Tag Archives: Great Britain

26 Things You’ll Want to Know Before Moving to England

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So you’ve decided to move to England and feel completely overwhelmed by the endeavor. Where does one even begin? Well, aside from packing up your flat, I will help you make this transition as smoothly as possible with these top tips.

This topic actually came about over coffee with my friend Tara. We were talking about ideas for another British book I’m writing and she mentioned moving to England. She knew it would be an enormous undertaking moving from the US to the UK but would love a book to guide her. Consider this your mini guide, my dear friend.

Before You Leave and After You Arrive

I know there is a ton of stuff to get done before you even think about leaving your country for England. Here are some necessities to tackle before you leave and after you arrive.

  1. Immunizations – there are routine immunizations required before moving to England, usually 4 to 6 weeks prior to your arrival. Your jabs depend on which country you come from so check with the CDC for details.
  2. Passport – make sure you have an update one and that it doesn’t expire for at least 90 days after you return to your home country. Remember to keep your passport current while you’re living in the UK.
  3. Work Visa – this is required for most countries right off the bat. Even US citizens, who can stay up to 6 months without one, would be required to get a work visa if you plan to move to England and secure employment.
  4. Banking –Once you arrived, make sure to bring your passport and work visa with you to your bank of choice. Standard bank fees and monetary exchange rates will apply. Check with the British Banking Association for details.
  5. Mail – most national postal services do not provide an international change of address online. Visit your nearest post office for proper procedure.
  6. Phone – using your own mobile service, even if they provide international service, will stick you with a massive bill. Best to get an inexpensive phone or a new SIM card for your smartphone at a UK service provider.

Traveling To and Around England

If you’ve read my post on the London Tube, you learned some helpful tips, tricks, and protocols when traveling by Underground. Below is some other savvy travel tips, as well.

  1. Your Flight – book your flight as far in advance as possible and at off-peak times if you can.
  2. Travel Insurance – A necessary evil in case your trip goes pear-shaped. If all goes well, consider yourself a jammy beggar.
  3. From the Airport – you’ll need to hire a car unless you have friends to pick you up. Rent a car instead of a cab to save loads of dosh.
  4. Oyster Card – this is a must for transport around London and when you want to scamper about the English countryside as well. Make sure to have cash on hand so you can buy a ticket anywhere an Oyster Card is invalid.
  5. Walking, Standing, and Driving – walk on the left, stand on the right when taking the escalator, and do drive on the left if you want to live.

Currency, Taxes, and Credit Cards

  1. Credit Cards – Visa and MasterCard are the most widely accepted. It’s helpful for booking flights, hotel rooms, and rental cars. Check with your merchant to find out the fees and exchange rates that apply. Once you can get a debit card for your British bank account, this will help eliminate the need to carry cash.
  2. Cash – British pounds is the currency of the UK and it’s best to use until you secure your own British bank account. This minimizes banking and ATM fees.
  3. ATMs – use bank ATMs and avoid “independent” ones. Flat transaction fees and percentage charges apply when you use “out-of-network” ATMs so withdraw larger amounts. ATMs are still cheaper than exchanging your cash at a bank.
  4. National Insurance Number – the British equivalent of a social security number so you can work and they can take taxes out. Go to the UK government website for details.

Learning British English

On our BritWordaDay social media channels, you’ll see daily posts of British words. It’s our goal to help you learn these wicked words for when you converse with Brits. Dialects change as you move about England but I’ve got a perfect solution for you.

  1. Learn the Lingo –Great Britain has many dialects and you’ll need to swot up on those as you travel around the country. Trust me. It’s like learning a whole new language. Check out my book for a proper guide to British words and beyond.
  2. Proper Pronunciation – places like Derbyshire (darbuhshuh) and Leicester (lesstuh) are common examples. Listen and adapt to British pronunciations to avoid sticking out like a sore thumb.

Basic British Culture and Customs

There are several I could mention here, including the quintessential sarcastic humor employed by Brits regularly. Trust me, if they take the mickey out of you then you’re in. Oh, and they use the word “sorry” quite a bit.

  1. Don’t Take It Literally – Brits rarely say what they mean so learn to read between the lines. Check this out to see several humorous examples.
  2. Compliments – they typically make many Brits nervous and they will often deflect with self-deprecating remarks, even if secretly pleased.
  3. Weather – can be dodgy so it’s best to carry a brolly. Be prepared to discuss the weather…A LOT.

