Well, well, well – three holes in the ground. (OK – so it’s an old and tired joke). Actually, we just have one very big hole in our yard, with a factory second fibreglass pool in it. See?
If you’ve been following my blog, you know that my dream is to give my girls a natural swimming pond. So far, everything imaginable has tried to turn that dream into a nightmare. Hubby’s got a lot to answer for and the big “D” word has crossed my mind more than a few times over the last few weeks. My patience and tolerance ran out at about the same time as our (very meagre) budget was blown! Things are not getting any better now that the pool shell is ‘in’ the ground…
Let’s play ‘Spot the Fault’…
Let me explain. Our “friend” the expert, ‘done lots of holes for pools’ earth-mover, (the one without the ‘mate’s rates’) made total hash of the hole. The pool should fit snuggly in the hole with about a 150mm (six inch) gap all the way around that is to be back filled with a sand and cement mix. It should stick out of the ground by about 100mm (four inches). We’ve ordered – and budgeted, for this amount of sand and cement.
Is that what we have? Well, not exactly! What we have is the Rift Valley in our backyard! The pool shell is in and there’s still room for an adult to easily walk the entire way around the pool – and I don’t mean at ground level! To compound the problem, the hole has been dug without any allowance for the natural fall of the land, so it sticks up WAY more than 100mm at the shallow end of the pool. In fact, we estimate that it’s about five times that!
I am one furious woman. I suggest hubby rings excavator “friend” to come and see the mess he’s made. Hubby and I have (another) serious argument. We still owe ‘friend’ some money from the job and have the cash ready for him. Surprisingly, I don’t want to pay him. In fact, I am so angry, I want him to pay US since it’s going to cost a lot to fix up his work and this is already a “no budget” project.
He comes later that morning to collect some machinery he has left on our property. And of course, he’s looking for the balance of the money for the job. I can’t bare to be near him. He and hubby chat. I’m waiting for hubby to go for the jugular. Instead, he hands over OUR money on a promise that the excavator friend will “make good”. Hubby reckons that since we live in a small town sometimes you have to suck things up rather than become the local gossip. Mmmmm… do you think that improved my temperament or our bank balance?
Nonetheless I go about organising more sand and cement. Who knows how much we’re actually going to need, but there is simply no other way to solve this problem.
It’s about the water…
I also have to organise a tanker of water. It’s the first load of water we have ever had to buy, despite living with no town water for nearly five years. The lack of rain while we were digging a hole and getting things in place was awesome, but we now have a serious problem. Our household has swelled from five to nine with other friends also coming and going. Our house water has depleted rapidly but we need 30,000 litres of water to fill the pool – not to mention the reed bed. No rain is forecast for the foreseeable future. I discover that water is not cheap… especially when it is delivered by tanker!
But the pool has to be filled simultaneously as the hole is being back filled. Basically the water pushing outwards and the sand and cement pushing inwards stops anything from collapsing. The weight of the water will also make the pool sink slightly lower. It is not a process to be rushed as you don’t want “air pockets” in the sand and cement.
We start mixing and barrowing and shovelling and compacting. The pool starts filling. Wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow gets poured in around the pool. We are literally watching money going down a hole.
We run out of sand and cement very quickly. The hole is insatiable. We’ve used every grain and can’t see much difference. I order more sand and another 50 bags of cement. Hubby rings the excavator “friend” and asks him to come and mix the sand and cement with his digger. He ‘generously’ also decides he will help to back fill Rift Valley. He’s obviously late for lunch or something because it becomes a rushed job done without humility or grace for the mess he has caused.
Every one of his buckets is at least three barrows and four of us are literally racing to try to compact the sand as he pours more in around and over us. This is not how it is meant to be done and I am – once again – at the point of tears.
We then convince him to drag his bucket a few times across the area where we want the reed bed. He ensures we know he’s doing us a huge favour and then departs without a backwards glance. I tell hubby that despite needing our driveway graded and some dams cleared, I will never give him ,another minutes’ work.
But wait – there’s more!
We’re not finished yet. The Rift Valley still isn’t full! Another load of sand and cement has to be ordered. Everyone is suggesting we need another two trucks worth. That’s another 25 tonnes of sand! Plus the cost of the cement to mix with it! It is at this point that I do cry. Our bank account can barely handle one.
My best friend gives me a cuddle. I suck it up and order ONE more load. It is enough (if barely). We literally rake every last grain of sand off the lawn, getting the kids involved with their little buckets and rakes designed for the beach.
I’ve watched literally thousands of dollars go into this hole and despite the fact that there is water in the pool, we are a long way from the finish line. There is a reed bed to construct, a retaining wall to be put in, paving and landscaping to be done, a pump to install, proper pool fencing to be erected and in amongst all that, three little girls to look after.
I’m thinking this was a really dumb idea. And is it ever going to rain?
Have you got a shoulder for me to lean on? Have you ever been in a predicament like this? Will my marriage survive the aptly named Rift Valley fiasco? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.
Part 6: Boys and their toys…