Tree House Construction Manual


The weather in Newark in June 1992 was drier than it is at the moment. Today I therefore scanned a batch of colour negatives produced during that month.

Building Tree House 1

Building Tree House 2

The erection of a rather splendid tree house in a false acacia tree in the garden of Lindum House had begun before I began to record it. Sam and Louisa had enlisted the help of brothers Gavin and Ian to begin the project.

Building Tree House 3

Louisa was a willing hod carrier, bearing planks for the flooring;

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further invention was employed for hauling up greater quantities. You may be forgiven for imagining that William Heath Robinson exerted some influence on this ingenuity. One rope was extended from this tree to another on the other side of the lawn. Attached to this was another bearing a faggot of heavy planks hauled across by Sam, in the bottom left of the picture. Gavin, up aloft awaited its arrival. This took me back to Kennards department store in Wimbledon which had a similar system for conveying cash from counter to office. As will be seen from this photograph you cannot keep a lawn while children are young and you have to accommodate a swing and goalposts.

Building Tree House 8Building Tree House 9

Gavin and Ian began the task of heaving the floorboards up to the required level.

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Sam was soon up there to add his muscle;

Building Tree House 21

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eventually the materials reached the required level.

Building Tree House 26

The next storey was soon in place.

Building Tree House 27

The roof bore the combined weight of Sam and James Bird.

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Louisa then joined in the test.

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Up to seven or eight children would sleep overnight in this three storey house.

A sequel to the story of this adventure is told in ‘The Tree House’.

This evening we dined on minted lamb steaks; roasted sweet potato, peppers and mushrooms; new potatoes, carrots, broccoli and greens. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank a 2015 Bordeaux.


‘Strike While The Iron’s Hot…….’

A comment from my blogging friend, Mary Tang, on yesterday’s post led me to contemplate first names. Mary has met many people who share her prenomen. Apart from my Uncle Derrick, I have only come across three others who share my spelling. Strangely enough, they also all had the same surname.


The first Derrick Knight to create a certain amount of confusion was a documentary film maker who began working in the 1950s. Some of his films were used in Social Work training. I never met him, and I didn’t make films. But I needed to convince a certain amount of Social Workers that it wasn’t my name on the credits. The above photograph is borrowed from Guy Coté’s site.

When my picture appeared on Google’s images page heading the story of a man on Death Row, this causes a little consternation for half a day.

The one namesake I did actually meet put a flier through our letterbox sometime in the 1970s when we lived in Soho. He was the proprietor of a new shop called Knight Games, just opened in Dean Street. I just had to walk round to meet him. Imagine our joint amazement when I entered the establishment and we found ourselves staring at our doppelgangers. We were the same height, the same build, the same hair colouring, with similar features, and wearing similarly framed spectacles.

This morning a courier called Phil delivered my brother Chris’s chair which Frances has sent me from Wroughton in Wiltshire.

On a warm, wet, and overcast afternoon, after visiting the bank in New Milton, Jackie drove us out to Ace Reclamation at Parley, beyond Christchurch.

As we negotiated the bumpy potholes of the mile and a half long track to this architectural salvage outlet, Jackie observed that ‘you must really want to get to this place to come down here’.

Puddle Ace Reclamation

Once we had parked outside the truth of this came home to me as we clambered over a pallet laid alongside a large puddle in the entrance. I was reminded of Walter Raleigh spreading his splendid cloak over one such, so that Queen Elizabeth I wouldn’t spoil her shoes.

Ace Reclamation yard 1

The yard and and the sheds comprise a cornucopia of reclaimed artefacts. A giant cock perches above an old telephone box. New corrugated iron sheets are piles alongside covered planks. Pub and Post Office signs are suspended above various garden ornaments of dubious provenance. Just opposite The Crown, for the past two years, has stood a very tasteful item of garden statuary. Not so today. The figure I had intended foe Jackie’s Christmas present had been sold.

Ace reclamation yard 2

We had a look around anyway, if only to confirm that we had aimed for the best piece there. The red Egyptian replica bearing implausible bare breasts didn’t quite cut the mustard, although one of the staff members did suggest she might.

Ace reclamation yard 3

Neither did we fancy the two huge dogs standing between an assortment of vacuum cleaners and an ancient bath. They appeared to be guarding an assortment of doors, roof tiles, and paving.

Chairs etc

Another hound, set up a warning clamour when I presumed to photograph a jumble of chairs, radiators, bath, mirror, and fireplaces. Fortunately, he was penned in.

Carding machine

Autumn leaves adorned part of a carding machine

Fire grates

and a heap of rusting grates.

Planks and posts

Wooden planks and metal posts stood opposite them.

Some items are deemed requiring protection from the elements. These are kept inside,

Clean me please

which can get rather dusty.

Fairground horses

A string of fairground horses line up alongside everything including the kitchen sink.

Don't put it off sign

Finally, pinned to an arrangement of doors was a sign pertinent to our predicament today. Examples of various fireplaces were also displayed.

As a parting quip the manager advised me to ‘strike while the iron is hot next time’.

We drove on to Lyndhurst where we intended to buy another present. We didn’t find that either.

Never mind, we dined on a juicy chicken and bacon pasta bake, with a medley of roasted vegetables. I drank Cimarosa Reserva Privado malbec 2013.