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Where this all started

This is the post excerpt.

In August 2014, out of the blue, my until then VERY healthy, 67 year old husband Erik, was diagnosed with osteoporosis.  It affected him seriously very quickly, but the family felt that there was also something else going on. I could write a book about this journey, but here, today, suffice it to say that in July 2015 he was diagnosed with Fronto temporal Dementia. BANG. We were due for a whole family holiday in August that same year and we took it. During that holiday in Menorca, Erik fell out of bed onto a marble floor.  Emergency operation to fix his broken femur, pneumonia and a urine infection, and an insurance company that reckoned he would be able to sit in an ordinary plane seat a few days later, meant that after 2 weeks unconscious in ICU  and another 2 weeks fighting to get home, he was flown home to England, straight into hospital. After a total of 109 days hospitalisation, he was allowed home….a VERY changed man.

Suddenly, a man who had RARELY ever had to ask a tradesman to come to our house to fix things or paint or make, was unable to do anything. He had a SHED. It was FULL of tools and “bits that will come in handy” and I left it alone, until that is, God thought fit to take him away from me in May 2016.

Eventually, my brother in law, spending some time with me, decided to “fix” something for me and went to the shed to look for the appropriate tools. He came back from his “expedition” and christened the shed  …”The Shed of Doom”…….and from then on in the name stuck.

Easter Monday, 2017, we started the journey of transformation, by emptying the shed. Our efforts were a little thwarted by finding 3 birds nests INSIDE the shed…….so……..read more in the next episode.

 

Hanratty’s Back Yard.

When  I was a child, growing up with a Liverpudlian father and a “near” Geordie mother (from County Durham), there was an expression in the family, when things were untidy/ messy/unkempt that “it looks like Hanratty’s back yard”. I do not know if this was a paternal or maternal phrase, but I believe it referred to a rag and bone man’s premises.

That is what I was looking at in the days after the walls finally tumbled.

I suddenly realised, that it was highly possible that the drawers of the desk, which had originally been the work bench in the shed, were likely to have things in, given the nature of the man who had owned it. I opened the first drawer….empty. I opened the second also empty…which totally shocked me.So expecting nothing I opened the third drawer—

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This, I thought had been made by my daughter in her G.C.S.E. ceramics class way back in the 1990’s, but she denied all knowledge of it. IT HAD graced the doors of a number of studies, but I now have no idea from whence it came. The desk top was also adorned with “stickers”…the desk having at one time been in the bedroom of our son. Does anybody else relate to these?

But amusements/red herrings aside, I now have to smash it all up and get it to the tip. My car is only 3 months with me and is the youngest car I have ever owned. It has lots of space but I don’t really want to use it to transport broken splintered wood…..HOWEVER the wood is neither completely broken nor splintered….YET! So like the innocent I am I thought that all those “posh” people in my area who have wood burning stoves MIGHT like to come and take it away for me…FREE. I advertised on my local Facebook buying and selling site and lo and behold somebody was willing to do so. The difference being that he wanted it AS A SHED. I did not mislead him in any way and we started negotiations.

But there were things in the way…the desk for one. So I hauled the desk and other bits of the debris that were not parts of the ACTUAL shed to the front garden and loaded it into my PRISTINE car…and took it to the tip.

Ten days later, after he was “late because of a meeting so can’t come now”, and a number of other such reasons, I awoke on Sunday morning, sent him a message to say that unless it was removed that day it was going to be scrapped. He called me and said he really did still want it but his lorry had broken down…..I gave him until I was back from Church to do something. Whilst  in church I asked two of the men from the congregation if they owned a chain saw. These were the two that I fully expected WOULD have one, but the answer was negative. But when one of the gentlemen queried why I wanted one, there was an immediate offer of assistance to do the job….without a chain saw.

By the time I had got home from church and changed out of “Sunday Best”, I had a phone call to say “On our way”.

Jason and his eleven year old stepson, both being Baden Powell Scouts, arrived with axes and hammers….and DID THE JOB.

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They bashed , crashed, swung, (and even jumped) and after my realisation that hidden amongst the clutter there was a crowbar, the job was finished in less than an hour.

