One of the greatest aspects of traveling is experiencing a new culture – which is exactly why we’re starting a series called “Like a Local.” Throughout this series we’ll interview travel bloggers from each European nation to help give you a heads up on your cultural education and make sure you are well-informed of what to expect before you visit a new country, So we’re kicking it off by asking Emma Badger from Where’s That To? to help fill us in on ‘How to Visit England like a Local.’
I am 24 years old, married with no children. I work as a vehicle paint sprayer at the moment, working towards giving up work and going travelling, hopefully within the next year.
What makes you an expert on England:
I was born in Bristol, England and have lived here my whole life. I have been on a few ‘staycations’ as well, which helps to see the country through the eyes of a tourist, rather than a resident.
Tips for interacting with the locals
What you should do:
General British manners include:
- Saying please and thank you
- Holding doors open for people behind and queueing (our favourite past time!)
- Oh, and we do always say sorry when there isn’t really a need to. It is just a reflex to almost anything
- Making eye contact and smiling goes a long way, usually people are open for interaction if they are sitting in a cafe / bar etc, generally people will give directions as long as they know where the place is that you want to go.
What to avoid doing:
- Pushing in queues is a definite no-no.
- Spitting (like on the floor – even though footballers do it).
- Dropping litter. I think it is just generally things which you wouldn’t do anywhere, no matter where you are.
- We don’t have any customs which need to be abided by as such.
Tell us about your 3 of your favorite destinations in England
1- Stratford–Upon Avon
Stratford Upon Avon is Shakespeare’s town. It’s Elizabethan / Tudor architecture (white buildings, thatched roofs and black beams) makes it a quintessential ‘English Town’.
- You can visit Shakespeare’s birthplace and Anne Hatchways cottage to step back in time and experience English life in the 16th century.
- There is also the world renowned RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company) to view the productions of famous plays. For a relaxing and enjoyable afternoon, you can hire a rowing boat and float along the canal.
- Warwick castle is about half an hour away when driving. This is a castle which is fully intact and you can look around the rooms where the Earls of Warwick used to live. You can also partake in a banquet dinner (Book in advance) – fancy dress is optional, but encouraged. You will be entertained by court jesters, enjoy a dinner fit for Kings and you may even get a glimpse of the castle’s dungeons.
There is SO much to do in London. Museums in London are free, the Tate Modern and Natural History Museum get the longest queues so arrive early.
- For history buffs : You have the London Dungeons, Tower of London (Where the crown jewels are on display) and the Jack the Ripper evening tour.
- For view spotters: Take a trip up the Shard for breakfast and see the city come alive beneath you.
- For foodies: There are many amazing restaurants in London – from Gordon Ramsey’s a la carte, to Heston Blumenthal’s weird and wonderful creations to Dans Le Noir, where you are provided with a blind dining experience.
- For film buffs: There is the Warner Bros Studio Tour, where you will have a day filled with all things Harry Potter – you can visit the Great Hall, wander down Diagon Alley and see the iconic props from the film series. There are many online guides to TV and movie filming locations across the city, so you can spend the day tube- hopping to re-enact your favourite scenes from James Bond to Pirates of the Caribbean. With Comic con and the occasional film premiere too – you may event be lucky enough to spot one of your favourite actors.
- For musical fans: You have the West End. With around 40 theatres, you will be spoilt for choice and may find it hard to decide what you want to watch! Similar to New York, the TKTS booth in Leicester Square sells reduced tickets for on-the-day purchases. You can also buy tickets up to a week in advance, however it is unlikely the prices will be reduced on those. You can also visit Shakespeare’s Globe theatre (this is a reconstruction) and watch one of his famous plays – From Romeo and Juliet to Othello.
3- The Lake District
The Lake District is Northern England and spans 2362 km2. The landscapes are rugged and breath taking, there are countless hikes across the area and many towns and villages which boast cafes, pubs and trinket shops.
- The Lake District is extremely dog friendly, in contrast to Cornwall which has a lot of no go areas for our four legged friends – therefore if you are travelling with your fur baby the Lake District is a more welcoming option.
- Beatrix Potter – the famous children’s author and illustrator had her home at Hill Top Farm House which is now owned by the National Trust. The National Trust owns several historic buildings and coastal areas across the UK. Tickets to Hill Tops are £10.40, you can expect to view the cottage through the eyes of Beatrix herself and keep your eye out for clues relating to her famous stories.
- At Bowness-on-Windermere you can visit the World of Beatrix Potter, where life like models help to bring her stories alive, cue nostalgia. There you can stroll around the garden where Peter Rabbit caused mischief, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle’s kitchen, Jemima Puddle-duck’s woodland area and you can spot Mr. Jeremy Fisher drifting along in his lily-pad boat. There is a tea room to get some refreshments and the gift shop is filled with Beatrix Potter merchandise from ornaments of your favourite characters to books that will take you back to being tucked up in bed with your parents reading you the fantastic tales.
