Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Taking the highroad to the long drop

Slater Bridge, Little Langdale

It was too, too funny. They said it was ‘basic’ but for that read ‘time warp.’ I speak of our recent week of life in the 19th century.

We rented a remote National Trust cottage in the Lake District, a hilltop eyrie bequeathed to the Trust on the proviso that it wasn’t changed, so as Miss Herriot, its former owner insisted, “people could learn how we used to live.” So there was electricity in part of the dwelling and a single tap fed by a nearby stream. That was it. There was no plumbing, so no bathroom and horror of horrors, no loo. There was no phone, no signal, so our mobiles were useless, we had no TV, no access by car, you had to hike up to the cottage, and of course, no internet. It was as if the world had stopped.  

The killer was the loo. It was a walk down an unlit, muddy path to a dark outhouse described as the ‘soil closet’. What awaited you was a shed, inside which was a bench with a small hole cut in the centre, below that rested what can only be surmised as years of ‘business’. What the Australians call a 'longdrop'. Forget ‘soil closet’ think Slumdog in the snow. Bad in winter, but don’t event think about it when the weather warms up.

Knitting and board games replaced Assassins Creed and Club Penguin.  We had to talk to each other, although I should report, no pearls or revelations occurred. 12 year old Sam, whipped up a stunning model of a nerve cell for school with cunning use of coat hangers, paint and papier mache.

The fireplace in the living room with a ceiling height of 5 ft 5” was a wonderful history lesson in that it had a water reservoir and tap so that once the fire was hot enough, the water heated up, and you could fill the ‘handy ‘ tin bath. The panto that ensued as 5 people dunked in front of the fire was worth the effort if you’re a fan of slapstick, which I am.

Walking, talking, listening to owls rather than Runscape was a joy, but a week without a flushing loo was, I have to say, a little too rustic for me.

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