Cake is one of the major food groups
October 6, 2015 7:42 AM   Subscribe

Scott Waters is a 66 year old American, artist, photographer and ex-Apple Computer employee. He recently took a trip in England (Portreath, Redruth, Wadebridge, Padstow, Ashby de la Zouch, Little Eton, and Oxford) and listed his observations on Facebook. It went viral; coverage in Cosmopolitan, Daily Mirror, Daily Telegraph, and the Metro. Naturally, some people disagree.

Buzzfeed asked him to list his favourite and least favourite things about England. His favourite things were:

– Real Cornish Pasties!
– Tea with clotted cream on scones.
– HSD Strong Cornish Ale
– Biking the Camel Trail
– Waking up in Cornwall

And his least favourite things were:
– Birmingham
– Arriving at platform 1 then departing from platform 2 which is only accessible by dragging your luggage up stairs and across a bridge over the tracks
– No bars on the concourse at Heathrow
– Waking up in America

And the weirdest thing? “The controls in showers. Well, showers in general – why is there only half a glass door?”
posted by Wordshore (254 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
all of these things are correct lbr.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:46 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


'Excess cider consumption can be very painful' is especially correct.
posted by misteraitch at 7:48 AM on October 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


'Excess cider consumption can be very painful' is especially correct.

True. But it has the twin benefits of (a) a large dose of vitamin C and (b) any constipation you have/had is violently concluded.
posted by Wordshore at 7:50 AM on October 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


I once went somewhere, too. Some things were very different. Others were the same. Still others were somewhere in between.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:56 AM on October 6, 2015 [26 favorites]


"I once went somewhere, too. Some things were very different. Others were the same. Still others were somewhere in between."

I've been there too. When did you go?
posted by I-baLL at 7:58 AM on October 6, 2015 [9 favorites]


The mention of "no guns" four times felt especially apropos.
posted by Cash4Lead at 7:58 AM on October 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


As someone who lived next to the Camel Trail, drank HSD and had a pasty-a-day habit for many years, I concur with many of this chap's observations.

However, our showers don't need detailed instructions. Generally speaking there's a power button (if it's electric) and a knob that you turn to turn on the water and set the temperature. Not sure what we could do to make it easier for Americans... maybe if we left them on all the time?

And driers aren't rare. More than half of homes seem to have them.

Don't avoid British wine - there are more and more excellent ones appearing all the time. And some French beers are among the best in the world.

And everyone (well, a high percentage of people) speeds every time they use a motorway. Nobody I know has ever had a ticket for speeding on a motorway.

Not everyone in the UK has a passport. I know dozens of people who have never left the UK and don't need one.

Most people refrigerate eggs and butter, even if they shouldn't.

'Cheers' is not a greeting. It means 'thank you' and sometimes 'goodbye'. I've never heard someone greet anyone by saying 'cheers'.

The trains work? Ha. Not when it's raining, or windy, or Christmas, or run by Virgin.

Drinks do come with ice.

Our healthcare works, but we 'bitch' about it because it's on its knees, wheezing its last breath before Circle Health buys the corpse and puts a mall in it.
posted by pipeski at 7:58 AM on October 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


* The money is easy to understand: 1-2-5-10-20-50 pence, then-£1-£2-£5-£10, etc bills. There are no quarters.
Stopped just before it went crazy. Gets to £20, then £50, then goes direct to £1,000,000 and £100,000,000.
posted by edd at 7:58 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


The last link in the post is insufferable, smug and arsish. The original was charming and genuine. The take-down graceless, drab and subjective to the point of narcissism.
posted by Gratishades at 7:59 AM on October 6, 2015 [36 favorites]


especially the bit about the too narrow stairs. also housing that is even remotely attractive-looking is excessively drafty.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:59 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


* Nearly everyone is better educated then we are

Heh.
(I hope this was intentional)

...................

* Everyone knows more about our history then we do

Apparently not.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:00 AM on October 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


HP Sauce really is amazing stuff. I grew up with it on the table but it was near impossible to find outside of weird "little Britain" type shops - my British parents would start to panic if we were running low.

Now WorldMarket sells it, and it pops up here and there so my cupboard is stocked with it.

I would straight up eat a fried doorknob it if was smothered in HP.
posted by remlapm at 8:01 AM on October 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


For the sake of ethnological accuracy, it’s worth pointing out that these observations are probably more true of small Cornish towns than they are of England in general.
posted by him at 8:01 AM on October 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


The original was charming and genuine. The take-down graceless, drab and subjective to the point of narcissism.

But did do an exceptional job of disproving Water's first point.
posted by randomkeystrike at 8:02 AM on October 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


WE HAVE CIDER
WE HAVE CIDER GOD DAMN IT

IT'S FUCKING HERE, DRINK YOUR FUCKING CIDER YOU AMERICAN FOOLS, IT'S GOOD FOR YOU AND TIME FOR A RENAISSANCE

DRINK IT UP
posted by Greg Nog at 8:03 AM on October 6, 2015 [32 favorites]


These are all accurate and why I love going to the UK.

My favorite housing feature is the switches to turn outlets on and off. That is so motherfucking awesome. (Also, heated towel racks. We imported one when we did our bathroom reno because we love that so much over there.)
posted by Kitteh at 8:04 AM on October 6, 2015


Also yes the last link is kind of hilarious

"In Britain, many things are made of stone" (ACTUALLY i have once seen a house made of BRICK which is NOT strictly speaking a type of natural stone)
posted by Greg Nog at 8:05 AM on October 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


greg truly it is not the same as the frankly obscene wealth of ciders available in your average cornish pub
posted by poffin boffin at 8:05 AM on October 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


The trains work in comparison to US trains. By which I mean: we don't have any (outside of the Northeast corridor). Whenever I travel in the UK I am delighted by the trains even as everyone around me is moaning about the shitty service. Hey, at least you HAVE service!

I spent literally 8 hours stuck on a train at Durham (until it finally went up to Newcastle--the opposite direction from where it was supposed to go, at which point I just stayed on it as it went back to Durham and called my friends to see if I could stay over another night) because of a signals outage and I am still delighted by UK rail service. That's a testament to how bad it is here.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:05 AM on October 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


> I've been there too. When did you go?

Before it was cool.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:06 AM on October 6, 2015 [13 favorites]


There are far fewer fat English people

I haven't been in the UK in over a decade, but after a recent trip my father-in-law couldn't stop talking about how "goddamn fat" everybody is. Granted, he says the same about nearly everywhere else he goes, too, so ...
posted by uncleozzy at 8:06 AM on October 6, 2015


The original was charming and genuine. The take-down graceless, drab and subjective to the point of narcissism.

Certainly when one of your objections to "driers are rare" is "I have one," you've got a potential narcissism problem, as if I announced that most people in this thread are wearing grey pants right now.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:07 AM on October 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


Not listed but worth mentioning: pub dogs, every conceivable type of sandwich to eat on the go at the shops, charity shops are fantastic and loads better than North American thrift stores.
posted by Kitteh at 8:08 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


greg truly it is not the same as the frankly obscene wealth of ciders available in your average cornish pub

Truth, and all the most commonly available American ciders are, frankly, garbage.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:08 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Real talk tho - my friend's gran died last year and her parents decided to move from the west country to her home way up north in lancashire and have by all accounts handled the move well but I have nevertheless been very concerned about the tragic absence of literally 100 ciders on tap in their new local.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:08 AM on October 6, 2015


Quebec has totally upped its cider game but then they're French, so that's what they do. If I were going to drink cider in this land of ours, it had better be from Quebec.
posted by Kitteh at 8:09 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I suppose Americans get tired of being told they know nothing about anybody's history but their own. Still, it surprised me here that an educated person would say the British never "did" slavery. It also surprised me when Patrick Stewart was talking about his father being deployed in 1939 and Marc Maron asked him for clarification as to which war that was. Harrumph.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:10 AM on October 6, 2015 [11 favorites]


The passport disparity makes sense because Britain is within a 1 hour flight of a handful of nations. To leave the US and go anywhere besides Canada or Mexico is a pretty long, expensive haul. I'd be more interested to compare the passport rates of US areas within a ~3 hour drive of major Canadian/Mexican cities.
posted by Turkey Glue at 8:10 AM on October 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


One of the campus pubs in Kingston had cider on tap when I went to school there 20 years ago. I can't remember which brand, but it tasted like apple-flavoured barf. Or maybe that was just the end result. It's all a blur.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:11 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


The passport disparity makes sense because Britain is within a 1 hour flight of a handful of nations. To leave the US and go anywhere besides Canada or Mexico is a pretty long, expensive haul.

Another weird part of the response was when the writers boldly announced that "few Americans want to go to Canada or Mexico" which is a fairly bold claim to make.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:13 AM on October 6, 2015


MetaFilter: tastes like apple-flavoured barf
posted by Wordshore at 8:14 AM on October 6, 2015


As an American who's been living in the UK for over 10 years, I can say that this contains some truth, and also some dated notions of English life.

My first observation is that this is a very Bill Bryson appreciation of English Englishness, that is, the pasties, the cream, the beer, etc. Not that there isn't truth there, British dairy is fantastic, as is British pork (not Danish bacon).

There are plenty of old shitty cars on the roads,

That is a simplistic view of race in Britain (although correct in that race plays a different and slightly lesser role in identity definition). They didn't do slavery here, they just provided capital to invest in the trade and built Bristol and Liverpool on those profits. Race is complicated though not the historical burden that it is in the US, and current immigration of new ethnic groups keeps it so. Where I live the old West Indians seem to be unnerved by the new Somalians, just to illustrate.

There is no way that HP sauce is better than ketchup, though it has a place its limited.

Chips are not fries they are fatter, and usually not double fried.

Plenty of fatties here, they are catching up fast.

Plenty of smoking, my friends. Not French level, but still. Plus all of the Eastern European builders are restoring the balance.

They would pity the fool that didn't lock a bike, honestly if it isn't nailed to the ground it will be lifted.

The trains - very expensive, overcrowded, and plenty of lines with regular disruption. When it works and you got a good fare, great stuff.

Where I live, the universal greeting is "init bruv".

Avoiding British wine would be completely foolish, as it is fantastic and recognised as so, though highly priced. There are several excellent whites and sparklings. The French Champagne houses are buying up land across the channel as it shares many qualities with their own.

A good small bottle of Alsatian lager after skiing isn't bad either, nothing wrong (though nothing distinguished) with French beer.
posted by C.A.S. at 8:14 AM on October 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


Wait, electric showers? I have never seen this before and it sounds terrifying. Why can't the shower just use the central hot water system?
posted by backseatpilot at 8:15 AM on October 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


I went into a newish hipster beer store near my house last year and asked if they had any cider (I hate beer so the answer to that question is important). Of course!, they said, we have a whole shelf right at the bottom of the stairs! So, I descend and locate said shelf, that is approximately 1 foot wide and has 6 actual shelves. So that's basically like a max capacity of 30 bottles. 50% of which are Woodchuck Amber. 25% are Strongbow. The remaining 25% are some other mass-produced trash that I can't remember. I did not purchase anything.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:15 AM on October 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


I assumed that meant it's a water heater right there in the bathroom that hooks up to a gas line but tbh it could be anything, who even knows. An imprisoned pikachu.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:17 AM on October 6, 2015 [18 favorites]


Wait, electric showers? I have never seen this before and it sounds terrifying. Why can't the shower just use the central hot water system?

Insufficient water pressure. These are usually retrofit and pressurise/heat the water without new plumbing. New building work that has modernised the underlying pipework allows "normal" showers.
posted by C.A.S. at 8:19 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


angry orchard is pretty good but really i want my cider to be made in small batches by an aged couple whose faces look like heirloom apples and from whom a faint odor of licky pasty emanates.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:21 AM on October 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


Wait, the showers might have a power button? Because they might be electric?

Whaa?

Also: you fuckers! Stop hoarding the Rekorderlig Berry Cider! Make them ship some over here! Remember what we did to get oil? Rekorderlig Wild Berry Cider is better than oil. Don't fuck with us. Share the Rekorderlig.

(I know it's Swedish, but I discovered it in a pub in London, so you lot are on the hook. That's how America rolls. Remember who took the fall for 9/11.)
posted by Naberius at 8:21 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Whoa, Tyler Massey seems like a very tedious person. I mean, yeah WE GET IT naive traveler is naive. Thanks for being a total jerk about it though.
posted by Doleful Creature at 8:22 AM on October 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Wait, electric showers? I have never seen this before and it sounds terrifying. Why can't the shower just use the central hot water system?

