Taking a fence…

DON’T you just hate having wind? I don’t mean the sprouts-induced type which comes after Sunday lunch. I mean the type which originates from the heavens, whips around the houses and puts the willies up TV weatherman Michael Fish.

There is nothing much you can do about wind. You can shelter from rain with an umbrella, you can shovel away snow and you can cool down in the sun with a dip in the sea.

But there is no hiding place from the wind, which is what I discovered the other day when it singled out Cobweb Castle for a special visit. It huffed and it puffed and it blew my fence down. Wallop!

When I went to bed the fence was there. When I woke up, it wasn’t. Alas, I was not alone and fence men were in short supply. So at the weekend I became a fence erector armed with a fresh supply of eight-feet-tall concrete posts, things called gravel boards, a stash of fence panels and an unsuspecting Creature of the Night.

“We should be able to do it in a day,” predicted the innocent one, wrongly as it turned out. Putting up fences is relatively easy, in theory. You dig a hole, shove in a post, fill the hole with concrete then move on to the next hole six feet away.

The problem comes when there was a fence there before. The posts and panels may have disappeared down the road courtesy of a gust of wind of hurricane proportions but gales are fickle things. They only blow over items they want to. I have yet to encounter a gale which also uproots concrete foundations.

These have to be removed with the dexterity of a dentist and sheer brute force of a Sherman tank. So we set to work on Saturday morning. It was not until 3pm that we had removed the remains of the first post. We were in for the long haul.

Intriguingly this work attracted a lot of interest from passers-by. “Struck gold yet?” asked one. “Nice to see someone hard at work,” said another. “You can do mine next,” ventured a third. Obviously it was difficult to keep working with all these interruptions. As Saturday passed into Sunday it became even more frustrating to see other men on their way to the pub while the Creature and I were slaving outside.

As night began to fall and we began to tackle the final frontier another passer-by approached. “I know a chap who will do that for you,” he ventured. “He has a hydraulic jack which pulls out old fence posts in the blink of an eye.” The Creature and I surveyed him and we were both thinking the same thing; why didn’t he tell us that 48 hours earlier?

However, the good news is that the broken fence has been replaced. The bad news is that it puts the rest of the fence to shame. Has anyone got a hydraulic jack we can borrow?

(First written January 9, 2012)

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