British Expat Newsletter: August 2017

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In this issue

This month

It’s August, traditionally the “silly season” month as far as the newspapers are concerned. Of course, these days you don’t have to abandon politics to find a good “silly season” story.

Donald Trump has continued to defy common sense, facts and the world’s media. Early in the month he embarked on a 17-day golfing holiday, even though in the past he’s (a) said “most of the people I know that are successful really don’t take vacations”, (b) said that if elected “I’m going to be working for you, I’m not going to have time to go play golf,” and (c) criticised his predecessor Barack Obama for neglecting crisis to play golf. To be fair, the Donald didn’t leave town when a crisis was underway. He took a rather different tack, waiting for a crisis to blow up before doing everything he could to stoke it with a few choice tweets threatening to unleash fire and fury on North Korea.

Back in the UK, it’s Bank Holiday time at the end of the month. Amazingly, the weather seems to have turned out well, making it two bank holidays on the trot that have given good weather (and incidentally bookending a pretty miserable summer for most of Britain). The usual predicted traffic chaos has been exacerbated this year by Network Rail launching what’s been described as their biggest August Bank Holiday engineering project ever, involving the complete or partial closure of several London termini and several other major stations up and down the country. Despite plenty of warning in advance of the works, the usual round of whinging has accompanied them – even though Bank Holidays are usually the quietest times for the railways, with typically half the traffic of normal weekdays.

There was more confusion in schools, as the launch of a new grading system for GCSEs left parents and employers scratching their heads over what constituted a good or a bad result. Counter-intuitively, the new system has a top grade of 9 and a bottom grade of 1 – the reverse of the old CSE grades, though admittedly you have to cast your mind back to 1987 to remember the last time CSEs were taken. As ever, the standard of the exams also came under scrutiny, though unusually this year’s seem to have been comparatively tough when measured against recent years’ standards.

Talking about being silly, if you’re needing to transfer money overseas, then don’t be silly about it and do it through a High Street bank without first checking out a currency specialist. The chances are you’ll get a far better rate if you shop around. We’ve been using OFX (formerly OzForex) for years and thoroughly recommend them. And if you sign up through our affiliate link, you’ll get your first two transfers fee free!

The focus of this month’s Quick Quiz is Ethiopia. Sadly, Ethiopia became a byword for famine in the 1980s – but it’s also an ancient land with a proud, vibrant culture and strong claims to be the cradle of the human race. See how much you never knew about it.

And our latest Pic of the Week stays on the African continent. It’s a photograph of tanners at work in the Old City of Fez in Morocco. Fascinating, but you have to be thankful that they haven’t developed a way to capture the smell of the place (cow urine and pigeon poo, anyone?) as well as the colours. Yet.

Are you ever flummoxed by fancy foodie words, mystified by menus, or confused by culinary terms? Then head on over to and become enlightened by our quirky A-Z of food. And it’s got cartoons in it! Don’t forget to tell all your friends about it too.

Meanwhile, of course, the forum continues to provide information on a wide range of expat issues, as well as the opportunity to socialise with like-minded people all around the world. You can see the full range of discussion boards here.

Write for British Expat

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Besides articles, we also publish quick trivia quizzes—five questions about any subject. So, if you’d like to write for us but don’t feel like producing a literary masterpiece, then why not try writing a quickie quiz about your city, country, or even your hobby? Please use our contact form to get in touch.

British Expat Amazon Shopping

Amazon don’t just do books, you know. We’ve teamed up with them to bring you the ultimate in online shopping—from a micro SD card to a garden shed! A great way to do your shopping online, especially if the shops aren’t up to much in your part of the world.
BE Amazon Shop: UK & EU | BE Amazon Shop: non-EU

So there’s a round-up of all that’s been going on. Come on over and see for yourself! Don’t forget…
Visit the BE website and join in with our lively community!

Till next time…

Happy surfing!

British Expat—the definitive home for British expats

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