I have noticed that, like me, many translators are sometimes at pains to demonstrate to the world that they are normal or, if you prefer, that they are capable of doing things other than translate. So, with just such a purpose in mind, let me show you what I did in between revising two different jobs today. If you like, you can imagine me at my desk dressed in an old long-sleeved shirt, jeans, and boots, all of which became muddier as the day progressed.


About three months ago, I noticed the was a huge column of water spurting upwards from the pump on the plot of land behind me.  The non-resident owner had his aged aunt and uncle caring for the house, which has been in a constant state of refurbishment for the last four years and is now painted blue. The old joke about getting a special discount on strange colours of paint from the paint shop springs to mind. Anyhow, I climbed over the back fence, and spoke to the deaf aunt, who finally got the hang of what I was saying when she saw the water spewing forth. She closed the tap, and the next day, I saw a repair man arrive to deal with the burst pipe.

About a fortnight ago, my non-resident neighbour took up residence. One night recently, as I was letting myself in my pedestrian gate after a day out, he stopped his car and said that since his well was full, he would like to give me water. I asked how much; he waved the cost away. I now know that this is his way of thanking me for bringing the burst pipe to his aunt’s attention three months ago.

There is an old, unused tank at the back of my plot. The two taps on it are rusted tight. There is also a much bigger cistern, and about every six weeks, I have 5,000 litres delivered into the cistern. In a subsequent conversation with my neighbour, I explained the condition of the tank, and enquired whether he had sufficient pipes to reach my cistern instead. He said he did. He also said he had no problem filling the tank for garden irrigation purposes.

Tank about half full

And so it was that with the aid of two ladders, I spent an hour early this morning removing the fig leaves and about three inches’ worth of the compacted dust of years from the bottom of the tank. This is not a job for the faint-hearted. There was a rat in there, about three months dead, I would say.  Also, a complete skeleton of a cat, which must have died years and years ago. I did not look too long at that, although I fancy that my very much younger self would probably have tried to reassemble the jolly thing with super glue.

Once all was clean, my neighbour handed over a great big black tube, and the filling of the tank with water began.  It was quite a slow process, so that is when I came inside and did a bit of work.  The second time I checked, the tank was almost full to the brim.

There was only one problem: there was a bit of a leak through two places in the tank wall, one at the bottom of the wall facing front in the picture below, and one on the side wall to the left. The pressure exerted from a full tank of water meant I had to do something low-tech about the run-off.

I demolished an empty vegetable bed and dumped four barrows’ worth of soil in front of the confluence of the two leaky streams. I might plant carrots here.

Before having the brilliant idea of shifting an entire vegetable bed, my first step was to dig a little channel to and around the famous Lossner fig tree (encircled and to the right in this photo taken from the top of the ladder near the tank):


I then diverted some of the water to the orange tree on the left. There was still far too much water streaming out of the tank, so I dug a channel from the fig tree to my vegetable bed which everyone says looks like a recently dug grave when there is nothing growing in it. I dug a channel longitudinally down the centre of bed. The soil in this bed is “number one, super-duper, well composted stuff”, so this digging was done with care:


The final bifurcation occurred just before the vegetable bed and heads to the base of a lemon tree, which has an abundance of little green lemons on it, by the way.

Vegetable bed on left, lemon tree on right

Now that the tank is only about half full, the water is escaping from it more slowly, and each area is receiving about the quantity of water it can cope with. As you can see, the grass is very dry, since only essentials are watered.

One advantage of all these channels is that once the tank empties completely, there will be lots of soft soil I can dig up and add to the vegetable bed now in front of the tank, or indeed, to my pseudo-grave (body not included). In other words, I now have a ruddy great mess.

Tank-eye view

After all that, I was too tired to care that I had not packed my tools away. Perhaps I will feel like doing it in the cool air of tomorrow morning:

Somebody did not put their tools away.

My neighbour said that  he would see about getting his rubber tubing connected to reach my cistern tomorrow.

I have just realised I have not watered my pumpkins (two: I discovered a new one the other day), or those multiplying tomatoes today. Both are in raised beds, so channels are not an option, much to my relief. Besides, I am all showered and clean and far away from those mud-caked clothes and boots, and I aim to stay that way at least until tomorrow!

©2018 Allison Wright

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