mumsnetBack along, my family and I swapped a house for a three-acre field in Devon and a leaky caravan where we lived off-grid for two years. Sadly, we failed to get the planning permission we needed to stay. We are now back within four walls, with a proper loo and everything in a cottage in Dartmoor. So this is now a blog about living ethically amid a fabulous landscape with our home educated kids while we adjust to being 'normal' - for a while... and what we plan to do with our land next

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Skip to my loo

Our loo has had an amazing upgrade. It is no longer a bucket.

I say that, but in the interests of accuracy it is technically still a bucket, but with a new housing and a red, shiny loo seat.

This is the third arrangement for our sanitary needs. We started off with a chemical loo that came with the caravan and was foul in every sense. That bit the dust when a small, but vital, component fell in the tank into which it was being emptied. This was replaced by a bucket with a loo-seat attached and which served our needs very well – so much so we had two, one for number twos and the other for number ones.

But they have now been combined into one glorious superloo. This comes complete with a special filtration system, otherwise known as newspaper. Through this, liquid seeps away into a further filter while more, er, solid waste remains in the bucket and is treated to liberal sprinklings of sawdust. This is then emptied into a larger container which will, when full, be capped and eventually turn into highly fertile organic matter. All of this is constructed from two buckets, one cut down to house the other and a collar fashioned from the bit that was left over - all of which is very pleasing from a reuse, reduce, recycle point of view.

And it's not only the loo that has had a makeover. I now have something akin to a bathroom – it has walls,  a wooden floor made of pallets, and a door with a little bolt. The latter used to be the door to the shower room in the caravan, which was removed many months ago and has been lurking around falling on me and annoying ever since. But it now has a new lease of life offering closure and privacy as well as a place on which to pin up dinosaur pictures.

Moreover, my new bathroom also has a battery-operated light with a pull switch. It is therefore now possible when going to the loo to walk in, pull on the light and lock the door behind you, just like normal people do.

But the best thing about my new loo is that it has a pot plant.

This had been the source of not a little concern on my part during its construction. In my experience, all composting loos involve a sort of wooden bench with a floral arrangement set upon it. At the fabulous Thistledown campsite in the Cotswolds, there were geraniums. My friend's loo is home to marigolds. Others I have seen place pretty arrangements of cut flowers in jam jars on the surface.

But during preliminary discussions about the design of our loo, it became evident that pot plants did not feature. 'Yes, yes' I would say dismissively as I was talked through various facets of the brilliance of the plan 'but where will I put my plant'.

This, it appeared, was proving irksome to the waste solutions manager: 'What the bloody hell are you talking about,' he said.

I decided, for once, not to pursue the point and this strategy paid off. The design allowed for an in-built rubbish bin that would be housed in a hole cut into the wood next to the loo. Happily, however, we had visitors coming and time became of the essence so the loo was installed without the hole for the bin. This left a bare stretch of wood, which was just asking for a little something to be placed on it. Hmmm, now what shall I put there?

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