back to article Reg hack uncovers perfect antidote to internet

I was on holiday last week, and as is the local custom, I took the chance to disconnect completely from cyberspace, shut down the PC, and retire to the alfresco chillax zone of the Special Project Bureau's mountaintop headquarters for a few well-deserved beers. Mercifully, I don't suffer from internet withdrawal jitters or …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hands up everyone

    Who rather than thinking about their own gardens, immediately went on the web to look up how to make wells properly, or HSE statistics relating to unsupported excavation collapses?

    No-one? Good.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hands up everyone

      I think if anyone was likely to jump to another site on the Internet whilst reading this article it would have been right after the paragraph about the Chinese masseuses and Brazilian female beach volleyball team limbering up.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hands up everyone

      the government will keep you safe if you worship them hard enough

  2. Bored Stupid
    Thumb Down

    Picture 6, the man in the hole.

    Going down a hole like that (and *allowing* someone else to do so) : Utter madness.

    Do that here and you'd have Health and Safety over you like a swarm of angry hornets.

    And rightly so. Very silly.

    1. emmanuel goldstein

      Re: Picture 6, the man in the hole.

      fuck "health and safety"

    2. Robin

      Re: Picture 6, the man in the hole.

      You'll find that Health and Safety regs over here in Spain are somewhat different, to say the least.

      Every 23rd June they have a festival called Noche de San Juan, which involves a bonfire, fireworks and general cavorting on the beach (at least where I live) into the early hours. Separating us from said fire-related entertainment is a mere strip of red and white barrier tape.

      In previous years there have been no problems. However this year, the firework launching tube thing (I'm no expert) fell over, with the result that fireworks were being launched horizontally across the beach. In fact I got hit in the back of the neck by one of them. Once righted, the display continued and there was no permanent damage thankfully! Later on, people dance through the cinders of the bonfire.

      Would I change any of it? No way. I can't imagine the same fun being had whilst stood hundreds of metres away from the display.

      Meanwhile, back on topic, good work guys!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Picture 6, the man in the hole.

        We have the same sort of thing here in France just north of the border.

        Being near Canigou we have our fire in the car park and in the 20 years I've been here we have only had one case of someone getting a burn when jumping over the fire and even he agreed it was his own fault by taking a table cloth with him.

      2. Jan 0 Silver badge

        Barrier tape?

        I thought that when someone throws a firework at you in Spain, etiquette requires that you smile and throw it back.

        Well, it works for me - and I like the way they have proper mains outlets in their bathrooms.

        Cold beer for the firework throwers.

        1. Werner McGoole

          Re: Barrier tape?

          You mean those mains outlets that look like a tangle of bare wires hanging down the wall?

        2. Richard Mason

          Re: Barrier tape?

          Not always a good idea having proper mains outlets in the bathrooms.

          I used to be the IT Manager for a holiday resort on the Costa del Sol. I went out to the resort once and the accounts girls were complaining that for the previous few days when they tried to print to their deskjet printer it would physically switch itself off (which I didn't believe until I saw it for myself) and switching on the computers would put a terrible buzzing on the phones.

          I suspected an earthing fault somewhere in their office, a not uncommon problem in Spain, so i called our head of maintenance. He brought up one of these plugs that has lights on it to show faults on the mains, when he plugged it in it lit up like a Christmas tree. He quickly ushered us all out of the office.

          It turned out Unelco the local elecricity supplier had been doing some work on the block the offices were in, and had somehow managed to cross phase the supply. For 5 days we had had 415V coming out of the sockets in our offices, reception and 15 holiday apartments. In those 5 days the only device that had blown was one guest's hair dryer in one of the bathrooms.

          1. rho

            Re: Barrier tape?

            For 5 days we had had 415V coming out of the sockets in our offices, reception and 15 holiday apartments.

            That gave me the full-body piss shivers. Horrific.

            That well is awesome. Simple--therefore reliable--and very clever in its simplicity.

          2. The Axe

            Re: Barrier tape?

            @Richard Mason, 415V is not a good idea no matter where the mains outlet is, bathroom or not. Your case is not an argument against mains outlets in bathrooms. Considering that just about every other country in the world bar the UK has sockets in the bathroom and there aren't millions of people getting shocked then we can safely say that it isn't a major safety failure. There is such a thing as personal responsibility. The UK government is keen on removing that from people's brains and making them think that the state and it's regulations will keep them safe even if they do stupid things.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Barrier tape?

              in the early 70s-80s, Belgium had this insane requirement to fuse the "0" of a 380V star setup as well. As you draw 220 from 0 and a "leg" of the the star, blowing the fuse in the null circuit meant that devices were in series across 380V(*). If one was a heavy device (say, an electric heater) and one light (for instance a radio), the light device basically got the full 380V whack and blew up.

