Elaine Explains… England: In response to American Questions.

Ok, so this post is predominantly aimed at our American audience. We’re amazed that now almost 50% of our blog activity is based in the US – so welcome and thank you to our American followers and friends!

Since we have been here, we have and continue to be amazed by some things Americans ask us… so.. I’m going to answer the most sensible ones, as best I can.


Do you live in a Shire?

No. Well, actually Elaine lives in Lancashire, but no, we are not neighbours with hobits.

Have you met the Queen?


What are conkers and how do you play the game?

During Autumn months, conkers is sometimes played in the playground/streets by children and adults! Perhaps more so in the past, but it’s still around today! Basically… conkers are the seed of a horse chestnut tree! Britain is believed to be the only country in the world where the game of conkers is traditionally played with horse chestnuts in the autumn.

The best conkers to play with are uncracked, firm and symmetrical. Make a hole through the middle of of your chosen conker. Thread a strong piece of string about 25cm long, through the hole and tie a knot at one end, so that it doesn’t pull through. Each player has a conker hanging on its string. Players take turns at hitting their opponent’s conker. If you are the one whose conker is to be hit first, let it hang down from the string which is wrapped round your hand. The conker is held at the height your opponent chooses and is held perfectly still. Your opponent, the striker, wraps his conker string round his hand just like yours. He then takes his conker in the other hand and draws it back for the strike. 

Why does Elaine say love or muffin all the time?

Haha, I am just an affectionate person. But this is quite common in the UK! You may be called by many different ‘affectionate’ names, according to which part of the England you are visiting. You shouldn’t be offended, as this is quite normal. For example, you may be called dear, dearie, flower, love, lovely, cock, chick, chicken, chuck, chuckie, me duck, me duckie, mate, guv, son,  treacle, pal, hen, lad, according to your sex, age and location.

Do you really have to pay for refils?

Yes! We don’t get free refils like y’all do. Some chain restaurants may offer this, but when buying a drink in the UK, 99% of the time you are paying for every.single.glass.

Why do you say breakfast dinner and tea instead of lunch and dinner, and what’s a typical lunch in England?

Some people say B, L and D, but we (perhaps because we’re Northern?) say Breakfast, Lunch and Tea.

A typical lunch in the UK is probably a sandwich or some soup/salad. Adults and children may take a ‘packed lunch’ for dinner at school or work – this usually consist of a sanwich, crisps (chips) a piece of fruit and a drink. This is usually kept in a plastic container.

Angel’s favourite lunch is a tuna mayo sandwich (no butter on the bread) or a hot dog.

Elaine likes a jacker potato with tuna. Bev likes…. Jacket potatoe with cheese and beans! In the UK we don’t get sour cream on the side of a baked potatoe… instead it’s eaten as a main meal with the filling on the top.


Are your houses made of wood like ours?

No, most houses in England are made of stone or brick from the local area where the houses are built. The colours of the stones and bricks vary across the country.

17bbf28367c4d44c6d44c39ab0706e43d2e04b67_How_Wood,_How_Wood_(2)_-_geograph.org.uk_-_595674 Image of Chipping Campden a small market town within the Cotswold district of Gloucestershire, England. gold-hill-thatched-roofs-pink-sunset terrace

What are the main differences driving in the UK?

  • We can’t go on a red light
  • We have more ‘give way’ signs than stop signs
  • We have Zebra crossings, with lights!
  • Lots and lots and lots of roundabouts!
  • We have box junctions in the UK, and longer junctions coming on and off the interstate (motorway!)
  • Oh! And we use MPH rather than kph 🙂

Driving_straight_ahead_through_an_intersection_on_a_minor_road_Give_Way_sign article-2149198-13436BEF000005DC-581_964x637 _50547048_010892401-1 magic_roundabout_2_470x180

Why do you have Castles in England? Do you have a lot? Why were they built and which is the biggest Castle?

Castles were built to protect the people who lived in them. They were often built on hilltops or surrounded by water to make them easier to defend. There are over 1,400 castles in England. Windsor castle is the biggest castle – It’s the Queen’s favourite castle and the largest and oldest occupied in the world.


Have you met One Direction?


Do you have superstitions in England?

Yes, depending on the person! I know lots of people that are superstitious, but equally lots of people who aren’t.

In the UK it can be considered good luck if you… Meet a black cat. (or one runs in front of you as you are walking/driving) Black Cats are featured on many good luck greetings cards and birthday cards in England. To touch wood is considered lucky, finding a four leaf clover and of course horseshoes. 

