Things That Go Bump – Or Splash – In The Night

whistling ducks2

There have been a couple of nocturnal surprises this week.

The whistling duck colony which has adopted our metal roof as a night time roost is not one of them…


They arrived some while ago, attracted by the dubious delights of the lagoon at the pig farm across the river and took up residence on the roof rather like the Hobbits entering the house of Beorn

First one pair, then another, until the whole colony was installed.

The main problem was that they seemed to be late night revelers,  returning from their lucubrations in the early hours and landing on the roof with a boom that reverberated through the house, followed by dancing Strip the Willow in hobnail boots prior to finally settling down.

Oddly enough, none of this activity interests the dogs. Guaranteed to give tongue at porcupines, nocturnal prowlers and cars which stop on the top road they completely ignore the bangs and crashes overhead. Perhaps, typical dog, they think that as they cannot catch them it is best to ignore their existence…

We have grown accustomed to it now, so that their activities no longer count as a surprise. Shock and awe, perhaps, but surprise…no.

Leo wakes in the early hours. Unable to sleep he gets dressed and we sally forth for a cup of tea…which is where we came across this week’s first surprise.

Danilo is a dog magnet….there must be at least twelve up in his family compound…..and two of them like to come to work with him. The old dog, Calamardo, has decided that since Danilo comes every day except Sunday he will rest his paws by living with the sheep full time, emerging for his morning biscuits and his evening meal.


Ancient he might be, semi blind and half deaf, but he has a wonderful sense of smell – and of direction. The young man who tried to extract money from us for his cow saw fit to enter the byre one evening last week and came out faster than he went in, emerging with a severe bite on his hand. For some reason he did not come up to the house to complain…

The other come-to-work dog is Donna.


She had been abandoned and was taken on by Danilo…knowing Donna I doubt he had much choice as she knows a mug when she sees one and has no intention of being abandoned again.

Danilo’s wife does not like dogs in the house so when Danilo goes off in the evenings Donna comes here to wait for him. If it is late, she settles herself on the porch – commandeering a cardboard box as sleeping quarters. If early enough for the front door to be open she toddles into the kitchen, eats any available leftovers and settles herself down for the night. We have learned from experience to leave a box out for her…after having potatoes scattered all over the floor when she took a fancy to the box in which we were keeping them.

This week we emerged from the bedroom in the early hours, switched on the light, patted the dogs and headed for the stove to make the tea….to be greeted  by the sight of a beaming Donna lying on her version of a water bed.

Our milk comes in plastic sachets of 900 centlitres – this is the land of  the plastic bag – which we buy in boxes of twelve. Her ladyship, obviously preferring the milk box to the one left out for her, had discovered something even better…the sachets themselves, upon which she was reclining blissfully.

Luckily she had broken none of them so it was just a job of picking them up and putting them out of her reach. At that hour of the morning I had no enthusiasm for clearing up a canine Cleopatra’s bath.

Had  I but known it that would have been child’s play compared with what awaited me later in the week.

Three thirty a. m. Leo is awake and calls me to help him get dressed.

I sit up, put my feet to the ground expecting to meet my slippers but instead find  water. A squawk from the other side of the bed indicates that Leo has had the same experience.

Bedside light on reveals the bedroom awash.

Shuffling through it to avoid making waves I lift boxes…sodden at the base…into the bath for future investigation….and no, the water is not coming from the bathroom.

Open door to the house to find the dogs marooned on the sofa and the floor likewise awash….luckily no more boxes to be affected.

Water, water everywhere….but, as proved when trying to fill the kettle, not a drop to drink. The tank has run dry.

A moment’s thought allows me to thank my lucky stars that I had not topped up the five hundred litre tank the night before, then sploshing about to turn off all the stopcocks except that to the kitchen taps and opening the front door which has the effect of pulling some of the water out into the porch and onto the garden.

Off to the pump control to pull some water into the tank…sufficient for immediate needs – tea. The loos had one flush left in each, so no need to worry about that for a while.

Back to make tea, and organise Leo as far as the kitchen where he could drink it in peace while waiting for his blood pressure to settle.

