It was like a magic garden. Simon would go out through the tunnel of sheds, then come out to bright sunshine and the beautiful garden. There were a million and one things a little boy could do there. Looking down the lawn from the sheds; the big tree had a den in amongst its bows. It had just been built and he was happy to be part of the project.

The big brothers’ and friends all helped each-other haul planks of wood up into the tree. One would climb up with a rope around his waist and another one would steal wood from the stack of wood in the shed. The boy with the rope dangled it down from the tree. Another lad tied it around the planks of wood being nicked from the sheds. Then they would haul them up.

It was a proper bodge job with planks being nailed to the tree at odd angles to suit the lay of the branches. In the end, they nailed up so many planks and supports that it looked like a scruffily made bird’s nest. It all looked very random, but it was very solid and substantial. Simon’s Dad, Gordon saw it as the last plank of valuable timber was nailed into place.

After his Dad got over the initial shock of seeing his valuable stock of wooden boards disappear out of the wood-shed and then appear 10 metres up a tree in the garden; he calmed down. In fact, although he was angry, he looked quite impressed with the tree house. So much so, he decided to clamber up and put some finishing touches to it. Finally a level floor was sorted out and it all looked half decent.

Once their Dad had disappeared, the boys added a couple of final details. A long broom handle was pilfered from somewhere for a flagpole. This was mounted at the top of the den. A bed sheet also emerged onto the scene and Simon was told to paint it with blackboard paint from the stores. They wanted skull and crossbones on it to fly from the broom handle. He made a good job of it but got as much paint on himself as the sheet. This Jolly Roger flag showed everyone that it was the Pirates’ den.

Tim found an old hemp rope in the store which was nice and thick. They tied knots in the rope and draped it down from the den. This made it easier to climb up to the tree house and they could pull the rope up after them to be safe. There may have been other buccaneers that lived in Midsomer Norton. This would keep them at bay.

Finally, there had to be a test to see if the den was fit for purpose. Lots of friends were invited round to see if the defences worked effectively. A good supply of ammunition was hauled up to the Pirates. Unripe fruits like apples, pears, including fir cones, conkers and anything that would cause substantial harm to anyone struck by them, was taken up for ammunition.

The task was to storm the fortress and Simon with his brothers had to fight off the attack from the gathering of boys and girls. By the time it was over it was carnage. Apples and conkers etc. thrown from a great height really hurt anyone in their way. There were a few tears. There were kids trying to climb up and falling out of the tree. Attackers struck down by flying fruit. Children scattered everywhere clutching whatever part of their body’s had been hit by a missile. Health and Safety would never allow a comprehensive test of facilities like that nowadays but if they did; The Pirates Tree house would have 5 stars for being a fortress of the best quality.