The sixth place in our Great British Garden Retreat competition goes to Alison and Roland Philips, who sent in photographs of their beautifully chic Log Cabin and candy cart. We caught up with the couple to find out about their interesting purchases.
Our names are Alison and Roland Phillips we are 56 and 57 respectively and have been married for 37 years. We have four grown up children and three grandchildren. We have created a piece of England in the South West of France. We live in the beautiful Dordogne and look after retired British Police Horses. We are near the picturesque town of Brantome. I am a retired Detective from London and my wife used to run a busy office.
Our home is so typically English that it was featured in an ITV television programme in 2012 which was viewed by nearly four million viewers. We have a charitable association which raises funds to look after the horses. This is called Brantome Police Horses and we have 21 retired equines.
During the summer we have an open day twice a week for visitors to meet the Police horses and following the tour of the stables we serve traditional Devon cream teas on the lawn. We needed a small and attractive building which would sit easily in our British style of garden to be used as a gift shop.
After a great deal of research we purchased our Dunster House Log Cabin in February of this year. We had a particular design in mind but we are so pleased that we went to the see the show houses on display at the Dunster House show area in Warminster. The people there were very helpful and knowledgeable and we found the perfect building for our needs.
The building had to meet a number of criteria, it had to look like a traditional British summer house. It had to be well made and robust enough to take the footfall of many visitors. It had to come from a company that could deliver a product that came complete and without problems because of the distance that it had to travel. If something was missing during construction we couldn’t just pop down the road to get the missing part we would have to wait a week of more for it to come out to France.
This was a complete new build but in a very specific place which would be aesthetically pleasing within its surroundings.
As already mentioned we carried out a great deal of research primarily looking at reviews, types of design and of course cost. Dunster House by far stood out amongst the many other companies that we looked at. What greatly impressed us was the quality of the buildings especially in relation to the price that we paid.
We really enjoyed the process of putting up our summer house. We chose to put down a concrete base because of the number of people that would be using the summer house. In normal circumstances for domestic use I would have used their levelling system. The building was delivered to our transport company that brought it down to us. There was great excitement when it arrived and of course there was a certain amount of anxiety in case any part of it was damaged or missing as this would cause a considerable delay. I am pleased to say that everything was there and because of the clever way it had been packed nothing was damaged. It was up in a week I couldn’t believe how easy and stress free the process had been. I put it up with my son in law and a friend who is a carpenter but his skills weren’t needed. Even he was amazed by it and said he couldn’t have made one for double the price.
We didn’t need to modify the building at all it was perfect for our needs just as it was. Other than painting the building and putting in electrics and appropriate lighting.
We really enjoyed the whole process of creating our beautiful summer house the construction was so stress free that I remember those few days as being filled with laughter and practical jokes. It was also very interesting as the building just slotted together and seemed to grow at an amazing pace, my wife couldn’t believe it every time she came out with a cup of tea another wall would be up or the roof on. It was very satisfying.
We found the sales staff to be very friendly and efficient without being pushy. During the build we mislaid one of the plans which we later found. However a quick e-mail to the after sales team and a copy was e-mailed back almost immediately. From other reviews it would seem that this kind of service is normal, which is one of the reasons why we went with Dunster House.
At the end of the summer we will take the gifts out of our summer house and because it is beautifully insulated use it as a quiet place to read and relax so perhaps we will then re-name it as our winter house.
Everything went very smoothly I can’ think of anything that I would do differently.
The house has been seen by dozens of people already and has been a great success. Our first event for the season was a classic car lunch at our home which is called La Grange.
Everyone thought that the summer house was beautiful and we had many lovely comments in particular how well made and attractive it was. Even our French neighbours have been won over by the build quality.
We really enjoy peoples’ reactions to our lovely summer house especially if they have visited before and the building is a complete surprise to them, because it fits into our very British garden so well it compliments’ the whole look that we wanted to achieve. We have made many recommendations now, so hopefully you may see more clients buying in France.
Since purchasing the summer house we have bought a Victorian candy cart from the garden furniture range and are already planning another project for a Dunster House building in the near future.