Pacific Quay, Glasgow
I noticed blue lights flashing and through the rain I could see an ambulance parked awkwardly in the road and a man being held by the throat against the building opposite. A typical Saturday evening in Glasgow I thought! The rain was fairly heavy and had been pouring all day. I decided this was a perfect night for a wild hut adventure.
I don’t like to get sentimental over one patch of scrub-land but I think urban density needs to be tempered with negative space - areas for wild resurgence. On the plus side, there was enough chopped materials here for all 100 huts so I wasn’t complaining for long.
I decided to build quite an elegant triangular form. It consisted of two simple A-frame structures, which supported a triangular sleeping platform with roof above. Both the sleeping platform and roof tapered back to a single point. This reduced the material requirement and made it quite a quick and efficient build.
I constructed two free standing A-frames and strung the bed and roof structure together in super-quick time. I was slowed down considerably though as groups of screaming youths passed on the road above every few minutes. I felt really exposed with the lack of ground cover and crouched down behind stacks of timber like an animal shunning human contact.
I laddered the roof with straight lengths of wood, using gravity to hold them in place. I then used upturned moss and turf to form a skin over the roof timbers and hold them in place. This ‘wattle and dob’ style roofing was quick and extremely effective. I built a short windbreak with some broken evergreen branches and the full hut was complete in only 3.5 hours.
The rain hadn’t stopped all night and I pulled off my squelching wellies and wriggled onto the sleeping platform. It was a good test for this little hut as I’m sure even my tent would have packed in during such a heavy and constant downpour.
I put on a hat and snuggled down into the sleeping bag feeling the odd drip find its way through the layers of debris. The wind seemed to change direction from west to north-west, but the windbreak was well positioned around my head. I wondered how I would fall asleep – I was wide awake and there is a row of glowing flats on the road above. Taxi’s sped past every few minutes and people laughed in the rain on their drunken walk home from town.
Before long I was fast asleep and only woke to the sounds of birds chirping the following morning. I opened my eyes to see a black shape darting around the mud below the hut. It was still dark and I was sure it was a rat. It moved again and to my relief it was a blackbird searching for the early worm. It was odd to see bird-life in the darkness. It was almost 7am and the sun had not yet risen.
I watched the blackbird dart around the ground instinctively and wondered if it was following the same route it had done for years through the old forest? I wondered if by studying the bird’s movements you could build up a picture of how the forest was arranged before it was destroyed a few days earlier. I wondered if the residual mental maps of these birds could reveal the historic forest landscape through their confused movements, like a ghost or x-ray. Animals are highly adaptable I thought. Which is lucky as their eviction notice came in the form of a chainsaw.
It was soon light and as I walked home I felt like a travelling mud-wrestler. I passed about 10 people who looked at me with some concern. I checked my reflection in a car window and realised that my head looked like a chocolate truffle with bed-hair. I cleaned my wellies in a puddle and felt a lot better.