Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Mud Larks

Here's mud in your eye... and everywhere else.

With trusty iPod, I'm as happy as a pig in muck.
Now past the shortest day and within nibbling distance of mid-winter’s gaping jaws, the question we are most often asked about living in a tin box is inevitably: "Is it cold?"

It’s a perfectly understandable question, so people are often surprised when we reply "No, not really".
The shipping container is a small, well insulated space which is very easy to heat. Within moments of turning on our gas heater, or on very rare occasions - the heat pump, it can be very cosy indeed. So far, there have been a few memorably chilly nights, including a minus 4 degree frost which looked stunningly beautiful in the light of the full moon. But the ever-present, heat-seeking, duvet-cats combined with Rose’s infamously-faulty personal thermostat (it’s been jammed on ‘high’ for as long as I’ve known her) usually mean that we stay warm.

It also has to be said that my tongue-in-cheek prediction that we going to have the warmest, driest year ever while living in the container seems to be coming true, with May being the mildest one on record.
If I had to point to an aspect of winter which makes living as we do a little less fun than usual, it’s the mud. Our container doesn’t have eaves, or a deck, a porch, or concrete pathways and even with the moderate rainfall we’ve had so far, the well-trodden area around our front door is becoming somewhat boggy.
And mud gets everywhere. It’s not unusual for either of us to arrive at work, convinced we’re looking sharp and professional, only to discover dried mud spatters up the backs of our trouser legs.
We’ve abandoned trying to park the cars anywhere near the container for fear of churning up the wet ground, so run a ‘gumboot shuttle service’. Carrying our shoes in our hands as head out across the grass in our wellies, change footwear in the car and leave the gumboots parked by the side of the driveway, ready to be slipped back into when we return home. This works well, unless you leave them upright and it rains during the day, transforming your gumboots into two welcoming little reservoirs of cold water for your weary and unsuspecting feet.

The Portaloo company paid us a visit recently to carry out their fortnightly service, in what was obviously a large and heavy truck. It doesn’t require skilled detection to track their slippery progress across our paddock, or identify the two areas where they obviously got stuck, spraying mud and mutilated turf in a frenzied effort to escape. We can accept that they had a job to do, and will move the portaloo closer to the driveway to avoid a repeat performance. It’s just a shame that in removing one load of nasty mess they had to leave us with another. I’ve transplanted pieces of turf removed from our house site over the worst of the tyre track carnage, and despite my assertion that I’ve achieved an invisible lawn repair, I know in my heart that the joins can probably be seen from space.

There’s a postscript to this story too. Apparently the Portaloo company only had our now defunct land-line number and couldn’t reach us. We’ve since discovered that the truck driver arrived back at base upset to the point of tears and mortified at what he’d done to our grass. Rose couldn’t resist raising on my behalf how emotionally attached men get to their lawns, but there’s no hard feelings. I suspect upsetting your sewage contractor is one of those things in life which you just shouldn’t do.

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