Tuesday, September 18, 2012

English Quirks, Vol 1

In our brief time spent here, we've discovered a wide variety of small, mostly insignificant differences between how the US and UK do things. 
I'm sure that if an English person were to cross the pond and start living in the US they'd find equally as many quirks, and could write entire blog posts on how big our milk jugs are and how you can pick your own nectarines out of the selection at the grocery store (they're pre-packaged here, for the most part) and how we refrigerate eggs.

So here are a few random observations (the first of many posts, I'm sure):

1. The plugs.  Obviously.
The fact that these are different (along with the voltage that runs through them) is one of the main reasons we feel like we're single-handedly supporting the British economy.  Steam iron.  Hair dryer.  Hand mixer.  Coffee maker.  The list goes on.  While adaptors and convertors are available, and we technically could have brought our US stuff with us, we were advised against it.  Our relocation company explained that we'd most likely burn out the motors on anything not designed for the higher voltage, even with a converter, over time.  So we've been shopping.

What is also weird is that each plug has an on/off switch of its very own. 

2. Heated towel racks.
We've found these in every hotel we've ever stayed at here in the UK as well as most of the rental places we toured.  I'm not sure if they're 100% standard, but they seem to be quite popular.  They're heated by the boiler, and make for a very nice post-shower experience.  Who knew?!  Also, if you're into reusing towels (which we totally are) they'll dry a used towel much faster.  Bonus.

Furthermore, the boiler only runs for certain times of the day - morning and evening.  Our property manager tells us this is very common.  While we can get hot water out of the tap any time of day, the system is only set up for multiple hot showers for a few hours each day.  I suppose this must save on utilities.  As a result, the heated towel bar is only heated during the times of day that the boiler is on.

We just have to remember not to brush up against it coming out of the shower.  It's a bit of a shock to the system.

3. Keys

I had no idea that people still used keys that look like this:
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And that the doors leading into a flat had keyholes that look like this:

If asked, I would have told you that they were entirely out of date, and old fashioned.  Not so.  I have 3 of them on my key ring at the moment - "front" door, "back" door, and downstairs closet.  On that note, I also find it strange that our flat has two entrances.  One is more of a formal, main door, and one is considered a "service entrance."  I think it has to do with the fact that this place was built in the early 1900s and they made repairmen come in through the kitchen.  Funny.

4. Our toilets are square and they stick straight out of the wall.

That's all for now!


Tom, Beth, and Ainsley said...

Your post made me smile, except for the part about your keys and multiple entrances, all the other things rang true in Germany too. Ainsley liked to use our towel rack as her personal climbing gym and climbed it daily to touch the ceiling-hopefully Caroline doesn't start doing that;)

Short Stop said...

I am loving your posts from London. I feel like I get to share in your experience with you! (Well, even more than our day to day chatter!)

I want a heated towel rack. That seems awesome.