Sometime in early 04, she decided that her garden needed a revamp to reduce the amount of her(?) effort used to keep it under control. With a procrastinating skill developed over many decades, I immediately delegated the design chore to herself, hoping to hear no more of this "good idea". Not a bad move, but around June 05, she decided that she wished to proceed with stage 1 of the re-arrangement. Accordingly, I was despatched to purchase vast quantities of rolls of black material which I was informed was ideal for putting in as a weedstop layer on her new bark covered borders. I made the mistake of pointing out that we hadn't any bark or plastic edging. We shortly had both( I volunteered she claims). It wasn't as bad as I feared, no digging(on rock hard clay) was involved. I had hoped that this was the end of the design exercise, but alas, it was not to be. Out came her pencil again and the next exercise in August was the procurement of 12 tons of sand + cement + 350 paving slabs and 3 stone slab circle kits (procured one at a time) from Screwfix. The concept was ok, but there were a few things which I came to learn the hard way. Our drive slopes a few(5?) degrees. Circle kits come packed on a pallet weighing close to a ton. The delivery lorry is equipped only with a hand pallet truck and a tail lift which is 2/3rds the width of a loaded pallet. To get the pallet trolley + pallet within the lorry to the tailgate, combining the efforts of the driver and myself, is an interesting decision taking exercise between the hernia and being run over by a ton of pallet on a trolley. When you finally reach the tail lift, it is necessary to rotate the pallet on the platform, with the heavier end supported by the tail lift all the time( and clear of the lorry bed), before gravity topples it over. I am still not quite sure why 3 deliveries required 3 different drivers. I thought it might have been something I said, or perhaps bad news travels fast. Anyway, health and safety had never tried out this job and the union hadn't noticed, so I did actually get my slabs.
Well I lucked out again, and we had superb often rain free weather for Sept and Oct, so with her mixing the 8:1 sand cement dryish mix, all the slabs were laid by the end of Oct. In the mad rush to get this job finished, I had, with excessive zeal, tapped a couple of the small slabs (one in each of two circles) too hard and cracked the slabs. So, I phone up Screwfix customer services to find out how to buy a couple of replacement slabs. Screwfix immediately said to me, "Oh, no problem, we'll send you a couple of spare FOC"! They then phoned the supplier, who contacted us within the hour. As we were away for a month in Nov/Dec, it was arranged that they would deliver two spare slabs around the 16th Dec. 14th December, the phone rang, "Are you able to take delivery of two slabs on 19th Dec am?" 19th Dec am, two correct slabs were delivered. We could not believe the service in the UK. If only the ABTA idiots who we had to contact when the travel agent went broke on us in Nov could achieve the same service.
Anyway, I felt it was worth a note to say that we would use Screwfix paving slabs again, even if they should turn out to be slightly more expensive and definitely feel that a Xmas miracle has occurred.