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Category: Expat Archive

What I’ll miss

It seems a bit premature to start ruminating on this subject – after all, we are not going back to the US as yet. But Jeri asked the question, and I figured I’d give it a try. So, what will I miss of England and Europe once I eventually repatriate?…

New nuisance: Call Limit

I have not mentioned the concept of the call limit in the past, and yesterday we unwittingly ran afoul of it. In a nutshell, when a landline phone service is being established in the UK, the phone company determines the monetary limit that the customer should stay under during any…

Nice and efficient Brits

Sometimes, a small and fairly inconsequential thing happens, which makes me think: “Hey, I can’t imagine this being handled so efficiently and positively for me in America”. Natasha received a parking violation ticket a couple of weeks ago. That was before our recent discovery of mobile-phone-enabled payments, but it occurred…

Jabbing at America

I have just finished reading Merde Happens, which is the third installment in Stephen Clarke’s series about a young Englishman’s experiences with foreign cultures. Unlike the first two installments, A Year in the Merde and Merde Actually (I skipped over the latter by pure coincidence of it not being sold…

Cell phones can be useful

Contrary to my recent rant about cell phones, they do come in handy in more than obvious ways. For instance, more and more parking lots around England allow you to pay your parking fee by calling an automated processing service, so you no longer find yourself in a pickle when…

Protecting the seller

Say, you browse a store, any store, and come across an attractive item that is on sale. You’d be lukewarm to the idea of obtaining said item at its original listed price, but an ability to buy it at a discount closes the deal for you. Now, suppose, as you…

Becky takes a GCSE exam

In America, SATs are used as one of – and, occasionally, determining – criteria for gaining admission to a higher education institution. In England, the functional equivalent is called A-levels, and they carry enough social recognition, so that college graduates habitually list which of these examinations they passed on their…

Of furs and wearing them

Going through a short backlog of topics that I consider worth commenting on as far as observations of British life go, I am going to address a fairly obscure one today: The seemingly universal recoil towards wearing real fur. Natasha and Becky have both faced this on a few occasions…

I’ve been caught

I could only be stealthy for so long. A speed camera finally caught me in the act. As far as I can tell, I ran afoul of one of the weirdest of the speed limits. In a “built-up urban” area, the national limit is 30 mph, unless posted otherwise. And…

Simple taxes made harder

If your income consists of solely salary and wages, then filing a tax return in England is a very simple self-assessment process. Online or on paper, you literally need to provide just a handful of numbers from your W-2 equivalent (called P60), tick off a bunch of boxes, sign, and…

Road tax will go up

Continuing with the threads of road tax, environment and a fight for lower emissions, the newly produced UK government Budget calls for an increase of that tax for the most-polluting vehicles to £425 a year. (among the sources, try this one) The increase will be put in place in April…

Immensely proud of Becky

Natasha went to the parent/teacher conference at Becky’s school last night. In a manner deserving of the expensive private institution, the conference was smoothly organized as a series of face-to-face meetings with every teacher that Becky has classes with. There are seventeen of them for Becky’s form, so the process…