Building a Den

Recently there have been a lot of weather, snow and wind and rain, but you might never have known it walking down the quiet wooded path. The only evidence of rain was the absolutely sodden ground we moved across. The light breeze moved the trees in the sunshine, throwing shadows across our muddy footsteps as we made our way to the spot I’d found a few weeks earlier.

It’s almost a year to the day since coronavirus closed schools for the first time and the opening up of business and leisure is keenly anticipated by all of us. Schools have just reopened after the second lockdown in Scotland and there is genuine excitement at being able to go to school and back to work.

But our world still feels very small and so Young Johnston and I decided to create a new world. Not very far flung of course, just far enough to give the impression of being far flung.

I’ve been watching far too much YouTube lately while napping Mini Johnston and I’ve come across a couple of channels that are totally absorbing, partly through the personalities involved and partly through what they get up to. The first channel is called Simon, a Bloke in the Woods and the second channel is called Kent Survival.

But undaunted, and seeing this as a first “draft”, we continued to build.

Inspired by their first class bush rafting and my own live if the outdoors, I located a nearby woodland, and found a spot just off the beat and track. Or so I thought until I saw all the dog walkers who use the field next door.

We started by building a skeleton, a sort of double lean-to.

More shell was added ready to tarp over and a wall/fire reflector was added at the front.

We found some Y branches and created some hooks that allow us to keep our bags off the ground. I also created a special mallet for Young Johnston. So he could hit things.

And hit other things.

The tarp was added to the roof, attached with cable ties, gaps filled with bracken and logs placed to stabilise the bracken.

We decided we need a bench, again to keep us off the ground.

You don’t go out with a 5 year old without taking a bag of snacks.

Young Johnston worked on his own little projects, like an extra seat and a flag pole.

We also added more fencing. Although there is more fencing to be done.

Our little homestead is really coming together. We have a back door into the den, we’re still discussing whether to close it off or not.

The view from the inside.

Looking up.

And where we have got to so far.

After all of that, we were shattered. Thank goodness we had a bed to lie down in.

More fencing is needed, especially if the back door remains, as that is the side the wind usually comes from. More bracken could go on the roof and there are also a couple of holes needing filled in the tarp.

It’s one of these projects that will probably never 100% be finished. Young Johnston is pretty proud of his efforts and rightly so. And today it was announced the “stay at home” message and national travel restrictions will go by April. It’s great to have a wee local outdoor base, but we’re also keen to get back into the van and go off exploring.

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