 

One of the wonderful things about this was that my friend Jason managed to find some pieces that he needed to compete a job at Church. This absolutely thrilled me. Erik LOVED wood. He would do anything to save wood. There is STILL a lot of wood on my premises that was saved for a purpose, and which I have not yet thrown away, even though I HAVE been doing a ruthless sort out job.

doom load

After Jason and Nathaniel’s stupendous efforts however the debris still had to be removed, and I now had itchy feet…I needed to be getting on with the transformation., The only way it was going to move quickly enough for me was for me to do it.

Three car loads later…with every bit carried by me from the back of the rear garden to the front of the drive,  the space was  MINE MINE MINE to play with.

And there was SPACE.

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Joshua fought the battle of Jericho and …..

So after about a month of watching, waiting and avoiding the weather, I was sure the birds had all abandoned their space in the Shed of Doom, and I messaged my son to say that I was at a standstill with any progress down at the bottom of the garden, until that shed was knocked for six.

He agreed that “this Sunday”, would be the day.  Sunday morning arrived and I left the house for the day’s Eucharist at St. Mark’s Church, Farnborough. When service was finished I said my goodbyes more swiftly than normal, explaining to my friends that I had to get home to be ready for Thom coming to help me with the demolition of the shed. It was a beautifully sunny morning as I arrived home to find Thom’s car in the drive. Quickly inside…Oh gosh he will be wanting to get started; rush through the house with no sign of him…????? Until I get to the conservatory and I can see him sitting in the sunshine on the patio.I unlock the patio door, because obviously he went out through the kitchen door. “Put kettle on mother!”

“Why didn’t you help yourself?”

“Because I forgot my key.”

“OK, then I will get changed to get started”

“What for? It’s all done!”

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And the walls had tumbled.

We did have MORE bits and pieces that needed moving..,.power tools and “stuff” that was being saved until even more sorting could be done, but it was down. WONDERFUL.

He had his cup of tea and we moved everything that needed protecting through the gate at the back and around to the garage……and just in time the rain came down.

The base of the shed was still in place and we thought at the time that it was easiest to leave it and work my garden plans on top, AND it was heavy (still with the vinyl floor also). However as I walked on and around it (after Thom had gone) I realised that it was not as solid as we thought at first. SO…I rolled up the vinyl, and I lifted up the floor, all the time giving thanks for that ONE operation in August 2016 when BOTH of my knees had been replaced!

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Getting better every day.
……………And on to the next stage……….

Bread Baskets

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So why does inspiration come in the wee small hours?????

I talked last night about the visit to the Sculpture Park which inspired the “Tribute to Treasure” which now hangs in “The Blooming Shed of Doom ” garden. The picture above was the inspiration. As my daughter and I with her two young sons walked past it, we all said , in some form or another, “Looks like something Grandad would have had amongst his stuff”.

Short story tonight…when I started planting, the first “planters” I was able to find…were…bread crates. Surprisingly enough the title of this sculpture was….

Bread Crates.

Enough said.

 

Those plasterer’s trowels…..why?

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I can’t EVER remember Erik doing any plastering of any importance…certainly nothing ever inside any of the houses we lived in, so why did I find these six  “builder’s” trowels? If you look carefully you will see that apart from rust, there appears to be some dark “paint”  on one of them. This, I believe , is roofing complex from attempts to “patch up ” the roof of my summer house.

Mothering Sunday 2013, and my daughter asked what I would like. I said a roll of roofing felt for my summer house (lots of lovely stories to tell you about that..later) as there was a leak, and ever the DIY   expert “without spending too much”,Erik was loathe to give in to having to buy roofing felt. My plan was that IF I was given it as a present he could not argue.

But the roll of felt stood and stood…unused…..looking back now perhaps there were some early signs of the changes that were to come to this very talented man?

Instead of using the felt he “unearthed” a tin of roofing felt complex, and , as he described it, the site of the leak was “parged”….using one of those them thar trowels! And that is my only recollection of a builder’s/plasterer’s trowel ever being used

Eventually during a drastic windstorm in November 2014, Erik started to try and put the roofing felt on the summer house roof. It was late on a Saturday afternoon, dusk fell before he could finish, not enough felting nails inserted, he “fixed” the felt “in place for now” by laying large “logs” on top of the felt on the roof.

