Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Fiddly Day

I knew today would not be routine. First of all I had to buy sand and gravel before setting about work on the patio. Instead of routinely putting down six full-size paving slabs, I shaped pieces and fitted them into nooks and crannies.

This sort of work is very fiddly. Spaces have to be measured carefully and allowances made for mortar between adjacent slabs. Getting the mortar into some of the crevices was a bit tricky. Hence, I spent most of the day fiddling around. 

Perhaps tomorrow will be more straightforward and I’ll be able to lay six more full-size paving stones.   

Monday, June 29, 2015

Sunday and Today, Monday



Yesterday was a Sunday and it rained. I never thought I would do building work on the patio, and that was the case. A rest day was welcome, especially as my right shoulder was playing up.

For me, Sunday is seldom a workday.  I’d far rather rest on what some call the ‘Lord’s Day’. There’s nothing sacred about it, but many Christians set it aside for worship, although for a lot of us, not exclusively. There was a campaign some years ago called, ‘Keep Sunday Special’, but that has long gone. In fact, there’s hardly any difference between a Sunday and a weekday for the majority of people, but one thing I would avoid, is shopping at Tesco, because so many people do, making it one of the supermarket’s busier days.

The photos tell the story of what was achieved today on building the patio – another six paving slabs laid. Progress may not be as rapid tomorrow, because I shall have to spend time collecting materials at two stores that are well apart.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Another Six Paving Slabs Done

I thought it might be possible to lay six paving slabs today, and so it turned out. The final slab at the far end was shaped to fit around a corner of the garage foundations. Whenever I mixed more mortar than needed I used the surplus to repair brickwork and paving around the house. Estimating how much mortar has to be mixed is still problematic. Maybe I’ll get it in time.

At this stage I have at least a further nine to ten day’s work of laying slabs. They will not be consecutive days.  I have yet to lay two rows of seven, and five rows of eight, some of which will have to be cut to shape.

Friday, June 26, 2015


Plans sometimes don’t go as scheduled. I had forgotten about a diary item that occupied the whole afternoon, leaving only the morning for activity on building the patio. Despite the limited time available during the morning I was more or less able to finish laying the hard core; a few more bags of pea shingle will complete the task. That leaves me free to concentrate on laying the paving slabs. Six a day would be a very good target. This is what was achieved with the help of my great nephew; therefore working on my own, six a day may not be possible.

All of this is new to me, and I’m finding it difficult to work out the amount of time required to do various jobs and what quantities of materials are required. With prior experience I would have been able to order items in bulk, saving on costs. On the other hand, as I have been buying smaller quantities when required for specific jobs, I have not ended up with loads of unused materials. The exception to that, was not of my making, because I ordered 130 bricks for building the wall, but B&Q sent me 204! The surplus bricks came free of charge, and I’m told the reason for this was that the ‘picker’ could not be bothered to separate and pack the smaller quantity. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Full Day

Sand and Shingle

Dismembered Pallet awaiting disposal

As expected, I had a very full day, much of it revolving around the demands of building the patio. I didn’t actually do any building work, but I disposed of unwanted earth to the local dump, bought and collected pea shingle to add to the existing hard core, and obtained a load of recycled glass in the form of artificial sand for bedding under the next lot of paving stones. I also dismembered a very heavy wooden pallet and put it into the car boot for taking to the dump tomorrow morning.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to lay a few more paving slabs tomorrow. Showers are forecast for part of the morning, but they could miss my neck of Essex completely.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Paving Slabs

The farthest slab had to be cut to size

The paving slabs I am using for the patio are described as Peak Smooth 600 x 600 x 35 mm. I don’t know how heavy they are, but they take a bit of manhandling. Fortunately I’ve had the assistance of my great nephew to manoeuvre six of them into place on a bed of sand and mortar. The job took us most of the day, but we did other things such as laying more hard core and gravel, beside returning unwanted cement to B&Q. We also collected more gravel from Wicks.

