Culture: Top 12 Things Britain Does Better than America… that just make sense

One thing that will hit the wayward American hard when they arrive in Britain for the first time is that it will be unlike any place they have been before. Despite the familiarity of shared heritage and language, Britain is, and always will be, a foreign place.

That said, on our many travels there, we’ve observed things that the Brits do that just make more sense – that we simply don’t do. So, we thought it would be fun to put together a list of things the Brits do better than us and generate some discussion from both sides of the pond.

1. Letting retail employees sit down at the till

When I first went to a British grocery store – the thing that shocked me the most wasn’t the variety of different foods – it was the fact that the people who work the check-out lanes get to sit down.

I have never seen this in a grocery store in the USA.

It just makes sense – why do they have to stand? It’s a job that could be perfectly well done sitting down, with the occasional standing up to scan an item that won’t fit on the conveyor belt. It just seems more humane than having someone stand on their feet for their whole shift. This would be especially nice for older employees and pregnant women who are forced to work.

2. Trains

Dear Britain: Your trains are awesome.

While the Brits might disagree with this statement, I’m writing from a land with few trains at all. We have a national train network, but it’s slow, expensive and not a very good way to get around the country. It can take up to a WEEK to get from one end of the country to the other by train.

That’s why we love to fly.

In Britain you can get to every corner of Britain by train. Not only that – the trains are FAST compared to their US counterparts (I’m not talking about High Speed Bullet Trains here).

While Britain’s rail network does have its problems (and we’ve experienced them) the mere fact they exist should be enough to be grateful.

3. Government

One thing I admire most about Britain is its form of government. In America, we have three branches of government that divide power. In theory this is a great way to keep the government in check. In practice it’s simply become a recipe for permanent political deadlock.

In Britain, there is ONE branch of government. Parliament. All power, laws, legal force come from Parliament. It is Britain’s legislature, judiciary and executive branch all in one.

When a government wins an election (whatever party) it is guaranteed the ability to actually exert power and get things done. In America, when a President wins an election, he can do nothing without a cooperative congress and judiciary branch (which almost never happens anymore).

My favorite aspect of British government is Prime Minister’s Question Time. Every week, the head of government, the Prime Minister has to stand in front of Parliament and answer every question that is thrown at him (often in a hostile environment). Can you imagine how different our political system would be if our President had to do the same?

4. Public Television

We love the BBC. We love their shows, their stars and their way of doing things.

Most of all, we love what the BBC stands for – it’s a public service broadcaster.

While we have PBS here in the USA – PBS is a weak organization dependent on the largesse of donors wishing it to continue. In Britain, if you own a TV, every year you have to pay a tax that funds the BBC in its entirety. The perk of this is a public broadcaster that is unbiased in its news coverage and doesn’t air commercials.

Even PBS airs commercials these days.

The BBC model is definitely something to be admired.

5. Spelling

Adding the extra U to a lot of words just adds an extra bit of flourish to spellings and seems all the more refined.

6. The House of Lords

While most consider the House of Lords to be an anachronism with no place in modern Britain, I would argue that it’s an institution that protects British democracy despite the fact it’s most certainly not a democratic institution.

I won’t get into the merits of a body with hereditary members, I would like to say that there’s something to be said about having an upper house that has members appointed for life so that they can be above day-to-day politics and focus on the bigger picture.

We thought we got it right with the US Senate (they have 6 year terms) but the realities of running elections mean that Senators only care about re-election, not serving their constituents.

I really like the idea of an impartial upper house that is a check on the power of the lower house (which should always have more power and the ability to overrule the upper house).

7. Budget Day

Budget Day is a yearly event that we marvel at. Every March, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announces his budget plans for the next year. He makes a big speech to Parliament and Brits like to take stock of how their taxes will change for the next year.

What’s amazing about this rather boring sounding event is that Parliament passes the budget the very same day.

Coming from a country where the government hasn’t had a functioning yearly budget in almost three years, this is astounding.

8. Holiday Time

Like the rest of Europe, Britain gets a lot of time off. Here in America, we usually get 2 weeks paid vacation and that’s if we get any time off at all (that’s 10 paid days, plus the weekends). Most people don’t even take that as they’re afraid of leaving their jobs for any amount of time.

By law, UK workers get 28 days of paid vacation time. BY LAW. There is no law in the USA mandating vacation.

This does not include the 9 Bank Holidays where most workers get the time off as well (though employers can count their in your 28 days, most don’t).

On top of that, it’s common practice for most businesses to shut down for the two weeks between Christmas and New Year’s (and not have it taken out of those days). Don’t even get me started on sick days or maternity leave (not part of the 28 days either).

British people work just as hard as Americans do, they just get more time to enjoy themselves or take care of themselves if they get sick.

9. Limited Sunday Retail Hours

On Sunday, retail stores are limited to being open only 6 hours. Though this might change soon, it’s a great way to encourage people to relax a little more on Sunday. There are places in the US which don’t allow business on Sundays but it’s very rare nowadays.

10. Currency

Britain has successfully gotten rid of the £1 paper note and replaced it with a £1 coin. This just makes complete sense especially in this day in age where the dollar isn’t worth as much as it’s used to.

They also have a £2 coin which is even better.

Not to mention the fact they put Charles Darwin on their money – can you imagine that happening in the USA?

11. Plugs have switches

It’s a minor thing – but it rather makes sense, all plugs in the wall have a switch. When you’re not using it, you turn it off. Such a simple way to save energy. It’s also much safer than having open live plugs everywhere.

Also, many hotels nowadays make you insert your key into a special switch when you’re in the room and when you leave, it shuts off the lights in the room. Another great way to save energy.

12. The Washer and Dryer is One Machine

I always wondered by a washer and dryer had to be separate machines and now I realize the reason: corporate America simply wants us to buy two machines instead of one so they can make more money.

Most households in Europe have one washer and dryer combo unit – they’re compact and are often located in the kitchen (this also makes more sense). It works for an entire continent!

Much less work when doing the wash!

What your favorite thing that Britain does better than America? Let us know in the comments! And try to be politically respectful!

Comments

  1. avatarwendymm says

    I like the safety facotr of no electric outlets in the bathroom…inconvient for hairdryer, i know…but safer. I also like the maternity leave given new mothers!!!!

    • avatarLisa says

      There is actually nothing unsafe about having outlets in bathrooms, I know several electricians here and they say its just kind of the way its done but there is actually no safety issue with having electrical outlets in bathrooms, especially considering that here you can turn them off when they aren’t being used!

      • avatarMr Terry Seal says

        Here we have 240 volts and the increase in volts is dangerous with the 13 amps current. On building sites we have 110 volts for safety. I’m a sparks and believe me 240 v ac will kill you. Golden rule is Water and Electricity do not mix. The plugs are called socket outlets and you plug a fused plug into the socket. Now each plug’s fuse is rated to the appliance that it feeds. So a 3 amp fuse will feed a table lamp and the 13 amp is for large devices such as washing machines.

        • avatarDBF says

          We have electrical outlets in our bathrooms here in Canada and you never ever hear of any problems (ie. people electrocuting themselves). I doubt we are any more responsible than Brits so if we can handle having electrical outlets in our bathrooms without any problems, why can’t Brits?

        • avatar says

          In the States, bathroom outlets are required to have ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) which cut power if a short (like a device being immersed in water) is detected. This has been part of the building code for decades and has saved countless lives. I can’t imagine that a 240VAC capable GFCI is not available.

      • avatarJohn says

        The bathroom outlet is more to prevent people plugging stuff in and having the hair dryer or heater fall in the bathtub – instant electrocution.

    • avatartracy scullion says

      regarding maternity leave, are you aware that men are now entitled to a couple of weeks paternity when their child is born. this is also paid leave and does not effect their annual leave. this is great for families and i’m sure it must help fathers to bond with their new born and help a new mum out a great deal.

  2. avatarLisa says

    I don’t think I can agree that MOST households in Europe have condenser washers. I work in electronic retail and its definitely not the most popular, most people still go for the two machines. The condenser washers take FOREVER to dry your clothes and they tend to break down a lot because they have more things to go wrong. We just bought a new washer ourselves, we do keep them in the kitchen, but most people I know have two machines. Maybe this is just a city/London thing?

    One thing you missed out: Free birth control, people in Britain simply can’t believe that people would ever have to pay for contraception. It just makes sense to make it free.

    • avatarHeather says

      Condoms aren’t free as far as I’m aware – I think you can get SOME free from the NHS, but most British people buy condoms in shops. The pill might be free on the NHS though.

      • avatarMr Terry Seal says

        Condoms are free at Family Planning Clinics and other places such as Marie Stopes Clinics she was a pioneer in the field and provided girls with the means to prevent a pregnancy. Under 16’s can get condoms via certain clinics and although some have their opinions on the subject, not all teenagers stay at school everyday and often miss the vital day on Sex education. The NHS or National Health Service is so good at trying to prevent extra drains on the resources of the state. A few minites of pleasure can lead to a lifetime of misery.

      • avatarcaroline dawson says

        The Pill is definately free on the NHS, and condoms are free from a Family Planning clinic.

        • avatarHeather says

          I don’t understand why the pill would be free if most people have to pay for vital medication. I’m not saying I agree with paying for medication – the whole point of the NHS is to treat people, paid for by taxes.

          It does seem ridiculous that kids are given free condoms, when it”s illegal for them to have sex. I get the arguments for it – if they’re going to do it anyway they might as well be protected – but surely this contradictory message from the state will make young teenagers think it’s fine to have sex under age, even though there can be physical and psychological problems.

          • avatarNathan says

            Because the cost of contraception is cheaper then raising x amount of children on welfare.

