I saw a request on the VTforum from 2 Bulgarians, asking for tips about combining touring & working in the UK - there were many responses warning about the exploitation of foreigners within my country, especially in the countryside, where there is a shortage of seasonal labourers...
Also, UK has immigration restrictions, including countries in eastern Europe, who've recently entered the EU - which make it more awkward to be a casual migrant worker here...
A lot of these aspiring migrant workers happen to be students, & using lateral-thinking, it's possible to think around these beauracratic obstacles, such as coming to the country as a volunteer, rather than a paid worker...
A scheme called Willing Workers On Organic Farms, exists as a voluntary organisation, supposedly in order to place such volunteers with host farmers in this country - the deal, in theory, is that the volunteer receives 'free' accommodation, food, & training, in exchange for 5 hours work per day, 5 days a week...
As a previous member of this scheme, I must warn anybody considering travelling in order to enjoy this cheap way to travel abroad, that like most things which sound too good to be true, it's a scam...
The fundamental problem with it, is that the host 'farms', are not proper farms, but are a phenomenon that has developed in UK over recent decades of 'hobby farms'...
That is, people with a sentimental view towards rural life, buy a plot of land, then run it as a hobby, usually tiring in a short space of time, of the amount of work required to sustain such a proposition, not to mention the less romantic reality of farming, such as early hours & shovelling animal excrement...
Consequently, the WWOOF scheme is being exploited by people with no actual experience of running a farm, who cannot actually train you, but just require a 'dogsbody' to do those jobs, they themselves feel are beneath them to dirty their hands with...
Some hosts are just a posh house with a big garden & paddock, so instead of 'organic farming', your work will be weeding the lawn & flower border, & collecting dog & horse dumps - a fact of life if you want to work with animals, but not what I call 'educational'...
However, this is not the worst part of the scheme, because the organisation does not check out applicant hosts, before adding them to their database, so has no idea if their online claims to be a rural idyll, are that, or something that more resembles a scrapyard, or building site, isolated in the middle of nowhere...
I once travelled to Devon, to stay with a WWOOF host, who was building a barn, in the most haphazard, health & safety UNconscious way, imaginable...
This man was already suffering 2 broken ribs as a result of his own lax attitude to site safety, because instead of using scaffolding, he had piled up wooden pallets, some of which were rotten...
Despite falling from the top of such a precarious pile, from roof height, & nearly killing himself, this host persisted to send me & another 'wwooffer' from Spain, up these collapsing pallets, in order to complete his barn roof...
Not only was the place a deathtrap, but the food was insufficient to sustain the intense manual labouring, as there was no meal provided until after 21:00 - & until then, we were expected to survive on an apple, or yesterdays leftovers...
0n more than 1 occasion with this host, I was caused to suffer hypoglycaemia, as the location was isolated away from any shops where I could obtain extra food, so I had to suffer a blood sugar crash, when I am not even a diabetic!
At this host, & others I visited, there were also problems with the foreign 'wwoofers' making mistakes, as a result of not understanding instructions - a situation the host(s) blamed on "translation"...
But the truth is, these hosts did not explain themselves in English that I found clear, so how on Earth could a foreigner understand them?
In fact, 1 host I stayed with, had such severe bipolar disorder, he could not even finish his sentence, before changing his mind on what he wanted done...
This reulted in his 'wwoofers' being constantly insulted for making mistakes, when in fact his instructions were as clear as mud, or otherwise he'd changed his own mind as to what to do, after the event, then blamed the worker for not being ahead of his erratic thinking...
This host went to a lot of trouble to tell his 'wwoofers' that their English was at fault; however, his reasoning collapsed when he tried to blame this on a misunderstanding with an Australian...
Not only did my experience of this scheme introduce me to hosts with blatant disregard for other peoples personal wellbeing, they also tended to have an eccentric outlook on life, being superstitious, either 'new age', or fundamentalist religious...
They did not respect other peoples views to resist to trying to incularise these extremist beliefs into their 'wwoofers', which I found insulting, especially as the scheme is supposed to be educational...
So, my advice to anybody seeking casual employment in UK as a way to travel, is to avoid these schemes which do not deliver what they claim to - it is best to follow the route of a registered employment agency, who are bound by law to deliver what they claim, in terms of accommodation, etc...
In some parts of the world it is common to abbreviate streetnames. For example: 'I met him on Albany'.
Do not do this in the UK. We *never* abbreviate streetnames. Not only will you immediately mark yourself out as a visitor if you do this but you also risk causing considerable confusion.
You see, UK streetnames are not unique to any one street. There may well be an Albany Street, an Albany Hill, an Albany Square, an Albany Lane...and/or Crescent..and/or Drive...and/or View... and/or Road....and/or more.....
There is simply too much potential for error if you abbreviate UK streetnames, so we never, ever do it.
And neither should you!
To claim right of way on a pedestrian crossing in UK you must put your foot on it, merely standing on the footpath near a crossing is not considered intent to use a crossing.
