Monday, April 06, 2020

The ultimate Shed of the Year vote


If you've a spare moment for a spot of fun, here's something jolly to perk up your day, a vote to decide the ultimate Shed of the Year winner - think virtual Grand National Race of Champions but with fewer fallers. The Shed of the Year competition has been running since 2007 (I was a judge in the early years) but now Uncle Wilco who founded and still organises the competition wants to know what is your shed of sheds. You can vote on his Shedblog and take a look at all the winners below:

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Sunday, April 05, 2020

Head to the Shed in the Idler magazine


I've written something about the attraction of garden offices and sheds in general for the Idler magazine (for which regular readers will know I write a column about shedlike atmospheres each issue). Here's the beginning:
Alex Johnson on the sanity-saving oasis of the garden shed

People often talk about sheds as sanctuaries. At the moment, that’s especially true. “We see sheds as an escape most of the time,” agrees Uncle Wilco, founder of the Shed of the Year competition, “but right now they really are proving to be a oasis.”

Sheds are now performing all kinds of functions. People who don’t normally work from home are suddenly discovering the attraction – I’ve watched musicians perform concerts from inside their garden studio, auctioneers turn their garden sheds into salerooms, and national television broadcasters host their shows from their timber retreats.
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Saturday, April 04, 2020

Gardening tips to get your garden office surroundings ready for summer


A guest post from Oeco Garden Rooms about the space around your shedlike atmosphere: 

With many gardening tasks taking a hiatus over the winter months and with gardens inevitably looking tied and uninviting, a spring clean is one of the first tasks in refreshing your garden for the season ahead.
Start by removing any fallen leaves and clearing any borders and beds back to bare soil. You can use the dead organic matter you collected in your compost pile to be used later as a natural fertiliser, but do not put weeds in the compost, as the seeds can germinate and cause problems later down the line.
Plants that survived the winter should be trimmed back to allow new growth to form and a great time to do this is after the plant has bloomed in early spring to prevent cutting off any future flowers and to prevent damage from frost. Pruning plants in spring also gives them the best chance of blooming again in the summer.
Your lawn is one of the most important spaces in the garden and must be looked after in the spring to ensure a healthy start to the season. Cutting the grass on a higher setting than usual the first couple of times will help with new growth, without putting too much strain on the grass; you can then lower your lawnmower to your preferred height as the lawn gets stronger.
Patio areas and decking should also be cleaned in spring to prevent moss and algae build-up which can make these areas slippery. Warm soapy water and a hard bristle brush makes light work of most of the dirt, but for stubborn stains, a patio cleaner and pressure washer is a great choice.
Spring is also the time to fix any issue in the garden such as broken or rotten fences, tired-looking garden furniture or old garden sheds. Clean the surfaces and repair any damaged pieces before staining or painting them to protect them over the coming months. Exterior stains and paints are now available in a range of different colours, so why not experiment with adding pops of colour throughout your garden.
In with the new
Flowers and plants are an essential consideration in any garden, and as trends change so does the types of plants used in the garden. Many gardeners are now using native plants and flowers as they look to be more conscious of the nature around them and helping local wildlife to survive and thrive.
Planting nectar-rich flowers is an excellent way of attracting butterflies and bees into the garden. Species such as Hebe and Lavender are particularly popular and produce an array of purple flowers that attracts a wide range of insects. Daffodils are the quintessential symbol of spring, while pansies are ideal for smaller borders and hanging baskets.
Spring is also a great time to freshen up the soil in your garden, applying some mulch and compost to feed the soil and the plants. Perennials such as the Pasque flower and Bellflowers will benefit from the increased nutrients and will decorate your garden with an array of vibrant colours.
Unlocking your gardens potential
Once the cleaning and maintenance tasks are done, it is time to look at going the extra mile and creating a space that the whole family can enjoy during the summer. Despite the unpredictable weather, outside entertaining is one of the most popular pastimes during the warmer weather.
Comfortable furniture is vital to provide a space in which to relax and unwind, while budding cooks can create culinary masterpieces with BBQs and outdoor ovens. Café style festoon lighting and fire pits are a great choice when it comes to keeping the ambience going throughout the night.
For those looking to extend their living space without having to build an expensive extension, garden rooms are a perfect choice. Available in a range of different sizes to suit any space, garden rooms can be used for multiple purposes, from an outdoor entertaining area or bar to a place for relaxing and unwinding in away from the main house.
Technology isn’t something that you associate with the garden apart from lawnmowers, strimmer’s and the odd power tool, but as technology makes our lives more comfortable in the home, it was inevitable that it would be integrated into the garden.
There is now an array of hi-tech gadgets available to make gardeners lives easier, from smart apps that remind you to water your plants to probes that analyse the soil and lets you know of impending problems, technology is everywhere.
Remote-controlled ambient lighting and heating systems have been around for a while now and continue to improve, as do advanced sprinkler systems to make sure that every part of your garden gets the right amount of water.
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Friday, April 03, 2020

