GRILLING OUT AS A NATIONAL PASTIME

I hope you had a fabulous July 4th weekend.  Like many Americans, we spent the holiday with family, eating a variety of foods which could be cooked outside.  My husband loves to stand by our blazing charcoal grill, drink in hand, cooking the meat for our meal – although he does a pretty good sockeye salmon on cedar wood planks as well.  It must be something primeval about meat and fire that appeals to the male of our species.  Although he usually claims full credit for cooking the meal, it falls to me to prepare the sides, salads and table setting.

This all got me thinking about the passion Americans have for grilling out.  Obviously, it all started in a rudimentary form around 500,000 years ago after mankind figured out how to create fire to cook food during the Stone Age.  Many centuries passed before the human race got their first taste of ‘barbecue.’ It probably derived from the Arawak people of the Caribbean, who centuries ago used a wooden structure called ‘barbako’ where meat got smoked and cooked.

I need to confess to great confusion when I first arrived in America as in the UK the term “barbecue” means grilling out – that is cooking meat, fish or vegetables outdoors over open flames.  Of course, in this part of the USA, true barbecuing is cooking and smoking meat slowly over indirect heat, inside a barbecuing pit.  This type of barbecue began in 18th-century colonial America, specifically in the settlements along the Southeastern seaboard where pigs were abundant.   Whole hogs spent up to 14 hours over coals resulting in delicious pulled pork.

Turning back to the backyard rituals enjoyed over the Independence Day weekend; did you know that until the mid- 20th century grilling food outside mainly happened at campsites and picnics?  Outdoor cooking anywhere else was often seen as a sign of poverty.  However, after the Second World War when people began to flock to the suburbs, backyard grilling became extremely popular.

Around this time in Chicago, George Stephens, who owned a metal working factory, had grown frustrated with the flat, open brazier-style grills common at the time.  He began experimenting and invented a round grill that held in heat.  Stephen made this new grill by severing a metal buoy in half and fashioning a dome-shaped base with a rounded cover, which he began selling in 1955.  He called it “George’s Barbeque Kettle” and had a big winner on his hands.  Later, he bought out his manufacturing partners the Weber Brothers, and renamed the company the Weber-Stephens Products Company, and re-named his creation the Weber Grill.  The business was family-owned for 117 years until 2010, and became a public company just last year, worth $2 billion today.

America’s most famous 4th of July food tradition is grilling hot dogs and hamburgers. The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council has declared July as National Hot Dog Month.   We know that hot dogs evolved from the German frankfurter sausage which was brought to America by immigrants.  However, the reason for hot dogs rise in popularity in the 20th century is less clear.  Some say it became associated with American culture and baseball parks in 1893 thanks to St. Louis bar owner and German immigrant, Chris Von der Ahe, who owned the St. Louis Browns major league baseball team.  Others say that in 1901 when the New York Polo grounds ran out of wax paper for sausages, they started using spare French rolls.  Others place the beginning of hot dogs to the Coney Island Amusement Park in the late 1800s, and some trace hot dogs back to the 1904 World’s Fair in St Louis.  No matter their history, I have to confess that despite my American citizenship, I just don’t love hot dogs!

Now hamburgers are a different story – I love them and was delighted to find out that the earliest mention of the hamburger is in a 1763 English cookbook by Hannah Glasse, The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy.  In 1802 the Oxford English Dictionary includes a ‘Hamburg steak’ – a slab of salted, minced beef that is slightly smoked and mixed with onions and breadcrumbs. Salted and smoked food were ideal for long sea voyages and in the 18th century the ‘Hamburg steak’ made its way across the Atlantic. Ships of the Hamburg-America line brought thousands of immigrants to the New World and soon Hamburg-style beef patties were being served from street stands.  They were also at the 1904 World’s Fair, and in 1916 Walter Anderson, a fry cook from Kansas, invented a bun specially for hamburgers. Five years later he co-founded White Castle and the world’s first burger chain was born.  For more information see www.history.com.

I say goodbye this week with a quote from Microsoft founder Bill Gates.  “Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping – they called it opportunity.”

God Bless America!

