Our 5th visit from the local JCB..
Laying the patio, firstly we measured out the total area which we required and sketched down some design ideas - it had to be in keeping with the surrounding area so we chose to build 3ft high dwarf walls around the edge. The picture below details the first stage of the wall and the first few barrows of cement. As we were putting cement (around 6" thick) straight onto the earth we laid broken rocks and bricks too to help bind the concrete.
Making sure the patio had an incline away from the door was a bit tricky as it was all levelled by hand (the idea then was to flag on top of the concrete at a later date) 3x1 wooden rails were placed horizontal to the cave within the concrete to aid in any movement or expansion and prevent exessive cracking. The patio is segmented into two parts 1) the bbq area and 2) an eating area on a slightly higher level. Again we used free stone to build the wall and blended the cement in between the stones with a wet paintbrush - the cement has now lost its grey colour and has become weathered turning more natural.
Not quite finished yet!
Since building the patio I have seen various Spanish techniques to create an attractive surface, the original idea was to use natural stone flags, however rustic stone can be used also and top of the list at the moment is create a "false" flag look using cemento blanco mixed with natural earth rich in iron which produces a rustic red/terracotta effect.
Around 85 euros, 1/4 lorry of "fat sand" and 9 bags of cement. Laying the patio in 2 stages was important to obviously get back into the cave! (although climbing through the window was required at one point)
The patio is an extra room, so much time is spent in the summer months cooking and being outdoors it is essential, complimented by a good bbq your patio is likely to be used more than any room inside your cave.
Recommended reading............. "Finca" by Alec & Erna Fry