Friday, June 9, 2023

English bathrooms

Oh the horror. Hotel bathrooms were mostly ok, even with strange plumbing. Home bathrooms, not so at all. 

Sister 1's could have been ok  However, the first person to use the shower each day had to remove the dirty washing basket and a couple of other large objects. They were put back after the last person showered and the tiny space cleaned.

The three bathrooms we used and one where I took a look had electric water heaters, which are rather good. They have just enough water pressure and the unit ensures you don't get a hot or cold blast if someone turns a tap on. I discovered I have a rather hot shower, noted by me always having to set the temperature higher than the last person who showered. But why can't the hot water come from the home boiler and not through this separate heating unit? And why do Brits persist with not having wall light switches and a power point. There is not a power point at all and all lights were operated by a ceiling mounted pull cord. There wasn't anywhere I could use my electric shaver in front of a mirror. At Sister 1's, I 'd crouch down beside the bed next to the power point and just judge by feel to check if wasn't missing anywhere. 

The worst part was the shower head slid along a vertical rod. But the head would not stay up. It just sat at the lowest swivel point it could, so it was effectively only a hand held shower. At least there was an exhaust fan but it was such a small unit and it did not clear the air to prevent the mirror fogging up badly.

Sister 3's bathroom was also tiny, without the toilet within. Again a cord to pull for the lights and it had some kind of screen just under one metre tall. I was not sure how it operated it. I just kind of forced my way in. Once in the shower wasn't bad and probably the best of what we used. There was a switch outside for a bathroom supplementary light and another switch had to be turned on, all reachable by pulling aside umpteen coats and jackets hanging on hooks. What was that switch for? We discovered why when we showered. The shower had become less pleasant (sound on). 


No bathroom left unturned, the last being that of Niece 1. Her father owns the house she lives in. I expected a high standard and generally it was, but not even a hairdresser/beautician had a great bathroom. Yes, pull cord for the lights. No basin mixer tap (dangerous to mix the water before it comes from a tap). The shower over the bath looked quite grand and stylish, until you got into the bath to shower. The bath was so slippery and there was nothing to hold onto. R told me how hard it was to stand in the bath as it was so narrow. It was indeed. I learnt to stand sideways. 

When I used the toilet for the first time, I thought what great placing for the toilet roll, right in front of me. The next morning I changed my mind as I was sitting and the toilet roll was behind me.

I'll just give an honorary mention to Nephew 1, who has the nicest house. But there is only an upstairs bathroom... light pull cord, check, non mixer basin taps, check, no power point check.

52 comments:

  1. Electricity and water can make a deadly combination. This is why British bathrooms have pull cords and and an absence of sockets. Regarding showers over baths, I think it is vital that rubber shower mats are used.

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    1. YP, which I guess is why Australians and Americans are always getting fried by mixing the two. We do tend to not place a light switch or power point under running water. Rubber mats should be used if needed, and they were needed but none were available.

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  2. Health and safety, as YP implies. I do think that special shaver sockets are available, but I think most people use battery shavers. I believe there are also European rules about the size of baths and basins to conserve water, which is why we have no plans to update our 30 year-old ones.

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    1. Tasker, yes, I am bit behind the times with a plug in shaver, but it works for me at home and when we travel in Australia. I feel bad for women who use curling and straightening devices. Well, won't the bath size matter less now you are out of the EU?

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  3. That’s obviously why the British are noted for only occasionally washing .Can’t blame them…
    Kitchens and bathrooms are the two most important rooms in the house.

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    1. Anon, that was once true about the British not washing, but not now in modern Britain. Yes, both are very important rooms for me.

