I'm so pleased to finally share my big project with you!
Introducing my beautiful new Shepherds Hut which was built by Paul at Beechleaf Carpentry, and has been standing in the garden since April! I wanted to wait until the surrounding garden had grown before sharing on this blog, as the section of the garden where it stands was a mud bath for much of the spring after the building work!
We had the idea for a hut when I had just taken over the garden after Dad, and we thought a brand new project was exactly what I needed. We remembered Paul's Shepherds Hut from a wood fair in 2011 when we had sat in one of the huts and thought how lovely it was! Before we realised it, we were picking up the phone and arranging for him to come and see if it would be possible. After some problem solving (I will show more in the next post!) he began building my hut over the winter months. What has amazed us most about having the hut, is how different it feels being in there, compared to being in the house. As much as I love my home, you feel much quieter and calmer in the hut with less distractions. You also feel very much part of the garden - with the benefit of escaping the rain, which happens to sounds lovely pattering on the roof!
These huts provided a comfortable home for nineteenth century shepherd's who had to move with their flocks daily, managing to be a kitchen/bedroom/living room all in one. Designs did vary, but they were all constructed to be the most practical and durable accommodation, with a good stove in the corner and windows on each side to keep an eye on the flock. Stable doors enabled them to hear any problems outside, and the strong chassis enabled the hut to be rolled from field to field. These days you can still sometimes see old huts perched in the corners of fields, but there has been a true regeneration with these structures with people yearning for a traditional retreat. Programs such as George Clarke's Amazing Spaces is a good example of the growing popularity in creating your own little sanctuary - but may I say, I embarked on this project long before it was on screen (I can't help but be protective!). But at least such programs helped people visualise what I meant by 'Shepherds Hut' - I did get a lot of funny looks at first, and woe betide anyone who calls it a caravan!
The surrounding garden was only really meant for this summer, as I could only start planting very late in the season so I chose seeds with instant results such as poppies and cosmos, a few plug plant Delphiniums/Foxgloves/Lupins too but they'll establish properly next year. I just wanted some colour to help set the hut off, as I mentioned, the site was so muddy and beaten down before, I wasn't convinced anything could grow there! I've been reading up a lot about gardening on clay soil, but this year it was just trial and error. It will be quite the cottage garden when I'm eventually finished, but I need to understand clay soil friendly plants a little better before I take the plunge!
I want to use the hut for (hopefully) getting back into the creative mindset that I have had to put aside for the last year - writing, making and creating. It's so difficult to delve into your imagination in your home surroundings, there's always something domestic to distract you! So essentially, it's a studio, but also just a place that is truly, just mine. It's furnished exactly how I'd want a home to be: a mix of contemporary and vintage style (no chintz!), plenty of secondhand and craft pieces, and most importantly a whole load of lovely books!
So let me show you indoors!
This is how it looks standing in the doorway. The desk can collapse back against the wall if needed, my local carpenter built it especially to fit after I had to accept finding the perfect vintage one was near impossible. The chair was found at an antiques market and is originally from a church - you can see the shelf at the back for the prayer books, personally I've used it for my bird/flower/plant guides as they are a perfect fit!
The hut is a place to enjoy a quieter life, and offers the opportunity to be immersed in the garden all year round. I hope that it provides me with a new wave of inspiration and ideas, so watch this space!
You may also notice my new blog banner, which was created by the lovely Kat Whelan, who took time to read and understand my blog before she embarked on creating the image, I'm so pleased with it!
Also, a big thank you to Bruce for taking these photographs, and of course thank YOU for reading! Expect more writings from the hut soon!