We all have those morning where we wake up and something is not right but are not sure what it is. This has happened to me many times, the most memorable one was back in 1976. I had been away with the family for the weekend and returned late Sunday night. At the time I was lorry driving and had to leave for work about 5.00 in the morning. I left for work early Monday and where my car was normally parked – it was not there. Since not wide awake I struggled to work out what was wrong. I wondered whether I’ve parked my car around the corner so wondered around the crescent looking for my car. Having no luck I went back in doors and asked my wife ‘where did I park the car last night?’ She confirmed it was outside our front door so we now realised it had been stolen.
The worse thing was that I had only had the engine sorted out the previous week and the car was running great. In those days we had very little money, I was doing 2 jobs just to make ends meet so was a major blow, however, the strange feeling you get when something is not right and you don’t know what it is is horrible.
Whether Patrica Howe, a pensioner in Weatheral, Cumbria felt the same when he went into his garden and found her 8X5 shed had gone from her garden. Only five minutes earlier she had been inside her shed so this made it even more puzzling. It was as if an alien had beamed it up and away. As it turned out the shed had disappeared, along with a great chunk of her patio in the River Eden below.
There had been a raging storm going on and the rain was torrential. Miss Howe had gone inside to make a refreshing cup of tea. She had turned on the kettle and thought she would feed her two cats. She reached for the kitchen sink to get a knife and just happened to look out of the window and noticed a large part of the garden was gone.
She had not heard any noise at all, there was no bang, no crack just nothing. Her shed and a large part of the patio had fallen down into the river leaving her bird table teetering on the edge. Only a few minutes earlier the wall was there, afterwards she was shaking with fright – I’m not surprised!. Miss Howe realised how very lucky she had been, just a few more minutes and she would not have been telling the tale. She admitted that she went into that shed all the time where she keep her food for the many birds in her area.
However, Miss Howe, the verger at her local church (was the above an act of god??) was furious with her insurance company whom she claims failed to warn her of the potential dangers to her land. She had made a previous claim to her home insurers, NIG, earlier this year in February after a crack appeared in her garden wall, but the NIG surveyor said the company would not paid for its repair and was not told of any possible structural problem with her patio or land. She said they had not warned her off the patio and thought they had a duty to do so. She assumed that if the wall went it would be just the garden wall.
A spokesperson for the insurance firm Saga said that Miss Howe had submitted a claim to the retaining wall but was refused as the damage was down to wear and tear and was not covered by the policy. Miss Howe did contact NIG when her claim was declined to register his dissatisfaction with their decision. NIG acted upon this and got a second independent opinion who upheld their decision. They further went on to say they sympathised with Miss Howe for her difficulties.
The Met office did confirm that the Weatheral area had experienced the heaviest rainfall in the UK on the day of the incident. On July 17th more than 2 inches of rain fell in just a few hours.
The above just go to show how important foundations are, certainly if any garden building is to be put close to a drop. Whilst most sheds and buildings are built away from any hazards, even ones which are only 8X5 in size, it is still important that the base is substantial and level. There are various options available – you can have a concrete base, a paving slab base, a decked area, an Probase base, or if you don’t want to build a base yourself then, a base (in certain areas) can be supplied, built and levelled or a timber subframe base supplied for you.
A business in Malvern has taken it upon themselves to get people to donate bikes which would normally had gone to the local council tip. ‘Bicycles’ in Worcester Road is a community interest company. They specialise in recycling bikes which are gathering dust at the back of garden sheds or left in the garden, or thrown away. They have now teamed up with SITR (Specialist Independent Tyre Recycler) who intend to send regular consignments of bikes to Africa. It’s hope that these donations of bikes will make a real difference to their lives.
Tanya Trotman, their spokesperson, explained that millions of bikes are disposed off or are left unused and unwanted at the back of sheds whereas in Africa many people have no transport at all. They often spend hours every day walking to collect the basics of life such as water, food and firewood. Also getting to work or to health centres is another issue. These donated bicycles will help to transform their lives and improve their lifestyle.
The idea behind this scheme came about when Mrs Trotman visited SITR and learned it takes regular loads of tyres to Africa. She went on to say that ‘as a business we have always wanted to do something like this, so seemed the perfect opportunity’.
At the end of the month the 1st consignment of bikes rescued from people’s sheds and the local council tip will be heading to Ghana. It’s also hoped that every month they will be able to take 30 or more bikes. Mrs Trotman feels this is a reasonable target given the number of bikes thrown away every month.
If you are interested in donating a bike you can drop it into their store or you could call (07866) 677720 or (01684) 577328 to discuss other ways of getting your old rejected bikes to them.
So take a look in your 8X5 shed, is there a bike waiting to be utilised better and help to transform somebody’s life. Also might be an idea to tidy those buildings and recycle other items as well.