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Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009.  She can be contacted at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com  or via her PR and marketing agency at www.lesleyfrancispr.com

BLOG – JUNE 2022 – SUMMER NEWS

BLOG – JUNE 2022 – SUMMER NEWS

Here is summer, which – other than the worry about hurricanes – is one of my favorite times of the year, with long evenings and the chance to go the beach or enjoy the pool at weekends. It was great fun hosting our annual LFPR pool party last weekend for our dedicated employees and family members as we celebrate our 11th year in business.

Joy and celebrations are important at LFPR because we all work hard, and the mutual support and teamwork I see every day at our company is something I really value. Team LFPR loved attending the wonderful wedding of our recently promoted account director, Kristyn Fielding, as she became Kristyn Beasley. Talking of promotions, Allie Robinson, a two-year LFPR veteran and former senior account executive, is now an account manager. We formally welcomed Emily Vonck, who served as the agency’s spring 2022 intern, to the team as our new full-time marketing assistant. We are also enjoying having Caroline Boykin working with us as our summer intern. We wish Crystal Vogel and Hollie Barnidge all the best and thank them for their hard work over the years as they leave LFPR.

One of the biggest growth areas for LFPR’s marketing services is in our online work, and to recognize her contributions to it, Shelby McKee has been promoted to digital design director. She manages the design of responsive, user-friendly websites, as well as branding, digital and print materials, while tracking and analyzing website performance metrics and user engagement to make effective and data-driven design decisions. Zack Adams also joins us as our part-time website developer, and we are thrilled to have his technical expertise on our team. Every staff member is dedicated to this company, its success, and the clients we serve, as is evidenced by the quality work they produce and their wonderful attitudes. I am proud to offer these well-deserved promotions and excited to watch their careers continue to grow.  

 Check out some recent new websites we have built for our clients:

One of the things that I really value at LFPR is the long working relationships we enjoy with our clients. As the 10th annual Savannah VOICE Festival (SVF) is approaching this August, I look back at how LFPR worked closely with SVF over the years to build the profile of this amazing celebration of the voice! Looking back at some other wonderful client events and initiatives earlier this year, we were thrilled to be the media partners for Historic Savannah Foundation’s Preservation Month in May, Savannah African Art Museum’s Juneteenth celebration and the 200 Club of the Coastal Empire’s Pooler Run for Heroes.  LFPR also partnered with the Savannah Challenger, a premiere professional tennis event presented by St. Joseph’s/Candler and hosted by the Landings Club at the Franklin Creek Tennis Center on Skidaway Island, which returned for its 12th annual year after a break due to the pandemic.  Turning to education, we wrapped up another school year supporting Savannah’s only K-12 charter school, Savannah Classical Academy, with event and marketing services.  Looking to the business world, Georgia Tech-Savannah’s first breakfast Learners and Leaders seminar was well-attended in person and online, and the panel and discussions about the hot topic of supply chain and logistics were of the highest caliber.

Until next time, take care and enjoy your summer!

CELEBRATING 70 YEARS ON THE THRONE

It has been my observation that British people who come to live in the USA fall into two distinct groups.  The first group always refer to the UK as ‘home’ and plan – sometimes vaguely – to go back someday.  The second group fall in love with the USA, recognize it as the world’s greatest democracy, and make a long-term commitment to being an American citizen.  I fall into the latter group as I celebrate 10 years as a naturalized American citizen.  America is my home. 

Of course, there will always be a piece of my heart that belongs to Great Britain, the land of my birth, and last weekend was one of those occasions. I wish I could have been in the UK to celebrate and honor the first British monarch in history for serving her country for seventy years. 

Celebrations took place over a special four-day weekend in the United Kingdom although Her Majesty actually became the first British monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee on February 6, 2022.  It was not celebrated at that time because that is, of course, a very sad day for the Queen personally as she lost her beloved father, King George VI, when he was only 56 years old.

In my opinion, no nation does pomp and ceremony better than the British, and the patriotism of the British people shone through all weekend as tens of thousands of royal supporters waved flags lining the streets of London.  Some had been camped out there for days.  There were many public events and community activities, as well as national moments of reflection.  Millions of people joined with their neighbors for jubilee lunches and street parties as well as watching the festivities online and on TV across the world.  Flags hung from millions of homes and businesses and, in a classically British tradition, industrious knitters created and placed Union Jack “flag hats” to crown the red post boxes of the Royal Mail.

