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Spanish Shilling

Some stories and experiences after a lifetime spent in Spain

Splish, Splash, I've Broken the Bath
Saturday, May 13, 2023 @ 9:15 PM

We have an old shower downstairs, just the thing for a quick wash, and when the gas-heater works, why maybe a shave as well. Otherwise, we could go to the bijou apartment upstairs and knock on granny's door to ask if we could maybe use hers. 

Not much chance of that, I reckon. I'm not certain she approves of me.

One thing and another, and not that it matters much during the summer months, but we live in a cold-water house, more or less. 

The water itself comes from a well. It's pumped into a tank below the sitting room (sometimes called the floating room when I forget to turn the pump off). From there, a second and needlessly noisy pump on the roof sends the water to the kitchen sink, lavatory and bathroom. 

And, of course, upstairs to la abuela: the irascible granny.

A gas-heater used to warm the downstairs shower, until it choked irredeemably to death early last year. The water, you see, comes from somewhere far underground (the River Styx, I suspect) and is heavily full of cal, apparently called lime in English. The cal clogs up the pipes and tubes, so we sometimes don't have water in the kitchen, or available for refreshing the toilet, or maybe it'll fail to go thrumming through the gas-heater, as explained above.

My wife's brother is a plumber, and he sometimes drops by to siphon the pipes with some dreadful product he gets from the cooperative. Vinegar, maybe. The gas-heater though, he told us while stroking his chin, was unquestionably fucked.

So, we bought a new one. Now, the new ones don't just run on butano, because that would be too easy. These ones need an electric socket as well (to light the display). Furthermore, they need a drafty chimney presumably to dispel any leaked gas; or, mind you, one could nail it to the wall outside until one of the neighbours (we live in an interesting barrio) happened to notice it. 

An inspector came by. Your chimney is too tall, he said, so I can't give you a special green Government-approved tick. 

Long story short, granny abruptly went to Her Reward last October (no doubt forgetting to send us a postcard once she'd crossed the River Styx, although one can never be too sure with the state of the Correos around here) and I thought - why not swap the small electric heater from her vacated rooms, and then buy a proper bath we could put in her quarters upstairs (now open to the rest of the household), to be fed by the brand new gas/electric heater previously introduced? We even have a short upstairs kitchen-chimney for it to blissfully sit under.

The inspector, we knew in our bones, would approve. 

My brother in law enthusiastically set up the tubing, as we erected the bath within a wooden frame in what used to be the upstairs larder (easier than putting it into the bathroom. For one thing, it would have had to have been installed vertically). 

I was a bit dubious. An old house with a bath upstairs sitting astride a pair of beams. But the first time I got in, the bath full to the brim with steaming hot water, I thought to myself, well this is a fine thing. The concrete beams won't give way and 


The bath, at least the end of it entertaining my head n' shoulders, suddenly fell a couple of inches. I got out a lot faster than I had gotten in and went off to go and read my book about whales.

I like having a good soak, so the following morning I took the side-panels off and had a look to see what had happened. It was because we had put a small bit of wood in the wrong place and the bath had settled. No probs.  

The next bath-night, a few evenings later, the water-supply abruptly ran out. The tank under the sitting room was empty (it might have been my fault: I think I left the garden-hose running).

The following time for bathies, it was the butano-bottle we had brought up from downstairs. Empty, Blast it!

Then, the taps wouldn't work at all, they'd filled up with cal. I had to unscrew them and soak them in vinegar. 

The plumber cuñado then dropped by one day and told me I shouldn't run it very hot as the plastic pipes he had put in would melt. I said, what's the point of a tepid bath? So, now I use a kettle to, as it were, top it up. 

But the duende, the spirit of old granny, still wasn't finished with me. Yesterday, the bath full and steaming, I lowered myself in with a merry splash, my bottom catching on my way down a full and opened bottle of shampoo, which had been balanced on the bit of wood next to the tub, which reaching the bath-water just before I did, found me then firmly sitting on it.

To say I enjoyed a soapy bubble bath last night would be an understatement.

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