secret garden progress

It’s only called the Secret Garden because it’s partly hidden from view and it sounds a whole nicer than the back garden. Since the weather broke and we’ve had lovely long days of hot sunshine, the builders have been beavering away, trying to recreate our vision. Back in Manchester this was easy, as we just discussed with our builder, what we wanted. Here, it’s a bit different, as we have four languages on the go between us – English, Croatian, Italian and German – and so we’re reliant on translation apps, long word docs translated and diagrams. We’re delighted that this diagram is being interpreted pretty well, and soon, we should in reality, what we’ve been holding in our heads for a very long time.

So, lots of progress has been made over the last couple of weeks.

  • the istrian stone surrounds have been finished around the opening for the French doors;
  • a beautiful Istrian stone slab has been laid just inside the doors, in the living room;
  • the French doors, after much tussling and manoeuvring to get them to fit snugly against our wonky walls, have finally been installed;
  • the concrete platform, outside the living room has been constructed, with a lovely wall around the edges, and the steps going down into the garden are in now in place – the wall has been rendered and tomorrow all will be painted white;
  • the digger has arrived and the excavation in the new garden has started to create the two levels which will be joined by wide concrete steps – however, work on this has stopped as more drilling machinery has to be brought in to smash up a HUGE foundation stone (from the old house) which has just been discovered:

But, things are now looking very different and a real shape is beginning to emerge. The attention to detail to which our builder pays is absolutely second to none, and we are so delighted with what is emerging. A particularly lovely feature – which seems very small and inconsequential – is that at the bottom of the balcony (which has been built with a very slight decline), there is a square shaped “hole” and a metal plate inserted, where the rain water will flow into, and off and away. To us, this is a massive bonus, as when it rains here, it really rains, and the last thing we want is water pooling outside the living room.

We’ve also had major progress along the side of the house. This area, when we bought the house, six years ago, was nothing more than a track. Quite pretty in the summer, when the grass grew and we had wildflowers but a complete mess in the winter, when it was bare and it turned into a mud bath when it rained, because the cars churned it up. This access road also made finding the house for anyone, quite tricky, as it did look like part of a field – and who accesses their house via a field?

The house, when we viewed it...

The house, when we viewed it…

When the rains came...

When the rains came…



This situation obviously couldn’t continue, but we couldn’t just address it ourselves, as this used to be the old road into the village and is owned largely by the local municipality, and also a number of locals. The road is no longer used as a road – there is a dead end and it’s only used by us to access our house and occasionally, one neighbour to access the rear of his property. So, we approached the local council, who came out to see the “road” and agreed that something had to be done about it. The result being that a big lorry load of stones arrived and the road was hard surfaced, all the way from the main entrance to beyond our house. We were very grateful for this, as it happened in the winter time, and so for the first time since we moved in, when it rained, we could drive into our property without fear of skidding, when it was muddy. However, as with most things which are done by other people who don’t perhaps have the same investment as you, over time, it became clear that the road really needed to be “finished off”. Large stones were still at surface level, because they hadn’t been properly compressed and this made walking on it, quite tricky in places. The stones also didn’t go to the edges, and it was starting to look a bit raggedy. So, we decided to complete what had been started.

This week, our go-to-white-stones guy, delivered twelve cubic metres and along with one of our builders, who’s been compressing the stones with proper machinery, we’ve been spreading and levelling…

We’re still not entirely finished – there’s still raking and filling to be done, but wowsers – it’s an improvement from 2016!

Published on 30th June 2023