Setting The Tone- Part 1

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Floor Tile 

Setting the tone’: part 1-Types of flooring

Firstly I’d like to say how very excited I am to be writing about topics that I love and sharing this important information with all of you! I hope you find it informative and interesting an I look forward to bringing you up to date with interesting information on Interior Design both from within Israel and from around the World! If you have any questions or would like further advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via my Facebook page

With that I’d like to set the tone…or the stone as you would have it by starting from the ground up and discussing flooring.

As one of the most important features of any interior, the floors you choose will set the tone for the look and feel of the space.

When it comes to flooring it’s often difficult to know where to start given all the options that are available and that’s just when it comes to tile, let alone other flooring types!

In this three part blog I’d like to discuss the different types of flooring that are available throughout stores in Israel and the different features to look out for with each one.

Firstly let’s talk about tile and what to look out for because when it comes to tiles, size does matter!

As one of the most important features of any interior, the floors you choose will set the tone for the look and feel of the space.

Size Does Matter:

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Mosaic Tile

To start with I’d like to debunk a little myth that I hear over and over again with my clients who opt for tile floors. People often think that small tiles are for small spaces and large tiles are for large spaces. This is simply not correct especially if you are trying to maximise the feeling of space-something that everyone wants to achieve, especially in Israel where every square meter counts!

My rule of thumb for tile size of floor tiles is to buy the biggest tile that you can afford, especially if you have a small space to work with. Using small tiles like a 30x30cm in any space will make it feel smaller than it is. This is because smaller tiles require more grout lines and grout lines give reference to the size of a space and create a busy look-something which you would want to avoid especially in a small space. The larger the tile, the less grout lines you will have and the more expansive the space will look and feel.

Something important to be aware of when choosing tile is that often the larger the tile, the more it will cost per square meter (this is true for all tile types except for mosaic tile as mosaic tiles are small but significantly more expensive than any other tile because of the work involved to lay them). You may find an increase in cost too, when it comes to installation of larger tiles -especially if you are buying ‘off-the-plan’ with a project as they tend to charge more for specifying larger tiles.

Private contractors around Israel are however becoming more familiar with laying larger sized tiles. As a general rule 80x80cm or 90x90cm tile is seen as a more standard size and often won’t incur an ‘extra’ fee for laying.

As the larger tile sizes become a more popular option for consumers their availability in stores is also increasing. The more popular and arguably more beautiful floor tiles in stores do not come in smaller sizes of 30x30cm like they once did. In general the more popular tiles tend to start from 80x80cm and upwards and there are more and more options becoming available in these sizes than ever before.

The very latest product on the market is panels of up to 150x 300cm! These large panels look fantastic but usually require your contractor to install a substrate tile (or ‘sug bet’ as they are commonly called in Israel) which ensures a flat surface to avoid cracking. It is however always best to check with the sales people in the store and/or the tile manufacturer for the technical specs of the product. This is always a good habit for any item that is being installed in a project but specifically for the larger panels as they are still fairly new on the market not all contractors are familiar with their specific requirements. In order to avoid costly mistakes and additional charges It’s always best to have these items specified on the plan by your designer and make your potential contractor aware of it before starting.

On The Edge:


Now that we’ve chosen the tile size, the next thing to be aware of is the tile’s edges- a seemingly small detail that actually has a very large impact on the overall look of your floor!

There are two main types of edge finishes for tile to be aware of -both when it comes to granite porcelain tiles or real stone tiles for both floor and wall tile. The first type of edging is a laser cut finish. Laser cut tiles have a very sharp flat finish that give a sleek flat modern look.

The second type is of course non-laser cut edged tile or what I refer to as a rolled edge. Generally I avoid these types of tiles unless going for a very specific look. This is for a number of reasons- first and foremost is availability. Most of the larger tiles are only available with laser cut edges. This is quite simply because they more popular and arguably are better looking and thus the stores tend to carry more of these types. The second reason to avoid non-laser cut tiles is that they tend to give the appearance of even larger grout lines due to the rolled edge. In some cases when planned purposefully this can be a desirable look but for majority of the interiors that I design the opposite is true.