Altogether, the day was very productive. We learnt a few valuable lessons; for example, the amount of sand required will be far more than originally estimated; likewise, more gravel will have to be purchased to reduce the amount of sand necessary for achieving the right height. We were astonished at the amount of mortar that had to be mixed to lay one paving slab.

Now I can understand why having such a job done by a professional is so costly. At least, if I can achieve a reasonable finish, I shall feel that it was all worthwhile and know that I have saved an awful lot of money, but it is going to take a long time.

Tomorrow I doubt much will be done, because there are other priorities; a dental appointment being one of them, plus shopping for necessities and a few things my wife wants to do.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Progress with the Patio

The final consignment of earth for disposal at the dump

The state of play

Today I made good progress by putting down more hard core. In order to do it I had to excavate thirteen bags of earth to provide a level base.

Altogether I have made five trips to the local dump with loads of unwanted earth. It looks as though I shall have to do one more.

All being well, tomorrow I shall have the help of my great nephew. Together we should make good progress. There will be a lot of humping things around in an effort to organize the laying of the paving slabs and perhaps even to lay a few.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Patio Saga

Bagged earth ready for the dump

Shingle for covering the last of the hard core

More earth yet to remove

Sycamore tree root

There’s still a long way to go before the patio saga can come to an end. As with a sailing saga, unforeseen snags can crop up to delay or hinder a venture. One such snag has manifested itself in the form of a root of a sycamore tree that used to grow behind the garage before it was cut down and forgotten, but now, I remember it well. The tree’s golden blossom used to be gorgeous; on the other hand, the propeller-shaped seedpods that fell in the autumn were a nuisance, since they had to be cleared before I could mow the lawn.

In order to lay hard core behind the garage I’ll have to remove some of the sycamore tree root that is as hard and black as ebony. I am not looking forward to the onerous task. No doubt I’ll have to obtain a hatchet with which to hack away pieces of the root until sufficient depth can be found for hard core, pebbles and recycled paving sand.

I have yet to break up an area of old concrete path that is too high for forming a hard core base and I have to remove more earth beside the foresaid path. Finally, when these things have been done I’ll be able finish laying the hard core and sand.

There is still a quandary how best to set about laying the paving stones, but as they will be heavy and difficult to manoeuvre into position, I’ll probably have to temporarily cover the sand with plywood near to where the stones are being laid. This will enable me to convey the stones in the barrow without disturbing the levelled sand.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father’s Day

As far as I know, there is no link between Father’s Day and the Summer Solstice, but this year they both occurred today, this Sunday, 21st June.

For me it was Father’s Day, rather than the day of the year with the longest daylight hours in the northern hemisphere. I received cards from my three daughters and I had the opportunity of spending part of the day with my youngest grandchildren. Temporarily, I was father to them, as their own father was unable to be with them.

They are now at an age where they are tops in a play park. Soon, on account of their increasing age, they will lose interest in climbing frames, swings and roundabouts. Therefore it was special for me to able to enjoy their pleasure as they freely played in an almost brand new park with the latest equipment. I was reminded of my own children when they were the about the same age and they loved going to the park.


Remembering the Bittersweet History Of Father's Day

Father’s Day in United Kingdom

Thousands mark summer solstice at Stonehenge

Summer Solstice

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Skipping etc

An Internet search revealed that out of seven firms who hire rubbish skips in my locality the cheapest for a 4 Yard Skip is £125 and the most expensive is £195 plus VAT!

My personal skip, in the form of my trusty car, only cost me the amount spent on petrol to visit the nearby local authority waste disposal unit. Admittedly, I had to make four return journeys, but the effort at loading the surplus earth would have been the same as if I had loaded it into a hired skip. However, offloading at the waste disposal unit required additional effort.

