The Lady in the Van

[su_pullquote align=”right”]A man cave or manspace,  is a male sanctuary, such as a specially equipped garage, spare bedroom, media room, den, or basement.  It is a metaphor describing a room inside the house  where “guys can do as they please” without fear of upsetting any female sensibility about house decor or design.  Paula Aymer of Tufts University calls it the “last bastion of masculinity”. While a wife may have substantial authority over a whole house in terms of design and decoration, she generally has no say about what gets “mounted on the walls” of a man’s personal space. Since it may be accepted that a woman has input on the decoration of the rest of the house, a man cave or man space is in some sense a reaction to feminine domestic power.[/su_pullquote]

First there was the Man Cave, then comes the She Shed. Very nice, if you have the time, the space and the cash.

I shall be honest: my room or “studio”,  as I sometimes grandly name it, is essentially a female Man Cave. It is my space and I rule supreme. I acquired the space, which was formerly a shared office with my husband, when Sanday Spinners needed a place for customers to visit and I needed to offer that without disruption to his work. He moved out to sole use of what was previously our store room and I spread my wings and my fibre out to fill this great big room that I have now.

Sanday Spinners is now, for me at least, History (and now reconstituted as an Aga). I have now no excuse for sole occupation of the room and yet it continues so far.

However,  now I have the problem challenge that Mr L wishes to restore the previous situation and move back in here as soon as possible. It is an economy move, designed to keep him warm at work without the burning of fuel. For you to make sense of that statement would require you to understand the intricacies of our home and its rather odd heating plan. I shall not bore you with that – just take my word on it: Mr L is moving back in to this room and I must now clear out my knitting and my spinning and all the kit and caboodle that goes with that.

I have been depressed about the forthcoming move into the storeroom, which would leave me with no table to block my knitting on and no space in which to take photographs.

Then I saw on Facebook this week  that a neighbour was selling her caravan studio. Her husband has ripped the guts out of an old caravan, rebuilt the framework and insulated the walls. She paints in the caravan but it now has to go as they are selling their house.

Mr L is buying me the almost-mobile studio for my birthday. I had hoped for some neutral density filters but hey, ho… I get a dedicated spinning space, he gets his office back and we both have the benefit of using the little bedroom as a store room. It will make the fitting of the new kitchen floor a lot simpler because we shall have more room for stuff and therefore less need to move everything from pillar to post and back again every time we turn around.

So, not exactly a She Shed but certainly a Her Van, though I doubt there will be available funds to make it as glamorous as the above-cited examples. Glamorous? Not really the connotation with The Lady in the Van, is it? 🙂

…and Miss Shepherd’s van even had two more wheels than mine (though mine way well receive an interesting paint job, as hers did.)

There will be both 12 and 240 volt lighting and a water supply. We’ll fit a piece of old carpet from the sitting room (once we have lifted it to do the tiles) to raise the comfort levels and I have been promised an MP3 player, which I am assured will be able to talk to our music server via WiFi. Sadly, due to recent unpleasantness on the island, I will not be able to have my PC or any other items of value out there. The MP3 player will have to move back and forth with me too. This is, to be frank, a great shame in more than one sense of the word. Clearly my space would be more my own if I had my computer and photography stuff about me but at least the van will provide dry storage for my yarn and fibre stashes and my knitting books etc. as well as a place to sit and spin in peace and quiet. It isn’t large enough for the hoped-for blocking table and doesn’t provide room for photography either but I can scarcely be ungrateful for my birthday present.

There is an additional plus in removing the dusty fibre-shedding materials from the vicinity of the IT equipment – the office should need less frequent cleaning than before when I did my spinning at the side of my computer.

It’s quite exciting really, isn’t it?

We have been out into the garden and decided upon a location close to the utility room, allowing us to connect the electricity and water supplies without difficulty. It’s close enough to the back door that I shouldn’t get soaked when coming and going and there is enough space between the house and the van for me to sit out in the sun and spin when the weather is suitable. I shall have quick access to tend to whatever is cooking in the kitchen… and to the coffee machine.

“All” that we have to do now is to empty and move two large compost bins, hack back the Rosa rugosa hedge and fill in a few holes that the hens have dug in the lawn. We could have done it yesterday but it was horrible outside – there was a really cold and quite strong wind blowing and I did not feel like going out and working in it. I have a migraine headache and the cold wind made it feel much worse. I also need to source a small table that will both fit in the van and be sturdy enough to do my drum carding on.

Overnight I have been giving it more thought and at times delighted in the notion of getting my 4-shaft loom up and running then quickly swinging to the position that, no, it is never going to fit in. For now I shall accept the middle position that at least I shall be able to get it out from  under my bed and store it folded in the van. The Knitter’s Loom ought to find a home where it can be easily worked upon though.

You know, I really need a large static caravan. A portakabin maybe. Perhaps a freight container!

Other thoughts in the night suggested that I have myself some greenery; potted plants inside and perhaps make a wee garden outside. We have some spare roof tiles that will make a small paved area and  a path from the back door so that I can avoid generating too much mud. I can’t have houseplants in the house due to Teddy’s predilection for chewing them up, often to the distress of his stomach – and my purse when the vet bill comes in.

I think I should like a large pinboard or magnetic whiteboard and a few of my photos about the place for decoration.

Grand and expansive ideas for what is really a very small space. I shall need to be clever.

The weather today is quite appalling and I think we shall be unable to move the compost bins or cut the hedge. I am going to start emptying shelves and packing my stash into Really Useful boxes that wills tack in the van and save space.

More on the Her Van once it is paid for, in place, and I have moved into it.

You may make the assumption that I shall be spending much less time at my computer in the future.

Oh, and you may also assume that I am eager for the film of The Lady in the Van to come out! Alan Bennett plus Maggie Smith, what’s not to love?

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