              I think they eventually figured out that there would be fewer fires if they gave up on that idea..

              (*) 3 phase power shifts phase so you don't get 440V..

            2. Graham Dawson Silver badge

              @ The Axe Re: Barrier tape?

              The regs regarding electrical outlets in Zone 2 are taken directly from EU regulatory directives (in turn taken directly from some ISO agency tasked with standardising such things). Regulatory directives are not passed through member-state governments and go straight on the books without even examination by the civil service, let alone parliament. The only oversight any UK body has on them is when the IET writes them in a form suitable for inclusion in BS7671 and that won't change anything except formatting or internal references to other parts of the regs.

              The regs don't ban electrical outlets from bathrooms, believe it or not. They ban mains outlets within Zones 0 and 1 and require outlets within Zone 2 to be IPX4 or better (that is, protected against splash and mechanical ingress). Outside of zone 2 you can place any number of outlets you like. It's just that most modern bathrooms don't extend much beyond the dimensions specified for zone 2 due to the recent practice of building houses so small that a hamster could feel cramped.

          3. Lukin Brewer

            Re: Barrier tape?

            As I recall, all mains electrical products must be designed and proven to handle voltages in excess of 415V without posing any risk to anyone attempting to operate them. Devices are allowed to fail safely (i.e. burn out, blow fuses, trip cutouts etc.), but they may also carry on normal operation. These gold-plated safety standards, eh?

      3. wheel

        Re: Picture 6, the man in the hole.

        Ah, that's nothing. My parents have a house in a small town called Cantoria, in the mountains of Almeria. Every January they have a three day festival in honour of Saint Anton. On the first day they fire fireworks into the town square – while the townspeople huddle together and watch, presumably excited by the prospect of being hit by one. On the second day, the 'carratilleros' (rough translation: 'firework throwers') walk the streets throwing roman candles at the houses. And drinking wine. To make sure the emergency services don't spoil the fun they light huge bonfires at the major road intersections.

        It's not all bad though. To make sure the children don't get hurt, they have their own time slot for firework throwing; the kids can throw fireworks between 8 and 11pm, which is when the crazy drunken adults come out.

        On the third, anticlimactic, day, the town takes the saintly effigies to the chapel on the hill, and firecrackers and rockets are set off around them. No real risk of injury, except to the eardrums.

        I think I may go back next year...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Picture 6, the man in the hole.

      Yeah but not all countries allow you to sue for things like wind shear from having to dodge a lamp post at the last second due to it not being painted bright orange and having an accompanying beeping noise.

    4. sgtrock
      Thumb Up

      Heck, I dug a deeper hole than that when I was a kid! lol

      Well, me and my two younger sisters did.

      One crisp October when I was about 15, my dad decided we needed a new dry well as an extension of our sewage system before the snow fell. Naturally, he was too busy to do much digging, so it fell to us kids to get the job done.

      The soil on our lot was mostly sugar sand, which made it easy to dig in. It had just enough clay in it to stick together, thankfully, as you'll find out in a minute.

      We started by dropping an iron ring on the ground that was 8 feet in diameter. Using your basic #2 shovels, a wheelbarrow, buckets, a block and tackle, and a long ladder, we started digging inside the circumference and underneath the ring so it could settle into the ground.

      As the ring dropped below the surface, we started adding interlocking bricks that were designed to fit on it. Each one foot high brick had a notch cut out of the bottom so the sewage would eventually leach out through the holes.

      8 feet and courses of brick later, we stopped adding bricks and kept digging. At 13 feet (4 meters) we finally stopped, climbed out of the hole, and had a concrete cover lowered into place.

      That last 5 feet of digging while the sand occasionally slumped in was a little exciting, to say the least! :-) We learned to stand in the middle as much as possible to avoid having that cold sand dumped on our back. Still, it could have been a lot worse. The clay in the sand held it together just enough to prevent anything like a major cave in.

      Just goes to show what can be done with a little sweat and creativity when you have to save a buck or two. ;-)

  3. Cyclist


    My dad dug his own well on his farm, with a spade. None of this borrowing a mate's JCB. Kids of today eh?

    1. dotdavid
      Thumb Up

      Re: Amateurs

      A spade?! Luxury! My dad dug his own with his bare hands!

      1. Penguin

        Re: Amateurs

        A Spade? Luxury! We used to have to get out of the well at six o'clock in the morning, clean the well, eat a handful of hot gravel, work twenty hour day digging holes with our face for tuppence a month, come home, and Dad would thrash us to sleep with a broken bottle, if we were lucky.

        And you try and tell the young people of today that ..... they won't believe you.

      2. Thomas 4

        Re: Amateurs

        For an amatuer effort, I thought it was very well done.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bare hands? Dug?