With the prospect of rain later in the day, my wife and I made an early start. We cleared quite a bit of earth and laid more hard core. Afterwards we covered the hard core with a layer of gravel. About one third of the area has yet to be made level and covered with hard core and gravel. When that has been done, we’ll have to put a final layer of recycled glass paving stone sand over the whole lot before laying the paving slabs.

The rain that was forecast came a little later than expected, but it was enough to cause us to stop work. However, at this stage, I feel like skipping for joy because faster progress has been made than I anticipated. I wonder if Andy Murray will be skipping with joy after his semi-final tennis match at Queen’s Club this afternoon?


Andy Murray v Viktor Troicki, Queen's Club semi-final: live

Friday, June 19, 2015


Using the car as a skip

More than a third of the hard core has been laid

Another view

If you are motivated to achieve something you are more likely to succeed. I’ve just watched Andy Murray at Queen’s Club in the quarter-finals of the Aegon Championships. He lost the first set; then won the second and third sets. You could see that he was fired up, bouncing with energy. After winning the second set he had the psychological advantage, and he won the first game of the third set against his serving opponent Gilles Muller. From there on he held his service games to win 6-4 and the match. He is due to play in the semi-finals tomorrow, Saturday, 22nd June, against John Isner or Viktor Troicki according to who wins their quarter-finals match.

Murray is obviously motivated to do his best, not only for the prize money, but for achieving his goal of winning the tournament. If he does succeed, it will be a great boost for the forthcoming matches at Wimbledon.

I am motivated to finish building the patio in my back garden, so that I can have some time left this summer for sailing ‘Pike’. I am also motivated to get it finished before the end of July to satisfy the wish of my wife. Strangely I cannot work out how long I think the job may take. I was expecting to spend most of tomorrow working on it, but the weather forecast now indicates there will be light rain for most of the day.


Andy Murray v Gilles Muller, Queen’s Club as it happened

Andy Murray versus Gilles Muller

Thursday, June 18, 2015


Depending on your view, certain situations can appear to be in complete chaos; for example the immigrant situation in the UK and the Isil debacle in the Middle East. The Arab Spring has led to a breakdown of law and order in Libya, and there are similar fractions around the world.

Underlying these disorders there are evil forces at work that are fired and fuelled by ideologies, those who seek power and others who exploit vast numbers of people. War and famine create instability; they bring poverty, devastation and despair.

The Pope’s recent Encyclical focussed on climate change and the link between it and the use of fossil fuels. Unusually, this Encyclical was presented to the whole world rather than exclusively to Catholic bishops for practical application within the RC Church. According to the Pope, ‘human selfishness’ is to blame for climate change, and he urges us to adopt a different lifestyle - one not based on consumerism and greed, but in consideration for our children’s children, whereby we do not plunder the world’s resources.

The world itself is in a state of chaos because of human greed and a complete disregard of the ecosystem.

I am guilty of adding to the chaos by building a patio which is unsympathetic to the natural world. Insects that would normally live in the grass and under the earth of the lawn that was previously there will no longer have a habitat. Birds and squirrels that found their food there will be deprived of that parcel of their territory.

As a concomitant thought, my favourite blackbird continues to sing throughout the day from morning to night, but for how long?


Immigration News via the Telegraph

Latest News re Isil via the Telegraph

Arab Spring

News re Libya via the Guardian

Pope’s Encyclical


Wednesday, June 17, 2015


‘Pike’ waits patiently on the front lawn. She doesn’t know when her boathouse will be free and when she will be taken for a sail. Her master is looking forward to checking her over and doing a bit of touch-up with paint where minor abrasion on the chines has revealed bare wood.

Progress is being made with the patio. Slowly, but surely things are being set in order. Today I started laying down the hard core. Before I can do the remainder I’ll have to remove a fair amount of soil to obtain the required depth. At this stage I cannot be certain if I’ll manage without a skip.

