Out came the cement mixer, wheelbarrow, spirit level and a host of other tools and implements. It was a sunny Saturday morning with promises of fine, dry and probably sunny days ahead, at least until mid-week anyway. It was a golden opportunity to get started on the planned patio flowerbed. The first task was to temporarily re-site the large pots containing the Phoenix Canariensis plants then drill the holes for the plastic drain pipes. E and I started work at ten o’clock though for an hour or so she went into the front garden to prune some overhanging branches alongside the driveway she uses for her car. Later she assisted me with mixing mortar and concrete and generally helping out. I had donned my overalls for the work as I knew it warranted wearing them. It took some time to drill the two holes for the drain pipes as one of the chosen spots was particularly difficult for the bricks were very hard. Following the drilling of the holes I cut and fitted the tubes with an end box on each and secured the pipes to the floor with saddles whilst ensuring the boxes were higher than the holes I had drilled in the walls. This was done by fitting a small slab of flat natural stone beneath the boxes. In the two pictures below you can see one of those pipes which had yet to be covered with concrete. The other had just been covered.
You can also see the first row of bricks I had laid soon after fixing the pipes. In the next two pictures you can see where the two pipes emerge from the wall. Naturally we poured water into the two boxes to make sure it would flow out of the pipes. You may be able to see the two boxes in the centre of the bed. They had been filled with plastic bags during the laying of the concrete and would be the only visible evidence of the drains when the concrete had set hard.
So the next task was to lay the first row of bricks, those which would be on the outside and visible when the wall was completed. As the bricks are reclaimed I had to select those of the best quality. For the inner bricks I picked out the worst of the pack as they will never be seen when the bed is filled. Once the two rows had been laid I could mix the concrete and begin laying it as seen in the two top pictures. The concrete has to be sloping from the retaining outer walls down to the top of the drain boxes and achieving that with wet concrete that wants to level itself takes a little time. I kept the mix as dry as I could to make a gradient possible. By the time E and I had cleaned the site and packed everything away it was after six o’clock. Once the work dries out, which will have been Sunday, there would be nothing left to do but build the wall. Sunday however is a day of rest and we took it! Hopefully I will get the opportunity to finish the work on Monday and Tuesday.