Saturday, December 12, 2009

Keeping Abreast of Brest . . .

While strolling in Brest not long ago, very close to the prison that was photographed just a few posts down, in the oddest of places I happened to find this colorful public toilet. Now, if you've been reading these pages for any length of time, you may be aware that there has been quite a debate going about whether there are any public toilets in France. It has been established that in Paris, near the Madeleine, there are indeed some beautiful old public toilets. But elsewhere in France, the quest to locate one can be long and difficult at times, particularly if one is really desperate to find one fast rather than resorting to peeing by the roadside, which is a common sight in France, for the reasons just touched on. And for the fairer sex, peeing by the roadside is not always a viable option when there are no trees or shrubbery nearby.
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So, I was pleasantly surprised in one of the oldest streets in Brest to find this colorful pleasure palace, and well equipped at that, with a toddler's potty, and a whisk broom to sweep up with. (In case one misses ?)
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Not far away on a wall there was this bit of graffiti, which echoed the colors of the toilet rather nicely I thought . . . as you can see I'm a color coordinated fashion oriented kind of guy . . .
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And finally, in this third (that's right Loulou, three photos!), there was a magical opening in a heavy metal gate into another dimension, where colors don't exist, and all is black and white. I wouldn't mind trying life like that for a while . . .
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42 comments:

babbler said...

Aha! A most colorful resting spot for a slug, such a relief to find! Thanks you for providing the fines in sanitary services! This is truly a remarkable photo, and even more remarkable memory for the person or slug who sat upon this mighty throne! Well done Sir! Bravo!

babbler said...

Ahem, this slug forgot to dot her "i's and add her "t" when she wrote about the (fines)t in sanitary services. In this case, it shall be "t" for two...
Love, Mrs. Slug

Maryh K. said...

I do love your blog Owen, and the originality of your photos. Presque aussi surprenantes et originales que mes rêves nocturnes! je rêve souvent de toilettes (pas aussi colorées je l'avoue) et tout en couleurs, ça c'est sûr. J'ai d'ailleurs créé un blog qui s'intitule "les couleurs de ma vie".
Thanks for all your sharings.
Maryh K.

Eleonora said...

Wow, Owen these are great images! I especially am intrigued by the black and white "other dimension" how was that obtained? Painted, Stenciled? How amazing. The graffiti with the Hindu image was gorgeous too.

Once in Paris, smack in the middle of Jardin des Tuilieries, I came across an experimental public toilet. It was an art installation actually, but it was a functioning facility! It was one entirely made of mirror glass, the kind you can only see through in one way. So essentially you'd be sitting doing your thing in a glass box, but totally invisible. It was the coolest, scariest pee I ever took.

Ciao
Lola xx

joo said...

Really strange public toilet indeed.
I have rather bad experience as far as public loos in France are concern to be honest with you, but the one here looks at least funny.
Great weekend to you:)

namaki said...

How nice !!!! I love the colours because I am colour oriented too ...and an Indian stuffs addict... The last one is magic !

jeff said...

Quel magnifique post Owen !
Tiens ! je ne savais pas que les "ouvertures" de Boudha cotoyaient les chiottes d'en haut ! ! ! Mais ces photos sont un régal pour les yeux ! Enfin des photos colorées comme dans le sud ! ! ! Les "cagoinces" que tu as pris en photo en haut ont des couleurs splendides ! ça donne presque "peine" d'aller pisser un coup dans de si belles couleurs ! On dirait de l'art moderne... que dis-je... de l'art contemporain !... J'imagine que la pêlle et la balayette sont là pour les personnes qui ont la courante ! ben oui ! Quand t'es pressé, ça peut partir dans tous les sens ! ! ! Et ne me dis pas que je sais de quoi je parle ! Je te vois venir... Aaaahhh ! Les sujets sur les chiottes et sur la "merde" sont universels Owen ! Heeuuu ! Par contre, il faudra leur dire de réapprovisionner en rouleaux... ! Il en reste peu et j'ai comme une envie soudaine...:-)))...
Ton Boudha, juste dessous n'a pas l'air trop éclaboussé ! Toujours souriant... comme un Boudha ! Mais je me trompe certainement ! Ce n'est pas Boudha avec de si jolis seins et un visage de femme ! ! ! Sorry Loulou si je me trompe !... Peut-être une maison de passe-passe ?...;-)... De magie ou autre ?..:-) Non, c'est la fente pour le courrier qui me fait dire ça ! Mais les couleurs sont superbes ! Ce sont peut-être les artistes qui ont repeint les chiottes qui habitent là ?... Va savoir ?
La troisième demande à être vue de plus près ! Cette photographie sur ce portail est vraiment superbe ! Du très bon goût ! ! !
Au fait Owen, merci pour tes quelques mots sur mon blog... Je suis dans une sorte de passe je vais dire qui est difficile à négocier ! ! ! Mais j'y arrive !... Je peux pas en dire plus !... Mais merci pour tes mots...!