Mobilise mopping up gear…but where to start? It is a tribute to Danilo’s building skills that the floor is level, so the water had not collected into a sump anywhere, though a sump would have been easier to deal with.

Sweep water through front door…..the slight slope on the porch sending it out into the garden.

Lay the dog towels down and make the rounds squeezing them into buckets. Empty buckets.

Sweep water out through front door.

Squeeze out towels into buckets. Empty buckets.

Drink tea and curse.

Dogs descend to offer sympathy and wet paws.

Start the sweep and squeeze routine again….drink tea and curse…continue ad infinitum ad nauseam.

The sun rises behind San Antonio Arriba and the mopping and slopping continues until areas round likely leak points are cleared of standing water and can be dried off so that Leo can see if he can find the origin of the Noah’s Fludde that has engulfed us.

First time lucky….the guest loo is the guilty party, though neither of us can see exactly how it has wreaked its havoc, so it will wait until Danilo’s arrival – as long as we remember to turn off the stop cock…which we go back to do…

The floors are remarkably clean…a few long lost items have floated out from under Leo’s desk…all is now well with the world.

The world might be fine, but I am out on my feet. Ideally I would return to bed and pull the bedclothes over my head but no such luck…there is just time to cook breakfast before the arrival of Danilo and the beginning of the routines of the day.

It is, as always, a great life if you don’t weaken!















46 thoughts on “Things That Go Bump – Or Splash – In The Night”

  1. You sound remarkably calm about it all; but you are possibly tidier than I am – I keep far too much on the floor… Loved your description of the whistling-dancing ducks – hilarious! I trust all is tickety-boo…in every other respect.

    1. This place is usually a tip, but luckily we had started on a clear out of stuff earlier in the week. Must have had a premonition!
      Those ducks are something else….all they need is Jimmy Shand and his band.
      Leo is a little better, thank goodness – thank you.

  2. I’m so glad you had the dogs there to help you!
    Such a shame they did not wake you sooner.
    I wish I had been there to give myself a heart attack sweeping the water out for you. I may have swept a dog or two along with it of course. I hope the leak has been fixed. Such a pain when you do not need more problems.
    Maybe you need a maid to give you an hours sleep during the day….

    1. The least they could have done would have been to use their tails as brooms…
      Thank you for your kind offer, but two men risking heart attacks is two too many!
      My cleaning lady has retired, unfortunately….can’t imagine why!

  3. What a mess all that water. Now if it happened here there would be cheers. Water anywhere at this stage would probably be welcome. Even if it’s ringing up on a towel inside and redistributing it outside. Of course, my facetious dialogue here is venting in disguise. You’re a good sport. And bless Danilo for helping the dogs. Too bad it isn’t shared by his wife but hey they have your place as the best solution for that. Happy week my friend.

    1. How awful that you still have drought conditions…when on earth will it end?
      Danilo loves dogs…I think his wife suspects rather more than he loves her. I’m happy to act as B and B when required and the old boy is a perfect guard dog for the sheep.
      Look after all of yourelves.

  4. Lordy these dawgs.
    My poor hound was whipped into the vets, weighed, scrubbed and generally prepped for surgery early this morning. Sadly vet did not rock up as had to go see the emergency dentist across town.

        1. Yes, it’s not just the pooch but you too who are all worked up, and to be let down like that is unprofessional…surely a colleague could have stepped in? Fingers duly crossed for you.

  5. It is, as always, a great life if you don’t weaken!
    Yes, absolutely, but wouldn’t it be nice if things occasionally ran according to plan? I don’t think I could be quite as sanguine about getting out of bed at 3.30 in the night as you. I remember it well and I also remember how tired I felt for most of the time. Flood and a poorly husband, luckily the dogs behave reasonably well.

    Can you take time off at all?