It needs to be said here that it was during the late summer of 2014 that we began to notice large changes in Erik’s health and in August he had been diagnosed with Osteoporosis….so why, in November, you may ask, was he trying to do  such physical jobs? He was being defiant, bloody minded…he was just determined that it was not going to stop him doing anything he knew he could (before!)

BUT, having “tied down” the roof with weights…that was the last he was ever able to do to my summer house roof. (What happened to it and the roof of the shed, is another story).

But as I told you, I found 6 of them in April and May during the clearing and demolition of the “Shed of Doom”. Around about that time I went with my daughter and her two boys for a trip to the Sculpture Park in Surrey. We saw some amazing pieces…many involving some aspect  of recycling ….and so just as I was about to put the trowels  into the metal bin at the tip, I had a brainwave…and produced a “Tribute to Treasure”, which contains not only the trowels but Blue Gloss Spray Paint (yet ANOTHER story).

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Even the electric clips, holding the trowels in place were amongst the treasure that I found in the “Shed of Doom.

Tribute to Treasure now hangs on the fence JUST about level with where the shed  originally stood, and at the time of writing, the runner beans are climbing in, under, over and through!

 

 

 

 

 

So we sorted and we sorted and we sorted…

Despite having to work around the fact that a robin was flying in and out of the shed as we tried to sort, my son Thom, my daughter Annie, their spouses spasmodically, and I filled 8 rubble bags that Easter Monday 2016. Some was sheer RUBBISH…paper, card, half pencils, broken screwdrivers, hundreds of Rawlplugs squashed underfoot to mention but a fraction. Some was scrap metal….box upon box, mini drawer upon mini drawer FULL of screws and nails, (90% of which were rusty where the roof had leaked for over a year of “abandon”), a large number of saws (also very rusty), multifarious screwdrivers, innumerable socket sets and, for some reason about 6 plasterers trowels. (more about those at a later date); and of course there were those inevitable items where we could not decide what to do…so they went into the “special ” bag…to be sorted later. At the time of writing this post, they  remain unsorted… but now removed to the drier conditions of the garage, which like many nowadays is too small for my car so is a wonderful storage location.

So began the wait for the young birds and their parents to “flee” from the Shed of Doom. I became very impatient and decided  to embark on the first stages of my plan for the space that would be created when “The Shed” finally came down.

Now let me divert from the present story.

When we bought our house in 2004, we fell in love with the space it had to offer on our first visit. The fact that its price fell by almost £20,000 between our seeing the agent and having a viewing DID help with our decision. The previous residents had three dogs…two of which were Newfoundland terriers…BIG dogs. Their third was a Labrador (not small). The inside of the house had been altered to accommodate the dogs, but that is immaterial; more important is the fact that the garden at the rear of the house has A LOT of concrete/cement, and having come from a Vicarage with a LARGE garden we had to adapt. LOTS  and LOTS of plants in pots, and even growing runner beans in the trough between the bottom of the fence and the footpath. In addition to the shed there was also (and still is) a Summer House, and behind the shed another piece of concrete which was very obviously the section where the dogs were allowed to “do their business”; the route from the kitchen door along the garden to the “space” being fenced to guide the pooches to the correct place.

SO, whilst waiting for my” dickie birds” to leave  the shed, I started to “green up” the small section behind the shed.

The point here is that, obviously , anything I wanted to grow was going to have to be in containers…there is no soil  in over half of the rear garden.  So I started with the strawberry plants which for the last two years have been in the FRONT garden, in containers, vegetable baskets from the supermarket, and now they needed replanting…..into more vegetable baskets! The important thing is that apart from buying compost, all the “planting” that you can see, was done into containers that were ALREADY on the premises, hence I was spending NOTHING on containers at this point.. Remember my telling you that the man who had just left me never had to ring for a tradesman? That he had a selection of “things that will come in handy”? In the photos you can see some of the proof, and you can also see that the “Shed” is still standing as I start my “greening” of the concrete.