Wednesday, 3 September 2014

The Dragon Chick and The Giant Umbrella

We have, as it were, cashed in the rainy-day fund and bought a large umbrella.
A very large umbrella.
So far, this has just led to monstrous amounts of work, but hopefully it will all be worth it in the end.
We have got a polytunnel.

I have never remotely desired a polytunnel. I cannot envisage waking up in the morning and thinking: 'I can't wait to get into that tunnel', whereas I often rush out to the garden first thing with my early morning cuppa.
But recently the In-Charge and I went to visit a friend's garden. We had 'messages' in the area, and Annette, although she was away, invited us to make free of her verdant spaces, which we did. The In-Charge even got bitten by her young rescued pony - but he's well able for that sort of thing. He likes horses, and this one and he share the same name. Anyway, it was no'but a lad's trick.

In Annette's garden

Annette has a wonderful garden, which expands and changes every year, and seems to be continuously bursting with flowers. And she, along with everyone else in the north west, has a polytunnel. We stood in it, out of the mizzle, and admired the wall-to-wall sweet peas. The hot, humid air was laden with their scent and it was a very pleasant place to be.


We discussed it all the way home and have since visited other peoples' tunnels - by way or research. We ate warm, pungent tomatoes in one at Rossinver, admired jungle-like eucalyptus and dahlias in another near Frenchpark, and nearly passed out over the asparagus in a third (on account of the heat, not the asparagus). All grist for the mill.
It didn't take us long to decide.
As far as the fund is concerned, today is the rainy day.

Needless to say, being one of our projects, nothing has been simple.
Well, it was simple deciding where to put it because there wasn't much choice, but after that it was all up- or down-hill, depending on which way you look at it.
The ground wasn't level (and lies in the teeth of the westerly gales). There was a large tree adjacent to the site, not to mention a deep and open drainage channel. Moreover, it was the best grass on the property - how could we kiss goodbye to that? And - and, this was my beloved hens' paddock, one of my favourite places in the garden - could I bear to part with it?

The hens' and bees' paddock

The best grass on the property, a large tree and a deep ditch

 But on the other hand, it gets a lot of sunshine.

By the time we'd reviewed all the ins and outs, it didn't look good.
'It's going to cost as much to put up as it costs to buy the damn thing,' the In-Charge muttered.
All the same, we bit the bullet and set off on a Day Out to visit a supplier who seemed the most reliable, knowledgeable and reasonably priced. It turned out that not one but two of our closest friends had also bought their tunnels from him.
It would be delivered, he promised, a week later. IKEA fashion - ie in a lot of bits like a giant jigsaw.

But first we had a great deal of work to do and a gazillion tons of earth to move. We hired a Dragon Chick from Andy, the builder, and our friend Robin came and worked miracles with it, the first of which was to get it up the bank to the required location.

The Dragon Chick

Then it was just dig, dig, dig.

Bye Bye lovely grass.  Bye Bye hens if you don't watch out!

The hens helped. In fact, they were so helpful it's a wonder that none of them got flattened in the process.
I think they thought the Dragon Chick was their mother, constantly unearthing yummies for them to eat.

Model Dog helped too

When Robin and the Dragon Chick returned to their rightful dwelling-places, we were left looking at the beginnings of a decent swimming-pool, 5 tons of gravel - and a lot of flat-packed metal and wood.

Happily, the In-Charge's godson - little knowing what he was letting himself in for - emailed to ask if he could come and stay for a few days.
Why yes, dearest boy - how positively wonderful it will be to see you! How long can you stay? (And please bring your boots.)

Much debate as the fun and games begin

A lot of standing around in the mizzle

Down one ladder and up the next

Bless his cotton socks, he mucked in like a good 'un. We have, indeed, all mucked in like good-'uns.
We are now at the stage of wondering whose blimming idea this was in the first place, but at least we are finally ready to put the roof on.

The giant umbrella is nearly ready.
All we need is a bit of sunshine to 'stretch' the plastic.
And a pile of people to tug and pull and - ooops, not that way...

PS: Unfortunately, because we've been so busy, we forgot to pick the beans.


  1. Ypu forgot to pick the beans? My father, aka Bean Man, has probably got the whole of heaven worrying about his blood pressure from that statement.

    But back to the point of this. polytunnels are not beautiful, though en masse they have a certain something, but they are mirculous growing places.

    I shall look forward to your - and your hens - progress.

  2. Yes, the beans are a real reproach Isobel. The (slowly diminishing) pile is still sitting on the table. Half of them are - dare I say it - inedible at this stage.

    You are quite right. Polytunnels are NOT beautiful. Perhaps that is part of their lack of attraction for me. But they are wonderful micro-climates. I am looking forward to this one with anticpation. It will be interesting to see how it pans out. The hens will NOT be allowed inside, but the Models will, and I don't suppose it would be possible to ban the cats, even if we wanted to.

  3. Hooray for Giant Umbrellas!

  4. I had no idea so much work was involved in a Polytunnel. I'll stick to my little greenhouse.

  5. Looks like an exciting project, but don't kick yourself too much about the beans!


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