Well how did that happen? I know it’s probably the come down from the steroids mixed with the other medication I’m taking (I really must read about the side effects (or should I?) ). I was probably sitting in my absolute favourite place, my place of contentment when the dark clouds descended.
Let me take you back almost 20 years, no, further, much further. Say about 1996. No, even further about 1986. That’s it, circa 1986. I/we were living in the 3rd house we owned. We’re talking first wife. We were lucky enough to have been able to buy a two bedroom tumbledown cottage with about 2 acres of land. To start with we focussed on making the cottage habitable. When that was achieved we tackled the land. During the “gardening” phase I bought about 1 square meter of cedar with which I built a cabin in the woods about as far away from the house as possible, on the highest part of the steep plot to catch the morning sun. It was a great success. If you drive up past the China Clay Museum at Wheal Martyn, look to your left in about 300m you may still glimpse it in the woods......it’s still standing. The cabin was supposed to be my place of contentment, as it transpires it was the absolute opposite but that’s probably a story that’ll not be told.
So, why build a cabin so far away from the house? Because it draws you into your garden. Subsequently I’ve built several animal sheds, swings, bridges and other structures designed to draw us into our gardens.
This house, our present home, is no different. When we arrived the house was in pretty good nick inside. The garden was pretty tidy as well, but the highest, west facing 1/3, was overgrown and unused. I set about doing the normal thing, building something to draw us into the garden to catch the evening sun.
This is where my story begins.
I cleared the garden, removed an old corrugated plastic shed, sold a perfectly good greenhouse and installed a biggish French paddling pool for the girls. All was good for a few years but I needed to build a shed just because......
I started to look around for some good inexpensive materials. As luck would have it a maritime incident had recently occurred off South Devon. On the 18 January 2007 the MSC Napoli a United Kingdom-flagged container ship ran into difficulty shedding a considerable tonnage of timber into the English Channel. The salvaged timber that formed a part of it’s load was treated and subsequently sold at an excellent price. I knew the timber merchant that had the wood, I bought loads. The shed/man cave/summer house/pavilion was born.
What started as an 8ft x 16ft shed has become a comfortable summer house of sorts with further shed style storage adjoining. There’s decking, fencing and to top it off a hot tub sunk into the deck.
The top of the garden is subtly or gaudily (your choice) flooded in blue light all controlled by time switches. I’ve built a log shed, housed a pizza oven, made a swing in an arbour with a vine roof for shade, installed a weather vane, more lights, and a babbling water feature. There’s a camellia growing through the decking, a clematis, some honeysuckle, the aforementioned vine, a jasmine and hanging bottles with geraniums. The decking is furnished with a suite of pretend rattan furniture, some carpets for when its nice and dry, a table for the hot tub that also lights up, there’s a couple of mirrors creating the illusion of other places and a fire pit, sometimes two.
Inside the summer house/pavilion/whatever, we can sit comfortably on decent furniture watching (because we can open the side up) the sun set over our house. We have carpet on the floor, music, a fridge (invariably stocked with something) more timed lighting, more illusion creating mirrors, sometimes a digital projector even a smoke machine should the fancy take us.
Inside and outside there’s our accumulated collection of paraphernalia and tat. It really is (in modern parlance) our Happy Place, our place of contentment.
Further down, at the bottom of the garden next to the house is more decking (incidentally, rats love decking) with more pretend rattan furniture, a dining table and chairs where we can sit and eat in the morning and daytime sun. At night it can all be floodlit, should we feel the urge.
We’ve accumulated a few big parasols, a party tent and festoon lighting. We have rope lights and even a chandelier for the tent. I must like my lights! There’s a fish design swimming up one of our fences, and we’ve even squeezed in a couple of apple trees. Perhaps you can understand how it my Happy Place. Our place of contentment.
The MSC Napoli got into trouble over 14 years ago and was subsequently scrapped and is no more. We’ve been constructing our garden ever since.
I got into trouble less than 4 years ago. Soon I also shall be no more but I’m still constructing our garden.
When the dark clouds descend my Happy Place, my place of contentment, becomes a place of sadness. It’s ok, I know it won’t last very long.
I’ve still got my plans, I’ve still got my projects, I've still got Coffee Club live from Totnes on Tuesday and I’ve discovered I’ve still got a glove with a kangaroo skin palm.
Yippee! I’ll need it for my latest project.
And I’ve written this..... the dark clouds may just be lifting.
Hatches matches and dispatches.
What’s happened in 3½ years,
45 full moons. Quite a few hatches matches and dispatches.
Life goes on regardless.