Monday, 29 November 2010

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, But Here's a Picture of a Lovely Soap

Rose gardens are regrettably few and far between, but at least here's a rose-scented soap to help you pretend you are in one! This is by far our favourite soap; it comes in an ergonomically sound and aesthetically pleasing bottle, it smells of roses, and it's been awarded the Scandinavian eco label, the green swan.

We've got a few exciting reviews up our sleeve, but it's currently too cold to pull them out. Let us content ourselves with noting, that heeding the call of nature while out in said nature (for instance while running 16 km in the snowy Yorkshire countryside with a toilet-obsessed acquaintance), is a cold business.
 If possible, stay indoors, and remember to wash your hands!

Friday, 26 November 2010

Let's Get Medieval: King's Manor Toilet

A toilet fit for medievalists!
We have a juicy treat in store for you today; an absolutely lovely toilet in an absolutely lovely building, in an absolutely lovely town!  As is perfectly clear from the description, we are talking about the toilet in King's Manor, York.  We were actually late for Intellectual Friend's reading group the other day, because we were so absorbed in taking pictures of this beautiful bog.

That this toilet is a disability toilet is evident from the spaciousness, alarm button, easy-to-use-flush, and wall supports (oh, and the sign on the door).  It is light and spacious, clean, and really smells quite nice.

It's really very comfortable. Note the disability-friendly flush

The sink has the kind of pointless mixer tap, so common in Britain, that usually doesn't actually work. However, this one does, surprisingly, eventually produce some lukewarm water (it was a cold day, and, as in all old English buildings, the water temperature changes with the weather).

Hurrah! A lovely tap! And it's disability-friendly!

The (rather stylish) soap dispenser dispenses pleasantly fragranced soap.  Like all proper English institutions, the University of York displays signs of frantic health-and-safety awareness; there is a poster informing one of the dangers of disgusting personal habits, and the importance of washing one's hands.

Really rather stylish
Most students blatantly disregard these guidelines, turning up with the most disgusting germs oozing out of every orifice

 The bin is covered, and at a pleasant distance from the toilet-goer, and there is an air dryer and a paper towel dispenser! Moreover, there is a separate bin for paper towels.

A most holy and encouraging trinity

There is no coat hook, but one can hang one's bag from the door handle, or put it on the windowsill, where a healthy-looking pot plant and a spare toilet roll add to the pleasantness of the room.

Such charming windows!

Points: 7/15

King's Manor
Exhibition Square

Thursday, 25 November 2010

More public toilets!

A toilet-obsessed friend lent us a scanner, and we meant to finally enter the 21st century by scanning a reader’s letter from our local newspaper.  However, technical problems got in the way, and we will have to do without it!  Here follows, instead, a transcription:

A costly call
As a former York resident who returns from time to time to shop or visit family and friends, I recently discovered the new toilets in Silver Street.
While they are an improvement in some ways, and I do not object to paying some charge for this service, I feel 40p was a bit steep, considering there was no hook to hang things from inside the cubicles (standard in most loos), which meant having to put my bag on a floor which was wet.
To add insult to injury, the hot air dryer did not work properly so I ended up having to dry my hands on my scarf.

(From The Press, 24 November 2010).

Personally, we find airdryers disgusting, and habitually dry our hands on items of clothing rather than risk exposing ourselves to other people's intestinal bacteria, so the airdryers being broken does not make us want to whip out a violin and play a sad tune.  However, the lack of a coat hook is nothing short of scandalous, and will of course be investigated: expect a review shortly!

The Silver Street toilets replace the old ones in Parliament Street.
Image from York Press.

Meanwhile, more exciting news from Sweden (my, my, how those busy Swedes do network!): according to Sydsvenskan, the council in Malmö is considering expanding their stock of public toilets! 50 million kronor (roughly £ 4 million) will be spent on building bogs across the city.  What is revolutionary is that the city is planning staffed toilets.  Unmanned public toilets are a popular, relatively warm hang-out for drug addicts, and this is to be discouraged. Sydsvenskan ends with noting that heeding the call of nature in a public place is likely to end in a fine of up to 1000 kronor (about £80).
For the full article AND PICTURES, see

For information on Malmö, see

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

A Short, Gadgetty Update

We're not sure how our friends end up finding these things on the Internet, and we're not sure that we want to know.  We are equally unsure how necessary this gadget is, but it is certainly amusing:

Reykjavik Revisited: An Exercise in Calligraphy

Apparently, the public at large is simply screaming out for more pictures of Icelandic toilets!  And who are we to deny the plebs their simple pleasures?
(If you missed the first, ground-breaking look at Icelandic toilets, educate yourself here: The Privy Counsel: Icelandic Toilets: An Intellectual Update)
If we had the time (read: if our Icelandic were better), we would translate these charming exercises in calligraphy for you. However, you will have to content yourselves with our assurance that they are most amusing!

