I have had the pleasure
of traveling a bit in England the last few weeks as I visit with my
boyfriend's family and friends. We are based in Hayling Island,
close to Portsmouth on the south coast but during our time we have
visited Bath, Chichester, Worcester, Burmingham, York, Newcastle,
Oxford, and London. My boyfriend has a lot of hospitable friends
that opened their homes and let us stay and visit their nearby cities
of interest. In this way, I have been fortunate enough to experience
a bit more of English life and culture that I certainly wouldn't get
any other time I was here as a tourist. I couldn't help but note the
“little differences” I have found between here and the States. Many of these I also noticed in Scotland while I was there.
Right, let's get on
with it then. Let's start with driving.
1. It is much more
common for people in the UK to drive manual cars than automatic. I
feel like an idiot for not knowing stick shift and have to rely on
other people to take me everywhere.
2. I was surprised to
see how many cars take diesel instead of just plain petrol.
3. Speaking of
petrol....holy crow it is expensive here! I truly thought New
Zealand had the most expensive gasoline but it now appears that
England is higher. These high prices don't seem to stop everyone
from being on the road, though. I would assume these manual cars
are hopefully more fuel efficient.
4. Parking spaces are
scarily small. It's a good thing that there aren't too many big
cars in England. What's with the Range Rovers being the typical
larger car of choice?
5. I've found a lot
of roads, usually in the residential areas, to be extremely narrow
as well. Usually people going in the other direction have to pull
over to let the others pass. But cars are also parked on the road?
Me being used to my big cars and big roads am constantly nervous we
are going to hit someone but it all works out.
roundabouts (traffic circles). Apparently there are places that
have roundabouts within roundabouts....yikes! But they do seem to
make sense and keep the traffic flowing. I would rather deal with
them than a crazy intersection.
7. The traffic lights
warn you when it's going to turn green again. The light will be
red, then the yellow comes on at the same time and then green. Very
handy if you are driving stick shift. Fun if you like to gun it and
go early. I've noticed even in cities that the traffic light will
flash yellow while it's red and supposedly it's okay to go if there
aren't people crossing. Well at least I saw cars going, I can't
attest as to whether it is legal or not.
8. Zig zag markings
on the roads.
As I mentioned before I
had the chance to stay in quite a few friend's and family's homes
while I was in England. I noticed quite a few slight differences
between American ones.
9. The homes are a
lot closer together. In many cases they are connected with the
place right next door. Sometimes in cities you will see long strips
of buildings that are broken up into dozens of housing units. The
houses are usually made with brick, which is much less common in the
States. Despite these homes being smaller than a typical American
one, they are certainly not cheaper. Of course, location is
everything but it just seems to me you get a lot more buying a house
in the States, if not for the land alone.
10. The “back yard”
or garden if you'd like to call it is always fenced off from every
other house. It is nice in a way because you've got your own
private little spot. I've seen some homes with gorgeous gardens
that create a nice atmosphere to relax and read. You could almost
forget that you are living directly next to usually two other
11. The living rooms
or “lounges” as they call it always have doors. So do the
kitchens. I find this extremely interesting that it's important to
close every room off. This is very different from the usual open
floor plan to an American house. Being able to close off your
lounge while you are watching TV can be very cozy I must confess but
it does feel a bit strange to someone that isn't used to it.
12. Not every home,
but a few had a nice little sun room. I definitely love that idea.
13. Perhaps this is
not usual but in many of the homes I visited the doors needed to be
locked on the inside with a key. I really don't like this idea
because if you don't know where the key is you are literally locked
inside of a house.
Despite driving and
homes, there are other random differences that I have noticed.
14. The pubs have a
different and more preferable atmosphere than a typical “American
sports bar” I would say. A lot of them have a large rectangle
sign with a picture accompanying the name of the pub. There is
always local ale on tap that is often cheaper than the mainstream
stuff. I really enjoyed trying different ales.
15. Signs warning of
elderly people. I understand that it's the protect them but they
look the same as the signs that warn you about deer. All of a
sudden an elderly person is going to run out and cause damage to
16. Super cheap
pre-made takeaway sandwiches and meal deals at the supermarkets. I
love the Tesco meal deals where you can get a sandwich, drink and
snack for 2.50 pounds. Very good for those traveling on a budget.
17.The radio is
actually decent. I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to BBC radio
one. There are not many commercials and you get a signal everywhere
in the country. The programming is not as repetitive as the
standard radio stations in the States.
weather is not the same. I am always going to prefer the sunny warm
summer days in America. It's not all rain here like people think
but its certainly not as sunny. I get why so many people are paler
here. At least there's less risk of skin cancer.
19. Less commercials
20.Everything is a
lot older. The cities are ancient. Some buildings are many times
older than America. There's so much history to be found.
Of course, I need to mention some of the food I have tried.
1. Fish and chips are pretty awesome here. Especially if they leave the skin on.
2. Pasties are almost like meat pies except the shape of the pastry is different and the texture. I tried 2. One was from that popular Cornwall pasty place. They were both alright.
3. Yorkshire pudding is this little bread thing you find often with steak. Again, just okay.
4. Full English breakfast: Eggs, toast, tomato, bacon, sausages, beans. Leave out the traditional black pudding and it's awesome.
5. Lots of different sauces accompany meats you get. Love the mustards and the variety.
6. Sunday roast dinner involves yummy meat and potatoes together. So good!
Some of these
differences I prefer and others I do not. What's even more
interesting is to see which aspects of America and England have
combined and carried over to such places as Australia and New
Zealand. It's these little differences that makes the trip that much