        If we wanted water we had to dig with our tongues, drinking as we went along.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Bare hands? Dug?

          I was impressed by the chap's azada. Great tools. Can turn over the top foot of an allotment in minutes, and the triangular ones are the only tool for potato trenching.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Amateurs


  4. Andrew Alan McKenzie
    Thumb Down


    Thumbs up for the hydrogeology - massive massive thumbs down for the actions in the photo at the bottom of page 1 - working in an unsupported excavation like that is basically typing out an application for a darwin award.

    1. Waspy

      Re: Scary

      Yep - whilst one may argue that some health & safety laws are there in order to counteract the threat of lawsuits should anything go wrong (and one may also argue that this culture is more attributable to the rise of blood-sucking ambulance chasers than eager bureaucrats, despite popular opinion), excavation support and temporary retaining walls in deep holes are definitely not used for arse-covering legal reasons!

  5. Nev


    Reminds me of:

  6. Justice

    That, Mister Anderson... is the sound of inevitability.

    Are the any kids in the village named 'Timmy?'

    If so, I would get that thing under 24 hour surveillance.

    Childcatcher... because wells do.

    1. laird cummings

      Re: That, Mister Anderson... is the sound of inevitability.

      Time to buy a Rough Collie.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sod the well...

    ...where is this beach you speak of?

    1. Mad Hacker
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Sod the well...

      My thoughts EXACTLY!

  8. Cosmo


    But I bet you it rains every day for the next four months now

  9. Z80

    Well done

    That is all.

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: Well done

      Seven comments in before the first well joke? Maybe everyone's at lunch.

      1. Elmer Phud

        Re: Well done

        Everything is a bit slow, especially in Spain where they use Manuel Labor to do the work.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cool story bro

    Looks ready for your blog/facebook wall.

  11. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    BTW, what is a diving rod?

    I cannot find any in the nearest scuba shop.

    1. Christoph

      Re: BTW, what is a diving rod?

      Presumably meant to be 'divining' rod?

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

        Re: BTW, what is a diving rod?

        Oh really?

  12. Colin Miller


    Which poor sod had the job of pulling the stropping out?

    I take it each section was lowered onto a bit of wood, the stopping pulled out, and then the section gently angled over, wood removed, and then angled back?

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: strop


  13. Tony Mudd

    Safer idea?

    I'd always wondered about something similar (but for rain-water storage rather than a well), but starting with the concrete rings at ground-level, and just digging out inside them, and a little bit under the bottom edge as it slides down. Probably need a larger diameter than used here, and couldn't use a machine......

    Would it work - how far down would you get before the rings got stuck?

    1. Alister

      Re: Safer idea?

      Brunel used a similar idea, I believe, for the Thames Tunnel although on a slightly larger scale:

      "The shaft, from whence the Tunnel works are carried on, was built at Rotherhithe in the form of a tower, 50 feet in diameter, 42 feet in height, and 3 feet thick, at about 150 feet from the edge of the wharf, and it was sunk into its position by excavating the earth within."

      "From An explanation of the works of the tunnel under the Thames from Rotherhithe to Wapping (1836)."

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Safer idea?

        Yeah. You get a cast iron ring with a sharp cutting blade on the bottom and a lip wide enough to hold a layer of bricks. You put it on the ground, dig out the inside and let the weight of the ring push it down. Build a layer of bricks on the ring and dig again. You end up with a lined well as deep as you like.

    2. Andrew Alan McKenzie

      Re: Safer idea?

      That's a fairly standard technique for constructing a well. How deep you would go would depend on the local geology, but assuming that the superficial deposits are reasonably stable, wells made with this technique are often carried down to bedrock.

      If the caisson gets stuck you can just narrow the diameter and carry on....(assumes you have a ready supply of different diameter concrete rings)

      1. Alister

        Re: Safer idea?

        >> If the caisson gets stuck you can just narrow the diameter and carry on....

        Or do as Brunel did and get a load of workers to jump up and down on it...

    3. Peter Simpson 1

      Re: Safer idea?

      Even better: high pressure hose and pump the resulting mud out?

      1. Jonathan Richards 1

        Re: Safer idea?

        Well, you'd probably need a water supply from, oh, I don't know, say a well, to supply your high-pressure pump, wouldn't you?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Safer idea?

      Wrap the concrete pipes in multiple layers of plastic sheeting so they'll slide down easier.

  14. Huntsman


    I'm loving the brick wall in the last picture, the amount of cement is under the top level is magnificent. It looks like something I would do, pint in hand, and I have never built a wall in my life.

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: Nice

      Yeah, but have a look at the amount of cement under the course below. Blame the cheap laser level. I had to whip out the tried-and-trusted water level to get a final proper horizontal.

  15. fighne

    Building regs!

    love it, every EU country has it's own building regs and safety regs and most get ignored :)

    1. Pete 2 Silver badge

      Re: Building regs!

