A shed of your own

Backyrad BuildingMy Dad had a shed.  It was wonderful. Everything had a place, from the oddments of timber to the jars of old nails that he had painstakingly bent back into shape.  It was a place that I was allowed to visit – occasionally – but only the proviso that I didn’t stay long, and I didn’t interfere with whatever happened to be going on.

He would have been a great supporter of Menzshed:

It is a place where men can go to, socialise, have a yarn, be creative, share ideas, share skills and spend time with other men while working.

Men are the primary focus and are seen as the most in need of what Menzshed have to offer.  The website shows plenty of activity and branches throughout the country.

TheToolsheds community in Christchurch has focused on the Kiwi statehouses of the 30s and 40s that were often built with wonderful tool sheds in the back garden

The plan is to rescue a large handful of them from demolition in Christchurch’s earthquake red zone and turn them into port-a-com units for use by adventurous community groups.

Cover of The dark knight of the shedPerhaps you fancy setting up a shed of your own? In The Dark night of the shed: Men, the mid-life crisis, spirituality and sheds the author decided to build a shed to give himself the space to think, and to perhaps curtail the midlife crisis that was fast encroaching in the form of lycra, buying a new sportscar or starting an affair.

My Cool shedIf you prefer your sheds with a bit more ‘how to’ and less angst then Backyard building might be a good start, and if like me you like looking but not necessarily actually doing anything then My Cool Shed: An Inspirational Guide to Stylish Hideaways and Workspaces could be just the ticket.

The Minack Theatre: a worthy bucket list addition

Two photographs caught my eye when I was flicking through a very old copy of the National Geographic magazine.

The first was a photograph of the Minack Theatre (a famous open-air theatre in Britain):

Photo of Minack Theatre
The Minack Theatre, courtesy of the Minack Theatre
Photo of Rowena Cade relaxing in a wheelbarrrow
Rowena Cade relaxing in a wheelbarrow, courtesy of the Minack Theatre

The second photograph in the same article was of an elderly woman, Rowena Cade, sitting in an upright wheelbarrow. I’d never thought of using a wheelbarrow as a seat, but it looks pretty comfy!!

Between 1931 and 1983 (when she died) Rowena Cade planned, built and financed the Minack (in Cornish this means ‘a rocky place’) Theatre. This stunning theatre is carved into the granite rocks of Porthcurno in Cornwall.

An extract from the Minack Theatre’s website describes how this was built by Rowena Cade and two men:

“During that first winter of 1931-32, she laboured as apprentice to her gardener Billy Rawlings and his mate Charles Thomas Angove. Using the skills of the two men, granite was cut by hand from a pile of tumbled boulders. Stones were inched into place. The terraces were in-filled with earth, small stones and pebbles shovelled down from the higher ledges. All this work took place on the slope above a sheer drop into the Atlantic.”

Rowena had a superb mix of qualities including creativity, foresight, ingenuity, and sheer determination. She overcame so many obstacles: a challenging location; physical constraints; a world war where resources, money and materials were scarce; and age (she worked on the theatre until her mid-eighties!).

What an inspiring woman and what a remarkable achievement! Just the sort of inspiration many of us in Christchurch like to hear about now that we are faced with a long rebuild journey ahead of us.

The Minack Theatre has been added to my bucket list. If you have included an inspirational addition to your bucket list lately I’d love to hear about it.

Logo of the National Geographic Virtual LibraryAside from the National Geographic magazines that you can find in our libraries, library members can also access the digital archive of the National Geographic magazine. Coverage is from 1888 onwards up until the most recent issues and includes articles, maps and photos. The National Geographic Virtual Library is a fantastic resource to browse through.

Thank you to Phil Jackson, Theatre Manager of the Minack Theatre, for providing permission to use the images contained in this blog post.

DIY – what can I do?