Takes too long; first you have to bring in the coal, then lay the fire in the furnace, then light it, and wait until the valves all show (a) the correct temperature and (b) the correct boiler pressure. Only then, several hours later, could you take a shower (to wash off all of the coal dust). That's why we have "the electric" installed; it's relatively safe and compared with e.g. cheese rolling, has a low accident rate.
posted by Wordshore at 8:22 AM on October 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


The electrical system (what they call "mains") in the UK is twice the voltage of the one in the USA. Because of this, they can heat things with electricity, a lot more easily than we can. So if the house actually has running hot water, it comes from a much smaller tank than is conventional in the USA, because it's not intended to support showers. The shower heats its own water "on demand" using a heater that's mounted in a box on the wall.

They also have electric fireplaces that actually warm the room, because the current that comes from their grid will support that.
posted by elizilla at 8:23 AM on October 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


Cars don't have bumper stickers

I saw a Ford pickup truck with a Jesus fish on it once. Once. It looked surreally out of place.
posted by Gordafarin at 8:25 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


There's quite a lot to quibble with here, and some of the things he says I wish were true, but it's refreshing to read something (mostly) positive about Britain. There's so much of this weird hyper-negativity around at the moment, it's exhausting. There's a inverted sort of narcissism in insisting that we must be the best at being the worst.

And I have an electric shower. It's great! Press a button and there's instant hot water. No need to wait for one's valet to draw a bath.
posted by sobarel at 8:25 AM on October 6, 2015 [9 favorites]


Yeah, I don't drink a lot of cider, but the US cider market seems pretty poor. My local always has a cider on tap (but just one), and more often than not it's McKenzie's or Crispin or something.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:25 AM on October 6, 2015


HP Sauce is nice, but the greatest condiment the Brits ever invented is Branston Pickle.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:26 AM on October 6, 2015 [16 favorites]


I'd go for Gentleman's Relish, personally, but only for it's value in smutty jokes.
posted by sobarel at 8:27 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


No need to wait for one's valet to draw a bath.

You have a valet?! I only have a butler. I did not realise there were class distinctions here on MetaFilter.

Doffing my cap to you in passing.
posted by Wordshore at 8:27 AM on October 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


The electric shower thing is incomprehensible. When we visited Ireland, my family took cold showers for 3 days because we couldn't figure it out. It was insane.
posted by elvissa at 8:29 AM on October 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


What's that "nouns are hard" thing from the "takedown" WTF is it supposed to mean?
posted by zutalors! at 8:31 AM on October 6, 2015


The electric shower thing is incomprehensible. When we visited Ireland, my family took cold showers for 3 days because we couldn't figure it out. It was insane.

Seriously; there is often a switch somewhere that is needed to turn it on. Sometimes that switch will not be in the same room; most likely outside the bathroom. Occasionally (don't get me started on old electrics in farm buildings) it will be on a different floor.

I was the second generation of my family to have access to a shower, but the first to use it regularly as opposed to taking a bath. Elder relatives agreed that the shower was "Satan's waterworks" and showers were "Something those people from the continent did".
posted by Wordshore at 8:33 AM on October 6, 2015 [10 favorites]


Related - #EnglandOrSlidersEpisode?
posted by Gordafarin at 8:34 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


From the disagreement link: "There are still no guns (except the thousands of shotguns)"

In fact there are ~1.35 million licensed shotguns in the UK and a further ~450,000 other firearms (as of 2011).

angry orchard is pretty good

AO Traditional Dry is tolerable, if still a bit too much like apple juice for my taste. Cider should be bone dry, in my opinion. Another problem is that very few American cider makers use proper cider apples. Instead they use regular eating or juice apples, which lack the depth of flavor needed for a proper cider, which the cider makers attempt to ameliorate by adding a ton of sugar. Might as well mix some vodka and apple juice.

There are many great English ciders, but I like Norman ones the best. There are also some interesting Spanish and Basque ciders.
posted by jedicus at 8:35 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


The intermittent and inconsistent access to warm water was my least favorite aspect of my trips to the UK.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:36 AM on October 6, 2015


I do loathe the lack of clothing driers when I go over, but since my husband insists on drying clothes on a rack even here in Canada, I cope.
posted by Kitteh at 8:36 AM on October 6, 2015


I have made a plan - I am going to save up and go to England and Scotland. (Not to slight Wales, Cornwall, etc, but I don't think I'll have the cash or the vacation time.) I'm really going to do it. No frivoling about with the savings this time. I'm going to go to the Tate and all the left wing bookstores and the People's Palace and about a million botanic gardens and everything else arts-and-books-wise I can squeeze into ten days split between two countries.

My goal: to sample as many regional cakes as possible. I've been on a UK-baked-goods kick lately and it seems like a surprising number are just rearrangements of flour, butter, currents, orangepeel and a little sugar. I have also made various puddings, solely so that I can tell friends that there is pudding for pudding.
posted by Frowner at 8:37 AM on October 6, 2015 [12 favorites]


jedicus : "In fact there are ~1.35 million licensed shotguns in the UK and a further ~450,000 other firearms "

Please try again when you are serious, thanks.
posted by boo_radley at 8:39 AM on October 6, 2015


Angry Orchard just released a Stone Dry cider that is dry enough to require drinking out of a glass and not straight from the bottle, so I hope we're headed in the right direction.

But the dream of a place where every bar is expected to have multiple taps of ciders is just too much for me.
posted by muddgirl at 8:39 AM on October 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


What's that "nouns are hard" thing from the "takedown" WTF is it supposed to mean?
posted by zutalors! at 11:31 AM on October 6


It just means that the American is noting the differences between US and British English (nouns) and the writer is assuming that noting this difference means the American is some kind of befuddled fool unable to parse that some people use different worlds to refer to the same thing (are hard). It's just drive by snarking.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:39 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


HP Sauce is nice, but the greatest condiment the Brits ever invented is Branston Pickle.

I had a cheese and Branston sandwich just yesterday and will likely do the same today. It is truly magnificent stuff.
posted by jedicus at 8:40 AM on October 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


The passport disparity makes sense because Britain is within a 1 hour flight of a handful of nations. To leave the US and go anywhere besides Canada or Mexico is a pretty long, expensive haul.

At one point when I lived in New York, I was working for a British company and a large percentage of my co-workers were from London and its environs. Many of them liked to take the piss out of Americans for "never traveling."

I'd point out that maybe they didn't really have a sense of the scale of the United States, hadn't really internalized how fucking big this place is, and that people here can travel a hell of a long distance without actually leaving the country.

They would scoff.

Then I would point out (and demonstrate, as necessary) that the distance between New York and Portland (or LA, or Seattle, or whatever) is roughly the same as the distance between London and fucking Baghdad.

That tended to end the scoffing.

(Over than issue, anyway. On other issues they would continue to be insufferable. Which, to be fair, is a characteristic of everyone who works in television production, not just the English.)
posted by dersins at 8:41 AM on October 6, 2015 [26 favorites]


Stop hoarding the Rekorderlig Berry Cider!

Rekorderlig is available in the US, spreading VERY slowly. I encountered it first at a cider festival a couple years back. I believe that it's actually being bottled around the corner from me in Manhasset. At least that's what it said on the bottle I drank last week.

Cider in general is following on beer coattails, gradually making inroads. Other than the novelty of the concept of cider as a serious drink in the US, I believe there are some legal classifications that make it a little trickier to sell really hard ciders with an ABV north of 5%. I can't find substantive links so I could be totally wrong. After all, my wife got hooked on Aspall's Cuveée Chevallier at 11%.
posted by Edgewise at 8:42 AM on October 6, 2015


I have been so conditioned by the nastiness of American cider that I now regret not trying any of the local ciders and perrys when we were over in April. I'll be over for three weeks next year for my 40th and that should probably be remedied.

In the meantime, for those of you who cannot go drink cider in England but can probably go to Canada, I present to you the list of Quebec cideries.
posted by Kitteh at 8:43 AM on October 6, 2015


Frowner - stop by in Manchester and we can have an Eccles cake vs Chorley cake masterclass. And then you can hop over the Pennines into Yorkshire for parkin and curd tart.
posted by sobarel at 8:43 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Does anyone ever get electrocuted by the electric shower? Or is that an unreasonable fear for me to have?
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:44 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


stop by in Manchester and we can have an Eccles cake vs Chorley cake masterclass

I'd like that - not least because I made some Eccles cakes and they turned out distinctly unsatisfactory, possibly because of bad ingredient quantity conversion, and I want to see what they're like when made properly. (I have made sad, or desolate cakes many times, but they're very easy.)
posted by Frowner at 8:46 AM on October 6, 2015


Please try again when you are serious, thanks.

What do you mean? I cited a fact. I was only noting that the 'takedown' author was underselling their own point.

Angry Orchard just released a Stone Dry cider

I'll have to try that. We have plenty of great craft breweries here in Missouri, but craft cider is slow in coming. The only local one of note tends to do sweet ciders and weird blends with other fruits (e.g. strawberry, which is always a disastrous flavor in alcoholic beverages). So our options are US mass market ciders or expensive imports.
posted by jedicus at 8:48 AM on October 6, 2015


• Pubs are not bars, they are community living rooms.

I wish this was the case in the US, how would one seek out a similar situation here? (In the Midwest)
posted by OwlBoy at 8:52 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


My favorite English shower was the one that was literally next to the bed, a small tiled and shower-curtained enclosure surrounded by carpeted bedroom. In a Yorkshire B&B.

It was impossible to shower without getting the bedspread a bit damp. Utterly insane.

Next to that, needing a power button was nothing. We were mostly alarmed by the occasional grinding noises the toilet made, we assumed it was some sort of poop-munching mechanism but were afraid to ask.
posted by emjaybee at 8:53 AM on October 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


Seriously; there is often a switch somewhere that is needed to turn it on. Sometimes that switch will not be in the same room; most likely outside the bathroom.

Other than a drawstring ceiling switch, the switch will absolutely be outside the bathroom if the bathroom is built to the electrical code. There will also not be any outlets, other than a dual-voltage transformer isolated shaver outlet.

The UK code is vastly safer than the US code in many ways. The only exception is ring mains, which were a compromise accepted after WWII when copper was in short supply. Ring mains are safe unless one end of the ring fails, then all the current is being pulled through the other end, and the conductor isn't sized to handle that current.

The other dangerous thing about UK electrical service is stepping on a plug. Safest plugs in the world, otherwise. You do need to know that in many devices, there's a fuse in the plug.

And, with switches on the outlets, *always* make sure your notebook/phone is charging. Don't just plug in it and walk away. In a hotel room, you'll have that switch, plus a switch by the door that cuts power to the entire room.
posted by eriko at 8:53 AM on October 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


[Edited with OP permission to remove the pasted fulltext of the main link; carry on.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:54 AM on October 6, 2015


No window screens? Do you not have bugs? Or birds? Or bats? I left a one inch gap between a window screen and the bottom of the sash a month ago and we ended up with two bats in the house. It was entertaining for the cats but not really something that I want to encourage. I love having fresh air in the house but I'd prefer that small fauna stay outside.
posted by octothorpe at 8:56 AM on October 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


And, with switches on the outlets, *always* make sure your notebook/phone is charging. Don't just plug in it and walk away

I spent 3 weeks in the UK in September, mostly in Cumbria & Yorkshire (I walked the Coast to Coast with 4 friends); I got caught by that SO MANY TIMES.

The original article is fairly accurate for the tiny villages in northern England through which the C2C passes, although I would dispute that all the food is good. I found the unrelenting nature of the pub menu to be fairly dispiriting. (But then I live in California, where I am spoiled for both produce and food in general.)
posted by suelac at 8:56 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Okay, if there's no window screens I'm definitely traveling when things are proper cold out and the windows will be closed. (No window screens!! - Old-fashioned is one thing, but bats in the house is quite another.)
posted by Frowner at 8:59 AM on October 6, 2015


Before it was cool.

Avoid this approach to the Cornish cream tea, you'll burn your mouth.
posted by biffa at 9:01 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


angry orchard is pretty good

It's even better when you pour a shot of Fireball cinnamon whisky in it. (I sometimes hear this termed an "Angry Ball.")
posted by dnash at 9:02 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


you can buy those insertable expanding screen things for windows but full sized window screens are not standard on every hung/sash window.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:03 AM on October 6, 2015


I'm not the most worldly person but somehow I don't think that an entire nation besieged by bats in its homes would say, "if only we had some way to prevent this," and then shrug its collective shoulders and go back to shooing bats.

