Destination: BRITAIN
Survival Guide

Royal pageantry at the annual Trooping of the Colour, a celebration of the Queen's "official" birthday, held in June at the Horse Guards Parade in central London

© AA Photo Library
Survival Guide

If visiting London, try to see one of the city's pageants, such as Trooping the Colour on Queen Elizabeth's birthday, or the Lord Mayor's Show in November. For something altogether informal, join the fun at the fantastic Notting Hill Carnival at the end of August.

In York, be careful where pedestrian zones end and traffic begins. Also, as in all major cities, watch out for pickpockets on crowded streets.

Try Britain's various regional foods. The national dish - fish and chips - can be found almost anywhere. In London, seek out genuine East End whelks. In Cornwall, look for Cornish pasties (savory pastry), a true hand-held meal. In Wales, sample Caerphilly cheese; in Yorkshire, try beef and Yorkshire pudding; and don't miss steak-and-kidney pie in any English country pub. In Scotland, tackle haggis, tatties (potatoes) and neeps (turnips), or kippers (smoked herring) - all accompanied by a thick and creamy regional beer or a good strong cup of tea.

Be prepared for dramatic changes in the weather. They say that Britain has no climate, it just has weather. The truth is that the country is caught between the extremes of northern and southern Europe, while its island nature allows vast amounts of condensed Atlantic sea water to be deposited as wind-blown rain at regular intervals. Expect rain, and if it comes, enjoy it; or, like the British do, blame the government.

Make sure you always know what county of England you are in, and try not to confuse counties, especially not Yorkshire and Lancashire. Never refer to Welsh or Scottish people as English.

In southwest England especially, enjoy a cream tea. This grand traditional indulgence consists of fresh, fluffy scones (biscuits) spread with jam and delicious, thick clotted cream. The cream is slathered on top of the jam.

The strength of the summer sun can deceive in Britain, often because a wind may be blowing or there are passing clouds. Guard against sunburn even if there is a cool breeze.

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