“From 1 March 2012 critical building work that is known as Restricted Building Work, must be done by an LBP (Licensed Building Practitioner).”

book coverIf you are a keen do-it -yourselfer or have one in the family, now is the time to get familiar with RBW and LBP. (They sound like sports stars don’t they)

Restricted Building Work is “building work (including design work) that relates to either the structure (load-bearing walls; foundations etc) or moisture penetration (roofs; cladding etc) of homes including small to medium sized apartments… also includes the design of fire safety systems for small to medium apartments”

Designers, carpenters, external plasterers, bricklayers and blocklayers, foundation specialists, roofers and  on-site supervisors or managers must all be registered as Licensed Building Practitioners. Registered Architects and Plumbers as well as Chartered Professional Engineers are also deemed to be licensed.

The go to site for all the official information is the Department of Building and Housing which has a special section for homeowners.

If it sounds like it is taking all the fun away from DIY we can still indulge our love affair with home improvements – interior design , painting and decks for example.

Red, Green, Orange or White

coverA common Christchurch greeting now is  “What zone are you?”
This has come about as a result of the earthquakes in Christchurch and the subsequent government efforts to restore order and a future for our battered citizens. There will be many people buying land, building, making plans, and sometimes leaving us for somewhere less shaky.

Along with your new and fabulous plans,whatever they may be, it could be time to have a think about what you would like the new face of Christchurch to look like. The Christchurch City Council has made provision for you to make your comments on the Central City Plan.

Whichever situation you find yourself in,  the staff at our libraries are always happy to assist you find the resources you need.

Robyn Drabble, New Brighton

Free online access to Standards New Zealand at your library

StandardsStandards New Zealand, out of the goodness of their hearts, have offered Christchurch City Libraries customers six months free access to their online library service.

Since we can not access our print copies at Central Library, this is tremendous news!

Standards are agreed specifications to enhance products and  services, improve safety and meet industry best practices. This web site enables users to find:

  • Standards by industry;
  • Standards by law – to find information cited in legislation or regulation;
  • Contact details for agencies for confirmation of compliance requirements;
  • Why standards are developed, by whom and how.

Unfortunately due to our licence agreement you may not download, print out or save standards and they can only be viewed online within community libraries. Despite this, we know this will an incredibly helpful resource for Christchurch at this time – please spread the word.

Let’s get warm and snuggly!

ThermometerNew Zealand has some of the coldest houses on the planet. My childhood memories are of cold bedrooms where you tried to dress under the covers before putting your tootsies onto the cold bare floorboards. EECA states that about two-thirds of all houses (around 900,000) houses  in New Zealand have insufficient or no insulation, and our indoor temperatures fall well below World Health Organisation recommended limits.

New building code requirements for thermal insulation in houses are helping to improve New Zealand homes. For older homes, owners are being encouraged to retrofit insulation. Government subsidies now make it easier to get funding for insulation through the Warm Up New Zealand: Heat Smart programme.

Our librarians have created a page of resources to help with insulation advice. Related to that we have a page of Power Saving Tips so you don’t have to skimp on your heating and our libraries have plenty of books and standards about insulation.

For Energy Awareness Week (3 – 8 May 2010),  Yvonne Gilmore, an energy analyst from the Christchurch City Council will be in the Central Library to present a series of sessions on insulating your home to best effect. See the new thermal image tool which will show your house on a night last winter and learn how to improve that snuggly feeling for less cost.

So let’s get warm and snuggly before winter. Do you have a warm home? What is your best tip for a warm home?

Image of the week

View of the Post Office tower from the top of the Government Life Insurance building in the Square. March 1963.

View of the Post Office tower from the top of the Government Life Insurance building in the Square

Like what you see? Complete this form to order an image. If you have any further information on any of the images, or if you would like to donate images to our collection please contact us. Want to see more? You can browse our collection here.

Image of the Week

Administration building and portal on the Heathcote side of the Christchurch-Lyttelton Road Tunnel. Note toll booths [1964].

Administration building and portal on the Heathcote side of the Christchurch-Lyttelton Road Tunnel.

With even more changes planned for our beloved tunnel building, I thought I would post an image of this unique Christchurch feature as it was in 1964.

Like what you see? Complete this form to order an image. If you have any further information on any of the images, or if you would like to donate images to our collection please contact us. Want to see more? You can browse our collection here.