SOME people might have fairies or even a gnome fishing in a pond at the bottom of their garden, but Pam Thompson has a 1935 red telephone kiosk.
Once a familiar sight in neighbourhoods everywhere, the fully restored kiosk complete with a working bakelite telephone has been installed at Pear Tree Cottage, Wichenford, near Worcester just in time for its open garden event on the Summer Solstice weekend of June 21-22.
Each year Pam and husband Alistair open their beautiful cottage garden for charity as part of the National Gardens Scheme, but this time there will be something different.
"The idea for the kiosk came because we wanted to replace a nasty plastic coffin we used to store our outside chair cushions," Mrs Thompson explained.
"We looked on the internet for a traditional telephone kiosk, but soon realised that restoring something metal would require sand blasting, which is a little outside my skill levels. So eventually we acquired one from Unicorn Kiosks, which supplies them for the film and TV industry.
"We collected it from Reigate on our gardeners' truck, but then had to get it in place and being at it weighs best part of a ton, that presented a bit of a problem."
Fortunately Mrs Thompson, who was once a West Mercia Police traffic officer patrolling the motorways, had a brainwave.
"If we ever had an accident, we were always very pleased to see the recovery team from Paynes at Upton-upon-Severn turn up," she said.
"It was like the arrival of the cavalry if you had a fully laden HGV at the bottom of a steep embankment. They were always brilliant and they came to my rescue again."
Using a lorry mounted crane, Paynes soon lifted the kiosk and placed it exactly on the right spot in the garden.
"It just happens the main telephone line is very near the kiosk and we were able to get it connected, so I now have a fully working bakelite phone, just like it used to be," Mrs Thompson added.
"We have even made replica shelves using original patterns. The bad thing is, we love the kiosk so much, it seems a shame to stuff it with cushions, so we still have the coffin hidden away in a work area of the garden near the log store!"
The Thompson's version of the traditional red kiosk was designed in 1935 by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott to mark the silver jubilee of King George V.
The kiosks were first introduced in 1926 and although phased out since the 1980s, an estimated 11,000 still remain in service today