Shed delight.

Over the past two years, my garden shed has been a shelter for boxes, old furniture, bugs, wasps, snakes and a million geckos. This is normally the function of a garden shed. The thing is, this particular shed used to be the only space in our home where things belonged only to me. This was my place for solitude and contemplation, for putting my books in one place and knowing they would be there when I went back in again. It was a place I could sit and stare at my favourite pictures and photos and beautiful bottles I'd dug up on the racecourse in Pietermaritzburg when they bulldozered the earth. It was the place I wrote the first, white hot draft of one of my favourite screenplays. It was the place I'd be left alone.

That is, until my dearest mother moved in to live with us. When my beloved step-dad died in 2015, it took some time before we decided that my mom should come and live with our family. It seemed like the only option, as I live an hour's drive from where they used to live in PMB, and their little flat had become too expensive for her to maintain on her own. There was also no question of putting my mother into an old-age home. Suddenly life was very full. There was an overflow of my mother's belongings, and the little shed became the landing space for anything which didn't fit into our small house. There was a definite change in my lifestyle too, there is no doubt.

Her move coincided with my D-Day for delivery of my PhD thesis which had been six years in the writing. I had to ask for a six months extension to deliver before I would run out of time for submitting it forever.

Thus, time for gentle contemplation disappeared as I'd wake at 2 am every morning and work on my thesis on my laptop in my bed before going off to work at 8 am. I'd return home well after 6 pm and would then spend about two hours talking to my mother while I cooked supper. She was alone almost every day so she needed company. It was only a matter of time before my shed turned into Miss Haversham's parlour and became a home for all the creatures in Paradise Valley.



Until my two sons decided they needed to move a bed into the shed to turn one room into a TV lounge in the house. Such was their desire to move the bed that they began to clean up the shed without any prompting from me. What an enormous pleasure it was to help them after they'd done the lion's share of the work. By the end of the first day, most of the gecko poo had been removed and I'd dusted the surfaces three times to reveal the original pine. It was eye-opening to find that most of the boxes that had been stored, contained books and things no one wanted anymore. No one had missed them and it was an easy step to throw them out or donate the books to charity shops. Only by the 2nd day was I was able to bring back my beloved books and place them on a newly-washed shelf. One big joy was to add my bound thesis (yes, I finally graduated on the 7th September 2017) next to a few of my absolutely favourite books.

Now, I have a little more leisure time to sit and contemplate the sunlight streaming through the tiny panes and to write with a fountain pen in my beautiful, hand-bound journals. Now I have to write my next "magnificent octopus", a screenwriting manual based on the thesis, which has been requested by a prominent publisher in the U.K.. Thank goodness for a little more free time. Thank goodness for young sons who helped me face the enormous task. And thank goodness for my little writing shed being my safe space again.

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