Etiquette Hell

A Civil World. Off-topic discussions on a variety of topics. Guests, register for forum membership to see all the boards. => Trans-Atlantic Knowledge Exchange => Topic started by: Venus193 on July 28, 2013, 05:52:42 AM

Title: For British E-Hellions: How has London and the rest of England Changed...
Post by: Venus193 on July 28, 2013, 05:52:42 AM
...since I was last there in 1988?  When I was in Spain in 1993 I had coffee with a British couple who said that it became far more expensive and that I wouldn't recognize London anymore because it had become
"very American."

I hate the idea of that.
Title: Re: For British E-Hellions: How has London and the rest of England Changed...
Post by: Snowy Owl on July 28, 2013, 08:02:38 AM
I don't know how you found London in 1988 so it's a bit hard to say conclusively whether it's changed or not. 

I wouldn't say it's become American.  I struggle to satisfy my craving for root beer for one thing.   ;) :).  There are Americans and there are some American chain restaurants but when I went to the US I felt that it was very different from the UK so probably not.   

London is expensive compared to the rest of the country.  It's dirty and full of people and busy and loud and has the same social problems as any big city.  There is still the sense of history and the past peeping through the present.  When I cross Waterloo Bridge I still marvel at the beauty of the river and St Paul's facing one way and the Parliament looking the other.  It still has the buses and the black taxis that are iconic in many ways.  The museums are still there as are the endless streams of tourists getting lost and milling around. 

I don't know what it is you think might have changed.  Can you enlarge on what you liked about London last time so I (and some of the other Brits) can tell you if it's changed. 



Title: Re: For British E-Hellions: How has London and the rest of England Changed...
Post by: veryfluffy on July 28, 2013, 11:13:17 AM
I would say that in 1988 it was genuinely difficult to get a decent coffee in much of the UK, including London. You now have huge numbers of coffee shops, especially in London -- and not all are Starbucks. That is more "American", probably, but I'd say it's a good thing. Then again, the coffee revolution hadn't really happened in America 25 years ago either, so maybe it is just a 21st century phenomenon that has become international.

Food is also significantly better now -- fantastic restaurants, especially at the upper end of the market. Much better pizza now -- in 1988 they were still doing things like "chicken and sweetcorn"  :o on pizza. But the style of pizza is much more influenced by Italian than American tastes.

And yes, still almost impossible to get root beer.

So what did you think made London not-American? What would you associate with it then?
Title: Re: For British E-Hellions: How has London and the rest of England Changed...
Post by: Venus193 on July 28, 2013, 04:04:25 PM
I wonder whether change happens everywhere.  The British gentleman's comment about London becoming more American bothered me because I don't want to vacation in a foreign city to have it feel like I never left home.  When I was last in London there were pubs near the Portobello Road market that were serving food that was typically "American", which had not been the case two years earlier.

One thing that's been happening in New York is that neighborhood food -- even in my neck of the woods -- is starting to bland out.  I had a meatball parm sandwich last month in a pizzeria that's been around a long time and it was so bland it tasted like it was made by Chef Boyardee (a brand marketed to children).
Title: Re: For British E-Hellions: How has London and the rest of England Changed...
Post by: veryfluffy on July 28, 2013, 05:03:11 PM
When I was last in London there were pubs near the Portobello Road market that were serving food that was typically "American", which had not been the case two years earlier.

What do you call typically "American"? I can think of, say, hamburgers, hot dogs....

These days, especially in a posh area like Notting Hill, you are more likely to find a pub serving Thai food than scampi and chips.
Title: Re: For British E-Hellions: How has London and the rest of England Changed...
Post by: Thipu1 on July 29, 2013, 07:11:45 PM
I'm American and have visited London every few years since 1970.  My last visit was in the autumn of 2012 so I think I'm fairly up to date.
London is more  expensive than it used to be but that's true of every major city.

Retailers associated with the USA are becoming  more prevalent but there are differences.  On our last visit, we stopped in at a 'Staples' to pick up a note pad.  I was delighted to find a brand of German pen that  'Staples' in the US doesn't carry.

Food was always decent in London.  Now, there seems to be more ethnic variety in restaurants. We visited an Indian restaurant and the owner took great pains to tell us that his place served 'authentic, Indian vegetarian food'.  He was proud of his menu and rightly so.     

  In the 1980s we took several trips to northern Scotland on Britrail. When the train stopped for half an hour, it was our habit to hit the local M&S food hall to take back  a cold tandoori chicken and a
trio pack of salads.  Perhaps it's because we're now older, but the food doesn't taste quite as good.  We do wish NYC had 'Pret a Manger'.  The food, especially the porridge and the soups, is delicious. 

