17 Things to Know Before Visiting England

London Bridge
London Bridge | © Wikimedia Commons
Emma Lavelle

Visiting anywhere for the first time can be daunting, and it always helps to be prepared. Doing a little bit of research about your destination is the easiest way to plan ahead, even if it’s just checking up on transportation or planning your routes. That said, not everyone has the time to spend reading up on the location they’re planning to visit. For anyone with an upcoming trip to England, this guide will help to ease you into local life as soon as you arrive. Here are 17 essential things to know when you’re planning on visiting England.

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People love to talk about the weather

If you’d like to get to know the locals, strike up a conversation about the beautiful sunshine or the relentless rain. Most people will be happy to complain about whatever weather conditions they’re currently experiencing, before checking their weather apps on their phones to inform you of the weather conditions for the upcoming week.

Everyone loves a cup of tea

Tea is the answer to everything. If you’re feeling sad, if your train is delayed, if it’s blazing sunshine outside – someone will always offer you a cup of tea. Brits also love their coffee, but tea is definitely the national drink.

Cup of Tea

Place names are utterly bizarre

Be prepared to guffaw at the sight of road signs for places such as Minge Lane, Twatt and Boggy Bottom. For some bizarre reason, these strange and hilarious names of towns and villages exist all around the country.

Stand on the right

This is a standard rule across the country, but is essential information if you’re using the London underground. Never, ever stand on the left when travelling on an escalator. If you wish to stand still and take the journey at ease, always stand on the right as people in a hurry will be rushing past on the left and do not take kindly to people standing in their way.

The true meaning of ‘a quick pint’

If someone suggests popping to the nearest pub for what they refer to as ‘a quick pint’, immediately wipe off the rest of the day’s plans. What they’re actually referring to is sitting in a dark pub (or a beer garden if you’re lucky and the sun is out) and sinking numerous pints of lager and perhaps enjoying a few packs of crisps until the bell is rung for last orders.

English Pub

The sun shining is practically a national holiday

As soon as the sun comes out, everyone seems to leave their homes and workplaces to flock outdoors. A sunny day is not as rare an occurrence as this may suggest, but Brits relish the chance to soak up the sun and will flood parks, beer gardens and nearby beaches as soon as the mercury rises above 18 degrees.

British Sunshine

Be prepared for odd greetings

Outside of London, expect a variety of strange greetings when you meet local people. In Newcastle you’ll hear ‘alright pet’, ‘ey up duck’ is the standard greeting in Derby and ‘hiya’ in an informal greeting used throughout the country.

People love a ‘cheeky Nando’s’

Apparently Americans are completely baffled by the term ‘cheeky Nando’s‘, which basically just refers to a group of men in their mid-twenties enjoying chicken and chips while catching up about their daily lives. There are much better eating establishments in England than this chicken chain, don’t get sucked in.

Never, ever jump a queue

Everyone in England takes queuing incredibly seriously, so much so that you sometimes need to take a ticket as proof of your place in a queue. One of the most offensive things that you can do in England is to push into a queue. Know your place and get in line.

People Queuing

England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom all refer to different things

Confusingly, these three terms do not all mean the same thing. ‘England’ refers to the country itself, ‘Great Britain’ includes the mainland of England, Scotland and Wales and the ‘United Kingdom’ includes Northern Ireland under its umbrella.

Weird sports are rife

Yes, England is famed for its football and cricket, but have you ever heard of some of the more baffling sports practiced in the country? Look up ‘cheese rolling’, ‘black pudding throwing’ or ‘the egg and spoon race’, and prepare to be completely confused.

Cheese Rolling

Regional accents are incredibly diverse

All across the country, different regional accents are recognisable with most visitors being able to identify at least Scouse, Geordie and Cockney dialects. If you’re spending a lot of time exploring a particular area, however, you’ll soon learn that regional accents are incredibly diverse and two towns merely ten miles apart can have obviously different tinges to their accents.

Mastering the use of two taps

Apparently the rest of the world uses one tap that fuses hot and cold water to offer different temperatures. In England, be prepared for freezing cold (yet beautifully drinkable) water streaming from the cold tap and scalding hot (usually with a warning sign) water rushing from the hot tap.

English Taps

‘Sorry’ isn’t always an apology

The word ‘sorry’ has many meanings in England. It is used in the traditional way to apologise to somebody, but it is also used if someone is barging past and wants you to get out of their way, or when someone hasn’t heard what you said and would like you to repeat your sentence.

Regional cuisine can be confusing

For the most part, eating out in England is pretty straight forward with a variety of international cuisines and nice restaurants available. It’s only when you delve into the local delicacies that things get odd. Yorkshire puddings are actually savoury and served with gravy, jellied eels are exactly like they sound and there is actually a dessert named spotted dick.

Yorkshire Puddings

Pronouncing place names can be tricky

Not all is as it seems when it comes to pronouncing English place names. ‘Leicester’, ‘Worcestershire’ and ‘Marylebone’ are among the most confusing names to speak, none of them sounding at all like they look.

Train prices are extortionate

The railway may have been invented in England, but that doesn’t mean that rail fares come cheap. If you’re planning on travelling around, look into hiring a car or taking your journey by coach if you want to save on pricey train fares.

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