Monday, April 26, 2010

Getting to know you...

As we settle in (or attempt to settle in  - found another spider lurking in the corner) I try to get accustomed to the way things run 'round here. Here are a few of my hurdles:

Celsius versus Farenheit - I had a vague idea of the difference but when I arrived it was painfully obviously I knew nothing. I'm finally at the point where when the weather comes on I can guestimate what to wear outside. Of course I can always step out into the yard but that would require effort (and I don't think the neighbors would cotton to me stepping out in my jammies).

The pound versus the dollar - I was doing currency exchanges in my head for the first two months - just so I could get a handle on whether things were a good buy or not. Now I'm good with it - and seeing how we're not really using our US cards or accounts it doesn't really apply. I still say dollars when I price things in my head - one day I'll get it... one day.

Portion sizes: I've lost quite a bit of weight (I can't say how much because I can't figure how to switch it from pounds to kilos - another issue). I prefer the portion sizes over here. I could never finish a meal at a restaurant in the US - no matter where I was. Now I can. And for some reason I swear the food tastes better. How is that?

NHS - I've always had insurance, picked my doctors, made appointments at my leisure and never thought about it. Now I'm not sure what I'm doing. And I don't have to pay - it makes me suspicious. I haven't had to go to a doctor myself yet - thank heavens. I'm not even sure how to do it. I did get a number but they spelled my name wrong - can't even deal with that right now.

The tube versus the subway. In New York City - you pay one price and you can ride anywhere the subway goes. I always had a monthly pass - one price and I rode everywhere at any time as much as I wanted. And you only had to swipe your metrocard on entry. The tube is expensive - even with an Oyster card. And I still never remember to pull out my card upon exiting, I'm the annoying one holding up traffic while fumbling for my card in my oversized purse which is a black bottomless pit of tissues, wet wipes, dummies, baby toys and lint.I have to say NY wins this one.

Washing machines and ovens - haven't a clue how to work either of them but have cooked quite a bit and washed load after load of laundry. I brought an oven thermometer and just fiddle with the oven until it's the right temperature and then I cook away. We're getting a  new oven and a new washer/dryer that will have manuals so I plan to use the new ones correctly!

I'm sure there are other things I'm forgetting - but I'm wading my way through and I'll figure it out. I have to say, I've been laughing at myself a lot lately. It's like I'm having to learn everything all over again.


  1. One thing I noticed is the lack of chain restaurants...while there are a few, there are no where near the amount as there are over in my area of the US.

    You're right on the food tasting better, though! Have you gone to Nando's yet? If not, go. Peri-Peri chicken is THE BEST!

  2. I still find it odd leaving the doctor's office and not having to pull out my wallet and fill in half a dozen forms.

  3. For your conversions you could always plot them in to Google if you have a computer or smartphone within reach. 20 degrees, 7 pounds, 5'10" etc.

  4. Hi
    Just someone who enjoys reading your blog, but you really should find yourself a doctor, especially for the children...
    Good luck!

  5. Oh, the kids are all set - X has had his immunizations and Cate has been as well. The kids are all taken care of - it's me that hasn't a clue what to do for myself!

  6. I will keep quiet on the NHS (like any system it has benefits and drawbacks!) but I agree with the previous comment, check out Nandos, yum! You will get used to all of it soon, but I think that not converting pounds to dollars is a huge step!

  7. A lot of your post brings back memories for me. The exchange rate, figuring out the health system, celsius. It *was* like learning everything all over again!

  8. I have travelled a lot over the years but I have no idea how I could cope with living in another country - especially with kids. So many small details that are just confusing

  9. I can help a little. Here are my makeshift rules for US/UK conversion:
    Farenheit is roughly Celcius x 2 + 30. So 20 degrees c is about 70 f.
    Scales: There are 14 pounds in a stone. I don't use kilos still.
    The oven: 340 degrees is about 180.

    I've got by with these makeshift rules for about 10 years now. Hope they work for you.

  10. Have you read the book Watching The British? It's apparently a huge hit over there, and my husband just finished it and really enjoyed it. I don't think it will help with the things you mentioned, but it does explain a lot of the social nuances. Might be worth a go.

  11. I am really really enjoying your blog, it's fascinating to hear your view on moving to England from across the pond! :)

    I have been British my whole life and I have problems with conversions - for some reason when I was younger we learnt temperatures in farenheit, and I've always measured my weight in stones and lbs instead of kilos. Quite confusing now when you attend the doctors and they weigh you in kgs as I don't have a clue! But yet our ovens have always been in degrees C? Mind boggling!

    I live in Muswell Hill now but have also lived by the Heath (Kentish Town), it is such a beautiful area and I am sure you will enjoy it very much x

  12. Do you have any complaints about the dryer? I've heard it shrinks all of your clothing so we never used it.


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