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Cultural Concubine Blog

Neither here nor there…

Tag Archives: bath

Wet feet on the stairs...

After earlier negative posts on English plumbing I should now eat humble pie and pledge my eternal devotion to bathtubs…

Last week my course on Building Conservation at West Dean College started in earnest.
Apart from the actual course I really looked forward to spending more time at the house itself…

The house is a wonderful place to just be. It is the ideal space to learn (in all her studios), study (great library in the old billiards room, including a nook) and spend time with a large variation of creative and cultural types (especially at the cheap college bar!).
The wet footprints of Tilly Losch (the last lady of the house) woven into the carpet on the stairs are only one of the many eccentric touches that surprise you when wandering around.

But this time for me the largest attraction must have been the shared bathroom.
In it was the most enormous Edwardian Bath.

It is me...

It was the first time since I was a little girl that I actually could float full length in the tub.
And just to add to the experience the original fittings revealed a strange looking tap, with a sweet note on it:

But it is me, I am your plug!
If you turn me and drop me I will hold your water.
Lift me and twist me and I will GULP it!

Imagine this one steamy and filled with bubbles....

All of a sudden I remembered the incredible bath described in ‘The Bolter’, a freestanding green onyx monolith at Idina Sackville-West’s Kenyan house.
She made it part of the daily attractions of being her guest.  As part of the experience she would invite her guests to witness her bathe and dress before dinner…

Lying in that West Dean bath I could imagine how roaring the 20’s really must have been.

The tank...

Hahah, shows you the importance of actually experiencing old buildings and places for yourself.
Even if the National Trust now occasionally allows visitors to sit on their sofas, it will take a little more before we will be allowed to have a proper soak!

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Welcome dear burglars...

British plumbing is world-famous.

It conjures up many thoughts and anecdotes in anyone who has had the pleasure of enjoying/enduring it.

The reasons for this fame range from the enormously elegant Victorian inventions that changed the world to the reality of outdoor plumbing in a cold winter…

Over my years in the UK I have learnt to respect any bathroom activity as an adventure instead of a mundane action. My experiences so far leave me with a large amount of questions…

Q: Why are office loos always designed in booths?
This way you can hear a perfect representation of the activities next door, amplified by the tiles…

Plumbing tree...

Q: Why do the handles on a loo never really work?
Every loo I have found on my travels seems to have their own personality and user manual in yielding a flush… It is never as straight forward as just pushing the button or pulling the handle…

Q: Is outdoor plumbing really still necessary?
I can imagine that it makes sense if you upgrade a Georgian pile to the new world order of plumbing… But why not replace it in more modern accomodations?

Q: (sorry this is a cliché) Who thought it was a good idea to have carpet in the bathroom?
Really?!

Victorian plumbing fun!

Q: Where is the shower? (and how do you wash long hair again without it?)
Several hotels I have stayed at didn’t have one, but in recent renovations most seem to install them. Finally… Having grown up with one I just can’t imagine to go back to bathing… It just changes the entire routine of the day as baths are usually taken before dinner, and showers before breakfast.
How do baths work with a modern working lifestyle?

Q: What is with the perfumed loo roll?
This was a whole new revelation to me… Is this an invention that never made it to Holland? Or a Marks&Spencers’ fluke?

Any answers to this, please add in the comments…

Bath with a view...

But lets end on an admiring note:
Still there is nothing better than a long soak in an enormous enamel Victorian tank, filled with warm and steaming water…
Pity I will have to wait till the weekend.

PS I feel a post on American loos coming along… What is with the enormous pool of water?

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