Operation Pergola

Dave and Lyne Simpson, with their daughter Becky, had been living in Spain in their new Spanish villa for almost a year now. Situated in the mountains close to Pinoso in the Alicante region, they decided it was time to beautify the garden. They had foregone a garage in favour of spending the money on creating a natural garden, utilising timber where possible to blend nicely into the surrounding environment. Dave, although a successful horticulturalist, was no DIY expert. His attempt to build a gazebo ended in disaster the first day. Lyne called Woodworks Direct; a professional carpenter based nearby in the Murcia province, and had them build the gazebo along with a large wooden shed for Dave to keep his gardening equipment in. The next item on the list for the garden was a pergola connecting the patio with the gazebo. But Lyne had to fly to England with Becky for a week and booked the pergola to be built on her return. Dave, however, saw it as an opportunity to redeem himself for the collapsing gazebo and set the wheels in motion to build a pergola. He called in his friend Frank, an equally inept DIYer, for some advice on pergolas. The pre-erection meeting took place over a few beers in the shed.

‘Looking at these brochures, building a pergola doesn’t look too difficult,’ said Frank, taking a swig of beer. ‘Just bits going up and across. What happened with the gazebo, by-the-way?’

‘The nails didn’t hold,’ said Dave. ‘The guys from Woodworks Direct used screws and fancy joints. They drilled holes then put the screws in. I watched them and reckon I’ve picked up a few tips. Look, I’ve bought a drill.’ Dave reached down to a shelf and plonked a black case on the potting table.

‘Nice,’ said Frank as Dave opened the lid. ‘That should do the business. Got the screws?’

‘Yep, a big box of them, and they’re long. You drill the holes and I’ll follow on with the screws. There’s the wood from the gazebo, and our Spanish neighbour gave me some old post-like bits of wood he took out of his house. You ready?’

Frank downed the last of the beer. ‘As I’ll ever be.’


The posts were in, the step ladders were out, Dave drilled, Frank screwed the cross pieces in place and the pergola began to take shape, in a kind of unpergola’ish way.

Some of these bits that Spanish guy gave you are wormy,’ said Frank. ‘The drill goes in too easily.’

‘Nah, that’s cos it’s a good drill, Frank – keep going. But hey, I’ll tell you one thing, no wonder those Woodworks lot use screws, you can virtually push them in the holes – much easier than nails.’


The two men stood back to admire their handy-work, and neither looked particularly comfortable. Frank gave the pergola a shake and a few screws eased out of their holes. ‘That’s not meant to happen. They went in easily and it looks like they come out easily as well. And it’s all crooked.’

Dave scratched his head. ‘I don’t understand it. They drilled holes – we drilled holes. Maybe it’s the wood? Oh hell, Lyne will go spare.’

‘I reckon its back to the drawing board, Dave. Good job you didn’t cancel that order from Woodworks Direct.’

‘Yeah. I’m going to call them now and see if they can come early. Be a nice surprise for Lyne when she gets back. Fancy a bonfire and a few beers later?’


The strange collection of solid wood had been easily dismantled and Woodworks Direct came a few days early and built a pergola.

‘Good job. It looks fantastic,’ said Frank popping a beer and admiring the pergola. ‘I think I’ll get them to build me one.’

‘Right. I asked one of the guys why ours went wrong. He said the drill was only for a pilot hole and the wood was probably untreated.’


‘Our holes were too big and the wood no good, otherwise we had it right.’

‘So you’re not giving up on other things, then?’

‘No way. Max needs a timber dog kennel, don’t you boy,’ said Dave, patting their Labrador. Once I’ve made a veggie patch I’m on the case.’

‘And what about Lyne?’ said Frank.

‘It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?’