I always knew this project was going to be hard work, it now seems I drastically underestimated just how much! But, I’m truly loving every minute, even manhandling misshapen bits of 18mm ply down to the treehouse is a gleeful experience, I think if everyone’s front door to the workplace looked like mine lined with row upon row of bluebells (see above), then moods would be at a constant high.
Despite having my hands torn to shreds and beginning to look like I’ve had acupuncture from Sweeney Todd, Things are moving at a smooth, unfaltering pace. I have had a few mishaps: I am starting to concentrate more on furnishings rather than the house itself (lets face it, decking out a crib with some fly gear is always top of the list…shizzle?). A week ago I decided it was time to build one of the most practical pieces needed for any Treehouse- the Ladder.
Nick- my game dealer/super sharp shooter, came down to put his design skills to the test on some fine Sussex wood (I had high hopes- when he’s not shooting birds for me, he works for the best product design company in the country). With hammer, chisel and saw, we laboured away the afternoon building a rustically wonky ladder from bits of hazel and ash that I had felled already. The idea is to use absolutely every last bit of wood that has come down by my hand, and it appears to be working quite well.
Whilst trying to distract myself from the actual built, I felt it vitally important to have some kind of kitchen/sanitation unit. On my first nose about the wood back in winter, I came across an old dump and one of my greatest finds to date: An enamel sink unit. I recognised it’s potential immediately and looked forward to the day I could wash my dishes and brush my teeth in front of it- not sure whether it is a he or a she yet…a sex and a name will eventually come!
Gathering a few fresh pieces of hazel and other various offcuts, I spent a day building a unit to hold the sink. Working with unseasoned , fresh roundwood is no easy task, but steadily my notching, cutting and understanding of this way of working is slowly coming to fruition. As you can see in the picture below! I still have room for a mirror, all me pots and pans and other random utensils. I did find a perfect pair of antlers and I am toying with the idea of putting them at each end…but how far can you go before things start to resemble a redneck back yard?
The flooring of the treehouse IS the main priority at the moment, reluctantly (and because I’m getting fed up of sleeping on an earth floor) I have begun to focus on this at last. Of course, I have been getting on with it, most of the local building sites have witnessed a young man digging through their skips or a wood smoke infused individual begging for any 18mm off cuts. I have even been referred to as a “Pikey” on more than one occasion! The cheek! But if the wood is being recycled and being put to good use, I am content with being called whatever cockney wit is thrown my way…the wood doesn’t cost a penny! Having to fit all these offcuts together is just like doing one giant jigsaw puzzle, 8 foot off the ground...
Between running wood down to the treehouse and cutting hazel for my dodgy looking (but very sturdy) balcony, I have had the “Patch” to attend to. After meticulously digging it over, breaking up clods, guarding it against 500lb pig break-ins and planting potatoes, the patch has had its first batch of seeds and plants go in from my limited nursery growing at my mother’s house.
Last week I put in my broad beans, peas, runner beans, coriander, parsley, chives, courgettes, salads, onions (I know-v. late!) spinach and beetroot. Clare came down to give me a hand and exercised her green fingers, whilst cooing at the horses in the neighbouring field.
The other day I got very excited: a few of the seedlings had made their way to daylight, I was not so happy to see that my early potatoes might be suffering from the raw, unrotted horse poo I stupidly put in months before…losing them could be a disaster!
How have I been feeding myself? I hear you ask, well to be honest…not very well! Below is a typical result of finishing building at 7.30pm and realising it would be good to eat before dark. Reaching for the shotgun, the first animal that is legal game and tasty usually ends up in the pot. Unfortunately, the rabbits tend to time their daily breath of fresh air and stroll in the fields at exactly the same time a starving treehouse labourer does, bang, bang…bunny for supper.
At the moment there is plenty around for cooking with and a hearty rabbit stew packed with nettles, wild garlic and a few flimsy dandelion roots has a surprising ability to sate the appetite of a ravenous builder.
Other than the long hours of graft, which is making me feel more alive than ever after the confines of the nation’s capital, bertha is performing her everyday duties well and the kettle is constantly boiling to provide me with refreshing, energy restoring cups of sweet tea along with my regular infusions of meadowsweet and mint- good for the soul, the head and the belly.
There is one thing I am being constantly plagued with down in them there woods…bloody catapillars! The bastards are everywhere! They drop out of the trees on thin silk threads like over eager paratroopers and seem to have an intense desire for anything metal, I am counting the days until they turn in to butteflies…
On a final note, I popped up to London to go to a friends book launch, Tom Kevill-Davies (aka The Hungry Cyclist). I have been enjoying his stories of peddling the Americas in search of the perfect meal and constantly find my mouth watering at the end of every page. If you like food and have a spirit for adventure, you HAVE to get yourself a copy…a damn fine read!
After said book launch and a brief sojourn in London, I was very pleased to be back on the train to Sussex to spend Saturday night down at the treehouse for Clare’s first night under the leaves, caterpillars and things that go bump in the night…surprisingly, she thoroughly enjoyed it!