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Posts tagged ‘drains’

New Year, same old problems

Firstly apologies for the late blog entry. This was due to another spell of drain trouble – “second verse, same as the first”. The fatberg broke down a little when I was removing it and some got washed back into the kitchen outlet. This meant all the washing up water flooded over the back patio, much to the delight of the dogs.

I managed to clear that pipe but there are still serious issues with the main drain, way beyond my abilities even if I hadn’t damaged my shoulders again. It’s a job for the (probably expensive) professionals I fear but there’s the same old problem. Everyone is frantically busy and still no one answers their phone! I have refrained from supplying any more detail or adding photographs in deference to my readers’ sensibilities. Enough to say my nice new overalls (which make me look like a Hobbit) are in need of a boil wash.

We are about to try switching the water pump over to the solar panels any day now. It has been cold, frosty on occasions, but bright and dry so the batteries are full and ready to go. I still have little confidence in the wiring to the final phase of the pump out in the little shed, the one section not redone by our excellent electrician. As a precaution I got some spare fuses, much to the bemusement of the lads in the electrical factors. They were obviously not used to an older, white-haired woman requesting C16 and B16 fuse blocks. I thought they were going to refuse to serve me for a minute so reassured them I knew what I was doing and how to fit them. Fingers crossed!

The electrical shop is just next door to the furniture store and we finally got the chance to pop in to look around. Those of you following the journey from the start may remember the idiot movers. Not content with damaging items and throwing it all into storage they left behind a lot of stuff. Some we can replace or do without. Some cannot be replaced – Jacqui’s sketch books, all packed and labelled are missing. That really hurts as it had the original photos and source material too.

At last, a decent work surface!

I have mourned my big desk – a table 3 foot by 5 foot I used for writing. I’ve tried to work in a small Ikea bench but couldn’t manage it. Well, the shop had another small dining table. Same size, a bit higher but reduced as it had been on display. It’s up in my new room and I’m writing again. Strange what a difference a piece of furniture makes but the surface area is so important. I can have research notes to hand and spread out the maps I need without everything cascading to the floor. That made my day.

It was a bit of a difficult week last week as a long awaited hospital visit was cancelled with a little notice. We wanted a medication review as we always read the leaflets and several of the pills Jacqui was on were supposed to be short term. Some have strong contraindications with others and some seem to be doubling up on one job. To our surprise we got an appointment to see our GP the next day and had a very constructive talk with him. Now we are hoping the main appointment, with the Cardiology professor, goes ahead.

A lot of out patient departments are closed still, due to Covid. I have my referral for physiotherapy but nothing else for a while – so no more drain clearing for me. Instead I am indulging in some gentle stretching exercises – across my lovely new jigsaw puzzle board. Be impressed – be very impressed.

750 devilish pieces

We are lucky enough to live next door to a horticulturist (yes, we do have one house within waving distance) and Des has been back and cleared the path around the wood. At last we can go right round without breaking an ankle. We can get at all the trees in the new part too. I did notice there are several other “paths” crossing the wood, animal tracks worn into the grass. The most trodden path runs back to the road side and I was startled to see something has dug up the fatberg and scattered it around. Well, if it doesn’t poison them it will provide some winter nourishment I guess. It’s all a sort of recycling.

Things are getting done now, still slowly but the end is in sight. Our joiner will fit the doors in the grooming room this week. We’ve arranged for the electrician to put the timer on the boiler and earth everything. No more scurrying through first thing to put the heating on! We really want the new sink working but there’s still a lot of plumbing to be done. The poor dogs have been brushed and mopped off but not had a proper bath for a whole year. I think even Charlie, who hates a bath, is getting a bit fed up. We’ve also got a new washbasin waiting (no more wobbly taps!) and a tap for the kitchen that won’t go off after 30 seconds. Luxury.

So that’s us. A slice of our Irish Life. Enjoy your mains drainage, water and gas! Oh, and your bin collection. Life is certainly different here.

And a Happy New Year to you all

Hello, welcome back and a Happy New Year to you all. This is the first of the fortnightly blogs, hopefully alternating with the podcasts of previous episodes on Southside Broadcasting. I will post a link to the podcasts for anyone interested in listening as we record them.