Finish It Off:

When it comes to the tile finish, there are three main finishes that are available; Matte, Gloss/ Shine and Lappato. Lappato is a combination of Matte and Shiny- I like to refer to is as a semi-gloss- sometimes appearing almost speckled in the glossy area of the tile. As far as what is most popular today and most contemporary (even when designing a more traditional style interior) a Matte finish is the way to go.  High Shine or Gloss tiles are typically the hardest to keep clean and in Israel this is of course a major consideration due to the dust factor because let’s face it -we live in a desert!

This brings me to the next consideration when choosing tile and that is colour/ grain. This too is often not just about style or preference but also practicality. It must be said that really there is no fool proof dirt-hiding floor, unless you go with the Terrazzo which had its hay day in Israel back in the 70’s!… and funnily enough is actually making a bit of a comeback…however assuming we are not going to go with Terrazzo, what is the next most practical choice? I always recommend a veiny floor to clients who really want to minimize seeing dirt. Anything with a natural vein will hide dirt to some extent.

So now you know a bit about selecting tile floors- stay tuned for our next instalment, “setting the tone part 2” where we discuss wood floors.

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Sachie’s Kitchen

Sachie’s kitchen

Ever since I was a little girl I remember loving Japanese food. My very first memory of it was being introduced to sushi by my aunt, uncle and cousins at a little sushi stand in a local shopping center in Melbourne, Australia. I must have been about twelve years old but I’ll never forget the experience; Popping the tiny little pink parcel of salmon nigiri into my mouth with a dot of wasabi some pickled ginger and soy. I remember the smooth silky texture of the fresh raw pretty pink salmon and the sweetness of the fluffy white rice. I remember my cousin showing me how to snap the wooden chopsticks apart and mix the wasabi into the soy. This was the start of my obsession with sushi and Asian cuisine. As a twelve year old, sushi was not only very tasty but also a lot of fun and still to this day I find the same enjoyment when I go to a Sushi restaurant.

Over the last ten years in Israel sushi has taken off and grown to become one of the most popular cuisines eaten by Israelis in a restaurant setting. Back in 2005 there was only a handful of sushi restaurants in Jerusalem, and nothing to write home about either (literally, as I was on my year abroad in Israel after school)- and yet just a little less than ten years later there are more than ten different sushi restaurants in the city, the majority of them being kosher. Tel-Aviv too can boast well over one-hundred restaurants that serve sushi with around 20% being kosher.

 Super Sushi- Dizengoff st Tel Aviv (kosher)

Sushi Rehavia- Emek Refaim Jerusalem (Kosher)

Israel in-fact has the third highest per capita consumption of Sushi in the World! That’s huge! In laymen’s terms basically in order of highest sushi consumption Japan is first, followed by New York and then Tel-Aviv!

Eat your sushi-filled hearts out rest-of-the-World!

Israelis just love eating sushi,  so much so  that to celebrate the sushi-eating culture that’s been cultivated here, Israel hosts an annual sushi making competition with around 30 Israeli sushi restaurants competing for the top prize. Over 500 people attend the competition every year including Japan’s ambassador to Israel Ambassador Shigeo Matsutomi.

It with this obsession that Israelis seem to have with Sushi and Asian cuisine that The Food Channel has introduced the latest cooking show and celebrity chef to its viewing repertoire; Sachie’s kitchen.


Image: Sachie on set

Sachie is a Japanese born chef who lives in New Zealand and I recently had the pleasure of interviewing her all about Japanese food and her personal food Journey.

Sachie’s food obsession began at a young age but it wasn’t until she moved to New Zealand where she found herself sharing an apartment with some Japanese chefs that things started to really take off. There they taught her ‘a variety of invaluable techniques’ and particularly ‘how to be creative using domestic appliances and ingredients’.

On her show, Sachie goes through different Japanese recipes, mainly noodles and fish and beef dishes but occasionally Sushi makes an appearance. I asked Sachie if Sushi is considered an everyday food in Japan. She explained to me that growing up she would only eat sushi ‘3-4 times a year because it was very expensive and usually was eaten to celebrate an occasion.’ In Israel many people would consume Sushi 3-4 times in one month! Sachie believes that sushi has become a kind of ‘healthy fast food’- A trend that is reflected all over the World and Israel is no exception!