So probably bats are not a terribly big problem.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:04 AM on October 6, 2015 [8 favorites]


somehow I don't think that an entire nation besieged by bats in its homes would say, "if only we had some way to prevent this," and then shrug its collective shoulders and go back to shooing bats

I see you are not familiar with the English.
posted by inire at 9:06 AM on October 6, 2015 [52 favorites]


Frowner, you would love Wallington in Northumberland (Morpeth). They also have a cafe with cakes and pies.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 9:08 AM on October 6, 2015


somehow I don't think that an entire nation besieged by bats in its homes would say, "if only we had some way to prevent this," and then shrug its collective shoulders and go back to shooing bats

My housemate - a data set of one - who is American, no less, and who removed his window screen for reasons known only to himself, seemed to be happy enough shooing bats. If him, why not an entire nation? His great-great-grandparents appear to have come from Scotland, after all, and that's England-adjacent. I am confident that all English homes are full of bats now.
posted by Frowner at 9:09 AM on October 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


If you enjoy cider and in the UK but outside the SW UK these guys are expanding, decent pizza and 30+ ciders in one place.
posted by biffa at 9:10 AM on October 6, 2015


I don't think I've lived in a place with window screens since I was a child, even in the US, mostly because I end up living in old buildings by choice, and even if the windows had screens, there's always French doors or sliding doors leading to a balcony or terrace or something. The only really bad thing is mosquitos, but the plug-in mosquito killers seem to work pretty well, though I always wonder how much they are killing them, and how much they are killing me. Never had a bat! Once had a pigeon. One cat wandered in and freaked out my dog.
posted by taz at 9:11 AM on October 6, 2015


Generally speaking there's a power button

As an American, I have never heard of—much less seen—an electric shower. I was gonna ask for an explanation, but I see that's already been provided—thanks. So that's probably part of the original poster's confusion.

And driers aren't rare. More than half of homes seem to have them.

If you're talking about houses that are owned by their residents, almost every one in the US has both a washer and a dryer. Rental houses have them more often than not. Apartments are hit-or-miss—you might be lucky enough to have a washer and dryer in the apartment; you might share a communal laundry room with other tenants in the building; or you might have to use the nearest laundromat. I've been in all three situations. At any rate, I'd say that access to some form of in-building washer/dryer is significantly higher than 50%, and it's very rare to have a washer without a dryer—most residences aren't equipped with outdoor clotheslines. They come as a pair.

HP Sauce

I bought a bottle of this because I was curious, and because I love A-1 Sauce (which is roughly similar). I don't care for it—the sweetness is just wrong.

Marmite, OTOH—that's good stuff.

the switches to turn outlets on and off

I see that you're in Canada. Is this not something you have there? It's very common in the US. Apparently not everywhere, though—I one had to explain it to someone in AskMe, who was baffled by the very concept.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 9:12 AM on October 6, 2015


I am an American and I have never ever had any residence that had separate switches to turn outlets on or off.
posted by Kitteh at 9:14 AM on October 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


The cider thing is strange. Growing up in rural Worcestershire, we made our own "cider" (I'll come back to that) and sold it in our farmshop, in reused vinegar cartons (the vinegar was used in the jars of pickles we made and sold). In order to keep it legal wrt certain laws, you were only allowed to make ten barrels per year; therefore several members of the family um owned ten barrels each. Including the dog.

The first time I was in the US of A, I tried cider and was thoroughly confused; sweetened apple juice. So it transpired that:

Cider (US) = Apple juice (UK)
Hard cider (US) = Cider (UK)

And then there's the type of cider we made, which is called Scrumpy. Proper Scrumpy, which you only get in rural places across Somerset, South Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and parts of Devon and Dorset. Proper scrumpy should be cloudy to the point of opaqueness, and have unidentifiable and slightly worrying bits in it and, for a few days, your poo (and there will be a lot of poo) should be a different color. It should also fill you as though you've eaten a large meal, not just drunk a treeful of fermented apples.

My stepdad and his friends used to "test" the scrumpy every now and then. If it wasn't strong enough, he added two large bottles of vodka to each barrel, to give it more "body". The strongest was 21 percent and my god it made your eyes water.

I am proud of the award-winning one from I think it was 1987, which I named "Sipshade", an anagram of the hardcore regular customers who turned up as soon as we opened in the morning to buy a carton. It was also useful as an antifreeze during the unexpected cold snap, and as a remedy for a few ailments e.g. nettle stings (apply externally and take internally), and aforementioned constipation.
posted by Wordshore at 9:16 AM on October 6, 2015 [17 favorites]


All this grousing about cider and yet here in Seattle it's in massive abundance. Four shelves at my local Bevmo (compared to just one for Belgian beers). A cider pub. Multiple local companies brewing cider.

Helps that we are a massive apple growing state, and it'll only get better once we rip out all the Red Delicious trees.
posted by dw at 9:18 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Is this list thing the new essay?
posted by JanetLand at 9:21 AM on October 6, 2015


As a Brit living in the US, given that this list is written from a US perspective, it's really pretty accurate, minus a few quibbles here and there. As far as cider is concerned, given that that's what we started drinking on, I can't really go near the stuff, but I can just about stomach a crisp Normandy cider. Scrumpy is a whole other thing, very much worth trying, although it's very easy to overdose.
posted by ob at 9:21 AM on October 6, 2015


ok so i just tried to heat up my water by running 220V through it but now i just have this highly flammable gas

halp
posted by backseatpilot at 9:21 AM on October 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


In the US there are often wall switches that control an outlet. This is most commonly used to control lamps in rooms without overhead lighting. What US buildings virtually never have is a switch on the outlet itself, in the British style.

Cider (US) = Apple juice (UK)

To further muddy the waters, in the US "apple cider" specifically means unfiltered (or only coarsely filtered) apple juice. "Apple juice" means filtered or clarified apple juice. Wikipedia has a nice comparison image.
posted by jedicus at 9:23 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Remlapm wrote: HP Sauce really is amazing stuff. I grew up with it on the table but it was near impossible to find outside of weird "little Britain" type shops - my British parents would start to panic if we were running low.

Now WorldMarket sells it, and it pops up here and there so my cupboard is stocked with it.

I would straight up eat a fried doorknob it if was smothered in HP.


Thanks to all the vinegar in it, HP sauce is also excellent for cleaning brasswork, so when you eat it, it will be a really shiny doorknob!

But seriously, Picallili is the king of all British condiments. And in all likelihood, as good on doorknobs as it is on pork pies.
posted by dowcrag at 9:24 AM on October 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


My goal: to sample as many regional cakes as possible.

Frowner, I was once asked on a panel to describe my "dream day" for doing geology. It started out with breakfast/geology in Germany - but then I went into a terribly long spiel about how I'd go to the Jurassic Coast (in Dorset and East Devon), have a ploughman's lunch with shandy at a pub near the sea, then some geology, with a proper tea and clotted cream w/scones, cakes, and pudding in the afternoon (while overlooking a garden). I went into some detail describing the cheese, the tea, and the scones/cakes/cream.

There was a very long pause afterward as an entire room realized my dream day of science was actually centered around eating food in England.
posted by barchan at 9:25 AM on October 6, 2015 [30 favorites]


What do you mean? I cited a fact. I was only noting that the 'takedown' author was underselling their own point

There are more guns than people in the US. We rank #1 in the list of countries for guns per capita. The UK ranks #82.
posted by danny the boy at 9:26 AM on October 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


In the US there are often wall switches that control an outlet. This is most commonly used to control lamps in rooms without overhead lighting. What US buildings virtually never have is a switch on the outlet itself, in the British style.

Yes, sorry, I wasn't clear. I love that British switches are actually connected to the outlet itself. I wasn't talking about common US on/off switches.
posted by Kitteh at 9:26 AM on October 6, 2015


> To further muddy the waters, in the US "apple cider" specifically means unfiltered (or only coarsely filtered) apple juice. "Apple juice" means filtered or clarified apple juice.

"And of course in Canada the whole thing's flip-flopped."
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:26 AM on October 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


I am an American and I have never ever had any residence that had separate switches to turn outlets on or off.

I am American and in the area where I live there are a lot of post-WW2 tract houses. In them, most bedrooms have wall switches that turn one of the outlets off and on, in lieu of an overhead light fixture. You're supposed to plug the lamp in there. Moving into a new rental always includes this adventure where you have to figure out which of the outlets is the switched one.
posted by elizilla at 9:27 AM on October 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


Basically I would say that qualitatively, the statement "there are no guns here" is true. Not because people don't own shotguns in the UK, but because the US has an enormous amount of guns. That many people enjoy displaying prominently on their bodies at all times. I don't think you can say that about the UK either.
posted by danny the boy at 9:28 AM on October 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


A scrumpy-based snakebite, should your landlord even allow you to order such a thing, is the most potent fighting-juice known to man. Not sure if I recommend it, to be honest.

Also, Pimms makes my legs go numb.

English summer drinks are all pretty incapacitating, come to think of it, disguised by their fruity healthiness.
posted by DangerIsMyMiddleName at 9:28 AM on October 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


There was a very long pause afterward as an entire room realized my dream day of science was actually centered around eating food in England.

I am totally down with this idea for a trip, especially if we can bring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon with us.
posted by valkane at 9:29 AM on October 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


barchan, if you would just add a soupçon of death by murder that you proceed to solve using your super geologic brain power, I would totally read your cozy mystery series at $9 a pop for my Kindle. Do. It.
posted by taz at 9:30 AM on October 6, 2015 [22 favorites]


"There are a lot of healthy old folks around participating in life instead of hiding at home watching tv"

There are a lot of young folks doing the same, I'd imagine. Hiding at home watching TV (or watching Hulu, Netflix bingeing, playing video games, etc., etc.) isn't limited to old farts.

This wonderful post on wandering in Wales sums it up well. A lot of people walk and meander in the UK (generalization, I know, so sue me). The UK inspires meandering.

In many parts of the US, meandering (or any other non-car mode of personal travel) is at the minimum in bad taste and maximally is viewed as a sign of either (a) penury, (b) loserhood, or (c) some other vaguely or possibly criminal tendency, such as vagrancy -- and likely to get you stopped and questioned (at least) by police, especially if your skin isn't white or if you are older than, say, 30.
posted by blucevalo at 9:32 AM on October 6, 2015 [9 favorites]


The switches on British outlets are because, while 110v will gently tickle you, 240v will throw your dead body across the room. Same with the chunky plugs, and the waaaaaay thicker wiring: British electricians weren't messing around when they set the standard. Something to do with needing to make tea a lot.
posted by DangerIsMyMiddleName at 9:32 AM on October 6, 2015 [11 favorites]


Picallili is the king of all British condiments.

This is true. Though once I put a jar in my checked bag and it smashed, soaking my entire suitcase in massively pungent piccalilli fumes. Reeking of pickle was not a problem for me but the rest of my floor was not pleased. It took 3 washes to get the scent out of the clothes, and I had to chuck the suitcase entirely. RIP little jar of piccalilli, you were too good for this world.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 9:34 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


From the disagreement link: "There are still no guns (except the thousands of shotguns)"

In fact there are ~1.35 million licensed shotguns in the UK and a further ~450,000 other firearms (as of 2011).


