RANDOM is what you were promised when I started writing this blog. And as I’m a woman of my word, here you go.
Now, those of you who know me well will know I was off work for a while on a bit of a downer seeing as one of my chums died suddenly. So, under doctors’ orders, I started sitting in the back garden to pass the time and keep my brain engaged with fresh air and wildlife. When I say engaged, I mean – drinking coffee and watching magpies eating my dogs shit.
Being a typical Aquarius, I found myself feeling relaxed by the sound of water. I wanted a nice bubbling brook with some fish to chill my inner mermaid. I was too afraid to go for a full-scale pond in case a nosey child came in and decided to drown itself. I’d have to move house with the guilt.
So seeing as I’m a dirt lodger and have already been told off for having ideas above my station – I needed something not as grand as the Dunville Park fountain but of a humble sprinkler kind. I went for a Steptoe-ish looking natural habitat for fish.
I present to you – my DIY portable water feature. I have included step by step pictures for your benefit because I just know this is going to be this years most wanted garden accessory. It is a cert to replace fake shutter windows and wagon wheels.
I had this wheelbarrow sitting out the back gathering rust.
It was in good enough nick, so I didn’t want to dump it. To be honest, it’s not even my wheelbarrow. I borrowed it years ago and didn’t return it. Seamy – sorry about that. But look, it’s nice now. You can come and admire it if you want.
I had half a bag of stones left over from another garden project I had been working on. They were very cheap to buy. They are just normal B&Q own brand gravel. They cost about £2.00 for a big bag. I gave the stones a blast with the hose to wash off any dust and let them dry in the sun.
I had this stuff in my massive tool cupboard, it cost about £7.00.
When you live in a new build social home, things tend to fall off or break and it takes months for the housing association to sort it out. So far I have fixed cupboard hinges, toilet flushes, waste pipes, outdoor drains and guttering. Not with this stuff. Obviously. I’m just showing off how independent I am and how crap housing associations are with fixing maintenance problems.
Using the gun thing (am I blowing your mind with technical detail?), I squeezed the sticky gear onto the dry surface of the wheelbarrow and went about attaching the stones. I got a bit lazy and started squeezing big wiggled lines and firing handfuls of stones onto them. The trick was to make sure every part of the wheelbarrow was covered in waterproof adhesive so the rust and green surface was covered.
It was back-breaking, messy and very boring. It was at this stage I thought of giving up but then again I am stubborn and wouldn’t have forgiven myself for leaving a project undone.
I then ran out sticky gear. Another trip to B&Q for a cheaper brand because we needed to eat that week and social services would be angry if I told them I bought glue again with my child benefit money. I bought 3 tubes at £2.48 each. It was very toxic and I may have hallucinated a few times. In hindsight I should have been wearing a mask but it reminded me of my teenage years and I was enjoying the nostalgia.
Bit by bit I covered the inside of the wheelbarrow in glue and stuck the stones to the inside. My river bed effect was taking shape. It started raining outside so I wheeled my barrow through my hall long and narrow into the kitchen and dried the stones with my hairdryer. It was becoming a labour of love.
I let it sit for a few days.
Making dinner and doing laundry in a tiny kitchen with a wheelbarrow in the way is not ideal for someone off work with stress, I later mused.
When fully dry and solid, I blasted it with the hose again to wash off any excess stones. I wanted it to match my white garden bench and fence pillars so I painted two coats of white gloss on the outside of the wheelbarrow.
During this time I thought about how I was going to keep the water clean with a continuous oxygen supply for the fish. I had no access to an outside electric source so I decided to go for solar power. I had a hunt on eBay for a floating solar power water fountain and some solar-powered glow in the dark stones. The fountain cost £8 and the stones were £1.20.
We took a trip to the beach for shells and small rocks. I wanted the fish to have rocks to hide in and feel at home with some sea shells. Again it was raining that day and we looked like eejits pilfering our loot in Crawfordsburn.
I filled the wheelbarrow with water and let it sit for a day to check for any leaks. It was water tight.
During this time, the solar power fountain and stones came in the mail. I picked up two floating solar lights from Poundland. It was now time to go and buy the goldfish.
I haven’t bought goldfish for a few years and was surprised to see they have risen in price. Before selling them, the Sales Assistant wanted my not so superior knowledge on how to care for them and information on where they would be kept. I thought he was going to schedule a home visit. I lied and told him I had a tank and a pump. I wouldn’t have got over my redner if he refused to sell me the fish for my wheelbarrow. I left Pets At Home with Aine, John & Naoise who cost £2.48 each. And food of course. Their own brand was £2.00. I don’t think fish have a preference for flavoured flakes.
I still wasn’t happy with my portable pond. The water looked grimey and I figured it was because the poundland lights had rusted. Then the glow in the dark stones made it go funky too. So I ditched both.
The solar fountain only worked when the sun was strong. I felt cheated. The eBay seller must have taken the picture for the advertisement in Barbados. The ad featured a six-foot spray, I was lucky if I got a measly six inches in short pumps. This is becoming an invite for innuendo and I must stop.
But then we got that gorgeous weather last week and I was delighted to see my water feature spraying like one of the fountains in Vegas. Major exaggeration but hey – it’s me writing this.
The dog got accquainted with his new friends and enjoyed drinking their house and the magpies woke me at 5am every morning trying their luck at angling. I’m not sure who was more pissed off – me, the neighbours or the fish.