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ddavidv
ddavidv SuperDork
4/7/10 5:49 a.m.

Great thread, Adrian. I've not ventured outside of North America but certainly want to visit the UK. And we both know pmustang who has moved there from the US and seems to like it. However, I've met far more former UK residents that live here now and have no plans of returning.

I'll agree that our education system stinks and I struggle with the health care issue. I'm opposed to nationalizing it since they can't make anything else work once they take it over but the current way it's set up doesn't function either. I think we're still trying to find our way on that.

The work/vacation balance in Europe is vastly superior and I'd love more time off to be able to travel around this fine country of mine. Urban sprawl seems to be a problem most places (it certainly is where I live in PA) and the walking issue is one I can agree with, but we do have plenty of good places to walk/hike...problem is you always have to get in a car and drive to them. Only recently do we seem to be gaining respect for old buildings and doing adaptive re-use vs tearing them down and building new (Ugly) ones.

Great topic. Let's not limit it to the UK either.

ignorant
ignorant SuperDork
4/7/10 6:06 a.m.

I'm not an expat, but I worked for Holset for a few years and have tons of friends who are expats..

Mmmmmm Bisto.. Yes I know.

On my last trip to the U.K., I get off the plane at Manchester and the first vehicle I see is a Crew Cab 4x4 Duramax Chevy truck. No Joke.

aeronca65t
aeronca65t HalfDork
4/7/10 7:53 a.m.

Great thread!

I'm also (technically) from Yorkshire. I'm born in Leeds (in the early 50s).

Both parents are Irish, so I'm sort of a "Scouse".

We lived in London for a while and my Dad worked in The Tubes for London Transit. He actually got to do minor work on the Flying Scotman.

Later, we moved back to Ireland, to Kilkenny....my Mom's hometown. I'm still a ~Hurling~ fan.....all other sports are for girls as far as I'm concerned.

Like many folks of that generation, my folks decided to immigrate. They actually wanted to got to Rhodesia or Australia, but a friend suggested Canada. Dad borrowed 10 GBP (about $40) from the Canadian embassy and used it to pay passage on the Aurora Sun (a cargo ship) to Toronto (he paid that 10 GBP back too). He knew absolutely no one in Canada, had almost no money when he arrived and had no Plan B. Within a few hours, he found a rooming house (run by Irish people) and started looking for a job. Since he'd worked on the railroad in the UK, he was able to get a labour's job working for Canadian National Railway. Within 6 months, he had saved enough to send for me and Mom. We came on a ~Lockheed Constellation~ a ( real plane....with propellors! . I was about 7 years old. We stayed in Toronto for 5 years, where my sister was born. Meanwhile, an aunt married a US serviceman and they encouraged my folks to join them in NJ. When I was 11, my folks paid a Canadian friend to drive us to NJ. I came to America in a Dodge!

My folks settled in the rural NJ Pine Barrens where my Dad worked mostly in a strip mine (the heavy equipment was similar to working on trains). My folks had five more kids in the US, so obviously, we were as poor as church mice. But reasonably well-adjusted and happy. Both of my folks left school before the age of 12. But all seven of us siblings have advanced college degrees.....the immigrant "striving ethos" thing I guess......

I skipped a life time of details, but that's my basic story.

As a result of Dad's influence, I have a life-long love of steam engines and all things mechanical (I teach mechanical engineering in a college and I make all my students build ~these steam engines~). Dad loved MGs (he still does) and Baby Austins.....he finds it amusing that I actually own these types of cars today.

