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MY FAVOURITE THINGS My favourite things


Marilyn Benjamin a Sierra Leonean by birth, came to the UK to study at age 18. She obtained every possible secretarial and administrative qualification including London Chamber of Commerce and Industry ‘s Private and Executive Secretary’s Diploma. A two-year stint at the Commonwealth Secretariat morphed into a 31-year career. Marilyn trained as an executive coach at Henley Business School and is setting up her own consultancy this year. She has one son, a graduate of the University of Birmingham, currently making his way as a content creator and the lead singer of the rock band Spring.Fall.Sea. Marilyn can be contacted at marilynbenjamin@yahoo.com.


Your best advice to someone just


arriving in the UK? Prepare to be amazed. The UK has great history and many historic sites throughout the entire country to keep you busy and active for a long time. There is great diversity, especially in big cities and you really do not need to pack all the favourite things you think you will miss eg food stuff, as you can get them much more easily here than when I first arrived many years ago.


The best place to meet people? Finding people with common interests


through clubs and social networks is a good way to meet people. I recently joined Parkrun and made friends with many people, particularly the ones who “walk the run” like I do. I managed to improve my time by five minutes over three months!


Your preferred pub, bar and/or restaurant?


It depends on who I am meeting and the reason. I prefer restaurants when I want a leisurely meal and to have a good conversation – you then get the opportunity to focus on the person or people you are with. Pub lunches are good after a long


walk or on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Bars are great for catching up – especially on a Friday evening after work.


Your favourite place for a UK weekend away? This has to be Bath in Somerset. The city is beautiful and there is plenty to see and do in 48 hours. A visit to the Roman Baths, which date back to 43AD, and the spa are a must. You can even explore the baths by torchlight in the evenings during the summer. You can also explore the city by boat on the River Avon, bus or on foot. It’s an hour and a half by train from London Paddington.


The best ice-cream/coffee shop? Combine a visit to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Westfield with a visit to La Gelatiera in East Village, Stratford. There is a branch in Covent Garden but it is a good way to get to know another historic and interesting part of


London. 36 FOCUS The Magazine January/February 2020 Your favourite expression you have


adopted since being here? “I’m feelin’ all Tom and Dick”.A colleague’s four-year- old daughter used the expression when she visited the office some years ago. I found out it is a Cockney rhyming slang for feeling sick. I am still trying to get my head round some of those rhyming slangs.


The ultimate gourmet food


or wine shop? Fortnum & Mason is absolutely brilliant for special treats and gifts. that gives you a unique shopping experience. Many years later, I still try to catch the clock striking on the hour when the doors of the clock opens up and the two founders William Fortnum and Hugh Mason, come out, bow to each other and go back in. The 18 bells of the clock were made in the same foundry as the Big Ben.


The best men’s barber? It has to be Pall Mall Barbers in Palmer Street next to St James’s Station, neither I, nor any member of my family, have need of their services but their shop opened during the financial crisis when businesses were struggling or closing. I used to see the staff in there early in the morning and late in the evening – with very few, if any, customers. I felt compelled to pop in and say how I admired their bravery to open a new business at that time. I get a great sense of satisfaction every time I pass by and see that they are still there and that they are busy with customers. I didn’t, of course, know then that it was a long- established business with several branches.


Your favourite neighbourhood or area to explore? Kent – the ‘garden of England’ It’s got beautiful gardens, Eltham Palace, Dover and Leeds castles, farms where you can pick your own fruit, Canterbury Cathedral, vineyards, beaches like Margate, beautiful woodland for walking and exploring, as well as the White Cliffs of Dover. I am biased as I live in Kent.


Your favourite place to walk? The Royal Parks in London. I start off at St James’s Park, connect to Green Park and then go to Hyde Park. All in the middle of busy London but it’s so peaceful and beautiful.


You feel settled… When I had my son, it was no longer about work but about making a home from home.


www.focus-info.org


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