    1. Yes, you know all too well what it is like. At the moment it is down to me as he needs a close eye kept on him as we try to set up a regime which keeps his blood pressure from swinging to extremes too often. At any rate it is better than the nocturnal ambulance rides to hospital with all the alarms an excursion involved in that…
      I would love things to run to plan…but most of all I would like a guillotine in the doorway to deal with people who will interrupt my afternoon nap. Stick your head round the door with a daft enquiry and down comes the blade…

  6. I feel for you. earlier this year, during the time we were having continual rain, the pipe under the sink in the bathroom burst sometime during the night. When we awoke the house was awash!!!! N managed to get some pliers attached to the pipe after bending it and stopped the flow. It was Sunday, where do you find a plumber on Sunday. Instead, we spent the whole day mopping up while the rain kept falling outside. No way we could let any air through the house to let it dry. Finally Monday we got someone in and had the pipe fixed, but it took weeks for a 200+ year-old house with no damp proofing to dry out!
    Take care thoughts are with you both. Diane

    1. Crumbs, yes, I remember the nightmare you had, first to clear the mess and then to try to dry things out in the middle of a downpour…those old houses might be solid, but they do harbour damp!

  7. Years ago I spent thousands to have the basement floor jackhammered and all new drains laid out of the house. Shiny, slippery new PVC pipe. Fast forward to years later, the floor is flooded from the septic. The PVC went straight to the septic tank, and stopped at the last clay tile, which finally collapsed fifty years later. Did I mention we had laid carpeting down there? Oh, and the dogs! We had to put up gates to keep them from dashing in to roll in the smell from heaven.
    It’s good to hear Leo is feeling a bit better! Take care of you, too.

    1. When it rains, it pours, doesn’t it! Seventh heaven for the dogs and the seventh circle of hell for you….had the installers gone bust by then?
      Thanks, Leo is a little better…but I could do with a week’s solid sleep…

  8. . . and we, with our ‘one-man-rule’ now solidified, thought we had problems! Onwards and upwards searching for the light at the end of the tunnel!

    1. Send the bastard a few thousand whistling ducks to sit on his palace roof….his conscience may not keep him awake but they will…and if you really feel beastly play him reel to reel Jimmy Shand and his band…

  9. And you still managed to write a blog post – although this can be a very therapeutic thing to do, and also offers the chance to sit down for a while…. Do you ever consider having help in the house or is that likely to be more trouble than it’s worth?

    1. My cleaning woman has just retired…which is a nuisance from the cleaning point of view but a great relief from the peace of mind point of view…I lose count of the hours spent calming hysterics over some family dispute or sorting out her medication. She is a kind, good hearted woman, but given to drama! Now I have to find someone else which will be a puzzle as I need a recommendation to avoid the light fingered and the droppers of ornaments and most of the trustworthy women are already fully employed.

  10. I mean for housework generally. Hm, one of the rare times I got cleaners in I had to literally clean up after them since one of them thought the way to clean a kitchen floor was to squirt cleaner over it and smear it in with a dry mop. AND I had to deal with their junky old equipment which they left behind.

    1. And pay for it to boot!
      Costa Rica is a place where you are judged by the neatness of your house and by the reek of bleach and cleaning products…so I am well down the pecking order. I need someone who will do as they are told and not what they think fit..i.e. leave papers alone, do not stuff books back any old where, and do not pour bleach down the loo….

  11. I thought at one point that a flotilla of ducks whistling like Roger Whittaker floating past would add to the story, but I quelled my extremely unfunny imagination for fear of being clocked on the head from Costa Rica which is what I would have done to anyone who made light of a flood in my house. I’m a sucker for a duck, whistling or not though I’m not sure how tolerable their cacophonous nocturnal song might be … not soothing, I imagine. I’m glad to read between the lines that Leo is doing a little better and wish you a dry house and decorous ducks for the moment 😊

    1. I think your head is safe, as you have given me a lovely image with which to assuage my irritation with the flood.
      Thank goodness we had had a clear up previously!
      Thanks, Leo is a little better…we are trying to stabilise his blood pressure which does involve getting up at some odd hours, but rather that than the ambulance at the door.
      The ducks are lovely to see, though I feel that the roof must be littered with the clogs which they discard when taking off for the lagoon in the morning, having danced away the night.

