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Smiling Faces, Beautiful Places

10 Things USA (Part 2)I liked my ’10 things’ about the USA so much last time, I thought I’d do it again …

1) I went the whole week without spending any money. Ok – slight lie – I went the whole week without drawing any cash from any ATM’s.

I realised this after about the third day, and then thought it would be fun to see if I could keep it up and survive the whole week just using my plastic as and when needed – and I could! Who needs those same sized green dollar bills?

2) I got carded again during the week when buying some wine in a shop. For goodness sake – I’m 33! And my tour guide is of a similar age – honestly! But no … they had to show their driving license to prove that we were worthy to be unruly alcoholics for the evening. Tsk.

Schroeder3) I watched a valentines special version of the cartoon “Peanuts” on TV during the week. I proceeded to have a massive flashback to the fact that the teacher in the classroom scenes in that programe always sort of said “Mwah mwam waah wah waaah” instead of any intelligible words. Anyone else remember that? As it used to give me nightmares when I was a child. Schroeder – incidentaly – is still the coolest character in the whole show – he’s the chap that plays the piano.

4) Talking of pianos – welcome to Fox Music House, the perfect place to pick up a musical instrument for that valentines day serenade (Ah Geoff – how sweet!) which is where I found myself back on Tuesday.

I expected some quaint old gentleman – probably a piano teacher who also owned the music store to serve me. Instead – a BIG black guy with a reeeal southern drawl ambled out to serve me, and after some general chit chat, he opted for the conversational gambit that I had least been expecting, that being : “So you’re into music then and from England huh? Have you ever met the Spice Girls?”. “Umm, well I saw them once in the street if that counts?” “I like the blllllack one – she’s reeeeeal fit”, and proceeded to ask all about the fiesty one that is the scary-spice.

Rawl Plug5) Rawl Plugs are known as Anchor Bolts here apparantly. Discuss.

6) Beware School Buses! If one is dropping off kids, you can’t pull out and drive past them, otherwise you’re looking at a rather hefty fine and points on your license.

Yellow school bus7) Talking of hefty fines, I went to park at somepoint during the week as well – only as I was about to do the “Wild and crazy manouevre” of going across the other side of the road to do it – I was told that this is not allowed!

You can only park on the side of the road that you are already travelling down/along. My tour guide stopped me from doing this just in time – as again, it’s a finable offence.

8)The biggest shop in the world is the not Tescos, New Malden where I used to go, but is now officially any branch of ‘Target‘ here in America. The one in Charleston is good, and was so big that I needed to put my camera into panormaic mode setting just to be able to take in the vastness that is this simple shop that stocks almost anything you want.

A branch of Target

9) They have power sockets in the bathroom here. (And don’t even get me started on the flimsy two pin jobbies they have – makes you appreciate the solid hefty MK standard three pinned efforts that we have) which in the UK would not be allowed. Shaver points only, right? But not here .. you can have a couple of plugs, for an electric toothbrush, or perhaps an electric heater for you to knock into your bath and zap yourself.

License plate10) All the car license plates in South Carolina have got the slogan “Smiling Faces, Beautiful Places” marked across them – as each state tends to have it’s own slogan. North Carolina’s is “First in flight” – as the Wright Brothers came to Kitty Hawk in NC, which is why there is also a replica of the Wright Flyer at the nearby major international airport in Charlotte.

There, and see how I didn’t mention circumcision once!

But I did leave behind a smiling face, and a beautiful place.

37 responses to “Smiling Faces, Beautiful Places”

  1. Anthony says:


    Rawl Plugs is a more sensible name for them, although “Rawl” means nothing to me. Wall-plugs would probably be a better name, or “screw-masonry interface plugs” would be even better.

    They are not, however, bolts.

  2. Rawlplug is a brand name, like Hoover.

    So are you back in the UK, or is this posted from America?

  3. geofftech says:

    I’m in the UK. Landed at 06.30am this morning. Quick stop off at home, and then into work – oh joy!

    And one of my bags went MISSING at the airport! Someone else had walked off with it – can you believe it? So AA are now arranging a courier to get it to me at “somepoint” today – I’m not happy !!

