The days seem weeks ago and the weeks seem months ago. Things are so hectic down here I don’t know where to begin! I have just returned from a rather damp day of teaching foraging on the South Downs after 2 nights nestled in the newly roofed treehouse. The last few days have been grand, I have had the fine company of Tom Kevill-Davies a.k.a The Hungry Cyclist, the author of a book I am reading at the moment- and a terrific one at that, check out his blog for an update on his treehouse experience- the first of many!
With work progressing at an obscene pace, it is hard to know what to tell about and when…so I thought I would update you with one of the latest developments: a rather essential piece of kit and a very important one, if I ever wish to have the girlfriend down again…
For me, there are two places that are constant providers of valuable thinking time and inspiration, quite often they appear in the same room: the shower and the shitter. Yes, coarse I know but they sound so good together. With the shower built, but unused, a toilet seemed the next logical “mini project”.
On my first visit to a demolition yard recommended by a friend, where I picked up my stovepipe, I also picked up a delightful mahogany loo seat. This would certainly be the key to the throne, all I had to do was build a suitably rustic, yet practical platform for this bum-comfy wooden ring to rest upon. I don’t know if you’ve ever been seen in a public loo with a tape measure, trying to work out the perfect height for dumping comfort or not…it was a new experience for me and was met with, literally, an open mouth stare from a random punter. Is there no end to the eccentricities of this adventure?!
It turns out between 16-18 inches is the desired height, with this in mind I began work on the finer points of making my grown up potty. The “throne” was designed to be portable, in the sense that I am living in a wood with hard clay and sandstone a few feet underfoot. So I am guessing (taking into consideration amount of food consumed weekly) I will have to move it every two weeks. By placing it over a 3ft hole, I should be able to keep smell and sanitation under wraps using sawdust from a local workshop and ash from my stove.
It was another good distraction from the growing monotony of roof building to construct this masterpiece. Yet again, Hazel proved to be the most useful and versatile addition in this build. A little twine was used to finish the backrest and I even managed to incorporate a position for loo roll, all I need now is a magazine rack to stuff with copies of National Geographic and Private Eye (why is it consistently found in facilities across the country?).
With the “Throne” positioned amongst an impenetrable barrier of holly it is safe, perhaps not from a wandering eye, so a screen may have to be erected to ensure a little privacy, be it from Black birds, the odd chaffinch (of which I witnessed two copulating whilst sitting a top my wooden woo machine- that was a first!) or the pheasants that wander about the place.
Speaking of which, the mention of Jeff in the title has not been covered yet. I have found that being 8-9ft up a tree, gives those on terra firma a few more minerals than if you were hanging about at ground level: the local wildlife just don’t seem to register your presence. Enter Jeff the Longtail. Longtail is the age-old name given to cock pheasants by poachers back in the day, and I can think of no finer example than Jeff. He is the alpha male cock of my wood (please excuse all the phallic reference). I have witnessed his spurs in action warding off other males invading his territory and it has become clear that he is not one to be messed with.
It appears I may have a “pet” on my hands, I have been throwing him the odd scrap that I can spare and he keeps coming back for more. Whether or not Jeff will be spared the view of the inside of my cooking pot, I have not decided yet, I suppose It will depend on how hungry I get: In which case he will certainly get to check out the throne!
Next time, a few stories from the man who turned up on a bicycle and helped me make an underground oven, and a delve into the secret art of corrugated iron roofing…