Friday, August 5, 2016

More on Adjusting to the UK

This is not my first time out of the U.S. Nor is it my first trip to Europe. However, it is my first time in England. And my most recent trip to Europe was in 2002, which meant I was rustier in making sense of my new home-away-from-home than I expected. Sherry, meanwhile, seemed to adjust almost immediately. Caroline got into the swing pretty quickly as well. Sam after her. Then, finally, me. Despite the adventures on which I pride myself, I think I have some strong homebody tendencies, and vacations like this are good to jolt me out of complacency.

A few observations from an American for the first time in England.

Food: Surprisingly close to what I get back in the States. Grocery shopping has been less of a jolt, believe it or not, than shopping in Canada. Prices are similar to what I pay. Normally I can get what I want. The grocery store layout is even similar to what I'm used to. Strange difference: refrigerated meat cases aren't lit well, and I had to wave my hand in the case to assure myself that what I was seeing was cooled. There are a lot of quaint name differences: chicken dippers, minced beef, and biscuits come to mind. The only culinary surprise (a shock, really) was my first taste of English mustard. Goodness! Jerry didn't have a chance back in 1941: had they occupied the country the occupied could have just fed the Germans that stuff. Eye watering.

The label on the side said it was a "4" [out of 5] for spiciness. I think it was in metric, like in kg instead of pounds. 
Pedestrian Protocol: I'm still clueless as to whether one walks on the left or right in this country. There seems no rhyme or reason except on divided staircases on the Underground. Perhaps there are so many people from the continent visiting that the sidewalks just default to stay-right. I find it ironic that signs post distances in miles though it's a drive-on-the-left nation. It's as if they're trying to mess with visitors of any stripe. That being said, they are nice enough to have intersections constantly marked with warnings to "Look Left" or "Look Right."

Signs: The English signs are more to-the-point and thorough and remind us of the quaint differences in expressions between the U.S. and its mother country.

Weather: It's really hard to predict what it's going to do on any given day. It's been cool enough to justify pants each day, though today could've been a shorts day.

Mass Transit: Love the tube. Love the buses. Best mass transit I've used yet. My favorite is the uniformed attendant willing to help at each stop.

Beer: It's good. Not as different and ale-ey as I expected. Perhaps it's just American breweries overdo the hops in their beers. I had my first pint pulled from a pub last night. The whole somewhat warm ale experience. It was fine.

My first English pint: a Cornish ale.
Money: Prices seem city high, which is what I was expecting. It's been easier to use a credit card even without a PIN than I was expecting.

**There are more pictures I wish to add but there is a lag regarding the images on my phone synchronizing with Google's servers.

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