          • avatarBethany says

            The fact of the matter is, children are going to have underage sex whether it’s illegal or not. So the way the NHS etc. sees it is – if they’re gonna do it then they might as well be safe. Even telling children of the problems having sex too young will cause (physical, psychological etc. as you mentioned) won’t stop them from having sex. So would you rather these kids have a ‘clear message’ from the state on how bad underage sex is. Or would you rather have them practicing sex in a safe pregnancy-free, STI-free environment. Because this is the choice that would have to be made if contraception was made unavailable to kids.

          • avatarmouse555 says

            The Pill is only free if prescibed for contraception. It has to paid for if used for hormonal imbalances such as acne.

            Don’t forget, our age of consent is 16 here, so encouraging teenagers to use condoms is not a bad thing at all.

    • avatar says

      those washer and dryer combo’s are a joke! can’t wash but a handful of clothes at a time and the “drying” option is really no option at all! Seperate units all the way please!

      • avatar says

        So right about the washer/dryer combo – it’s certainly a good idea for some smaller spaces in uk kitchens but last time i visited my sister across the pond she was having trouble with hers (it kept running for about 6 hrs yikes!!); got it replaced and is now having trouble with the second one! Too many bells and whistles!

      • avatarjohnqpublic says

        I think you will find some washer/dryer combos are brilliant. I loved mine. Can’t remember what brands they were though. And they may not be as durable as separates.

        They are definitely smaller, that is because they are designed for urban apartments.

      • avatarlisa theobald says

        Why do we have separate washers and dryers, so we can get it done faster! I would hate to imaging having a lot of kids and one machine. You would never be done with laundry

  3. avatarMary says

    I agree with everything except the currency. While not many things cost only a pound, you tend to get them in return for breaking a larger bill. I dislike being weighed down with a lot of coins, plus having to store them and sort through them, and prefer paper bills.

    • avatarBrian Rhodes says

      Mary the £ coin is small and light so it is nowhere near as much trouble as Americans seem to feel, but that is partly because most Americans only run in with $ coins is the Sacagawea dollar coin which is large’ish and relatively heavy.

      • avatardonnaw says

        I agree…..i LOVE the pound coin, and it is smaller…..but it IS heavy. When you get a change purse full of them they definitely weigh you down!

    • avatarMr Terry Seal says

      Since the advent of the Value Added Tax (VAT) it isn’t simple to price a product as a £1 so usually you had 99p then the incease of VAT to 20% has made most items over a pound to £1.20p. We Brits aren’t thrilled at this 2.5% increase and would like to see it reduced to 15% again. We have a tie in with Europe and sometimes they interfer with our laws. But the Current coins are 1p,2p (Copper),5p,10p,20p,50p (silver)£1 golden then £2 gold and silver inner. Then £5,£10,£20,£50. at present some sources are saying there are fake £20 notes from Eastern Europe, these are usually easy to spot. But if you get a £50 note break it down into 2x£20 and £10 at a British Bank. The staff can provide you with a leaflet on how to spot the bad notes.

      • avatarMr Terry Seal says

        Additional to my Notes available the £50 note has been targeted by the forgers in the past, so most shops are posting signs saying £50 notes not accepted. So when you get your money try to charge a payment card (debit card) or ask a Bank for advice. It is not a good idea to flash the cash while in London. Futhermore when using cash points ATM’s try going into a Bank or Post Office to draw cash. Most have card readers in the shops now although some smaller atractions out of town may have no card readers mainly due to the poor Broadband connections. Britain is a safe place, but it pays to be careful wherever you go. Try to put your money holder inside your jacket and never in a back pants pocket. Purses should be in a small handled bag when in London or the other cities. CCTV operates in most places, so don’t be alarmed by my comments. Enjoy your stay. Some Police stations are now closed and all contact is made via 999 for emergency and 112 for enquires.

        • avatarmark james says

          emergency number (police, fire, ambulance & coastguard) is 999, the traditional UK emergency number OR 112 the newly introduced pan europe (EU) emergency number. TO be used in an emergency.

          Most police forces have another number for non urgent calls

    • avatarRoy says

      Don’t forget our notes are different sizes and colours. I always have trouble with you’re bills as at first glance they look the same. One down side to having pound coins is more weight to carry.

    • avatarBrian Rhodes says

      I miss Fish and Chips. :’-(

      I saw an ad for a fish and chip restaurant in Kearney, NJ, that was a Scottish place. It was diabolical. I don’t think a Scotsman had been anywhere near that place in decades.

        • avatarBrian Rhodes says

          Jon, I’ve heard of a place in Cape May, New Jersey that is supposed to do the best Fish and Chips in the US. I’m hoping to take a trip down that way in the summer. If I get a chance I’ll do a review.

          • avatar says

            The best Fish and Chips i’ve had state side was at a local golf club in Norwich, CT. While home in the U.K. last year one of my first things to eat is always fish and chips or steak pudding, chips and peas.. sad to say that i was not impressed with the fish and chips this time around. Seems to be to many different cultures trying to do what is “old, British school food!”

        • avatar says

          Jonathan you are so wrong! Don’t know if you have Culvers where you live but they do the best fish and chips this side of the pond – and trust me I’m from the UK so I know my fish and chips! They are delicious:)

          • avatarDave says

            Sorry mags – but the fish and chips nowadays don’t hold a candle to those some years back – no longer wrapped in newsprint…Those were GOOD!

      • avatarFran says

        My hubs and I walked into a Scottish ‘pub’ in Chicago when we first moved here and my hubs, who is Canadian, asked the landlord, who was American, how the fish & chips were. “Fantastic!” said the landlord. “Really good!” “Great!” replied my hubs, “because my wife is from England and would really love some.” “Oh, er …. well, er …. they’re not bad ….” blustered the landlord. That turned out to be a generous description!

    • avatarMr Terry Seal says

      The way to do Fish and chips right is : the cooking medium either Fat (lard) or oil (vegetable oil) must be hot and the fryer will know the exact temp. Then the fish is prepared ,filleted and dryed (not dripping wet) coated with flour before being dipped in batter (Flour and Water mixed to the same thickness as emulsion paint, now for the top secret ingredient Beer usually a ale type or some use a bitter). This is included in the batter mix and allowed to stand for a while, when you see the bubbles coming from the batter, the batter is good to go, dip your fish then gently lower into the hot oil. Chips NO not crisps lol, are best partly cooked until light brown allowed to drain, the hot oil recovers and then you re-introduce the chips to the now hot oil. when a medium brown pick one to test with a fork, the outside will be crispy and the inside fluffy. Thats it America another Official Secret given away, I’m off to the Tower now.

      • avatarMichael Jacobson says

        The Brit Fish Chip shop in Rehobeth Beach, De. is very good, even serves Newcastle Brown Ale and London Pride Lager. Well worth the trip from Maryland

      • avatarFran says

        I actually think the problem is not the batter but the fish they use. In Britain it’s usually North Atlantic cod or haddock. In the U.S. it’s Alaskan cod (at best), or orange roughy, or pollock. They’re just not the same.

  4. avatarSable says

    Having lived all over Europe I have to disagree with the item about the wash/dry combo machines. The dry cycle never does get clothes dry on one go round and everything comes out INCREDIBLY wrinkled. I always ended up pulling the hot steaming clothes out before they were actually dry and draping them over everything in the flat to dry just to avoid having to iron EVERYTHING. I’m not a fan of the US wash/dry pairing either due to their bulk and lower efficiency. I will say that my washer and dryer in Germany were the best I’ve ever experienced. The washer was a front loader, high efficiency, quite compact Siemans machine as was the dryer which stacked on top of the washer. It never took more than one cycle for even the bathroom rugs to dry. I really miss them.

    • avatarMr Terry Seal says

      Washer / Dryer combos are very energy consuming. a separate tumble dryer is good for getting them dry. The spin speed is now controlled on the latest machines and speeds up to 1300 revs per min can be done. There are Factory outlet shops at the Factories and you can get a machine at a reduced price. We bought a top of the line one for £250 and it has so many settings to save you money. Lucky we have a van to bring the machine home. The security guys have never seen one leave so quick, I phoned reserved it then asked for the person I spoke to, she showed the machine all wrapped ready to go with its warranty, on the van and we were dust. At home all that was seen was a small scratch on the front, that polished out with some Auto scratch remover. A new machine for £100 less than the high st.

    • avatarryo says

      I agree with the disagreeing about the washer / dryer combo. I have one (I’m in Canada) and I never, ever use the dryer function – the machine is still so full of water after a wash that it’s near impossible to make anything dry; it’s more like some kind of horrible clothes humidifier, that massively eats electricity. I only use it when the weather’s nice and I can hang the clothes outside.

      • avatarSus says

        A lot of clothes shrink if you tumble dry them and they wear out faster so mostly I hang my clothes outside as they dry flat and smell wonderful, but I do have a washer/dryer combo and have had for nearly 30 years. In the last few years I have learned to do my own maintenance on it and it sounds as though your machine needs some work done on it if there is a lot of water left in it after a wash. Cleaning your filter might be a first step.

  5. avatarBrian Rhodes says

    I love the US but I still can’t understand how such a powerful country can have such messed up political system. Despite every legitimate research study demonstrating that guns are a bad thing in society the US still clings on to their guns.

    This is because of the Written Constitution and it’s inflexibility to change. The Gun and armaments manufacturers lobby are the only reason that Guns are still legal in the USA. The rest of the Western world doesn’t have the right to bear arms and crime and homicide is drastically lower than in the Wild West. Crazy country.

