The blog of photographer Kim Ayres

Shed Café Anniversary

It would be difficult to overstate just how important the Shed Café has been for us this past year.

The ability to remove ourselves from the house each day has been vital in our attempts to lessen the impact Lockdown has been having on our mental health.

The brain is extremely good at repeating patterns of thought based on place and emotion.

We don't have access to all our memories at the same time - instead the pathways are often dictated by the situation we are in. So when we go somewhere familiar, we quickly remember all the times we were previously there. Or when we feel love, anger, or anxiety, we only seem to recall the times we felt that way before.

The house, even rooms, we live in are so familiar that original thought often becomes almost impossible. Daily patterns repeat, and if depression or anxiety seep into them, then finding ways to counteract these feelings become extraordinarily difficult if you can't actually physically leave the space.

Maggie and I had long ago discovered it was far easier to come up with ideas and plans for the future if we were away somewhere – whether that was on holiday, or simply sitting in a café with a cup of coffee.

Eventually we scheduled a slot into our calendars where once a week we would go out for a coffee, which would inevitably merge into lunch, as we talked about anything and everything, and were able to gain a perspective on whatever might be troubling us at the time, in a way that somehow seemed denied to us while we were in the house.

A couple of weeks into Lockdown, after Covid-19 hit, and we found ourselves desperately missing that weekly trip to the café. Fears and anxieties were heightened as the future became uncertain for our health and finances, especially once we realised that all 3 of us were in higher risk categories, so we would have to remain in Lockdown until a vaccine was developed.

Despite the government initially seeming to believe it would all be over in 3 months, we knew it could be at least 12 to 18 months before we might be able to start moving freely in the world again.

I can't remember exactly where the idea came from, but this time last year I had the thought that we could take our coffee out to the shed at the end of the garden. I knew we had a couple of folding chairs, and a stool we could use to rest a small tray on, so we cleared a space and the Shed Café was born.

Initially I thought this would be something we could do once a week.

However, it wasn't long before it became a place of daily pilgrimage and now, every morning, we take a cafetière, a couple of mugs, and a couple of squares of dark chocolate out to the shed with us.

It is here we are able to talk about anything and everything, find it much easier to come up with ideas and plans for the future, and are better able to gain a perspective on whatever might be troubling us at the time.

It's amazing how important those 4 flimsy wooden walls have become to us.

And they keep the lawnmower dry too...

(The balloons were left over from my Podcast Anniversary earlier in the week, so I thought I would stick them on the shed for this morning's coffee)


debra said...

I love the idea of this. And you still have the mug!

Kim Ayres said...

Debra - It's been a close call once or twice, but yes, your mug has survived :)

neena maiya (guyana gyal) said...

That shed sounds wonderful. It reminds me of the old shack that Anne, in the Netflix show Anne with an E, had found in the woods. She and her friends went there to be creative.

For me, it was going for walks on the seawall in Guyana, or sitting by my window, staring at the sea. I don't have that where I am in Florida. I will have to find a new way to feel creative again.

I'm glad I read will push me to find that place.

Kim Ayres said...

Neena - I don't think I could use it as a place to sit and write, but as a place to sit and have conversations, it's been wonderful. Even if we have had to wear lots of layers and even take a blanket out to wrap around ourselves at some points over the winter :)
Hope you find a creative place soon!

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