scribbles tagged ‘toilet’

No bins in the cubicles

Sunday, June 28th, 2015 | tags: ,  |

sanitary system instrictionsIs the sanitary towel disposal system so complex that women are unable to understand what’s expected of them? I don’t think so. Are women using the sanitary towel disposal system as it should be used? No. There’s a significant deviation from the behaviours designed into the system. I know what that is because I’ve seen the angry post-it notes on the inside of the toilet cubicles, describing of the non conformities in graphic ways, with angry words. Then a less emotive sign appeared on the inside of the cubical doors. The sign instructs users how to use the sanitary disposal system, but given knowledge of the system is not the problem this sign will have minimum, if any, impact.

What’s the problem?

A woman has to remove the sanitary towel from her pants before she can pull up her pants.

To pull up her pants she has to put the sanitary towel down (in the flowery paper bag) because pant pulling up requires two hands. The two most obvious places are on the floor or the toilet roll dispenser.

After pulling up my pants I flush the toilet, this is a strong habit ingrained over half a century of using western style toilet.

I suspect this is the break point, because the floor and the toilet roll holder are not in line of sight as a reminder of the package. It’s easy to turn and leave the room without remembering to pick up the frou frou package. picking up a package to carry into the bin under the hand dryer is not part of a normal toilet behaviour. People don’t do it anywhere else, so it’s not habit and there’s no in-situ reminder.

Now there’s a sign on the door, this will work temporarily, but then they will get used to the sign and cease to notice it… I think it’s time for me to talk to the facilities manager and request bins in the cubicles. A more usable system.


No bins in the cubicles
2 votes rating 5

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too froufrou for me

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015 | tags: ,  |

Sanitary 'bags'Paper bags, Laura Ashley style print, in the women’s ‘restroom’ (UK toilet) cubicles. No bins in the cubicles.

“Serviettes” are removed and placed in these bags. For me it’s a process that leaves me feeling like lady Macbeth. Bloody handed. Not discreet at all. Especially when I have to carry the blood stained paper bag into the public wash area to reach the bin.

Not something I’ve had to do in the UK in the last 7 years living there, in shop toilets, in workplace toilets, in train station toilets, in friends homes. Nowhere.

I’m changing my sanitary protection to use try out a menstrual cup  process I used last time I lived here.  They lasted a whole day, meaning that I could remove and insert them in the comfort of my own bathroom, accompanied by a bath.

With BUBBLES! Hooray!

Not a froufrou rose in sight.

too froufrou for me
3 votes rating 5

1 wonderful musing »

vital view from the loo

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013 | tags: , , , ,  |

view from front doorview from the Wendy House toilet(Warning: ‘I love my garden’ post)

When I moved into the wendy house (2008), the garden was completely covered in low maintenance and BBQ friendly patio. Bleak. Sitting on the loo with the doors open, produced the sort of view that would induce minimalists’ premature ejaculation. A bit dull.

Now, the vital view from the loo has been cluttered with the sort of frivolity that might lure a Victorian for a brief promenade:

  • A slate slab covers the drain-lid and supports pebbles stolen from Pacific and Atlantic beaches
  • A black hare keeps an eye on approaching guests
  • Rockery shrubs and grasses provide Sampo with delicious hors d’oeuvres
  • A Rhus provides shade in summer and colour in autumn
  • Honeysuckle and wisteria cover the fence filling the garden with sweet scent and beautiful blooms.

View from sleeping quarters in the North WingEchinops and beesI love my garden, I spend a lot of time there watching the butterflies before Sampo eats them, pulling weeds and contemplating blooms. I still have patio, but the lines are broken by borders full of colourful and scented plants that change with the seasons.


vital view from the loo
3 votes rating 5

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you can’t go back. go home and start again

Monday, July 29th, 2013 | tags: , , , , , , , , , ,  |

<RANT WARNING – Apple fanboys, and people who love positivity should leave now>

Over the last 3 years I’ve been lucky(?) enough to have 3 different smart phones as my main phone:

HTC Desire, Nokia Lumia 800, iPhone5
HTC Desire, Nokia Lumia 800, iPhone 5

I’m very disappointed with the iPhone5. I want to revert to the Nokia. I was unimpressed by the Nokia but not to the extent that I wanted to give up using it within the week.

