9 February 2012

The Snowdonia Suez Crisis

It is good to see you again after my enforced silence -  thanks to the incompetencies of BT, but enough said about that the better. We're settling in very comfortably into the cottage, even though the builders still haven't finished. It feels like they've moved in with us but hopefully one day they'll go and I can concentrate again on finishing the renovations to Plas y Nant. Since moving over here last June I certainly haven't led a very glamorous life, standards slipped dramatically living in the caravan and a couple of incidents have really tested my endurance and devotion to the restoration. Fortunately there are no photos to accompany this post!

One night in early September there was a terrible storm and the caravan felt as if it was about to fall off it's blocks - it even made me feel seasick. The following morning we noticed that a hazel tree had come down just behind the main house so I set off to investigate the damage. Well, what a sight greeted me. During it's fall it had managed to break open and lift up the sewer with it's roots and there was "stuff" everywhere. Fortunately we were having some tree work done on site at the time and the tree men and builders were due later that morning so they would be able to take care of the fallen tree and mend the sewer. Unfortunately this meant that I had to clear and clean the whole area up before they got there - I'll spare you the details. Typical builders, however, decided that they couldn't fix the sewer that day or the next which meant that the caravan toilet was out of action and we had to use their chemical site toilet. Not a very pleasant experience at all. However, we survived that (thanks to copious amounts of antibacterial hand wipes) and I now have an in-depth working knowledge of the sewer system around the main house.

All thoughts of blocked sewers were pushed to the back of my mind until I received a phone call on Boxing Day from the tenants of our house in Lincolnshire. They're a lovely young family stationed over here with the American Airforce and are renting our house for at least three years so I am determined to keep them happy as they solve a lot of problems. It seems that they had managed to block one of the drains and the downstairs toilet was now backing up. Not very pleasant for them but a quick call to my plumber over there soon resolved the situation and I was very relieved that I hadn't had to get my hands dirty this time. Not for long though.

A couple of weeks later I noticed that the shower waste in the cottage was starting to back up. Now, when the shower was being installed there had been umpteen discussions and meetings relating to the waste and the fall (or lack of it) and some people wanted to raise the shower area so that we stepped up into it but I wanted a wet room effect with the floor all one level. Anyway, when the plumber came to install the waste he decided that the fall was sufficient and I could have my level floor - perfect. However, the shower was slowly turning into a bath and I decided I would have to investigate. I checked the waste, which wasn't blocked, so ventured outside to see what was going on there and the cause was immediately apparent. The inspection chamber for the sewer at the back was overflowing with "stuff" and my heart sank. There was nothing for it but to don my rubber gloves and armed with a bucket I emptied it out and chucked it into the sewer lower down. After three hours it was sufficiently empty so that I could check for blockages with a bit of blue water pipe that was lying around. It was certainly blocked solid and there was no way I could shift it. As it was now ten o'clock at night there was nothing more I could do till the following morning. However, being unable to sleep with worry I got up at four o'clock and cleaned it out a bit more so that it wouldn't be too unpleasant for whoever had to deal with it later that day. The builders called in a drain clearing company who discovered that the sewer had been blocked with gutter brackets, bits of insulation, roofing slate and various other items of builders' rubbish - although how it got into the sewer seemed to be a bit of a mystery to the builders' boss, he must think I'm in the habit of flushing these items down the toilet. After a good clear out of the drains I am pleased to say that everything runs perfectly and the shower is no longer a bath.

My Mum's Mum, Nanan, used to say that anything unpleasant or upsetting was all part of life's experience. Well, Nanan, what with this and other events I've certainly experienced life recently!


  1. I once had a tour round our local sewage works which was very interesting, and remember being told by the Chief that there was only one thing more interesting than the sewers and that was the sewage!
    On that basis you must have had a very interesting time.
    Kind regards,
    Philip Bowcock

  2. That's one way of putting it Philip!