THE KIDS ARE BREAKING UP! BRIT LIFE ©
”The children break up on Friday” Truly chilling words. Will their tiny arms and legs suddenly fall off? Will they become decapitated suddenly? All of them? This tip has been written on 18 July 2008. They day the kids break-up in England. Before you become very scared or are afraid you will see little body parts littering the roads in school uniforms – it’s OK. Really. ‘Breaking up’ is a British expression meaning the schools are closing for the summer holidays or other breaks during the year and the children are off school for a while. The first time I heard it I could only imagine complete carnage.
BRIT LIFE ©Related to:
- Study Abroad
- School Holidays
I’m no flag waving patriot but I’m proud of some things British, not least our sense of humour, which is maybe at its best when our backs are to the wall. One of my favourite examples comes from 1940, when France, our last remaining ally in Europe had fallen and the shattered remnants of the British Army had fled from Dunkirk, leaving its weapons on the beaches.
As a stunned and practically defenceless Britain was waiting for what seemed to be inevitable Nazi invasion (and almost certain annihilation) the doorman at one of the Armed Services clubs was heard to console a downcast member by saying: "Anyhow, sir, at least we're in the final, and it is to be played on the home ground." Now that’s irony.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
Favourite holiday destination for the residents of the UK are the many seaside towns and resorts. The Victorians built long piers out over the water and covered them with restaurants and amusements like games and arcades and theatres and shops. The beaches are dotted with changing huts, umbrellas and lounging chairs and there are wide promenades that run along the shore, lined with hotels, guesthouses and places to eat and drink. The most famous of these in the North West is Blackpool with Southport a close second. The Londoners headed out to South End and Brighton has been a favourite destination too. North Wales has Llandudno, Yorkshire has Scarborough, Cornwall will see you in Newquay. If you're in the south east you might find the beaches of Margate to your liking.
I've been to both Llandudno (North Wales) and Blackpool (Northwest coast). Llandudno is not nearly as gaudy and crowded as Blackpool which is sort of a cross between Coney Island and Las Vegas and has three major amusement piers and a huge amusement park called the Pleasure Beach. Blackpool also has a 400+ foot tower you can ascend or stay on the ground and dance in the elaborate ballroom. Llandudno is more sedate, with a nice pier and sweeping wide promenade lined with elegant terrace housing and hotels. There's great hiking on the nearby Great Orme and a Victorian tram that will take you up to the summit if you're not up to the climb.
Brighton is on the south coast and I would highly recommend it as a day trip out of London. It's about an hour on the train from Victoria station and is a compact city in the centre. There are fantastic shops, the wonderful Pavillion (see Things to Do tip), a museum, theatre and the seaside pier, of course! There used to be two piers but one burned a few years ago and it's just a shell now but they haven't torn it down.Related to:
- Theme Park Trips
It is not possible to smoke in a public buildings in the UK now. This include all restaurants, pubs and bars. Many have provided an outdoor area for smoking, this will be either attached to the building or nearby. The area is unlikely to have walls just a roof to protect from the rain. Failing special provision you will need to go into the street, garden or car park.
Public transport also has a No Smoking policy which extends to, for example, London Underground Platforms.
Be prepared to wait for a cigarette and have the correct clothing for probable smoking outside.
COFFEE IN YOUR ROOM
’Coffee making facilities’ is the odd way this fantastic bit of British Culture is usually described. You get an electric kettle, tea, coffee, milk, sugar and biscuits (cookies) in your room! That’s every room. Whether you stay at a 5 star luxury hotel, countryside Bed & Breakfast or the worst hotel in London – you get this! In some places like America you get a whole pot of coffee – that’s it. Here you get a choice and it’s there before you leave your room. Nice to have a cup of coffee ready when you get out of the shower.
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WISHING PEOPLE A HAPPY NEW YEAR
In The UK, it is essential that you greet people with “Happy New Year” the first time you see or speak to everyone you know. I don’t mean just on New Year’s Day, anytime in the New Year. This goes on for weeks as you start talking to people you occasionally work with or friends you have not seen for a while. My latest ‘Happy New Year’ was in May once! So Happy New Year to anyone who reads this tip!Related to:
- Family Travel
- Business Travel
- Arts and Culture
THE RED LETTER BOX
There is nothing more recognisable, more truly British than the Red Letter Box. Not only are they a symbol of Britain, they also tell their own history. Just looking at a letter box allows you tell how old it is and a bit about British history. The modern Royal Mail was organised in the reign of Queen Victoria. You will find the first and oldest letter boxes have the letters: VR which means Victoria Regina (reign of Queen Victoria). The letter box was introduced in 1840 following the reforms which brought in a universal and affordable postage rate. The postage stamp was invented to allow for postage to be pre-paid so people did not have to travel great distances to post their correspondence. Anthony Trollope started the first system of roadside, locking pillar boxes and collection times. He started the system in the Channel Islands. London’s first letter box was placed at the corner of Fleet Street and Farringdon Street in 1855.
So want to play the date game? Here are the British Monarchs and the years on the throne. Find their letters on a red letter box and you know when they were placed in their location:
Victoria 1837 1901
Edward VII 1901 1910
George V 1910 1936
Edward VIII 1936 1936
George VI 1936 1952
Elizabeth II 1953
The rarest of them all are those from the short reign of Edward VIII (1936). Only 161 pillar boxes were cast and only 14 of the larger 'A' size are known still to exist.
** Jonathan Glancey, has written a book called "Pillar Boxes" (Chatto & Windus, 1989) that tells more about this essential British icon**Related to:
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
Socialising in pubs.
A lot of the social life revolves around the pubs. Join in - the English are not as unfriendly as their reputation suggests! Many of the pubs are hundreds of years old, with a great atmosphere, and these days they offer excellent and well-priced food.
You'll find them in all cities and towns, they're the social centre of villages, they're in open countryside
Sticking your fingers up!
Here in the UK not only is sticking your middle finger up a dirty gesture but so is sticking your middle finger and index finger up at the same time and brandishing them at someone (the opposite way round to the peace symbol of course, but in the same V)
Be very careful if you use this sigh to say two as it may get you in a lot of trouble (I know the Spanish use those fingers to say two for example!!!).
The tradition has many explanations such as it being the opposite to the peace symbol or that it is to show that you still have those fingers despite committing a crime such as treason, as those fingers were once cut off for that!
The Weather Talk
British people love to talk about the weather (and complain about it). Every time I talk to my mother on the phone the first five minutes of the conversation are always taken up by an exact account of what the weather has been like, is like and will be like for the rest of the week.
There are several words to describe rain! For example:
downpour (or it's pouring down)
it's p*ssing it down,
it's raining cats and dogs,
These words describe rain from the first few spots to fall to when not even an umbrella will keep you dry!
The weather here is very changeable, it can be raining hard in the morning, cloudy midday, sunny in the afternoon and raining again at night! Or it can just be that it doesn't stop raining!!!!!
The driest part of Britain is in the south East. There the rain tends to be that annoying kind that gets you wet eventually but not enough to make you put up you brolley. Look at me, I can't stop talking about the weather.........
The British Beach Tradition.
Well really I'm talking about England because I don't remember any coastal town or practises like I am going to describe in Scotland and I simply don't know about Wales.
From Backpool to Clacton on Sea, Great Yarmouth to Brighton you are sure to find a Pier jutting out into the water. Maybe they look quite pretty but once you go on one you will realise it is just a games arcade and fairground. Good for the kids I suppose. This is in fact what the majority of the town is like that borders the beach. There are lots of glaring colours and flashing lights coaxing you into the many games arcades to loose you money on slot machines or video games.
Another curiosity and cultural trait of these Sea side towns is ROCK!!! Rock is basically a striped stick of hard sugar, sold in any sea side town brandishing the name of the town on on it. The sight really is something to behold with so many bright colours protruding from the sticky sticks of sugary 'delight'. I never really was a fan of it myself. Cotton candy is also whirled onto sticks for the kids to cover their faces with.
