Some Observations from an American in Wales

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Re: Some Observations from an American in Wales

Post by thomcat00 »

I always think of the Roundabout lyric:

In and around the lakes
Mountains come out of the sky
And they stand there

Absolutely love that song and the band. Magic!

Glad to hear you and Mrs. Drew are having such a wonderful experience.
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Re: Some Observations from an American in Wales

Post by iain »

jkbarnes wrote: Sat Jul 01, 2023 10:31 pm Additional thought:

Electric kettles are brilliant! We’ll definitely be getting one when we get home!
Be careful, I used an electric kettle in the US and it took ages to boil which I’m sure was down to the different voltage, 115 v 240.

If you don’t like roundabouts, avoid Hemel Hempstead and Swindon where they have magic roundabouts. Several small roundabouts round a larger one, here’s an aerial photo of the one in Hemel.

IMG_0031.jpeg
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Re: Some Observations from an American in Wales

Post by jkbarnes »

iain wrote: Sun Jul 02, 2023 6:18 am Be careful, I used an electric kettle in the US and it took ages to boil which I’m sure was down to the different voltage, 115 v 240.
Good point. I hadn’t considered the voltage in it coming to a boil so quickly. That speaks is the whole appeal.

As for that roundabout - :shock:
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Re: Some Observations from an American in Wales

Post by sproughton »

iain wrote: Sun Jul 02, 2023 6:18 am
If you don’t like roundabouts, avoid Hemel Hempstead and Swindon where they have magic roundabouts. Several small roundabouts round a larger one, here’s an aerial photo of the one in Hemel.


IMG_0031.jpeg
On about my fourth ever driving lesson, my sadistic driving instructor decided a short drive to Hemel was in order, to tackle that monstrosity. Never, before or since, have I felt quite so terrified.
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Re: Some Observations from an American in Wales

Post by Amor Vincit Omnia »

Well, it looks like you are both having fun and discovering a few British idiosyncrasies at the same time. For sheer numbers of roundabouts try driving through Milton Keynes.

One difficulty with driving through rural Wales is that by the time you have deciphered the name of the village on the sign, you are out of the village on the other side! Honestly, I find the Greek signs in Cyprus easier to read. Talking of Cyprus, they have RHD cars and drive on the left, and they also use the same 13 amp plugs and sockets. 80 years of British occupation must have left its mark! Mind you, they use the euro so they are actually more sensible than us.
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Re: Some Observations from an American in Wales

Post by tikkathree »

jkbarnes wrote: Sat Jul 01, 2023 10:31 pm Additional thought:

Electric kettles are brilliant! We’ll definitely be getting one when we get home!
Drew, what have you been using hitherto to boil water for hot drinks? :lol:

I guess an American-spec kettle won't have one of our three-pin plugs?

On ha-has: the steep-sided slope isn't really a barrier to sheep and deer (though dairy cows quite probably) what the steep-sided ditch does is provide a facility to hide from sight a fence which certainly would be a barrier to livestock.

On roundabouts: now that you're getting into the swing our our highway design you should seek out a larger town and look for one of those roundabouts which consist of a series of mini-roundabouts "Magic roundabouts" after a childrens' tv programme from the 1960s/70s.

On traffic habits & manners: our lane discipline is crap. This is simply a manifestation of the phenomenon of most motorists wanting to be as disengaged as possible from the responsibility and practical aspects of being in control of their car so poor lane discipline in conjunction with setting cruise control at or just below the speed limit for the road they're on. It's safer to assume that the other driver won't use their mirrors or indicators (they might be called trafficators still?). Does every State have the rule that when parking on-street you MUST park in the direction of travel? Bravo America! Sadly we aren't so clever. Likewise speed limits especially around schools: stick to the signage and ignore the impatient headlight flashers queuing up behind you. Folks over here tend to treat speed limits as "suggestions" but there are speed cameras everywhere. :oops:

On roads generally: we're developing into a place where roads are more about potholes than an actual surface to drive on. You need to avoid potholes at all costs for the simple reason that the highway authorities have developed a strategy to avoid liability for the damage sustained by your bike, car or hire car when you accidentally crash down a good few inches and bust a tyre/wheel/suspension part. And no I can't tell you how to spot water-filled potholes on dark nights either.

Rural parts of America have cattle grids - you call 'em "cattle guards, I've seen them on youtube ranching videos in Wyoming/Montana/Utah.

Driving on "the wrong side": most of the world drives on what you know to be "the right side". Having driven in Yerp and the US I can vouch for the fact that it's more about concentration than expecting everyone else to make allowances. If you can tell the time on an analogue dial and set the date correctly you can do this. So few countries drive on the left that you're experiencing something quite rare :lol: :lol:

One-way roads: you've got them too right?

How do you like the price of our petrol/diesel? And with the conversion of litres to Imperial gallons and thence to US gallons are you even worrying about it? :silent:

MORE IMPORTANTLY THOUGH:

1. Continue having a great time - you both look very happy to be here. Did that tweed wrap come across with you?

2. What's the watch Drew?

3. Of equal import what's the camera? The shoulder strap is a real piece of 70's styling and I think it's supporting an SLR of similar vintage complete with mirror housing and hot shoe. :thumbup: :thumbup:
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Re: Some Observations from an American in Wales

Post by jkbarnes »

tikkathree wrote: Sun Jul 02, 2023 9:14 am Drew, what have you been using hitherto to boil water for hot drinks? :lol:

I guess an American-spec kettle won't have one of our three-pin plugs?
I have a stove top kettle. Takes forever to come to a boil compared to these electric kettle. But as has been previously pointed out, the speed of the boil might have more to do with the 240 voltage than anything else.

