12 Feb 2007

Chilli water on tap

I had an interesting visit the other day from a reporter from La Semaine du Minervois (The Minervois Weekly) newspaper. She turned up on my doorstep with a camera, and the village postman in tow. She’d understood that there was a pump in the courtyard, and she was writing a story on water sources around the area.

I already knew that the pump worked, and I did indeed have fresh water on tap. When I first looked at the house with Nic back in September, Madam went to great lengths to explain that this was no ordinary water – it was ‘piquant l’eau’ – and that it came from the Black Mountains behind Bize. Nic and I were a bit puzzled about the name, as we thought this translated as ‘chilli water’. Which in fact it does. But what I’ve since found out, and have had confirmed, is that what the pump produces is fizzy mineral water.

An aside – I just put ‘piquant l’eau’ into Google Translate online and it came up with ‘pricking water’. Oops, seems I still haven’t got it right. I must get that sorted before I try to get the pump fixed and have to explain what I want ….

She is going to give me a copy of the newspaper when it’s published – it’s a weekly paper but she’s not sure if it will be this week or next. So it will be interesting to learn about the water situation in the area.

But it gets more interesting. I had always said jokingly to Nic that there could be a little cottage industry here – i.e. me in the shed with a bottling plant, selling my own sparkling mineral water! However, that’s hardly likely to happen…. The architect happened to be here at the same time measuring up the barn, and I asked him about it. He knew the story. Apparently there is a thin line where the mineral water stream passes underground through the village, and I seem to have one of the few pumps that access the stream. However, he seems to think it’s illegal to do anything with it (other than personal use) as he thinks there are moves underway to market it commercially.

Back in September, Msr had filled the top of the pump with water (like filling a hose before beginning to siphon), then commenced pumping, and managed to get some water out. Bruce tasted it, and thought the water had been sitting a bit long in the pipes. We tried the same method the other day, but just ended up with a lot of water on the ground (only the stuff we’d put in), and the postman pumping for all he was worth, but with no result!

So, I must get the pump seen to and see if I can’t get it working to access the water. It would be a shame if all I could use it for is watering the plants. What a hoot – perhaps I’ll one day have the equivalent of ‘Perrier on tap’……

The paintbrushes have finally come out – and I’ve been busy splashing it around. The downstairs toilet is no longer green – five coats of white paint later, it’s a different room. And more spacious, now that I’ve removed the wooden shelves and curtains. There’s room for a small corner hand basin – but that will come later. In the meantime I’ve put in a small marble-topped stand that I’ve painted white. Sadly I didn’t take a ‘before’ photo of this – it was green and pink (it was formerly in my bedroom, and matched exactly the light fitting and bedhead colours).

And the small passage way leading from the garage to the kitchen is now bright and white, top to bottom. Though parts of the wall will become a different colour, once I learn how to tint the paint. I’m heading down to Narbonne on Wednesday, so will call in to the paint shop and pick up some tints. I’m reluctant to take my paint in to get it done professionally, as I bought it all with me from the UK (a lot cheaper). And I don’t have the nerve to take it to a French paint shop for tinting. So the colour I choose and the colour I end up with are likely to be quite different.

And here’s a picture of my latest impulse buy. An olive tree and kumquat. Well, not really an impulse buy, just a bit premature. My small courtyard will be a mess once the building starts so perhaps I should have waited before buying plants. But I’m so excited that I will actually have some outside space again, after all these years without a garden!

Moving sideways

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