The New Year certainly brought some surprises for us, some rather unwelcome I have to say. Just before New Year I realised the kitchen drain wasn’t living up to its name. In fact it was pouring water from the sink over the paths outside. With a feeling of dread I began to investigate and discovered the horrors of “The Grease Trap”. Installed a number of years ago this is an extra manhole with a big bucket designed to – yes, trap grease from the waste water. Now, we are very careful about the fats and oil we pour down the sink. In fact we don’t. We wipe out everything and use the paper to light the fire so there should have been very little grease in the bucket. How wrong could I be?

We had our very own “fatberg”. Picture a solid mass, diameter about a foot and more than six inches thick wedged in the top of the manhole. I donned my new, extra tough overalls and began to hack it out. After three hours I had dislodged most of it and it was residing in several carrier bags. Then I had to bale out the wastewater to get at the pipes. After another hour I couldn’t reach any further and the drain showed no sign of clearing. I gave up as the light was fading and it was raining. The next day I abandoned all finesse and poked, hacked and chiselled at the pipes lying flat and stretching down into the drain. Finally something gave and it began to clear. The fatburg was buried in the wood and I went to have a long, hot shower.

We don’t know where it has come from as we are so careful. I suspect it is “old” fat, washing back along the pipe, as the drop to the tank is minimal. I have a nasty feeling we will need to dig up and reset the drain in the spring. Ah, the joys of rural living! We have space, birdsong and wildlife. We don’t have rubbish collections, mains water, drainage or gas. Most days it seems like a fair trade.

The next morning I woke to find one of my arms wouldn’t move properly. An old injury to my right shoulder had come back to haunt me as the ligament gave way again. A trip to the Injury Clinic (Irish A&E) was not quite the festive treat we had hoped for but they were helpful and much quicker than we expected. Now we are in a bit of a quandary. Jacqui cannot lift and carry heavy things obviously. I have one usable arm – I won’t say “good” as I broke both ligaments in the past. It requires some ingenuity to get things done and some (hoovering for example) are just being abandoned at present. It’s amazing how much fluff and dog hair you can scrape up with your feet!

A lot of the kitchen equipment we had in Saltburn has been left behind and so we have to replace it. One advantage is we can get modern replacements and Jacqui has a new super “does everything” mixer. This is terrific as she can make bread and bake without trying to knead or mix by hand. This is forbidden and too much of a strain at the moment. We have an array of (low sugar and healthier) cakes in the freezer, most stored in identical tubs. Well, after crossing out half a dozen labels I finally gave up. When we take one out to defrost it just goes into the tub labelled “cake”. I figure if we can’t tell what type it is then it’s not a success.

It has been cold here though there was barely a dusting of snow last week when we were warned of “hazardous blizzard-like conditions”. It has rained though – oh, how it has rained. I have my grandfather’s barometer/clock and it ranges from “stormy” to “very dry”. In the middle is “change” which in England generally meant changing from one range (wet) to another (dry). Here it seems to mean, “change” – every twenty minutes or so. The sun will shine the clouds scud across the sky and then the wind blows up the lane. That’s the 30-second warning to get under cover before the rain pours down. Five minutes later the sun is out again. It takes some getting used to but the up side is we have many beautiful rainbows over our wood.

Oh, and we were without the car for a couple of days as a brake began to smoke. The garage took the wheels off and everything was fine so it seems we got something wedged in the calliper. The lane outside is a horrible mess with deep holes, torn up surface and pools of water. A lot of farm vehicles drive up and down at a high speed and this rips up the surface – what is left of it. We are slow and careful but there is too much debris to avoid it all. I had a prescription for heavy painkillers and couldn’t get to the pharmacy to collect it. Despite the weather and the horrible road a young man drove out and delivered it the next day – no charge he said. There are some lovely people here.

You may think this was a grim start to 2022 but in Saltburn we grew to dread New Year. Either the boiler broke down or one of our pets died. We would wake up to the cold and breathe a sigh of relief – not this year, we thought cuddling the dogs and cats in to us. So despite the setbacks we are having a happy New Year and looking forward to many more. I wish the same for you all.