Making tents in the garden is one of Roo’s favourite garden activities. She does have a pop up one which is a lot of fun but somehow making one from sticks, sheets and strings has its own peculiar magic. The trouble is, they aren’t very good in the rain.
Another of Roo’s favourie activities is having a teddy bears’ picnic. She has one almost every day straight after getting up and noone is allowed to get changed for the day until they have sat down on her bedroom rug in the company of rabbits, bears and a giant lobster to eat some cake (railway pieces), toast (small books) and coffee. One evening at bedtime recently Roo had a new idea.
‘Mummy, can we take the teddies for a teddy bears’ picnic in the field tomorrow?’
Anxious to get to her crying sister I rashly agreed without a further thought.
The next day dawned grey and gloomy. I woke up to the sound of rain driving onto the window. There would be no teddy bears’ picnics in the field today.
Roo was disappointed. She asked all morning if the rain was going to stop so we could take the teddies to the field. It didn’t. It just got heavier still.
By 1100 it was still tipping it down and we had all had enough of being cooped indoors. An idea in my head we hopped into the car and headed off to the supermarket. I had a plan.
Back home, whilst Beth was napping, Roo and I kitted up and headed out into the drenching wet garden. Roo huddled under an umbrella whilst I gathered up garden canes and string. The wet ground made it easy to push in the canes into a wigwam shape and Roo crept out to help support the sticks as I tied the knots. We put in some side sticks to stop the sheets blowing in with the wind. Given how hard it was raining we extended the wigwam with a bit of a flimsy tunnel so there would be room to take off shoes.
Then it was time to get out our piece de resistance, the bargainacious shower curtains we picked up form Tesco for £2 each.I’m guessing a charity shop might have had some too. We used three of them to drape over the wigwam. The little holes for shower curtain hooks at the top worked perfectly for pulling together the different sheets round the top of the canes and they proved a lot easier to tie up with string and the odd clothes peg than heavy and unwieldy groundsheets. Inside, Roo put down an old plastic table protector cover and piled a blanket on top. Amazingly, after a few rounds of string to bind round the top of the wigwam, Roo declared the inside drip-free. It was ready for playtime.
Later that afternoon with her little sister and a couple of carefully selected teddies in tow, we all set out into the rainy garden once more. Roo and Beth had hot chocolate and fairy cakes in the wigwam. I think the bears had some tasty wooden brick brownies! The wigwam was still dry inside and I was relieved at having managed to pull-off my promise of an outdoor teddy bears’ picnic, even if it wasn’t quite in the field. Best of all, we have the shower curtains packed away for future use. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of den Roo makes with them next!
How to make your own waterproof wigwam.
What you will need:
- 6-8 of tall bamboo garden canes, 2 of which you don’t mind snapping into smaller bits.
- 2-3 old/bargain shower curtains or other waterproof sheeting, plus something waterproof for the floor (a couple of large, heavy duty bin bags would just about do). Shower curtains with weights in the bottom are the best if you have an old one.
- clothes pegs
- coats and wellies!
How to build your wigwam:
There’s no great science to this – just tie up the canes and stick the shower curtains over the top like a normal garden wigwam.
If you’re still not sure though…
- Start by sticking 5-6 tall canes into the ground in a large circle shape.
- Tie the tops of the canes together tightly with string. Weave the string round each cane for less wobble factor!
- Break the other canes into smaller bits. Each one will need to stretch between two poles about half way up the wigwam frame.
- Cut a fairly long bit of string. Loop it round one of the wigwam’s main canes about half way up. Getting someone else to help you keep it in place, balance one of the shorter sticks on top of the loop, making sure its other end reaches horizontally across to the next cane along. Now you need to lash the short cane horizontally to the long vertical cane. If you’re interested in doing a knot that will last then use square lashing. Chances are you’re already doing something similar. Repeat on the other side. These side canes will stop wet, heavy shower curtains from flapping into the tent. Repeat all the way round apart from the entrance.
- On the entrance section, lash the horizontal pole about two thirds of the way up from the ground – high up enough for little people to get in and out comfortably below.
- If you’re getting creative you can use more canes to make a tunnel or even another wigwam with a tunnel between them!
- Drape the shower curtains round the wigwam,using clothes pegs for now to keep them in place. Make sure they cover all the bottom canes.
- Using string to thread through the tops of the shower curtains, stitching them all together at the top. Tie these onto the wigwam canes by tightly binding them about an inch from the top of the curtain in line with the cross-over on the top of the poles.
- Assuming you want to use the curtains again (!) use clothes pegs to peg the shower curtains in place and to join them together. Leave the front flaps open.
- Fill with children, teddies and afternoon tea!