How to dig a trench for a cable for a garden office


If you're planning to dig a trench for a cable for your new garden office (obviously you'll only be laying it if you're a professional), then there is an excellent thread on this very subject at the Home Improvement Stack Exchange site. Some of it is quite technical but it's all very useful and there are various answers provided to various issues - especially about the width and depth of the trench required - by various respondents. Well worth looking at if this applies to you. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Friday posts are sponsored by Warwick Buildings, manufacturers of outstanding quality timber buildings. Click here for more information.

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Allotment garden office


It's been tremendous seeing how creative people have been with converting their sheds into garden offices during the lockdown. I think this is my favourite so far, RE teacher Daniel Hugill's set up in his shed on his allotment in which he has already had a virtual departmental meeting (the shed is covered by local BT wifi). How inviting is that as a workspace? ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Thursday posts are sponsored by Cabin Master: garden offices and studios to fit any size garden. Top quality contemporary or traditional buildings.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

David Hockney's shed treehouse


"David Hockney is in lockdown at his house in Normandy with his dog Ruby and two of his long-standing assistants, JP and Jonathan. He is in the garden most days, drawing the spring awakening on his iPad. In a BBC exclusive, he is sharing 10 of his most recent images (including one animation), nine of which have never been published before, for us all to enjoy at this difficult time, along with his thoughts on the role of art in life."
More on this at the BBC --------------------------------------
Wednesday’s posts are sponsored by Norwegian Log Buildings  - Log cabins and garden buildings for a better quality of life. Click here for more details.

Working from garden office tips during the Coronavirus crisis


A nice post from Garden Affairs looks at the currently particularly hot topic of advice for potential new shedworkers on working from their garden office. Here's a snippet:
There's huge uncertainty as to how long this crisis will last, and what its long-term implications for public health will be. As teams across the country rapidly adapt to connecting through Zoom meetings and fitting their domestic and childcare duties around more flexible working hours, some experts are talking of homeworking becoming the new normal. Which means now may be the time to think seriously about putting a home office in your back garden. You don’t need acres of land to accommodate one of our buildings. A small garden office pod like our popular Mini office (below) is a comfortable and stylish way of creating your own office, even in the tiniest of garden spaces.
You can read the rest of it at their web site here.


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Wednesday’s posts are sponsored by Norwegian Log Buildings  - Log cabins and garden buildings for a better quality of life. Click here for more details.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Coronavirus update: Smart's new e-catalogue


As we go into the second week of lockdown in the UK, garden office suppliers continue to come up with new solutions for people interested in finding out more about shedworking. Smart has closed its physical premises and showroom, stopped on-site consultations, and adjusted its installment dates.

"We're still keen to help potential customers plan their dream garden room, office or studio," says Sue Phillips, Smart's Sales and Marketing Director. "So instead of asking for a hard copy of our catalogue, anybody can now take a look at it as an e-catalogue. It has plenty of inspireing ideas and case studies plus information on all our ranges and optional extras."

