Well, we've been here almost a year now and at last the front garden is looking more like I envisaged. Originally a patch of grass, bordered by gravel paths, the lawnmower had to be lugged from the back garden, down the communal lane alongside next-door's house and around to the front. Given that the grass was little more than eight feet square and our petrol mower more suited to our old, large garden, the actual mowing was done in just a handful of passes! Not ideal, so I decided to banish the grass at the front and create something easier to tend, that would provide the backdrop for some more plants.
I saw this (below) at the Lost Gardens of Heligan and liked it. I've also seen a more intricate pebble pavement at Perranporth, part of a Cornish-time sundial on the clifftop.(look at the pattern of pebbles, placed on edge, it's lovely!)
As the front faces southwest it gets plenty of sun and the existing planting, lavender, santolina, sage and rosemary has done well. (All right, the lupins were claimed by slugs the size of small family cars; they'll have to be moved to the back or go in pots.) I have a weakness for rather exotic plants and am looking at perhaps squeezing in a palm, cannas, aeoniums and the like. Although this is Cornwall and therefore a bit milder than the rest of the UK, up here in Troon we are prone to wind (!) and I shall have to bear that in mind. Watch this space!