Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Miracle on Shed Street

First things first – HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Let 2015 be a great year for you and all you care about.

All I'm hoping for is that my shed stays up and that it turns out to be dryer inside it than out.


Sheds are, traditionally, a man thing. They are a place for men, containing manly tools and equipment, offering safe-haven from the rigours of over-exposure to wives and children.

Wives stay away from this hallowed ground out of respect and of understanding of their husband’s higher standing in the family tree.

Or it could just be because of the spiders I suppose.


A shed is something ‘Men’ have.

Building the shed yourself takes macho to levels so high that you can’t walk within two meters of any women in case Testosterone escapes and makes them pregnant.

Only a real man could actually build his own shed.

Which brings me to “Shed Day”.

Mark the day well, 23rd December 2014.

The day I became a mansort of.

Actually, the story doesn't really start on Shed Day - I suppose I should start at the beginning…

It was early November and I was at home alone on one of my ‘off-shift’ days in the middle of the week. My wife and kids were at work/school respectively and I was doing the family’s ironing. The TV was on and though it is generally against my principles to engage in any Christmas based activities until December, I’d found myself watching Miracle on 34th Street (The original 1947 version with Edmund Gwenn in it – not Richard Attenborough).

I won’t lie – it got me.

Let’s just say things were getting a bit emotional - must have got some steam in my eye.

Which is exactly how I came about buying a shed.

What else can you do when you suddenly catch yourself blubbing at a Christmas film in the middle of the day while ironing? I needed to locate my Y chromosome – and fast!

The internet sped to my rescue and within no time at all I had a 10 by 8 feet metal shed on order – don’t ask me why I bought a metal one – I may have been panicking a bit. The company I bought it from claimed to also install them – and that suited me too, I just didn't feel ready. The man (who sounded like he probably has only ever seen two films in his life and they were both Die Hard) gave me a quote and told me to call him when I knew the delivery date.

With that done I manfully set off to clean the bathroom.

Time passed. Finally, the shed arrived, just before Christmas. I called up Right Shed Fred and tried to book in a time. I really didn't want it sitting around outside for weeks in its box.

“No problem” he said, “er… did I already give you a quote?” “Yes”, I replied, noting an immediate lack of interest on his part. The time of year had suddenly hit him and I got the feeling he fancied getting paid a bit more for Christmas. He promised to call back later that day to confirm.

He never did. All my calls from then on went ignored. I realised that the time had come to man up to level 7.

The shed came with a separate foundation kit. So I went out and put it together…


Please excuse my cycle-rack - the only drawback to successful dieting is overly loose trousers...

Surprising myself with how well that went, I made a decision. There was no physical way that one person was going to be able to put this up – or at least not if that one person was me.

It needed a team.

It needed a family.

And so Shed Day was born.

The first day we would all be home with nothing better to do would be the 23rd December – and so it was planned. We would build the shed and then have Dominos Pizza as a reward.

And so that’s what we did. The kids rebelled a bit as time rolled past lunch and they began to suspect they weren’t getting any – Jamie, my youngest, went on strike. He disappeared inside for ten minutes and then came out with a poster he’d made saying “Peace for Workers” and proceeded to walk about chanting it. Jo pointed out that if he he’d made himself some lunch in those 10 minutes instead of making a poster he’d not still be hungry…

Jo lost interest soon afterwards and disappeared inside purely to help the boys out – obviously.

At a pace that resembled the suggested timescales in the instructions in the same way that I resemble George Clooney, the walls grew steadily into the landscape. Actually the suggested building times were the same as mine, it’s just that they were scaled in hours where I was using days…

Luckily for you - time-lapse technology means you don't have to wait...

Peace for Workers...

It got dark. The pizza arrived.

Shed Day became Shed Days.

I managed to drop so many screws in the mud that I ran out, meanwhile Christmas beckoned me back into the home to play with my family.

Shed Days became Shed Weeks.

Then I remembered it needed a floor…

And so I ask just one thing – when you take three weeks to build a shed that is supposed to take 5 hours – do you still get to claim the man points?

