Above is Concretia two weeks ago, below is Victory (nearly) achieved....
I feel a little like one of the World War 1 Generals who promised millions of troops "It will all be over by Christmas". The past week of sloughing through mud and digging a big trench supports this view. However, despite this, we have made some massive steps this week, and, pun completely intended, have made a huge break through in our war against Concretia. In fact, Concretia, the masses of concrete that formed an unnecessarily robust foundation to our previous extension is now gone. In its place we are now digging an unnecessarily big trench, which we are going to fill with masses of concrete, in order to build an, er, extension.
We (myself, Darren, a bricklayer, and perhaps surprisingly Carra, my former workmate from Leeds, whom I have shipped in for the dig) finally achieved the destruction of Concretia after a battle that for me had lasted six weeks of undermining the thing and then gradually sledgehammering it's surface, breaking it apart six inches at a time. Due to access problems we could not get a big digger into the yard, so in the end, this was the only way. The last pieces we rented a massive pneumatic drill and eventually reached a point where we had weakened it so much that it literally fell apart.
The picture below shows Carra, who I brought in for the next stage - the digout of the new foundations - just before the building inspector told us we needed to go another foot deeper. In fact all these pictures were taken just before we got told to go deeper, but hopefully they convey an impression. As Hull is build on clay, and as it was raining all week, it was a horrible job, manually spade digging eight tonnes of rain-soaked clay.
Below is an aerial view of our trench, a structure fit for the Somme. One part of me thinks "What's the point?" but at least half the reason these things are done, if they are done in the right spirit, is for the achievement. There is something intrinsic in human nature, I propose, that draws positively from shared experience, especially achieving difficult tasks in adverse circumstances, as a team. I might not be in this house by Christmas, but when this thing is done, we are going to have a massive party and quite a few great people, will have some great stories - the one about Craig falling into the trench, the one about Cheap Steve hitting his foot with a sledgehammer, the anxious weekly e-mails from my nephew Thomas asking how we are getting on with Concretia, the Concretia song competition, started by Joey Mac and continued here in his absence as Carra, Dazza and Mazzer fit the word Concretia into various songs, the way it pissed down with rain all week as we dug five feet (Yes! FIVE Friggin feet the Building Control guy made us dig) then suddenly went sunny almost as the last spade loads were removed, the story about how we got on site one day and found a family of about twenty frogs had taken up residence in the bottm of the trench, and I made Dazza and Carra AND the Rubbishman's team (guys who'd come to remove all the clay we had dug out) rescue the little guys and build an escape ramp every night so the frogs could get out if they later returned. Hopefully anyone from YNWA who cannot make the party will be there, at least in spirit , as well, because the telling of the story is at least part of the legend.