Monday, 25 June 2012

The Heads

I once before, a little more than a year ago, wrote a story on this blog about a particularly bad case of gastric flu I managed to pick up from somewhere and quite cleverly - I thought - wove it into a simple recipe involving barbecued bananas with dark, melted chocolate. It was a necessary introduction, I believe, to the grunt of the story and ensuing recipe. I did apologise profusely for any offence caused, it being a food blog and all.

With that in mind, if I may just slip in an additional apology, for I am about to tell you all about our 'heads' on Mariquita. The loo. The dunny. The bogs.

As you may already know, the nautical term for the loo's on boats, the 'heads', comes from the days of large, down-wind sailing ships. The crew were obliged to go all the way forward to the bow sprit (the long pokey-outy stick on the bow of ships and classic boats like ours) to relieve themselves. As this was at the head of the boat, the term for the toilets on a boat stuck and even now they are know as the 'heads'. There were two un-deniable benefits to the loos being there in those times; firstly the ships were mostly down-wind sailing vessels so any smell would drift away from the boat in the following breeze. Handy when you don't have a bottle of Febreeze within reach. Secondly, the natural motion of the water against the hull at the bow of the boat would act as a natural flusher, conveniently washing everything away.

I can't imagine though how depressing your day would have become if you were suffering from a bit of a tummy ache and Mother Nature was throwing a force 8 at you with heavy rain and a massive, rolling sea. That's quite a bidet...

Our crew heads on Mariquita are really quite lovely aesthetically speaking. No, it's not at the bow of the boat or over the open sea as thankfully in this day and age we have the convenience and sophistication of pumps and valves. So although our heads are definitely up forward, they are also behind a nice door, inside. Nice door.

Sea water is still used to flush our Blakes loo though. Flushing the thing after you have 'finished', requires you to pump up and down on the big handle until the bowl has emptied, turn on the tap to let the sea water in and flush with the second little handle. Repeat a few times before you finally turn off the tap. Now this bit is the most important bit to remember. If you forget, the boat will sink. Well, it would take a while but there is always the odd day when a gentle trickling sound is heard from the crew heads and the loo is discovered to be overflowing with, basically, the sea.

So spare a thought, all you house dwelling, simply-push-the-handle folk out there when you next flush. At least you're not committed to your toilet for another 2 to 3 minutes, manually pumping away, with the little added excitement that your responsible for your house not sinking.

I shall leave you with that thought and with some photos of our more historic guest heads (the posh loos), modelled on toilets that were actually used back then in 1911. Yes, that is a lot of polishing to be done but they are beautiful. As heads go.

I couldn't bring myself to follow this one with a recipe I'm afraid. I think it wise just to leave it there.