Obviously there are guns here. But you rarely see them. Where I live is surrounded by fields so I occasionally see locals lamping for rabbits with guns. Those guns wouldn't really hurt anything bigger than a rabbit. There are also pheasant shoots going on at the right time of year, using shotguns. Those might hurt you if, say, Dick Cheyney discharged one in your face, but you'd probably live. There's a marine training camp near here and sometimes when I drive past there's a uniformed marine on the gate with an automatic weapon. That, frankly, gives me the heeby jeebies; it just seems weirdly risky to be carrying a (presumably) loaded weapon like that. Other than that I don't recall ever seeing a gun. The police don't carry them. If I did see someone carrying a gun that wasn't obviously some sort of special officer I'd seriously consider calling the police.
posted by merlynkline at 9:35 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


My housemate - a data set of one - who is American, no less, and who removed his window screen for reasons known only to himself, seemed to be happy enough shooing bats. If him, why not an entire nation? His great-great-grandparents appear to have come from Scotland

For the record, as a child I was taught how to catch and shoo bats by my Scottish-descended father, as they regularly infiltrated the house of my Scottish-descended grandmother. I am (if I may say so) very good at doing so in a way that does not endanger myself or the bats. I guess what I'm saying is that in this thread we may be collectively realizing we've got a great new stereotype about the Scottish
posted by Greg Nog at 9:35 AM on October 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


it's not that hard to eat with the fork in your left hand with a little practice. If you don't, everyone knows you're an American

wait, what? I've been to the US many times -- since when does the fork not go on the left?
posted by Hoopo at 9:36 AM on October 6, 2015


Bats are protected. If they decide to come into your house, they win. The only thing you can legally do is get a cat, probably. Or let the weasels in.
posted by merlynkline at 9:37 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Octothorpe:

My impression is that Europeans in general have "tamed" their environment far more than we have. All the pesky fauna and flora that were inconvenient have been extinct or regionally extirpated as of 1000+ (Lions) to two or three hundred years ago.
posted by constantinescharity at 9:37 AM on October 6, 2015


A shotgun isn't nearly the same thing as a semi-automatic pistol. Hard to commit mass murder with a shotgun. Easy with pistols. We had a mass murder (Dunblane) so we banned pistols and semi-automatics. So we don't have mass murders with firearms any more.
posted by alasdair at 9:38 AM on October 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


The standard "American" way is to switch your fork between your left and right hands after cutting food but before you eat it (this is what I do). There are definitely Americans who use their fork in their left hands the whole time, though.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:39 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


barchan, if you would just add a soupçon of death by murder

"As I spread a generous dollop of clotted cream on my scone, I realized what the tracks I had seen on the beach in Lyme Regis meant: the murderer had used a plesiosaur bone as his weapon."
posted by barchan at 9:39 AM on October 6, 2015 [34 favorites]


[We've got two open USA gun threads already, let's not steer this one in that direction too please.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:40 AM on October 6, 2015


I've been to the US many times -- since when does the fork not go on the left?

I'm a USian, but the only reason I eat with my fork in my left hand is because I spent my adolescence watching Jane Austen adaptations and I thought it looked easier to eat the way they did in all those movies. I was raised to use the fork in my right hand first to spear/pitchfork food for holding it still, saw away with knife in left hand, and then rearrange fork in my right hand to bring it to my mouth.

British version is lazier/easier, and that is why I chose it.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 9:40 AM on October 6, 2015


Okay, English people, what do you do about rabies, huh? I just checked this so-called "National Health Service" of yours (sounds a bit Red If you ask me) website and they say that your bats, like ours, harbor rabies. If your houses are full of bats, and your cats are full of bats, how come you're not full of rabies? When we had bats get in while we were sleeping, here in the great state of Minnesota, we got rabies prophylaxis and our cat had to have a rabies booster each time.
posted by Frowner at 9:42 AM on October 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Scrumpy is an antiseptic against rabies, silly. Everyone knows that.
posted by Wordshore at 9:44 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Have you seen British bats? If you wanted to get rabies off one you'd probably have to eat it alive or something. I suppose cats are a possible vector for that...
posted by merlynkline at 9:45 AM on October 6, 2015


how come you're not full of rabies?

I see you are not familiar with the English.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:45 AM on October 6, 2015 [11 favorites]


Growing up in rural Worcestershire, we made our own "cider"... The strongest was 21 percent and my god it made your eyes water.

By all that's good and right, I hope your adolescent years were filled with "Worcestershire sauced" jokes.
posted by Mayor West at 9:45 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


For those as confused as I am, this is apparently what's meant by "British switched wall outlet". Like, the switch is physically part of the outlet.

Now I'm the baffled one. What's the point of that? The whole point of a switched outlet, at least in the US, is that you don't have to walk over to the outlet to turn something on or off—e.g., you can use a switch by the door to turn on a floor lamp on the other side of the room. Putting the switch on the outlet does nothing to solve that problem.

All of these little differences are fascinating.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 9:49 AM on October 6, 2015


I've never heard of an electric shower electrocuting anyone though presumably it could happen. I did once get into my shower and discover that the control unit (which is also the heater) had melted and drooped bizarrely down the wall, which caused me to get out again somewhat sharpish! My current one is supplied from the house hot water supply.
posted by merlynkline at 9:53 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


i came in here hoping for a discussion about cider and i was not disappointed!! i loooove cider and i'm so glad that america is finally catching on to DRY ciders not sickly sweet crap. there's a pub near my house owned by a british dude and they always have an awesome selection of uk and local ciders. my absolute fave is the golden state mighty dry cider, plus they have adorable packaging
posted by burgerrr at 9:59 AM on October 6, 2015


I have an electric shower. And here's a reddit/DIY account of how I installed it, with many exciting pix of brickwork, wires n stuff. Plus a free explanation of why you'd choose such a device.
http://imgur.com/a/xM7dJ
posted by Drogue at 10:00 AM on October 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


I've never heard of an electric shower electrocuting anyone though presumably it could happen.

Yes! And that is why, if or when you engage in an act of sexual fulfillment in England, you do NOT partake of the shower afterwards, resorting to other, safer, means instead.

Electricity + water + moist penis. We're all adults so I don't need to draw you a diagram here.
posted by Wordshore at 10:04 AM on October 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Now I'm the baffled one. What's the point of that? The whole point of a switched outlet, at least in the US, is that you don't have to walk over to the outlet to turn something on or off—e.g., you can use a switch by the door to turn on a floor lamp on the other side of the room. Putting the switch on the outlet does nothing to solve that problem.

Honestly, it strikes me as more practical in an ecological sense, especially since I can turn off the outlets that would power the radio and the toaster after I've used them. I would like to see a comparison of power bills but I think that is too broad!
posted by Kitteh at 10:05 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


But when I tried to use my small electronics with a plug adapter it sparked and took down the Internet for the entire hotel. At least that's what the lady in charge of the business center blamed it on as she was kicking us out.
posted by Soliloquy at 10:06 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yes! And that is why, if or when you engage in an act of sexual fulfillment in England, you do NOT partake of the shower afterwards, resorting to other, safer, means instead.

Electricity + water + moist penis. We're all adults so I don't need to draw you a diagram here.


Waiiiiiit wait wait wait - is this, perchance, the reason behind the infamous "penis beaker"?
posted by barchan at 10:07 AM on October 6, 2015


I can turn off the outlets that would power the radio and the toaster after I've used them

Yeah, I hate it when I leave the outlet switch on and all the electricity leaks out all over the floor.
posted by valkane at 10:08 AM on October 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


Aw shucks, wordshore, I didn't click through on your link before I made my comment. Sorry.
posted by barchan at 10:09 AM on October 6, 2015


Yeah, I hate it when I leave the outlet switch on and all the electricity leaks out all over the floor.

Well, considering that most people don't unplug appliances after using them, it is kind of like that. Maybe it's because I now live in a province with crazy high electricity bills, but I've been made aware of phantom power usage, which is why I like the idea of those UK switches.
posted by Kitteh at 10:14 AM on October 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ah! Was not aware of that! Thanks for the link!
posted by valkane at 10:16 AM on October 6, 2015


It's not the controls or the need to turn on an electric heater that bugs me about British showers, it's the freaking glass door that only goes halfway!

And I am astonished we have gotten this far in this thread with no mention of being served lukewarm drinks and then being looked at like loons for asking for A FUCKING ICE CUBE! Since we got back from London a few weeks ago, my family and I have been putting like 50-100 ice cubes in every single drink to make up for all the piss-warm Diet Coke we had to drink.
posted by briank at 10:17 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


When you unplug something that's using current at 240V it will arc from the socket to the plug pins if you haven't switched it off first. This used to be a problem when things used a lot of current and didn't have switches of their own. Most things now do have their own switches and few use enough current to arc anyway.

When my daughter started to crawl we put safety blanks in all the unused sockets in the house. In one, there was a four-way extension lead and I didn't have enough blanks to hand so I put it up on a nearby table. One day I came into the room to see that she had found a paper clip somewhere and had pulled herself up on the table leg and reached up onto the table, the top of which was too high for her to see, and was poking around in the four-way power strip with the paper clip. Oh how we laughed. So I was glad that UK sockets have shields that drop over the live and neutral holes when the earth pin is leaves the socket and that they can be turned off at the wall. As mentioned upthread, 240V is much less fun than 120V when it's coursing through your veins :( OTOH I did need to restart my heart at that particular moment, so 240V perhaps has its uses...
posted by merlynkline at 10:19 AM on October 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


So do you have a separate electric water heater thingy in each bathroom in the house?
posted by octothorpe at 10:26 AM on October 6, 2015


Not listed but worth mentioning: pub dogs

omg yes! I've only been over once, as a kid, and my sisters and I were entranced by the big floppy dogs that would inhabit country pubs. And there was another pub in the Cotswolds somewhere that had two very aggressively affectionate cats, one of whom claimed my stepmother's lap and growled if she tried to move.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:28 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Reading the guy's original list I nodded along with most of it, but a few times I was like "whaaa?" It turns out he and I are from very different parts of the US and visited very different parts of the UK.

octothorpe: "No window screens? Do you not have bugs? Or birds? Or bats? "

The French (in common with many other Europeans) claim they don't need screens because they don't have bugs but THE FRENCH ARE FUCKING LIARS, ever mosquito in Paris came and ate me alive at night. I didn't have any trouble with bugs in England; however, my roommates kept leaving the kitchen window open at night and fucking pigeons would get in our flat at night and I, as the first one awake, would have to shoo out the pigeon and scrub the counters because UGGGGGGGH pigeons. And they're really fucking aggressive and unafraid of humans, it is hard to scare away a bird who is pretty sure it can eat your eyeballs and still have nobody shoot it.

As for passports, way, way more British people have them than Americans. (It used to be that only half of Congress had one, which is no longer true -- Congresscritters go on a lot more overseas junkets than they used to, and they nearly all have them now -- but it makes the point.) I know some Americans who have had passports as a matter of course since they were young, but I also know lots of sophisticated, college-educated Americans who make good money who have just ... never had a passport. I know a LOT of Americans who didn't get a passport until they were in their 30s and could start affording nicer vacations. I think more Americans have them these days because you can't travel to Canada or Mexico without them anymore? (Not sure the exact rules but you used to be able to just use a drivers' license and now you need a "stronger" document.) But when I was young I knew lots of people who had never left the North American continent (even though they traveled extensively in Canada and Mexico) and so had no passport. Passports in the US are unusual enough that when I tried to present mine for filling out tax paperwork to a local government agency (as proof of residence and right to work), it was rejected by HR because they claimed that in 20 years nobody had given them a passport. ("It's listed as the first form of acceptable ID on the paperwork!" "I don't care, we need your social security card." "No you DON'T! It's ON THE FORM! I can use my passport!" "If you don't give us your social we don't know if you're legally allowed to work in the US." "Do you even know what a passport IS? If I have one I DEFINITIONALLY have the right to work because I'm a citizen!" "I'm sorry, we need your social for that.") They're not rare, but it's also not rare for an adult not to have ever had one.

And yeah ... nobody moves to Britain for the plumbing. LOVE YOU, little island, but your plumbing is terrible.

Not on the list: Bacon sandwiches. What a revelation that I can make a sandwich with NOTHING BUT bacon and no faffing around with lettuce and tomatoes or pretending it's good for me. I ate one every Wednesday (which was my long day) and they made me so happy.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:28 AM on October 6, 2015 [9 favorites]


So do you have a separate electric water heater thingy in each bathroom in the house?

Um, that's kind of a "second date" question to ask an English person.

YEWHTMV
posted by Wordshore at 10:30 AM on October 6, 2015


"So do you have a separate electric water heater thingy in each bathroom in the house?"

Not sure if you're addressing me, octothorpe. But here goes ....

No. The electric shower is stand-alone. Hot water used elsewhere in the flat comes from the HW tank, heated by an old gas boiler which is inefficient but does the job. And also runs the central heating.

As for having more than one bathroom: the flat is 500 sq ft. (Did I mention that I live in London?)
posted by Drogue at 10:33 AM on October 6, 2015


My partner and I spent a few days in the Peak District recently, so I enjoyed this listicle very much.

We stayed in B&B's, and every shower was different. One was in a retrofitted building, and we were given a complicated list of instructions on how to make it work. It was reasonably intuitive, but still.

Some old pubs have the washroom outdoors. That's because they were built in the 17th century or something like that, long before modern plumbing, and then were retrofitted.

