How to be English (or Weird Stuff English People Do)

© THOR / Creative Commons  / Attribution 2.0 Generic

© THOR / Creative Commons / Attribution 2.0 Generic

Happy New Year! Let’s kick off 2015 by poking fun at English people! Yep… I don’t only joke about Dutch idiosyncrasies… English people are pretty bloody weird as well! I should know…

Recently, I read two articles about being British by two Dutch bloggers. Now as much as I agree with many of their points and found myself laughing and nodding along… I thought seeing as I’m actually English, I’d like to stick my two pennies worth in…

Oh and as I’ve never been to Wales, Scotland or Ireland (shameful, I know!!) I’m not talking about being British here. I’m gonna stick to what I know… How to be English.

1. Be polite

If I had to guess the most frequently used words in England, I’d go for sorry, please and thank you. We say sorry ALL THE TIME… even when it’s not our fault!

2. Drink tea

We fucking LOVE tea. I only drink one cup a day, but I’m a freak. We’re the 3rd biggest tea drinking nation in the world, after Turkey and Ireland (source). English people think that tea solves everything… and it kinda does. Heartbroken? Tea. Lost your job? Tea. Mother-in-law coming over unannounced? Tea.

Oh… and when we say tea, we mean with milk. I’ve upset many a Dutch person by putting milk in their tea. In England – it’s standard. So if you’d like it zonder melk  you’ll need to specify. And yes, you will get a funny look.

Proper English tea and toast... with marmite!

Proper English tea and toast… with marmite!

3. Queue

Yup, we love that too. Well, we don’t actually love it… but refer back to point 1. We’re so polite, the thought of taking someone else’s turn or pushing in terrifies us!

4. Talk about the weather

Because there’s not a lot else to make small talk about… and the weather is always so shit. I find that Dutch people talk a lot about the weather too, but they just take it a step further than us with the phrase “kut weer”. Yep, it translates to cunt weather.

5. Call people love or darling

Or sweetheart, treacle, pet… whatever takes your fancy. It can also vary depending on whereabouts you are in England. “Alwight, luv?” is pretty commonly used throughout. (These greetings are not intended to be offensive or sexist by the way – just friendly – though they are often perceived that way.)

6. Eat Baked Beans & Marmite (sometimes even together!!)

A staggering 1.5 million cans of Heinz Beanz are sold every day in the UK (source) and the United Kingdom eats more cans of baked beans than the rest of the world combined (source). Jeez, Louise!

Marmite… the light of my life! It’s slogan, ‘Love it or hate it’ is perfect for us because we love to love stuff as much as we love to hate stuff. We love complaining, we do.

7. Eat traditional English cuisine grub

See point 6 😉 We English get a very bad rep for our food, but we’ve come a long way in recent years. You only have to look at programmes like Masterchef UK to see that we’re producing some bloody good food these days!

That said, it’s also important to know the classic and traditional dishes… So if you haven’t tried them yet, here’s your checklist: Full English Breakfast, Bangers and Mash, Shepherds/Cottage Pie, Sunday Roast Dinner, Pie & Mash, Ploughman’s Lunch, Toad in the Hole (nothing to do with toads!!) and Fish and Chips. You’re welcome.

8. Know what Yorkshire puddings are

A sweet treat from Yorkshire? Nope. Batter poured into pre-heated cake tins, cooked in the oven and served with a traditional Sunday roast dinner. About as savoury as they come. (Image source.)

© robbie jim / Creative Commons / Attribution 2.0 Generic

© robbie jim / Creative Commons / Attribution 2.0 Generic

9. Learn the pub culture

And by this I am talking about actual pubs… not pubbing/clubbing… I’m way too old for that shit! I’m talking about taking a nice stroll to your local pub on a Sunday afternoon, with the dog – if you have one – and sitting in the sun (ok, mild drizzle under a pub umbrella) or by the roaring fire in the winter. If you’re in a rural town, bonus points for spotting the elderly local gentleman with his flat cap, newspaper and pint of ale… which takes him about 3 hours to drink.

Going to the pub in the daytime is about having a walk, getting some fresh air and socialising… not about getting hammered. We save that for the evening.

10. Avoid pork scratchings

You’ll thank me for this one! Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. Just ew. Especially when you find one with hair still attached. Step away from the pork scratchings.

11. Party etiquette

In short: bring your own booze.