The danger concerns a situation which happens on an almost weekly basis where someone's actually crossing the road & some idiot is tearing along at twice the speed-limit & mows down the pedestrian.
Even though it should be obvious what the consequences of speeding in a built-up area might be & despite persistent protests (by the general public) over soft-sentencing, the judiciary still treat this kind of thing as a tragic accident & hand out a fine of less than the average weekly wage, or a very light prison sentence of around one year, to the speeding driver who kills or maims a pedestrian.
...This happens even in cases where the offending driver has no licence (e.g. under-age or disqualified through previous convictions), no insurance, has defective tyres & brakes, fails to stop after the crash, drives off laughing, shows no remorse & is only concerned about resulting light cosmetic collision damage to their vehicle.
..as you might do if you are from Europe, do be aware that allowing your dog to foul the streets is taken pretty seriously these days.
There is no one overall penalty. Local councils can set their own penalties. If your dog performs and you do not clear it up, you can be fined a substantial amount.
So always carry some plastic bags with you, and always use them to collect whatever your dog leaves behind. Sometimes you will find special waste bins for dog droppings but if there are none then you must either put it in an ordinary waste bin or take it back with you and put it in your own dustbin.
I think 'environmental crime' is a bit strongly-worded, myself. But allowing your dog to perform on the pavement is inconsiderate and discourteous, and UK public opinion is very much against it. Even if you do not get fined you are likely to be thoroughly told off by locals!
A warning about something you are unlikely to come across, but the possibility does exist.
Most UK marches and demonstrations are entirely peaceful but in some cases UK police tactics can include 'kettling'. This means confining the demonstrators to one particular area, for a given length of time, and then escorting them away from that area after the demonstration.
That is not a problem in itself. UK demonstrations rarely involve any thing other than a lot of shouting and pushing, the occasional smoke 'bomb' and sometimes a few odd missiles (water bottles etc) being thrown. UK police are not armed with guns in their normal duties, and are not armed with guns when they police demonstrations.
'Kettling' will affect you if you accidentally get caught in the 'kettling' area. The fact that you are not part of the demonstration is irrelevant; you will not be allowed to leave until the police have decided to allow this.
So if there is a demonstration it is best to keep your distance. Being 'kettled' may keep you detained in one area for several hours, and will certainly ruin your plans for the day.
'Kettling' is most likely to occur in larger cities (where there are inevitably more demonstrations) but can occur anywhere. It has also, on occasion, been used as a tactic for crowd control at football matches, when holding opposing fans in one area before escorting them to/from their transport.
THIS TIP IS NOT FOR THE SQUEMISH! Yes, these are pictures of a PUB that has closed. I don’t mean for the night. I mean FOREVER! Oh – the humanity! Over 50 Pubs a week shut here. Just look at these gruesome photos. The opening hours sign doesn’t have any opening hours. Those are solid steel mesh screens up on every door and window.
Can this terrible tragedy be stopped? YES! By YOU! Get yourself down to the Pub and order not 1, but 2 drinks. Keep those Pubs in business so that no one ever has to see the tragedy that these photos depict.
It’s up to YOU.
Double yellow lines at the side of a road mean parking is forbidden.
A single yellow line means you can park for a limited time during set hours ... there will be a head-height sign somewhere nearby to tell you when.
Be careful even if there are no lines. Many towns and cities have streets which are 'residents parking only'. You need to display a permit to park there. and will be fined if you have no permit. Always check for fairly small notices, usually on poles or sometimes on walls.
If you park illegally you may well return to find a 'parking ticket' on the windscreen. These are given out by traffic wardens and police, and require you to pay a steep fine. You won't know when wardens are about ....they can appear as if from nowhere, especially in cities. And you will need to pay the fine, otherwise it will eventually be taken from your credit card by the hire firm (and in that case it may possibly have administration charges added to it).
Many town car parks have machines to give you a ticket, but you will usually need the right change. Many also have height restrictions, so parking a camper van is not easy. Overnight parking is forbidden in many car parks: check the rules for each one individually.
Tickets should be put in the front windscreen or on the dashboard where they can be clearly seen by the car park attendants/traffic wardens. Make sure you are back before the ticket expires; being even 5 minutes late may result in a fine.
If you do not buy a ticket you may have to pay a fine (£40+ is not unusual) and/or your car may be clamped and you will have to pay (a lot) to free it. You can never tell when a attendant or traffic warden is around, so just buy the ticket and stick to the time limit.
We are lucky to have few dangerous plants or animals in the UK, but it is worth being aware of Giant Hogweed, especially if you have children.
It isn't native. It was introduced as a garden plant in the 1800s and gradually spread across the country. It especially likes riversides, which is where I took the photo (the hogweed is the white flowers).
Although we have lots of plants with white lacy flowerheads, you can't miss Giant Hogweed. As its name suggests, it is absolutely huge.
The danger lies in the sap, which reacts with sunlight to cause nasty blisters which can scar. Children are often affected, as they like to break the dead stems to blow through.....hence blisters on lips as well as hands (or even eyes, if they use the stems as 'telescopes').
