Bank holidays are false advertising in my household. Sure they are time off from the normal 9-5, but when it comes to my family they are far from a holiday.
I have to admit I did bring it on myself. Having never been a sunbather and not a big fan of the beach, taking up some paving and making raised beds sounded like a nice way to while away the extra weekend hours.
So I scraped my hair back, dug out some clothes that have seen better days and got ready to get stuck in. The first clue this wasn’t going to be just pottering in the garden was probably being handed the pickaxe. This was shortly followed by some gloves and my father pointing at the nearest slab.
I’d guestimate the slabs were about half a metre square and a couple of inches thick of solid concrete. And going on the weight of the things, I wouldn’t have been surprised if that concrete was lined with lead.
I’m not strong. In fact my upper body strength is feeble on a good day. But, luckily for my father and unluckily for the slabs, I am not short of stubbornness or determination. So I decided to have a quite literal swing at it.
Copying what I’d seen my father do, I took my stance and aimed the pickaxe under the edge of the slab and heaved for all I was worth. And it worked! I stood it on its side and smiled at my father with a smug aren’t-you-proud-of-me grin – only to be handed a hammer and a chisel and told to knock the concrete off the underside.
Having repeated this process about 30 times I was suddenly aware I was being watched. Lo and behold there were my parents and my pyjama-clad sister standing and smiling at me. “Look at that,” said my father gesturing at me, “who needs foremen when you have one woman hey?”
That compliment did give me another burst of energy before the heat and hard work finally saw me flop on to the grass in exhaustion. It wasn’t until I tried to get up that I realised stopping wasn’t clever. In a five-minute lie-down I had aged 50 years. Every part of me ached, creaked and moaned with the effort of just sitting up. But, there was no rest for the workers, it was time for our fifth trip of the day to the tip.
When we arrived I spotted a sign saying ‘all children must stay in the car’. Which I promptly pointed out to my father. He said I wasn’t a child, I pointed out I was still his child – before giving in and pulling my gloves on.