Archive for the ‘DIY’ Tag


An allotment has become the must have accessory for the modern family. Where DIY once ruled the Sunday morning in suburbia its now Grow Your Own that has become the creed and the Allotment the place of worship. After a considerable effort by a group of dedicated enthusiasts our Parish Council was forced into providing a plot of land for the eager horticulturists. Six years later half the original allotment holders are still tilling the soil, some plots have been through several hands as individuals find the task of GYO too difficult, but all are being used and a small waiting list remains.

My father introduced me to the pleasures of growing your own food when he took on a plot in the late 60s. We were both new to vegetable growing and learnt together that nature needs a lot of help if you are to eat what you grow. Pests, diseases, drought, vandalism and the quality of the soil all need to be understood before success can be achieved. As any old gardener will tell you, work with nature and she will be your friend and feed you, fight with nature and she will be your enemy and you’ll starve.

At the moment I’m picking sugar snap peas, strawberries, wild rocket and cabbages; and by the end of the month there will be new potatoes, tomatoes, gooseberries and carrots. In fact this year the choice and quantities are less than normal as a long spring holiday coincided with the peak sowing and planting season, thus I’m about six weeks behind. Last year we went for over ten months without needing to buy any vegetables, all very satisfying.


Making A Little On The Side

My father was always looking for opportunities to earn a little extra cash as his full time job did not pay well. His wheeler dealer adventures were very varied but always remained on the right side of the law. One day he returned home with a large number of boxes bought at an auction of fire damaged stock. They contained a wide range of DIY tools. A few were damaged beyond use but most just needed a good clean to remove the smoke, dirt and water damaged packaging. After a few weekends spent polishing the tools they were taken round to the local hardware and small DIY shops and sold for a healthy profit.

Another occasion when my father added to the family income was when he helped to fit out a dental technicians workshop. He converted standard kitchen units and worktops into work benches and built large wooden bins to hold various casting powders and materials. He was not a DIY fanatic and did very little around the house so this was all a bit of a surprise, particularly as his carpentry skills proved to very good. The house and shed were full of wood, fittings and sawdust for weeks, much to the annoyance of my mother who berated him for both the mess and for not putting his skills to use around the house.

His biggest money maker, and the biggest annoyance to my mother was his scrap metal collecting. He would bring home old printing machines, copper and lead pipe, old light fittings and electrical stuff of all sorts. We would strip them down into copper, brass, aluminium, lead and steel which was then sold to a scrap merchant by the name of Steptoe. It was a very profitable enterprise but did create a lot of mess in the back garden. There were also a few complaints from the neighbours as burning the copper wire to remove the insulation created masses of thick black smoke. Its not the sort of thing you could do now with all the health and safety stuff around the place.