The reasons I dislike the iPhone would all be easily uncovered by usability testing with new users, so why do they STILL exist in version 5? Doesn’t Apple test it’s products with people switching from other smart phones? Maybe Apple doesn’t know because it doesn’t bother to test, maybe it knows but doesn’t think they’re worth fixing?

The problems I’m encountering are the sort of thing that should have been fixed by version 2, or for Microsoft – version 3. if the company prioritised input from users other than Apple fan boys who appear to live in a world that lacks perspective.  My 5 main problems were discovered within the first hour of using the iPhone:

  1. No ‘back’ control – you have to go to ‘home’ and then navigate forward to where you were. Android has a hardware back button and Windows has a software back button. All the browsers I’ve ever used have got a back button. You never have to ‘start again’.  Arrrghhhhhhh! It’s hellishly inefficient and irritating. It affects virtually everything I want to do on the phone unless the app provider has included either an ever-present software back button or easy in-App navigation. Apple has effectively offloaded the overhead of designing good navigation to App providers which will result in diverse navigation methods, more effort for the user to learn them. That’s not good.
  2. No service detected. OH MY GOODNESS! After putting in the SIM card, there was no service. I first assumed that I’d put the SIM card in the wrong way.  As soon as I removed the SIM the phone said ‘No SIM detected’. So the problem wasn’t with the SIM placement. I rebooted the phone. SIGH. No service. I showed the phone to a local, patient and peppy, Apple fanboy, who used his psychic Apple-fix-it skills and called my number. MAGIC. It wasn’t displaying that it could receive a signal, yet the phone rang and I was able to answer it! Bizarreness. The service signal strength was now showing on the phone. Unreliable OS messaging of hardware capabilities? That is, the hardware had detected a service but the Apple display hadn’t been updated to show this. What were the Apple test team doing when they set up tests that would let a product with this problem get released? Over the next few days I soon got into the habit of using my Windows Nokia phone (same service provider) to call my i-Phone so that the display would update to show the service signal.  HOW CRAP IS THAT?! More than a double face-palm. I tried a more traditional technique to get the signal to display – rebooting the phone. SIGH. The irritating thing about rebooting the phone to get a service signal is that I have to login to my iApple account again (see problem 3 below), and then the service signal isn’t always re-displayed.  I’ve tried shaking the phone and wandering around the office space. More out of desperation and frustration.CLEAN UP FOR GOODNESS SAKE!
  3. ALL CAPS LETTERS ONLY on the keyboard display, even when you’re typing in lower-case! Really poor visual feedback on what case to expect the keyboard to produce. I use a lot of passwords where there is a requirement for UPPER CASE letters and only a temporary view of the typed letter before it turns into a dot.  This meant that not being able to ‘see’, by looking at the keyboard,  which CASE the letter is going to be typed in was a pain. I had to look at the shift key, which has only a subtle ‘brightness’ contrast change and is covered by my finger that’s pressing it.  Lack of this feedback results in my having to be more careful entering passwords, and have to retype passwords more frequently.  My ‘new’ Apple ID had to be reset 3 times because I couldn’t work out if I’d miss-typed the ID or just tried to enter the wrong ID.  When creating the new password using “I-Forgot” – blame me why don’t you! – I got more “Passwords don’t match” messages than on any other phone I’ve used.  This is an easy OS software change, why haven’t Apple bothered to fix this obvious usability problem?
  4. Not connecting to my home wireless.  I’ve tried about 8 times. The phone can detect my wireless and offers me a password entry field.  I’ve retyped and retyped the network key but for some inexplicable reason the phone is unable to join this network and wont even hint at why. Just tells me it’s failed. At least it takes responsibility for this failure.
  5. No CAPS LOCK. Both Android and Windows have good simple software solutions for this behaviour, which I’d learnt. An Apple fan boy explained to me that I should keep one finger on shift and type the letters with a different finger.  No problem from his perspective. Another Apple fan boy told me a double-tap acts as shift-lock and that she only found out how to use her iPhone with multiple lessons from her daughter. This is only a miner discovery detail, but when added to the other issues for someone trying an iPhone after having used Android or Windows OS’s, it’s yet another poor design feature that implies lack of user-care by the OS development team.

HTC Desire, Nokia Lumia 800, iPhone5From my perspective the Apple iPhone OS behaviour is clearly less elegant with more user effort overhead than both Android and Windows. I’m surprised, I expected to love it.

