Category Archives: Just a funny

On Driving Lessons

So since I passed my theoretical test, I’ve begun taking driving lessons.  Despite making me feel like an awkward teenager again, I do believe they are making me a better driver. Perhaps that because I no longer feel like I’m invincible (read: stupid) and I understand more about the costs of car ownership (read: expensive and ethically challenging).

But I thought I’d post a few funny stories from my recent lessons, because I haven’t blogged in a while and you deserve a funny on this dreary Wednesday.

First off, driving on the wrong side of the road is not a problem. It’s not an issue in the slightest way. I’ve never once gone over to the wrong side, or been tempted to turn into the wrong lane, or anything. Your mind just makes the switch, and it’s surprisingly easy.

It’s also not hard to shift with my left hand. In some ways, I actually prefer it. Because I’m right-handed, my right hand has better motor control, so it does better on the steering wheel. And my left-hand has more strength, so it does better with the gear shifting.

Other than that though, the layout of the car is exactly the same. You still clutch with your left, and break and gas with your right. The layout of the gearbox is also the same, 1st gear is top left, then down to second, etc. Easy peasy.

Where I run into trouble is with the road signs. There are LOTS of them, and they don’t always make sense.  The universal sign for “don’t do something” is a red circle with a line through it – think of the No Smoking sign, right?  So if you see a sign that looks like that, but WITHOUT the red line across it, I would assume that it means that thing is allowed. Makes sense, right?  But no.  This sign, below, means “No bicycles allowed”

But THIS sign, below, means No Right Turn.

It’s so inconsistent!  It’s killing me!  Argh. Obviously I can remember the difference, but it seems like such a good example of BAD informational design.

Okay. My second story is actually funny, I promise. My driving instructor was talking about the kinds of drivers that you have to watch out for:  motorcyclists, white delivery vans, and then he said “boy racing”.  I wasn’t quite sure what he meant, so I asked. He said it was teenage boys who line up their cars on a straight stretch of road, and race down it at really high speeds.  I responded “Oh, you mean drag racing!”,  and he said “No, not boys in skirts. Just boys. Although sometimes girls do it, too”.   And there you have a perfect example of how British English and American English are not really the same language.

Have a good Wednesday!  (One week the driving test, BTW. Wish me luck!)

A Surprise in the Tube

Last night I was at the pub with some friends, and I’d had a cheeky tipple (i.e. I was drunk).

Then on my way home, stumbling through the station at Oxford Circus, I saw a poster for this:

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I tell you, it almost made me cry!  I grew up just a stone’s throw from here … I saw my very first concert here (it was the Dave Mathews Band …. and now I’ve totally dated myself).  I was totally unprepared to see it in London … I got quite emotional for a few moments! And then I continued stumbling to my train and made my way home.

Anyway, just a slice of the nostalgia that hits an ex-pat at the strangest times!

Astrid everywhere

There is a tiny park in Bruges named after Queen Astrid

There is a tiny park in Bruges named after Queen Astrid

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Queen Astrid, the queen of Belgium for whom I am named. I’ve always wanted to visit her park in Bruges, and now I’ve done it!

Just outside the Antwerp Central Station there is a square named after Queen Astrid, it's called AstridPlein.

Just outside the Antwerp Central Station there is a square named after Queen Astrid, it’s called AstridPlein.

Alex and I were totally surprised to see the Astrid Station though. Can you believe that my transit-obsessed husband didn't know that I have my own metro station?  I know it's nothing compared to Alexanderplatz in Berlitz, but it's still not shabby!

Alex and I were totally surprised to see the Astrid Station though. Can you believe that my transit-obsessed husband didn’t know that I have my own metro station? I know it’s nothing compared to Alexanderplatz in Berlitz, but it’s still not shabby!

 

Another entrance to the station.  Because we had to explore the entire thing.

Another entrance to the station. Because we had to explore the entire thing.

 

Look! I have a building, too!

Look! I have a building, too!

 

And signs pointing people in the right direction.

And signs pointing people in the right direction.

 

Or if you have really good eyesight, you can find me on the map!

Or if you have really good eyesight, you can find me on the map!

 

What other girl can say she has her very own parking garage?!?

What other girl can say she has her very own parking garage?!?

 

I'm even found in elevators.  Nice!

I’m even found in elevators. Nice!

 

But definitely the piece de resistance is the Astrid Burger. Alas, it was about 8:30 in the morning when we found it, so I did not partake, but maybe next time!

But definitely the piece de resistance is the Astrid Burger and the Astrid Deluxe. Alas, it was about 8:30 in the morning when we found it, so I did not partake, but maybe next time!