Bathtubs We Have Known

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Gill was invited recently to go with a friend to a posh country inn for the night. Sadly, that’s not as exciting as it sounds. He’s gay, writes a food blog and will be reviewing the food as well as the inn. No hanky panky on the horizon. (Well, a mother has to hope, no?)

Was Gill impressed at the prospect of a glam evening?? Well, sort of. But not about the food or lavish rooms. Rather, she was drooling at the prospect of a long, hot soak in the huge tub in the ensuite bathroom. “Ma, I haven’t had a decent soak in a tub since I came to England years ago!”

She said this wistfully, likely remembering fondly the baths she and her two siblings shared as youngsters. (Water play was our family specialty…which may explain why Gill begins to get twitchy if she isn’t close to some body of water in which to swim.) The tub was laden with their plastic toys and, by the end of the bath, the tub may as well have been a boat on the Atlantic since the floor surrounding it was covered by inches of water. And the three pirates aboard were hunting for booty on the high seas.)

In the UK, it appears that you have to live in a pricey, modern flat to avail yourself of the luxury of a bath. And since Gill has always lived on the bad side of the gentrification line in London, her flats have been neither posh nor modern. Single-glazed windows, non-unified water taps, and coin-operated water heaters did not work in her favour when it came to baths. So I joined in her delight when she told me of this treat.

Her reaction took me back to my own experience with quaint Roman aqueducts — uh, I mean English plumbing — many years ago. My ex and I were staying with his sister and her husband for six weeks while they were at Oxford. Their flat was pleasant but small…and cold and moldy. They did have a large tub but again, a coin-operated heater outside the bathroom. The evening’s entertainment WAS planning for and scheduling one’s bath. It took the heater one hour to get barely enough hot water for a soak. It made sense, obviously, for two people to share a bath. If not, the first person would be dirty again by the time the second person finished his or her soak. Bathing took the entire evening. The British answer to Netflix marathons, I suppose.

We ran our joint bath and got in for a long soak. What we didn’t realize was that the tub overflow drain emptied onto the doorstep of the flat below. Every time we moved in the tub, we overflowed. Fortunately the downstairs neighbours weren’t having guests that evening, so there was no risk of a tsunami drowning them as they waited for access. But in the morning, we got some rather strange looks from the neighbours. I’m sure they thought a) we were sex perverts who did a lot more than bathe in the tub, hence the amount of overflow water or b) we were typical decadent North Americans, insisting on being inordinately clean. Either way, it was made clear that we were odd.

My favourite tub experience happened in Savannah. I took L’il Sis there for a few days after Hurricane Floyd. Since many hotels and inns were closed as a result of the storm, we had our pick of rooms. (This is a tip the travel websites don’t give you: find a hurricane and go to it a few days before it hits. Everyone else will be scared away and you’ll be golden! Of course, this plan could also go very wrong very quickly so, in case you follow my advice, I’m not responsible so don’t try to sue me.)

We chose a huge suite in a B&B that turned out to be the most expensive in town. Since it was a splurge, we took advantage of every amenity on offer — starting with the tub. It was a circular tub with jacuzzi, rimmed in aromatic wood, with a step to get into it. The tub was large enough for 8 people. The two of us were dwarfed but it was the height of luxury and decadence. If L’il Sis hadn’t pointed out that I was getting wrinkly, I would have slept in the tub.

So I look forward to hearing how Gill’s tub experience went. After all, it may be another ten years before she gets the opportunity there again. She will be able to soak when she’s here, but perhaps the possibility of having to share a tub with any of several dogs might take the edge off the glam factor.

 

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