Adrian_Thompson
Adrian_Thompson HalfDork
4/7/10 8:26 a.m.
aeronca65t wrote: Great thread! I'm also (technically) from Yorkshire. I'm born in Leeds (in the early 50s). Both parents are Irish, so I'm sort of a "Scouse". We lived in London for a while and my Dad worked in The Tubes for London Transit. He actually got to do minor work on the Flying Scotman. Later, we moved back to Ireland, to Kilkenny....my Mom's hometown. I'm still a ~Hurling~ fan.....all other sports are for girls as far as I'm concerned. Like many folks of that generation, my folks decided to immigrate. They actually wanted to got to Rhodesia or Australia, but a friend suggested Canada. Dad borrowed 10 GBP (about $40) from the Canadian embassy and used it to pay passage on the Aurora Sun (a cargo ship) to Toronto (he paid that 10 GBP back too). He knew absolutely no one in Canada, had almost no money when he arrived and had no Plan B. Within a few hours, he found a rooming house (run by Irish people) and started looking for a job. Since he'd worked on the railroad in the UK, he was able to get a labour's job working for Canadian National Railway. Within 6 months, he had saved enough to send for me and Mom. We came on a ~Lockheed Constellation~ a ( real plane....with propellors! . I was about 7 years old. We stayed in Toronto for 5 years, where my sister was born. Meanwhile, an aunt married a US serviceman and they encouraged my folks to join them in NJ. When I was 11, my folks paid a Canadian friend to drive us to NJ. I came to America in a Dodge! My folks settled in the rural NJ Pine Barrens where my Dad worked mostly in a strip mine (the heavy equipment was similar to working on trains). My folks had five more kids in the US, so obviously, we were as poor as church mice. But reasonably well-adjusted and happy. Both of my folks left school before the age of 12. But all seven of us siblings have advanced college degrees.....the immigrant "striving ethos" thing I guess...... I skipped a life time of details, but that's my basic story. As a result of Dad's influence, I have a life-long love of steam engines and all things mechanical (I teach mechanical engineering in a college and I make all my students build ~these steam engines~). Dad loved MGs (he still does) and Baby Austins.....he finds it amusing that I actually own these types of cars today.

Holy crap, what a great story, thanks for sharing.

Adrian_Thompson
Adrian_Thompson HalfDork
4/7/10 8:33 a.m.
Marty! wrote: This may come off as a dumb question but since all all the Brits are chiming in I'll ask.... Is there trucks in the UK (or Europe for that matter). I don't mean the lorry type of trucks, but pick-up trucks. Every TV show I've watched from the UK I can't recall ever seeing one. It seems that everybody drives small econo-boxes as everything tends to be close to where they live. What do you do when you need to pick up some drywall, plywood, or a new washing machine?

No such thing as a dumb question.

Trucks don't make as much sense in Europe unless you actually need one. there are a number of car based small trucks, and Ranger sized things are gaining a little momentum, not they're not very common.

The flippant reason is as follows. You only drive a pick up truck if: A) Your a contractor and need it for your business.
B) You pull a race car/boat/horse box, although in all cases an estate (wagon) or van probably does a better job.
C) You work for an NGO in a third world country
D) You want to marry your sister
My good friend Tom Spangler may pop into this thread at this time as he uses a truck as a DD and we've teased each other for years about truck etc

In reality trucks are just too big and inefficient. Something the size of an F350 long bed dually, which is a DD for many here, would be classified as a commercial vehicle, probably need a different license and plain and simply wouldn't fit anywhere. Trucks use too much gas, remember in the UK gas is $7-8 per gal, has little interior room and vehicle dynamics akin to a 19th centaury wagon, fundamentally they're useless unless you want to carry E36 M3 when a van 9/10 makes more sense.

Adrian_Thompson
Adrian_Thompson HalfDork
4/7/10 8:37 a.m.
friedgreencorrado wrote: I had a quite serious relationship with a woman from England about 5 years ago (we actually discussed marriage for awhile). She was a vendor for the company that makes our automation software, and resided in London (although she was originally from the "White Rose Country".. ). She was in the US for months at a time, due to the job.

Good lass For the initiated he's referring to the war of the roses between the houses of York and Lancaster. By referring to the white rose he's implying Yorkshire, which is where I was raised, although I was born in London. Obviously that means white is good, red is bad, end of story :)

friedgreencorrado wrote: Oh, and that fine, round English arse. What on earth are you in the UK feeding them to produce lovely figures like that?

If only that were still true, obesity is nearly as bad in the UK as America now

aeronca65t
aeronca65t HalfDork
4/7/10 10:55 a.m.
Marty! wrote: This may come off as a dumb question but since all all the Brits are chiming in I'll ask.... Is there trucks in the UK (or Europe for that matter).

Yeah they made them, but very limited and pretty rare........ as Adrian said, basically a sales flop.

Here are three that were made in very limited quantity (I own an A35 saloon similar to the first pickup).

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand Dork
4/7/10 11:30 a.m.
Adrian_Thompson wrote: Trucks don't make as much sense in Europe unless you actually need one. there are a number of car based small trucks, and Ranger sized things are gaining a little momentum, not they're not very common. The flippant reason is as follows. You only drive a pick up truck if: A) Your a contractor and need it for your business.

And even that is rare, most contractors have a van instead. Easier to secure than a truck, too.

Adrian_Thompson wrote: B) You pull a race car/boat/horse box, although in all cases an estate (wagon) or van probably does a better job.

Nah, that's either a Range Rover or a Discovery pulling those.

