi was a rich and smooth confit of aubergine, slow cooked onions, tomato sauce and again my favourite, salty feta. The name supposedly derives from a tale of a Turkish man who swooned with pleasure at the flavour when presented with this dish by his wife, although other more humorous accounts suggest that he fainted upon hearing the cost of the ingredients or the amount of oil used to cook the dish. Either way it is a must, and I can still remember the rich and slightly smokey taste even now. Our next dish, came from that central bread oven, and was one of four flat breads on offer. We looked at each of the four and finally opted for the Truffle Cheese Pide (£22). This crispy Turkish savoury bread and cheese was served with truffle butter and when brought to the table had a slow cooked organic egg broken over it. The tastes of the bread, truffle and cheese, along with the egg, is an explosion of tastes - just imagine the best ever cheese, on the best ever toasted bread you have ever had, and multiply the taste by 100! This is truly special and I was reliably informed by the server is one of Ruya’s most ordered dish. After these starters we took a slight rest and whilst sipping our crisp and light Turkish wine (yes there are many wonderful whites, reds and sparkling wines from Turkey), we noticed that Ruya had attracted an eclectic mix of people. The restaurant was full of families, couples and also groups of young people, as well as many Turkish diners, which I always believe is a good sign that the food is authentic and of quality. Having rested, we asked the waiter what he recommended would be a good selection for
our mains, and he suggested Ruya’s signature dish - 24 Hours Slow Cooked Short Rib (£38), with Turkish Chilli BBQ Glaze, and spiced konya chickpea purée, Mantarli Keskek (£28), a barley risotto with wild mushrooms, truffle and sage, along with Pistachio Rice (£9),and a Turkish Spoon Salad (£11). The generous portion of short rib was cooked to perfection and the beef just melted in my mouth, and the combination of the spicy chilli and the BBQ glaze provided a clever contrast of sweet and heat without taking away from the richness of the beef. The barley risotto surrounds meaty wild mushrooms all flavoured by the truffle and sage and was again a great choice. The true star of our main course however, was the Turkish Spoon Salad, which I would never have chosen if it hadn’t been recommended. The salad is a perfect accompaniment and basically combines a multitude of flavours in one. It is a dish somewhere between a salad, a dip and a salsa, and consists of chopped vegetables, herbs and some Turkish condiments with a pomegranate dressing. A mouthful is an explosion of tastes and textures with bursts of spice, sweetness, vinegar and a cold crunch, and was a great accompaniment to the beef and risotto. For our dessert we decided to again select a Ruya Signature Dish, the Kunefe (£15), which is large enough to share with at least one other person, maybe even a few more. You need to wait 20 minutes for this to be cooked, but the wait was well worth it. Kunefe is a traditional Middle Eastern dessert made with shredded filo pastry, soaked in sweet, sugar-based syrup, and deep- fried, surrounding cheese all smothered in honey. I like desserts, but usually baulk at really sweet ones, but this one was special, and the combination of the deep-fried pastry, melted Majdule cheese and honey, along with a smooth pistachio ice cream, is a match made in heaven. In the next few years I predict that there will be a rapid increase in restaurants serving high end Turkish food, and Ruya will continue to be at the forefront of this. It truly is a ‘Turkish Delight’ (sorry, I almost managed to not use this pun in this review!).
Halkin Arcade (Entrance Via Lowndes St), Belgravia, London, SW1X 8JT Telephone: 020 7823 1166 When you think of Indian food you usually think of the standard slow cooked curries, and although these are incredibly tasty, there is so much more to Indian food. At Amaya their mission is to showcase these lesser-known styles and dishes and they take that mission very seriously. Amaya is the sister restaurant of Chutney Mary’s and Veeraswamy, and so when it opened in 2004, it had a lot to live up to. Now, 16 years later, the baby of the family has fully grown up, and continues to provide exceptional, contemporary food, just off Motcomb Street in Knightsbridge, and now has a Michelin star to verify this. The food is not the only thing that is special at Amaya, and you realise this once you enter the restaurant. Dining out is an experience that is so much more than just the food, it is the whole package, and Amaya is like entering a theatre, with the large open kitchen being the stage, and the cosy tables and seats being where the audience sit to enjoy the show. I have seen open kitchens many times, but nothing on this scale, where the skilful chefs weave their magic right in front of you on a hot coal barbeque, and dishes are created far beyond the skill of amateur barbequers. The rich rosewood tables and comfy leather chairs are well spaced out, allowing the diners an intimate experience, and this is enhanced by the sympathetic lighting from both the floor and ceiling, and contemporary artwork on the walls. Amaya’s ‘stage’ is dominated by the hot coal grill framed by hanging skewers all backlit by warm orange lighting shining through large bottles of infused oils. Amaya’s concept is akin to Indian tapas, where there are no defined starters, and mains and other dishes come when ready 6
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and are designed to be shared. To reflect this, the menu is split into First to Arrive, Later Arrival, Vegetarian, and Curry and Biryani, and there are two sizes to choose from, regular (R) size for 4 people or small (S) for 2 people, and a rough rule of thumb is that 2 people should select around 7 to 8 dishes. The difficulty is what dishes to choose, as the selection is extensive and everything looks delicious. Our first selection was the Minced Chicken Lettuce Parcels with coconut, lime and chilli dressing (S £8). The turmeric and chilli infused chicken was succulent with a slight tingle, and this was nicely offset by the crunchy lettuce leaves, the sweet coconut and sharp tang from small thin slices of apple. What a start, but better was to come with our selection of the Punjabi Channa Chaat in a Tart (R £14.50). This is described on the menu as street food goodies in spiced pastry, but that truly doesn’t do it justice. Channa Chaat is a food that can be eaten at any time of the day, and if I could I would eat it all day, every day, it was that good. The mixture of chickpeas, potato, kale and rice flakes had just enough spice and texture, but was taken to a new level with the addition of the freshness of pomegranate, all encased in light and crisp pastry (which for Bake Off fans would have definitely elicited a Paul Hollywood handshake, it was that good!). Our next dish was Chilli Paneer with date and sesame (R £15), and the sweetness of the date and heat of the chilli was nicely absorbed by the cheese. We then were treated to Black Pepper Chicken Tikka in rich pepper marinade (S £8.75), where the chicken was beyond succulent and indented with the occasional black pepper granule, giving a little lovely crunch and a gentle burst of pepper. We then felt we should give the section Later arrivals a look and decided on Menthi Monkfish Tikka (S £13.50). Monkfish is one of my favourite fishes as its firm, lean and has bright-white flesh and a lovely mild sweet flavour. Indeed, the taste is
so good that monkfish has the nickname of ‘poor man’s lobster’ as it tastes like lobster without the cost. This mild sweetness was complemented by the slightly sweet and nutty menthi, and the only issue for me was there wasn’t enough of it! Our final dish from the small dishes was Smoked Chilli Lamb Chops (S £22.75), and these were a fitting end as they were meaty and packed quite a heat, but not too much to overpower the succulent lamb. Indeed, the order which you receive the dishes is determined by the level of spice, so the least spicy dish comes first, and the last the most, preventing one dish from overpowering the flavour of the next. After such delights we needed a slight rest before tackling the Zaffrani Murgh Korma (R £27). The word Korma is derived from the Urdu word kormah, meaning braised meat, and the process of braising involves searing the chicken thigh pieces at a high temperature and then it is finished in a covered pot, giving a rich and comforting warming sauce which was gleefully mopped up by fluffy rice and a truffle naan (£6.50). Desserts at Amaya are also special and the stand out dishes were the fragrant Indian Lime tart (£9) and the Chocolate Rasmalai Surprise (£10), and both are worth leaving some room for. Everything about Amaya oozes quality, from the décor to the food, but the icing on the cake is the service. I genuinely dislike over-attentive service as it makes me uncomfortable and feel pressured, but I also am not a fan of slow service either. It is an art to walk that tightrope between being too attentive and being too slow, but our server negotiated it effortlessly, and this really enhances your experience. Amaya combines wonderful food, exemplary service and great theatre, and has been exposing London to a new style of Indian food for many years now, and will do so for many years to come, as once you go I defy you to not want to go again and again.
TAX MATTERS Capital Gains Tax For Americans In The United Kingdom Year-end tax planning will invariably require a look at stock sales conducted during the year in determining if an overall gain has occurred. When you are in a situation where stocks you sold have produced an overall gain, tax loss harvesting is a common strategy whereby securities are sold at a loss to offset a potential capital gains tax liability. Consulting your financial advisor is crucial, and you will want to ensure that any transactions conducted through this process fit in with your overall investment strategy. Managing tax exposure is important, but making the decision to lose money on an investment in order to reduce capital gains taxes can quickly become counterintuitive. For US-based Americans, tax loss harvesting is a fairly straightforward endeavour. But, as is typically the case, if you are an American citizen living in the United Kingdom, several additional elements will need to be accounted for and twice as many capital gains tax thresholds must be managed. The first step is always determining which country has the priority to tax stock sales. This depends largely on your residency status and can add the most complexity to the capital gains determination. To further complicate matters, currency fluctuations between the Pound Sterling and US Dollar will need to be taken into account in figuring gain or loss and the difference in taxable years means that you will need to go through the process twice each year in December and March. With Passive Foreign Investment Company (PFIC) rules making UK unit trusts and investment funds inefficient investments from a US tax perspective and UK Offshore Fund taxation rules diminishing the benefit of investing in US mutual funds, focusing on investments that will be eligible for capital gains rates in both countries is often the goal. And while double taxation can be largely avoided, the number of additional variables that must be considered in optimising capital gains tax exposure make the exercise increasingly important. The following will discuss residency in the context of capital gains tax exposure and outline the various thresholds that will need to be considered when executing a tax loss harvesting exercise.
Residency And Sourcing Rules
The first issue to determine when projecting your capital gains tax exposure will be 8
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identifying the country that has priority to tax capital gains from personal property, such as stock sales. For real estate, this will always be the country where the property is located. But for personal property, such as stocks and similar financial instruments, your residency status will largely determine where the tax will be assessed.
