Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Gettin' Vengeful with Gandhi

Dear blog readers,

Having survived our Lake District trip and brought you pictures of the best toilet in England (know a better one? E-mail us at!), we embark on our next adventure, which will take us away from the damp, plumbing-challenged British isles for some considerable time. Internet access may be patchy, but don't despair - we anticipate feeling the effects of Gandhi's Revenge, also known as the Delhi Belly, to a not inconsiderable extent, and look forward to bringing you updates on this subject. Also, we are sure to come across some amusing and bizarre toilets to post pictures of.

In the meantime, check your pipes regularly!

Café Treff, Ambleside: The Best Toilet in England!

 Café Treff is a gem of a café, situated in the centre of Ambleside. We have long regarded the toilet here as the best in the country.

We have been coming to the Lake District for years but, not being enthusiastic to the point of hysteria about trudging up hills in hail storms, pouring rain, blizzards and various other unpleasant phenomena caused by the weather gods' tantrums, we tend to end up enjoying the friendly atmosphere of this very cosy establishment instead.

The cheesy vaseline effect on the camera lens is actually caused by cold, wet weather

According to the website, the pleasant, light interior, rich in natural wood, is explained by the owners' wish to recreate the feel of an Austrian café. This is a welcome sight in a country populated almost exclusively by people suffering from a pathological inability to abstain from ruining perfectly good wood by applying a variety of ghastly stains and paints.

The toilet, like the rest of the café, is light and airy. The tiles are white and extremely clean, as indeed are the toilet and the sink.

So clean! And look - oh! joy of joys! - a mixer tap!
A laudable eco-consciousness governs the fittings: a motion sensor turns the lights on as you enter; the excellent mixer tap has a water-saving airstream, still rare in Britain; the paper towels are strong, which fact, combined with a clever dispenser, reduces the need or indeed ability to use too many; and the bin bears a notice saying the contents are recycled. All highly commendable!

An excellent paper-towel dispenser

Nappy users go home!

The soap is pleasantly scented and comes from a Katrin dispenser, like the toilet paper (which is plain white). Most Katrin products have been awarded the Green Swan eco label.

A totally gratuitous picture - pure titillation!

More gratuitousness. The design of this tap is somehow reminiscent of Battlestar Galactica!

Unfortunately there is no coat-hook, but on the other hand the door opens outwards, which means that it is easy to open without touching!

Points: 9/15

Cafe Treff
Central Buildings
LA22 9BS
Telephone 01539 431027

Related Reading
Advent Adventures: A Revolutionary New Look at the Best Toilet in England
If You Like Sheep and Beer: Why Not Go to the Lake District on Your Next Holiday?

Saturday, 8 January 2011

A Message from Your Privy Counsellor

Dear fellow toilet-obsessives,

The blog will be silent for a little while as we're going away, first on a small adventure, then on quite a big adventure that will take us to a land far, far away. However, fear not! We employ ceaseless toilet-related vigilance, and our efforts to bring you moderately amusing toilet information will continue to be unrelenting. What's more, our first adventure will take us to what we remember as the best toilet in England, and our second adventure likewise promises to provide a few bog-related eye-openers!

In the meantime, here's a quote from Absolutely Fabulous to keep you amused:

Eddie: Why do you have to pick on everything I do? Darling, all I want is a few little things, a few little pleasures, a few little crutches to help me get through life, darling.

Saffy: Get through? Mum, you've absolved yourself of responsibility. You live from self-induced crisis to self-induced crisis. Someone does your hair, someone chooses what you wear, someone does your brain, someone tells you what to eat, and, three times a week, someone sticks a hose up your bum and flushes it all out of you.

It's called colonic irrigation, darling. It's not to be sniffed at.

Saffy: Why can't you just go to the toilet like normal people?

Eddie: Is that what you really want me to be, darling? Normal? Some boring, old, normal, old toilet-goer, huh? Hmm? "Where's mummy?" "She's on the toilet." "But I want to go somewhere interesting and meet exciting people." "Well, she can't take you because she's on the bloody toilet." Well, anybody can go to the toilet, darling, these days.

Saffy: Well, they obviously haven't seen you drunk.

(From series 1, Episode 1, Fashion. Written by Jennifer Saunders.)

Friday, 7 January 2011

A Touch of OCD: NHS toilets

 Oh, the NHS! Love 'em or hate 'em, at least they've got super clean toilets! (If you missed our review of the patients' toilets at York hospital, you can read it here.) There's nothing quite like that obsessive-compulsive scent of disinfectants that you encounter in NHS loos. We visited our local GP surgery recently, and thought we'd share our experience.

Cleanliness-wise, we've got no complaints, and discovering that the toilet has a water-saver flush puts a gilt edge on this toilet encounter!

This made our day

However, and this seems to be a theme all of a sudden, there is no toilet-roll holder! There are toilet rolls lying loose on top of the heater, which is not only unhygienic, but also a fire hazard.
The bin (not pictured) is hygienically covered, and pleasantly distanced from the user. The coat-hook is sturdy, as befits a public healthcare coat-hook.

