Respecting ‘The Beast’

One of the less appealing aspects of owning our rural finca in the early days was having to live with ‘The Beast’ – an innocuous-looking but extremely important concrete bunker, adjoining the small covered terrace outside our annexe bedroom. I’ll spare you too much detail, just in case you’re reading this over breakfast, but let’s just say that anything that left our property through waste pipes, went into ‘The Beast’ (a pozo negro, or septic tank) – to be subjected to some kind of minor bacterial warfare within. The property is not connected to a main sewer.

Fearing the worst if we did something to upset the delicate balance of bacteria and . . . yet more bacteria . . .  we sought advice. ‘Treat it with respect,’ said the former owners of the property (who, incidentally, have become very dear friends).  ‘And that means no nasty chemicals or non-biodegradable stuff.’

So, not for us, those giant bottles of lurid-coloured cleaning products, filling several aisles of the local supermarket, and much-loved by Spanish housewives. We were going ecological and, although the cost of buying these products can be higher, we discovered that they do last much longer.

Back to basics

Just add elbow grease . . .

Feeling good about saving some money, and helping the environment of ‘The Beast’ (and generally), I also resorted to some old-fashioned remedies: the kind of things my gran would have used. Back in the UK, one of the occasional guests on my BBC radio programme was an expert on food and ‘all things domestic’, and Jill often regaled us with tips for tackling household jobs using store cupboard items.

Now I’d much rather be writing stuff than rubbing sink stains, but I have taken on board some of her suggestions – and saved quite a bit more money on cleaning products. My favourite weapons in the war against grime? Vinegar, bicarb of soda and lemon juice. I’ve been amazed what I can shift using one or more of those!

And, for some time, there were no complaints from ‘The Beast’

Jan Edwards ©2012