Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Postscript 1
"When we grew up and went to school"
... so I had all these holes, right - 13 of them, and one dent in the problem corner - where 3 fences converge, there is a plug of concrete right where i needed to put rails and a hole, so i kludged [professional builders look away for a moment] I "shaped the timber" and "shortened" the upright so it will look fine from the outside when the bed is full of soil. Then it rained, for 2 days, on and off - the holes [already with a post in them, but as yet un-concreted in, right?] filled with water, mud and other detritus washed in from the neighbours side of the property. Some posts floated up, others merely got heavy and swolled up a bit, not major problems, just a bit yukky. Soil so clayey that it has taken ages for the water to empty.
"There were certain teachers who would"
... so I had originally had this brainwave, given I knew there would be no cheap labour around [my kids were off on various holidays, enjoying themselves - curse them!!] I bought some "g" clamps in my hardware store binge, only to discover that they would not open wide enough to grab anything but a single thickness of sleeper [not terribly useful as such], so, hat in hand, I returned to the hardware store and pleaded ignorance. After they stopped laughing, they agreed to exchange them for a single metal slidey clampey thing which was just the ticket. I set about pre-fabricating [impressed by my builder lingo there?] the end pieces given how tricksey they would be to build in place, only to discover that I really did not understand millimeters. I calculated that the length of timber 4 of the bolts had to go through was 200mm + 75mm, right? So I merrily purchased 280mm bolts, only to discover that 5mm is not a lot, given variability in timber thickness and innaccuracy at drilling perfectly straight... sooo another trip back to the hardware shop to exchange 4 long bolts with 4 longer bolts - I am glad that my visits provide someone entertainment.
"Hurt the children in any way they could"
... so I bought this really long augur drill bit for my power drill [yup, one power tool I actually own], locked and loaded and set about laying the end timbers together, then re-doing it because i realised I had it in reverse, then re-doing it because I realised I had it upside down, then clamped and went to pre-drill my first hole. Granted, I should have asked whether there was a knack to using the bit, but apparently the bit is designed to be aggressive and pull itself through the wood - the drill took me for a ride as it merrily munched down into the heart of a sleeper then promptly got stuck. Couldn't reverse, or go forward, ended up using a spanner to retreive the bit. Then I increased the speed [builder geeks call this adjusting the torque, apparently], then braced for impact, then pulled the trigger and it roared through the wood, emerging smoking on the other side... retrieved the bit, banged a newer, longer, more improved bolty thing through, then had to remove it because I had banged it through the wrong way [head to the outside of the bed, nut on the inside *thwaps self*] and repeat.
"By pouring their derision"
.. so the ends were made, carried and plopped on their respective mud holes, then I set about laying sleepers for the first course of the front edge of the wall. String line to check they were straight, checking to ensure that the posts would butt up against the inside edge nicely, look down the length and remove the bends, then, from one end, one sleeper at a time, I added the second course... treated pine shrinks and warps, apparently, so there were some wierdnesses as edges didn't line up and some were not straight, then I realised I needed to trench a couple of the lower course as the land they were sitting on was not level... mud pies later and all was hoopy.
"Upon anything we did"
... so the construction process had to be a one-wonko job, right? I devised a method where I clamped the upright to the cross timbers, ensuring the top of the posts were lovely and flush [builder geek for level] with the top timber, then with my hyperactive drill, I drilled through 2 thicknesses for both top and bottom courses, banged in bolty things, placed nice square washers on the inside, and hand tightened the nuts.
"And exposing every weakness"
... 2 days later and nearly a rupture, but I was on my last sleeper, only to discover that the top one was about 1.5cm too long to fit in the remaining space. Had I jammed it in, there would have been a gap and I had been so anal with preventing gaps elsewhere that that would have haunted me ... so ... it had to be cut, right? I measures, used my builders pencil and drew a line on all 4 sides of the timber where the cut needed to be. I used a bush-saw [my favourite pruning impliment, second only to my secateurs] and began sawing, being really careful to ensure the saw cut along the top line, but watched with increased frustration that the more I sawed, the more it completely failed to follow the lines on the side and emerged just sort of the lines on the underside [one of my main problems, forever, with sawing is that I cannae do it straight - used to drive my woodwork teacher to distraction ... yes, i actually did wood work in year 8 - in my day, you had no choice]. Luckily, the cut on one edge was flush, the inside edge was a little loose, but you cannot notice unless you are looking for flaws [or as my mum says "a blind man would be glad to see it" ... mind you, I guess a blind man would be glad to see anything, but you get that].
"However carefully hidden by the kids"
... so, it was all together now, right? I gave it a jiggle [builder geeks would prolly say I helped it settle in], checked all was straight up and down [as it should have been] then set about with my trusty shifting spanner, tightening all the nuts ... wanna see? The Great Wall Of Whitehouse has it's own website now [lets face it, it has grown big enough for that ... right?]
Apologies to Mr P. Ffloyd
hodnet (n.) The wooden safety platform supported by scaffolding round a building under construction from which the builders (at almost no personal risk) can drop pieces of cement on passers-by.
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