If you do get sap on your skin, wash it well as soon as possible with soap and water. and keep the skin from sunlight for a few days (the sap can react to cause a permanent mark). See a doctor immediately if the skin is extensively affected, or sap goes near eyes/mouth, or if blisters form.
It is true that the British talk a lot about the weather, but there is a reason for this. It is always changing. There are officially 4 seasons : Spring, summer, autumn and winter, BUT it is no guarantee that the weather observes them. I have experienced snow in Scotland in May, and just the other day in England [October 2008] we set out on a cold day with sunshine and blue skies, but 4 hours later the clouds were black and threatening. Rain fell, followed shortly by hailstones. An hour later we were driving between fields covered in snow and cars had a layer of white on their roofs.
This makes packing clothes difficult, so in summer always have something warm, just in case. And in autumn and winter expect anything.
What if your holiday company ceases trading just as you arrive at the airport to jet off? If you get it wrong you just lost ALL your money. The pictures are screen shots of 5 different holiday companies that ceased trading – in the same month – and left customers stranded here and abroad. How do you protect yourself? You need to book holidays that are ATOL protected and/or pay with a protected method. Credit Card users can always get their money back. In the UK if you want to save the credit card charges you can pay by VISA DEBIT (only) and get your money back. Other debit cards? Your money is gone. Only a small percentage of travel insurances will get you home if stranded – read the small print. Then there’s ATOL.
What is ATOL?
ATOL is a protection scheme for air holidays and flights that is managed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). All tour operators and travel firms selling air holiday packages and flights in the UK as their primary business are required under law to hold a licence called an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (ATOL). ATOL protects you from losing your money or being stranded abroad somewhere. In most cases you can finish you holiday in your hotel/resort! Then ATOL flies you back home to the UK.
The ATOL website has a search tools that allows you to check if the small business selling you tickets is a member – or not.
Three human diseases are known to be associated with pigeon droppings: Histoplasmosis, Cryptococcosis, and Psittacosis. They all result in years of unimaginable pain and then death. There are no known medicines to alleviate the pain or prolong life. OK. Only the names of the diseases are true, but do you want to contract anything you cannot pronounce? Pigeons are flying rats. Just plain nasty. Fortunately there are expensive fines in some places for people hell-bent on feeding these rodents. They don’t need it. They can live in the wild, find food and not poo all over people in congested urbanised areas. The only reason they are pooing on your head is because people either feed them (bad) or from food litter from irresponsible people (worse).
Shocking? You don’t know the half of it! Yes. That is a picture of a School Sign you would find along the busy road. It does not tell you to slow down or stop. There are NO signs that tell you to slow down or stop or even caution around a school here. There are NO reduced speed zones in front of any school. There are no flashing lights – nothing. You can drive past the school at any time at the posted speed limit. The lowest is 30mph (48 kph). Many schools are in urbanised areas where cars are parked on both sides of the street making it very hard to see the kids about to cross here and there.
It may not say it, but please slow down if you are driving when you see these signs!
This is a Reliant Robin. Yes it is a car. Yes it is a car with 3 wheels. Invented in the 1970’s this odd little vehicle has a reputation for killing small, cute, little hedgehogs. Just think about it. With a 4-wheeled car Mr. Hedgehog may actually be passed OVER by the car instead of squished into road pizza by the tyres. Mr. Hedgehog doesn’t stand a chance with these little cars. The front wheel will mash anything the rear tyres don’t manage. Bummer for Mr. Hedgehog.
By the way these things can do 80mph (129 kph)! Not necessarily a grand idea on a vehicle that could flip more easily than a normal car. Before you laugh at these odd cars or react in horror at the wildlife killing abilities – consider this:
They pay less road tax because of the small engine and they can have air-conditioning and good stereo systems. They also will cost you less to buy than a nice new 4-wheeled car, get VERY high road mileage and petrol costs more than $8 a gallon here.
Hmmm…..maybe I won’t kill THAT many.
Is the wrapper of your chocolate bar worth over $100? It will be if you throw it on the ground. Many cities in the UK now have Wardens (read pseudo-Police) that walk around town centres looking for people littering. They then fine you ON THE SPOT. There are rubbish bins and it’s just not worth it.
OK! Can anyone see the potential health issue here in the Gent’s toilet? For some reason builders in this country want men to stand as humanly possible to other men when they use the urinal. No cubicle, no small walls, no space. Then just to take the absolute **** they do something like this. I really did not want to wash my hands after using this facility in Doncaster.
Bad Builders! Bad!
The concierge was fabulous, the hotel very grand, and despite the rooms being small they were...more
Initial Enquiries All my inquiries made prior to and after the booking were very promptly attended...more
I had a great time there. Stayed due to business 4 nights in the hotel. Staff was great, friendly...more
The UK is a remarkably safe country, given its huge population (60+ million) and its very small size.
Our police only carry guns when it is considered necessary and we have more CCTV...
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