Local Heart, Global Soul

April 23, 2019

Laughingly Taking The Piss Out Of Your Pit Stop…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

As with any large outdoor public gathering, the organisers of the event have to provide suitable restroom facilities.

In the case of the 2017 Food Truck festival in the Hague, the solution was the best I have ever seen.

Unbeknownst to me I had first contact with a member of this group was earlier at one of the food stands.

I spied a young lady in a sort of washer-woman costume, with curlers in her hair which was also wrapped up with a scarf and a sort of  long apron/over-all kind of caricature of the manner of 1930’s.

I asked if  I could take some photographs of her and she gladly obliged.

Later I noticed a large truck that had doors on the sides, these folded outwards to reveal a small passageway on one side of the truck and a row of toilet cubicles on the other.

It was like a cross between a series of upmarket port-a-loos, and normal toilet block.  Outside by the queue was  table where two ladies sat, and it turns out that the younger one of the two is the engagingly attired lady I had encountered earlier.

Together they were taking turns to organize the queue and keep the lavatories clean. I didn’t end up getting photographs of the large truck because there were too many parents taking young children to the toilet and with all of the comings and goings, I couldn’t satisfactorily edit them out of the shots.

I did however manage to take photograph of their company car.

This delightful vehicle was as ingenious as their attire:  nicknamed the “pleemobiel”  this is a kind of pun referencing the children’s toy brand of “Playmobile” (even the font is similar) but the “plee” part that the have changed is a cute/ funny nickname for pee, or urine.

The phrase “U plassie is ons passie” translates as “Your pee-pee is our passion” and the van is decorated with two ladies (Beb & Toos)decked out in the same attire as the younger and older lady at the table.

Their sense of humour carries on in the price cards on the table: for instance the one for Gents reads: “Beb & Toos (“Bezet” means “engaged/occupied”), Gentlemens Prices (tariffs): Is your “tokus” (slang for penis) shorter than 8cm ? Price: Euro 0.50 cents. (Is your tokus) longer … Price Euro 1.00

I showed Himself this and he laughed and said “Yes of course it’s meant to make men pay more because of pride and that they want people to think they have a big penis, but don’t forget, these men are also Dutch so I bet they will all go for the Euro 0.50 cent option simply because its cheaper an they want to save money“.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I think he’s probably right, but hey, can’t fault them for trying!

The other sign was more conventional: you could get a token for a “losse plas’, basically one single use of the toilets for 1/2 of  1 munt, or Euro 0.50 cents.

(The “munt’ = being the special tickets that are the ‘currency” of this event and which needed to be purchased at a separate counter in order to buy food and drinks at all of the food trucks participating at the festival.)

You could also purchase a “plas bandje”  (a wrist band) for 1 Munt or Euro 2.00, entitling one person to unlimited use of the facilities for the whole day.

The last alternative would be to buy for 2  Munt or Euro 4.00 the “Voordeel Plasskart” which turns out to be “10 x piddle/pee-pee/take a leak/ spend a penny etc  for the (whole?) Club”  I’m not certain how this works but somehow you are paying for use of the loos for 10 occasions … just not certain how the “group’ element fits into this arrangement!

I have to admit that I may also be confused because I think this is dialect Dutch: for instance in the Gents sign: the “usual’ spelling of the word ‘kleiner” (smaller) is spelled here as “kleinert” , and the word “groter” (larger) here as “grotert”

Since this event is also an evening event, with bar stalls that only started to open up later in the afternoon / early evening, and music areas that were largely unoccupied during our visit, but clearly being set up, it’s a definite bet that as the family crowd fade away for children’s bedtimes after a day of dinning and playing, the adult party crowd come in to take their place.

Once the booze starts flowing it would be safe to assume that the need to use the privy, and therefore the W.C.’s here could create quite a demand.. maybe these ladies, busy with everyone’s ablutions, can not only provide a needed service to the event but also end up creating a thriving business in the process… so that they end up going home rather flush! … And all of this whilst laughingly taking the piss out of your pit stop!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

General prices…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Prices for Gents…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

…And if you have read this far you may have noticed how many “Pee” and “Toilet” puns or nicknames I managed to squeeze into this post!

April 11, 2017

If This Is The Posh One, Then Where Did The Squaddies Squat?

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

The strong, cold, gusting wind that greeted us at Fort Kijkduin during the 2016 Easter weekend a gives me a special sympathy for this next subject.