Sachie’s show is really all about making Japanese food simple. She believes that ‘the biggest myth about Japanese cuisine is that it’s complicated- because of the beautiful presentation’. Her ‘whole mission is demystifying Asian food for people so they can cook at home and enjoy the meal with friends and family’. Personally I love watching Sachie cook up a storm with her Japanese- New Zealand accent which reflects the style of cooking which is often a mix of Asian and Western recipes.

Every show starts with an adventure to a market or factory in Japan, followed by a trip to the local supermarket in New Zealand and then finally an explanation of how to assemble the dish at home. With her beautiful bubbly personality as passion for food and life that comes through the screen of the TV (her philosophy is ‘Happy food-happy home’) Sachie is slowly taking over and becoming one of the first mainstream celebrity chefs to grace our screens with Japanese cuisine- and I for one love it!

Sachie now owns the largest Asian cooking school in Australisia (That’s Australia and New Zealand for those who were wondering) with over 13,000 students in the last five years alone!

Sachie celebrating the release of her cook book

As for her career aspirations there seems to be a lot in the works.

Sachie’s cooking school in New Zealand is doubling in size and she also plans to host more TV shows featuring different Asian cuisines. She also has ‘something very exciting in the way of consumer products range’ but when I asked her what exactly she told me with a figurative wink ‘I can’t tell you too much about that just yet….shhh’.

As for coming to visit us over here in Israel she said she’d never been but it was ‘on her list of things to do’ and if an opportunity came up she wouldn’t say no!  Perhaps we could convince her to come and help judge the next Kikkoman Sushi Master competition here!

We wish Sachie the best of luck in all her endeavors! I for one will continue to enjoy Sachie’s easy no fuss approach to simplifying Japanese cuisine with her warmth and effervescence coming through the screen while I put my feet up at the end of a long day!

You can stay updated with Sachie’s adventures via her Facebook page: and watch her show most days at around 4pm on The Food Channel.





Firewall to Greenwall

Firewall to  Greenwall Have you noticed the growing obsession with Green? Yes, emerald was the Pantone colour of the year last year, but that’s not quite the direction I’m going with this one. More and more the idea of ‘Green’ living is taking over. As far as I understand it, the term basically refers to being environmentally mindful of how and what we consume…not necessarily living in the forest as some kind of dreadlock wearing Hippie off the grid- although more power to you if you are one of those…literally… It seems that our busy bustling lives are giving way to the idea of getting back to nature and this is one trend that takes form both in food and design. Green juice is all the rage. Throw a whole bunch of green fruit and veg into a blender, blend and drink. Super healthy and actually tastes pretty good. Try it!


Consuming something GREEN is one way to be healthy in body, but how about in mind and spirit? I recently did a piece entitled ‘the outdoor room’ which was all about how to bring the indoors OUT. The idea however of surrounding ourselves with nature and bringing the outdoors IN is becoming increasingly popular in design as well.

In recent years numerous experimental studies have be done which suggest a direct link to being in a natural environment and an overall feeling of well-being. Certain studies even suggest that the mere presence of nature diminishes feelings of exhaustion, something I believe we could all attest to feeling when in a natural environment.

The idea of creating an oasis among the hustle and bustle of modern city life has always been a popular notion and now even more so in the computer obsessed, gadget controlled, Instagramming, Facebooking, Twittering, and uhhhh, blogging World that we have become accustomed to. Enveloping yourself in a green cocoon really isn’t a bad way to get away and have a break from all the technology and one of the latest ways to do this is with a system called ‘Greenwall’. I must admit I do have a particular obsession with this trend and I am just waiting for the right project to come across my desk which I can throw one of the babies into. Basically a Greenwall is just that, a wall lined with plants flowers or shrubs. The Greenwall system is essentially a pallet with rows of holes designed to nest the greenery in, with spaces for watering and drainage. Image

A Greenwall not only creates a beautiful looking piece of natural artwork but also has many other benefits like air purification and insulation amongst many, if used correctly. The idea that we can use nature in our built environments to affect our wellbeing and overall mood is a very attractive concept for me as an Interior Designer. After all, that is what we seek to do when we design a space for people to live, work, eat or shop in and the Greenwall concept has applications across all of these fields.



