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29 March 2017 / leggypeggy

‘Oh shoot’ or ‘oh chute’—confusion and laughter

Trees, Braidwood, NSW

Braidwood has avenues of trees on both ends of town

The house I grew up in had a laundry chute. The clothes ‘travelled’ between the upstairs bathroom and the basement. The chute was big enough for clothes to be pushed down, but not big enough for us kids to throw ourselves down.

That’s probably just as well, but I remember spending way too much time playing in the huge timber cage in the basement that ‘caught’ all the dirty clothes. It was suspended from the ceiling, but was an easy climb to get into. I can see that darn latticed cage in my mind’s eye as if it was yesterday, and yet I moved out of that house when I was about 14.

laundry chute

The cage on our laundry chute was three times the size of this and had open-air lattice work

So maybe you can appreciate that my idea of a chute was something tunnel-like—a way to get from one place to another.

Years later in France, the term puzzled me. Back then, my dear friend, Maggie, and I were travelling around the world together.

This particular adventure was a drive from Brussels in Belgium to the very south of France—Argeles sur Mer to be exact. We decided to avoid the main roads and were rewarded with drives through lots of lovely villages.

We were intrigued by signs displayed on the way into and out of some villages. They said ‘Chute de Branches’, and always marked avenues that were lined with trees such as poplars.

We assumed the trees and their ‘title’ were symbolic. Perhaps they had been planted as, say, a war memorial and the signs served to commemorate them. There are similar tree-lined stretches in Australia. But I was puzzled as to why they weren’t  called ‘avenue des arbres’ or ‘avenue of trees’. Perhaps the word ‘branches’ had some special war-related meaning.

So we drove slowly through these ‘chutes’, admiring their picturesque settings, and paying our silent respects to who those died during the war.

chute de branches

Now this makes sense

It wasn’t until we got back to Brussels and consulted Jean-Michel’s French dictionary, that we realised ‘chute de branches’ has an entirely different meaning. Pictures might have been more helpful in letting us know that we should be dodging ‘falling branches’.

Gulp. And to think we didn’t rush past them. But our confusion gave everyone a very hearty laugh.

Writing this post reminded me of another confusing sign. We spent several weeks in Belgium, and Maggie got rather used to seeing the highway sign ‘Sortie’, which is French for exit. After we spent a few days driving around Flanders, Maggie caught sight of a sign and said Oh hey, I think we went there yesterday. I replied, Yes, sort of, that’s ‘Uitrit’, which is Flemish for exit.

I never got photos of any of those signs, but I’ve shared a few here that are rather more indicative of the definition. Even the ones here with wording at least show an exclamation point or some indication of danger. There’s also one in English, and it’s where we walk the dog several times a week. Haven’t been bonked on the head yet. 

chute de branches

Slightly more informative

I’ve also shared a pic of the tree-lined entrance to Braidwood in New South Wales. I believe it is a real war memorial. But I think falling branches are also a concern.

A few years back, there was some talk of chopping down all the trees as a safety precaution, but there was a public outcry. As a compromise, the speed limit was lowered from 100 to 80 miles per kilometre. So we get to drive by slowly! 🙂

Have road signs ever outfoxed or confused you?

P.S. If you are aware of Poor John’s habit of walking with his hands behind his back, you might check out how he ‘converted’ Jean-Michel’s first son to that style of walking.

P.P.S. Be sure to check out my cooking blog too. Here’s a fabulous recipe for the famous French dish called coq au vin.

falling branches

Falling branches where we walk


Leave a Comment
  1. Popping Wheelies / Mar 29 2017 12:17 am

    My grandparents’ house had a laundry chute. I though it was so cool. I later decided it WAS cool!
    The local government types of the town where we used to live decided it was not safe to have branches above the streets, so they trimmed them back into very strange shapes. But no branches fell on the street.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Mar 29 2017 12:25 am

      If I had a two-storey house I’d install a laundry chute. As you say, they are so cool!

      Luckily our local government is more tolerant of trees. Autumn is approaching and I should do a post on the canopies of autumn leaves.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Popping Wheelies / Mar 30 2017 7:02 am

        The neighboring town planted trees that would spread with the specific intention of creating canopies. I’d love to see your pictures.

        Liked by 2 people

      • leggypeggy / Mar 30 2017 7:27 am

        Coming soon. Just have to wait for more leaves to turn.