Here is a picture of one of the toilets in an Icelandic bar.  The flush, which appears to be of the easy pull-up variety, is broken, and the toilet paper is all over the place. However, the amusing inscription on the wall more than makes up for any technical failings.

Thrifty tip of the week: Instead of throwing the empty toilet roll on the floor, why not keep it and make a papier maché pig or a Christmas tree ornament?

Chortle, chortle

Snort, snort


Slapping thighs!

Here's a picture of the toilet in an underground bar in Reykjavík. We have very little to say about it, except that it looks like Hitler's bunker, and that the hand towel dispenser is open, causing us not a little alarm and distress. Hygeia says no!

Related Reading
All Icelandic Toilets

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

What Would Freud Say? Toilet Fear: More Common Than You Think

Today we return to the theme of the workplace toilet. A friend of ours in far-off, hygienically sound Sweden drew our attention to this little news titbit.  It seems that there is a wonderful phenomenon called the Toilet Barometer, which finds out all kinds of thrilling facts about people's thoughts on toilets.  Apparently, 55% of Polish people are afraid of being infected by disease when going to the toilet at work!  Either Poles are more than averagely paranoid, or we have reason to be grateful that we have never visited Poland.  The French are little better; 39% of Frenchmen are scared of their work toilets (and they have never even seen the toilet featured in our Screaming Horror Halloween Special!).  Furthermore, and this is intriguing, 19% of French workers claim to use their workplace facilities seldom or never.  Maybe they have super-strong, reinforced bladders?  Or maybe their shorter-than-the-European-average working week means that they can comfortably wait until they get home?  Swedish people, as would be expected, are the least worried about their workplace bogs; only 8% harbour paranoia in that department.

In case you're starting to feel sleepy at your desk, here's a refreshing image to wake you up!

To revisit our workplace toilet reviews, see
If you have Scandinavian leanings, read the entire Toilet Barometer article at:

Monday, 22 November 2010

Flush with Pleasure: Flush Tracker

Our recent intellectual updates received a stream of positive comments. Much as we enjoy intellectual activities, however, they can be tiring. Today, therefore, we content ourselves with something light-hearted, not to say frivolous. A friend and well-wisher sent us a link to this stimulating website:

Image from Pocketlint
How refreshing! British toilet-goers, you are in luck! If you're the competitive type, this will add a whole new dimension to your bathroom visits!

Further reading
Flush Tracker: A Revolting Activity

Sunday, 21 November 2010

The Intellectual Streak Continues: Leeds University Library Bogs, or, Yorkshire Graffitti

You lucky, lucky toilet blog readers are in for a treat today!
Rejoice, firstly, for our internet connection allows us to upload full-size pictures! 
Secondly, we have a charming series of photographs from the Leeds University Library toilets.

We begin with this delightful picture of a toilet. Note the hygienically covered toilet paper, which is of a blessedly plain white colour and texture.

Photographer's note: The water appears to be naturally yellow
 Then we have some charming graffiti. First, a riddle:

A man works on the 100th floor of a building.  Every day he takes the lift to the 50th floor and walks the rest.
 Except when it is raining, he takes it all the way to the top.  Why?
Get your heads round that one!

Then we have a simple but stylistically pleasing rhyme, followed by a serious accusation. It appears academics can't even go to the toilet without accusing each other of plagiarism!

Here I sat
& Here I shat
I can’t believe you plagiarised my work from the other cubicle, you fucking toilet!

 Finally, a light-hearted poem and a somewhat critical personal observation:
Transcription (selection):
When I poop
It looks like soup
Or otters, swimming,
In a little group

Karl Pilkington has a head like a fucking orange

Related reading: 
The Berrick Saul Building at the University of York: Finally, a British Nod in the Direction of the 21st Century

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Icelandic Toilets: An Intellectual Update

An intellectual friend of ours recently went to Iceland for a conference, and kindly recorded these images of Icelandic toilets for posterity.  It is a great pleasure to present them to you, with a full analysis.

A Reykjavik guesthouse loo
 This looks like a stylish and hygienic bathroom. Note the easy-flush button and festive decorative fish.

A mixer tap, a selection of fluffy towels, and what looks like either back-up soap, antibacterial gel or hand lotion.

A furry toilet cover! Unhygienic, but oh! so festive! Again, note the easy-flush button. The towel hangs perilously close to the toilet - Hygeia says no!

