Feeling flushed…

Are you shitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin..

I’d say it takes me a couple of visits to my hotel room toilet until I feel completely at home. I call it:

lavigation: the ability to navigate a toilet which is not ones own, in the dark.

Like one of my own children, I know my loo’s height, width and feel with my eyes closed. It’s a bit like when you unlock your front door – your key is poised at exactly the right height without even looking. Or when you’re in the car and you don’t even need to take your eyes off the road to demist the front and rear window. You just ‘know’, you know?


Obviously I’m coming at this whole toilet-thing from a female-perspective. Male loos are a mystery to me and I’m really happy to keep it that way. Don’t even get me started on a ‘shared’ public loo. (Costa Coffee Mill Hill, I’m talking about you).


Shared loos? I’d rather wet myself


Here are my top 10 rules of engagement:

10. Toilet Paper Orientation

Not going to dwell on this. Over. Not under.


9. Toilet Paper ‘Stock’

Mentally scared from the crunchy, transparent ‘toilet paper’ of my primary schooldays, I favour simple soft, white loo roll.


8. Three sheets to the wind

My youngest thinks she’s the Andrex puppy, wrapping the entire roll around her hand. My eldest loves to scrunch the paper to tear it. Husband has a tendency to swipe the roll, so that it trails on the floor. Me? I’m Mary ‘Poopins’ (deliberate typo) – practically perfect in every way. The perforations are there for a reason, duh.


7. Toilet Roll Holders – at home

I grew up with those spring-loaded bastards and swore ‘never again’. But then I saw a loo roll holder so sparkly and pretty, I couldn’t resist for the kids’ new bathroom. Both kids are now completely ‘unable’ to change the loo roll.

In the home, I’m a big fan of single-arm loo roll holders. Simple loading mechanism, no fuss, no muss. Everyone can get involved in replenishing. Except they don’t.


Easy on. Easy off.


6. Toilet roll holders – in public

As Forrest Gump once said (albeit about chocolates, not toilet roll holders), ‘you never know what you’re gonna get’. Definitely the case with public loos.

Could be a transparent double:


I like these. You can see what’s available and make a quick judgement call.

Then there’s the pathetic ‘napkin dispenser’:

hd230One by one and then all eighty decide to fall to the floor at once, thus emptying the vessel entirely. This leaves you in an embarrassing situation if someone is waiting outside…

“The loo roll’s just run out!!!”

This must be announced VERY LOUDLY. No one wants to admit having to ‘drip dry’.

5. Laying the foundations

I trust my own cleanliness and that of friends, but in public, I practically decopatch the seat.


Please note: this is a stock shot. My method is far more anal (no pun intended)

For this reason, I love the USA and their handy disposable toilet seat covers.


5. Public cubicles

I don’t like seeing other peoples’ shadows or feet next to me –  I like a solid cubicle wall either side of me. I can cope with a gap under the door as it reminds me of my youth when the locks were often broken and your mate would put their foot under the door to show they were ‘still there’, guarding your privacy.

For this reason, I hate the USA and its freakishly large gaps around the toilet door.


4. Locks & flushes


You’re playing flushian roulette with all three

A locked door is not always a locked door. You could all be acting very British queuing for a loo that is actually vacant but showing as engaged. However, use caution when busting through a toilet door. Some people aren’t ‘lockers’ and this can be embarrassing for both parties, especially if you end up on a mat next to them in Pilates. If the lock is broken and there is no other option, then get practising on your ‘crouch-reach’ agility. It IS possible, but takes some practise. If you can hang your handbag around your neck as well, then this is considered ‘advanced level’. (No photo available.)

I’m a huge fan of the auto-sensor flush and wish more places had them.


Hygiene heaven

At home, we now have dual flush panels. I just wish at times there was a’total eclipse’ option.



3. First is the worst…

Actually I’ve found that it isn’t. This is my go-to loo when faced with a bank of loos. Almost always overlooked as people dash in heading for the middle loos, whereas this first cubicle is often the cleanest one, because less people use it.


2. Number Two

I like my loo smelling fresh at all times. I’m a big fan of those Toilet Duck fresh discs that stick on the side of the bowl. Add in a reed diffuser and you’re good to go. Unless you need back up, in which case an industrial strength air freshener can be hidden for emergencies.

