Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Installing the shepherd's hut

Sometimes things happen which make you pinch yourself.  Having our shepherd's hut is a bit like that.  I can't quite believe that something that I have always loved but have always thought was the kind of thing that belonged to other people now belongs to me.


The idea has been germinating for a while.  When my father in law came to live with us we converted the room which had been my study into a bed-sitting room for him.  I need to be careful here because Ian's study is and always has been a four foot square porch which is crammed to overflowing and so cold in winter that he needs to wear sheepskin boots to sit at the computer!  But I did miss it.  There was no other sensible option for accommodating my father in law and now the room is in constant use as opposed to the couple of hours a day when I used to sit at the desk, working, blogging or reading because the light by the window and the view are both good.  So it is a good thing that the room is now always warm and used but I have sorely missed the space of my own with my own pictures on the walls, my own bolthole.

It's a funny thing, spaces and territories.  Do other people do this?  In our family the kitchen is shared territory for my husband and me, so is the sitting room and our bedroom.  The tiny study/porch is Ian's, squashed as  it is.  The spare bedrooms belong to no one although I am slightly more likely to engage with them than Ian is, changing beds and putting in flowers and clean towels for visitors, polishing mirrors and making the rooms welcoming.  Mostly they are neutral territory although now that I have carved out a sewing space one of them is beginning to feel like a place in which I have a toehold.  It doesn't feel like my space though as its primary use is for visitors.   Outside, the metal greenhouse where the work of sowing and propagating and growing tomatoes is done is shared space while the cedar greenhouse, which houses the scented leaf geraniums and is more of a sitting space,  is mine.  The workshop is Ian's space and so is the new barn.  Even the garden has its different areas.  Most of it feels like shared space but the chicken area has become more of Ian's place while the side garden and the native tree walk which I have created and which I look after are mine.  If you don't do this it will sound odd so I hope I am not the only one!   Of course it is all ours, but it doesn't all feel the same.

If you add to the sense of having a space of your own the irresistible lure of time to yourself you can see why men have had sheds and women have had sewing rooms for generations.  The fact that sheds and studies, stillrooms and sewing rooms serve a practical purpose provides the acceptable reason for having them, but really the attraction is that space where you will not be disturbed, where you can organise things as you like, where the clatter of other people is silenced.

I have talked about the attraction of this kind of shed space to a variety of people and find that some share my love of the place of one's own entirely and without explanation while others don't quite get  it - yes, they understand the practical function but they don't really see the emotional pull.  In my entirely unscientific survey (i.e. twenty or so of my friends, acquaintances and family)  there are slightly more women than men in the "get it" camp.  This may prove nothing at all or it may, as one friend suggests, be something to do with the fact that men are better than women at cutting off so women need real time alone to find a breathing space.  Maybe some people are simply more sociable than others.  I have no idea.  I only know that I feel more like me with time to myself and a place to have it in.

So the hut.... It was made for us by hutsnstuff , a father and son business based on the Powys/Shropshire border.  They make the huts to order so you can have what suits you.  We have seen them building offices and b&b accommodation and we knew we wanted something which would be versatile enough to be a little of both: a writing room and an occasional spare bedroom when the house is full of family and friends.


It arrived on a truck the day I went with Karen, Jane and Michelle to the RHS show at Tatton so I was not here to see it being installed in the top corner of the field.  Ian took this photo as Dave and John Gregory arrived and then unaccountably there are no more.  I take this to mean that all hands were required!


But by the time we came home from Tatton there it was in the corner of the field, looking like it had always been there!


Inside the first thing to do was to install the mattresses, laboriously covered last week, onto the sofa bed and start to move the furniture in.


Ian fitted a little folding table.


The curtains went up.


The cushions went in.


The welly tray is by the door.


There is a little stove to keep the place toasty in winter.

And just because you have a room of your own doesn't mean you don't want to share it sometimes with those you love. Last night we slept in the hut and christened it with a bottle of fizz.


Thank you to all sorts of people, to Dave and John for building it, and to Ian for finishing things off and, most of all, for getting it.

72 comments:

  1. Oh my shed loving aunt mabel, this is my DREAM!! Literally I dream of shepherd's huts! Yours is perfect (with a stove, eeeek!) , and until the pennies are saved, I will enjoy yours vicariously. How utterly lovely.

