Travel

Foreign Correspondence: Living In Chelsea, Being Near London Blends Two Exciting Worlds

What's it like to live in a far-off place most of us see only on a vacation? Foreign Correspondence is an interview with someone who lives in a spot you may want to visit.

Amy Kellogg, 45, is the London-based correspondent for Fox News Channel. She was raised in Boston and has been with Fox since 1999. Kellogg relocated from the network's Moscow bureau to London 10 years ago.

Q. 2009 was the year people went to London for the Darwin-related events. What's the big pull this year?

A. I've been traveling so much in the last few months, I don't know what the real buzz is. There's always lots of great theater and concerts. This time of year, Londoners are desperate for spring. Days are so short here in winter.

My personal interest is theater. I also go to museums and some of the art galleries.

American tourists are coming back to London theaters in big numbers. The British pound has weakened against the dollar. London is always expensive, but it's becoming cheaper for people with dollars in their wallets.

Q. You live in Chelsea. What's that like?

A. It's funny, but Chelsea is full of expats. Some say living there is not a true British experience. I didn't know London when I moved here from Moscow. I wanted to be somewhere central, and a friend lived in Chelsea and sold me on its charms.

Chelsea is aesthetically pretty and is close to a lot of things. It's not far from Notting Hill and the West End. Chelsea is a reasonable commute to our offices in west London.

Q. The favorite things to do in Chelsea?

A. You have to go to a soccer game — "football," as they call it here. I don't tend to watch it on TV, but being in a stadium is quite special. You become engaged; you're so close to the action. It's like seeing tennis at Wimbledon, or going to a football game in America.

Whether or not you like beer, you have to go to a pub. There's one called The Pig's Ear, a so-called gastro pub. It's not gourmet food, but the fare is definitely more refined than the average sausage-and-mashed-potatoes. It's quite a happening place.

The Chelsea Garden Show (May 25-29) is a really big deal. It's quite extraordinary but hard to get tickets to. Brits love their flowers.

Chelsea also has a good range of shopping — some English stores, some international.

And there are outdoor cafes for days when you can sit outside. It's a cosmopolitan area: You hear French, Italian and American English spoken. There are a lot of Russians in Chelsea; they sort of picked up on Chelsea as a "home away from home."

You see Arab women walking around in (body-covering) abayas — as well as people whose clothes are quite revealing.

Q. London is an old city without a street plan. Do you ever get lost?

A. Real easily, anywhere. Without a grid, streets can circle back and you find yourself walking for long periods and not making any progress at all.

I tend to walk a lot. London traffic is intense and the subways are crowded. When I moved here, I'd get bummed out by the constant rain. But you reach a point where you decide it won't keep you from doing things.

Q. What are your favorite London walks?

A. I love walking along the river, around Hammersmith. I love walking on the South bank where they have the theater complex — the National Theatre and other venues. It's lively in evenings there, too.

I love to cross the Hungerford bridge on foot to the South Bank. It definitely gives Paris a run for the money.

I also love to walk through Hyde Park.

I've never been to Kew (Royal Botanic) Gardens. It's on the list. Sometimes I feel I know Iran better than the UK. When you go on assignment to places, you cover a lot of territory quickly. In the UK, I think I have plenty of time to see and do things. But time flies. And my to-do list here is long.

Q. Do you listen to people ranting at the Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park?

A. I always seem to be in such a rush that I don't stop to listen. But that is something people love to do. Brits have a great way with words. My favorite verbal jousting is watching is the prime minister's questions, which I usually do on TV. It's a weekly event in the House of Commons. They really go after each other. It's quite fiery. Quite unusual.

Q. How should you dress for being outdoors?

A. I carry an umbrella at all times. You could walk out the door in sunshine, and in five minutes you're in a shower. Temperatures aren't as extreme as they are in America. The winters aren't as wicked and summers not as hot.

London is fairly casual. You can get away with wearing jeans in many places. It's like New York.

Q. Do men actually wear London Fog trench coats in London?

A. I suppose they do. I've noticed the Brits are very hardy: You'll see them walking around without much outer protection. The city of Newcastle — in the north of England, in old coal-mining country — is legendary for the boldness of young women. You'll see them running around Fridays in the middle of night in winter in strappy little dresses or miniskirts.

Newcastle is extreme, but people here are quite hardy, even in London.

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