Sunday morning, first time in 8 months, I had no real enthusiasm to go to the allotment. My previous visit last week had been a dispiriting one, with the water-logging worse than ever, and a bit of the new fence to the west flopping over because a post was washed out.
Heigh ho. I went anyway, to, at least, put nearly a week of kitchen waste onto the compost heap. First thing I noticed, despite the fact that there's been plenty of rain and snow, the waterlogging and the pond had dropped to what I'm beginning to see as the normal level, at least for winter. Hammered in the loose post, and straightened the fence up.
But my spirits fell again when I turned my attention to the bloody path. The first three paving slabs you can see in the foreground of the photo are very wobbly. The plan has been to lay three courses of bricks loosely in the trench, but it's not working because three courses of loose bricks with a concrete flagstone on top makes for a very wobbly walking experience - it really won't do. And anyway, these bricks come in such a variety of shapes and sizes, getting a level surface with them is like building a dry-stone wall, choosing just the right stone at each point, a very skilled job, featuring a skill I don't have...
I raised those 3 slabs and shuffled the bricks beneath them, but succeeded only in making them go from "very wobbly" to simply "wobbly". And that's hours of work already, on just 3 slabs of 25. Standing glumly looking down at the muddy trench where my path used to be, realisation dawned. These aren't bricks, they're rubble. A French drain is also called a rubble drain... The idea is to let the water pass through... And so... I need to fill the trench with rubble, any old how, so that it's above the water line, then I can top it off with 3-4ins of clay, on which the flags should sit steadily... Boom!
I've already filled the bottom of the trench with a course of bricks which stretch about half its length. So I pushed barrows-full of bricks along this, and threw the bricks into the far end of the trench, which is 3/4 full of water. This was so absorbing that I forgot the time, and only realised the day was done when it started to get dark. But I know where I'm going with this now, and can probably finish it in a few hours. And so I went home, allotment-mojo restored, and a song in my heart.