An English Girl In Scotland: Legal Tender

Carley's An English Girl In Scotland

One of the things which makes mine and Stacey’s relationship so constantly challenging is how incredibly different we are. I love that we don’t always start from the same point – it means we both have to communicate and compromise and it means we’re much closer than any other relationship I’ve had before. (Don’t get me wrong, we often clash because we we make assumptions about each other and it drives me mad – but we do okay.) One of the biggest differences between us is that I was born and brought up in England, Stacey has lived in Scotland her entire life. We now live together in Edinburgh, the wonderful Scottish capital – but I still often struggle with the differences between here and where I grew up. This will be the first of a number of posts about my experiences as an English girl living in Scotland.

When thinking about what I’d tell an English person moving to Scotland, I came up with hundreds of different topics within about two minutes! From the how the Scottish Premier League is played through to what you can and can’t buy in a fish and chip shop up here, there are loads of things which you should know. However, one thing which I still can’t quite get over (even after 6 years!) is that in Scotland, you don’t just have one set of bank note designs – when you request a twenty pound note from a cash machine, you could wind up with one of four different bank notes!

One of the most common jokes that the Scot’s make to / about the English is that shops and restaurants in England always look so bemused by Scottish bank notes – leading to the much overheard phrase (with accompanying eye roll) “It’s LEGAL TENDER!!”. Scottish notes are accepted currency in England (actually, across all of the UK) but it’s not really surprising that English businesses are slightly reluctant to take Scottish money; the notes don’t look like they do in the rest of the UK – but more than that, some of them definitely don’t look real / legitimate!

Running through the bank notes you can find in Scotland, the biggest difference between English and Scottish notes is that the different banks in Scotland each produce their own bank notes – all of which are widely accepted –  while in England, the Bank of England is the only one to make the cash. Wanna see what I mean?

Well, this is the Bank of England twenty pound note. You do find these up here, but not always – they’re (obviously) accepted everywhere, but you’re only likely to get one if you’re given it as change or it come from an English Bank. You can see it says ‘Bank of England’ quite clearly across the top.

Bank of England Twenty Pound Note / English £20 note

Next up, the Royal Bank of Scotland’s twenty pound note; this is probably the equivalent to the English note above, and the one I see most often. Now I know this is legitimate, but it looks slightly less ‘real’ than the above, right?!

RBS Royal Bank of Scotland Twenty Pound Note / £20 note

Next is the Bank of Scotland twenty pound note (please don’t ask me why there’s a Bank of Scotland and a Royal Bank of Scotland. It’s all very complicated!) This looks different again, with a real Scottish focus. I guess at least they’re all purple!

Bank of Scotland Twenty Pound Note / £20 note

Finally, there’s the Clydesdale Bank twenty pound note. Of all of these, this is the one which I think looks most sketchy – crests, flags and pictures?!

Clydesdale Twenty Pound Note / £20 note

On top of the fact that you can be given any of the above four notes here in Scotland, every now and then, the banks will release a special version of the notes, so they may look different from the above anyway. And those are just the twenty pound notes – it’s the same story with tenners and fivers!  Taking money from Scotland into England can be such a pain – and I have been known to utter the words ‘legal tender’ to a shop keeper who is looking at my money strangely – but really, when all the notes are different, and there are at least three variations on the same value note – is it really that big a surprise?!

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3 Comment

  1. Stacey says: Reply

    I knew there was another twenty pound note!

    For sake of completeness, Clydesdale Bank released a new set of notes in 2009, and this one is the most sketchy of all, I think –

    Personally, I quite like the Clydesdale notes, but potato, potahto, I guess.

  2. […] I’ve mentioned before, I am an English girl in Scotland – and whilst most of the time, living in Scotland is almost exactly like living in England, […]

  3. Kathy says: Reply

    I really enjoyed reading your blog and find it quite interesting

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