A few months earlier, we’d all ventured as a family to a large house in Northumberland for two friends’ joint fortieth birthday. A stunning, enormous country home with tartan wallpaper, monks’ seats, priest’s holes and presumably some agnostic architectural features too. It was so far north that other party guests spoke of nosebleeds, needing passports etc etc but for me, it was about thirty minutes from my childhood home. I grew up in Northumberland but rarely go back, so despite my southern friends’ initial reluctance, I was quite proud to be able to show them the white sand beaches, fifty foot sand dunes and incredible ruined castles (Hogwarts included!)
So while celebrating Dan and Louisa’s 40th in Northumberland, or more precisely, at this amazing house called Ellingham Hall with roughly twenty adults and twenty kids, we discovered they had a treehouse. And it looked like this….
So excited about this was Peter that he took lots of pictures of nuts, bolts, rope attachments and stair formations. Was he planning a Christian Grey style ‘red room of pain’? Thankfully not, he was instead planning to recreate said treehouse, in our woods, in France, this summer. And the boys would be helping.
Now one of the things that has always mystified (and impressed) me about my husband is his ability to build things. He just knows where nails and screws and things need to go in order to erect structures. He knows how to put pipes into things to get water to go to it or poo to go away from it. He also knows how to cut things at angles. This is the cleverest thing of all – AND I’m the one with the maths A Level (I’ve also got economics A Level though and my bank manager would surely scoff at that one!). And so it was with project tree house. He trotted off to Bricot Depot for wood and then started sawing things at angles, convinced that he knew in his head how this was all going to look. And the boys helped by passing him screws.
Or by pretending to saw their legs off, or my head off. And Peter grew tired of our lack of commitment to wood cutting at certain angles and basic construction techniques. So eventually we all went in and watched a film, leaving him, like Charactacus Potts banging and sawing away in the woods.
Come and look! He finally shouted. And we dutifully trooped out to see the framework all done so that it looked like the pic above. We all ooed and ahhed about how fabulous it was – Arthur momentarily looked up from his Nintendo to declare it ‘Epic’ and Sebastian tried to climb up it without a ladder.
“Ah no, just wait a sec,” said Peter, “I need to make one crucial adjustment to this nail here,” he continued, wielding his electric drill.
And then with one unscrew, we watched as plank by plank, it toppled to the ground, like those dominoe topplers who used to be on Roy Castles Record Breakers. Not a scrap of wood was left standing. The treehouse lay at our feet.
At this point I would probably have burst into tears and given up on the whole thing, but Peter simply shrugged and said it would be easy to fix – after all, the hard bit had been cutting all those angles. So he started again and with a couple of design based ideas from me it looked like this.
Apparently this is phase 1 which will be added to with other houses joined by rope bridges. One day I’m told it will be just like the one at Ellingham Hall. Trouble is, by then out kids will be in their late teens. Oh well maybe one day we’ll have grand kids!!