The great poo adventure or when all great plans go wrong.

The great poo adventure or when all great plans go wrong.

On Friday morning our downstairs toilet started leaking water into the bathroom. Initially the water appeared to be clean, but by Saturday morning it had a faint whiff to it. If we flushed the toilet upstairs or emptied the bath, water mysteriously appeared in the ground floor bathroom.

Two years ago we had the same problem, (see Treasure maps, pee and poo) so using my best Italian, I called the poo man to come and clear the blockage.


Mr Poo Man to the rescue

Hi, I Pecora Nera, me toilet blocking, you come here yesterday now.

Poo Man: Hi Pecora Nera, How are you, I will come and fix the problem on Monday.

Fantastic. Where, erh When?

Poo Man: In the afternoon.

I told Mrs Sensible that the Poo Man was coming on Monday afternoon and everything would soon be back to normal, or at least as normal as our house gets. I cancelled my afternoon lessons and waited and waited and waited.


Waiting for the Poo Man is not fun

Not only didn’t the Poo Man turn up, but he wouldn’t answer any of my messages or telephone calls. Very late on Tuesday he sent me a message asking if he could come on Thursday morning. I knew by Thursday morning we would be swimming in poo. I sent a terse message back asking him where he was on Monday and could he please please come on Wednesday. I haven’t heard from him since…

When all else fails there is always Facebook, so I posted a message in one of the Facebook groups and a nice lady called Jill said she normally fixes her septic tank blockages with a garden hose pipe.

Hmm! All it takes is a hose pipe. I unscrewed the toilet and peered into the hole underneath it.


There appears to be a rather lot of poo down there..

I slowly fed the hose pipe down the hole and metre by metre it disappeared, after thirty minutes of pushing and pulling, the hose pipe finally stopped. I estimate the end of the hose pipe was some 20 metres down the hole. No matter how hard I pushed or twisted the hose pipe it wasn’t going any further.

And so I sat down and had a little think.


Just a little think.

And then I had a wonderful idea, if I suddenly turned the hose pipe on, the force of the water would blast the blockage of poo out of the way. I could then go out for a glass of wine.

And without a second though, I twisted the tap and fired the water down the hose pipe, the result was not quite as I had anticipated. The majority of the poo remained firmly in place some 20 metres down the pipe. But a rather large amount returned back up the pipe and created a rather spectacular fountain of poo, toilet paper and water in the middle of the bathroom.


I heard it, I smelt it but I didn’t really want to see it.

I will be honest, it was not  the result I had wanted. It took me nearly 2 hours to mop the floor, walls and sink and I still had a blocked pipe. I decided I should give the Poo Man a quick call. I am not sure he will ever fully understand the message I left him, but I think he realised I was a little dissatisfied with him.

I sat down and had another little think.

If I could seal the space between my hose pipe and the hole, it might be possible to stop the water and poo escaping into the bathroom, it might actually force the poo into the septic tank where it belongs. And so I started to ram and stuff old sheets and cloth in the hole and around the hose pipe. I then added my weight by firmly standing on top of the cloth sealed hole and asked my assistant….. Mrs Sensible to turn the tap on.

Rabbit 2

I suddenly realised I might not have thought of everything.

As the water fired down the hose pipe for a second time, I realised I might have made a few miscalculations. There was the possibility that the pressure might actually force a thin but powerful jet of poo and water up past my makeshift seal and hit anyone stupid enough to be stood on top of the seal. Or worse still it might force the poo, toilet paper and a substantial amount of water in another direction altogether and exit out the kitchen sink, or the bidet that was currently right next to my left elbow.


It was a distinct possibility

The hose pipe shuddered in my hands and I pushed it deeper into the hole to seal it and it moved, about 20 centimetres, so I shoved it again and again. I silently prayed that the kitchen was not being turned into a disaster area and the poo was really going in the direction I wanted it to go.


Happy days

I am sure you are pleased that there is an happy ending to this post. When Mrs Sensible turned off the water, the pipe was completely clear. The Pecora Nera house is now back to normal, or as normal as it ever is.








The thighs have it.

You are no doubt asking yourself what Tatiana Kashirina the Olympic weightlifting has to do with Italy, well let me tell you, it’s her thighs. Now before you all start jumping up and down and sending messages to Mrs Sensible about her errant husband, let me explain.

Tatiana Kashirina

Tatiana Kashirina

Before I moved to here, I thought living in Italy would be very similar to living in Great Britain, just without the rain and a decent bacon sandwich, but I was in for a huge culture shock. To start with they don’t go to the bathroom the same way we do.  I promise you it is true, so stop giggling. In England we sit on the loo, ponder life for a bit, clean up using a bit of Andrex toilet paper and then as our mothers taught us, we wash our hands. Nice and simple, in Italy nothing is simple, including going to the loo.

Andrex Puppy and loo roll

Andrex Puppy and loo roll

To start with we have an additional piece of pottery in our bathrooms, it is called a BIDET, it is like a toilet but it has taps on it and no it is not for washing your feet ….. its for washing your , well your bits in.  You see the Italians have decided cleaning your bum after a number 2 with toilet paper, even using expensive soft stuff like Andrex is not good enough (number 1 is a wee and number 2 is, well a number 2), so all good Italians use a bidet to wash their bits after a number 2 or even a number 1.

A bidet is not for washing your feet in.

A bidet is not for washing your feet in.


When Mrs Sensible lived in the UK she was astonished and horrified to learn that most homes didn’t have a bidet fitted and the people who did have a bidet fitted, used it for anything but washing their bums. I am not going to go into how to use a bidet, there is a useful link here for those of you who are interested, but I will add just one word of warning, make sure you get the temperature of the water just right or it will bring tears to your eyes.

Our UK house didn't have a Bidet so Mrs Sensible had to improvise.

Our UK house didn’t have a Bidet so Mrs Sensible had to improvise.

Before you ask, Tatiana Kashirina has absolutely nothing to do with Bidets. But she has everything to do with the Italians fascination with Turkish toilets. A Turkish toilet is as close in design to an English toilet as a pizza is, to a big juicy bacon sandwich with egg, mushrooms and if you are lucky a dollop of tomatoes thrown on. A Turkish toilet is a toilet without any super structure, it how a minalist would design a  toilet if he was asked. Basically it is a hole that you squat over and this is where  Tatiana Kashirina thighs come into play, because if you don’t have well developed thighs you are likely to collapse and fall down the hole.

A Turkish Toilet

A Turkish Toilet

While I was writing this I got to thinking why the Turkish toilet never caught on in the UK and you are free to disagree with me here, but I think there are two main reasons. 1) It would be impossible to read a book or the Sunday Paper whilst trying to balance over the hole and 2) The English like to go drinking in pubs in the evening and alcohol and good balance rarely go hand in hand.

I stole this from Gingerfightback so go and have a look at his site

I stole this from Gingerfightback so go and have a look at his site

Now before you go off in search of humorous pictures of bidets or Turkish toilets please spare a thought to how you would manage, if you needed to spend a penny* when you had your best evening frock on, or even a pair of dungarees.

If you slip whilst using a Turkish Toilet you will get wet. (Maria Grazia Cucinotta star of Il Postino)

If you slip whilst using a Turkish Toilet you will get wet. (Maria Grazia Cucinotta star of Il Postino)

To spend a penny is a polite English expression to say you need to go and pee.


Please go and have a look at what the other COSI group members think about the loo in Italy