Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Back in the UK

I am in the UK for a few days and a couple of things struck me...

In the US I'll button my coat up against the cold whereas here in the UK I'll walk around without a coat. My American colleagues say its cold here, but its English cold so I know it's not too bad. Does that make any sense?

Food in the UK is incredibly expensive. Whether eating out or buying snacks, £1 of food = $1 of food

There are no flags in the UK. In America you see the Stars & Stripes everywhere. I must see 40 or more on my trip into the office each morning. In the UK I have seen three British or English flags so far, a Union flag on an American colleague's cashmere scarf (which she bought in the US) and crossed Union and St. George's flags tattooed on the arm of a taxi driver. In fact, the only real flags I saw were outside my hotel. There was a French tricolor, a German flag, one I didn't recognise and a Stars & Stripes. Why foreign flags but no British flag? Ask Holiday Inn at the Pear Tree Roundabout, Oxford. It's bizarre that even in the UK I saw more US flags than UK flags.

British roads are great. Fast dual-carriageways, roundabouts, no stop signs. Fantastic. Except... speed bumps. God, I'd forgotten how unremittingly evil speed bumps are. One trip to a village pub now equals 30 jarring bounces. I don't understand the thinking here, if you want to slow people down, why not start by lowering the speed limit? Is that really such an unsophisticated idea? It would cost the price of a few 20mph signs, instead of the hundreds of thousands of pounds our councils love to spend on these hulking ridges erupting through the road surface, like reefs jutting out of the sea ready to break the back of the unwary. If people ignored the speed limit change, then you could try the two dozen road hazards. But why not give a speed limit reduction a try first?

Anyway some American opinions of Oxford in March:
Referring to the prices, "I can't afford to eat"
Referring to the food, "I can't find anything I like." (This was prior to discovering British beer, meat pies and Thai food.)
Referring to Little Chef pancakes, "They were frozen, then microwaved!"
Referring to the countryside, "It's soooo beautiful!"
Referring to the cars, "They're all so new - no one has a car with cardboard covering a broken window!"

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