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Cave Mark #4


(Maybe this should really be Mark #2a, as I used the second basic structure that I’d made, but it’s a new one now, so gets its own number!)

While I was fiddling with Mark #3 I still had Mark #2, the tepee frame, hanging around. It was no use as it was; hardly any room, and barely able to stand upright:

I’d built a 4×4 foot grid which I’d wanted to use as a door, but that wouldn’t have fitted. Then I thought, if I take the apex of the pyramid apart, I can use that grid as a roof, lower down (wouldn’t need an 8-foot ceiling!) and that’d allow more usable space inside.

As it was eight feet high, had to lay it on its side. took the apex apart and started to tie on the grid, about two feet in from the tip.

Then I had another look, and thought, it’d work on its side, six feet high at the front, four feet high at the back. So I undid the ties I’d already made and moved the grid back to the end of the 8ft poles.

If I’d tied the original pyramid properly, the structure would have stayed put, the lashings being tight enough to brace the canes. But that damn nylon twine would not pull properly tight, no matter how hard I’d hauled on it. it wasn’t too bad once I’d got the main pyramid assembled, but when I’d taken the apex lashings off to put the grid on to the narrow end, the wide end wavered all over the place, collapsing completely flat more than once.

I had to replace all the orange nylon twine with white cotton twine – thinner, so it bit into the cane more, and held tighter. I’d pulled the nylon as tight as I possibly could, to the detriment of my fingers, which got grooves in them, and more than one of the canes simply fell out of the lashing because there wasn’t sufficient tension to hold it in place.

Eventually I had to lean the wide end against the fence to hold it still, which still failed until I jammed it forcibly into place against the concrete fence pillars:

Even then it kept sliding sideways

Until I jammed it tight and used the small table to hold it more or less in place

I put a couple of braces across the wide end – couldn’t X-brace them completely because I intended this to be the entrance, so I put two 6-foot canes from one top corner down the opposite “portal” and lashed it – considering they’re both the same length something’s gone a bit agley there!

Though they both start at the same point, top of the cane, they don’t finish the same distance down the cane; the whole thing must have been wonky when I did it. but at least it added a bit of bracing.

Then added some bracing to the sides – with the difference in front and back heights, couldn’t use 4-foot canes: five foot would have been better if I’d had any, so went with 6-footers

The bracing on the far side is shorter than on the near side: I wanted a small side-door which meant a space with no bracing.

But at least it’s self-standing now. And that was enough for one day’s work.

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Oh fran you indomitable spirit, you make me smile but go certainly think outside the box. Is your structure meant for sitting in or does it have to be head hight? Just been having a think, how about a toilet tent ?
You could cut out the non supportive top bits and cover with thatch of some kind.. its meant for walking into and sitting in after all!
If you just want a frame, how about this link
Or what about building a scaled down log hut? More sturdy but removable...lots of stuff and vids on utube.

14 Dec, 2014


Oooh, Fran ...
you've worked very hard on these designs ... especially doing it all in the cold of winter !

How about this version turning temporarily into Santa's grotto ?
... or at least add just a few Christmas decorations ?

Well done :o)