      Not just building regs that get ignored. Anti-smoking regs, tax regs, speeding regs - all get treated with the same degree of respect. There does appear to be a correlation between the length of time since a country was last under autocratic rule and it's native population's willingness to go by the rule book.

      1. Gerhard Mack

        Re: Building regs!

        Indeed and Spain takes it to absolutely hilarious levels. A couple of years ago I had an American friend who was living illegally in Spain while working as an English teach for the Spanish Interior Ministry. She even showed me her building access card and parking pass to prove it.

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: Building regs!

        That'd be why in Spain your tax return is automatically calculated for you from data they get straight from banks, employers, etc... and changing any of it automatically gets you put under the microscope. That said, the tax return isn't always calculated right. Who said Big Brother was perfect?

      3. Dave Bell

        Re: Building regs!

        So David Cameron is implementing a cunning plan to ensure out future freedom?

  16. Mostly_Harmless Silver badge


    The best thing about this story isn't what's included but what's hard hi-viz clipboard-toting H&S jobsworth ....

  17. frank ly

    So ......

    ... you did get a happy ending after all.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    I'll bet this wouldn't have taken 6 hours with a new iPhone 5 !

    I'll get me coat now. And call the barkeep for another round.

  19. JimmyPage Silver badge

    Not even a hard-hat ?

    Sorry, massive fail for *basic* safety.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not even a hard-hat ?

      My parents' well is over 150m. deep and was built using the same kind of kit oil companies use to drill their wells on land, so this was an interesting read. (My folks' well is so deep that the lights dim noticeably when the pump is running.)

      As for the hard-hats and hi-vis vests... this is Spain, for Cliff's sake! It's not a nation particularly prone to dull, grey, overcast days, lashings and lashing of rain, and muddy worksites. Anyone who thinks one size fits all when it comes to safety needs their head examined.

      Exactly what is it the hard-hat would have protected them from? Most of the digging was done by a bloke in a big excavator while the others were standing back (and, presumably, taking the photos). The excavator's driver is already sitting in a cabin that provides protection. Anything that can crush that isn't going to be stopped by a bit of cheap plastic sitting on the guy's head and making him drip with sweat.

      Once the hole was dug, the tubes were lifted into place. That's the only time when a hard-hat might have actually come in useful, but you don't need to lift those rings up high into the air: they only need to be clear of the ground while travelling towards the hole. Anyone who can't see a great big lump of concrete travelling level with their bollocks over such a short distance is already a health and safety hazard in their own right and shouldn't be allowed out without a trained guide dog.

      Besides, a bit of ABS plastic strapped to your head is unlikely to be much use against a 1m. concrete ring travelling through the air towards your noggin. Hard-hats were invented for building sites were you might get hit on the nut by a passing brick, wrench, or other small items. Drop a fucking concrete slab on someone with a hard-hat and you'll find the hard-hat won't have been much help.

      Standing in a 9-foot hole MAY run the risk of a cave-in, but that also depends on the area's geology and certainly isn't a given. If you were to try digging a well like that in, say, Southwark, or Borough, (which are mostly built on swamp), you'd have had to brace the sides first to stop the mud and slime from oozing back into the hole. If your ground is mostly stone or rock, you'd likely have to dig very, very badly, or quite a bit further down, for a cave-in to be a statistically significant risk. It's rock; people used to live in caves carved right out of the stuff!

      Hi-vis vests also only make sense where visibility is a frequent problem. If you were digging a well in the middle of a motorway, sure, you'd want something nice, bright, shiny and very, very hard to miss while doing so. But building a 9-foot well in less than a day, in broad daylight, under a burning sun? Not so much.

      A few years ago, I was berated for not wearing steel-capped boots. This would have made a lot more sense if the work site didn't consist entirely of open, muddy trenches for foundations. I was working as a land surveyor's assistant and there was literally no construction at all yet: just holes in the ground. There was some big digging equipment, but (a) I'm not blind, (b) I'm not deaf either, and (c) I'm having a hard time working out what, exactly, some thin steel in the toes of my boots would have done had a JCB decided to drive over them, because there was literally sod all else that posed any kind of risk to me.

      And, yes, I had the high-vis vest and hard-hat on. But it's bloody hard to justify buying a brand new pair of steel-capped boots for my large feet—size 14—for just a couple of day's work.

      The UK's H&S culture is fundamentally built on the premise of insulting our intelligence and common sense.

      Most people are NOT interested in killing themselves. Give newbies a lecture on the potential hazards and risks, yes, but stop wasting time attempting to create a 100% risk-free planet. It's not possible, it's not efficient, and it sucks all the fun out of life.

      1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

        Re: Re: Not even a hard-hat ?

