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Category: Expat Archive

Car leasing in England

I so infrequently write on expat-related topics lately that a chance visitor to my blog may be turned off by the preponderance of family news and assorted filler stuff. To rectify that just a bit, let me spend a few minutes on something that I did not get into much…

Stray observations, 07/01/09

Busy at work, plus various relocation-related errands, phone calls and what-not. Less than frequent blogging, as the result. The temperatures have been pretty high in London the last week or so. Not too hot. Warm-to-hot, cooling down nicely overnight. But in a house without any air conditioning, it gets quite…

I hate crossing UK borders

America nowadays is likely the country with the world’s most stringent border checks for foreigners. But I’ve been a US citizen since mid-90’s, so I never had to experience the long queues and the indignity of fingerprinting and all. You occasionally end up in a fairly long queue for US…

Science to prove it

I have never had a slightest of doubts in the veracity of the statement I made on many occasions: My children benefited greatly through their experiences of living in a foreign country, and definitely got a leg up on their American peers who did not have such experiences. Now, there…

A getaway to Brussels

Two and a half years of living in England, and we finally braved the concept of taking a day-trip to the continent. From a certain point of view, it was a last-ditch effort to save the short tradition of spending the Early Spring Bank Holiday weekend on the mainland (specifically,…

Not so great NHS dentistry

I have very healthy teeth, but my gums are a different matter. No matter how well and often I rinse with Listerine, floss, and use my fancy electric toothbrush, I get deposits around my teeth. I go in for a dental cleaning three-four times a year. The first few times…

Name that house

Houses in England often have names in addition to street numbers. Sometimes, they have names in place of street numbers, with the mailing address simply saying something like “Barton House, Gloucester Road”. This throwback practice is still very much in use in rural parts of the country, but even in…

Not even a little

From an actual conversation in a medical office: X-ray technician: Are you pregnant at all? Natasha [after a pause]: No, not even a little. This is one of those linguistic differences that we explored elsewhere. Brits insist on adding “at all” to questions very frequently, and that throws us off.…

Homework on Fridays

I wrote in the past about my views on British education and its differences from the American brand. The main gist was that under the right conditions, British system looks somewhat superior, but in the state educational environment on grammar school level, I don’t see much of a difference. I…

Eating out, at discount

On one hand, we like going out, if not every week, then at least a few times a month. On the other hand, as much as I enjoy personally stimulating the economy, some cutbacks in non-essential expenses are clearly needed. A service such as TopTable helps with that. Beyond rewards…

Going to markets

Kimmy was participating in a grand show with her dance school, which shaped up as a day-long exercise, with two final rehearsals and then two performances crammed into a single Sunday. After dropping her off at the venue in the morning (we later went to the evening show – it…

GCSE choices

If we were to stay in England for another year or two, Becky would have to start studying for GCSE’s next year. Year 9, which she is in now, is when the students choose their optional subjects. First of all, there are 6 compulsory subjects: English, English Literature, Information &…

Simple tax returns

Few of my readers may remember the little adventure I had with my UK tax return about a year ago. In that post, I mentioned that the self-assessment process for filing tax returns in Britain is easy and even expressed anticipation towards trying it on my own. Well, Q.E.D. It…

Frauds and snitches

In England, just as I remember in latter years in America with ads against insurance fraud, TV campaigns against benefit fraud do a pretty good job in sending the appropriate message. A benefit thief may not mend his ways outright upon seeing an ad like the one below, but seeing…

Some education

Kimmy’s Year 4 program in literature includes a module called “Fantasy Worlds”. Guess which texts she was supposed to be studying in that? Harry Potter books! And not just the books – all movie installments to date were apparently part of the program as well. On top of that –…