Know Your Onions about Food and Drink

Don’t believe all the disparaging remarks you hear about British food. They have many  tasty dishes both savory and sweet. When in England, ask the locals where they prefer to get their fish and chips or Indian curry.

  1. Tea – the preferred drink of the UK, a solution to most problems (or so you will be told), and, yes, it is a meal. Read my blog post on British tea to better understand this revered British custom.
  2. Drinking – is a national past time in the UK and a cornerstone of British culture. Even if you don’t drink, go hang out a British pub if you want to know the Brits.
  3. Food – the Brits offer many tasty treats like Yorkshire pudding and Sticky Toffee Pudding but the Brits do love their offal (organ meat) and you’ll find it in things like Steak and Kidney Pie or Lancashire Hot Pot.
  4. Dining Etiquette – place your napkin on your lap instead of tucking it into your shirt. Say “please” and “thank you”. This is “British Politeness 101” Put your knife and fork together in the middle of your plate to indicate you’re finished. My book has a whole chapter dedicated this sort of thing.

British Electricity and Measurements

  1. Plugs and Voltage – the Brits use a specific 3-prong plug and the outlets are typically 220-240 volts. You can by conversion adapters but if you don’t want to run the risk of frying your blow dryer, buy a new one when you get there.
  2. A Mixture of Measurements – Distances on roads are calculated in yards and miles. Objects are measured in centimeters and meters. Height is stated in feet and inches. Food is weighed in grams and kilos. People are weighed in stones and pounds.

Hopefully, you’re feeling more prepared for your move to England. In my upcoming book this autumn, I’ll be sharing more detail about this very subject. If you want an easy-to-read top guide to British words and the various dialects of the UK for your move to England, then download my book from Amazon or iTunes.


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Royal Warrants, By Appointment to…

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What is a Royal Warrant?

A Royal Warrant is an official authorization given to individuals or companies who supply goods or services to The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh or The Prince of Wales for a minimum of five consecutive years.

This formal recognition has been given to tradesman since the Middle Ages for those who supplied goods to the Sovereign. Some establishments have records of royal warrants that date back over 100 years. There are approximately 800 warrant holders at present with over 1,100 issued in total.

How Does One Obtain a Royal Warrant?

Royal Warrants can be given by The Queen, who has granted nearly 700, the Duke of Edinburgh who has granted nearly 40, and also The Prince of Wales who’s granted nearly 160 warrants.

Now, each of these Royal Family members can only grant one warrant to these qualified individuals or companies. However, a business may hold warrants from more than one grantor of the Royal Family.

The Process of Selection

Those applicants for Royal Warrants are screened by a committee and narrowed down to a “short list” for the grantor. Annually, The Queen is given a list of about 30 to 40 qualified companies and either accepts or denies the committee’s or the Lord Chamberlain’s recommendations. For those given Her Majesty’s consent, the warrant is awarded by Lord Chamberlain, The Earl Peel. He is the chief officer of the Royal Household and also the chairman of the Royal Household Tradesmen’s Warrants Committee.

Royal Warrant Holders Association

This association represents individuals and companies applying for or who currently hold Royal Warrants of Appointment. The Association was formed in 1840 to ensure the continued existence of the Royal Warrant as a valued and respected institution. It also administers applications for new warrants and makes adjustments to those in existence. Though the Royal Warrant Holders Association is not a part of the Royal Household, it assists in the interpretation and implementation of the rules that govern the Royal Warrant.

Meeting the Royal Standards

It’s a fairly stringent qualification process and not just a matter of profits, but one of reputation and sustainability. Establishments must provide excellent service, run a conscientious business, and make a positive impact on the community. For example, if a company provides a food product is it made from high-quality ingredients? Is the packaging recyclable? Will the supplier be able to meet the demands of its patrons? It’s nothing but the best for the Royal Family, of course.

The Benefits of Royal Recognition

As it is difficult to qualify for such an honor, the benefits to these merchants are significant, indeed.

  • Royal Coat of Arms – can be displayed on products, in advertisements, on printed material, on the premises, and even on delivery vehicles.
  • By Appointment – an official statement that a warrant has been appointed by Her Majesty The Queen or His Royal Highness Prince Philip or His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, depending on who is the grantor.
  • Prestige – these warrants, of course, give notoriety to patrons of their provision of services and goods to the Royal Family. Fortnum and Mason, being one of the many establishments, is highly popular with all of its customers due to their luxury merchandise and lengthy connection to the Royal Family.