Pish and Tush

<RANT TEMPORARILY ON HOLD- I suspect there will be more…>

you can’t go back. go home and start again
5 votes rating 5

5 bits of fabulous banter »

Odd Jenny’s gone off on one

Thursday, March 21st, 2013 | tags: , ,  |

Toilets!The cleaners have noticed that someone is putting cistern blocks in one of the ladies toilets.  Can we please ask you not to do this as it is not covered by COSHH regulations and may react with the cleaning materials currently used.

After her husband picks up the kids Cathy does an evening shift serving in the Tanner’s Arms, (local pub) then arrives at Heidelberg Towers, after midnight.  The office workers often drop by the Tanner’s after work. Cathy serves them their favourite tipples as she tries to work out which people have made her night cleaning shift harder than necessary. Who is:

  • The messy eater on the south corner of floor 4? Maybe it’s that lady with the over-sized handbag and threads hanging from the hem of her jacket. She even looks crumby. Doreen.
  • Always blocking the sole-trader’s toilets, flr 6? Maybe it’s that very tall blonde chap who likes his Vodka Russian, he must have a large colon.

Cathy knows many of the Heidelberg Towers office workers by name. She knows their families from their desktop photographs. They don’t know her, she’s invisible behind the bar and she’s left the Towers before they arrive in the morning. It wasn’t always like that, there was a time when Tanner’s customers would smile at her, share a story and buy her a drink.  She wouldn’t swap her 3 kids to get those leery smiles back, though she’d like to be seen again.

Cathy enjoys polishing the glass on office workers’ family photographs, it reminds her of her own very special family.  Derek is due to be released in 6 months, they’ll all be together again. Well, not that they actually get to spend much time together in-between day jobs, night jobs and school.  Cathy get’s a couple of waking hours with the kids each day, just after and just before bedtime – when they’re grumpiest.

By 7am Cathy’s shift is over, the worn carpets are clean, the toilets are sparkling and the window sills wiped.  Cathy stays for a chat with the receptionists Laurel and Hannah before hurrying home to her waking family.  Laurel and Hannah tell Cathy that ‘Odd Jenny’ (who cleans the odd-numbered floors) has complained again. Jenny’s threatening to walk out because someone’s put a cistern-cleaning block in one of the ladies toilets. Seriously!  They had to email the whole building to ask them not to do their own cleaning in-case Odd Jenny buggers off.


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kilt wickednesses

Monday, December 3rd, 2012 | tags: , , ,  |

Kilted guestsOwning a kilt is not all about a big song and dance. There are some sneaky little down sides to the experience which I suspect many a non-kilt wearer is wise to.

These are the reasons why I haven’t yet bought a woollen kilt, they:

  • are rather itchy (but I could wear thick tights or an underskirt to deal with this)
  • smell of damp wool when it’s raining (don’t wear it outside in the rain)
  • need to be dry-cleaned occasionally (that’s not too expensive and inconvenient)

The main kilt use challenge that I hadn’t anticipated is based on using the kilt with modern sanitary technology – the toilet.

Stop reading now if you have an aversion to toilet talk.

With a normal skirt a girl can simply lift the rear of the skirt and hold it up while taking a seat on the toilet – so the skirt never touches the toilet. Clean and neat. Not so with a kilt. There is so much material in the pleats that no matter where you grab it, the sides fall right back down gain. Cool! But not cool when you want to sit on  the loo without dangling it down the pan.

A kilt works for a squatting position above the pan, or squatting when there is no pan – in the wild where it was originally used.  I’ve adjusted my posture when wearing the kilt in the washrooms over the pan so that I stay standing and flick the kilt op over my back while leaning forward – this lets the wealth of material lie across my back.  This position requires more directional skill during the process than sitting down, but works to keep the kilt clean and out of the way.

you have been warned

kilt wickednesses
2 votes rating 4.5

11 bits of fabulous banter »


Saturday, September 22nd, 2012 | tags: , , , ,  |

 8am 18th August: on the Trauma ward

Healing with the NHS feels like one long ‘wait’ punctuated by the occassional specialist randomnly dropping gems of information.

I woke on the Trauma ward as a young chap with glasses and a neat short-back and sides arrived.  Ed, Mr. Powell-Smith, with his side-kick scribbling in a note-pad by bed 26. My bed. Ed explained that he was the Royal Berkshire’s expert hand and wrist surgeon,  I was scheduled for a 4pm operation but that might be delayed if someone with more urgent surgical needs arrived during the day.

