I suppose it says something about our ambitions for our vineyard when I tell you that the only building we’ve added to the vineyard ‘concept’, is a shed. This is not in any way to denigrate my shed. As I’ve hinted at elsewhere a person needs a shed or similar. Either virtual or actual. In my case, mine is, admittedly, a rather flimsy shed, it only cost £300, not like the summerhouse of the title which is a solid thing. It looked nice and pert on the lot though. The summerhouse rests snugly in the back garden, all protected and safe. Unlike the shed! Not only is it a bit on the light side but, being in the vineyard, as you will know from previous vineyard blogs, it is a tad exposed. This is what the shed looked like when first placed on the land (I allowed Mrs Summerhouse to use her painterly skills to protect the shed against all elements – ha). Little did it know when it left B&Q what a life it was heading for. Probably thought it was going to be somebody’s potting shed, maybe with a kettle and mugs, in a neat suburban garden with some old guy listening to Radio 4. Wrong.
I placed my shed, the one I had always wanted, contrary to the sensible advice of my farmer neighbour at the bottom of the vineyard. He said I needed to place it behind the barn where it would be protected. But I knew better of course. What did he know about Upper Nidderdale, he’d only lived and farmed there for 40+ years. So I placed the shed where I thought it looked ‘nice’, where the view was best. So that when I sat in my writing cabin, composing great works (and imagining our vineyard in years to come) I would be able to stare idly out of the window without any need for explanation. I mean just look, you can see right down the valley and I have a telescope for the purpose. I have bought a chair, cut down a ‘found’ table, put one of my favourite books on the table and planned where to hang my maps of the world. I also bought a rather natty ‘cardboard’ radio (from the Leeds Art gallery shop, I thought it very cool – but not as cool as it was about to be) so I could listen to Radio 4 while whiling away the hours in my very own shed. I’ll show you a picture of the radio in a moment.
So, last winter, a little later than this, when the snow covered the shed and, weighed down by the snow, the shed assumed a rhomboid or trapezium (searching my long gone knowledge of geometry), the perspex windows shattered, the roof and part of the shed blew off and was found in the next field, my cosy writing cabin / place to plan my vineyard strategy did not look so flash. I felt a little foolish in asking my neighbour if he could re-construct my potential wine-making outhouse. My neighbour kindly reconstructed my shed. You can just see (in the above photo) the plastic tubes some just sticking out of the snow and some not sticking out but, where the snow had drifted, completely buried. These vines still live incidentally. As I’ve said, all this happened about this time last year and we had a couple of worrying month or so wondering what this late blizzard might have done to our vines. This winter was at the end of their first ‘summer’ – a very wet one you will recall. So they hadn’t had the best start to their lives but we go on.
Which is a bit more than the radio did. It was buried under several feet of snow in the wreck of the shed. What had seemed like such a cool thing to put in the shed turned out to look rather foolish and more than a little misshapen. I tried to ‘open it out’ a bit, restore it to its original pristine condition. It doesn’t look too bad in the photo but I can tell you I was pretty chastened. But it lives, a bit crackly but then it always was a bit on the fragile side, sound-wise, even when unblemished by several feet of snow. So we have given it a more domesticated home where it can be more the radio it wanted to be. Like the vineyard itself the radio does live on. We await the coming of a second spring to see how many of our vines have survived. The things you do in retirement.
Radio as a metaphor