Without Water

As the world became a little warmer frozen piped burst, and here in Treleddyd fawr it was as if the tiger ad come to tea and drunk ‘all the water in the taps’. Friday evening, I think it was, the water went off. We checked the website, reported the fault, but it seemed Dwr Cymru were in meltdown themselves, struggling to cope with a system under stress. But it would be ok. Two hours without water. No worries.

Next day they said it would be back on at lunch time. By the next day I had stopped believing. All the water was sold out in the local shop. It took until Tuesday for any bottled water to be sent round and then there was confusion over where the drop off and collection was from.

Still ok for us, in a way. There’s an old well in the village and we took buckets of water from there to flush the toilet. It’s amazing how much more economical with the flush you become when you have to carry the buckets from the well.

I took some of the water to paint with also. I work in watercolour. Hard to use, without water.

It was much harder for my neighbours. They have five horses, two donkeys, two pigs and two goats. Mixing food, carrying huge buckets to water the animals. No joke aged 60 and 65. Hauling water out from an old irrigation pond. When the water went off the pond was frozen.

As the weather warmed it became easier, but after five days I was beginning to think we might all be having communal bathing sessions in the spring fed pond also. It’s alive with singing frogs as it warms, beautiful, and newts.

I found not being able to wash my hands with ease one of the hardest things, and Jan struggled too, with the cold and the water, and the lifting and she has delicate skin so now her hands are ragged and sore. Hard working, ragged and sore.

Other neighbours are farmers, with sheep, lambs, cows, and no water….

One of my problems was that I stretch my paper before painting on it. Fed up with being told that the water would be back on by lunch time, every day, I took two sheets of paper down the beach to where the stream comes off the land to meet the sea.

I soaked them in the water, taped them to my boards and brought them home to dry.

And then I painted an otter, using the wild well water and the paper stretched at the beach.

Five days with no water, and such a relief this morning when I flushed the loo and heard the tank begin to fill. Cold water came out of the tap to wash hands, then hot. I washed hands, washed face, brushed teeth, tackled the washing up mountain, cleaned the bathroom….

but for some this is how it always is. No water, or water you have to carry, risking life and limb to fetch it. I’d been wondering how people with small children were coping during these five days. Imagine losing your child to death because of waterborne diseases, or no water. Imagine trying to cook, keep clean, grow food, with no water. Because five days without what we take for granted in the western world, turning on the tap, flushing toilets, washing clothes, five days was a trial is other people’s normality and a lifetime of this is another matter.

I spoke, in the end, to someone from Dwr Cmyru. I was aware that they had all been working so hard to reinstate our supply. Perhaps if communications had been managed with more honesty we would have been less frustrated. But now the water was back, although still a little unreliable, and we are so grateful to those who have found the problem, fixed it. And we were talking about Water Aid.

Water Aid changes lives and Dwr Cymru’s water engineers continue to work with Water Aid projects every year. So this otter is for sale, this otter who grew from frustration of being without something that is the stuff of life, who was born on the shore of Whitesands Beach, painted with ink and water from our well, to raise funds to help build wells in other lands. This wild otter who swam onto the page like a dream.

£1 000 (Sold, but there will be more otters and am happy to add people to a waiting list for inked otters, some for charity and some to keep the wolf from my door.)

All money donated to donated to Water Aid.

If you would like to buy this otter email me. I will send you the link to donate. If you could share, then that would be wonderful.

Thanks to all at Dwr Cymru. So glad you are a not for profit company. Of all the utilities sold off over the years this is the one I could never understand. No one can live without water. Water is life.




About Jackie

I am an artist and writer. I live in a small house by the sea in Wales where I write, paint, walk and watch and dream of bears and whales. I love to read, have a wish for wings and prefer the company of animals to that of humans, though at times I can be quite friendly. I am learning how to work with wood engraving tools and hoping to show that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
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6 Responses to Without Water

  1. Kim Tillyer says:

    It has certainly been a week for pondering Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs! I’m so glad you got your water sorted and your experience will undoubtably help raise funds for the good work of Water Aid. Our water is still off here ( in the Lake District, how ironic!) with no sign of anyone coming to help fix it (private water, lazy landlord, ice etc.) …it’s been 5 days now and Rupert ( who is not a plumber) has been wrestling with ancient water pumps, getting electric shocks and carrying buckets up from the beck to flush the loo. Being without water seems to be a regular occurrence in my life and without fail it fills me with gratitude for the tiny everyday luxuries we can so easily take for granted. https://witchmountain.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/last-day-of-the-year/

    ps. we found voles living in the pump house and weasels in the attic!

