Novice allotment holder putting up a shed

Erecting the shed

A blog post from 2010 in memory of my Dad: 

Dad rings one morning. ‘We need somewhere to keep our tools,’ he announces. ‘Stop ’em getting pinched. Somewhere for when it rains, so we can sit and watch all the other buggers get soaked.’

His robust view startles me but a quick search on the computer reveals a shed at B&Q for just £100. I ring him back. He refuses to be drawn. ‘Let’s play it by ear. There’s no hurry.’

So I’m surprised when he rings the next morning to tell me he spent the day driving around DIY warehouses and ended up ordering the B&Q shed. Perhaps he’s goaded on by the sheds springing up daily on the new plots. Or perhaps he just likes going out in his tiny new red Peugeot.

Ditching his car was a wrench because he and my Mum had driven ‘as far as the moon’ together in it. A £2K scrappage allowance swung it. He hides his pleasure in the new car, saying, ‘it’s a pretty flimsy affair. But what do you expect when you buy a car for £5K ? I must say, at eighty-seven I never thought I’d be driving a car described as having ‘cheeky looks’.’

He usually modifies the things he buys and Cheeky Looks is no exception: he has jacked the seat up with a plank of wood, wired in an extra loudspeaker and let half the air out of the tyres to make it a ‘softer ride.’

But back to the shed. It’s arriving at his flat tomorrow. ‘The only problem now is how we get it to the allotment,’ he says. ‘Some of those pieces are pretty big. But they’d probably fit on your roof rack. I reckon we can manage it between the three of us, what do you think?

What I think is that our plot is a very long way from the road where we can park the car. I hatch a plan to hire a man and a van, perhaps without telling anyone.

But Mr Mandy Sutter takes charge. He arranges for a local removal firm to shift the shed, giving Dad time to carry out a few reinforcements first. I’m amazed when Dad agrees to the plan.  ‘More time is good,’ he says. ‘After all, that shed is a pretty flimsy affair. But what do you expect when you buy a shed for £100?’

A chance for allotment humour: goats

The size of a small bungalow

Council rules and regs state that ‘huts’ on the new plots ‘shall be constructed of timber’ and ‘shall stand no bigger than 4′ x 6′.’ This rule will soon be flouted by our neighbour’s gargantuan polytunnel. ‘I didn’t realise it was going to be that big,’ he will say. And in the old part of the allotments, huts are made out of all sorts (UPVC doors are a favourite) and the goat allotment shed is the size of a small detached bungalow. But I’m relieved there’s a limit on things.

The regs also say huts must be ‘raised on bricks or blocks’. The people who walk the river path must be right about the flooding. Some new plot holders disagree and have built their sheds on nothing but paving stones, though one has raised hers on stilts.

The  menfolk manhandle the bits of shed down to our plot and I follow with flask and flapjacks. I see that Dad has built a solid wooden base about 1′ high. When the plot floods (as it turns out to do every winter) this will be ideal.

More allotment humour: a shed on stilts

The shed next door

He proceeds to put the shed up single-handedly. It takes hours but he just won’t allow us to help much, no matter how anxiously we buzz around trying to. Mr MS has to content himself with erecting a self-assembly bench.

In the shade of the wych elm

But the result is a smashing little shed and bench in the dappled shade of the wych elm.

Dad finally accepts a coffee and sits down, though he refuses a snack. Mr MS, traumatised by watching an 87 year old man put up a shed on his own, wolfs flapjacks silently. As for me, I wish it would rain, so we can sit inside and watch all the other buggers get soaked.