    • avatarJeanie Bailey says

      Brian,
      While I don’t agree with all of the gun violence in the U.S., one good thing about every citizen(except convicted felons), having the right to keep and bear arms is that it helps to prevent hostile nations from taking over our country. It is a second line of defense. Even if our military were defeated our citizens would still be able to defend themselves. That being said; even though a lot of our citizens would like to see more gun control, there is a powerful gun lobby in the U.S. called the N.R.A.(National Rifle Association), that prevents stricter handgun laws from being passed. This orginization has millions of followers and they have a lot of money. They use scare tactics when advertising on TV and scare most people into not voting for a candidate who supports gun control. As a retired police officer, I can honestly say that most all problems can be solved through communication and it is seldom necessary to use a gun.

      • avatarDave W says

        Jeanie,
        Small arms may have been a viable ‘second line of defense’ when the constitution was written, but using it now as justification seems absurd. No ‘hostile nation’ would ever dream of invading the US -you have the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons on the planet.

        Surely personal and home-defense must figure highly on the list of reasons why American’s insist on keeping the Second Amendment? (although we all secretly know that the real reason why anybody, anywhere on the planet loves guns is because of the feeling of power they give you).

  6. avatar says

    Most Brits have seperate washing machines & tumble dryers. A lot of Brits. have utility rooms for these items
    You didn’t mention the National Health Service!! This is universal health care which has been available to all Brits. since 1948!!!
    Only shaver points (electrical sockets) are allowed by law in British bathrooms & we’re talking about bathrooms where there is a bath or shower. This is a safety aspect–even the light switch has to be by law a pully type not a switch on the wall in British bathrooms..
    Take note Americans a bathroom has a bath or shower in it! Where there is just a toilet with a sink it is called a toilet or loo.
    Cream–double, cream, single cream, clotted cream—unavailable in the USA.
    Lots of country lanes & public footpaths–lovely to walk.

    • avatarMaria says

      Actually I have bought English clotted cream here in the states: from Giant and from Wegman’s. Devon clotted cream it was.
      And I do wish that businesses here would let their salesclerks and register clerks sit. Where I work they took away our stools – illegally I might add – so that now we have to stand on hard concrete floors all day long. I have lower back pain as a result of this obnoxious indifference to employee welfare in this country.

      • avatarLaurie Powell . Mr. says

        That’s dreadful Maria. I was in a cvs store in Florida last year and the heavily pregnant lady serving me, was standing!!! I said I would sprak to the manager for her, as I was so shocked, but she said it was normal! And standing / walking on concrete floors is SO bad for you! I love America, but think they could learn a few things from the UK/EU! And you must look out for Cornish clotted cream, much better than our cousins across the border in Devon;-))

  7. avatarSable says

    Brian, its not just clinging to the US Constitution that keeps gun culture alive but also the pioneering spirit. The US probably wouldn’t exist as it does if not for Remington and Colt firearms. If guns were outlawed and tightly regulated in the US as they are in Britain then we would be in the same boat as Britain in that only the criminals would have guns and illegal arms dealing would rank up there with illegal drugs dealing. Arms trafficking in Europe as a whole is a much bigger problem than it has ever been here in the US.

    • avatarBrian Rhodes says

      Sable I know the history of the pioneers and the need for firearms in the US but that is all it is, History. It should be in museums now and history books but the US is becoming full of book burning dolts who are afraid of losing their freedom to bear arms.

      We are not having marauding Native Americans or bears roaming down Main Street America are we? We don’t need to go out and kill to feed our families, we are supposed to be a civilized people, so we use grocery stores to buy our food. It is the 21st century not 1776.

      As for the tighter regulations, yes guns are in the hands of criminals in the UK but every punk kid or stick up artist doesn’t have the chance to kill you in the blink of an eye for the change in your pocket.

      • avatarSteaphen MacDonald says

        It’s funny, how on the Anglophile site there is a discussion of GUN rights. I would gladly relinquish my gun(s) if the political process made more sense. I am considered a radical liberal here in the USA because I advocate for a more social democratic approach to our economy, but as long as redneck conservatives have guns, I will keep mine, just in case the Tea Party comes knocking at my door. It is a frontier thing, because there are just too many uneducated savages still extant in the USA. Most of them them have never seen a single episode of Corrie for fucksake.

      • avatarLilith says

        Well, let’s all be thoughtful for a moment. As an Indigenous woman, who has much good to say about the UK and is even engaged to a an English man, I have to point out that,erm, *we* were not the marauders, were we, now? It seems quite a few English men sailed over, were greeted in English by a multilingual Indigenous man named Squanto, and in short order killed off many many Eastern Woodlands Indigenous people. Not a very proud part of British history…

        • avatarSteaphen MacDonald says

          I’m sorry. My use of the term “uneducated savages” was intended to be ironic. I was not referencing indigenous peoples, rather the descendants of the same Puritan reactionaries that committed the atrocities of which you speak..

        • avatarBern says

          Funny how the atrocities committed against the native American tribes is a part of British history. It was the same set of people living their once the Revolutionary War was over. It’s not like all the murderous barbarians left in 1776 to be replaced by heroes.

          Shared history. It should be taught in school as such.

  8. avatarBrittany says

    I wish I had 28 paid vacation days a year. I’m lucky getting 14.

    Everything else sounds good, besides the washer and dryer thing.

  9. avatar says

    Jonathan, it’s great to read the views of someone from the USA on our little country. I’m not going to bang on about the all things that are bad in our country but I shall make just two comments on minus / plus points:

    1. Parliament does pass our laws but it is estimated that around 85% are now as a result of EU directives (this is something that out Govt is desperate to conceal).
    2. Here in Europe (on most quality cars) we get variable servicing depending on mileage. On so many cars you can pick it up when new and return for its first service at 20,000 miles (I’ve had as much as 23k). The secret includes long life oil and manufacturers that have to work hard for our business.
    Greta post

  10. avatarWalter Burbank says

    I agree with all the differences. Wish the US was more like Britain, or at least, Canada. Cashiers sitting down is a great policy, and you’re right, the US political system is a ticket to deadlock. I saw a cartoon a few years ago, the Mayflower sailing to America, followed by 200 years later, the Mayflower heading to England. I like to be on that ship.

  11. avatarHeather says

    I’ve learnt a lot about America reading this (I’m British) – you don’t get maternity leave?

    I presumed trains were faster in the US just cause everything seems faster there. It does make sense to fly places there considering how massive your country is compared to Britain. Our trains are very expensive for anyone not on an above average income, but I do agree that it’s great how many stations there are in every corner of the country.

    I disagree about the House Of Lords, and the elitist class system our country has clung to despite the progression we’ve made in other areas of society in the last hundred years.

    It’s generally only supermarket cashiers that are allowed to sit down in Britain, I see them standing in most places. I know that most British retailers don’t allow employees to drink water while they’re working.

    Could the NHS be seen as a win over America? I mean, it’s in a right state at the moment but I like that anyone will be treated even if they haven’t got a penny to their name.

      • avatarcaroline dawson says

        Pregnant women get treated incredibly well-when I was pregnant 3 years ago the Labour Govt paid me £200 to spend on absolutely anything I liked just for being pregnant-they soon scrapped it when the realised how skint they were and how many pregnant women there were! But great for me.

      • avatarMeg says

        6 weeks maternity leave which only guarantees that your job is safeguarded. There is no guarantee of pay, most places, unless you have 6 weeks of sick pay accrued (or for however long you are planning to be on leave). I am a teacher with a 3yo & a 7mos old. Both of my “leaves” were unpaid minus a few days. Luckily the end of my leave with my elder child coincided with summer vacation, but my leave with my baby did not. As a result I had to put an 8 week old baby is daycare because there was no way my family could survive without my income any longer. It’s horrendous how maternity leave is treated under U.S. law.

    • avatarKatherine says

      I couldn’t agree more about the House of Lords being elitist arseholes who further their own agendas and filibuster constantly. All of the religious members are C of E which is completely ridiculous and unrepresentative.
      I admire the US political system, having studied it for two years, but I have to agree that organisations such as the NRA are way too powerful but the power of the President is greater than most would believe it to be.
      I, for one, would love to have President Obama as our Prime Minister so if you guys don’t want him at this next election then will you send him over please?

    • avatarChris says

      Well, when you said faster… We make faster cars. Sure the Hennessey holds the land speed record but… Its a Lotus Exige, with an American engine. At Le mans this year, the SRTs and Corvettes struggled terribly. We almost had a class win until it crashed- but still got a podium. The Mclaren F1 still holds the land speed record for NA cars.

      Still… Damn I love American muscle cars.

    • avatarJill says

      People in America are not left to die in the street if they don’t have health care. My friend
      had a perforated bowel that required 3 surgeries and 2 weeks in intensive care. The bill
      came to over $250,000.00. He’s agreed to pay them $20.00 a month. They accepted his
      terms. Everyone, gets health care. Everyone doesn’t have health insurance.

  12. avatarGarry Jantzen says

    Not _only_ BBC TV – but BBC RADIO! – especially Radio4. It should be a class 1 listed organization! Incredible plays, commentary, documentaries and COMEDY _every_ week night! Not only that – BBC radio stations are in the SAME location on your dial no matter _where_ you go in the country AND every hour these stations _automatically_ update the correct time on your car clock! Oh, almost forgot, politicians quaver at an interview with a BBC radio presenter! Especially John Humphreys. If he doesn’t get a direct answer from a politico, he hammers on until he does! They make the 60 minutes team look like Teletubbies! They are REAL journalists!

