The overall climate in England is called temperate maritime. This means that it is mild with temperatures not much lower than 0ºC in winter and not much higher than 32ºC in summer. It also means that it is damp and is subject to frequent changes.
The coldest months are December, January and February, when the temperature is usually between 3 and 6°C. In July and August, the temperature averages between 16 and 21°C. Rain falls throughout the year, and the weather in England can sometimes change very quickly. Especially in fall and winter strong atlantic low-pressure systems can bring gales and uncomfortable weather with heavy rain, showers or even thunderstorms.
British Society, People and Culture
The United Kingdom is comprised of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It is important not only to be aware of these geographical distinctions, but also the strong sense of identity and nationalism felt by the populations of these four nations.
The terms ‘English’ and ‘British’ do not mean the same thing. ‘British’ denotes someone who is from England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. ‘English’ refers to people from England. People from Scotland are ‘Scots’, from Wales ‘Welsh’ and from Northern Ireland ‘Irish’. Be sure not to call someone Welsh, Scots, or Northern Irish ‘English’.
The United Kingdom is a crowded country. People cope with this situation by being reserved and diffident in public, politely ignoring strangers, quietly minding their own business, and marking out and defending their private spaces, homes, and gardens. They expect others to do the same.
Meeting and Greeting
The handshake is the common form of greeting. The British might seem a little stiff and formal at first. Avoid prolonged eye contact as it makes people feel uncomfortable. There is still some protocol to follow when introducing people in a business or more formal social situation. This is often a class distinction, with the ‘upper class’ holding on to the long-standing traditions: Introduce a younger person to an older person. Introduce a person of lower status to a person of higher status. When two people are of similar age and rank, introduce the one you know better to the other person.
Gift Giving Etiquette
The British exchange gifts between family members and close friends for birthdays and Christmas. The gift need not be expensive, but it should usually demonstrate an attempt to find something that related to the recipient’s interests. If invited to someone’s home, it is normal to take along a box of good chocolates, a good bottle of wine or flowers. Gifts are opened when received.
The British can be quite formal and sometimes prefer to work with people and companies they know or who are known to their associates. The younger generation however is very different; they do not need long-standing personal relationships before they do business with people and do not require an intermediary to make business introductions. Nonetheless, networking and relationship building are often key to long-term business success.
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Buckingham Palace is the Queen’s official London residence and is used to receive and entertain guests on state, ceremonial and official occasions for the Royal Family. The palace was originally built in 1705 for the Duke of Buckingham. It is the London residence and principal workplace of the monarchy of the United Kingdom. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is often at the centre of state occasions and royal hospitality.
One of top tourist attractions in England, Stonehenge is among the most important prehistoric sites in the world. It was produced by a culture that left no written records so many aspects of Stonehenge remain subject to debate. Evidence indicate that the large stones were erected around 2500 BC. It is not known for certain what purpose Stonehenge served, but many scholars believe the monument was used as a ceremonial or religious center.
Tower of London
One of the world’s most famous fortresses and home to the priceless Crown Jewels. Built as a royal residence and prison nearly 1,000 years ago, there are some fascinating stories within its walls. Visitors today can take a guided tour from the famous Beefeaters, witness the centuries-oldCeremony of the Keys, which takes place daily, and learn about the Tower’s more unusual ex-inhabitants – including a polar bear.
Windsor Castle has served as the summer residence of British Royals since William the Conqueror built the first fortress here in 1078. The largest inhabited castle in the world, Windsor Castle is built around two spectacular courtyards, and entrance fees include admission to theState Apartments (closed when The Queen’s at home, so check whether the royal flag’s flying). Also of note is the wonderful Great Park, a magnificent 6 mi-long park that most North American visitors will already have seen from the air as they fly into Heathrow. And, of course, no visit to a royal palace would be complete without witnessing the Changing the Guard in the Castle Precincts.
The 150 year old Big Ben Clock Tower is one of London’s top attractions. The name Big Ben actually refers not to the clock tower itself, but to the 13 ton bell housed within the tower and takes its name from the man who first ordered the bell, Sir Benjamin Hall. It is the 3th largest free-standing clock tower in the world. The clock has become a symbol of the England and London and has appeared in many films. In the movie Mars Attacks! for example the Big Ben is destroyed by a UFO attack.