One thing that the author definitely didn't mention was: LOW CEILINGS (pardon the shouting). I'm a bit over 6'2", and a lot of old British buildings were built with 6 foot door frames, since that's a nice round number. That's low enough for me to hit my head, but high enough to be out of view. I bashed my head about six times in one day, and that was being careful.

The food and beer were yummy, the people were friendly, and you can walk everywhere. There are zillions of footpaths. It was, basically, great.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 10:33 AM on October 6, 2015


nb: several of the Colorado Front Range local brewers have recently been doing local dry ciders and even proper dry meads, many of them quite good. Most of them are hyperlocal fall-only kinds of things, though.
posted by lonefrontranger at 10:37 AM on October 6, 2015


If your houses are full of bats, and your cats are full of bats, how come you're not full of rabies?

Just don't eat the cats, and you'll be fine. Or put more HP Sauce on them - vinegar kills the virus.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:38 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Maybe the pigeons that come into the kitchen overnight kill the bats? Or maybe you're just supposed to make pigeon-bat stew, and this is ze famous English cuisine, no?
posted by Frowner at 10:40 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


oh and thanks to both of us having lived in, and variously visited both the UK and the Continent, and knowing how much nicer on-demand hot water is (it never runs out!) we also installed an on-demand (tankless) water heater during our last remodel and it is the absolute best. Had to upgrade an entire circuit to 220 to run both that and the fancy new induction cooktop, tho.
posted by lonefrontranger at 10:43 AM on October 6, 2015


I have been incredibly lucky with showers in the UK except for one time. We rented a holiday flat in Notting Hill from a young woman who was incredibly hard to get in contact with. Very cute attic flat with a wet room type of bathroom. It was unusual (at the time) to us so we shrugged it off.

UNTIL. Until the knob came off the faucet while I was having a hot shower and we could NOT turn off the water coming out of the showerhead and the flat's owner was mysteriously absent for a long stretch of time and we had to pay for an emergency plumber who was not happy to have to walk up four flights of stairs and we had to knock on the doors of the flats below to say, "Um, there might be some flooding because of the bathroom upstairs and we have someone working on it."

Shepherd cannot talk about it even five years later without getting incredibly angry.
posted by Kitteh at 10:46 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


What a revelation that I can make a sandwich with NOTHING BUT bacon and no faffing around with lettuce and tomatoes or pretending it's good for me.

One of the joys of growing up with British parents is that this is the default bacon sandwich.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:47 AM on October 6, 2015


"Thanks for being a total jerk about it though."

I believe the term is "prat." (Nouns are easy.)

As for cider, one remedy for crap American cider is to mix it with the crap blended Scotch from Trader Joe's (or any other, I imagine) and lemon juice. The lemon cuts the awful amount of sugar and the peat gives the drink some flavor depth. When mandymanwasregistered and I were playing around with it, the best ratio we had was about 1:3 Scotch to cider, with a half-jigger of lemon juice. I won't give the name we came up with because it's in pretty poor taste, but that it tastes light and refreshing but oh my god I can't stand up led us to associate it with an American television personality with a decades-long sexual assault history.
posted by klangklangston at 10:53 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Another benefit of England is that the rest stop (aka services) sandwiches are delicious and the complete opposite of the kind of scary month-old plastic-wrapped moldy bread triangle you'd expect in the US.
posted by grumpybear69 at 10:55 AM on October 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Our houses are not full of bats, but even if they were: we don't have rabies here, we eradicated it.
posted by emilyw at 10:57 AM on October 6, 2015


Metafilter: I encountered it first at a cider festival a couple years back.
posted by SassHat at 11:01 AM on October 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


We eradicated rabies but bats still might have (a form of) it - "The presence of EBLV in bats in the UK does not affect the UK's rabies free status." So do take care.
posted by merlynkline at 11:03 AM on October 6, 2015


Not listed but worth mentioning: pub dogs

The first cat I had was a pub cat who moved up the hill to live with teenaged me and my parents because I was a soft touch and would feed and cuddle her. She launched me on a lifetime of cat love. I still miss her.
posted by immlass at 11:03 AM on October 6, 2015


Our houses are not full of bats, but even if they were: we don't have rabies here, we eradicated it.

I should clarify that I don't actually think there are bats in houses except perhaps as an isolated event. Even in my bat-prone American house (attic, eaves, permeable, wooden, old, under-maintained) we get bats only every couple of years. And when everyone was so blase, I remembered that the UK had eradicated rabies and assumed that bats weren't of any concern - but then when I looked it up on the NHS site, apparently there are still rabid bats in the UK.

If it's any consolation, animals that have come in to my house include about a million field mice, bats, several kinds of bird which mostly came down the chimney and once made it all the way to the basement, squirrels and the dog from next door, which showed up while the cat and I were having a nap and scared the bejesus out of us.
posted by Frowner at 11:05 AM on October 6, 2015


Oh, and a raccoon. Let's not forget the raccoon.

I also saw a fox in the backyard once, and we've had lots of visits from turkeys. Not in the house yet, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time.
posted by Frowner at 11:08 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


So do you have a separate electric water heater thingy in each bathroom in the house?
Having multiple bathrooms is a bit of a new thing and would often be a retrofit; when I was growing up having multiple bathrooms would have been very upmarket and a lot, probably a majority, of places still don't. Retrofitting a bathroom in an old house can mean all sorts of plumbing compromises which may include a local water heater and, as mentioned by someone upthread, a device on the back of the toilet that (noisily) reduces the outflow to a consistency that will fit reliably through ordinary size drains rather than the usual large size sewer pipe.

My house has four hot taps including the shower over the bath - the bath tap, the bathroom sink and the kitchen sink. These are all fed from a central hot water tank that can also heat water for the radiators (that we never use).
posted by merlynkline at 11:09 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Major derail:

Plumbing is just very, very strange in Britain. This is at the heart of the plot of the wonderful movie Brazil.

That said, I really wonder about the screen derail. Where I live (actually both my city home and my farm) there are tons of bats. And birds, and mice and snails. But I have never met anyone who felt the need for a screen??? Are American wildlife more adventurous? Here, mice do venture in after harvest, and a bird might fly in through a window every second or third year, but it is hardly normal. I've never ever met a bat in a house.

Regarding insects everyone here knows that you must close the windows when you put on the lights. Light attracts insects, insects attracts bats and birds. So if you want to have your window open when you sleep, you must turn off the light. I never read in bed because I want a dark bedroom with an open window.

Since I have international students, I am gradually realizing that in many countries, aircon has replaced natural heating and ventilation, and the basic rules of inhabiting a house are getting lost. Here, the culture is threatened as well, but a lot of people are fighting artificial climate aggressively.

Natural inhabitation saves energy and protects us from allergies and astma. It should be part of elementary learning. But I guess this is another of those issues that are completely taken over by industry lobbyists.
posted by mumimor at 11:23 AM on October 6, 2015


* There's no dress code

This one I don't understand. Was he expecting a dress code here in the UK and if he was, why?

On the other hand is there a dress code in the US that I don't know about?
posted by antiwiggle at 11:25 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Regarding insects everyone here knows that you must close the windows when you put on the lights.

I've never thought "I must use a screen to keep the bats out," but I've definitely needed a screen to mosquitoes out, light or darkness. I wonder if differing numbers of bugs is the real factor.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:27 AM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Have you no mosquitoes or houseflies in Britain? Where I live in Canada, it would be miserable without screens.
posted by fimbulvetr at 11:29 AM on October 6, 2015


And that has nothing to do with having the lights on -- flies come in during the day, mosquitoes during the night whether or not a light is on.
posted by fimbulvetr at 11:30 AM on October 6, 2015


With the screens and the lights - I wonder if this is a feature of a cooler climate. In the summer, we here have to have the windows open all night, because that cools the house (and then we close up in the daytime. While it's true that I could turn off all the house lights and then open all the windows to cool the house, that would be kind of a nuisance. (And in our house, with people with overnight work, it wouldn't do at all.) Plus, lots of night-flying bugs.

I think we've had this conversation on metafilter a bunch of times before, but the UK is so much more temperate than the American midwest that our weather adaptations simply aren't comparable.

It occurs to me that if the characters in EF Benson's short story Mrs. Amworth (caution, PDF - but a good story) had screens, their whole vampire problem would have been avoided. Maybe the whole Twilight vampire situation works as it does because the New World vampires had to adapt to screens.
posted by Frowner at 11:35 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Are American wildlife more adventurous?

No (maybe). However, mosquitoes, black flies, horse flies, gnats, no-see-ums and I'm sure a few other varieties of biting insects exist in such quantity as to blacken one's skin in certain parts of the country. Even the moths and non-biting house and bottle flies are pests enough that screens are necessary for sanity. You know those scenes in movies where a fly buzzes around a room? Imagine that every day, all day, while snow is off the ground.

Insects, that's why we have screens. There are only a few places (like the PNW) where it's possible to go without, and even then I wouldn't.
posted by bonehead at 11:38 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Bugs that bother humans are definitely much more intense in a continental climate (like much of the US and Canada) than in a coastal climate (like most of Western Europe). France without screens is an annoyance; Virginia without screens is like "PLEASE GIVE ME MALARIA AND MAKE MY KITCHEN IMPOSSIBLE TO USE."

If you have oppressively humid summers, you probably need screens for bugs.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:38 AM on October 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


Local insect populations probably vary enormously, especially with climate. I've never seen window screens here, and door screens only on commercial kitchens plus or minus a couple. I have my windows open day and night, all year round in the bedrooms. Closing the curtains is a must when the light's on at night or you do get lots of insects in (well maybe a dozen or two). We get occasional flies of various sorts in the house. A bird would be very unusual indeed. Never a bat though they flit round the house in the evenings. I live in the middle of nowhere in the far SW. YMMV. I hear they have big problems with mosquitoes up north.
posted by merlynkline at 11:38 AM on October 6, 2015


Spiders, on the other hand...
posted by merlynkline at 11:39 AM on October 6, 2015


I wonder if this is a feature of a cooler climate.

I presume you've never been to Canada. From the border to north of the Arctic circle, biting flies and mosquitoes are endemic. An essential part of any field kit in the Canadian north is repellent.
posted by bonehead at 11:40 AM on October 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


I am not in Britain, so I cannot answer for the Brits. But I can confirm that it is entirely possible in most of Europe including the far north and south to avoid all insects during nighttime by avoiding artificial light in any room with open windows.
Other important factors are:
- you must be able to cross-ventilate every space. This means you must be able to open windows or doors on several sides of a building, so you can literally blow out all bugs. You do this once or twice a day.
- you must keep your home clean of anything that can interest insects. When I was young, I thought my farmer-gran was overly anxious about a leftover spoon or an unwashed pan. Now, as I am the housewife, I sneer at anyone who leaves something unwashed. A farm-kitchen, and basically any kitchen which could possibly interest insects, must be speckless at all times.
Sorry. That it how it is. And no-one says the housewife is the sole responsible person here.
posted by mumimor at 11:47 AM on October 6, 2015


Okay, is the UK just so tiny that it is scoured by refreshing sea breezes and hence has comparatively little flying insect problem? If so - what with the cake, the temperate climate, the shoemaking tradition, the vestiges of the NHS, etc - I will be willing to marry a lonely and/or poorly organized fellow mefite of any gender for citizenship.
posted by Frowner at 11:47 AM on October 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


From the border to north of the Arctic circle, biting flies and mosquitoes are endemic

Uh-uh, at the risk of confirming Canadian stereotypes... living in Vancouver is awesome, no screens needed, no bugs and no bats.
posted by Cosine at 11:47 AM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


We have these things in Texas called "yellow jackets" which is basically a type of hornet but 5x as mean as your standard hornet. Don't use screens and they will build a nest in your house and then sting you for being in their territory.

As it is, the husband has to do a patrol the house eaves/windows regularly to knock down/kill new nests, those little assholes build fast.
posted by emjaybee at 11:50 AM on October 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


but then when I looked it up on the NHS site, apparently there are still rabid bats in the UK.

