Once I'm quite happy with all this work, Himself comes along and says we need to be sure that we've backfilled properly between the path and the soil. My response at this point is "*#~#*#**~~~*"!!! - which roughly translates as "do it yourself - please"!
So Himself and our dear friend Pete did!
The backfilling involved some complicated manouveres with all our spades and shovels. They were put in behind the bedrock pieces and then gently levered so that there was a gap (where there wasn't one before!) between the path and the soil, which then had extra soil put down it and heeled in firmly. This was repeated along the full lengths of both sides of all the paths.
I am firmly convinced that Himself had delusions of grandeur at this point and thought he was actually building a motorway rather than a little path!
Pete has been a star in the garden too - he regularly comes to stay for the weekend, works very hard both days, then goes home again! He's also helped Himself with the technical side of planning the Tea House and will be involved in the building of it too. He is one of my oldest (in that we've known each other sine I was 15!) and dearest friends - and I'm going to do his garden when we've finished this!
Himself and Pete working on the bottom path.
How to build a Tai Chi training circle:
First demolish an old cold frame that was home for some very happy slugs and snails who had been continually eating all my salad seedlings.
Clean up all the old bricks then lug them across to the other side of the garden four at a time because Himself is using the barrow for something else.
Fail to find any clear area to put them, so dump them on the path thus creating a major Health and Safety issue as they are now in everyone's way.
Realise that where you want to put said circle is not flat - nowhere near flat, not even vaguely level!
Call for Himself and Pete for advice, safe in the knowledge that they won't be able to resist the challenge of sorting it out.
Watch admiringly as they work out levels, heights and any other mathematical things they can think of.
Go dig a bit more path whilst they sort it out!
Nice level area dug into the slope, with the first layer of bricks being put into place. The plank balancing on the post is the height of the top layer of bricks.
The circle is one metre in diameter. I quite fancied using an old millstone as there are plenty available locally and the top would have been nice and smooth to train on, but they were all only 90cms in diameter and that was just that wee bit too small for comfort!
Each layer of bricks also had the central area filled with bricks and brick bits before having sand firmly pushed down all the gaps.
Looking from the path to the top layer of the circle, now with gravel added.
At some point this spring, the circle will be taken apart again so that we can mix cement powder with the sand - Himself is worried that, despite all the earth banked up round it, the circle will shift whilst I'm training - I'm not QUITE sure what he thinks I'm going to be doing on there!!!
The circle overlooks the bottom bridge and the bottom pond. The gap between the circle and the path with be packed with soil which will gently slope up to the circle and, eventually, have a top layer of moss to cover it. There will be no plants on this area as I am likely to kick them as I train!
We then realised that we hadn't laid the power cable across to where I want a granite lantern - we got REALLY good at undoing things to put in a bit we'd missed out!
This is Himself mid cable run.
One Tai Chi circle almost complete! There is a small stone circle to go in the middle, level with the bricks, but this won't be put on until the cementing stage.
The sand covered top path is visible beyond the circle, then peters out to stones by the circle. The path the skirts the circle where the spade is before turning right to cross the bridge.
Ceefer cat doing quality control on the partially dug out bottom pond!
How to manouver big rocks:
Borrow several big strong blokes!
Having used the flintstones trolley to get the rocks up the garden in the first place, we had to resort to man power (plus a bit of girlie power!) to get them to where I wanted them and put them into place - and, often, to dig them up and take them out again because they just weren't QUITE right there after all! (sorry lads!)
Himself, Owen and Chris working on the island stones. The horizontal stone had to be moved into a slightly different position twice because they put it where they thought it should go rather than where I'd said I wanted it!
Himself and our assistants got very good at using levers to shift the stones around - they also learnt to keep their toes well out of the way!
The large rock lying horizontally on the left of the photo was my first choice for the biggest island stone - but once it was in place and upright it just looked WRONG. I couldn't explain why it was wrong, it just was. So, bless 'em, they took it out again and put another one in instead - and I had chosen the right one that time!
Some rocks were right first time, but it was often a case of trial and error - not a problem with the little rocks, but hard work on the big ones!