If you’re visiting the U.K but don’t quite know what to expect, read on … These are the 10 seriously British customs that will help you understand a bit more about this small but mighty country!
1. THE WEATHER
The Brits like to talk about the weather. A LOT. If you’re out and about, it’s actually a great way to strike up a conversation with someone. So make sure you have some handy phrases up your sleeve about the glorious / gloomy / gorgeous / grim (insert appropriate word) conditions outside.
Yep, the Brits love a good queue, and they take queuing very seriously. Whether you’re in a shop, at the post office, or the bus stop, you’ll generally find Brits forming an orderly single line to allow those who arrived first to be served first. Unless you want to face serious disapproving looks from queue-loving Londoners, best to take your place at the back and wait your turn …
When you first arrive in the U.K, it might feel a lot like everyone is constantly apologising to one another. According to a recent survey, the average Briton will say sorry about eight times a day – and some up to twenty times! When asking a stranger for help, a well-mannered Brit would probably begin with: ‘sorry to bother you.’ Brits are well-known for apologising in nearly every situation. Bump into someone in the U.K and they’ll no doubt offer up a hasty ‘So sorry!’ even if it’s not their fault.
As you might have gathered, the weather in the U.K is changeable, to say the least. You never know how long a bout of good weather is going to last, so when the sun comes out Brits are known to panic buy meat, bread and booze to throw spontaneous barbecues in their back gardens or in parks. You’ll also find them sipping pimms and descending on British beaches to dip their toes in the sea!
The Brits love affair with tea is well-documented. In fact, they drink about 60 billion cups a year of the stuff! ‘Tea breaks’ are common throughout the day in the U.K and, if there’s a crisis afoot, it’s not unusual to put the kettle. Brits can be particular about how their tea is made, so if you find yourself making tea for a Londoner, sweat the details!
Make your way around the city like a true Londoner with our handy guide to public transport in the city!
Brits are notorious for not saying what they mean. Why? They’re all too polite to say what they actually feel, for fear of upsetting someone. If someone says ‘with all due respect,’ it most likely means they totally disagree with you. Understatement is a big one for Brits too. Instead of saying ‘That’s great!’ they’re likely to say ‘that’s not bad’ or ‘not to shabby!’ A life-threatening situation might well be described as a ‘sticky-situation.’
7. PERSONAL SPACE
Brits are generally quite a reserved lot and value their personal space. If you’re getting on a bus and there’s empty seats, it’s customary to take one of those, rather than sitting yourself down in one next to someone already seated. It’s nothing personal, and Brits are generally pretty friendly once you get to know them!
Brits love a good idom. Again, perhaps it’s something to do with not wanting to say quite what they mean! If something is expensive, it costs ‘an arm and a leg!’ If something happens instantly, it happens at ‘the drop of a hat.’ If you’ve taken on more than you can handle, you’ve ‘bitten off more than you can chew.’ It’s not always immediately obvious what these much-loved British phrases mean, so if you hear one it’s worth making a note so you remember it for next time!
9. FULL ENGLISH
If the thought of munching on double egg, bacon and sausage, along with baked beans, mushrooms, tomatoes and fried bread makes your stomach turn then don’t unknowingly order yourself a ‘Full English.’ This is a traditional breakfast (or ‘Brekky’) in the U.K and is served in beloved ‘greasy spoons’ across the country. If you can’t face trying it in the morning, loads of places actually serve it all day (probably because those tucking into one after a night on the tiles don’t make it out of bed until after 2pm!)
10. NO COMPLAINING
If you’re in a restaurant and your food is not quite right, or if the service hasn’t been up to scratch, you should make the manager aware, right? Wrong! If you’re British, there’s no way you’re going to pluck up the courage to make a scene – albeit a polite one – in the middle of a group of fellow diners. In this situation, a true Brit will keep ‘Shtum,’ choosing to quietly get on with their sub-par meal in silence.
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