Make sure, before you go away, that all the automatic sprinklers are working and that the main connection pipe shows no signs of corrosion.

Cape Town - I am sitting on my Clanwilliam stoep and looking at the fruit trees, which, thanks to the rain on Christmas Eve, are looking a lot healthier. If Clanwilliam can be used as a monitor then I think we are in for a quiet year. I have never seen the town this empty at this time of year and there are very few boats on the dam – a sure sign that money is tight.

If you are planning any work around the house, I believe that prices are going to be very competitive, with all the contractors continuing to slash prices to keep their businesses going. Not a good sign for the industry.

This column started out as a DIY advice service, and we have moved away from that a bit. Maybe it is time to start looking at doing things ourselves again to save some money. I believe that we are often too lazy to try or don’t have enough faith in ourselves.

A couple of weeks before coming up here, I got a phone call saying that my irrigation system had been trashed and the trees were struggling. I asked the local builder to arrange for one of his staff to water the trees manually every other day, and I would fix it all up when I got here.

On arrival I went to the local co-op in search of the person who does this sort of thing, only to be told he was on leave and anyway doesn’t do this any more. I decided to fix the irrigation system myself.

I had fun. Yes, I was soaked to the skin a couple of times, and wasn’t allowed back into the house as I was covered in mud, but what a feeling of satisfaction having done something for myself.

I believe that this experience might just kick-start my bid to enjoy life again. You can only take so much office work, answering e-mails and listening to complaints. My career will continue, but with a different outlook.

I do not often mention products or companies, but I must just give a mention to the local co-op, part of the Agrimark Group. Most towns have one, and they carry everything you need from a hardware point of view.

They are not just a shop for farmers, they carry everything from nails, tools and electrical goods to irrigation equipment and paint – a genuine DIY paradise and all at great prices.

In I went clutching the bits of my broken irrigation system, explained in broken Afrikaans what I was trying to do and, 10 minutes later, I had everything I needed and set off home. Two hours later and for less than R300, the system was up and running.

The trees are looking great and I am well chuffed with myself. Tomorrow I am going to extend the system to the flower beds, fertilise the trees and hopefully in a couple of months be drinking fresh orange juice again.

Who says you can’t do it yourself? - Weekend Argus

* Keep your questions or comments coming to [email protected] or sms only to 082 4463859.