The first issue to determine when projecting your capital gains tax exposure will be identifying the country that has priority to tax capital gains from personal property, such as stock sales US Source Rules US citizens remain taxable on their worldwide income, irrespective of whether they are living or working abroad. With many countries applying tax against residents on global capital gains without an offsetting foreign tax credit, an opportunity for double taxation can arise. To address this possible inefficiency, a unique sourcing mechanism is applied to capital gains from the sale of stocks. IRC Sec. 865 provides that gains from stock sales are sourced to the location of the sellerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s residence. This rule applies to US citizens and residents only if they pay at least a 10% rate of tax in the foreign country where they are resident. The result of this sourcing rule is that, for foreign tax credit purposes, US capital gains tax on the sale of US stocks held in US financial institutions, can be offset
by foreign tax paid or accrued. The only requirement is that you are paying tax as a resident in that country and the applicable rate is at least 10%. UK Residency Status With taxation of capital gains turning largely on your residency, if you are an American citizen who is present in the United Kingdom, the analysis would start with a determination of your UK residency status. By default, you would be treated as a resident of the United Kingdom if you spent 183 days or more in the country during the year or your only home is in the United Kingdom and you owned, rented, or occupied the residence for at least 91 days, with at least 30 days actually spent in the home. For US citizens, if you are spending considerable time back in the United States and continue to keep significant connections stateside, the residency tiebreaker rules found in the US-UK Income Tax Treaty could conclude that your residency status remains the United States, despite the amount of time you have spent in the United Kingdom. Specifically, these rules follow that if you are liable to taxation as a resident based on the domestic law of each country, a series of tiebreaker tests will be applied to determine your country of residence for tax purposes. These tiebreaker rules look first to the location of your permanent home. If a permanent home is maintained in both countries, the centre of personal and business connections is analysed. If this is still unclear, the tests look to the location of your habitual abode, and then your nationality. In the end, irrespective of where your portfolio accounts are located, all gains from the sale of stocks will generally be sourced to the country where you are resident. Though one prominent exception applies. Americans who are resident in the United Kingdom but still maintain their domicile and permanent home in the United States, have the option of electing to be taxed in the United Kingdom on a remittance basis. This election creates an opportunity for US investment income and gains to be shielded from UK tax for a limited period of time. Under a remittance basis system, you are taxed in the United Kingdom on only UK sourced income and foreign investment earnings that you use in or bring back into the United Kingdom. Income and gains produced during years when the remittance basis was operative would not become taxable in the United Kingdom until they are brought into the country.
TAX MATTERS While this can produce tax savings if you have considerable dividend and investment income taxed at ordinary rates, there can still be capital gains tax efficiencies produced by electing a remittance basis. Importantly, the benefits of using remittance basis taxation will be unique to every situation and require careful planning in determining if it is the right choice. If investment earnings will eventually be remitted to the United Kingdom, much of the tax savings that would have been produced by the election could be undermined. Remittance basis taxpayers who also have taxable UK-source gains would be in a position where their unique residency status results in them having both US and UK sourced capital gains during the year. With residency being so important, both the United States and the United Kingdom have mechanisms for requesting a residency certification if you are to find yourself in a situation where your status is called into question by either the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
If investment earnings will eventually be remitted to the United Kingdom, much of the tax savings that would have been produced by the election could be undermined Tax Rates And Thresholds
UK Capital Gains Tax The United Kingdom maintains two different rates for capital gains on the sale of stocks that depend on your overall income tax bracket. Basic rate taxpayers will pay a 10% rate while higher rate and additional rate taxpayers pay a 20% tax on capital gains. Offshore Funds, which include US mutual funds and similar investments, are ineligible for UK capital gains rates and are taxed as ordinary income. WWW.THEAMERICANHOUR.COM
Separately, in addition to the personal allowance, UK taxpayers are provided an additional exclusion for capital gains in the amount of £12,300 (2020/21). While unused capital losses cannot offset regular income, they are carried over to subsequent years when they can be applied against capital gains. Non-residents of the United Kingdom generally will not pay UK capital gains tax on stock sales. If resident in the United Kingdom but electing remittance basis, UK-based stock sales are taxable, but capital gains from US accounts would only be taxable in the United States provided the funds are never remitted to the United Kingdom. If you are resident in the United Kingdom and not using the remittance basis, all your worldwide gains will be taxable to HMRC. After determining how gains will be taxed in the United Kingdom, coordinating this treatment with United States tax rules and its tax on worldwide income is the next step. US Capital Gains Tax Similar to the system in the United Kingdom, US capital gains tax rates also depend on your overall tax bracket. Taxpayers will pay a 0% rate on capital gains unless their taxable income passes $40,000 ($80,000 for taxpayers filing jointly). Factoring in the standard deduction, this would mean that single taxpayers would not pay US tax on capital gains unless total income for the year, including gains, was greater than $52,400. After this point, a 15% capital gains rates applies until total income exceeds $441,450 for single taxpayers and $496,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly. Notably, stocks held for less than one year are classified as “short-term” and are not eligible for reduced capital gains rates in the United States. Losses in excess of gains carryover to the following years but can still offset up to $3,000 per year against active income in the year produced. As a US citizen, you remain obligated to file annual tax returns and report your worldwide income, including capital gains to the IRS annually. But if capital gains tax is being paid in the United Kingdom, it would be fully creditable against your US capital gains tax. When resident in the United Kingdom, the only scenario where you will be paying US capital gains tax on your stock sales is if the gains are not actually being taxed in the United Kingdom and there is not a foreign tax credit available. As discussed, this could be the case if you have elected remittance basis taxation, gains are protected from UK tax by the capital gains tax allowance but the applicable US rate is 15%, or you are generating the gains through a tax-protected UK Individual Savings Account (ISA) that remains fully taxable in the United States on an annual basis. Nevertheless, with respect to US tax on gains from stock sales, the calculations do not end with capital gains tax. The Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT) is assessed on capital gains when total income is above
$200,000 for single taxpayers, $250,000 for joint filers, and $125,000 for married taxpayers filing separately. This 3.8% tax is assessed on investment earnings and cannot be offset by claiming a credit for foreign tax. A potential for double taxation can arise for American citizens who are paying tax in the United Kingdom as residents. If you land in the higher or additional rate in the UK and pay a 20% capital gains tax but your US capital gains rate is 15%, you would still owe the full 3.8% NIIT on your capital gains and have a foreign tax carryover equal to the US and UK capital gains rate differential. Creative practitioners have presented varied arguments focusing on the language of US income tax treaties and social security agreements to challenge assessment of the tax or offset it with foreign tax credits. It is understood that the IRS would challenge these positions. Even if these creative arguments do not provide Taxpayers with much to work with, the NIIT is an element of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) which is being actively challenged in the Supreme Court in Texas v. the United States. The Court is expected to render a decision on this case sometime during 2021. With the statute of limitations on claims for refund from 2017 returns expiring in 2021, it may be advisable to file a protective claim for refund in order to preserve the ability to claim a refund of NIIT paid in that year in the event the Court renders an opinion nullifying the NIIT. A protective claim can be filed when your right to a refund is contingent on future events and cannot be determined before the expiration of the statute of limitations.
Ultimately, as an American living in the United Kingdom, even the ordinarily simple task of year-end tax loss harvesting will require you to factor in additional considerations that can complicate the decision-making. Fortunately, the exposure to double taxation is minimal and the tax planning analysis is mostly downhill after residency status is clearly determined. American Tax Partners is a US-based tax services company dedicated to providing global tax support for American Expats in the United Kingdom and UK Nationals with business or investment activities in the United States. Offering flat fee pricing, we serve as a single point of contact for managing all your international tax compliance obligations. Contact us today to schedule a consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at amtaxpartners.com.
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WEALTH MANAGEMENT “Market Timing - A Fool’s Errand” With 2020 proving to be the most tumultuous year since the Global Financial Crisis, many investors have diverted their attention to adjusting their portfolios. Whether it’s understanding the impact of COVID-19, the current record level of government debt, or the results of the contentious US election, investors have been forced to navigate uncertain terrain. Understandably, it is easy to be fixated by the latest headlines and attempt to predict the market’s next move. However, paying too much attention to the headlines can lead to so-called ‘analysis paralysis’, where one’s obsession with daily market movements coaxes them to make decisions (or not make decisions) contrary to their long-term interests. To cut through the noise and make rational investment decisions in the face of uncertain times, investors should consider working with a financial planner throughout their investment journey. By identifying one’s goals and building a robust financial plan for achieving them, the impact of volatility on one’s financial position can be mitigated, allowing investors to focus their efforts on time in the market rather than timing the market.
What Is “Market Timing”?
Market timing is a form of active investment management where investors attempt to sell at what they believe to be a market’s peak, and, following a precipitous decline, purchase at what they believe to be the market’s trough. The rationale is outperformance; by avoiding a market’s losses and purchasing at a discount, market timers can theoretically enhance investment returns. A timely example would be selling at the S&P 500 high on 19th February 2020, and later reinvesting at the market’s peak-to-trough decline (of 34%) on 23rd March 2020. Although this may appear straightforward, the market rout caught both professional and retail investors by surprise, including the likes of the well-known hedge fund manager Ray Dalio(1), whose flagship Pure Alpha II fund fell by 18.6% as of August 2020. The reality is, outguessing the market is difficult and presents many challenges.
average of $462.7 billion of equity trades were executed daily around the world(2). As market participants engage fiercely in price discovery, new information – such as the developing terms of the UK-EU trading relationship or central banking policy decisions – are rapidly incorporated into market prices. Therefore, it is exceptionally difficult to time the market based on shortterm forecasts or recent headlines, because that information will likely already be incorporated into the market. To make forecasting the future even more challenging, forecasts by economists and investment professionals can be wildly inaccurate. An IMF Working Paper commissioned in 2018 found that economic forecasts, covering 63 countries from 1992 to 2014, either missed or significantly underestimated the magnitude of recessions and the succeeding economic recovery. As such, we can conclude that economic downturns and market crashes are unpredictable and invariably driven by what we do not know. In 2007, Nassim Taleb popularised the term “Black Swan” to describe the events that precede market crashes, which fall into the what we do not know bucket. The previous four decades have delivered numerous Black Swans – the Black Monday crash of 1987, the Internet Bubble of 2001, and the debt-fuelled Global Financial Crisis of 2008– all three of these events took the vast majority of investors by surprise and significantly impacted global markets. The unpredictability of Black Swan events poses the most challenging hurdle to successful market timing. If we are unable to consistently predict the future, why should an investment strategy be influenced by those predictions?
