After receiving a phone call from José at the timber yard to tell me that the wood for my cabazo was ready for collection, Neil agreed to act as transport and his aged 4×4 was pressed into service.
Collecting the pre-ordered timber was straightforward, but then I put the cat amongst the pigeons by asking whether they had a nice thick piece of 2m x 0.6m chestnut, preferably with bark down one edge, that I could buy and then work on to use as the worktop in the bathroom.
What unfolded over the next couple of hours will have one of our English friends, who is responsible for Health & Safety in a large Leeds-based company, hiding behind the sofa and clutching a cushion to her face while humming and rocking gently forwards and backwards.
José scratched his head at my request, consulted one of his workers, and then took Neil and I half way across the yard to a pile of rough cut boards. We had a good look through but none really fitted my criteria.
José was not at all put out, I’d given him a challenge and he was going to rise to it.
His second option was to have us climb over a massive and anarchic pile of ankle breaking wet logs looking for something large enough, and which had been left to dry for long enough to not be ‘green’.
I eventually spotted one, and the man with the tape measure agreed that it had potential. Now we needed to extract it from deep in a pile and this is where Jose’s 1950’s Dodge flat-bed came into play. He attached the wimpiest looking hook and cable to the log, and with the smallest hydraulic winch you have ever seen he plucked the log from the pile, onto his truck and then drove it the ten metres into the saw mill
In the wood yard Jose’s eighty year old father was keeping an open fire going….yes in a saw mill, and the crane swung the three tonne log into the machinery. Seven or eight slices into the log we were at the correct width and length, the grain was good, and they cut my timber.
By this time, with the intensive labour and me having brought the saw mill to a near standstill for over an hour, I was dreading the price, but it turned out to be just 40 Euros (£32).
It took four of us to lift it onto the roof of Neils 4×4, but fortunately Neil decided to use the JCB to move it from its mode of transport into his garage, where I will use his tools and expertise to turn it into something very beautiful for our bathroom.
I’ll remove the bark but leave one edge ‘rustic’, sand it to glass smooth and then wax the living daylights out of it. It is a gorgeous bit of timber and should be a pleasure to work on. Once finished it will be incredibly tactile and should look fabulous.
I’m just not looking forward to lifting it.
It’s quite a bit larger than we need and I am already thinking about options to use the offcuts. Perhaps a fitted computer desk, or some shelves.
On several occasions this morning Neil and I looked at one another and laughed. We both knew why. Imagine service and working practices like that in England.
Not a chance.