In praise of the simple things: the Longhouse

Oliver Broadbent standing smiling in front of the Longhouse, a timber building at Hazel Hill Wood to illustrate the post 'in praise of the longhouse'

Today I feel very grateful for a simple thing at Hazel Hill Wood: the Longhouse drying room. I cycled to the wood from Salisbury and got very wet. It was warm springtime rain, the kind I like but motivating me on my ride was the idea of drying off my stuff in the Longhouse.

Back in the 90s when Alan Heeks first started running events here at Hazel Hill Wood, there were no buildings. Groups would camp and make shelters in the wood. As more and more people came to the wood, we thought it would be a good idea to make a simple building: one that could shelter a simple kitchen, some showers and a place to dry off our stuff when it got wet. That, along with a couple of bedrooms in the rafters was the brief for the Longhouse.

Our accommodation has become significantly more developed since then, accommodation for groups of 30+ people with wood-fired heating to keep us warm, but the drying room remains the best place to dry your stuff and get warm after a dousing of rain.

As I stoked the fire in the potbellied Longhouse burner, I was reminded that it is reconnecting us with some of the simple, essential things in life that Hazel Hill Wood does best. For an hour I was occupied with nothing more than getting dry and warm, sitting on the benches of the drying room, with cosy clothes on and my sodden garments stretched out, reading a book while the heat seeped in.

For these things I am grateful: to the people 30 years ago who built the Longhouse, to colleagues and volunteers who cut, seasoned and stacked the timber, and to the trees for providing me with this warmth.

Hire the Longhouse

Did you know you can hire the Longhouse as part of a residential booking for groups at the wood. With its two sleeping loft rooms, showers and drying room, which can double up as a sauna, it gives you and your groups even more space for your time at the wood.