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Men and Sheds

Is it just men who love sheds?

Actually I know that the answer to that has to be no.

I was watching George Clark’s Amazing Spaces which I loved, despite thinking that Clark and his forced Geordie accent got on my tits. His crazy static caravan refurb was pretty spectacular and inspirational, but also there were a few women featured. One girl built a beach hut in her garden and decked it out just like it was by the sea, except that she lives in the Midlands, about as far from the sea in this country as you can get.

I have had a few fine sheds in my time, I’ve slept in many of them even, and when we got our last dog I shared a shed with her for her first two weeks at home to toilet train her. It didn’t take long as each time she stirred in the night I was there, immediately awake and whipping her outside until she had her pee.

Now I’m thinking of going seriously up market. I have been looking at a company called OECO Garden Offices based in Ripon, North Yorkshire. Their sheds are of pretty near the same construction quality as my house, and I’m sure they’ll be better insulated. If we go ahead then I’ll be putting a bed deck into the shed, ostensibly for guests, but in actual fact I’ll be angling to sleep out there myself, even if only when Mrs BeeBeard is away on the cruise each year.

Actually I so love having a plan that it’s worth looking at even if I don’t go ahead.


Of leaking roofs and rusty ladders

The cottage where I live at the moment is fairly old and from time to time it needs a bit of tender love and care. As I already mentioned in an earlier blog, I am still busy learning the art of DIY, so my efforts are not always completely successful.

The other day, after a particularly violent rainstorm, I noticed a puddle in the middle of the bathroom floor. Initially I thought the culprit was the neighbour’s cat again, but closer inspection revealed it was rainwater. What’s more, when I looked up I saw the ominous yellow ring on the surface of the bathroom ceiling.

Initially, I decided to just paint the ceiling again, hoping the problem would go away, but with the next day came, another rainstorm and another puddle. So, once the sun was shining again I knew I had to do something about the problem to prevent it from becoming more serious.

I’ve never really had a head for heights and this involved climbing up a ladder and inspecting the roof. The whole issue was complicated considerably by the fact that my only ladder had two missing rungs. This meant that getting on the roof was quite an effort and once there the thought of descending again by way of that ladder made me seriously consider whether becoming a roof dweller wasn’t a very real alternative.

The problem with a leaking roof is that the source of the ingress is not always directly above the spot where you found the puddle. Water has that strange ability to run, so it’s quite possible the leak might be some distance away. Luckily, in this case, it proved to be nothing more than a loose tile, which could easily be fixed.

The descent also proved to be less of a problem than I initially anticipated. It did involve the neighbour having to rescue me, dangling from the top rung of the ladder, because my feet just couldn’t locate the next one. Having got my feet safely back on solid ground and downing a few beers the whole thing actually seemed quite funny.

The day I revamped my bathroom

From what you’ve read so far on this blog you might think that being a DIY expert comes naturally to me. I have to correct you in this matter; I am by no means a DIY natural. In fact, I didn’t become known as the Beebeard without reason; I acquired the name after a rather unfortunate episode during which my DIY skills proved seriously lacking when I tried my hand at beekeeping. Fortunately, we have a local library not far from here and of course the internet is a great source of information for would-be DIY experts. I started reading on how to handle the various tools, when to use them and how to carry out routine DIY jobs in and around the house. By now I am fairly comfortable with doing the odd job, such as replacing a broken door handle or tightening a loose screw, but I would certainly not rate my skills as being top notch. So, when the day arrived that it was time to overhaul my bathroom I must admit I was quite apprehensive. I started by replacing the bathroom cabinet. Fortunately the guys over at UK bathrooms had plenty of advice to offer in this regard and they helped me select the right type of cabinet for my particular bathroom. Taking out the old cabinet proved to be more problematic than I thought. I don’t want to go into unnecessary detail here except to mention that, at one stage, the widow next door came over and asked me whether I was demolishing the house. Anyway, eventually everything worked out. The bathroom now boasts a brand new cabinet and I also managed to replace the old floor with new tiles. It look longer than I expected and I sustained some minor injuries during the process, but you know what they say, “all’s well that ends well”. At this stage I have decided against replacing the bath and renovating the shower. This is purely for practical reasons and has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that four of my fingers are still covered in plasters.

Carpentry around the house.

In these cash conscious times, I am aware that more and more people want to take on those tasks around the house that in better times they would have hired a professional to do.  Carpentry is one of those areas that homeowners feel they can take on themselves, but DIY carpentry is not so straightforward and I would suggest following the advice of the professionals before undertaking any carpentry job in the house.

