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Tidying up the courtyard and creating the driveway
Because we have been building our house, the land around it as you can imagine has been a bit of a building site. This is all very well when you are just building but once you move in and are living there then you need to be able to do those normal things like drive up to the house instead of having to park 60 metres away at the bottom of the drive and then when you do get out of your car it's nice not to sink in 6 inches of mud or have to scale a 7 foot pile of rubble to get to the front door. I have to go to work in a suit for my day job and I did get a bit tired of putting wellies on in my suit to get between my car and the house.
The other main problem for us with having no real drive was that the delivery lorries are unable to get close to the house so would have to drop their cargo of building materials off down the drive away from the house which means that you then have to carry it all by hand over the mud and rubble to the house.
It's not much fun when you have just had a delivery of 80 sheets of 8 ft X 4 ft half inch plasterboard and a pallet each of half hundredweight bags of board adhesive and plaster finish, it is just starting to rain and you need to get it all moved and under cover quickly and you are the only person there because the plasterer has not turned up yet to give you a hand.
Even worse still when the lorry driver has had to drop your load of Kingspan insulation board off. Just imagine, it's very windy, the Kingspan boards are very light but also very unwieldy because they are 8 ft x 4 ft and 50 mm thick, to make matters worse they are sealed together in packs of 6 boards a time, the boards cost about £30 each so a pack costs £180. There are 8 packs, it is too windy to open up the packs and move the boards individually one at a time because they act as a sail when you lift them up to carry them and you get blown over and then the board snaps and you fall in the mud holding your bit (probably £17's worth still in your hands) of the now snapped and useless insulation board!
A sort of panoramic view from the house of the drive and rubble rockery before Alan started The 80 tonne of "rockery" quickly dissapears Alan has leveled off the ground ready for the planings Some views of the finished drive with the planings
Alan the digger driver came to our rescue to clear up and create an actual driveway for us.
Firstly the 7 foot "rockery" which looked nice and green because it was covered in weeds was in fact 80 plus tonnes of concrete and building rubble was cleared away (Sam was a bit upset about this because he loved to climb all over it).
We had decided to have a double drive so that if vehicles were parked on one side of the drive others could still get in and out, so we marked the area where the drives should run and Alan levelled the ground out for us.
On top of this Alan laid 20 tonnes of "road planings", this is recycled M6 motorway surfacing. You will probably all have seen roadworks on the motorway with those massive machines grinding off the tarmac road surface before they re-lay it again (actually called planing as in woodworking where you plain a piece of wood smooth). The planing machines actually grind the old surface up as they plain it off and this is then sold for re-use for hard-standing and as driveways on farms. It has a number of advantages over things like gravel, it is cheaper, it is re-cycled, gravel is noisy and shifts when you drive over it where as plainings are part tar so will bond together and compact to give a decent surface, won't shift, weathers well and blends in.
Previously, when Alan and I had been working on the utilities trenches I had noticed from my usual position down in the trench that there was a noticable line of cobbles on either side of the trench cut at about 8 inches below the grouund level so I wondered if perhaps there was a cobbled area in the old courtyard.
Once Alan had leveled the ground off we scraped down further and found the cobbles that I had seen and there was an old cobbled area which appeared to run in front of the house as it would have done when it had been a barn.
Unfortunatly we do still have a small rubble rockery left which we hope Alan will get rid of for us when he comes back next spring to tackle the back garden.
A sort of panoramic view from the house of the drive and rubble rockery before Alan started
The 80 tonne of "rockery" quickly dissapears
Alan has leveled off the ground ready for the planings
Some views of the finished drive with the planings
Some of the spare old oak timbers and A frames which we will need to move out of the courtyard and to a new dry home somewhere eventually......and probably another chapter.