Good English cooking is superb and there are many restaurants
specialising in old English dishes. The north of the country
tends to offer more substantial and traditional food at reasonable
prices than the south. Every region will have its own speciality;
these include roast beef and Yorkshire pudding,
game or venison pies, rack of lamb and fish
Britain is home of puddings: apple crumble (slices
of cooked apple with sweet crumble); spotted dick (
pudding with currants and raisins); and syllabub (a
dish consisting of double cream, white wine and lemon juice).
The English cream tea is served in tea rooms, particularly
in south coast seaside resorts. It generally includes scones,
jam, butter, clotted or double cream and tea.
London and the bigger cities offer every type of ethnic food
imaginable, Chinese and Indian being very popular
and good value for money. Cheddar and Stilton
are the most famous of British cheeses.
Tipping is not mandatory and it is up to the individual whether
to pay the 10 to 12 per cent service charge often added to
The British pub is nothing short of an institution
and even the tinyest village in the remotest corner of the
country will have at least one. There are about as many beers
in England as there are cheeses in France and the revival
of real ale has improved the range and quality available.
Look for the sign 'Free House' outside a pub, meaning that
beer from more than one brewery is sold there. Bitter
and lager are the two most popular beers, but stout,
pale ale, brown ale and cider are also drunk. Wine bars
and cocktail bars are common in the larger cities and
towns, and the latter will often have a 'happy hour' in the
Under 18 year olds will not be
served alcohol and children under 16 are not generally
allowed into pubs, though they may sit in the garden.
Licensing hours vary between towns, but many pubs are
open typically 11:00-23:00 hours; the visitor should not be
surprised however if they find a pub closing for a time in
the afternoon. On Sundays, hours are 12:00-22:30 hours. Private
clubs usually have an extension into the early hours.
The large cities, London in particular, have a range to choose
from: theatre (open-air in the summer), ballet, opera, concerts,
films, restaurants, nightclubs and discos, pubs. The weekly
magazine Time Out publishes a guide to events in the capital.
Woollen and woven products such as Harris Tweeds are famous.
China and porcelain Wedgwood, Crown Derby, Royal Doulton and
Royal Worcester are good gifts, as are luxury food and chocolates.
Antiques are to be found countrywide. In London, Charing Cross
Road is famous for bookshops, and there are street markets:
Petticoat Lane for clothes and Bermondsey for antiques, to
name a few.
Tax Free Shopping
Many shops now operate a tax-free shopping scheme for overseas
visitors. The store will provide a form to be completed at
the time of purchase. Upon arrival at Customs, present the
goods and forms (within 3 months) to the Customs Officer,
who will stamp the vouchers certifying that the goods are
being exported, and that you will be entitled to a refund
of Value Added Tax (VAT). For further information, contact
the British Tourist Office.
In most cities, Monday-Saturday 09:00-17:30 hours; in London's
West End and other large shopping centres, shops stay open
Many local shops stay open to 19:00 or 20:00 hours and some
even later; many of these are open on Sundays. Larger shops
will open Sunday 10:00-16:00 hours. Some towns may have early
closing one day a week, usually Wednesdays or Thursdays.
For a complete list, contact the English
Clothing: A tie, trousers
and shoes as opposed to jeans and trainers are usually necessary
for entry to some nightclubs and restaurants, otherwise
casual wear is acceptable.
Use of public places: Topless sunbathing is permitted
on certain beaches and tolerated in some parks. Smoking
areas will usually be clearly marked. Cigarettes should
not be sold to children under 16 years of age.
In hotels, a service charge of 10 to 12 per cent is usual,
which can be added to the bill. 10 to 15 per cent is usual
for restaurants and it is often added to the bill, in which
case a further tip is not required.