Thursday, 2 July 2009

Water, water everywhere

We have a heatwave in Orkney. It's bloody lovely. Clear blue skies, hours and hours of warm, even hot, sunshine.

The real farmers are rushing around at all hours getting the hay/haylage/silage in. The pig "farmer" is keeping an eye on his "herd" of five, worrying about his cabbages, beans and carrots, weeding in between the tatties and wondering if it's too dry to be planting out leeks.

There has still been time for a little R and R, yesterday it was a trip over to the north beach with the lads and a swim - the first of the year. Sadly the water was flat so there was no chance of a surf.

This evening myself, the dogs and The Boy - who leaves tomorrow to take up a new job in Cornwall (I suspect he's trying to tell me something) - had a leisurely walk along the shore by Rapness cemetery, shoes off, toes in the warm sand, paddling in the water. . . all that stuff.

It has been idyllic, absolute confirmation that we did the right thing moving here. I really love this place.

Of course there's a down side, as I found this morning when I ran the bath. Our water comes from a well in the bottom field, brought up to the house by a pump which is controlled by a switch in the kitchen.

I lurched into the kitchen this morning, slurped a little coffee and flipped the switch. That should have been followed by about five minutes of gurgling and hoowooshing as the tank filled. I listened and there was nothing bar the sound of a gently snoring Spike. Not a gurgle nor a hoowoosh anywhere. The tank had run dry.


I dressed quickly and went to the bottom field where the pump was whirring happily. I called Pete the plumber who diagnosed a missing valve that meant the self-priming pump was no longer priming itself.

So it's fixable, but what isn't fixable is the alarming level in the well. We're down to the last couple of feet - at least a yard and a half lower than normal. I'm told the well has never run dry before, but also that this is the driest spring/summer Westray has known for many years.

As a result there's a bath ban in force, I'm growing a beard, the once-a-week smalls wash is now fortnightly and we're buying barrels industrial strength Lynx.

Glass of Evian anyone?


zIggI said...

wash in the sea, drink gin, pee on the veg. That should sort it!

Seriously, it does sound idylic, but I hope you get a little rain soon (in the night of course) to ease the situation.

Rog said...

Wots wrong with Scottish bottled water Malc? Evian is just the French taking the piss by spelling the name backwards.

elizabethm said...

Sounds pretty perfect apart from the absence of water in the bath! Small price to pay perhaps. it is bound to start raining again soon. Just has here this morning.

I, Like The View said...

apart from the lack of water, that all sounds wonderful

our heatwave was broken last night by a thunderstorm - however, I suspect that everything's so dry there wasn't much water left to seep very below ground; hope you have better luck

I'm sure I once saw something about a soap that works in saltwater, if it gets really bad on the washing front

are there any empty properties near you that have unused water supplies that you could pump in your direction?

hope your veg don't frazzle in the meantime

J.J said...

"We have a heatwave in Orkney."

Not a phrase one hears with any regularity.

Erh - my word verification is 'chyat'. I hope that is not a comment in an American accent on my comment - as it were!

Sian said...

Shall I send some over from Graemsay??! (and my word verification is "aniffie"......!)

The Birdwatcher said...

Its even been hot in Buxton! Still back to normal this morning with loads of rain. Share the bath with your mates! Rugby players have been doing it for years.

Z said...

Only dirty people need to wash.

Anonymous said...

Ziggi's a font of useful info, isn't she?
Seriously - I understand, having spent several expensive years of buying water when the rain didn't rain.Hope your drought breaks soon.

Malc said...


Way ahead of you on the first two - third one goes on the compost.


Nothing at all - we've got co-op as it happens.


Guess which island didn't get any rain this weekend? Everywhere else in Orkney was wet except Westray.


The shortage is doing wonders for our conservation abilities. Washing up water goes on the veg, bathroom wash water in the toilet cistern.


The weather has been very warm and sunny this year, just as it was all last summer - unlike anywhere south of Inverness.


If you have any to spare. Mind you - what would Orkney Ferries charge?


I asked Sal about a shared bath and she told me "not to get any ideas". No harm in trying, though.


Sadly, being a pig "farmer", getting dirty is what I do.


I'm keeping my fingers crossed we don't get to that situation.