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Wallpapering the Tree-House


I love the tree-house. It was built for us, in a large apple tree, by a carpenter friend, and it is wonderful. We shied away from doing it ourselves because we wanted something aesthetically pleasing, moderately substantial, and that would last. We’re probably not capable of that. Above all we didn’t want to wake up in the morning after a storm and find its remnants littering the garden, it having been ripped from the tree by the local strong winds, and smashed to smithereens, as happened to a neighbour.

Since we came up with the plan, it has been a constant source of excitement, with little extras getting added as it took shape. It now has arrow slits, a couple of Perspex windows, and one open window that a child can just get a head and one shoulder out of, and pretend to be a railway signalman. There is a little fenced balcony, and for the time being a little wooden staircase up to it. (A rope ladder will follow one day, but for now my boys are too young to handle that safely.)

Two fat ivy-clad branches rise up inside it, and pass through the wall, where, with the rest of the canopy, they encircle it, hiding it almost completely in summer. The ivy seems entirely happy, much to my surprise. I mean, I know ivy is good for a North facing wall, but for the inside of a North facing wall? Who knew?

The tree-house has our dizzying collection of wooden weapons and home-made shields mounted on its walls, in the style of a castle’s grand hall. It has knight’s penants bunting from the rafters, and now a marvellous wallpapered wall that looks absolutely nothing like it has been hung with medieval tapestries, but somehow feels sort of like that. It is our very own castle in the sky, or at least in the trees.


Last but not least, there are a small number of poems on little torn paper sheets thumb-tacked to its walls. The boys and I chose one each, and we all chose A. A. Milne, (who else for a tree-house?). The boys chose “Lords and Ladies” and “Knight in Armour”, good choices both. And I chose Solitude, because even when dragons attack us, trains steam under us, and enemies maraud us, I know that in our little tree-house we can be perfectly alone, with one another.

I have a house where I go,
When there’s too many people,
I have a house where I go
Where no one can be;
I have a house where I go,
Where nobody ever says “no”
Where no one says anything – so
There is no one but me.

Solitude, by Alan Alexander Milne.

Categories: Playing Around

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