To the rest of us, a shed is like an oversized kennel with tools, where a man can have his midlife crisis in peace.
But to Daniel Holloway, 55, it is a high-fibre fat-free five-a-day multicultural haven where isolating is not a dirty word.
And the one he’s built at the bottom of his garden in Lee Road, Blackheath is not only his refuge from housework – it has earned him a place in the finals of the 2020 Cuprinol Shed Of The Year competition.
His man-cave features a tree trunk running through it. It’s a shed, Jim, but not as we know it.
The expedition organiser is one of three on the shortlist in the ‘Nature’s Haven’ category.
He has developed his “Bedouin Tree-Shed” over the past eight years, inspired by expeditions he has organised to Kenya – including one for Comic Relief celebrities – and his love for nature and travel.
He said: “Somehow it connects the threads of my life. My love of wild spaces and nature and my travels and connections with Africa.
“It has been decked out with many African and Indian influences, parts of the world my wife and I have travelled to and lived in over the years before we settled in Blackheath.
“The structure now incorporates two living tree trunks. Outside, willow saplings and jasmine follow the contour of the shed on the front elevation.
“A chaotic shed from the outside, but surprisingly serene once you step inside.
“The floor is oak plank scribed around the root structure of the mature ash tree it encases.
“The main roots give direction to the way the floor is designed at differing levels, every now and again popping above the floor boards to remind you this is a living tree.”
As for his day job, he manages a family firm which makes “modular accommodation for building sites and schools”. That’s portable cabins to you and me. “It’s the antithesis of my shed construction,” he stressed.
The competition sees 27 competitors battling for the crown across nine categories. A winner from each will be decided by public vote, then an overall winner will be crowned by a panel of shed experts with a giant golden crown for the winning shed.
Alongside eternal shed glory, the overall winner will also receive £1,000, a plaque and £100 of Cuprinol products.
Head judge and founder of the competition, Andrew Wilcox, said: “More than ever, the events of recent months have shown us what a valuable role sheds can play in our lives.
“They are spaces where we can help our NHS heroes, educate our children and care for our family.
“They highlight all that is great about Britain – our ingenuity, our eccentricity and our determination to help others.”
Kirsty Woodbine, marketing manager for Cuprinol, said: ”We’ve been astonished by the quality of entries to this year’s competition.”
Public voting is now under way for the 14th annual competition and will close on Sunday, August 9. Check out all of the 27 finalists here.
Pictured top: Daniel Holloway and his shed
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