14 Dec, 2014

14 Dec, 2014


Thanks @ Resi – now that I’ve got this much internal space, I plan to use the smaller rear end for the “cave”, with a screen to totally enclose it, for chilling out – that’d be roughly a 4-foot cube. I left the bracing short on the far side because I wanted to have a small doorway with a tiny Zen garden outside.
The larger front end (4x6x8)would be for sitting and enjoying the garden (when I get the garden to enjoy!), with a slot in one side to watch the birds without them seeing me, or seeing so much of me.
Also, the full length is long enough for me to lie in, should I feel so inclined
It’d be 6 feet square at the front and 4 feet square at the back; presumably the middle would be 5 feet square, enough to stand if I bend my head.
The toilet tent is a metre square, just over 3 foot, not really enough room to do anything but sit in, not much room for manoevre – but then, it’s not designed for that!
I’ve seen some lightweight waterproof breathable tent fabric on Amazon, which I’ve got my eye on; that would do for an inner cover and the screen, I’d really love to try some sort of thatch, but still don’t have much idea of how to actually do that. (There are thatch tiles available, but not sure of the sizes, they’re for proper roofs.)
I’ve got some fibreglass tent poles from my dome tent (I did think of using the whole tent, if I could have found a way of just using the poles and flysheet, but this one has tabs on the inner tent that the poles sit in to support the fly; not sure how well they’d work without those tabs to space them correctly.
I did think of buying longer poles and using them; I’d want a rather tight arc, and they’d bend better than willow (living or otherwise) but again it’s anchoring the poles: I did think of sinking the ends into small milk bottles and filling them with concrete, then burying them; that should provide enough anchorage! And I might do that for the final project, once I know where I want it and how big I want it.
I did masses of Google and YouTube searches: maybe I couldn’t find exactly the right key words, because mostly what I got was log cabins (big enough for guest houses), or earth-bag lodges, or “small” huts that would take up half my garden. I did find some “backwoods shelters” but they were tiny and “thatched” with fallen branches and leaves, okay for one or two nights, but not really for more than that.

Thanks @ TT – I did this in September, not done much to it since, the weather being the way it is, but I’ve added some more bracing – it’s not moved much in the winds, but then there’s not much yet for the wind to get hold of. It’ll probably be a very different story when it comes to putting walls and a roof on!
I hadn’t thought of a grotto (lol more “grotty”!) but I suppose it could be adapted and decorated.

@ Stera – thanks for the link; I think I found that one, or one similar, during my months of “looking up”. Normal tepees would be much too big for this garden: it’s only about 30 feet square, and given the sloping walls I’d need a huge one to give me enough internal space. Lol and it’d hardly blend in with the scenery; if there was any scenery left for it to blend into!

14 Dec, 2014


Hi Fran ..
Grotto definitely needs a few Christmas decorations and then put a photo on GoY :o)

14 Dec, 2014


well, it won't be done by Yule (this year at least, only another week to go) but by next year it should be up - if I've not abandoned the idea completely.

14 Dec, 2014


Looks to me there's enough structure to put some outdoor lights on ... and maybe some weatherproof tinsel !

14 Dec, 2014


I could hang things on the "skeleton" - I don't hae anything in the way of outdoor lights, other than solar garden lights that use up their batteries by about 6pm this time of year! maybe I can get some LCD "mesh" lights that run off batteries. Amazon should be able to supply some, and with a quick postage.

Only occured to me yesterday that the cotton string has been exposed to the rain for at least a month; hope it'll last!

14 Dec, 2014


Are you planning to keep it up all year then Fran?

14 Dec, 2014


The string has done well ... yes some lights are just what your structure needs ... and some garlands of silver and white .. and a bright angel on the top !

14 Dec, 2014


@ Stera - yes, I want a permanent structure, to use all year round.

@ TT - I've just ordered some battery-powered fairly light strings from Amazon - with timer, so I can set it for appropraite yhours.
I don't do Christmas but it'd be a nice decoration anyway
And one of them can go on my front hedge, to make it stand out in the dark! Always a prob to tell cab drivers where to pull up

14 Dec, 2014


Goodness, were you out building today? It has been a very hard and long lasting frost here. You might need a heater in there or at least a hot water bottle :)

14 Dec, 2014


lol Gee, that was in late Sptember - it's taken me this long to get around to doing the blog.

I've done a bit more, but think now that the rest of it'll heave to wait till the days get longer and dryer!

but being out there makes inside feel so much wrmer!