Whilst everybody else scurried hurriedly to the entrance to get out of the wind, Moi, Kiwidutch Plod, was relegated to the rear, slowly making my way with the crutches, taking both rest and photographic stops.

On the other hand though, the biggest advantage of my slowness is that I get to see the most… which is how I managed to add another quirky loo to my photo collection of beautiful, quirky and novel lavatories.

This one has a sign outside: “Officiers Latrine” so clearly historically this was one of the best loos in the Fort.

I find myself wondering that if this was the luxury version offered to the Officers,  then what was made available to the poor lesser ranks must have been pretty grim. Access to the Officers Lavatory was via the inner courtyard, exposed to all weathers, which here in North Holland could be brutal in winter. With no visible ventilation it probably stank too. Toilet facilities in centuries past always seemed to be rather rudimentary, but a soldiers life was already a tough one so adding a freezing seat for the basic necessities of life seems cruel indeed.

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

(photograph © Kiwidutch )

Den Helder: Fort Kijkduin / The Netherlands

November 19, 2016

It All Hinges On An Brilliantly Simple Idea…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

You know I love everyday, normal stuff, ideas that are ingeniously simple, full of common sense and practical.

Out one day when I needed the lavatory and end up finding this total gem of an idea, literally “in the loo”.

Seriously, you can’t get more everyday or ordinary than in the smallest room in the house.

In fact I got so excited about this find that I completely forgot where I saw it (but am busy rattling my brain cells, that information is in here somewhere.) So, to the point (eventually)… what was I so excited about?

Well, It’s a loo seat within a loo seat. One size for adult derrieres and one size to fit the average small child: more importantly, perfect for the child undergoing the toilet training phase.

First, let us all remember the dark and hidden fact that all parents never ever forget the time that their children went though “that stage”. Mostly we wished it would have been less messy, with less tantrums and fewer traumas (ours, not theirs) and had taken literally been over in no time at all.

Like many families, we went though several trial runs, moments appeared when our kids appeared ready to make the leap from nappies (diapers) to using a toilet, and like most parents we also discovered that on these occasions the kid had other ideas. After reading books on every method under the sun we settled on an age old favourite: bribery.

A jar of small jar of Smarties (sweets similar to chocolate filled M & M’s) went on to the dining table. Kid could score the grand total of one Smartie for every successful toilet event.

Note the word “successful”. With Kiwi Daughter we left that word out and the result was that she went and parked herself on the potty, doing nothing except demanding the reward, then getting up and repeating the experience two minutes later.

Generally what actually happens is that kids experiment with the “idea” of not using nappies, but are not ready to commit to a permanent switch until far later on. They get their parents hopes up by seeming interested, but reality is that parents are the salespeople desperately pitching the toilet experience as a new and wonderful event. The kid asks all the right questions, lets us use all of the tricks up our sleeves, lets us talk-the-talk, taking all of our time and energy,  …before nonchalantly walking away from the deal.

In our family one of our experiments involved kids in the warmest summer months dressed in nothing but t-shirts and little toddler knickers, playing on the wooden living room floors with the potty “conveniently” parked in sight and a multitude of little reminders, until the inevitable happened: the puddle on the floor. The simple fact is that kids get so wrapped up in playing the they simply forget, and once it’s too late, it’s too late.

Then came the transition from the plastic potty to the actual toilet. Also a fraught time because for a small child the hole in that seat looks mighty large, and they know that what ever falls inside gets flushed away. Little wonder they are afraid and cling on to you for dear life. Even if at home you can have all the success you want with the familiar plastic potty, outside the home it’s back to the terror that the “big toilet” invokes, and it’s not practical to bring a large plastic potty with you everywhere.

Our children “played” with the idea of toilet training at ages two and again at three, no matter what we tried we were unsuccessful, then suddenly at three and a half they found their magic moment, indicated that they didn’t want their nappies ever again and were dry day and night in a week. Each had two or three “accidents” after that, but then that was it, everything perfect since. Somewhere there is a little switch that triggers when they are ready and once they are truly ready it all just falls into place. Making it easier for them to use an adult toilet after this is the icing on the cake. I know that for many parents there are long struggles, especially with night time bed wetting so I know that with both our kids we got off lightly, but who knows how soon they might have been ready if the right equipment had been available for them to use, especially outside of the home?