        Agreed. Rui the builder wouldn't have been in the hole at all if there'd been any chance of entombment. As regards a hard hat and a hi-vis vest, you lot try and persuade him...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Agreed. Rui the builder wouldn't have been in the hole at all

          > if there'd been any chance of entombment.

          One of the daftest things I've ever read on the register. How would he know there was no chance? Doesn't everyone who dies doing such a thing think there's no chance? Don't they all think "It won't happen to me, I'll be fine"?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Don't they all think "It won't happen to me"?

            No. They think, "It's never happened to me before."

            And they go on being right about that until it does,

        2. Dan 55 Silver badge


          Many moons ago I offended a Greek taxi driver by putting my seat belt on, probably questioning his manliness and that of his father and his father before him. The trip itself was sort of like one of those car chase scenes in a Bourne film and re-assured me of his driving capabilities. I'm sure if there were any chance of a crash he would have insisted that I wear the seat belt.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not even a hard-hat ?

        > Exactly what is it the hard-hat would have protected them from?

        Something, anything, falling from above. And there's plenty potential candidates there.

        See that wall there? The one that the hole is now slightly underneath the foundation of? Don't you think that is a sizeable risk right there?

        That could quite easily result in something falling, or even a partial collapse.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not even a hard-hat ?

          All of which are good reasons to only ever dig wells using high explosives.

        2. Timo

          Re: Not even a hard-hat ?

          Many times I think the hard-hat requirements are to keep you from bonking your head on some partially-finished piece of construction. More to protect you when you crash into something than the other way around.

          Ever run around a jobsite, only to catch your head on a low overhang, or on said end-loader that just happened to be right where you don't expect it to be?

          What good construction project hasn't been started, completed, or celebrated with a few cold ones?

          1. Omgwtfbbqtime

            Re: Not even a hard-hat ?

            Biggest injury risk was the observers falling asleep leaning on their shovels me thinks.

          2. Sweaty Hambeast

            Re: Not even a hard-hat ?

            "Many times I think the hard-hat requirements are to keep you from bonking your head on some partially-finished piece of construction. More to protect you when you crash into something than the other way around."

            50% true. The other 50% is to protect your head from small falling objects. You realize this when you're working in a shipyard and crawling around in torpedo tubes in the dark with odd (*) protrusions or wandering around outside whilst people are chucking things around the Bridge fin. I'd not worn the hat consistently until then. I did afterwards.

            (*) They may be odd to me but they're probably not to the Naval Architect. But that says a lot about Naval Architects!

      3. Sweaty Hambeast

        Re: Not even a hard-hat ?

        +1 for speaking common sense and having the experience to know what you're talking about.

        Hey, El Reg, give this person a job!

        1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

          Re: Re: Not even a hard-hat ?

          Agreed, although I will have to insist he wears steel toe-capped boots, hi-vis vest and hard hat around the office, just to avoid censure by the H&S nanny brigade.

      4. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: Not even a hard-hat ?

        Agreed. H&S actually just require you to assess the situation and use appropriate equipment and methods /for/ /that/ /situation/. The methods used in the photos appear completely sufficient for the risks involved in the task being done.

      5. Hud Dunlap

        Re: Not even a hard-hat ?

        "Hard-hats were invented for building sites were you might get hit on the nut by a passing brick, wrench, or other small items"

        Hard hats were developed during the building of the Hoover Dam. Cut fatalities drasticly.

      6. Dave Bell

        Re: Not even a hard-hat ?

        A counter scenario: the JCB driver gets out of his protected cab, and does he remember to put on his hard hat?

        These things aren't totally senseless, but there is a lot to be said for better thinking, all round. Look at all those TV shows about cowboy builders: they're so careless about the work they do, I doubt they'd be able to make an informed judgement about safety.

      7. Pedigree-Pete

        Re: Not even a hard-hat ?

        100% agree. I'm actually more likely to fall over my feet in unfamiliar heavy steel capped boots than in my regular trainers. I even know a few construction site managers who agree non-building skills visiting techs/engineers etc probably are a bigger hazard with steelies on.

  20. EvanPyle

    well no one got hurt?

    But oh mygod you didn't follow section of OHS Rules and regulation for sub terran excavation part 4 of addendum 8.

    Grow up, Spain has more important things to worry about than someone not wearing a hard hat.

    1. Nev

      Re: well no one got hurt?

      This time....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: well no one got hurt?

      Two of the most dangerous things on building sites: Things falling on people, and trench collapses.

      Both cause numerous deaths every year.

      But hey, none of that's important (to a keyboard warrior)

    3. Andrew Alan McKenzie

      Re: well no one got hurt?

