I have a bit of a theory when it comes to DIY projects. You can consult horoscopes, do all those relationship tests they print in women’s magazines or even go along to pre-marriage classes but if you really want to know whether you and your intended are well suited spend a weekend building a greenhouse. If you haven’t shouted at each other or blamed the other for the mislaid spanner and are still speaking by the end of it then you’re pretty well matched in my opinion. It could, actually, be any sort of DIY that requires some team work but I picked greenhouse because that’s what the Wellies spent the last weekend constructing. And yes, we are still speaking.
With the delivery of the various sections of our greenhouse last week this weekend revolved, pretty much entirely, around its construction. Excitement at finally having my own greenhouse was tempered by the sight of the instruction manual and all the parts. It all looked rather daunting. The delivery guy said it would take only a few hours to put up. A FEW HOURS?!! But he did go on to admit he’d never actually built one himself.
I know it’s quite a skill to write instruction manuals. Conveying as much information as possible, in this case just with diagrams is quite a challenge. The problem I find with them is that some of us need a little bit more information than others. Wellyman isn’t normally fazed by them but even this one left him scratching his head.
By lunchtime on Saturday with all the sides built and joined together, we were lulled into thinking we might have the whole thing built in a day. How wrong could we have been? After a quick stop for lunch reality set in. With the afternoon light fading quickly it was a race to get it to a stage that we could leave it in overnight.
Everything is held together with nuts and bolts and after 5 hours I was sick of the sight of them. Despite my much smaller fingers I seemed to have a problem getting the nut to stay on the bolt so I could twist it onto the thread. The back of the greenhouse is up against a fence panel. There was just enough space for us to get down the back but wedged between the greenhouse and the fence trying to screw nut to bolt and then losing the nuts. Aaaaarrrggghhh! It’s fair to say the air was a little on the blue side this weekend. Then, the No. 10 spanner was put down ‘somewhere’. Of course, the instructions didn’t even mention a No.10 spanner being an essential tool for the job. Just as we thought we were getting the hang of things we would get to another section and find yet another set of instructions in a tiny plastic bag with yet more screws, blots and nuts.
We finally called it a day for food, lots of tea and, in the case, of Wellyman wine. But we weren’t finished for the day. We spent the rest of the night building the staging whilst watching Have I Got News For You on Dave. We know how to live.
I woke on Sunday and groaned at the thought of all that glass waiting outside. I groaned even more when I opened the curtains to see we’d had the hardest frost of the autumn so far. The garden and the greenhouse were covered in white, glistening frost. Handling glass with cold-numbed fingers was going to be fun. It’s always the fiddly things that take time with any DIY job, the bits you don’t think about. And then there are the bits that that should fit but don’t. Brute force, a hammer and a metal file were all employed, successfully but discovering pieces don’t fit with rapidly fading light is incredibly frustrating. Patience isn’t one of my strong points and I do think I uttered the words ‘I wish I’d never bought the damn thing’ at one point. Possibly it was when we had a section of glass that went above the door and it just wouldn’t fit because the door was in the way. Head scratching ensued, the tape measure came out, the manual was consulted. In the end, we had to unscrew the door and then force it into place and the words force and glass really shouldn’t go together.
Finally, at 4.30pm on Sunday, in the dark, we fitted the final bits of glass in the louvre vents. Fifteen hours later and too many bolts and nuts to count we had a greenhouse. I even managed to muster enough energy to do a little dance in celebration. It is pretty small, as greenhouses go but it will be perfect for the growing season ahead of me and the plans I’ve got. And every cloud has a silver lining – a bigger greenhouse equals more nuts and bolts.