Searching for the perfect shed


Adventures of an allotmenteer, part 2 : 

Towards the end of last year I became the new tenant of an overgrown allotment in Rye Harbour. While I continued with some serious digging, finding forkfuls of broken glass from a rotovated green house, I started to think about a plan for this rectangular plot. My priority, with a good amount of weeds cleared, was the introduction of a shed.

As I imagined a long and happy relationship with this allotment, choosing the right sort of shed to spend time in was crucial. So began many hours of obsessive research into small wooden buildings.

Spare moments were spent Googling sheds. I read shed reviews, shed descriptions, technical shed specifications and building diagrams of sheds until, some weeks later, I was able to identify that what I really wanted was not a shed at all but a summer house.

A shed tends to have fewer windows and a single windowless door compared with a summer house which has more windows and glazed doors, essentially a summer house is an attractive shed. Log cabins, more robust, were an option, if a pilates studio in the garden was required, but the higher cost and slightly alpine aesthetic ruled these out.

With my search narrowed, it was no less intensive and I took to waking in the middle of the night, flicking on the phone and repetitively searching ‘summer house’. This ritual produced an impressive contender, featuring plenty of windows and even bi folding doors, but its reviews were terrible. One man’s experience of having to plane centimetres off those doors just to get them to close, was enough to put me off that one. Then, at tea time, searching again, just before my two boys came home from school, a small grainy image of a cream and green summer house popped up which I had not seen before.

Eureka, I fell for this instantly and finding no reviews at all, and accepting that I would have to paint it to make it like the one in the picture, I placed the order giving ‘Rye Harbour Allotments’ as the delivery address.

With only two weeks to make a base on which to put it, I popped around to see “The Salty Sea Dog”, my neighbour, who has a great understanding of building things. I was hoping to coax him into making it, but he was otherwise occupied refurbishing a fishing boat in his back garden. He dispatched me with a shopping list and some verbal instructions on how to do it myself.

Laying out the shed base
Laying out the shed base

A few days later, wincing at the scratching brambles, I drove the car laden with post mix, sharp sand and concrete blocks along the potholed lane to the allotment gate. Relentless rain had created a quagmire and unable to get the car further, transported my booty through the sodden path by barrow.

Less mathematically and more by eye, the shape of a shed base emerged. About a week later 11 holes, four on each side and three in the middle, had been dug, into which 11 concrete blocks eventually sat, approximately level, hardening into their post-mix soup.

Delivery day arrived, but my excitement was tinged with a niggling concern about the potential size of the delivery lorry in relation to the size of the lane that it would need to access. The phone rang mid-afternoon, the shed was minutes away. I arranged a rendezvous on the corner of the lane leading to the allotments. Waiting there, with my wheelbarrow, I was aghast to see an enormous white truck slowly bumping down the road. Drawing level with me I pointed the driver, hopelessly, down the brambly lane knowing there was no way that truck would ever make it as far as the gate.

He did try, the colossus reversed, but immediately thwarted by the poor state of the road, was forced to stop. With no further concern for any alternative plan the driver jumped down from his cab, pulled up the tailgate and hydraulically deposited onto the verge a huge pallet, its only cargo, with my flat packed shed strapped to it.
As the lorry made its way cautiously back towards tarmac sanctuary, I looked at my old barrow next to this giant pile of shed and wondered about balancing capabilities while traversing over muddy hillocks and boggy paths.

Not convinced, I phoned for help. Luckily, Salty Sea Dog’s son Lee and his mate Herring happened to be in Winchelsea Beach when I rang and it wasn’t long before I saw them both ambling in my direction in their wellies.

The shed pile eventually disappeared from the verge on the lane and re-emerged in no particular order in my plot where it waited for assembly by, back from Qatar for the half term holidays, my husband. [To be continued]

Photos: Sarah Nelson

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