      John Bannister in 1799, discussing the profession of well sinking

      '. . . These accidents render this profession extremely hazardous, but as the people who embark in it entertain but little thoughts of a future period, and since the chief end of their pursuits is the obtaining of a liberal supply of drink, if this end be answered they bestow little attention to the hazards of their profession . . . '

    4. Anonymous Coward 15

      No member of the Space Corps

      shall report for duty wearing a ginger toupee?

  21. EddieD

    Love it!

    Strain a few drops, chill it and see how it complements a wee dram.

    But did you know, that the sun crosses the yardarm typically at 11am? Sometimes before.


  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't forget the Internet is made of tubes

    I reckon (at six hogsheads to an Armstrong Siddeley, multiplied by Kaiser Bill's hat-size, give or take an Imperial farthing) that you've got a good 30 Gb/s there.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That thing.....

    .....would double up as a very handy missile silo for the next (post-LOHAN) SPB project!

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Paw prints in the wet cement...

    You could sooo wind-up the animal lover brigade by putting fake paw prints in the wet cement leading straight to the edge. ;-)

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: Paw prints in the wet cement...

      Trust me, the mutt pack nearly provided the real thing, until I swiftly got a cover on...

  25. Haku


    That word makes me want to hit anyone who uses it.

  26. Stevie


    As an inveterate bodger with the wounds-from-obvious-to-everyone-but-the-craftsman-consequences to prove it, I applaud this well construction project and look forward to the inevitable subsidence reports that will follow as the damp ground oozes into that to these old eyes rather overly-coarse rock fill. I expect there were several light injuries that the report glossed over, such as blood blisters from fingers trapped between pipe sections and the odd bruise from catching the backhoe bucket in the noggin. I would encourage the author to not edit in this fashion in the future.

    In my neck of the former potato farm people hearing my moans of distress regarding flooding often encourage me to install "dry wells" for rain drainage, ignoring the fact that within one minute of a light drizzle the local water table has risen to approximately ground level and that for the last decade we have had a 12 month rainy season not at all due to Global Warming. My house is more properly considered a barge and would have floated off years ago if not for the basement, or as I call it, the bilge.

    Said dry wells are usually made by purchasing one (1) 50 gallon oil drum (empty, clean) with no top from your local toxic waste disposal specialist, digging an hole in the garden, putting in a couple of inches of gravel, then the upside-down oil drum which has a hole precision cut (usually with a lump hammer and cold-chisel) to accept a downspout run-off pipe, then burying the evidence before anyone gets a good look at it.

    Only on Long Island could people think that burying rainwater was a good idea.

    1. disgruntled yank

      Re: Bah!

      It appears that the french drains into which the downspouts of our house's gutters once discharged did run to a dry well. Now, this is in Washington, DC, which is not an arid zone. We are up on Piedmont, with some slope to the ground.

  27. Callam McMillan

    Did you think to chuck a dirty water pump into the bottom of it... Using a bucket to get the water out is a bit old fashioned!

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Mulling it over. I like the bucket method, though.

      1. Robert Helpmann??

        Don't drink the water

        'Nuf said.

        1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

          Re: Don't drink the water

          Sorry, what that advice you gave? I forgot.

      2. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        It's not a proper well

        If it hasn't got a (wooden) hand-winch and a bucket (or a (wooden) "crane" and a bucket).

        1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

          Re: It's not a proper well

          Well, as it were, we're working on it...

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's not a well...

    ...that's a missile silo.

    1. Andus McCoatover

      Re: That's not a well...

      Yep, Silo.

      Obviously Lester's 'truss*' doesn't work as designed. Plan B. That's where LOHAN's gonna ejaculate from!

      * Not the surgical one, natch. "I thank you for lending me your support! I shall wash it and return it presently"

      (Friday, OK?)

  29. Andus McCoatover

    Doctor, doctor....

    ..I'm not a tall well...

    (Viz crap jokes, couldn't find the cartoon)

  30. Smithson

    "Two of the most dangerous things on building sites: Things falling on people, and trench collapses"

    Health and safety - it benefits potential victims of Trench Collapse. We could wipe out TC in our lifetime.

  31. Pet Peeve

    This is disturbingly familiar

    Before I got older and saner and hired people to do a proper job of things, I had a problem in the sewage vault by my house. If you don't know what a sewage vault is, it's a 16 foot deep pit about 10 feet square PIT that the house gray water lines dump into on the top, and connects with the city sewer on the bottom, with valves on the bottom side so if the sewer fills to capacity (which used to be frequent in Chicago before they replaced 110 year old sewer pipes), you don't have a geyser coming out of your storm drains and showers.

    Well, one day the valve broke. Pumping out the water wasn't too bad (fortunately this isn't SEWAGE sewage, that goes out a different route), but when the vault was finally empty, I said "someone's going to have to go down there and wrench out the valve, aren't they?".