    I think it is partly needing some relatively quiet, private space that I crave my hut, we are a family of six often with extra teens and kids around, particularly fantastically noisy boys, and I crave some peace and quiet sometimes! Enjoy living the shepherd's hut dream. I do hope I write a post like this some day... :) Bx

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    1. Thanks Belinda! I would have loved something like this when my children were younger too. If you ever get closer to the dream hutsnstuff are pretty keenly priced from our research. Hope you do!

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  2. It's absolutely gorgeous :-)

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    1. It is isn't it? I have just been and locked it up. Still pinching myself!

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  3. Fabulous space. I love it. Look forward to even more inspirational blogs from there.

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    1. Thanks Tim! It even has wi-fi thanks to Ian!

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  4. I totally, completely understand the need for a room of one's own. I have my study in what is our kitchen's breakfast nook. Hardly private, or conducive to reflection, and the desk there is too small to work at (and I work from home), so every day I move out and explode the laptop and files onto the dining room table. Projects are unpacked then packed away with every dinner. Things do not progress as they would if I had them in piles around me 24 hours a day, to remind me of their need for my time. I used to have our second bedroom as my room, but then our son got big enough to need his own room, and since then I have been peripatetic, back and forth between dining room and nook. It is such a 'first world problem', to not have a space dedicated to me, but I feel it keenly!! There is a whole science built around the psychology of transitions now, and I think the "own space" issue is connected. I read somewhere that it takes 3 hours away from children and family for a woman to restore and rise to her full capability mentally (sorry if this is offensive to anyone!). I think that having your own bolthole significantly eases this transition. It's a space you can go to an immediately be your full self, if you aren't (able to be) that full self in your daily life. I celebrate your Shepherd(esse)s' Hut! Will you give it a name??

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    1. I do sympathise! I had a room to work in for ages after I started working from home a few years ago. When I first lost it I started working on the kitchen table. It seemed to take me a long while to get going every time and I found it hard to refocus after taking all my stuff away so we could have lunch. I hadn't heard of that claim that you need 3 hours away from children and family to regain full intellectual functioning but I can believe it. Focussing is the thing. Family life can be a wonderful thing but it isn't easily compatible with concentration on anything else!

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  5. I think they call that throwing down the shed gauntlet, wonderful and heated too.
    Paul

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    1. Really hoping the woodburner will keep it warm in winter Paul. It has been too hot here in the last few days to test it yet!

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  6. I am suffering from Shepherd's Hut envy. I tore out a picture of Sarah Raven's hut in a meadow, and even went to see it in person. Yours looks very snug and comfortable. Does it have electricity too?

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    1. It does have electricity with four plug sockets and lights. It runs off a caravan type electric hook up. No running water though!

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  7. Oh, that does look WONDERFUL!!!

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  8. It looks wonderful! Yes, we too have had our own spaces in our home-I took over our daughter's bedroom and converted it into a sewing/craft retreat, while my husband has had a shop out back. Guess we will be doing the same again when we get our new home built. In the meantime, I think we're in for a lot of shared space in the 1 bedroom apartment we'll be renting until it's finished!

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    1. A one bedroom apartment eh? That sounds a bit of a challenge! Best of luck with the building project.

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  9. Hi Elizabeth, I'm sorry I still need to read your post about Beth Chatto, I might find the right time to read it with the right calm required. I love this... thing! Only in England you have this huts with wheels and they're lovely! It's nice to now you have a space all for yourself indeed, I use to hide behind the door with my toys when I shared the room with my sister as children, I couldn't find any other place to feel on my own and close the tap of the World... I bet this puts me in the 'get it' team.

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    1. I think you are right that this is a very English version of a room of one's own Alberto. And "closing the tap of the world" - what a wonderful phrase for the need for peace.

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  10. Can I move in please ....?.....now ! I think Dylan Thomas would have liked it too.....

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    1. It is a rather writerly space isn't it?

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  11. A Hut of One's Own. I totally, completely understand.

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    1. Ah, another one. Funny how some of the responses from the "get it" brigade are almost passionate!

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  12. How lovely!!
    I hope you have tea making facilities.
    Happy writing.
    Chris

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    1. At the moment the tea is being made in the house and carried outside - no running water you see. I can see that I might have to take a large flask with me from time to time!

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  13. Elizabeth, reading this post has brought me lots of smiles. I am so glad that your well-designed and bespoke fitted shepherd's hut is now very much in place.