The day passed way too quickly for a girl who’s terrified of surgery. It passed interestingly enough, too quickly.

The kindly lady in bed 24 was recovering from an appendix removal last night.  She wanted to use the commode (wheel chair with a toilet in it) rather that the bedpan (Cardboard bucket shoved under your bum in the bed). It’s a dignity and comfort preference.  More comfortable and dignified to sit up. For the staff its more awkward to find the commode; wheel it to the patients bed; help the patient out of bed onto the commode; wait; help the patient back into bed afterwards then empty the commode. The stout ward nurse argued with the lady in Bed 24. The nurse didn’t want to let the lady use the commode. The lady started crying, the nurse bought the commode.  Afterwards I listened to the lady in bed 24 tell me about her illness and her family. She wasn’t tearful when she was listened to. She was witty and bright.

The lady in bed 25 was a retired costume designer for Hammer films. She told me how Marlon Brandon used to phone her at home and what a naughty boy he was.  Nicolas Cage was an arrogant idiot with an unnecessarily oversized entourage! We all became lost in her wonderful stories about film stars dead and young.

The stout nurse came round. She didn’t believe that I’d seen the surgeon because there was no mention of it in my hospital notes. Can you see a theme emerging here? She started arguing with me. Again, it felt like I was being blamed, accused of lying, when hospital notes are incomplete. I stood my ground without tearing-up:

I don’t know why it isn’t in your hospital notes, but he did come round and he did talk to me. I can describe him, he’s short and young with a neat haircut and glasses. I’m on the operating schedule for 4pm.  I made a note of it in my book, would you like to check my note book?

The stout nurse looked grumpy, she didn’t want to see me notebook, she harumphed off. To the lady in bed number 27.  When the stout nurse left the lady in bed number 27 – the lady was crying. I bought the lady in bed 27 some hankies and fresh water for her jug. Not terribly helpful but it showed we all noticed and cared.

I shivered as I wondered whether the stout nurse’s talent, for making patients cry, gave her pleasure

3 votes rating 4.33

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Spongy bog: GOLD downside

Saturday, August 11th, 2012 | tags: , , , , , , , ,  |

Tryfan across the bogThe only bog I want to see from now on is white and made of porcelain (anon)

Before karmic predictability brings the awards for the mountain highs I am proud to present the gold winner of our Snowdonia hiking teams’  lowest experience:

Gold winner: spongy bog

The bog and lack of opportunites it ironically supplied for private, midgeless, ‘wild wees’ were the lowest point of our Tryfan hike.

The bog on Tryfan is high up, soon after the relief of summiting. It’s relatively flat open land on a gently curving ridge. See how pretty it looks:

It’s like walking on a sodden sponge

schhhhlllllop….. ….schhhhhlllllup…. ….sccchhhhhhhhhhllllllllop

There were times when I wanted to use both of my hands to pull my foot out from its last step. Thank goodness for waterproof, tightly tied-on boots. One walker demonstrated that his 6ft pole was easily swallowed by the bog, just a few feet away from our trail.  That depth of water could easily submerge everyone of our party. We cautiously stayed on-trail, behind our guide. Hmmmm….   …..nice firm looking bottom ahead…..

All this water and nowhere to pee in privacy, not a pert little boulder or little rise to sneak behind. The sound of schlurping water taunted our middle-aged bladders. 10 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour on the bog….  it just goes on and on and on….

The bog broke our spirits as surely as chinese water torture.

This experience achieved ‘3 Frowns’  🙁  🙁  🙁  on the Wendy House rating scale –  Ratings explained

Spongy bog: GOLD downside
2 votes rating 2

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living in a Klimt

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012 | tags: , , ,  |

alternative title:  upping the sparkle quotient (part 2)

The hallway is a little darker in gold than the original yellow. I find the extra contrast and toffee-shades pleasing:

Hallaway before painting hallway kitchen door

The bathroom is also a little darker in the gold than the original white and ‘plaster au naturelle’. Here you can see a little of the sparkle in natural light:

Bathroom paint peeled-off Bathrrom after painting

The gold and toffee shades seem to change with very subtle changes in the lighting. The walls seem to emanate warm emotions with thier photograph-eluding sparkliness. They make me feel like I’m living in a Gustav Klimt composition.  A very pleasing place to be:

Hallway after painting

living in a Klimt
2 votes rating 3.5

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bog standard

Friday, December 9th, 2011 | tags: ,  |

Keys.  Back pocket.  powerful flush.  shhhplinkThere’s an organisation, campaign, called “Bog Standard” that’s promoting better toilets for school pupils. It provides ‘School Toilet” awards. Now there’s a thing! Imagine the bog inspectors coming around to your home…

Accorrding to the UK phrase dictionary ‘Bog standard’ means  “Basic unrefined“.  It’s use was first recorded in the 1960’s by computing and engineering people. There are lots of different and entertaining theories about its origins but no-one seems to know for sure. I learned the phrase as a kiddie and made my own assumptions about it’s origin:

Bogs (toilets) are all very similar – white, s-bend, height, cysterms, raisable seat, raisable lid.  Bogs are boringly similar.  Why not have different colours, different shaped bowls, different cysterns.  So, to me bog standard meant dull, common, functional and uninspiring as a bog

bog standard
1 vote rating 2

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Tuesday, August 30th, 2011 | tags: , , ,  |

Someone said ennui in a real conversation

  • as-if it might be a real word
  • as-if I might know what it means!

what a tease!

It sounded like “ahn-wee, setting-off my sensitively calibrated toilet-word-radar alarm. Wee?!

Sandwiches, Scones, Clotted cream and cakesGiggling ensued, then I checked the spelling and looked up the meaning

This was not a tease. This was a real word and the utterer had used it in a sentence that made total sense

A celebratory tea party is in order

Bring on the cakes!

PS 82 word post before the PS
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Wednesday, July 27th, 2011 | tags: , , ,  |

In the 1940s mumsie’s family moved into a 3 bedroomed rented red-brick terrace house

Three of the children shared one room, one bed. They slept sideways across the double-bed.  The only married son, a Naval rating, lived with his wife in the 3rd bedroom. The first time my aunt had lived somewhere other than an orphanage, sleeping in a dormatory

The 1890’s house had a luxury modern convenience, a flushing toilet in a brick outbuilding. One of mum’s jobs was to tear the Sunday newspaper into squares, thread the squares onto  string and hang them in the outhouse. Newsprint rubbed off on her hands. The damp air in the outhouse made the paper soggy

Even in this household of 7, there was never a queue to use the one toilet. Every bedroom contained porcelain chamber pots. Mumsie calls a chamber pot a ‘po’. You could do your business in the bedroom, leave the po under the bed then carry it to the toilet to be emptied. Mum and Dad agreed that it was important that no-one saw you carrying the Po to be emptied

Even though toilets were designed to be sat on and peed into, it sounds as if,  that’s not how they were first commonly used. I remember in the 1980’s that my grandparents kept chamber pots, a commode in their bedroom

1 vote rating 2

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crapper quality criteria

Monday, July 25th, 2011 | tags: , , ,  |

shorty by the doorWe’ve already established that I have a healthy interest in the design, reference to, and use of Toilets.

So you can imagine my excitement when  Ms. Scarlet recently introduced a series of blog posts called the “Friday Flush. Scarlet will be the ‘mystery shopper’ in loos all over the South West and beyond. Excellent! As part of this  investigative journalism Scarlet has invited commenters to suggest assessment criteria for the loos being investigated.  I was having so much fun with thinking of criteria I think I’ve probably gone a little over the top, what do you think?

Aroma intensity (none <-> faint-inducing)
Aroma type (pleasant <-> acrid)
Discoverability (hidden with no signs – entrance embarressingly visible)
Drafts (Gale force 9 <-> still)
Drying technology (bring your own  <-> fresh fluffy towels provided)
Functionality (incomplete <-> swish)
Mould factor (none <-> suspicious stuff growing all over the show)
Price (free <-> entry turn style requires exact cash)
Privacy (airtight and sound-proofed  <-> ankles and feet exposed and splashes clearly audible)
Resources (bring your own <->plush)
Space ( breath in <-> synchronised wheel-chair choreography is a realistic possibility)
Sociability (one at a time please <-> sofa’s and social games provided)
Sparkle (matt <-> bum-fluff refelction)
Splash factor (dry <-> soaked)
Style (dead rat <-> yummy)
Temperature (Ice on the water <-> Oven)
Washing (taps/fawcetts  dont work <-> they even have a b-day!)
Wit (no smiles <-> laughed my pants-off)

crapper quality criteria
1 vote rating 1

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green doors

Saturday, June 18th, 2011 | tags: , , , , ,  |

The toilets in the Fine Art department of Reading University are proudly green and probably original features of the one-storey utilitarian style brick building (circa 1930). The subtle differences in styling such as the 3 vertical panels on the womens’ door imply it may be newer (circa 1950) than the more utilitarian design of the mens’.