  2. Midwestern Plant Girl / Mar 29 2017 12:38 am

    Whoever chose the tree species should have known better than to plant a tree that is known to break easily 🤔
    Beautiful photos! I do love tree lined streets.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Mar 29 2017 6:56 am

      Many trees in Australia drop branches, especially eucalyptus. Some varieties are even called ‘The Widow Makers’.

      Stay tuned for some autumn photos of tree-lined streets. Canberra is known for its colourful and numerous displays, but I have to wait for more leaves to turn. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ferdinand Fielfraß / Mar 29 2017 1:14 am

    That’s why Germans mostly learn English or French, almost never both of them. For German Kids of anglophile family the french ‘Rappel’ is also funny. To us it means the cling clong sound of totally wrecked machine. Regular French car e. g.

    Liked by 4 people

    • leggypeggy / Mar 29 2017 6:57 am

      Oh that is funny.


      • mistermuse / Mar 29 2017 1:20 pm

        Speaking of Germans, I remember driving on a German autobahn many years ago and being puzzled seeing sign after sign that said AUSFAHRT. I learned later that it meant EXIT…much to my relief. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      • leggypeggy / Mar 29 2017 3:35 pm

        Oh yes, ausfahrt is one of those disarming signs. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. beetleypete / Mar 29 2017 2:19 am

    I would love to have had a laundry chute. Not much use now, in a bungalow…
    We have lots of falling branches around here, but there are no warning signs. I presume they are placed to avoid litigation against the landowner, if one falls on your head? In this area they must assume that you are walking at your own risk!
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yvonne / Mar 29 2017 4:20 am

      Hey, you could have some form of explosive propulsion device to send the laundry from various rooms to the washing machine!

      Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 29 2017 6:59 am

      About 10 years ago, we had a largish eucalyptus branch bounce off the roof of the house at the coast not long after a friend passed underneath the tree. We had that tree removed.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. elliebleu / Mar 29 2017 3:22 am

    My grandparents house had a laundry chute too. My uncles (who were only 12-16 yrs older than me) played a trick once when I was five, and called out for help. They said that they were stuck inside of the chute. The echo was so convincing I believed them and a “rescue” ensued. 🙂 You’re so right…it’s like a tunnel.

    Liked by 4 people

    • leggypeggy / Mar 29 2017 7:06 am

      That’s a great story about the trick your uncles played. Hope you can laugh about it now! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • elliebleu / Mar 29 2017 2:23 pm

        They went out of their way and even had dusty hair when they met me upstairs after my “failed attempt to rescue them.” 🙂 I hope you have a wonderful day!

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Mar 29 2017 3:28 pm

        My goodness, they did carry it to the extreme.


  6. sepultura13 / Mar 29 2017 3:47 am

    The only thing that came to mind at the title of this post was an old joke that my deceased ex-husband loved to tell:

    Q: “What’s the scientific term for an arse-hole?”

    A: “A poop-chute!”


    Liked by 2 people

  7. Yvonne / Mar 29 2017 4:22 am

    I’ve lived in 2 houses with laundry chutes. I loved them, but wished they could work in reverse to deliver clean laundry to the stories above.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Mar 29 2017 7:09 am

      That’s brilliant thinking Yvonne. My mum used to leave the folded, clean clothes (and other odds and ends) on the stairs. We weren’t allowed to go up the stairs without taking an armload of stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Curt Mekemson / Mar 29 2017 4:29 am

    Road signs often amuse me, especially when they are abbreviated. Of course you get the message, but quite often they are more humorous when you choose to interpret them more broadly, for example, Drive Carefully When Wet. 🙂 –Curt

    Liked by 4 people

    • leggypeggy / Mar 29 2017 7:10 am

      I know the signs you mean, Curt. They can be especially amusing.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Tony Payne / May 12 2020 4:24 am

      It must be safer to use a towel to dry yourself before you get in the car, or just wind the windows up if it’s raining.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Phil Huston / Mar 29 2017 5:58 am

    A very long time ago I was on a road trip with a friend and from Oklahoma to the Mexican border I kept seeing signs for “Frontage Road”.
    “What’s weird is it seems like every city has a Frontage Road. You know, like Main Street or something.”
    “Yeah they do. That’s what they call the access road that runs beside the freeway.”
    “I knew that.” Duhhhh….

    Liked by 4 people

    • leggypeggy / Mar 29 2017 7:23 am

      I seem to remember that the USA does have a lot of frontage roads. But I think of them as running alongside busy main roads and not alongside highways. It would make more sense to call the highway ones what they actually are—access roads. Less confusion for everyone. 🙂


      • Phil Huston / Mar 29 2017 11:54 pm

        Access road is, I suppose, colloquial. Because that what we called them. “Oh, X restaurant on the access road.” But the government? Frontage. It’s also a word used in commercial real estate about how much of a property “fronts” the main road. So…with that little tidbit of useless information dislodged….

