Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Bank Holiday Build

May Bank Holiday in Britain and nothing is more traditional than to spend it in the garden, weather permitting of course; and so we did.  In fact we spent most of the weekend in the garden - putting up the greenhouse.  Hooray! 

It had taken a while to order as, bizarrely, tracking down firms that would sell us a greenhouse without a two month lead in or without a whole load of unnecessary gubbins proved quite difficult; in fact the firm we finally bought from very nearly didn't get our custom (despite it being just what we wanted) as when we turned up at their factory and sales office we were told that they only sold directly to local people and in order not to offend the garden centres they franchised out to we would have to buy from said garden centres. And we wonder why so many independent firms go under.

So we dutifully traipsed round a couple of the garden centres that supposedly sold the particular model we wanted and being told that 'no they couldn't deliver it within three weeks' and at one place that we would have to leave a deposit despite them not being able to quote how much the extra items we wanted would add up to; we ended up having to ring the firm and ask them to recommend another garden centre that they definitely new would be able to supply a greenhouse. 

After several phone calls and altered delivery date the greenhouse finally arrived and bright and early on Saturday we started to build it.  Having erected the frame we found in the process that we were missing vital glass holding clips and an vent opener and when we contacted the garden centre we were told we would have to wait until after the Bank Holiday to get them - this was despite several conversations were the phrase 'yes we want to build it over the Bank Holiday weekend' was uttered when discussing the altered delivery dates. 

So off to B&Q for some stand ins and hooray the greenhouse was finished - standing proud with manured and composted beds, a lovely gravel path and gutters and water butts all finished. 

The clips and missing vent opener were finally delivered on Tuesday morning by a charmless man who insisted on examining the greenhouse to check that we hadn't just misused the missing clips - sadly we had to disappoint him and it was obvious that his clips were missing and hadn't been delivered.

And it is because of all this difficulty that, in spite of the greenhouse being of great quality and perfect in its greenhouseness; that sadly, I am not going to name or praise either the brand or supplier as I would normally do; because their customer service stinks.

And so here is a brief pictorial history of the greenhouse build:

Caging the vicious summer house - or a the main parts of the frame assembled - after hours of conversation along the lines of 'well has that part got that weird sticky out folded bit', 'no', 'well what about that part', 'yes' 'well that's the bit we want'.

 Frame partially assembled.

Frame fully assembled. End of day 1. 

 End of day 2. Greenhouse glazed after replacement clips have been sourced.  Looking good.


Water butts and guttering all plumbed into the greenhouse and summer house. Oh yes we will need more, after all we live in the north west of England and rain is our constant companion.

End of day 3. The finished gravel path and manured and composted beds.  Looking fantastic and ready to use.  I'm thrilled and have some lovely tomato plants that a lovely lady in the village has given me; I traded some home made lime and lemon marmalade and chilli jelly in return.  Barter - don't you just love it.

I will of course praise and mention here the indefatigueable Jean-Luc who laboured mightily in this endeavour; building a fantastic greenhouse which will hopefully keep us well supplied with a bumper crop of  tomatoes, peppers and chillies over the coming years.  It's thanks to his energy and orderliness that it looks as good as it does and the main reason that I am confident that it won't fall down in the first high wind that comes along.

The greenhouse was quite an investment for us - they don't come cheap and with the sleeper base and a few extras that we wanted came to just under £1,000.  This is a lot of money but it's balanced against future savings in veggies and seedling survival.  Most importantly we had saved and budgeted for it; we didn't buy it on credit but straight out; and this is because we have been frugal with our spending and have been using my wage for food, mortgage payment and bills, whilst putting away large portions of Jean-Luc's salary for things like this. 

This way, when we do decide to make a big buy we know what we can afford and don't end up in debt.  Basically if we don't have the money we don't buy.  If we do have the money we think carefully about whether it's a need or a want and agree together if it's a good idea. 

In this case I thought we 'needed' the greenhouse, whereas Jean-Luc thought it was a 'want'; so he took the lead in choosing and buying it as we knew we would then spend what we both felt comfortable with rather than letting enthusiasm run away with one of us.  So we have a greenhouse that is perfect for what we need at a price we both feel is appropriate and we saved by building it ourselves and had fun doing so. 

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