Ice Water at Meals
In the US when you sit down at a restaurant almost the first thing that will happen is the waiter will bring everyone a class of ice water. In Britain, not so much.
Firstly they will only bring you water if you ask for it. Then they will ask if you want “still or sparkling”. If you say still and mention it is for the whole table, they will probably bring you a bottle and glasses.
They also won’t bring you ice unless you ask for that specifically too. Actually they don’t put ice in their drinks by default. We even went to Burger King once and they don’t put ice in their drinks here.
I’m pretty sure this concept is blasphemous. You can always order tea at a restaurant in the UK, that’s a given. They normally bring you a little kettle of hot water and a cup with a tea bag in it. Their tea bags don’t have strings on them either. You just have to fish them out with a spoon when you are done.
Normally you’ll also get a little pot with milk in it. I thought this a weird idea the first time someone asked if I wanted milk in my tea. But my “this is an adventure” mentality made me say yes and try it. (By the way this took place at a hair salon, where they offered us tea or coffee while we waited)
I liked it. British tea is always black tea, and it’s pretty strong. That’s not a surprise when you think you are using a whole tea bag – about the size of a big one at home – in one cup. Adding milk a) looks cool going in, and b) tones down the strength some too.
I guess saying Americans take this for granted is a southern/western idea. I know people up north often don’t have AC. It’s true here probably for the same reason, it just doesn’t get that warm much.
They also don’t have ceiling fans, which is a little odder because they have some effect on heating as well and are easy to put in.
You can also open windows about everywhere. I was at a business lounge in a business building and someone opened the window. Their windows don’t open like ours either. Instead of sliding up, they tilt outward from either the top or bottom.
They also heat differently. Each room has a radiator in it. You can set the level of that radiator at the radiator, but there is still a central thermostat that turns them off and on. It’s also a good place to put some clothes to dry. Which brings us to…
Some places are starting to have dryers, but it is still rare. Mostly people either hang them outside to dry on a clothesline, or they use “drying racks” inside the house.
They have some washer dryer combos, but from everything I’ve heard about them the dryer isn’t very effective.
Our expat friends have a dryer in their flat with interesting twist on the American concept.
Where does the moist air from your dryer go? At home it is vented to the outside of the house via a big silver hose.
In the UK houses weren’t made for that. Instead the dryers have a reservoir in the bottom that collect the water. A light comes on to tell you when it is full and you have to empty it by hand.
Almost everyone does their dishes by hand. There are dishwashers – our expat friends have one – but mostly people wash by hand.
Guess it’s a good thing we went almost 2 years doing ours at home in Abilene, so we’re used to it.
An interesting side effect of this is I haven’t seen a double sink yet. Instead they have a flat draining surface on the right side of the sink.
Remember how I said different isn’t bad. Next time I’ll tell you 5 things Brits take for granted Americans don’t have.