Blake is a quintessentially English name, so I find it interesting that many service industry people here in London have trouble with it. "Lake?" "Black?" "Blacke?" (Sadly, no "Buh-LAH-kay" yet, however.) It seems to stem from the fact that most of the service workers don't speak English as their first language. Much like America, London appears to have imported most of its service industry personnel.
I went to a sports bar to watch an F1 race, thinking it'd be nice to watch with other fans. What I didn't realize was that there was a cricket final playing prior to the race. Being cricket, it definitely didn't come close to ending on time. The place was packed with Australian (and a few New Zealand) fans at 7:30 AM, all already lagered-up and having a great time—evidently starting many hours prior to my arrival. The bartender gave me a funny look when I asked for an americano, but I couldn't quite stomach a beer that early in the morning. I guess I wouldn't make a good cricket fan.
American credit card companies like to brag about their new cards with embedded chips. More secure! Globally accepted! While both statements may be true, what they fail to tell you (in all but the tiniest of print) is that they are "chip and sign" cards, not the European standard of "chip and PIN". This means that every time you use the card you have to wait for a receipt to print so that you can sign it. This takes much longer than keying in a four digit PIN into the credit card terminal, and frequently leads the cashier to scramble to even find a pen for me to use. Many of the cashiers studiously compare my receipt's signature with the one on the back of my card, taking even more time. I believe most of the British in the queue (line) behind me are too polite to sigh out loud at these delays, but I'm certain they're annoying for everyone.
In lieu of using my slow chip-and-sign credit card (see previous) I began using cash. I noticed that I gradually began to walk with a lopsided gait as the change I collected in my pocket began accruing significant momentum of its own. Worse, I sounded like a beggar rattling coins in a cup as I walked along. I presume my pocket full of coins was a significant donation to the local children's fund.
European washer/dryers are a marvel of efficiency compared with their common American counterparts. With a single drum that takes up about the same space as a mini-fridge, these wonders both wash and dry your clothes with only a few ounces of water. They are conveniently located in the kitchen right next to the refrigerator, presumably to make it easier to wash your vegetables in them should you be so inclined. They're so ecologically friendly they appear to provide the perfect habitat for whales. The one in my flat (apartment) makes sounds like a humpback for about four hours while completing what Americans consider a small load. I'm told that that's normal and that no whales are actually harmed in the process. Will modern wonders never cease?