The most recent example of a Greenwall implementation in Israel is visible at the Isrotels’s newest resort Cramim in the Jerusalem forest. A beaut……………… To keep reading please visit


Fuss Free Food

There’s a new player in town on the Jerusalem eateries menu and they are serving up delicious, rustic, fuss-free food. Just what this passionista loves!

Bardak is Jerusalem’s newest Pizzeria and boy, are they good! At Bardak, what you see is what you get; delicious fresh pizza (with the perfect crust) and locally brewed beers served by some of the friendliest staff in Jerusalem. A good honest meal in a casual environment, what’s not to love about that?

Last Sunday night my Husband (Who will henceforth be referred to as Jason) took me out to Bardak for rare date in between studying for exams. As we sat down at the bar we were greeted with warm smiles and menus straight away. We then began deliberating on which beer to order.


Bardak has a selection of six different beers on tap from local breweries. To assist us in our deliberations we were presented with a tasters plate of all six options (free of charge) -nice touch! We sampled Shapira’s Pale Ale, some lagers and finally settled on the Blonde brew which was light and fruity.


We then began browsing the pizza menu. Jason had already been to Bardak a few weeks ago with some mates while I was in Australia. He told me about the delicious salmon and ginger pizza that his mate Suddy had ordered.

Honestly, as much of a foodie as I am, this did not sound appealing, but I am willing to try pretty much any food once, just for the experience. I ordered a ‘Romema’ pizza with Tuna, anchovy, olives, chili and Kavshaval Cheese and Jason ordered his salmon ginger pizza.

Both pizzas were delicious but the salmon and ginger pizza was something else! I highly recommend it…talk about fusion cuisine! The concoction is reminiscent of a mix between Napolitano pasta and sushi, my two favourite foods. It sounds repulsive I know, but for some reason this pizza works. It just does. Don’t argue.


There are other delicious combinations like the ‘Rehavia’ with Alfredo sauce, root vegetables, olives pesto, Satureja (some kind of herb related to Rosemary) and Kavshavl Cheese. Or the ‘Musrara’ with Shakshukah sauce, egg, chili….





Yom Ha’atzmaut refelctions- Israel’s Independence day.

Yom Haa’tzmaut Reflections

Last October I flew back to Australia for my Dad’s 60th Birthday celebrations which took place in my home city, Melbourne.

I was in Australia for a total of ten days during which my Dad treated me to a day at the horse races, formally known as Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival.

My Father, Willie owns a successful travel agency and often gets complimentary corporate tickets to events. On this particular occasion Emirates sponsored our tickets and we found ourselves in the Emirates marquee on Oaks Day in The Bird Cage (A particularly fancy, celeb filled marquee). After being there, and feeling completely out of place (I mean which Jew needs another excuse to get dressed up to the nines, wear some fancy fascinator-yes that’s a headpiece for those who don’t know and prance around? It’s like Yom Tov for the goyim!) I started writing out a piece entitled “From ElAl to Emirates, and back”. The piece was going to be about how much I loved Australia and everything fancy that came with my lifestyle there, but at the end of the day how happy I was to be going back to Israel.

Needless to say, I somehow didn’t get around to posting that piece but on my morning walk today I starting thinking about the topic again.

I was running along the beautiful new walking/riding track called Park Hamesilah which backs onto my Jerusalem apartment listening to the lyrics of a song as the grey clouds rolled in:

I was left to my own devices Many days fell away with nothing to show
And the walls kept tumbling down In the city that we love Great clouds roll over the hills
Bringing darkness from above But if you close your eyes, Does it almost feel like Nothing changed at all? And if you close your eyes, Does it almost feel like You’ve been here before? How am I gonna be an optimist about this? How am I gonna be an optimist about this?

The words describe perfectly and succinctly my tumultuous relationship with Israel after having made Aliyah five years ago. Since then I’ve spent many days, months and years of my life in Israel, questions, wondering, complaining and asking myself “What am I actually doing here?”. But as I hear the words, “And if you close your eyes, does it almost feel like you’ve been here before?” and after having just returned again from an overseas visit to Australia, I can finally answer a resounding “YES”. It does. It feels familiar, it feels like I have been here before, it finally feels like home.