Make sure not to miss these places that locals love
And I promise I am not being biased! People often visit Bath, because of Jane Austen, Georgian Architecture and The Roman Baths. Whilst they are all good reasons to visit Bath (and I very much encourage them – Bath is beautiful!), Bristol is often missed from travellers’ radars. It is only one train journey away (approximately a 15 minute journey and costs around £5 for a return ticket, depending on times and days of travel).
Bristol has a ton of free events over the summer, including St Pauls Carnival – which is similar to Notting Hill, but on a much smaller scale, Bristol International Balloon Fiesta – which is the second largest in the world, behind Albuquerque and The Bristol Harbour Festival where the harbour is filled with beautiful tall ships and the streets are lined with market stalls, where you can try local cheeses, breads, meats, alcohol and any things else you can think of! You can find out the dates of these events with a quick google search.
We also have the S S Great Britain – that was the first iron ship in the world and sailed to America. You can climb on board and be taken back in time as you walk through the cabins and imagine yourself crossing the Atlantic in 1843. It was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and you can almost see his suspension bridge from the ship. Tickets are around £12.
There is also a large shopping centre (Cabot Circus) if that is your cup of tea, a big nightlife for those who like dancing the night away and Gloucester Road is a definite spot to visit for boutique shops and quirky coffee shops.
Black Country Living Museum – Dudley
The Black Country is so named, because during the industrialisation of England in the 19th century, the iron making process caused vast amounts of black smoke to cast a shadow over the area.
The Black Country Living museum will immerse you in the daily lives of everyday people during this time. You can go to school and participate in a lesson, take a trip underground to the coal mines and learn about the harsh working conditions, or try your hand at the traditional street games.
To refresh and replenish your hungry tummies you can choose to enjoy traditionally made fish and/or chips, bakery goodies or a pork pie and a pint in the local pub.
There is the option to board a narrow boat that will take you in through the tunnels and limestone caves (this is an optional extra and isn’t included in the ticket price). There are also special events throughout the year such as 1940s weekends and vintage car shows.
If you were to ask anybody in England about their family holidays as a child; most would recollect arcades, Punch and Judy shows, sticks of rock, a walk on the pier and donkeys – lots and lots of donkeys. Bournemouth captures the very essence of the childhood memories belonging to Englanders the country over. The Great British Seaside holiday can be best described as ‘making the best of it’.
Weather is so unpredictable in the UK that a beach holiday, whilst planned with fantastic optimism would usually mean eating chips on the beach with a good helping of sand, whipped up by the somewhat gale-fore winds. Biting into a stick of rock, an experience that your teeth would rather forget – it could decay your pearly whites sooner than you can bite through the damn thing.
A day planned building sandcastles on the beach would end up with the heavens opening and having no other choice than seeking refuge in the arcade, changing your pounds into pennies and just hoping you will be lucky enough to drop that penny at the right moment and win more tokens than you could hold. The same pattern would emerge – but we continued to go. You cannot beat a British holiday. We don’t have blue seas and white sand, Mr Whippy ice-creams are a plenty, we are lucky if we can count the sunny days on one hand, we have to be adaptable and interchangeable. Only here will you fully understand the Great British spirit.
How to Dress Like A Local When Visiting England
In England, I am always prepared with a coat and/or umbrella. They say Brits always talk about the weather, but that is because it changes so often! In the warmer months a light weight jacket will suffice.
What to Wear in Winter-
Jeans, Coats, Scarves, Gloves.
What to Wear in Spring-
Still jeans / leggings mainly but you can certainly get away with dresses and skirts when it is warm enough! Lately the spring time has been beautiful weather. We do tend to have April showers though, so be prepared with an umbrella and some sort of hood.
what to Wear in Summer-
Usual summer wear – dresses, skirts, shorts etc. A hat is helpful to protect yourself from the sun, particularly at the beach where you may be fooled by the sea breeze.
what to Wear in Autumn-
It gets chilly and rain is more likely, so again have a jacket / coat with you so you aren’t caught short.
In general – England is very free and easy with fashion choices. No body is expected to wear anything in particular, so as long as you feel warm and comfortable – wear what you like!
Final words of advice for women Visiting England:
- England is a safe country. You should of course follow normal precautions like not walking in dark places on your own.
- If you are going to hire a car to get around, then remember we drive on the left side of the road.
- The legal age for drinking alcohol is 18. You cannot smoke in buildings (unless it is a private home).
- We use pound sterling – the Scottish pound is accepted in England but it can be hard to use in small shops – you can exchange Scottish pounds for sterling in a bank with no change.
- Emergency number is 999 (police, fire, ambulance) we also have 111 which is for non-emergency medical advice.
- You don’t need any inoculations to come to England.
- England is a historic country – from Romans to Victorians to Saxons – there is plenty to see and do.
- Afternoon tea is popular (although not as popular as people often think it is with Brits!). A good afternoon tea should consist of little sandwiches, bite sized cakes and an endless supply of refreshing tea.
- Our favourite English meals are: fish and chips (best tasted by the seaside!), Sunday Roast (best enjoyed in a good pub with a pint of beer) and a full English breakfast to start your day and keep you feeling full up for all of your activities.
Thanks, Emma, for starting off our “Like a Local” Series! We definitely learned a lot from you! Cheers!