What can one say, except "WOW"! Our intellectual friend's comment: "Note the subtle '80s touch in my guesthouse's loo: sit under a disco ball AND while away the time by playing Donkey Kong on a Game & Watch!!"

Either we got drunker than we thought last night (Icelandic aquavit packs one hell of a punch!), or there are two toilets here. Maybe sociable toilet-going is on the rise! Again, note the easy-flush button, the pleasant mixer tap, and the soap-antibac gel combination.

Quite a guesthouse! Anyone planning a trip to Reykjavik who would like the details of this toilet-enhanced guesthouse is welcome to e-mail us at

Friday, 19 November 2010

It Finally Happened: World Toilet Day

It was quite a party

We thought the day would never come, but here it is: World Toilet Day!  Finally, a cause for celebration!  As we have reported previously, life has had a tendency to grimness recently (being a semi-employed academic isn't all it's cracked up to be), but finally there is a silver lining!  We stayed up until midnight last night, awaiting the arrival of this auspicious day, occasionally bursting into giggles and jumping up and down.  Happy Toilet Day, everyone!

For those of you who are not quite with it, see also:
The Privy Counsel: SPECIAL NEWS BULLETIN: World Toilet Day 19 November
The Privy Counsel: Good Deeds Galore! Oxfam Unwrapped: Build a Bog

P.S. For more reasons to smile and to give your eyes a sparkle, check out our second favourite blog:
Skimmerskuggan: Fredagstävling: Vinn Cliniderm Barrier Repair
(For Swedish speakers only. Terms and conditions may apply.)

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Good Deeds Galore! Oxfam Unwrapped: Build a Bog

Today we find an excuse to start with our favourite Bridget Jones quote:

Dread the exchange of presents with friends as, unlike with the family, there is no way of knowing who is and isn’t going to give and whether gifts should be tokens of affection or proper presents, so all becomes like hideous exchange of sealed bids.  Two years ago I bought Magda lovely Dinny Hall earrings, rendering her embarrassed and miserable because she hadn’t bought me anything.  Last year, therefore, I didn’t get her anything and she bought me an expensive bottle of Coco Chanel.  This year I bought her a big bottle of Saffron Oil with Champagne and a distressed wire soap dish, and she went into a complete grump muttering obvious lies about not having done her Christmas shopping yet.
(Bridget Jones’s Diary, Fielding 1996, 293)

It has recently come to our attention that there are worse privations in life than having to use a toilet with a cumbersome horizontal lever flush, or opening doors with your elbow to avoid touching door handles after the OCD voices in your head have made you wash your hands three times.  These privations, our sources tell us, include not having a toilet at all, or not having clean water to drink, never mind wash your hands with.  Luckily, however, there are clever people working night and day to overcome these privations, building toilets and doing good deeds left, right and centre!  And not only do these good and clever people build toilets, they can also help you reduce stress this Christmas!

If you're struggling to think of what to give loved ones for Christmas, Oxfam will sort it for you!  Buy their “Build a Bog” card (£50), and someone you love gets a lovely card and a warm fuzzy feeling inside, and a toilet-deprived person receives a toilet!  How's that for multitasking!  If your finances don't quite stretch to building a bog, the Oxfam Unwrapped gifts give you many other options, for instance “Safe Water” (£9), “Hygiene Kit” (£14),  “Rainwater Collection” (£18), and “Fix a Well” (£22). We are all guilty of buying presents just for the sake of it, thus perpetuating the guilt-fuelled cycle of giving away unwanted presents. This wastes energy and increases landfill. But with Oxfam Unwrapped, you don't generate any plastic!

Isn't it fantastic!  You can now stop worrying about Christmas presents, and instead walk around with that smug, serene feeling of having done a good deed!  So practise your Princess Diana smile, give a friend a lovely card and a warm feeling inside, and give Hygeia, the goddess of health, sanitation and hygiene, a helping hand!

Also, remember that Friday is World Toilet Day! For more information, and a luscious quote by Stephen Fry, see the Wateraid website:

Christmas is coming, but there's no need to panic!

Bridget Jones quote:
Fielding, Helen. Bridget Jones’s Diary. London: Picador, 1996.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Public Toilets, St Leonard's Place (Exhibition Square), York

 What goes up must come down.  After the dizzying heights and rarefied air of the Hotel D’Angleterre, we nosedive in to the damp, dark hole that contains the council-run public toilets in York.  These toilets are encompassed within the emblematic city walls, attract a lot of tourists, and should by rights be clean and pleasant, giving the visitor an overall positive impression of the city.   Instead, they are scary and unwholesome.
We remember these toilets, from a previous visit, as being a rather decent.  However, on our recent visit, the door was locked, and the only toilet available was what appears to have been intended as the disabled toilet.

