Thirteen Things I’d Forgotten About Scotland/The UK

…in no particular order.

1. It’s really windy, especially on the coast. OK, gale-force winds. Forget Paul Mitchell Freeze & Shine Super Spray girls, it’s no help.

2. You hear the word “sorry” a lot, especially if someone shuffle-steps coming towards you and you both can’t decide what direction to walk in.

3. If you’re looking for the public toilet, call it a toilet not a bathroom. British logic is–there is no bath. And it’s true.

4. Parking spaces are much tighter. One space at Costco could almost fit two (mid-size) cars in the UK.

5. A lot of popular drinks taste slightly different in the UK, like Coke and Dr. Pepper for instance. Despite even that, what’s more interesting is, there’s more carbonation in the fizzy drinks too. Don’t drop a litre bottle of Coke and then open it slowly, it’ll still spray all over you. Right, Bryan?

6. Heinz has a huge market share in Britain. Look for (low sodium – woohoo) soups a-go-go (as many as Campbell’s. We have Campbell’s too), Heinz beanz, spaghetti, macaroni cheese, ravioli and many others. My question is: where are they here? It’s an American company. I don’t get it.

7. It’s much greener than you’d think. All-year round too. The grass is never dormant.

8. You can’t exit the motorway and get right back on. You have to drive to the next junction (exit) and try and navigate back. Just assume you know where you’re going; or, better yet, take a map.

9. Traffic police don’t monitor your speed on the motorways, traffic cameras do. Watch out for the signposts. If you speed passed, they’ll catch you. However, if you have an American license, chances are they’ll drop it. Apparently, we can’t have a trip to Scotland without the big flashy lights going off, it just wouldn’t be the same.

10. Roundabouts are easier to navigate if you use your indicator lights. Failing to do this passing traffic wishing to enter ahead of you could result in a smashy-crashy. (If you’re taking the third exit from the roundabout, keep your right-hand signal on till you get to the one you want, then change it to the left as you exit.)

11. Rather than waving someone on, use your “flashy-flashies”. A quick flash flash is sufficient enough to say, “on ye go, pal.” You can also use them on the motorway to let the lorries (trucks) know they have enough room to move in front of you. Or, if someone is moving slower than you would like in the fast lane, flashy-flashy will politely tell them to move over or be crushed to smithereens.

Point to remember: Never try and get away with passing on the passenger side, they hate that.

12. There’s a minimum amount you have to spend to use your debit card. Don’t worry, it’s only about £3.00 in some places.

13. It’d better to ask a local if you can’t find a toilet in a store where the nearest one is, a lot of smaller stores don’t have them for public use.

Point to consider: It helps if you have a desperate 3-year-old with you at the time.

14. Bonus point: The ground (or street level, or the extra-fancy sounding, Lobby) floor isn’t Floor 1, it’s G (for ground – not just a clever name). A good point to remember if you ever find yourself in a lift.


11 responses to “Thirteen Things I’d Forgotten About Scotland/The UK

  1. 1. “It’s blowin’ a gale out there!” is a phrase I’ve only ever heard me use here.
    2. I remember thinking American’s were so polite because they always say ‘excuse me’ or ‘pardon me’ when doing the little jig in the hallway or elsewhere.
    3. Call it a ‘toilet’ and be prepared to pay 20p to use it.
    6. Good point. I’d never noticed it. I wish they’d makeHeinz tomato sauce crisps here.
    8 and 10. I love/miss roundabouts. They’re very convenient. And I use the word ‘junction’ still.

    All great points. I applaud you and your blogging ability.

  2. I love roundabouts. We have a few here in Colorado Springs (meaning only three that I know of!) and I like ’em. Back home we have a few also. It’s not uncommon back home to find a drunk going around and around and around 😉 lol

  3. Great post! On 11 – also worth noting the flashy flashies are good for warning oncoming drivers of speed cameras, if you’re feeling kind.

    When I went back recently, near where my parents live, I discovered they’d put up some particularly evil speed cameras that are on the motorway about a mile or so apart – and they measure whether you speed at all over this distance. So you see the first one, slow down, then speed up because you think you’re out of its range, but by speeding up, the second one will catch you….

  4. no. 10 was like gibberish to me. my eyes got all glossy. Heinz was started in Pittsburgh. I LOVE ketchup. you would think that’d be one of the first places i’d visit while living here but it wasn’t and i still haven’t been (it’s so much harder when you live there). i MUST go before i leave here tho! mmm!

  5. 7 – I have a half-written blog post about this: “And the grass stays green all winter!”
    8 – Actually, there’s a motorway exit near my parent’s where you can do that – nice big roundabout. I like roundabouts, but I hate the double roundabouts cos I get confused as to which one I’m on.
    9 – Having an American driving licence didn’t get me out of a speeding ticket 😦 It got sent to the car rental company, who charged it to my credit card.

  6. …and “lift” is the elevator. Wonderful post. Reminds me of all of the things I loved about Scotland. That, the pints and the chips!

  7. “1. It’s really windy, especially on the coast. OK, gale-force winds. Forget Paul Mitchell Freeze & Shine Super Spray girls, it’s no help.”

    What about the 80’s staple, Aquat Net? It was my experience many years ago that a tornado could whip through town and the only thing left standing after the fact was a well coifed Aquat Netted hair do. 😉

  8. If you miss roundabouts, come to Massachusetts. We have ’em all here.

  9. Our town has a round, I wonder if I follow your instructions if people will think I am nutty.

  10. I like the flashy lights in Europe. In the US the camera’s are trickier and you won’t know you have gotten a ticket until it comes in the mail.

  11. In Jersey we call them circles and it is not an easy thing for most people to maneuver. When we were in Scotland, I had to talk a person (originally from Britain who traveled with us), through the roundabout – and backwards (by my perception) to boot.

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