It was a weekend of differing activities; peace and relaxation for the parents with hikes, tents, and campfires for the boy. A lovely time was had by all and the adults returned well rested and well-glowing from the heat-inducing steam room and jacuzzi. While the boy had the high colour and spirits of one who had spent some time camping in the great outdoors.
While our clothing returned as clean and intact as they were when we embarked on our trip the same cannot be said for the boy! Sodden wet and many-layered he was, with hiking boots that were adorned with what must have been half of Wicklow bogland.
These boots were made for walking you see, and walking was exactly what they did. Through every mucky puddle, streaming rivulet and the boggiest of land they could find.
And guess who had the 'honour' of restoring them to their former glory? Why, that would be me of course. The 'holiday' was well and truly over as the operation began!
It took time and a lot of water to make this operation a success; a bucket filled with 2 kettle-fulls of hot water per boot with a pre and post wash hose-down. 'To boot' one might say....
As I toiled away I got to thinking about the new Water Charges being imposed on us shortly and was thankful that they weren't already in place. I thought about them again as all the muddy clothes were pre-rinsed in the sink before being machine washed and as a long hot shower was taken to restore heat and health to cold and wet teenage bones.
Water is a natural resource, that costs a lot to transform into the drinking quality that currently flows freely through our taps. Perhaps there are some merits to charges being put in place to ensure conservative use, and to pay for the leaky pipes that allows litres of our precious natural resource to seep away. And us living in one of the rainiest countries in the world.
Of course I don't believe that's why these charges are being put in place. We are still doing what we are told to do by the Troika and IMF (As a now senior Politician once said of the IRA: 'they haven't [really] gone away you know) and seemingly turning what should be a public service into a profitable business? For future re-sale?
Nor do I totally agree with the ex-politician who recently likened it to paying for satellite TV. At least with satellite TV you get to choose a provider and a package that suits your budget, or you can simply invest in a once off payment.
Some of us can make choices with our waste collection providers too.
It did take a while and after a rebellion by a lot of citizens eventually, we as a nation, did accept the waste collection charges. Even though initially some did try to dispose of their waste themselves by dead of night, either in fields and hedgerows or in their neighbours newly obtained wheelie bins!
I predict that our nation as a whole will find creative ways to conserve our water usage. Whether we're paying for it or not it is right that we do conserve. It's how we're going to do it that really concerns me.
I suspect (at least I hope!) that there are many of my generation who had to conserve hot water and heating, and who cowered in fear of the bellowed words 'who left that immersion on?! Daily toilettes and regular showers are more our routine, although our children do get more than just a weekly bath. (Please note though, no-one should ever under-estimate the restorative powers and sensory inputs of a long daily shower after an exhausting school day. (It is an absolute necessity for some ASD kids.)
We really don't like to waste stuff so this conservation lark comes naturally to us, although no doubt we will now strive to do some more.
How else do we cut back though? We already only use the dish washer and washing machine when they're full. Forgive me but, do we treat the toilet in the same way and only flush when it's full too? After all it is estimated that it could cost you €163 per annum with 3 people flushing 4 times a day.
Do we use the same bucket of hot water to wash all floors instead of changing when it gets too dirty to be of any benefit? Do we then cut back on how well we clean the mop afterwards, and all our cleaning cloths? Cut back on the quick pre-rinsing of dishes and pots and pans so that they're never cleaned properly? We can certainly cut out rinsing our waste recycling. Or how about barely cleaning that chopping board after it's been used to chop raw chicken?
Perhaps we can shower less often too, or perhaps share the same personal washing water?
I fear that these are some of the methods that will be employed by our cash-strapped citizens and that should be of real concern for those enforcing these costs on us.
These were the thoughts coursing through my mind as I did the post-scout weekend clean up.
Coincidentally within 3 hours of completing this task, and also after unwittingly picking up some suspect feline nastiness, I suddenly became mysteriously ill and was in bed with a very sick tummy for 24 hours. I did wash my hands and of course it could have just been a tummy bug, or a delayed reaction from donating blood the previous week, but no-one else in my house became ill. It really brought this whole issue home for me.
So yes, perhaps it is as right that we pay for our water as we do our waste collections.
However it is not only right but essential that our water conservation is not counter-productive, making us ill in the process.
We absolutely must ensure cleanliness in the household and in our hospitals and care facilities.
Otherwise our whole nation is at risk at becoming a 'Dirty Old Town'
And that would not be good.