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The tale of the £1000 light pull.

The tale of the £1000 light pull.

Several years back we were commissioned by a customer in Wisconsin, USA to make two traditional shepherd’s huts and have them shipped over to the States. They were a lovely matching pair in Plankbridge Green. A 40 foot container was delivered to the workshop by the shipping company. We carefully put both huts inside, the bits that didn’t fit below the roof line of the container were packed separately between the huts and the door closed and securely sealed.

It was fascinating to track the cargo ship online as it headed down to the Bay of Biscay, avoiding a storm front, and then see it arrive in New York days later. As an aside, did you know that the ‘general average law’ of shipping is that if the Captain needs to tip cargo into the sea for any reason (to right the ship in a storm for example) everyone else whose goods were saved compensates the owner who sadly lost his stuff. Imagine having no insurance and a cargo of someone else’s Bentleys went over the side. I imagined our container with two huts inside falling over board. I heard that the navy go and shoot them to sink them, so they aren’t a nuisance to shipping.

Anyway, on arrival in New York our container was impounded. Some numpty (me) wrote ‘timber packing materials’ on the shipping forms, and that can be read by the customs officials as being sawn trees, with bark on. It was quite a saga, ending in the release of our goods to the road haulier (who took it to a goods train) but only once the timber packing material had been cut into small pieces, boxed and palletised and was confirmed to be airborne. It was just some lengths of wood we used to hold the roof sheets up inside, as it turned out. It cost over £1000.

On arrival in the UK, there are firms who will take such things at the airport for disposal; it happens all the time. But I paid a bit extra and the box arrived at the workshop a few days later. A box of wood which had had quite an adventure, travelling 3600 miles by sea, and then back home again by air at 30,000 feet. I opened the box, carefully selected one piece of humble spruce wood, and put the rest in the wood burner. 

I turned a simple shape on the lathe, which was strangely satisfying, and the £1000 light pull now hangs from the bathroom dimmer switch over the bath. I can relax for a long hot soak, with bubbles, and gently pull and hold to dim the lights. Always a small reminder of lessons learned.