Passe un bon week-end cher Owen !
Sincères Amitiés...;-)

Christine Robinson said...

Good morning, Owen.

I'm not sure if we have a shortage of public toilets around here, but I know that whenever there's a crowd-attracting event, portable toilets are EVERYWHERE.

I often do donor registration volunteer work at such events. A few events ago on a hot day (after drinking much water), I found myself in need of one of those toilets. I discovered a whole row of them. Imagine my surprise when, while doing my business, I heard what I suspected was lovemaking in the toilet next to mine. Before I finished and got myself out of there, I no longer suspected, but absolutely knew.

I have mystified by the logistics of lovemaking in a public toilet ever since. The whys, the logistics, everything. But not so mystified as to want to try that out myself.

Your third picture is intriguing. Wow! Such talent out there in the world!

Warmly,
Christine

designslinger.com said...

Sex in public toilets has been going on for eons.
But in porta-potties?!
Eeeew.
You bring us to the most amazing comment conversations in blogland Owen.
Love it!

Nevine said...

That gate just captured my imagination, Owen. I'm inside that fourth dimension, too, just gliding around like a voyeur. I can see everything and everyone, but I am invisible. So, if I so desire, I can stop and stare, up close, without anyone discovering me, and without anyone becoming self-conscious and changing what they're doing to try and be more appropriate or proper. I can even reach out my hand and touch things, touch people, and even touch the sky - you see, I can fly.... and Ouch! I'm back here because I just saw a red squiggly line under a typo I had made and that just jerked me back to reality. How easily we are made to stop dreaming... The "Black Cat Syndicate"? Now I'm intrigued more than over. I would sure like to know what that is all about? Maybe it's some kind of Poe society or something? Oh, and by the way, that toilet looks very nicely kept, although I'm not so sure I would dare to step inside and actually use it. I'm such a stickler for hygiene. But I don't know about hiding behind the shrubs and... well, you know, even if there are shrubs, it's not so lady-like, now, is it? Your photos are unreal and surreal, Owen, just like everything I've ever seen on your site. Just so...

Nevine

TechnoBabe said...

When in Paris I needed change to use the public toilets, and each restaurant had a different type of toilet so I had a fun time with the puzzle of figuring how to flush in each restaurant.

@eloh said...

I take crappy pictures. I would never in a million years attach the word photography to anything I touched, nor would anyone else... well maybe a blind man.

Anyway, for obvious reasons, I never took many "pictures" during my travels. I wish I had pictures of all the toilets I have "had" to use.

The one on a road side in France remains the only one I never figured out. It looked like a shower stall with cut out for the feet and a drain hole...I could but assume that one was required to "strip down" in order to use it.

Should you come across one of these roadside shower looking stalls... please photograph it for further discussion... Thanks


As always your photographs here are excellent. How is the Black and White done? Paint or some large poster?

cieldequimper said...

Salut Owen ! Brest est une source inépuisable ! Mais où donc as-tu trouvé ces charmants lieux d'aisance ?

Stickup Artist said...