Mistiming Can Be Disastrous
The negative headlines that accompany market volatility can be stressful for many investors. With our tendency to be loss averse, a common reaction to volatility is pulling money out of the market to avoid a shortterm loss. This can be explained as; “losses loom larger than gains”(4) – the Nobel Prize winners, Kahneman and Tversky, suggest we feel the pain of losing twice as much as the pleasure of a gain, or, in other words, we are more interested in selling to avoid a loss rather than selling to realise a gain. Although reacting to volatility may feel comforting, the long-term impact of being out of the market is meaningful, as is illustrated by the following example from Fidelity(5). As you can see, if an investor missed the 5 best single trading days during the 40-year period, their total return would fall by $265,010 or 37.99%. This highlights the danger of shorttermism, and not remaining invested through volatility and staying the course. With the best trading days tending to be concentrated around volatile periods, reacting to shortterm volatility may increase the probability of missing the best trading days, and therefore decrease the probability of meeting strategic objectives. While market timers may claim to have mastered the knack of avoiding the worst trading days and catching the best, the empirical evidence tells a very different story; for instance, a recent study by Dimensional Fund Advisors highlights that, from 1999 – 2019, 77% of equity funds failed to survive and outperform the market (6). Investors may therefore be better placed focusing on what they can control and investing with a longterm view.
Markets are extremely competitive and therefore efficient at adjusting to new information. For instance, in 2018, an WWW.THEAMERICANHOUR.COM
Capital markets have historically rewarded investors for taking risk over the long run despite numerous economic crises. Investors should be reassured by this observation and note the importance of staying the course. Instead of focusing on market sentiment, one should begin their investment journey by first specifying their financial goals, understanding the necessary steps to achieving them, and finally, to build a robust financial plan mapping out the years ahead. Whether it be a comfortable early retirement, or purchasing an additional home, a financial goal can be broken down into palatable annual savings and return targets. To ensure a financial plan remains on course, progress towards goals should be reviewed at least once per year to identify where adjustments are required as circumstances change. Once return requirements are identified and agreed as achievable within the risk parameters, investors should then consider on how best to construct a portfolio to deliver those returns. The key determinant to long-term success is focusing on the variables within an investor’s control. Care should be given to determining an appropriate asset allocation, ensuring wide diversification, and the inclusion of taxefficient investments that consider relevant multi-jurisdictional interests. As the saying goes, diversification is the one free lunch in investing and will help reduce volatility by balancing a portfolio’s exposure to multiple geographical markets and asset classes. Costs should also be carefully managed to optimise net of fee returns. Thinking long-term, the management of both the portfolio and an investor’s behaviour should be carefully considered and agreed. To mitigate the risk of falling prey to behavioural biases, a disciplined and objective rebalancing strategy should be incorporated to manage the portfolio’s risk and return characteristics following periods of short-term volatility. A disciplined approach to rebalancing may also help to foster additional returns by forcing the simultaneous purchase and sale of cheap and expensive assets. Most importantly, rebalancing helps to remove the emotion of investment decisions, thereby empowering investors with the ability to make rational decisions irrespective of the latest headlines.
Risk Warnings And Important Information
MASECO LLP (trading as MASECO Private Wealth and MASECO Institutional) is registered in England and Wales as a Limited Liability Partnership (Companies House No. OC337650) and has its registered office at Burleigh House, 357 Strand, London WC2R 0HS. For your protection, telephone calls are usually recorded. 12
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Most importantly, rebalancing helps to remove the emotion of investment decisions, thereby empowering investors with the ability to make rational decisions irrespective of the latest headlines MASECO LLP is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority for the conduct of investment business in the UK and is registered with the US Securities and Exchange Commission as a Registered Investment Advisor. This article does not take into account the specific goals or requirements of individuals and is not intended to be, nor should be construed as, investment or tax advice. This document is provided for information purposes only; is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice; and does not constitute a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any products or to adopt an investment strategy. You should carefully consider the suitability of any strategies along with your financial situation prior to making any decisions on an appropriate strategy. We strongly recommend that every person seeks their own tax advice prior to acting on any of the tax opportunities described in this article. The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of MASECO as a whole or any part thereof. All investments involve risk and may lose value. The value of your investment can go down depending upon market conditions and you may not get back the original amount invested. Your capital is always at risk.
References 1. Burton, K. and Bloomberg (2020). The losses continue to pile up for hedge fund king Ray Dalio. [online] Fortune. Available at: https://fortune.com/2020/09/15/thelosses-continue-to-pile-up-for-hedge-fundking-ray-dalio/ 2. In US dollars. Source: Dimensional, using data from Bloomberg LP. Includes primary and secondary exchange trading volume globally for equities. ETFs and funds are excluded. Daily averages were computed by calculating the trading volume of each stock daily as the closing price multiplied by shares traded that day. All such trading volume is summed up and divided by 252 as an approximate number of annual trading days. 3. An, Z., Jalles, J.T. and Loungani, P. (2018). How well do economists forecast recessions? International Finance, 21(2), pp.100–121. 4. Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. (1979). Prospect theory: An analysis of decision under risk. Econometrica, 47, 263-291. 5. Ideas for disciplined investors: Stay invested: Don’t risk missing the market’s best days • Market movement. (2020). [online] Fidelity. Available at: https://www. fidelity.com/bin-public/060_www_fidelity_ com/documents/dont-miss-best-days.pdf. 6. Dimensional. (2019). Timing Isn’t Everything. [online] Available at: https:// www.dimensional.com/us-en/insights/ timing-isnt-everything. Kyle McClellan is a Wealth Manager at MASECO Private Wealth. Kyle works with US-connected clients to design and implement tax-efficient investment solutions to account for their multijurisdictional ties. E: Kyle.McClellan@masecopw.com
IMMIGRATION British Citizenship: What You Need To Know There are currently over 100,000 Americans living in the UK and following recent events in the US this year, large numbers are now looking at alternative options for permanently settling overseas. The UK and US has a longstanding history of a ‘Special Relationship’ with many Americans considering obtaining dual-citizenship. Dual nationality is permitted in the UK. British citizenship is one of the most sought after citizenships by people all over the world; it is significant and opens up an array of opportunities. Holding British citizenship awards individuals the right to live in the UK without restriction, the right to vote in nationwide elections and stand for political office, and the right to freely benefit from the NHS.
British citizenship is one of the most sought after citizenships by people all over the world; it is significant and opens up an array of opportunities Between March 2019 and March 2020, 7,000 British citizenship applications were refused. It is imperative that the immigration rules are thoroughly understood when making British citizenship applications. Refusals can result in considerable financial losses in the event that application fees are not refunded. There are different routes to citizenship depending on the situation. The most common routes to citizenship for Americans living in the UK are: 1) being married to a British citizen; and 2) holding indefinite leave to remain. US citizens can apply for citizenship as the spouse of a British citizen provided they have lived in the UK for at least 3 years from the date of the application and hold indefinite WWW.THEAMERICANHOUR.COM
leave to remain immigration status. The applicant must also show they have passed the Life in the UK Test in addition to other requirements. The Life in the UK Test is a computer generated multiple choice test that was implemented to ensure that applicants have knowledge of British customs, values and laws. There are limits on the number of days the applicant is allowed to have spent outside the UK to be eligible.
US citizens can apply for citizenship as the spouse of a British citizen provided they have lived in the UK for at least 3 years from the date of the application and hold indefinite leave to remain immigration status
Most citizenship applications that result in refusal are on the basis of the applicant not meeting the qualifying residency requirement and having spent too much time outside of the UK. However, discretion may be provided in special circumstances on a case-by-case basis. Applicants may also apply for citizenship in separate applications for their children born outside of the UK or inside the UK before the parent was granted indefinite leave to remain. The fee for a child’s application is £1,012. It usually takes 6 months to obtain a decision on citizenship applications. However, it may now take longer due to COVID-19 delays. Once citizenship has been granted, the applicant can apply for a British passport. Americans may also be eligible for citizenship if they have a British parent. There are different rules and requirements depending on the year of birth of the applicant. When applying for British citizenship by naturalisation, the rules can be complex and the process is costly. Any errors in the application can bring about disappointing effects for the applicant. It is therefore advisable that the right specialist advice and support is obtained to make sure the process is given the best chance of success. Skylar McKeith specialises in Immigration Law at Mackrell.Solicitors with particular expertise in citizenship applications and business and creative industry visas. email@example.com
Another option of applying for citizenship is by solely holding indefinite leave to remain. Under this route, the applicant must have held indefinite leave to remain for at least 12 months and have lived in the UK for at least 5 years from the date of the application. It must also be shown that the individual has passed the Life in the UK Test and intends to continue living in the UK. Again, there are requirements as to the number of days the applicant is permitted to have spent outside the UK to be considered eligible for citizenship. The application fee for citizenship by naturalisation is £1,330. WWW.AMERICANINBRITAIN.CO.UK
WELL-BEING Flourishing In The Face Of Adversity Is In Our DNA The founder of the TASIS family of schools, Mrs. Mary Crist Fleming, urged the students to be ambitious in their self-expectations in a 1979 speech: “... your parents have entrusted you to us in the hope that we would challenge you to stretch yourself – to make the most of your abilities that you’re not aware you have”. In essence, this challenge is at the heart of well-being, and is the catalyst that will allow each of us the opportunity to live a life where we feel good and fulfilled. The potential for self-fulfillment inherent in Mrs. Fleming’s mantra can only be achieved through a combination of knowing and being yourself.
We must know who we are in order to be the best versions of ourselves. We flourish in the face of challenge and opportunity when we have both the knowledge of our own strengths and when we develop the resilience to cope with challenges.