Have I repaired the damage to my machismo caused by being distracted by that film?

Not that it matters – since then I've watched It’s a Wonderful Life and Bridge to Terabithia,  so I've completely lost any credibility that building a shed could have given me - you aren't even human if those films don’t get you choked up.

I'm going to run out of space in our garden with all the sheds I'm going to have to buy…

Happy days.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Happy Christmas

Well, I don’t know about you lot but I am somewhat busy getting ready for Christmas and using any spare time I might have to hang out with my family – far too much so to be going about writing stuff down all the time.

Therefore, I’d just like to wish all a massively superb Christmas and New Year – may they fill your hearts with joy.

I’ll see you early in 2015 when I’ll try not to mention how much weight I've put on.

I will, hopefully, be able to report on how my first ever attempt to build a shed goes – I'm not entirely confident that it’s going to be a manly success….

Happy Christmas, All

May 2015 be THE year - YOUR year

Monday, December 1, 2014

Making the impossible possible

This week, my wife and I stumbled onto a winner.

Something that could revolutionise our lives.

And I'm going to share it with you, right here. You can have it for free, consider it an early Christmas present.

Which is apt…

How do you get your kids to bed a little early on a Sunday night?

When you are a bit tired. When they are a bit tired.

When everyone is tired.

The alarm clock is already counting down to call you up for work and school on Monday?

Well, if your kids are anything like mine then the answer is that you don’t. You do not stand a cat in Hell’s chance of persuading them to believe that going to bed is a good idea.

We have tried everything over the years.

Reasoning with them – HA!!  Asking nicely, bribing, ordering, begging, turning the clocks forward.

All failed.

Well I think that I might just have found the answer.

It was approaching Eight last Sunday night. There was a persuasive stench of tetchiness about the house that had, all too easily, replaced the wondrous smell of the slow-cooked BBQ pork from the night before.

People needed to be in bed.

But my kids knew their rights. It was absolutely not bedtime yet. They knew it, we knew it.

It was a stand-off.

What they aren't yet, and let’s face it never actually will be, is a match for a woman. Better yet, a mother.

Their nemesis got up and very overtly fetched the boy’s Christmas lists from the fridge door. She sighed loudly and shook her head.

“I don’t know,” she moaned in my general direction, “When are we going to get to do the shopping for Christmas? We’ll never get a chance to go shopping now and the kids always stay up so late that we can’t even shop on-line without people looking over your shoulder…”

I'm not the fastest on the uptake but even I can see a set up that obvious, “I know, it’s a tricky one – I'm working every weekend up until Christmas now so it’s difficult”

My kids are smart enough to never say anything negative about Santa to my face, for fear of a reduced stash, but they also understand all too well the benefits of letting Mum & Dad have some solo shopping time at this time of year.

My wife looked at the boys and said, “I need to do a couple of things and need to be able to concentrate, I think it’s an early night for you…”

And that was when the miracle happened.

My youngest, grinning madly, gave a cuddle out and slid quietly away to bed.

My Teenager paused for a moment to decide if his basic human rights were being infringed in some way, glanced at the child-line number that he  has saved on his phone for emergencies (such as when he has been told ‘no’ about a second glass of Coke), and considered his options.

Time stopped. Hours passed by with nobody breathing. No noise. No anything.

“I suppose I could go and read on my bed for a bit before getting in it. I have a good book.”

Jo and I looked at each other in disbelief. This never happens.


With that, we were cuddled and then our explosive 13 year old son tripped merrily up the stairs, not to be heard of again for the rest of the night.

GET IN” We both shouted, fist pumping the air mercilessly.

With the kids in bed we settled back and enjoyed a ridiculously peaceful night watching TV.

I mean, how long does it take to order a couple of things from Amazon?

I guess the trick is pretty seasonal – but use it while you can, I say. Tonight, I plan to tell them that I can’t order i-tunes vouchers because their teeth aren't clean….