The clock ticked away on day 2 and ended up at six-and-a-half hours. Day 3 dawned and I had expected to complete the build. But my age was against me. I was flagging badly – my right arm was now succumbing to the strain of whacking in the dowels. Elbow strapping helped; pain-killers helped; but I decided that I had a couple of days to spare in my schedule as the soil delivery was over a week away. So I took it easy.
Oh for the days a mere few years ago when I assembled a much bigger WoodblocX bed without these little medical distractions.
I also had a mystery to solve. I’d been taking photos with my smartphone and noticed that they all had dark corners. Not my fingers. I discovered that the cutout for the camera in the phone case wasn’t right. So I took time to expand it. The case is a layer of plastic encased in leather. I carefully cut the leather to make the hole bigger and then used a small file to expand the hole in the plastic underneath. It’s surprising how long a simple task like this takes – actually about the same time as whacking in a couple of dozen dowels! I stopped the clock for that bit.
Anyhow, having explained what, not doubt, the eagle-eyed Gill Heavens will have picked up. (and also managing to mention her to keep up the tradition), I popped a sucky sweet into my mouth and got going. Ten minutes later, I had the remaining bits roughly laid out.
That ten minutes was mainly carrying the blocX from their storage in the garage into position. They had already been dowelled. The line along the scaffolding board was pretty level as I’d done the final preparation on day 2 but there were a few uneven bits to get precise.
A mere fifteen minutes later, the view had changed:
As I’ve said, getting the initial layer in place, straight and level is time consuming but once you’ve done that, things really speed up. What you can’t see in this photo is the support struts behind the bit of wall I’ve built today. Well you might just notice one to the left of the hammer handle on the scaffolding board.
Onward and upward as they say. The line of blocX in the middle show that a lot of levelling would be needed. A bit more than I’d expected. And the corner of the bed at the back actually needed building up! Out came a bag of sharp sand and some gravel. Carrying a 25 Kg bag of gravel for 55 metres is strangely knackering! Serves me right for putting it at the furthest possible point away at the bottom of the garden. The wheelbarrow wasn’t an option as the side path was piled high with piles of blocX. I just mention these little complications so you can do a better job than I in deciding where to put things until you need them.
Would I ever finish the job on time, I wondered. Not for long, though. Another forty minutes with the engine in sport mode and voila:
Yes, the bits that aren’t fixed down are back in the garage. I didn’t count the time that took; nor did I suck any sweets though I may have opened a can of lager.
So day 3 has accounted for an hour and five minutes, excluding dawdle and chat time, a break while some replacement sealed units were fitted to house windows, several mugs of coffee (more to warm my fingers than anything else), several periods of time-in-loo (to get rid of aforementioned coffee) and ministering to the incessant desires of
pain in the butt resident cat. I’m ashamed that I could not do more, given that that hour and five minutes was spread over close to three hours! But the bit that’s left won’t take long, though it does mean the build goes into day 4.
There wasn’t much left to do on the final day other than ask myself why I couldn’t have drummed up the energy to finish on day 3. I was left with the smallest bed in terms of both area and height. I was lucky in digging out the shallow trench for the end of the bed which ran through some compacted grass. Somehow the lumps of grass I cut out came away leaving an almost perfectly level base for the bit of wall; I just used a small amount of sharp sand to get things exactly right.
Just forty-five minutes on my knees and the job was done.
My maths may not be perfect but I make the total time I’ve spent so far to be eight hours and twenty minutes. This is marginally longer than I’d hoped for but still under my top time estimate of nine hours. A younger person would no doubt have worked a lot more quickly than I. And for longer hours each day.
So What’s Left?
The fifth, and final, post in this series will enter the ether next Tuesday and will cover everything up to the shovelling of soil into the beds.
The next stage is to fit the lining. I’ve bought some heavy duty pond liner for the purpose as pond liner will last for many years and is strong enough to resist (a bit) the edge of a garden tool if I get over-enthusiastic with my planting in future. My intention is to staple the liner onto the top surfaces of the beds.
Once the liner is in place, I’ll add the capping – as well as finishing “the look”, it will cover the edges of the liner and add an extra bit of “holding it in place”. This will take a bit longer than I’d originally allowed because the changes due to the extra layer being added mean I will have to cut some lengths of capping down and I’ll need to be extra careful where l make the cuts!
I’ll be adding some crawling board supports to the backs of the beds – as I don’t want to have to walk onto next door’s garden every time I want to weed or prune. I have cut down some scaffolding boards to suitable lengths and these will lay on the front wall of a bed and on the corresponding support attached to the back wall so I can get at everything from my side.
I have to install the pipework for the irrigation system – I’ve already drilled holes to get this through the structure so it’s just a case of feeding it through and fixing it in place.
I’ll spread these tasks over a couple of days although those won’t be long-hours days!
Then I wait for the soil to arrive.
See you next Tuesday.