A glimpse of the toilets through the locked door
  The first thing we notice is that there is no lock on the door.  Not an auspicious beginning.  The toilet itself is made of stainless steel, which we don't mind, being a hygienic material.  The loo roll is covered.  That's about all we have to say on a positive note.

Though we don't dare use the toilet, on account of the inexplicable lack of a lock on the door, we wash our hands vigorously, even obsessively, suspecting these facilities of harbouring, if not actually cholera, at least quite a few unpleasant microbes. 
Push the button for a few drops of cold water

There is plenty of soap, but only a miserly trickle of cold water, and the whole thing is unbearably grim.  We whip out our antibacterial wipes, and wash our hands of the whole thing.

Points: 0/15

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Dejligt in Copenhagen

Today we crave sophistication, and so turn our noses towards Copenhagen, that jewel of Scandinavian pleasantness!  We had a peek at the toilets in the Hotel D’Angleterre, at Kongens Nytorv.
This luxurious hotel offers the visitor clean and fragrant facilities. The loo roll, although not covered, is plain white.  The taps are of course mixer taps, though they don't have levers.  The soap which, as would be expected, is luxurious and smells almost ridiculously pleasant, comes from a well-filled dispenser.
There are no air dryers, but instead good paper towels and also facial serviettes, lending distinction to the washing facilities.
There is a comfortable chaise-longue for the weary toilet-goer to have a rest on, and luscious flowers in vases – truly plush!

Unfortunately it was not possible to bring you photos of these posh toilets, but to enjoy lovely photos of the Hotel D'Angleterre, visit their website (don't forget to check out the distinguished Hall of Fame!):

Sign pointing to an unrelated Copenhagen toilet

Points: 9/15

Hotel D'Angleterre
34, Kongens Nytorv
1050 Copenhagen K
Tel: +45 3312 0095
Fax. +45 3312 1118

Thursday, 11 November 2010

SPECIAL NEWS BULLETIN: World Toilet Day 19 November

Despite the mixer tap at the City Art Gallery, those dark moments have been pretty damn opaque lately.  However, it has come to our attention that Friday the 19th of November is World Toilet Day!  Can you contain your excitement?  We can.  Just.

The clever people who have invented this exciting day are Wateraid - apparently, there are people who have no toilets at all, and thus suffer more than we do, from having to use crap ones.

Here are some facts to improve your mind:
2.6 billion people do not have somewhere safe, private or hygienic to go to the toilet.
The simple act of washing hands with soap and water after going to the toilet can reduce diarrhoeal diseases by over 40%.
Anyone REALLY concerned about such matters should pop along to Oxfam Micklegate and buy one of their wonderful "unwrapped" gifts....specifically the "build a bog" one, as it is clearly the most appropriate!

Check out some more wild facts at the Wateraid website:

 It's even got a quote by Stephen Fry!  This has certainly brightened our day.


Wednesday, 10 November 2010

York City Art Gallery

Life has its dark moments, but every now and then we are afforded a glimpse of light.  We had one the other day, when visiting the York City Art Gallery café.  Not only is the café quite, quite scrumptious, offering a view of the Minster, which is quite delicious in summer, when one can sit outside in the sunshine (should there happen to be any), but the toilets are really quite decent.

The facilities are clean with white, covered loo roll.  It is of the “lots of tiny little squares” variety, which is probably good for the environment, counteracting wasteful toilet-roll usage.  The bin is not unpleasantly close, and the coat-hanger is excellent.  So far so good.

Now it gets really exciting: there is a mixer tap!  And the water is pleasantly warm!  And the soap smells nice!   
The advantages end there; there is an air dryer only, and, the building being old, there is no ventilation to speak of, leading to a certain whiffyness of atmosphere.  Also, the doors were not built with noise insulation in mind, with the result that one can hear old ladies breathing outside.  Not very pleasant. It is not possible to exit without touching multiple door handles.

Points: 8/15

Monday, 8 November 2010

St Christopher's Place, London

We regret that no picture of this toilet is available; however, here's an interesting one of a pulp mill. Believe us when we say it smells much worse than any toilet.

St Christopher's place is a relatively pleasant oasis in the middle of London, just off Oxford Street.  It boasts, apart from suit-filled restaurants and chic boutiques, some pretty good public toilets.We sought relief there one winter's day.