    Like Lester, the folks all gave me a blank look meaning it was gonna be ME climbing down an extension latter through a 3 foot wide access hatch, down into the nastiest stench I have ever experienced. I was just smart enough to demand that we rig up a fan to blow fresh air down the hatch, making it survivable, or I think I would have passed out before I got the first bolt off.

    And then after getting the valve back from the welding shop, I had to go down there AGAIN. A few years after that we had the whole thing replaced with an automated system and a guy who comes out every year to do maintenance. The joys of owning your own home and being young and stupid!

  32. MissingSecurity

    H&S BS...

    You go through each day travelling at god knows what speeds, with tons of steel feet from each other, and your concern is about H&S regulations for a backyard project?

    Me thinks yo need to get out more...and watch out for that well, we go some brick laying to do.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: H&S BS...

      Yes, I do travel at high speeds in a tin box. I've also done it on Kawasakis, Suzukis and Triumphs for years - probably a darn sight quicker than you've been doing it in your tin box.

      But then, I do it in leathers and a lid - my equivalent of shoring, a hard hat, etc.

      I've also spent plenty of time working on sites and "backyard projects".

      There *is* H&S bullshit, no doubt about that. A high-vis jacket on a wee project like that is pointless. Wearing a hard-hat when you're, I dunno, tiling a floor or something, is just stupid.

      But taking precautions such as not standing in the bottom of an unshored, relatively loose-sided looking, undercut foundations at the top, just dug pit, which has already got water leaching down it is *not* bullshit.

      That comes down, the man dies. No question. And it happens - plenty.

      Sadly a friend of mine learned the hard way about safety on building sites. Don't think he'd be thinking "bullshit" right now either.

      The on-the-road equivalent of standing in that pit is *not* you driving in your tin box. It's far more akin to you standing in between the lanes on the motorway.

  33. Sweaty Hambeast

    Where can I get a job like this?

    Let's see:

    warm climate (mostly)

    donkey breeding

    donkey workforce

    lots of butch mates down the taverna

    forefront of space exploration

    sideline in writing articles for a well-known website

    Who do I have to sleep with in order to get a job like this? (N.B. Anyone who answers "Orlowski" will be sent back in time in a handy TARDIS to suffer at the hands of the Moderatrix!)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Where can I get a job like this?

      I miss Ms Bee. I hope she's keeping well.

      And safe from us lot.

      1. Mike Perrin
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Where can I get a job like this?

  34. Sweaty Hambeast

    PS Banner

    As a complete aside, I like the effect on the banner :-)

  35. Mr Young

    Wish I had a shiny 21st century hat and vest?

    But NOW you have a brand new well and nobody got hurted ye! Just how did us humans get this far? I for one am looking forward to hear if it works well etc

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the UK, an abstraction license is required to permit taking water out of the environment, be it a massive hydroelectric scheme or a pokey wee hole in the ground like this. Isn't Spain subject to the Water Framework Directive as well, and as the area suffers from drought, wouldn't this kind of kind of abstraction be highly regulated?

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Only if it's - off the top of my head - more than 50cu.m per year.

      1. Andrew Alan McKenzie

        Abstaction licence

        Not off the top of my head...

        n the UK you can pump up to 20 m3/day without a licence - assuming that it's there to be had and that your pumping doesn't adversely effect your neigbours (although if it did that would be a civil issue).

        If pumping less than 20 m3/day about the only requirement on you is to lodge a geological record if you go below 15 metres.

  37. jake Silver badge

    In 1869 ...

    ... my Great Grandfather dug a well "5 foot square and an honest 30 foot deep, with a two foot sump in the North West corner". His diary, on my lap as I type, goes on to describe the "otherwise useless first cuts of the Redwood logs, flat side to the walls" that he used as bracing (with hand drawn diagrams), and that the sump was for the hand-pump that my Great Grandmother operated to keep the well dry as he dug. He reported "a good twenty foot of water" about three days after the bottoming out entry ...

    Fast-forward 130 years ... In 1999 the water level was still ten feet from the surface, but that particular well was only 14 feet deep. There was no trace of the bracing, although my eldest Uncle remembered seeing it as a small child. The visible sides were still square, though. We used the well for irrigation & the loo. Every now & then, a small critter managed to commit suicide by drowning, and thus cause the water to stink, and the water had a lot of iron in it, which stained the plumbing & allowed the growth of iron-fixing bacteria, which also stink. So I decided to do an update.

    Taking G-grandad's diary at face value, I located a 30-foot long by 4-foot diameter corrugated plastic culvert. I drilled 1.5 inch holes into it at roughly 1 foot intervals over the lower 15 feet. Then I wrapped the bottom half in two layers of landscape felt, separated by a 1-inch PVC "boot". After getting it poised over the well, and with a good supply of 3-5 inch river rock and 3/4-1 inch pebbles on hand, I started agitating the bottom with a two-man gas-powered auger (post-hole digger), with a large homemade "paint mixer" at the end of an extendable shaft.

