As we unloaded box after box from Hercules it became ever more apparent that in moving from an English three-bedroomed semi-detached, to a one-bedroomed, mostly open-plan, barn conversion, we'd simply got far too much stuff.
We no longer had a loft or a garage in which to dump the boxes of precious things that, despite not needing for the last sixteen years, we may need again at some point in the future. We have got loads of roofed space in the big house, but unfortunately that roof leaks into every room and the floors are the nocturnal play areas for mice, rats and goodness knows what other cardboard eating pests.
After hours of sorting, putting away and re-boxing we were still left with an unusable back-door, a porch stacked ceiling high, and possessions spilling close to the bottom of the stairs making ingress and egress to the ground floor a little tricky. It was an unsustainable situation and we knew it would probably be at least a year until we'd somewhere dry and relatively rodent free into which we could expand.
We plumped for the traditional English solution and we bought a shed.
After careful measurement and calculation we searched online and found a great little company in Almeria and purchased a 'Riveton' for three hunderd euros, delivered and sat back awaiting its arrival.
When I helped the delivery man lift it from his truck I was wondering where the rest of it was as a 150cm x 100cm x 25cm box surely couldn't contain a whole shed. Eager to get cracking I opened the box to be confronted by hundreds of pieces, a giant Meccano set, and sadly, as a child I'd only ever had Lego.
This time I did a very un-English thing and opened the instructions.
The opening page suggested that it would take two people just two and a half hours to build the shed, but I was pretty sure that Amanda and I weren't the two people of this fictional calculation. The person doing the calculation had not seen Amanda and I work together, and they probably assumed that I'd spent my youth engrossed in complex Meccano projects.
I decided that we'd need at least eight hours of daylight and so delayed starting until the next day.
Never has the building of a shed attracted such an audience. On one Sunday afternoon in early November, we'd become the only village spectator sport.
Carlos was fascinated, but I could tell that he was bemused as to why we wouldn't just do what he'd have done, and knock up a shed from timber off-cuts and a bag of six-inch nails. He spent hours stood in the doorway to the garage, watching our every move with an 'I wouldn't do it like that' look on his face. As it took shape he christened it the 'little house', and asked if we'd be spending the summer in it.
Elena thought it was 'pretty', in its resplendent green, but was totally confused as to its future use, or why we were building a shed inside our existing ramshackle garage. Neighbour Nati simply thought we were mad and offered us space in her garage to store any boxes that were surplus to current requirements, but did warn us that it wasn't heated...as if she thought our shed would be!
Through many neighbourly interuptions, explanations, temper tantrums from both Amanda and I, and the aversion of a potential disaster (parts fitted the wrong way around early in the build, solved by brute force and a mallet rather than the removal of the entire roof structure), after six long hours we slid the awkwardly sliding doors closed and called it a night.
Teamwork had eventually triumphed.
The shed is now full to the gunnels of all the boxes that used to live in the loft and the garage in Huddersfield, which we'll probably never need, and which will stay in our new shed for the next sixteen years.