Birthday presents are always a treat but when that present is a Blackdown shepherd hut- now that’s very exciting. This is Alison’s story of her very special 50th birthday present from her parents which she has named Jasmine.
“I am totally besotted with my shepherds hut whose name is Jasmine. A few names were considered but Jasmine is the one which has stuck.
The idea of a shepherds hut was an impossible dream last summer when my daughter was home from university with loads of stuff having had to clear out her room, and I realised I was looking enviously at my husband Mike’s garden shed and wishing that I had a shed I could hide away in! There was no way we could afford it and it was just a lovely thought! Last October however was my 50th birthday and my parents gave me some money which was completely unexpected (hence the plaque!) Suddenly the thought of a shepherds hut came to mind and I did some googling. Blackdown came up and I absolutely loved them and also the ethos, “small company-ness” and humour of the company. I loved watching the videos, seeing how they are all individually crafted and the beautiful quality.
My husband had booked a yoga retreat in Cornwall at the end of October for me for my birthday. I have always wanted to visit Stourhead in Autumn so I arranged to stay at Castle Cary on the way home. When looking into Blackdown, it fitted perfectly for me to visit on my journey home. An hour of Alan later and I knew I was going to order one but wanted my husband to see them and how stunning they are.
We returned a week later and left with the deposit paid and the date in the diary for my hut to be delivered! Looking around was so exciting and I was struck by the friendliness and fun of the workshop – everyone (despite working and concentrating) stopped to say hello when Alan introduced us and I loved the fact that for every hut being worked on, the future owners and the plans for their hut were known and remembered by everyone there. The craftsmanship is stunning and I haven’t been able to think of an adequate analogy. I was born not far from the Rolls Royce factory but describing Blackdown as the Rolls-Royce of shepherds huts seems a bit demeaning to Blackdown really.
Choosing the type of hut I would have was easy. I have always loved oak so although the name “wriggly tin” appealed to me, I knew I would want a quercus hut. The retreat hut was perfect for me as I really wanted it simply as a quiet space for yoga, reading and just hiding away recharging my batteries.
My other main wish for my hut was for it to be really light so I really loved the stargazer light when Alan showed me around. It was very exciting to be able to choose the colours for the paint and we chose light colours which we are delighted with. My hut is so light and peaceful and I am utterly in love with her! We are very lucky to live in an area where there is complete dark at night as we have no street-lights so we are also looking forward to lying in the cosy warmth of Jasmine watching the stars, especially where there are meteor showers. Mike enjoys amateur astronomy so star-gazing in the warmth is a big treat! Of course my little “Happy Birthday” plaque is extra special and I am so grateful to Alan who made that happen. I’m sure he’d say that it would be wrong to single Alan out as a star of Blackdown when it is such a team effort but he really has been a star and responded to all my text queries and odd questions with such patience and good humour!
I have to say I owe a lot to the patience and forbearance of my husband who is a keen gardener and saw the need to destroy bits of his garden to get my hut through as an opportunity rather than destruction! Once we’d got the date for delivery of my hut, we chose some new pots and planted them up together with daffodil and crocus bulbs last autumn and they were coming through perfectly on delivery day.”
In October of 2021, 9 months after we delivered Alison’s beautiful Retreat Hut, we caught up with her to see how she was enjoying her ‘Jasmine’, and here’s what she said:
“Jasmine is looking gorgeous and so cosy now I’m having the heating on. She had a happy summer sun-bathing as the position means there’s a lot of sun shining through during the daytime and lovely sunsets. I’ve now got a cosy sofa and little table at the sink end (lined up to get the view over the garden and the sunsets) and the yoga mat under the star-gazing light. We’ve sown a load of wildflower seeds in the bed behind so that will be lovely next summer. I use her most of all just for a peaceful time-out to read quietly and, of course, do yoga and it has been such a perfect sanctuary in this bonkers year.”