You might want to look again (from that same page):
As a result of strict UK quarantine laws regarding transporting animals, as well as the introduction of the Pet Travel Scheme, the UK has been rabies-free since the beginning of the 20th century, with the exception of a rabies-like virus in a single species of bat.
Rabies-like virus in one species of bat is not the same as all bats harbouring rabies or indicates that bats are vectors for human infection. Rabies just is not a problem in the UK, as also shown by the very next paragraph:
There have been no cases of human rabies acquired in the UK since 1902, apart from a case of rabies acquired in a bat-handler from an infected bat in 2002. The last recorded case of rabies in the UK was in 2012. The patient, who died, contracted the disease after being bitten by a dog in India.
When I lived in Ireland our vet wasn't too worried when our cat's rabies vaccine went out of date by a bit, because it's just not a thing for cats or people there. He did warn us when we moved them to the continent that now we had to actually keep the vaccines up to date since rabies actually exists over here.

I also never saw a single bat despite sleeping with my windows wide open pretty much all the time, they just aren't that common. This probably varies by location, but it's not something I've ever heard of or even thought about before when travelling in the UK or talking with locals from various places.
posted by shelleycat at 11:57 AM on October 6, 2015


He did warn us when we moved them to the continent that now we had to actually keep then up to date since rabies actually exists over here.

There's a bit of rabies in the US wild animal population (bats, raccoons, skunks), but it's not like the US is teeming with rabies infections in people; we have around one death a year. I don't think fear of rabid bats is what's keeping people's screens in their windows.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:01 PM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


it's because of moths, they're hideous vile creatures who have no place in civilized society

they must be given the cut direct
posted by poffin boffin at 12:03 PM on October 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


There's a bit of rabies in the US wild animal population (bats, raccoons, skunks), but it's not like the US is teeming with rabies infections in people; we have around one death a year.

When I said "the continent" I meant the European one, just to be clear. I don't actually know how prevalent it is here in Germany or in Denmark where my cats now live, but they're out fighting other cats and eating all kinds of wildlife so I might as well keep their vaccinations up to date anyway, and I appreciated the reminder.

The guy we saw was a very good and careful vet in general and well educated on the most recent information about rabies vaccines and other local disease risk (partially because of us). And yet he still wasn't bothered because rabies just is not a thing that people need to worry about within the UK for various good reasons already outlined.
posted by shelleycat at 12:11 PM on October 6, 2015


When I said "the continent" I meant the European one, just to be clear. I don't actually know how prevalent it is here in Germany or in Denmark where my cats now live, but they're out fighting other cats and eating all kinds of wildlife so I might as well keep their vaccinations up to date anyway, and I appreciated the reminder.

Oh yeah, I understood that, I was remarking on the general "screens for Americans, not for the British" conversation that was ongoing.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:14 PM on October 6, 2015


That's cool, I just realised that I was making assumptions and not being clear. Then I did a bad job of clarifying and I think it's time for bed!
posted by shelleycat at 12:17 PM on October 6, 2015


ok so i just tried passing a current through a bat but that didn't get me hot water either, just rabies
posted by backseatpilot at 12:22 PM on October 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


All these rules for what to do and not to do to avoid insects in the house... why not just use some screens? Seems like the easiest solution, really.
posted by soren_lorensen at 12:24 PM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, you probably forgot to flip the switch ON the bat before you did that. Easy mistake.
posted by gingerbeer at 12:24 PM on October 6, 2015 [8 favorites]


ok so i just tried passing a current through a bat but that didn't get me hot water either, just rabies

Did you use 110v or 240v?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:26 PM on October 6, 2015


The switches on British outlets are because, while 110v will gently tickle you, 240v will throw your dead body across the room. Same with the chunky plugs, and the waaaaaay thicker wiring:

Yes. Normal US plug is 120V@15A, which is 1,800W. Normal UK outlets are rated 240V@13A, 3120W. The older spec (with round metal prongs) used 15A, so 3600W. It does make for some truly impressive electric kettles, and electrical heating is much more effective. But seriously, don't step on that plug. OUCH!

Since the ring mains can deliver more current to the socket than the appliance cord can handle (ring mains typically deliver 30-36A) there has to be a fuse in the plug to protect that cord. You also have an advantage that for lower current devices, you can use a smaller fuse (I've see 3A and 10A, I wouldn't be surprised if there were more) and if that fuse blows, that appliance is cut out of the circuit, but the whole circuit doesn't drop. There is a breaker or fuse on the circuit in case you short that, which would drop the circuit, but the majority of wiring faults occur in appliances and the cords connecting them, which move around.

It is a generally well built system, give that they're assuming any system that doesn't allow a kettle and an electric heater to be on the same circuit at the same time would be acceptable, which is why they're putting so much power on each circuit. (240Vx36A=8.6KW!!!!) The US answer is to not allow anywhere near that power on a general circuit, so the heater/kettle example is handling by just having more circuits and keeping the two apart.

Interesting enough, in the UK, hand held jobsite equipment is 110V, to minimize the hazards because of the uncontrolled environments (wet, cold-heat cycling, idiots with sawzalls, etc.) Because of that, you pack a 230V-110V isolation transformer in your kit as well. The advantage there is you're never directly in contact, you have the isolation transformer between you and the wall current. So, if you're touching a hot wire on the isolated side and the actual ground, there's no circuit, because you don't have a path back to the other leg of the secondary on the isolation transformer -- it's not connected to ground, only the primary side is.
posted by eriko at 12:27 PM on October 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


Just in case there is alarm, England is safe. Apart from the odd spider that pops out of a packet of bananas in the supermarket, we have no poisonous animals apart from the adder. I can't find record of someone being electrocuted in a shower in England in recent times. And the last plague epidemic in England was nearly a century ago, now.
posted by Wordshore at 12:30 PM on October 6, 2015


"Have you no mosquitoes or houseflies in Britain? Where I live in Canada, it would be miserable without screens."

I remember an interview with a woman who turned 100 in 2001, so was on some shows getting asked what the biggest change in her life had been. Window screens and screen doors, she said. Zero hesitation. The biggest improvement in her life had been screens.

One thing that is incredibly nice about Los Angeles is that there are practically zero mosquitos. Coming from Michigan, America's coldest swamp, the palpable lack of them is nothing short of miraculous.

"The switches on British outlets are because, while 110v will gently tickle you, 240v will throw your dead body across the room. Same with the chunky plugs, and the waaaaaay thicker wiring:"

A lot of people don't seem to understand the difference between voltage and amperage — a static shock from a doorknob can be around 10,000 volts, but the current is miniscule. (In my high school physics class, the teach used to say "V won't kill you, but I will.")
posted by klangklangston at 12:34 PM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


these rules for what to do and not to do to avoid insects in the house... why not just use some screens? Seems like the easiest solution, really.
Right you are! I'm thinking about how to introduce screens to my European homes just now.

Its completely new, so I'll have to make drawings and stuff, and it's not like every single BnB in Europe will have adapted this wishing the next three months. But its a really good idea.

The only thing is: the habits I suggested above are really ingrown, and I'm not entirely certain anyone at all will find these changes meaningful.
posted by mumimor at 12:34 PM on October 6, 2015


I'm amazed he liked the food. English food used to be renowned as terrible. Has it got better or has American food got worse?
For those interested in British wildlife, have a look on the BBC website at autumnwatch and spring watch, which are nationally broadcast TV programmes about local wildlife. There's a whole section on bats. And badgers. Man, I'd love to see a badger. Without looking, I can guarantee there will be a section on checking bonfires for hedgehogs before lighting them (the bonfires, not the hedgehogs).
All of this is playing to the idea of England as the Wind in the Willows with baking. We are obviously a lot more complicated than that but it's nice that man had a lovely holiday.
posted by eyeofthetiger at 12:40 PM on October 6, 2015


Dear God, sometimes Metafilter comments feel like a dog worrying at a bone. But but WINDOW SCREENS won't somebody think of the WINDOW SCREENS why don't you English people have WINDOW SCREENS you must be DROWNING IN INSECTS. WINDOW SCREENS.

His list does often read like "I went on holiday there so LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT BRITAIN"; a lot of sweeping generalizations made from his own individual experience.

Also, amongst his gripes,

No bars on the concourse at Heathrow

Depends on which terminal you're flying from; T2 has a nice Fullers pub air-side.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:44 PM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have known buildings here in the UK to have bats in them, but they aren't typically getting in through the windows of houses (unless they are shapechanging vampires when YMMV). They like places that resemble caves enough to feel like a cosy safe roosting site, basically, so sometimes they find gaps in roof tiles and set up in a loft, or sometimes you'll have an old church with a resident bat population, etc. Rabies is a bit of a concern but really only in the "don't pick up an injured bat with bare hands in case you get bitten" way, not a "bats hunting you down" way. More of a concern is that they and their roosting sites are legally protected, so if bats set up home in your loft or your wall cavity or wherever, then... well, hope you like bats.

One building I worked in (huge university building on a rural site) had notices up at the same time every year with What To Do If You Find A Bat advice, because sometimes they would come in when looking for somewhere to hibernate. We had a nominated bat person (one of the janitors) you were supposed to contact if said bat was injured or very obviously in the way, and otherwise you were advised to just leave them alone because of the protected species thing.

We also had advice for dealing with the ducks and oystercatchers who flew into the courtyards to build their nests every year, so they were still outside but in a fox-proof nesting location. Ducks also got left alone until the babies were big enough to cope with the wider world, at which point one of the janitors would lead them out through the building in the evening once the students weren't around, mother duck trudging along behind the janitor and babies bobbling along behind in a manic little line. Oystercatchers found their own way out, to the gratitude of everyone in the offices near them because dear God those things are loud. The campus also had lots of swans, who stayed away from the buildings but were generally bastards and would regularly chase people they saw as getting too close to their babies (read: teenage swans the size of the adults). And you can't do anything about swans other than give them a disapproving look, because they're all the property of the Queen and thus under her protection.*

* this may not actually be true, but Swans Belong To The Queen is one of those facts that everybody knows whether it's true or not.
posted by Catseye at 12:45 PM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


And you can't do anything about swans other than give them a disapproving look, because they're all the property of the Queen and thus under her protection.

And her majesty is welcome to them as they just taste, disappointingly, like chicken.
posted by Wordshore at 12:48 PM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Uh, allegedly.
posted by Wordshore at 12:48 PM on October 6, 2015 [11 favorites]


I've experienced a shower in India where the electric mains (yeah, 240V) had somehow made contact with the plumbing, and the experience was ... unforgettable. So all this discussion of electric showers is really making me tingly.

Also, we have rabid bats (and yes they can be rapid too, thank you autocorrect) and you haven't experienced "fun" until you've engaged in an all-out effort to chase out a confused bat at 2AM while your housemates are screaming and cowering in various states of blanket coverage.

All this to say, I endorse electric showers + 240V bats.
posted by RedOrGreen at 12:49 PM on October 6, 2015


All these rules for what to do and not to do to avoid insects in the house... why not just use some screens? Seems like the easiest solution, really.

Because we aren't exactly overburdened with daylight here? I don't want to reduce the amount of sunlight my windows get just to save me the inconvenience of a fly buzzing round my house sometimes. It's a fly, not a wildebeest.
posted by Catseye at 12:50 PM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Then I would point out (and demonstrate, as necessary) that the distance between New York and Portland (or LA, or Seattle, or whatever) is roughly the same as the distance between London and fucking Baghdad.

... maybe they didn't really have a sense of the scale of the United States


I have friends in Los Angeles. I live in Toronto. They were going snowboarding in northern BC and suggested that since they were going to be in Canada, I should "drop by" and visit them on their trip.

I told them they'd be further away from me where they were going than where they live. They didn't believe me.

I then told them we could start walking from my house -- I'd go north and they'd go south -- and they'd just about reach Florida when I was about to exit my home province.

The USA is tiny. ;)
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 12:59 PM on October 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


Dear God, sometimes Metafilter comments feel like a dog worrying at a bone. But but WINDOW SCREENS won't somebody think of the WINDOW SCREENS why don't you English people have WINDOW SCREENS you must be DROWNING IN INSECTS. WINDOW SCREENS.

Since I started this - sorry! - I actually thought of it as a bit funny, because it's such a trivial and obviously situational issue. Sort of a "well, I would love to go to the UK so I could visit the Tate Modern and the National Gallery and innumerable sites of literary and historic interest and eat Eccles Cakes in their natural habitat...but SCREENS, what about the bats" thing.
posted by Frowner at 1:01 PM on October 6, 2015


eyeofthetiger: "English food used to be renowned as terrible. Has it got better or has American food got worse?"

You are like 20 years behind the times on the British food renaissance.

