Britain isn’t like America. I know that’s a shock to some of you, and for others it’s a reason to be happy (especially when America’s government is shutting down). Some of the differences are well known: Brits drive on the left side of the road, they say “cheers” a lot, they have awesome accents. Other differences aren’t so expected. Here are four surprises I had when I finally set foot on British soil….
|Double Tap, a photo by alexbrn on Flickr.|
For the uninitiated, this means that there is one faucet for hot water and one for cold, requiring you to either freeze your hands or scald them, but nothing in between. You can flail around, flinging your fingers from one stream of water to the other in a vain attempt to equalize the temperature, but the most effective method I’ve found is to turn on both and plug the drain, making a pool of pleasantly lukewarm water. Of course you’ll end up splashing everything from the counter to the hallway when you try to wash your face this way, but that’s just part of the aforesaid charm.
|U, a photo by tubblesnap on Flickr.|
|British Coins, a photo by Images_of_Money on Flickr.|
When my friend and her Liverpudlian husband visited me a few months before I went to Britain they brought me some British coins. I instantly fell in love (European currency is so much more creative and interesting than US currency). When I arrived in England I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a lot more coins, and I soon realized that that would not be a problem. You see, unlike Americans, the British actually use their coins. In the States they’re more like meaningless tokens that you get back after making a purchase and promptly lose somewhere in the couch cushions. Here they actually expect you to use them to pay for things, and many times are more willing to give you large amounts of change in coins rather than cash. Once I made the mistake of buying an £8 rail ticket from a machine with a £20 bill. It gave me my change in £1 coins.
|Four Of Three Hundred And Sixty Five, a photo by Wallie-The-Frog on Flickr.|
First of all, I was shocked by the number of Brits I met who had never heard of a s’more. That in itself is a tragedy. Next, I discovered that a British s’more would be rather strange indeed, as it would not involve graham crackers (something I’ve never seen for sale here–maybe digestive biscuits could fill in), and the marshmallows would be something completely unrelated to the North American marshmallow. The British breed is smaller, with a drier and denser texture than American mallows, but the truly disturbing thing is that half of them are pink. Now, a British friend of mine insists that they don’t taste any different from regular mallows, but there are those who swear the pink ones are strawberry flavored. A strawberry s’more…no thank you.
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