Now that spring is here, the sky is blue and colourful things are growing everywhere, I spend as much time as possible in the garden. Along with birdsong and the occasional returning plane (yay!) you can hear the gentle warbling sound of me begging my 3 year-old not to drown some poor pot of tulips with over-enthusiastic watering.
But it wasn’t always like this. Last year we hardly went out at all. Last year the garden was full of builders, bathroom fittings, stuff from our old, rotten shed that should have been thrown away by the last owners about 40 years ago and, as I recall, rain. Lots of rain.
But it was worth it. Because when they’d finished putting the bathroom fittings in the new bathroom, the builders made me a shed. A new shed. A shed that should properly be called ‘the summerhouse’, or ‘the garden office’ for me to write in, but as it sits on the plot of the old shed (built to look like a pre-war railway station), ‘the shed’ it will always remain.
I spent ages choosing designs. In the end I plumped for one that was like a mini-Loire chateau. All steep, tiled roof and graceful windows. Then our next door neighbours showed us the minimalist cube they were going for at the same time, and at the last minute I decided to copy them. I’m glad I did. The result is sleek and self-effacing and beautiful. Which it kind of needs to be, because as you can see, it’s not exactly ‘tucked away’ in the garden. It basically IS the back end of the garden.
Inside, it has ‘the writing end’, where I occasionally sit when I can’t face the local cafe or the library, and ‘the stuff end’, where we store all the things we can’t find room for in the house. The trouble is, it’s so lovely I can’t bear to fill it up completely with gardening equipment etc., so I decided I needed another, overflow shed.
Just before Christmas, I bought a shed kit. Then at Easter it was finally warm enough for my husband to make it for me. I cooked Easter Sunday lunch while my husband and elder son put it together, aided and abetted by the 3 year-old (who mostly sat on crucial bits and hid tools in his sandpit). This is now the ‘Little Shed’.
It may not be as beautiful as my big shed. It may not contain my mood board, my books and my reference materials. In fact, it contains mops and spades. But it was built with love by some of my favourite people, so it’s still very special.
At the London Book Fair on Tuesday I had a great catch-up with Barry, my publisher. He showed me pictures of his EXTREMELY BEAUTIFUL MAGAZINE WORTHY retreat in Scotland. With great pleasure and a certain sense of one-upmanship, I showed him pictures of my sheds.