womenThe addition of a paper sign to the womens’ door is a modern addition, an attempt to change behaviour using strong language “Important, Under no circumstances should…” clear identification  of the people who should attend to this notice “...fine arts students…” and their unacceptable behaviour “…clean their brushes in these toilets

EWE!  I always use the sink to clean my brushes – easier and less whiffy.

green door

green doors
1 vote rating 2

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thumbs away

Monday, June 6th, 2011 | tags: , , , , ,  |

First Great Western train commuteRiding the 6.45pm First Great Western fast commuter train, peak time, from London Paddington to some exotic location in the west. Standing room only, though some people are sat on the floor in the isles. I choose a place where fresh air can shift the almost rank stench of warm and stale sweat.

I lean against the toilet door.

Surrounded by besuited men with unimaginative ties and gently bulging stomachs. They all wear identically styled black leather shoes that are only differentiated by the size and degree of wear. I run my gaze up their bodies, risking eye-contact. No, not risking eye-contact because they are all immersed in their phones, silently thumbing their importance to others.

No fear of eye-contact, even though I’m the only woman present and dressed in bright-blue with flat shoes conforming to neither girliness, motherliness, nor business attire. I am invisible.

The new factory workers are crammed onto this train like chickens in a battery coup. I thank an undefined diety or two that I am not, and may never be, a conformist – no matter how painful noncomformity can be.

thumbs away
1 vote rating 3

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cistern valve spigots

Thursday, April 7th, 2011 | tags: , , , , , , , ,  |

The Wendy House toilet has a high wall-mounted cistern. Fabulous water pressure flushes the toilet with a gravity induced whoooooosh.

Piping to toilet cisternBut the cistern has always filled slowly with a noisy trickle of water. The whole arrangement is reminiscent of Victorian school washrooms. While waiting 15 minutes for the cistern to fill is not a problem when I am alone, for guests  it introduces a timing problem at peak use times.

With an imminent Wendy House party, home improvements are on the menu. Replacing the limescale clogged cistern valve. Yay. No problem. Or so I thought. A quick trip to the DIY shop where the sales assistant didn’t even know what a valve that controls the waterflow into the tank above the toilet was. Sigh. I picked the valve that looked most like the one already installed and toddled off home. So far so good. I switched off the water supply to the house then climbed on a tall bar stool to reach the cistern, remove the lid and start trying to unscrew the current valve.

Things started going wrong. A bit of the old valve broke off in my hand. A close inspection of the instructions for the new valve revealed that despite diagrams I could now work out what this meant

fit ballvalve using backnut(s) provided and ensure that the spigot(s) are used to centralise the tail of the hose

The backnut, spigots, tail nor hose were labelled in any of the 4 diagrams. Quickly I resoted to visual matching, make the new one look like the old one currently looks (without the limescale or broken bit). Then I realised that I would probably have to take part of the wall away to access the pipes.

The doorbell rang

Hello I’m Rob White and I’m canvassing for the Green party in May’s election. Can I ask you if you know whether you are going to vote in the election


I can ask you, you know if you’re going to vote, or you are going to vote?

errr…, I am going to vote

Are you going to vote for the Green party?

Valve in hand, I look at the two young perky faced boys on my doorstep

Have either of you ever changed a cistern valve?

Oh no, that’s very complicated, I’d call a plumber, you’re a brave person

They start backing away slowly as if I’m holding a loaded weapon. I’ve replaced cistern valves before. Normally its a couple of minutes, an easy job. Their lack of willingness and skill is a tad disappointing. I reassure them about my vote and non-violent intentions then call Kevin.

Wonderful Kevin sorts out my cistern with Canadian calm

Cistern refill time has sucessfully been upgraded from a 15 minute trickle to a 30 second flow. Result! Almost grounds for a proposal.

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antique communication devices

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011 | tags: , , , ,  |

Why I love England #16:  red telephone boxes

Red antique English telephone boxesJust around the corner from the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden is this fabulous row of antique communication devices. Many people 20 and under will never ever have used these. Why would they need to? They carry their own phones with them. In the 80’s a row of phone boxes like this in a city centre would have a person in each box talking and maybe one or two people outside, checking the change in their purses, waiting for their turn to make a private call.

