People who know me will understand that I like to take my time with most things. I’m not sure if it is a man thing or not but I’m not what you call ‘an impulsive buyer’. I want to think something through before I commit myself to it. I am the world’s worst shopper, I admit it. Firstly, I would want to see all that is on offer before I actually buy anything, which means going to several stores before I even try something on! And secondly, I would try everything on and compare it to all the other shops making me exhausted at the end of it. But I have to admit I am trying to be a more impetuous buyer nowadays!
During the winter of this season I wanted to do a driveway which meant that I needed to find someone to work on the driveway for me. His workmanship had to be the best and he had to be economical as well, I don’t think I was asking too much in my requirements! Obviously, I had this feeling of doing the driveway on other seasonal inaugurations as it needed to be done from 2001 when I did the biological septic tank for the hotel and taverna which is now under the present driveway. OK, so what’s the fuss, it only took me 11 years to make my decision!
At first the work crew pours the concrete along with an iron grid so that it will be strong and will not break up with all the delivery trucks coming up bringing the supplies for the hotel. On the bottom picture you can see the work crew pouring the concrete as they must make it level. This is so that no water will remain on the driveway should it rain, I’m talking about the winter, naturally, when it does rain. On the background and next to the cement truck in this picture you can see a man working on the technical aspect of the job – holding my telephone line with a plank of wood so that the cement truck will not split it!
The work crew, literally, then throws the colour pigment which I had to choose (Another decision I had to make. Luckily for the crew I made up my mind within a few days!) on top of the poured cement. After waiting some time for it to get absorb and dry a bit, they smooth the cement to a silky finish using a long float and trowel it in. This also acts as a hardener and gives the concrete surface a longer wear life. A second colour is used on top of the primary colour to produce texture and show additional building materials (e.g. grout) in the stamped concrete. They then stamp it with the stamp pattern that I chose. This decision was made along with the colour which was surprisingly fast for me since I had to choose from a flier which was as informative as choosing a Chinese dinner from a pictured takeaway menu! One hopes and prays that it will be good in the end and it resembles something like the beautiful pictures you had seen.
After they finish with the stamping one must not step upon it as you will sink into the concrete as it is still very soft. Like all cement it takes a day for it to harden which brings us to the question of what to do with my cats and dogs? This question was only asked after Joujouka the older and fatter of the 2 dogs walked on top of a finished section. She just took her normal path to the hotel but along the way she made her mark on my new driveway. Luckily the crew quickly fixed it like new so I had to take both the dogs and lock them up in my balcony so this sort of accidents would not happen again. The cats I just locked up in the garage and they did not mind at all as they spent their time there all winter long anyway.
The whole driveway was 465 square meters (5,005 square feet) in diameter and the job was completed in a 3 day intervals and the whole driveway was finished in 5 days, which is quite good by Greek standards. I have to add that some of my staff thought I was bonkers for starting the work so near to opening for the new season. After the surface was all laid and stamped, they swept the extra powdered paint up and left it to harden for a few days. The final procedure was to varnish it which made the surface so shiny that you thought people would be slipping and sliding but I knew that with everyday natural wear and tear the high gloss would not last long. Like true Greek workmen they did this on the day of my first arrivals, so I needed to section off the area so no one had access to it!