Day two was marked by Jim and yours truly digging the final set of holes while Jan worked with Janet and Jacque on their flower venture. Jan joined us to help dig the final hole in a show of solidarity. By the end of the day we were exhausted but it had been a good day and we retired back to the house for a restorative beverage and biscuits.
So it was that the Pish Wars unexpectedly broke out over a quiet cup of tea in the sunshine which descended darkly into an extremely heated debate. The substance of the debate was very complex and technical and centred around triangulation, the rule of 3-4-5 and the use of diagonals in ascertaining right angles. Indeed I reckon that not since the days of the early Greeks have the postulates of Pythagoras been so keenly debated. It has become known as the Pish wars because every other word used in the debate was “pish”. “Every second word! You are exaggerating” I hear you cry. Well actually no, because it proceeded along the lines of “that’s pish” – “not pish” and so on and so forth. That’s all I am saying about that particular episode but then every good saga must have a battle scene.
Day three was just Jan and me. Although Jim had left detailed instructions on how we should proceed, we two amateurs again struggled with the concept of the string line. The manual said to just leave the tapered end of each foundation pole protruding from the ground (around 4 inches) so we set the height of the line at each end at 4 inches and pulled it tight. Things were going swimmingly. We set each pole to the height of the string, attached the base plates to the poles and duly backfilled the holes as we went.
However, by the time we had put in three poles we noticed that they were getting lower and lower in comparison to ground level and if we followed the string line they would virtually be buried in the ground by the time we got to the middle. Jan expertly claimed that the ground must be raised slightly towards the middle and told me not to worry as he would dig it out and level it later. “Generous offer” I thought and we soldiered on. As we were filling in the seventh hole I was beginning to wonder why the ground would be higher right in the middle. To my eye it looked flat as a pancake.
Having dangerously allowed the possibility that the ground may actually be flat to enter my brain, I started to mull over what other agent could be causing our problem? Oh no! not the string, surely? Could it simply be that the 90 foot long string was sagging in the middle? I expressed my fears to my partner in crime who dismissed them summarily and confidently asserted he would prove me wrong by pulling the line even tighter to make sure we were on the right track.
With string tensioned as tight as we could get it, we walked back toward the middle and noted with horror that the tops of the poles were now inches short of the line. We looked at each other and we both knew at that moment that the only option left would be to dig them all out and start again. We made a token effort at digging out one or two before trudging back to the pavillion for lunch, aware that we were now further back in the job than we were at the start of the day. It took us until 6pm to finally complete the line on one side. Phew!