Believe in the worth of each individual member of your community and their potential to make a positive difference in the world. To fulfill this potential, we must learn to skillfully respond to the present, striving to grow through effort. We must also have the courage to make mistakes and learn from them. In this environment, all members of the community can flourish. Focus on the following six pathways with the goal of promoting the development and practice of positive habits and attributes until they become “part of your DNA”.
Being able to focus on positive emotions is more than just smiling, it is the ability to be optimistic and view the past, present, and future from a positive perspective. Distinguishing between pleasure and enjoyment is important in this element of the model. Pleasure is connected to satisfying bodily needs for survival such as thirst, hunger, and sleep. Whereas enjoyment comes from intellectual stimulation and creativity; for example, when a child completes a complex Lego car that requires his concentration, he will be beaming with joy and satisfaction from his work. This type of positive emotion is needed. When someone enjoys the tasks in their lives they are more likely to persevere and battle challenges through creative and alternative solutions. 14
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Having a purpose and meaning as to why each of us is on this earth is important to living a life of happiness and fulfillment. Rather than the pursuit of pleasure and material wealth, there is an actual meaning to our existence Engagement:
Engagement in the activities in our lives is important for us to learn, grow, and nurture our personal happiness. Everyone is different
and we all find enjoyment in different things whether it’s playing an instrument or a sport, dancing, working on an interesting project at work, or developing a hobby. We all need something in our lives that entirely absorbs us into the present moment, creating a “flow” of blissful immersion into the task or activity. This type of “flow” of engagement is important to stretch our intelligence, skills, and emotional capabilities.
Relationships and social connections are one of the most important aspects of life. Humans are social animals that thrive on connection, love, intimacy, and a strong emotional and physical interaction with other humans. Building positive relationships with your parents, siblings, peers, and friends is important to spread love and joy. Having strong relationships gives you support in difficult times.
Having a purpose and meaning as to why each of us is on this earth is important to living a life of happiness and fulfillment. Rather than the pursuit of pleasure and material wealth, there is an actual meaning to our existence. Such meaning gives people a reason for their life, and the perception that there is a greater purpose in life. Understanding the greater impact of your work and why you chose the pursuit will help you enjoy the tasks more and become happier and more satisfied. Mrs Flemingat a TASIS graduation ceremony
Having goals and ambition in life can help us to achieve things that can give us a sense of accomplishment. You should make realistic goals that can be met. Just putting in the effort to achieve those goals can already give you a sense of satisfaction, and when you finally achieve those goals a sense of pride and fulfillment will be reached. Having accomplishments in life is important to push ourselves to thrive and flourish.
Physical activity: Most healthy children and adults should be active on a daily basis through a mix of both leisurely physical activity and structured exercise. Examples of leisurely physical activity include hiking, biking, and walking, while more structured forms of exercise include strength training, running, and sports. Nutrition and diet: A well-balanced diet contains carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Restricting specific nutrients should only be done under the supervision of a licensed health professional. Fluid, ideally in the form of clean water, should be regularly consumed. Meals and snacks should be eaten throughout the day and portion sizes should be sensible.
Alcohol and drugs: Substances that alter mood or other bodily processes should be limited or avoided. Those with addictive tendencies, or other health risks, should consider complete abstinence from these substances. Rest and sleep: While regular activity is essential for physical health, allowing the body to rest is just as important. Spending time relaxing or taking short naps can help rejuvenate the body. Sleep should take place in a quiet, dark environment and should last approximately 7 to 9 hours. Sleep that is consistently much shorter or longer than this duration, or is low quality, may need to be addressed by a health professional. Humans are at their best when they are challenged, and Mrs. Flemingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s expectation is written into our DNA at TASIS The American School in England. We encourage our students, teachers, and all member of our community to strive to reach their potential and to develop the life-long skills and attributes that can lead to enhanced well-being and satisfaction. Our School is a fertile place to teach and model the qualities and practices required to flourish in the face of the challenges that a TASIS education and life beyond school will bring. By actively encouraging our community to incorporate this framework into their everyday choices and habits, our goal is not only to promote their well-being now, but to help them achieve a lifetime marked by purpose and fulfillment.
Jason Tait, Director Of Pastoral Care/ Designated Safeguarding Lead TASIS The American School in England www.tasisengland.org firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0) 1932 582316 In my role as Director of Pastoral Care/ Designated Safeguarding Lead at TASIS The American School in England, I have specific responsibilities for all aspects of pastoral care and safeguarding across the school. I also have particular interests and expertise in the areas of positive psychology and contextual safeguarding.
TAKE FIVE Winter Warmers by Judith Schrut Each year at this time, we look forward to taking our readers on a whirlwind tour of the UK’s coming cultural highlights, serving up a delicious slice of cosy culture for the colder months and tickling the tastebuds with what lies ahead. But this is a winter like no other. Arts venues have been forced to close because of Covid-19; music, theatre, dance and other live events have been cancelled or put on ice. Many of the usual winter-warming goodies we love won’t be on offer this winter. But we humans are an endlessly inventive species, so we’re delighted to be able to offer an alternative spread of light, bright, outdoors, online, and otherwise safe and sociallydistanced treats.
1. Great Illuminations
This winter, London’s Southbank Centre is literally lighting up the Thames riverside, with Winter Light, an open-air exhibition of luminous, playful and thought-provoking artworks. This glorious, free show, boasts 17 ingenious works making use of light, colour and animation, as well as touching on social concerns like climate change. They’ll be popping up across the Southbank until the end of February. Look out for the timely We are in this Together, a colourful neon canopy of lights weaving through the trees, and 60 Minute Spectrum illuminating the Hayward Gallery’s pyramid glass roof and Queen Elizabeth Hall’s facade with subtlychanging spectrums of colour. While you’re by the riverside, be sure to stop by Tate Britain, which you’ll find
Tate Britain Winter Commission, (c)Chila Kumari Singh Burman, all rights reserved DACS, photo(c)Tate, Joe Humphrys.
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Blenheim Palace’s Winter Light Trail, photo courtesy Blenheim Palace Media
wrapped in a magnificent light installation. For Remembering a Brave New World, artist Chila Kumari Burman, has created a giant sparkling assemblage of Hindu mythology, Bollywood imagery, colonial history and personal memories, including childhood visits to the Blackpool Illuminations and her family’s ice-cream van. Head east to Canary Wharf for another dazzling waterside display of light art. Highlights include Murmuration, made from hundreds of networked orbs, each filled with lights and speakers, and Curious Fluorious, a giant fluorescent re-telling of Alice in Wonderland. This year, outdoor illuminations at parks, gardens and stately homes abound, with many venues stretching their festive light seasons well into the new year. Kew Gardens is enchanting any time, but its annual Winter Lights Festival is truly unmissable. You’ll be greeted by a glittering tunnel of bells, a shimmering treetop waterfall, giant illuminated seed heads and majestic trees wrapped in light, while a laser show ignites Kew’s splendid glasshouses. Blenheim Palace’s Illuminated Light Trail is equally magical. There’s a scented fire garden blazing over the Palace’s Water Terrace, colour-changing neon tunnels, a flaming torchlit rose garden and Blue Neuron, a kinetic light sculpture made from recycled plastic bottles, plus a grand lightshow finale in the Great Court. Surround yourself with sparkle at the Botanics, Edinburgh’s botanical gardens, its million-plus twinkling lights and mile trail of light works wandering through
trees and lighting up beds, undergrowth and glasshouses. Waddesdon Manor near Oxford is mounting a lavish display of colour, light and illuminated soundscapes for its Winter Light Festival, extended throughout January. Coombe Abbey near Coventry has rescheduled its popular winter light trail, Luminate. It will now take place late January through February, promising at least 13 “wow” moments along a mile-long journey set to music. Meanwhile, latest news on the ambitious Illuminated River Project couldn’t come at a better time for Londoners. Illuminated River is one of the longest public art projects in the world, aiming to light up 2.3 miles and 14 bridges along the Thames with mesmerising sequences of subtly-changing LEDs. The idea is to encourage enjoyment of the river and riverside at night and highlight the bridges’ rich history and architecture. Nine bridgeworks are complete, with the rest on schedule to start glowing in 2021. Long live tripping the light fantastic! Further information: southbankcentre.co.uk luminate.live/coombe-abbey Illuminatedriver.london waddesdon.org.uk
2. The Wonder Of The Wander
In these challenging, uncertain times, we can all take heart in one consistent, Covid-safe, can-do piece of news: walking is good for you. It boosts your memory, your resistance to disease, your lung capacity and your
TAKE FIVE Sissinghurst Castle Gardens, copyright National Trust
sense of wellbeing. It prevents cancer, cuts the risk of heart attacks by half and strokes by a third. Walking just an hour a day adds up to 1,000 miles in 12 months. And plenty of studies show that people who spend time walking in nature are happier and healthier. So, don’t let the frosty days and early dark nights keep you in hibernation. Instead, pull on those furry boots, pack up the waterproofs, energy bars and hip flasks and walk yourself warm. Whether you’re up for a short sharp stroll in your lunch break, a marathon trek at the weekend, or a taste of fresh air hygge and tree-hugging, Britain’s got an infinite choice of lovely walks and wanders, from forest tracks to urban ambles, hilly byways to waterside towpaths, all open and safe to enjoy. Immerse yourself in the joys of early spring with a walk through fragrant daffodil and crocus fields at Sissinghurst Castle Gardens in Kent or Winkworth Arboretum in Surrey, with its 1,000 different trees and shrubs and 10,000 snowdrops. Late spring brings British bluebell season and a chance to experience the special magic of bluebell woods. Think blue and violetperfumed floral carpets sweeping ancient woodlands adorned with birds, butterflies and winding paths. We highly recommend the bluebell woods of Ashridge Estate in Buckinghamshire, or a guided bluebell walk on Norfolk’s Blickling Estate, once home to the family of Anne Boleyn. If social, albeit socially-distanced, walking Winter Wanderers, Suffolk coast, photo courtesy Ariel & Jeremy Adams
