Welcome to the online diary of the “London Ziegs,” as they journal their experiences relocating from the balmy climes of sunny Orlando, Florida to the more chaotically cosmopolitan environment of London, UK!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Miscellaneous Changes

Today marks our first full week in England, so what are some other miscellaneous differences we've observed?
  • Wall switches go down to turn lights on, up to turn them off.
  • You simply cannot buy a gallon of milk in England; the largest size appears to be 2qt.
  • Tesco's sells eggs by the 6pk or the 15, but not by the dozen. I can't explain why this freaked me out so much, or why it seemed to suggest such a sinister rupture in the foundations of the universe, but it did. Somehow, at a very fundamental level, I guess I assumed that eggs were magically produced by the dozen -- that this is how they were made. Breaking that divine arrangement seemed to me a bewildering structural repinning of the cosmos from which I have not yet fully recovered. Oh, and they're all brown. Apparently America hordes the entire world's supply of pristine white shells for its own consumption. (We have not yet established how this will impact coloring eggs for Easter!)
  • The water in London is hard as rock. Okay, so we have hard water many places in America, so what's the big deal? Well here it comes out of the tap nice and clean, with only the slightest sharpness when drunk straight from a glass; however, when you boil it, so as perhaps to make tea, the heat causes all those microscopic particulates to glom together into worrying large clumps known hereabouts as floaty bits that can turn your crystal cup of Earl Grey into a murky brown soup swirling with malign portent -- and that before you add the milk! One of the first things we procured was a filtered pitcher to keep in the fridge :-)
  • Light-bulbs are pinned, not screwed, so don't bother bringing any over.
  • We'd noticed right away the interesting custom of having a power-switch directly on every outlet jack, something which seemed curious but innocuous on first glance. We've since learned it has to do with the considerably higher voltage used here (220v to US's 110v). With that much power surging through a line, if it were to short-out or ground through some spilled water, you'd be toasted right proper. Therefore, they have to take considerably more care with their outlets than people do in America, where a handyman's slip with a screwdriver may yield a surprised yelp, but little lasting damage. This is also why there are commonly no outlets at all in bathrooms, where the chance of appliances falling into tubs or toilets is considered too great to risk. In fact, many bathrooms don't even have wall-mounted light switches inside the room, as a wet hand could slap against it and generate a shock!
  • They have a lot of firedoors here...you have to go through multiple doors (heavy ones too) to get in and out of stairwells, etc. It's almost like they had some kind of major fire in the recent past and are still uptight about it.

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