One fish, two fish, dig a hole, make a waterfall…

Introducing my first ***GUEST BLOGGER*** whoo hoo – big fanfare… ok, it’s just my hubby – Will… but over to you guest blogger to tell us How hard can it be to create a bigger fish pond with waterfall effect?

The Brief

Anne says – “Darling” *****(uh oh thinks Will, whats in store here)*** “our poor fish. Their pond is just too small and in our garden its a pointless sized pond anyway.”

Anne of course is correct. It is a crappy sized pond and it is definitely leaking. In Anne’s head this is simple to rectify – just double its size at least and create a waterfall. But for me I can see immediately that a) we don’t have the money spare to get some people in (darn it) and therefore b) this is gonna be hard graft particularly because I am a desk jockey by day. Still, might be an opportunity to get a little bit fitter? Lets do it says I (I almost always do – I love her you see), I mean how hard can it be?

The original pond (without the plants its not that small surely?)

The original pond (without the plants its not that small surely?)

Day One 

Go to the fish shop and get some stuff; that feels like a good start. And in fact we discovered a lovely place – Langley’s Aquatics which was just really pleasant to wander around with all their fish ponds and wooded area and stuff and was worth it just for a chilled out place to go (near Hatfield Heath if you interested) – oh shit, am I seriously writing a blog and admitting I enjoy pleasant strolls looking at fish; I guess this is official middle age then (dare I admit I really enjoy going to bed a little early so I can read my book? Ah, whatever – I am good with all this!) So, anyway the chap at Langley’s knew what he was talking about and pointed out that just because we were keen to crack on we really couldn’t buy a pump and filter just now because we didn’t have a pond yet so had no clue what volume of water we need to clean and move – doh! But we got some liner stuff and went for a nice picnic, and that was all good and felt like enough for one days fish ponding work to me. Job well done!

Day Two

Last night we filled up a cheap, sea-side themed (seemed appropriate) paddling pool with water.

The crab temporary decant space

The crab temporary decant space

Looking online and apparently we should have done that a week ago to let the water, errrr… do something. Balls to that, I have the day off work for this, the fish are getting decanted for a bit. Which was all quite a bit of fun actually…

The girls catch the fish

The girls catch the fish

Louis doesn't want to miss any of the action so joins in with his toast

Louis doesn’t want to miss any of the action so joins in with his toast

So, the fish are moved out, the children are off to school. Turns out its blinking hard getting the water out bucket full by bucket full; oh dear, there is a long way to go! In the end I smashed my mattock through the bottom and that got the water out pretty quick. Smart thinking!

Anne returns and (after a well deserved cup of tea) we set to work again. She asks what she can do, so I suggest could she cut back some foliage so it’s not in the way. And do you know what she manages to do – she bashes her head with the long handled sheers hard enough to see stars and go all dizzy. So she goes to get some frozen peas to put on the rapidly growing egg and walks smack into the porch! Obviously this requires a bit of TLC and a sit down and I think my wife actually properly went hysterical because once she stopped boo’ing she totally got the giggles, bless. But seriously we got work to do here!

Anne feels sorry for herself

Anne feels sorry for herself

So accelerating through the day. I basically dug a sodding a great big hole and bunged it all into a pile. We happen to have loads of rocks kicking about our garden so you know what, although it hurt me and I actually sweated rather a lot, which was a novel experience, I made a hole and a great big mound. So, physically this part was blooming difficult. But on the other hand I did it, single handed (well with Anne who did eventually manage to cease giggling and get off the lounger and she truly did help and shifted loads of rocks to the pile). So I would say that to get to this stage, between us, the answer to How hard can it be? is that it was hard graft but we did it and we did it in a few hours and now that I am sat here, two days later with a glass of wine and the memory of some aches and pains, I don’t really know why I am complaining.

IMG_3206

Mattocks are really brilliant tools

Put your back  into it

Put your back into it

Next task was easy. Line it with felt type stuff (carpet would do) and then on top of that put in the pond liner. Both relatively simple. We mounded up rocks to make a sort of stream and waterfall and lined that too and felt pretty proud of our effort really.

Thats going to be a great waterfall

That’s going to be a great waterfall

We did cock it up by leaving that liner underneath the main pond liner, but happily I realised that mistake fairly early – otherwise we would have emptied the pond pretty swiftly.

From this stage we just built it up and built it up. The nightmare thing was cementing stones in. I bought quick setting cement because it sounded simple; just add 2.4 litres of water into the tub and mix it is what the instructions said and away you go. What I did not realise was that you cannot just stir it together with a stick like you do paint and when it says quick dry it bloody means it. I now have to go to the dump because I have two tubs half full of solid cement to get rid off – oops! But great opportunity as this meant I absolutely had to visit Homebase to get one of those stirrer things that attaches to my drill; was pretty messy using it and I certainly splatted a lot of concrete about but I did mix it up and now I have a new drill bit to be proud of! So we stuck stuff down; not brilliantly well I admit and I definitely would not walk round the pond on the stones unless I wanted to fall in.

Concrete this stuff down

Concrete this stuff down

From here, we filled it with water, visited the shop again to get a pump, a heron scarer thing (not convinced it works yet), a couple of plants and we also agreed to foster a couple of golden Koi for a year or two; after which they will be too big for our pond apparently but Langley’s man said we can swap them for smaller ones again when the time comes. The costs are starting to mount up though! Just as well we are DIY’ing this bad boy.

The scary moment of course was turning on the pump. The electrics were easy enough as power is already out there – just like changing a socket really. So we switch it on and hey presto! The water ran down our waterfall and it appeared to flow back into the pond. Success! Fish back in – and weird as this may sound, but they really seem to love it. We have never seen them swim about so joyously before and they are really flinging themselves about. Eloise said this morning that she saw our original 4 fish doing the Conga this morning and then they gave Bumpkin (my fish) the bumps throwing him up in the air out of the pond… this, I would love to have seen… or does my daughter just have a great imagination? Oh it makes it all worthwhile though to see those happy smiling gills!

We have done it! Right? Not sure what Eloise is measuring though!

We have done it! Right? Not sure what Eloise is measuring though!

Day Three

in pj's looking at fish pond

In PJ’s just out of bed, checking on the fish…

Shit. About a third of the water has gone already. Uh oh. Long story short, after much angst about having stood in the new pond in my boots, probably with stones on the soles, I figured out that the sides of the liner down the waterfall just do not stick up very much. So lots of faffing about and absolutely every muscle in me is hurting so everything takes five times longer. But we built it up again and moved rocks and used mastic and basically bodged it the best we could. Anne made another Homebase trip and bought a bunch of pebbles and we smashed up some slate roof tiles and in the end, we think (hope to goodness) that we now have a new, double sized waterfall injected fish pond. And best bonus is the fish do genuinely seem to love it too. The only other thing was, Anne also said “Darling ***(oh crap)****” and yes, I did also remodel the lawn so that she can have her egg chair in the right place.

The finished article

The finished article

Overall assessment – if I can do it (with an occasionally hysterical wife as a team mate) anyone can. It may have hurt doing physical work but wine takes good care of that issue and it was definitely worth every minute. How hard can it be. That would be a Chardonnay induced EASY!

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