As the soil has been rock hard due to the frosts, I decided to get the last of the concrete slabs from the old allotment. They are two inch thick two foot square slabs. I have some two inch three foot by two foot slabs but these are far too heavy to be moved easily. They are really evil beggars and will fall on your foot as soon as look at you.
So what safety precautions did I take before attempting the move? Steel toed boots were worn. I got these for the RHS practical gardening course and they are invaluable mainly because they keep your feet warmer than wellingtons. However, I was glad of them yesterday.
Thick gauntlet gloves enables you to grab hold of rough surfaces without tearing your hands and I wore them.
I could have used my slab trolley but it was easier to walk the slabs down the path and that was my downfall.
Although the ground was rock hard in most places, down the side of the old allotment was very wet due to the spring on the top half. So the slabs got very wet and muddy as I was walking them to the car. I have a technique to lift the slabs into the car that involves using my leg muscles rather than my back so I was not worried about how to get them into the car. I had put an old pallet in the car to make sure the weight was evenly distributed over the back axle.
I got the slabs into the car without incident, which is good because there was nobody on the site except for me and, if I had an accident, it would have been a little worrying as I found out later.
I got to the new allotment without incident and had a think before I did anything. My gloves were caked in wet soil which was very slippy. I have at least three pairs of gardening gloves in the shed so I went to discover which hidey hole I had hidden them in. (I hadn't hidden them, however it always seems that I have because I can never find anything in the shed.)
First pair I found were the very big ones that I lost and this was the reason I bought the new ones. Well now I know I have two good pairs of garden gloves. The problem with the big gloves was that soil kept on falling inside them and filling the fingers. I could not fit my little fingers in because of the soil in them. I hit each of the fingers with the hammer to crush the solid lumps of soil and they fell out quite easily. So a good pair of dry gloves. No health and safety problems.
I go back to the car and begin taking out the first slab without any problems, put it on the ground using my leg muscles and walked it down the path to where I was going to use it. Same with the second slab.
However, the third and last slab decided to be a little more irritating. The lovely dry gauntlet gardening gloves had become caked in the slippy soil from the other slabs and I didn't have as much grip as I had on the other two slabs. Taking the slab out of the car, I felt a sharp pain in my back and thought I had better put this down quickly and carefully.
It slipped out of my gloves and onto my foot, which was no problem due to the steel toe cap. However, I had lost control of it and it slid right down my leg scraping the skin. That could have been worse, however my back now had a pulled muscle, a discomfort that still persists, I have a bruised foot and a grazed leg.
Just as at the old allotment, there was nobody on the new allotment site. Fortunately the slab was on the side of the trackway and out of the way of any vehicles that needed pass by. So I made my way home as best I could. Sitting and lying down are the most painful so I am walking around and standing quite a bit at the moment.
So what lessons have I learnt?
Keep your mobile telephone fully charged all the time and take it with you to the allotment.
Always have someone with you when you are moving concrete slabs especially this time of the year when there are few people that brave the weather to work on their allotments.
I was very glad of wearing my steel toed boots because the accident could have been much more serious if I hadn't.
Always wear dry gloves when moving slabs. I could have got another dry pair out of the shed if I had been thinking clearly.
Concrete slabs are evil beggars and need to be treated with respect.
Do not think that you are still 19 and can do everything because you are getting older.