Something quite incredible has just happened, I am more than slightly taken aback.
I just made The Strawberry Blond Hand Grenade, (TSBHG), laugh, yes, the EIOT teenager who on a good day you can elicit a grunt from actually just laughed at my very dry sense of humour and off the cuff remark.
AND, as well as actually breaking into a laugh I swear there was a vague look of affection on her face towards me. It was fleeting and over pretty much before it started but I swear it was there.
Now, lets keep this in perspective as the whole episode was so brief that it could easily have been missed and in the blink of an eye normal service of resumed. Yeap, the eyes were rolling and indistinct noises were editing from her mouth, but for a few small seconds she forgot her policy of being a teenager and reverted back to being a human.
Right, now that I have started to come to terms with this event I will turn my attention to todays blog.
Well, in line with my policy of regaling you with the various twists and turns at EIOT Towers over the last few weeks I suppose I ought to tell you about our mystery find.
You see in the whole torrid process of purchasing EIOT Towers, (For more details of the trauma of expat mortgages please refer back to the posts of August last year), we studied every document carefully and felt we were familiar with the location of all important facilities to do with the establishment.
This included the site of the septic tank.
Now in theory we were right, the deeds did in fact show a septic tank there.
So, onto the background information.
One of the first jobs that had to be done at EIOT Towers was to sort out the cellar.
When we bought the house the cellar was packed with junk and rubbish and many, many trips to the local tip were required.
It then became apparent that one room was wet, not just damp, but wet – soaked.
There was a pile of carpet in a corner that quite frankly was soaked, stinky and mouldy, the various layers of grot were more than slightly disgusting to move.
Anyway, we assumed that the water had come from the previous incumbent’s washing machine and assumed that all was resolved with our shiny, new Hotpoint number that most certainly did not leak.
In moved the builders to sort out the cellar, with its lack of ceiling, massive holes in walls and peeling plaster……
Now I know what you are thinking, septic tanks and wet cellars – well not quite but keep reading…..
So, in moved the builders.
It was about this time that deepest darkest Cumbria and its own micro-climate kicked in and the heavens opened and the true source of the water was found.
Yeap, in true gash DIY fashion there was a drain-pipe that led into a water-butt on the outside of the wall.
All good so far, except that the water-butt leaked more water than it held and the drain pipe ended at the water-butt.
So basically the water-butt was just a receptacle for stalling the descent of the water, all of which left the water-butt and headed into the cellar.
So, decisive action was needed.
Welcome on stage again the local hero that is the local water expert.
Yes, long-term readers may well recall my ramblings about the heroic husband of my friend at the bottom of the hill who has diversified from being a farmer, (although he still keeps several hundred sheep, cows and acres of land ‘more as a hobby than anything else’), to being the local expert on spring fed water systems, drainage systems and pulls it all together under the umbrella of a ground works company.
Yes, he and his sons, (with whom he works), have spent many hours with heads bent over our water spring and holding tank, talking in deepest Cumbrian accents, (that ‘incomers’ like us need an interpreter to understand), trying to solve the mysteries of our water supply.
So, like knights in shining armour they arrived with diggers with the ultimate aim of creating a soak away at the bottom of the garden with all the associated pipework to stop the damned water from heading southwards into our cellar.
I ought to point out that on the same day everybody descended.
The builders decided that this was the day to knock a hole in the side of the house that could easily have been created by a wrecking ball, the landscaper appeared to build the fence and then of course there were the ground works guys.
The only people missing were the plumbers, carpenters and electrician who thank fully had other things to do that day or that may just send me over the edge.
So, the garden was full of diggers, stone cutters, bits of fence and concrete mixers. And oh yes, several big burly men.
We knew that there was a waste pipe that led out from the house into the garden, but naively assumed that this turned 90° and headed towards the septic tank listed on the deeds.
We briefed the guys in their diggers on this and left them to their own devices.
Cups of tea were made, chocolate biscuits dispensed and they all got on with what they were doing.
The beauty of using local tradesmen and craftsmen is on the one hand they all know each other and when needed lend a hand to each other. On the other hand they all know each other and when one stops work to scratch his chin, they all stop and scratch their chins. They all speak deepest, darkest Cumbrian so if there is any hint of a problem you do have to ask for a translation to get a grasp on what the latest situation is.
At this point I decided the best thing I could do would be to go out. Himself was at home and quite frankly as I spend a considerable amount of my time working with tradesmen when he is in the land of sand, I felt quite justified in going out and leaving him to shoulder the responsibility.
I came back a couple of hours later and knew something was amiss when himself met me as I got out of the car.
He was vaguely green about the gills and to be honest as I breathed in I too started to fill a bit queasy.
Now, I ought to explain that where we park the car is near our barn, across the track from EIOT Towers and about 50 yards from the garden.
Yes, there was an aroma in the air.
The story behind the aroma was that the same as us the hero of the ground works business had assumed a 90° bend in the waste pipe and had been happily digging a hole for the soak away at the bottom of the garden – with their digger.
Apparently they had hit something hard, but thinking that it was just fine Cumbrian stone had persevered……..
Apparently it was at this point that there was a loud crack as the final grains of soil were scrapped away from a concrete slab and it split in half.
As it split in half it caved in at the middle and sunk, with full ceremonial honours, gurgles and bubbles to the bottom of a full septic tank.
At this point everybody had downed tools and had congregated around the new discovery – but not for long.
No, the fact that this septic tank had lain untouched for at least 40 years but functioning quite happily was testament to the quality of its construction, but that did not make it any more pleasant on its discovery and everywhere within a radius of around a mile knew that it had been found.
Yes, 40+ years of congealed poo smells.
So, I returned home shortly after the grim discovery, just as all the tradesmen decided that it was time to take early lunches or any other reason to vacate the garden – all except the heroic ground works guys I hasten to add who barely batted an eyelid.
Another look at the deeds confirmed that our second septic tank was not listed anywhere and was indeed another curved ball that the house had thrown at us.
So, at this point I decided I had better go out again.
I came back to find a very different scenario.
The tank had been emptied and the ground works guys had drawn straws about who was going in to rescue the broken concrete slab, which was by now lying majestically on the ground glowing gently with a strong coat of congealed poop and drying in the sunlight.
A new slab had been placed over the secret septic tank, the soak away was under construction at another site in the garden, the pipework was in situ and as far as the ground works guys were concerned it was just another day at the office.
By the end of the day you would never have known of any trauma in the garden that day.
By the way, the new drain pipe system works perfectly, the cellar has dried out and quite frankly is starting to look fab.
Oh yes, as an aside, that evening as I was into garden, planning the next stage of development when one of the locals popped her nose over the wall and commented that we had had quite a day hadn’t we?
I replied in the positive and explained about our new, stinky discovery.
At which point she muttered the immortal words, ‘oh yes, I knew that was there, been there many a year or two. I could ‘ave told you about that’, and then wondered off.
Aaaaarrgghhh……………….is it me?