Hi There Owen,

The colors of the stall look very familiar. I didn't know there was graffiti in France, and with the same style of typography. Love the photo of the Hindu with Black Cat Syndicate printed to the right.

I guess while driving about France, one must look at it as camping and take the necessary accoutrements, just in case!

Forearmed is forewarned, or something like that.

Anyway, I really enjoyed the post!

AmyR said...

I think a splash of color (and bright ones at that) really make up for small quarters. I would gladly use more of the portable toilets if they were half as pretty.

I'm making a mental note about the lack of public toilets for whenever it is that I get to travel in France.

clo said...

howdy Owen...j'allais laisser un petit message chez toi quand j'ai ete interompue par un troupeaux d'enfants ma foi fort envahissants...
un peu de calme est revenu...j'en profite donc pour venir te laisser un petit mot...je le laisse la a coté des toilettes..un peu de distraction...
et ta derniere photo est tout simplement geniale...cette sensation de penetrer dans un autre monde..on dirait presque un montage...bien vu cher Owen :o)...
je suis contente pour ton nouveau cadeau...je bois du café fait a la cafetiere italienne...le meilleur...fait attention quand meme de ne pas devenir addict ..:o))
un grand merci pour ton passage...
je te souhaite un weekend des plus doux..
gros bisoux Owen...

magnoliaamber said...

Owen, nice catch.

Well now I know that finding public toilet is not that easy...I should be aware. I like the last photo best. Isn't it just weird to imagine who has created that..and for what reason?

Chic Provence said...

Gorgeous loo, that! Love your images/stories, will be back soon and often!

Kit

Anonymous said...

I am new here. I come from Robert's blog. Very beauiful and interesting here! Nice to find this. I will come back! Renée

louciao said...

Trippant!

BLOGitse said...

wow, wow...
That toilet is so cuuuute!
The last one: I'd like to visit to that world!

Rain said...

LOL, that toilet is great! I love the last photo of the gate, that's really cool.

Marguerite said...

Hilarious! Quite a fancy toilet, indeed! You won't find anything near so lavish here and the toddler's potty and whisk broom are lagniappe'!

Roxana said...

rewriting France's tourist guides :-) you would make a fortune, Owen!

:-)

Owen said...

Ah Dear Mrs Slug, so good of you to slide and swim (or do slugs just continue sliding on the ocean floor) all the way over here to France to leave a comment about a color resting slideroom for gastropods... and "t" for three would be a pleasure any time with such good, shiny-mantled company as you and Mr Slug, and if la grenouille could make it, that would be "t" for four...
:-)

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Mary h, you are more than welcome... it is truly a shame that we cannot take a camera with us into our dreams to take pictures of the magical visions we see there... even if we are dreaming of toilets !
:-)

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Dear Lola, I think it was big paper prints that had been pasted onto the gate there, certainly much nicer to look at than spray painted idiocy... and so many thanks for the bit about the one-way glass toilets in Paris you encountered ! What a trip... and many thanks for the link to the photos also of a similar type of restroom :

http://www.belicove.com/archives/beliblog/mikals_obsession.jpg

Hope you are well, and cooking up more mouthwatering posts for us !

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Hi Joo ! sorry to hear you had a bad time somewhere in France. For the most part it's not as bad as I jokingly let on that it may be, the truth of the matter is, one can usually find a toilet, if one is willing to search for an hour or two... (unless one is driving on the autoroutes, in which case there are well equipped rest stops every 20 to 30 miles or so...

Owen said...

Bonjour Namaki, many thanks, am always looking for a little magic in the world around me...

