20 things you should know about the British

Today Β I have the lovely Kate from The Lotus Creative guest posting. I know I’m lucky to have her here today as she’s incredibly busy opening up her new design shop, creating beautiful designs and helping clueless people like me move from Blogger to WordPress. (I’ve pinned many a design post written by Kate to my blogging board on Pinterest.) Kate and her husband have been British expats for a few years now and are founts of advice for moving abroad. (They are currently in Germany.) Also she has a wicked sense of sarcasm and humour, so I hope you enjoy. Without further ado, Kate!


Before I left England to travel the world, I had no idea what people’s views were of British people except you all thought we spoke like Dick Van Dyke or the Queen and that we had really bad teeth (thank you Family Guy & The Simpsons). The former isn’t true but as for the latter, well, let’s just say dental care isn’t as good as it is in other countries.

For today’s post, I’m going to share with you (wonderful reader of Rhyme & Ribbons!) some more things that you should know about the British, based on common misconceptions I’ve heard since meeting lots of different nationalities. I’m also interested to know if Amanda finds herself doing any of these things now she is living like a Brit or if some of them drive her crazy!

The most important thing to remember above all of these points is that we love a bit of sarcasm.

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1. We really do drink tea 99% of the time but you know, sometimes coffee is okay.

2. Speaking of tea, it is always English Breakfast Tea and everyone has a preferred brand. Don’t assume anything when it comes to tea and for christ sake, do not put lemon with it.

3. We all hate Piers Morgan. Please don’t send him back.

4. We really don’t like to be hugged too much. It’s safe to assume we don’t want a hug, ever.

5. British women really do dig british men as much as non-british women do. They have got it going on in a big way.

6. If the weather is warm, we will be really happy about it until we start sweating, then we complain about that too.

7. One kiss on the cheek is fine but it’s best to play it safe by making it an air kiss.

8. We are not all from London nor do we all come from “near London”.

9. Day drinking is completely acceptable as long as you start after lunch time.

10. Most of us don’t even like the Queen, Kate Middleton or any of the royal family.

11. We really are that polite but inside we will be ruing the day you were born.

12. Don’t trust us if we say “it’s fine”… but there is no point questioning us further. We won’t admit to not being fine.

13. We hate it when you try to do an impression of our accent.

14. We like to thank people several times for the same task.

15. “Cheers” is another way to say thanks, as well as the way to toast your beer/wine.

16. If an American corrects our spelling, we are bound to get pretty mad about it and talk about how our language has been butchered, why is there no “u” in colour, etc.

17. Scones are pretty good but don’t expect them if you come over for tea.

18. “You alright?” is another way of saying hello. Please don’t actually tell us how you are.

19. We will go crazy if you cut in the queue. Please queue in an orderly (and fair) fashion at all times.

20. We don’t all watch Doctor Who. We just don’t. Personally, I think the show sucks.

Now that I’ve alienated 90% of the people reading this by saying I think Doctor Who sucks, I should probably wrap this up. Good day sir, cheerio and ta-ta dearies!

If it makes you feel better Kate, I’m no fan of the Doctor either! (Shhh! Don’t tell!)

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  • Haha this is so funny and spot on! Moving here from America, (and marrying an English guy) has really opened my eyes to so many differences. How about dinner and supper? Aka the downfall of all of my good dietary intentions πŸ™‚

    • Ah yes, dinner and supper! I’ve been teaching that to some German kiddies lately and they don’t really understand the differences. Especially as in some parts of England, dinner is lunch time!

      • It’s dinner and tea where I’m from. But even in parts of the countries where the midday meal is lunch, it’s school dinners and dinner ladies!

        • You’re totally right about the midday meals at schools. To be honest, in Essex it’s dinner and tea 90% of the time but supper & dinner came up with the kids here because of a really old version of Beauty & the Beast that they own. I felt like adding tea into the mix just over complicated it even more at that point, as they know tea as a beverage!

          • lol, yes. I totally confused a German friend by mentioning tea in the sense of dinner on Facebook. He was like “Why would you put tomatoes in your cup of tea?!”

          • It took me an embarrassingly long time to understand that when Sam was asking what we should have for tea meant in terms of food….

  • Ah-maze-ing. Thank you Amanda and Kate for sharing. I’ve lived in London for a year now and these really resonate with me. #18 and #19 especially ring true in my experience here!

    • Thank you for reading! πŸ™‚ It’s always interesting to see how expats feel and what they notice when they move to England.

