The Brewing Shed The Veg Plot

Shed secrets: 10 unusual shed based activities

Garden Shed

After a recent blast of DIY, I gathered up my trusty collection of power tools to return them to the shed, when it was suggested I keep them in the house instead. The explanation being that the shed was easier to break into than the house, and power tools themselves would be a handy aid for the opportunist thief to muscle their way into the house.

It’s a good point, and had me scurrying over to security aces Burg-Wächter to get some expert tips on how to improve my shed’s security. But it also made me wonder what other folks used their sheds for, besides bundling away their tools – and here they are…

1 Special brews

Our own sheds house many of our fermenting and maturing alcoholic experiments, and we’re not alone in allowing our brewing kit to share space with the lawnmower. But it’s not just home brew enthusiasts that churn out booze from the shed – Belgian brewery De Plukker installed their commercial set-up in the shed at the end of their hop farm.

2 On yer bike

It’s not uncommon to keep a valuable bicycle safely locked in a garden shed, but Olympic cycling ace Bradley Wiggins put his to far greater use. A crash in 2011 left him with a broken collarbone that threatened to derail his finely tuned training schedule. So he installed rollers in his shed, plonked the bike on top, and pedaled like fury (with arm in a sling) until he was fit to resume work on the road.

3 Movie magic

Some sheds may have a mouldy old box of betamax tapes lurking in a forgotten corner, but several adventurous movie buffs have converted their outbuildings into fully operating cinemas. One of the most extravagant belongs to Stourbridge resident Paul Slim, who turned his shed into a mini Odeon for around £15,000 (popcorn not included). His movie watching paradise resulted in national media attention a few of his own appearances on the small screen.

4 Make mine a large one

The shed is a great location to enjoy a sneaky pint of cider away from the madness of the family home. So it’s not a surprise that hundreds of drinkers have converted their shed into a personal bar. The annual ‘shed of the year’ competition regularly features a fully working pub among the shortlist, with 2012’s overall winner being a spectacular boozer, named ‘Woodhenge’ by its creator John Plumridge, at the back of his Shropshire garden,

5 Museum piece

When we asked our twitter chums for unusual items stored in their sheds the most intriguing response came from Katie T, aka @bookslinger ,who suggested ‘museum’. It turns out that anything dug on the plot goes into her ‘museum of buried curiosities’. But it turns out she’s not alone in creating a shed museum – if you have a passion for knackered old garden tools then may we recommend the ‘Pram Shed’ in Ruislip.

6 A novel idea

George Bernard Shaw, Virginia Woolf, Roald Dahl and Arthur Miller are just some scribes who sought the sanctuary of the garden shed to find their muses. But king of the shed writers must be Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, who had to be locked in his shed in Laugharne in order to put pen to paper.

7 Art for art’s sake

Many budding artists sneak off to the back of the garden to knock out their masterpieces, but 19th century French realist painter Gustave Courbet found a whole new purpose for the humble shed. When a painting of his got rejected for a major exhibition he turned his rage to constructive use and built his own shed in which to display it. Thus inventing one-man-show in the process.

8 A scientific approach

Young science enthusiasts have routinely accompanied Dad to the garden shed to build a mini rocket, blow up flower pots or add things to chemical filled test tubes, but there’s one shed that science owes a particular debt of gratitude. Radioactive research pioneer Marie Curie’s “miserable old shed” was the location for some of her most groundbreaking studies on polonium and radium – exposure to which, sadly, was also the cause of her premature death.

9 Making music

Many musical maestros have written the odd ditty in their shed, including classical composer Benjamin Britten, but some musicians have gone one stage further, jettisoning the forks and trowels in favour of recording studio nobs and dials. Among such artists is prog rock flower impersonator Peter Gabriel who would create early demos in his own shed.

10 There’s a star man…

As anyone with a hole in their roof knows, the shed can be a great place to see the stars. Throw in a fully functioning window or skylight and you can admire ursa minor in even more comfort. But for the ultimate stargazing experience, why not turn your shed into a fully functioning observatory. Not sure how? Then look no further than xylophone rattling space ace Patrick Moore, who even wrote a few books on building astronomical observatories in the shed.

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