Tag Archives: rules

Washing dilemmas

12 Jul

A friend brought a BBC news article to my attention this morning. In it, it is reported that there has been a huge backlash on Twitter about comments that Kirstie Allsopp made about the correct placement of washing machines in house. Apparently the British have been doing in wrong all along. Kitchens are not the place for a washing machine.

I have never thought about this before but it is only Brits, who typically have their washing machine in the kitchen. In American films always show the family laundry being done in a separate room well away from the kitchen. Apart from in Uncle Buck where the eponymous hero attempts to dry the socks in the microwave because he can’t work out how to use the tumble dryer.

Washing clothes in a room where you prepare food does have some unhygienic twists to it: both as the dirty clothes are going in and the clear ones are coming out. No one ever wipes down the surfaces are dirty washing has been sitting on the counter top before loading the machine. Well, perhaps no one who has been diagnosed with OCD.

In Switzerland, washing machines and the regulations of using them is where all the upstanding virtuous that you expect of the Land of Milk and Money are effortlessly turfed out of the window. The majority of washing machines are located in the basement, especially in older buildings. Of course, it is forbidden to washing during the night and on Sundays or public holiday. This rule is strictly enforced.

In order to wash, one of three things could happen: 1) you have a designated day to wash on and it’s obligatory that you only wash on this day; 2) you have to “register” by signing on to a rota in advance, and by advance I mean that sometime people sign up for a day 6 months in advance; 3) there is no signing up so everything is a free-for-all, which is problematic when you are single living in a house full of families, who are constantly washing and you can never find a time to casually slip your clothes in. This happened to me at my last apartment. Being one day from going into the office in tracksuit bottoms is not a great place to be.


Woe betide anyone who uses the wrong day, forgets to register or is 5 minutes late taking the load out of the washing machine. I have heard reports of clean clothes thrown on the floor, washing cycles being stopped half way through and then the half-dirt, half-clean clothes thrown onto the dirty floor. I have also heard of people plotting to revenge neighbours when they have retaliated like this. I’m talking itching powder in underwear type revenge.

Luckily, I have never experienced this first hand and it seems that the machine is normally free when I need it. I just have to trundle down the stairs to get my clothes clean. Of course, I have no idea what my neighbours are putting into the machine and it does make me wince a bit when I think that other people’s dirty is circuling around and mixing it with my clothes that I am trying to get clean.

One option might be to put the machine on 90 degrees and get rid of all the bad bacteria. However, as I found out the hard way, hockey socks don’t wash well at this temperature. They are so small that I can’t get them over my shin pads anymore. Looks like they are heading for the bin. Can you imagine if I did this with all of my clothes? I am not sure if it would be a good thing or a bad thing. On the one hand, it would be an excuse for why some of my clothes are a little bit snugger than they should be. On the other hand, I will be back to contemplating the acceptability of wearing tracksuit bottoms into the office.

I am remaining adement that the next apartment is new and has it’s own washing machine. So long as it is not in the kitchen…

Driving on the wrong side of the road

4 Dec

After a four year hiatus, I have taken up driving again. I say driving but I actually meanย crawling along at a snail’s pace while wondering why the gear stick is not near my left hand and someone tells me to get on the right side of the road.

For me, driving on the right hand side of the road will always be unnatural. I learnt how to drive in England (admittedly after far too many lessons) so to me the left hand side will away be the right side of the road.

It has begun to get easier, although I have had some hairy moments. I went out for a night time drive straight after work a few weeks ago and it terrified me. The road and the surroundings look so different at night and it certainly doesn’t help when you are not familiar with the road and an exhaust examiner gets right up behind you and completely blinds you with his headlines in your rear-view mirror. In case you are wondering, yes it was a BMW driver.

The rules and regulations, like everything in Switzerland, are numerous. The signs on the road are different to home. For example, when an advisory speed limit is no longech-vorschriftssignal-ende_der_hochstgeschwindigkeit_50_generell-1-svgr valid, the number is just crossed out like the one here. It leaves me wondering what is the speed limit then? Why don’t they just have a sign with a new speed limit so it is clear what the limit is. Part of the reason must be because you are heavily fined in Switzerland if you are over the speed limit and if you are over the limit by a certain percentage, you automatically lose your license. There are no speed awareness courses or points to be put on the license here.

Also different is how you enter the motorway or the autobahn. In England, when you want to exit the slip road you can pull into the main carriageway if there are no vehicles obstructing you. In Switzerland, even if there are no vehicles in the next lane, you must wait until the solid white line separating the slip road from the main carriageway turns into a dotted line. If the police catch you doing this you have to pay an on-the-spot fine of 6o CHF. Who makes up these rules? Although I believe this is also the case in Hong Kong and, I would imagine other places around the world.

If you leave your license at home and are stopped by the police, you will have to pay a fine because you need to have all relevant documentation on you.

Today I drove to the airport and watched some of the airplanes land and then drove back home. All in all, I was a lot more confident and I am hoping that, after a few more sessions out on the road, I will be okay to drive alone and not cause a hazard to other road users. However, part of me still thinks that it was always feel like taking a bath with my wellies on. We will see….