Wearing A Hat Inside The House

We are having a bit of a cold spell here in England. I just got home from work and I'm sitting in the flat wearing two sweaters and my hat and scarf. I can see my breath.

I don't like to drink a) alone b) on weeknights c) at home, but times are desperate and I think the only thing that can keep me warm right now is the mulled wine I just mixed up. I had a friend from out-of-town over for a drink earlier this week and I made us some, so when I got home and saw the leftover wine sitting there I just had to mix up another batch.

Hopefully the boiler will actually heat up the flat soon – otherwise I'll have to get out the hot water bottle. Yes, the hot water bottle. People still use these in England! They are great though – couldn't recommend them more. Maybe one of the reasons they are popular here is that they also have electric kettles so that you don't have to boil water on the stove to fill them up. Americans seem to be ahead of the times when it comes to heating but behind the times when boiling water.

Thought I'd use the opportunity to share a few funny things about the British (or English, I guess) today.

First, nothing in this country is prepared for weather that isn't slightly overcast and between 40 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Add in a few inches of snow and the country grinds to a halt. It took me two hours to get into work today. I ended up taking the bus to Waterloo station which although a pleasant route, was very slow. The trains just weren't running consistently enough to get people into the city.

But the best reason I've ever heard in this country for the late running of a train was that it was 'too sunny'. What we passengers were told was that the sun was so bright it blinded conductors, preventing them from operating the trains.

Second funny fact, when someone asks you if you want a drink – particularly at the office – it doesn't necessarily mean an alcoholic drink. There are many of these slight differences between American English and English English, but this one still amuses me. I often hear the guy who sits behind me at work asking his colleagues if they'd like a drink. He's not asking them if they'd like a gin and tonic, he typically means tea.

In America, we would say, "would you like something to drink?" Prepositions and articles can be confusing. The English take out articles where we add them in. Here you are in hospital instead of in the hospital.

Third, another little known fact in America: Easter in Britain is a secular holiday. For many years Easter really confused me. I know America is the home of consumerism, but when Easter happens, Britain can't be beat. As far as I'm concerned, Britain is a post-Christian society. Christianity is the state religion – in fact it's Presbyterianism in Scotland, Church of England in England, Catholicism in Northern Ireland and I forget Wales (in case you're wondering, this was on the citizenship test). But I don't know anyone who goes to church. When I tell people my parents go to church every week, and that my Dad is a deacon, they look at me as if I'm going to take a bible out of my handbag and start preaching hell and damnation.

Ergo, Easter here is a little like Christmas can sometimes be in the US. You don't have to be Christian to buy large chocolate Easter eggs in boxes at the supermarket and give them to your loved ones. And another lesser-known fact is that they don't eat chocolate bunnies here as much as chocolate eggs. Lastly, sadly, I haven't seen any of those brightly-colored marshmallow ducks and bunnies. I miss those.

I'm not sure if this post has much of a point, other than the fact that my fingers are warmer when they're moving. And I've been dying to share those observations for ages.

Related posts (these may be a bit of a stretch, but at least they all mention England, or other cultures):

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