The friends, the experiences (dancing last night in Kikar Safra, with good friends and Israeli music), the challenges and the emotional hardships that my husband and I have faced together over the last five years since making Aliyah have not only bonded us as a couple (we feel like partners in crime) but also enveloped us in a deep appreciation of this crazy, dynamic, amazing, developing, intense, vibrant, innovative and sometimes infuriatingly magnificent country that so many of us call home. And as I run on the beautiful musical track that brings the modern Jerusalem into the spotlight of the Symphony that is Israel’s Independence, actually today, On Yom Haatzmaut all I feel really is privileged to be here.

And I know, that after just having come out of Yom Hashoah and Yom Hazikaron, that both my paternal Grandparents (Alleheim shalom) who survived the concentration camps and my maternal Grandparents( Aleyha shalom) who planned at one stage to make Aliyah but never did, would be eternally proud and probably nothing short of amazed at our journey on this crazy path that we call Aliyah.

So Happy 66th Birthday Israel and happy Yom Haatzmaut everyone!

While I might not always be this optimistic every day, I’d like to think that yesterday and today make the other 363 days of pessimism worth it!

PEACE out xx

Jane Hill- A Bridal Legacy RIP

When I was about thirteen I discovered a bridal shop in my home town Melbourne, Australia called Jane Hill Bridal. It was situated on the corner of Kooyong Rd and High St in Armadale, a rather opulent suburb of Melbourne. In the glorious round display window there was always the most beautiful Cinderella dresses on dispaly, with tulle and lace and long veils. Whenever my Mum and I would drive passed the store I would look at the beautiful dresses in awe and think “One day, when I get married, I want to have a Jane Hill Dress”.

Fast forward ten years and I had just got engaged to a lovely South African chap named Jason and we were coming back to Australia from Israel to plan our wedding.

I’m not sure how but I guess some times, more often than not we get caught up in our adult lives and forget our inner child.  We forget what we’d dreamed of and revert to the convenient and sensible path.

Needless to say, I had long forgotten about those beautiful dresses and ended up being referred by a friend to another dress maker.  Her dresses were not even nearly at the same level as a Jane Hill dress, but she seemed competent enough to create the dress that I was imagining for what seemed to be a relatively good price. The dressmaker explained how each stage of the dress making process worked and it seemed reasonable, so I went with it.

Two and a half months later and two weeks before my wedding, she had jumped about three steps ahead in the design process. This all took place without my instruction as to the next step of the design and I was left with what’s safe to say, a bit of a dog’s breakfast.The design was bad, the execution was worse and to top it off, I could barely lift my arms because it was sewn so tight.

Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that there are less trivial things going on in this World than a messed up wedding dress, but at the time, for a bride-to-be, having an unwearable dress was a pretty big deal.

My cousin Belinda, who had come with me for a fitting on the Thursday and seen the dress and my face when I put it on and in her infinite wisdom jumped into action an called Jane Hill the next day to save the situation…

Image<—looking worried..

Jane was getting ready to fly to her holiday home in Byron Bay on Sunday morning but agreed to meet with me at 6am right before her flight to see how she could help.  So I set my alarm and without telling anyone, woke up at 5.30am, snuck out of the house and drove over to Jane’s studio.

Jane had since moved studios from the beautiful corner shop in High street that I used to marvel at when I was younger.

From what I understood, she had been battling breast cancer in the early ‘naughties’ and had sold the business. The new owners re-branded the business to Baccini and Hill and started importing the dresses from China.

Once in remission, Jane later re-opened a few years thereafter in a beautiful little studio on Williams Road. It was a lovely tree-lined street that seemed to capture the magic that the Jane Hill name embodied. the perfect location for such enchanting creations.


It was there where Jane met with me, heard my disaster story and agreed with only two weeks to go to re make my dress from scratch.

Usually high-end designers in Melbourne take anywhere from six months to a year to make a dress, and a hefty feel for the pleasure, so you can imagine my surprise and relief when Jane agreed to ‘pull the strings’, so to speak in only two weeks albeit at a discounted price because she wanted to help me out.

From the moment I met Jane I knew I was in good hands. Not only because of the absolutely beautifully executed dresses that stood in the windows of her studio, or the way the entire place (probably only about 30sqm) was decorated so elegantly, but because she made me feel at ease.