is your thing, consider joining that very British institution known as the Ramblers Association, featuring annual winter wanders, walking weekends and free guided walks, as well as advice, training and maps galore. Whatever the season, Britain offers some of the most exhilarating coastal walks imaginable. The stunning castle to castle walk along Northumberland’s soft sand beaches is one of our all time favourites, 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 on Cornwall’s spectacular Southwest Coast Path. Speaking of Cornwall, you can discover and enjoy more of this glorious region’s amazing wildlife, landscapes and hidden corners on one of the Tin Coast Partnership’s free guided walks along the historical landscape of the so-called Tin Coast. There are other tantalising options too, like an Archeoastronomy Day, a chance to wander Cornwall’s ancient sites and immerse yourself in its starry skies. Cornwall or Northumberland a little far away just now? No problem, choose one of 2,300 local walks, wildlife sites or nature reserves on the Wildlife Trust’s online A-Z. Consider a wander round Abberton Nature Discovery Park in Essex, an international site for wildfowl, visited by up to 40,000 ducks, swans and geese each year. Or try Tring Reservoir, for an invigorating walk and some of the best bird watching spots in southern England. Or check out the ancient Cotswold woodlands of Foxholes for a glimpse of orchids and wildflowers, fabulous fungi, butterflies, owls and possible sightings of the rare Bechstein’s Bat. And if you find yourself longing for an extra dose of feathery friends once you’re back home, you can listen to birdsong online by logging onto www.wildlifetrusts.org/ wildlife/how-identify/identify-bird-song. Further information: wildlifetrusts.org nationaltrust.org.uk ramblers.org.uk exploreincornwall.co.uk/news
3. Art For The Heart
Here at American in Britain, we’ve never been shy about sharing our passion for Britain’s incredible 2,500+ museums and galleries. In the dark of winter they’re especially welcome sources of warmth, light, comfort and creativity, simple and pleasurable ways to come in from the cold. Newly-arrived Americans in Britain are always surprised and delighted to discover that the vast majority can be visited absolutely free. That’s why, at time of writing, we’re thrilled that so many of our museums and art spaces have been able to re-open their doors, albeit with social distancing and strictly limited ticketed visits in place. Many have revamped the lost last year by rescheduling exhibitions to 2021. We urge you to visit and support generously, to help keep those doors open. One of our favourite’s is the Victoria & Albert Museum or, more affectionately, the V&A, the world’s greatest museum of art and design. Now partly re-opened, we can’t wait to again enjoy its full and fabulous 7 miles and 150+ galleries of fashion, photography, jewellery, glass, sculpture, paintings and much more, from across the globe and through the ages. It’s all free and invitingly displayed– in addition to imaginative special events, late night openings and award-winning guided tours. Take time out for tea and tempting cakes in the William Morris-designed Refreshment Rooms, the world’s first museum café. Currently on display is All Will Be Well: Children’s Rainbows from Lockdown, featuring over 100 hand drawn, heartfelt pieces created by children from villages, towns and cities across the UK, for whom the rainbow is a powerful image of support and solidarity for the NHS. Amongst this year’s ticketed shows are the long-awaited Bags: Inside Out, dedicated to the world’s favourite accessory, from designer handbags and vanity cases to despatch boxes and military rucksacks, and a fantastic trip down Alice in Wonderland’s rabbit hole with Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser. This year the British Museum celebrates the 20th anniversary of its Great Court. This twoacre space enclosed by a spectacular glass roof is the largest covered square in Europe. More than 113 million people have walked under the famous roof, including Prince Charles,
Antony Gormley’s Another Time, photo credit Thierry Bal, courtesy Turner Contemporary Margate
Your favourite musical right to your front door, photo courtesy Doorstep Productions
Grayson Perry’s unmissable Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman, British Museum
Nelson Mandela, President George W Bush and Angelina Jolie. Enjoy free tickets to the Museum’s incomparable permanent collection, and be sure not to Grayson Perry’s remarkable Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman and Edmund de Waal’s Library of Exile. The Science Museum, 2020’s Museum of the Year co-winner, invites visitors to “come and think like a scientist” in its new Wonderlab interactive galleries. Equally wondrous is Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries, the Museum’s new medical collection, displaying 3,000 objects including the first MRI scanner, Fleming’s penicillin mould, and robotic surgery equipment. Across the four Tate Galleries– Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives – current and upcoming shows salute traditional greats like Rodin, Hogarth and Turner, as well as lesser known but no less vibrant, ground breaking artists, including Sophie Tauber-Arp, Paula Rego, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and Zanele Muholi. Everyone loves London’s big hitters, but don’t overlook the hundreds of small but perfectly-formed gallery gems outside the capital. Sadly missed during Covid closures, many are gradually re-opening, thirsty for visitors and our support. Among the highly recommended are the International Slavery Museum, Liverpool, telling the history of the transatlantic slave trade through stories of resilience and resistance; Wales’ Big Pit National Coal Museum, with its unforgettable underground tour; and the astonishing National Railway Museum, York, where train enthusiasts young and old can get up close and personal with the giant locomotives of their dreams. We’re also excited to hear about several new spaces opening in 2021, such as the Museum of the Home, East London. Due to re-open shortly is the refurbished Turner Contemporary, Margate, celebrating its 10th anniversary with an attractive programme of events and exhibitions. Further information: vam.ac.uk tate.org.uk museumofthehome.org.uk turnercontemporary.org 18
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4. Hot Tickets
In normal times, British theatre is a beloved and heart-warming treat any time of year, but always seems to have an especial glow in the chillier season. In 2020, that all changed in a way none of us could have predicted, with hundreds of theatres and live entertainment venues forced to darken their doors and stages for most of the year. As the world begins to turn in a better direction, we look forward, hopefully, to a renaissance of Britain’s dearly-missed live shows and concerts. At the time of writing, a few venues are bravely re-opening with social distancing, mandatory masks and programmes tailored for reduced live audiences, while many more have created innovative projects online. Hotly anticipated show openings and re-openings include Back to the Future, Hairspray, Matilda the Musical, and the premiere of Frozen. Leicester Curve’s acclaimed production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast tours the UK from May. Andrew Lloyd Webber ’s new musical Cinderella begins previews in late April, and Phantom of the Opera re-opens in June. Over at the National Theatre, there’s a wild new version of Dick Whittington, updated to modern times. The golden age of the musical beloved by generations of British theatregoers will be back with a bite with an energetic revival of Cole Porter’s classic Anything Goes, opening at the Barbican in late spring starring Megan Mullally and Robert Lindsay. Rosenblatt Recitals at Home have launched an uplifting series of classical concerts in aid of Target Ovarian Cancer, while the Barbican Centre and Cinemas are hosting a rich and varied programme for online, live and livestreamed audiences. For something completely different as well as historic, beautiful and easy on the wallet, you’ll love an evening at the gloriously restored Wilton’s Music Hall. This one-of-akind gem in the heart of London is the oldest Grand Music Hall in the world. Wilton’s offers a year round programme of exceptional productions and community events. From mid-January, they’re presenting a sociallydistanced season of brilliant, intimate shows.
For dance lovers, the English National Ballet is streaming world-class ‘ballet on demand’ plus a variety of online dance workshops, tours and backstage events at bargain subscription costs, while our friends at Sadlers Wells are working alongside leading dance companies to premiere an exciting Digital Stage season. And be sure to book a hot ticket for the sensational return of Adam Cooper and the all tapping, all splashing Singing in the Rain, coming to a re-opened Sadlers Wells this summer. National Theatre proudly presents National Theatre at Home, a brand spanking new streaming service giving subscribers unlimited digital access to some of its top past productions with a starry cast of NT’s immortal greats including Helen Mirren, Adrian Lester, Helen McCrory, Lucian Msamati and Olivia Colman. Finally, a clever new company, Doorstep Productions, is bringing top actors, singers, musicians to perform favourite musicals in Covid safety on people’s doorsteps, drives and gardens across the UK. Sounds like a great birthday or Valentine’s Day surprise for that special someone. Further information: doorstepproductions.com sadlerswells.com barbican.org.uk wiltons.org.uk nationaltheatre.org.uk
Samantha Barks in Frozen, opening in London’s West End, Spring 2021
5. Wet And Wild
Walking, jogging, cycling, puddle jumping - all sporty ways to stay Covid-safe, have fun and get fit this chilly season. But how many of us are up for an outdoor swim this winter? More than you might think! Apparently, “wild swimming” is one of the UK’s fastest growing sports and a perfect illustration of Britain’s love affair with its beautiful countryside. Whatever the season, wild swimmers proclaim the experience a healthy and liberating one, a unique chance to get up close and personal with birds, fish, swimming insects and other waterside wildlife. This winter why not take the plunge and join the nation’s wild swimming community as they explore the wonderful, often secret world of outdoor swimming spots in lakes, rivers, sea caves, pools and waterfalls? Did you know that the UK has over 600 designated Bathing Waters? That’s thanks to the EU Bathing Waters Directive, introduced in 1976. Choice winter dip spots include the breathtaking mountain forest pools and waterfalls of Coed y Rhaeadr (“Waterfall Woods”) in north Wales, Cornwall’s Treyarnon Bay with its childsafe rock pools, and Gormire Lake perched high on the North Yorkshire moors. Brighton, in Sussex, is home to many yearround ocean swim clubs and traditionally
Wild Swimmers, Brighton Beach
hosts a Christmas Day run into the sea near its famed Palace Pier, with participants dressed either in wet suit or Santa suit. Thousands of Scots celebrate New Year’s Day doing the Loony Dook, a mad communal plunge into the icy waters of Edinburgh’s Firth of Forth accompanied by bagpipes and cheering crowds. Sadly, the Loony Dook was cancelled this year but, according to reliable Scottish-American friends, January 2022’s fully vaccinated dip is likely to be twice as lively and many times more loony. Back in London, the famous freshwater Highgate Men’s and Kenwood Ladies’ Ponds on Hampstead Heath are popular with brave swimmers every day of the year, while Hyde Park’s Serpentine Swimming Club welcomes members to enjoy a bracing round of early morning winter swims and races - no wet suits permitted.