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Ah Jeff, sacré Jeff, l'enfant terrible ! l'homme terrible ! l'esprit animé qui trouve des idées plus vite qu'un botteur de cul uni-jambiste, et j'ai bien bien rigolé un bon coup franc en te voyant sautillant devant l'écran en essayant de pisser d'abord par le cercle rouge du siège et puis par la fente dans la porte sous le regard tranquil d'une déesse indienne, mais puis, attrapé par la courante ! Mon dieu mon ami, il y a certains détails de ta vie privée qui ne sont pas sûr d'intéresser à toutes et à tous, mais tu m'as bien fais marrer un bon coup, et voilà l'essentiel. Quant à l'art moderne vs l'art contemporaine, je ne sais pas, chez moi c'est plutôt l'art "con - temps - pour - âne", mais bon, je n'y peux rien, je n'étais pas doté au point de départ avec assez de neurones pour faire mieux, donc je fais ce que je peux avec ce que j'ai... mais tu as raison, peut-être une maison de passe-passe, gerée par le "Black Cat Syndicate"... bon... j'espère que la passe que tu négocies à présent sera positive à la fin, bon courage en tout cas, et merci pour les sourires, qui n'ont pas de prix... oui, un grand merci...

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Dear Christine; oh my, thank you for that charming tale of tail in a toilet, but my goodness, I just can't imagine how anyone could possibly be inclined (literally) to doing such things in a porta-potty... I mean yikes, just the smell would put anyone in their right mind off such a notion, talk about the total opposite of romantic. People must get pretty desperate. Glad to hear you are doing good things with donor campaigns. Phil Lesh apparently promotes organ donor activities by making announcements at his concerts these days, I gather he had some personal experience with kidney problems... Thanks for the smiles...

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DesignSlinger, well, people sling all sorts of things into the comment box here, I guess I ask for it with all the off the wall stuff I post about... but glad to see you, and I agree : eeewwww and pphhhhheeeewwwwweeee, porta-potties are the dregs !

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Owen said...

Ah Nevine, I had guessed some time ago that you were a magical being, and now you have confirmed it beyond the shadow of a doubt... and of course magical beings do not need to be concerned about such earthly worries as shrubbery by the roadside or public restrooms, so please, return to flying and dreaming and writing, as you do that ever so well, ever so magically... and now, on your next swoop by here, let me pass you a simple piece of ancient egyptian papyrus parchment with just two words inked on it in the finest calligraphy I can produce... "Thank You" ...


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Owen said...

TechnoB., Paris is always an adventure, in every dimension, on every level... no wonder it attracts people from all over the world... and I'm happy to hear you returned with a flush in your cheeks... errrr that didn't come out sounding the innocent way I meant it... with flushed cheeks from enjoyment of Paris, yes, that's better...
:-)

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Hi @eloh, sorry to hear you don't have alot of images from your travels, photos do help preserve memories that might otherwise fade, or at least decrease in clarity with the passing years... the roadside toilet you've described here sounds like what we call Turkish toilets, although I have no idea if toilets in Turkey look like that, as I've never been there. Not yet, anyway. As for having to strip down to use one, well, I guess men lower their pants (trousers for the English in the audience) and then lean WAY back. While women on the other hand, in France, would just raise their skirts and squat, having first removed undergarments, should they have happened to be wearing any in the first place. (ok, that's a JOKE !!!! I can hear the eggs whistling past my virtual ears... I was just kidding, ladies, honestly !) But yes, indeed, sounds like a Turkish toilet, not a shower stall, and I'll see if I can post something along those lines here shortly...

The third photo I guess was a large paper print, pasted like a billboard photo to the gate...

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Ciel ! Ciel, there you are... it's been a few days, hope you are well; ummm, ces lieux d'aisances étaient dans la rue St Malo dans Brest, près du Prison de Pontaniou, une des plus vieilles rues de Brest qui a survecue aux bombardements de WWII, un endroit charmant, le quartier est fascinant...

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Dear Stickup Artist...
Forearmed is forewarned ? Well, if you are planning on coming to France someday, it's not really necessary to bring a separate suitcase with just loo-paper, and an entrenching tool for digging latrines, it's not really as bad as all that... And yes, there is no shortage of graffiti in France, it's a plague like in many other places, and only rarely is palatable visually. Mostly just eyesores whose culprits should be hung up by their thumbs so as to never again be able to thumb the nozzle on a can of spray paint...
Many thanks my friend, your latest photos were phenomenal...

