Category: UK Lifestyle

Where was everybody ? Abroad or in front of the Xbox?

{{fr|Schéma annoté d'un mors simple à anneaux.

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It must have been the third week of the summer school holidays in most places around the UK.  My wife was still working and wasn’t due her vacation for a few more days, so I had to keep the kids entertained until we could all do something together.
As is always the case this time of the year, the subject of "what to do and where to go" was all over the national and local news.

But I am confused?

Two adults, two children, 9-10 hours of watching top class motor racing at one of Europe’s best racing courses (and I really do mean one of the top circuits in Europe!). Total cost? £24 (£20 if you had booked your tickets online). 

But the most confusing part, was that the place was virtually empty, and I mean really empty.  There were more family members of the drivers than actual visitors. I would even go as far as saying there were probably more circuit marshals than their were spectators.

Admittedly, the weather forecast for the day wasn’t too good, but it wasn’t that bad either. Yet again, perhaps people know just how crap the weather forecasts are in the UK because actually, the weather was horrendous. It was cold, windy and the rain came down like stair rods which played havoc with my back, but made for better racing rather than having just the one or two cars speeding off into the distance (as happens in F1).
We got to see drivers driving which sounds quite daft until you think about it.
There was also the small matter of the Olympics starting today, but I can’t believe for one minute that people would have preferred to have watch that on television in preference to a day out.

So where was this all happening?

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US Style Postboxes

When we first moved to the US we were offered a ‘cultural exchange’ course.  At first we thought things can’t be that different, after all, they do speak “English”.
After living their for a few weeks you do begin to see differences between the way we live.  Obviously you would expect there to be some differences, you just don’t think about all the little things.

Take the good old postman.  Post is post right? Here in the UK we expect our mail to be delivered in the morning, (although gone are the days of first and second post, where if you didn’t get your mail in the morning, you’d hope it would come later on that day).  Then there are the old jokes and stories of postman being attacked by dogs as they made their way to the front door.  In the UK, when I want to post something, I have to go to the post office or find a post box.  There are 1000’s of postboxes dotted all around the country, some dating back hundreds of years.

Now they still have the humble postman in the US, but delivery and pickup is much different than here in the UK.  I actually preferred the US version, (though I am not saying the UK doesn’t do a bad job).

t_18399_01At our house in Texas, we had a box similar to the one shown which was a Locking Mailbox.

Every house would have their own mailbox at the end of their drive.
Some places would have them attached to the house, but in our area, most were curbside. Some just had a box on a post, others had the builders leave enough bricks so that the postbox matched the house.

USPS VanThe mail vans were all right hand drive and the driver sat at a height whereby he just drove past each post box and delivered the mail without even getting out of his van.



In apartments or gated communities, there was often a central mail collection point.

So rather than your mail being delivered to your door, when you left for the morning and/or on your return at night, you would drive by the post collection point and pick up your post from the security mailboxes.

Unless you actually wanted to buy some stamps, or drop off a large parcel or letter, when you wanted to post something, you would leave it in your post box.  Each post box would have a flag that you would raise to let the postman know you had mail to collect.  On his rounds, he’s see the flags, drop by and pick up your mail to send.

We brought our dogs back from the US with us and they just cannot get used to some stranger stuffing paper through our letter box in the front door.  Most often they will just rip the letters out of his hand before he gets a chance to drop them. Whereas in the US, they never got near the postman because he was tucked safely away inside his van (and the dogs were usually out the back yard).

It was only because I came across a web site that it got me thinking about it.