Expat Ramblings: Now That’s Just Weird!

Spring has sprung in most parts of England, and I’m in love with everything.

It’s easy to see what makes people romanticise England when birds are chirping between shy spring flowers. We must not forget, however, the things that confuse foreigners year in, year out. Spring or no spring, here’s a pictorial guide to English things that are just not right.

  1. Windows. Nevermind those that can’t be opened at all, those that do open to the outside! There is nothing logical about this. If anything, children fall out much easier. You can not clean the outside of your own windows, unless you devise a trick of reaching around the closed half, dislocating your shoulder and attracting a small crowd of laughing neighbors out on the street. If you have sash windows, you have to hire someone. England is a haven for professional window cleaners.

    English window, one half open to the outside
    Tuesday puzzle: How do I clean the left side of this window? (No, the right side doesn’t open…)
  2. Taps. Someone tell the English that those were invented a while ago:
    Mixer tap for bathtub
    Ooooh, shiny! Also, temperate. (Image via

    My house is ten years old, and yet the bathtub looks positively antique.

    English bathroom taps
    Let’s just say it won’t get any cleaner than this.
  3. On the subject of useless taps, English people seem to wash their hands sideways only:

    English taps, barely extending over the side of the basin
    For added fun, try washing both hands at the same time!
  4. Wastewater pipes look incredibly attractive on red brick walls:

    Main fall pipe on house
    So pretty. (Image via
  5. Feature wallpaper. England has the smallest living spaces in Europe. So someone thought papering a single wall in a tiny living room in dark colours would help cover up (heh) that problem. It does not.

    Feature wall
    Image copyright by Zoopla, via
  6. Carpeted bathrooms. Say no more.

    Carpeted bathroom
    Actually, do say something. Say hello to the germs! (Image from Corbyn Head Hotel, Torquay, via
  7. Bread. It’s white and fluffy, and yet English children want the crusts taken off. When it’s wholemeal, it’s still fluffy. I did this trick for the first time nine years ago, and impressed everybody. It still works today:
    Hand scrunching slice of bread
    My awesome strength blurs pictures!

    Scrunched bread unfolds without damage
    After: No damage done!
  8. The class system. Pfffffff. Please.
  9. English children are born poikilotherms. Nobody puts hats on them, and it’s quite normal to meet a baby without socks in October. This continues into adulthood, when the first rays of sunshine in February cause everyone to strip down to a T-shirt. Male runners rarely cover their legs, even in December. Not looking good, guys, not looking good.
  10. Pajamas seem to be acceptable clothing for a trip to the supermarket. I don’t understand; somebody please explain. (But hey, there’s hope!)

I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things here, but that’ll do for now. Join me next week for a list of positives! I think I owe it to poor old England.

(Disclaimer: All pictures not explicitly credited are my own.)

By Karo

Schnazzy East German translator and cricket obsessive residing in England. I have other qualities, too.

7 replies on “Expat Ramblings: Now That’s Just Weird!”

My grandma used to have a carpet bathroom and even though she (well, the cleaning lady) kept it clean, still. STILLLLLL.

The taps thing always cracks me up because it does not make any sense that they persist. Occasionally I will run into a sink like that here in the US.

Carpeted bathrooms? Groossssss….. I would think the window thing is to do with the small living space you mentioned, but aside from that, I can offer no explanations. Many of these also occur here in Ireland (not the carpets in bathrooms though, seriously wtf?)

Well, I don’t have to take all the stuff off the windowsill when I want to open the windows… But I would occasionally like to clean them, so, hmm.
(We did actually live in a place with a carpeted bathroom once, no, TWICE! It was very gross indeed.)

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