Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Installation of our new Fosse Septique - part one - day zero

What a month it's been. We had two weeks lovely break in our Brittany holiday home (punctuated with lots of mud and rain, but more of this later), and then it was straight back to work with a vengeance. The first week back I drove down to Heathrow from our home in Bedfordshire on four consecutive days (70-odd miles each way) in the back-to-school rush-hour traffic, and then it was Toby (our eldest son)'s 9th birthday, then his birthday treat with his friends going to Legoland, then another week of work, commuting, helping out with two charity events my Rotary club was organising, and it's up to my Dad in Lancashire next weekend, and ...

The holiday seems such a distant memory.

One of the main things we were planning on having done whilst we were in France was installation of a new septic tank system (fosse septique) and I previous wrote about the different constituent parts of the new fosse and emptying the old septic tank and plans for new fosse septique plans.

We arrived OK at the Gite OK on Monday afternoon (despite a very wet drive down through Normandy) and bumped into our gardeners Brian and Kevin who were tidying up the flower beds and giving the hedge a trim. We saw that there was a large plastic tank, some pipework and a small caterpillar-tracked earth mover parked in one of the driveways so it all looked positive that the job was on!

After a quick look round the house and garden I had to make my goodbye's as I urgently had to go and get the farmer sorted out to empty the existing fosse the next day.

Drove round to the farmer's house and spoke to his wife (who of course spoke no English at all), asked if he was in ... Oui ... explained that he had emptied my fosse 2 years previously and that we were having a new fosse installed tomorrow and could he come and empty the fosse tomorrow ... Non, Il et en vacance pour une semaine ... he was on holiday for a week! Argh, best laid plans of mice and men, time to revert to plan B unfortunately I hadn't thought of this problem and there was no plan B.
In desperation I decided the best thing to do was to drive round some other local farms and see if any of them could help me. The first couple I went to, no they couldn't, and no they didn't know anyone who had a pump. The next one I came to I felt more confident as parked in the field opposite the farmhouse was a large agricultural tanker unit.

Went to the farmhouse and explained to the farmers wife what the problem was and asked whether the farmer could help. She of course didn't know but offered that her husband could phone me that evening. Argh! I couldn't remember my mobile number - brainlock! I use the mobile all the time but of course I couldn't remember the number in French so with more desole's I had to write it down. More chatting about the weather, the children, how we liked France, where our house was, how many children she had, etc, etc and I made my way home.

Fortunately the farmer phoned later that evening and confirmed he could come round next morning - result!

The next morning (Tuesday) I was expecting the work to start at 9am so set the alarm clock for 8am. Just laying in bed prior to getting up, there was a series of loud crashes and bangs from outside as at 8:01 (or thereabouts) a lorry turned up and started unloading a mini-digger and a mini-mini-digger and the work on the fosse started.

I think in total I've taken some 420-odd photos of the fosse construction work over the following days showing the excavations, fittings, pipework, inspections, filling-in's, levelling off and finally the new driveway. I don't intend to upload all of them to our Flickr Brittany photo album, but will instead try to walk through a sample to show the story unfolding.

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