  13. avatarMartha Pearce says

    After living as an expat in England for three years, I agree with most of your list–especially the BBC and train system. However, I must take exception to the comment about cashiers sitting down. Actually, it’s not just the sitting. It infuriated me that cashiers sat with arms folded, watching as I unloaded every single item out of the cart., then dashed to the other end to snatch up items and put them in bags before they piled up. I’m talking about loaded trolleys at Waitrose and Sainsbury’s superstores. Maybe it works better if you’re only buying a few items.

    As for washer/dryers. I have to believe you’ve had little experience with one. They take FOREVER and hold only tiny loads. Takes a lot of time doing laundry for a family. And in the spin cycle the one I had sounded like an airplane taking off.

    The electrical outlet with on/off switches are great, and something I missed when I got back to the states. But small appliances come with flexes (cords) without the part that actually plugs in. It’s because electrical outlets are different in various countries.

    We lived in England in the 1990s, and t things may have changed. I LOVED my time there, and did not want my experience there to be like living in the states. But I did find that some of the things that visitors thought amusing, quaint and interesting were hard to live with full
    time.

    • avatarpeter grogan says

      No electrical appliance is allowed by law to be sold without a plug with the correct fuse

  14. avatarChar says

    I like how they use their eating utensils. They hold the fork in the left hand and knife in the right to cut (which we do), but don’t switch hands. They continue to hold the fork in their left hand as they eat. It makes sense, but I can’t seem to train myself to do it.

  15. avatarTess says

    I was lucky enough to spend a few terms in the UK and, for me, the most shocking thing was the retail workers! I was just astounded on my first trip to Sainsbury’s that the cashiers had stools. How very……practical. Seriously, in high school when I had my first job as a checker at a chain grocery here in the States you’d think someone had suggested beheading puppies when they brought up “why can’t we sit during working hours”. I do have to say though, that I do prefer separate washers and dryers. I like having a load of wash in while another load is drying. Also, those combo washer/dryers take forever to dry a load of wash. I’d move back to the UK in a skinny minute though!

  16. avatarNick Lutwyche says

    HEALTHCARE! Higher standards for Driving tests. (As an ex-pat. Briton lining in the USA for 16 years, I could not believe it when both step-children passed their driving tests first time). BACON. Highways- I live in PA, whose motto should be “The Pot Hole State”. Virtually non-existent labour laws governing how employees are treated. Energy conservation. But,
    Every where in the World is different from the previous place.

  17. avatar says

    Great article Jonathan, just wanted to add a note about political procedure that I wish happened here. When a General Election date is announced in Britain the candidates running for Prime Minister, who are chosen by the party, (and it doesn’t take a year of campaigning for this to happen) then have 30 days to campaign. Yes, just 30 days of political interviews, speach, ads, chat shows, etc. unlike the endless campaigning we are currently experiencing and it will get worst soon, which began about two years before the actual election date. This is good for numerous reasons, one of which is the current PM only has to concentrate on campaigning for 30 days, and can spend the rest of the time running the country which is what he’s supposed to be doing.

  18. avatarR Stickler says

    One machine for laundry may sound like a good idea, but have you thought how much longer it takes to do laundry when you can’t wash because the machine is drying?? Not too mention the small size, so more time is spent washing/drying because the machines can’t hold much. No, Jonathan, not efficient at all!

    Must agree with the transportation system, tho. In the US there are few places anymore with efficient mass transit; trains just can’t get you ‘there’ easily these days.

  19. avatarJ. T. Anderson says

    Living in the U.S. and visiting England often, I agree with most items on the list. However, I question a few. Allowing retail workers to sit might sound like a good idea but google the studies. Sitting for long periods of time is bad for a person. In my grocery the employees look happy and get sufficient breaks to sit if they need to. The House of Lords is elitist. U.S. Senators might be concerned with re-election but the Lords are concerned with maintaining a cruel and out-dated class system. Currency? Get with the euro already! Sunday retail hours should not be dictated by religious institutions. Separate church and state and retail. If I want to rest on Sunday, I will, and if I want to shop for 24 hours on Sunday I should be free to. Cheerio.

  20. avatarJean says

    As well as Handicap parking spaces they have Mother & child Spaces at the grocery stores. A lot of places Handicap people park for free. Also if you go to a castle or museum the handicap person pays half price & their helper gets in for free.

    Of course the best thing is the Chocolate it tastes much better in England, so much more creamy <3

  21. avatarjim says

    Actually, I agree with all but the last. Your washing machines are horrid. In fact, Brit plumbing in general is horrid! I have visited Britan more than a dozen times, driven nearly 36000 miles of your roads and byways. I visit so often that friends think I have relatives in Britan. When asked, I tell folks the main problem is the plumbing.

  22. avatarNicola says

    Very good list, but most people have separate washers and dryers (front loading, whereas the US machines are often top loading I believe). The combo ones are inefficient and expensive to run.
    I think it’s actually 20 days holiday by law – not 28. Although many companies offer more – 25 is quite common. I get 30 and am allowed to buy 5 more days (a legacy of when my company was owned by a Belgian bank!).
    Many people think the BBC has a left wing bias (I’d agree with that view), but they are not supposed to!

  23. avatarSharon Jackson says

    Castles and parades. We here in America ony have Disney world, and no one throws down a good ceremonial parade like the Brits.

  24. avatarNicola says

    The House of Lords is not only comprised of heredity peers, in fact most of those no longer sit in the Lords by right since they changed the rules a few years back. Mostly it is comprised of life peers, politicians and eminent people who are made peers by the government of the day, usually whichever political party iis in power makes as many peers as they can of their own political persuasion. Ex ministers and prime ministers for example are made peers, for example Margaret Thatcher is now Baroness Thatcher.

    Get with the Euro J T Anderson?! Good God are you mad?! And end up broke like Greece having to be bailed out. Thank God we didn’t join, we have enough economic problems but we had an near miss there!

    • avatardonnaw says

      I’m glad you confronted J T Anderson about the Euro……he/she is definitely mad to think the Euro is a good idea…..yikes! It gives me the willy’s thinking about that!!
      Plus, Mr/Mrs. Anderson……YOU try standing for 8 hours at a register! You might look happy, but i’m sure your feet are NOT happy! Why stand if you can sit? I know you can have breaks……but even a break every 2 or 3 hours sometimes isn’t enough for an older employee!
      And, Sunday hours shouldn’t be dictated by religion, but it IS nice to stay home and enjoy a day with your family. At one time you didn’t have a choice in this matter…….nowadays people go out for the heck of it……if the stores weren’t open they’d stay home and get re-aquainted with members of their family that they only see for a few hours each day…..or week!

  25. avatarDeanna says

    When my in laws visited from England, my mother in law absolutely loved our washing machine and dryer. I have a large capacity front loader washer and a large capacity dryer. She told me a really funny story about a family that lived in the same close that they do. The family had several children and their washer broke, it was put at the curb for trash pick up and all the neighbors came out to have a look at it because it was a commercial size unit. They were all amazed at the size of the washing machine. She said the washer at the curb was the size of ours. She said our washers over here are huge and that is a good thing because duvets can be washed at home and not taken to the laundrymat and you can do huge loads of clothes at a time, thus saving time spent doing laundry. She was also duly impressed with the t-bone steaks over here. I will add the following to the list of stuff the Brits do better, Indian take out, bread, butter and tea.

  26. avatarNicola says

    I agree Deanna, those huge American machines are great, but most British homes are too small to accommodate them I think. I also agree that our tea, butter and I would add milk are better in Britain. And also bread. People go on about French bread but I think it’s massively overrated, we have more variety here in my opinion, and it’s nicer.

  27. avatarDeanna says

    I had forgot about the milk until you mentioned it. Also sausage rolls! I loved Greggs when we were over in England for a visit! Another thing I seen while in England and couldn’t describe them good enough for my sister in laws to understand what I had saw and wanted were laundry bags! I found them on ebay after returning home and had them sent over! The closest thing I have seen here were in Ikea, but not even close to the size of the ones I had sent over. They are similar to the Ikea blue bags, but made of more durable plastic material and they are square and zip on top. I even found some in a fun Charlie and Lola print!

      • avatarSteaphen MacDonald says

        I am an American born Scot, and in my youth spent every other summer with my gran in Manchester. God rest her soul. Greggs are awesome, but my gran’s were better, and sausage rolls are something that belong on this list. Also, battered sausage. My problem has always been finding the right bangers. Gran always used a shortcrust instead of the puff pastry that Greggs uses, and I have her recipe for the pastry, but I can’t get the right sausage in the States. It makes all the difference.

        • avatarFran says

          I hear you on the sausages! The best ones I’ve found are from Winston’s. We happen to have Winston’s here in Chicago, but you can order them online through some expat websites. Bacon, too.

  28. avatarNicola says

    Regarding putting Charles Darwin on the money, he is widely revered here, we don’t have so many creationists and atheism is much more common.