    I pumped the generated muck out with a trash pump. Took three days. After the first day, I was terrified that the walls would collapse ... I got lucky. The well is, indeed, "five by five, and an honest 30-foot", with a 2 foot sump in the corner. I put a foot of pebbles in the sump, and dropped a 2" PVC pipe with a brass strainer into it, then topped it up with more pebbles. I can both aerate the water to precipitate out out the naturally occurring iron, and inject chlorine from the bottom up if I need to "shock the well" using the 2" pipe.

    Next came 3 feet of 3-5 river rock. Then I lowered the culvert, and shoveled in the rest of the river rock between culvert & earth. Naturally, I didn't have enough rock ... After getting enough to fill it to within about 6 inches of the top, and to put about a foot into the bottom of the culvert, I sealed the outside edge with concrete leaving about three feet of culvert exposed.

    Added a hinged lid & lock, a bit of plumbing, a Sears 1.5HP pump & a largish pressure tank, and we're back in business with a 19 foot long, 4 foot diameter store of water. As in G-granpa's day, I can empty it & it'll be full again in under three days. With the aerator, the water is clear & clean. I haven't had to use the chlorine option (yet). The Lab at Berkeley has reported the water fit for human consumption every year for the last dozen years. It tastes sweet, kind of like Hetch Hetchy water.

    Beer, because it makes good beer, too :-)

  38. Marshalltown


    With a well that shallow and neighbors, the first thing that crossed my mind was the line from Kipling, "My sceptic and well drain into each other, oh, why have the fluxes afflicted my mother." Good luck with the water.

  39. Derk

    Want one

    I have no need of a well. Where I live we have too much water. First I'd start with a well, then keep digging and digging, extra rooms, tunnels to other places, need to keep it secret. But where to put all that earth?

    A bloke along the street from me has a huge underground "romper room" in his back garden. He is a musician, so he and his mates can go wild in there and the neighbours in our street of unassuming 1930's semi's hear and know nothing.

    1. Sweaty Hambeast

      Re: Want one

      Would that more people would be so considerate!

  40. Tim Worstal

    How very strange

    The Portuguese builder you use that is.

    There are many similar wells around my area of the Algarve (yes, El Reg does seem to hire people who live in warm climates with lots of cold beer etc) and they all have another concrete ring or stone walls coming up above ground. To thyree foot or so.

    It's to stop the kiddies and mutts etc falling in you see?

    Something else that does worry me though. The "traditional" picture of a well. You know, in the Janet and John stories. OK, so round brickwork up to waist level. Two upright beams supporting the roller carrying the rope and bucket. And then a little roof over the top.

    Why does anyone want to keep rain out of a well?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: How very strange

      "Why does anyone want to keep rain out of a well?"

      You don't get much rainwater into an uncovered well.

      You do, however, get incredible amounts of bird poo.

      1. Tim Worstal

        Re: How very strange

        Ah! That explains that then.


  41. Anonymous Coward

    These golf course's in spain look upto my standard of play

    Just needs a flag in it now, no reason a well can't look like a oversized golf-course hole now is there, least would have the Tee in IT aspect covered *groan* :)

  42. Will Godfrey Silver badge


    You used three sections of tubing.

    Well, well, well.

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Right, you're banned from El Reg for a month. Hand in your pass at the desk...

  43. harmjschoonhoven

    Re: rain in the Atacama Desert

    The Atacama desert may be one of the driest places on earth. But when it rains, it comes in torrents.

    The ALMA observatory was also affected by a recent snowstorm.

    I will take my raincoat.

  44. Wensleydale Cheese

    A great story, thanks.

    It beats the heck out of weeding, which I was doing last weekend.

  45. Aldous

    party like its 2006

    so how many millions did you get from an EU development grant to build the well?

  46. P. Lee

    Call me back...

    when it looks like this:

  47. Michael Wojcik Silver badge


    So ... Lester took a break from playing with the Internet to play with a series of tubes?

    Damned if I can tell the difference.

  48. Gordon 8
    Thumb Up


    It's the SPB bunker entrance carefully camouflaged to look like a well.

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: Well

      Blast... you've blown our cover.

  49. Mad Hacker

    From the Danger Mouse episode "Where There's a Well There's a Way"

    Colonel K:

    Leave Well Alone

    Now for Penfold:

    All's well that ends well.

    Where there's a well, there's a way.

    Well I never.

    Avast ye lubbers! The white well!

    Well, well, well.

    Get well soon.

    The narrator:

    [Does that make you] the Prince of Wells?

    If [you] found it occupied by a large yellow and black striped insect would it have been the Well of the Wasp?

    Gets coat...

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