Telling people of your present circumstances is always going to provoke a barrage of questions if you happen to be living in a treehouse. I have had a huge variety, some serious, some hilarious and some confused, from the camo-wrapped survival geek, the overenthusiastic Radio DJ to the mum with three kids: all have surprised me, shocked me and in some cases I have been the one furrowing my brow and scratching my head.
The bulk of the interrogation has come from Safari Britain, where I have been teaching foraging over the summer. A lot of the campers are families from London and naturally large groups of energetic, enthusiastic city kids, suddenly unrestrained from the confines of London parks. Showing said children the fine art of gutting and jointing a rabbit or peeling a squirrel give the children plenty of gore factor to take home, as well as various parts of animal anatomy.
“Can I have the head?”
Quite what a young lad would want with a rabbit’s head is beyond me. But then I remember keeping a dead Adder in a box when I was of similar size and stature.
So here they are, the things people say. The good, the bad and the ugly, from questions to comments…I have done my best to answer or comment myself in brackets!
“Do you eat many Parrots?” boy aged 3.
(No, not many up for grabs around here still on the wish list!)
“Do you really wipe your bum with sawdust?” Irish Radio DJ.
(I think he got the wrong end of the stick when I was explaining my composting toilet, generally I use v.cheap loo paper.)
“How do you get around the legality of trapping animals?”
(The majority of the trapping I do is experimental, when set I do check them frequently and if I do catch something it is dispatched quickly)
“Do you have a TV and Playstation in the treehouse?” Boy aged 10.
(No power I’m afraid! Never been much of a gamer anyway)
“Have you killed and eaten any cows from nearby fields?”
(I would be lying if I said the thought had never crossed my mind, but who wants an angry farmer on their case?)
“How do you wash?”
(With water and soap using my shower, teeth brushing and shaving takes place at the sink unit)
“I hope he pays council tax”
(Hmmm…for what exactly? Ridiculous!)
“Appeared in C4's 'Shipwrecked', and now flogging himself to the papers as a Claphamite eco-warrior...I'm sorry, but the whole thing smells of PR stunt, and not a lot else. Why choose Kent, and not a far-flung shore, or a remote area of Scotland? Ah! Got it! No pizza delivery! I'm guessing he didn't even build his "house" on his own…”
(One of my favorites- there is nothing like a bit of completely mindless criticism! I suspect “jock” Didn’t take the time to look at the blog)
“It's a shame that people who ALREADY live in this manner in tribes, communities, and 'undeveloped' countries all over the world aspire to OUR ridiculous lifestyle. I would live in a treehouse no probs!”
(Very good point- why is that?)
“I know I couldn’t live in a place like this without beer! What do you do for that?” Environment agency fella.
(I brew most of my own beer, at the moment mostly meadowsweet. Country wines take too long to be ready)
“Are you wearing a beret in this picture, If I come down to the treehouse do I have to wear a beret?” George Lamb, BBC radio 6
(No George, it’s a flat cap on backwards so I can look through the scope of the gun, but by all means “if” you come down feel free to bring your own beret)
“You sound quite posh.” Another Irish radio DJ.
(He sounded quite Irish- the conversation didn’t go very far after that)
“All you need is Felicity Kendal to keep you company and it would be perfect”
(Quite- the good life was amazing; I fear I may be too young for her now.)
“Many birds around?”
(It being a wood I live in…yes! I am very kind I have strung up some bird feeders with pigeons and frequently watch the blue tits and great tits squabble- run the gauntlet!)
“How do you poo?” Girl aged 5
(Not the sort of question I would expect from a young lady…I would guess the same way we all do- on a loo.)
“How many times have you been up and down the ladder?”
(Too many to count-liked the originality of the question)
“What’s the worst thing about living in a treehouse?”
(I would probably say…convenience. Its nice to be able to turn on a tap or flick a switch for light- I often find myself walking into the treehouse and reaching for a light switch)
“I see you got here in a car…that’s not very self sufficient, why don’t you have a donkey or something?”
(Well, this is the 21st century, and how else would you think I could get down here for 10am to teach you a little foraging…donkey next year perhaps?)
“Always stay wild and free…”
(From an American admirer of the treehouse…say no more!)
“Get real motherfu@£er. You are just playing. Wish we could all play but real life
Takes over for the majority of us. Only wealthy boys or the well connected can afford the time to play like this.”
(I can assure you, I am neither well connected nor wealthy! And this is my way of earning a few pennies- a book and a column. Thoughtful chap, I must say)
“I want ask you what do you do for drinking water? The river?”
(The environment agency wouldn’t comment on if the river water was drinkable for a sustained period- a local sewage outflow saw that off…I fill my 75 litre capacity from a tap and carry it down to the treehouse once/twice weekly)
“How do you charge your mobile phone?”
(For the i-phone and i-pod I use a SOLIO classic solar charger…very fancy bit of kit and well worth getting your hands on!)
“Do you ever get scared?”
(When you sleep with a gun under your bed and axes and machetes hanging on the wall…you feel quite safe, I can assure you. The fear of man is the worry…)
So there you have it, a bit of this and that. Please feel free to email me any questions or queries to: email@example.com and I will do my best to answer them when I get the chance.
Next week I will be delving into the realms of cheese making, with the local dairy at hand, they must need a bit of shit shoveling?