  29. avatarVirginia Wilkins says

    I hate the electric sockets in the US, I can be vacuuming and suddenly the power goes off (it has come out of the sockert)! In the UK I used to have sockets which switched off and the plugs which went into the socket were 3 pins and thick pins, yesterday I took an extension plug out and one of the thin pins broke off so I had to visit Walmart today to buy another!
    I agree with the safety aspect of a socket in a bathroom, even in a kitchen in the UK, it had to be so far away from the kitchen sink! It is so easy here for me to have wet hands and then turn ther disposal on, I do it all the time…dangerous!
    Another thing I detest are the wash hand basins in the bathrooms, thery have the stupid pull-up waste cover and invariably when I have put hot water in the bowl and turned my back, the water all runs away!
    I cannot get used to the date being the oposite way around to the UK …month/day/year…. in the UK it is day/month/year.. which to me makes sense.. the day (smallest) month a (bit bigger) and they year (the biggest) after being in the US over 5 years, I still write it the English way!
    I miss Cadbury’s chocolate as in the UK, it is a lot more creamy than in the US and I wud not eat Hershey’s if I had nothing else!
    In the UK, I love that everyone has curtains at the windows and they used to look lovely when the room was lit up but here everyone (except me) has blinds and the actually keep them shut!
    I like the way in the UK I used to have all my windows open, I still do here, I cannot stand AC as it cannot be good for your health, all the germs going round and round!
    In the UK I like the way we can shut a door ie: dining room, kitchen, lounge etc, here it is all open planned so if u want privacy it is very difficult!
    Before I came here I always thought that America was streets ahead of the UK but I have since found different!
    I used to buy Gripfil (secomastic in a gun) in the UK, teriffic stuff, cannot get it here. It is made by Bostic and they have a factory here but no Gripfil!
    I prefer the UK driving on the left and roundabouts, giving way to traffic coming from your right, certainly kept the traffic flowing. I always seem to be stuck at traffic lights here!
    I cud go on and on, cant u tell, I just miss home!

    • avatar says

      Unfortunately Virginia, some people just can never fully make that transition. After 20+ years I can honestly say that yes, I still miss “home” and by that I mean my family. (they ALL still live there) I would have the hardest time trying to live full time back in the UK.. i guess i’ve become very comfortable with the life style that i have here in the US. I do miss those food items you talked about though! nothing better than british chocolate!

  30. avatarKate says

    Soda fountains. I didn’t eat a lot of fast food in Britain (why visit McDonald’s when there’s a good pub?) but I never saw a soda fountain. I can’t help thinking it would help a lot with the obesity issue if the US banished the things.

    Bacon. I never understood what James Herriot wrote in one of his books about thick slabs of bacon until I saw them for myself. I’m about to go find a butcher to cut me some like that!

    Candy. American candy is so sweet. I noticed a distinctive difference in Skittles. I liked the British version much better. Plus, here if you want a Kit Kat, you get plain wafers in chocolate. I brought back orange and mint Kit Kats and have been craving them ever since.

    Ketchup. Again, not so sweet. It took me a year to find British ketchup and I bought a five year supply of it.

    Tax on purchases. The tax was always added into the item’s price. If it was £2, you fish out £2 to pay. Here, you take the price, but have to remember to account for the tax when you’re trying to figure what you’ll spend.

    Cream. If you want cream, you get one kind here. I’m tempted to find a friend with a cow and try making my own.

    Fascinators. Because if you go out in the US wearing one, you just look stupid.

  31. avatarMr Terry Seal says

    Right time to write about the UK and the USA. In the US you have products that are not nannyed with. I will explain, anything that will cause the slightest chance of Cancer are now removed from the Aerosol’s . I’m all for protecting the planet. but the stuff we have now takes three cans to the small amount we used before. I miss my American friends they could get the right product for the job first time. Mainly it’s a nanny state of Europe. I miss Mountain Dew and other sweet things. Going to Thanksgiving and having a feeling of being friendly. This small Island has been around a long time and now it’s past is catching up on it, the Empire is striking back. We have started to close the doors to people living here without work. I don’t know what it’s like the other way and that goes for the roads over there. We have a book called the “Highway Code” and every driver has to learn it for their Thieory Test then having passed that sit a pratical test. Mind you some I wonder how they did. I call them Bumper (fender) Fodder. Boy it’s a different world over here. There is a old saying “If you can drive in London, You can drive anywhere in the World”. We can find differences in both Countries but the politicians are all the same. I would like rich people to do the job without pay, Yes not even expenses then we would see who’s dedicated to the good of all. lol.

  32. avatarMr Terry Seal says

    People on Notes, we have started a campaign to get Alan Turing put on the Notes he was a code breaker during WW2. Charles Darwin is due to come off I think. 200yrs of Dickens and we took him off already. So even they get it wrong. I would love to know if there is a drivers guide to the US road rules and laws. We get alot of videos of chases when people do not stop for the Police in the USA. Being a small place we now have choppers and the police often trace the suspects to their destination. Oh final word I am a Jedi now officially in the latest Census I thought Well that will screw the Family tree up a bit. 100 years from now, someone will be asking their eyeglasses through thought control “What is a Jedi”. To you all “Live long and prosper and may your God go with you”

  33. avatarSusan says

    I have to agree on the comments about the combo washer/dryer unit. Had one in the last place we stayed and the clothes would have dried faster being hung outside on a line. We hated that thing. Other than that, I can agree with all the other points. I worked my job at a convenience store today and had to stand for most of it so my legs are sore and tired. Because I know how hard it is to stand the whole time, I have provided a chair near the register so my employees can take a break but when busy, that doesn’t happen often enough. As for vacation, I only wish I could find more holiday time…especially if I was heading over the pond. In regards to public transportation, if you can’t get a train, there’s a bus to get you where you need to go. It’s really great. Plus things are close enough to walk to. And I’d take shopping downtown any day over going to some mall with cookie cutter stores. I miss the great fish and chips…and mushy peas! Also miss crisps in all kinds of interesting flavours (I think the U does add a nice touch. LOL) And I totally agree, chocolate is just SO much better over there. Born and bred American but really feeling homesick now…

  34. avatarLiane says

    I agree with you for everything but the washer dryer combo. They don’t work well at all. Imagine two hours of drying and it’s still not dry. We gave up and now just have a washer and hang our clothing.

  35. avatarNicola says

    I’m all for Alan Turing on the notes, we wouldn’t have won the war without him (he cracked the Enigma code and basically invented the computer), but I hope they don’t take Darwin off.

    I agree about chocolate being better here in the UK. The Cadbury’s you can buy in the US does not taste the same. Sadly Cadbury’s has been bought by Kraft, let’s hope they dont ruin it. My daughter lives in Boston and she and her American friends love Percy Pigs from Marks and Spencer’s (another great British institution!).

  36. avatar says

    Re washer / drier combos – I’m pretty certain that they’re only bought by builders / developers for fitting out new or refurbished properties. No-one actually buys them! ;)
    Their capacity is tiny, they crease everything and don’t dry – not good!
    I think you could add greetings cards – Uk ones get more and more beautiful and I’ve not found the like in any other country. There’s still nothing like receiving a hand written card or letter through the post!

    • avatarAnne says

      Actually, that’s another good thing about the UK… Brick built homes. I bought a house in Canada and was petrified of tornadoes. The whole wooden structures were blown away. In the UK you would lose your roof and garden shed!

      • avatar says

        I doubt you’d lose the whole roof – maybe a few tiles off. And if you’re unlucky, a tree through your car and/or a day or 2 with no lecky

  37. avatarSasha says

    Great list, thanks!
    Not so sure about BBC delivering unbiased news though.. But I guess, you can’t have everything.

  38. avatarDebbie says

    I love how in London they are try to perserve the beauty of the city, there are places to just go and sit and enjoy. In NYC, it seems if you want to do that you have to travel to the park or search out a location.

    Also, the lifestyle. Just love the vibe- I would live there in a second.

  39. avatarryo says

    Fun article. As a Canadian who’s an anglophile, thank you for making Britain sound so similar to Canada! We’re not identical, but of course, have many similarities (starting from *our* Queen on down, eh!) and sometimes I forget how very, very different the States are!

  40. avatarStacy says

    I’m married to an Englishman, (I’m Canadian), and we live in the US. I agree with everything in the article, with one exception! The washer/dryer combo. Yes, it makes sense, but in practical terms – and I have done laundry in these machines on many occassions- it doesn’t hold a lot of laundry. You get 4 pairs of jeans in there, and that’s it for that load! And it takes longer, because with seperate machines, you can be washing one load while you’re waiting for the other to finish in the dryer- but in the one machine you have to wait for everything to happen before you can start the next load. On the plus side, most everyone hangs the laundry up outside, or on those wonderful coil heaters in the bedrooms and bathrooms. My inlaws have one in their kitchen- which they hang the wet laundry on. My sister-in-law redid her kitchen and dining area recently and added large, SEPERATE, washing and drying machines to her new laundry. She has 2 boys, and it has improved her laundry day immensely. The seperate washing/drying machine is in direct relation to lack of space in English homes and flats, but I think lots of English people would seperate the two machines if they had the room and budget to do so!

  41. avatardixiebrit says

    This list has some great things listed. However, as one who lived in the UK for about 8 years (with my Brit hubby), I would like to point out some flaws in the logic. First of all, that “great” practice of closing most business around Christmas and New Year for a week or more is horrible. DO NOT GET ILL in the UK over Christmas!! The clinics all close down so the NHS can let their people have a Christmas holiday. As one who has had pneumonia over Christmas, believe me, you do not want to be there at that time. You will get little to no help while in absolute misery, unless you go to the Emergency Room. Nearly every Christmas/flu season you hear of “epidemics”. These are manufactured because of all the people flooding the hospital system because of the lack of open clinics and doctor practices.

    The cost of living is exhorbitant. Having been forced to live in the Greater London area for family considerations, we paid more than double what it would have cost us nearly anywhere else in the country for our flat. Eating out is a luxury few can afford as we do in the USA. The grocery stores try and make up for that for providing wonderfully luxurious “ready-meals” that are amazing, but it is still pricey.

    Having lived Brit-style (and not American style like the expat stockbrokers), I can tell you that I missed my large capacity washer and dryer tremendously. My mum-in-law did not have a condenser washer or a dryer. She had a clothesline she used year-round. I can tell you that clothes do not get dry in the winter. When I bought my little dryer that fit under my counter, she was thrilled at the prospect of having sheets that weren’t cold and damp.

