Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Tardis Deadlines and the Reveal...

We are on the final push now with an impending deadline fast approaching when the #Amazing Space film crew would be back to film the "Reveal". One of the key features of the build was the "drawbridge " style front which could be lowered to form a deck for the kids to play on. Sounds simple enough, but as the front was so heavy it would require a winch to crank it up and down. The hardest part was siting the winch so it wouldn't be in the way and yet accessible. This required trial and error attempts with small pulleys and adjusting the hinges at the bottom so the Tardis front could be lowered and raised safely.
  Once we had that cracked , it was time to turn to the interior. We needed to build two bunks one of which could fold away, storage and a desk for Erin , plus space for Joel's sensory equipment. All of the interior was built from salvaged timber from Erin's school, like the old shelving in the picture. This timber had been old cupboard doors, shelves in the kitchen and an old desk and chair found in the cellar. This was my favourite part as we turned  old junk into something special with a little imagination and a lick of paint.

  As we were going to need power to the Tardis I stole an idea from our Campervan, by using a camping electric hookup lead. This saved a lot of money and made the Tardis easier to move in the future. The last things to go in were the seat/mattress pads for the bunks and these were the one thing I didn't make. A good friend works at a local upholsterers' and they made up two seat pads at cost price.  The night before the "Big Reveal" was due to be filmed two stylists came up from Channel 4 to help us "Dress" the Tardis  so it looked it's best for the camera's. Erin found this part great fun as it meant we got to play with smoke machines and fairy lights. By the time we turned in for bed that night , the Tardis looked a truly magical place.

  The next day dawned full of excitement, when the film crew descended on us...Our kitchen was churning out bacon butties for the crew and the morning was spent filming lots of exterior shots using "polecams"..(literally cameras on poles) and the smoke machine for "atmospheric effect". George Clarke (Presenter of George Clarkes "AmazingSpaces" ) turned up later in the morning to do the filming and interviews with me and Erin. He was a consummate professional who made us feel relaxed and was as nice in person as he is on TV.

So was it worth it?? You bet!!It was great fun building the Tardis and the film crew from Channel 4 were the best. But in the end none of that mattered, as the real reason we build the Tardis was for Erin and Joel to play in and inspire they're imaginations. Has it worked?...Well they have been in the Tardis EVERYDAY since we finished filming last year and Joel just loves being there, particularly lying on the top bunk gazing through the roof lights..So what's next?. Well we decided to enter the Tardis for the #Shedoftheyear competition running in April 2015 So you never know you may see more of the Tardis on the telly later this year... #fingerscrossed

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Time and Relative Dimension in Space.....Shed...The Regeneration.

 So we left off last time with a shed on short legs, which clearly bore no resemblance to a Tardis, so this is where we get clever. One of the key idea's of the project was to keep it simple and affordable and in such we would use either recycled or off the shelf materials.
 The Tardis façade had to both look as authentic as possible and also double up as a deck which could be lowered like a drawbridge in fine weather. The basis for this would be a sheet of 8' x 4' marine plywood, which can be bought in any DIY store for around £30. This was shaped at one end to look like the roof of the Tardis and at the other it would be attached to the base of the shed with old recycled gate hinges.
  Once again the Campervan was pushed into service, this time as a handy workbench. On the front of the plywood sheet we glued and screwed a mixture of old and new floorboards which would form the Tardis doors and windows. This also had the added benefit of strengthening the façade as it also had to double up as the deck when in it's lowered position. I planned only one opening door so as not to weaken the façade/deck to much.

  The windows clearly could not have glass in , so they would be made with thin bits of strip wood which would then be painted. Talking of paint, getting the right shade of blue was critical for the right look. Fortunately Cuprinol do a great range of garden shades and their "Iris"blue was just perfect for the Tardis. Once painted with three coats of Iris blue it was beginning to look more like the Tardis.
 The cameras were back for when we were fitting the Tardis façade to the shed, which didn't go quite to plan when I'd put the hinges an inch to high and it wouldn't clear the tree branches above...Dohhh.
 However no Tardis is complete without the proper signs and this is where the internet and a laminator came in handy for the two sign on the doors...So they were virtually free. The large "Police Box" sign was more tricky and in the end I got a local sign maker to cut some vinyl lettering at just the right size. These I then fitted to a piece of wood painted black which was then fitted over the doors.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Time and Relative Dimension in Space.....Shed.

So our Amazing Space project was to be a TARDIS which is short for "Time and Relative Dimension in Space"...Shed ,from the BBC show "Dr Who". Now this isn't my first attempt at a Tardis, as in our last house I converted a pair of old Edwardian wardrobe doors into a built in Tardis/wardrobe for my daughter Erin. However this one was to be on a grander scale, though not much more of a grander budget.

  As the name implies the Tardis would be based on a converted shed...In fact our old allotment shed which we got for free about five years ago. Now clearly this 8x6ft shed looks nothing like a Tardis, but with the application of Yorkshire ingenuity and a whole load of recycled timber and assorted junk ,it would be transformed. The first challenge was to dismantle the Shed and transport it a mile across town to its new home at the bottom of our garden in a clearing on the edge of some woodland. This is where we pressed our trusty campervan into service to transport it before we could start to restore the shed.

 Simple as it sounds though, every stage of the build was being filmed for Channel 4's "George Clarkes Amazing Spaces" so we were forever stopping to film from another angle or to do a retake. This meant relatively a few seconds on TV could take hours to film, but it was fun for us to do.To make the Tardis stand out more we planned to build it on short legs, so when viewed from the house it would appear to be hovering just above the ground. Our next door neighbour gave us an old length of railway sleeper which we cut up to make six legs, which we then attached to the strengthened shed floor.