There’s still a lot of work to be done and quite how I’m going to manage laying the heavy flagstones remains to be seen. Each flagstone has to be laid on five dabs of cement and slid sideways to the adjoining stones so as to squeeze cement upwards between the joins. Surplus cement has then to be removed cleanly. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


Messy process

Hidden order in the mess of creativity

There has only ever been one Creator. He was from the beginning and from before the beginning, because He always existed and will continue to exist into the future. Indeed, He created time. He can end time and create a new time in a new world in a new universe. He already exists in more than one time zone: heavenly time and universal world time and in His own eternal time. He is ubiquitous in all time zones.

When He created the universe He created all things, inanimate and animate. Life was and is in Him, and He is the giver of life to all whom He wills. He gives life and He takes it away.

All of this is remarkable and astounding; one might say, miraculous, but God is a miraculous being. When He created the universe, there was no mess in the creative process; nor did He require pre-existing matter for creating the universe. This is so unlike those whom He created. We can, in fact, not create in the pure sense, as did God; we can only re-create with existing materials. Even, so-called new materials brought into being by modern technology are made from matter created by God.

The Bible says we were created in His image, but we are not created in His glory, majesty and power, and we do not have eternal life, but we can have everlasting life* through believing in His Son.

*John 3:16 ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.’

Monday, June 15, 2015

‘Pike’ versus the Patio Wall – Part 3

There was a clear winner today. ‘Pike’ was only a memory from the day before; whereas the wall took my full attention and was finished – one course was completed in the morning and the final topping of bricks in the afternoon, bringing victory to the wall.

Good weather made a lot of difference and sunshine brought a ‘good feeling’ factor.

My next job will be to fill in the trench either side of the wall; then fill in the large area that will form the foundation of the patio. At first, I’ll have to make a layer of hard core and on top of it a layer of gravel. Finally before laying the flagstones I’ll have to make a smooth bed of Diall Recycled Glass Paving Sand.


‘Pike’ versus the Patio Wall – Part 2

‘Pike’ versus the Patio Wall – Part 1

Sunday, June 14, 2015

‘Pike’ versus the Patio Wall – Part 2

Two days ago another visitor came to see ‘Pike’.  This was the third person to see her. At this rate she will soon become a popular visitors' attraction.

We tried the sail and we put in a reef by tying the reef lines around the boom, but somehow, the sail didn’t look right, and logically by reducing sail at the foot without lowering the sprit, the centre of effort is raised higher above the waterline.  Obviously, the lower it is the less chance there is of the boat capsizing as a result off wind pressure on the sail.

Messing about with the boat was all well and good, but another sort of pressure different to wind pressure was pressing on my mind. I had to find time for building the retaining wall for the new patio. Yesterday and today I was able to add more bricks to the wall so as to double its height. The existing height has to be doubled again to be satisfactory.


‘Pike’ versus the Patio Wall – Part 1

Thursday, June 11, 2015

‘Pike’ versus the Patio Wall

I didn’t completely ignore ‘Pike’ today, because another visitor came to have a look at her and to collect my old inflatable canoe that was advertised for sale at the blog.

Various hurdles prevented me from working on the patio until after lunch, and I only had a limited time to try my hand at bricklaying before having to collect my wife by car from the railway station.

At least, I was able to mix a small batch of cement and build the basis of a corner at one end of what will constitute the wall.

The other day I looked at a YouTube video* demonstrating how to lay bricks. The brickie made it look easy. Obviously I have a lot to learn, but the bricks I am using are not standard; they are in fact, what is called ‘pitched walling’. They would appear to be made from concrete which has little porosity, unlike house bricks. Getting cement to adhere to them is not as easy, and because the edges are ragged and slightly convex, keeping the joins tidy is nigh impossible.

Other demands upon me tomorrow will only leave me with part of the afternoon for wall building.

Still, some progress is better than none. The sooner I finish the patio, the sooner I shall have time for playing with ‘Pike’.

Other Links

‘Pike’ versus the Patio
Wave Line Inflatable Canoe/Kayak for Sale

Waveline Inflatable Kayak