Toilets (American Translation for this British Word: Bathrooms)

First, have you noticed that although it is a daily human occurrence, most authors do not show their characters in the bathroom? Unless it’s to do something illegal, private, or escape, this little room is merely used as a setting.

Secondly, the terms. I’ve heard it called the ladies or gents, a public convenience, the necessity room, the out back, a privy, and an outhouse–the last three for little buildings separate from a main building, or used at camp grounds. A thousand years ago in Rome and other large cities across Europe, using these facilities could be large with fifty or seventy holes. Men and women used the same room.

Thirdly, on our recent trip to England, it was difficult at first for me to refer to bathrooms or restrooms as toilets. But there they are–all over Britain–signs saying “TOILETS.” In fact, when I saw large signs in windows for “Flat TO LET” my mind wanted to stick in the letter “I” in the space.

Of course, the Brits have other words for this room, like loo or bog or water closet or W.C. One tour bus trip we took had us meet back at Bog Island. I didn’t think much about it until I returned to the bus and realized there were steps going down under the street on this little triangle surrounded by road. It’s now closed off, but once upon a time those steps led to the bathrooms, or toilets, or bogs.

As an American, when I think of toilets, I think of the actual seat and bowl and tank. So when I saw a sign reading “Men working in women’s toilets,” I imagined tiny men inside a toilet bowl. (Must have been jet lag thinking.)

In many public places in London, like the Tube or train stations or near the Thames River, it costs to use the facilities. My friend Mary often goes to England for work. She’s usually around the Manchester area, up north. She warned us that it would cost 20p to use the toilets. So before we left, I made sure my husband and I each had 20p with us. I was delighted to find my first toilet in England free. That one was in the airport, near the custom’s line. But later when I came across pay toilets in London, they were for 30p or 50p. So much for being prepared with p to pee.

However, do not let a fear of finding a bathroom in England stop you. There are, indeed, plenty of free restrooms. Restaurants have them. Museums have them. Churches and cathedrals have them. So when you go to England, you may feel free to go.

Jet Lag Writing — England

After a 10-day whirl-wind trip to England, we are now back in the USA. I went grocery shopping at 7 a.m., and have been working on sorting through some of my 3,000 digital photos I took on the trip. I was working for about three hours when suddenly I realized my fingers weren’t moving on the keyboard and I was merely staring at the screen. I think I’d fallen asleep, eyes opened. Hmm. So this is jet lag?

For my picture-taking to record our trip, I actually used up all the internal storage on my iPhone and had to use my “old” digital camera the last three or so days. Gone are the days when I’d limit my photo shots to 24 film pictures a day while on vacation. And I used to think that (24) was an outrageously huge number of travel shots in a day. Hello, technology. So far I have twelve file folders on my computer now, nice and sorted out. The trouble is, I haven’t used all the shots from my iPhone and haven’t even begun to look at the digital camera SD card.

Realizing I needed a change in what I was doing, I closed down all the photo stuff and started a new post for my blog, which I unfortunately, but happily neglected during our vacation.

This was our first trip to England. It will take a long time to process. We sincerely hope to return some day.

There are three typically London things for visitors to do which we didn’t do, or barely touched upon. They are: 1) theatre; 2) shopping; 3) and royalty. No theatre, play or ballet. We only did a little souvenir shopping. And we went on a Changing of the Guards walking tour for our royalty fix, not counting the castles and cathedrals, where royalty have walked in the past.

You see, my husband and I went to England for three reasons: 1) study-education; 2) spiritual pilgrimage; and 3) literary pilgrimage. Next time we go, it will be all of that PLUS to visit some of our ancestral locations in the southwest, and hopefully make it to the Lake District, and Wales, and maybe even Scotland and Ireland. There is just so much to see and do…

Okay. I faded out again — caught myself staring at the screen without fingers moving and who knows what thoughts I was dreaming. I mean, thinking. Must wait eight hours till bedtime…Must wait eight hours…Must wait…