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We speak the same language (well nearly), but living in England is much different than living in the United States. We traded houses with a couple who live in Sawbridgeworth which is thirty miles northeast of London. The village is old but delightful as is most everything in England and that is part of the charm. 
Two neighboring houses in the village of Much Hadham.
Timbered buildings go back to the twelfth century and they aren't just museums; people live and work in them. People don't even think of tearing them down to rebuild new. It is not uncommon to find houses with thatched roofs all over the United Kingdom. Shops often have squeaky, uneven wooden floors and tiny rooms. In shops that have an upstairs the stairs are narrow and curved which are difficult to manage. Only the newest most modern buildings are handicap accessible. Because these buildings were built when people were shorter, the doors are small and the ceilings are low. 
Ron is 5'6" and easily reached the ceiling in an old pub.

The most obvious difference between the U.S. and Great Britain is that the Brits drive on the left side of the road and their steering wheels are on the right. It took a little getting used to for us to get around while here. To compound the situation, the roads are very narrow without shoulders and people can park almost everywhere. 

1. A road through the average village  2.  Mirrors fold back so there is more room for passing.
Then there are the roundabouts. They are really an efficient way to move people about, but they take a little getting used to. Each time we approach a roundabout we need to read all the choices and quickly decide which way to go. Add that to being on the wrong side of the road (for us) and going in a clockwise circle with lots of other traffic and it becomes confusing. Here are some examples (they are all different). 
Looks confusing doesn't it?
And where do you want to go here?
One of our readers wrote of their experience driving in England. After landing at Gatwick, they picked up their rental car and started out to explore castles. It didn't take long before they realized how hard it is to read the signs and do what you need to do. After hitting the side mirror three times and becoming frustrated, they headed back to Gatwick, turned in their rental car and took the train to London where they stayed; they forgot the castles. He added that they had a ball. I have to give Ron a whole lot of credit. Although we have hit the curb more than once and touched mirrors on occasion, he drove all the way to Scotland, Bath, Lulworth and lots of little villages and did a great job. We put over 2,000 miles on the car as a matter of fact much of it was on roundabouts. One thing I really love while driving here in England is the absence of bill boards. There just aren't any and that is refreshing.

Living in a house is way different than being a tourist staying only in hotels or B & Bs. The English houses are different in many ways. The rooms are small but comfortable. 

The house we lived in for 5 weeks.
It would be unusual to find a real king sized bed. Most beds we encountered are just double beds---not queen sized (they call those "king" beds). If one looks in the bedding section of the department stores, it will be easy to find bedding for the single or double bed and not so easy to find anything bigger although they have up to their king but remember that is the same as the U.S. queen. Most beds will have a duvet (either feathers or synthetic) with a cover over it and matching pillow cases. They generally do not use a top sheet---the duvet cover is the top sheet and blanket all in one and the cover is easily washed as needed. After our first trip to England in 1989, I fell in love with the concept and have duvet covers on my beds at home, but I still use a top sheet and don't know why.

Dishwashers, washers, dryers, refrigerators etc., are all smaller than the U.S. versions. I was amazed when I washed my first load of clothing here. The washer (a front loading one) took forever. I got out the manual and learned that the shortest wash cycle (wool) runs for 55 minutes. For cotton (whites or colors) the wash time is between 125 to 150 minutes. That is just to wash the clothes. I couldn't find any detergents that looked familiar so I used what was here and replaced the same. She uses little packets of some sort of liquid (called liquitabs) that dissolves in the wash. It was neat. I couldn't find a detergent with bleach and was surprised to find some of the liquitabs in the stores contain fabric softener at the same time. 

Nearly every home has a garden and even if only a tiny space is available flowers will be planted. There is nothing quite as pretty as an English garden; it is a delight to the eyes.

