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A Pond for a Barbecue

August 24, 2015

Ever since I was little, I wanted a pond in my backyard. I remember having a play date at a new friend’s house. Their backyard had the most beautiful pond with a cute little wooden bridge over it. I was standing on that bridge, mesmerized and I promised myself to have such a wonderful fairytale garden when I was a grown-up.

Years passed, but the dream always lingered at the back of my mind. Three years ago, at 27 years old, I finally moved to a home with a backyard for the very first time in my adult life. Up until then I had been living in rooms that didn’t even have as much as a balcony. My garden looked quite nice already. All I had to do was plant a few things and I would have been done.

Garden Before Before

I was not satisfied with a nice garden though. I wanted my fairy tale garden I had always dreamed of, with a cute pond, a curvy pathway with nice old stones and a romantic terrace. I hated the concrete tiles and all the straight lines. My mission was clear: I had to build a pond. I searched for a pre-shaped pre-owned one, because that would be easiest and cheapest. I also gathered rocks to put around the garden and nice small stones to build the terrace and the pah. I gathered all sorts of stuff and soon my fairly nice-looking garden turned into this:

Garden Before (a)

Yikes! Looks like a landfill! But hey, all I had to do was dig a hole in my garden for the pond to fit in. No, let me rephrase that. The worst thing I ever had to do in my life was to dig a hole in my garden for the pond to fit in. I could not even see the other tasks happening anymore… ever.

Our backyard consists of clay which is hard as rock. Digging was not even possible on many spots. All I could do was hack and slash my shovel into the ground and attack the clay like it was my worst enemy. Actually, it me even have been my worst enemy.

And oh, did I mention that I am chronically fatigued? Digging for hours at a time isn’t one of my abilities, let alone when the ground is hard as concrete. I tried to make baby steps. I would dig for ten minutes each day, sometimes a couple of times a day and then I would stop. Progress was being made really slowly… Until the rain came.

Oh, the rain. I thought the clay was my worst enemy, but it turned out to be the rain instead. All the sand that had been underneath our path (which we already had removed for digging purposes) washed in our pond hole. As a bonus, the hole got filled with water, which wouldn’t be gone for at least a week (again, yay for the clay). When the weather was nice again and the hole dried up, I removed all the sand out of the hole, which costed me another few days. I live in the Netherlands, so obviously another day of heavy rain would come just after I was done with removing the sand. Can you see where this is going already? This repeated time after time. I spent my days digging the sand out of the hole and every time the rain would make my hard work undone. I got so demotivated and desperate. I stopped putting my efforts into the garden and I was left with a sandpit and a huge hole.

Pond (4a)

I had asked for help once by putting a message on Facebook, but no-one replied. When I asked around, it seemed that people thought the help was wanted, but not necessary. After all, I lived with my boyfriend. Surely he would help me create my dream castle? Well, Ruud has his own energy problems and a full-time job. So no, he wasn’t able to magically turn this disaster into the garden of my dreams (or any garden, for that matter).

I decided to put another request on Facebook a week ago, but now I told the whole story. I also said I would be happy with any help I’d get, even it it were half an hour of someone’s time. And I would host a barbecue in return. I hoped to get two or three people to help me, but instead I got eleven. Yes, eleven! I was completely overwhelmed by this!

Pond (6a)

Last Sunday was the day we all came together. All these people were helping me in shifts, which meant we never really stood in each other’s way and that at all times at least someone still had full energy. These people really gave their all. I can not begin to describe how much that meant to me.

Pond (12a)

Slowly I saw our garden transforming. When the time had come to actually place the pond, I could not believe it. When you are dreading a job for three years and then you see it being done in a few hours by the bundled power of 11 amazing people, that’s a feeling beyond words.

Pond (15a)

The pond wasn’t the only thing we got done though. We managed to build a little terrace as well. This is hidden in the back of the garden and it’s meant to place our scooter and our bins. We also dug out the path and covered it with white sand. It’s not really visible in the after picture, since white sand was scattered all over the place already, but believe me, it’s there. And it makes all the difference. Because this means I can actually build the path in the next few weeks. And when the path is done, it’s only a matter of creating a lawn and planting some stuff. That’s easy!


After all the hard work was done, I rewarded all my great helpers with a barbecue. It looked like it might rain later on, and only one of the four barbecues was hot at that moment. While Ruud was starting the other three, I already started grilling some vegetarian stuff… Inside. Hmm… Not entirely what I had expected when I said I was hosting a barbecue. Me sitting inside next to the grill while everyone else enjoyed the good company outside.

Fortunately after a while all the barbecues were finally burning and I could join the rest outside. I enjoyed it so much! All the people who had helped me so much, where gathered in my new backyard enjoying a nice meal together. This was the first barbecue in my own garden. This was the first barbecue I’d ever hosted! And with that, this was the barbecue that made me complete my goal no. 92:

No. 92: Host a barbecue in the backyard for friends and family.

I had forgotten to serve half of the dishes, rain was lurking around the corner and I was completely worn out because of all the hard work in the garden, which of course still looked like a sand pit, but I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect barbecue. Seeing all these people who had sacrificed their free time to help out Ruud and me with the most dreadful job ever, made me feel really special and loved. Since my brain had already signed out for the day, I completely forgot to take pictures of the barbecue. By the time I thought of it, it was already way too dark. But I’m telling you, it happened! And what I can give you, is a before and after picture of my backyard.

Pond BeforeAfter

As you can see it still needs a lot of work, but it is so much better already than before. The hardest work is done. It’s only a matter of a few weeks now and it should be ready! I cannot wait to complete this goal as well!

And the rain? It tried its best to ruin everything again, but it could not succeed this time. After hours of rain the backyard still looks exactly the same, the pond hasn’t moved an inch and nowhere in the garden are unwanted pools of rain water anymore. But probably the most important thing? The doggies approve of the changes as well!

Pond (21a)

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