To Derby via Birmingham
By coincidence, several questions had piled up at work originating from Derby UK. You took the initive and headed that way for a mid-week lecture session. Taking an early flight plus driving on the left was a tad disorientating. Maybe left isn't (w)right after all.
The hire car company - who's primary task is to supply cars - didn't have any cars available that morning. The booking was in order but their organisation apparently not. An hour later you were offered a lower class, yet-to-be-cleaned vehicle with no GPS. Rather than apologise for being unable to supply said GPS they told you you obviously didn't book one. Customer service, UK? Hello?
Engineering practices vary across sites, growing organically; i.e.: taking the path of least resistance. Oh what fun is standardisation when no one talks to each other! Shockingly, their designers seemed unaware what's going on, even within their own office. You came to the conclusion: we don't use the same tools; maybe we should. A wave of approval was expressed all round, and then you went home. That was easy.
Pay-day lenders & Nandos
After work, being hungry of course, you headed for Derby city center. The town consists of an encirclement of pay-day lenders and pokies dens, and one Nandos resturant in the middle; that's about it. Nearby Nottingham may find its way into travel guides, but downtrodden Derby does not. You strolled past patterns of lenders, pubs and vacant shops for a while before settling on the least English food available: peri peri chicken. Yum!
The park north of Derby was a dog-filled distraction from the depressing city centre. Its one river was the rowing club's training stretch, shared of course with the lots of bugs and several misbehaved dogs. It was amusing listening to the owners' disappointment as their commands fall on selectively-deaf doggy ears - their pets splashing playfully in the mud.
On your way back to the hotel you passed a poster asking "Under 18's exclusive club - have you got what it takes?", in close proximity to the Virgin Money shop. Highly suspect...
The UK has not yet caught up to the wonder that is single faucets. Your hotel used traditional separate hot / cold taps, so you could choose to freeze or burn.
Even the shower was stone-age: it had a single dial to change the water temperature but no method to alter water pressure. On the bathroom door there was a sign, which read: "Please close the door while showering to avoid setting off the smoke alarms". Great Britain, just great...