Smart has also provided a new ‘Self Consultation’ form to get things underway for the time when things are back to normal, and have also introduced a new ‘peace of mind deposit’ - £250 secures an order at the prices quoted and the company's earliest installation slot. For more details, click the link above to take you through to their site.
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Tuesday posts are sponsored by Garden Spaces, suppliers of contemporary garden buildings, offices, gyms and studios, many of which do not require planning

Monday, March 30, 2020

Arctic Cabins livestreaming chat and viewing session


Among the companies finding ways to help new customers despite the lockdown is Arctic Cabins. Tomorrow (Tuesday) at noon on their Facebook page www.facebook.com/arcticcabins they will be running a live streaming session where you can: " Chat to our team online while we show you around our wide selection of different sized BBQ Cabins, including our extremely popular Arctic Bar." Well worth dipping into.  -------------------------------------------------
Monday posts are sponsored by garden2office, the Swedish garden office specialists. Click here for more details.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Dylan Thomas Writing Shed aerial view video


A lovely short video of one of the most famous writing sheds in history (and with lovely music to accompany it). ---------------------------------------

Sunday posts are sponsored by eDEN Garden Rooms. Stunning, bespoke high quality garden rooms, to suit your unique space and style

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Thomas Hardy's summerhouse for sale


Though he didn't actually live here, it appears that Thomas Hardy - who lived locally-ish - wrote poems in the thatched summer house at the back of a five-bedroom Grade II listed home - called East House - in Sydling St Nicholas, Dorset - and recited them to local school children. It was also used as a location in the 1967 film of his novel Far from the Madding Crowd. On with Jackson Stops for £1.5 million. ------------------------------------------------------
Saturday posts are sponsored by woowoo waterless toilets, the best toilet for your garden office

Friday, March 27, 2020

Chuck Wendig's new writing shed


We've been following writer Chuck Wendig's shedworking journey on this site for a while and were delighted to see that his new garden office is now up and running. Or as he put it: Construction of the second Death Star has been completed." Describing the current setup he writes: "It’s spare right now, very echo-ey. Just a desk, a computer, chair. I’ll get couch, bookshelf, St. Andrew’s cross, aviary, occult reagents all set up." Catch up with Chuck at his website here. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Friday posts are sponsored by Warwick Buildings, manufacturers of outstanding quality timber buildings. Click here for more information.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Garden office as pub during lockdown


A lovely piece in the FT by writer Andrew Martin about turning his shed into a pub during the coronavirus lockdown. Here's a snippet:
In my garden shed, I have attempted to create the simulacrum of a pub. It’s called, I suppose, The Shed Inn or better still The Lockdown Arms, in acknowledgment of the disaster that has prompted its founding. Let me give a rough, preliminary idea of the place by sketching in a chair (just the one, of course), a longish table bearing an ashtray (it’s an old-fashioned sort of pub) and a few fat candles. On the adjacent wooden wall are two shelves, on which are bottles of beer and white wine — mainly Tesco Picpoul de Pinet, the house white, so to speak, of The Lockdown. There’s also a bottle of rum that, given what happened the last time I drank rum, I hope never to have resort to, no matter how long the crisis endures.
 It's a charming read. --------------------------------------
Wednesday’s posts are sponsored by Norwegian Log Buildings  - Log cabins and garden buildings for a better quality of life. Click here for more details.

How To Give Your Child A Lifelong Love Of Reading published today


My latest book, published by The British Library, is out today - although I've written it, there are also lots of mini-essays from famous children's writers such as Michael Rosen, Jacqueline Wilson, and Abi Elphinstone. It also features reading lists by age and subject from the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE). Available online from your local indie bookseller as well as from the usual suspects. Here's the official bumph:
Full of age-appropriate reading suggestions and ideas to encourage tricky readers, discover how to instill one of life’s greatest skills: curiosity and a lifelong love of learning. Complete with dedicated contributions from Jacqueline Wilson, Michael Rosen, Abi Elphinstone, Cressida Cowell, Hollie McNish, Ken Wilson-Max and Julia Eccleshare, this title taps into an increasing concern about anti-screen activities and return to traditional forms of creative thinking.

How do you create an active reader? Why is reading good for creativity? Why is it vital for teaching the next generation resilience and positive mental health?

In the digital age of never-ending screen time you could argue that the power of books has diminished. But while screens have changed the act of reading, Alex Johnson believes reading is even more important, and that people value books more than ever. This is visible in the sales of printed special editions, the revival in reading aloud, the increased interest in poetry anthologies and the rescuing of ‘lost words’ from obscurity.