    I wouldn’t mimic the British political system in its entirety, but I do believe that we would benefit from their very short, limited campaign season (something like 6 weeks) and also a Question Time where they were held more accountable. I do not like the fact that a politician from the North can run for an office down South because he thinks that is his way to break in, even when he doesn’t live there. That is a mistake.

    Having said all this, we love the UK. We love its quirks and foibles and the people. One thing that the British have on the Americans is that they have quite gotten over themselves. They are not bothered by the ridiculous notion of trying to be “politically correct”. They do not scream bloody murder if your children sing religious songs in school. In fact, at our daughter’s Primary School, all the parents (Christian, Muslim, Jewish, agnostics,etc.) were thrilled when their little darlings had a part in the Christmas Play. It was not unusual to have a little Pakistani boy playing Joseph and a little blonde girl as Mary. All the parents had their cameras out and were delighted. Can you see that happening in ANY elementary school in the USA – not in a million years. We are so worried about offending people we don’t bother to realize that most are NOT OFFENDED AT ALL. Get over it.

    I loved the radio stations in the UK, especially the classical stations. They played all types of music, religious or otherwise, without apology. It was not unusual to wake up to a church choir singing part of the Mass before going to work. And I am not Catholic. I loved it. But I love music. The British see this as musical heritage and cultural education. America has lost much of our heritage because we are so worried about offending and so we throw all the good out as well as the bad, just in case. What a poor excuse!

    • avatarHappy2binUK says

      Regarding the NHS shutting for Christmas – it doesn’t, people just take leave like everyone else. Believe me, I work for a Consultant in the NHS – we take it in turns to take holiday and the only days we do officially close down are for the bank holidays.

      Washer/dryers are very annoying but I live in a flat and don’t have any choice unfortunately – I never knew anyone who had one before I moved in here.

    • avatarMaureen says

      To the woman who would like Obama as British PM, PLEASE, LADY , PLEASE take him. He’s all yours. He will ruin your wonderful country in less than four years.. And don’t try to send him back when he is through. We will not take him back. Be careful what you ask for…

    • avatarjohnqpublic says

      Don’t get ill in the US, period.

      My British friends are constantly shocked at the idea that if you go to the emergency room in the US, first they make sure you are not going to die, then they ask you how will you pay for this.

      Americans think they have the best health care system in the world. The NHS is not perfect but absolutely no one in the UK would trade it for the US. They think of it as brutish and frightening. They envy the German or French system, not the American.

  42. avatarLorena Sankey says

    I only have this to say about combo washer/ dryers–Unless you have actually owned one and washed & dried laundry for a family of more than 2 people, you could never say it was a good idea.

    I was pleasantly surprised when my English husband and I purchased our first home in a small suburb of Bolton, near Manchester in 1999. We put down a small deposit (something like GPB 500) found an “endowment mortgage” which to this day I have NO IDEA how exactly they worked and paid a grand total of GBP 500 for “conveyance” fees which is similar to closing costs. We closed on our house in a matter of days. Simple and painless. Fast forward a few years when we purchased a home in a suburb of Austin, Texas in 2007. We put a small deposit (around $500) and then were shocked when we got the breakdown of the CLOSING COSTS!! My husband was literally gripping my arm while we were explained the fees. Thankfully, the home builder paid the closing costs but my God was that the only time I have exclaimed at the top of my voice–“I wish this process was like in England!!

    I’m in total agreement with Dixiebrit about the exorbitant cost of living in the UK, especially in the southern part of the country. I didn’t live in London but lived in Reading, Berks around 35 miles to the west. Rent was outrageous (even in 1995) and house prices were beyond most people’s salaries. For a while, my husband was self-employed as a telecoms contractor and worked in London. Yes, the British Rail, the underground and the bus system is fabulous but the cost of commuting and the time spent to the capital was nuts when you actually have to do it, day in and day out! We made the decision to do something a little silly and frankly, it was the reason why we don’t live in England anymore, by moving to my husband’s home turf of Greater Manchester. Yes, the cost of living was so much lower. We had looked at a house in Wokingham, Berkshire for the sum of GBP195,000. We found the exact same house from the same builder just outside of Bolton, Lancashire for GBP92,500 and with in-laws only 5 miles away! It sounded good…IN THEORY and it should have stayed that way. Yes, we lived miles apart during the week and he commuted home on the weekends. It was all good until the UK/ German Telecoms CRASH of 2001. We then discovered that even GBP92,500 home was massively expensive when there was no Telecoms sector in the north. We had to figure out how to get ourselves back to the Greater London area and quick. We couldn’t afford to live in London with the wages shockingly low and declared defeat in 2004. That is when we left to the USA and have been here ever since.

    One thing that I wish people in the US would adopt is the extensive driving lessons and test. I did not drive as a teenager or a young adult in the US. I learned to drive in the UK in a standard car and passed my test first time. Yay me! The lessons were somewhat costly but the instruction really top-notch. I took those lessons in 1998 and there are times where I can still hear my instructor’s voice in my head because he was so thorough but I am a very confident driver. I cannot say the same for my 20-year-old son. He took one private lesson and then he took his driver’s test! That terrifies the crap out of me because that means that others have done the same! Judging by the ridiculousness of drivers on the I-10 Katy Freeway in Houston, you know they have.

    I’m sure there are more things I’ll remember as the days go by but these are at the top of my head.

  43. avatarDeanna says

    I agree about the young drivers here in the US. I got my driving permit when I was 15, but that was about 25 years ago. I had my daughter wait until she was 18 to get her permit and I have another daughter who will be getting her permit this month. ( I know I will probably sound like an old person saying “well back in my day…” ) Having said that, back when I started driving most of the new drivers had to borrow mom and dad’s car to go anywhere, they simply were not turned loose in their own cars. There are so many more cars on the roads today and so many kids have their own cars and drive themselves everywhere. I would like to see the driving age raised to 18 here in the US. About the cost of living in the UK, I did notice the prices of stuff compared to the US when we were over there last. I noticed that if something was 10 dollars here it was usually about 10 pound in the UK. Also, the VAT tax has been mentioned. I like the idea of having tax calculated at the register like we do in the US. I believe it makes us more aware and keeps us more aware of exactly how much we are paying in taxes.

  44. avatarDenise Thompson says

    I like that Brits preserve & treasure their history & have great architecture everywhere to see. I love all the beautiful (& big) parks. I also love tea time. I love the idea of taking a break to have something sweet to eat & something relaxing to drink in the middle of the day with friends. I love the way you make the English language sound! I love what you have contributed in the way of food – pasties & fish & chips & sticky toffee pudding & Yorkshire pudding. The best comfort food comes from Britain. I love your pubs, that are places for people to congregate & talk over a beer. I love your pastry shops. I love your buskers & street performers. I love your views of the landscape from atop a hill with all the hedge rows. There is so much that you do better than we do in the states.

    • avatarBecky Sharif says

      DITTO! DITTO! DITTO!! You covered virtually every point I might want to make! Yes, I love my country, but we must give credit where it’s due! I’ve often lamented at how we tear down our history to continually bring in bigger, better, newer… but is it really necessary? So much is lost! Wonderful points, Denise. You read MY mind!

  45. avatarAndrew Evans says

    As much as I love my homeland the socialist government is why I left 26 years ago. The bureaucracy will drive any freedom loving person insane.
    English work as hard as Americans. You must be joking. Unless you are talking about government employees. Can’t even call them government workers.
    Trains are ok but give me my SUV any day.

    • avatarLorena Sankey says

      Andrew,

      I did a double take on your name to make sure your comment wasn’t actually written by my husband! lol

      My husband returned from visiting his family in Greater Manchester only two weeks ago after an eight-year absence. He was obviously very happy to spend time with his family but he didn’t seem all too pleased with the mood of his fellow Northerners especially. Because the “North” is traditionally left-leaning/ socialist, the people seemed much less happy with their lot in life. He remarked that they seemed so angry and resentful of people who have success and are remarkable complainers. My husband left to join the RAF at 17 (he’s now 43) and doesn’t seem to share their views.

      Additionally, the majority of his family are public sector workers so it’s an endless round of complaining about not earning enough money and “working harder than Europeans and probably as much as Americans”. Obviously, that last bit had my husband in complete laughter as my in-laws couldn’t understand why my husband couldn’t stay longer than one week to visit. Like most American workers, he only has 10 vacation days a year and already used up 6 and it’s only April. His mother works for the NHS and has SIX WEEKS! They were all explaining to my husband about how they were on strike only recently and that the Tories were just “so out of touch” and whatnot. They had no real clue that their family member is a card-carrying Conservative! lol

      Husband came home and practically hugged his Dodge Durango and was happy to be back in Houston. Since he’s been back he’s been to see the Astros, checks out the fees at the nearby shooting range and is thinking about becoming a US citizen now. He is trying to figure out if they can process his application fast enough to vote Republican in November. lol

    • avatarSus says

      Andrew, if you left the UK 26 years ago, (I make that 1986), then the government you escaped from was not Socialist, it was Conservative and it remained that until 1997 when Tony Blair got elected.

  46. avatarJudyG says

    I love the way people celebrate Veterans Day – the poppies, the solemnity of the day, the laying of the wreaths, the wonderful respect for their veterans is awesome.

    • avatarAndy says

      We don’t celebrate Veterans’ Day in the UK. We have Remembrance Sunday – the nearest Sunday to Armistice Day, 11th November.

