Bucket brigade: Just when you thought it was safe to go back on the water

WITH the reservoir now almost full after the recent, much needed rains, and the Casita finally dried out after flooding caused by the aforementioned downpour, my next pressing task was to collect my sole surviving rowing boat.

The Casita originally came with two of these sturdy 17-foot-long Irish built boats, as well as a wooden jetty. Unfortunately ten years of wear and tear eventually meant that the jetty finally gave up the ghost a few years ago, and the boats drifted off, along with the new plastic jetty, at the beginning of the pandemic.

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Giles views from La Casita in Malaga. Photo: Giles Brown.

Lockdown rules meant that I was not allowed to row out and find them, although they did prove a welcome distraction to residents further down the lake. I was sent photos and even drone footage of the flotilla – with Rod Stewart’s ‘Sailing’ as a backing track, naturally – by my friends in lockdown.

A second downpour did for the jetty, which separated into three distinct plastic parts, while one of the boats ended up at my neighbour’s place. The second went missing, and I can only assume that it sank, “Lost at Lake”, if you will.

There were two main problems in getting the surviving boat back. The first is that, being 17-foot-long and made of solid wood, it is not a question of simply pushing it back into the water. You have to wait for the perfect window of opportunity, when the boat is floating, and then dash over and bail all the rainwater out before it sinks.

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Vintage TV in the man cave. Photo: Giles Brown.

The other problem is that my neighbour’s house is even more ‘challenging’ than mine. You can only access it by boat. Yes really. So last Sunday, equipped with a bucket, I paddled over to finally bring the errant craft home.

Nothing is ever that simple, however. Getting across was easy, with the wind on my back ensuring that I arrived and had bailed the boat in under half an hour. Getting back, however, was an entirely different proposition. With the canoe secured in the bow of the boat, the only propulsion that I had were paddles. Adopting my best ‘Hawaii Five O” posture, I valiantly zigged and zagged across the lake into the wind, which had of course, picked up.

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Inside Giles’s off-grid home in the hills with no electricity, heating of Internet. Photo: Giles Brown.

An hour later, extracting myself from an overhanging tree for the third time, and having gone about 500 metres, I hit upon an ingenious plan. I decided to tie a rope around myself and attach it to the bow, and wade effortlessly through the shallows at the lake’s edge.

This worked perfectly until I misjudged my footing, plunged under the water and the boat helpfully ran over me.

Spluttering, I clambered back on board and with an enraged snort, paddled manically over the short distance back to the Casita. I also discovered that I had been joined in the boat by a very unhappy toad, who loudly croaked his displeasure.

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RELAXED: Giles in his garden. Photo: Giles Brown.

Quite what the Spanish family who were enjoying their Sunday at the lake must have though when a drenched and blaspheming ‘guiri’, accompanied by an unseen ‘Frog Chorus’, splashed past them is anyone’s guess. But at least I have my boat back.

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