Of glass houses and stones

We got home today and decided to let our forlorn and head-coned cat out for a walk in the garden (having just learned from the vet that she can’t have the cone off until next Monday. Por cat).

There in the garden, however, we were immediately distracted by the big heap of glass next to the greenhouse. Oh yes.

The pane to the left of the door has disappeared rather catastrophically. My first thought was OMG the greenhouse has been burgled! However I soon realised that, barring over-zealous collectors of carnivorous plants, a) there’s nothing much to steal in the greenhouse, b) the stealable stuff was still there, and c) they could have just opened the door.

Further investigation, in true Holmesian fashion, revealed that almost all of the glass was outside the greenhouse (to the bottom of this pic):

So the glass was broken from inside. Plus, the glass had been flung a considerable distance. We’re talking several metres. This picture shows the worst but some glass shards made it more than twice as far:

Then I noticed the bent strut (shown here after some judicious boarding-up had taken place):

All became clear. The strut has had a sudden failure, or “gone twang” in technical parlance. It’s kinked outward, delivering a hammer blow to the safety glass which has done as it’s designed to do and exploded into thousands of tiny pieces.

The greenhouse was never perfectly square, although it wasn’t far off, so it’s possible the strut was under a little bit of pressure but nothing major. However unlikely it may sound I really think it was last night’s earthquake that delivered the final kick. We’re miles from the epicentre here in Sunderland and slept soundly through it last night, but several people in my office were woken by it so it was definitely felt locally. I can’t prove it, of course, and I may be speculating beyond the evidence, but it seems like a fairly unlikely coincidence if the strut spontaneously gave way on the night of the worst UK earthquake for 25 years.

So we have earthquake damage! I suppose we’re lucky that more of the panes weren’t broken, but it was the strut rather than the direct effect of any shaking that did the harm. Sadly the neat gravel we had by the pond is now a 50/50 gravel/glass mix so it’s probably going to be simpler to chuck it out and replace it rather than attempt to sift it. There’s a ton of glass in the pond too –and on the far side– that will be a bugger to clean up. Plus Janet now has to order a replacement pane. Ah well.

(My parents by the way, live only about 20 miles from the epicentre and it shook their whole house, but no damage was done.)

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