[Those of a delicate disposition look away now].
When you spend a certain amount of time on narrowboats, you soon begin to understand why one of the most common topics of discussion between boaters are the merits or otherwise of the various on-board methods human waste disposal.
As per Toulouse, her sister boat, Song & Dance has two toilets (of different types). The bathroom one is piped to a large holding tank via something politely known as a macerator, which – when working properly – grinds everything exceeding small while pumping it away out of sight, smell and mind. And when it doesn’t work, anything less liquid than water can cause it to block. Clearly, when fixing the flooding toilet in the bathroom, something had been disturbed, because no sooner had we started using it again in anger, it filled up and didn’t empty.
A “conversation” with an engineer reluctant to hot-foot it all the way from Stoke-on-Trent to Oxford, and our reluctance to don huge rubber gauntlets and strip the system down – we were trying to leave Oxford, not go on a self taught toilet dismantling course – led to a somewhat alarming suggestion that reversing the electricity connections and running the pump would almost certainly resolve the matter. Instant reaction was that we’d promptly turn the bathroom into something resembling the streets of Paris last November, but hey… nothing ventured, nothing gained!
Fortunately, on pulling the toilet away from the wall, it was immediately clear that when previously replaced after the leak, the large rubber waste pipe had got twisted and crushed, thus preventing it fulfilling its proper role. A swift go at a jubilee clip to twist and realign things, and we were back in business so to speak. Really needs a new waste pipe: let’s hope that the bodge repair lasts long enough.
Meanwhile, the Captain has his own facilities – a litter tray. When we’re moored up he always has access to the Big Wide World and is encouraged to go off into the hedgerows to do his business, while regarding the litter tray as an emergency backup for those moorings where he really isn’t happy to go out for whatever reason. Regrettably, cats also sometimes eat grass to make themselves sick – usually after a major bout of fur cleaning – a rather less predictable exercise.
Fran coaxed Sir out onto the towpath in the evening as the passers-by had largely disappeared, and both came back in a couple of minutes later. “He’s done his business…”, said Fran, “… he’s peed, poohed and puked”, and with that pure alliterative poetry, it was clearly time to leave Oxford. Fast.