According to this history, in the 1980’s most homes didn’t have landline phones.

In 1987, the post office, who deployed and maintained them, systematically replaced these red boxes with a more modern design with more glass and open to the air that reduced the likelihood of the box being used as a urinal, or the subsequent pungent smell. Pew! I remember the smell!  Some villages protested against the replacement and managed to hold-on to this much loved older design. But sadly, most red boxes were removed.

I guess they are still useful to a few people for actually hosting a landline call, they are also useful for keeping warm, dry and quiet for making a mobile phone call. It’s wonderful that the local council, as many councils in tourist areas, have decided to leave them here and maintain them in such good condition. For the tourists, and people like me who can be heard bubbling


antique communication devices
1 vote rating 4

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no hangers for cloaks

Friday, October 22nd, 2010 | tags: , , , ,  |

Toilets!In these cloak rooms

My secondary school used to have a cloak room, rows of hooks for coats, jackets and gym bags. No cloaks. But if we wore cloaks we would have been able to hang them there. Unlike the cloak room signed here. In these cloakrooms  there is a sink, toilet, towell and one of those plastic-bag lined bins.

A TOILET! I’m gradualy getting acclimated to the UK where toilet is not a naughty word. Love it!

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Jiggling and Jilted

Monday, February 2nd, 2009 | tags: , , , ,  |

In 1978 I was witnessing the dramatic emotional rollercoasters and soap operas stories of my friends while they discovered ‘going out’ with each other. Fascinating. Tearful toilet consultations, betrayals in the school playground, ambushing at the school gates, but worst of all for me – underwear became important. One girlfriend took me aside to provide worldly advice on behalf of my concerned girlfriends. The advice was:

Wendy, you really should wear a bra, they look a disaster

At home I asked mum ˜can I have a bra?, ˜yes dear, if you want. Gosh that was easy. We went to the local M&S   where they measured the relevant pasts of my body and I tried on several   ˜training” bras. Training because evidently I needed to practice bra wearing skills. Even the smallest training bra was less that half empty on me. It seemed silly, mum and I persisted in this pubescently significant purchase, neither of us overtly questioning the need. I wore the elasticated mini-monstrosity to school. At school the straps were twanged by all sundry as we moved between classes. I didn’t wear it again. Disaster was a less painful experience than strap-twang-burns Ever since then I have regularly failed carefully provided training-to-be-female exercises.

Jilted John sang Jilted John the side was going steady (with Susan)

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diagnosis: foreign object

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009 | tags: , ,  |

foreign objectsJust how do you diagnose something as a foreign object without the aide of well-labeled packaging?

words used include:

  • bin
  • toilet (3 times)
  • Please (3 times)
  • Thank You
  • ‘foreign objects’
  • ‘Sanitary towels’

Arranged in what look like sentences including full-stops do help to make this sign wonderfully British.

I attempted to comply but it is possible that a foreign foodstuff did make a sort-of appearance. I’m hoping no-one checks¦

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water sensitive firealarm

Monday, January 19th, 2009 | tags: ,  |

steam activated fire-alarmLet’s get this absolutely clear; steam generated by a bath in one room can set-off a fire-alarm in another room.

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take 5 mins

Saturday, January 17th, 2009 | tags: , , ,  |

After a prolonged bout of worky-worky-worky

Wendy: would people like a restroom break?

Person-1: Did you ACTUALY say RESTROOM break? (Face expresses what looks like incredulity)

Wendy:, I lived in the US for 8 years and it still hasn’t quite worn of

Person-2: you’ve lost a lot of your American accent

I am still labouring under the potential misapprehension that I have never had an American accent. It’s clear that I picked up a lot of US words.   I like them,  their meaning appears understood locally  if experienced as out of place with my reputedly cute accent.

Unfortunately, even on the rare occasions that I say You rock, that was super-awesome   (UK meaning: ‘thank you that was jolly good’) I exude an air of trouble-with-sincerity to the locals that can induce both  grimacing or giggling depending on the disposition of the listeners

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Friday, August 8th, 2008 | tags: , , ,  |

wandering through an empty mall, alone,    wearing fitted  jeans and t-shirt, I stopped at the information centre for some vital information:

Wendy:   Excuse me,   can you tell me where the restrooms are?   (Soprano voice)

I still haven’t sufficiently re-adjusted to England to actually  say the word ‘toilet’ out loud in a public place without sniggering.