    By now, I think you know that I do live by myself in a very tiny NYC apartment. I wonder now if perhaps I do have my own urban version of a shepherd's hut? There are some simularities, but you've got gorgeous natural green garden pace outside your hut't window, while I've got Central Park nearby, and lots of entertainment (Beacon Theater, Lincoln Center, loads of cinemas, and various shops and markets within walking distance.) All this city stuff is very fine, but somehow I think your shepherd's hut looks very, very good.

    xo

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    1. Part of me envies you the entertainment Frances! I am not sure I could live in a city again though although they are very attractive these days to visit!

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  14. Very charming . . . there is no doubt, you are going to enjoy! Electricity and water?

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    1. Electricity yes, water no, but there is water a hundred yards away across the grass in the laundry room!

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  15. A place just for you - you lucky shepherd-hut-owning duck! I long for a space of my own and TGD was in the process of making a cabin by the pond when his circumstances forced a change of plan. We have a perfectly lovely house, but there is no space that is just mine and I long for it. I love how you've furnished and decorated!

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    1. Thank you Pondside. Somehow I thought you might be another hut person!

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  16. I should change my font colour to green Elizabeth!

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    1. Well green is good, green is my favourite colour!

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  17. Absolutely wonderful - am so envious, in a nice way! Wel done you for finally seeing a dream come true, and it looks beautiful insdie. I hope you go on enjoying having it for a long time to come.

    We have similar territorial areas in our cottage/garden. Outside, only the herbs are mine, and the lovely little shed at the bottom is Jim's for his fishing gear and contemplation. Also the greenhouse and garage. Indoors I have my own sewing room/mini conservatory, other than that it's pretty much shared territory! With the kitchen probably being more mine, I guess.

    Deep joy to you!

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    1. I am glad to find others have this territorial thing Lynne. The herbs are mine here too, must be a woman thing!

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  18. Perfect. Looks wonderful in its grassy setting - the perfect retreat.

    Do not contemplate getting sheep to complete the picture.

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    1. Sheep sound rural and lovely but I think they would not be compatible with the garden in any way!

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  19. It is a lovely shed! No, it deserves a better name. I have already created fantasies around it on another post of yours. A most beautiful creation. And you've even resisted painting it a bright yellow as I am afraid I would have done, with Mr Toad in mind. I know just what you are referring to when you talk of personal space; you have that great authors' trick of seeing something which is really quite obvious but which no-one has thought to record before. Thus does our consciousness evolve.

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    1. That is a very nice thing to say Fennie, thank you.

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  20. I like your territorial thoughts :-). We are absolutely the same. We would also have inaugurated in the same way. Instead of the shepherd hut, we have now an army truck. This afternoon, it will be filled with picknick baskets and other bits. Less romantic than your new second home.

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    1. An army truck? How exciting and how come?

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    2. OK, been and looked on your blog. That is one very large truck!

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  21. It's gorgeous, Elizabeth. It would be nice if hubby and I could have a space each that was our own. Wellyman would have a piano room cum artists studio and I'd have a writing room attached to my potting shed with a space to condition my cut flowers. Can you see we've given it some thought? All of this would require moving and a significant amount of money though, so for now we muddle along. Me arranging my flowers by the kitchen sink and when we're both working from home sharing the spare room and kitchen for computer space. I love the green paint on the outside and the cream colour inside, beautiful and the little stove is delightful. The perfect little bolt-hole with a cup of tea and a biscuit ;).

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    1. I love your ideas for your rooms of your own. Combining a writing room with a potting shed seems particularly inspired!

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  22. I think your shepherd's hut is just lovely, and exactly right. Having one's own space is essential for harmonious living. Mine tends to be the kitchen, and my spare bedrooms hardly feel like mine at all, having been in almost constant use by visitors since I moved in here, but I have plans for them this winter....

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    1. Spare bedrooms are interesting aren't they? The space is too valuable not to make some use of it but it needs to be a use you can pack up and put away!

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  23. Oh what a perfect way to round up your day out at Tatton! Wishing you many happy hours in your bolt hole Elizabeth. Here the greenhouse is strictly all mine - no interest or competition at all :)

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    1. A greenhouse as your own space is rather nice Anna. A cup of tea, the radio on, sounds good!

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  24. Oh you lucky, lucky person. Its gorgeous, I love it, I want one!

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    1. I think every woman should have one, and any man too who wants one!

