My new Studio!

As so many people keep asking how my new studio is progressing, I’m going to keep a diary of events here. I’ve been working in the house for the past 30 professional years and I outgrew the space a couple of years ago. It’s time to move out! And Jenny would love to have the master bedroom back… and the dining room… and landing… and all the other places used for storage! 😮

More important to me is that I’ll finally have the studio space to begin making instructional DVDs – a project that I’ve been enthusiastic about for the last two or three years.

The 34′ x 20′ studio complex will consist of an office and DVD editing suite, a storage and shipping room, and a 20′ x 20′ film and art studio.

I’m currently dismantling our old hay barn to make way for the new studio – I even changed my 64 year-old MF35 tractor for a “young” 40 year old MF135 to help with the job. The old Fergie 35 lost its hydraulics a couple of years ago and, despite many attempts at replacing different parts and renewing seals, I only ever regained half the oil pressure.

Progress is slow – not just because of the tractor but because the hay store has temporary residents…

…a nursing Pigeon and a family of Swallows! And I’m having to dismantle the building carefully, because we mean to re-erect it on the other side of the barn, where it will serve as a field shelter for the horses and the MF135.


This weekend I managed to remove the cladding of the vertical wall and cleared part of the site around the building. The new studio will be about one and a half times the width of this old building and ten feet longer – extending somewhere near the tractor’s bucket.


Half of the roof has been removed – up to the point where I would expose the Swallows to the elements – and I’ve begun to clear the old hay and straw from inside. The hay stood on pallets that were raised up on breeze blocks to dissuade the rats from making it a home from home, helped by the gap giving my cats room to hunt underneath.


This week I’ve finished clearing everything out of the barn. The two Pigeon squabs are feathering up and the three Swallow chicks are demanding food with wide open yellow mouths, so they should all be flying soon. Unfortunately, my builder seems to have the same idea. He still hasn’t drawn up the contract and three weeks have passed. On Sunday we phoned to ask for progress and were assured it would be ready in a couple of days. Maybe…


Still no contract! We’re still hoping to have the studio erected before the end of August when we fly to the United States to run the Oregon, Californian and Colorado workshops. On my return I’ll have the electrics, heating, flooring, and doors and skirtings to fit, and then begin the task of fitting out all three rooms.

This afternoon we decided to provide ourself with a “Plan B” by returning to the original company, although their quote was considerably higher – by a few thousand. We managed to reduce the price a bit but that still leaves us with a building requiring a concrete base that we have to provide, having no insulation or interior panelling, and a felt-covered roof instead of box-profile steel. Not what we’d wish for but at least we’d have a building, even though the extra work in fitting it out will almost double the price quoted by our missing builder.

On our return home we were going through the figures, over a welcome cup of coffee, when there was a knock on the door. It was the builder! Contract? “I’ll draw one up,” he said “I never used to bother with them until recently.” Apparently he was preoccupied with other jobs, but now has the materials in stock and is ready to begin. He gave us a start date and will commence building it this week in his workshop (it’s a wooden sectional building). And he’ll have it erected before we leave to run the US workshops in September.

So we’re back with him and I’m pleased. He’s a local builder who branched out into building pig farrowing sheds – which is what I’m getting, with modifications! Before you scratch your head in wonderment, the pig sheds are fully insulated, superbly lined, finished to a high standard and climate controlled.

This means I’ll now have a building that is almost fully finished, including the two internal walls, and set on a base that will be poured next Monday week.

I’ve finished clearing out the old hay store and will remove the rest of the roof as soon as the Swallows no longer need their nest. In fact this evening I removed the rest of the roof panels, and loosely replaced the one above the nest. And I dismantled some of the roof timbers. This building has to be gone my next Monday!

Two days ago one Pigeon squab disappeared and today the other has gone too. There are no signs of feathers anywhere near, so I’m happy that they’ve flown from the nest and not been caught by the fox or one of my cats. Yesterday the Swallow chicks moved from their nest onto the beam to practice flying – and immediately after I took the photo below they did just that! A short circuit and back to the beam. They’re all back alongside the nest this evening and being fed by both parents, so I’m confident I can remove the nest and the hay store next week.

I finally feel as though progress has been made – even to the point of ordering some equipment I’ll need for making the instructional DVDs.

I’ve just taken delivery of a Seagate 1.5 TB external hard drive. If you need something similar, I don’t think you can beat either the brand or price – head straight over to the BT Shop and grab one for just £74.98 including VAT and delivery!

5 thoughts on “My new Studio!”

  1. That’s exciting new developments for you, Mike! I enjoyed reading this, and will follow along to see how it all progresses. Most of all, I am looking forward to the DVD’s you’ll be making!! ;o)


  2. Mike, it is so refreshing to hear from someone with what i would describe as down home living. I am looking forward to receiving your book in the mail soon, and to learn so much from your instructions. Dave Nebraska USA

  3. CHRISTINE: I’m looking forward to the DVDs too! I have so many ideas, some almost fully formed, and it’s been so frustrating not having the space available to make or edit them. It’s going to take me a while to work my through a very steep learning curve… but I’ll get there 🙂

    Many years ago, my final year at college was spent making my electronic music in cooperation with the Film & TV department. Equipment changes (for the better!) but much of what I learned I can now put into practice.

    DAVE: We’re getting older (and busier!) so we’re gradually running our smallholding down, but the remaining animals still tend to keep my feet on the ground 🙂

    I shipped your book yesterday so it should be with you in about seven days. Look out for a BIG blue Royal Mail mail bag.

  4. Ditto Dave’s comment about down home living..what a refreshing change to find an artist who is ‘real’ person. Also can’t wait for the DVD’s, how & where will we find out when they are available?

  5. Well, Heather, don’t hold your breath waiting for the DVDs 🙂 It’s a steep learning curve but one I will tackle with enthusiasm.

    If you complete any of the mailing list forms on my website and check the “books” box, I’m going to include DVD news too on that list.

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