What I discovered on this day was the perfect solution, an additional toddler toilet seat, hinged into the main one, deployed by simply lowering it into place, removed by raising it up again. Why have adults not been smart enough to think of this amazing solution decades ago? I hope that slowly but surely you could find this as “standard” in every convenience: in all restaurants, kid friendly places, public buildings and any and everywhere that families with toddler might be. For long term environmental reasons, for simple “bog standard” common sense and for the sanity of parents everywhere… let’s try and make toilet training easier for kids.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 2, 2016

Dinners A Plus Point, But Two Busting Negatives…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

After all of our wanderings, sightseeing and activities last year in the Landal Wirfttal holiday park near Stadtkyll in Germany, we would often eat at the park’s restaurant.

The cuisine here of course caters to as wide as possible audience, especially to families with young children and therefore whilst the food was good, none of it was particularly adventurous for our taste buds.

Still, it was decent enough food when we came home late from our travels and no one fancied cooking or cleaning up.

Our fussy Little Mr would be easily kept happy with bowls of plain boiled pasta, topped with grated cheese (provided by the kindly Chef per our special requests).

Himself,  Kiwi Daughter and I tried out a range of dishes on various evenings that included schnitzel, steak and mushrooms, onion soup, and chicken salad.

It’s simple food done well, nothing spectacularly good or bad to list, just stuff to fill up on and be pleased about doing so. We went there for a few easy lunches too, the kids being ravenous after a swim in the park’s pool directly next door.

Usually those lunches consisted of a plate of steaming hot chips (French fries) or a toasted sandwich, and a salad for me. There are two things that are minus points for the Landal Wirfttal holiday park restaurant though, but they are not to do with the food.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The first: the toilets were situated downstairs and there was no lift.

Stairs are by far the most painful thing I can currently do: I am forced to stand on my bad foot whilst raising or lowering my good foot to the next tread, and even for a second, it’s pain beyond reason.

At home I do the stairs from bedroom to living room only once per day, and visa versa in the evening, such are the stairs my nemesis.

After one slow panful and ungainly stair negotiation that I vowed not to repeat, I tried the offered alternative: the toilet in the swimming pool next door.

The annoying thing was though, the toilets were on the far end of the changing room, the floor of which was completely wet as streams of dripping kids scurried back to the cubicles to dry off and get their clothes.

My crutches acted as though the floor was ice and skidded everywhere.

I was so afraid of putting weight on the crutches and following them sideways, that I picked my way across holding onto the cubical doors as I went. I got a few strange looks for my efforts. Not only was I desperately needing to pee, this mode of motion was very slow thus was not the best of options either.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Added to that, the pathway between the rows of cubicles was very narrow, as were both the toilets, so I wondered how on earth someone in a wheelchair would ever be able to manoeuvre in here. They certainly wouldn’t be taking the stairs to the toilets a floor below us.

The other minus point for the restaurant was that there was no Wi-Fi. I mentioned in earlier posts that the advertised phone and Wi-Fi in our accommodation had a signal so weak that a mobile phone was dead and hopeless, so we had to go down to Reception to catch the Wi-Fi signal there.

The sitting area inside was enough for four people, difficult when half the park turned up because they had the same problem we did.

There were several sets of picnic tables outside but in sunny weather they were swarming with wasps, when it rained there was no cover and sitting at a soaking table with a laptop in the rain… well….nope.

When I asked about internet at the Restaurant they shook their heads and suggested I try and pick up the Reception Wi-Fi from here… no such luck, the signal was so low that the page constantly timed out. The Restaurant would be a perfect alternative sitting area for people wanting Wi-Fi, apparently Wi-Fi has had it’s “issues” in this area for years, they are “working on it”. With all the rain we experienced here it’s a darned shame that these “issues” have not been given more of a priority, we wouldn’t ever be returning here until this “issue” has been fixed. Minus points apart, the meals here are good but plain, idea family dining for fussy kids.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Landal Wirfttal

 

October 24, 2015

Stairs Aren’t Good But, Worth It On Many Levels…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

First thing today: an apology is in order. I usually have posts come up day by day automatically via the schedule but I made a mistake and make two posts with the date of 24th October instead of one for 23rd and one for the 24th. I fixed it when I was messing around with posts later on in the day and saw it but apologies to everyone who logged on and found nothing (most of yesterday!).

