I read an article recently by Jeremy Clarkson who had hired a small digger to landscape his garden and was so taken with the thing that he spent hours and hours just digging holes and re-filling them. His advice was that everyone should hire one of these mini beasts at least once in their lifetime because they are so much fun.
Taking his advice I hired one to dig my own garage foundations and landscape the garden. No training is required and one simply takes delivery, climbs aboard and turns the key. The first problem I encountered was the amount of debris and concrete buried just under the soil surface. The bucket would latch on but the only thing that moved was the machine itself, catapulting me into the roof of the cab which hurt enough to make me find a safety helmet. With a sore head and a dull pain in my neck I was still quietly confident that I could tame this wee beastie.
After a couple of hours I really got into my stride and then swung the bucket into the fence with a thunderous crack of wood and panels. Well never mind, I was going to replace those anyway. My hips and neck aching from the constant jolting I battled on and reversed over a large rock which tipped the machine on it's side and threw me face first into the mud. I lay winded and hurt for a few minutes but after deciding I was not dead struggled to my feet and called the hire company who sent two men out to winch it back up before calling a specialist firm to come and remove the hydraulic lock in the engine.
The following morning they arrived from Southampton and stripped down the injectors before straightening a bent spindle. Never mind I thought, the insurance will cover most of that. Elated after their departure and once more back in the cab the first thing I did was swing the bucket into the hired cement mixer and knock that over damaging the emergency stop lever. In an effort to right the mixer with the digger I came within a degree of list that was frightening. With the mixer on it's side and the digger at a perilous angle my mind went blank. I knew the next decision would determine whether the digger capsized once more or not. Which lever? Help!
I eventually made the right guess and after wiping the nervous sweat from my brow I vowed to send the digger back whilst I was still alive. I jet washed all the mud off and drove it to the front garden for collection, running over my new spirit level in the process. My garden looks like a madman has been running riot in a tank. Potholed and piled with mud like a first world war trench it's gonna take some fixing.
I'm still trying to work out whether I had fun or not. I'll ring Jeremy, he'll know.