It's spring, and all these lovely April showers are a timely reminder that one day soon, there will be another hosepipe ban (!) so now is a good time to look at your water collection arrangements.
Everyone with any sort of house has room for at least one - I have five, on my small house (but then, I am a bit evangelical on the subject) - all you need are the following:
1) a downpipe
2) a rainwater diverter kit
3) a water butt
4) a stand - otherwise you can't get the watering can under the tap
5) a spirit level
6) a fine-cut saw (or a helpful neighbour) to cut the downpipe
Put the stand next to the downpipe, make sure it is level and on a firm base (a single concrete path slab is perfect), sit the empty water butt on top of it and look at where the inlet is - the only tricky part of the job is getting the diverter at exactly the right height, to ensure that water keeps going in until the butt is full, and then goes back and down the drain, rather than overflowing and dribbling out of the butt. But the diverters come with clear instructions, so just take it slowly and read them carefully.
The worst part about the whole affair is cutting across the downpipe: it's best to take it out and cut it while it's loose, rather than trying to cut across it while it's still vertical. Ask me how I know.... yes, I did it, made a terrible wobbly cut. It still worked, and once the diverter was in place you couldn't really see the wonky cut, but I knew it was there... now, I take down the section of downpipe, and use a mitre box to keep the saw going at a right-angle. Much easier!
One you have connected the diverter (I make it sound so easy, don't I?) you will have to wait for the next rain shower to fill it, and you can use this time to sort out a small clear area under the tap, so that the watering can will sit comfortably: there's nothing worse than having the watering can bobble about while you are trying to fill it, so that the water splashes all over your feet. Sometimes, the concrete slab is big enough to leave you with a suitable platform at the front, sometimes you may need to add a couple of bricks, or another smaller slab, to make space for the can to sit - see photo!
Also, if you have a watering can with a handle that goes over the filling hole, give it away and buy a new one - one where the top hole is unobstructed.
If you have room for another one, they can be placed side by side and linked together: and if you do this, it's always best to take the water from the “outside” one first, to avoid having one butt sitting there with stagnant water. By using up the outside one first, any new rainfall will push the water across from the inside one, thus keeping it fresh.
There you are, job done - so don't waste those April showers, let's all get collecting free water!