But the problem is: with so many competing distractions, which are the best books for children to read and how can we access them? How do we get children to start reading? And how can we encourage them to be curious? How can we encourage their reading and maintain their interest? In this book of practical advice, Alex Johnson brings his tremendous enthusiasm and informed passion to answer these questions, and many more, to ensure a new generation of bookworms are whisked away to new worlds and essential discoveries.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Tips for creating your own garden office


My excellent local paper the Herts Ad asked me for a piece about garden offices as this seemed appropriate for the times we are now living in and you can read it all on their site here. It features suggestions for where to go to if you're thinking of getting one and here's a snippet to entice you in:
A garden office offers a decent solution. Right from the start of the day it offers you the same kind of ceremony as your normal commute (only happily it’s just a 30 second one). This is important as that brief walk down to the end of your garden marks a clear psychological difference between where you work and where you live. You feel like you’ve ‘gone to work’ rather than merely sat up in bed and wedged your laptop onto a pillow. Having an office in the garden also means that you don’t need to cover your kitchen table with papers or turn your dining room or spare room into a makeshift office. Those spaces continue to be used for what they’re intended.
Pictured above, The Cork Studio eco garden office which is made partly from cork and was one of 32 sheds shortlisted in the 2017 Shed of the Year competition. --------------------------------------
Wednesday’s posts are sponsored by Norwegian Log Buildings  - Log cabins and garden buildings for a better quality of life. Click here for more details.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Cressida Cowell reads How to Train Your Dragon from her garden office


Shedworker and Children's Laureate Cressida Cowell has featured frequently on Shedworking, and here she is doing her bit as we go into coronavirus lockdown with a jolly chat and a reading of the prologue from How To Train Your Dragon, all done from her garden office writing shed. It's all part of the launch of BookTrust's new digital hub for families and children, Home Time.

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Tuesday posts are sponsored by Garden Spaces, suppliers of contemporary garden buildings, offices, gyms and studios, many of which do not require planning

Monday, March 23, 2020

Coronavirus pods


Although we've covered shedlike structures as emergency shelters on Shedworking before, we've not done so recently and now seems as good a time as any to take a fresh look at what's out there. Above are special pods produced by Chinese firm Winsun 3D in which people can self-isolate in China, with an emphasis on hospital workers. They are 3D printed and need no foundations so can easily be moved or taken apart and re-assembled elsewhere. They all contain composting toilets, a bed, and a shower.
   

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Sunday, March 22, 2020

New Idler magazine out - please subscribe!


Regular readers will know that I write a couple of regular columns for the Idler magazine (one on sheds and shedlike atmospheres, one on the delights of being a half-decen snooker player). It's a great read but what with everything, newsstand sales are likely to be down 90%. If you can afford one, a subscription would really help all concerned. idler.co.uk for more details. Many thanks.
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Saturday, March 21, 2020

Coronavirus update: Garden offices in Scotland


Glasgow-based Outside In Garden Rooms say they are regularly assessing the developing situation and folloingw directives from the Scottish Government & Public Health authorities. "As it stands our supply chain hasn’t been greatly affected," says Director Mel Russell, "as we are a small fish in a large pond but we do source some materials, via our suppliers from mainland Europe and beyond so will be monitoring this very closely.

"We've put in place strict controls to avoid all contact with our clients homes, all communications are handled by telephone and all building work is conducted well beyond the confines of their homes. With portaloos now installed on all our sites we have no need to enter clients' homes. Sadly, the very kind stream of tea, coffee, biscuits and bacon rolls has had to cease from our clients, so flasks and packed lunches it is for the time being!"

Outside In will be launching a couple of new products soon and we'll be featuring them here on Shedworking. ------------------------------------------------------
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Friday, March 20, 2020

Coronavirus update: Booths offering £1000 discount



Booth's Garden Studios is among the garden office companies who have been in touch with Shedworking with details about what measures they are implementing as a result of the coronavirus.

They will be installing garden studios or annexes with a "no contact" policy i.e. their staff will not come into contact with customers during installation. They are also advising that new customers do not enter their garden office,, studio or annexe after installation for 48 hours. To implement this policy, all the fitters will need to know is where customers want their new building positioned e.g. simple markers placed on the ground like 4 spoons for each of the studio corners would be sufficient or six spoons for an L-shape annexe.

In addition, Booths are also offering £1000 discount on new garden office purchases. "This is to help you in these uncertain times," says Alex Booth, "and to help keep our staff and the uk economy working. Working, but still safe. Safe for you and safe for our staff."

