Monday, 25 February 2013

Ticking Boxes

The Project List. The dreaded Project List. I’m longing to strike something off the list. It’s been so long since we ticked a “project completed” box that in order to make myself feel better I’ve joined the ranks of Mohr, Richter and Beaufort and created the “Pickworth Scale of Completeness”, which goes something like this:

1 – still just an item on a list on a whiteboard / in a note book

2 – constructive (occasionally heated) discussions have begun on how to progress

3 – materials purchased but someone’s waiting for someone else to do something

4 – some tinkering has occurred

5 – actively in progress

6 – Lord above, it’s a miracle, project completed

At least this means I can put a tick in box 6 for “re-write Project List according to Pickworth Scale of Completeness” and use the rest of the Project List to create a pretty pattern of ticks across boxes 1 to 5, weighted heavily towards 1 to 3 with a smattering of 4s and a sprinkling of 5s.

A recent spate of dry sunny days has brought with it the promise of spring, a reminder that the Easter season is just a few weeks away, and consequentially a flurry of Project List related activity. Most notable amongst these activities has been the drive to push the tree-house project from a pleasing 5 to a glorious 6 on the Pickworth Scale of Completeness. Having languished for far too long at the 2 and below level, the project burst into life again last autumn when we drafted in outside help in the form of Martin, a friend of a friend from down Cardigan way who knows a thing or two about building stuff from wood that won’t fall over at the first puff of Welsh wind. In just a few days, the project rocketed up the Pickworth Scale of Completeness. Wood was ordered, brambles cleared, trees cut back…


….. a platform raised aloft, ……

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decking constructed, …….

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I watched in awe as a hideaway in the trees emerged from amongst the sawing, hammering, and drilling.

Over the winter, with the project firmly fixed at position 5 on the Pickworth Scale of Completeness, Martin was tasked with coming up with rustic hand rails and ladder for the tree-house. He certainly came up with the goods, splitting and stripping ash trees from his own woodland. Nobbly, unique and not a straight line in sight! Perfect!


It was left to Dave to take the role of lead carpenter and complete the project by fixing the rails and ladder in place. Obviously he was ably assisted in this task by his trusty assistants – me (to hold the wood and pass the tools) and Teri (to steal the wood and bark at the tools). I felt sure that Teri’s skills could be put to better use. With minimum effort we appear to have trained her to understand and respond to “where’s the ball” and “where’s the stick”. As proud as I am of Teri’s mad collie levels of intellect, I suspect that the subtle difference between “ball” and “stick” barely registers in her mind, and that “where’s the” are the trigger words. With this in mind, a period of intense, treat driven training could surely extend her repertoire to “where’s the hammer” and “where’s the spanner”, perhaps even getting as far as “where’s the big drill bit” or “where’s the 17mm socket attachment for the ratchet”. This would save a lot of to-ing and fro-ing to the utility room and up-ing and down-ing on the ladder when Dave forgets to put the right tool in the tool bucket!


All that remains to be done is to lash the trees with rope for the hammock hooks and add the aesthetically pleasing but sympathetic to the surroundings soft furnishings (the natural coloured, allegedly waterproof, dirt resistant eco-poofs are on order) and decorative touches (the box of scallop shells and driftwood waits in the shed while I wait for a creative moment to arrive).

Would it be cheating if I put a tick in box 6 for the tree-house project?