The one thing we have hated ever since we first set eyes on the windmill was the tarmac around the house. It was like an enormous car park. So it was with great relief that we finally pinned Berna down to removing it and putting down some stone terraces and paths. I marked it all out with a paint brush and white paint. (This was after placing stones carefully to mark path edges, only to find the dogs were picking the stones up and running off with them). Also agreed was a timber pergola and stone walls. But first I planned on hiring a mini-excavator and a dumper to remove rubbish from the finca, dig holes for plants, and dig out topsoil to use in the garden.
I also managed to find a lot of rocks as I was digging out the topsoil which are ideal for building stone walls. These were added to the growing pile.
Berna thought there was not enough stone for the walls which we agreed to have built so he decided to get some more!
Very unfortunately poor Berna's wife has being diagnosed with cancer of the colon which means they will be travelling every week to the University hospital in Tenerife which has the only machine in the Canaries for radiology treatment. So standing in for him, Tuesdays to Thursdays is José, assisted by Elias. They started by cutting the tarmac following the lines which I had roughly marked out, so that they could use the tarmac as a base for the stone paving and then removing the remainder with a JCB.
Antonio trundled along with his JCB to start digging up the unwanted chunks of tarmac, taking time out from his other role of policeman. As usual he was ready for the job, sporting the latest in protective clothing; flip flops and shorts.
I had attempted to break out some of the rocks in the garden for planting, but my little mini-excavator's hydraulic breaker was not man enough, and I asked Antonio to have a go with his 'pica'.
Poor Wendy was being driven to distraction by the constant hammering, all while she was preparing for the end of term exams.
We toured Puerto del Rosario looking for a suitable stone. The right colour (warm sandy brown is what we wanted), the right thickness, the right wearing quality, and of course the right price. This was with Berna sitting in the back seat giving us a running commentary on everything around us at full volume. Why do Spanish people have to talk so loud, and non-stop? Eventually we found the perfect stone. The next job was to load the old tarmac into a truck to take to the tip.
The stone was laid pretty quickly. Actually too quickly and I told them to go back and take more care and more time. But what an improvement on that horrible tarmac!
The slow bit is pointing up all those joints. Here is José and Elias getting on with this back breaking job. You can see that the cracks are not just in the paving.
Goofy and Pongo have had a bit of a rough time. Poor dogs. No regular walks, and being locked up while some of the more dangerous work was going on. On the other hand there has been a lot going on for them to watch, and things left lying around for them to pick up and play with. They had also become extremely dirty and very dusty and so we decided another swim was in order. This time we would be on the look out and avoid any sandy or dusty places, and stick to the pebble beach. We prefer our dogs black, not brown.
Then it was getting on with the planting. The very best job! But, with a lot to do I decided to train up David as a 'jardinero'. And I had learnt already that we needed to be careful about the planting. The silty/clay soil sets rock hard once wetted and so sand and compost has to be added to the soil. I arranged for 10 cubic metres of compost to be delivered from the zoo at La Lajita (Oasis Park). This compost has a wonderful mix of elephant poo, camel poo and God knows what else. It smells fantastic. The other thing is of course the wind which is a factor to be dealt with, and this meant buying some steel bars to tie the plants to.
I have found a few local nurseries for buying plants. But cuttings take off really quickly in this heat. So the first thing I do is to whip some cuttings off any new plant I buy so that I will have more plants to bulk up the planting later. The greenhouse / net house is really beginning to fill up.
I had been thinking of buying a Yucca. It is appropriate for this climate and would look OK. But then we were taking a walk through Caleta when I tripped over a branch on the roadside which had fallen off, or been cut off. Wendy was rather disapproving of the idea of me carrying a large tree branch along the high street so we fetched the pick up, collected my Yucca, and drove it home. It is now doing very nicely in a pot in the greenhouse.
All this physical work is leaving me definitely thinner (I have lost more than a stone) , browner, dirtier, but probably healthier than I have been for a long time. It is not doing much for my looks though.