By “The Photographer’s Assistant”
Dartmoor Tap Water. Sounds dull doesn’t it. In Exeter it’s there, on demand, in many homes the tap drips and constantly shows signs of life. On Dartmoor it’s different. It can be supplied in that conventional manner, but surprisingly often, it isn’t.
When we looked at our house, when it was for sale, we learnt that the entire hamlet did not have a public water supply. Our house was on a Victorian pumped system, which still supplies some of our neighbours. This caused us to debate whether we should buy this pretty home. Would the supply be good? We decided to try it out. It appeared to be unreliable, and ended with my poor husband, now retired and with a poorly back, out in the pouring rain and down a hole, shoveling mud.
The solution was on our door step. An elderly neighbour had given up carrying water from the stream when water appeared to have stopped coming out of her tap, and installed a bore hole. We investigated and found that this was a common supply amongst our fellows on the Moor, so intrigued by it all and the occasional lack of water, we bravely installed a Bore Hole. It was tricky to dig and very like a junior Dallas. We have the works which control the hole in a small shed. Our water has its own treatment and is absolutely safe, but we never forget that it may not come out of the tap. We pray that someone at the electricity supply company remembers, when he interrupts the supply that our pump won’t work and we won’t have water. When we heard that the country may be short of supply, we were deeply concerned. Out here, we are the first to be cut off anything when the town needs it more. To be without water for long hours would be very difficult. ‘Buy a generator,’ you might say, but a generator that would generate that sort of power would have to be mighty and well beyond normal means! You might be able to run a freezer off a simple one, but that would be your lot!
Other people out here have supplies driven by electric pumps from wells or gushing springs. It is all fascinating and various. Some years ago, when we had just arrived, we had a drought and were intrigued to see some neighbours passing our cottage carrying towels, and caught on when one was carrying a bottle of shampoo. They were making their way down to the river to have a bath. On one occasion an elderly lady went past and was followed some moments later by a large number of soldiers who were clearly lost on their exercise. Some minutes later, the elderly lady returned looking flustered and very put out. Her skinny dipping had been interrupted! Evidently, she had run out of water, and was making use of the river water. If you think we live in a civilized nation, think again. If we have a drought, some of us might as well live in the third world!
By the way, our water is wonderfully soft and so cold and refreshing that when, we visit other places, we drink bottled water! We might have difficulties with the supply, but it is a fantastic product. Once more, Dartmoor is an intriguing place to live.