Adrian_Thompson wrote: C) You work for an NGO in a third world country

Nah, that's a rusty Landrover Series III with a couple of bullet holes and Cape Town stickers.

Adrian_Thompson wrote: D) You want to marry your sister

I wouldn't know about that .

Adrian_Thompson wrote: In reality trucks are just too big and inefficient. Something the size of an F350 long bed dually, which is a DD for many here, would be classified as a commercial vehicle, probably need a different license and plain and simply wouldn't fit anywhere.

I would expect an F350 to have a GWV of over 3500kg and (7700 lbs?) in that case, yes, you need a license for small trucks. Plus there are plenty of roads around here where you'd be scraping along both hedges at the same time. Heck, if you tried to drive one down the Mews I live in - essentially a glorified driveway - you probably take off people's front doors and the boundary wall to the cemetery on the other side of the Mews in one go. Not to mention that you wouldn't even be able to turn it around in front of the garages at the end of the Mews...

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand Dork
4/7/10 11:36 a.m.
Adrian_Thompson wrote:
friedgreencorrado wrote: Oh, and that fine, round English arse. What on earth are you in the UK feeding them to produce lovely figures like that?
If only that were still true, obesity is nearly as bad in the UK as America now

Too true. Other countries in Europe, too (Germany is getting fatter as well), but the UK seems to be leading the way somewhat on this.

A friend of mine who's a journalist covering wholesale food stuffs attributes this to a long ingrained attitude that food has to be cheap first and nutritious a distant third; healthy only by accident. This is changing but food is quite expensive here if you go for the higher quality stuff in the supermarket, so people tend to grab the cheap stuff.

Of course, if they went to the farm shop 10 minutes out of town, they could easily load up on good fruit & veg for a fraction of the price in the supermarket...

Also - and that's an issue in Germany as well - the traditional cooking was intended for people who performed hard physical work. The usual desk jockey like myself simply doesn't need that sort of calories.

Chris_V
Chris_V SuperDork
4/7/10 11:37 a.m.

The time spent in Scotland was in a new Golf, and that car felt big for the roads all over up there. However, I saw 3 Ford F150s, and a bazillion Land Rovers (mostly Defenders) doing truck duties, from towing utility trailers and caravans to working in the fields, etc. Most of the contractor vehicles seemed to be small car based vans.

Adrian_Thompson
Adrian_Thompson HalfDork
4/7/10 11:48 a.m.
BoxheadTim wrote: A friend of mine who's a journalist covering wholesale food stuffs attributes this to a long ingrained attitude that food has to be cheap first and nutritious a distant third; healthy only by accident. This is changing but food is quite expensive here if you go for the higher quality stuff in the supermarket, so people tend to grab the cheap stuff. Of course, if they went to the farm shop 10 minutes out of town, they could easily load up on good fruit & veg for a fraction of the price in the supermarket...

This appalls me when I'm back. I can't believe the E36 M3ty quality of fruit and veg available in supermarkets. Also 99% of it is pre packed in plastic!!! I may be spoiled by living slap between two different Whole Foods (4 miles East and West of me) and having abundant other markets that supply good organic produce, but the UK really seems to be a long long way behind here in that regard. It's especial galling when I recall the number of small family greengrocers when I was still living there.

Adrian_Thompson
Adrian_Thompson HalfDork
4/7/10 11:48 a.m.
BoxheadTim wrote: A friend of mine who's a journalist covering wholesale food stuffs attributes this to a long ingrained attitude that food has to be cheap first and nutritious a distant third; healthy only by accident. This is changing but food is quite expensive here if you go for the higher quality stuff in the supermarket, so people tend to grab the cheap stuff. Of course, if they went to the farm shop 10 minutes out of town, they could easily load up on good fruit & veg for a fraction of the price in the supermarket...

This appalls me when I'm back. I can't believe the E36 M3ty quality of fruit and veg available in supermarkets. Also 99% of it is pre packed in plastic!!! I may be spoiled by living slap between two different Whole Foods (4 miles East and West of me) and having abundant other markets that supply good organic produce, but the UK really seems to be a long long way behind here in that regard. It's especial galling when I recall the number of small family greengrocers when I was still living there.

procainestart
procainestart Dork
4/7/10 1:54 p.m.

I was pretty surprised by the food quality, too, though there is a stereotype about the British and their purported lack of cooking ability. Fortunately, I have a ninja-quick metabolism and remained unphased by healthy portions of fish/chips, bangers & mash, Full English Breakfast, etc. Let's hope my arteries escaped unscathed as well -- perhaps the gallons of tea I drank will help??