English party food in a nutshell… it’ll probably be a buffet: sandwiches cut into triangles – especially weird – cucumber sandwiches, cheese and pineapple, vol-au-vents (yes, it’s a French word, but no English person says vols-au-vent), mini cocktail sausages, sausage rolls. Or if it’s a kids party you’ll be treated to the 70’s delicacy which is still going strong: jelly and ice cream.

12. Say “lovely” a lot

Even when you don’t mean it. Also, fine does not mean fine. You have been warned. If someone says they’re fine, they are massively pissed at you.

13. Wear whatever you like, whatever the weather

English people don’t dress for the weather. Especially the young’uns. A 20-something going clubbing won’t look out the window and think “oh, it’s a bit cold for a short skirts and high heels tonight” even if it’s freezing winter. They’ll just go out in a top, skirt and heels and wear their ‘beer bacardi breezer jacket’ instead. I should know, I only stopped doing it 3 years ago 😉

14. Be bad at languages

We’re notorious for it… and it’s true. I was in Spain last week and The Dutchie and I learnt the basics so we could at least order a drink in Spanish and be polite. I was a bit ashamed when every other English person I heard did the classic English tourist thing: speaking LOUDER and SLOWER.

Yeah, that’ll make Spanish people suddenly understand English. *Facepalm*.

15. Know that ‘public schools’ are actually private schools

Makes total sense, right? I know… we’re weirdos.

16. Understand our sense of humour

This basically means balancing sarcasm and self-deprecation along with deadpan delivery. They don’t call it dry wit for nothing.

Oh, and don’t forget innuendo and satire! Still don’t get it? Try this Buzzfeed article.


17. Panic and stay at home if it snows

Fact: we cannot cope with snow. When it snows the whole country comes to a standstill.

18. Talk about Europe as if you’re not in it

Phrases I have actually heard English people say: “He has a really European haircut!”, “That cardigan you’re wearing makes you look so European!”, “I’d love to go to Europe”.

19. Be obsessed by Downton Abbey

Ok, this is only for the chicks, but it’s still a very important fact of being English. It’s what Sundays on ITV at 9pm were made for…

20. Have no idea why Boxing Day is called Boxing Day

*Quickly checks wikipedia*

So… you lot are good are telling me what I missed. So, what’d I miss?? What other weird stuff do English people do?

Hayley x

Ps – Special thanks to and Anna Naomi Blogs for planting the seed for this post.


  1. As a dutch with an english girlfriend, i can relate to many of these hahaha! Tea and marmite fix everything.
    Really fun to read your blog again! Keep it up!


    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m Dutch and my boyfriend is from Yorkshire. What I’ve found to be reeeally weird is that they call lunch -> dinner, and when they have actual dinner they say they’re having tea!

    They also say ‘half four’ when they mean 16:30. Whereas for a Dutch person ‘half vier’ means 15:30..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I lived there it took me a while to get my head round that, I turned up late for quite a few things. What about saying hehe for no apparant reason?

      Gerard, back in Schotland.


  3. I just love your posts! This one had me cracked up from No1! The amount of times I’ve had to explain some of these points. Us Brits really are a rare breed! xx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for the link 😀
    I’ve been looking everywhere in Sheffield for yorkshire pudding, when I finally found a place where it was on the menu, their oven was broken! Still have to try it now.
    What I also love here is that everyone says ‘cheers’ with everything. I already have a list ready for a second blog about English/Yorkshire things ^^ coming soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “Panic and stay at home if it snows

    Fact: we cannot cope with snow. When it snows the whole country comes to a standstill.”

    Were you in the Netherlands about two weeks ago? The southern part of the country barely had any public transport, just because there was a little snow. Before the first snowflake hit the ground half the trains were already cancelled… And this happens every year all over again.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh marmite! It’s been aaaages since I’ve eaten that. Your blog actually inspired me to put it on my grocery list. I see it’s good on toast. Will try that for sure! Loved reading this blog. It made me giggle. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve been there once, so far, and it’s not just alcohol that’s very expensive. Had pizza there, and didn’t realize until after the bill that I had to pay about 180NOK (approx. €22) for one pizza!?


  7. Heheh these made me chuckle because I did notice a few of these things when I was in London in December… But really interesting to know that ‘fine’ doesn’t mean ‘fine.’ I was probably confusing a lot of people or then I was enough of a tourist for them to notice 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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