Tuesday 14 February 2012

Metric v Imperial

Despite being born just before the UK switched to decimalisation much to the despair of my engineer father I still use lots of imperial units. I grew up with pints of milk on the doorstep and buying petrol by the gallon. We were measured in feet and inches and weighed in stones. Recipes (like this one for cakes) were in ounces and food was bought in pounds and ounces. 

The only reason I know that I am 173 cm tall is that I went on a school ski trip to France and had to get measured for skis! As for everything else I've got used to filling my car in litres but on the whole my mind still works in imperial. It doesn't help that most of my favourite recipe books are still pre-metric in their measurements!

With two children currently at school I'm doing my best to try and stick to metric measurements. They know their heights in metres and centimetres and I haven't confused them by converting into feet and inches. When we measure the size of other things I try to remember to use the side of the tape which has centimetres on it.

Anyone else find it a struggle to get with the programme and use the correct units?


  1. When I first came to Israel the shekel was very unstable so many expensive items were quoted in dollars. I got used to converting between dollars, shekels and (for my own point of reference) pounds. I can still see an amount and instantly know what that means in three currencies.

    I always worked in stones until I came here where everyone weighs themselves in kilo. Except the Americans who use pounds without stones. After being in a diet group for a few years (good diet eh?) I can also effortlessly tell you the equivalent weights in three systems.

    Grams and oz are more difficult - I'm nor sure what either looks like and many US recipes are all in cups. I don't bake.

    I know that 5km is 8 miles, or is 8km 5 miles? Whatever. I have a car.

    A litre is more than a pint but I only work in litres now.

    In short, you can get used to any system if you use it enough - even three systems used simultaneously if you convert consistently.

  2. I was surprised last summer when we were in England to here a friend's son tell me how far his school was, using kilometres. Really? I'm not surprised they teach metres and centimetres, but kilometres instead of miles? Really?


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