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British Expat Newsletter: August 2014

Hello, and welcome to those of you who have recently signed up.

In this issue

This month

Here’s our news about the latest additions to the BE website.

Those of you who have signed up since the beginning of June may have been wondering whether the sign-up process was working properly. Worry not, it’s just that we thought it might be nice to give our readers a summer holiday.

Actually, that’s not true at all. The reality was that we were so very busy we didn’t get around to it in June or July. We’ve been moving house—and country!

After 14 years of swanning around South and South East Asia, it was time for a reality check, and back to London for a couple of years at least.

Sadly we’ve had to put some of our websites onto the back burner too over the last few months. But we’re back in the saddle again now, and raring to go.

We did manage to add some new content to the website in the meantime. No fewer than three UK TV show producers got in touch in August with requests for expats to share their experiences and to feature on their shows!

Earlier, Wayne Green of Love Removals shared with us his ten tips for overcoming culture shock when emigrating. Plenty of sound advice there—even if you’re moving in the other direction, as we were!

We also finished writing some new books. If anyone is interested in websites and online business, we have some freebies for you—starting right now! You can find out more on my blog. If you sign up for my new newsletter you can get the first of the freebies. More details here:

We head to Amsterdam with our latest Pic of the Week: a night view of the Lekkeresluis bridge and some of the nearby buildings alongside the famous Prinsengracht.

And our latest Quick Quiz was inspired by the excellent BBC/HBO TV series Rome, which we’ve been catching up with thanks to the Amazon Prime Video service. (Returning from exotic shores has some compensations!) How much do you know about Ancient Rome and the Romans? Try the Quiz and find out!

Editorial: I’d like to get your backs up

Some new developments in the airline industry—and our own recent long-haul flight—led us to choose that perennial favourite topic of air rage and what infuriates people on flights, whether it’s screaming babies, the fight for the armrest, or anything else. We’ve already looked at some of these before over the years in our newsletters and indeed on the website. (One of my earliest editorials back in 2000 was about Alitalia’s unexpected and—to me, at least—unannounced withdrawal of smoking facilities on all their flights, implemented between the outward and return legs of our round trip between Milan and Bangkok. Grr!)

This time we’re focusing on etiquette and the reclining rule. Several airlines have introduced no-recline seats on some of their flights, with more following suit. Ryanair are one of those airlines and, amazingly, they don’t seem to have made it an optional extra that you have to pay for; they’ve simply installed seats that don’t recline. Since their flights are only short-to-medium haul anyway, I don’t suppose it matters that much to most passengers.

Different rules seem to apply to long-haul flights, where it seems to be more or less expected that all passengers will recline their seats. On our recent flight to Heathrow, we were a little taken aback to be asked to close the window blinds just an hour or so after takeoff, even though the entire flight took place in broad daylight. The reason given was that many passengers on long-haul flights like to spend as much time as possible sleeping, to make the time pass more quickly. No doubt this makes things easier for the cabin crew too.

(On some future flights, passengers may not have the option of looking out of the window at all. One small aerospace company has already announced that its planned supersonic business jet will replace windows with display screens linked to outside cameras to display the real-time view. This will eliminate the need to reinforce the fuselage structure around each window, thus reducing weight and improving fuel efficiency and the power-to-weight ratio.)

Anyway, back to non-reclining seats. Apparently they’re proving very popular with some fliers. I must admit, I’m one of them. There are few things (eg those screaming babies) which are more infuriating than some inconsiderate oaf in front of you suddenly launching themselves into your lap when you least expect it. Like when you’re in the middle of a meal, or trying to do some work on your laptop.

Some passengers feel strongly enough about it to take matters into their own hands. An enterprising company has invented a little plastic gizmo called a Knee Defender™ that you can slide down the arms of your open tray table to limit the angle to which the seat in front can recline, or prevent it from reclining altogether.

The devices have caused outrage among some people who have been prevented from reclining. Hard cheese, I say. Why shouldn’t someone protect themselves from these pests? I would certainly be keen to buy a pair of Knee Defenders—as long as they’re legal.

(Some airlines have banned their use. This is perhaps not surprising in light of a recent incident in the US where one passenger threw a glass of water over the man behind, who had used Knee Defenders to enable him to use his laptop. The ensuing fight caused such a disturbance that the flight was diverted to remove the sparring pair from the aircraft.)

The makers of Knee Defenders say that you should warn the person in front that you intend to use them. They even provide a little ‘courtesy card’ on their website that you can print and hand over to explain why you’re using Knee Defenders, and to encourage the person to join you in urging the airline to provide adequate space between rows of seats. Personally, I think that handing over such a card would be more likely to provoke a fight than prevent one, but perhaps that’s just me.

Of course, in some situations you can recline without having to worry about the people behind. Some airlines’ business class seats are so arranged that they can stretch out fully into a bed, without it affecting any of the other passengers. And if you’re in the last row in front of a bulkhead, there’s no passenger behind to interfere with anyway.

Debrett’s website suggests that you ‘ease your chair gently into a reclining position, which will avoid a sudden invasion of the limited legroom of the passenger behind’. I don’t like that advice at all. It makes it sound as if doing things stealthily somehow makes them OK. Is that how posh people do things?

What do you think? Do you consider it your right to stretch out in the airline seat you paid for, regardless of the passenger behind? Do you consider it your right to defend the tray table space you paid for from incursions from in front? Or do you take a stance somewhere in the middle? Why not share your views on the forum?

Write for British Expat

Would you like to write for British Expat? Sorry, we don’t pay for articles but if you have a website we’ll link to it in the author’s blurb below any of your articles we publish. We use all sorts of content as long as it’s useful and/or interesting to our readership.

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

And now for something completely different…

t’s completely different for me to be recommending the Daily Mail for anything, but I stumbled across this interesting article whilst looking for something else. (Honestly!)

I thought my expat friends might like it too. Here’s how to make at home some of your favourite sweets. I quite fancy having a go at the Crunchie bars, but I’m afraid I’ve never even heard of some of the others. The Doritos might be good to try too.

So, if you’re in the back of beyond and craving for a Crunchie (or other favourite) and your local shop doesn’t sell them, try this link to learn how to DIY.
Daily Mail: How to make a Crunchie in your kitchen!

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!

Kay & Dave
Editor & Deputy Editor
British Expat—the definitive home for British expats

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