The taps are, predictably, separated, unlike the ones shown in the NHS promotional video for handwashing. However, to make the experience an enjoyable one, there is antibacterial gel as well as soap, and a helpful poster reminding one how to wash one's hands most efficiently. The experience is nicely rounded off with pleasant paper towels, as per NHS guidelines.

It's important to reach into every crevice.
All present and correct

A titillating close-up of the soap and anti-bac gel

Points: 7/15

Royal Oak: We Revisit a Dear Old Pub with New Toilets

We have fond memories of the Royal Oak as a well-meaning but somewhat dirty old pub, and were accordingly excited when we heard that it was being refurbished, and having new toilets installed!
The pub itself looks pretty bloody fabulous, the staff are friendly, and the drinks tasty. All well and good. Considering the fabulousness of the pub, we were expecting great things of the toilets, but alas, we were disappointed.

The toilets look and smell very fancy, thanks to the über-stylish tiles and posh scent sticks. We almost leapt for joy (or maybe it was nerves, from nearly being caught taking pictures in a toilet like a common perv) when we noticed the water-saver flush, but raged impotently when we realised there is no toilet-roll holder, with the result that the toilet rolls are lying loose on top of the toilet (bad), on top of the bin (worse), or on the floor (fully-fledged horror)! The bin is covered and at a not unpleasant distance from the user, and the coat-hook is perfectly adequate.

Hygeia says no and stomps her foot!
Here's what happens when there's
no toilet-roll holder

Has a certain je-ne-sais-quois, or rather,
we know exactly what it is: an octopus!

We expected great things from the sinks, only to be bludgeoned by the baseball bat of disappointment. Why, when installing new sinks and taps, do Brits install separated ones? Why?
The soap is fine, but nothing extraordinary.

Why do British people do this?

There is nothing to dry one's hands with, except this air-dryer, which an informant tells us doesn't work. It's not possible to exit without touching the door handle.

Points: 5/15 (This saddens us. It could have been so much better!)

The Royal Oak
York, YO1 7LG

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

More Polish Plumbing: Pierogarnia Stary Toruń

Our groundbreaking research into Eastern European (well, Polish, anyway) toilets continues! Today we take a look at the toilets in an establishment called Pierogarnia Stary Toruń. Intellectual Friend says:

Apart from serving an impressive range of pierogi dishes (those traditional dough dumplings stuffed with pretty much anything one can dream of), best of which are those stuffed with mountain ewe cheese, oven baked and served with cranberry sauce (by an alluring Polish beauty of course), and sporting interesting wooden furniture and decoration among which barrels and buckets are prominent, this surprisingly pleasant establishment also boasts a legendary bog!

We take our hats off to Intellectual Friend for his daring and dedication in taking these pictures. 

 Firstly, we've got the toilet itself - note the cleanness, the covered bin and the water-saver flush! Hygeia isn't sure about wooden toilet seats, but we bet it's kept extremely clean, and that germs are discouraged from breeding in between the cracks and ridges of the wood. She's also generally prone to excessive frowning and tutting when she sees toilet rolls lying loose, but these ones appear to be fairly guarded from any germs being spread around with the water spray generated when flushing.

Yes, it's possible to worry
about absolutely everything
Intellectual Friend: However you rotate this
picture it's still patent that I had to climb up the wall
to take it (and get the feet marks and all).
You do have to be a long-legged giant
to reach those footprints while seated by the way.

We like this attractive frosting pattern on the window. Functional and aesthetically pleasing at the same time!

Intellectual Friend: The book's title translates as "The Little Mole and the Little Hares' Mum" (you'll of course have noticed the Indo-European diminutive ending "-k-"!)
The Privy Counsellor: Naturally. "There's the Indo-European diminutive ending '-k-'", we said to ourselves.

A mangle. We're assuming its purpose is to be decorative and interesting, and hope it fills no more sinister function.

Intellectual Friend: Although it says "Chevalier Brand", below it also does say "DRAGON BRAND CLOTHES WRINGERS - BEST IN THE WORLD - Warranted 5 years for family use"!

The very rustic sink is equipped with a mixer tap and a presumably well-filled soap dispenser.

Intellectual Friend: Note there's a hook (not necessarily sturdy though) on the toilet door
This attractive birdhouse apparently houses an air-dryer. Hygeia shudders, and not just because of the unhygienic aspects.


Pierogarnia Stary Toruń (“Old Torun Dumpling Factory”)
Most Pauliński 2
Toruń, Poland
+48 56 621 10 46

Intellectual Friend: Open daily from 11.03 to 22.56 sharp!

Monday, 3 January 2011

Further Adventures of Intellectual Friend: Polish Plumbing

Intellectual Friend has been travelling again! This time to Poland! (If you missed Intellectual Friend's excursion to Iceland, you can read about it here and here.)