The Queen did appear at several major events in person, and took part in the ceremony to light more than 3,500 beacons across the UK and in the capitals of the 54 Commonwealth countries that evening.  Her sense of humor and charm brought the house down when she appeared in a surprise video recorded with another British national treasure: Paddington Bear during Saturday evening’s concert.   Unfortunately, the Queen, who recently turned 96, was in too much ‘discomfort’ to attend some of the events planned to honor her over the weekend.  She has had some health and mobility challenges since the death of her beloved husband Prince Philip in April last year and has scaled down some commitments and handed others over to younger members of the royal family.  Thanks to modern technology the Queen was able to watch those events she missed, including the service of thanksgiving, the Epsom Derby and the rock concert in her honor. Queen Elizabeth II skipped the Platinum Jubilee Pageant parade on Sunday – but was there in spirit as an image of her younger self appeared in hologram form on the windows of her famous gold carriage.

She sent a message out as the celebrations came to an end after her final appearance on the balcony last Sunday saying that she has “been humbled and deeply touched that so many people have taken to the streets to celebrate my Platinum Jubilee.”

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth is officially titled ‘Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith’.  However, she is ‘Mummy’ to Prince Charles, ‘Grandmother’ to Prince William, and ‘Gan Gan’ instead of ‘Great Grandmother’ to eight-year-old Prince George, respectively the first, second and third in line to the throne.  The four of them stood watching tens of thousands of well-wishers cheering along the Mall in front of Buckingham Palace.

For me, and most British people, the Queen symbolizes stability and has been a rock for the UK over 70 years.  She represents the very best British attributes such as dedication to service and God, stoicism, loyalty, a strong work ethic and maintaining a ‘stiff upper lip’ in public regardless of what is going on in one’s private life.  Queen Elizabeth has weathered many royal scandals but has consistently risen above them, and she remains immensely popular in Britain.

There is a lot more information at www.royal.uk

I will leave you with a quote from Queen Elizabeth II herself from 1947, on her 21st Birthday, five years before her accession to the throne. “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong”.

God Bless America and God Save The Queen!

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Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009.  She can be contacted at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com  or via her PR and marketing agency at www.lesleyfrancispr.com

 

TRAVELS TO SANTA FE

Judging by how busy the travel industry is at the moment, many of us seem to believe that 2022 is a year to make up for lost time and schedule all the trips we had to postpone during the pandemic.  So earlier this month, I went on a long delayed “girls’ trip” to Santa Fe, New Mexico.  

Although I have been to Texas and Arizona and loved them both, somehow, I had never been to New Mexico, nestled in between the two.  Every time I travel within the USA, it blows my mind to be reminded once again just how very large this great nation is.  The 48 contiguous states are just under 3.2 million square miles, and 3.8 million including Alaska and Hawaii…. more than twice the size of the European Union. That includes almost 200,000 square miles of lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water. The USA is the third-largest country in the world behind Russia and Canada. Remember that the land of my birth, the United Kingdom, is just 94,000 square miles – about 75% the size of the State of New Mexico.

Coming directly from beautiful Coastal Georgia, the first and most striking thing one notices in New Mexico is the lack of humidity, rainfall and outdoor water in general.  However, because the state is geothermically active there are a number of fantastic hot springs – discovered centuries ago by native Americans and later Spanish settlers who found them to be very soothing to mind and body.  The extremely dry climate also contributes to a massive problem in the area – wildfires!  We could see them on the horizon, smokey and raging outside Santa Fe.  Luckily, they were being contained in the area around us, but it was heartbreaking to see. The state’s national parks were closed during our visit, and it was rather unnerving to be within a dozen or so miles from the largest wildfire in New Mexico’s history.  Coastal Georgia gets about double the rainfall of Santa Fe, so it did make me appreciate our Low Country climate, the Ogeechee River, and our proximity to the coast.   Even the Georgia humidity seemed to be put into perspective for me.

