I spend at least two days a week clearing up leaves, as there are massive olive and alfarroba trees giving my garden some welcome shade but dropping their unwelcome leaves all over the place! If I don’t keep on top of it, the next time the wind blows it will mean even more work, as they will be in the bottom of the pool or messily languishing on the surface of the water.

I get out my trusty broom and my builder’s bucket at dawn (leave it any later and it will be too hot) and begin sweeping them into neat piles before the wind picks up and scatters them again. My dogs all watch interestedly, laying on the ground with their heads on their paws, probably willing me to finish so I will hurry up and feed them. They see me advancing in their direction, then leap up in fright if I dare to let a bristle from my broom get anywhere near one of their body parts, yet they are laying in a puddle of leaves and surely even they understand what I am doing – but maybe not!

We bought an electric leaf blower/vacuum device from a certain German supermarket some months ago, and I want to share my experience with it.

As with most things, there are pros and cons. It had a really short lead to start with, so we had to buy an extension lead to add to the one on a reel we already had, and it was quite heavy and difficult to work with, although it did have a shoulder strap to take some of the weight so the manufacturer obviously knew it would be a struggle.

So, like a kid with a new toy, I was eager to have a go at what seemed like a fantastic labour-saving device. I plugged it in, got the strap the right length, and worked out which switch did what. I advanced on the leaves, noisily trying to blow them into the neat little piles as normal, but all I seemed to do was make more mess - there were leaves blowing everywhere, almost like they were all trying to escape back to the tree to try to avoid me. My dogs had long since retreated to the safety of their beds (actually my husband took off to avoid getting blown off his feet as well). In frustration, I moved it into ‘suck’ mode, trying to capture some of the leaves I had managed to corral into a corner, but all I managed to do was jam it up with those tiny twiggy bits from the alfarroba. The leaves that had gathered around the edge of the pool I left alone, the wind itself would do less damage than I would do with my blower!

All in all, I can see it being a great device - it all comes down to the area you have to clear. In a small area, the time needed to set up your blower could be equivalent to the time to get the job done with a rake or a broom. On a larger area (decks, open lawns, garden beds, or pavements), leaf blowers will get the job done roughly twice as fast as would a rake or a broom. They are supposedly good for clearing out gutters, and I would say would certainly work well on a gravel driveway or between plants set into stones. They come in various sizes and designs; handheld, backpack, and even walk-behind. They can be powered by gasoline, or electricity - corded or battery-operated. And I suppose less physical work than a broom or a rake! But they are definitely heavy and take some skill and expertise to use successfully.

I suppose if my garden area was grass or a mixture of different terrains, it would be a godsend, but to me, the peace and therapy of sweeping works for me – and I get some exercise too!