“We need to dig some holes tonight …” went the phone call, “… can’t be that hard, they just need to be a metre square and a metre deep”.
Well that sounded straightforward.
The holes were in fact inspection pits for a structural survey of the existing buildings on the site, as Peter the structural engineer needed to understand whether any foundations actually existed – always a lottery in this part of the world. Peter’s email came with a handy map of where to dig, so after work we headed to site armed with spades, brushes (good tip from Time Team) and a mattock, digging tool of the ancients.
It will come as no surprise to many that moving a cubic metre of stoney earth is actually quite hard. The nettles didn’t help and nor did the fact that 10 weeks of lockdown had reduced our already puny arms to noodly appendages.
However perseverance plus the truly awesome power of a mattock, those Egyptians knew a thing or two, meant an hour later we had dug two of the three pits required. What really helped was the discovery that the local limestone bedrock was only 30cm below the surface, had we needed to dig the full metre I suspect we’d still be there,
The third pit, in the middle of the tin barn was more challenging as the bed rock was pretty elusive but eventually an hour and half later we were the proud owners of a pretty deep hole. Not quite a metre square but then we weren’t really sure why the Engineer wanted one in the middle of a barn so we thought it will just have to do.
After a tiring few hours we decided fish and chips were in order, the first in months, so headed home via the chippy. On the way there Chris re-read the Engineer’s email, discovering that in fact he only needed two pits dug, the ‘third’ shown on his plan was in fact just a label for ‘barn 3’.
We agreed not to talk about it.