[Diggers350] My Home Is A Shed: Cornwall author, songwriter and housing campaigner Catrina Davies

Tony Gosling tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Wed Nov 11 00:26:44 GMT 2020

My Home Is A Shed: Cornwall author, songwriter 
and housing campaigner Catrina Davies


<http://tlio.org.uk/author/tony/>TONY GOSLING 

Cornwall’s housing crisis laid bare by woman who lives in a shed

Catrina Davies lives an alternative lifestyle 
because she feels there’s no alternative – By 
Merrington 07 JUL 2019



Catrina Davies has spent the past six years living in a shed in west Cornwall.
Desperate to return to the place where she grew 
up but unable to afford a place of her own, she 
moved into an old shed that was once her dad’s office.
The ramshackle corrugated iron building was full 
of holes, rats and spiders, but she moved in, 
just to be back home. She thought it was a temporary solution.
Six years later she’s still there, not because 
she is desperate for an ‘alternative’ lifestyle – 
more that she feels there is no alternative. The 
housing crisis has left her with nothing but a shed for a home.
Catrina, 40, said: “I was living in a shared 
house in Bristol and I kind of ran away back to 
the shed which used to be my dad’s office in the 
90s. I camped in it. It was supposed to be 
temporary but then I realised there was very little option for me.
“I really wanted to be here because it feels like 
home. I am lucky because I had access to this shed.”
An author and musician, Catrina works cleaning 
and gardening for people around west Cornwall, 
earning enough money to live, make music and 
write from her tiny corrugated home, surrounded by books.
She feels that while the housing crisis is a 
global problem, caused by capitalism and 
consumerism, it’s a particular issue in Cornwall 
where second homes price local people out of the market.
“Cornwall is very interesting because it has got 
this dual economy, this veneer of wealth and yet 
the actual economy of Cornwall is very deprived.
“For a lot of people growing up here it is hard 
to leave because you do fall in love with the landscape.
“Thirty years ago you could buy a small flat in 
Cornwall for £20,000 but now it would cost 
£200,000 and wages have not changed very much at 
all. I’m paid a bit more but nowhere near enough.
“It is beginning to polarise people because the 
life you can expect to live is very different 
depending on whether you bought a house 20 years ago or you didn’t.”
Over three quarters of neighbourhoods in Cornwall 
are more deprived than the national average, 
according to recent statistics. The county is 
actually among the 50 poorest regions in the whole of Europe.
Catrina says housing has become a commodity – 
hence the rise in second home ownership in 
Cornwall – and she believes the same drive to own 
homes and second homes is contributing to the 
global crisis around climate change too.
She has just written a book, Homesick: Why I Live 
In A Shed, which explores her own journey to 
Cornwall, her struggle to make it as a musician 
and writer and the alternative lifestyle she’s created here.
In it, she sets her own story within the context 
of all those struggling to afford a home – local 
families living in tents every summer to rent out 
their homes to tourists to help them pay the 
mortgage or teachers leaving Cornwall because they can’t afford a home.
“I wanted to write something that is not about a 
utilitarian view of the housing crisis – of 
people in boxes – but that explored the human 
side of housing, which is about a relationship 
with a place and the things that housing offer 
that is not practical, but emotional. It is about 
having shelter and autonomy and security.”
While the shed gives Catrina somewhere to live in 
the place she calls home, it’s a precarious 
lifestyle and the uncertainty over her future in 
her tiny space has been a “huge source of anxiety” for her.
She has applied for a lawful development 
certificate from Cornwall Council to enable her 
to continue living there in the future.
“Mustering up the courage to do this application 
took years,” she said. “When I realised the book 
was going to be published it dawned on me that I 
was going to be drawing attention to myself and I 
had to get that application in. I hope very much that it will be OK.”
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