5 Things Brits Take For Granted Americans Don’t Have

Electric Kettles

It took me a little while to notice this one because I actually do have an electric kettle. I twigged to it one day while watching a cooking (or cookery as they say here) show and the chef grabbed his electric kettle and added boiling hot water to something. That wouldn’t happen in your average American house. We’d have a rather complicated procedure to boil water.

Falkirk Wheel rotates 180 degree raising the boat and water in the bottom to the top.
Falkirk Wheel rotates 180 degree raising the boat and water in the bottom to the top.

Obviously this comes from the UK have a tea culture the US doesn’t. They also metaphorically measure energy based on the tea kettle. According to our skipper, it take just over 6 kettles of tea boils to turn the Falkirk Wheel, all 400+ tons of it.

Grocery delivery

Sure they’ve tried this big innovation in the US, but in the UK it’s just taken for granted. It’s pretty nice. You go to a grocery store’s website, add everything you want to a shopping basket and pay for it. Then you can select a delivery time. The delivery time slots vary in price based on how popular they are.

Oh and unlike an American cable or phone company, they hit their delivery times almost exactly.

Passenger trains to everywhere

Trains to Every Where
Trains to Every Where

Train travel is ubicutous in the UK. It’s assumed you can get to any town on the British Isles via train and you can.

Train travel is interesting. As an American you want to compare it to air travel and you notice those differences first. There’s no security checkpoint to strip down and go through. You have to take care of your own bags. There are big shelves in each car for large luggage and you put your bags there. You are also warned to keep an eye on them yourself. You can put “hand baggage” in racks over your seat. Train seats can face either forward or backwards, and some have tables between them.

Chip and pin credit cards

All UK credit cards have computer chips in them. Everywhere has little terminals they stick your card in and then it asks for a PIN instead of having you sign. Of course my credit card for the trip requires a signature, but the machines handle that fine.

One interesting thing is at restaurants they bring the machines to you. I bet it’s weird to UK travelers in the US that waiters take their cards away to run them.

Adult TV

This first time you’re watching British TV around 10 PM and someone says “Fuck” an American does a double take. “Shit” is also common. There does seem to be a rule about what time you can bring out the cuss words but they can say all the forbidden words.

In the UK there is what they call “freeview” TV. This is the TV your TV license fee (ie tax) entitles you to plus some commercial channels that get included. After that you can pay for more TV if you want more. Not much different from the US, though much of the free BBC TV has no commercials.

Ready yourself for another double take if you scroll down the channels around 11PM or midnight and suddenly are confronted with a woman in lingerie with her legs spread as wide as the will go. She’ll be waving a wireless phone handset with one hand and stroking herself with the other. All the while she’ll be attempting to sell you the idea of calling her at the number on the screen for some private time, or hitting the “Big Red Button” which is some sort of interactive TV available here.

I was going to write some personal sociological musings about Brits and sex, but I really don’t have enough insight yet. I’ll have to do some research 🙂

It is the end of our time in Scotland and we’ll be leaving for Cardiff in a couple of days. The next two weeks is be more like a standard American vacation than any part of our trip. Middle of July we’ll land in London and spend the rest of our time there. Expect to hear more insight then.