Behind the house the Precipitous Bank becomes… well, even more precipitous. Vertical in fact. It is presumably where builders of olde cut into the bank to create an area flat enough to build a house. This is the ditch Mike fell into when he cracked his ribs. It’s also where, until this week, we thought we had a French Drain.
A French Drain is basically a trench filled with gravel or rock containing a perforated pipe. Surplus water seeps through the holes in the pipe and is diverted harmlessly to somewhere else. In our situation the intention is to carry away rainwater running off the roof (thatched cottages have no gutters) or seeping through the soil from the higher level of the bank, thus avoiding a permanent puddle at the base of the house wall.
It’s never worked particularly well. After heavy rain we’ve always had run off down the path on one side of the house. In torrential rain it can become a veritable river. A rather Heath Robinson construction involving lengths of guttering laid on the ground has served up to now. But could we be doing with that for yet another winter? Best get some chaps in to have a look. Sure enough, there’s a pipe in the ditch. But whoever installed it must have had something of a memory lapse. Or perhaps he just didn’t grasp the finer points of French.
The pipe wall was solid. Pas de trous. No holes.
The water has never had anywhere to go. No wonder it didn’t work. And no wonder the back wall of the house has always been damp. Oh là là.
Some quick work with a drill was all it took. Some permeable membrane and a covering of chipped stone.
If only every problem was that simple.