September 2012


It seems that Blogger has seen fit to fix something that wasn’t broken. Specifically, it now seems that whenever I post an image (as in the post immediately below), the leading (space between lines of words) looks hideous. I’ve made blogger aware of this problem and hope they can unbreak the issue.

If they can’t, I’ll obviously be decamping to a new blogging platform. Watch this (terrible use of) space.

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This is what the studio-to-be looked like a few minutes ago.

Ripping out was fairly straightforward. (If you’re going to do it yourself, it’s worth knowing that the partitions and other bits of trim are stapled through the roof from the outside, before the skin of the caravan goes on. Which means you don’t get to re-use many partitions.)

At both ends there was some serious leakage going on, rotting the wood frame to nothing. We also found ant cities in the polystyrene here, which we’ll replace with some packaging scrounged from the tip and a friend’s barn. Not quite sure how we’re going to cover those bits back up again yet, but it’ll all make perfect sense in the end.

One thing you may not know is that Her Outdoors is an artist. Not your have-an-easel-and-a-set-of-watercolours kind of artist, but your seriously talented, fully rounded Artist who creates beautiful things using pretty much whatever is at hand, pretty much all the time.

True, she’s only won awards for her textile art, but her sculpture is incredible, she can draw, paint and make with the best of them, and (which is very depressing to someone who worked for 18 years as a professional writer) has Genuinely Good Ideas for at least four books in different genres, plus a trilogy she may never find time to write down.

You’re unlikely to know these things because over the last few years she’s been mainly making big yurt covers in small spaces. Like the eating area in our old house…

…the kitchen in the Shack before we built the bathroom…

…the bathroom in the Shack before there was a toilet…

…and afterwards…

…more than once…

…or if she’s been really, really lucky, our yurt…

When what she’s needed all along is a studio. Somewhere to keep all the boxes of fabric, dyes, equipment, reference books and sketch books stashed up in the attic or under our bed, and the industrial machines in the bathroom and yurt. Somewhere that doesn’t need to be mopped after breakfast and tidied away before the kids come home from school. Somewhere she can leave stuff overnight where the cats won’t walk on it. Somewhere, in fact, like this.

This is not her studio. It’s a photo she found on a popular networking site a few weeks ago. But that’s not the point. The point is, it gave her (yet) an(other brilliant) idea.

Because it just so happens that we had an old and neglected caravan in the field that we’ve been using as an animal feed store…

…and we had a space next to the Shack…

…that was almost exactly caravan sized.

It needs some work on the inside…

…and we’ve had to find another home for the scythes…

…but this studio-to-be appears to be here to stay.

Of course, it did mean we needed to build a shed for the animal feed. But you already knew about that.


The reason we needed to build the shed is coming soon.

For reason that will soon become clear, we had to build a shed down near the chicken run. The challenge: To spend as little money as possible.

It’s been so long since I made the pallet pig ark and chicken house, I’d forgotten how much fun it is to build with pallets. From the ground up, two pallets made the base, which was topped with some ply a friend was going to throw away. Two more pallets made the back wall and, with one for each side and another for the front, we nearly had a building.

At this stage it looked a lot like a bar, which coincided nicely with my birthday:


By a superb coincidence, the cladding for last year’s temporary solar shower cubicle…


…was exactly the right length for the back and one side, and the uprights were re-used as uprights and roof timbers.

After another couple of days it looked like this:


And this:


The corrugated iron came from a friend’s garden, the window came from our Shack when we were gutting it in 2009 and the door you might recognise as one I made a few weeks ago (originally intended for the new solar shower cubicle). The beauty of this kind of building is that you don’t have to worry too much about making the wind braces beautiful – you can just slap them in any old how, which has a beauty of its own:


I had enough nails and screws in boxes for the whole structure, which came in under budget at €0.00 (£0.00).

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