The thing about toilets…

I’ve always had an issue with public loos. Apparently my father was the same and very particular about hygiene (my parents divorced early on so I didn’t really see him). Must be a gene!

I’ve never really stopped and considered what it is exactly that bothers me about toilets. It’s probably fairly instinctive for most of us to be slightly wary, particularly about certain smells. It’s a natural warning that there may be germs lurking. I think the smells heighten my anxiety and I definitely feel calmer in a clean, odour-free loo.

It’s not that I panic in a toilet. It doesn’t worry me to that extent but it’s more that I feel in a state of alert and even more so with Covid. So rather that it being something that just happens as a matter of course, it’s something that I engage in because I am very wary of it.

For me it starts before I’m even in the toilet, with the door handle. I never touch a door handle and I’ll use my sleeve, coat, a tissue or anything else I can, to avoid this. In the unfortunate event that I do need to touch the handle, I’ll use lavish amounts of hand gel afterwards.

I’ll talk more about toilets tomorrow. I’m wondering if it’s just me. I’m hoping not!

Going out

I’m actually going out with friends tonight which I haven’t done for a very long time. It’s an outdoor venue and I’m looking forward to it. This area goes to Tier 3 from midnight tomorrow so we timed it well. I’ll need to dress for an antarctic expedition.

I’m going to give all of my friends a Privvi box with their Christmas cards and can’t wait to show them and see what they think. I’m hoping they will like my product as much as I do.

On a very different note, I just spotted this article. An interesting perspective on toilets and health:

Overdoing things

I accidentally Face-timed a friend while I was on the phone to the Cardiologist this afternoon. Might have done it with my ear but I’m not sure. Is it actually possible to do that while you’re on a phone call? It definitely said outgoing. I think I’m overdoing things.

I’m trying to get an Electrocardiogram (24-hour ECG test) done to check my heart’s OK following problems with my IV medication. It seems I will now have to wait for this till the New Year.

I’ve had to catch my self today and review where I’m at personally and with my product work. My conclusion is, with so much going on right now, It’s best to launch my website in the New Year. There are lots of good reasons for this and I’ve got to do what’s best, at the right pace, even if things take a bit longer than I’d hoped.

If I launch this Friday, I can’t get my product delivered on time for Christmas and there may be issues with postal delays and business closures over the break. I want to feel confident that I can fulfil orders and get them to people as expected. I also don’t want to make any mistakes setting everything up properly by rushing this week.

Added to these things there is, of course, my family and Christmas. Although I’m fairly practical and low key about this, there’s always a lot to think about and do at this time which inevitably adds extra pressure. In addition, Covid seems to be creating an extra layer of complexity in our Christmas plans and I don’t think we’ve quite worked out how we’re going to navigate that yet.

The jigsaw

I’ve always viewed my product idea as a giant jigsaw puzzle with no picture to follow. It helped me with the challenge of making something from nothing and to approach it step by step. I’ve found it incredibly complex and overwhelming at times. A very steep learning curve where I’ve often had to immerse myself in something completely unfamiliar and had to focus, engage and understand it. I’ve looked into areas such as product sourcing, Trademarking and Copyright and business insurance. There’s a very long list. I have to admit that I’m more inclined towards creativity than logic so inevitably I find some things easier than others. 

One of the most interesting areas I’ve become involved with is shipping and the logistics of moving goods around. It’s such a key part of the commercial world and quite a specialised area. I’ve had to learn specific shipping terms (often via an emergency Google search) as there’s an expectation from suppliers that you know them. Terms such as Forwarder, EORI number, Bill of Lading and HS code were completely new to me. It’s a bit like another language. It’s a surprisingly complex and stressful job to get products from one side of the world to the other on time. Funnily enough my great, great uncle was Captain of the Cutty Sark (the fastest trade ship of its time) It’s just a shame I’m in the wrong Century to ask for his help!

I think I’ve all my jigsaw corners in place and can now see the picture, even though it’s not quite complete. I’m planning to launch my website and social media in the New Year. Hopefully I won’t have any important pieces missing (fingers crossed).

The Christmas Tree Fairy

It had to be a Privvi for our family this year. It’s been quite a year for everyone. Certainly not one we’ll forget. Privvi, for me, is a positive symbol of this year and one of productivity and hope for next. 

Packing’s going well. My daughter wins the prize for best and fastest packer. I can use my hand but it gets sore and aches after packing for a while. There are quite a few things I struggle with: using scissors is quite painful, I can’t lift a large, full glass of water or take the tops of jars. I have to be careful generally not to overstretch and put strain on my thumb and forefinger. I’m slowly developing Osteoarthritis as my joint isn’t properly supported but I’ve a special brace to wear which I’ll need to use more as we progress with the packing. 