      1. When we are settled, we intend to keep ducks. Possibly not such party-popping ducks might be better for us. Blood pressure is the very devil when it starts dickering about. I hope the strange hours you are keeping will finitely do the trick in terms of getting the main man stable in that quarter. And thank you for the image of little ducky clogs strewn all over your roof as their owners take off for a day of tranquil lagoon pursuits ….. 😊

          1. Yes Indian Runners or Khaki Campbells (or both) are my top fancy. What a fabulous description. Come to think of it …. maybe it is the resemblance to wine bottles that makes me a devotee 🍷 🦆 😉

          2. Exactly! What a fabulous description. Come to think of it …. maybe it is the resemblance to wine bottles that makes me a devotee 🍷 🦆.

      1. *for you are beautiful and I have loved you dearly, more dearly than the spoken word can tell* …. tears prick mine eyes – what a perfect vision this is Maxwellthedog! 🦆 🎶 🦆

  12. Once, while we were condo dwellers, the residents above us had a faulty toilet water line burst while they were not at home. The water came through the ceiling into our condo – it was about 10 at night – and I didn’t notice for several long minutes during which time the flow passed down to the condo beneath us and so on for four floors. The neighbor from below came up and was hammering on our door at the instant I noticed the interior rain storm. Torn as to my next move, I spun on the wet floor to answer the the knocking and promptly landed on my rear end which, fortunately, has spare padding. Long story short, the recovery was a nightmare with water removal, mold remediation (Hawaii’s humid) ceiling and drywall repairs, insurance battles, etc. – ai yai yai. So I sympathize with you. Water intrusion is the worst after sewer.

    But…I was shocked, shocked I tell you, to learn that Einstein would ignore a duck in favor of a vulture. Oh well, duck a l’orange can be tasty.

    1. You remind me why I would never live in a block of flats…my own flooding is bad enough…but to have others’ water pouring through my place would be the outside of enough!
      I can just imagine the horrors of the clear up and the battles with the insurance as it happened to Welsh friends who had a flat in Paris . Horrid jerry built seventies block, but in a very upmarket area.
      The pipes burst up on the top floor and spread their contents all the way down while most of the occupants were away for Christmas. At the inevitable meeting a very grand old lady living on the first floor announced that she had always known that allowing English into the building would be inviting disaster…they did not understand French plumbing. They had probably, she announced, blocked the bidet with their socks which had upset the system.
      ‘We’re not English, we’re Welsh!’
      ‘Worse!! Even less civilised!’

      I think Einstein would like a duck…but can’t work out how to get at them…whereas a vulture gives him a sporting chance…

  13. What a horrible shock in the middle of the night – the house turned into a paddling pool. Hope you sorted out the problem with the guest toilet and got things back to normal. I can recall a couple of times in rented-flat days when the upstairs tenant left the bathwater running and down it all came into our flat. Not a fun experience.

    The milk sachets must have made a very comfortable bed for Donna! How fortunate that none had been punctured….

    1. Luckily Danilo found the problem and fixed it…a new part needed…but I could do without a repeat performance! The only time I lived in a flat was in the student days…and we were upstairs!
      Donna was in seventh heaven….perhaps i should get her an airbed…

  14. Oh dear, you must be exhausted. At least it sounds as if there is good news about Leo, one worry off your mind. When I read about your (mis)adventures, it makes our life seem quite normal, although I don’t suppose that’s any consolation to you. It does make a jolly good read though.

    1. Dysfunctional…that’s us.
      Porcupines in the eaves, ducks on the roof, that I can cope with…but floods are something else!
      Luckily, Leo is a little better, though the means of stabilising things by rising in the early hours for tea and cake is not my ideal solution…

  15. Just reading about your life makes me feel worn out. Good job you are so accommodating with animal life! (And sorry it’s taken me so long to get round to commenting – being on my own for 6 weeks sounded like a load of free time imminent but that’s not how it’s panning out, 3 weeks in)
    My best flooded house experience was when Larry fixed a tap with a flexible pipe and we came home from picking up his sister from the airport 3 hours’ drive away to find it off again… We’ve agreed since, no plumbing, no electrics. But with the reliability of tradespeople these days… Perhaps I should do some training 😉
    And I do sympathise about the early mornings…

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