  2. Hi Jackie,
    I grew up like this. I am around your age. None of my friends lived that way, but my dad wanted to move to the country (to teach them kids responsibility) and someone offered 100 acres and a sensible way of payment that would be manageable for a family of 8.
    But there was no buildings on it. So for many years we had no running water or electricity. We lived in a mobile home which got a room at a time added that we sort of fell into!

    I know what your neighbours are going through. We had cows, pigs, goats and chickens. There was an old schoolhouse well my dad cleaned out. That was for people. And a ‘creek’ – beck, stream what have you. That was for the animals.
    Still we survived, like you said about the Water Aid. You had to do it so you did.

    I can’t buy the otter, but I make work to try to say what you said about children like those in the Water Aid project and those in famine/refugee areas and girls abducted by extremist groups. Wearable Art and Textile Art. http://sandysnowden.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/3rd%20world

  3. Bernie Bell says:

    A bit by bit response. As always, Jackie, if you’d rather not post any or all of this, that’s understandable – I do dive into things!
    1) When I lived in Wales, I used to visit the Alternative Technology Centre near Machynlleth, and a sign in their toilet said “If it’s yellow, let it mellow – if it’s brown, flush it down!” Not a bad policy, in general, when it comes to toilets.
    2) Isn’t it great that the old well is still there and use-able? Not covered over or closed off, as many are. And, how old is it? How far back did it serve the community? Thoughts to conjure with, and tales to weave.
    3) I’ve seen your flask before, in a pic. of your studio. It’s v. groovy.
    4) I used to help to carry buckets of water for my Aunt and Uncle in Ireland, who lived, with their family, in a two roomed thatched cottage with no running water or electricity. To me, it was a fun part of my visit to them, but, to them – more work. The water wasn’t used for the toilet though, as there wasn’t one – you just went in the cow shed, next door, and it all became manure, eventually.
    5) What you did with the paper was inspired. I remember my Mum saying “Necessity is the mother of invention.” That’s how folk worked out how to do things, how to provide and get what was needed. Good for you , Jackie.
    6) Then – The Otter – painted that way – Whoooo- hooo – I just hope he goes to a really good home.
    7) Pics. of you wetting the paper, in your big, knitted warm…………. Witchy-Woman!
    8) Water Aid – you say it all. A person can die more quickly from lack of water than from lack of food. But it needs to be clean water. It’s all learning, isn’t it? And thinking. Instead of just going – “Sod it, no water.” Thinking, imagining what it’s like for those who are always in that situation, then doing something about it. Good woman, Jackie.

    And on a lighter note …….At one time, I lived in a small village in mid-Wales, and, one evening, I went to a party in a house up in the hills. We’d been to the pub first and I’d had quite a lot of whisky. That worked for me – I’d drink whisky, then stop and drink lots of water. Problem was, when we got to the party, there was no water! It was a hot summer, their water was from a spring, and , very exceptionally, the spring had dried. So no water for me. I was sick as a pig next day and can’t drink whisky since. I enjoy smelling it, and holding it up to the light to see the colour, but I can’t drink it. Shame, as it was my tipple, and that method had worked for me, for years. I have no memory of that evening – fortunately I was with good friends, who, though a bit surprised at my behaviour, kept an eye on me and took me home when needed.

  4. Bernie Bell says:

    Now then – here’s a thing – Mike is a scientist – Marine Biologist – when I told him about you wetting the paper in the stream which come out onto the shore, and then painting the otter with water from a well – he said “There could easily be otter DNA in the water in that stream.” If there are otters in the stream, inland, or, if they are on the shore, they would like to use the fresh water from the stream for washing their fur. So – there could be otter DNA, in the water you used and therefore, in the paper!
    Well, well, well.
    Don’t these scientists come up with things?!

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