24 May 2009

It's good to be American outside of London

By and large, Americans are quite welcome in the UK, or at very least well-tolerated. A lot depends on the local saturation level; where there are lots of tourists, or lots of Americas who've settled into local communities (in London's South Kensington area, you can actually find cars with the steering wheel on the left), Americans can find their welcome worn a bit thin, although most Brits are way too polite to be openly hostile. But while London may be a bit fatigued by American tourists (and tourists in general), the smaller towns outside of London are another story. There, especially again where there aren't large American settlements (Surrey, I'm looking at you), there's a lot more open interest in Americans.

It's quite common for locals in these places to ask where you're from and strike up a conversation as soon as they hear you speak, and if they see you on a regular basis they make a point of trying to draw you into a conversation, just so they can hear you. There's a cashier at a local grocer that my wife runs into periodically, and while he's fairly formal with the people ahead of her in the line, he lights up and gets quite chatty when it's her turn (maybe I should be worried). Just recently we went to a farm that had opened itself up to the public during lambing season, and an older gentleman (a vendor selling local sausages) was apparently quite captivated by my exotic accent, going so far as to leave his post at the grill to come over and visit us more where we were eating lunch. We've lived this experience many times, at restaurants, pubs, shops, etc. This has gone a long way in forming our opinion that Brits are actually a pretty warm bunch.


  1. I dunno, Tom. They seem pretty cold to me. Maybe you just have a warmer personality & it brings out the best in them.

  2. I had the same experience. We were mostly in the Birmingham area, and people were wonderfully friendly, without being "cheerleaders" or being nosey on uncalled-for levels. They were amazingly tolerant and helpful the times we got lost or were looking for things that weren't mapped. I'm looking forward to going back long-term!

  3. Elizabeth, I find it hard to believe that anyone would be cold to you. Maybe it's Reading...

  4. Like this post. I have a friend in South Ken who asked me the other day if I thought there was an increasing hostility towards Americans. It surprised me. I had to say I found just the opposite.

    I have had the same experiences as you posted about here. I lived in Whitechapel for a while where being non-British was hardly unusual, but when I moved to Essex I found people much more friendly and interested. Refreshing!