To make sure you never miss out on your favourite NEW stories, we're happy to send you some reminders
Click 'OK' then 'Allow' to enable notifications
Featured Image Credit: Kennedy News
A devoted husband has transformed his garden into a tropical tiki paradise, having dedicated two years and £35,000 into the huge project.
Construction worker Chris Lodge, 44, decided to overhaul his garden for his wife Sharon, as he was unable to take her on holiday.
Despite the fact Chris had never gardened before, in 2017 he decided to bring the party to Wollaston, Northamptonshire, to make up for the fact that he and Sharon haven't been away for six years - having been busy with work and caring for their nine-year-old disabled dog, Dice.
To create the tropical haven for Sharon, a business owner, Chris worked on the garden every free evening and weekend he had over the two-year period.
The end result is surprisingly impressive - and a far cry from the half-hearted, makeshift bar plonked onto the lawn that others might have gone for.
After digging out the lawn, Chris built a timber, driftwood and rope bridge across the garden, surrounding it with green palm trees and succulents.
The bridge leads to a tiki hut (known as the 'Freaky Tiki'), which started life as a £4,500 shed. Chris then transformed the shell with dried grass roofing, exotic decorations and - the pièce de résistance - a homemade timber bar.
In total, Chris and Sharon have forked out £35,000 on the mammoth project, but they reckon it's been worth every penny and hour of hard work.
Chris said: "We used to love our holidays but we have a big business and I work a lot.
"The business suddenly took off and went a bit crazy and we've really been pushing it so we struggle to find the time now. We haven't been able to go on holiday for about six years.
"Our dog also suffers from little seizures now and then so we don't like to leave him. We're both housebound and office-bound.
"So I decided I would bring the holiday to us. Now we can go to the bottom of the garden and escape in a tropical paradise.
"We can come down here to our tiki hut and grab a cocktail or a latte and relax.
"You feel like you're on the other side of the world. You'd never guess you're at the bottom of a garden in the UK.
"I want it to be a place where all our friends can come too if they're having a bad day or feeling down. I want it to be a place where people can just get away.
"I just love to do things that make people happy and put a smile on their faces.
"It has taken some time and it's swallowed up about £35,000 but it's all worth it as long as it makes us and other people smile."
After the couple decided to add an extension to their home of 15 years, Chris was inspired to tackle the garden at the same time, having been inspired by a willow tree, and the bottom of their lawn reminded him of a jungle-themed fairground ride he used to go on as a child.
He poured hours into researching which tropical plants could withstand the British weather, and also used online tutorials to learn the tricks of the gardening trade.
Chris continued: "I didn't have any gardening experience at all before this - apart from keeping the odd cactus or venus fly trap on the window sill when I was younger.
"But a couple of years ago I started an extension on our house and decided it was time to do the garden as well.
"There's a willow tree at the bottom of the garden that really inspired the jungle theme. The way the canopy hangs down made it feel a bit like a rainforest.
"So I started looking into tropical gardening and all the things you could do, even living in this country. It really got me. I was hooked.
"I have dyslexia and I always struggled with things like school but when I find something I really enjoy, I put 100 percent into it and I do have a good eye for detail.
"I have really enjoyed creating the garden. It's given me such a passion for gardening. It can be very addictive.
"And I like it because it's never done, you can always come down here and keep tinkering at it. I love that. It's so relaxing. It's perfect for me.
"So many friends have seen what I've done and they've never been into gardening before but now they're starting to take it up. I love that I've showed people what you can achieve."