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Is there a better place of refuge than the garden shed?  Could it be the grown man’s answer to the tree houses and secret forts of our youth?

At the youngest of ages I would seek my Grandfather out at the bottom of his garden, past the impeccably manicured lawn,  the barely contained colour of the herbaceous borders,  beyond the green house that by late summer overflowed with a profusion of tomatoes, their late August scent chasing me down the pea pebble path.  Down to the sun dappled shed, tucked in hard against the towering lilacs…..

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Green, weathered door always hanging just a bit askew.  The sounds of Radio 4 or the cricket seeping from the higgledy piggeldy structure, honeysuckle and wisteria vines seeming to hold the patchwork wood together.

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Always dim inside, save for filtered light through the grimy window was a treasure trove of all that was my grandfather…The deep red, crumpled packs of Dunhills, the earthy smells of moss and broken terracotta, competing for air  against the hanging herbs on the racks, the drying bulbs of garlic, his old pair of Le Chameu’s….Balls of twine, stacks of yellowing sport sections, a crumbling pair of garden gloves, a badminton shuttlecock, bent and twisted croquet wickets, linseed oil for the cricket bat, and an old writing desk crammed with seed packets.

A boy’s drawer of knick knacks and wind up toys grown up and increased in size.  opening a window would let in filtered light, dust motes riding beams to a broken tiled floor and catching the tines and blades of some seriously beautiful gardening tools, steel forged in Sheffield, just as they should be..


The oddly comforting smell of privet (now reminds me of dinner parties for some reason) mingling with the far too leggy Buddleia outside, its summery dusky smell attracting butterflies from seemingly every inch of landscape.  Its this scent, the Buddleia, that takes me back to the shed this time very year.  I’ve planted my own butterfly bushes, I’ve laid the pea pebble path, but the old shed is sadly missing.

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