A few of the initial differences I’ve noticed…
1. 7 hour work day, 4 weeks of vacation (holiday). Of course There’s way more work than 7 hours and I typically work 9… But still, sometimes just 7. And the shorter day seems to make people more focused when they’re at work.
2. Keyboards are whack. The @ isn’t above the 2, the apostrophe, quote marks, colon, are all in slightly different places. I didn’t realise how well I typed without looking or thinking.
Verdict: Dislike, only until I learn it.
3. The whole washing clothes situation. Most flats seem to having washing machines, but they’re smaller, and the drier function is built in but not typically used (see our washer below). We just put our dirty clothes in as we take them off. The wash cycle takes forever.. And you have to hang out the clothes afterwards, but somehow it’s so much easier!!! Yes really! And if it rains in the laundry you’ve hung, just think about it as an extra wash cycle. I less like hanging the clothes inside, but the volume is so small, it makes the task so much easier and less dreaded.
It fits a small load of laundry, maybe 2 pants, 6 shirts, and some baby clothes. We did start using fabric softener to makes our clothes slightly less crunchy.
4. Driving on the opposite side of the road. We don’t have a car. And you can’t look at the direction of the parked cars to remind yourself about the direction because they parallel park all willy nilly. The pavement at crosswalks says “look left” or “look right” to warn the pedestrians. Either Brits are forgetful or there are a lot of immigrants / tourists. Generally it doesn’t matter to me, but I like how courteous they are.
5. No screens in windows. Sure there are a few bugs but nothing like Boston. I think because it’s breezier here? More light is let in.
Oh my gatos, it’s a toddler in the window!
Oh my gatos, a toddler could easily fall out of this window, not that a screen would help.
6. Bath / shower situation. There are very few set showers, they all are detachable shower heads. Some are attached to the wall like ours, but some are just at the base where the water comes out. I guess you just sit down in the bath and use it? What I really hate is the partial glass partition that most showers have instead of curtains. Water gets everywhere. I guess I’m just not skilled with showering. (Side note – the iPad just suggested that the next word after shower be ingredients. Huh?)
Verdict: Dislike, but I love the instant hot water heaters instead of hot water tanks!
Our current shower situation. The glass swings out, which Max of course loves. We all love reading a little Hungry Caterpillar while bathing.
7. Lots of parks and green spaces. Everywhere, more than Boston.
Max back at Hyde Park, focused on getting back to the stream.
Teenage ducks fish in Regents Park.
Little Wormwood Scrubs, just 12 minutes from our Zone 2 flat.
8. Food. Pub food, yuck. Ethnic food, ah-maze-ing!! Yesterday I had the best dosa ever, and then Ethiopian for dinner. Yum! Not to mention the amazing “aubergine” (eggplant) at our local Malaysian haunt. Then again, we couldn’t find salsa at our local market.
Max will eat anything wrapped in injera (Ethiopian bread).
Greek Aubergine – Haven’t tried it yet… but will.
Despite our ravenous appetites, the verdict on this pub food was “meh.”
9. Grocery stores: In the city, there are lots of mini grocery stores with decent selection. Smaller than the Whole Foods in Brighton, but limited choices aren’t always a bad thing. The other wonderful thing is the availability of fresh produce. It’s not just at the grocery store but also in neighbourhood convenience stores! Yet the news still talks about how Brits don’t eat enough fruit and veg. Their favorites seem to be carrots and peas, which would get old.
Verdict: Mostly like
10. Public transit. We don’t have a car anymore. If we want something, we HAVE to walk. and then take the tube or the bus. It’s much more comprehensive than Boston, and cleaner than NYC. I’m averaging 7,300 steps a day. No idea what I did before since I wasn’t tracking it on my Android but 7,300 without even trying seems pretty good. Despite the Tube strike Thursday.
Max on the bus after the Gruffalo. Can you tell he desperately needs a nap?
BONUS! 11. International population. In part because of the European Union, in part because it’s just an international city, there are people from all over. Sure, the U.S. has lots of expats, refugees, transplants, visitors… But London is a different level, yes even than New York City. We still haven’t connected with an American group (or any group) but we’ll get there. The only issue is that our American friends and family aren’t here.
Verdict: Like, dislike, like, it’s both.
Future posts on the NHS (National Health Service) – it has already been an experience!