Owen said...

Hey Amy, I think you've hit the nail on the head (not meaning "head" as in the naval toilet term), but you're right, porta-potties are so darn ugly. Someone could do all landscapes a big favor by creating a line of porta-potties in more decorative colors and with art on them and in them to make using them a little less of a nightmare. And if someone could find a way to invent one that didn't stink to high heaven inside, that would be a welcome improvement also...

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Clo, chère Clo, mille fois merci, le weekend était plus que doux en famille ce dimanche surtout... et oui, je ferai très attention de bien surveiller la consommation de café, en tout cas, pour moi, c'est simple, ce n'est jamais plus qu'un par jour, car sinon, je serais tendu comme une corde de violon. Et je suis plus que content si cette 3eme photo t'a ouvert une porte vers d'autres dimensions... ça fait bien de sortir un peu parfois vers d'autres mondes insolites... bises Clo, et bonne semaine...

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MagnoliaAmber, well good luck in all future quests for public toilets, they do come in handy sometimes. And I have no idea who or why for the large poster on the gate there, and there was no one around to ask... a mystery... but then, I like mysteries like that...

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Dear Chic Provence, thank you so much, you're very welcome, the more the merrier, do come back soon ! There's always something cooking here, and at worst, if for nothing else, at least there are restrooms here...
:-)

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Hi Renée, well, many thanks for dropping in, any fan of Robert's is welcome here, for sure...

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Hey Lynne, ... "Trippant" ??? Is that another French Canadianism ???

Well, just don't trip when you step into the loo there, I'd hate to see you take a dive down that colorful red rabbit hole, and I'd sure as hell hate to have to fish you out of there... but seeing as what a wonderful friend you are, I guess my aversion to bad smells would have to be overcome, and I'd gallantly lend you a hand to pull you back up from the depths there, before we went galumphing off to find a public shower... which in France are even rarer than public toilets... Now how is all that for an answer, based on a one word comment ??? That is value for your money, ey ? Hope you're not freezing up your way these days... by the fireside maybe...
:-)

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BlogItse, well, you're just going to have to get on a plane and come over to France I guess... there's plenty to see...

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Hi Rain ! Well, the toilet is colorful anyway... nothing like a few primary colors to liven things up...

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Hey Marguerite, I guess "lagniappe" must be a cajun term, it doesn't appear in the French dictionary I just opened... hmmm, hope it means something nice !

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Ah Roxana, there you are... well, I've been re-writing the tourist guides for some time, but now I'm just waiting for the money to start pouring in... (so far not the faintest echo of a single penny falling in the cup by my feet, yet this blog seems to me so much more creative than simply hanging a sign around my neck that says "I'm Hungry"...) (guess I'll wait a while longer yet) (but earthly money and fortune isn't everything; just a few words from you, for example, are riches beyond my wildest dreams)
:-)

The Sagittarian said...

Ah why do the kids get all the cutesy loos eh? Good colour matches tho', and what was your explanation to the Police for lurking with camera near toilets??

Catherine said...

what a wonderful sequence of shots which really plots the way your mind works!! love that primary-coloured potty - it looks like an art installation!! I have been musing on colours in my last two posts too....

louciao said...

"Trippant": Québecois, popularly used in the late 1970s and on, meaning "trippy" or "far out." Akin to "hallucinant" but less intense. I suppose if I did fall headfirst into the red rabbit hole of hell, and you dived in to pull me out, that would be classified as "hallucinant" more than "trippant." Especially after having inhaled the thick ethers therein.

Getting more bang for my buck is what keeps me coming back to the Magic Lantern Show.

;-*

Owen said...

Dearest Sister Saj,
I'm sometimes dumb, but not stupid... I didn't try to explain to the police, I just ran like hell... fortunately I'm a fast little sod...

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Catherine,
Your last several posts have been musings on color, it seems to me. I will be by soon to see the most recent... many thanks ! Glad you liked the colorful potty...