Royal Warrants are held for up to five years. Companies will be evaluated, at that time, for renewal and the current holders must continue to meet the requirements for a re-issue. A warrant may be cancelled at any time. It is automatically reviewed if a grantee dies, leaves the business or if the company has been sold.

The Merchandise Marks Act of 1887 protects against illegal claims by businesses who profess to be in possession of a Royal warrant.

Popular Businesses of Royal Warrants

Whilst you are in England, I thought I’d list a few popular establishments who are in current possession of a Royal Warrant. For a complete listing of Royal Warrant Holders, use this directory to search by Grantor, Trade Category or Region.

  • Cadbury UK – Chocolatiers; Grantor: HM The Queen
  • Fortnum & Mason – Groceries, provisions, and tea merchants; Grantors: HM The Queen, HRH The Prince of Wales
  • Jaguar Cars – Manufacturers of Motor Vehicles; Grantors: HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, HRH The Prince of Wales
  • Procter & Gamble – Manufacturers of Soap and Detergents; Grantor: HRH The Prince of Wales
  • The Ritz – Hotel, Banqueting, and Catering Services; Grantor: HRH The Prince of Wales
  • Twinings & Co. – Tea and Coffee Merchants; Grantor: HM The Queen

A “Thank You” and an Introduction

I wanted to give a shout out to Zella Watson of Anglophiles United for this idea of Royal Warrants. She is a brilliant, well-accomplished Anglophile who lives in NYC. Zella is, by profession, a writer, editor, and illustrator who also had a career in nursing and archaeology. She’s traveled to 28 countries and 6 continents, the United Kingdom being one of her all-time favorites. Do follower her on Twitter (@Zella_Watson_) and get to know a fellow Britophile who shares my passion for all things British.

Thoughts on Royal Warrants

Would a business that advertises a Royal Warrant make you more likely to shop there? No doubt it would be more expensive and you may not think it worth the money. Have any of you ever visited and bought goods from one of these businesses? Log in and post your thoughts on Royal Warrants.


 

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Why I’m Writing Another British Book

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Is the Info Current or Accurate?

As an Anglophile, I’m obsessed with British words and it happens to be my business as well. Awhile back I did some searching online to see what books were available, specifically on British slang. There were very few and most were in print which means some of the information is already outdated. When creating social media content for BritWordaDay, I usually search the internet. However, I do reference a few books on a regular basis but, in some cases, I wonder if the information is truly fresh and current. Languages of every nation are constantly evolving, including British slang words. In my business, I have to constantly keep up. It’s a challenge but one I happily accept.

Case in Point

Recently, as a result of interacting with some of my social media followers, I decided to broaden my British word posts to what’s known as the Black Country region. Honestly, I was nervous as I am not a native Briton, never mind a local of the West Midlands. However, I was still keen to post these Black Country slang words in which these specific followers expressed an interest. After all, people follow BritWordaDay because they love British words.

Oh, no. Did I Screw Up?

There was one word in particular that caused some debate between one follower and me. I saw it in the books I referenced but also from this website I found online, regarding various Black Country colloquialisms. Upon conclusion of the online discussion, this particular follower gave me a link to the very site I had used for the word in question. It turned out, thankfully, my post was correct. Whew! I dodged a bullet on that one.

Natives Not Always in the Know

The Black Country words I used that day began to spark discussion from these particular followers. They commented how they were unfamiliar with some of slang words I posted. One such male follower, from that very area, commented that he did not know some of the words as well. He owned the fact that language is constantly changing, especially where slang is concerned. Even the natives of an area aren’t always in the know.

I Decided on an Ebook

Neon-Book-SignNow that my point of the ever-changing dialects of the United Kingdom has been proved, I knew a printed book was not the way to go. This type of book warranted an electronic format that could be updated, as needed, with the most current slang words of the various regions of the UK.

For those Nook, Kindle, or iBook readers, you know the benefit of the most current version of an Ebook. Anytime the author makes changes and uploads them, a new version of your book can be downloaded to your mobile phone or tablet. It’s completely brilliant and of course, very practical. No one is going to buy a reprint of a book they own unless, perhaps, it’s a Harry Potter novel.

