It took about eight months between us booking the builder, and him actually turning up. We booked him somewhere around April … but our new front-drive, carport and gates were not actually installed until Christmas Eve.
I wasn’t all that bothered – he’s good, reasonably priced and the most honest of all the builders we’ve used over the years; and if you have ever tried to find such a beast you’ll understand that he’s very rare and very busy. About the only down side is that we let the front of the house turn into a bit of a mess in that time … and then our house got snapped by a Google Streetview car around November. Hopefully, when we come to sell up, potential buyers won’t use Google Streetview to get a shufty of the area.
So the front garden has been dug out and replaced with your standard block-paving – mostly so that my wife’s gaggle of family-people-carrier-driving girly mates have somewhere to park when they come round. But also so that I don’t have to mow the damn thing.
The only real problem was a tree near the front of the garden, about a foot away from the pavement. If we’d asked the builder to rip it up with his digger, the roots would probably have brought quite a bit of the pavement up with it. So: we take the lazy way out and make a “feature” – we saw it down to the stump, and put ornamental gravel around it. My wife (being a keen gardener and fan of Monty Don) is happy to put plants in pots around the area. We laid the membrane and the gravel just this week.
Perhaps I should have heeded the warning when one of our own cats came and crapped in the gravel while we were still laying it. But no. Being the simple idiot that I am, I swiped at her with the rake, and assumed she would get the message and pass it on to the other cats in the neighbourhood.
On examining the area this morning I discover … we have just installed the largest and most luxurious kitty litter tray in the whole of Derby. As a “feature” in our own front garden. With a foot-high tree trunk in the middle of it which (apparently) just screams “scratching post”.
If anyone wants me, I’ll be out shopping for an air-rifle that I can use from the comfort of my sitting room. Though the geek in me has this idea about mounting it onto a motorised base with a video camera, controlled by a computer running some shape recognition software. God help any child walking past my house with a “Hello Kitty” T-shirt on.