Saturday, October 04, 2008

Bloatermog Hole In The Ground: Unlike comedian, Bernard Cribbins' 1962 hit record of the same name, it wasn't "big and sort of round," it was 4 feet square.

One side of the front garden here floods, mainly during the winter months. It's been happening since the mid-1930's when the place was built. Recent years' technology brought a partial answer with the purchase of a 'Dirty Water Sump Pump' from B & Q for a paltry £29-99. At its best, the Pump, with an hourly output of 9,000 litres, would clear 'the lake' in 2 hours. The outlet pipe went across the pavement to the nearby roadside storm-drain, but Joe Muggins had to stand there to make sure no one tripped or fell off their bicycle negotiating it, or you can bet a Court Claim for compensation would follow. 2 hours on a dark winter morning or evening just standing around whilst the pump pumped was, despite meeting quite a lot if not all of the joyous local dog-walking fraternity; no fun whatsoever. Not only that, my neighbours four door's to the left didn't have to stand out there doing it, and although it's down to the geography of the land, the water I pumped eminated from their properties, so whilst they're tucked up in the warm, Muggins is out there in Wellies and a waterproof jacket; pumping; albeit with the use of electricity rather than muscle! Muggins has far better do with all those 2 hours' of his life, thank you very much!

The two guys redeveloping next door, Brian and Kevin), hired a mini-digger to excavate a hole in their front lawn, which is about one-eighth the size of ours, didn't flood as badly, but was just continually 'stodgy.' So, in an effort to avoid another winter peppered with countless 2-hour stints pumping, we also elected to have a hole dug in ours, filling it with rubble in the hope it would 'soak away the lake' in preference to pumping and the dreaded sentry duty.

On the Friday evening before last, after measuring and removing 4ft x 4ft's worth of turves, our mini-digger driver, Tony, arrived to survey his next morning's job; saying he'd be back at 08.30 prompt.

And lo-and behold, at 08.30 prompt after hearing the chortle and seeing the cloud of exhaust from a mini-digger with Tony holding his right arm out of the cab to indicate he would be turning into our gate, (no Margate jokes here, please!), I finished spreading out a tarpaulin which he'd dump the diggings onto, and stood well back. In he came, rubber caterpillar tracks negotiating through and onto the gravel drive, to begin digging the hole.

Easily carving through 3 ft of top soil, the digger bucket and engine coughed a bit upon hitting the Upton clay, and continued doing so through the whole remaining 5 feet of the stuff until, mercifully, we hit what we were looking for: Sand! The plug-hole in our forever flooding front lawn had been dug, but only after waiting a mere 73 years to do it! But again, this is modern tech, a half hour by mini-digger equates to about 2 and a half days for one bloke digging it by hand! So, over the years, or until I bought the pump, it had been left to gravity and nature to 'soak away' of its' own accord, but since redesigning the garden, it does the shrubs, nor the log-roll bordering the lawn and the flower bed any favours by allowing this to happen.

Out in the back garden, cunningly disguised behind a raised brickwork border with plant pots on top, was the rubble; hidden there some 7 or 8 year's ago when we modernised the kitchen and bathroom. It took the remainder of Saturday to wheelbarrow it into this now yawning 8ft x 4ft x 4ft hole; and about half filled it.

At 07.30 on Sunday morning it was chilly, and despite nipples that would cut glass beneath the T-shirt, by 0800 I had no more bricks or rubble, or indeed anything resembling it, anywhere on the property to fill the rest of the hole. But 4 year's ago we had the roof re-tiled, the exterior chimney brickwork had been demolished and used as a soakaway on the right hand side of the front garden, but there were still loads of bricks, accesable via the attic, which could be knocked out to fill the remainder of the hole.

Luckily, Number One son, Steve, was available to help, as negotiating wobbly steps and a bucket with but 2 (firebricks are solid and heavy!) bricks in it was a bit too much for this rib-cage which had been rent asunder 2 years previously for the heart op. So, the more favourable job of squatting on loft-boards whilst knocking out the bricks and mortar with a bolster and lump hammer was prescribed, as the kindly Steve regularly emptied the gash mortar from the bucket and took the bricks away. With a wheelbarrow outside the front door, when he had amassed around a dozen bricks, he'd wheel and dump them down into the hole.

By 13.00 enough bricks, (60 to 75), had been scavenged to fill it leaving an 18 inch x 4 feet x 4 feet gap to fill with topsoil. Steve had to visit his young family, so I leveled the bricks, put a membrane across them and began shovelling some of the topsoil from the hole-digging into the barrow. With wife, Jane, on an early shift, I had made my mind up to have the job complete by 15.20 when she arrived home, turves back in place and, other than about 3 tonnes of clay sitting on the tarp, everything would be back to normal. And it was.

Thursday, Tony and a mate of his returned with a grab-truck to take away the clay. Originally, this was going to be made to 'disappear' around some nooks and crannies in the back garden, but with the required stamina still not, (and never will be, apparently), back after such a major op, I couldn't manage it. It cost £dosh to get rid of the clay, but as the dear and caring Jane pointed out; "£120 is cheaper than the £2,000 it would have cost to bury you in Upton Churchyard, as I don't think you would have managed it!"

Wise words, and so good to know she does cares after all!

It was the 37th Anniversary of our first date, (she reminded me!), on October 2nd, so I suppose it went without saying, really.

ADDENDUM: It rained on and off for about 36 hours over the weekend of October 4th & 5th and the lawn flooded, BUT, by the early AM of Monday 6th, it had 'soaked away'!! It Worked!!!