We’ve been back in the UK for exactly a week, and we’ve spent most of it goofing around with my sister and her three kids, Joni’s cousins, who normally live in the USA, and with whom we cunningly planned to coincide on this side of the pond this year. Today we were goofing around over a picnic in Aldenham country park, which if you ever get the chance is a great place to take kids, and since the only cost is a fiver per vehicle for the car-park, it’s a bargain day out.
A week in and we have pretty much figured out how to drive on the left again without washing the windscreen every time we go for the indicator, and we’re getting used to the cultural idiosyncrasies that make up normal life in the UK.
Things that have struck us this time… you have to put your own petrol in your car at the service station, and then queue up to pay for it… quaintly efficient. There are real motorbikes in the UK, and their riders wear helmets and proper biking gear and don’t generally ride like they’re on a suicide mission. Manufacturing standards in the UK are an order of magnitude higher than for the Argentinean market… actually we notice that several times a week in Argentina… every time we find ourselves saying “you know, I wouldn’t have minded paying a few cents more for… a slightly longer bolt, a rivet that didn’t break, a tougher piece of plastic, a product that actually worked the way we wanted it to…” but this time we’re noticing it the other way round; “feel the quality”. It’s everywhere, even the packaging for Martin’s insulin is noticeably superior, which makes one wonder about the differences between the medication inside the packaging, but maybe we shouldn’t think too hard about that one. But the thing that has really hit me this time is that stuff in the UK is sooooooo cheap. I don’t mean “better value because it’s a higher quality”, but actually “costs less”… yep, not only do we suffer trash-level manufacturing specs, but we actually pay more for them… no wonder the multi-nationals are all falling over themselves to conquer the Latin American market. Luckily these days our kid gets his own seat and his own luggage allowance; I’m compiling a shopping list.