Water relief! Everyone here at Dawdle Hall is feeling a bit flushed after a titanic struggle to save the liquid of life.
Frustrated by watching precious rain fall from leaden skies, bounce off the roof slates and gurgle needlessly down the drain I resolved to take drastic action to stop this wasteful squander.
It truly was a case of ‘water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.’ An irony that was particularly hard to swallow while opening a big bill from the water company as torrents streamed down the windows of my study.
As I remarked to Lady Winifred over breakfast one morning “We even have a socking great lake for goodness sake!” Right on cue Whimsy the dog felt the need to protest too by cocking his leg against the table. The final straw!
Within days work had begun on digging a huge underground reservoir to take the run off the Hall roofs. This meant sacrificing the croquet lawn, much to the delight of my faithful companion and the despair of the wife.
However, Lady Winifred’s disapproving scowl did little to dampen my enthusiasm. I was as happy as Whimsy, who was doing his best to help shift the mountain of soil being piled up by the back terrace with his front paws.
With the question of storage answered I turned my attention to collection. Many of the Hall downpipes were well past their prime and in urgent need of renewal. It was time, so as to speak, to drag ourselves out of the gutter!
An old pal had just returned from a business trip to Germany with news of an entertaining solution to the problem. In the heart of Dresden they have harnessed the power of gravity and the sound of rain to make sweet music.
Instead of normal pipes the water from the roofs cascades down through a series of cleverly shaped metal ‘trumpets’ over ‘chimes’ and other odd looking ‘instruments.’ See https://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/stories/5-awesome-unusual-ways-harvest-rainwater
Whatever the final result I thought such an enchanting novelty would certainly brighten up any dull wet day and, as it so happened, the Hall’s very own ‘room of requirements’ vis-a-vis the attic was an aladdin’s cave of suitable bric-a-brac. Lying around, covered in dust, were generations of discarded cornets, bugles, trombones and even the odd tuba.
Before long I had assembled a veritable brass band’s worth of instruments on the terrace and was contemplating a full scale assault on the downpipes at the rear of the building. Grandiose visions of a marquee on the restored croquet lawn and rainy day concerts in aid of charity began to bubble up in my mind. It would make quite a splash in the parish magazine.
Trusty ladder in place and hacksaw in hand I proceeded to cut through the ancient cast iron. With a yawning tuba sized gap opened up I retreated to ground level to complete the next phase of the operation. This involved some vines eyes to hammer into the wall and stout wire to hold things up. Unfortunately Whimsy, my not so faithful companion, had other ideas.
Looking around I couldn’t help noticing the big brass band was in danger of becoming a small ensemble. Several horns, bugles and cornets had disappeared. Undaunted I grabbed hold of the tuba, roped it onto my back, pocketed the requisite tools and struggled back up the ladder. Banging vine eye nails into mortar while shouldering a 25 pound hump is no mean feat.
Clinging on for dear life I just managed to use the hammer and secure the wire with my arms hooked alternately round one of the upper rungs. The term wind instrument took on a whole new meaning as I tried to manoeuvre the beast into position in the stiffening breeze. While tightening things up the first drops of rain began to soak into my hair.
A thunder cloud of quite a different hue greeted my safe arrival on terra firma. Lady Winifred had been watching my antics from afar and had moved in to make her displeasure known. Both storms broke around my head simultaneously. While the downpour filled the tuba above us, my angry wife filled my ears with expletives. As I turned to face the music, lightning struck.
The heavily laden instrument took a direct hit and exploded off the wall. Plunging earthwards it released a mighty cascade of water over both of us before embedding itself funnel down in the big pile of soil where the croquet lawn used to be. This delighted Whimsy as it saved him having to bury it along with all the others. Tail wagging he had emerged from the muddy mess to collect another trophy – a hunting horn.
Back on dry land, so as to speak, I wondered how long I should leave it before breaking it to long suffering Lady Winifred that I had set up some sheets to harvest early morning fog down by the lake using net curtains from the upstairs bedrooms strung across punt poles from the boathouse. It turned out the fact you can collect up to 400 litres a day of run off didn’t wash with her ladyship and I was sunk without trace for weeks.