My Home: Dave Myers of the Hairy Bikers
One half of the Hairy Bikers loves living in his converted (and mainly recycled) London container. Interview by Rosanna Greenstreet
Wednesday 10 May 2006
Hairy biker Dave Myers, 48, was born in Barrow-in-Furness. He met Si King 17 years ago and together they created the TV show The Hairy Bikers' Cookbook. Myers owns a house in Morecambe Bay and rents a flat in London's Docklands, which he shares with King.
I live in Container City at Trinity Buoy Wharf when I'm in London. Started in 2001, Container City consists of three buildings made from old shipping containers. The containers look like big Lego blocks and are really quite attractive. My container is painted teracotta, others are yellow and bright blue.
Trinity Buoy Wharf was a bomb site during the Second World War. The architects got the land for something like £1 and the deal was they could only build live/work spaces for people in the arts. Something like 85 per cent of Container City is made from recycled material - even the lift shaft is made from containers. The architects have done a good job.
I started renting here in 2004, when I was working on the TV drama Spooks as make-up designer. I am an out-of-towner and rather than stay on floors or pay through the nose for inadequate accommodation, I decided to get somewhere a bit more permanent that was affordable and secure.
My main home is in Morecambe Bay on a little island called Roa, where there are 13 houses, a lifeboat station, a boat club and a café. My house was built in 1850. I used to go fishing on Roa Island as a boy and it seemed a good idea to move there.
My friend Mark, who does the graphics on Spooks and lives at Trinity Buoy Wharf, told me that the flat next door to his had come up for rent. I got a five-year lease and the rent's £100 a week plus the community charge and service charge. For that you get a self-contained - or self-container-ed - flat with heating that works. You turn it on and because the place is so well-insulated, it's warm in a quarter of an hour.
Container City is secure - there are big metal gates, everybody has electronic keys and there's always a watchman on at night. There are plenty of places to leave bikes under shelter and for cars there's parking along the dockside.
I have the penthouse on the top floor and when it rains it rattles on the roof. My studio is made from two containers welded together, but you can get a triple or quadruple one. Inside the container walls are plastered, so it looks just like a regular flat.
Mine is an L-shaped studio with sliding patio doors at one end which open on to the balcony. The sides of the balcony are formed by the open doors of the container. One end of the L is a small kitchen with a fridge, little cooker and sink. I don't have a washing machine because on site there is a communal launderette with industrial washers and driers.
There's also a communal set of bathrooms and toilets. Obviously they are more for people working in studios that are just workspaces. There's also a diner called Fat Boys' where they do nice coffee. My studio gets a fair amount of light from the patio doors, glass door and two porthole windows - about four feet across - at either end of the studio. The balcony overlooks the Millennium Dome and at night you can see Canary Wharf all lit up like Manhattan.
The balcony is the width of a container - about 10 feet - by four. It's fine for two chairs, a wine table and a little charcoal oven like the one we use on our programme. At night when everybody's gone home from their studios, there are only a few people sleeping inside Container City. It's a luxury because I've the place more or less to myself. I watch boats going up and down the Thames and it's so quiet, you wouldn't think you were in London.
Since we've been filming The Hairy Bikers' Cookbook and writing our book, Si has been crashing here and chipping in for the rent. In the living area are two oatmeal covered sofas which turn into futons. There are three modern free-standing lamps. It's the furniture you'd expect inside a tin box - clean and functional.
My home in the north is full of antiques but this was a quick Ikea fit. My bedroom is in the same room as the sitting room, so we've put up a blue Perspex screen - a reject from Spooks. I've got a Brazilian good-luck charm nailed to the bed - long may it dangle! In the bathroom there is a heated towel rail and full sized shower - not just an excuse for one.
The walls are all white and there are halogen ceiling spots. The main door is industrial steel-framed with armoured, frosted glass. When they built the flats, they built them properly and everything fits and works. The white floorboards are chipboard and I bought rugs to go over them. When the site is quiet at the weekend, I shake them out over the balcony, Italian style, and that's the housework done.
The Hairy Bikers' Cookbook (Penguin/Michael Joseph, price £20).
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