Subjects the Book Will Cover

My goal was to give the most comprehensive list of British words on as many applicable subjects as possible. I made an outline of all the topics I could think of but I didn’t stop there. I created a video and posted it many times on our social media platforms to get you, the reader, involved in the process. I did get some feedback from a few of my followers. Their reward, as promised, will be an acknowledgment in my book. I am more than happy to give free advertisement to these contributors in hopes it will help promote their businesses and social media platforms. I am a firm believer in reciprocity.

Here are the topics I’ve assembled so far:

  • British words – an exhaustive list, sorted A-Z
  • Popular sayings
  • Swear words and insults
  • British words out of fashion but still heard somewhat
  • British food and drink like tea and a Full English
  • British music, particularly those that use British words in their lyrics
  • England, Britain, and the UK – an overview of these regions as well as the various dialects from each.
  • British slang in TV
  • British humor
  • British social etiquette
  • British superstitions
  • British sports
  • British money
  • British schools
  • British clothing and accessories
  • British holidays
  • British transport – London mostly and the rest of England as well.
  • British royal family – past and present

Did I Miss Any Subjects?

If there is a subject that is not part of my initial book list, please feel free to log into our website and post your comments and ideas here.

BritWordaDay Book Promo Video


 

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Difference Between England, Britain, GB, British Isles, UK, and the Commonwealth

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Have you ever wondered what is the difference between England, Britain, Great Britain, the British Isles, the UK, and the Commonwealth? Well, so did one of my Twitter followers. Therefore, I decided to answer this question so you can have this knowledge all in one place.

What is England?

It is the southern two-thirds of Great Britain comprised of 9 regions. England also makes up about 84% of the UK population.

Regions of England

South West, South East, London (the City), East, East Midlands, West Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber, North West, and North East

What is Britain?

Britain is comprised of both the kingdom of England and the principality of Wales. A principality means Wales is ruled by a prince. Traditionally, the Prince of Wales is the eldest son of the English monarchy. Overall, they are both ruled by the queen and the British government.

What is Great Britain?

People often interchange Britain with Great Britain, under the impression they are the same. However, Great Britain is England, Wales, and also Scotland.

Regions of Great Britain

South West, South East, London (the City), East, East Midlands, West Midlands, Wales, Yorkshire and the Humber, North West, North East, Scotland

What is the United Kingdom?

The United Kingdom is made up of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Great Britain and Northern Ireland combined form the official title of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

UK = England, Wales, Scotland, and N. Ireland

Regions of Northern Ireland

Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone

What are the British Isles?

The British Isles comprises over 6,000 islands, including the United Kingdom.  They also include the Isle of Man, Orkney, the Shetland Islands, Hebrides, the Isle of Wight, Isles of Scilly, Lundy Island, and the Channel Islands.

Channel Islands

A group of small islands in the English Channel, off the coast of Normandy, France. The principal islands of the group include Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, and Sark.

The Isle of Man

It is a self-governing British Crown dependency located in the middle of the Irish Sea. The Isle of Man is neither part of the United Kingdom nor a member state of the Commonwealth. However, its head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who holds the title of Lord of Mann. The Lord of Mann is represented by a Lieutenant Governor, but its foreign relations and defense are the responsibility of the British Government. People born here are known as ‘Manx’, classified as British.

What Makes Up The Commonwealth?

The Commonwealth of Nations is the United Kingdom plus various independent and sovereign states throughout the world. Most are former British colonies or dependencies of these colonies. Each Commonwealth nation can be categorized in three ways:

Monarchy

Monarchy indicates a Commonwealth country which has its own monarch as Head of State. Below are the Commonwealth nations classified as monarchal.

Brunei, Lesotho, Malaysia, Swaziland, Tonga

Realm

Realm indicates a Commonwealth country which has The Queen as Sovereign. The following are classified as realm nations.

Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, St. Christopher and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, United Kingdom

Republic

Republic indicates a Commonwealth country which has a republican form of government. Elizabeth II is the Head of the Commonwealth by title but this role does not carry with it any power. The queen represents a symbol of the free association of Commonwealth members. The following are classified as republican nations.

Bangladesh, Botswana, Cameroon, Cyprus, Dominica, Fiji, Ghana, Guyana, India, Kenya, Kiribati, Malawi, The Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Vanuatu, Zambia

What Did You Learn From This Post?

Did you learn something about the differences between, England, Britain, Great Britain, the United Kingdom, the British Isles, and the Commonwealth? What was a revelation to you? Log in and post your comments.

For a special infographic of the United Kingdom with Regions and Counties, click here.


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