  47. avatarBecky Sharif says

    The TRAINS!! I ADORE the British transportation system! And so much is simply COMMON SENSE! True story: On my VERY first trip to London, I was thrilled and excited but painfully exhausted having just landed. I arrived in at Victoria Station from Gatwick, and being from Dallas, was completely unfamiliar with trains, subways, etc. I exited the train and stood a bit lost on the platform. I asked myself “HOW do I get out of here??” I turned around, and LO AND BEHOLD, in PERFECT simplicity, I saw for the first time the “Way Out” sign! You just have no idea how that made me laugh! It was such a relief, so needed, and SO RIDER-FRIENDLY! I loved it! Why can’t everything be so? Sigh, now I’m really missing the U.K.

    • avatarjohnqpublic says

      Trains are expensive, very. Though planned travel can be cheap. Pricing is ridiculously varied.

      But signage is indeed brilliant.
      In Germany, it’s the opposite. Cheap public transport, but just try to find your way from the U-bahn to the S-bahn, whether you speak German or not.

  48. avatar says

    I love many things about travelling around Britain and I love the idea of travelling around by train but the reality is British train travel is pretty awful and very expensive.

    This is coming from somebody who is on a train pretty much every other day.

    • avatarHappy2bUK says

      I catch a train to and from work every day – while I do hate it because travelling generally is so tiring when I think about it the trains are rarely late and are clean. When we had mega snow a couple of years ago I had to walk to the station (about 3 miles) and despaired of the fact that the trains were running and thought I might have to sleep at the station but, albeit a reduced service, South West Trains got me home safely.

      • avatarSus says

        I’m in the UK and haven’t travelled by train for ages, due to the cost. However, earlier this year I had to investigate train journeys for an Australian visitor and was amazed that with careful planning and advanced booking, it could be really cheap to ‘let the train take the strain’. The same journey could vary between £50 and £8! Another thing was that two single tickets could cost less than a return – a big surprise as when I did travel more often by train I always got a cheap day return. My advice is do your homework and plan in advance.
        A good site is http://www.thetrainline.com

  49. avatarTim says

    I loved the fact that their “FDA” has prohibited any extra “junk” in their food at fast food restaurants. They allow jaywalking as well. The trains were EXTRA cheap!

  50. avatarKelly Maguire says

    I hate those 1 and 2 pound coins. They’re too heavy in the purse or jeans pocket! I’d rather have feather-light bills in my purse.

    As for the washer/dryer in the kitchen. That makes me so mad! I don’t want the smell of laundry detergent and fabric softener in the room where I cook and prepare food. I WISH WISH WISH they would place the machine in the bathroom. Now THAT’S a room where I would apprciate the clean smell of laundry detergent and fabric softener!!

    • avatarhelen says

      there is usually only just enough room in the bathroom for the bath, sink and loo, no where to put the washing machine. my washers in the kitchen and i have to dry the clothes on the airer in there too cos there is no where else!

  51. avatarKelly Maguire says

    Continuing the argument of washing machine placement. What are the Brits thinking? Dirty laundry is just that, so why put the machine in the kitchen? Very unsanitary if you ask me!

    And with unpleasant body functions, you think they’d place the machine in the bathroom, to help freshen the air, and when you step out of your dirty clothes to take a shower, it’d be nice to have the machine right there.

    • avatarSue says

      Kelly
      Please see answer from Terry on April 13th for what we are thinking re not having sockets in our bathrooms.

    • avatarHazelUK says

      We don’t keep our dirty laundry in the kitchen, just the washing machine! I don’t know about anyone else but it takes me seconds to shove it into the machine, thus leaving very little time for anything “unsanitary” to escape (just how dirty are these clothes anyway?!).

      • avatar says

        Exactly ! The machine is sealed, it’s not like it’s open to the air. And those dreadful ‘unpleasant body functions’, heaven forbid you might have to breathe the air in the loo for a few seconds..

  52. avatarTori says

    I wish the article about holidays were true. We do get the 28 days, that much is correct. However, very few places shut down for two weeks over Christmas and those that do often take that leave out of your holidays. Eg, my store was closed on Christmas day [obviously] – I had to take that out of my annual leave. Similarly, my father works for one of the few companies that do close over Christmas – for three days between Christmas and NY – and he has to take them out of his annual leave too. Regarding bank holidays, a lot of service/retail industries do not pay lipservice to most bank holidays, with no additional pay or reward for working them and often no opportunity to take them off as holidays.

    The holidays we have clearly sound like more than you have in America, and I am not necessarily complaining, but it isn’t quite as perfect as you have made it sound lol. :)

    Oh, and I don’t know anyone with a combined washer-drier. Everyone I know has two separate machines. We do tend to keep them in the kitchen though. :)

  53. avatarTori says

    Two errors in my post – apologies.

    20 days is the government minimum. Depending on the industry, you often get between 20 and 30 days. It is a bit random. My father, who is a supervisor at a building firm, gets 20 days despite being senior.

    And I meant dryer* not drier lol. :D

  54. avatarJanet says

    I think Britain developed separation of powers as the principle behind democracy! While it evolved diffferently here in the USA I think you will find that there is very much a separation of poweres in Britain…legislative, executive and judicary!!!! One branch of government…NOT!!!

  55. avatarMichael Young says

    I am an American currently remodeling a small bathroom (i.e., lavatory, w.c., etc.) and unfortunately I discovered through Google that the British make an absolutely beautiful style of small basin known as a “cloakroom” at very reasonable prices, but despite all the talk about a “global economy” there is apparently a Great Wall of Porcelain China when it comes to obtaining a little sink made in the UK! All we poor colonists can do is visit the B. C. Sanitan website and salivate. Are there no US distributors/retailers of UK plumbing products? Is it so difficult to package a 14 x 14 x 5.5 INCH (yes, we still use inches, thank you very much) basin and ship it to a US address? It’s hardly bigger than a breadbox, although granted it is slightly heavier. Apparently, this style of washbasin is not manufactured in the US. This is quite frustrating!

  56. avatarGemma says

    As a Brit recently back from the states visiting my fiance with plans to join him out there once married they’re are few things I did and will miss about the UK – pubs, proper British pubs. The BBC. Proper cider. Back bacon. Proper sausages! Good cheese that doesn’t cost the earth (I can’t believe how hard it is to get genuine cheddar out there,). Pavements- seriously what are our legs for people! Sarcasm and that dry sense of humour. Cadbury’s chocolate. Christmas Crackers. Brown sauce. Marks and Spencer. Boots (the chemist), Free contraception. Glastonbury. The ‘seaside’.
    Fortunately some things on this list can be posted to me but others just don’t travel that we’ll ;-)

    • avatarPeter says

      ‘Set’ honey, (aka ‘spun’ honey). Almost impossible to find in the US. Gales set honey can be had from Brit specialty purveyors, as great cost. I like peanut butter and honey on English muffins, but the American ‘runny honey’ always drips on the plate and on my hands. Don’t risk raising the muffin to your mouth; you have to lower your head to the plate..

  57. avatarLS says

    Yow know more about the UK than many people who have lived there all their lives. Now that is an achievement.

  58. avatarLindsey says

    Actually, the washer/dryer as one unit thing seems like it would make doing the wash more difficult. If I have more than just one load of wash to do then it would take twice as long with a washer/dyer all-in-one unit. If I have a separate washer and dryer then I can wash the first load, take that out and put it into the dyer. While that load is drying I can put in the next batch to wash… therefore doing two loads of wash at once. Also, not sure why I’d want my laundry to be done in the same place I eat I don’t understand at all… Makes just as much sense to have a separate little room where you can keep the detergent and dryer sheets and everything.

    Everything else though I totally agree with. Though PBS doesn’t show nearly as many commercials as normal tv channels. The commercials they do show are normally for upcoming programs (on PBS) or to get people to donate. And they normally show programs all the way through and show any commercials at the end (I think with longer programs… like Sherlock they might have one break in the middle). So PBS actually does pretty well I think. If you want excessive commercials watch Spike.. ten minutes of commercials and then they show five minutes of program…

    • avatarAngie says

      We don’t do our laundry in the same place that we eat, the washer and dryer are in the kitchen, we eat in the ding room which is a seperate room altogether.

  59. avatarPatrick Harris says

    I have tried the combo washer/dryer while staying in a B&B. The unit used seemed to wash perfectly but the dryer was unable to do a full load. Asked and told they either wash smaller loads or divide the dryer load into two. Found washeteria’s much easier to use. Took less time but relatively more expensive. We are starting to see the combo washer/dryers in big box stores but will wait until actual usage is reported. Sear’s Kenmore brand introduced the combo’s perhaps 40 years back back and they worked about as well as european machines.

  60. avatarjames says

    As an (unbiased) englishman I think Britain also does reality tv better, American reality tv always looks really dated to me like something that would have been on our television in theeighties, also British soaps I think are the best in the world, America does far superior dramas though, CSI, NCIS, The Walking Dead, Dexter to name but a few, Britain doesn’t have an equivilant to any of these, and America has the big upper hand on sit coms too, Two and Half Men, Mike and Molly etc, Britain can’t compete on that score.

    • avatars says

      I’m an American, and I think “Spooks” was- and still is- a great show. For me, American dramas now seem like a joke.

  61. avatarPhyllis Sokol says

    I thoroughly enjoyed your article – very true – I think the Brits are great at Pomp & Circumstance – whatever they put on it’s perfect and classy.

  62. avatarPERSON WHO IS ACTUALLY BRITISH says

    Well, HOW IS THE ROYAL FAMILY NOT ON HERE, they are amazing LONG LIVE THE QUEEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  63. avatarJudith Inge says

    Most people actually hang their clothes outside to dry. Not all washing machines are also tumble dryers and if they are, you have to remove half the load of clothes to dry them. That’s time consuming so most people just hang them out!

  64. avatarJoseph says

    As for the spelling, grammar and pronunciation, this is also done in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, India and Ireland. To make a long story short, it’s done in more countries.

