Saturday, April 23, 2011

Friends, Seals, and The Shed

We had visitors last week, our friends Robert and Shona who live in the UK. Shona's parents live in the South Island, and she tries to come over and visit them most years now. All going well, we see Robert every second year. Robert was my best man when Laura and I got married... back in 1981, and it is a special thing to have friends that have known us so long. Our friends took over the kitchen for a night when they were here, and cooked a lovely meal. Simple ingredients cooked with love and skill can make a banquet in the most primitive of surroundings! In England Robert teaches people how to make violins, and Shona works in the Xray department of her local hospital.

We took a trip together to our lovely beach, and found an unexpected small person there, namely, a young fur seal that seemed in a rather groggy and hungry state. We were concerned because people were exercising horses and dogs on the beach, and I also worry about recreational fishermen as sadly, some have been known to illegally and callously slaughter seals, because seals catch fish....

Someone told us that a large dead seal had been buried on the beach just the day before, and we hoped that it was not the young pup's mother. I did let the Department of Conservation know, but..... I suspect that the likelihood of them sending someone 45 km to rescue a baby seal was rather slim. We did keep a watchful eye on it for some time, and it finally wobbled back into the sea and paddled around. I was happier to leave it in the water, than in a heap on the beach vulnerable to dogs, people, and black backed gulls, and I hope that the wee thing survives.

The Shed....
I had a somewhat frustrating week before our friends arrived, where I had interruptions and things to do on the few days that it did not rain, and when the rain came, it turned the clay to unmanageable sticky mess that resembled the sort of school dinners that one learned to fear when cook was having one of her really bad days! I did try scooping off the slimy top layer and digging holes for foundations, but the holes filled with water, and my boots got stuck.

Little Nigella Stopit, took a keen interest in my eccentric activities. She is used to primly digging little holes herself in a secretive and modest manner. She may have attributed my deeper efforts to my enormous size, and was no doubt very relieved when I put wooden posts in the holes and filled them in again!

Finally, the sun came out a bit, and I had a few hours free. I managed to put in the three remaining posts and do the bearers and joists for the floor on one day, then I got the deck down and nailed the following morning, putting in the last 10 nails after lunch.

We rather enjoyed sitting out on the deck, and I was very tempted to abandon the shed at that stage. What could be nicer than a beer or two of an evening, whilst sitting out with a view of the trees! Several alternative schemes were proposed, including building a shed on two opposite sides of the deck..., but today I elected to continue building as in... plan "A".

I managed to frame up all four sides of the shed today. Things took longer than they might have as I made significant changes to the plan, and added extra timbers. I am sure that the kitset shed does work if built according to the plans, but it looked rather flimsy to me. So I have "beefed things up" adding bottom plates to the three walls that didn't have them, adding extra timbers elsewhere and have also added provision for a window in one wall, and have increased the height of the doorway so that I do not slam my head into the door frame every time I go in and out of the shed. It is still a very light structure, but much of its strength will come with the wall claddings, which I hope to add tomorrow, weather permitting!

Ginger was supposed to write this episode of the blog, but he is having an argument with Nigella at the moment and is growling at her from an elevated position on top of the electric heater. He has had an exhausting day hunting rats I think!


cookingwithgas said...

What sweet possibilities I see there for your building!
I hope the pup makes it! Poor baby.

Christine said...

What good company a cat makes outside. Looking forward to seeing the finished shed result. Nigella Stopit will no doubt keep you right.

Peter said...

Good Morning Meredith and Christine, lovely to hear from you both. Happy Easter to you. I was actually thinking of both of you this morning, as a matter of fact. I have been reading your blogs and thinking how nice it would be to come and visit one day. Cats are great building companions... although we do usually lock them inside when we are chopping down trees! I hope that the seal makes it too, it was quite something to see one so close. Marvellous animals, a bit like floating cats ... wish we had a large salt water swimming pool!!!

rwhendrix said...

A fine job on shed construction Peter. Keep at it and soon you will have one more thing you can be proud of that you have built with your own hands. I hope to soon be back to building things myself.

Arkansas Patti said...

Aw, that baby seal broke my heart. He looks too young to make it on his own. That is so sad.
Your shed is coming right along though I can see the attraction if you had left it as a deck.

Peter said...

Hi Richard,
Nice to hear from you, and thank you for the encouragement! Shed building is not without its frustrations..., and it was good to be cheered on by your comments after a struggle with roof structures! It is good to be doing something the size of a small building for a change, and it might prove addictive... I am already thinking of other huts!

Hi Patti,
Mmmmm, I would have been all for taking the young thing home and bottle feeding it (I just don't know any suitable lactating mother seals to supply milk! I don't know how they would do on cows milk long term?? There is probably some special infant formula that can be used??). I probably got the identity of junior seal wrong too, a friend called in (who knows far more about these things than I do) and says that it is most likely to be a sealion. This would be much more appropriate for our cat based household!

ang said...

awesome progress peter...look forward to it's makin a sauna???

Peter said...

Hi Ang,
A sauna..., what a good idea! We've just started frosts at night, so they will be ideal for sauna Scandinavian style... Massive heat in sauna, followed by a plunge into a snow drift or an icy pool!

Grand Cosquet Céramique said...
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