International Womens’ Day Swim 2020, Edinburgh, photo credit Anna Moffat
According to David Start, author of Wild Swimming, “nothing compares to the extraordinary feeling of plunging into ice cold water”. Took the words right out of our mouths. Further information: hampsteadheath.net/swimming-ponds outdoorswimmingsociety.com theriverstrust.org Please note: All venues and events featured are correct at time of writing. However, due to the ongoing situation with Covid 19, some events may be cancelled or postponed. Always check official sites before heading to a venue. 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 your winter – you can get in touch with Judith at email@example.com.
AMERICAN EXPATRIATE CLUBS NEWS CAWC International Raising Funds During a Pandemic
How one American women’s club readjusted their holiday bazaar plans to meet new guidelines for social distancing When the pandemic hit the UK in March, CAWC International, a women’s philanthropic club based in the Chilterns, faced the possibility of cancelling its biggest fundraiser, the CAWC Holiday Bazaar, held every year in November. Over the years, the club has raised over £300,000 for charity, and last year alone, the Bazaar raised over £22,000. The prospect of cancellation meant much needed funds for the club’s 2020 chosen charity, the MNDA Breathing Support Project, would be lost. But the organisers of the bazaar, Kate Harman and Maggie Ahmadi, knew they couldn’t let the charity down. “We can do this. We just need to think outside the box,” Harman said. “Our club’s future depends on it.” In short order, they came up with a plan to raise money without the crowds. Instead of one big, teeming, holiday bazaar, with over a hundred vendors and thousands of shoppers, they would have a series of smaller events, each held outdoors or online. So far, their efforts have raised over £11,000, with more coming in as Christmas bake sales and basket sales continue into December. In July, the club sponsored a “Christmas in July” online sale from Brilliant Little Brands, followed by an in-person “Summer Garden Party” hosted in a member’s garden, featuring 10 vendors, with guests shopping in one hour shifts. Summer gift baskets proved to be as popular as the Christmas baskets, and a bake sale and raffle helped to raise more than £1,200. A Jumblebee online auction with 40 prizes raised a whopping £3,800 in November. A Just Giving page gave people an opportunity to contribute directly and raised over £1,400. The bake sales continued throughout the autumn and included Thanksgiving and Christmas treats, with member Katie Elliott baking enough cookies to raise around £2,000. Holiday baskets, which the CAWC have become known for throughout the community, were sold in an outdoor market in Amersham in December. Each basket contained donated items, with themes ranging from spa, cooking, bubbly, or child related items. Tracy Guy, an American living near High Wycombe, organised the creation of over 140 baskets, with volunteers adhereing to Covid restrictions. 20
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Fundraising continued throughout December, with a cheque going to the MNDA in January. An MNDA spokesperson commented: “The CAWC International is doing an amazing job in these difficult times, fundraising to support a Motor Neurone Disease Breathing Support Project in the Chilterns. As a result of the CAWC 33rd annual charity Christmas Bazaar, we hope to start the project in January 2021. The aim is to offer high quality respiratory assessment and clinical support for patients and their carers, focusing on the quality of life for those living with this terrible disease. The project will be based at the Florence Nightingale Hospice, Stoke Mandeville Hospital”. If you’d like to contribute to the club’s Just Giving page in support of the MNDA, go here: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/cawcinternational2021. For information about the club, visit their website www.cawc.co.uk.
as the Arab region. Having distinguished herself in the coverage of war operations in the battlefields of South Lebanon, Dr. Harb has served as a print, radio and TV journalist, and currently teaches in London. On Thursday 4 February, join KCWC to hear Dr Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A who will discuss how the museum’s founding commitment to design, education and industry continues to define it today. More fascinating speakers are expected for March, May and June. KCWC looks forward to welcoming you as a guest to these events - simply contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information. Do consider joining us as a member to participate long-term in our broad range of cultural and educational activities. Go to www.kcwc.org.uk simply click ‘Become a Member; at the bottom of our Home Page to experience friendship and the best of London.
KCWC is an organisation of British and International women who want to enjoy everything London has to offer. We offer over 35 different activities and special events, as well as General Meetings with prestigious speakers. We appeal not only to expatriates and those new to London, but also long-time residents who wish to experience the UK through a new and different prism. Women of all ages and from all walks of life are welcome to join KCWC and participate in our programmes. We have something for everyone, day or evening. We invite you to log onto www.kcwc.org. uk to explore our new website and learn all about the many special events we are hosting for the Winter and Spring. We expect to continue in our trademark spirit of diversity and topical interest profiling fascinating speakers as we did in 2020, when we welcomed guest speakers Marisa Drew of Credit Suisse, Earl Spencer discussing his recent book, and Kate Stephens of the charity Smart Works. This month we are thrilled to host best selling author Francesca Cartier Brickell discussing “The Cartiers The Untold Story of the Family Behind the Jewellery Empire”. We look forward to Thursday 14 January, 2021, when we present Lebanese journalist Dr. Zahera Harb. A veteran reporter, Dr. Harb is well situated to help us understand the challenges facing her native country as well
AWBS International Women’s Club
Located 20 miles west of London serving the Berkshire and Surrey counties, AWBS International Women’s Club is a social, and philanthropic club for women. AWBS was launched in 1981, by a small group of American expatriate ladies who wanted to create a supportive social group. Over the past 40+ years, AWBS has grown organically and currently has an international membership of over 290, representing over 45 nationalities. While we still provide support, helping newly arrived expatriates and repatriates alike assimilate into life in the UK, we are also a women’s membership of British locals, British natives and international locals. We have a culture of dynamic, vibrant, fun and intelligent women, who love to learn about the area and UK history, as well as make friends and provide a supportive network for those in need. No matter where you originate from, our members enjoy fellowship, friendship, social, networking, learning, sport and serving. You can opt-in for London Tours, or local places of interest with our “Let’s
AMERICAN EXPATRIATE CLUBS NEWS Go” group, go on our Country Walks, participate in Majhong, Bridge, Stamping and Crafting, Meditation, join sports teams, such as Golf and Tennis, enjoy a class learning English History or Art Appreciation, or serve in our philanthropic efforts - last year we donated over £15,000! You may enjoy virtual live and recorded programme events to view from the comfort of your own home. There is literally something for everyone! Join us today, start making friends and upgrade your UK life! Come AWBS with us! To find out more about becoming a member, visit our website or contact email@example.com who will be more than happy to help and answer any questions you may have. Check out our website at www.AWBS.org. uk and on Facebook at AWBS International Women’s Club.
The American Society in London
The American Society in London was founded in 1895, by the then US Ambassador Thomas F. Bayard. Indeed, the serving US Ambassador, Robert Wood Johnson IV, remains our Honorary President and we are fortunate to have the generous support of the US Embassy. The intention of our founders was to improve
The man in red with our beloved Loving Cup
and cement relations between the citizens of our two countries, fostering mutual respect, understanding and affection. Membership is open to both US and UK citizens and draws heavily on the US expatriate community here in London. We look forward to resuming a full schedule of in-person events as soon as restrictions on large social gatherings are lifted. For now, on behalf of the Society, and together with Santa Claus (pictured here with the Society’s antique Loving Cup), we send our very best
socially-distant holiday greetings to the entire American community in London. You are warmly invited to apply for membership by emailing the Club Secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org Please visit our website at www. americansocietyuk.com where you can find some beautiful photos of our past events. And follow us on: Facebook @americansocietyinlondon Instagram @americansocietyuk Twitter @ASL1895.
AMERICAN IN BRITAIN
ARTS & ANTIQUES
Queen Victoria’s Sapphire & Diamond Coronet ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London
ARTS & ANTIQUES Crown Jewels & Celebrity Gems By Abby Cronin Feast your eyes on the mesmerising gemstones that sparkle in the V&A’s Bollinger Jewellery Gallery. Named for the Bollinger family who funded its opening in 2008, it is one of the most popular destinations in the V&A. A stunning refurbishment was completed in 2018, and today some 3,500 objects are displayed telling the story of 3,000 years of mainly Western jewellery. Since the re-opening 80 new additions have been installed in the permanent exhibition. The collection is presented in a long, tall, dimly lit rectangular gallery on two levels - a spiral staircase links them. Jewels are displayed in cases along the walls and in sculpted glass vitrines in the centre of the gallery space. These spectacular jewels embody a history of how jewellers designed and developed the technical skills to turn precious and nonprecious metals and gemstones into forms of adornment. Signage labels explain the role each piece has played historically. From the Bronze Age on through the Byzantine period and up to the present day, we learn what these jewels signify for a myriad of social, religious, political and cultural occasions. A remarkable Bronze Age find is the mesmerising Shannongrove Goret collar (seen here) displayed prominently in the vitrine placed near the gallery entrance. It is not known whether it has any association WWW.THEAMERICANHOUR.COM
Collar Shannongrove Gorget ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London
with royalty, but it is a stunning example of a gorget, a crescent shaped ornament thought to have been used to fasten cloaks around the neck. It is hard to believe that this embossed gold collar was found in a bog in Shannongrove, Co. Limerick sometime before 1783, but it dates back to 800-700 BC. Described as a horseshoe collar, late Bronze Age, with chased and embossed decoration, it was probably used for ceremonial events. But if you didn’t know it was a Bronze Age discovery, you might recognise it as a familiar contemporary design for costume or precious jewellery often seen in high street shops today. When the Bollinger gallery re-opened in 2018, important new additions were featured.
One of the most outstanding acquisitions was a spectacular sapphire and diamond coronet designed by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria in 1840, the year they married. Because the coronet was not a crown jewel and was part of Victoria’s personal collection, it passed down through her heirs. No one seems to know how it ended up with a London dealer in 2016! English law recognises that items regarded as national treasures cannot be removed from the country, so when the dealer applied for an export license and put it up for auction at $6.5-million, remarkably, this national treasure was saved for the nation and dramatically acquired for the V&A museum. This coronet contains a wealth of royal history together with an ingenious design. Albert modelled the piece on the Saxon Rautenkranz, a circlet of rue flowers running on the diagonal across the Saxon coat of arms, with swooping detailing and finials at the top. Made by Joseph Kitching of Kitching and Abud, who were appointed “Jewellers to the Queen” in 1837, the detailing and finials are articulated and can be adapted to suit the fashion of the day. It can be worn closed or open-backed as a coronet or a tiara. Victoria wore the coronet in a famous portrait in 1842 by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, (pictured here) and again 20 years later during the opening of Parliament WWW.AMERICANINBRITAIN.CO.UK
Fortunately for the V&A, the singer is enthusiastic about museums. She and Jay-Z gifted the Papillon ring to the V&A in 2018. Today it resides permanently in the Bollinger Gallery and is an exquisite example of contemporary jewellery design made by one of the UK’s master jewellers. Jewellery curator, Clare Phillips, was delighted to accept a gift from Beyoncé’s personal collection.