Mall Information lady (MIL):   Toilets?

Wendy:   Yes (smiles, manages not to giggle)

MIL:   Womens? (no hint of a smile,   a stern facial expression)

Wendy:                                       …..Yes?…     (stops smiling and listens to the directions from the seemingly grumpy looking MIL)

The Ladies toilets were next to the mens toilets.    The directions to find either of them were the same.   Why do you think the MIL wanted  to establish with me  whether I was asking for womens or mens toilets?  

My outline form when dressed in saif Jeans and a t-shirt (flickr photoshare)

My outline form in said Jeans and a t-shirt (flickr photoshare)

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view from a toilet

Friday, August 1st, 2008 | tags: , , , ,  |

Garden designer guest:   it’s not many people that can look straight into their garden when sitting on their toilet

I will have to put something in the line of view to make it a tad more pleasurable than just patio and fence.   As I’m sure you can imagine,   I’ve been  contemplating the garden rather a lot  recently…

According to the principles of Feng Shui,   I should change the layout of the bathroom,  keep this door closed,  change the colour scheme from blue and white to red and red then add  a few candles or my career will flow into the sewers.   Alas,   I’m way too busy building my career and going on holiday  to bother with arranging and paying for  builders to rebuild  my bathroom in a Feng Shui approvable layout and colour scheme.   Pleasing plants in line of view will have to suffice.

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caught short?

Monday, May 19th, 2008 | tags: , , , ,  |

Not ‘are you apprehended by the police for the ghastly crime of insufficient height’ but another clever  euphemism for wanting to go to the toilet.   The city of Westminster has signs to help you out with clever stick-people designs to illustrate the problem for those people who don’t understand the idiom ‘caught short’.     My favourite part of the sign is the invitation to text toilet,   for a toilet.    Hoorah,   no euphemisims there just send a text saying what you need,   effectively the bottom-line…

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big doors

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008 | tags: ,  |

Here in the NW US the doorways are big,   just BIG.

It’s as if builders are planning for obescity on a large scale.   The door to the (toilet) restroom in my temporary accommodation is about twice the width of any doors in the new old  wendy house.   I have to stand in awe for a moment before I pass through them….

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Saturday, November 17th, 2007 | tags: ,  |

Unsuitable for sensitive people

I hurridly put my keys (car, both  house, mailbox) in my back pocket when I came in.   I don’t normally keep them there,   too uncomfortable to sit on I was in a hurry to use the  0.5 bathroom.    After relief I flushed, pulled-up my trousers, and heard


I turned to catch a brief horrorful glimpse of  my keys sitting in the bowl before they dashed around this bend swiftly followed by my hand.   Never to be seen again.   Panic followed by thankfulness for my  spare sets.   Must get another spare set quickly because this is the sort of accident that gravitates towards me at times when I need more composure than normal.

The  symbolism of losing my house and car keys this way could be a tad disconcerting if I was supersticious,   which I’m not.  

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rotating tap

Friday, October 26th, 2007 | tags: , ,  |

If you asked an English publican,   in England,    what their ‘rotating tap’ was they would likely look at you quizzically as they explain that it is the thing in the toilets that you turn to get water  for hand-washing after having completed the necessaries.  In the UK tap is a common referent for  a fawcett.    

A  disconcerting reply to an unsuspecting US person who tries to avoid using vulgar terms like  TOILET when the words Bathroom or restroom are more acceptable referents for a room with a toilet in it.   Draft beers are described as being ‘on tap’ so after the initial surpirse the move to understanding your actual meaning will not be hard.  

By contrast,   if you go into a NW US bar and ask what are their guest beers they give you a quizzical look and after some basic clarification they will tell you that what you actually mean is what is their rotating tap.   Doh!

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feminine trash

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007 | tags: , ,  |

it’s just not clear if this sign is labelling products for or products by ‘feminine’s as trash.   Maybe it’s a deliberate ambiguity and the reference covers both!   Hooray!   My only remaining confusion is why such a powerful,   useful,   sign is hidden in  a toilet rest room cubicle

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Re-Englification #1: replace restrooms

Friday, March 9th, 2007 | tags: , ,  |

replace the US euphemism restrooms with  a word the English  bastardized from the lyrical  toilette.   Knowledge of this word and its proper use in England is essential if you are caught short after a couple of excellent sized real Ales,   as indeed I may well have been when I took this photograph:

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