So we decided we needed more shade around the house. The veranda is in need of insulating as it gets roasting hot during the day, and sometimes it feels like there’s nowhere to go to escape the heat. (Okay, there IS the creek, rainforest, abundant trees and so forth…but they’re not immediately by the house, and when I want to, say, sit and write a blog, cup of tea and smoke at hand, I want somewhere cool, shady and flat, preferably with a power point nearby).
So – we decided to build a grape arbor off one side of the veranda, which once grown over with grape vines will provide us with shade in summer when the leaves are out, and sun in winter when the leaves drop off, as well as, of course, grapes. This is how we did it (click on the pictures to view full size):
First, take one wife, one wwoofer and a couple of big poles, introduce them to each other, and get 2 of them to carry the others up the hill.
While they did that, I dug a couple of post holes
and as I was finishing the second, right on dusk, T and the wwoofer were carrying one of the poles up the steps, so we dropped it straight in the hole. Unfortunately, I should have measured the pole and hole first as, on putting the tape on it after setting it in the ground, I realised it hadn’t quite touched the bottom of the hole, and far too much was still sticking out.
So, next morning, we dig
And then try tying rope handles on the pole to pull it out
And dig some more
And then eventually tie it to the car (using a passing goanna to make up the shortfall in rope)…
And haul it out. Tore up a big chunk of ground around it, but job done, and at least we could now make sure the pole fit the hole.
…unfortunately, though I already knew this, I should have measured the pole and the hole first, as, having spent bloody hours getting it back out of the hole, I discovered that, in fact, it was simply a longer pole than I thought, and had been touching the bottom all along. What a wally.
So we drop it back in the ground along with another pole
Put on a horizontal support (probably not permanent though, as I’m now envisioning a bar (think drinks in the afternoon) between the two poles), and called it a day.
Meanwhile, work had been progressing on the planter boxes to put our grape vines in. I simply got a bit of colourbond tin we picked up at the tip, cut it in half, bent the two pieces around and riveted them together. A length of hosepipe slit lengthways provoides a nice rim and prevents cutting your fingers off on the sharp tin edge. Then we dug them slightly into the ground, put 20 or 30cm of gravel in the bottom, and filled it up with a nice soil mix. One grape vine, lots of mulch, a bit of a fence to stop the [wallabies, bandicoots, chickens, assorted marsupials, young children] from trashing it before it can grow up, and Bob’s your uncle! (Interestingly, my uncle is, in fact, called Bob, so it must be true).
Back to the arbor, I next cut the crossbeams (I apologise – I can never actually remember what any of the various terms of timber and what different cuts [etc] are called, and tend to use any word I know that sounds right at the time. “Nice beams” I say…”They’re rafters mate”, etc. Anyway, these may well actually BE crossbeams, otherwise they’re the bits that go up high above your head, running from one pole to another. Okay, moving on…). Then I chiselled a mitre cut into it (see above disclaimer), bored a hole for the bolt to go through (with my 120 year old hand drill. I eventually upgraded and purchased the most expensive drill bit I’ve ever bought to get a 15mm hole through the steel veranda poles)…
And up went the first crossbeam/rafter mate/whatever.
On the pole on the other side, I cut a seat for the crossbeam, using the time honoured technique of standing on the 2nd top step of a step ladder with a chainsaw while absent but wiser friends and family screamed at me in my minds’ ear.
Yesterday I got the other side up, although I did stop for a cuppa when a storm rolled in. I’d persevered for a while, but brandishing a chisel up in the air on a very precariously balanced step ladder (I console myself that, having some understanding of health and safety standards on the workplace, I am therefore more qualified to break them, as I know exactly what the dangers are… Actually, to digress, it was exactly this kind of enlightened thinking that lead to T and I setting fire to our tent while we were in it years ago, but that’s another story), while the lightning was flashing close by proved too much for my nerve and I waited it out. Which was good, ‘cos the hail would have made the step ladder slippery ha ha.
Anyway, the other side is now up, and all that remains is to run some wires or thin poles or bamboo between the crossbeams for the vine to grow over. Given it will take a while to grow and give us lovely summer shade, for this year we will rig up some shadecloth over it, and, with luck, lay hands on (or figure out how to cut without buying a mill) some slabs to make the bar. Picture it – a nice slab bar with some tall tree trunk stools, sipping on our home made wine (we planted 2 vines, a table grape and a wine grape) under our cool, shady, leafy roof. Bloody fantastic mate, whatever word you wanna use!