The front of the house had a small lawn that covered an area of about 5 metres square. I say ‘had,’ as I have recently removed it to replace it with shingle as part of my low maintenance design. I had not anticipated that removing the lawn would involve digging up enough turf and soil to create a small island. As the lawn slowly diminished Lewis & Monty would move onto whatever patch of grass was left staring at me like I was involved in deliberate and wilful damage simply to spite them. I also learnt during four days hard labour, that the British are also masters of the bleedin’ obvious. Especially shall I say, our more ‘mature’ gentlemen? The sight of someone clearly not accomplished in manual labour was simply too tempting for them to ignore. Accordingly I had a queue of old gits only too keen to offer advice or pass comment. Some of their helpful little gems included:~
“ Why don’t you take the lawn up and put some shingle down.”
“ Hard work digging turf isn’t it?”
“ Are the dogs helping you?”
“ Bet them dogs aren’t much help!”
“ Those dogs your bosses then?”
My how I laughed (through gritted teeth).
Having removed 3700 tons of earth and turf I moved onto the second part of the operation. This meant rolling out and securing on the now exposed earth the ‘black out sheeting.’ This would hopefully stop weeds growing through the shingle. It also provided Lewis and Monty an excellent opportunity to lie down in the most unhelpful places possible. The sheeting comes on a roll rather like wallpaper. Rolling it out the length of the garden I would weight it at one end with a rock. Monty & Lewis would lie at this end. Flatly refusing to move I would release the role end to shove the hounds off. Sadly forgetting to secure the ‘roll end’ meant that as I released it the entire roll shot off towards Monty & Lewis who were then engulfed in the black sheeting. It was like a giant basset Taco. The first time this happened I found it quite funny. 173 repeats of this later…I did not.
The final stage of the operation involved wheel barrowing the shingle from the road at the front of the house where it had been delivered. I had of course used the most careful mathematics to ensure that I had just the right amount of gravel for the space I had to cover. I worked out the necessary depth multiplied by the area squared. Sadly I was 1700 kilos out. Yes, over a metric ton and a half out. The gravel was delivered in huge plastic woven bags each containing 850 kilos of the rock. After I had barrowed the first bag on it looked like a passer by had just chucked a couple of rocks on the garden for a laugh. I did however have some very helpful comments from the passing old gits:~
“Oh not enough gravel then?”
“ You wanna get some more of that gravel.”
“You will need to cover more of that sheeting mate.”
Both the hounds have their own characters. Lewis rarely leaves my side to the point that a visit to the loo involves gooey eyed Lewis resting his head on me whilst sat on the ‘throne.’ Without going into detail, this is very brave of him. Lewis is not interested in the fresh air and would given the choice, much rather be indoors on the settee as a pose to outside in the front or back garden. He is bone idle and literally has to be pushed out of the back door at night for his final pee of the day. Monty conversely, loves the outdoors. He likes nothing more than watching the world go past the front garden. I know he is safe there as neither he or Lewis are capable of climbing the small 4.5 inch high brick wall that separates the garden from the road. Monty has also taken to getting into dark places that he obviously feels safe. Under beds, settees and in large plants in the garden. So much so, that I am thinking of buying him a small kennel.
Having spread the gravel accordingly I was left with three of the large plastic woven bags that the rocks were delivered in. Apparently these are made in bulk in some third world country (child labour doesn’t mean bad quality eh? ~ sorry shouldn’t joke). Monty climbed into one of these bags and flatly refused to come out. Peering out of a gap in the top he would occasionally poke his nose out to sniff at a passing old git. It was like a hermit crab emerging to grab a passing meal. Even biscuits would not coach him out. Lewis was in the mean while inside watching Sky News from the settee.
Having completed the low maintenance gravel garden I now realise that I have created the world’s largest cat litter tray in the world. Every cat within a 57 mile radius now comes to shit on my shingle. I walked Lewis & Monty for about 2 hours the other day. They very helpfully waited till they got home before shitting on the shingle. I am hoping that passers by do not follow suit……
I am also wondering whether basset in a bag will catch on.