    • I still say “Fine thinks, how are you?” automatically after a few years now! I’m not sure I’ll ever learn not to answer #18! x

  • I chuckled at this list. “You alright” gets me every single time!!

    • I have to try really hard to not say it to people here as I can’t handle the explanation of not actually wanting to know how they are. Haha.

    • Me too Jess, me too! x

  • Inher30s

    Ha, awesome post. SO much tea, always, all the time!

    • It wasn’t until YEARS into our relationship that Sam told me that for the first while that we dated, I wasn’t very good at making tea, but I’d okay now. Ha! x

  • Haha, I enjoyed this (I don’t like Dr. Who either….). Miranda

  • This gave me a great little giggle πŸ™‚

    • Unfortunately for us, Kate has escaped England and has been galavanting around Europe for the past few years. I’m sure you’ll love her blog!

  • Loved this post! I’m a bad Brit… I don’t have a specific brand of tea. Although I buy PG Tips here because it’s the only thing I can get in big bags. Boxes of 25 are pointless! Won’t even last me a week that won’t πŸ˜‰

    • You don’t?! Mine is always PG Tips, so I am super happy we can find it in Deutschland too. Boxes of 25 ARE pointless, you’re right. It’s all about those jumbo bags that take up almost an entire carrier bag’s worth of space ;).

      • We always got whatever was currently on offer at home so I never had a chance to develop brand loyalties πŸ˜‰ Also, my parents have different brands of everythng, so I had different things depending on whose house I was at.

  • Robert @ablogbyrobert

    Haha so funny because they’re all true! I particularly like numbers 19 and 11 though – queue cutting is just about the worst thing you could ever do here in the UK but don’t worry, nobody would ever dare say something, they’ll just be thinking really really bad things about you.

    • Queue cutters seriously disgust me! It makes me so angry because in Germany cutting is more like the “done thing” and I can’t express my anger about it! Even to other queuers!

    • I am terrified of the queue. It’s something sacred to both of you in a way I’m not sure I’ll ever comprehend πŸ˜‰ x

  • Haha I have totally had several experiences like the one mentioned with British English. And how interesting to know that British women dig British men as much as everyone else does!

    • I honestly don’t know what it is and maybe it’s just me and my select group of friends but I honestly do prefer a British accent (for men) over any other!

    • I pretty much find all accents sexy. Equal opportunity love. πŸ™‚ x

  • Jade Lee Wright

    Bwahahaha I am British and found this absolutely hilarious – so accurate it is scary!
    Fantastic post.

    New follower x

    • Kate’s British, but she’s been living abroad for the past few years. She still has it in her, it seems! πŸ™‚ x

  • Laughing to all πŸ˜‰

  • no. 6 is sooooo spot on! the British complain about the weather 95% of the time. When the sun comes out, they are only happy for about 3 hours, and then it gets way too hot and uncomfortable, especially at night, since none of the houses are equipped with air con. ha

    I would disagree with point no.1. People in London do drink a lot of coffee. But then that’s London, which is not really like the rest of the UK1.

    • I must be British at heart because I am always complaining about the weather too. πŸ™‚ And agreed, for example, Sam is a coffee fiend. We go through a lot of it in our house. x

    • Haha, yes that’s exactly it. I do it here in Germany too. I’m like “woohooooo summerrrrrrr!” and then as soon as it’s been hot for a day, I am complaining that I’m sweating and uncomfortable. Then I just look forward to Autumn so I can complain about rain ;).

      I’ve also started drinking a lot of coffee since I left England and moved to other areas of Europe. So I think maybe London is the “exception” to the rule the same as I am not an exception to the British stereotype. Also, in the nicest way, I don’t like letting people who aren’t British make my tea. It sounds weird but I just don’t feel like they will do it right. Haha.

  • Haha this is great! I never realised HOW much British people loved tea until I met a whole heap of them when I moved over. I do suck at doing the British accent.. but I give it a try πŸ˜‰

  • Julie @ Artwork by JM

    hahaha so funny! I’m not a fan of Doctor Who either…I just don’t like it. Air kisses are great but slobbery cheek kisses when I just met you…please no. hahaha!

    • I hated getting used to kisses when I first moved abroad because I can be quite weird about my personal bubble (especially when I first met someone). Now I do it without thinking about it. But the odd slobbery one? Gag! x

      • Julie @ Artwork by JM

        yes, exactly!! (about the personal bubble) I’ve gotten used to the overly huggy type people because I’ve been in theater all my life. haha! Theater people are very affectionate around here! But yes, ewww to the slobbery kisses!!

