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Spanish Secrets: A Boring Circus

The drilling men arrive to hunt for water, and Craig Brigg's peaceful Galician lawn becomes a circus ring.

The silence was fractured by the unmistakable clanging of our brass bell. This clumsy metallic siren hangs from a gatepost at the entrance to our driveway. My celestial state of rest, half way between dream and consciousness, had been abruptly shattered.

Sleepy and dazed, I rolled over to gaze at my bedside digital display – 8.20 am!

As if shocked by a defibrillator, mind and body suddenly jerked into action.

The previous day Roberto had called at the house, informing us that he would commence work on our borehole the following morning . This morning!

Because of two consecutive dry winters, and the inconvenience of last summer’s council water rationing, we’d decided to acquire our own supply.

Melanie and I leapt from our bed, dressed, and ran to open the gates. What greeted us in the lane in front of the house reminded me of the arrival of a travelling circus.

Leading the procession was Roberto in his white Peugeot saloon. Emblazoned on each side in big letters was the company name and logo. Following this was a purple Mercedes van also colourfully liveried.

Bringing up the rear was the main attraction - a bright orange tractor of enormous proportions towing a huge generator. Like an elephant pulling a caged tiger the procession neared the house.

The huge tractor formed the platform for the drilling rig. A tubular roll-cage doubled as a drill-shaft carrier, which straddled either side of the engine compartment. These two metre long steel shafts, stacked in an orderly fashion, gave the front of the tractor the appearance of a multiple surface-to-air missile launcher.

With its front wheels measuring a metre in diameter and the rears nearly two metres, it proceeded into the driveway and then reversed onto the lawn.

Moments earlier Roberto had been dowsing, striding up and down the lawn like a Grenadier Guard. Traditional and familiar divining rods were replaced with what looked like a stainless steel plumb attached to a chain. Every time he detected water the plumb would swing furiously from side to side.

Roberto’s slight of hand certainly didn’t live up to the performances of Uri Geller. Unsurprisingly Roberto discovered water in the exact place where his huge tractor would be most appropriately sited.

This was one circus act certainly not worth the admission fee.

With the tractor in position; the hydraulic rams lowered, the generator fired up, the drill revolved. Before the drill head had even touched the lawn, the blast of high pressure air running through the centre of the drill-shaft ripped the turf, sending clumps of grass shooting in all directions.

The turning drill head, 25cm in diameter, slowly but surely descended into the earth. Then every two metres ground to a halt.

The buried section of shaft was unscrewed; then the drill would rise allowing another two metre section of shaft to be added. This relentless and monotonous procedure continued, interrupted only by lunch.

As the drill head descended deeper, debris formed around the top of the hole like a dusty volcano. Later a large plastic tube was attached to the top of the hole spitting the fragmented rock and dust to a distant corner of the garden.

At a depth of 72 metres liquid was struck, not the black stuff I’d been hoping for, but the source of all life – water!

Like the explosion of a hot spring geyser, the cool clear water, under extreme pressure, forced its way to the surface. A huge fountain burst from the surface. Simultaneously the attached plastic tube blasted water and rock particles at our boundary wall, stripping away cement render as if peeling an over-ripe peach.

Drilling continued for a further 12 metres. Constantly gushing water led them to knock a hole through our garden wall into an adjoining field, in a vain attempt to relieve the flooded lawns.

With the time at 7.30pm the circus packed up and departed. Also gone was the lawn, which now resembled the flooded remnants of a circus ring.

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