Sunday, 14 November 2010
Breaking up is hard to do
Yesterday I phoned Greg saying I was going to the allotment on Saturday as the weather forecast was fair and asked would he and Chris help me with completing the greenhouse. I'd gone down on Wednesday, the previous two days had been wet and windy, but the greenhouse was still standing and it looked fine.
After agreeing that we'd go down at 10 am, I felt a great weight lift off my shoulders. I had not been enjoying this exercise in construction. "Great", I thought and started to prepare supper. Lesley, and her business partner, were at a client's studio looking over a 100 year weaving loom he'd rescued so he could produce his own woollen weave.
The phone rang and I expectantly put the phone to my ear anticipating the loving tones of my wife saying what time she'd be home. I was disappointed: it was the secretary of the allotment association. "Barry? Barbara here, the two Mikes from the allotment have been down today and have told me that your greenhouse has been damaged." "Barbara, did they say how much?" Apparently not. It was already dark and I couldn't do anything but after Barbara's call phoned Greg to explain what had happened.
I panicked all night. I had nightmares centering around Meccano sets, and impossible puzzles. This morning, I Greg and Chris went down to the allotment, Lesley to follow later. I had visions of the whole thing in pieces. Lesley tried to reassure me, as did Chris and Greg; but I feared the worse.
It was clear when I went to unlock the gate to the allotment that something was seriously amiss. Not a sign of the greenhouse.
Arriving at our plot we were confronted by a picture of total devastation. Most of the greenhouse had collapsed in on itself, plastic windows were scattered to the four winds and one of the ends appeared to have been picked up and carried across our allotment to be deposited intact onto the neighbour's. Luckily on his grass, not his prize raspberry bushes.
The photos give some idea of the destruction. Piece of metal twisted out of recognition, bolts ripped off tearing the metal. We went around and picked up the pieces and placed them in a pile.
"Not much chance putting that together", I said. Chris and Greg tended to agree and while I moped about they went to their allotment. Lesley arrived. Looked at the pile and said "It's not too bad, we should be able to bang out the chinks and buckled metal."
The next two and half hours saw the four of us, unbending, hammering twisted struts and levering apart crushed grooves. However, it was clear after we'd spent an hour trying to put in one pane of polycarbonate sheeting into one end of the greenhouse that we were not going to be able to rescue the crumpled frame. Even Lesley had to admit defeat!
It was beyond repair: although the two Mikes turned up and offered to lend us the proper tools to unbend the metal. But even they, I think, realised that the sheet metal used to construct the rods and struts was so flimsy that such repair would be impossible.
I bought the greenhouse on line. Although they said there was a seven to fourteen day deliver time lag, I was called up the next day and asked if it could be delivered a couple of days later. The instructions were in Chino-English. It was a disaster waiting to happen.
I'll be writing to the company, explaining what had happened and suggesting that I was sold a pig in a poke. I will hope to persuade them that given the flimsiness of the materials employed (Mecanno sets used a thicker gauge of sheet metal), it was not surprising that the structure collapsed and was twisted out of recognition. I will suggest that some sort of recompense would be much appreciated.
I'll have to clear the wreckage. It shouldn't be too difficult to get it off my hands. A couple of people on the allotment have already suggested that they could find a use for some of the pieces.
If I buy a greenhouse again, I'll make sure it comes with someone to erect it as well!