When you visit a country that you used to call home, it’s always amazing to see how things have changed. I thought I’d landed on another planet when I made my first trip back to the UK after a 17-year absence, however, these days I’m a more frequent visitor, as many of you know. Nevertheless, there is always a multitude of new innovations that catch my eye and pique my interest.
Take this latest trip. And I know it’s a little odd looking at loos, but a mere 13 months since my previous visit just about every motorway services that I visited had new airplane-like toilets installed. They must have had a run on them in the intervening few months… hoards of boilersuit-clad men grasping spanners and plumber’s tape, running up and down the M6 with truckloads.
In their favour though is that they apparently use a lot less water and are more hygienic. At least that’s according to the signage. And since I’m hugely into saving water and the environment (who isn’t these days?), I’m wondering why don’t we have them here in South Africa, since we’re a water-poor country?*
Once I’d seen one, I was on a mission…
Another that I saw had a peculiar purple tinge to it and I’m really not sure why. And yes, I know it’s a little odd to go about photographing toilets, but I was quite relieved when this one didn’t start glowing as it was flushed!
And just in case you’re fooled into thinking all in the UK is advanced, and hygienic, take a look at this one seen at a farmstall in Leven, Fife. I do hope they give it a good scrub every day but I am a little dubious. However, even this beats the long-drop, loo-with-a-view I was forced to use a couple of weeks ago in the Nature Reserve around Sabie!
And finally, a somewhat clever contraption that uses the water from washing your hands to fill the cistern. It is a little awkward leaning over the loo to wash your hands, and there’s a puny amount of water trickling out, so it perhaps won’t work too well for the ímpatient, the infirm and children. However, it’s still quite clever and innovative! This was spotted at the fishing museum in Anstruther, Fife.
This effort to save water is a positive move on the part of whoever is responsible in the UK and I applaud the efforts being made. I assume this is in part, at least, due to the recent announcement that the UK could run short of water within the next 25 years.
It’s particularly good to see the effort that has been made since my previous visit when, during the peak of a terrible drought in South Africa, I was hugely upset by the automatic taps in UK public loos that kept spurting water long after I’d finished washing my hands. This to the point that I couldn’t bring myself to leave the room until it had ceased.
Here is South Africa we are fast getting to the point of no return, so it’s a great pity that those responsible don’t take a few tips from this and start to use our grudgingly given tax money for sustainable good. Of course, there are many in this country who’d be happy just for a loo to call their own and some running water, and we shouldn’t forget that either.
* The UK’s Environmental Agency has already commenced efforts to reduce water consumption since they have advised that they could run short of water within 25 years. Link to article: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/mar/18/england-to-run-short-of-water-within-25-years-environment-agency?CMP=fb_gu