The Fens and wetlands of eastern England has depended on a system of pumps and drains for three hundred years. They are electric now, having also used steam and diesel engines, but they used to be powered by wind. Horsey was one of the wind-powered pumps.
This mill was built in 1912 on the site of a previous one, which had become dangerously unsafe, and was assisted by steam and in 1939 a diesel was fitted. In 1943 the diesel took over completely after the mill was struck by lightening and in 1957 an electric pump was fitted.
A bench after my own heart, and a marker
This bench shows how much water the drainage removes. You can see that from the level of the water in the drain of the header picture – the water level is considerably higher than the path – higher than the line on the seat suggests. I think I read somewhere that the drainage reduces the water level by seven feet, which seems about right.
There’s not much to see, as the mill is still under repair, but it was reasonably interesting and there were lots of dragonflies in the garden by the toilets.
Misleading poster – there were no cranes in there
Cramped baby changing
It is possible to have a cubical cubicle…
I learnt a new word in the toilets – cubical. It means cube-shaped. I didn’t know that, though it makes sense. It wouldn’t show up on the spell checker if you were trying to type cubicle.
There was also a disappointing lack of Marsh Harriers and Cranes in the toilet.
As for the baby changing table, it is OK as long as nobody needs access to a cubicle.
Julia has suggested that toilet interior shots might not be considered a bit strange, particularly by people who are using them at the time. I suppose she has a point…
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
I’m tentatively identifying these as Common Darters because they are roughly the right colour and there were lots of them.
Well, it wasn’t actually a bad day, but when we went to the car park to leave I decided to use the toilet. This is what I found.
Sign at Bakewell, Derbyshire
It would have been nice for them to have put up a big sign I could have seen earlier. Then I’d have been able to plan better.
Plan B, because I couldn’t be bothered to walk back into town, was to hang on until we got to our next stop – Brierlow Books.
The toilet bit of the shop visit went well, though there was a queue. There was a queue last time we called too – suggesting the facilities aren’t keeping up with the increasing number of customers. The book buying bit was a disaster, with nothing that caught my eye. So was the plan to buy a nice card for Julia’s sister’s birthday, as they no longer stock the cards we like. The whole place was congested and the two staff at the desk were offhand, to say the least, one to the point of rudeness, when Julia went to pay. This has never happened before – the staff (whatever I may think about the direction the shop is taking) have always been extremely pleasant over the years.
However, even this couldn’t spoil an enjoyable day. In fact, by falling short the bookshop cheered me up – I love it when predictions of doom come true.
You’ll have to read the next post to see why I was happy.
It’s not an exhaustive list of toilets, and we didn’t have clipboards with us but it gives you some idea of the challenges the traveller faces.
Those of you under 40 will probably wonder why this sort of thing is important. I won’t explain it now, just give it a few years and all will become clear.
We used the facilities in two McDonald’s, at Llandudno and Mold. They were both bright and clean, though we did feel we had to buy drinks to justify using them, which was sort of counter-productive.
In Rhayader we used toilets in a car park by the town centre. They were very welcome after a long drive, though architecturally there was more than a suggestion of military bunker about them. However, they were clean and tidy, and that’s more important than being aesthetically pleasing.
The toilets at Gigrin Farm, were predictably excellent, as was the whole farm and Red Kite feeding experience.
In Trawsfynydd, just off the road as we travelled to Bangor in the evening, we were glad to find toilets as things were getting a bit urgent (see my comments on Dolgellau). As with Rhayader, the building is stark, but clean and tidy. There was a touch of serendipity about the visit, but that’s a story for a later post.
I think I may have mentioned the lack of decent food outlets at the Bangor Services. We had breakfast at Little Chef and, as you may have predicted, visited the facilities afterwards. I seem to be turning into a Victorian there, as “used the toilets” seemed suddenly unacceptable. They are nicely tiled, but badly maintained and not very clean. Judging by the dirt and graffiti the cleaner only inspects the cubicles with the doors open. That’s basic cleaning, close the door, turn round and look at things from the customer’s’ point of view. Literally. Then wipe the part of the wall that is covered by the open door and wash the graffiti off the back of the door.