Dirty, noisy, fast-- London is all that.  Every important city changes and every one who lives there
thinks the old ways were better but the changes are not always for the worse.  London is vital and
Historic and as much fun as ever.  We look forward to visiting it again next year.   

   

 

Title: Re: For British E-Hellions: How has London and the rest of England Changed...
Post by: scotcat60 on July 30, 2013, 09:44:03 AM
More brances of Starbucks, more of MacDonalds, but we haven't got a Walmart in London - yet.

More crowded. It seems to me that blocks of flats are being built on any spare piece of land big enough to accommodate a rabbit hutch, either that or office space is bing converted into living space, especially in the heart of London.
Title: Re: For British E-Hellions: How has London and the rest of England Changed...
Post by: Anniissa on August 05, 2013, 07:55:35 AM
The food is definitely better both at the higher end and in terms of being able to get decent food at a reasonable price especially as there is such a wide variety of great ethnic restaurants (Indian, Vietnamese, all sorts of South American, Spanish, Italian, North African etc etc). Although that doesn't mean there is still not a contingent of overpriced, poor quality food offerings just that it is a lot easier to find better options!  Actually, in terms of becoming "more American" one of the big food trends right now in London is "American" food - lots of new hot dog places, all sorts of burgers from sliders to gourmet burgers, much more barbecue.

One noticeable change is all the new buildings - lots of big new tall buildings going up changing the skyline a bit with the "Gherkin", the Shard, the "Cheesegrater", the "Mobile Phone"... but there's still that great mix of the ultramodern right amongst the terribly historic.
Title: Re: For British E-Hellions: How has London and the rest of England Changed...
Post by: Venus193 on August 05, 2013, 09:54:06 AM
Sometime in the 80s or 90s my mother visited her sisters in Frankfurt and sent me a postcard with a bird's eye view of a section of the city that had traditional buildings on one side of a street and new construction on the other.  When she came back she said "They're rebuilding the whole city; it's going to be more modern.  That's great." 

I asked her why she thought it great that soon it would look like any generic US city.  No answer.
Title: Re: For British E-Hellions: How has London and the rest of England Changed...
Post by: squashedfrog on August 05, 2013, 10:34:27 AM
Don't know why, but this thread reminds me of a conversation I had with an Aussie friend of mine many years back, when walking though the centre of London, she could understand why there were some ugly 20th century buildings next to the beautiful Georgian and medieval buildings. I pointed out that many buildings had gone up after the second world war, and she asked why on earth we'd go knocking down buildings in london during the war?

 .....um....love her to bits, but a definite brain burp moment :-)

Title: Re: For British E-Hellions: How has London and the rest of England Changed...
Post by: scotcat60 on August 06, 2013, 04:45:49 AM


she asked why on earth we'd go knocking down buildings in london during the war?


Like the young friend of a friend who said why were house not built with garages, to save people having to park on the street. Friend explained that when the house were built, the great majority of occupiers did not have cars, and with some houses cars were not even invented when they were built.
Title: Re: For British E-Hellions: How has London and the rest of England Changed...
Post by: scotcat60 on August 06, 2013, 04:49:02 AM
 the "Cheesegrater", the "Mobile Phone

These names for modern buildings are new ones on me. I do know of "The Crash Helmet" which describes the mayoral building next to Tower Bridge rather neatly, given it's shape.

And the view of the Shard from the ground is not beautiful IMHO, in spite of the TV advert which encourages people to admire the beautiful view from its higher floors.
Title: Re: For British E-Hellions: How has London and the rest of England Changed...
Post by: Anniissa on August 06, 2013, 09:22:16 AM
the "Cheesegrater", the "Mobile Phone

These names for modern buildings are new ones on me. I do know of "The Crash Helmet" which describes the mayoral building next to Tower Bridge rather neatly, given it's shape.


They're both new buildings being worked on currently - The Leadenhall building is nicknamed the "Cheesegrater" because of its wedge shape and criss-cross steelwork and 20 Fenchurch Street is the "Mobile Phone" or "Walkie Talkie" because of its shape which is reminiscent of a walkie talkie or old Nokia phone. They're both nicknames so I don't know whether they'll stick but the Gherkin nickname seems to have stuck so probably they will.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/122_Leadenhall_Street (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/122_Leadenhall_Street) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/20_Fenchurch_Street (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/20_Fenchurch_Street)
Title: Re: For British E-Hellions: How has London and the rest of England Changed...
Post by: Clarissa on August 06, 2013, 04:19:22 PM
I live in England, but have only visited London twice. Yes it's expensive, and I have heard that there is now more American style coffee shops in London than there is in New York. That's not a bad thing though. All of England is changing, taking in different cultures. It has changed so much in my lifetime(I'm 33). As long as we hold on to our heritage, and remain proud of it, it can only improve.
Title: Re: For British E-Hellions: How has London and the rest of England Changed...
Post by: Anniissa on August 07, 2013, 05:33:10 AM
There's definitely more coffee shops now - although there seems to be a move away now from the American style coffee shops like Starbucks and other big chains. What I haven't seen happening so much is the same sort of coffee shop culture that I've seen over in the US. Whenever I've been over there I have been surprised by how popular coffee shops are in the evening and how late they are open. There are very few coffee shops here that are open late in the evening. Most I would guess are closed by about 6pm. The very few that are open in the evening never seem to have many customers sat in them. If people are out in the evening they're going to be in a pub or bar most likely.
Title: Re: For British E-Hellions: How has London and the rest of England Changed...
Post by: Venus193 on August 07, 2013, 05:58:32 AM
Do pubs still close at 11PM?
Title: Re: For British E-Hellions: How has London and the rest of England Changed...
Post by: saki on August 07, 2013, 07:07:22 AM
Do pubs still close at 11PM?