Madame Tussauds London
Madame Tussauds London is a museum and tourist attraction located in Central London, housed in the former London Planetarium. It is known for recreating life size wax models of celebrities. The attraction houses its famous Chamber of Horrors.
India is 4 hours and 30 minutes ahead of United Kingdom
Official Currency “Pound Sterling”
The months from April to October are the traditional time to visit the British Isles. As well as being the warmest time of the year, it is also when British Summer Time extends daylight long into the evenings. It is during this period that visitor attractions are fully operational, and when many social and sporting occasions take place.
During the months from April to June, the countryside bursts into bloom. Wild daffodils and bluebells herald the start of the season when gardens are at their most colourful
July and August are the hottest months in the year, both in terms of temperature and events! The abundance of thrilling competitions, breathtaking festivals and plenty of other colourful events, some of which are detailed below, cater for all tastes. However, if you fancy a family vacation or a relaxing retreat from everyday life in one of the stunning resorts, there’s a great variety to choose from.
During the winter months, days are short and the temperatures are often cold. Many attractions in the countryside close for the season. However, the city museums and sights remain open, and their restaurants and theatres will be in full swing.
Show Me the Money. Rather than exchanging for local currency before you begin your journey, you may wish to stop at an ATM in your network when you arrive for some walking around money. Large financial institutions get a better exchange rate than an individual can secure.
Travel Light. You may be able to expedite your entrance and departure from the airport by forgoing the use of checked baggage and using a carry-on only. In addition to the hassle of checking bags twice you save loads of time otherwise spent standing about the luggage carousel in the herd with the other travel beasts of burden, while you await the appearance of your luggage
Free museums – Public museums offer free admission in every city throughout England and the United Kingdom. It’s a great way to learn about the country’s most influential artists, immerse yourself in the country’s history, and waste a rainy day without paying a cent.
Get a Taste of UK card – The Taste of the UK card offers up to 50% off and 2 for 1 deals at selected restaurants. You don’t need to be a United Kingdom resident to get the card, and the first month’s membership fee is waived, which is perfect for 99% of most travelers.
Pub food – Eating in England can get quite expensive, but for good cheap and filling meals, visit the local pubs. Most serve food, and you can get a good meal for less than $15 USD. Plus, the pubs are a great way to meet people!
Eat-in, eat-out charges -You’ll find that some cafes will display two prices – a price to eat-in and a price to eat-out. If you’re trying to save cash go for the eat-out option.
English food. The myth that English food is boring and tasteless isn’t true! At least not anymore. You’ll find a huge variety of international restaurants, especially in London. Make sure you sample some of the old-fashioned traditional foods in pubs though, and wash it down with some local beer!
Hot and cold Come prepared for any sort of weather – even if the day starts off well it’s likely that the temperature will change. The best thing to do is layer your clothes so you can add or subtract as necessary.
Being polite The British are in general very polite people and will expect at least basic politeness from travelers. Please’s and thank you’s go a long way! At the same time they have a wicked sense of humour.
Get out of London -It is a huge mistake to visit only London. London has notable sights, but if you don’t get outside the city, you’ll miss the best part. The true character of England is found in small villages and the countryside. Except for a handful of historic sites, London is very much like any other large city.
Show your gratitude -When visiting cathedrals, if there is no admission charge you will probably find a place to leave an offering. Be as generous as you can. It costs enormous amounts of money to keep these ancient sacred spaces open and structurally sound, so that you can visit them. Be responsible, and show your appreciation.
It’s hot, it’s cold -Even in summer, plan on a wide variety of temperatures. London in summer is nearly always uncomfortably hot and muggy. Out in the countryside, it will mostly be pleasant and spring-like, but count on at least a day or two of cold, rainy weather (45-50). Pack accordingly, or risk spending part of your trip miserable from having caught a cold. Dress in layers so that you can add or subtract as needed to be comfortable.
How to minimize jet lag -After much experience, nearly everyone I know agrees that an overnight flight is best. Most good flights from New York leave around 8 or 9 p.m. and arrive early the next morning. Try to sleep on the plane. The next day (your first day in England), you will be very tired, but keep going and do not nap. Go to bed early that night, and by the next morning, your jet lag will be under control.
Drink Bottled Water When Traveling. Request bottled beverages if you are not sure of the source of the water. Carry bottled water for drinking—none is available. Coffee, tea and soft drinks are expensive.