The next day I had my mum go and collect the disaster dress form the other dressmaker in order to salvage the beading. Jane was already in Byron and had instructed me to mail her the beads so she could start to work on it over there.


From the time that Jane landed in Byron it seemed that her entire mission was to put me at ease and make me feel confident that I would have a dress for my wedding (in two weeks time) and she was going to do whatever she needed to do to make that happen.


Image<–Jane’s View as she was beading…

She was in constant contact with me via email, giving me updates about her progress  how the beading was coming along and liaising with her very talented dressmaker Sophie whenever I went for a fitting back at the studio.


From the time I met Jane and Sophie the entire process was an absolute whirlwind, albeit a very smooth one and sure enough less than two weeks, three fittings and two interstate trips later (Jane flew back and fourth especially for fittings) I had my dress. New, improved and wearable; I was chuffed and it’s safe to say that shortly thereafter ‘selfie-mania’ ensued…


After the wedding I emailed Jane and thanked her for all her efforts and she replied saying that it was her pleasure and how busy she was. I told her that I would tell all my friends that She had pulled of this amazing feat in less than two weeks and hopefully get her some more happy clients!

Come three years later and my brother Marc had just gotten engaged to Jayde.  Jayde  had only been in Australia for close to a year after immigrating from South Africa so I offered to help her on my next trip to Australia. Naturally my first thought was “Jane Hill of course!”.

I later learnt that sadly Jane had lost her battle with breast cancer and passed away only a few months prior to my brother’s engagement. I couldn’t believe it, I thought that it had to be a mistake.

I knew that she had been sick and was in remission at the time that she had made my dress, as she briefly told me about it at one of our fittings but only a few short years later she had relapsed and I hadn’t heard.

Jane, the fashion World has lost a great and talented designer and the rest of us have lost a lovey warm enchanting lady.  I will forever be grateful that I managed to have a ‘Jane Hill’ wedding dress just as the thirteen- year- old version of myself hoped for, but even more so that I had the pleasure to meet you and be touched by your and your team’s charm and talent. Three years later, I will always remember the beautiful red-head lady who saved my wedding and made me a stunning dress in only two weeks!

Jane Hill studio still continues to design bridal couture under the expertise of Sophie, Jane’s talented dressmaker and her team there.

Needless to say, I will be taking Jayde to meet with Jane’s team and I’m sure they will do her legacy proud.

I have made a donation to The National  Breast Cancer Foundation in honor of Jane and of so many women who die from the disease every year (including my paternal grandmother who passed away before I was born and whom I am named after). If you would like to do so too, please visit

RIP Jane Hill xx


Thanks to my Dad for passing this onto Jane’s family.

This was their reply:

Hullo Willie -I am Jane’s Dad and I have just read the piece  that Elise wrote and which you sent to Jaz and Bella yesterday
It was written delightfully and very much captured much of Jane’s character 
It was particularly poignant for Marie(Jane’s Mum) and I are at our beach house where Jane did the work on Elise’s dress .
The mannequin on which Jane rebuilt that dress now stands rather forlornly up in the top room -the Xmas just gone was the first time it was not used for  a couple of decades 
It was Xmas Eve 2012 when she was re-diagnosed and  by then the cancer had spread through much of her body 
But we came to Lennox(just south of Byron Bay) as we always did at Xmas  and she worked almost demonically on a new collection which is still the basis of our sales more than year later
Marie and I then went to  live with her and she died  in our arms at home on the 18th of October
To the end she was enormously courageous and graceful and that too gave us all great strength
We had a small Buddhist funeral in our garden at Sassafras and then a few weeks later a celebration of her life -lots of stories(Jane had always operated on the principle that it was easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission)many  laughs and a few tears
A number of brides spoke spontaneously along the same lines as Elise and it was a beautiful evening
We miss her enormously of course but know the best way to maintain her presence and legacy is to keep the Business alive and growing 
Both Jaz and Bella are heavily involved along with the rest of the great team Jane had assembled over the years  and we all remain committed  to the ‘Jane Hill look’ and to making our brides feel very special
We hope to have a Tribute Gown ready soon
So Willie thank you so much for sending this piece on -Marie and I and  the girls appreciate that a lot
Our best wishes to you and your family and will you also thank Elise for her words and thoughts
Travel well  John Hill