The Pool. Just Add Salt…

We took the cover off the pool on Saturday. It did its usual trick of billowing out like a galleon’s mainsail at every waft of wind until we’d tamed it;  draped it over the pool terrace to dry off; folded it up; and put it away until September.

We’ve learned from past experience, that olive leaves, twigs, bugs and spiders, the odd lizard and assorted tiny bits of crud have an uncanny knack of finding their way under the cover during the pool’s 7-month hibernation – (and as an aside, how many capital assets costing a great many thousand euro, are in use for just five months of the year and covered-up for seven ?) – so last autumn we secured the cover in what we’d hoped was a better, tighter way and were rewarded with actually a pretty good-looking result.

The coping stones are a bit grubby as is the pool liner round the water-line, but that’s nothing the usual springtime scrub won’t set right.

And after seven months in the dark the water needs to regain its sparkle. It comes as a surprise to some that the pool isn’t drained for winter and refilled each spring. Aside from how you’d actually dispose of 80,000 litres of lightly-salted water, (not to mention the eye-watering cost of an annual refill), the imbalance of external pressure on the pool walls would make the whole thing cave-in.  

And ‘lightly-salted’ water ? Yes, we opted for a salt-water purification system – as opposed to the more widely-used chlorine system – when we installed the pool four years ago because although it’s initially more expensive, it’s subsequently a lot cheaper and much, much easier to run.

There’s no need for chemicals which require endless checks to see if they’re correctly balanced and, best of all, no chlorine smell.

All that’s needed is two hundred or so kilos of salt – ordinary, coarse sea-salt, the kind you use in a salt-grinder to sprinkle over your food – literally tipped into the water each spring, with the pool’s sophisticated computerised monitoring system doing the rest, telling you when to add more salt – and when you’ve used enough.

It doesn’t make the pool water noticeably salty; but it does make it delightfully soft and silky.

We could buy the salt we get through each year from the pool guys, who’d charge us around €100. Or we could get it, (and do get it),  in rather a lot of 1-kilo boxes from the supermarket for €25.

Not the toughest financial call we have to make.

True that tipping-in half-a-dozen 25-kilo bags would be a lot quicker, but opening a couple of hundred cardboard boxes and pouring in the contents takes on a kind of hypnotic, zen-like quality. (And anyway, Pauline does most of it…)

Besides which, the sun was out; it had taken the Alpine Swifts all of about 10 minutes to see the pool was open again and begin swooping down to take acrobatic sips of water; and for Sweetie the cat to decide here was a vast new drinking bowl.

The intelligence of cats is sometimes over-rated…

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