I dug a 5m×60cm×50cm trench yesterday. It was hard work.
With the resulting pile(s) of bricks:
I counted over a hundred whole, unmortared bricks, and at least as many broken, and at least as many with substantial mortar on them.
The trench for one of our new retaining walls ran straight through the old site of the compost bins: it turns out it also needed to be so wide that I had to remove the trellis you see above, and heave over the rather wonky old planter we inherited from the previous owners, made from bits of decking wood. This being done, I began to dig.
The first couple of metres—under the old site of the bins!—went remarkably smoothly, and I was starting to get cocky, when I removed the slab separating rich bin soil from the rest of the garden, to find… bricks?
It turned out that there was an entire course of bricks, laid closely together as paving, under the surface:
Under these ran some of the apple tree’s old roots! Pulling up these bricks yielding yet another decent pile of sound bricks, plus a paving slab and a section of pipe:
Eventually, with a few mortared bricks still left to clear, I was losing light and so called it a day. Here was the result of some three and a half hours’ work:
I was able to put my recently acquired scaffolding boards to good use, to ensure I still had a path to the shed:
All in all I’m really pleased with this result, and I think I can spend another full 7-hour day digging the second, 10-metre trench, without worrying about it too much.
Laying the concrete for the footings will be another job: one which I might get professional advice about, to ensure it’s sound, and level, and thick enough! But I’m going to wait until the next few days of frosts lift, before I worry about any of this again.