Anyway, the day before my deadline, the guys who were going to build my pond turned up. (Isn't that always the way?) Suddenly, there was a digger, a skip, a tip-up truck, four men and a large hole in my garden. It was so exciting!
I'd always intended to have a pond in the garden, but finding someone to build proved unexpectedly difficult. A couple of pond specialists who lived to the west of me turned me down, because my garden was more than half an hour's drive away.
In the end, I found Pete Sims and his team on the internet. They were based in Reading, but work all over the Home Counties, so although they were an hour away, this didn't seem a problem. (I've often found this - if people are used to going into London or the South-east to work, the idea of commuting doesn't bother them so much.)
I liked the look of Pete's work - he seemed to be able to do a range of designs - and I asked him if he'd come and give me a quote. He came over and we spent a happy afternoon talking about ponds, plants and gardens. He seemed like someone who would not only do the job, but do it with enthusiasm.
Pete didn't draw me a plan. We went into the garden and I showed him where I wanted the pond, and waved my arms around and said: "I want something vaguely like that." I wanted a naturalistic pond, that would look good with the local stone. I wanted a jetty or a bridge of some sort where I could sit or kneel and look at what was going on down in the water. And I wanted a waterfall or moving water of some kind, mainly to deter mosquitoes from breeding.
Pete paced out the area and suggested how my ideas might take shape, and when his team arrived to start the build, he drew the outline on to the grass with blue paint. Then they built the pond. It was as simple as that.
Ideally, he would have used Cotswold stone, but the local stone is quite soft and we didn't think it would stand up to life in a pond. Instead, Pete used Purbeck stone, from Dorset, which is harder (and full of fossils), but pretty much the same honey colour.
Here's how it started:
First, catch your digger. Here it is arriving, closely followed by the skip. Unbelievably, the digger managed to squeeze through that wooden arch behind it.
The site for the pond. When I first moved to the house, there was a huge dead tree here, which had suckered around the trunk. A forest of brambles had grown up amongst the suckers. That was all dug out a while ago, and since then, this bit has been used for dumping or burning garden rubbish.
Here's another view of the site, below.
The scoops for the digger had straight edges, so that if by any chance you snagged a pipe or cable, it wouldn't be ripped out. There were three sizes of scoops, so it was possible to do quite delicate work.
The digging begins. Note the blue paint on the right.
And the digging goes on ...
And on... You can see how stony the soil is here
In the meantime, I knew I could rely on Rufus to keep an eye on everything.
By Day 2, the outline of the pond was more or less complete. We had lovely weather for the build, typical of September, with misty mornings turning to warm sunshine as the day wore on.
Rufus insisted on briefing his co-workers every morning. (I made them a cup of tea.)
And he also helped with the dig.
While Luigi was delighted to discover what he thought was a giant cat litter tray.
When the digging was completed, the pond was rendered in concrete, which helps stabilise the shape, and the shelves for the marginal plants.
The bit at the top of the pond, by the digger, is going to be the waterfall. It will be operated by a pump, which will circulate the water.
Day 3, and the concrete is lined with sand, before the liner goes in. The frame for the jetty is installed, and you can clearly see the steps that will form the shallow waterfall. In the meantime, the stone has arrived from Dorset, and the guys lay it out around the pond so they can see what sizes and shapes they have.
The garden slopes all over the place here, and I'm ashamed to say that I was a bit worried about whether the jetty would be level. When the guys went home, I borrowed one of their big spirit levels, and laid it on the frame. It was dead straight.
Rufus decides it's time to take a well-earned rest. In my next post, I'll show you what happened in Week 2.