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand Dork
4/7/10 2:36 p.m.
Adrian_Thompson wrote:
BoxheadTim wrote: A friend of mine who's a journalist covering wholesale food stuffs attributes this to a long ingrained attitude that food has to be cheap first and nutritious a distant third; healthy only by accident. This is changing but food is quite expensive here if you go for the higher quality stuff in the supermarket, so people tend to grab the cheap stuff. Of course, if they went to the farm shop 10 minutes out of town, they could easily load up on good fruit & veg for a fraction of the price in the supermarket...
This appalls me when I'm back. I can't believe the E36 M3ty quality of fruit and veg available in supermarkets. Also 99% of it is pre packed in plastic!!! I may be spoiled by living slap between two different Whole Foods (4 miles East and West of me) and having abundant other markets that supply good organic produce, but the UK really seems to be a long long way behind here in that regard. It's especial galling when I recall the number of small family greengrocers when I was still living there.

Well, anything that's not covered in three layers of plastic probably isn't considered fit for human consumption.

Food quality here is certainly something that bugs me, most of the veg are quite expensive compared to the rest of Europe and not very good. The fiancee of an English friend of mine is Spanish and she used to complain a lot about that until they started shopping at Waitrose (a "high end" supermarket here). At least they have better food there.

The only place I know around here where you can still find proper bakers, butchers and greengrocers is Rye; they essentially have a zoning restriction against large supermarkets and that keeps the small shops alive. They've got rather good food over there, too. Pretty decent sausages, for starters - one of my bugbears here, I haven't found many sources of sausages that compared well to a decent German Bratwurst (the coarse kind, not the regular one).

aussiesmg
aussiesmg SuperDork
4/7/10 2:41 p.m.

No UK info, but my move was for a woman. Left Oz in 99 for the balmy Ohio climate, yeah right.

Things over that period have been interesting in both countries, but while I will always be an Aussie, I do love the US people, the laid back attitudes of the Midwest are very much like the people back home and the cost of living is ridiculously inexpensive.

I have seen more of the US than anybody in my area, I had seen 38 states within 24 months of arriving here, by the end of June 2010 it will be 48.

there is good and bad every where.

Lesley
Lesley SuperDork
4/7/10 2:47 p.m.

I was born in Britain in a little town called Drayton, near Staffordshire. Dad was a Cambridge grad, former officer, yadda, mom was pure Coronation Street... A pork chop wasn't ready until you could rock it back and forth on your plate. Peas resembled little sunken bullets. I didn't realize that other people had probably never even considered putting potato chips on a sandwich, or frying bread in bacon grease. There were never, ever any fresh veggies in the fridge. It's funny... since I've been an adult (well, chronologically at least) I abhor stodgy greasy food, hate gravy and don't eat anything prepared, or out of a can.

rob_lewis
rob_lewis GRM+ Memberand Dork
4/7/10 3:52 p.m.

Fantastic post!! Please keep it coming.

My wife was born in Tettensor (sp?) and moved to Dallas, TX when she was 7. I was born to American parents in Bermuda. She's still a British subject and I could be if I wanted. We live in Austin, TX right now. I've never been to England, she's been back several times for family and her job.

Now that our son is karting hard core (and our local track closed down), I've been kicking around the idea of us moving to England for the fun of it and to expose him to a higher level of karting. There are lots of areas we could move to here (Florida, Cali, central US, etc), but nobody cares about motorsports that turn right and left....

My wife doesn't seem all that interested, but the idea always fascinated me. Besides the karting, I've been a British car fan my whole life and just having the ability to own (or even SEE) many of the cars I've lusted over has a big appeal.

Both of our companies have substantial offices in England (she's actually been offered a job there before), so finding employment "shouldn't" be too difficult.

Reading this thread, however, I'm starting to understand why she's not hip about the idea.....

-Rob

grpb
grpb New Reader
4/7/10 5:40 p.m.

To the expat engineers I am curious about something: In the automotive field the Europeans (primarily British and German) that I have encountered have a better working knowledge of the relevant workshop/manufacturing trades than many 'domestic' engineers, and usually are more prone to actually tinker with projects. While the American engineers likely have 'toys', the Europeans I have encountered are likely to have 'projects'.

An engineer (mechanical) trained in America can get through the entire curriculum without knowing the basic operation of hand/machine tools or the design/history of essential mechanisms. It seems like the European engineers I have met have a much better working knowledge of the practical aspects of engineering. Is there a fundamental difference in the training an engineer receives over there, or more professional need to balance the theoretical and the practical?

monark192
monark192 New Reader
4/7/10 6:36 p.m.