(Also if you would like to screw with European visitors, propose a road trip from Chicago to the East Coast. "That's not so far on the map!" they think. 800 miles of Eisenhower Expressway System later, they're too exhausted from driving to kill you. "Did you know it's straight for one in every five miles so we can land fighter jets on it during wartime?" you chirp.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:04 PM on October 6, 2015 [9 favorites]


Re: food

I'm British and I went to America the first time when I was 15 (c. 2001) - I was excited about even the aeroplane food because I lived on microwave meals and my grandma's cooking, and neither of those were great. I remember Chicago and DC food being AMAZING on that trip.

I went back to Chicago in 2013 and almost every meal I had, I was like 'well...there's a *lot* of this food, but I've had a better version at home', because now I've lived in London for a decade and there's just an incredible proliferation of restaurants of amazing quality. And in most other bits of the country, there's pretty good food, if limited in vegetarian options.

That said, when I briefly lived in Gravesend, I went to a Mexican restaurant and had the worst meal of my life (microwaved Uncle Ben's rice, anyone?), so the bad food is still out there, there's just much more good food so you can avoid it more easily.
posted by theseldomseenkid at 1:05 PM on October 6, 2015


I had some big concerns about the lack of window screens when we moved to London last year from the US. Turns out there are way fewer insects and other other flying critters and they tend to keep out of houses of their own volition. In my experience, the mosquitoes don't seem to be of the biting variety and all UK hornets have clustered in a handful of Cornish tea gardens, swarming onto any visible outdoor cake. And I've never seen a UK bat, perhaps because there are so few insects for them to eat. There was a neighbor cat that tried to come in through our window a couple times. Also a bird.

But in London you wouldn't want your windows open anyway because you're surrounded by smokers on all sides puffing away at all hours.

We've recently moved to Miami, so now it's insects + smokers (and some bats, which is nice).
posted by theory at 1:08 PM on October 6, 2015


Ducks also got left alone until the babies were big enough to cope with the wider world, at which point one of the janitors would lead them out through the building in the evening once the students weren't around, mother duck trudging along behind the janitor and babies bobbling along behind in a manic little line.

This is delightful. I'm almost surprised it doesn't have some name like Chivvying the Ducks and perhaps some silly hats associated with it.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:10 PM on October 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


Londoner here. We don't have window screens because we basically never open the windows. There are two weeks of warm weather per year, during which you go out all the time.
posted by colie at 1:15 PM on October 6, 2015


I think you'll find, Eyebrows, it's been about 10 years of restaurants getting awesome in the UK. I'm British, and believe me the early 00s were still a dark time, outside of London.

And gastropubs are responsible for a lot of OK but overpriced stuff which is just posh and heated up in the microwave. Too much jus.
posted by eyeofthetiger at 1:17 PM on October 6, 2015


"English food used to be renowned as terrible. Has it got better or has American food got worse?"

I'm a great fan of the huge variety of food and cuisine in the US of A (obsessive "why am I still alive?" photo album).

But also of the foods of England, Britain and United Kingdom. Even Birmingham, which the lister does not like, can put on a good food show. Especially Balti, even on Christmas Day.

(to befuddle; American food in a Birmingham shop)

Guess there's good and not so good in either country, but so long as you have a few bucks / quid to spare, the good isn't hard to find.

Coming soon: an FPP on pies of the north of England
posted by Wordshore at 1:17 PM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


On the UK mosquito front, an older fellow I know remarked to me just the other day, "Do you know what the biggest change is since I was a boy? We have mosquitoes now. Didn't even know what they were when I was young".

And while I'm sure that's not entirely true, I probably kill half a dozen mosquitoes over the course of a summer, tops. And that's with most of our windows open all day. There are NO SCREENS. A lot of people say they can't sleep without a bedroom window open at night. The only time I've actually observed a mosquito biting me was in Spain.

What you will see in the UK are window gnats (sylvicola fenestralis), a totally harmless insect that has the misfortune to look a bit like a mosquito. The poor buggers get swatted in their millions every year, and all they want is to sit and lick your window for a bit.

I suppose the giant house spider is the one thing that would alarm many Americans. It's a close relative of the hobo spider, and is large and fast. They bite (allegedly), but are non-venomous. They move indoors in the autumn and freak my wife out.
posted by pipeski at 1:18 PM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


And what's more, when a house fly or bluebottle starts circling your living room, you just open all the doors and windows until it flies out again. Easy.
posted by pipeski at 1:20 PM on October 6, 2015


The thing about UK restaurants is that fresh ingredients seem to be way easier to get compared to the US. So even though there's a kind of sameness to the pub menus it's rather easy to get a high-quality meal.
posted by theory at 1:21 PM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


"I'm amazed he liked the food. English food used to be renowned as terrible. Has it got better or has American food got worse?"

I thought that was a stereotype based on post-war shortages. I haven't been to England but my father has multiple times and he loved the food — though I think he just lived off of vegetarian curries.
posted by klangklangston at 1:23 PM on October 6, 2015


English food was indeed terrible until the late 70s, when we embraced the curries that Bangladeshis and kebabs that Greek Cypriots started serving in restaurants at prices that many people could afford for the first time. Prior to that the only thing a non-wealthy person would have eaten in a restaurant would have been a fried egg and chips.
posted by colie at 1:30 PM on October 6, 2015


Prior to that the only thing a non-wealthy person would have eaten in a restaurant would have been a fried egg and chips.

Nowt wrong with that. Birmingham's most famous restaurant of finest cuisine for many a long year.
posted by Wordshore at 1:34 PM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


To clarify the electricity (lekky, in the parlance) situation in the UK:

Firstly, it’s not ‘ring mains’, it’s ‘ring main’. A small distinction, but important. If you were to use the term ‘ring mains’ with an electrician in the UK, they’d either assume that you didn’t know what you were talking about, or that you’d been hit on the head with a brick as a child. Either way, they’d assume that you didn’t know what you were talking about and ignore everything else that you had to say on the matter.

Secondly, the UK ring main system wasn’t introduced as a result of a copper shortage due to WW2. That’s a myth, although understandable. It was actually introduced because it’s the quickest way to wire a house. After the war, the newly elected Attlee government intended to make good on their promise for ‘homes for heroes’. That meant building fast. The ring main was simply faster to install than a ‘star’ (hub & spoke) system. In an age when electrical appliances were practically unheard of for the working class, the decision was understandable. Later, around the time of the QE2 coronation, that changed, but by that time the standards were in already in place.

Thirdly, at the time of its introduction, ring main was inherently unsafe. It was possible to plug in an appliance on every socket on the ring and the total draw across the length of the ring could cause the wires to get very hot, start a fire, and burn down the house. Again, at the time of its introduction, this was unlikely, as appliances were rare. The coronation of QE2 changed this. Families started to have tellies. After that, washing machines and electric cookers (stoves) became more accessible. It was around that time that houses started burning down on a regular basis.

Anyway, the switch on UK sockets is a legacy of this. People knew that if too many appliances were plugged in and drawing current that there was a chance that they could go to bed and wake up with their house on fire. The switch on UK sockets isn’t just an on/off switch, it actually isolates the socket from the mains power. I’d guess that anybody over the age of 40 in the UK remembers the time when a pre-bedtime ritual was ensuring that everything was ’switched off’. Families would go around and ‘turn off’ the sockets. Older sockets, the 2-pin bakelite things without the switch, would mean actually pulling the plug out of the socket. A lot of people in the UK still don’t trust the switches; they’ll ‘switch off’ and unplug.

Nowadays, the situation has been mitigated by the use of Micro Circuit Breakers (MCBs) that are a lot more effective at isolating hazards. In the old days, the protection was fuses: bits of wire strung between two terminals. If the fuses kept blowing, just use a thicker bit of wire. The result was an excessive draw wouldn’t cause the fuse to blow, and a house fire.

Memories of this are also the cause of a great British tradition: the pre-holiday argument. When a family is going on holiday they’ll load the kids into the car, prepare to drive off, and then mummy and daddy will have an argument about whether everything has been ’switched off’. There’ll be two or three trips back into the house, to make sure that everything has been unplugged, before they can drive off.
posted by veedubya at 1:35 PM on October 6, 2015 [24 favorites]


pipeski: ", "Do you know what the biggest change is since I was a boy? We have mosquitoes now. Didn't even know what they were when I was young"."

Not only does London have mosquitoes, but you have a uniquely bitey subspecies of mosquito that has evolved traits to survive and thrive underground, and you can study genetic drift in mosquitoes along different tube lines and in different stations. It may have colonized the Underground during the Blitz when Londoners were using the subway system as a bomb shelter and mosquitoes discovered an unexploited niche that only required them to evolve traits that helped them live without sunlight and with periodic high winds, and they'd be rewarded with an environment that served them up a steady supply of fresh humans to bite.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:37 PM on October 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


From an outsider's perspective: I actually got a couple of cookbooks by Elizabeth David after reading both MFK Fisher and Doris Lessing's comments on how she helped change British food post-war. They make rather interesting reading.

Honestly, if you read MFK Fisher you realize that while British food may not have been all that hot prior to the late sixties or so, American food wasn't that compelling either. The US had a bit of an edge because of a stronger economy pre-war and access to Californian and Floridian produce, but we're still talking about a place where recipes routinely called for adding a single whole clove of garlic while a dish cooked and then removing it lest anyone bit into it. It sounds as though a rude plenty was possible and home cooking was good, but per MFK Fisher, things seem to have been a bit hit and miss in both places.

Doris Lessing has some interesting little scenes in her work about basically being able to get tasty non-Frenchified restaurant food for the first time in the sixties. (Other than the fish and chips kind of food, that is.)

Just how bad was middle class food between the wars , really? (It doesn't seem fair to consider rationing.) I've always wondered if it was one of those "not actually that bad but it's culturally appropriate to run ourselves down" things.
posted by Frowner at 1:41 PM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Dersins, I had the same experience while I was living in Europe. They would good-naturedly needle me about being the rare American who travels, and I would point out that Moscow and Madrid are closer together than New York and Los Angeles.

There was also a great story about three guys who decided to drive across the country. I don't remember where they started, but they were deeply unsettled by it taking three days to drive across Texas. (I assume frequent stops, a meandering route, and accidently choosing the maximum longest distance across.)
posted by Mo Nickels at 1:43 PM on October 6, 2015


Nowt wrong with that. Birmingham's most famous restaurant of finest cuisine for many a long year.

'Eat Like A King for £1'

Sadly a shadow of itself nowadays.
posted by brilliantmistake at 1:50 PM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Frowner, from what I know of my grandparents, working class English people mostly ate leftover scraps of fat spread on poor quality bread, plus boiled mashed root vegetables. Meat was once a week and even then would likely be a very fatty part of the animal, or sausages. Anything containing sugar was what you dreamed of, every night.

The only decent stuff (in terms of healthiness) that they ate was cheap seafood/shellfish, since England has so much coast. This means eels, cockles, whelks, winkles, mussels - all that stuff was massive. I think there was such a reaction against that by the 60s kids (my dad could never face any of it) that it led to a massive change as soon as they had the money for meat, any meat.
posted by colie at 1:56 PM on October 6, 2015


HP Sauce really is amazing stuff. I grew up with it on the table but it was near impossible to find outside of weird "little Britain" type shops - my British parents would start to panic if we were running low.

Now WorldMarket sells it, and it pops up here and there so my cupboard is stocked with it.

I would straight up eat a fried doorknob it if was smothered in HP.


I've never had a love for it, but it's widely available in Canadian supermarkets, perhaps because we keep the queen on our money or something. So, should you ever find yourself in Canada, do have a look for it.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:00 PM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hmmm, it feels like there's a fascinating history here for British food, and I would love to see a comparison of it's changes and changes in perceptions vs the USA. There's probably different patterns between high-end/Michelin starred, more affordable restaurants, curry houses (and other food brought in by immigrant groups), pub food and what people eat at home. And then big distinctions of London vs not (or maybe that's a myth). I doubt it's a trickle down effect from high end cuisine - maybe it was led by gastropubs.

British food has definitely hugely changed in the past 20 years- has there been any similar shift in the U.S.?
posted by eyeofthetiger at 2:06 PM on October 6, 2015


I've just read a lovely book called Feast, which is a history of the UK via food. The changes are fascinating over the years, and much of the stereotype is really undeserved.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:38 PM on October 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


Not sure what's driven the changes in British cuisine in the recent past, but I'd guess some of the biggest factors in the US over the past 20 years have been:

-The immigrant share of the US population has been growing tremendously since the 1980s. Lots of new Americans have created a demand for a more diverse range of restaurants and fresh ingredients.

