Friday, 15 March 2013

Wet knickers and Monty Python

The above, dear reader, is a Female Bottle. It's called that because of the distinctive shape of the spout, which fits over a woman's nether parts so that she can pee into the bottle if she needs to.

The way women are constructed, you have to bare your bottom and squat behind a bush if you are far away from a proper loo - out on a country ramble, say. And apart from the problem of finding a bush that will make you invisible to prying eyes, and the occasional difficulty of shooing away inquisitive animals, or finding you're hovering over a wasps' nest, this can be a serious physical feat if the ground is uneven or sloping or slippery, or your leg muscles aren't used to squatting for long.

And that bare-bottom business is a decidedly chilly ordeal when it's a breezy winter afternoon, and there's still snow on the ground. Add to all that the facts that a woman can't aim her pee, can't really see what she's doing, and can easily spray herself if she's not careful, and you can understand why women like to carry tissues to mop up with, which the more environmentally-conscious then need time to poke well into the ground. It's not surprising that some women, if they can, try desperately to hold it all in till they reach a civilised place to relieve themselves.

I don't suppose there are many women under sixty who would feel seriously inhibited about dropping back and disappearing into a bush if they had to, but notions of modesty die hard, and in mixed company I for one would certainly hesitate to do it. Men can be embarrassed much the same, but young bloods and bluff types just unzip and do their business against a tree, and it's all over inside half a minute, and very likely nobody will notice or care. But a woman might have layer upon layer of clothing to hoick up, or pull down, and then afterwards tuck in and rearrange, and it's not possible to do it in a flash, and without drawing attention to oneself.

Believe me, men have it easy.

Well, yesterday I went for a South Downs walk by myself. It was a sunny but cold day, with plenty of deep snow still lying in sheltered spots. So I wore my Dubarry boots for grip and style:

I have to say yet again, these boots amaze me. They are waterproof and warm, and clean up so easily. I also had my trusty hazel stick with me, as a 'third leg' - and in the slushy or muddy spots, it saved me falling over many a time. (Quite apart from its possible utility in holding off attacking men, or raging bulls, or lions)

The photo makes my stick look very substantial, but really it's not much more than a twig.

So long as I kept moving, I stayed cosy. But it was really slippery underfoot, and slow going, and I knew that I'd be caught short long before I got home again. In fact I needed to have a pee only twenty minutes into my walk. Fortunately (a) nobody was in sight, so I could dive into a wood without going through some pantomime to suggest that I was Britain's Wildlife Expert, and had just spotted a lemur or octopus rarely seen on these Sussex uplands; and (b) I had with me, in my trusty rucksack, that green Female Bottle.

I'd bought that bottle from Boots two years ago, and I'd been keeping it in Fiona's boot, just in case. But hitherto I'd always found a proper public loo. Or else it was simply easier and less fuss to hop over a drystone wall, as found on the High Pennines, and squat there - although the parked Fiona always gave away the fact that Someone Was Having A Pee On The Other Side Of The Wall as clearly as if I'd stuck a notice in the ground saying 'This way for a great view of Lucy's bottom'. Although I'd make sure that the likelihood of anyone coming along was highly remote. On the particular Pennine occasion I have in mind, I'd parked high up on the wild and desolate moorland road that connects Dent and Garsdale railway stations in Cumbria, a real Road To Nowhere, and it was close on sunset and getting dim. I'm glad to report that no sex-crazed men came along, nor any hill farmers with sharp-toothed sheepdogs; nor was I menaced by stags, or eagles, and no helicopters with searchlights and loudspeakers hovered.

Back to the bottle. Now because I was wearing my Dubarry boots, which come up to my knees, I wouldn't be able to haul my jeggings and knickers down very far, which meant that they would prevent me squatting with my feet planted wide apart. But there was enough space to get the bottle into position, more-or-less standing up. This I did, and started to fill the bottle. But the next thing I knew, there was pee all over my knickers and jeggings. Damn! The only way I could continue was to squat right down.

