By Arachne

Humans at their best

Much too long - this is a record for me.

When I first saw this house one of the attractions was that there is a car park just the other side of the back garden wall. It is owned by a building that was then run cooperatively by the eight occupiers of the offices there and shortly after I moved in I negotiated access for my build, the only condition being that I should make good the fence afterwards.

My planning and builder-finding processes took two long years by which time the building had been sold. I was incredibly lucky that the new owner was prepared to honour the previous agreement so all my build deliveries and rubbish removal have been very much easier than they would otherwise have been.

While I've been saving to afford the patio, I have not made good the fence and a short while ago the car park owners complained, completely justifiably. I grovelled and they relented but I thought I'd better push on with organising the fence.

When it rains a waterfall cascades into my garden from the higher car park so on my side of the fence I wanted to build a dam. My builders told me they could do it at the end of January. Then on Friday I was told some bricklayer mates of theirs could come today. Hmm, bricklayers and patio-layers working in the same space. And needing cement and sand and equipment delivered... I talked to the car park owners, who are in the process of converting the eight co-operative offices into one huge climbing wall and whose busiest day for deliveries in their last year of work was, it turned out, to be today: six 7.5 ton trucks between 10 and 10.30am, three skip exchanges then a series of carefully scheduled deliveries until 2pm bringing in climbing-wall components just in time for the installers.

Deep breath. On Friday evening, once all this became clear, I asked permission to work from home today and predictably got no answer. (My line manager texted her agreement at 8.30 this morning.) Over the weekend, I asked both lots of workers to make sure all deliveries would be over by 9.45, briefed everyone to stay out of the car park and borrowed some street-parking permits from my neighbours.

This morning I realised that if I don't get rid of some of my huge quantity of superfluous bricks now, they'll all have to go out through the front door so I put "384 Victorian bricks" (extra) on Freegle to be collected at dusk after the workers had gone home. I got lots of replies - anyone buying them from a reclamation yard would pay at least £500 for them but I doubt I could get that without a lot of hassle. Many of the replies didn't say why they wanted them and as I suspected they'd sell them I offered them to someone who said they wanted them for a garden project.

Today I have sat working and watching a stream of lorries arriving and leaving. I have watched both lots of workers in my garden, each with their own cement mixer, and I have regularly gone outside to check that things are OK and offer drinks.

In my blip, two brickies are removing a concrete post that is in the way of everything. In front of them one landscaper is cutting slate with the 90kg bench saw that arrived this morning before 9.30 and that everyone co-operated to bring in. To the left another landscaper is selecting slate from the crate that was delivered last week and in front of him are the two brick piles I advertised this morning, to be removed through that gap into the car park.

Around 2pm I spotted the climbing-wall site manager in the car park and went out to make sure all was OK from his point of view. It was, but when I came back into the garden I was taken aback to discover that the brickies had arranged with the landscapers that once the dam was built they would hand over to the landscapers to make the fence. Brickies can't be bothered with wood and the landscapers are quite happy to have the extra work. Well, fine. I don't mind who I pay to to do the job as long as it's done well. Infinitely more co-operation than I'd expected.

As I type, well after dusk, a couple about my age is carefully wheeling batches of bricks over a shuttering plank - kindly lent by the landscapers - so that their wheeelbarrow can get out to the car park over the still-wet concrete foundations laid by the brickies today. I'm quite sure they are as chuffed about their free reclaimed bricks as I was about the free reclaimed kitchen I was lucky enough to acquire last April.

So much could have gone wrong; so much went right...

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