New Mexico is known as the ‘Land of Enchantment’ and Santa Fe is its state capitol, famous for its extensive art galleries mostly situated on Canyon Road.  Advertised as “more than a hundred galleries, boutiques and restaurants in one half mile”, we spent a lovely afternoon exploring the nooks and crannies of Canyon Road, and resisting the temptation to purchase paintings, photographs, sculptures, jewelry, and knick-knacks.

Santa Fe, which translates as “holy faith” in Spanish, was founded in 1607. It is the oldest capital city in United States, the oldest European community west of the Mississippi, and the second-oldest surviving US city founded by European colonists on land that later became part of the United States (St Augustine Florida is the oldest). While Santa Fe was inhabited by a few European people earlier than 1607, it became truly established as a city few years later by the Conquistador Don Pedro de Peralta, a lawyer sent from Spain who was appointed Governor of New Mexico while the territory was still part of the Spanish Empire.  In fact, Santa Fe had been colonized 25 years before the colonials set foot at Plymouth Rock

Santa Fe is the highest large city in the United States at about 7,000 feet above sea level and became an important trading post for travelers in the 18th and 19th centuries.

I was enchanted by Santa Fe’s adobe houses and the narrow winding streets, which reminded me of southern Europe, and was pleased to learn about the city’s historic preservation efforts focused on preserving the Spanish-Pueblo architectural style even in new construction.

New Mexico became the USA’s 47th state in 1912 and is an interesting place.  The state bird is the roadrunner, and the state tree is the pinon pine.  About a third of the residents speak Spanish as a first language.  The state’s largest city, Albuquerque (which we flew into from Atlanta) is the hot air ballooning capital of the world and is also the hometown of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.  The state is home to a lot of research facilities and laboratories and is also known for a disproportionately large number of reported UFO sightings.  And here is my favorite little-known fact about New Mexico – it is illegal to dance while wearing your sombrero hat.  We didn’t do much dancing or sombrero wearing while we were there, but it was good to know just the same!

There is a lot more information at www.santafe.org

I will leave you with a quote by the great 19th century American author who achieved international acclaim for his travel narratives, the ever-witty Mark Twain. “Until I came to New Mexico, I never knew how much beauty water adds to a river”.

God Bless America!

– ENDS –

Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009.  She can be contacted at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com  or via her PR and marketing agency at www.lesleyfrancispr.com

EXPERIENCING THE BRITISH THEATRE AGAIN

When I was in the UK last month, I got quite emotional a few times as I did things that, during the darkest days of the pandemic, seemed like they might never happen again.  Obviously, it was fantastic seeing friends and family after so long, and great to attend my cousin’s wedding with loads of hugs, kisses, and re-bonding much missed aunts, uncles, and cousins.  I also learned to once again appreciate the freedom to travel between the two countries I love.  However, one thing that really underscored the return to some type of ‘normalcy’ to me was once again going to the theatre in London’s West End, which is the British equivalent of Broadway in New York.

First, let’s clear the air on a transatlantic spelling difference.  The British spell ‘theatre’ differently than ‘theater’ in the American spelling tradition. Just to complicate matters further, in the UK ‘theatre’ can only be used to mean a place of live plays and entertainment, whereas in the US you can also have a ‘movie theater’ where films (movies) are shown. In the UK this would always be known as a ‘cinema’.

My husband and I wanted to see something uplifting in London, and we both love musicals.  So, we chose to see (or rather I chose and he capitulated) “Tina – The Musical”.  This story of Tina Turner, while not in the same league as a classic show like Les Miserables, was very enjoyable.  The music was great, and her story of triumph over both poverty and her early abusive relationship with husband Ike Turner is inspiring.  The singing and sets were first rate, and it was just so good to be back in an audience of over a thousand people in the city I grew up in and spent many years as a young woman.

I have always found music and the theatre provide me with a welcome release from day-to-day stress and life in general.  Did you know that the ancient Greeks first noticed this process and coined the phrase ‘cathartic’ when they saw the strong impact theatre and theatrical traditions had on their audiences?  The philosophers of the day noted that their art forms of tragic and comic dramas really moved audiences and alleviated their burdens of daily troubles and woes.