    Sweets in the UK don’t have artificial dyes, while they do in the US. For example, the McDonalds’ strawberry sauce in the US has Red 40 in it. The UK version gets real strawberries.

    Also, the UK banknotes are coloured. The US notes are only one colour and size (which is inconvenient for the sight-impaired, and it’s also boring).

    The British football (called ‘soccer’ in the US) is played around the world, unlike the NFL football.

    Tea is popular in the UK. People drink tea around the world.

  65. avatarMary Ward says

    Just a bit about British TV and US TV, (aka crap). I read about Tunnelbear from another comment in this post. It allows people in the US to VPN to UK, thus we can watch the BBC and all things lovely. I highly recommend this software, it works great. Check it out. Google Tunnelbear.

  66. avatarNorthern Pyro says

    On the subject of TV, PBS commercials are mainly either for other shows on PBS as filler (so they can export the shows to other networks) or for show funding, like Globe Trekker has a commercial for Subaru before and after it.
    We do have better sitcoms though. Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men, Mike and Molly. PBS seems to import a lot of shows from the UK. Downton Abbey, all 3 Mysteries (classic, contemporary, and masterpiece), Poirot, and Doctor Who!

    On the relatively similar note of radio, there is not (at least here in Alaska) no national radio stations. They are typically local stations playing what is needed.

    On travel, We do need more trains. Though cross country travel will probably always be done by air. I’d rather travel from Seattle (pacific northwest) to Philadelphia (northeast/mid atlantic) by plane and take 6 hours, than go by HSR and pay twice as much, to get there in twice the time.

    One thing we seem to have gotten right though, is shopping. at our town, we have a walmart, two HUGE Fred Meyers (one happens to be the biggest in the chain), and some Safeways. though what is typical on the east coast is many small grocery store chains competing for business.

    More about Fred Meyers. If you sign up for a rewards card, if you buy anything there, it goes towart points that get you coupons, and the more you use it, the more the coupons reflect what you buy. And the more points you accumulate, the more you get off gas, up to $2 dollars off, though 20-50 cents is typical.

  67. avatarLee Brown says

    As well as sockets having switiches,the plugs in the UK are very solid,with individual fuses and earths and feel safer. Also they don’t make sparks when you put them in /out of a socket. It may be an old design,but China started using them recently.

  68. avatarAsad says

    All things that Britain do better but one thing that it should not do is ” two separate taps for hot and cold water”. Makes life harder.

  69. avatarCcCcCcC says

    as a Brit who got used to 24 hour shopping in Japan, I have to disagree about the Sunday trading laws. It drives me insane. SOMETIMES I WANT TO BUY STUFF ON SUNDAY EVENINGS, BLAST IT!

  70. avatar says

    Public Footpaths!!! Not just the ones by the sides of roads, but the ones that go across fields – giving walkers rights of way across private land. (and bridle ways too, if you want to ride a horse).

  71. avatarHarry says

    Just a bit of information on the third point you made: Our government does have three branches of government, they just all overlap slightly, although the judiciary is supposed to be completely separate now.

  72. avatarDiane says

    You can get really good sausages from “The English Pork Pie Company ” also luverly pork pies etc etc ..

  73. avatarrissa says

    Most of this sounds awesome! I particularly like the switch for the plugs. It really does just make more sense. That said though, I have to disagree on a few things. One: the washer/dyer combo generally doesn’t work as well. Two: British spelling is even more confusing than American spelling. English is already difficult enough (I teach ESL) and the added letters look cool to us, but it’s troublesome to explain why they are there. Lastly, while I actually agree that trains in the US would be great (and I totally admire the British system), we have been trying unsuccessfully for years to impliment something like that in the US. The problem has to do with the size of the country, the states, and the fact that so far, noone has found a way to do so economically (as most people in the US are so married to their cars already). If only we could figure that one out…

  74. avatartracy says

    Having spent almost a decade in London I feel I can speak with some authority when I say that the washer and dryer situation, meaning what they have thatthey call washerand dryer is pants. In American…they suck. The combination doesn’t actually drt clothing. Itmakes it slightly less damp. Do not be temted to simply turn the dryer back on. All that will happen is that the laundry will stillbe damp yet also singed. If you have one of each, or only the washer more than likely it will be one of the low water types. It isbetter in terms of energy use but it will take an hour or more to wash one load. Seriously. I’m not kidding. While I can honestly say that I would rather live in the UK thananywhere else I will add that I would take an american washer and dryer with me. No need to change the power supply. Just get a transformer and know that the timer will be slightly off…and while you are at it, bring a proper fridge as well.

    • avatar says

      or you could just buy a washing machine and a tumble dryer.
      I, personally, don’t know anybody with a single tub washer/dryer combi, and don’t recall seeing many in Currys a year or so ago. You do get some twin tub combis, but 2 machines is an awful lot more common IMEX

  75. avatar says

    I haven’t read every previous reply, so excuse me if this is a repeat… but I love how British shops serve tea and coffee in “real” cups and mugs.
    For example, Starbucks in America seem to always automatically serve beverages in paper cups. When a customer asks for a mug, the staff are often bewildered. Perhaps Americans assume everyone is on the go (no time off, you see). But I like how Brits take time to sit down and enjoy their cuppa.
    Also, environmental issues notwithstanding (although some people are getting better at recycling), it TASTES so much better! Why anyone would choose to drink through a plastic lid all the time is beyond me.

  76. avatarHaitch says

    I think you will find that the letter U is not added to the English language by the English. It is left out by others ;-)

  77. avatarSusan Brandt says

    Being in the UK two summers, I have to disagree with the washer/dryer combo. The two different combos we had NEVER dried the jeans and towels. Even the separate set didn’t completely dry the towels. And I did have a laundry room off the kitchen with access to garden and clothes line. Never do I want my laundry in the kitchen! Piles of clothes while you’re cooking? Bah!

    • avatarAngie says

      We may keep our washer and dryer in the kitchen but we keep dirty laundry in a laundry basket in the utility room or the bathroom.

  78. avatar says

    Maybe I’m odd, I have an Asko washer/dryer combo and love it. I mostly only run the dry cycle 10 min. and then hang on a rack to dry. I think that’s better for the clothes. And the size is right for me, I live alone.

  79. avatarDouglas says

    You haven’t mentioned electric kettles! They are so useful! Americans still heat their water on the stove

    • avatar says

      This!!!! I haven’t actually been to England, but on a trip to Ireland I, coffee-loving Seattle-dweller that I am, was dismayed to find not a coffee pot but a kettle in my room! But there was nice tea and come biscuits, and I can’t tell you how I fell for tea and biscuits. I stuffed my suitcase with McVitie’s. And now everywhere I travel I take an electric kettle in my suitcase. I have one on my counter, too, and have no idea how I lived without it all my life before.
      The thing I find quite attractive about the UK is the degree to which it is aware of the rest of the world. I have to subscribe to UK news sources to get a daily update on what it actually happening around the world. The US focuses on the US. We are rather isolated, actually.

  80. avatarElizabeth says

    Holiday entitlement in the UK….slightly incorrect.

    The LAW states that UK workers should have a minimum of 20 days per year paid holiday. On top of that are the 9 Bank Holidays – again paid. Any employer who has a business where employees need to work Bank Holidays – e.g. medical staff – have to provide those days at other times in the year and still paid.

    Most companies, but not all, will off far more days holiday and the average is around 25 days (plus Bank holidays) and the days an employee can take, will often increase with more years service in the company. One company I worked for, I had 28 days holiday plus the bank holidays.

    I know all this because my husband works for a major blue chip company which has a huge presence in the USA. The USA employees get 20 days holiday so it was felt that the UK has the same minimum. My husband can, however, “buy” more days holiday if he so wishes. Also, one company I recently worked for only offered 20 days holiday per year plus bank holidays. Both companies were obeying the letter of the law.

    One thing not on the list, which maybe should be, is sick leave. Some of my friends in the USA have said that their “sick leave” comes as part of their “holiday” leave. So, from their measly 10 working days (as one friend had), if she was sick, it come out of that same leave entitlement.

    We also have other specialist “leave”. Such as “Carers leave”, which my mother has often had to claim. Once when I gave myself severe concussion; other times to look after her elderly parents. Bereavement leave which can be up to 20 days depending on who the relative was (e.g. usually close, such as parents, spouse, siblings or children). Other relatives or close friends, one can usually take a days’ leave for the funeral or request it as unpaid leave. Then there is maternity and paternity leave and sometimes there are other kinds of leave.

  81. avatar says

    one word… CHOCOLATE. It tastes so much better in the UK and I don’t understand how americans can like ‘candy’ so much. Cadbury’s is the way to go!

  82. avatar says

    Completely agree. Cadbury’s is wonderful. Hersheys tastes like cardboard or Russian chocolate in comparison. I live in Germany, where chocolate is nearly divine, and someone told me here that the American sugar refining process is different to that in the UK and Europe. Can anyone confirm this?

  83. avatar says

    Great article. However, us Brits do NOT like paying for the TV license, and the BBC is not unbiased, or paid for in full by license payers. The government pays a large chunk to cover the shortfall, so in essence they have a say in what is shown. It tries to show it’s unbiased, but some of the programs negate that view.

  84. avatarDominique says

    Except for things like plugs and switches, almost everything you named as a positive for Britain happens in Canada too! 1$ coin, question period, limited sunday retail hours, parliament, passing the budget, vacation (we legally get minimum 10 days, most career jobs have 3-4 weeks, plus some bank holidays, and 50 something weeks of maternity leave).

    I guess if the USA hadn’t revolted, it would also have a similar parliamentary system ;) And maybe way more tea.