In recent years, as I approach my three score years and ten, I have noticed a tendancy to become more aware of the location of public conveniences. Now, my bodily functions seem by and large to be in reasonable working order, but it is a comfort, when setting out on any journey, to know the whereabouts of these `facilities`.....just in case.
But what is even more rewarding is the discovery of new ones and so, over recent years, I have cast a critical eye over conveniences I have visited and taken to awarding virtual prizes to those I find have provided the most agreeable visit. And so, last week, the facilities of Cornwall came under close scrutiny. However, our restricted range - due to a combination of weather and Henry`s indisposition - meant that the number of occasions when facilities were actually visited, sometimes in times of need and at other times out of curiosity, was quite small.
Those at places such as Mevagissey and Cadgwith were adequate, even possessed of a certain rustic charm. Some places, such as St. Anthony Head, had no facilities at all, which brought on a problem you weren`t really aware of until the absence of facilities brought it into one`s consciousness. But I am able to award two `prizes,` one in the public sector and one operated privately. The public sector prize went to Camelford, whose conveniences are tucked away in a newish looking car park behind the main A39 and were a model of cleanliness and design, quite probably because they are primarily there for local people, rather than passing public convenience critics.
But the overall prize goes to those at Portholland. Now, Portholland is a very quiet, off-the-beaten-track coastal hamlet tucked away down a narrow lane off the road from Gorran Haven to Veryan. The conveniences are located in the car park and their design is evidence that they were originally provided by the local district council, which might be Restormel Borough Council? However, it seems clear that the remoteness of the village and the relatively small number of visitors convinced the district council that the continued operation of the conveniences - even on a seasonal basis - did not represent value for money for the local taxpayer. But a knight in shining armour has come to the rescue and kept the service going on a private, voluntary basis.
And so, when you enter the door, you are greeted by a large vase of freshly cut flowers and the facilities themselves are spotlessly clean and come with soap, hot water and efficient dryers. Mrs. Snopper reports that the `ladies` is equally impressive. We were both encouraged to put 50p in the box, which bore the notice that the service was run voluntarily by some thoughtful and dedicated Portholland resident and that any contribution would be welcome in order to keep the service going.
In Snopper`s burgeoning `Guide to the Loos of England,` Portholland has now overtaken Dulverton on Exmoor as the most welcome, charming and by far the most propitious bladder-related experience so far.