Blagdon Lake, North of the Mendips, is a little man-made lake near the village of Butcombe, just out of Bristol. Near here a man and his daughter have constructed a tin hut in their garden, plumbed it, and stuck in a wood burner. This can’t be a good time for Airbnb hosts, but tonight they’ve got guests. It’s already dark. I’ve been working. I had two choices and I chose the nicer option – to sleep here.
This morning my lovely assistant and I picked up a box of puppets from a haulage depot in Bognor. “All the boxes were broken so I got the lads to shift everything into this one,” says the big unit I’m picking up from. He hands me a box of broken puppets. They’re off to Bristol. I hope they were broken before they got moved from box to box. I don’t want to get accused of breaking them.
The miles fly by beneath me and Bristol happens almost before my bum gets numb. It’s helpful having a lovely assistant for jobs like this as the journey is peppered with good conversation. I drop the box off and explain what the guy told me. “They’re in for repair,” says perhaps the wife of the man I’m delivering to. So that’s good. No harm done. They’re dropped ready to be made lovely for when the theatres open again. Job done. Time to drive twenty minutes into the Mendips with my lovely assistant and stop in this cabin with her.
It’s basically a garage – or it’s where the garage was. Tin on the outside, wood on the inside, with a burner and a stream running audibly past the windows. It’s a beautiful job, and feels very new. I’ve filled the wood burner and it’s blazing away, roaring and banging as the chimney heats up. I can’t even really remember what it’s like to be cold now. We brought curry to make. There’s a big hot shower.
These well appointed but spare Airbnbs are a reminder for me of how you don’t need a million busts of William Gladstone, sixteen boxes full of music scores, a tank of fish, brass fire implements with no fireplace, three different people’s collections of ceramic ornaments, furniture on all the furniture, a Buddhist Catholic pagan altar by the chimney, all the books about Shakespeare and a snake. I’ll be comfortable here tonight, surrounded by little. A few books, a roaring fire in a wood burner, a trickling stream to sing me to sleep, and my lovely assistant providing company and warmth.
I won’t get the accommodation on expenses, but it’s pretty damn good when you can have a stop like this in the line of work – especially when work is so thin on the ground. I’m glad those puppets needed moving to Bristol, and I’m lucky to have my lovely assistant with me. Now for that shower.