        • Ha, I work as a professional actor so I hear you on that. Even more physical than actors? Opera people! x

          • Julie @ Artwork by JM

            hahaha!!! That sounds about right!

    • Ick. Slobbery cheek kisses!

      • Julie @ Artwork by JM

        Right?! So gross!!

  • Can I add a few as an Italian expat in London?
    21. If you say “we should have a coffee one of these days” you don’t actually mean it.
    22. You don’t feel cold. Girls go out with no jacket and sandals (no tights) even in winter time! WHY you do it?
    23. As the first rays of sun comes out, you use flip flops as shoes.
    24. The average Italian can’t stand a drinking night with you: he/she’ll DIE!
    25. You have such a good taste, especially when it comes to home decor, food packaging and book covers πŸ˜€


    • Sam is so guilty of wearing flipflops as shoes when it’s not actually appropriate! I can’t keep up the drinking pace with a lot of my English friends either! x

      • Hahah I don’t even try πŸ˜€ Thanks for the comment to the Frozen party!

        • i’ve learned the hard way not too!

          And I had to comment of the party because I thought it was excellent, and I’m a bit jealous that it’s not socially acceptable to have a Frozen themed party at my age…. x

    • Uhhh YES! OF COURSE!
      21. Oh my gosh yes. So true. Same with “pop over for a cuppa when you are in the area.” – Seriously, don’t!
      22. True. So, so, so true.
      23. YES. The sandals/flip flips are only out for maybe 2 weeks of the year max, so we have to get those bad boys out ASAP!
      24. The drinking culture is seriously extreme. I have had to learn to tone it down a lot with my American friends as they just don’t get this whole “I intend to get wasted” mentality we have. My German friends love it though ;).
      25. I can’t say I’ve noticed this one but now that I think about it, there is a lot if well done food packaging at home. Not sure about the home decor though, I prefer a Scandinavian style!

  • Claudz

    Spot on! Thanks for taking me back my UK days

  • Ashley Angle

    Loved this! As an American I found it very informative. Thanks!
    ~Ashley @ A Cute Angle

  • haha! this is so much useful! I have a guy British friend and I felt like an idiot when he said if I was alright and I was like, “I’m fine, why’d u say that?” then he explained that it’s the same as hello. πŸ˜€

  • Hehe that’s because Earl Grey is delicious. πŸ™‚ I dig the Royals (but I’m an uncouth American) and because I just want to gobble up George’s little cheeks. (In a non-creepy way.) x

  • Betsy

    Obviously the British part of my heritage must be the dominant part after reading this!

  • Ala

    Haha this is brilliant! All the non-Brits in my office say they find the ‘you alright?’ thing really weird, coz they know no one actually wants to know.

    And queuing fairly is probably the most important, as I get older I find myself getting more and more angry when people cut in a queue. It just ain’t right x

    • Queuing is like a weird religion, I think. It’s sacred and it will cause older people to audibly scoff at you if you disrespect it. x

    • Haha, it IS really weird in hindsight!

  • brilliant! (acceptable?) I needed this when we moved to Belgium. that ‘you okay?’ would drive me crazy – do I really look that bad every time you see me?? sheesh πŸ˜‰

  • I agree. It seems like most of my British friends and in-laws looooove the Royals. You can’t say a bad word about them without being scolded! I guess now’s a good time to voice my real opinion….what is the point of the Royals? Just seems like they eat up tax money and bring publicity to charities.

    I suppose there is something to be said for traditions though….


  • haha love this! I’m dating a Brit and he’s always educating me about British culture! I’m from a culture where we hug and kiss a lot and I always do an awkward ‘should we shake hands or not’ dance with British people.

    • Sometimes I reach out to shake hands and I get really, really odd looks. x

      • I’ve definitely had that too – I don’t really understand their aversion to touching..

    • In all honestly, I only shake hands in a business type situation. With everyone else I normally say hello or my absolute limit is an air kiss to the cheek!

  • Kate is the perfect insider that way – English but now currently away from England! x

  • Marielle

    Haha, I love #11. And I’m not even British, but I still hate when Americans try to do their “British accent” because they always think they’re awesome at it. And I know absolutely nothing about Doctor Who πŸ™‚

    • Agreed. I think accents, in general, are best left alone. You probably are not awesome at it, and it doesn’t make you better understood by, just nope. x

    • It literally makes me feel like I want to punch someone. I feel awful for feeling so strongly about it but nothing bothers me more than when an American tries to do a British accent!

  • We don’t like Piers Morgan, either. We don’t want him.