Monday, October 27, 2014

An Amazing Summer...

Ok so my last blog was back in April....I must apologise for the lack of updates, but I've been busy...Very busy.  Just after my last post we decided to put our house on the market so we could pursue the dream of building our own house. Our little town house was a wonderful home but the reality was that it had no garden and that was becoming an issue for our autistic son Joel.
 We could never afford to buy the house we would need for our family, but we could afford to self build one. So our first step was to sell our house then rent whilst we looked for a suitable plot of  land to build on. However we were taken aback how events unfolded...We sold our house in seven hours!! Then were offered a housing association house to rent, due to Joel being autistic and finally a perfect plot of land came up that would be ideal for our self build. All this happened over the course of three months, it was like a whirlwind.
  Our new house that we were renting was a newly refurbished large thirties semi detached with a huge garden backing onto woodland. It was the perfect garden for both Erin and Joel to play in. At the bottom of the garden there was the wooded area that Joel was immediately drawn to and this got me thinking  on ways to improve it. On TV there is a series called "George Clarkes Amazing Spaces" that features the brilliant ideas people come up with to reinvent small spaces on more down to earth budgets.....I had a plan and with the help of Erin we decided to build it. We sent our idea into Channel four and they loved it. So within a few weeks of moving house we began building our #Amazingspace , whilst a film crew followed our progress.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Spring Camping...Part One

In the UK  Easter usually heralds the start of the British camping season, but it also can be the most challenging weather wise.. Optimistically we bought a new Khyam awning, camp beds and chairs as at my age comfort is becoming a lot more important. With Easter approaching we left if to the last minute to book a campsite just so we could see if the weather would be fine and not snowing as it did last year...Thankfully the forecast was fair...But where to go??.. As we would only be away for three to four days we wanted some where within a three hour drive. Our daughter Erin chipped in  and said she wanted to go to the beach....So it we decided on Anglesey in North Wales just 115 miles away.

  Now normally you could get to Anglesey in a little over two hours in a car, but in a heavily laden campervan in Bank Holiday traffic that journey turned into over four hours...During a break for lunch an ominous trickle of water emerged from under the van, much to the hilarity of our daughter Erin who chimed in that Chester had wet himself.. After unloading all the camping gear so I could get to the engine it thankfully turned out to be just a loose coolant hose...phew and we were soon on our way again.
  The site we chose in Rhosneigr was full of Welsh rustic charm..( read basic) but it was clean and the farmer who owned it was laid back and cheerful..After a little head scratching with how to pitch the new awning, base camp was set up and after a long day a pub tea was in order.

The next day dawned glorious with blue skies and a gentle breeze and we heard that the local Racing Circuit was open that day and as Joel loves all things car related we couldn't miss the chance. Just 10 minutes down the round we positioned the campervan on top of a small hill above the circuit and enjoyed an hour or so of free motor racing. It was a surreal location with the sea on one side and the mountains on the other and all enjoyed from the comfort of Chester the Campervan.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Day Tripping.....

Owning a Campervan is not just about camping but it opens a whole new raft
of  possibilities for the humble day out. In reality you will only go camping in the warmer months and unless you are retired you'd be lucky to camp more than half a dozen times a year. But what about the winter and those times you just don't have time to "Camp over".
  This is where the other bonus of owning a Campervan comes into play..."The Day Trip". Our van gets used all year round and it can be a workhorse as well as a "Fun palace" and yet some of the best experience's we've had in the van have just been day trips out to Forests, Castles, Markets, and even Ikea.. Having somewhere warm and dry after a mornings walking and the ability just to brew up, gives you an amazing sense of "well being" and makes the entire day out more of an adventure.
  So don't pack away your campervan in the winter, but get out there , have fun and make a cuppa....." Day Tripping across the UK "

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Keep Calm.....and Relax.

Since being a small child August has always meant long summer holidays by the beach and playing out late. The summers were always sunny and life seemed so simple...Ahhhh the memories.
  Now with children of our own we try and recreate those times for Erin and Joel, hence why we have a Campervan. Right now we are in the middle of packing for our next adventure to France, which is just a few days away. As a child summer holidays for me involved long drives down to Cornwall in the back of mum and dad's old Ford Cortina. Back then the motorway wasn't finished so the journey often involved an overnight stop, where today you can do it in 5 hours. Anyhow I digress. Being a child you don't worry about the packing malarkey (that's mum and dads job) and it seems that is one thing that's not changed in 30 years. Erin and Joel are completely oblivious of the preparation work required for three weeks camping in France.. And why should they, they're kids.
  It's been two years since we've done a long camping trip as last year the Campervan was out of commission in August due to gearbox problems. We instead flew to Ibiza for two weeks, which was great, but these days flying is such a mither with all the regulations that going by Campervan is easy in comparison. This time we're taking the bikes as where we're going is fairly flat and there's some great cycle tracks to explore.
  This time as we're more familiar with our route and the Campervan the journey doesn't seem as daunting. The total distance we're driving is less than 700 miles and we are doing it at a leisurely pace over three days.
 We picked a 5* site this year with swimming pools and everything you could wish for and still only 500m from the beach. How much did this indulgence cost???..About £24 a night!!, which when you compare it to UK prices, its very cheap. Once there I shall kick back drink wine and relax, I may even try a little surfing.