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  25. That little hideout is beyond charming -- it will be a delight in all seasons, really. It's easy to imagine snuggling down in it during winter's gloom, but also to imagine reading on that flowery spread in summer's lazy days. Wonderful!

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    1. The second pair of curtains has been made today and all is looking very welcoming and snug.

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  26. EGADS! Gorgeous. I want to put pots of red geraniums by the front door.

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    1. I like the idea of red geraniums marcheline! I have some scented leaved ones I could use but they are pink.

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    2. I'm seeing wooden barrel halves with metal bands, one on each side of the steps, with geraniums (of any color, really) in the center and trailing variegated ivy around the edges...

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  27. Oh, I want one! Now, where on earth could I put it - lacking as we are in a field? I wish you joy in it.

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    1. I suggest getting rid of a car, therefore no garage, therefore hut space!

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  28. Lovely, - what I miss most in this down-sized house (conveniently in town and close to all amenities say the children!) is my weaving studio. There is a spare study, but Charles needs it more than I do, - woman never really retire. They always have their kitchens, - but eventually, as men get older, if they haven't somewhere to fiddle and do hobbies they are truly and sadly lost. And sometimes grumpy...... :Your hut is gorgeous, - be happy in it.

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    1. A weaving studio sounds a wonderful thing to have!

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  29. Oh, Elizabeth, it is just perfect - and looks absolutely at home. Beautiful.

    I utterly agree with you about the room of one's own thing; as I live by myself now, I'm fine - er, the chaos possibly spreads too much, though, and it's beginning to looks as though a mad woman lives here (bit like a cat lady but with wool and spinning wheels).... I always remember my mother's old neighbours had two sheds which faced each other over the veg garden - his was full of motorbikes, and her shed was a sewing room. They weren't allowed to enter each other's shed, and when he put a screwdriver through his had he had to come out to shout for help. Hmm - taking things a bit far?

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  30. It was Virginia Woolf who wrote - A Room of her own? In a different life, I would have my own room, but I sometimes blog in the guest-room. Do tell - what does the little stove burn?

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    1. Stove burns wood Diana. And yes to the Virginia Woolf question!

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  31. i love your blog, to express your views, this is the correct way.

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  32. How did I miss this?! Love, love, love it, and I am of course quite green with envy. I have a study that subs as the only spare bedroom, there really isn't space to swing a cat here, goodness knows how we fitted four children in! Enjoy your pretty shepherds hut x

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    1. We have more outside space than inside, hence the hut in the field!

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  33. I love that you slept there and celebrated with fizz! Here's to the Shepherd's Hut and all who enjoy her... except if it was mine I'd be very reluctant to let anyone else in!! I understand exactly what you mean about space. The overspill futon is in my study and I feel shut out when anyone has to use it (I also know that I'm ridiculously fortunate to have a 'room of my own', but, like you, I do need that space to breathe). I've been fascinated by spaces, thresholds and boundaries for many years so it was a sheer joy to read your understanding of the spaces in your home. A lovely post.

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    1. I see you understand completely Chris! It is not that I am not prepared to share it from time to time, but I do need that space. Don't know why, just do.

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  34. I'm so glad you have this space now, Elizabeth - I so felt for you when you bravely gave up your own room. You know how much I identify with the need for personal space, having a large house divided into two!

    It is mysterious, isn't it, that sense of how much a space belongs to you? Very powerful. Our spare room feels hardly ours at all (and 'ours' isn't casual - it's through Charles' office). Different parts of the house have very different feels but it's hard to put a finger on how you feel it.

    I know when Charles is doing something in my part of the house I feel invaded and twitchy. Such a powerful thing. It must be absolutely in our bones.

    I wish you years of pleasure and nurturing in your hut. XXXXXX

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  35. WoW! I love it, it is so lovely..and nice stove! I have my own hut, it was a potting shed, then we insulated it, sheet rocked it, painted it and it is my own little get away. Mine is more woodsy, Anglo-Saxon hof like. I have reindeer hides on the bed,elk antlers and my Viking age artwork on the walls, the wood trim around the windows is cut out to look like horse heads. I even painted it Swedish summer cottage red outside.It has wild roses growing all over it, and a birch out the front door. It's important to me, and even when I was a kid I built forts to call my own. I am an outgoing social person, but I also need recharging, and my hut is the place I go. I can draw, do yoga, or just take a nap.I do envy the stove, I just have a an oil heater, much less romantic!

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