Beyoncé wearing Papillon Ring ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London
as a coronet, a tribute to the recent death of her husband. This crown jewel is displayed in a bespoke vitrine. It is lit so that it appears to float inside the display case. It is the unique jewel of a young Queen Victoria. Click the link to the video which discusses and shows the coronet in pieces. www. youtube.com/watch?v=PeIbwV2CZbM. Since royalty and royal status have endured through the centuries, it is hardly surprising that our contemporary culture is full of celebrity ‘royals’. Although the lineage of some ‘royals’ may be dubious, many celebrity ‘royals’ get almost as much attention as the British royal family. Pop stars reign supreme in this category. Arguably, Beyoncé is to pop culture what Elizabeth II is to the United Kingdom: the undisputed queen of pop. Given Beyoncé’s ‘royal’ celebrity status, she, together with her husband Jay-Z, have indulged their taste for glamour and luxury. Portrait Victoria wearing Coronet, 1842 ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London
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Papillon Ring ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The couple enjoy commissioning bespoke jewels. How fortunate this is for the V&A. In 2014 her London-based jeweller Glenn Spiro designed the Papillon ring. A truly unique design, the ring is in the shape of a large butterfly poised to fly away. The wings of the butterfly are made of titanium, encrusted with emeralds and green tsavorite, a fashionable gemstone only recently discovered in 1967. When worn, the wings of the butterfly move as if in flight. (see it pictured above with Beyoncé). Do click on the link to Spiro’s video of how he designed the Papillon ring at: https://vimeo.com/327076972Beyoncé’s Papillon Ring.
Fortunately for the V&A, the singer is enthusiastic about museums. She and Jay-Z gifted the Papillon ring to the V&A in 2018 If you are curious to learn about what other royal jewels are held in the Bollinger Gallery, keep your eye open for pendants given by Elizabeth I to her courtiers. And seek out the exquisite diamond jewellery made by Leopold Pfisterer for Catherine the Great and sold by the Bolsheviks after 1917. Don’t miss the emerald and diamond necklace that Napoleon and Joséphine, his first wife, are believed to have given
ARTS & ANTIQUES
The Bollinger Gallery is the place to go to see centuries of exquisite historical and modern jewellery: ‘Crown jewels and Celebrity gems’ and myriad forms of jewelled adornment to their adopted daughter, Stéphanie de Beauharnais, for her arranged marriage in 1806. The more you look, the more royal connections you will find.
Main Gallery - Lower level ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The Bollinger Gallery is the place to go to see centuries of exquisite historical and modern jewellery: ‘Crown jewels and Celebrity gems’ and myriad forms of jewelled adornment. More than 140 living goldsmiths and jewellers are represented in the gallery. Look for unique pieces by Tiffany, Lalique and Cartier. Find them sprinkled in the display cases. Over 140 living goldsmiths and jewellers are represented in the gallery. Which is to say: jewellery lovers will feel that no matter how many visits they make, they are bound to make a silent date with themselves to return. You could probably come 100 times and each time you will see something new. Before your visit, remember
to check out the online links to the V&A video introduction to the Bollinger Gallery and the video discussion of how the Papillon ring was made. Online links are easily found on the V&A website and below. Links: www.youtube.comwatch?v=bqmRoDna0Qw www.vimeo.com/327076972Beyoncé’s Papillon Ring All Images credit: ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London Get in Touch. Contact: Abby Cronin Email: email@example.com Website: abbycronin.co.uk
UK TRAVEL Bath
By Sarah Midori Zimmerman
From the Number 10 Museum
When my husband suggested a weekend in the city of Bath with our two children, I jumped at the chance. In the grey depths of February, we were eager for a getaway, but wanted to stay in the UK. Bath, with its excellent restaurants, historic Roman Baths, museums, and famous theatre, is only a one and a half hour train ride from Paddington station. In addition, it is the only UK city designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and extremely walkable, perfect as we had not wanted to worry about bringing a car. We arrived at Bath Spa station, and from there, it was only a six minute walk to our hotel, Three Abbey Green, even with luggage and two children in tow. Located on a beautiful cobblestoned square, the hotel’s building dates from 1689, and is made from honey-coloured Bath stone. It is only five minutes’ walk from Bath’s historic Abbey, and around the corner from the famous Sally Lunn’s tea shop – home, supposedly, to the original Bath Bun. (Note that Three Abbey Green is now part of the “Eight” hotel group and will re-open in 2021 after undergoing a refurbishment. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org). On our first afternoon, we left our bags at the hotel, and walked to Cafe Luca to have lunch. This stylish, airy café features excellent salads, paninis, coffees and desserts. There are outdoor tables on the terrace, for those wanting to soak up any rare rays of sunshine. 26
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You may well be tempted to stay inside, however, for the dining room is very appealing: large and loft-like with candles and fresh flowers on each table. One could easily spend a couple of hours wandering on Bartlett street itself – it is full of quirky and enticing shops. It is also home to Bath’s largest antiques centre (that was set to re-open on December 2nd, but check the website before you go: www. bartlettstreetantiquescentre.com).
Bath, with its excellent restaurants, historic Roman Baths, museums, and famous theatre, is only a one and a half hour train ride from Paddington station
After lunch, it was a ten minute walk to Number One Royal Crescent – the first house to be built in Bath’s finest crescent, and considered one of the best examples of 19th century urban architecture. Now a museum, it features furniture, paintings, and household items dating from period 17761796. It was fascinating to wander from room to room and see how wealthy families and their servants from that era lived. The Ladies Room, for example, displayed an adjustable face screen, used to prevent their make-up from melting off while sitting in front of the fire. On second thought, the ladies might have done better to let the make-up melt – in Georgian times, lead was apparently used in face powder, leading many users to suffer from lead poisoning. The Scullery featured a coal hole, where coal was shovelled in directly from the street. The Servant’s Hall displayed a strange wall-mounted contraption that I learned was called a dog wheel. Apparently, short-legged dogs were bred specifically to run on the wheel, which was hooked up to the cooking spit, making it turn over the open-grate fire. The dog wheel made my kids more than happy to leave Number One. Thankfully, my husband had planned for something more to their taste that night: tickets to ‘The Play That Went Wrong’ at the Bath Royal Theatre. Built in 1805, it is one of the oldest working theatres in the country, having survived
UK TRAVEL the bombing of Bath during the blitz. I hadn’t realised that the Germans, in April, 1942, specifically targeted British cities of cultural or historic importance in a series of what were known as “Baedeker raids”. The people of Bath, believing the raid was destined for nearby Bristol, were unprepared for the bombings, which killed hundreds and destroyed or seriously damaged over a thousand structures. Today, the theatre’s refurbished interiors are stunning, including a trompe-l’oeil ceiling, dramatic chandeliers, and a 900-seat auditorium. There is a rumour that the theatre is haunted by a former actress called the Grey Lady, who leaves her favourite scent of jasmine behind in the areas through which she passes. Ghosts, and rumours of them, were happily forgotten as we carefully made our way into the nose-bleed seats near the top of the theatre. Despite the vertiginous view, my children laughed uproariously for the next two hours. Luckily, the other audiences members were laughing just as hard. (Buy tickets in advance at www.theatreroyal.org. uk/your-visit/box-office/). The following day, we had breakfast at the hotel, then visited the famous Roman Baths dating from AD 43 (this is one of Bath’s most popular attractions, so be sure to book ahead of time). Using hot mineral water that rose through the limestone beneath the city, the Romans channelled the water through an intricate set of lead pipes, creating the series of chambers known as the Baths. In the 17th century, the waters began to be prescribed for medicinal reasons. Bath consequently gained fame as a destination spa town for people around the country. It’s fascinating to walk through, and well worth a visit, but be warned that there are a lot of steps and stairs. Afterwards, we decided to take a free walking tour of the city. The Mayor of Bath’s Corps of Honorary Guides has been in existence for 86 years, and walks take place every day of the year except Christmas Day. We were lucky: our guide turned out to be the former headmaster of an independent school, who was as knowledgeable and energetic as one might imagine. Despite being perhaps in his late 70’s, he was also a very brisk walker, his pace unaffected by Bath’s hills. While I sometimes struggled to keep up with him, he continued his entertaining and non-stop stream of anecdotes and facts throughout the entire two-hour walk. Please note that tour guides do this voluntarily and do not accept gratuities. (Book 24 hours in advance, and then gather directly outside the Roman Baths before 10:30am and 2pm (Saturdays, 10:30am only). We’d worked up an appetite from all the walking, and luckily had reserved a table for dinner at Clayton’s Kitchen on lively George Street. This gastro pub, set on the ground floor of an elegant four-story Georgian townhouse, features excellent BritishWWW.THEAMERICANHOUR.COM
Mediterranean cuisine. Don’t miss the cheeseboard featuring Somerset cheeses. The next day, our last, we checked out of the hotel but left our bags to visit the Holburne Museum, where we poured over the collection of over 4,000 objects ranging from Chinese porcelain, Old Master paintings and Roman glass, to seventeenth and eighteenth-century silver and beautiful miniature portraits. The museum is located in the Sydney Pleasure Gardens, where Jane Austen liked to walk when she lived in Sydney Place (part of her novel Northanger Abbey is set in Great Pulteney Street, directly across from the Holburne). From there, we took the longest walk of the weekend to The King William, a tiny, quaint and cosy pub located at Thomas Street. Sadly, it has permanently closed since our visit. We didn’t want to leave Bath, but I am certain that we will be returning before long. There is so much more to see – here is what is on my list for the next visit: • The Jane Austen Centre, located in a 270year old Georgian townhouse on the same street where Austen lived when last in Bath, featuring actor guides dressed in Regency costume • The Herschel Museum of Astronomy. This museum is located in the former home of William Herschel, a self-taught astronomer who built his own telescopes at home, and his sister, Caroline, an accomplished astronomer in her own right. Herschel is credited with discovering the planet Uranus in 1782 • Stonehenge and Cheddar Gorge (no, that’s not a cheese factory, it’s a natural landmark featuring limestone cliffs and caves). Both are located a short drive from Bath • The Haynes International Motor Museum, featuring over 400 classic cars and motorcycles from around the world, including exhibits such as the Forshaw Speedway Collection, Great British Marques (featuring Jaguar’s XK 120 and E Type, Jensen’s Interceptor, Lotus’ Elan and Aston Martin’s DB2/4); The Hall of Motorsport, The Morris Story; Ferrari: the Man and the Machine; and The American Dream (nearly 100 years of American motoring history) • The American Museum. The only museum of American decorative and folk art outside of the United States, it features exhibits on Native Americans, the American West, and the Transatlantic slave trade, as well as a substantial collection of quilts, ranging from Fan and Tree-of-Life quilts to Mennonite and Quaker examples. The 30-acre Garden has been developed to include a replica of George Washington’s garden at Mount Vernon, a Lewis and Clark trail, and an arboretum. Recently on view was the exhibit “Night & Day: 1930s Fashion and Photographs” organised by the Fashion and Textiles Museum, London
• A 30-minute drive from Bath is the stunning Lacock Abbey, a National Trust-run medieval Abbey. It is also home to an exhibit on the founder of photography William Fox Talbot. In 1835, Talbot made the earliest known surviving photographic negative using a camera, a small photogenic drawing of the latticed window in the south gallery of Lacock Abbey. In 1940, he watched, transfixed, as a picture gradually appeared on a blank sheet of paper, the result of his discovery that paper treated with a coating of silver iodide, and developed in a mixture of gallic acid, silver nitrate and acetic acid, causes a latent image to appear. The Abbey was also used for filming in the first two Harry Potter films, if your family includes any Harry Potter fans.