On a positive note, through this year, I’ve learnt to use my left hand more and it’s a lot stronger. I naturally switch between the two for the things I can’t do. I also taught myself to write with my left hand although the writing’s a bit of a scrawl. Apparently most people can teach themselves to write with their other hand but it takes around three months. It’s supposed to be good for stimulating the left side of our brains (or right if you’re left handed). My husband is an identical twin who’s left-handed where his brother is right. Apparently this is because identical twins are genetic mirrors of each other.


We started packing yesterday with my teenage daughter and grandma helping. It’s all hands on deck as we’ve 3600 boxes! In a separate room with everything cleaned down and hairnets, masks and gloves on.

We made some progress yesterday but lots still to do. Grandma confessed that she’d gone to the park to walk the dog afterwards and forgotten to take off her bright blue, food safety hairnet. Apparently she only realised because the dog kept looking at her with a confused expression. We had a good chuckle about it.

So here they are. It’s difficult to see in a photograph in artificial light but they are lovely and shiny and bright. The manufacturer actually makes party gift boxes so I think this has been challenging for them. I need to say a very big thank you.

As you know, I designed the boxes and wanted them to be colourful, bright and contemporary. My friend Lucy came up with the men and women icons (they are one of my favourite design elements) I did a degree in Graphic Design working as an Art Editor in magazine publishing for nearly eighteen years. I was a little rusty to start with but I’ve really enjoyed getting back to the design work on this project. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy it. 

Each box measures 12 x 9 x 2cm and has a sanitising wipe, a pair of gloves, toilet tissue and a toilet seat cover inside. The idea is that you have everything you need to feel safe with you when you go into any toilet. As I mentioned, I have a bit of a phobia about public loos, especially portaloos. This has definitely been compounded by Covid, my experiences in hospital and the infection in my hand. So for me, It’s not just a practical issue – it’s also for my peace of mind. I want to feel confident that wherever I go, no matter how vile the toilet, I am equipped to deal with it. Hence the Privvi tagline: #staysafeandgo

The story so far…

Firstly to say that my lovely boxes arrived safely and I’m so pleased to finally have them. I’ll show you some pictures and tell you more about Privvi tomorrow. I’m going to be very busy packing them this weekend.

I’m going to bring you up to date with my hand in the meantime so you have the full story to this point…

I finished five weeks of daily hospital treatment last week. They had again detected an infection and put me on max doses of two intravenous antibiotics.

This was stressful and upsetting but I was slightly more prepared this time. I started writing my blog while I was on the drip (which could take up to 3 hours) and had a mid-line fitted: a bit like a large cannula that’s put in surgically for up to 6 weeks. It was quite painful and will leave me with a small scar. 

This time I tried to set myself a routine: I walked with friends most days and focussed on Privvi and my work when I felt overwhelmed and sad. I also went to bed early as I felt very low and found it difficult to talk. Luckily my children are 13 and 15 so I could explain my need to ‘get through it’ which they understood. I’m glad it’s over but it took it out of me mentally and physically and I lost a lot of weight. I think that’s why I’ve had a horrible cold this week.

I had to stop the treatment early due to problems with my heart and blood pressure. They think I developed an intolerance to the strong medication and I’m currently trying to get a referral to a cardiologist so I can get my heart checked.

The biggest news, through all of these recent complications, is that the operation last year failed. They gave me the option of freezing the thumb joint (meaning that it will be stuck in the same position so I can no longer bend it) or having the operation done again. I’m going to try again but they can’t do anything until they clear me for the infection. I’m having an MRi scan next Tuesday so please keep your fingers and toes crossed for me.

The ‘lightbulb’ moment

I was in hospital daily when the UK went into lockdown in March. They’d found an infection in my hand which needed IV antibiotics due to concern it had gone into the bone. It had been there since the op and had been caused by an undissolved stitch. I had an op to remove this and wasn’t allowed to wash my hand for 2 weeks. I was in hospital daily with Covid cases on the rise so unsurprisingly, I used a lot of hand gel during this time! 

The IV treatment was painful and invasive and they had trouble getting cannulas in. By the end of the four weeks they had run out of undamaged veins to use. I found this treatment and the further risk of infection massively invasive and stressful. I’ve always been super-careful about hygiene and particularly wary of hospitals and toilets. 

I finished the treatment at the end of March and was told the infection had gone. It felt like my ordeal had finally finished and I faced the lockdown in a fragile state. It was later in the year I learnt that things were far from over.

Following lockdown, at the beginning of July, I found myself preparing for my first trip away. I was ordering toilet seat covers and sanitising wipes when my product idea popped into my head. I just wanted to have everything I needed to feel safe to hand when I went into a toilet. As I mentioned, even pre-Covid, toilets were always a thing for me, especially portaloos! I decided to call it Privvi (thanks to my granny who called her loo the Privvy) 

Tomorrow I’m going to bring you a video to share some exciting news…