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Mar 30 2017 7:26 am

        I guess my bust is my frontage! 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  10. themomfred / Mar 29 2017 6:43 am

    We had a laundry chute but it did not have an ending like yours. Instead everything fell onto the hard concrete floor of the basement. We did go down it when playing hide and seek in the house, but it was only from the first floor to the basement, for there was an opening on the first floor too. I remember once someone tried to go down from the second floor and got stuck. I do not remember how we got them out. Actually they are lucky they didn’t go far because it most likely would have done some damage if they had made it to the waiting concrete two floors below.

    I think I read somewhere that laundry chutes are now a thing of the past in the litigious United States, which is really quite a shame, for they are really handy to have on laundry day.

    Thanks for the memories, Belinda

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 2 2017 8:25 am

      You are most welcome. Thanks for sharing your memories too. Pity if laundry chutes are a thing of the past.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. toutparmoi / Mar 29 2017 8:28 am

    Your story reminded me of a long train trip in Italy. There was a cheerful bunch of English speakers in my compartment who suddenly became afraid that they would miss their station. “What was that one we just went through called?’ asked one. “Gabinetti,” replied another, who’d seen a sign.

    Liked by 4 people

    • leggypeggy / Mar 29 2017 12:18 pm

      Oh that’s hilarious, especially when you know that ‘gabinetti’ means ‘toilets’.

      Liked by 2 people

      • toutparmoi / Mar 29 2017 12:51 pm

        An easy enough mistake when you’re new in the country and hurtling along on a fast train.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Yvonne / Mar 29 2017 4:38 pm

      The first Italian phrase I learned (in 1977), was “Dov’e il gabinetto?” Nowadays they don’t use that word, darn it.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. gerard oosterman / Mar 29 2017 9:54 am

    Our chute are the stairs down which I throw unwashed linen. We take turns picking the stuff up and carry it to the laundry. It wasn’t always like that. Helvi reckons it took me many years to learn the art of ‘floor to laundry’ etiquette.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Mar 29 2017 12:22 pm

      Oh that made me laugh, Gerard. I usually give dirty clothes a basketball toss from the hall to the laundry basket. Over the years I’ve become a fairly good shot.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. BoomingOn / Mar 29 2017 10:00 am

    Well, any normal non-French person would think the same. Years ago in Italy we came across low speed limit signs with a strange looking picture on them. For days we drove around these roads at 40km in glorious summer days, trying to decipher the picture. Finally we twigged they were speeds that applied when it was icy, hence the little pic of a snowflake or something. We had those mad, impatient Italian drivers in a fury for days.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Mar 29 2017 12:24 pm

      I can imagine your puzzlement and Italian drivers’ frustration. I bet the snowflake looked much like an asterisk, which wouldn’t have been all that helpful.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. wfdec / Mar 29 2017 4:35 pm

    I love signs. There are signs that are ambiguous and signs that have beautiful grammatical errors and foreign signs like yours where the unintelligent like I am translate very incorrectly. Like the German exit sign ausfarht. Or the sign on the gate of a childrens playground in Kensington gardens in London “Adults not permitted unless accompanied by a child”

    Liked by 7 people

    • leggypeggy / Mar 29 2017 8:19 pm

      I love signs too and should do a post on some I’ve seen on my travels. The Kensington playground sign is so appropriate.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Ginger / Mar 29 2017 5:22 pm

    Hi Peggy thanks heaps for your many likes!

    Here is a link to my favourite road sign, I have been a vego most of my life so it gave me a laugh

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Mar 29 2017 8:23 pm

      Thanks Ginger. It’s a clever sign with a heartfelt message. P.S. If you’re ever looking for vegetarian recipes, about half the recipes on my cooking blog are veg-only, including this one for sweet potato cakes. I’ll be posting a breakfast recipe (with egg and quinoa) soon.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Ginger / Mar 29 2017 9:56 pm

        Any kind of baking, including cakes is most difficult with a hot plate and microwave. Later is a more recent upgrade! But thanks for the offer … I’ll use my very active imagination.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Mar 29 2017 10:31 pm

        Luckily the sweet potato cakes are cooked in a frying pan.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. derrickjknight / Mar 29 2017 8:54 pm

