The other morning I was trudging round & round the damp path worn in our grass under the Hills Hoist. It was cold & my hands were numb as I hung the nappies on the line. Then the sun came out, really came out & I was treated to this.

I raced inside to get the camera as Grace sat on the back doorstep & laughed at her mum taking photos of the washing. Then we took a tour around the garden in the cold sunshine before going back inside to the heater. Our morning was made.

Fear of scraping

One of the things that seems to horrify people about using cloth nappies is that you have to scrape the baby poo into the toilet. This has come up again & again in conversations with mothers who use only disposables. When I say that you're meant to do that with soiled disposables as well, I get a blank look in reply.  It says on the side of the packet of Huggies we have at home "Excess soiling should be removed and flushed down the toilet." Interestingly this is not mentioned on the environmental part of the website.

But nobody does it. It all gets bagged up & put in the rubbish bin to sit in landfill for ever & ever. Disgusting isn't it. Much more disgusting than having a system for disopsing of the poo properly. This is how we do it. There is a plastic bucket by the change table. Everything with poo on it goes into this bucket during changing. Wet nappies & covers go into a separate bucket. After the changing process is complete, you take the bucket to the laundry. Anything that doesn't need to be scraped goes straight in the soaking bucket, the covers go into their own bleach free bucket of water. The rest goes to the toilet. Holding the nappy with one hand & the toilet brush with the other, the poo is brushed into the toilet. Flush, rinsing nappy & brush. The brush goes back into its container of nappy soaker. You take the bucket back into the laundry & tip the nappy into the soaking bucket. The change room bucket gets a rinse & then some nappy soaker & water swished around. It is then emptied into the soaking bucket. The change table bucket is put back in place for the next change.

Then you wash your hands. It's quick, easy and nothing to be afraid of. Whatever type of nappy you use, you still have to deal with poo. Nothing that won't wash off with soap & water.


I found this picture in a Ladybird Learning to Read book from 1959. 

There were also pictures of objects no longer common in every day life such as milk bottles, old cars, toy sail boats, marbles, childrens lace up leather shoes and plain wooden blocks.

Laundry Activism

There are certain things I take for granted, like being able to hang my wet washing outside to dry. Laundrylist is a North American organisation dedicated to educating  "people about how simple lifestyle modifcations, including air drying one's clothes, reduce our dependence on environmentally and culturally costly energy."   They claim that "clotheslines are banned by nearly all of California's 35,000 homeowners' associations."  It had never occurred to me that hanging washing outside might be someting I could be prohibited from doing.  Come to think of it, I think I have heard of people in swish apartment blocks not being allowed to hang their washing out on their front balcony.  As the sight of someones indies or tshirts drying on a rack or line might ruin some "classy" aesthetic. But I have never heard of such prohibition on such a large scale. I am truly shocked & appalled.

To counter this sorry state of affairs, Project Laundry List, together with other community groups, organises National Hanging Out Day every year on April 19.
The folks at laundrylist also see the beauty of washing out to dry & you can view art and photos at the gallery of clothesline art.


I fold a lot of washing. Every morning, before breakfast, I fold the washing from the day before & ferry it to its' cupboard, wardrobe, drawer or shelf. I'm afraid to let it build up. I used to let it build up in the hope that someone else (G maybe?) would do it. The laundry stayed in unsorted piles & I could never find what I needed while changing our wriggling infant. It became known as the laundry monster. So now I'm on it. To the point of obsession.

I asked G to fold laundry yesterday & he refused. He said he can't or words to that effect. When I go back to work that will not be good enough. Or we will have to start using disposable nappies all the time instead of just overnight or when out. Sometimes I go out just so I can cut down on using cloth nappies & the washing & folding thereof. It used to be my guilty secret. Now I've shared it with the 2 people who read Mrs Washalot.

Wet washing

Owing to the long weekend, I'm very behind with my housework. Today I had a full line by 10.00am. Grace is down to her last pair of clean trousers & wore dirty jumper today, hopefully some will dry overnight. G did his washing on Sunday, not Saturday as normal, because he cut the grass on Saturday afternoon just before we had to run off to a social engagement (more fun than laundry but then what isn't?).

Saturday was probably too cold & damp, not rainy but damp like you are in a cloud, to dry washing anyway. Sunday wasn't much better.

Yesterday was OK, three days worth of nappies, which took a whole line. Today's washing is airing inside. I can't wait for summer, fewer clothes, lots of sun, days of ease....

Almost a slacker day

I thought I was going to get away without doing a wash today. Then at about eleven, as I was getting dressed after spending too much of the morning reading in front of the heater, while Grace napped, I did a calculation. Tommorrow I have to do the nappies, then if I do clothes I'll have two lots of folding on sleep-in-Saturday. Aargh. I did a full load of clothes & because they went out late, they weren't all that dry when they came in so there was much laundry sorting & hanging & airing this afternoon.

I found this the other day in a book called My First Picture Dictionary published by Brown Watson in 1975. The illustrator is Albin Stanescu & there's something about the everdayness of the objects chosen that I really like. I love how the girl is sprinkling washing powder, like fairy dust into the machine which washes, rinses and spins clothes dry.

Ode to my Hills Hoist

Our house has some nice features, one of them is an old Hills Hoist, probably from the forties. A Hills Hoist is a steel rotary clothes line invented in Adelaide by Lance Hill, during the post war baby boom. Before disoposable nappies. When most families lived in suburbs with big back yards & no clothes dryers.

What I love about my Hills Hoist is; you can fit two or three full wash loads on the line, it all gets hung from a central point, they are compact and they have (to my mind anyway) a charming old fashioned homey aesthetic. G says that a piece of rope from one point to another would do exactly the same thing. I think that's fine when you're camping, but if we ever get our own place I'm going to buy one of these...

from here ,unless of course, there is already an old one installed.  Our backyard has more of a ramshackle permaculture/hippy aesthetic but the way it all works is remarkably similar.

The wonky table for putting the washing basket on was salvaged from a cafe my family used to have. G put the wheels on it, but was unable to fix what was very dodgy carpentry to start with. I am very attached to the table, so it stays, even though it is not up to Gs standard in such things. You can see his outside workbench in the distance, complete with shade cloth to stop plums dropping on his head in summer. Also hanging from the line is the very unglamourous peg bucket, an old fetta cheese catering bucket with a hole in it. As you can see, I tend to leave the pegs on the line, but G likes the bucket system. The piece of rope hanging is from when Grace used to lie on a blanket under clothes line fascinated by the flapping washing & a piece of rope. How quickly she's moved on!  Here's the Hills from another angel, with the tumbly down shed in the background & the lemon tree in the foreground.
It's rare at the moment to see it empty during daylight. You can read more about the history of the Hills Hoist here .


I think I had thought of the name for this blog before I'd even thought of this blog, if that makes sense. Dame Washalot was one of my favorite Enid Blyton characters when I was a kid and The Magic Faraway Tree was probably my favorite series,closely followed by Malory Towers & Famous Five. I've contemplating a picture of Dame Washalot for a blog banner & found this in a book I bought from the opshop recently.

Then I had second thoughts & decided I'd better do my own banner making. I haven't been able to find the name of the illustrator, but the picture's from the Dean & Son edition 1971. There's lots of interesting Faraway Tree information here.

Reading through the book, I also found this passage which I remember reading as I girl (I kid you not). The children's mother, who takes in washing to supplement the family income, is sick & worried about who will do the washing. Imagine having an enchanted wood at your backfence with pixies, goblins, faeries & a strange woman for whom joy is found in dirty laundry.
Not to mention a visiting parade of strange lands at the top of the tree. Ooh just imagine!