First Months in England

Wow. Just wow. I’ve procrastinated this post a bit because of how tricky it will be to condense it! Campbell’s could teach me a thing or two about condensing. I’m not good at it. Just ask Delta airlines how many suitcases we brought with us on our flights to The UK … 12. The answer is 12. I could use a sensei in the art of condensing.

We’ve lived here for 3 months now and have totally fallen in love with it. The wellies, scones, roundabouts. I love it all! Well … that is except for the small roads. That is my least favorite thing about The UK. The roads are so narrow and tiny and make my butt pucker at least twice a day.

We first lived in temporary housing on base while we quarantined and subsequently tried to put our life in order. Which was extremely painful. Extreeeeeeeemely painful. We’ve moved before. 7 other times to be exact. But I seriously underestimated (or rather neglected to prepare for) the implications of starting over in a new country. Everything we had established we suddenly had to re-establish. Address, bank accounts, credit, vehicles, insurance, etc. Everything. And it was a real “chicken or the egg” situation because we couldn’t pay our deposit on our house without a UK bank account, but we couldn’t secure a UK bank account without a utility bill … I needed band-aids for the emotional pain those first few months caused me. Or “plasters” rather. (Plaster is the English way of saying band-aid). We have a whole new vocabulary these days.

Some unique things about England that I never knew:

  • The letter Z is called Zed. Just straight up a different name for the last letter in the alphabet.
  • The largest bill they make in The UK is a £50 note. So if you need to buy a £4000 car in cash … you do the math
  • The standard paper size is NOT 8.5 x 11. Never would have thought of this being different. It’s called A4 and its 8-1/4 x 11-3/4
  • On a traffic light, the light actually goes from red to yellow before green. Although it’s called amber, not yellow.
  • You have to pay for shopping bags if you don’t supply your own
  • A large Coke at McDonalds is about the same size as a medium in the States. And you have to specify full-fat if you don’t want diet.
  • There are no outlets in the bathrooms. Nor are there light switches in the bathrooms. You have to flip the light on before walking in.
  • Jay walking isn’t illegal. It stresses me the heck out!

There are so many more that I can’t think of, but rest assured I am keeping notes and will report back.

I had a lot of questions on IG so I will answer a few of them here

Q: What do you miss most about the States? A: I miss wide roads. I know that’s boring. But it is the thing that causes me the most grief here.

Q: What is your favorite food in England? A: I love so much of it guys! My favorites so far are digestive biscuits, and scones with jam and clotted cream!

Q: How is Amazon Prime there? A: INCREDIBLE! Quicker than I ever had it in Idaho. A lot of things are delivered next day.

Q: Where do you like to grocery shop there? A: Shopping! My favorite subject! I have loved shopping for food at Sainsburys! But Waitrose is fancy and I like to stop in there every once in a while.

Q: Favorite place you have been so far? A: We honestly haven’t ventured out too much because our stuff came so quickly that we have been settling in for the last month. But Cambridge was so fun and it would be such an exciting place to live. But I love our quiet little village.

Q: Have you found a church there? A: Yes! We are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and we’re lucky to have a congregation wherever we go!

Q: How is driving? A: This has been the most asked question. Gosh guys. Where do I even start! Driving finally feels normal. I don’t sweat getting behind the wheel anymore. I also don’t get into the passenger seat every time I want to drive. Honestly, it all feels incredibly habitual. Driving on the right side of the car is easy now. Driving on the left side of the road is easy now. If I were driving a UK spec car, on the British side of the road – but the roads were US standards, I wouldn’t even worry. It’s just that the roads are so small that several times a week I wonder if my car, and the car coming the other direction are going to hit. I have to knock my wheel on a curb to make sure the car in the other lane doesn’t take out my side mirror. I also have to scale the hedge on the side of a “two lane” road that is literally less than one lane wide to make room for the mini cooper coming at me. Most everything, roundabouts included are second nature now. But bobbing and weaving out of street-parked cars still catches me off guard at times.

Whether driving is hard or not, I love the adventure. I have loved experiencing something so new. I love learning about this culture and learning a new way to approach life and live. It feels like life is slower here. Everyone is less in a hurry to get ahead and get ahead quicker. You still walk into your butcher shop and chat while the butcher cuts your steaks. You drive under the speed limit because there really isn’t a need to speed. It’s exciting and new and such a wonderful experience!

I’d love to know some of your England faves if you’ve had the opportunity to visit this beautiful country!