Always carry lots of change—you will need it for car parks. Lots of the car parks have peel-off tickets that you need to stick on your car window.
Carry a role of paper towels for picnics, clean ups , drying and wiping car windows, etc.
Carry a container of water for washing hands, car windows, picnic utensils, etc.
UK Travel Dont’s
Do not use first names, unless you are asked to. Use last names with appropriate courtesy titles such as ”Mr”, ”Mrs”, ”Ms” or academic or professional title. The title Sir is reserved for only those who have been knighted. You have to address the person as Sir and his first name.
Do not pick your nose in public. Use a handkerchief instead. Do not spit. Spitting in the street is considered very bad manner.
Do not throw any rubbish or cigarette puffs on the floor in the street or anywhere.
Do not stare. Privacy is highly regarded in the UK. It is impolite to stare at anyone in public.
Do not greet people with a kiss. Kiss is normally used between close friends and relatives.
Do not burp in public. If you can not stop a burp from bursting out, cover your mouth with your hand and say ‘excuse me’ afterwards.
Do not pass wind in public. Go somewhere private and let it out. If you accidentally pass wind in company say ‘pardon me’.
Do not be offended when you are called by different ‘affectionate’ names, such as dear, honey, love, mate, guy, son, etc, this is quite normal.
Do not wear hats inside buildings if you are a man. It is impolite for men to wear hats indoors including restuarants and churches.
Do not chew with your mouth open. No one wants to see food being chewed or hearing it being chomped on. It is impolite to have your elbows on the table while you are eating.
Do not reach over someone’s plate for something, ask for the item to be passed. Do not take food from your neighbours’ plate. Never pick food out of your teeth with your fingernails.
Do not blow your nose on a napkin (serviette). Napkins are for dabbing your lips and only for that.
Do not ever eat off a knife when having a meal, nor lick or put your knife in your mouth.
Do not ask personal or intimate questions such as “How much do you earn?” “How much do you weigh?” or “Why aren’t you married? Respect others privacy.
Do not wear stripe ties of any kind in Scotland. This is because British “regimental” neckties appear in a variety of striped patterns, each representing a different institution, such as a public school or military unit. Your wearing a tie that resembles a striped regimental pattern could be perceived as a crass affectation.
UK Travel Do’s
Do maintain reserve and grunt hello when greeting someone for the first time. British people are quite reserved. Handshake is the most common form of greeting and is customary when you are introduced to somebody new. Kiss is normally used between friends and relatives. In Britain one kiss is generally enough.
Do bring a gift for the host and hostess when being entertained at someone’s home. A bottle of wine, bunch of flowers or chocolates are all acceptable.
Do eat with fork in the left hand and the knife in the right. The British pay much attention to good table manners. Even young children are expected to eat properly with knife and fork.
Do wait until your host starts eating or indicates you should do so if you are a guest. It is impolite to start eating before everyone has been served unless your host says that you do not need to wait.
Do chew and swallow all the food in your mouth before taking more or taking a drink. Never talk with food in your mouth. Always say thank you when served something. It shows appreciation.
Do break off a piece of bread before buttering when eating rolls. It is good manners to take some butter from the butter dish with your bread knife and put it on your side plate, then butter pieces of the roll using this butter.
Do place your knife and folk together on your plate to let others know that you have finished eating.
Do be punctuating. British people place considerable value on punctuality. They are very time conscious, If you are unable to keep an appointment, it is expected that you call the person you are meeting. Some general tips follow.
Do stand in line if there is a queue, and wait patiently for your turn. ‘Queue jumping’ is frowned upon.
Do say “Excuse Me” if someone is blocking your way and you would like them to move out of your way.
Do cover your mouth with your hand when yawning or coughing.
Do say sorry if you accidentally bump into someone. They probably will too, even if it was your fault! This is a habit and can be seen as very amusing by an ‘outsider’.
Do drive on the left side of the road.
Do open doors for other people. Men and women both hold open the door for each other. It depends on who goes through the door first.
Do stand on the right-hand side of an escalator while travelling on the Tube, so that others can pass over from left-hand side.
Do pay for drinks at the counter as you order them in pubs and other types of bars Do buy one back when your new friends and someone buys you a drink at the pub.
Do give a 10-15% tip if it is not included in the bill. Gratuity is usually included in restaurant bills.
Do get out into the countryside and appreciate Scotland’s unspoiled beauty.