This felt like a watershed summer. It marked the end of my having three 'young children' because, like it or not, one of them is now definitely entering 'pre-teenhood' and from all accounts things are set to change.
Admittedly, we're now nearly two weeks into secondary school and my daughter is still communicating in words of more than a syllable and hasn't yet pierced or tattooed any part of her body... but it's early days.
What this has led to is a rethink of the garden. Over the next couple of years we are likely to remove some of the play equipment which they are starting to grow out of, and replace with things more appealing to teenagers.
I started a couple of months ago by investing in a fire pit. This is something I have often added to clients' gardens as I think it makes a great evening entertainment spot for chats with friends (some of whom may or may not have tattoos and piercings...).
I usually specify a brick built structure - a bit like the one below - and if you make a wooden top for it, this can double as a coffee table in the day. If you wanted to have a go at building your own there are plenty of instructions online.
However, I wanted something more flexible so that I could move it around and use it in different settings.
I settled on a Kadai fire bowl because I've seen them at gardening shows for years and always liked the rustic look. We ordered the 70cm diameter version with the low stand and I also bought five of these Ikea HÖGSTEN chairs because I was aiming for the 'outdoor armchair' feel and needed something dark enough to work with the fire bowl's colour.
So a few weeks down the line, how's it all performed?
Well firstly it is the best barbecue I've ever owned. It has a huge cooking surface and, because you sit around it, it makes for a far more sociable meal. We catered for a family party of 30 with it too - and for that I invested in the higher base so that we could stand up and cook.
But my favourite part is our new Sunday night ritual of lighting the fire bowl, toasting marshmallows and telling stories. And thankfully these usually start 'once upon a time' rather than 'yesterday, when I was down the tattoo parlour'.