Monday, 18 May 2020

ReBuilding After the Gales

Have you ever received a call or message where you wish you had not picked it up as you were powerless to do anything?

The message read ‘All plots are bearing up in storm. Just a couple of bits of damage.’

Great, as I was out of the country, it was nice to know the there was little damage.

However, an hour later ‘One polytunnel blown off frame and one of small greenhouses is damaged. Trying to see if we can fix or secure it.’

Not so good news but still manageable.

Then I received the photo from my plot neighbour of my greenhouse lying flattened. I rang the Site Manager who said, ‘It was ok when we left, I’ll check tomorrow and secure it.’

Three days later I returned to the wreckage and stood with Brian our Site Manager. wondering what to do.

‘I don’t think you’ll be able to put that back together,’ he said.

‘I doubt if the Repair Shop would do it on TV,’ I joked.

‘You could put some emotion into it and claim it was an heirloom.’

‘An heirloom from B&Q?’ I replied with a chuckle.

I agreed it was beyond sticky tape and plaster and as I looked at the twisted aluminium frame. I was at least heartened that all but a couple of the plastic panels appeared ok and the roof appeared in one piece albeit out of shape. We laid it to rest under some tarpaulin and I set off to plan what I was going to do.  

They say, ‘once bitten, twice shy’ and having had two previous disasters with polytunnels versus the wind they were never going to be an option again. The problem is my plot sits on top of a steep bank and a strong gale in the wrong direction can cause havoc.

I could ill afford another greenhouse, nor did I feel it would be a wise decision. I had done an inventory of what was salvageable and apart from a couple of side panels and some of the frame supports, all appeared reclaimable. I took the brave decision to repair and rebuild but with a stronger timber framed base and sides.

Brian offered to help and without any plan we went in search of what timbers we had. The Farm also gave us some of their spare old timbers and these pieces of 4x4 help establish a new base, which had to be of a size to replicate the dimensions of the old greenhouse. After all it would be stupid to build a frame, panel it and then find the roof did not fit. The new greenhouse also was going to reuse the old door.

I then worked out how much timber I had to buy and planned in my head how I was going to do it. Perhaps I should have done a detailed engineering drawing, but there again that wouldn’t have allowed me to improvise, would it?

Then our ex Chair Paula offered me a complete end panel she had surplus from her new shed. It was half glass and although a different height the lower frame was perfect and saved me having to replace the damaged panels I had. So, improvisation number one.

Brian kept popping along and supervised me and helping fix the frame. He likes to saw and hammer things in and it was a two-man job.

The frame soon was up and even the door fitted perfectly.

The apex end pieces to support the roof had to be bespoke and match each other and the acid test was to put the roof on and ‘top out’. It is a fantastic feeling when the final piece of the jigsaw fits like a glove and you are only left with the tidying up, painting and inside flooring.

Blow as you might, you’ll not blow this greenhouse down……