Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Quirky Household Items

Nature, like UK kitchen appliances, loves to hide, exceptionally bad translation of Heraclitus, circa 540 BC

We've had to adapt to a whole host of minor differences in the way our humble household items work. I write about our kitchen appliances, phones, and television.

Kitchens in England are quite different from what we are used to in the States. A lot of kitchens here are much smaller, but there are other quirks too. Kitchen appliances like to hide here. If you want to find the dish washer, look for a cabinet near the sink, like we have.

Why is the middle cabinet's handle horizontal?

Hidden dishwasher revealed!

Refrigerators tend to be small, cabinet-sized items that fit under the kitchen counters…literally. We are luck that our home has a large fridge and freezer that reaches way up to the ceiling.

Tall closet to the left of the oven or...

Refrigerator over the freezer!

Outlets are different here. Not only are the plugs a different shape, but the outlets always have an "on/off" switch for the outlet. Other things, like the refrigerator and the dishwasher, will have a wall switch to turn the power on and off. The voltage is much higher here, so concern for safety is also higher.

The two buttons in the middle turn the outlets on and off

Other outlets, like for TVs and phones, are different too. We bought a second-hand phone for our British home number. The wall outlet (a BS 6312) is different from the phone plug (an RJ11), which is strange to us. American phones have RJ11 wall outlets and phone plugs. We gave up our home phone in the US years ago, so we needed a new phone anyway. The internet at our home address is through DSL (we miss you fiber optics!), so we have to have the phone.

For TV, the wall outlet looks like a regular coaxial plug, but it won't really work for our equipment. The broadcasts are different format (American NTSC versus UK PAL, read about the difference here), as are DVDs. So we can't plug our American TV into the British cable without some sort of converter. And we can't buy local DVDs and play them on our American players. The other quirk with TVs is that we need to get a license from a special web site. That's the primary revenue source for the BBC. In 2009-2010, they collected £3.45 billion from licensing fees, if Wikipedia can be trusted. They'll be collecting from us for the next couple of years. Even though we are not getting cable, we might get "over the air" broadcasts (if we get an adapter or buy a British TV) or watch something live on internet, both of which require a license. We'd love to see Doctor Who when it is broadcast here!

So far, we are adapting ourselves to the new environment. All part of enjoying a new place!

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