In public it’s a different matter. I have friends who refuse to go for a number two anywhere but their home throne. (Interestingly, most of these are men.)


Before she could read, my youngest thought this meant ‘Desperate for the toilet’

And don’t get me started on the judgemental automatic air freshener. I HAVEN’T EVEN UNDONE MY JEANS!!


Judgemental bastard

1. Seat up/Seat down

I always try to consider the etiquette when going into other peoples’ homes and follow their lead. If the lid is down, I place it down afterward. And if I have time, I like to create a little ‘hotel fold’:



 The classic one, on the left. I’m working on ‘Number 2’ and ‘Number 3’…

Grandma Maisie’s Latkas

You say ‘latke’ but I say ‘latka’; either way, my Grandma Maisie’s were the best and I will fight.. ok, bitch-slap..ok, tell anyone ‘very sternly’ if they disagree with me.

Born on the same day as my Dad, we named our eldest ‘Millie’ by way of tribute to my Grandma Maisie, my Dad’s mum, who passed away 15 years ago.

Memories of going round to visit my Grandma Maisie in Muswell Hill, down a leafy side road lined with those enormous thick-trunked plane trees. With their camo-style bark and knobbly-bobbly tops pruned to within an inch of their boughs in winter, whenever I see a plane tree I think of Grandma.


The suburban 3-story house was where my Dad grew up and he told me of how the trees weren’t maintained and pruned by the Council during War War II,  growing so tall and bushy, they formed a leafy overhead canopy.  When they were finally pruned, the family used a few of the very long branches as props to lift the clothes line higher.

The weekly pilgrimage to my Grandma’s was rarely without reward of some sort of baked or fried good. Gefilte fish not so much my bag, but the latkes? I couldn’t eat them quick enough when these fried fancies were made around Chanukkah time. When my Grandma passed away, as beautiful and sentimental as all of her jewels and brooches and ornaments were, I asked my Dad only for her precious recipe books, notes and scribblings. I hoped the latke recipe would be amongst them and I wasn’t disappointed.


In all their kitchen-stained glory. I wonder if Dolly Conway’s grandkid makes a mean Pesach biscuit?

A half term double playdate for my 2 girls this morning meant they were fully occupied, allowing me time to cook. Cue lots of elbow grease and literal grease. If you don’t like fried foods, then this isn’t for you. Don’t bother trying them with coconut oil. Don’t bother baking them. Well, you can I suppose, but they’ll never be like Grandma Maisie’s delights.

Grandma Maisie’s Latkas


*3 large baking potatoes (about 1.5lbs)

*1 medium onion

*2 large eggs

*1 level tablespoon Malden salt and some freshly ground black pepper

*4 level tablespoons self-raising flour (you can do with plain if that is all that is available but they won’t be as ‘fluffy’)

*1/2 teaspoon baking powder

*vegetable oil – quite a bit


Put flour, baking powder and seasonings into large bowl and mix, adding beaten egg s..l..o..w..l..y until you have a smooth batter.

Grate the potatoes using a fine grater. I like my Microplane fine grater best. I’ve tried doing it in my Magimix using the grater attachment. But it’s not ‘great’ (sorry…) as the resulting latkas are ‘heavy’. With the handheld grate your arm will feel like it’s going to fall off, but it’s worth it for a light consistency.

Squeeze out the liquidy starch from the grated potatoes and add potato pulp to the batter. (Throw away the starchy juice unless you can think of anything useful to do with it. My children are fascinated the amount of liquid a potato can produce.)

Grate the onion, juice and all, into the potato and batter mix.

Mix thoroughly.

Heat a medium sized non-stick pan with a couple of cm of vegetable oil on medium/high heat and drop in generous tablespoons of the mixture, gently flattening them with a spatula. Heat for a few minutes either side until golden and crispy. Ensure the oil stays to a good level throughout all batches otherwise the latkas will burn.

Drain on kitchen towel or greaseproof paper.

Keep breaking off crunchy bits to ‘check’ that they are ok. Then try a whole one just in case. Then try another one to make sure. Possibly half of another one to make doubly sure they’re ok? That’s my method. (I didn’t need lunch.)

Fridge or freeze if there are any left/before husband gets home.


“A latka is for life, not just for Chanukah”