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  4. The Stalker
    We Australians are so fortunate to have bathrooms so spacious. We just renovated ours and the bath which we never use was replaced by a smaller new one for the doggies. They even got their own dorf hand held shower head
    I remember staying on a vineyard in Tuscany…in converted something or other, and there was a pull chain for the hot water.We were worrying about spiders because the ceilings were so high we couldn’t get to the cobwebs….but it was absolutely glorious country. Bells rang in the vineyard before dawn , I think they were out chasing rabbits or rounding up animals .
    The wine was fabulous so the shower and the spiders webs were quickly forgotten …you triggered the memory Andrew

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    1. Stalker, I don't see it has been lucky. It should be standard, which it pretty well is here.
      I triggered a nice and interesting memory for you.

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  5. We are obviously spoilt with our bathrooms - and I wouldn't willingly go back in time.

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    1. EC, what? You don't pine for the good old days?

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  6. Sounds quite rudimentary bathrooms in UK. No fun.

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    1. Roentare, I love an nice hot shower but the bathrooms there are not a pleasure to use.

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  7. My first day in England, my first shower in England, I fell out of the bathtub. Know why? When you step out of a tub here, the bottom of a traditional tub is level with the floor. I was jet lagged and tired and failed to note that you step over and UP, to get in the tub. Instead of coming in contact with the floor as planned, I still had another 4 or 5 inches before I made contact with it. Scared the wits out of everybody else.

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    1. Debby, snap. That happened to us too. I nearly face planted but I can't remember where it was.

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  8. Well that sounds like quite an adventure in showering. I think I'll keep mine;)
    Sandra sandracox.blogspot.com

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  9. What on earth was that noise? Does the drain have a pump to make sure the water goes down? And no wall switches or power points? No mixer taps? I can see I'd have to do some modernising if I was ever to move there.

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    1. River, maybe it pumps out horizontally. There was no way of knowing the why and wherefores of the pump to take away the shower water. I can't imagine it was an original system.

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  10. As water becomes scarcer and more expensive, having the shower over the bath becomes more essential. After the adult has finished showering, the children re-use the water captured in the bath. Or you re-use the water to feed all the plants inside the house or outside via the bathroom window.

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    1. That’s primitive and what they did in the olden days …what a horrible thought imagine getting into other peoples dirty water as well as the floaties that sometimes occur…great topic Andrew

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    2. Hels is right in conserving water is uppermost in our minds. Memories of bucketing baths and sharing showers with buckets during the millenium drought are still fresh in our minds.
      Anonymous has obviously never lived through any hardships

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    3. Try being sent to school barefoot in the rain so your only shoes don't get wet. That was my childhood experience. Or pumping bore water into an overhead tank so you could have a wash Cathy…..I have done those but we never shared dirty bath water for hygiene reasons. One persons problem is not another persons right to insult

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    4. Hels, no to dirty bath water. I being the oldest child had clean water to bathe in. My poor sister who was last into the bath full of boy germs. Chucking some bath water onto a lawn is my idea of not wasting water.

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    5. That's what I think Anon. Old days that we don't want to return to.

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    6. Cathy, it was a bad time but with us not having a garden, it was not so hard for us. I always kept in mind that metropolitan Melbourne only used 12% of the state's water supply.

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    7. Anon, as R used to sometimes go to school with cardboard packed shoes to absorb water from broken shoe soles. For a few years on our farm, my mother had to pump water from a well to do washing.

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  11. I would wonder how some on in a walker or wheel chair mange in the bathroom there.
    Coffee is on, and stay safe.

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    1. The picture is of a bathroom for a less able person (that would fit into a small area), hence the low shower, the seat, and the low glass screen.

      Kate, UK

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    2. Dora, Sister 1's bathroom while tiny did have a ramp into the shower. Goodness knows how you would manoeuvre a chair to use it though.

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  12. Wow! Thank you for sharing. I'm fascinated by your travel stories. And best wishes to you and yours.

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  13. Obviously we like to live dangerously here in Australia and have electricity and water in the same room. Or we have safer designs. Or we're not stupid.

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    1. Caro, as do kitchens in the UK. It is some old superstitious nonsense.