  • I’ve been reading #18 everywhere and I still can’t wrap my brain around it. I know I’m gonna end up answering the question about 50 times before it truly sinks in that it’s just a greeting and no one actually cares.

    • It is actually really strange and doesn’t make sense but hey, most things don’t!

    • It’s still never sunk in with me. After 4 years of being with an Englishman, I STILL answer. x

  • #2! I hate hate hate black tea with lemon. Alex bought the kind of earl grey that comes with lemon flavor the other day and I basically went off on the poor guy. NOT OKAY.
    And I love #4 because I couldn’t help but notice how my British friend hated when I came in for a hug. “We’re doing this, huh? Okay…… (grimace)”

    • Ick, me too! I hate Earl Grey as well though.
      Yeah, it’s exactly like that. I’ve been told I physically tense up when people get within hugging space of me. Haha.

    • Sometimes I do this weird move where we are shaking hands but kissing cheeks at the same time…. x

  • I drink tea all the time too, but coffee is gross! I’ve never seen Dr. Who, and I don’t really intend on it until they make a doctor who’s a woman or a POC. Bonus: a WOC!

  • So what you’re saying is I basically should have been British. #3… seriously… he is the worst. please take him back! please?!?!

  • I hate when people ask me if I’m alright hahaha. It would drive me insane, but I should know this stuff before I visit England.

    xo Julia ||

    • Yeah, they definitely don’t actually want to know in England! Haha. Well, unless “you alright?” is followed with “alright?”, then usually they ARE enquiring how you are.

  • Haha, I know!
    I am fortunate and pretty much all of my friends do not watch it, but I know a lot of Americans who do.

  • Haha, your point on arguing that it isn’t the same language is exactly what I mean about how a British person feels about American English! Regardless of who did what first, it’s a very different language, something I’ve noticed more so since I’ve left England because non-natives seem to have an odd mixture of the two.

  • I’m the same, except I generally say something to the person pushing in and Dan gets very embarrassed with me!
    That’s very odd, I can’t think of a single British friend of mine who likes the royal family and the same goes for my family too. I wondered if it could be area specific but I feel like that’s a little too general!

  • I HATE both of those! Yuck!!

  • I’m in the same boat as Kate and as a non-Doctor fan most of my friends don’t follow the programme either! x

  • Haha Dr Who most definitely sucks, I don’t think I have ever watched a full episode of it!

  • Leah Channas

    Haha this is great! I absolutely loved it. I definitely learned new things…I didn’t know the British hated Americans trying to impersonate them so much haha! Looking forward to reading more from you! πŸ™‚

  • Reasons to Dress

    OMG this totally had me laughing. Living in Italy I’ve met so many more Brits that I ever knew in Toronto. Think about how hard it is for them here , Italians kiss on BOTH CHEEKS. Oh and you just decoded why my girlfriends always say cheers whenever I do anything nice for them….often I thought “we’re not drinking anything, why does she repeatedly say cheers”?

    loved this guest post!

    Angie from reasons to dress

  • LOL! I love this! You’re too cute! Why does everyone I want to hug tell me they aren’t a hugger?!?!?!

  • As a Doctor Who fan, in my defence, I first watched it when I was living at home with my parents, far away from England and not sure I’d ever be able to come back and feeling really, really homesick for a country that wasn’t my home. Doctor Who was super cheesy and ridiculous, but it hit the spot for what I was missing. Also, David Tennant is DAMN sexy. Okay, that is all. You may continue on your way xx

    • Ahhhhh your Doctor Who story makes me a little bit sad. England will always be your home!!!! xx

  • um re: #2 I kid you not Jon just refused my basic Lipton black tea as NOT QUITE RIGHT and went out and spent a fortune on PG Tips. you crazies πŸ˜›

    • Haha, I’d make fun of that but if someone gave me Diet Pepsi instead of Diet Coke, I’d say thanks and then later sneak out and get Diet Cokes… That must be my equivalent to tea. x

  • There are some good points I totally agree! And somehow I don’t like it when foreigners have to say “Cheers”… it just doesn’t sound good^^

  • Olivia

    Haha. This was great. Sooo enjoyed reading this. Half-french, half-belgian, and yet grown up in other countries, I never understood any of this when I first moved to London 4 years ago. And slowly but surely all of this is sinking in! GREAT post, so funny. Not surprising as the english are very good at the banter and sarcasm. My british boyfriend proves it to me all the time. Love this. Look forward to reading more of your posts!

    • Basically, I should have had Kate with me pretty much my entire first year in England lending a helping hand! x