Friday 28 September 2018

10 THINGS TO KNOW: England (and Wales)

  1. Expect unpredictable weather everywhere in England! It could be beautifully cloudless in the morning and stormy by night. Always take your jackets/umbrellas/ponchos. 
  2. Royal Mail is the bomb, yo! Faster than any mail system we've come across. And you can get anything delivered to you quick fast wherever you are. You can also get anything you want in the UK... so many shopping options for anything and their food and grocery delivery options are amazing. Uber Eats, Deliveroo and their own Just Eat system... love it all! This was the only place we actually went proper clothes shopping (to change our summer clothes to winter) and Primark may be our fav shop! 
  3. London (and its surrounding areas) has an amazing public transport system. But their underground trains are pretty small and narrow. Be aware of that and know you will always be in everyone's personal spaces and they will be in yours. One time Nathan was basically kissing the underground doors. Their trains are larger though. And their double decker buses... well, they are as awesome as they seem! So much more space for passengers and so much fun going to the top! These are the regular buses, not the tourist ones. And as in our family review, London's public transport does not take cash - at all. If you have a contactless/paywave card, it can be used. You must have separate cards with separate numbers per person. Children under 11 are free on all public transport in London with a full paying adult.
  4. Tourist things everywhere around England are expensive and the lines will always be long - if not at the entrance then somewhere inside there will most likely be a line for something at the major attractions. Smaller attraction sites around the country are not as bad. If you want to skip lines, go early in the morning to the things you want to see the most e.g. Westminster Abbey. There is an English Heritage Site Overseas Visitors Pass for either 9 days or 16 days. It covers 100 different sites around England including Stonehenge and places along Hadrian's Wall. If you plan to see a lot of these places, that may be a good option for you. Unfortunately, there are separate types of passes out there that cover several different attractions. There is nowhere that has passes that cover them all. If you wanted to go to the Tower of London or Kensington Palace, those are included in a separate pass through Historic Royal Palaces. They don't make it easy... or cheap! If you're in England for a while and will be going around the country, look into the different types of passes as they may be worth it and may save you a fair bit!
  5. Following on from that.. expect England (and all of the UK) to be pretty expensive. Food is expensive - whether eating out or groceries. Doubling their £ to match as close to our NZ$ is painful. Seems cheap to pay £15 for a meal until you double it and realise... damn, that's expensive, yo! Petrol costs more than what it currently does in NZ (which I know is pretty horrible at the moment) and groceries - although cheaper than eating out - can add up. Some things are cheaper than others - their fruit and veges aren't so bad and their meat, although more expensive than NZ is not as expensive as Italy. 
  6. I don't understand it England/UK. Why do you use such odd terms of measurement? Why? Even when we were in Italy, Croatia and Greece, speed was measured in kms and things were measured in litres. But why do you measure in miles and yards? Then in pints or gallons with some things and litres and kilograms or grams in others (like petrol per litre) but then measure body weight in stones and pounds? Like, why? YES, we shouldn't expect all countries to measure in the same way we're used to but... it's ENGLAND! We're so similar in most ways... then there's this. Basically, they are just not consistent.
  7. There are some toll roads around England/Wales but not many. It's not Italy, after all! Their main roads/highways are pretty good roads to travel on - except the M5, that was a nightmare and traffic seemed extremely slow for so much of it. Fortunately, England have these service points along their highways to stop and eat and rest - and there are a lot of them scattered along the highways about 10-20 minutes apart. Italy also had similar stops on their highways. Can NZ adopt that please? Can they (and Aussie) also please adopt the traffic light system that it seems all of Europe have - where they also have an orange light before a green light so you know you gotta get ready to move? We saw it in Italy, Croatia, Greece and now the UK... so can we all please have these worldwide? NZ and Aussie are way behind!
  8. England has too many roundabouts! I mean, sure... NZ have their fair share of roundabouts but England is just OTT with theirs. They are everywhere. We went around a roundabout that was actually called "The Magic Roundabout" and guys... it was 5 roundabouts in 1 big roundabout! FIVE! Thankfully the few times we went through it (yes, we went numerous times through it), it wasn't very busy and we could take our time going through it while reading Google Maps to make sure we were taking the right roundabout then exit. 
  9. Do not push in lines. A very British thing to know in advance. They like their lines and queues so keep to the lines you're supposed to and when travelling via underground, keep to the right of escalators (yes, even though they drive on the left and you'd think it would be the same here... but it is not).
  10. Wales... the only thing to know about Wales that we can share from our little time we spent there is to LOVE seeing the bilingual signs as much as we did! NZ and Aussie are also behind in this as well! Catch up!

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