Septic tanks

All this internet stuff came after a busy morning overseeing the emptying of three septic tanks: my main one, the smaller one beside our original house (now the gite) and the huge one belonging to my English neighbours, the Pressleys.

The first challenge was to get the huge lorry close enough to the two main tanks. The driver did some of the most skilful manoeuvring I have ever witness to reverse – straight on at a 90° angle – into the Pressleys’ drive, achieved in a road which was narrower than the length of the lorry.

Emptying my septic tank involved pulling the long unwieldy suction pipe behind the Pressley’s’ pool, over a wall and through a bamboo thicket. All of this in temperatures now hovering round 30°.

Where would the French be without Moroccans willing to take on unpleasant jobs like this? They were so polite, smiling and uncomplaining at what had turned out to be a difficult job. Before emptying the small tank next to my gite they had to return to the sewage works to empty the contents of the first two – another unforeseen twist. And the final gesture of camaraderie was when the guy in charge recorded the sizes of my two tanks but marked it as one job, to reduce my bill.

It is now well over a decade since we were told that our bit of the valley would be put onto the mains system within a couple of years. I now suspect it will not happen in my lifetime, so it is fortunate to have an accommodating ‘vidange’ service. And of course my water rates include a lower sewage element than those who are on mains drains. The downside is that one has to live with periodic unpleasant septic tank problems (and odours).

I’m amazed that the gite septic system, which breaks all the rules, has been so trouble free for the past few years – ever since I had a swanky new sanibroyeur (macerator system) installed for the shower and toilet, pumping stuff up the slightly uphill slope to the septic tank! The kitchen sink continues to take a different route: to a deep hole beside the road, dug by Chris 15 years ago. When we bought the building, the water used to simply flow onto the road!

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