The toilets were clean and smelled pleasantly of disinfectant.  The toilet roll was a depressing pink colour, but at least it didn't have the texture of greaseproof paper.  The flush was of the horizontal lever variety, and averagely hard to pull.  The bin was covered, and not squashing against the thighs.
The taps were separate, but for some weird and wonderful reason, the water was pleasantly warm, not scalding, in the hot tap.  We suspected that this was due to the cold weather cooling the water in the non-insulated pipes, and we were right! Returning a couple of hours later, the water was the more traditional, scalding, temperature.  The soap was pleasant, but there were only air-dryers; not what the hygienically-minded toilet reviewer desires when in miasma-filled central London.

Points: 3/15

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Linguistic Musings (Shit-related)

We are indebted to Kenneth Cameron for these musings on place names:

[...] Similar changes are sometimes found in names which have, or are thought to have, improper meanings.  Shatterford (Wo) means “ford over the Shitter”, Shitter being a river-name meaning “stream used as sewer or privy”, the basis of which is the word shite, shit “dung”.  It is clear, therefore, that at some stage the association of the name with the word was considered improper, and the offending element was duly changed (26).

Source: Cameron, Kenneth. English Place names. London: B. T. Batsford Ltd, 1961.
Fishing in Shatterford. Image from Gofishing

Friday, 5 November 2010

More Dark, Dark Horrors: An Outwardly Reputable Employer with a Dark and Filthy Secret

Finding ourselves in an investigative and ever so slightly critical mood, we launch today into a review of another British workplace toilet (to protect the employees, we are keeping the name and location of the business a secret; suffice it to say that it is on the premises of a well-known and respected charity).

Well, at least it's clean

Starting with the toilet, it is clean.  The toilet roll is plain white.  There end our positive comments.  The flush is extremely hard to pull - should you suffer from any disability, don't bother visiting this particular toilet.  There is no bin, not even an unpleasant one.  However, that doesn't bother anyone; since the light doesn’t work, nobody can tell. For fear of frightening any small children who might be reading, we won't mention the peeling plaster on the walls.

Charities are notoriously stingy when it comes to their own staff

 There is a cold tap only, and the electric contraption that presumably provides hot water looks so dangerous that we don't dare touch it.  The soap is rather nice.

This monstrosity should hopefully join the "Monsters and Misfits" freakshow, a sideshow of the York Mystery Plays, in 2011

 We peeked into the kitchen, and noticed this fascinating excrescence.  We just couldn't help but be fascinated by its vileness.  It is called an Aquaboil, and presumably provides boiling water; a handwritten sign on its side warns the potential user, in the classical British fashion, that it provides very hot water.  We have been racking our brains and scratching our heads, trying to think of the difference between the Aquaboil and a kettle.  There is no other source of hot water in the kitchen.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

York Hospital - Getting Clinical

We are feeling a bit neurotic and clinical today; therefore we post a review of the patients' toilets at York Hospital.

The whole of the facilities is exceptionally clean and, indeed, exudes the aromatic scent of disinfectants, as one would expect.  The toilet roll is plain white, and hygienically enclosed in a holder.  The bin is rather full, but at an agreeable distance from the user.  The coat hook is absolutely splendid.  The flush is the horizontal lever variety, and is averagely awkward to pull.

 Moving on to the taps, they are mixer taps, but there is no hot water.  The soap is unscented, as is appropriate for a hospital, and contains moisturiser; a pleasant touch.  There is a motion-sensor paper-towel dispenser. An agreeable surprise! We would have liked to be able to present you with a picture of this technological marvel, but unfortunately there were rather a lot of visitors, and one doesn't like to display one's eccentricity in public.
It is not possible to exit without touching the door handle.

Total points: 9/15

York Hospital
Wiggington Road
York YO31 8HE

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

A grand treat: ASK in the York Assembly Rooms

Kind friends treated us to a delicious meal in ASK, in the York Assembly Rooms.  The venue was amazing, and the service friendly. The food and drink was scrumptious and gorgeous, respectively, but the toilets were only average, if that.

The toilet itself was clean, but the toilet seat was unpleasantly askew.  The loo roll holder was hygienically covered, but the cover served absolutely no purpose, as the toilet roll itself was on the floor.  It was, however, plain white and relatively free of pretension.  The cubicle was cramped, and the bin unpleasantly close.  The coat hook, however, was excellent.

To our delight there were mixer taps, but the water was only lukewarm.  The soap, however, had a pleasant scent.  There were only air dryers. It was not possible to exit without touching the door handle.

Total points: 3/15 

The restaurant was busy, and so were its toilets, and therefore it was unfortunately not possible for us to take more pictures (it being ever our aim not to appear unduly eccentric).  However, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the Assembly Rooms at this website:

The Grand Assembly Rooms, Blake Street, York, YO1 8QG - Tel: 01904 637254
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