Steve's Random Thoughts
- Cost of Living: The prices in London and everywhere we went in England
were unbelievably high. In London, most prices were what we'd expect to pay
if the currency were U.S. dollars, but with an exchange rate of $1.75 per
pound, it was hard to see how the local people can afford to live. We asked
about this, and learned that people generally spend all their disposable income
- there is very little focus on retirement planning, and the expectation is
that the government will cover this. Also, income tax is generally in the
15% range and there is no property tax - this obviously makes a difference
for the local residents. However, as a tourist, this is a very expensive place
- Traffic: London is not an easy city to drive or walk in. The cars never
seem to stop for pedestrians, and they certainly like to drive fast in the
city. I had no problems driving from Salisbury to Stonehenge and Bath, but
was happy not to have tackled driving in London.
- Education: We were surprised to hear how much of a problem the public
education system is here (they call it the "state education system").
Middle class families are looking more and more toward private schools, largely
because of what they see as a governmental failure to deliver quality education.
The cost of private school averages 10,000 pounds/year (that's for a day student
- doesn't include boarding costs), so this is becoming a huge burden for families.
- Bath: We enjoyed seeing the Roman Baths, but the city of Bath is pretty
overwhelming. We were there on a Saturday, which brings out the crowds - this
may have had something to do with it. However, if it weren't for seeing the
Roman Baths, we probably wouldn't go to Bath again.
- Things We Missed: One week definitely wasn't nearly enough time to spend
in the U.K. We'll plan on coming back. The places we'd like to go when we
come back include Oxford/Cambridge, the castles in the Southeast, the Lake
District and perhaps another trip to Scotland and Wales (Paula and I were
there in 1985). In London, we didn't get a chance to see the British Museum,
the Imperial War Museum, and Greenwich. We also didn't get enough time to
enjoy London's parks (the weather wasn't great).