The history of British theater dates back to Medieval times when travelling players would perform religious mystery plays in villages and towns, portraying the lives of saints and uplifting bible stories.  Community-based religious theater stopped abruptly in 1534 when King Henry VIII broke the British church away from the Pope and Catholicism in Rome so he could divorce and remarry.  Overnight, actors had to be part of a royal or aristocratic household to perform. A little later during Queen Elizabeth I’s reign (she was Henry VIII’s daughter), royal patents or licenses were given to actors to perform commercially and many open-air public theaters were built at this time.  The Elizabethan age was very important for theatre, and this is of course when the great author and playwright, William Shakespeare, first came to prominence.

So how did London’s West End district begin? During the 17th century, the first of the 39 theaters that make up this district was built and named the ‘Theatre Royal’.  We saw ‘Tina: The Musical’ nearby at the Aldwych Theatre, a more modern theatre which opened in 1905.  London’s theatres tend to be magnificent and opulent buildings.  The Aldwych is no exception, and it spent its first years primarily hosting musical comedies. Famous 20th century actors including Laurence Olivier and Vivian Leigh starred at the Aldwych and in 1960 the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company made the Aldwych its London base for 21 years.  Since then the Aldwych has played host to a number of musicals including Fame, Dirty Dancing, Beautiful and after a break due to the pandemic, Tina resumed last year.   There is much more information at www.BritishTheatre.com

I will leave you with a quote by the great American/Canadian film actress, Mary Pickford; “Make them laugh, make them cry….. What do people go to the theatre for? An emotional exercise. I am a servant of the people. I have never forgotten that”.

God Bless America!

– ENDS –

Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009.  She can be contacted at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com  or via her PR and marketing agency at www.lesleyfrancispr.com

LESLEY FRANCIS PUBLIC RELATIONS APPOINTS DIGITAL DESIGN DIRECTOR

RICHMOND HILL, GA – May 2, 2022 – Lesley Francis Public Relations (LFPR) has announced the promotion of Shelby McKee to Digital Design Director.

McKee has worked with LFPR since 2021 as the marketing agency’s Website Designer and has been instrumental in the company’s recent growth. As Digital Design Director, she will manage the design of responsive, user-friendly websites, as well as branding and digital and print materials, while tracking and analyzing website performance metrics and user engagement to make effective and data-driven design decisions.

“Shelby has proven herself as an enthusiastic and extremely effective member of our team,” said Lesley Francis, CEO and Founder of LFPR. “I am really delighted that she will be joining us in this more senior, full-time role. As website design, management, and hosting becomes a bigger and more important part of our offering to clients, I’m glad to have Shelby lead our online services.”  
LFPR is a growing marketing firm established by Lesley Francis in 2011. The award-winning firm is based in Richmond Hill, GA, and currently serves more than 25 clients spanning from South Carolina to Florida. LFPR offers many services to fulfill all your marketing and PR needs including media relations, crisis management, social media and website management, and much more! For more information, please visit https://lesleyfrancispr.com/services/

 

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For media inquiries, please contact Allie Robinson at allie@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-547-3100, Lesley Francis at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-429-3950, or the team at 912-417-5377.

 

 

 

LESLEY FRANCIS PUBLIC RELATIONS RAISES THE BAR BY ANNOUNCING PROMOTIONS, NEW TEAM MEMBER

RICHMOND HILL, GA – April 22, 2022 – Lesley Francis Public Relations (LFPR) has announced the promotions of three current employees and the addition of a new employee. 

Kristyn Fielding, who has been with LFPR for six years, was elevated from senior account manager to account director. Allie Robinson, a two-year LFPR veteran and former senior account executive, is now an account manager, and Crystal Vogel, a team member of four years, is now the social media and design manager. LFPR also welcomed Emily Vonck, who served as the agency’s spring 2022 intern, to the team as a marketing assistant. Fielding and Robinson graduated from Georgia Southern University, which will soon be Vonck’s alma mater as well; Vogel earned her degree at Armstrong State University.

“I am delighted to have each one of these ladies on my team and thoroughly enjoy working with them daily,” LFPR founder and CEO Lesley Francis said. “Each staffer is dedicated to this company, its success, and the clients we serve, as is evidenced by quality work they produce and their wonderful attitudes. I am proud to offer these well-deserved promotions and excited to watch their careers continue to grow.” 

