For some while my neighbours have known they have a problem with their drains, and this was confirmed for me when I was last cat-sitting when they went on holiday and during a torrential downpour water wouldn’t go down their kitchen sink. We were due to tackle this problem last Saturday but as I had visitors I suggested we put it off for a few days.

You might be wondering what this has to do with me? Well, the drain system is quite elderly and the effluent from five of my neighbours ends up in the manhole in my garden, two from one side, three from the other plus my own. If I allow anything to block this drain then all the houses would be affected so if there was a sudden unblocking in my neighbours, all their sewage coming down in a huge rush could in all reality block my drain.

8.30 and my phone rang, my neighbour to say he had started to push rods down the drain, could I see them yet? As my face was covered in shaving foam at the time I had to delay the answer until I had finished my ablutions. 10 minutes later, on peering down my neighbours drain it was clear this was to be no easy unblocking, it was backed up to the top of the manhole, solid and smelly!

We worked at it for hours, Chris pushing from his end and me pulling it loose from my end, across the property of the neighbour in between into whose garden we couldn’t gain access to lift their manhole cover. Eventually we were able to contact the neighbour who opened up to allow me to lift the manhole so I could give the drain a good flushing.

It’s been years since I last used my drain rods; when we lived in Southerndown it was a regular occurrence, the antiquated sewer, cess pit and drains couldn’t really cope with the demands we put upon it. It always blocked when there was a howling gale, or it was icy, or pouring with rain; sometimes it could take as long as seven or eight hours to shift it!

Anyway, back to today, it really was satisfying to watch months of accumulated poo slowly caress the clay pipes in a huge gloopy swirling motion as it passed through my open manhole. A plentiful supply of water from a hose ensured it was broken up into small enough pieces to allow it to pass unhindered off my property and into the main sewer and on its way to Ogmore sewage works.

The photo above shows the clean drain after we’d finished (I’ve spared you the sight of the blockage) and shows my drain coming in from the top, two neighbour’s drains coming in the pipe from the right, and the other three neighbour’s drains coming in the pipe on the left! Now remind me, why do I smell of disinfectant?