Our first picture is of a toilet in the bar Jadwiga, in the town of Toruń, at 2 a.m. on Christmas Eve. It looks reasonably clean for such a time on such a day, but if you look closely (which we have, of course, done), the toilet brush is pretty grotty, and there seems to be stubborn dirt encrusted on the toilet roll holder and on the underside of the toilet seat.

There is an air-dryer, rendering Hygeia sneering and haughty, BUT there is also a paper-towel dispenser, albeit empty.

Here is our next stop on our Polish adventure: the pub Togun.  Looks pretty picturesque, doesn't it?

Let's look at what Intellectual Friend has to say about this eminent pub:

Togun, one of the pubs that nestle in what used to be cellars under the old buildings (medieval to 17th century). Togun used to have much wood panelling with weird things sculpted or carved, including fake manuscript pages written in pseudo-Latin, and runes too; there were runes even on the doors to the toilet (text probably fake as well, I think, but the runes seemed true, in Younger Futhark style, and I think I have a transcript somewhere). Also there was a huge dragon creeping on the ceiling. Unfortunately there was a change of management recently and they did away with such intellectual curiosities, and replaced the wooden furniture with those blue armchairs which are as deliciously comfy as they are horribly jarring. However, they left the massive doors be.

The narrative continues:

As one looks at the two toilet doors, it is unclear whether ladies/gents segregation is intended. Customers seem not to bother. I usually go to the slightly larger one, partly in order to enjoy some more room, but it was occupied and I ventured into the other one, on the left.
Note the PEEPHOLE under the brass lion head! It is old and visibility is poor, making it uncertain which peeping direction was meant; nevertheless, and no doubt for some unconscious bastard-male-chauvinistic reason, I always assumed it must have been designed for peeping into the toilet from the outside, as a means of innocent entertainment offered to the predominantly male clientele, and I therefore always inferred it was the ladies' toilet

Ladies' toilet (?) with peephole
Brave the peephole-enriched toilet, and you will discover a delightfully cross-gender-friendly arrangement: a toilet and a pissoir! Intellectual Friend ponders the possibility of sociable toilet-going being intended (if you remember, the same theory was broached to explain a similar arrangement in Reykjavík).

At the risk of being crude, we wonder if this might be
an opportunity to multi-task?

There's a mixer tap, which Hygeia approves of, but we can't spot any soap,
which makes her very pissed off indeed

The door from the inside
Ladies and gents, there's more Polish Plumbing coming in our next update!

If you'd like instructions on how to get to Toruń, or the transcript of those fake runes, don't hesitate to e-mail us on

Rynek Staromiejski 1
87-100 Toruń
+48 56 621 02 17 ‎

Żeglarska 24
87-100 Toruń
+48 56 621 02 89    

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Morrisons York: Aw, for f...

Our general advice when it comes to supermarket toilets is "Avoid! Avoid! Avoid!". They are inevitably full of coughing, germ-spreading old ladies and irritating, badly behaved (not to mention snotty) children. However, needs must when the devil drives, and sometimes a quick visit to the loos is unavoidable. We recently found ourselves in the toilets in Morrisons. Cleanliness-wise, we have no complaints, but the hand-washing facilities - oh, alas, alas! 

But to proceed in due order, the toilet itself is clean and fairly normal. The flush is one of the detestable horizontal lever ones, which is extremely inefficient, forcing us to flush several times, flexing our biceps to a quite considerable extent - but that's to be expected. The toilet paper is plain white and hygienically covered, and the bin likewise is covered and at a laudable distance from the user. The coat-hook is exemplary; extremely sturdy and with space for numerous bags as well as a coat.

Unfortunately, however, the hand-washing facilities are just deplorable. Here are the guidelines for handwashing from the Department of Health: Wet, Soap, Wash, Rinse, Dry.

Here are guidelines from the NHS:
An effective handwashing technique involves three stages: preparation, washing and rinsing, and drying. Preparation requires wetting hands under tepid running water before applying the recommended amount of liquid soap or an antimicrobial preparation. The handwash solution must come into contact with all of the surfaces of the hand. The hands must be rubbed together vigorously for a minimum of 10-15 seconds, paying particular attention to the tips of the fingers, the thumbs and the areas between the fingers. Hands should be rinsed thoroughly prior to drying with good quality paper towels.
And an NHS video, following World Health Organisation guidelines, demonstrating how the process of handwashing should ideally be carried out (note the mixer tap facilitating the process):

We don't see how it is possible to follow these guidelines when using a despicable "auto handwash/dryer", where the soap comes before the water, and a horrible air-dryer concludes the whole sorry business.

Hygeia says yes...

Urk! Urk! Urk!

...but frowns at this abomination!

Points: 2/15

Foss Islands Retail Park
Foss Islands Road
York YO31 7UL

Saturday, 1 January 2011

The-Day-After-the-Night-Before Toilet Musings

There was quite a party in the jungle last night, and today Monkey, quoting Bridget Jones, just wants to be left with his head near the toilet, like normal people. We'll leave him to it.

Happy new year, everyone!

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