LFPR is a growing PR and marketing agency established by Lesley Francis in 2011. The award-winning firm is based in Richmond Hill, Ga, and currently serves over 25 nonprofit, small-business and education clients spanning from South Carolina to Florida. LFPR offers many services to fulfill all your marketing and PR needs including media relations, graphic design, crisis management, social media management, website building and maintenance, and much more. For more information, please visit lesleyfrancispr.com and follow them on social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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For media inquiries, please contact Hollie Barnidge at hollie@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-272-8651, Lesley Francis at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-429-3950, or the team at 912-417-5377.

VISITING STATELY HOMES

The best part of returning to England recently was seeing friends and family after nearly three years.  However, I also wanted to do some very “English” things while I was there to reconnect with my roots, and one of the most British things to do is visit one of its spectacular stately homes and gardens.

During our trip we stayed with some dear friends in their beautiful home in Surrey about an hour southwest of London.  Surrey is one of the four ‘home counties’, that is a county surrounding London which is popular with people who want to be close to the center of the metropolis via rail or road but also want to live outside of the busy city center.  On a beautiful sunny, but very cold Saturday, our friends took us to nearby Polesden Lacey for the day, a grand and stately home and grounds previously owned by the extremely wealthy socialite Dame Margaret Greville. 

Dame Margaret was an interesting character.  She was the daughter of William McEwan, a wealthy brewer and Member of Parliament.   Her father was keen to make a good match for his daughter and, as was often the case during these times, successful businessmen sought out impoverished nobility for their daughters to marry.  Both families benefitted since the daughters brought significant family money to the financially stretched “gentlemen classes” of England.  The newly joined families acquired a higher social status through the combination of nobility and money and if any love did blossom between the couple that was an additional benefit rather than a necessity for the marriage to proceed.  So, in 1891, Margaret married Captain Ronald ‘Ronnie’ Greville, heir to a baronetcy and a member of the “Marlborough house set”, the social circle surrounding the future King Edward VII.  

The couple lived in London and, when Ronnie retired in 1906, they bought 1400 acres in the Surrey countryside and commissioned architects famous for designing the Ritz Hotel in London to entirely renovate the huge but old house on the estate. Sadly, Ronnie died in 1908, a year before renovations were completed, but the result was fabulous.  Margaret hosted her first house party at Polesden in June 1909, marking the end of her mourning and her return to society.  The guest of honor was none other than King Edward VII. This impressive estate was her weekend retreat and the place where she entertained royalty, politicians and celebrities at lavish weekend parties for over 30 more years until 1942, including Winston Churchill, Beverly Nichols and Queen Ena of Spain.  

So how does such a wonderful stately home wind up being preserved so beautifully and stay open for the public to enjoy into the next century?  It is all due to Dame Margaret’s generous donation of Polesden Lacey house and gardens to a wonderful British organization called The National Trust. This is by far the largest charitable organization for heritage conservation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Scotland has its own National Trust organization which is run on similar lines and there are now other heritage organizations around the world.

Founded in 1895, the founders pledged to preserve historical and natural places and buildings of beauty or historic interest.  Set up by an attorney, social reformer and a member of the clergy, this non-profit organization was given statutory powers, starting with the National Trust Act 1907 which gave the Trust the power to declare its land inalienable, meaning that it could not be sold without parliamentary approval.  

In the early days, it was concerned primarily with the acquisition (by gift or purchase) of open spaces and a variety of threatened buildings.  Today The National Trust has nearly six million members and revenue equivalent to almost a billion dollars.  It is funded by membership subscriptions (starting at about $50 per year),  donations and legacies, direct property income, grants, profits from its shops and restaurants, and investments.

The National Trust has grown to become Europe’s largest conservation charity and focuses on preserving nature, beauty and history.  It owns and manages over 780 miles of coastline, over 500 historic houses, castles, parks, and gardens, and nearly one million works of art!  It is a wonderful British institution unlike anything else in the world, and Brits are extremely proud of it and its achievements.  There is much more information at www.nationaltrust.org.uk 

So back to our weekend visit to this lovely property.  As every British person knows, no visit to a National Trust property is complete without visiting the gift shop and getting a cup of hot tea and lemon drizzle cake in the tearoom.  I bought some traditional souvenirs including a dish towel, key ring and bookmark featuring images of Polesden Lacey, reasoning that all the profits go towards supporting the work of the National Trust.