Measures Booths are implementing for our fitting staff include a supply of food so they don't have to go shopping while working, a mobile toilet so they don't have to go offsite, a supply of cleaner for their hands, and cleaning materials to wipe down all surfaces.
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Friday posts are sponsored by Warwick Buildings, manufacturers of outstanding quality timber buildings. Click here for more information.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Coronavirus update: Eden Garden Rooms new site visit details


Continuing our updates on garden offices/shedworking and the impact of the coronavirus, here are some details from eDEN Garden Rooms:

Site Visits: eDEN are still operating site visits to customers' homes where possible, and will carry hand sanitiser to make sure they sanitise their hands before and after leaving any home. They are asking anybody showing any COVID-19 symptoms with a site visit booked to cancel it and re-arrange it as a Virtual Site Visit. Ditto if you have recently returned from a country listed by the Foreign Office as a risk area. Similarly, eDEN is monitoring its workforce and will cancel if necessary.

Virtual Site Visits: eDEN are now offering site visits via What’s App video call or Facetime, relying on customers' measuring up so the company can provide designs and quotations.

Build Teams: The company's specialised builders will keep a 2m distance from homeowners.

This is an abridged summary. For more details, please contact eDEN directly. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Thursday posts are sponsored by Cabin Master: garden offices and studios to fit any size garden. Top quality contemporary or traditional buildings.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Coronavirus update: Business as usual at Smart


We're going to provide regular updates re. coronavirus-related news on Shedworking over the coming days/weeks/months, talking to shedworkers and suppliers - as alwasy, we're more than happy to answer any queries so please do email us.

This morning we spoke to Matt Moss, Managing Director at Smart (who launched their new Affinity range earlier in this year, the non-canopy model is pictured above) who said: "For us it is business as usual and we are promoting the fact that we can continue to provide the ideal home office solution without the need to come in contact with the customer.

"We know there are a number of people that are forced to work at home for every good and sensible reason but most are not set up for this and therefore the working from home environment is not conducive for working, with distractions or a proper place of segregation.

"It is important that this is not perceived as what working from home is like, that actually having the right, dedicated and independent space is important. We will continue to offer our stock range which provides rapid turnaround for anyone who needs urgent space for home working."
 
Smart has put out its policy on consultations and installations on its news page here which gives details about site inspections and works, in addition to health considerations. Do take a look and get in touch with them for more information.


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Wednesday’s posts are sponsored by Norwegian Log Buildings  - Log cabins and garden buildings for a better quality of life. Click here for more details.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

RTE One broadcast from garden shed


There are obviously some limits to what you can do from your garden office but it's still impressive how much you can get done while shedworking. Here's a fine example, RTÉ One, the main television channel of Irish state-owned broadcaster Raidió Teilifís Éireann - journalist Claire Byrne last night presented her show Claire Byrne Live from her garden shed as she is in self-isolation at her home due to potential coronavirus symptoms. Here's what she said:

"According to the HSE guidelines, you need to self isolate when you have the symptoms of a cold. So that's what we are doing. Rest assured I'm feeling quite well. We're just being cautious. We're being careful. I will be in compliance with the HSE guidelines because let's face it, the last thing I want to do is to put my colleagues at risk if I do happen to have the coronavirus or indeed our guest."

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Tuesday posts are sponsored by Garden Spaces, suppliers of contemporary garden buildings, offices, gyms and studios, many of which do not require planning

Monday, March 16, 2020

Herald Garden Studio




An attractive multi-use garden office in New Zealand by Parsonson Architects. As well as an office space, it offers the owners - a couple and their two young children - extra play areas as well as mezzanine spare room accommodation. There's also a storage area at the back.
Here's what the architects say about it: "Both the deck, pergola and the main interior space have been conceived as one triangulated structure, stitching together the spaces and reinforcing the interior-exterior connection, while relating to the delicacy of the surrounding vegetation. Materials are unadorned, raw and but carefully assembled. This project is an example of urban infill on a tiny scale, allowing a family to live on a small property close to the city without having to move further afield. The structure and internal linings are made from entirely wood. Linings are zero formaldehyde ‘Strandboard’ finished in natural WOCA oil."
Photographs by Paul McCredie  -------------------------------------------------
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