Thursday, 5 March 2020


Well. It seems an appropriate time to think about water.

Now is a most excellent time to consider collecting it. We have three water butts catching our roof rain, and all of them are well full just now.

That being the case, it's difficult to imagine ever arriving at a summer's day when the ground is as dry as a bone and the fruit trees depend on cans of water every evening; but that season too will come.

One of our neighbours dries all her laundry in a machine. On a sweltering August afternoon when the washing dries within the hour, even still it's possible to hear the thump of her drier tumbling; which seems idiotic to me.

It may seem equally idiotic to think about saving water just now when the fields are all standing lakes; but I think it's a good time to get into the habit of turning to the rain for cleansing and flushing, instead of the tap.

In our kitchen we have a Berkey water filter — they are expensive, and so are the charcoal filters inside them, but they do filter out unwanted pathogens and chemicals.

Every few days we make up a posse and go down the hill to the spring, fill up our five-litre bottles with water, and carry it back up to the house for our drinking water. It tastes lovely, and wild water, living water, is good for body and soul. But we put it through the Berkey just in case, seeing the ground in which it emerges is downhill from the allotments where they put goodness knows what into the ground to kill bugs and make plants grow.

Meanwhile up in our bathroom we have an even bigger Berkey filter, which we fill with rain from the roof, tapped off the third waterbutt from the inlet (so it's already undergone two waves of gravity filtering).

The filtered rain is good for cleaning teeth, rinsing clothes (nice and soft), mixing with hot water for the bath, flushing the toilet, washing . . . just about anything, really.

Some of us (here) don't bother and just use the taps and flush the loo in the usual way, all the time. None of us sticks rigidly to water -saving — after all, this is England and it's damp. 

But it's worth bearing in mind that the plant food you pay for has the same stuff in it as your pee. So, if you want to feed your garden, a frugal and effective approach is to pee in a bucket —

— then dilute your pee with rain, rinse out your bucket onto the earth around your plants with rain, and let them get to know who you are and grow according to your needs.

Furthermore, the winter is not yet gone and the nights are cold still. Washing in unheated rainwater in the morning is brrr chilly.
But if at bedtime you heat up some rainwater in your kettle —

— and fill a hot-water-bottle —

— then it'll keep you cosy all night and in the morning still be warm enough to tip into your washbasin, wash in it, then use it to swill out your pee-pot onto the plants (may they prosper and flourish).

A great while ago the world begun,
With hey-ho, the wind and the rain . . .
 . . . The rain it raineth every day.

It's still precious: "Beautiful rain," as they say in Africa.


Suzan said...

Yes water is so very precious. Australia seems to have too little or too much. We have a small tank for emergency water and I keep some bottled water too. The government has sold water rights and some farmers have been left with far too little. Eco systems are dying. Millions of fish died in one episode.

I do not know what it is like in England but ordinary people in Australia have gone bonkers. Shop shelves have been denuded of all sorts of basic commodities. Toilet paper is almost like gold right now.

I do think we should be prudent have a little set aside but leave enough for others too.

Pen Wilcock said...

Amen to that. Yes, people have been stocking up here too.

Nancy S. said...

Such great tips! I hadnt know there was a large Berkee water filterer.

Pen Wilcock said...

Yes, it's enormous! I can't now remember what size our bathroom one is, but the biggest they do is 23 litres.

Anonymous said...

Hi Penelope,
I lived for 30 years in a house with a well and the water was alkaline and delicious. It also seemed to miraculously aid the removal of stains from clothing when stain treated. I'll soon be moving to a new house and will mis the water terribly. But, I did find a jug on a stand on Amazon that adds alkalinity to the water, so I could get that for my drinking water at least as I will now have city water. Willhave to see how laundry turns out in then ew place!

Pen Wilcock said...

Happy is the home blessed with a well. No wonder our ancestors considered them sacred! It must be a sorrow to leave yours, but how wonderful to have been its custodian so long. In your new home, may you find wells of happiness of a different kind — new blessings, peace that belongs to this stage of your journey. x