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Dear Trippant H. Sister Lynne, well, I'm just choking with laughter now... or choking on whatever was down that rabbit hole from hell... as for getting bang for one's buck, the police may have questions about that too... think I'm going to pull another runner... and run right up to bed... So, watch your step when moving toward open outhouse holes... that's the moral of the story I guess, trippant should not become hallucinant if one can help it... or as Tom Robbins would put it in Fierce Invalids, that was a little vivid...

Nathalie said...

That top photo is a little gem!

The colours are too good to be true.

I guess the whisk broom is provided in order to help wipe the sand from the floorboards. Isn't this a beach environment?

.:: Karine ::. said...

bonjour owen adoré !
tu me fais vraiment rire avec tes posts :-) au début une histoire de pipi et de chiottes (pardon tout le monde) et à l'arrivée des oeuvres d'art !!!
de belles couleurs gaies comme j'aime, des graphes modernes comme j'adore et des rêves plein la tête !
tu nous fais voyager suspendu aux toilettes ! c'est superbe, merci !
plein de kisses xxx

Virginia said...

Well Owen, you've captured my biggest dilemma when in Paris.....les toilettes! Always a surprise. One never knows what to expect. I've enjoyed the nice one at the Madeleine! Other times, we just stop for a coffee or glass of wine and I embark on the great hunt!!! Is it upstairs or downstairs?? Will it be separate or unisex?? Will it have a seat??? A Parisian adventure.
V

Jo said...

I had read about the public toilets, but I have never seen a picture of one. It's a bit more glamorous than the ones I had read about, I must admit.

I almost have a phobia about public toilets. "Public" and "toilet" are oxymorons to my way of thinking, and I have learned to ... um ... hold things until I get home. *heh*

Marguerite said...

Hi Owen, Lagniappe' means " a little something extra" in Cajun French! :) Have a great day!

James said...

Hi Owen. I wasn't near France this time but I hope to be next time. If so I'll give you a shout. I wonder if the toilet smells as nice as it looks. :)

Cildemer said...

Very nice toilets and fantastic colours.
I think I'm going to paint the toilets at home in the same bright colours as those.

Owen said...

Hi Nath ! Umm, no, actually it wasn't near the beach, it was sandwiched in a street of crumbling medieval houses that survived the bombing of Brest in WWII, between an abandoned prison from the 1800s, and an abandoned military depot... I was really surprised to find it there, and yeah, I loved the color scheme...

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Ah, salut Karine, tu es trop sympa toi ! Et oui, même dans le Louvre, on trouve des toilettes, oui, c'est tout un ensemble dans la vie, et certains psychologues pourraient nous convaincre que la créativité commence tout petit dans les chiottes, (comme tu dis! pardon encore à tous) n'est-ce pas ? Tu me fais sourire, et oui, les reves plein la tête, il faut...

Merci mille fois Karine,

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Hi Virginia, I know what you mean, life is always an adventure in Paris... all aspects of life... good to know that you enjoy it though. But sometimes after certain experiences, it is REALLY nice to return to the comfort and cleanliness of one's own home...
:-)

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Jo, rest assured, they are not all as nice and colorful as this fun one was... and I'm betting you are not the only one with a phobia about "public" toilets... I too don't like being in public places to do private business... but sometimes one has little choice...
:-)

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Merci Marguerite !

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James, you are right to wonder... well do give a shout, it would be wonderful to see you in Paris...

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Bonjour Cildemer, hmmm, maybe I should re-position my blog as a "home decoration" magazine ? All sorts of home decorating ideas can be found here... thanks so much...
:-)

Maryh K. said...

Dear Owen,
Je t'ai laissé un commentaire sur le message précédent hier en fin d'après-midi mais il n'est pas apparu. (?) Disparu avec la nuée ?
Qu'importe, ce n'était sans doute pas si important que cela. La preuve c'est que je ne saurais plus bien dire ce que j'y avais écrit, juste que je me souviens t'y avoi remercié pour la chaleur de tes réponses individualisées.