The licensing laws changed a few years ago to make it easier to open later but a lot of pubs do still close at 11pm.  Even where they close later, it's usually not that much later - midnight or so. 

In London, I'd say over half still close at 11pm but it varies - pubs in the City will often close early because their main trade is the post-work rush, pubs in busy residential areas are more likely to close later, etc.
Title: Re: For British E-Hellions: How has London and the rest of England Changed...
Post by: scotcat60 on August 08, 2013, 09:40:38 AM
The pub at the bottom of my street applied to open until 1 am over Friday night into Saturday morning, and the same over Saturday night into Sunday morning. The local council canvassed the surrounding residents on whether or not they supported this. No one did, but it went ahead anyway. But after only a few months, the pub closed, was refitted, and reopened under new management, marketed as a "Family pub". Closing hours went back to no later than 11pm.
Title: Re: For British E-Hellions: How has London and the rest of England Changed...
Post by: scotcat60 on September 04, 2013, 08:14:58 AM
The newest buidling, the Mobile Phone, also called the Walkie Talkie in London, has been causing problems. Apparently there is so much glass that it has been acting like a magnifying lens, and setting fire to carpets and furniture in shops opposite, and melting paintwork and wing mirrors on cars parked in the street. It seems the architect designed a similar building as a hote in Las Vegas, and guest were being scorched as they sat by the pool, and their sunloungers and newpapers were smouldering. However, he went ahead with the same design in London. Perhaps he thought that the sun doesn't shine in the UK?
Title: Re: For British E-Hellions: How has London and the rest of England Changed...
Post by: cicero on September 07, 2013, 08:29:34 AM

  In the 1980s we took several trips to northern Scotland on Britrail. When the train stopped for half an hour, it was our habit to hit the local M&S food hall to take back  a cold tandoori chicken and a
trio pack of salads.  Perhaps it's because we're now older, but the food doesn't taste quite as good.  We do wish NYC had 'Pret a Manger'.  The food, especially the porridge and the soups, is delicious.     

   

 

They do! http://www.pret.com/us/find_a_pret/

And I agree - though I prefer non-chains, this is one of the better ones ( really great when I was stuck at Heathrow for five hours!)
Title: Re: For British E-Hellions: How has London and the rest of England Changed...
Post by: sunnygirl on September 07, 2013, 10:01:40 AM
I have an American friend who considers Pret her all-time favourite casual restaurant.
Pret actually cater my workplace so I'm afraid am heartily sick of their food (having eaten all their vegetarian options a million times).
Title: Re: For British E-Hellions: How has London and the rest of England Changed...
Post by: English1 on September 16, 2013, 10:01:02 AM
Being in the south east, near London, for me the most noticable changes are:

Ethnic mix - 20 years ago most black people in the UK were of West Indian descent. Now there is a big proportion (larger in my perception) of African and African descent. Also many more East Europeans due to the change to immigration law/EU etc. Not saying either of these are bad things, it's just a change. Oh - and over here 'black' is the preferred term (in case any USA people are offended).,

High Streets - high street retail is visibly dying in many towns, with moves towards large retail parks and shopping centres (malls) way bigger than anything we had 20 years ago.

Wider choice of foods in supermarkets and availability of things that weren't even heard of  (likewise I suppose other things less available as they go out of fashion) for example I had sweet potatoes and plantains last week, but would not have found them in the past.

Building development - lots of new housing on types of land that would not have been built on before (lots going up on flood plains near me, will be a disaster at some point). Think that development is a bit more sympathetic to surrounding buildings nowadays, more emphasis on preserving historic centre atmospheres, you see some 1970s monstrosities squeezed in among centuries old buildings, for example, but now even contemporary designs need to fit well into their spaces and add something if it's an interesting area.

Work - unions much less powerful so some employees in less strong position than previously, but on the other hand other 'workers' rights' are improved, for example minimum wage, paternity rights and so on.