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Embankment and Patio

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It all started in 1999. We had been in the house for two years and I felt I was beginning to get the hang of this gardening thing. It was time for bigger ventures…..

Trains had thundered along the Royal Deeside railway line till the Beeching Report in 1966 recommended the closing of many peripheral routes. Quiet now for many-a-year, and used as a pedestrian walkway and cycling route, the embankment at the top of our back garden reaches up to it. It had long since become overgrown, invaded mainly by a Snowberry bush, (Snowberry, aka Waxberry or Snake Berry, aka White Coralberry).

In other times this shrub was considered worthy of prose:

_"Since I lost you, my darling, the sky has come near,
And I am of it, the small sharp stars are quite near,
The white moon going among them
like a white bird among snowberries,
And the sound of her gently
rustling in heaven like a bird I hear." _

-D.H. Lawrence
(1885-1930)

Very nice!

On the other hand, if you have to try and remove it from a railway embankment you’ll find it is back-breaking work. But I am not complaining. It was a challenge, (which I like – usually), and with a vision of what might be achieved, (eventually), I got stuck in. It took the best part of two years to clear the area but eventually the embankment was mine!

There was already a shed at that end of the garden, but rot had set in where earth and leaves had gathered up behind it and while it would serve for a while I had it in mind to remove it for something a bit more special. My next task, though, was to install a patio.

The ground next to the embankment sloped towards the house so I had to dig down about 18” at the edge of the embankment to create a level space for the patio and, as luck would have it, my neighbour was excavating the same end of his garden, using a digger, so while I had to dig – he wasn’t so friendly to have the digger do the work for me – I got shot of my spoil into his skips.

We had already used Bradstone Old Town Grey/Green flags elsewhere in the garden so settled on a patio to match. It had a circular design which helped offset the angles of the garden generally as well as its overall square shape, once corner pieces were laid. To ensure drainage, (this area of the garden can be very damp all winter as the sun rises on the other side of the embankment), I laid the patio on several inches of sand. I had my doubts that it would remain stable enough, but it has so far – it’s now been there for 10 years.

Before proceeding with the next stages of the ‘Grand Design’, (and with other commitments inside the house), I cultivated the area with plants and some willow fencing, some steps onto the patio and made the ground around the shed good, before installing a fireplace. I was looking forward to sitting out in the evening and toasting marshmallows, but was concerned that as the area around the patio was quite small, the heat from a fire would cook all the plants!

Explaining all this to Elaine, my long suffering wife knew instinctively that this would mean Old Man Allan was going to do something outside the box, (Elaine is very patient with me and I do make her smile!). And it was a box, of sorts, that I had in mind.

So, introducing the worlds only wooden fireplace – well almost all wooden – there is a sheet of stainless steel which curves round inside the central compartment, protecting the wood and throwing the heat outwads. It took several months to make, spending a few days each time I was home crafting it. I am very proud if this creation. It is entirely original and hand made. I love working with wood and this little creation was a delight to see taking shape.

I had saved some space to one side of the patio for my fireplace and though Elaine, (bless her), sought to gently humour me when time came to move it out of the house and into its new home, (and therefore into sight of the neighbours!), she was kind enough to tell me right away she like it very much. What a win-win for me!!

Maybe it’s a man thing, to do with setting up and sitting around the campfire, but Elaine and I have had many enjoyable summer evenings in front of the fire, tea lanterns lit and glasses of Cabernet Sauvingon in hand.

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Comments

 

What a creative person you are - it looks wonderful and the whole area is just so inviting. I bet you use it all the time. :-)

17 Jul, 2008

 

As often as we can - weather permitting in our part of the world.

17 Jul, 2008

 

i had to have another look at your fireplace, thought it was something you had bought, but hand made..... well done it looks great.

17 Jul, 2008

 

Looks very nice. Did you say you build it outof wood? You are obviously not worried the fireplace will light up as well. Your fire looks hot enough to do that. All the same it looks very cosy and it indeed is an artistic creation.

17 Jul, 2008

 

Forgot to say how much I like reading your blog, lovely!

17 Jul, 2008

 

Great story you are very creative. It looks so great, I'm sure you enjoy your handiwork. Cheers!,

17 Jul, 2008

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