…It's safer to assume that the other driver won't use their mirrors or indicators (they might be called trafficators still?). Does every State have the rule that when parking on-street you MUST park in the direction of travel? Bravo America!
Indicators = turn signals, or blinkers, as my Massachusetts born wife occasionally calls them. And yes, it is generally a ticket-able offense to park on the road opposite to the direction of traffic. I’m shocked at how prevalent that is here. It’s a ballsy move!

How do you like the price of our petrol/diesel? And with the conversion of litres to Imperial gallons and thence to US gallons are you even worrying about it? :silent:
Honestly, filling up the rental was like Monopoly money. I didn’t even worry about. I’ve only had to fill up once, and that’s likely to be it. We’ve kept driving to a minimum. The shocker was the petrol policy with the rental car - like for like, as the guy put it. They sent me on my way with a quarter tank, I need to return it with a quarter tank. In the US they send you out with a full tank!
Did that tweed wrap come across with you?
Nope, that’s here at the place in Llangattock.

2. What's the watch Drew?
C65 Trident Vintage

3. Of equal import what's the camera? The shoulder strap is a real piece of 70's styling and I think it's supporting an SLR of similar vintage complete with mirror housing and hot shoe. :thumbup: :thumbup:


It’s a digital mirrorless micro 4/3 format from Olympus, the first generation OM-D E-M5. It has the look and size of an old film SLR, which is why I got it. The lenses for it are small too, like old school manual lenses. And I bought the strap specifically for its 70s, old school vibe.

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Re: Some Observations from an American in Wales

Post by nbg »

^^^ Drew I have just realised that you are staying within about 12 miles of the Walnut Tree restaurant. Well worth a visit if you have the time.
https://www.thewalnuttreeinn.com/about/chef

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Re: Some Observations from an American in Wales

Post by jkbarnes »

nbg wrote: Sun Jul 02, 2023 11:53 am ^^^ Drew I have just realised that you are staying within about 12 miles of the Walnut Tree restaurant. Well worth a visit if you have the time.
https://www.thewalnuttreeinn.com/about/chef

Neil
The drive up to our current place was on a super steep, single lane road with all sorts of sharp turns. It was a pretty hairy experience driving up, and I’m not eager to repeat it! Our plan has been to camp out here for the next few days relaxing. We’ve got all this food from Waitrose we need to eat! :lol:

I’ll add the restaurant to my growing list of sites. We definitely plan on coming back to Wales!
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Re: Some Observations from an American in Wales

Post by Amor Vincit Omnia »

My word, Drew, UK petrol prices AND Waitrose! You’ll be on bread & water for a month when you get back to the States! :lol:
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Re: Some Observations from an American in Wales

Post by RichM »

Amor Vincit Omnia wrote: Sun Jul 02, 2023 12:11 pm My word, Drew, UK petrol prices AND Waitrose! You’ll be on bread & water for a month when you get back to the States! :lol:
Worth it though by the sounds of it!
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Re: Some Observations from an American in Wales

Post by JAFO »

I think Drew has dollars, and dollars buy lots of pounds. We prefer to shop at Marks and Waitrose (and Booths when we are in the lake District), but we know it's more expensive than the others, and we have to make economies from time to time.

We were in Cornwall last week and when we weren't eating out we enjoyed M&S ready meals, (and M &S strawberries). :D
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Re: Some Observations from an American in Wales

Post by jkbarnes »

The total bill for food was way less than what just dinners out would be. We bought a few ready meals to enjoy to keep things simple. Honestly, I don’t know that we will manage to eat everything we picked up!
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Re: Some Observations from an American in Wales

Post by JAFO »

jkbarnes wrote: Sun Jul 02, 2023 1:38 pm The total bill for food was way less than what just dinners out would be. We bought a few ready meals to enjoy to keep things simple. Honestly, I don’t know that we will manage to eat everything we picked up!
That's the truth. Cheap and cheerful pub chains (beefeater, harvester, etc) have refillable soft drinks, but I imagine drinks in most English pubs and restaurants are far dearer than the states. At least £3 for a coke. I think American meals must be bigger, but I'm not sure about the prices. No mandatory tipping here though. If you give a 20% tip here, the waiting staff will be very pleased.
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Re: Some Observations from an American in Wales

Post by jkbarnes »

JAFO wrote: Sun Jul 02, 2023 1:57 pm
jkbarnes wrote: Sun Jul 02, 2023 1:38 pm The total bill for food was way less than what just dinners out would be. We bought a few ready meals to enjoy to keep things simple. Honestly, I don’t know that we will manage to eat everything we picked up!
That's the truth. Cheap and cheerful pub chains (beefeater, harvester, etc) have refillable soft drinks, but I imagine drinks in most English pubs and restaurants are far dearer than the states. At least £3 for a coke. I think American meals must be bigger, but I'm not sure about the prices. No mandatory tipping here though. If you give a 20% tip here, the waiting staff will be very pleased.
A few food related things I’ve learned traveling in Europe (well, at least the UK and France):
  • Free refills on soft drinks are rare or non-existent
  • Portion sizes are smaller…and far more appropriate!
  • Wait staff here leave you alone
One thing I’ve found interesting in a few of the places we’ve been to has been the practice of going to place one’s order at the bar and giving a table number. Took us a minute to figure that one out!
Drew
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