‘Stealth Post’

So today I was assembling a netball post in the kitchen. This opening probably needs some explanation. Soon Youngest is turning 9. In keeping with our plans to banish the children to the garden for the whole summer holidays her main present is a netball post.

Thus far Operation Banish has not been a huge success as it has fallen foul of our shocking British summer.

However mine break up from school tomorrow for eight and a half weeks. Yep read it and weep. Eight and a half weeks. And so the weather had better pick up to allow Operation Banish to move to full, well, operation and provide me with the time to brush my teeth and occasionally do something other than coax children off electronics. And when I say ‘coax’ I really mean ‘shout at futilely and repetitively’. If the weather doesn’t cooperate I will provide copious amounts of old small hand towels for trampoline wiping. And they can learn to play table tennis in the rain. Extreme table tennis.

So anyway as this is my last full day alone for the said eight and a half weeks it occurred to me that I ought to assemble the netball post. So as not to end up doing it at 9pm on the evening before her birthday. Which wouldn’t be ideal. Especially as I am singing in a concert on that particular evening.

I started assembly on the kitchen floor. There had been some low starred Amazon reviews based on missing pieces and badly aligned holes. Along with one lady who had found the instructions ‘incomprehensible’.

Of course I had taken these reviews with a pinch of salt as the vast majority had been favourable. Read enough reviews on line and you are bound to find someone grumbling about something. We have been to some lovely all inclusive resorts abroad almost universally praised on Trip Advisor. But there will always be some ‘one star’ reviewer complaining that there wasn’t enough choice at the breakfast buffet which when you first attend blows your mind with its vastness. Especially when compared to the two slices of toast and half a grapefruit that is your usual fare.

Anyway I digress. These reviews were another reason I decided to erect the netball post ahead of time. Just in case Nut C was missing. Or my holes failed to line up.

I initially thought the net was missing. Quite an issue really. For a netball post. But, no, on closer inspection it was concealed in the nut and bolt bag. It took a bit of untangling from the washers but all parts were present and correct. I was good to go.

Those ‘incomprehensible’ instructions were not the worst I have seen. They contained words which is an improvement on some flat pack I have attempted in the past. The pictures were a little ambiguous but you know a bit of common sense goes a long way.

I struggled with understanding the wheel, axle, bottom post, struts configuration. Until I realised that I had the struts on the wrong sides. Luckily I had yet to retrieve the socket set from the garage so my nuts were still loose. I always leave my nuts loose until I am sure they are all in the right place. Before turning the screw so to speak. I learnt this the hard way a long time ago with a bookshelf and an Allen key.

It was after sorting this little issue that I realised building the post in the kitchen was a bad idea. I stood up to answer the phone and hit my head on the corner of the worktop which I had managed to work my way under during my exertions. It took quite a crack. The granite seemed unaffected, my forehead less so. I failed to get to the phone as stars danced before my eyes. Quite a lot more than one too.

I then tried to get the remaining four post sections in the right order. And learnt that netball posts are quite a lot higher than ceilings. I think the downlighter has survived. I relocated to the patio. Which put me in full view of the roofers next door. Always a worry to have real craftsmen able to observe ones amateur attempts.

I also understood why the health and safety part of the instructions asked me to take care if using a ladder during assembly. I had no desire to use a monkey wrench and socket set up a ladder. I also had a quick look at the net attachment which seemed to require a degree in origami. Again not something that should be attempted up a ladder. I usually stick ridgidly to the instructions but this time decided to do things out of order. So my last nut tightening was going to be doable from ground level.

That misaligned hole issue mentioned by other purchasers raised its head on the second to third post section attachment. A hammer took care of it. Which was a relief as some of the other reviewers had mentioned drills. Gulp. I have a drill. But it scares my family when I use it. And it is a hammer drill (bought to combat the solid brick walls in our previous abode which resisted curtain poles quite doggedly) which is probably not a precision enough instrument to deal with re drilling a hole in a cylindrical post without the aid of a vice. Which I don’t have. Thank god for the hammer. Luckily I had double checked I had the right bolt in first because it ain’t never coming out again. Ever.

So I managed to get it all together and set to with my socket set and adjustable spanner. I love the ratchet sound that that tool emits. It makes me feel all ‘handy’.

The last step was to fill the base with sand and water. Luckily when we moved house last year our extremely efficient removal men had packed the half used bag of kiln dried sand left by our block paving layers in 2006. In case we ever wanted to brush more kiln dried sand into our driveway. They recommended we do this every year after a jet wash. We had used precisely none of it. I wasn’t going to move it. I was going to leave it for our purchasers one of whom lays floors for a living and might have been more inclined to re sand his drive way.

But no it came in the van. After 10 years it is no longer kiln dried. More ‘beach after the tide has just gone out’ sand. With slugs and worms. I tried to remove most of those before entombing them in a plastic netball post base. It didn’t really pour. I scooped it in through the small hole. Slowly.

This step took longer than I thought.

All that remained was to wheel it around the side of the house, move some logs and ‘hide’ it between the two chimney stacks. It isn’t really that well hidden but then my kids are very unobservant so I am hopeful all will be well.

All I need to do now is find the ball pump for the ‘flat packed’ netball I also bought on line. I don’t know why I thought it would come inflated. It didn’t.

Birthday present wrapping used to be a whole lot easier.