Friday, November 16, 2012

The Scuppers the sea dog/hobbit cubby house

"Born at sea in the teeth of a gale, the sailor was a dog. Scuppers was his name"
So begins The Sailor Dog, an absolutely insane Golden Book from 1953. Have you read it?
The reason I say it's insane is that it reads like it was written by a very drunk person, and then never edited at all. It's hilarious. Especially if you read it out loud, which I frequently do, because our kids quite like it, though I suspect they're also kind of freaked out by the bizarre (non-) narrative. The reviewer in the link above suggests that it's written like that to be like a kids' train of thought. Olive, Oscar and I are unconvinced.
One of my favourite pages in the book - full of really random, rambly sentences... and a bushel of oranges!
But we do so love Scuppers, the protagonist in the story. He has an extra-special place in our hearts. You see, Gen's dad, our beloved Peps, had (and loved) the book as a child, so we sometimes refer to him as Scuppers, Scup, or, on very special occasions, Pepe Dawg.

The first time Peps-Scuppers-Scup-Pepe Dawg saw the cubby I built for the kids, he said "Looks like something Scuppers the Sailor Dog would build! For a hobbit!" And I think that's kind of an apt description.
Like Scuppers' house, the cubby is a little wonky. It uses felled tree limbs ('driftwood') and bits and pieces found lying around. It's little, and it's cozy, and it was made with love and ingenuity. The only thing missing from mine is a dodgy salvaged-brick chimney.

But it's gotten the thumbs up from the kids, and many of their friends. My kids like it because they helped along the way - painting and passing tools and screws and nails and helping with the sawing of timbers. Their friends love it because I guess it look like something they could have built themselves. It's approachable, because it's not perfect, and it looks like something out of a kids' book!
Gorgeous photo of cubby interior courtesy of the lovely Genn
Amongst the flotsam and jetsam I used to construct the cubby are: 2 telegraph pole stubs, a branch that had fallen out of one of our lovely old trees, an old pallet (for the floor), a window from the tip (of course!), hardwood fence palings ( I know - they're AMAZING), some corrugated iron that came off the old Candelo Post Office (from my lovely and generous friend David, who also donated some alsynite offcuts) and some corflute weather boards. Yes folks. That weird plastic stuff that real estate signs are made from is an awesome building material. Firstly, it's free. Secondly, it would otherwise go into landfill. Thirdly, it's strong and lightweight and easy to cut. Yes, yes and yes.
For the cubby, I always planned on using a bit of corflute, inspired as I was by some corflute re-use in the awesomely inspiring book Turning Trash into Treasure for Young Children. Sometimes I thought I could use it as shingles for the roof (too hard), then I thought I'd just use it whole for the roof (too many joins and therefore possibilities of leaks) and then I thought I could use it for the walls, layered like weatherboards to make it pretty water-tight. I'm a fan.

Painted with a bit of gorgeous blue paint (also from the tip) you'd never know it was corflute. Looks like weatherboards, right??
In a way I kind of wish I'd used more of it. But I have a whole stack of old LJ Hooker signs stashed away, so I can assure you that there will be some more corflute building in the near future...


  1. that is the most beautiful cubby house i have ever seen. it is like a child's drawing, from their own imagination, colourful, interesting and unique

  2. Thanks all for your words of love and encouragement. It is a pretty great cubby, which best of all is loved by every kid who's come into contact with it so far. Hurray!

  3. That has to be the coolest cubbie ever!!

    We've been browsing Gumtree recently for used cubbies as starting from scratch is not something were ready for at the moment.

    We have a deadline as there's a 'Tree house Party' planned for a 6th Birthday in April.

    You have definitely provided m,e with plenty of inspiration. Thank you :-)

    1. Hey Tricia! good luck with your search for a cubby... I know you're not starting from scratch, but if you want any more inspiration, there's an amazing book called Tree Houses You Can Actually Build. It's amazing, and provides so muh fantastic, useable information. Have fun! x

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  5. Scuppers was my favorite book for a long time. My dad read it to me every night.

    Decades later, he told me he HATED Scuppers.

    Yes, we're still speaking.