Had the rain not driven us inside yesterday, before I’d assembled the first of the benches for which we had purchased the wood and bolts, I may have been saved the rude awakening in the middle of the night when I realised a somewhat more than minor miscalculation. It is customary, you see, for me to make a slight error when attempting D.I.Y. Had I discovered this one before going to bed, I may not have dreamt about it.
The two pairs of garden bench sides required a total of nineteen wooden slats. I also needed the bolts and nuts to fit. So how many nuts and bolts did I buy? With the possible exception of Orlaith, my youngest grandchildren could probably provide the answer.
So. Jackie’s first task this morning was to drive off and buy another nineteen of each.
Whilst she was out I carried on with the job. Had I realised that it would be simpler, and easier on the back, to assemble the seat on a table rather than on the ground, I may have got a little further than raising a sweat. I had just begun to work on a small table by the time Jackie returned. It was her suggestion that I should use two tables and balance a borrowed section of the IKEA wardrobe fence across them. One of the cast iron sides was broken, and so deprived of a hole through which to thread a bolt. I thought it sheer genius to suggest we borrowed a washer from one of Barrie Haynes’s favourite wheelbarrows to secure the bolt. Apart from Jackie’s brains, I needed her to help screw in the bolts and tighten the nuts.
When Jackie had photographed me on the Nottingham Castle bench, Becky had commented that the structure came with its own hobo. Naturally, therefore, this shot had to be reprised as I sat admiring the vista opposite.
Both our sheds were leaking, because their roofing felt has perished, and one had rotten barge boards. Rod’s Repairs, who are to be highly recommended, came and fixed them today, as I began bolting the seats into our second spare set of cast iron side pieces. Having been well schooled in the process with the first one this morning, I didn’t need to take Jackie away from her own gardening tasks too much, except to hold the structure in place near the end of the job.
Except also for the car ride, that is. We needed some different length bolts so went back to Travis Perkins for them. They were closed. So we did an about turn and drove to Knights at Lymington. They were closed. So we did another about turn and went to Milford Supplies who had not had the right length this morning, but had some a bit longer. We bought those.
Apart from interruptions, Jackie had finished emptying our predecessors’ compost maker, and, as usual, been astounded at what they had thought might make good compost. In fairness, it may have been the dog that buried the bone. She had also heavily pruned some overgrown euphorbia thus revealing some other treasures, such as a clematis, a camellia, and a rose that had all been obscured by it.
Having returned home I continued with my task. The sides of the bench I was working on still contained bolts well rusted in. Considerable pressure was required to sever these with the heavy duty cutter. As I clipped through sixteen of these I thought of a story my old Westminster Social Services friend Ken Coleman once delighted in telling. One of Ken’s responsibilities involved regular visits to a residential care home for people with learning difficulties. Each time he attended the establishment he was presented with the bolt cutter challenge, as was virtually every other visitor.
One staggeringly strong young male resident was engaged in what must have been quite a long term fencing task. This involved cutting through an Alcatraz type metal trellis with a cutter most other people would be unable to lift, yet alone employ. He was immensely proud of his implement and what he could do with it. The unwary visitor would be given a demonstration of how easy it was to cut through the cable, and invited to have a go. The initial wide welcoming grin would, almost imperceptibly take on a wicked twinkle as he handed over the weapon and supervised the ensuing struggle. His victim would be unable even to prise apart the handles, and very quickly forced to admit defeat. Our young man would take back his cutter, and beam with unashamed pride.
Our second refurbished garden bench has been deposited in what is still the kitchen garden, in readiness for its metamorphosis into a rose one. When the transformation is complete, the seat from which Jackie is, when I am not standing in the way with a camera, looking out down the Heligan path, will be set back against the fence behind it.
We dined this evening on pork spare ribs in barbecue sauce; wild rice and peas; and Heinz Beanz. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Cotes du Rhone.