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We’ve gone a bit potty with the hard landscaping lately. First it was the gravel, which smartened things up around here no end, and then it was laying the brick path down the middle of my working area, which for the last seven years has been reduced to a muddy channel each winter, driving us crazy and causing not a few spectacular somersaults/twisted ankles/soggy behinds/caustic and very bitter swearwords.

So to spare our children further expanding their vocabulary we decided to invest in a Proper Path. Fortified by Joe Swift’s enthusiastic if high-speed advice on an edition of GW a bit earlier in the season I set to work.

Step 1: dig out channel for path about six inches below ground level (the only easy bit in the whole process, I now realise).

Step 2: bash in some little pegs and use a long spirit level between them to make sure they’re all the same height – viz. with the tops about 2″ above ground level. This is Much More Tricky than they make it look on telly and takes a Bloody Long Time.

Step 3: get a lot of builders’ bags full of heavy stuff delivered. First into the wheelbarrow and off down the garden was M.O.T., which when I were a nipper used to be called hardcore, but I think that word has a different meaning nowadays. Anyway, this is what they use under roads apparently: it’s made out of grey chippings of what looks like old bits of concrete and though it’s very heavy it settles down very satisfyingly to form a pretty impenetrable pad at the base of your path.

Step 4: put down a 2″ layer and then hire a whacker plate (which I’m sure has a more technical name) to rattle the teeth out of your head making sure it’s all well compacted down.

This turned out to be unexpectedly entertaining as the moment I turned it on the whacker plate set off at a terrific speed across the garden. I hung on for dear life as it headed for the herbaceous border trying to keep up and steer it away from the fence – do you have any idea how heavy those things are? About two inches shy of the first quivering plant I finally located which switch was the choke and managed to slow the engine down to a more modest chug. By which point my other half was on the floor in tears of laughter and I was a shaking wreck.

So at this point, I retired traumatised for a cup of tea and a lie down before tackling the next bit. Of which, more later (with pictures, this time).

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