Water torture: the self-sufficiency truth

By Martin Kirby

A fool and water will go the way they are diverted. That's an African proverb that sums up my dizzy existence. We somehow found the time and a few Euros to take a break this summer, and opted for Green Spain, specifically Cantabria and Asturias. Just a few hours before we were due to leave Ella was taking a dip in the holiday cottage pool while I fiddled about, doing some last minute filter and level checks to ensure all remained shipshape while we were absent. The water evaporates at an extraordinary rate in midsummer, so we must top the pool up on a regular basis, using fat pipe which is just one branch line of our elaborate waterworks. I wanted it brim full. Water fresh from the well is several degrees cooler than the pool, understandably, and Ella loves to use it as a refreshing shower. Only it started spewing mud. She screamed. I screamed. Then I legged it up the land to the well in 100 degrees of heat like my rear was on fire. The well couldn’t have run dry, surely? That would be a catastrophe. Our home, the holiday cottage and the land relied utterly upon its unwavering good nature. But there could be no other reason for sludge. We must be down to the last dribble. I felt sick. Then, as I loped wheezily through the top vineyard towards the well, I could hear the pump purring AND water pouring. Correction. It was gushing out of a tear in the out pipe that had been softened and weakened by the blazing sun. The soil around the well was saturated and this was leeching back into the shaft, along with copious amounts of earth. I risked a great guffaw of relief. It would take a few days for the water to clear, but we were off the hook. Then I went back down the hill to impart the good news and ring the plumber, only to discover the mud had jammed open an electrical tap causing our house water deposit to overflow, flooding the barn and blowing the hot and cold water pump. For pity’s sake.


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