RSPB South Stack, was excellent in many ways, which will be detailed in a later post. However, the gloomy, cramped and smelly toilets (sorry about that, but there was no nice way to put it) were a low point in the visit.
Tourist sign in Llandudno
So that’s it. Clearly South Stack and Bangor Services aren’t in the running.
McDonald’s and Gigrin are all commercial operations, so you expect a higher standard . This standard was met, as they were all excellent, but it seems unfair to compare them with council toilets.
That leaves Rhayader and Trawsfynydd. If I was standing on stage opening an envelope the award would go to Rhayader, as I don’t have a clue how to pronounce Trawsfynydd. To be fair I don’t have a clue how to spell it either, I’m relying on cut-and-paste.
Whilst I think of the final result I’ll mention the toilets at Dolgellau.
I can’t tell you how good they were because at just after six in the evening they were locked. And barred. Maybe they have gold fittings. Or maybe they just don’t like visitors. It’s not unusual to find toilets locked in the evening, but it is frustrating.
There’s a website listing the public toilets of Gwynedd, and if you follow a link on that site the are details of community toilets made available for public use by the owners. If you are travelling in the area it might be useful.
And the winner is…
It’s just a little brighter than Trawsfynydd, which will be getting a mention in a later post.
So, give them a try and see the kites – it’s a good day out.
Even if I cut out all the boring bits (I do cut out the boring bits don’t I?), and cut out details of my personal life there’s still a lot happening. Even after I cut out the lives of our clients, the majority of my moaning and, intriguing as they may be to me, the workings of my bowels, there is still too much happening. Without spending all night writing about it I just couldn’t cover it.
So this is a quick digest of some things that happened in the week.
(1) Got some good butterfly and moth sightings – Julia got the best ones this morning whilst taking round a class of 4-year-olds. Included Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood and a Painted Lady.
(2) I got a good photo of a Silver Y in the polytunnel – hanging on the roof to make the photo look weird.
(3) One of the kids got stuck in the toilet seat – too big for the adaptor and too small…well, you get the picture. Actually, and I cannot tell a lie just to appear more interesting, this is a lie. But a couple were afraid of falling in. And someone’s hat once fell in. I remember it well as I had to get it out. The kids didn’t want it back, as you may imagine, but it’s not compostable. Then one of the teachers told us how her daughter got wedged down the toilet whilst potty-training. The daughter is now 19 and hates the story. Well, you would, wouldn’t you.
(4) The scarecrows came home from the Hampton Court Garden Show.
(5) We hosted an evening BBQ, a long bread session, yoga (twice this week) and a group of 4-year-olds. This is a restful week compared to next week.
(6) i reached over 900 followers on Twitter after a surge I can’t explain. I did wonder if I’d inadvertently used some sexual code word, like Coventry Bears Rugby League when they launched their first website without realising that “bear” was a slang term on the gay scene. Oh, how we laughed at Nottingham Outlaws.
We spend a lot of time here talking about toilets. and the correct way to use them. In fact, with three school groups in this week, each divided into two groups, we’ve talked about toilets three times and demonstrated six. They are plastic toilets at the centre, which always make it seem a bit like camping; they are variously known as separator, waterless or composting toilets.
The first two are true, as they do separate liquid from solids and they do not use water. I think that sums it up – it can be difficult to get the point across without dumbing down to nursery level, or making it sound like a Latin lesson. They don’t let me do it as my vocabulary tends to slip…
Composting? Not really. The liquids are piped away and used when we fill a barrel and the solids are removed in biodegradable bags on a regular basis and composted on a separate site. The products are composted but the toilet doesn’t actually do the composting.
The trouble we have is that we are in a village, and a village that isn’t 100% sure that they want us here. Adding to this uncertainty by adding piles of humanure to the landscape would be a step too far. I’m committed to using humanure after reading an eBook about it but I have to keep reminding myself that the author was living in an isolated house in the American woods.
The truth is that the humanure isn’t theonly important part of the process. We live on a small, densely populated island and lack space to store water: we can’t keep using drinking water to dispose of our waste. I can’t find figures for the UK but in USA toilet flushing accounts for 27% of water use. I have no reason to think we would be much different in our water wasting habits, particularly in view of the car washing habits of my neighbours, and when you think what people in Africa go through to get clean water this just seems wrong.