Following my UK trip, this quote from author and journalist Earle Hitchner really resonates with me.  “The difference between America and England is that Americans think 100 years is a long time, while the English think 100 miles is a long way.”

God Bless America and the UK’s National Trust!

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Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009.  She can be contacted at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com  or via her PR and marketing agency at www.lesleyfrancispr.com

THE JOYS OF SPRING

Spring has sprung!  Earlier this week saw the vernal equinox, one of only two times during the year when the Sun is exactly above the equator. And you know what this means – the first day of Spring and party time!  Garden parties, weddings, Spring Break, steaks on the grill, and every other form of celebration you can manage to have outdoors. So, let’s take a break from the stress caused by the pandemic, war, international tensions, and gloomy Old Man Winter, and instead think about some of the unique ways around the world that we humans celebrate the coming of spring and beyond.

In Thailand, the Songkran Water Festival kicks off after spring equinox, which is celebrated as New Year’s Day.  The six-day party is filled with music, dancing, religious ceremonies, visiting elderly relatives and – especially – water fights.  Although it is an ancient tradition, today tourists get in on the act as well with water balloons, buckets of water, hoses, water guns and surprise tossing into the nearest available river.  Everyone – children, parents, grandparents, and anyone passing by – is subject to a good-natured dousing.

In Bosnia, citizens come together on the first day of Spring for Cimburijada which, roughly translated, means “scrambled egg party”.  Since eggs symbolize new beginnings, drinking, dancing, and scrambled eggs are on the Bosnian menu all day.  In the town of Zenica, they have been cooking up a 1,500-egg omelet on this day for centuries.

Back in the land of my birth, the little English town of Brockworth in Gloucestershire welcomes Spring by throwing a nine-pound wheel of Double Gloucester cheese off a very steep cliff, and a bunch of runners jump off after it in a race.  This is of course the world-famous Cooper’s Hill Annual Cheese Rolling, in which the goal is to catch the cheese, which has a one second head start and can reach speeds more than 60 mph, but to do so in a way without breaking your neck.  A visiting Australian writer and cheese-racer, Sam Vincent, “questioned his sanity” as he “crouched on the summit of a diabolical slope…. awaiting the call to start what is surely the world’s most dangerous footrace”.  Every year it has its fair share of scrapes, bruises, and broken bones, but no fatalities yet in this 200-year-old tradition. After the race, you can have a drink with your fellow adrenalin junkies at the Cheese Rollers Pub, named after the race, in the nearby village of Shurdington.

On the other side of the world in Northern India, the Hindu festival of Holi is celebrated.  This is all about color, with participants throwing brightly colored paints and powders at one another all day, each of which represent one of the rich colors of Spring and the new year.  It is happy and festive and, by most accounts, very messy.

In Guadeloupe, the group of French islands in the Caribbean, Spring means it is that time of the year for the La Desirade Goat Festival.  Goat owners on the small island of La Desirade dress up their goats in sunglasses, bathing suits, hats and jewelry, and parade them around on the beach in a competition for best-looking goat.  This is accompanied with music, dancing, and lots of street food.  Goat curry is one of the most popular dishes (I kid you not – pun intended).

And here in the USA, Spring means Spring Break for millions of college students.  Following two years of COVID-induced travel restrictions, this month will see record numbers of college students heading to Florida beaches.  The Daily Mail newspaper predicts that 570,000 students will be in the Sunshine State this week.  Admittedly, there will always be some worrisome headlines about the crowds, risks, and a few isolated incidents, but let’s remember at its core this is about millions of young people celebrating something as old as the human race – the joy of Spring and how great it is to be young and alive.

I say goodbye this week with a fantastic quote from the late, great American comedian Robin Williams.  “Spring is nature’s way of saying LET’S PARTY!”.

God Bless America!

