September 22, 2006

Lock This Way

Photo of our kitchen in the London flat.

Before life becomes too familiar over here I’m going to point out some things that I’m noticing are a tad different from the US. These are every day life things. Note: British spellings reinforced by British laptop.

1. Kitchens – everything is smaller including the fridge. We’re talking wet bar size fridge. Lighting the stove requires a match. The clothes washer is in the kitchen and it has a drier built in. Don’t get too excited, it can hold about five pieces of clothing, washes for about two hours, you have to pull some stuff out to ensure that everything dries, and the drying takes another two hours. Then you have to iron for sure because everything is super wrinkled.

2. Salad Dressings – the primary salad dressing is known as salad cream and it is a Hellmans product that looks like tardar sauce. White, creamy, bits of mystery vegetables. I did see a choice of four other dressings in Tesco (ubiquitous super market) that seemed pretty standard except the French. Instead of that pink creamy catchup/mayo stuff you see in the US, French is more like an Italian vinaigrette.

3. Vegetables – called Veg.
4. Closets – bring your own. Wardrobes are the norm since the buildings are quite old.

5. Heaters – remind me of California – a giant vertically mounted fixture on the wall. Looks like a piece of modern art that you loved so much you had to purchase one for every room.

6. Prepared Foods – All natural with no chemicals. It is a shocker. You read the ingredient list and you can actually recreate the item yourself without visiting the local chemist. Servings are smaller, no Texas-sized meals here. We found a Whole Foods in our neighbourhood and now feel like we’re back at home. It is even affordable – that is if you don’t upset yourself over the value of the dollar.

7. Cars – smaller, think mini and you’re into luxury sized vehicles. The style of driving is to speed up to an intersection and then determine if you are going to let the pedestrian pass or block the way and give them the “piss off” face. I’m getting better at not having a heart attack and trying to remember which way the cars are coming. The good thing is that they have “look left” and “look right” painted on the ground at each crossing.

8. Locks – Even with a key I can’t open the door to our building or the flat. It seems that the keys turn opposite of the US. If you do it the US way you lock yourself out and everyone into the building. The pizza delivery guy had to help me get back in – Stephen gave up hope.