I can think of a few more for Bad Luck: walking under a lady, seven years bad luck for breaking a mirror. Opening an umbrella indoors. Spilling salt (if you do, you should counteract your bad luck by throwing it over your shoulder). The number 13 can be considered an unlucky number, as can putting new shoes on a table or passing people on the stairs.

It’s also unlucky to see one magpie (good luck to see two etc)

What are the main Do’s and Don’ts in Britain?

This is a bit of a taboo question… but the main few I can think of would be:

  • DO! definitely que – which means stand in line. Wether this be waiting to board a bus/train, in the shops, collecting a pencil from a teacher, entering a church for a wedding. We que up!
  • DO! Men take their hats off when they go indoors.
  • DO! Say please and thank you. And excuse me, we’d say excuse me not just when we have done something wrong, but as a way of asking someone to move aside – i.e. if someone is standing in your way. ‘Excuse me please’ to ask them to move.
  • DO! We do say sorry, a lot. If we accidentally bump into someone, we generally say ‘sorry’. The other person probably will too, even if it was your fault! This is a habit and can be seen as very amusing by an ‘outsider’.
  • DO! Drive on the left side of the road.
  • DON’T. We don’t greet people with a kiss. Not one, two or half as I have heard some Americans think we do. We only kiss people who are close friends and relatives. 
  • DON’T! We don’t spit in public… I think this is way to common in America. In the UK spitting in the street is considered to be very bad mannered.
  • DON’T. We don’t really ask personal questions unless we know someone quite well. We like our privacy. For example we wouldn’t really ask “How much money do you earn?” “How much do you weigh?” or “Why aren’t you married?” in the UK.

As a side note – we pay tax through out wages, so tips (as heavy in America) aren’t required, nor is paying for an Emergency ambulance.


How much do general items cost ?

Bearing in mind I’m a bargain hunter 😉

2L of milk – £1.90 = $3.21

Loaf of bread £1.25 =$2.11

12 eggs – £2.70 = $4.56

250g of butter – £1.60 = $2.70

Whole chicken – £5.88 = $9.88

500ml bottle of coke – £1.20 $2.03

What about gas?

Petrol is so much more expensive in the UK!!!! This is in litres: So, 1 US gallon, which is 3.78541litres.

UK Petrol Prices for Monday 4th August 2014

  Avg Min Max
Unleaded 130.11p 125.9p 142.9p
Diesel 134.52p 129.7p 151.9p
Super Unleaded 138.73p 129.9p 159.9p
Premium Diesel 146.28p 135.9p 164.9p
LPG 69.29p 60.0p 79.9p

Gas where we are in Jacksonville is 3.497 approx. So for a gallon of gas in the UK it would be.

492.46635 a gallon (US size) or 592.466 (UK size) in the UK…calculating that I only just realised that our litre measurements are different. Bizarre!

Which sports are popular in England?  Is football your national sport?

Football (soccer), cricket and tennis. Cricket is our national sport.

It’s common for boys, girls, men and women to play and support football as you do with Baseball/soccer/football in the US. We also watch it in Pubs like you do in bars.

What is a pub?

The word pub is short for public house. There are over 60,000 pubs in the UK (53,000 in England and Wales, 5,200 in Scotland and 1,600 in Northern Ireland). One of the oldest pubs, Fighting Cocks in St. Albans, Herts, is located in a building that dates back to the eleventh century.

Do you have animals in schools?

Generally no, there are no mice and fish in classrooms. Although smaller children and nurserys (kindergardens/pre-schools) may have a pet rabbit or Guinea pig.

Do you get to wear whatever you want to school?

No, the majority of schools in the UK (infant, junior, primary and high school) have school uniforms. You may find non uniform schools in larger cities.

What words are different in the UK?

Oh my gosh so many! There are lots of differences between American English and British English… but because Angel is almost out of her proton treatment for today, I’m just going to list a few…

When we say ‘lorry’ we mean a slimmer truck.

Elevator = lift

2 weeks = Fortnight

Freeway = dual carriage way

Interstate = motorway

Bathing Suit = Swimming costume

Diaper = Nappy

Stroller = Pram/pushchair

Drugstore = chemist

Panties = underwear

Sweater = Jumper

Galoshes = Wellington boots/wellies.

Vest = Wasitcoat

Undershirt = Vest

Sneakers = Trainers

Pants = Trousers

Phew. Who knew there were so many curious Americans reading our blog? Thanks again for all the questions! Hope this helps you learn a little more about us!











One thought on “Elaine Explains… England: In response to American Questions.

  1. Elaine – you are a walking encyclopaedia! You should become a teacher if you aren’t already one! I love the way you’ve explained things and all on an iPhone too!
    Jo H

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