– ENDS –

Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009.  She can be contacted at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com  or via her PR and marketing agency at www.lesleyfrancispr.com

OK BOOMER – I’M TALKING ABOUT MY GENERATION

A few weeks ago, I was having lunch with my editor at this newspaper.  As always, our conversations were pretty wide-ranging, and we somehow wound up discussing the challenges and realities of being a more mature part of the workforce, and how we relate to the younger generations who work with us.  In some ways this is a shocking concept to me since it seems like only yesterday that I was a bright young thing carving out my career in London.  It is sobering to realize that my first job in a big London agency was 35 years ago!

I was born in May 1966, so I am solidly and proudly Generation X, and I get very irritated if a younger person cuts across me with “OK, Boomer!”  You probably know that this is a dismissive comment sometimes used by Millennials and Generation Z to reject the attitudes of the older generations who they often perceive as not even trying to understand what they think.

Since there is some debate on where one generation ends and another begins, I turned to the Pew Research Center www.pewresearch.org for a definitive answer.  “Generations provide the opportunity to look at Americans both by their place in the life cycle – whether a young adult, a middle-aged parent or a retiree – and by (being) born at a similar time”.  Pew Research defines these generations:

  • The Silent Generation – Born 1928 – 1945
  • Baby Boomers – Born 1946 – 1964
  • Generation X – Born 1965 – 1980
  • Millennials or Generation Y – Born 1981 – 1996
  • Generation Z or Zoomers– Born 1997 – 2010

This generation is followed by the up and coming Generation Alpha – my grandchildren whose parents are, of course, Millennials.

Lots has been written about Baby Boomers, who are often described by  commentators as confident, independent, principled, focused, self-reliant, stubborn and strong-willed.  The Boomer I know best, my husband, definitely checks all those boxes.  

So, let’s talk about my own generation. Gen X is generally described as the “middle child” of generations – caught between the larger groups of Boomers and Millenials. We are very independent since we were the first generation in which both parents worked outside of the home in large numbers, or in many cases raised in single-parent households.  Remember, our parents’ generation really normalized the idea of divorce!  The phrase “latch-key kids” entered the language while we were growing up since many of us would come home from school to an empty house. 

We were raised during the transition to the digital age, so while we did adapt to new technologies, it does not come as naturally to us as later generations.  After all, we grew up in the pre-digital world – went to the library instead of the internet, used public pay phones to call a place on a landline rather than a person on a cell, read paper maps, and sent faxes!

Gen X grew up during significant events that shaped our world today including the Cold War, the Challenger disaster, Chernobyl, and the Berlin Wall coming down.  Many of us are resilient, self-reliant and flexible – because we had to be – and we try hard but don’t expect to win every time.  We also wonder why some other generations aren’t more open minded, since as a group we place a high value on tolerance.

Interestingly, Gen X is known for being very entrepreneurial, and we generally do tend to have a rather rigid work ethic.  Many of us came of age when President Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were in office, when taking a lunch hour was for wimps, and we aspired to put on our power suits and stride into our careers!

Millennials, on the other hand, tend to be more socially conscious, technologically advanced, and expect wide access to information. They are not only comfortable with their smart phones but integrate them seamlessly into every aspect of their lives.   They want a lot more flexibility in their working environments and expect a lot of feedback, career development and understanding from their employers.  Millennials are not afraid to question and voice their opinions as they were raised to express their views and have them taken seriously.   Because of this, I believe they are great at out of the box thinking and problem-solving skills.  

Most of the people in my agency are Millennials, although I do have a Boomer and a Zoomer in the mix.  I also sometimes rely heavily on the micro-generation of “Xennials” who were born between 1977-83 to translate for me!  This group grew up in a pre-digital world but adapted early on to fast-moving technologies. 

So finally, my editor and I agreed that despite these generational nuances, Americans of all ages have a lot more in common than not. Yes, there are differences but there is much more in the way of long term shared values, beliefs, ideals and reasons to respect each other.  On that note, I leave you with a traditional and thought provoking Chinese proverb: “Each generation will reap what the former generation has sown.”

God Bless America!

– ENDS –

Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009.  She can be contacted at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com  or via her PR and marketing agency at www.lesleyfrancispr.com