For more complicated jobs, the services of a professional carpenter will be essential but basic tasks around the house are well within anyone’s capabilities.  I have done them myself, with success, believe it or not.  One task that is relatively straightforward to complete is the replacement of skirting boards, which become worn down or rotted away over time.

As a first step in replacing a skirting board, I would measure the area I want covered.  I do not use a tape measure unless absolutely necessary.  I find it better to mark my measurements using a pencil.  Not only is this faster but it is also more accurate.  My family jests that neither fast nor accurate are words with which I am overly familiar, but I digress.  If I am using a tape measure, a useful tip I have discovered is to apply masking tape to it so numbers can be taken down easily and quickly as I go along.  With my measurements done, my next step is to visit my local DIY store and pick out a length of skirting board in the appropriate style.

Once I have purchased the skirting board and brought it home, I cut it to fit the measurements I have taken before then sanding it down.  To put the skirting board in place, I drill a hole in the wall for a rawl plug before screwing the board onto the wall, avoiding pipes, of course.  Even the thought of a leaking pipe is enough to make someone be extra vigilant, is it not?

At a more basic level, I imagine that many people new to carpentry will be asking what the essential tools they need to get started are.  The essentials for carpentry are:  a good hammer (a claw hammer made from forged steel is probably best); screwdrivers and drills; a wrench set; a tape measure, a wood saw; levels, to determine whether a surface is parallel with the ground; and pliers.  If your budget stretches that far, I would recommend purchasing a cordless drill.  Remember that screws are available in different sizes so a screwdriver set is essential.

My DIY obsession

Now that I’m retired, I’ve got the chance to watch a lot more daytime TV than I used to be able to. The majority of it is awful, to tell the truth. Despite that, I’ve become addicted to the property shows that are repeated ad infinitum.

It would be OK if I could just sit back and watch these shows. The trouble is they ignite my DIY obsession. Home makeover programmes always have me casting my eye around my own cottage, looking for any improvements I can make. I’ve loved DIY for as long as I can remember and these shows whet my appetite to construct new things and invent unnecessary tasks for myself.

It’s becoming a bit of a problem. Last week, for instance, I watched a different property show each day and ended up with three new shelves, a wonky wooden table, a sledge for the winter and two new bird boxes for the garden. I think I’m going to have to cut down! My cottage is gradually filling up with the various wooden structures I seem to spend all my time building. Buying the materials isn’t cheap, but I love doing it and can lose myself for hours in a project. The wife isn’t overly impressed, however!

If I could use the inspiration these shows give me to do some useful DIY around the house, that would at least be something. There’s a door that constantly sticks on the floor; all it needs is a quick sanding but I never do it because it’s not as interesting as building something new. I’d much rather spend a few days making a rabbit hutch that I don’t need, instead of doing something practical like that.

How to build a rabbit hutch

I don’t claim to be an expert, but I’ve built a couple of rabbit hutches in my time. I think they’re fairly simple to construct. If you’re like me and you love DIY, the idea of buying one is simply unthinkable. Hopefully this post will give you a few ideas to help you build your own rabbit hutch.

I think a good hutch should have an enclosed section where the rabbits can get some privacy and darkness, as well as a more open part where they can enjoy the sun. Ideally, the front should open out to allow the rabbits free access to a garden enclosure during the day. It can then be closed up when they are safely inside at night.

What You’ll Need

  • Some wood
  • Some gauze
  • Some tools
  • Some willpower

Making It

To start with, you want to cut the wood into six large pieces that can be fitted together to make a large rectangular box. This will form the basic structure of your rabbit hutch.

Basically, all you need to do is hammer the structure together and add a piece of wood inside to separate the covered section of the hutch from the open part.

Have a look on the internet to see some examples that others have built. Once you’ve got your panels of wood cut to size, you can saw out the insides of them to make frames. Nails can then be used to attach gauze to the frames.

To make the opening front, screw on some hinges to the bottom of the front panel. This will allow it to open outwards and release the animals. You may also want an opening on the top, to allow for easier feeding.

Once you’ve hammered the various parts of the hutch together, you can add some hay to the bottom and you’re almost ready to go.

Feel free to be creative. You can, for example, add small legs to the bottom of the hutch, if you’d rather it was elevated off the ground.

If you’re going to attempt to build your own rabbit hutch, I’d love to see some pictures of the finished product. I’d also be happy to offer advice if you’re struggling. Building your own hutch can save you money and be great fun, so get started today!