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Life In A Tent

  • November 30, 2015
  • 4 min read
Life In A Tent

This month I moved with my small son into a tent on a community. After a trial week living in a three room nylon tent, I ordered a twin pole canvas bell tent. I’ve now rearranged our tent spaces three times in the last month!

First, we arrived and set ourselves up in a three room nylon tent. I gave us a room each, plus the central entrance room as a storage/lounge room.

Then we had to move our large nylon tent to allow some other community members to site their caravan. So out came all the furniture and belongings onto the grass. Four of us took a corner of the tent each, and we walked the assembled empty tent to its new location. It took two little trailer loads to shift the belongings over. I fitted quite a lot into that tent!

I nestled it into some gum trees. Large trees can drop dangerous branches on tents, but these trees are less than seven years old and don’t have any overhanging limbs. The trees help to shade the tent, protect it from strong wind and provide anchor points for guy ropes and hammocks.

This is the view from the front door of the nylon tent in its new location.

And last week I put up my big canvas bell tent. It’s heavy duty cotton canvas, and was delivered in under a week with no postage cost from Canvas Camps. It’s one of the biggest ones they sell at 4x6m, and it cost me $1500. It’s a beautiful space.

The instructions said it would need two people and fifteen minutes to erect. I was sceptical about that, but it was actually really easy. Ground sheet down, lay the tent on top and zip them together, fit the two centre poles together and lever the whole thing up from the inside. This is the box it came in, with the carry bags, instructions and the remains of my chocolate (an essential ingredient for putting up tents).

Then the three interior A frames slotted into place easily, and it was up! This is the new view from the nylon tent, before all the lower ropes were pegged down.

Pegging all the ropes down securely did take more than fifteen minutes, but we slept in the small tent for another night and finished the pegging down in the morning.

This is the centre pole inside.

It’s big inside!

It has been dangerously tempting for Turbo Boy to swing on the poles inside. I’m going to put furniture against them, to make sure he doesn’t pole dance the whole thing over.

I’ve told my son that the smaller tent is now his, which he is thrilled about. So far he’s been sleeping in the big tent with me, but I’ve set up a bedroom and playroom in his tent.

There are six small windows inside the tent. This is the view from one of them. It also has two large doors, one large window and two medium windows. The windows are all netted. Door netting costs extra in this version, and I don’t have it yet.

The next thing I added was homemade bunting. Looks like a circus tent now, doesn’t it?

And then a trampoline mat pegged onto the ground between the two tents, which is working really well. It’s UV resistant, dries quickly after rain, and reduces dirt and grass clippings getting walked into the tent. It’s smooth enough that the wind blows loose leaves off it, so it hardly needs sweeping. It’s a favourite spot for playing lego or reading (and reduces the chances of losing small pieces in the grass). It also cost us nothing and saved the mat from going into landfill.

Our solar lantern lasts about a week after it’s fully charged. It charges up in the sun, or can be plugged into the car socket or a powerpoint inside.

My favourite thing about the new tent is the way the walls become a projection screen for shifting tree shadows. I could lie there for hours every day watching them. Even moonlight makes shadows ripple across the ceiling.

A few days after we set the canvas tent up, I was lying outside on the trampoline mat wondering how long we’ll live here, and I realised that for the first time in my life I own my own home. That’s a pretty good feeling. So does my son, in fact! Homeowner at six. Not bad.

Next post I’ll talk about the psychological and spiritual impact of downsizing, and share my childhood cubby dreams.

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