I’m keeping it. Last September I was seriously considering giving it up, after twelve years, and went so far as to semi-seriously offer it for sale, in a blog post. The response was politely quiet, about which I’m now pleased.
I created the patio ten or so years ago, having spent a year observing how others were making theirs. Over several weeks, deliveries would arrive from Travis Perkins, cement mixers would churn day and evening, waves of frustration and anxiety about levels would waft down the hill, and later over a glass Dave or Alwyn would wonder why they’d bothered to start this. I held my whisht and decided to do it in three days flat, applying third world construction techniques. Levelling (Joseph'll do that once I peg it out); sand (borrow a wheelbarrow); lay the slabs on top. Completed on 14th July, my birthday, and half the population of the site rocked up clutching bottles to celebrate. I expected it to last three years, then I’d just do it again.
It’s lasted ten, but when I went down to open up the other Tuesday, my heart sank. Apart from the moss and the weeds and the general dilapidation (redundant water barrels, an old portapotty, rotting beach chairs, plastic bodyboards), there was the huge mistaken plant [Agave Americanus, I suspect] which had grown to six feet and was threatening to undermine the van as well as blocking out the view. (I’d meant to take photos of this monster, but now I’m glad I didn’t.)
Joseph came round to say hello and collect the rent. I happened to mention that I’d be down again at the weekend, with a friend. He nodded and smiled. “So are you happy, then?”
We arrived early afternoon on Saturday. I walked round to the door, and shouted. “He’s done it!” B required elucidation. “What?” she incisively enquired. “Bloody hell, he’s done it!” I clarified. Joseph had eradicated the vile plant and scrubbed the whole place clean. The steps down towards the gulch (more of which another time) were visible and treadable. We could see the view through the still bare trees across the sea to Monkstone Point. (I’d always thought of those trees as a view-spoiler, until B pointed out that they are a view. Black nervous systems against green, turquoise and more black.)
Joseph is a hero. “I thought I’d tidy it up for you, like,” he said, possibly with a wink, when I thanked him.