I mentioned a few weeks ago that we have finally begun work on our driveway. After renovating the kitchen, the bathroom, the garden, laying new flooring and generally painting throughout to get our casa looking exactly how we wanted it to, we'd pretty much run out of excuses for doing something about our shameful status as the proprietors of The Worst Front Garden On The Street.

So, neighbours were consulted, setts were chosen, planning permission was acquired - weirdly, you don't need a scrap of permission to convert a single flagstone driveway to a solid double driveway, but putting up a fence in excess of 3 feet? The horror! Scale drawings were prepared, pictures of the proposed fence (which must be see-through ie picket style in case someone tries to hide in our garden and jump out on unsuspecting passers-by) were submitted, aerial maps of the house were provided... the council carefully considered the matter for eight weeks and then told us to go ahead. Oh happy day. Still, I reckon we kept an entire department of peeps in work for a month or two, so it's not all bad.

Here's what we're doing:

  • Convert single flagstone driveway to a sandstone sett double driveway
  • Install picket fence on both sides plus picket gates at the front (to keep the dogs in - I'm permanently scared of one of them getting out into the road)
  • Build a pergola along the side of the house (again, weirdly no permission is required to do this)
  • Install a dropped kerb (the council will take care of this for the sum of 300 English Pounds, the cheeky swines - you're not allowed to do it yourself or pay a contractor to do it for you)
  • Create new flowerbeds
  • Plant lots of clematis armandii, lavender, and perennial sweet peas.

I'm almost too embarrassed to post the before pics, but here goes.

We have wild jungly shrubs (hawthorn and flowering red currant - mmm, my favourites): 

Hideous prison-yard-style flagstones, random ugly plants, nasty patchy grass, and plenty of litter that gets blown into the garden on a daily basis courtesy of the residents of the cul-de-sac directly opposite who can't be bothered to put their rubbish into their wheelie bins:


The first step was to get the site cleared. We had expected to get this done by the contractors so that we could then go ahead and install our fence posts on a nice clear site, but the monkeys delayed and delayed and delayed to the point where we just couldn't wait any longer, so we had to go ahead and clear some of the site ourselves in order to get the fence posts in.

Enrique was ecstatic about all the digging:

He was also ecstatic about all the stones that were dug up in the process:

Miss Penelope, on the other hand, was content to bask in the sun and work hard on her full figure.

We installed the fence posts (notice the shameful contrast between our nasty jungly mess and our neighbour's pristine gravel affair):

Eventually the contractors arrived to clear the site, armed with a mini-digger that I thought was super-cool until this dude rocked up at the end of the day with The Coolest Power Tool Known To Man in the form of an open truck with integral massive metal lobster claw, which he used to scoop up the mound of soil, plants, shrubs, flagstones and the two concrete posts that the idiots who owned the house before us had inexplicably removed from the front garden and buried under the shed in the back garden:

Actually there weren't that many flagstones to scoop up - I kid you not, the neighbours were fighting in the street over them. One dude even brought me a bunch of flowers to convince me to let him have more than his fair share. If only I'd known that nasty concrete flagstones were all the rage, I'd have put 'em all on the 'bay.

All this work left a huge muddy hole which left us temporarily baffled as to how on earth people (the postman! the Abel and Cole delivery guy! us!) were going to get in and out of the property (were we supposed to leave a tub of courtesy wellies out on the front?) but fortunately, despite muttering darkly about not being able to come back for another three months, the contractors turned up the next morning and dumped several tons of MOT into the hole, so at least we can get in and out of our own house without getting coated in mud, which is always a bonus.

Next up - the pergola and the fence! And at some stage in probably the very distant future, I'm mildly hoping that the contractors will come back and lay the setts that have been sitting in readiness on the driveway for quite some time now (I foolishly arranged delivery of them according to a normal person's timeframe, not a useless contractors's timeframe). Waah.

P.S. You'll notice that for karmic reasons, I haven't named and shamed the contractors yet. I'm hoping that the quality of their sett-laying will outweigh their appalling lateness and rubbish communication... We will see...