Following yesterday’s post, late last summer Himself and I were enjoying a long overdue date night in a restaurant in the center of the city.

The location is Nobelstraat and is one of the oldest streets in the city center so it’s little surprise to learn that the building we are in is six hundred years old.

Himself and I are dining are in a cafe restaurant called “Qip” and after the meal when I wanted to visit the Ladies, the waitress looked at the crutches and apologetically told me that the only toilets are downstairs in the cellar and sadly there is no lift.

Stairs are my nemesis and make pain even more painful but when needs must I have to bite the bullet and walk up or down stairs. At least it was worth it when I got down there.

Once relieved I could take a look around at the “bones” of the building. Past restoration had taken into account the age of the building and tried to keep as much of the history intact.

Not only are the toilets functional they are beautiful as well, especially arched doors have been fitted into the existing archways and as much as possible it is still possible to see the original stone and brickwork.

The bench opposite the hand basins has been dressed with an old sewing machine and basin which are far more in keeping than any modern furniture would have been.

I’m impressed, a stunning solution to a problem that must have caused some major headaches: how to fit twenty-first century necessities into a fifteenth century building sympathetically and practically.

Further back towards the stairs the cellar reaches back the length of the building and an additional bar has been installed down here, probably for private functions. In my opinion the solution that was found could could not have been done better. This is how this toilet makes it on to my list of amazing loos… Brilliant!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 12, 2012

The Littlest Room in the Biggest Space….

Filed under: LAVITORIAL - Intersting Loo's...,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Regular readers of this blog will know that at various times in my travels I have discovered  some  beautiful / strange / unorthodox / unusual / decorated / weird or  inspiring  lavatories.

So far amongst others I’ve featured Dutch loos with a “inspection” shelf,  a stable door fronted loo, some amazingly decorated loos and now of course in the living compartment of the Space station in the Space Expo in Katwijk, The Netherlands there is a “space loo”.

There are socially acceptable limits as to how enthusiastic you are allowed to appear upon discovery of  the “facilities” on board an exhibit in a museum… and with other visitors going past I deemed it a little too invasive to actually dive into the cubical to get close-ups of the equipment.

(I’m may be a little bit weirdly obsessed, but I’m not that weirdly obsessed).

I also was too chicken to front up to the main entrance desk and pose the question “So just how do  astronauts relieve themselves in the zero gravity of space? ” but luckily someone else already asked this question on the internet so I just followed the link to “How Stuff Works” website and an article on how to use the bathroom in space.

http://science.howstuffworks.com/bathroom-in-space.htm

In spite of the obvious irony of there being no bath in space,  just as there is often no bath in a north american bathroom, the people who answer the question managed to ascertain that the question was completely and totally unrelated to the bath and more related to the W.C.

Here is what they have to say:

Each spacecraft comes equipped with a unisex toilet. Although the toilet itself looks like a slightly higher-tech version of its counterparts here on Earth, it’s designed a bit differently. The toilet consists of a commode that holds solid wastes and a urinal for liquid wastes. A funnel that fits over the genital area allows both men and women to urinate standing up, although they also have the option of sitting down. 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

To prevent the astronauts from floating away in t­h­e weightless environment, the toilet comes equipped with foot restraints (for sitting) and a toe bar to slip the feet under (for standing). The toilet also has a thigh bar similar to the one that pulls down over your lap when you ride a roller coaster and fabric fasteners that go around the thighs.

(I burst out laughing at this point… does this mean that you need a roller-coaster bar over you in case you take off if you fart or ‘exert a little pressure”?)

To ensure that the waste also doesn’t float around, the toilet uses flowing air instead of water to flush the toilet. The air pulls the waste away from the astronaut’s body and flushes it away. After the air is filtered to remove bacteria and odors, it’s returned to the living cabin.

But where does all the waste go? Don’t worry, it’s not going to come hurtling into the Earth’s atmosphere and through your roof. Solid wastes are dried to remove all moisture, compressed and kept in an on-board storage container. They’re removed and disposed of once the spacecraft has landed. The liquid waste is sent into space.

On the International Space Station, liquid wastes are recycled through a special water treatment plant and turned back into drinking water. Solid waste goes into a plastic bag. Each time someone goes to the bathroom, the bag clamps down and seals like a trash compactor. The bags are collected and placed into a special craft that is launched into space.

