It costs 40p to piss by Lake Windermere.
If you don’t care about the fact I have just paid 40p to go to the toilet, then look away now. There is no need for you here. I am in the Lake District but fell climbing, the glory of a Lakeland spring or considerations of the majesty of Nature will be noticeably absent.
If a Golden Eagle landed on my head, I would be too busy muttering to myself about 40p to even notice it. Mind you, suspect the Lake District probably charges a hefty premium for Golden Eagle Head Landings (weather permitting, Orange Zone Only)
We are in Windermere, Bowness to be precise, Blackpool for the middle-classes and my desperate panic to not pay 40p to use the public toilets after a calm demand from my child resulting in a flurry of dragging him into closed or toilet-less cafes and attractions ends up in me angrily shoving 40p in the toilet coin machine to find out it is too sodding late.
I used to find 20p an outrageous affront to use a public toilet but now I dream of those halcyon days, a dreamy miasma of well priced toilets, their lids somehow smiling through a peachy mist after paying 40p to remove a pair of wee pants off a child who refuses to take the lollipop out of his mouth during the entire process, a fact definitely noticed by a woman in a headscarf loitering outside.
Yes, the view is amazing, almost more iMax cinema than actual reality, you expect to see a T-Rex lumber past at some point. That would slightly make up for spending 40p to badly clean up a wee. Slightly. It would probably need to also talk to be fair. The rising snow capped peaks mean nothing to me now. And everything smells slightly like piss.
Genial middle-aged non locals chat to me about my ‘darling child’ as we walk about avoiding the alarming amount of psychotic looking swans. I manage to bring up the fact of the 40p charge to use the toilet at the closest available opportunity. Most people are pleasingly horrified. A few look a bit scared and make an excuse to depart, almost definitely on their way to the Council offices to complain. I work out how much it would cost to come for a day here if heavily pregnant.
Starving, we look for somewhere to eat that we can now afford. A pleasingly ramshackle pub up a side road looks promising until I see the mostly meat based menu. The child is not for turning and I am too weak and tired to fight for now so order chips and a pleasingly ironic kitsch looking starter of chilli cottage cheese on ‘warm pineapple’ with chilli relish and garlic bread.
It is actually strangely OK until I have stopped being hungry and then feel the need to make the child eat something other than chips, ie a bit of pineapple, something that he generally is fond of. He refuses to touch it so lets now fast forward to the bit where we had to leave and where he is lying in the actual road screaming.
I drag him up another side street and there is the sort of pub that you only see in Hardy adaptations on ITV. I offer him the promise of some Bacon Fries if he is good again, pop my name on Worst Mum Ever list and order a large red wine and some Bacon Fries whilst the boy looks nervously at a stuffed fox and the stuffed fox looks nervously back at him.
Everything here is stuffed. If I had a dog, I would take him to the toilet with me to be on the safe side.
I leave the child.
It has been a bad day to be fair.
The poshest people in the world come in and roar at me across the tables. The man is so posh I am still unsure if they were from Wales or Wells. I pretend to be au-fait with both of them to be on the safe side.
They casually order a bottle of not cheap wine and that sort of spreading overly ambitious posh pub sandwich bigger than the average head. I bitterly think they probably have not had a wee in the Bowness public toilet. In my head now is the largesse I could have had if I had not paid 40p to pull off some wee pants.
A raincoated elderly woman shuffles in, head down, sits at a table and drinks a glass of white wine surprisingly quickly before shoving herself silently out of the door again. Posh Friendly Southern Man sagely states, ‘a local. ’ and his wife nods wisely.
The fox says nothing.