Cleaning the swimming pool here at the villa has become more than a mere menial chore. It’s become an obsession. Or more to the point, a war.
A war against the rotting Beech leaves that lie at the bottom like dead soldiers floating silently among the filamentous algae and strands of spirogyra.
It’s a natural pool that’s cleaned by a series of separate filtration beds containing lily, sedge, water hyacinth and lotus that purify the water. Like this.
I remember going on package holidays as a kid to Benidorm and such places, lying in bed in the evenings furiously scratching my eyes out after a day swimming in the hotel pool that had been disinfected with biological weapon grade chlorine. Looking in the mirror in the morning to see a pair of eyes so bloodshot it looked like I’d been out all night snorting cocaine cut with asbestos.
This industrial level chlorination was probably necessary to stop the pool turning yellow from all the dumb English kids like me peeing into it after drinking four gallons of Coca-cola every lunchtime and dinner. And then later on in the evening when all the adults came back from the bars smashed out of their heads. Diving in for a midnight dip and while they were there pushing out a barrel or two of San Miguel into the lovely chemical broth that was their hotel pool.
There’s no problem of itchy eyes with this pool. Although if you pee in it, it goes yellow as there’s no chlorine or other chemicals to mask it. But that doesn’t happen here. This is Arcachon innit, not facking Benidorm!
The only drawback of this natural pool system is that it needs to be maintained properly. It shouldn’t need any maintenance at all in theory, being natural. But rarely does trying to replicate nature truly work. So like a garden, there’s always work to be done. Namely in the form of me, Philip ‘Oggers’ Ogley, removing leaves and algae.
This is what I use in my war:
None have been particularly effective. The Pool Robot has a mind of its own and simply stays underwater in the far corner sulking. The Underwater Hoover, while incredibly powerful (it’s German) tends to churn up the algae from the bottom the minute you turn it on, making it almost impossible to see what you’re doing. The Pool Net, while at first glance appears the most sensible option, is actually the most tedious. Especially when the tiny sodden leaves appear to swim away the minute I bring the net near them.
Yesterday however, after a long day, I thought I’d nailed it. Cleaned it of leaves. Rid it of algae once and for all. But alas, when I looked into it this morning, the bottom of the pool looked the same as the day I arrived. Filthy. Like a mattress in a brothel after a busy night.
I charged into the shed, woke up the Underwater Hoover, the Pool Robot and the Pool Net from their slumber and gave them a bollocking like they had never heard. So much so that the depressed Pool Robot even peed its pool nappy (as I call it) – it’s an underwater hoover bag that’s meant to collect all the leaves and algae off the bottom. But doesn’t.
I accepted their apologies and we got back to work. We have until the end of March to make it look as clear and as inviting as a freshly poured glass of vodka. The battle continues.
This is a short video of me talking about it all: