One of my daily pleasures is having a mid-morning coffee with Jacky, the delightful guy building my bassin. He is both a true Cévenol – I keep finding he is related by marriage to various people I know, like a goat farmer and wood merchant – but also a classic example of the ‘alternatifs’, who make this part of the Cévennes so interesting: passionate about nature and ecological issues, shares my views on politics (and is therefore correct…) and is a lovely cheerful gentle person. His partner Marthe Pialat is the painter, one of whose paintings now graces Ed and Jude’s dining room.
Jacky is an artist too, a paysagist who has become the local builder of bassins – natural pools. He loves creating each bassin to belong to its unique environment, and enthuses daily about my view. By the end of this week he will have completed the second layer of cement; there will then be a third, finer layer and then he will be working on stone walls to hide the cement. Here is a photo I took at the start of the week. Since then Jacky has completed the wall separating the plant pool (on the right) from the swimming pool (the larger one on the left.
You can see (below) that the plant pool has now been finished. In due course, he says, it will have not just plants, but its local population of frogs, dragonflies and other water loving beasts. The area just above it will include a space for a seat so I can sit watching the wildlife and listening to the water falling from the plant pool to the swimming pool. The shallow slope for walking into the water is in the foreground.
The main problem with the site is that the neighbour’s house is very visible. But Jacky plans to plant along with wall and says that the neighbour’s oak tree will in time spread to hide their terrace.
There are local friends who think I will have to pay increased local taxes on the grounds that this is a piscine – a swimming pool – rather than a basin – a pool for storing water, on the grounds that it has been given a concrete base. I looked on the internet and distinctions between basins and piscines seems to be a bit of a grey area. But Jacky says that it is definitely a bassin, because there are plants in the upper pool – and that it is the plants not the concrete which define it as a bassin. He agrees that one day authorities will no doubt get round to changing the rules, in order to get more local revenue, but for the time being none of the bassins he has been building in this area get counted as piscines.