Finding Delivery Solutions As Mail Doesn’t Really Arrive By Snail

Wednesday 6 May 2020 10.15pm

I’m gradually settling in to this strange new world, and not feeling the weight of the anxiety and fear resting on me quite so heavily. I’m well stocked now with essentials – good because it means I don’t need to panic over huge deliveries, and all the washing and quarantining they entail.

My entrance path is rapidly becoming even more overgrown than usual, and delivery drivers have been looking in disbelief when I’ve called out to them, pointing to the entrance.

‘It’s very narrow!”, they cry, hefting great wide shallow plastic crates stacked with carrier bags. “I know! “Sorry!”, I call back, “I have no way of getting rid of garden waste at the moment, so it just has to be left to grow I’m afraid. Sorry.”, I repeat. But I’m not at all sorry really. If passers by are dissuaded from venturing onto my property at the moment, that’s all to the good.

The one comment that does strike a chord though, and even in normal times it’s repeated by everyone who encounters my semi-hidden, and undeniably narrow-ish, entrance path, is a slightly sarcastic, “I bet the postman loves you!”. Well, no, probably I’m not his favourite customer, especially when it is, or has been, raining. And when the broom is covered in flowers. And when the dying flower heads are abandoning their branches even without being brushed against. And when the bees are enjoying the lavender underneath…

Since the very early days of the virus threat, I’ve sealed over my letterbox – not wanting ANYTHING entering the house, even for a moment, that hasn’t been either quarantined or thoroughly washed. We’ve been blessed with mostly dry days, so I’ve got round this by placing a large open topped cardboard box on the path, with a note inside to “Please place post in here”. That was ok while the entrance was still accessible, and on dry days, but I knew it was only a temporary solution, and I’d need to come up with something more sustainable.

Right at the start I bought a cheap wall mounting post box online, to accommodate for wet days, but hesitated to fit it to the wall by the front door, recognising that would still entail the postman battling with the broom. What I needed was some way of fitting the post box nearer the pavement. However, there was nothing to fix it to, and I still needed to get at it to remove the post; the problem seemed unsolvable. Then I had a brainwave.

Gazing out of the upstairs window my eyes alighted on my mum’s old sundial. I’d removed the pointy bit last year, that created the necessary shadow to tell the time, so the top was relatively flat, and being cast iron I knew it was quite heavy. On close inspection I realised it had a hole already in the top where the pointy thing had been bolted on – that got round any need to try to drill through the cast iron, and I began to feel it might just do the trick.

With a bit of thinking through, I realised I would need to raise the post box slightly from the top of the sundial, so that the drain holes already drilled in the base could do their job. A short chunk of wood left over from one of the legs of the sink stand that I made last summer took care of that, and the design was set.

Two extra holes drilled in the base of the post box allowed me to screw it to the small chunk of wood, and the hole already in the sundial top, with the addition of a couple of large washers, accepted a screw that then secured the wood to the sundial. Job done. Now, where to place it?

I chose a position inside the front hedge, near enough to the front door that it could be picked up by the security camera, but still on a narrow part of the border so I could reach it from this side of the hedge too. Then I discovered it was too short for the flat top of the sundial to rest on top of the hedge. Luckily there was already a (empty)┬ápot sitting in a pretty convenient place inside the front hedge, so I ‘screwed’ it down a bit more firmly into the earth, popped its saucer on top, and stood the sundial-postbox on it. And “voila!”.

I’m hoping the whole thing will be firmly seated and heavy enough to withstand any strong winds because, providing I don’t have to actually stake it to the ground, I can simply swivel the sundial around in order to unlock the postbox and remove the post.

I’m happy to say the postman yesterday didn’t even hesitate, he just paused as he walked past and popped the post in. I then swivelled the whole sundial round and unlocked the box to remove the post (with gloved hands of course!), and felt an absurd sense of satisfaction at a problem solved.

Oh, and I realised a practical solution for deliveries is to direct them to be taken beside the car to the top of my grandmother’s old trolley that is bordered by a low ‘fence’ but accessible from both sides.

So short of actually building a moat and a raisable drawbridge, I’m pretty unlikely to get unwanted visitors, and as wanted visitors aren’t allowed at the moment, life in my garden has become restful again.

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