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Category: UK Expat Archive

Road tax

The concept of vehicle registration in Britain is substituted by the notion of the road tax. Same thing, different name, really, except that the proof of you having paid the tax – known as the Tax Disc – has to be prominently displayed on your windshield (while the proof of…

London’s Low Emission Zone

The indefatigable London mayor, Ken Livingstone, has just inaugurated a low emission zone (LEZ) scheme. It establishes stinging fees – £200 per trip – for high-polluting vehicles’ privilege of driving within Greater London. The heaviest lorries are subject to restrictions effective today, while other lorries, buses, coaches, minibuses and large…

Phone calls abroad

I have written before (say, here) about the calling plan that we have in the UK. The name of the plan is TalkTalk and it is with the company called Carphone Warehouse. For a basic monthly charge of £20, we do not pay anything at all for landline calls. And…

About street names

One of the things that I wanted to write about for a while but could not get to were the observations on the street naming practices in England. Under pretenses of clearing my backlog, here is a brief editorial. First of all, the term street rarely appears itself in the…

Driver License, The End

UK driving license? Piece o’cake! After a lengthy process, which took much longer in terms of waiting than in terms of preparing or doing, and which left my wallet about £200 lighter, I am now a properly-licensed British driver as well. Well, ok, I did take a couple of hours…

Of fur and St John’s Wood

One of the things that Natasha remarked upon her return from Rostov is that people you see on the streets appear to be better dressed over there than in London. I was obviously skeptical, instantly recalling that I even made an argument in the past that women in London looked…

Costs of European travel

When I tell my British acquaintances the reasons for our relocation to the UK, – you know, travel and all, – they invariably offer in exchange that it is incredibly convenient and cheap to travel throughout Europe, having London as your base. Convenience is certainly in the eye of the…

Separated by common language

Differences in English language as spoken by the British and the Americans is a long overdue topic for an expatriate blog. Today, I am finally getting around for a primer. This isn’t about the obvious difference in pronunciation. True, understanding spoken English on British Isles takes considerable training and unwavering…

Lapland in UK

As if to make sure that my complaints about general inactivity were unfounded, we have decided to entertain ourselves in the middle of the week. We went to the seasonal attraction called Lapland UK, in Kent. As the name suggests, it is a Lapland-themed little village that holds a number…

Of speed cameras

What motorist would appreciate a device whose main purpose is to convert additional speed into hefty monetary penalties! I am no exception, certainly. A policeman hiding in the bushes with his radar never fails to trigger a Tourette-like urge for me to utter some unflattering epithet in his address. A…

School trips are fun

One way in which British school curriculum differs from its American counterpart is in the quantity of school field trips. As they bring variety to frequently dull coursework as well as often become an effective tool for learning certain topics, we are quite happy that our girls are exposed to…

A license, finally

Well, well, well, look who is now a fully licensed British driver. Natasha has passed her road test! She swears that taking three lessons with an instructor has helped her, so I guess I’ll do likewise. As I said before, the point was to practice the right tricks that ensure…

Disparity in travel costs

The cost of a weekly economy car rental (automatic transmission, A/C, unlimited mileage) in Andalucía for a UK resident: £157. The cost of the same rental for a US resident: $650. Something to be said about the inter-EU travel. On the other hand, business-class-only MaxJet tickets cost almost 50% more…

Brief Halloween follow-up

Apparently, my Halloween lamentations notwithstanding, there is some fun on the occasion that can still be found in England. For instance, this expatriate blog suggests that trick-or-treating works to reasonable satisfaction in Hampstead (thanks to my old friend Tamila for the link). But here is a little damning fact about…

What Halloween heralds

Yes, it’s Halloween… which means that another year of married life is now in the annals of history. Natasha and I started the whole spending-the-rest-of-my-life-with-you deal very young, and in the intervening years have probably expressed our love for one another in every imaginable way. There is very little that…

More about cars

Continuing with the driving license thread, Natasha finally has scheduled her practical test for sometime in November, and in the meantime, decided to take a lesson or two. The rationale is obviously not to practice driving, but to practice passing the test. At the first lesson, as soon as she…