This week I have mostly been laying paths. Actually, if we're being truthful, this week I have mostly been re-laying paths which I laid very badly in the first place.
I would like to point out that I'm not a naturally shoddy workman, but when you're gardening with kids, you are in competition with a very short attention span and so I'll admit I often choose quick results over a thorough job. As any little pig will tell you - especially when being chased by a pork-loving wolf - this is a false economy.
The kids' garden paths are a case in point. Laid in an afternoon last September directly into compacted earth, they were quick to construct, exciting for the kids to see, but are now, quite frankly, a veritable health and safety nightmare.
I would be nervous of any child trying to walk along them, but when you consider my children are about as stable on their feet as new-born foals, you will understand my concern.
Oscar, in particular, returns from school on a daily basis with at least one new accident form in his bag. Mostly, these involve him falling over, with no apparent need for another obstacle or child to be involved (as an aside, my favourite accident report ever filed for my son simply said "went for a high five and missed") so you can see why I'm nervous. In fact, in recent weeks, I have watched him career along the path and its like viewing a particularly harrowing episode of Total Wipeout.
So I am now painstakingly lifting all the bricks, excavating 150mm below and refilling with compacted stones. In an attempt at self-sufficiency that even Lia must approve of, I am using stones riddled from my own garden soil. For anyone, unfamiliar with riddling, it basically involves shaking your soil through a garden sieve and if this sounds incredibly slow and tedious, that's because it is - although it's also undoubtedly the best way to banish bingo wings).
I would love to tell you the children have helped me in this task, but that would be a lie - even I can't find a way to make riddling fun for the young and they're not exactly losing sleep over the flabbiness of their upper arms. Still they have enjoyed finding pebbles with which to fill the gaps and of course, they have many other things to keep them occupied - practicing their high-fives for example...