Born and raised in UK (Sevenoaks in Kent), lived here (San Diego) for the last 20 years. Love it here and can't see moving back. I do miss the pubs and beer and go back usually once a year to visit family, friends etc.

JeepinMatt
JeepinMatt HalfDork
4/7/10 11:35 p.m.

General and randomly collected thoughts after reading the whole thread (and I'm not being mad or crotchety about anything here)

1) - The South gets an unfair reputation. I'm not Mr. Painfully PC, so some nationality/regional jokes in good fun are worth a laugh if people understand that X or Y aren't knuckle-dragging mo-rons. I'm taking pains to avoid a religious debate, but they teach evolution in the South. Some people oppose it, but there's always a group of people opposing something everywhere. They also get a bad reputation for being uneducated or intolerant. Intolerance is everywhere, as is tolerance, down here, up North (shockingly it isn't as harmoniously tolerant and accepting as many up there would like to believe) and in every country. Not mad, just saying. The Southerner: one of (perhaps the last) "acceptable" stereotype. I was born on Long Island, New York, but I've lived in NC for a long time and consider myself a North Carolinian first.

2) - My sister and her husband got back from a trip to France and Spain not long ago and mentioned that the French she met were very friendly, polite and experienced no anti-American sentiment directed at them. She speaks good French, so that may have helped ease the situation, but this was in Paris. Typically, I hear "Paris is where the rude ones are, the rest of the French are fine." It seems like they were fine in Paris, too, at least to them. I think people generally do a good job at separating people from governments. I'm sure you could find people in Paris, or any part of France, that despise America and its citizens, but that wouldn't be all that different from any given American city, would it?

3) - I'm not too knowledgeable about how much the French actually like American cars, but I do remember hearing more than a few times how the Viper is much-loved over there, seemingly from the cars Oreca campaigned

4) - I have no real numbers to cite, but it certainly seems like there's a disproportionate number of ex-pat Brits that always tend to pop up all over the world. Egypt, Thailand, Qatar etc... Anyone have any theories on why that is?

MitchellC
MitchellC Dork
4/8/10 12:10 a.m.

The people who have bad experiences in France "because they are American" are probably the same people who wonder why people don't like them here at home.

4eyes
4eyes Reader
4/8/10 12:44 a.m.

In reply to JeepinMatt: British weather, food, job choices? There seem to be quite a few in singapore as well.

friedgreencorrado
friedgreencorrado Dork
4/8/10 12:48 a.m.
Adrian_Thompson wrote:
friedgreencorrado wrote: I had a quite serious relationship with a woman from England about 5 years ago (we actually discussed marriage for awhile). She was a vendor for the company that makes our automation software, and resided in London (although she was originally from the "White Rose Country".. ). She was in the US for months at a time, due to the job.
Good lass For the initiated he's referring to the war of the roses between the houses of York and Lancaster. By referring to the white rose he's implying Yorkshire, which is where I was raised, although I was born in London. Obviously that means white is good, red is bad, end of story :)

One of the things we used to laugh about was our common historical "leftover" situation...here in the US, people slighted me because I was a "Southerner", but in the UK, she was slighted because she was a "Northern Girl"! It absolutely astounded me that such feelings still existed in the UK, even though it happened so much longer ago than our own Civil War in the US. And I suppose I should add that the single thing that reminds me just how "young" the US is, is that we've only had one Civil War...

Adrian_Thompson wrote:
friedgreencorrado wrote: Oh, and that fine, round English arse. What on earth are you in the UK feeding them to produce lovely figures like that?
If only that were still true, obesity is nearly as bad in the UK as America now

I honestly hate to hear that. It pains me to confess such a belief in a stereotype, but my conception of the physiology of English women was formed from watching old "Doctor Who" repeats on US public TV when I was a younger man..I guess I'd seen so much of Liz Slaton and Sarah Sutton that I thought all women from the UK had figures like that. Eh, I suppose that would be like everyone thinking all women from the US look like Jennifer Anniston...

ddavidv
ddavidv SuperDork
4/8/10 6:58 a.m.

You mean all British gals don't look like this? (If you haven't seen Coupling, the Brit TV series, you need to rent it on Netflix. But only if you appreciate good sexual innuendo).

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand Dork
4/8/10 9:06 a.m.
ddavidv wrote: You mean all British gals don't look like this? (If you haven't seen Coupling, the Brit TV series, you need to rent it on Netflix. But only if you appreciate good sexual innuendo).

About as much as all American 40-somethings look like Sandra Bullock.

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