We first fell in love with tipis, (or teepees) when we stayed in one in an amazingly remote location in Wales. We liked it so much that we went back and got engaged in it. There is something magical about the space inside a tipi – it is one of the few canvas spaces where you can sit around an open fire, the shape makes it a comforting place to be, and everyone comments how calm a place it is. For all these reasons, we yearned to have a tipi of our own, as a place to retreat, to have meetings, and for friends to stay, and when the opportunity came up to buy ‘our’ tipi from our friends in Wales, we couldn’t resist.
After weeks of pole preparing, canvas proofing and waiting for half decent weather, we finally put up the tipi in the camping field, and it is very fine indeed. There’s more to it that I ever thought, and it took a day, but we got there in the end, and learned a lot about tipi pitching in the process. First you put up a tripod of poles, into which all the other poles sit. Here’s the poles once up –
If you survive hauling a tripod of 26 foot-plus trees into the air, then the next step is to lash the 40kg canvas to one last (and largest) pole, and lift it into place before spreading out the canvas. If like us you are using birch, and it hasn’t sat and dried for months, then you need lots of bodies, because believe me, its bloody heavy.
Anyhow, having done that, it is time to lace up the front of the canvas using your lovingly prepared lacing pins – made from Rowan, in this case, and send an intrepid person up to the top to heave things into line.
Here’s Dougie persuading the canvas to behave, having laced the front up. We’ve got creases high up, caused by tying our poles a bit low, so the canvas can’t sit down onto them – something we’ll cure next time its put up.
Our next step was to get inside and fit the linings, again, one of those jobs you will do far quicker next time around. A day’s swearing, using pebbles gatherered from Newcastle beach to fasten cord onto the canvas, and all looked well. At this point we couldn’t resist lighting a fire, which Lyra thought a great idea –
Having got over the initial excitement, we hunted around for pallets to make a deck with, and covered that with old carpet and rugs, kindly donated by Suzi and Judith. We’ve also ditched the chimonea in favour of an open fire, surrounded by great lumps of granite that absorb the heat and keep warming us even when the fire goes out. It can be quite dark at this time of year, so we’ve got some LED light strings, powered by the wind turbine, and it all looks rather cosy. Not long until the first gathering….