Going to the bathroom becomes even more challenging when astronauts take a walk outside their spacecraft. Because they can’t simply drop their space suit and go, astronauts typically use a superabsorbent adult diaper. These diapers  (nappies) are able to hold up to a quart of liquid. Astronauts use adult diapers during take-offs and landings as well. After the spacewalk, the astronauts remove the diapers and dispose them in a storage area in the craft.

Naturally since our visit took most of the day I also required the use of the conveniences at the Space expo centre and it was no surprise to see them “suitably” signposted.

Since a gentleman visitor entered this area at the same time as I did, I didn’t feel brave enough to walk  past the Ladies to photograph the Gents sign, and as luck would have it another man arrived with his small son as I was leaving the Ladies so loitering around the Gents was going to look a little perverted.

I did however get photos of the Ladies and the Disabled toilet sign, where the wheelchair symbol or the female figure are highlighted accordingly.

As for the space loo… After reading the above text, I’ll leave it to your imagination to try and work out which bit of the equipment does what!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Oh, and note the preferred colour for the figures… and I thought that it was the “other aliens” who were supposed to be  the “little green men / women”!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 4, 2011

For when you need to Bolt to the Stable Door…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Here we are settling into our little last minute camping expedition at Kampeerbosje Leerdam. You know me, I like quirky and this place has more than it’s fair share of quirky bits so  lets take a look at one of them.

I mentioned in yesterdays post that a toilet was added to the  kitchen/ veranda part of the Pipo wagon accommodation recently this summer.

What I didn’t mention was the door to it… YES… another “loo with a view! ” to add to my collection.

This is definitely the first time I have ever seen a toilet that sported a stable door entry. In theory you could sit on the throne, open the  top half of the door and still carry on your conversation with those still sitting at the table on the veranda whilst you answered the call of nature… (yikes, even with just Himself and the kids you wouldn’t find me brave enough to do that on purpose!)

Like many parents of two children who have passed through the toddler stage I have been rudely interrupted on the toilet often enough in the past… just as you get seated and hope for a full two minutes of peace and quiet,  little fists start banging at the door with an  ” I’m, busting!” announcement  and the voice is insistent and whining in just the right measure that your heart sinks and you try and pee faster, rather than face the prospect of cleaning up their imminent mess.

The little stinkers must have radar, and apparently their bowel movement clocks are set to go off as soon as the noise of the toilet door being clicked shut by an adult reaches their ears. There’s no other way that I can fathom how regularly they “are busting to go” right at the same moment that my bare behind makes contact with the toilet seat.

I’ve spent occasions on the loo too with small child hanging onto the doorknob on the other side of the closed door, because it’s just them and me in the house  and they don’t want to “be alone“. (No, you are not alone, I am here through the door, I just want a few minutes peace to at least pee in private please). Said child would have happily sat on my knee during the process had I agreed (ha! No Way!).

That said, a “loo with a view” is a funny talking point… it made us giggle. Not needing the loo,  I took the camera inside, sat down and took a photo looking outside.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 4, 2011

Tiles that are So Much More than just Holes in the Wall…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

About a year ago I made a blog post that featured the old fashioned oddity that is our traditional Dutch toilet….

https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2010/03/20/new-post-47/

… And I’m happy to report that yep, it still startles unsuspecting non-dutch visitors.

Not that we hear actual screams like those that one four and a half year old managed upon her first encounter, rather it’s sometimes a wry smile from adults and maybe a comment along the lines of: ” that’s one rather unusual convenience you have there isn’t it?”

As I mentioned in the link, this style of toilet is fast disappearing because  newer styles of bathrooms and toilets are in high vogue …

and not surprisingly this not longer fits with the chrome, stark and chiseled modernism and whiter than white that is all the rage today.

Call me a dinosaur but these  “old fashioned” features nay, lets  do a little re-branding and call them “historical”  features…   … are I believe, something to hang onto.. a heritage that is quickly and easily lost and difficult to replace once gone.

Of course, if you have a modern new-build home then that’s another story completely, but ours is a typical 1930’s Dutch “portiek woning” that happens to have almost every last original feature intact ,so as much as it’s humanly possible we intend on keeping it that way.

Another one of the old features that are fast disappearing from Dutch homes are wall tiles,  which in our house come in two styles:  the soap holders, which we have  in our minuscule kitchen  and also the shower and the toilet-roll holder.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Both are built directly into the wall.

