This is the most common ice cream I've seen in England.  Soft serve vanilla in a cone with something called "Flake" -- a flaky chocolate stick -- stuck into it.

i've noticed a lot of random things around England.  nothing Earth-shaking or scandalous, but some simple observations made around different English towns on different days.

for example, if you're in a restaurant and you order a Diet Coke, you will likely get a relatively small glass of soda with no ice in it.  pretty much everyone knows about the no-ice part, but i didn't really know about the tiny-glass part until recently...  me and my big American expectations, eh?

conflicting with the little-glass soda phenomenon is the latte overload.  recently i was in Haworth, West Yorkshire at a little pub called Haworth Old Hall.  my partner and i ordered lattes.  when the lattes came to the table they were satisfyingly large and accompanied by a bowl of brown and white sugar lumps, four foil-wrapped chocolate mints and two individually-wrapped biscuits (aka "cookies").  when i was done with lunch i ordered a second latte, and that came out with yet another chocolate mint and one more cookie.

why do the English skimp on soda, yet live so large in the latte department?  i do not know.  the principles of cost and profit would surely agree that it is cheaper for a restaurant or pub to give a larger glass of soda than it is to automatically add multiple mints, cookies and sugars to every latte ordered.

or would they?

something else i've noted in public places around England is the Dyson "Air Blade" hand dryer in the bathrooms.  these are pure genius.  inserting your hand(s) activates the Dyson dryer on the wall.  a crazy strong "blade" of air shoots out and you slowly withdraw your wet hands like you would a wet car passing through the drying phase of a drive-thru car wash.  the air blows so strongly that one pass through the dryer and your hands are undeniably dry.  i may be weird for getting excited about something like efficient paper-towel-free hand drying in public bathrooms, but hey -- it's exciting.  every public bathroom in the world should have one.

i won't bother thinking about how much ENERGY is required to power those things.  i'm sure it's a lot.

the other day i ate lunch at a McDonald's during a food break on a road trip.  it has been a while since i've eaten fast food and i will admit i was giddy at the idea that i sort-of "had to" eat McDonald's (nevermind the healthy bagel and sandwich shop across the way).  i had a chicken sandwich meal -- with a Diet Coke.  i know, i know, what was the point of having a diet drink when i was eating french fries?  i have no idea.  ANYWAY...  the soda was served with zero ice and the soda was room-temperature -- not even chilled.  so much for consistency within large, franchised operations. 

but it wasn't really the soda that i noticed.  it was the eerie eater's high i felt after consuming the meal.  i actually FELT HIGH.  i did not feel guilty about the shit food i'd just eaten -- i felt DAMN GOOD.

that is probably cause for concern, but it won't put me off having more McDonald's -- should the "need" arise.

another thing i've noticed is that British dogs look different from American dogs.  i don't know why this is.  perhaps it's just that different breeds are more popular here than there, so the dogs in general look a little different.  i don't know -- the differences seem more subtle than that.  all i know is, British dogs look more exotic to me.  i imagine that somewhere during their days they have little breaks where they drink black tea and nibble on cucumber sandwiches.

and speaking of cucumbers, let's talk about "salad" in England.  i have noticed that often a restaurant serving a dish such as fish 'n' chips (my new favorite thing) will sometimes include a small side salad on the plate.  this salad is generally a few pieces of Iceberg lettuce topped with some watercress or perhaps a single slice of tomato.  no salad dressing is provided or offered.  i have started eating this relatively pathetic pile of bland green stuff out of guilt over the giant piece of deep-fried haddock that comes with it.

another thing that is different to me is the overall appearance of teenagers.  it seems that despite the solid fact that knife crime is prevalent amongst male, English teens, most teenaged boys look fresh-faced and clean with rosy cheeks and lips -- more like children than teens in many cases. 

conversely, the female teens look H-A-R-S-H.  i don't know why this is.  their make-up is heavy and deliberate, but not in a hip way.  their hair is also very deliberately styled, but this "deliberate" isn't so good.  i kinda get the feeling that some of them don't bathe very often.  once again, i don't know why this is.  all i know is they could learn a lesson or two from the girls of Los Angeles -- or even the girls of Red Bank, New Jersey.  cheaply applied fake tan and clumpy black mascara looks bad on any girl.  i especially don't understand the tanning part.  we're in a cloudy, relatively cold country nowhere near a proper beach -- are we supposed to think that they've ALL just been on holiday to a weird, warm place where the sun imparts an orange-brown foundation to their skin?  surely there's some beautiful, creamy pale skin under there? 

i've also noticed that Brits LOVE ice cream cones in the "Summer."  even when it's cold and windy they flock to ice cream carts or shops for frozen treats in cones or on sticks.  this goes for children aged eight or elderly couples well over 80.  i've seen possibly a hundred such people eating soft-serve vanilla ice cream outdoors when it was WAY too cold for it, usually with something called "Flake" stuck in it.  they frequently wear tank tops and flip-flops at the same exact time that i'm freezing my arse off, cursing the wind and wishing i had a sweatshirt. 

the British Summer is indeed different from any American Summer i've known.

indeed, the British Everything is different from the Everything i've ever known.