We Americans are used to a post office being just that and nothing more. Here the post office is where you go for milk, bread, meats, dry cleaning, bill paying, magazines, currency exchange and oh, yes, where you go to post a letter or package. 
The post office in Much Hadham where Ron mailed a letter is a fully stocked grocery store and more.
There are huge grocery stores here now where they were few and far between when we were here in 1989. Back then nearly everyone had milk delivered in one quart glass bottles. We don't see many that have that luxury any more with the super markets nearby. One thing surprised us at the supermarkets; all of the cashiers sit on stools and they work rather slowly from that position although I am sure they are less tired at the end of the day. And everyone has to bag their own groceries. The super markets are well stocked with good varieties in  things, but most containers are small. For example paper towel rolls are only nine inches tall. I don't know how big ours are in the U.S. but I know they are taller and in the U.S. the rolls are thicker too. The paper towels that Brenda had here were quite useless because they were so thin and flimsy. When we went shopping I found Bounty had arrived and it makes a big difference. The rolls are still the UK size though, but the quality of the towel is better and more expensive too. The grocery stores will have lots of varieties of cakes and desserts but only one or two brands of bar soap. The stores even have pre washed salad like we do in the states so all and all shopping was good.

Most towns of any size have a butcher and a bakery or vegetable stands in a store front. They display their wares in the window just like shoes would be displayed in a shoe store.

The above pictures were taken in the town of Barnard Castle
I have never yet seen any one handle food with plastic gloves on. I watched a butcher put some raw meat in the window with his bare hands and in a restaurant we watched as the owner made sandwich after sandwich and pizzas and calzones (molding and pressing the dough etc.,) by using his bare hands. It seems that food handlers aren't required to use gloves. We purchased some chicken breasts from the butcher and he reached in with his bare hands to get them for us and before he did anything else, he did wash his hands. 

On the same topic of hygiene, the restrooms which are simply called "toilets" here do not offer the paper seat covers nor do they have paper towels which is fine except there are nearly always two doors which have to be opened by pulling on a handle in order to get out of the bathroom area. These two doors are fire doors. I am used to washing my hands, then using the towel to touch the door handle if there is one. I prefer it when you can use your elbow to push the door open but not in England;they open in instead of out. 

The people of England are very friendly when you speak to them, but they generally will not speak to you first. One of the hardest things for us to deal with was not being able to meet any neighbors. We made sure that we introduced Brenda and Peter to all of our friends who in turn invited them out and so on; we felt quite lonely at times. One day when we took a walk on one of the many public paths, we met up with two different couples and talked for the longest time. What a treat that was. 

Television sets are small in England and unless you have satellite you will only get four channels. There are few commercials though so that is good. 

Pubs (public houses) are everywhere. You can spot them quite a ways away because of their attractive hanging signs. The names are clever and cute and usually combine two words like the Plume and the Feather or the Hand and Crown. The pub meals which are usually served from noon to two then not again until seven in the evening (if in fact they serve food at night) are very good. We just had two of the best meals ever. 

Top right chicken and asparagus pie at the Bull Inn
bottom (L-R) steak and ale pie chicken in a peach sauce both at the Hand and Crown Pub

In any of the homes we visited (not really that many) and all of the B & Bs we have noticed that they use electric showers to provide a boost to the water pressure. They all look similar but some actually create instant hot water from a cold water tap. That makes a lot of sense, really.  When we were in England in 1989 none of the B & Bs had anything but a bath tub to offer and trying to wash our hair from two separate faucets rather than one was very difficult. We can only remember one or two that offered one of those rubber hoses that would attach to each faucet and it had a spray at the end. Sitting in the tub you would have to hold the hose over your head to shampoo and rinse off .  It appears that showers are now popular and this is how they do it. I am not sure why they need the electric variety but that is what they do. But even this year our bathroom at the Castle Inn was spartan.

At the Castle Inn in Lulworth this is all 
we had for a shower.
As I mentioned we were living here but we did play tourist. We didn't have to pay bills or tend to other household things except we did cut the grass twice. From our previous visit we thought living in England would be a bit like going back in time to a place where living was slower. But the English are catching up to the hustle and bustle of the world. They drive fast and seem to be in a hurry. We got honked at a few times when we were traveling the speed limit. It was, for the most part, a relaxing vacation. 
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