For those of you without a sweet tooth you will also find many stalls selling cockles and sea snails!
The beaches are lined with beach huts and strooned with stripy deck chairs. Sea gulls swoop over head.
The sea is foamy and not often blue, but millions of English people flock to them to enjoy the sheer tackiness be it sunny or cloudy and windy.
It was only after living here in Cadiz, a seaside town in Spain that I realised the great difference between beach customs as none of the above can be found here.Related to:
- Family Travel
Flowerbeds and planters.......
Traditionally the English (in particular) are supposed to be very fond of gardening.
Somehow (and I suspect this began in late Victorian times) this fondness has become incorporated into what is considered 'civic pride'.
So when you visit a town or a city, you can expect to see formal flowerbeds, planters and even hanging baskets around the city centre (and particularly around the local council offices, in my experience). This is, of course, in addition to the formals gardens and flower beds which are a feature of most town/city parks. Even roundabouts have floral displays, sometimes sponsored by local firms.
I'm not fond of regimented displays of plants, personally, nor of our annual 'bedding plants' which are set out in May/June and then uprooted and disposed of in September. But there is no doubt that such displays do add colour to what (in many cases) is a concrete desert under a grey duvet, and they do lighten the gloom of the early months (the photo is a bed of winter pansies in January).
It's taken so seriously that there is an annual competition for towns/cities : 'Britain in Bloom' is organised by the Royal Hortcultural Society.
- Arts and Culture
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The motto for UK is: "Dieu et mon droit" (ironically a French phrase) which means "God and my right"
the national anthem is the stately march "God Save the Queen"
the nation's capital is also the capital of England: London
the flag is called the Union Jack and is a combination of the red-white flag of England with blue-white cross of Scotland.
The emblem of the country includes symbols for each of the kingdoms components.
The central shield shows the three lions of England; the rampant lion and double tressure fleury-counter-fleury of Scotland; and the harp for Ireland.
Other figures in the emblem are acrowned lion, symbolizing England; a unicorn, symbolising Scotland.
Words on the emblem are: the motto of English monarchs, Dieu et mon droit (God and my right), and the motto of the Order of the Garter, Honi soit qui mal y pense (Shamed be he who thinks ill of it)Related to:
- Road Trip
The British Pound Sterling
I have 2 members of my family on the new 5 pound note...Elizebeth Fry and Sir T.F.Buxton.
The pound (symbol: £; ISO code: GBP), divided into 100 pence, is the official currency of the United Kingdom and the Crown Dependencies. The slang term "quid" is often used in place of "pound", depending on the region.
The official full name pound sterling (plural: pounds sterling) is used mainly in formal contexts and also when it is necessary to distinguish the currency used within the United Kingdom from others that have the same name. The currency name — but not the names of its units — is sometimes abbreviated to just "sterling", particularly in the wholesale financial markets; so "payment accepted in sterling", but never "that costs five sterling". The abbreviations "ster." or "stg." are sometimes used. The term British pound, used particularly by the U.S. media, is not an official name of the currency.
The pound was originally the value of one pound Tower weight of sterling silver (hence "pound sterling"). The currency sign is the pound sign, originally ₤ with two cross-bars, then later more commonly £ with a single cross-bar. The pound sign derives from the black-letter "L", from the abbreviation LSD – librae, solidi, denarii – used for the pounds, shillings and pence of the original duodecimal currency system. Libra was the basic Roman unit of weight, which in turn derived from the Latin word for scales or balance.
The British Pound Sterling
The ISO 4217 currency code is GBP (Great Britain pound). Occasionally the abbreviation UKP is seen, but this is incorrect. The Crown Dependencies use their own (non-ISO) codes when they wish to reflect their distinctiveness. Stocks are often traded in pence, so traders may refer to Pence sterling, GBX (sometimes GBp), when listing stock prices.
Following the adoption of the euro by several countries, sterling became the world's oldest currency still in use, and it currently holds the third biggest portion of global currency reserves after the US dollar and the euro.  Pound sterling is the fourth most-traded currency in foreign exchange market after the USD, the euro, and the Japanese yen.
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