14 Dec, 2014


Be careful when you step into it! You might have mistakenly constructed a portal to another dimension! :)

15 Dec, 2014


Hi Fran ... please put a comment here when you've uploaded onto GoY a photo of the new lights ! Exciting !

ha ha Strife ... the aliens will appreciate some pretty lights around their portal ! ;o)

15 Dec, 2014


oh, if only this was the way to Narnia! but lol if I site it against or at least near to the gate into the "wild wood" beyond the fence, it could be a portal to another world!

will do, TT. The reviews gave the sellers top marks for speed of delivery, so fingers x'd. lol, of course it might take me a while to work out how to get them to work!

15 Dec, 2014


Had a brief look at BIRD HIDES before I got a note I was no longer on the internet. I saw one for £54 and a mention of camoflage netting Fran. Obviously back on again now. Just seen a pop up bird hide on ebay. Looks just the ticket for you Fran. Zip entry in a tasteful muted floral decor. I presume it is water proof. It would look just the ticket in your garden Fran. Just pop it up when needed. Pin it in the lawn and voila.

15 Dec, 2014


I found some cammo netting, it said it wwas waterproof, but how can netting or mesh be waterproof?? i've also seen some cammo material, but it's jungle or forest, they don't do garden or grass cammo, which means that the thing would still tend to rather stand out!

I'll look on eBay for bird hides, thanks, Dorjac, it does sound like just hte thing

Ha!!! "0 results found for pop up bird hde "

I'll have to try other key words, but thought those the most logical

ditto for "pop up hide" and "bird hide", though it did offer me a bird launcher for clay pigeon shooting!

can you remember what words you used in search, please?

sigh, sign of the times - nothing for "bird watching" but plenty for "shooting"

15 Dec, 2014


I put bird hide into google. It came up with Bird Hide at I clicked that and the company is............wildlifephotographyshop......all one word. It is a substantial bird hide with a pattern of tree branches printed on it. Zips and quite tall....worth exploring Fran. £75.

16 Dec, 2014


ah! I was looking on eBay, which probably explains it. I'll head Amazon-wards immediately, thanks love

found it! only one it can be with that brand and that price - i've added it to my wish list so i'll be able to find it again, thanks so much!

16 Dec, 2014


Good glad you found it Fran. Saw a picture of a fella with it bundled up in a carrier bag over his shoulder. Bundle about 2 and half feet long and 10 ins deep. I suppose twitchers have to have portabilty. Quite useful if on the run or a rough sleeper. One bloke locally was sleeping rough on a landscaped traffic island circulated by a lot of traffic. Including lots of buses. I told the receptionist at my eye test place. She went out and had a look and rang the police. He got moved off....spoilsport.

17 Dec, 2014


Bad place t sleep though with all the traffic fumes...

17 Dec, 2014


and hardly the place for a quiet, restful night's sleep!

17 Dec, 2014


got some fairy lights on, or via, Amazon - one white, one multi. These had waterproof battery housing as well as lights; plus about 8 display options (still got to cycle through them long enough to see what each one does) and an inbuilt timer that runs for 6 hours and automatically switches off for 18. starting from when you first switch them on.

i've not done a very brilliant display layout, but it was quite dark when I remembered: i'll adjust them tomorrow, if I think about it

21 Dec, 2014


found the pic ... pretty !

21 Dec, 2014


Thanks, TT - double thanks, as it was your idea in the first place!

21 Dec, 2014


I would like to see a photo sort of in twilight .. so you can see the lights and the structure at the same time..

21 Dec, 2014


I took a pi iwth flash, that showed the structure more than the lights, so I took the flash off for the one I posted. will post the "show-all" pic as well - I'd added some more bracing to the cave since this blog

22 Dec, 2014


Those timed lights would be handy for being on when you go out. The burglars might think you are in the house with them on. Good for picking out the house when you return

22 Dec, 2014


that's what I want one set for, marking where I live! Need somewhere to set them up in the front, out of reach of hte pavement (Bethnal Green habits die hard! you don't put anything that can be reached from outside).

I hadn't thouught of one indoors on a front window as a deterrent, but that's a very good idea,thanks!

22 Dec, 2014

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