loo line.dreamstime m 43698452 2 640x223Having recently visited Britain, I happen to notice a few quaint little odd-ball quirks that I’d thought would be fun to share. These are in addition to the better known ones such as warm beer, driving on the left, going to the loo, cricket, and four tides a day in The Solent.

Light switches - In the UK these are down for on; up for off. Makes perfect sense to me, and great for hanging coats on during the day. Puffy jackets in Winter; raincoats in Summer.

Light bulbs - These have a bayonet fitting and are not screw-in. Attempts to unscrew them will not end well, especially with 230v power.

Road Lane Markings - Why is it that in the US we have to read these backwards, from the bottom line up to the top, while in the UK no adjustment from normal reading practice is required?

Gas pumps - Be very wary when pumping petrol or diesel in the UK. The green hose and handle is for petrol (gas), not diesel as here in the US. The black hose and handle is for diesel.

Pavement - “Pavement” in the UK refers to the sidewalk. Driving on it will result in very angry pedestrians, and will probably end with your arrest.

Traffic lights - Don’t think the lights have broken when the yellow comes on with the red before switching to green. The red/yellow combination is to “get ready” for the green. How very civilized.

Hi-Viz Jackets - Anyone with even a remote excuse to wear one seems to be sporting fluorescent green or orange outerwear. Fashion statement and status symbol in one, and hard to miss.

Political Colors - The leftist Labour party in the UK is identified with the color (colour) red, while blue is for the right leaning Conservatives. Did the US swop them as a sign of protest, like dumping tea in Boston Harbor (Harbour)?

Public Schools - These are actually very private and usually very expensive.
Screen doors - These aren’t required in England, so don’t make a fool of yourself fumbling and groping for something that doesn’t exist. (Disclosure; mea culpa.)

Liquid soap - It appears that Europe has fallen out of love with bar soap. Either pack your own particular favorite, or be prepared to be smearing on cold, slimy gels and getting gooped.

Refrigerant R134a - Unlike here in the USA, you cannot simply walk in to an auto parts store in the UK and buy cans of pure R134a. If you dig around over there you can find cocktails of refrigerant and additives, but these are for auto air conditioning, not refrigeration. Dumping that stuff into your refrigeration system will require the services of a technician in order to try and suck it out again, with no guarantee of success.

Refrigeration Technicians - To work on refrigeration systems and be able to purchase refrigerants in the UK (and Europe in general), technicians need to be “F-Gas” certified. The certification process for F-Gas consists of a tough paperwork exam plus a practical component where the subject has to prove competence in handling refrigerants, diagnosing problems, repairing leaks, etc.
     Compare that to the US, where any Tom, Dick or Harriet can strap on a set of gauges, load the Customer Service numbers of major equipment manufacturers into his/her cell phone, and prepare to act the hero and save the day. No fancy ticket required! However, an EPA Certificate of Completion is needed in order to purchase refrigerants other than R134a and in bulk quantities.
     And don’t be fooled by official sounding credentials from a marine standards organization. That program, now defunct, merely echoed the simple multiple-choice EPA test and did not include any training or education on marine systems. Unfortunately there is no official marine-specific classification or certification available in the US for technical competence and common sense, as these are the two qualities we often find lacking in many of today’s aspiring marine refrigeration technicians.

There’s over 3,000 miles of deep blue ocean between the US and UK, so some differences are inevitable. But it’s a shame that the Europeans are so far ahead of the US regarding refrigeration certification, as it’s the European customer that ultimately benefits from knowing he/she is receiving competent service from properly certificated and trained technicians.

Pip Pip

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