  4. Did they recognise you at the office?

    I can’t imagine anyone deliberately making off with your unwashed clothes!

  5. Jono says:

    We have anchor bolts here too. The two are different things — perhaps you just got a bit confused, mate? An anchor bolt, or shield anchors as they’re more commonly called, are used to hold up BFO pieces of kit. The glass sink in our downstairs bathroom is held up with three, in case you want to look the next time you’re here.

    See Screwfix for more details.

  6. scottb says:

    Never heard of Rawl plugs and anchor plugs is not used. Generally they are drywall plugs (i assume we are talking about a device that secures something hanging on the wall that is not anchored to a stud, but sits in the wall surface unsupported)

    Schroeder is indeed the coolest Peanuts character (good taste and talent)

    North Americans are not allowed to park in the willy-nilly fasion that is so prevalent in the UK, but at least we have the luxury of roads that are designed to accomodate cars parked on both sides while still allowing for two-way traffic. Unfortunately this also allows for the morons who insist on driving stupid SUVs that dwarf the Queen Mary.

    Outlet in the bathroom — of course. If I’m dumb enough to make toast whilst bathing I deserve what I get.

    Your “hefty MK standard prongs” seem like overkill. Perhaps we are not so ham-fisted.

    Hope you get your bag back.

  7. 2. They are supposed to ‘card’ you if you look 40 or younger, so don’t feel TOO flattered. I have been carded recently myself… and as you know, I am [cough/cough] over 40 now.

    5. Maybe I’m not too with it, but I have not heard of either of these terms!

    6. Passing a stopped school bus is a major offense and in Hawaii the fine is $250. Lately, this has been happening as MY precious children cross the busy highway to the bus.. and soI have taken down plates and turned in the offenders.

    8. We looooooooooooove our Targ้ stores here in the States! Wish they’d bring one to Hawaii.

    9. Bathroom sockets… pah!! Didn’t i discuss this difference in my Strange English Curiosities post about YOUR lack of plugs in the bathroom? Just how is one supposed to dry their hair in front of a mirror??

    10. All the states have slogans on their plates. California’s says “The Golden State;” Hawaii’s is “The Aloha State;” New Mexico’s is “The Land of Enchantment;” Minnesota’s, is “Land of 10,000 Lakes;” New Jersey’s is “The Garden State.”

    11. You don’t need to mention circumcision, because almost every american guy is!!

  8. 7.11: Is this verified from personal experience? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Incidentally, while Geoff was away, Tesco announced plans to annex invade open stores in the USA

  9. geofftech says:

    I got my bag back! (Eventually). After a failed delivery attempt yesterday, they kindly turned up on my doorstep and dropped it off at 7am this morning – on a Sunday – waking me up from my jet lagged slumber. bastards!

  10. geofftech says:

    Aye – not bad, not bad …

  11. Fimb says:

    Theres a Tesco’s on Koh Samui in Thailand ๐Ÿ™‚

    But I still swear there is NOT a news ticker outside the BBC on Wood Lane *lol*

  12. 9. The bag thing reminds me of the time mine was lost and they woke you up with the found luggage!!! Strange deja vu, eh? (Although there was not a coconut that might have resembled a bomb in YOUR bag, it is safe to assume.)

  13. Mikey says:

    Hey Geoff, i noticed earlier that there isn’t a search facility on this beloved shrine to your life…any plans in the future to create one?

  14. You went with your tour guide to pick up a fiddle? But then where’s the surprise for Valentines’ Day?

    Anyway, welcome back. Hope you had a good time.

    PS: I’ve been to the BIGGEST SHOPPING MALL IN THE WORLD! Alas, it’s in Minnesota, I believe.

  15. geofftech says:

    #16 – Wikipedia thinks that the one in Minnesota is only the third largest in the world. So where are the top two?

    #15 – Thank you Ian! “Site:” – I did not know you could do that! And Mikey .. ‘Shrine’ !? Ummm … if you say so. Its just a website/blog.

    #13 – Someone else had picked up my bag at the airport. I guess that label with my name “Marshall” on it just isn’t enough for some people. Time to buy some luminous yellow and green ribbon and tie that round the handle instead, next time I go.

