How long have you lived in the Hampstead area?
I’ve lived in and around the area for 6 years now, but grew up and went to school locally, 20 years ago!
Where did you grow up? Was it similar to Hampstead?
I went to South Hampstead High School, so know the area very well. A lot of my friends lived around Hampstead and Belsize Park, and when I was 18 I even used to go to The Horseshoe pub (back in the days when it was known as the 3 Horseshoes!)
Describe your family.
Chris has recently retrained from management consulting in cooking. He’s just completed his Leiths Food & Wine diploma, and is starting up his own business in food and science education and writing.
O’s 3 and just about to start a nursery class at school (going 5 days a week and wearing a uniform, gulp!)
Z turned 1 in May and is full of life; learning to walk, babble and keep up with her big brother.
What’s your favourite thing to do over the weekend?
We love what’s going on locally for families- there’s so much to choose from. Our ideal weekend would involve swimming at Kentish Town swimming pool Saturday morning (fabulous kids’ pool which is clean and warm).
If it’s sunny, then you can’t beat London Zoo. We have an annual pass, so you can always pop in for an hour or 2 whenever you like.
Rainy day activities which top our list include Kenwood House (children’s activity room and great café), or maybe reading together in the very cool children’s reading space in the Daunts bookshop, near South End Green.
Favourite restaurant in the area?
How to choose- there are so many! But if pushed, I’d go for Burgh House for brunch or lunch. Burgh House lies hidden away, near Hampstead High Street. They do a tempting brunch and delicious home-made meals in the cosy café or out on the terrace, overlooking the gorgeous garden. Burgh House itself has a really quirky museum about the history of the local area, and regularly runs exhibitions and small concerts with local artists and musicians.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
San Francisco. I love the multi-cultural vibe, delicious food and those crazy hills!
Did you always know you wanted your own business?
No, I’m not sure I thought I would ever be doing this!
I started my own business out of a need to do things my way to suit my family and me, and to do something more authentic to who I am, rather than just running the corporate gauntlet and crazy commute.
Please describe your business? When did you start it?
I’d worked in Marketing for large food companies for over 10 years when I had O. I was determined to go back to work, but wanted part-time hours and ended up feeling completely compromised in all areas of my life. I didn’t enjoy the work, which ended up being closer to full time, and I didn’t enjoy my time with O, because I was always worrying about work. My career had reached dead end.
I decided to take a break, but knew I wanted to work and find something that worked better for us all. I decided to go back to my roots in languages (I studied Modern Languages) and retrain in teaching English, then teaching Business English, as there was a strong connection to my experience.
I started teaching English, but my big insight was that teaching language is only half the picture. What most people need is also an understanding of England, our culture, our ways of doing things but most of all, orientation and help to work out how to get things done when moving to London. This city can be so much fun for families, but it can also be terribly isolating, lonely and hard to meet friends. Equally relevant for English speakers, as much as English learners.
My business, Perfect Cuppa English, helps to settle international families into life locally through English language, culture and orientation services. The sessions are tailored individually, and take place in the convenience of their home or discreetly at work, at a time which suits them. I usually work on a 1:1 basis or in very small groups for everyone to get the best results.
What drives you to run your own business?
My family, and the need to do things my own way and flexibly.
Victoria Rennoldson, Founder of Perfect Cuppa English
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