'For indoor use only,' read the instructions. Indoor?

GARDENING Emily Green attempts to install a fountain on her roof terrace
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The Independent Travel
Making a fountain is easy. The first person to tell me this was a fellow on an evening gardening programme whose concept of ease bore little relation to my own. The second was a salesperson in a posh garden centre. Here, ready-made wall-mounted fountains cost about pounds 200. Pumps for home-made efforts, however, start as cheaply as pounds l4.95.

Suddenly it seemed that all it would take to transform my roof terrace into the aural equivalent of a tiled courtyard in Seville was a small pump, a bit of plastic tubing, a terracotta basin (waterproofed with something called Pondseal) and a decorative gewgaw in which to conceal the spout.

The pump and tubing I bought immediately. The terracotta I decided to buy across town at a place with enough stock kitsch to stay in tone with my concrete-sparrow birdbath and putto-shaped plant stand.

Only on day two, back home with my second haul, did I read the pump instructions and the strange warning, "for indoor use only". Indoor? I returned to Garden Centre No 1, where I was assured they could be used outdoors and was sold a litre of Pondseal - enough for a fountain for every room.

There followed trips to an ironmonger for drill bits, wall plugs, screws, caulk and a caulk gun; then to an appliance shop for electrical cord to extend the indoor fountain outdoors.

It was probably unwise to ignore the Pondseal instruction to use its primer product first; certainly a more experienced DIY enthusiast would have known the drill bits were too small for the wall-plugs; and I cannot quite explain why I drilled a hole for the pump cord through my French doors in such an unsightly spot. Perhaps it was eagerness to start the fountain which, after cutting myself by using a paring knife to fix the plug, I did.

Only then did I give pause to consider the matter of trajectory. My demure Athenian maiden was spitting a torrent 3ft beyond the rim of the basin. The sound was less a soothing splatter than alarming splash. I turned her off at the mains before she drained the basin and burnt out the motor.

Fiddling around with the pump, I discovered a water pressure dial not too terribly mucked up with Pondseal. After reducing the pressure and refilling the basin, the Athenian maiden could only clear the rim by six inches or so.

Twiddling the pump, though, I tore the Pondseal lining. The basin now empties in a steady dribble over my amateur electrical splice. And for some reason, half an inch of water does not drain but stands around the pump. Here, in the silent dregs, mosquito larvae now grow.

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