I first tried to take photos of the toilet-roll holder with a full roll on it, but the roll hides the curves of the inner part of the tile and you can’t see any detail, so I tried again with the roll nearing empty …

The original wooden dowel holds the roll, at each end there are two tiny pegs that slot into holes on the sides of the tile.

Ingeniously there is a little spring mechanism inside the wooden dowel, so to remove the roll you simply push it to one end, the spring compresses and the rod pops out so that you can add a new roll.

To put it back, place one peg in the hole, push gently to compress it, slot in the other peg at the other end,  let go,  it resumes it’s normal size and stays in place.

The soap holders have a little hole in the centre of the bit that juts out from the wall, water drains though the hole.

Our hand soap is of the liquid variety so we use the kitchen soap holders as a good place to put the pot scrub/sponge thingy.

I know, I know, I’m easily pleased, but as the saying goes:  “small things amuse small minds”  !

But  it IS part of a very Dutch tradition that is dying out, so I figure that I’m just doing my bit for keeping history alive.

Welcome to the Kiwidutch Museum LOL !

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 20, 2010

An Old Fashioned Dutch convienience …sure to surprise Loo.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Anyone visiting The Netherlands for long enough will eventually come across one of these surprises.

OK, naturally if you are visiting a modern hotel or business or home then you’ll be met with a convenience in the “smallest room” that will brook absolutely no surprises at all,  just a bog standard toilet just as you will find throughout the western world.

But of you are in an older house  or business where the original traditional features of the “little room” have remained intact, then you are in for a surprise that will leave you doing a double-take the first time you experience it.

I live in an older Dutch house and my conveniences are all intact and… and so is the 1930’s plumbing.

So, First let me tell you a little story, It’s way back in 1996, in a note that I wrote at the time:  “Himself and I are having the very worst week of our lives,  My beloved Oma has passed away three days ago the funeral is the day after tomorrow. She was a few months short of her 100th Birthday and as clear as a bell mentally until the last three days of her life. We’ve been expecting this but it’s still a big shock now that’s it actually happened. Today we received more bad news, Himself’s Father passed away a few hours ago. We are devastated.  Emotional overload doesn’t begin to cover it”

 

We have friends arriving from New Zealand due to arrive, tired and jet-lagged any moment. A good friend of mine, her boyfriend and her four-and-a-half year old daughter from a previous relationship.  I know my friend well, she is of course still most welcome and she will understand that we are not firing on all cylinders at the moment. (understatement)

They are the type of friends who won’t mind to make themselves at home and look after themselves (and us)  if we point them in the direction of the kitchen, the pantry cupboard etc.  The beds are already neatly made up for them and I think that they can handle that their hosts are moving around like ghosts on autopilot.

Actually I think it will do Himself and I the world of good to have some extra people  in the house right now, just the two of us enveloped in this amount of shock and grief is probably not an ideal situation at all.

So… the front door opens, and our weary travelers  enter… we  exchange greetings and explain our red and swollen eyes and sudden outbursts of tears. They understand, get the coffee on, give hugs, talk about how they can fit in with our situation in the next days and then we start to catch up on their flight news and travel plans within Europe.

They will be using our place as a base, the hub from where they can go off and make shorter or longer excursions and later in about a month we have a trip to France planned together.

Then a tired little girl whispers in her mother’s ear… my friend in turn asks me ” where can we find the toilet please?” Directions are given and child skips off in a hurry. Suddenly there is a little scream and a loudly crying child frantically emerges into the hallway, we all rush out to see what is wrong. Sobbing desperately our littlest visitor  gulps out the following words in horror ” I can’t go in there, they have a  toilet with .. with, …. with ….no hole in it!”

Himself and I burst out laughing… We lead her back in to show her the secret of our traditional Dutch toilet, and when she realised all was well, she was after a little moment very relieved  (in more ways than one).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

So… what was all the commotion about?  Well, this Dutch toilet has a porcelain shelf built into it, and no large bowl of water like toilets you may be used to. Yes there is water in the hole, but the hole that the waste disappears down is situated at the very front of the toilet.

It’s a little disconcerting at first, but it’s there for “health reasons”. It’s a little shelf was apparently designed for inspecting your deposits so that you could keep an eye on your health.  It also uses a heap less water, and since we get  billed for water here in The Netherlands it’s no surprise that the canny Dutch are keen on energy efficient  ideas.

