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The Pleasures And Perils Of Living Near Water 1
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The Pleasures And Perils Of Living Near Water 1

I think it’s probably in my blood but I’ve always lived in the vicinity of water. I was born on the banks of the River Thames, near London, which likely accounts for it. During most of my adult life I’ve been near the sea.

Before coming to live here in SW France, I had been residing in Cornwall, that rugged and beautiful south west peninsular of The British Isles and you can’t get more surrounded by water than that apart, perhaps, by being stranded on a small desert island.

Unlike W.C. Fields who famously made his derogatory comment on water and its close proximity to fish which, for reasons of decency, I’ll not expand upon here, I have a passion for the stuff.

Even on the rare occasions when I’ve been forced into a land-locked situation, I would create my own quantity of water in the form of a pond, or aquariums or even both.

I’m fascinated by the way it moves; its properties and love that old adage that water always finds its own level. Having said that, there are times when my love of water diminishes somewhat and that’s something I’m going to touch upon, tomorrow maybe.

As I was saying, when I moved to France, I was delighted to find a 200 year-old pile of stones right by a babbling stream that was once, so I was informed by my trustworthy (ahem-no such thing) notaire, a former mill.

The house, at the time, was uninhabitable needing tons of work, had but a very basic electrical supply, no mains water or septic tank (fosse-septique as they call them over here) and was more than I could afford, the only saving grace being that I could do most of the necessary renovations myself before moving in.

The stream runs along the entire length of the 1 acre area that is mostly my garden along one side, in fact the boundary is officially halfway across the stream which inspired me to install a big water-pump to supply the domestic water to the house and, though not entirely problem-free (more of this later), was the cheaper alternative to paying an arm and a leg for some retrospective work carried out by the local authorities years before my time.

This work involved a mains water supply to the edge of the plot from the main road that graces the other side of my land though not actually to the house itself. This would have entailed a sixty metre trench using pricey mechanical diggers, alkathene piping and all manner of other nonsense plus the addition of half yearly water bills. No thanks!

As the babbling brook passes within a few metres of the house, a pump seemed the logical alternative. The pump draws the water up through a non-return valve and into a pressure cylinder in the cellar. For the technically minded, there’s a rather clever device attached to the cylinder that sends an electrical command to the pump when the pressure drops below a certain point.

The water then passes through a couple of in-line filters and into the house. The filters have to be cleaned once a week and replaced at times but that is a fraction of the cost of regular water bills disgracing my post-box.

So there I found myself. The proud and enthusiastic owner of an old stone cottage in France, beside a gently tumbling water-course. What, I thought at the time, could be more idealistic!

It wasn’t too long before I was to find out…

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