Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mustn't Grumble, BUT

I usually don't complain much about life here, after all I chose it and pretty much knew what I was getting into. However, I have to say that the policy for using international driving licenses is really unfair.

It was actually my driving instructor who pointed this out to me and thought it was unfair. As a driving instructor he has taught people from all over the world and knows the system well and he brought this to my attention.

Any person with an EU driver's license, or citizens of many Commonwealth countries can swap their license for a British one, no questions asked. This policy has nothing at all to do with the driving standards in these countries. I am sure it is more of a "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" policy. Sadly, the US is not is not involved in the back scratching so Americans can't swap the driver's license for God knows what reason. It certainly isn't anything to do with the standard of driving.

For example, my instructor started teaching a Chinese student who had a valid Chinese driving license but when she came over could barely even move the vehicle because the standards to get a license in China are extremely low. She took a few lessons and then went back to China for a holiday and returned with a Hong Kong license. She swapped her Chinese license for a Hong Kong license, and then from there she was able to swap her Hong Kong license for a UK license. And this girl can barely even move her vehicle. He said there are a couple EU countries where the driving test is simply starting the car, driving down a street, stop the car, here's your license. Yet, even though the standard is so much lower, because they are EU countries its an even swap. I already took a driving test ten years ago and worked really hard to meet the standards of American driving (which aren't that different from here) and now I have to go through the whole process again while people who can hardly drive fly right through and possibly put people in danger.

I am glad that I have had to learn to drive again, the whole manual transmission concept was new to me. I just don't think its fair that people who can do nothing more than start up a vehicle and drive it in a straight line don't have to go through this process. Its dangerous, its unfair and completely arbitrary.

Alright, I will step down from my soapbox and hopefully that is the last time I need to gripe about red tape.

This Week's British TV Review:

60 Minute Makeover

This is a fun little home improvement show. Its kind of like Trading Spaces on steroids. On Trading Spaces they are given two days, and a budget. On 60 Minute Makeover, they have 60 minutes (actually, two 30 minute sessions with a tea break in the middle to let the paint dry) and they decorate 4 rooms in a house. They do all of this with a minute by minute plan for each room, an unlimited budget (with lots of freebies for product placement) and an army of helpers.

If you love home improvement shows, this is right up your alley. Its amazing to see what they can do in 60 minutes. To watch people lay carpet and paint four rooms in 30 minutes is pretty amazing and the organization it takes to pull it all together is pretty impressive as well. I even saw an episode where they tiled a bathroom.

60 Minute Makeover airs on ITV.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Camping in the Lake District

Well, its been awhile. I hope you have been reading my posts on Anglotopia. If you haven't, check them out. I reflected on some of my original posts from when I started this blog a year ago.

Jason's leave was amazing, we spent a lot of time together, did some little home improvement projects and took a wonderful camping trip. Here are some of my favorite photos from our trip.

A shot from the top of Hard Knott, you can read about our treacherous journey here

The campsite was set in a valley, with fells surrounding on all sides

Fisherground Campsite

Relaxing in front of our tent

The country roads in the area were lovely

A view in the little village of Eskdale

We had to find a creative way to keep Max cool and hydrated. He loved the spray bottle!

Our camping neighbor Josh, he was Max's best buddy, and the adorable little girl from another neighboring campsite

All cooled off and relaxing

Max gets up close and personal
Max entertains all of the children in the campsite

Setting out on our hike to Stanley Ghyll Force (waterfall)

Jason climbed all the way to the top of the waterfall for this lovely view

Dipping my toes in the water after a wonderful hike up the waterfall

The nights were very cold so we let Max cuddle in to stay warm.

The fours weeks of leave flew by, but I feel like we made the most of it. Jason left for deployment this week so I am now left with a lot of time on my hands. Luckily I am getting closer and closer to my driving test which is on the 18th of September. I only have a few more lessons and I am doing really well with my driving. I can't wait until I pass my test and I can drive about freely!

This Week's British TV Review:

Four Weddings

This show was made for me. It is a kind of spin off of Come Dine With Me, which I wrote about several weeks ago. Instead of judging dinner parties, this is a show where brides judge each other's weddings.

Four brides are chosen and they all attend one another's wedding. After each wedding the guest brides have to rate the bride on the venue, the food, the dress and the overall presentation. After all of the weddings are complete the bride with the highest marks wins a dream honeymoon.

This show is a bit of a guilty pleasure, brides can get pretty catty and I love to watch the personality clashes and I especially love to watch the envious brides nit-picking the other's weddings. They often throw some non-traditional weddings and ecentric brides into the mix with themes like Renaissance (with a roasted wild boar at the buffet table) and a snotty Russian bride with a wedding dress that looked like it belonged in the Moulin Rouge and no shame in turning her nose up at her fellow brides.

Another interesting twist is that during the premier of each new show, viewers can log onto the Living TV website and rate the weddings themselves and also chat with each other and compare notes on the weddings. Its interesting to see how the viewer's opinions often differ with the brides.

Four Weddings airs on Living TV at 9PM on Monday nights. You can check out the website here.