Our little room,  all inherited “as-is” when we bought the house,  even has the original wooden toilet seat (that Himself sanded down and coated in 6 layers of varnish during the renovation process). I looove that Loo seat, no matter if the house is freezing solid in winter that seat is never cold. I love it so much that it’s going with us if we ever move house LOL.

I also like that the tank above is the original small one… (a) it’s in keeping with the rest of the little room (b) it fills super quickly when you need to flush twice (c) it saves a heap of water.

Of course, if you are four-and-a-half-years old, then your view of the Loo will not be the same as that of an adult. Depending on the angle from where you look,  Yes, for one very disconcerting moment it probably did look like there was no hole at all in our toilet.

But, phew for all, there is one there after all…  and you know, after our little lady had recovered from her fright and shock we all had a laugh about it.  Talk about ” out of the mouths of babes.”

That  laugh that was sorely needed in our house on that day.

So, that leads me to my next point: what do they call the toilet in Dutch? Well it’s quite  literally called the “Water Closet” but the Dutch have a very neat and simple abbreviation for it: “W.C.”

Pronounce that as ” “way-say”  and you have now learned a new Dutch word.  How Convenient… Yes?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 25, 2009

USA: Getting ready for takeoff and a loo with a view…

schipol (Small)

(photo © kiwidutch)

I’m starting a travel log of our recent holiday in the USA, and small side trip to Canada.

I didn’t manage to make a ” live” journal whilst there for two reasons: First as any traveler will know from experience, we were far too busy meeting people, seeing places, eating new foods and having fun ( not that I don’t find writing fun), but it’s not really possible on a practical level when visiting a beach, eating out, on car journeys or in a museum.

I also have not yet mastered the impossible art of writing and taking photographs at the same time, so I have taken a zillion photos, have notes already jotted onto the laptop ( off-line) a few brochures and my memory to guide me and am getting into gear a.s.a.p. after the holiday (that’s now). Secondly, the whole world is not yet wifi, or even internet connected and my internet connections during the trip were few and far between, so whilst I can certainly live without the Net, I can’t run a daily live blog without it.

Traveling to New Zealand during the Dutch Summer School holidays last year gave us a nice long relaxed holiday but did have one downside that only kicked in afterwards. We didn’t know that a long Dutch grey winter, followed by an insipid Spring, then travel to 6 weeks of a New Zealand winter, coming back to a fairly “summer-less” summer in the Netherlands and then a good old grey-dark-wet Dutch winter again would have such a physiological and physical effect on us. Hubby and I were excessively cold all the time, bone weary, more grizzly and ragged, when we knew we shouldn’t be and didn’t want to be. I already have a sleep problem, it was definitely worse, as was my asthma.

Somewhere in dark December 2008 we realised that a large absence of sunlight during the preceding year was probably a major contributor to our general mood and energy levels. We have therefore been looking forward to this summer trip to the States all of 2009.

It’s a balmy 27 degrees C when we leave the Netherlands, more or less the same temp that it has been for ages now, if you disregard the odd cooler day glitch. We have been enjoying visits to the park, beach and walking , it certainly got us into the holiday mood. Meanwhile enough of the talking and lets get to the traveling…

No, sadly I can’t fit you into my suitcase but I can take you along with me in for a virtual tour…

schipol 1d (Small)

(photo © kiwidutch)

If you have to wait in Schipol Airport, after going though customs etc, Go upstairs to the food court area, at the back by the windows to the right is a small children’s play area with climbing frame etc, and at the very end of these are restrooms. I can’t of course vouch for the Gent’s next door,but the Ladies has what I think is the coolest loo view ever… the cublicles are of course closed off as usual, but the floor to ceiling glass windows mean that you can stand and wash your hands whilst watching the planes on the apron and on the runway, landing, taking of and taxiing… what a wonderful bit of brilliant creative planning on the part of the airports designers.

schipol 1g (Small)

(photo © kiwidutch)

First we fly from Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport to Zurich, Switzerland….

It’s not easy to get a photo out of the thick windows, but spot the patterns of the canals.

schipol 1h (Small)

(photo © kiwidutch)

schipol 1j (Small)

(photo © kiwidutch)

We fly to Zürich , change terminals and then make ourselves comfortable for the longer flight from Zürich to Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

Blog at WordPress.com.