The Writing On The Wall


The terrace walls, going back a week or two now, as the greenhouse wall was still under construction.

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that we’ve had misgivings about these walls. It seemed a good idea at the time to opt for local stone, on the basis that it would likely provide the best match to the old stone walls elsewhere in the garden. When it arrived it couldn’t have been more different (different from the sample we’d been shown at the quarry as well, but that’s another story). The Future’s Orange. It’s perhaps fortunate that it was a dull day when I took the photo above, in bright sunlight those walls are positively radioactive. Eat your heart out Ready Brek kid. And it’s not just the colour of the stone, it’s the shape. Or shapelessness. Described as ‘random walling stone’ the huge size and general irregularity of many of the pieces made it extremely hard to achieve anything other than that crazy paving effect.

By the time it came to sourcing the stone for the greenhouse wall I’d become wiser. Burned fingers tend to do that for you. What I wanted was a more even, coursed appearance and to get that we’d need dressed stone, each piece having been worked to make it flat on all sides. As so it proved. The greenhouse wall has turned out exactly the way I envisaged.

So what to do about the terraces? For a while the work carried on. After all, there’s still a huge heap of You’ve Been Tango’d blocking the drive and it had to go somewhere. Over time it became increasingly evident that the wall builder wasn’t enjoying the process either. Especially after he’d been diverted onto the dressed stone greenhouse for a few days to help us reach a deadline. Would he ever want to go back to the terrace walls? The whole thing came to a head when the moment arrived to find paving slabs for a path to and around the greenhouse. Whichever colour we chose to go with the greenhouse shrieked at the terrace walls. And the relationship was no less bumpy the other way round. Maybe there was only one thing for it..



But what of all the work that’s gone into these walls so far? Hard won work?

Perhaps we needn’t have worried. When the builder got wind of what we were thinking his face broke into a smile so wide the Cheshire Cat has retreated into permanent retirement. The concrete blocks above provide the essential strength to a retaining wall. The stone is often just there to face it. Armed with a kango and a spring in his step, how long do you think it took the builder to take all the stone down?



One day later..

The stone won’t be wasted. There are steps to build in numerous places around chez duck. The all-weather path that I’ve always wanted down by the river bank may happen yet. For the terrace walls though it now means a delay. Dressed stone is made to order. A quick call to the quarry which produced the stone for the greenhouse has set the wheels in motion. It may be a summer planting of the new terrace borders rather than spring. But better the loss of a season than years spent in regret? Our mistake was in failing to bite this particular bullet weeks ago.




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