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  14. Judging by that photo, I think I would need some kind of operating manual before entering that shower!

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    1. It was a bit like that Kirk. The electric showers were good though. The temperature dial is set and you just press the on button.

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  15. These sound like very dated bathrooms in rather small houses - from the last millennium actually! To comply with current Building Regulations, all modern bathrooms have to have shaver sockets, extractor fans capable of a certain number of litres of extraction per minute, and external switches for lights. Most basins come with holes pre-drilled, therefore if there are two holes (as on older models) one has to have two taps. Again, modern basins almost invariably have mixer taps (one tap hole is cheaper to manufacture than two!). More upmarket bathrooms now have shower heads either fitted into the wall, or into the ceiling, but electric showers still do have sliders for the shower head - and I agree, they are dreadful!

    To be honest, when I have visited Australia I haven't noticed any difference between bathrooms in the two places.

    I honestly can't say that I

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    1. Kate, yes, they were of a certain period aside from the slippery bath with a shower overhead, the other two are public housing. Before we renovated our bathrooms, we had separate basin taps. I hated them. We bought new basins of course with single holes. I do realise that I am talking of people within a defined socio economic status. And my sister's shower was awful for many years and it is still a battle with the sliding shower screen door. Many bathrooms here are far from perfect.

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    2. Interesting to read the building regs. We have a shaver socket and just got an extraction fan, and the light switch is outside the bathroom door. There is definitely a paranoia about electricity in the bathroom. (Coming from the states, where the voltage is half what it is here, I always thought that had to do with high voltage -- but you could get electrocuted just as easily in the states under the right circumstances, so who knows.) I too deplore the lack of mixer taps. We have separate taps in our bathroom sink.

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    3. Steve, you are fine then. A switch outside the door is preferable to dangling cord. I have post in the back of my mind about 110 v 240 and I seemed to have learnt 110 is much safer. When you say shaver socket, can anything be plugged into the socket?

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  16. Sorry, pressed send too soon... Kate in the UK

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  17. Electric sockets in bathrooms, plus separate toilets - my sisters thought we were posh. No breaking my neck trying to wrestle extension leads so I could use my hair dryer or recharge toothbrushes

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    1. Cathy, no English visitor has complimented us on our bathrooms. They should.

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  18. As Britain is a tad smaller than Oz there is less space to build on so lots of amaller houses, crammed in to a tiny area means small bathrooms. Those do look a little more outdated than the ones I am used to seeing though.

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    1. JayCee, small is ok as long it is functional and convenient to use. Yes, they are dated bathrooms, but one's not photographed by me, still had the basic pull cord and no power point issue.

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  19. Replies
    1. JB, that's why bathrooms need to make efficient use of space.

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  20. Gosh, seems backwards with their bathrooms then I suppose they haven't got the room to have what I call a proper shower. Baths to me are dangerous to have a shower overhead..
    Hope you are doing ok Andrew.

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    1. Margaret, the smallness didn't matter so match. I guess they just needed to be modernised...and electricity installed in bathrooms. I no complain. I am doing ok, but it is taking longer than I imagined.

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  21. Weird bathrooms are one of the joys of travel. Or maybe not.

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    1. An interest of travelling TP, but seldom a joy.

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  22. I've never heard of anyone frying themselves because there's an electric outlet in the bathroom. There are caps to protect from moisture if the vent fan doesn't do enough to keep moisture from the outlets. Why would a lightswitch be such a danger in a bathroom? what was that awful noise in the video? Sounded like a garbage disposal turned on.

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    1. Strayer, yes, the whole electricity in the bathroom is a load of nonsense. There was a time here with old switches where you dare not touch a switch if your hands were wet, but with modern fittings, it is not a problem. The awful noise does sound like a garbage disposal. It is a pump that sucks away the shower water. Pleasant music when you are showering, not. It has an on/off switch because god forbid if you had a dripping shower head and that cut into action in the middle of the night.

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