    Fun post, Peggy

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Nancy / Mar 30 2017 3:26 am

    Rather comical. Fun to read. Love the photos. I take pics of signs whenever I go to a doctor appointment. Some are perfectly obscure. 😎 Thanks for taking me on your tour of falling branches. The chute translation made me laugh

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 30 2017 7:24 am

      You are most welcome. Glad you enjoyed the funny side of this. You should do a post on the signs you see at doctors’ appointments. I bet there are some gems.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Lynz Real Cooking / Mar 30 2017 12:22 pm

    I need to check out your cooking blog!! Wonderful post

    Liked by 3 people

  19. eths / Mar 30 2017 4:01 pm

    A school friend had a laundry chute in her house and we used to drop things down it, one of us at the top, the other at the bottom.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. sportsattitudes / Mar 31 2017 4:19 am

    I never have lived in a laundry chute house but am intrigued at the possibilities. The perfect laundry scenario for me is a rancher style home where the washer and dryer are on the same floor as the place the clean clothes need to reside. I should probably get a Fitbit to measure alone how many times we both go up and down the steps in the name of laundry. My confusion with street signs is reserved for where they are chosen to be located. We are allowed to turn right on a red light in the wrong places and not allowed where we should be. Not a communication issue but a logic one. I guess falling branches aren’t such a concern in NSW if you’re driving slower??? 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Mar 31 2017 7:00 am

      We live in a house with the washer and clothes storage on the same floor. But we don’t have a dryer, so I get my exercise trundling wet clothes outside and hanging them out on the Hills Hoist (our iconic rotary clothesline).

      As for falling branches in NSW, I guess going slower means we have more of a chance to see the falling branch coming at us! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  21. jeanleesworld / Apr 1 2017 10:12 pm

    Oh how quirky! My grandparents had a laundry chute, too. Pretty sure it saw more Legos than clothes. 😉 Thanks for the fun word play to make my day!

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Apr 1 2017 11:25 pm

      So pleased to make you smile. Lego wasn’t around in my day, but I’m sure it would have been a missile of choice.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jeanleesworld / Apr 2 2017 11:48 pm

        Oh yes! In this house the boys don’t have access to the Legos yet (thank the Lord), so matchbox cars are the current “missile of choice,” as you put it. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Apr 3 2017 12:53 pm

        I found nerf guns were pretty harmless.


  22. lisakunk / Apr 2 2017 2:32 am

    They say you learn something new every day. Thanks. You were my instructor today. I look forward to reading more.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. TheWorryGames / Apr 2 2017 12:42 pm

    I have always wanted a laundry chute. I have been fascinated by them since I was a little girl, but have never had one. I too have also love the tree lined roads. My favorite scene from The Sound of Music was them in the trees lining the road. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Apr 3 2017 12:59 pm

      Laundry chutes are a lot of fun for kids and a convenience for grownups. And tree-lined roads are a joy for everyone.


  24. The Year I Touched My Toes / Apr 3 2017 5:04 pm

    Glad you didn’t come to any grief Peggy and went on to write about your many travel stories. Louise

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Apr 3 2017 9:29 pm

      Thanks Louise. But I guarantee that I’ll be paying more attention to signs warning of falling anything! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Maniparna Sengupta Majumder / Apr 4 2017 7:30 am

    The laundry chute sounds like great fun to kids. Enjoyed the post a lot…. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Apr 4 2017 7:48 pm

      Thanks so much. I’ve been meaning to write about this for a long time, and it was the local falling-branches sign that prompted me to do so. And yes, laundry chutes are great fun.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. America On Coffee / Apr 4 2017 2:44 pm

    Oh. how we must understand words and their meanings and blurting them out, when we’re abroad…Great share leggypeggy!

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Apr 4 2017 7:50 pm

      What a brilliant comment. We often have no idea what we’re saying abroad, and sometimes at home too. We can never be sure how someone will ‘hear’ what we say.


  27. voulaah / Apr 4 2017 5:17 pm

    Great story, thnak you so much for sharing
    I would love to have had a laundry chute
    Have a nice week

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 4 2017 7:54 pm

      Here’s an idea. Not far from us there is a house with a small slide that goes out the bedroom window and into the yard. I reckon their kids love it and I think it’s even better that a laundry chute.