A former Pulteney Bridge Station
Bath’s Abbey at night
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OVERSEAS TRAVEL Treasure Hunting In St. Tropez By Susan Irving Monshaw It’s easy to overuse the words seductive and sensual to describe St. Tropez. Just the name conjures images of glamorous people tripping off their massive yachts to sit in the red chairs at the Café Sénéquier, and sip an Aperol spritz while a parade of sunburned tourists occasionally blocks their view. Perhaps it brings to mind glitzy nightclubs that don’t even open their doors until midnight, where the admission requires one to wear a Gucci bralette and agree to purchase a gigantic bottle of top shelf champagne, even if you don’t like the stuff. There is so much more, my friends, to this mythical, beguiling port village on France’s famed Cote D’Azur. You need only a decent pair of walking shoes to claim entry into the real essence of this famous fishing village turned vacation destination. Throughout the year, St. Tropez never fails to charm and seduce, though the easiest time to visit is May through to October. History, gastronomy, vistas and of course, wine, are only a few of the many treasures hidden on this sandy peninsula. There are several ways to circumnavigate the village – we’ll start with entry at the port. Whether you arrive by car or boat, you cannot miss the iconic saffron and honey bell tower of the 18th century Église de Notre Dame de L’Assomption, that dominates every image of St. Tropez. Stroll along the quay, stop to admire the original and collectible art WWW.THEAMERICANHOUR.COM
displayed by the talented locals, peer into the sumptuous yachts and antique sailboats moored there. Continue along to the top of the great jetty wall to gain the first of many mesmerising views of the Gulf of St. Tropez
Whether you arrive by car or boat, you cannot miss the iconic saffron and honey bell tower of the 18th century Église de Notre Dame de L’Assomption, that dominates every image of St. Tropez
stretching out to the Mediterranean and the lovely coastal villages of Port Grimaud, Sainte Maxime and Les Issambres facing you. Far left, at the end of the jetty, the lighthouse installed in 1866, is covered in a contemporary art installation and still warns sea craft today of the dangerous rocks and outcroppings beneath the churning waves. Turn right and up the hill to La Citadel, the ancient fortress built in 1602, by King Henry IV, to defend the region from Spanish invaders. The site is open every day (with a few exceptions), and contains an excellent Maritime History Museum. When you’ve had your fill of cannons, donjons and dungeons, wander down the path in a northerly direction to the water where you’ll find the Chemin des Graniers. Soon you’ll come upon one of the coolest hidden treasures in town: the Cimetière de Marin St. Tropez, where seafarers, villagers and a few famous folks have been interred since 1791. Go slowly, and notice the elevated and ornate graves decorated with ceramic floral arrangements and weathered photographs of the dearly departed. When you exit the cemetery, continue north on the same path, hugging the waterside, look for a set of stairs disappearing into the rocks down to the beach. At the bottom of these stairs is a prize reserved only for those intrepid travellers who step off the beaten path: WWW.AMERICANINBRITAIN.CO.UK
La Plage Graniers. Here is a tiny beach (one of only a few on this side of the peninsula) with just a few rustic mats you can rent that sit directly on the sand. Tucked into the hillside is a bewitching, intimate restaurant serving fresh seafood and barbecued specialties, along with local wines. There is no thumping soundtrack delivered by an overenergetic DJ here, no smug waiters, and no overdressed customers posing for selfies. While the prices may not be a bargain, this is a true sensual delight – slide your bare feet into the sand, savour a bowl of tiny mussels swimming in garlic and white wine and a calm atmosphere, have another glass of rosé, and breathe deeply. Now you understand completely the French idea of taking the day (or even a few hours) off. If you are coming to St. Tropez by land, you’ll travel along D61 Route de Ramatuelle passing dozens of somnolent vineyards, each a painting in relief. This is a captivating and twisty drive any time of year, though summer and fall are the loveliest. An easy visit, and delightful wine tasting can be had at an adorable roadside stand in front of Domaine La Rouillere. Step up to the window bar and chat with the helpful, charming, Englishspeaking folks inside who will guide you in appreciating the pleasures of the region’s famous rosés, and the soon to be discovered provençal reds, which are the perfect accompaniment to the region’s tomato, basil and seafood heavy cuisine. If you’re lucky, you are on your way to a reserved table at La Ferme Douceur, just a few minutes down this road. La Ferme is an enchanting gem, tucked into a vineyard where diners have only one important choice: red, white or rosé? The menu is set and different each evening, offered at a reasonable, fixed price, and positively delicious in every way, as the sun sets and the patio is illuminated showing off shapely, low fig trees, blooming pink laurels, and the grapevines stretching away into the
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darkness. Keep an eye out for Irene, a friendly wild boar who might make a surprise visit to your table when the cheese course is served! Follow D91 to the intersection of D93, also known as the Route des Plages, and head toward the famous Pampelonne beaches. If you’re craving glitz and glam, this is the place. Along the Mediterranean side of St. Tropez, the glamorous beach clubs feature luxurious sunbeds to rent for a day of lounging, people watching and waiters slogging through the sand to deliver your drinks that will make you want to cry when the sun begins its descent. Most have excellent restaurants where you can enjoy an entire salt-encrusted fish taken directly from the sea before you, or perhaps a perfectly crispy, wood-fire oven pizza Reine (topped with delicate ham, sliced raw mushrooms and a single black olive), washed down by the ubiquitous rosé wine. You can even do a little souvenir shopping as the clubs also feature small shops where you can find a sexy swimsuit, jaunty hat or monogrammed beach towel. No bargains here, but an unforgettable experience indeed. Speaking of shopping, one of the best reasons to visit St. Tropez is its famous outdoor market. Every Tuesday and Saturday throughout the year, the Place des Lices, at the village centre, is transformed from a parking lot and bocce court (known as boules to the locals), to a gigantic market filled with fresh everything: seasonal vegetables and fruits of all description, prepared foods and roasted chickens, aromatic olives, cheese, unique and funky clothing, pretty draperies and tablecloths, kitschy lavender souvenirs, antiques including furniture and jewellery, cashmere sweaters, you name it. This is where you’ll find some bargains my dears, so please be sure to bring along an extra suitcase for all of the treasures. On your way back to the port from the marché, you can lick the windows (French for window shopping) of the fabulously expensive shops along Rue Francois Sibilli, including names you recognise and some you don’t. In this part of the village you can spy vestiges of its medieval roots. Look up to appreciate the shuttered windows slightly askew, the ponderous stone archways, and look down to navigate the tricky but gorgeous to look at, cobblestone streets, rising toward the citadel. In December,
Santa Claus, better known as Pere Noel, presides over a meticulously detailed reproduction of the village as it was, set up in the tiny church of Chapelle de la Misericorde on Rue Gambetta. As you ascend, you’ll find yourself following along the base of the original fortress wall. Tempting shops and restaurants will surely slow your progress to the ultimate lunch destination at Hotel Le Yaca. What looks to be a small entry opens into a grand reception room with marble floors and an impressive staircase beckoning you to come hither. Many charming details from the original 18th century home create a warm and welcoming ambiance. Ask for a table next to the pool where you can savour an Italian accented menu including an indulgent presentation of pasta mixed directly inside a huge wheel of Parmesan cheese. During the off season especially, the chic yet intimate bar is a great spot to take a breather and grab a hot cup of something, or a champagne cocktail delivered in an antique coupe. A special time to be in St. Tropez is September, during the annual sailing yacht regatta, Les Voiles de St. Tropez. Hundreds of soaring sailboats fly across the gulf, towering over the tourist boat you can board for one of the most exciting rides of your life. There is a festive atmosphere in town as the sailing teams take over the restaurants and cafés, and there is a market catering to those mariners in need of super-highpowered binoculars, waterproof clothing and souvenir bags made from recycled sails. Remember to greet shopkeepers with “bonjour”, exit with a friendly “merci”, keep your hand on your wallet in crowded places, and know that you’ve discovered some of the greatest travel gifts in the world when you follow the beach road to French nirvana, St. Tropez. Images credit - Susan Monshaw
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