-Food has become an important way to express affluence and dining out has risen as a cultural activity for those who can afford it. Chefs have gained prestige and celebrity through a massive increase in media exposure.

-There has been a movement in favor of locally-sourced ingredients and cuisine inspired by regional and ethnic heritage.
posted by theory at 2:44 PM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]




Insufficient water pressure.

British water pressure is much more like water gentle suggestion.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:34 PM on October 6, 2015 [13 favorites]


Picallili is the king of all British condiments.

Piccalilli is an horrendous abomination. If you have wondered what they were doing wrong in Gomorrah while it was so obvious what was happening in Sodom, the answer is Piccalilli.
posted by biffa at 3:45 PM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


On plug sockets:
UK plug sockets are incredibly safe, they have the much discussed isolation switch on each, individual fuses in the plug (usually) and safety shutters which cut off power unless the longer earth pin is inserted, with some force.

In order for a child to shock themselves on an undamaged plug socket would require them to insert a solid object of just the right size (they are designed to be smaller than a child's finger, so it needs to be a tool) into the earth socket to a distance of 9.6mm to disengage t he shutters / turn on the power, and then they would have to insert a conductive object into the live or neutral sockets (although a paper clip or something would do for this). This is quite hard to do even for an adult, a child old enough to have the digital dexterity to do all of this is also a child old enough to know not to.

The problem is that plug socket covers provide a perfect object for disengaging safety shutters to a curious child, or thay can easily break or damage the socket. Suddenly it's a lot more dangerous.
When a safety socket cover is plugged in the sockets are disengaged and the juice is flowing.
No socket cover has ever been manufactured to comply with BS1363.(The standard by which anything that can be plugged into a socket should meet). They are dangerous and really should be banned.

The frustrating thing is that Ofsted, the body charged with inspecting and rating schools and nurseries actually requires the use of socket covers or they will mark that institution down. My childs nursery does an excellent job of forgetting to replace them quite often (and also has all plug sockets too high for toddlers to get to, since it was purpose built)

Sorry for the rant, here is more information.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:47 PM on October 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


And what's more, when a house fly or bluebottle starts circling your living room, you just open all the doors and windows until it flies out again. a bat flies in and eats it. Easy.
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:56 PM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


And then you wait for the cat to swallow the bat
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:05 PM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Just in case there is alarm, England is safe.

WRONG, no one is safe from the dread spectre of salad cream.
posted by poffin boffin at 4:15 PM on October 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


aka the vile ejaculate of satan himself
posted by poffin boffin at 4:15 PM on October 6, 2015


I'm pretty sure you'll find that's miracle whip. Surely not even salad cream could be that bad.
posted by Carillon at 4:21 PM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


In my house the cat just eats the fly. For the record, the fly does not wiggle and jiggle; there is a brief crunching and then the cat goes back to begging for treats.
posted by biffa at 4:28 PM on October 6, 2015


So I guess I'll just go ahead and out myself as someone who loves both salad cream and HP
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:34 PM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


And the weirdest thing? “The controls in showers..."

As a Brit in America, I find US showers irritating. Almost all the ones I've used have one rotating lever, so you can vary the temperature but not the flow. And the difference between freezing cold and boiling you alive appears to be about 1 degree of arc...
posted by 43rdAnd9th at 4:35 PM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Please explain brown sauce.
posted by clavdivs at 5:43 PM on October 6, 2015


safety shutters which cut off power unless the longer earth pin is inserted

Strictly speaking, the shutters cut off physical access to the live/neutral power. They're a mechanical interlock, not an electrical one.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:56 PM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Having lived in England for five years in the early 80's, I would be sorely disappointed if roadside pubs had been so "foodie-ized" that you couldn't still get a sturdy ploughman's lunch. I miss that the most. Great cheese, good pickle, and solid bread.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 6:32 PM on October 6, 2015


...which was invented as a marketing thing in the 50s...
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:45 PM on October 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


I have a lovely cookbook called "Great British Cooking," and I have to say, there are some nice things in there. Beef Wellington, Bubble and Squeak (with lots of bacon and HP Sauce), summer pudding. The only thing I haven't tried are the dessert recipes that call for a pound of suet (beef fat.)
posted by jfwlucy at 7:22 PM on October 6, 2015


Cute until the slavery thing. Cameron literally just told Jamaicans to get over it already. When you did your slavery overseas and just ended up with the money and only a tiny fraction of the descendents of the people you enslaved it is pretty easy to be smug and pretend you are enlightened and have no issues.
posted by snofoam at 7:39 PM on October 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


"Cute until the slavery thing. "

Yeah, I think in addition to historical ignorance, it sounds like he wasn't in the parts of the country with large minority populations. My London neighborhood was more Indians and Pakistanis and Jamaicans than whites, and a good portion of the whites were American college students renting flats, it was a very different dynamic. I mean it was lovely and charming and I leaned a SHITLOAD about food, but it wasn't very white, and there were a lot of racial tensions ... Some that we students were involved in, and some we weren't. Very different from our racial tensions at home in America, but there. Also it was crazy-safe for such a " transitional" neighborhood.

Also your cops do smile a lot and it is disorienting to Americans they they're unarmed. My husband spent our whole most recent vacation demanding to know how British cops caught anybody with just night sticks.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:02 PM on October 6, 2015


My husband spent our whole most recent vacation demanding to know how British cops caught anybody with just night sticks.

There's still plenty of cases of police brutality though obviously much less deaths through policing due to the rarity of firearms.

It did scare me a little to see officers with pistols recently at the new train station in Birmingham - you automatically think there's something major happening if firearms officers have been deployed.
posted by brilliantmistake at 10:50 PM on October 6, 2015


For a while last year I saw police officers with guns at Kings Cross pretty regularly as I went through on my commute but haven't seen them for a while, which is nice.

I think another big driver of changes in food quality was the huge explosion of cookery programmes in the late 90s/early 00s. I remember watching Jamie Oliver in my teens, making stuff with ingredients I'd barely heard of, so when I went to university and had responsibility for all my own food, I could try them all out and now I'm pretty sure if my dad walked into my kitchen he wouldn't know what half the stuff in it was.
posted by theseldomseenkid at 11:20 PM on October 6, 2015


"Salad cream" and "curd tart" are neck and neck in the running for the food names I find the grossest. "Curd tart" takes the prize because there seems to be a far greater discrepancy between the grossness of the name and the tastiness of the foodstuff, whereas salad cream would be horrifying no matter what it was called. Also because "curd tart" can be spoonerized to "turd cart."
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:29 AM on October 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


The restaurant scene in the UK got much larger in the 70's and 80's as eating out became both a marker of prestige while simultaneously more available to the masses as the number of restaurants increased, notably Bangladeshi 'Indian' restaurants. 'Italian' restaurants were also increasing in number and awareness of pizza and pasta dishes other than spag bol seeped into the national consciousness.

The celebrity chefs who grew up through this period have managed to hold on to their position at the top of the celebrity food pyramid, their ubiquity has made food something that it is acceptable to care about. The upshot has been that the quality of much of the food on offer has nudged up a bit and the availability of prawn cocktails has dwindled (which is no bad thing).

The British mains plug is a solid piece of engineering, but I have to say that this redesign is very appealing. One of the benefits of putting all the pins in a line is the reduction in foot puncturing possibilities.

My electric shower runs from mains pressure cold and as such is pretty much a power shower in comparison to the shower that takes its water from the hot water cylinder which is on the floor above. The most terrifying electric shower I have seen was in Cuba, where the heating element is in the shower head (like the one in this picture). You had to turn it off (using the switch by the shower) before stopping the water, or boiling water droplets would fall from the shower head as the pressure reached zero.
posted by asok at 6:04 AM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, and insects? There are very few that bite in the night, or indeed during the day. If I sleep out under the stars I might get bitten, but I might not. Indoors with the windows open, hardly ever.

There are midges in the summer in certain places, but they are not everywhere.
posted by asok at 6:14 AM on October 7, 2015


Salad cream and crisps sandwiches or gtfo.

And yes, English food has improved dramatically in the last 20 years.
posted by vbfg at 6:17 AM on October 7, 2015


Please explain brown sauce.

There is a wolverine story wherein some sort of sensei type throws wolverine an apple and asks him to say what it is, every time he verbalises it he is smacked, finally he finally works out that the solution is to eat the apple.

The explanation of brown sauce (I will be using HP from here since anything else is inferior) then is thus:

Take two slices of fresh bread, white is traditional - I would recommend a bloomer but mass produced is fine.

Grill or fry three slices of bacon, back would be my preference, and unsmoked. Frying is more traditional.

Generously blob HP sauce on the bread and push slices together before separating again and inserting the bacon, then clamping shut again. Serve up the best way to start a Sunday morning, paired with fresh coffee (or tea, but I prefer the former).
posted by biffa at 6:19 AM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, I don't think midges would be kept out with a screen (they are very, very small and very, very determined). And if one gets in, then fifty will get in, and if fifty get in you may as well set fire to your house.

I have heard a theory that one of the main reasons the Romans didn't bother getting any further north in Scotland was because they hit midge country and decided it just wasn't worth it.
posted by Catseye at 6:25 AM on October 7, 2015


He's correct about British wine which is an abomination.

English wine however, particularly from the Camel valley, can be excellent and award winning.
posted by electricinca at 7:44 AM on October 7, 2015


"Cute until the slavery thing. "


That one was bait, and kind obviously so, irritating.
posted by Cosine at 8:51 AM on October 7, 2015


"He's correct about British wine which is an abomination."

Yes. Please send me all of your Buckfast. for, uh, "disposal".
posted by I-baLL at 9:04 AM on October 7, 2015


"Just how bad was middle class food between the wars , really? (It doesn't seem fair to consider rationing.) I've always wondered if it was one of those "not actually that bad but it's culturally appropriate to run ourselves down" things."

It's also worth remembering that the interwar period was also the Great Depression, and while America was undoubtably hit worse in agriculture, what with the Dust Bowl, a lot of "middle class" people were comparatively drastically poor and food insecure. That included things like shortages beyond rationing and an increase in low-quality canned foods and processed meats.
posted by klangklangston at 10:13 AM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


a lot of "middle class" people were comparatively drastically poor and food insecure

This was not the case in the English Midlands in the 1930s.
posted by Mister Bijou at 10:39 AM on October 7, 2015


Yeah, interestingly the Midlands and Home Counties had an experience that was significantly different from the rest of England and the UK — they started the '30s with higher unemployment, but a growth in industry (especially automotive in the Midlands) meant that while the rest of the country slipped into a depression that left e.g. 70% unemployment in Northern England, the Midlands saw unemployment drop significantly.
posted by klangklangston at 10:59 AM on October 7, 2015


"Generously blob HP sauce on the bread and push slices together before separating again and inserting the bacon"

Not quite the recipe from 10 Downing, yeah?
posted by clavdivs at 12:28 AM on October 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Guardian: "I moved from the UK to the US six months ago, and it’s true what they say: the portions are enormous; there really are 300-400 TV channels; everyone has beautifully white teeth; and nobody can pronounce “water”.

But, at the risk of biting the hand that feeds me, here are a few other things I’ve noticed about the United States. Because, as Samuel L Jackson once said, they’ve got everything we’ve got … it’s just the little differences."
posted by Wordshore at 3:57 AM on October 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


*cough* Travolta *cough*
posted by biffa at 8:46 AM on October 8, 2015


Wordshore: Thanks for the interesting link! He gets the cause of some things wrong but he does understand a lot especially when he says:
41. If you eat pizza with a knife and fork they look at you like you just ate a sandwich with a spoon. New York’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, caused major controversy by eating his the European way – the weakling.
Yes! Exactly! It's a sandwich! Why would you use a fork and knife to eat a sandwich?
posted by I-baLL at 1:54 PM on October 8, 2015


Eh, I do disagree with
45. People still love smoking, and the glowing retro-futurist coloured lights of e-cigarettes haven’t really caught on yet.
I just think that e-cigs are less noticeable but I do see more e-cig smokers than cigarette smokers. Also e-cigs are much more cyberpunk than real cigarettes.
posted by I-baLL at 1:55 PM on October 8, 2015


How is a pizza a sandwich?
posted by biffa at 7:58 AM on October 9, 2015


it's not, that's crazy talk.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:05 AM on October 9, 2015


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