My life in sheds
Lots of visitors to my little shop-in-a-shed ask me why I gave up teaching to spend my days in a log cabin surrounded by wood 'n' stuff. The story of how I ended up here - 'my spiritual journey from school to shed' is available to buy for £5 with a donation from each book going to St. John's Hospice.
It is surprising how many visitors to Woodcroft Crafts have commented on the peace and tranquility that can be felt in my humble garden shed. Someone even called it 'The Shack' (which is actually a huge compliment if you have ever read Paul Young's book).
The following poems might help to explain why I feel so much at home in a shed.
The Forgotten Wendy House
A thick wall of ivy completely obscured a window and a door.
The branch of a tree grew through the rotten roof
Scattering leaves upon the floor.
The present owner had no idea of its significant history.
It was just a dilapidated garden shed,
but it meant so much more to me.
It was smaller than I remember, but I was small at the time.
I was only five or six years old when this shed was mine.
I was there when the logs were delivered; it was such an exciting day.
Just planks of wood on a mound of mud made me happier than I could say.
I felt so proud when I was allowed to hammer in the first nail.
I wasn't an expert with builder's tools but I lived to tell the tale.
Fortunately my Dad then took over;
He soon made four walls and a pitched roof.
With a special door that wouldn't trap fingers
And a window that was shatter-proof.
A little stream trickled past the window
To make a waterwheel creak slowly round.
Below that, a stone frog sat by a small pond
Spitting water with a guttural gurgling sound.
Of course, the frog was really a prince turned to stone by the wicked fairy queen.
My wendy house was really his castle (things aren't always what they seem).
Sometimes it was Goldilocks' cottage or maybe the gingerbread house.
It was a hospital for a hedgehog or even a poorly fieldmouse.
It was a den for members of our secret club if they said the password right.
Once we even camped out in it and stayed in there all night!
With curtains at the window and carpet squares on the floor
And a few small pieces of furniture, who could ask for more?
Each Spring I emptied everything out on the lawn
Thinking Spring cleaning would be fun.
But I always lost interest before I had finished
And ended up in trouble with Mum.
Happy memories of my childhood will stay with me forever,
But my wendy house that I loved so much
can't survive much more bad weather.
Even if it was still safe for me to enter I'd have to stoop just to get in the door.
No-one can turn back time and I'm not a child any more.
Now I'm grown up. I have a house of my own;
Not made from logs but bricks and stone.
But, at the bottom of my garden, if you care to look
Is a beautiful little wendy house straight out of a picture book.
It's not exactly the same as the wendy house I had.
But it was made especially for my children by their father and Grandad.
I hope it brings them as many happy memories
As my wendy house brought me,
Then maybe my grandchildren will have one too,
We'll have to wait and see.
Fred the shed
He'd been holding up shelves for most of his life, so he was old and tired.
For me it was certainly 'love at first sight' as he'd been fully re-wired.
In the house there was no room for me, but I didn't cry or moan,
For I had claimed SIR FRED THE SHED as my very own.
We pulled down all his cobwebs, the spiders we did splat.
After cleaning him from head to toe, we produced a kind of flat.
But Fred the shed was feeling blue with his shelves no longer there.
Even with carpets and curtains, poor old Fred looked bare.
So we rooted out a fishing net and hung on it live fish that were dead.
But in the night they gave him a fright, so he weren't too pleased - our Fred.
"This ain't no good" I decided, "But just what can we do?"
And after hours of long debate, on his roof we painted a Pooh.
Winnie was only the first of Fred's friends;
Donald, Dumbo and Mickey appeared quite fast.
With a few odd posters to cover his cracks, Fred was happy at last.
Together we had a Summer of fun, those memories will never fade.
But sadly now the Winter has come, Fred's death cannot be delayed.
For, although the Summer sun was hot, the Winter nights are cold.
Fred's four walls are starting to rot because he is so old.
So please sign his wall to show you care,
Though I know it won't do him much good.
At least he'll know the thought is there
Even though he's only made of wood.