We often get little, but important visitors at Fernlea and the Hobbit and I like to make their stay special and memorable. In the beginning, when the property was just land and gorse, there was not much for our little visitors to do, and it was something we wanted to remedy early on.
It so happens we have many Tōtara trees on Fernlea. These trees grow pretty big, have hard wood and in summer produce edible little red berries. It also so happens that the Hobbit always keeps used timber just in case it is needed. So putting two and two together – trees and spare wood – it isn’t hard to get to TREE HOUSE.
Friends popped over and gave us a hand to build the platform and then we went to our local hardware store, Bunnings, and a bought rope ladder, hanging rings, spy glasses and steering wheel which we added for extra fun.
The truth is the Hobbit and I are just kids at heart and very soon we got carried away with the little project. He found a pole and attached it to the tree so the children could slide down it like firemen.
I went to toy shops and found fairies, gnomes and novelties to hide in and around the tree house…. and then we got very ambitious and thought hey, why not make a swing out of a tyre, but not just any tyre swing – a horse tyre swing.
Making a swing out of an old tyre is very difficult and the Hobbit had a real challenge cutting through the tyre wall, as there is steel in the rubber. In true Hobbit style he persevered and only occasionally made a few mutterings under his breath.
I bought a cheap black handbag with a chain and we used it to fashion the ears, bridle and reigns. A mop proved perfect for a mane, and the saddle was made from some soft leatherette material I had. The result was effective.
So the tree house got a twist of fantasy for our little visitors and we are pleased to say when they come over they play in the old fashioned way, climbing, swinging and using their imaginations.