Tool Box: Start with a clean sweeper

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STORMS worthy of King Lear assaulted my part of the Welsh Marches during the festive season, toppling trees, turning car parks into lakes, and obliging the vicar of a flooded village to postpone Christmas services until new year.

To look on the bright side, the business of clearing up debris which ranged from twigs and leaves to standing water, presented me with the perfect opportunity to test the Gardena road broom.

We must have owned dozens of traditional wooden brooms - the handle and head held together by a nail which eventually split the timber. The business end of Gardena's alternative consists of a plastic head 17in wide - slightly narrower than the maker's claim - and equipped with strong and efficient polypropylene bristles. This is listed at pounds 10.50.

Handle prices go from pounds 6.99 for the shortest wooden version to pounds 23.99 for the telescopic type. The standard aluminium handle at pounds 9.99 should suit most people. What really appeals to me is the fact that head and handle are united by a strong, simple screw-type connector.

Each handle is part of Gardena's 'combi-system' range of products. It can be used with tools that include a tiller, rake, hoe, branch pruner, aerator, fruit picker and squeegee.

Gardena UK Ltd, Dunhams Lane, Letchworth, Hertfordshire SG6 1BD (0462 686688).