After mopping up, pulling on my somewhat damp garments, emptying the bottle, wiping it with snow, and popping it inside a plastic bag in my rucksack, I pondered the disaster. I think that not having my legs wide apart meant that the golden fluid couldn't jet, but merely dribbled, and some of it dribbled over the lip of the spout and onto my garments not far below. Proper squatting got these garments out of the way, and let all the dribble run into the bottle. So using a bottle was not a completely duff idea, it just needed the right technique. Although frankly it was more trouble than it was worth.

It was hard to continue in style with wet knickers. But these things happen, and I wasn't going to let it spoil my walk. (Obviously, once back in Fiona, I sat on a blanket, and everything went into the wash)

I mention all this at length, just in case you have been toying with using a bottle when out in the sticks. I know you can get a special plastic contrivance or device that is supposed to equip a woman with a 'penis' for peeing through, and give her a man's ability to do it standing up (and presumably whistling), but on this showing I have my doubts. I'm going back to squatting properly, and just hope for decent bushes or drystone walls when I need them.

The walk itself was good, but at the most outward part all I could do was a loop around a field, and then return the same way I had come. This was because the intended return path was knee-deep or more in snow:

Ooh, that's a bit too deep. You couldn't walk through that. Suppose a leg snapped off? That would slow me down. And if both legs went, I'd be in real difficulty. So I did the sensible thing, and backtracked. It was a good walk all the same, and justified a hearty meal once home again!

All this discussion of urinatory matters brings to mind a scene from Monty Python's Flying Circus on TV. A scene I remembered only from the phrase 'The King is like a bat's piss'. This was the actual script: see

I think that's quite enough on the entire subject, don't you?


  1. I read this post with fascination as this is the year when I try to get back into serious walking as my new female self. I am pre-op so perhaps directing the flow will be slightly easier, but I must admit this post reminded me of an issue I hadn't considered that deeply!

    However, the joys of country walking more than outweigh any difficulties such as these and this post has more than reinforced my desire to get out there walking!

  2. Oh Lucy! This was supposed to be a glowing report of a really handy gadget, one which would be handy to have in the car when two old ladies head off on holiday.

    Holding it in becomes harder with age and loos can be incredibly hard to find... we often hear of male privilege
    and being able to quickly pee in public seems to sum it up. In france it is almost obligatory to stand at the side of the road and pee with impunity as a man but what on earth do the poor women do?

    1. Faced with the thought of some interesting concepts in sanitary arrangements in France I have been spurred on to get provided with something suitable to aid peeing if the need arrises. Squatting over a hole in the ground and hoping to miss your feet gets harder with age...

      The answer is "Shewee", found one today and it worked first time, just need the courage to not hold it too tight and let some air in. Priceless find.

  3. Mmm..a very interesting article here Lucy. At first glance that bottle looks perfect for the task but I think it needs one modification. The business end I feel would vastly improve it's effectiveness if it were made of soft rubber rather than semi-rigid plastic. This would enable a closer fit to anyone who used it. I do think it is a good idea in any case, though as you say it needs practice to use it well in its present design. I remember when pre-op struggling to pee in an emergency far away from any toilet, the main problem being my underwear and not being able to get them out of the way when squatting. You are probably wondering why I didn't stand up but as is often the case no matter where you may think it is safe on a dark country road someone always manages to drive by so squatting behind the vehicle sometimes was the better option. Since those days I have had to do the same on one or two occasions and it is, as you point out, difficult for any woman to take aim in the right direction. Somehow it always manages to go where it shouldn't. Standing up is definitely the better option but the device must be helpful rather than being a hindrance. I might just buy one anyway. As I get older I need to go more often I am finding so going for long walks/bike rides can be a problem.

    Shirley Anne x

  4. There are devices filled with absorbant granules that women glider pilots use in the cockpit that you might like to search for on the net. Only problem is that they are single use!


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