With our wedding and holidays cancelled this year, I had quite a bit of free time on my hands .. so between entertaining my toddler and building the data platform for uktradeinfo.com, I decided to take up a new challenge: introducing the upgraded patio 2.0, equipped with pallet sofas!
I had zero building experience going into this, but as it turned out all you need is a strong resolve and a sizeable amount of “huile de coude” (elbow grease?) – here are a few things that I learnt on this journey :
- Personal projects feed the soul: It all started with a fair amount of therapeutical, digging, tearing down walls and generally breaking stuff – nothing better to deal with the madness-inducing days of lockdown, especially ones spent struggling with nasty pyspark problems! Then came the equally fulfilling time for constructive work, building walls, laying slabs, repurposing pallets – each starting with precious, nowadays especially, human interaction, chatting with delivery drivers, picking up reclaimed bricks or pallets from neighbours, getting to know lovely people along the way.
- Everyone needs a mentor: It wasn’t all quite a walk in the park though – with moments wondering how the hell to get rid of 5 cubic meters of rocky soil, and more generally not knowing how to do things I’d never done before, like laying a brick wall and finding the right mortar mix ratio – luckily, there were lots of amazing people, online and local, happy to show me the ropes and often the initial push is necessary but also sufficient to feel equipped for further challenges down the road.
- The right tools and the right approach: Measure twice, cut once and be happy or cut before your measure and cry often! And when you get to the cutting, take the diamond blade for a spin and feel like the Doom slayer!
- No Shortcuts: Just like good cooking, good building is all about generosity and lots and lots of material – get your stuff in bulk, return the excess later if needed !
- Eyes on the prize: Even with great teachers, tools and plentiful material, there were moments of doubt and generally feeling not too sure whether I should really have left if to the pros – and that’s when reminding myself of my goal and literally physically imagining how much better it would look and feel, helped immensely.