Backpacking · Europe · Gap Year · London · Long term travel · Survival Guide

Seven things you should know about England

A small list of things I didn’t know (some of which I wish I did know ahead of time) about England.
1. Many hostels won’t have shower curtains or sliding glass around the bathtub. Instead, there is a small sheet of glass blocking the shower head spray, and that’s about it. This doesn’t really prevent the water from getting everywhere.
2. Most sinks will have separate faucets for hot and cold water. The only time I found a sink that had both hot and cold water (thus creating luke warm water) running out of one faucet was at a friend’s flat which had been remodeled.
3. Most flats don’t have a dryer, only a washer (washing machine). They have a variety of hanging racks, including some that are heated to dry their clothes. Some hostels have dryers, and I imagine hotels. From what i’ve heard it seems to be a space issue, where most flats aren’t big enough to have both. Generally the washer is located in the kitchen under the counter near the sink.
4. Filtered coffee is basically non-existent in many southern regions of England, outside of private homes and expensive hotels. I found one place with proper filtered coffee in all of London. London is the biggest city in the EU and I found ONE coffee-house with filtered coffee. However, England is really big on espresso, which is what they sell at nearly every coffee shop. The alternative to this is instant coffee (which is basically a lie) and you’ll find this fairly accessible.
5. Strangers aren’t really big on talking to strangers in England. One could say that Americans spend too much time chattering about hollow things, and it’s not entirely inaccurate. However, this does make many Americans a lot easier to approach. You’ll find that people don’t talk to other people on the tubes or trains, and that it’s almost taboo to engage. You’ll also find that people will elect to sit next to you at outside restaurants and then turn their entire bodies away from you, avoiding eye contact. More often than not people won’t get out of your way, especially not in London. In London you’re forced to drive through people to get onto the escalators or into the tube (especially during rush hour, but pretty much all the time in London). It’s difficult to be considerate in these circumstances because if people see that you’re letting an elderly individual or a woman with a carriage onto the train ahead of you, they take this as a green light that they too are granted this kindness.
6. British tea really does taste different and they do drink a lot of tea (in my experience).
7. It’s common to eat jam on scones, or heavy cream. The British are big on sweets and sugar, in certain department stores you can buy what’s called “Pick n Mix”. “Pick n Mix” allows you to choose from a large variety of candies (they market over 500 total), you scoop them out and put them into cups of different sizes. The sizes determine the price, but they can become as large as an “Extra Large Share” for roughly £4 and are basically the size of
Photo on 2014-09-25 at 14.42 #3
I can’t be the only one who thinks that’s a lot of candy!
Oh England.

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One thought on “Seven things you should know about England

  1. I have noticed how chatty people are on public transport really depends on where you are in Britain. Londoners are really NOT chatty, I’ve noticed, but heading from London outwards to Wales (I used to do Oxfordshire to Carmarthen by train quite frequently) I noticed that the further West you went, the more chatty people on trains were. I’ve had quite a lot of conversations on busses and trains here in Scotland, and even on my one plane journey. We’re not that unfriendly universally. Maybe it’s just a big city thing?

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