Saturday 26 June 2021

Pensioner atop a 30 foot ladder

 Our holiday cottage is in a terraced row of houses. Access to the back garden is either through the house, or through the back gardens of adjoining houses. There's an alleyway at the end of the row of gardens.  Access is not easy, as there's a busy road to the front of the cottage and parking is not permitted during the day. 

When I saw plants growing in the roof gutter at the back of our cottage I knew that we had to take action otherwise in the next heavy rainfall the gutters would overflow. This would affect not just our property, but also adjoining ones. If the blockage was on our property we'd be liable for damage to the other houses. The gutter is about 20 feet (6 metres) high above the brick surfaced courtyard and it needs a 30 foot ladder to access the gutter. There's no space at the cottage to store a large ladder, so I had to transport one on the roof rack of my car (3 x 3.4 metre sections). I also needed a ladder "stand-off" at the top end of the ladder to prevent any damage to the plastic guttering.

It was quite a struggle carrying the 3-section ladder from the car roof through the narrow alleyway to the back of the house. Meanwhile the crazy Derbyshire drivers had managed to create a traffic jam around my car in the few minutes while I was moving the ladder. It was soon relieved when I drove away to park safely in a side road. Erecting the heavy ladder was a bit of a struggle. At age 70, the weight is close to my lifting capacity in the narrow space of the backyard. However with a bit of careful patience I succeeded in getting the ladder in place without causing any damage. As you can see in the picture above, the stand-off keeps the ladder clear of the guttering while allowing the end of the ladder to project above the roof edge. 

The tools needed to clean out the guttering are simple, some drain rods and end attachments, a bucket and a trowel. It was then just a matter of climbing the ladder with the tools and performing the cleaning. Fortunately I have a very good head for heights, a relic of my rock climbing days, though I'm not too keen on ladders. After 10 minutes of work I'd cleared the gutter and removed about half a bucket load of debris and plants.  The actual blockage was in the gutter section belonging to the neighbouring property, but I cleaned it anyway.  Then it was the dreary process of removing the ladder, strapping it on to the car roof and transporting it home. Easy, but quite physically demanding work, made easier and safe by having the right tools. Our next guests were due to arrive later that afternoon.

I was planning to produce a video of the activity, but it was raining and things were slippery. I didn't fancy holding a camera atop a wet ladder.

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