      Liked by 1 person

  28. robertcday / Apr 4 2017 6:51 pm

    You have a lovely style of writing, Peggy (can I call you Peggy?) – clean, clear, entertaining, interesting and informative. I think I’ll follow you – hope you don’t mind. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 4 2017 7:57 pm

      Thank you so much for the compliment. Of course you can call me Peggy and I’d be delighted to have you follow my blog. I’m following yours too and looking forward to watching your journey to becoming a world famous author. You have a way with words. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • robertcday / Apr 4 2017 9:43 pm

        *Robert blushes and looks at his feet, then glances up again to find that Peggy is smiling at him. He smiles too. Peggy has a nice smile.*


      • leggypeggy / Apr 4 2017 10:05 pm

        Aw shucks, but I will admit that I do walk around with a smile on my face. Why not! And I get a lot of smiles in return.


  29. Green Global Trek / Apr 6 2017 7:27 pm

    Ah too funny. I remember those laundry chutes and playing with them as kids. Dropping stuff down to each other and yes, trying to fit in!

    Just saw a sign which read ” peacocks on the road. Danger” Not often one sees that…but we are in Sri Lanka after all.


    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 7 2017 9:32 am

      I like the road signs in India that remind drivers that elephants have right of way.


  30. Miriam / Apr 7 2017 8:05 am

    At least here in Oz our signs make sense. “Do not camp under trees. Falling branches may cause death”. Doesn’t get much clearer than that! Fun post Peggy, I enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 7 2017 9:34 am

      Thanks. I remember a sign on a military base in Victoria that said ‘Do not leave the road. You could step on something that would blow you up’.

      Liked by 2 people

  31. Sy S. / Apr 7 2017 1:55 pm

    I am a city slicker (all my life) and have never owned a house and with a Laundry Chute. In the old style apartment buildings in NYC we had “Dumbwaiters” (no, no not the stupid person serving food in a restaurant LOL). In the 5 story apartment building I grew up in we lived on the top floor and each apartment had a “Dumbwaiter Door.” That is, a Dumbwaiter shaft going up the building and a door in each apartment. The “Dumbwaiter” had a platform and with a mechanical rope and pulley system. Each evening (after dinner) we would wait for the superintendent to shout out for anyone to place their garbage on the “Dumpwaiter” platform and then pulled down to the basement. Now a days, there are no longer any “Dumbwaiters” as far as I know (in the older apartment building). The old shafts are now used for each apartment to have an Electrical Panel and the wiring to upgrade the electrical system. Aside, in my kitchen and under the window is small door and a box that extends outward toward the outside (of the building) which was used to keep food cooler then the interior of the apartment. And in the bathroom, there is a small expandable (fan like) clothes line device (not used). Plus for the very, very old apartments there used to be gas type fixtures in the living room for lighting the room.

    Sy S.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 8 2017 9:34 am

      Oh Sy, thanks so much for your stories about the dumbwaiters and other old-fashioned and quirky aspects of apartment buildings. When I was a child, my grandparents lived in Chicago in an apartment building with a dumbwaiter. I remember us kids riding in it. I also remember a Murphy bed.


  32. jerseydreaming / Apr 14 2017 9:39 am

    My family had a property in Braidwood. I remember those trees very well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 14 2017 10:04 pm

      As a Braidwoodian, you would know these trees well. They are still there and looking good.


  33. Catnip Blog / Apr 19 2017 2:20 pm

    Thanks for the smile today LeggyP!!! I needed that.

    Have always lived in one-story houses so you might say I’m chute-deprived. Did have a house that had a little door for the milk-man in which to put bottles of milk but by the time we lived there no one delivered milk anymore.

    Our next door neighbor has huge Eucalyptus trees growing in their yard and the branches break and fall into our yard. Maybe I’ll put up a “Shout when it Chutes” sign

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 20 2017 9:16 pm

      Delighted to give you a smile, but sorry to hear you never had a chute!
      We still get our milk delivered, but not to a little cupboard.
      Oh and some varieties of eucalyptus are called widow makers because of the way they drop their branches.


  34. vagabondurges / Apr 21 2017 3:56 am

    Chute for falling… Makes so much sense now! I love these little twists in perspective.

    The first European sign I saw (when I opened my window shade after landing at Frankfurt airport) was “Ausfahrt.” I remember pondering whether to try and be too mature to find that amusing.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Tony Payne / May 11 2020 9:33 pm

    I wouldn’t know what that sign meant either, that’s when a picture paints a thousand words isn’t it!
    France has some lovely avenues of trees, England does as well. There is a well known one in Dorset where I grew up, close to the Iron Age Hill Fort of Badbury Rings. The old Sycamore trees (similar to the Maple) line both sides of this straight road and it’s lovely to drive through at the end of the summer when the leaves start to turn golden brown.

    Liked by 1 person

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