    Although I’m thinking that for a long weekend in New York I might just be able to get away with hand luggage only anyway, and save myself the whole baggage issue.

    #12 – Fimb, blame Hammersmith Council! Not me!! Aagh!

  16. Mikey says:

    Thats what i had to use earlier, i was just wondering whether there was a pipe dream of creating a search on the website

  17. Chris says:

    #17: Some airlines allow the small wheely cases to be taken as hand luggage – it does depend who you are flying with though?

  18. #17. But don’t take that awful duffle bag of yours, also known as the bane of my existence. Get a new bag with wheels that can work as hand carry. They even make wheeled duffles these days! You could have bought a great one at Targ้!!

  19. 17.1 Don’t just look at the pictures, read the full article!
    17.2 Maybe you should implement this for Mikey
    17.3 how about one of these. That should stand out a bit more. And it has wheels.

  20. Damn Sessiony sites… I meant product code 166*050

  21. Fimb says:

    Som geoff, should I give up on my regular drives past the BBC just to try and see the ticker?! (Maybe Is hould just get myself a life instead!) The Husband is still convinced you’re having us on though and its all a ruse to see how many times you can get me to drive up and down Wood Lane ๐Ÿ™‚

    re; NYC. You will easily get away with a small hand luggage on way out there. On way home though, a minimum of 3 suitcases will be needed *grins*

  22. Paul Webb says:

    I tried the ‘hand luggage only’ trick last time I flew to the States, only to arrive at Customs before everybody else and was confronted with six bored Customs Officers. Any time saved by only having hand luggage was taken through the detail searching of my wash bag.

  23. Talking of giant cities, I heard of this and thought of Geoff. I don’t know why.

    mmm biscuity

  24. geofftech says:

    # 24- But flying to to JFK in NYC you’d think there would be a lot of people going through, and hopefully not just me! So i’m going to try it. I’ll still get picked on by immigrations, obviously .. just because i look so suspicious.

  25. Paul Webb says:

    #26 – this happened at Newark. I guess I was just unlucky. Maybe it was the beard I had at the time…

  26. Alan P says:

    Totally unrelated to any of the above comments Geoff, but I’m starting my driver training tomorrow so wish me luck.

  27. Tower Block Tina says:

    Glad you got my suitcase back Geoff, I’ll need it next month on my trip to
    New Zealand, (Geoff’s not the only one who has holidays you know).
    I’ve never flown more that 2 hrs to Europe before so am a bit apprehensive.
    I shall wrap the multi-coloured strap round it that was lurking inside!

  28. Fimb says:

    Good Luck Alan. Hope they provide you with plenty of cups of tea ๐Ÿ˜‰

  29. scottb says:

    #17.1 I think that West Edmonton Mall is still the largest in the world – I don’t know what criteria
    is used though, square footage or # of stores. It’s a three hour drive north from Calgary where I
    live, and is not really worth the hype, it’s just a mall, only big.

  30. 32. NO mall (“mawwwwwl”) is worth the hype.
    30. Have fun in NZ Tina, you are only a hop and a skip from Hawaii!
    29. Camilla…are you THE Camilla?? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    And Geoff… you are just too tall to escape notice anywhere! Also.. did you see in a recent survey that US Air loses more international bags than anyone else? United was like 8th on the list, but face it, no one is safe from lost bags flying internationally.

  31. Kris, don’t be ridiculous. I very much doubt that the Duchess of Cornwall would be passing her time commenting here.

  32. Camilla says:

    i am not the camilla who resembles a horse. i am but a poor a-level student at an evil boarding school so there is a royal connection

  33. Tina, you’ll be fine – although my trip to Oz. last January seemed to last an eternity!

  34. Skarlett says:

    As someone who makes a similar trip every 3-4 months, just the other direction (LA to Oxford) I ALWAYS travel with just a carry on. It can be done. Space Saver luggage bags are a gift from the gods! This week I was able to pack for a week, including tall rain boots, a cocktail dress, and far too tall heels.
    Target is my escape from the madness of life in Hell-A.
    I’d be a happy girl if they’d expand to the UK!

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