I was passing Thierry his first down payment for clearing the jungle the other day and I mentioned that he might find a few things I’d lost – several balls from the pool, numerous metal fence posts, some guttering, some garden tools and my fosse.
The fosse is that curious thing most French houses have if they’re off the beaten track – a septic tank, and I’d lost mine amongst the brambles – Rubus Fruticosis if you recall !
Now these things, Fosses, are supposed to be self ‘regulating’ in that in theory, if they’re working ok then they can be left for years – the good old bacteria do their stuff, the ‘grey’ water soaks away and you never need to get involved, but unfortunately, mine is a bit more complex than the normal installation and a couple of years ago when we had a major, and rather smelly, flood in the house, the cause was a blocked kitchen water pipe down at the fosse.
It wasn’t a particularly pleasant job and when Thierry uncovered mine the other day, he never thought to mention to me that it was bubbling all over the place. It was only when I ventured down into the cleared land to inspect it that I discovered that the kitchen fosse (we have a kitchen section and a linked ‘other’ section) was once more the culprit. Congealed fat and all sorts of other gunge which goes down through our waste disposal system had completely blocked the input pipe and it had to be cleared – and what a horrible smelly job it was.
At least now it’s done I can forget it for another couple of years, but now the land has been cleared I’ll be able to see it bubbling from the terrace if another problem occurs!
And as I was up to my elbows in all sorts of unspeakable gunge, I thought back to when J and I were looking for our first house together in the Windsor area. After numerous fruitless viewings, we finally found a beautiful cottage where the garden ran gently down to a lake where I could fish, the station I used to travel into London from was only five minutes away and despite the fact that it was under Heathrow airport’s flight path, that didn’t bother us because our previous rented house had had that problem. It was idyllic.
And then the estate agent said, ‘of course this house has a septic tank.’
That was it for me. “I’ll never buy a house with a septic tank”, I said and walked away from my dream home. How times change.
PS – the picture shows a typical single-system fosse installation although what the duck is doing in there, I don’t know. There is a theory that if the fosse stops working efficiently, you throw a dead rat in which starts the old microbes and bacteria going again, so maybe that’s what the duck is for!