It’s a Pirate’s Life For Me

“Let’s jump on board, and cut them to pieces.” 
– Blackbeard

Up until this point, The Master Wishmakers have been known for creating the finest luxury playhouses, Wendy houses and bespoke bedrooms but all that has changed with the introduction of Challis Island. As with any great adventure there is always an intriguing and captivating story behind it. Here is Challis Island’s… 

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This was once a geographically strategic island port for the Royal Navy. Stationed there was a garrison of King George’s soldiers and with them came a variety of civilian craftsmen and women, artisans and labourers to help build and develop the island into a busy colonial trading post for England’s gain. However, the island was also just as desirable for both France and Spain, and given that England was not at peace with either of them, meant that they would constantly mount cannon salvos and attacks against the garrison, in an attempt to capture it from the English.

After many years of bloody battles, and successfully defending the island against the forces of the French and the Spanish invaders and despite the bravery of the soldiers, the English garrison became seriously depleted. Having suffered huge losses themselves, the French and Spanish attackers finally diverted their attention away from trying to conquer the small island and eventually gave up because of the more serious problems of rivalry which had developed between them. Fortunately, for the brave and now very weary English soldiers, their withdrawal was not before time, as they feared the worst in the event of another bloody assault on them by the French and Spanish and would not be able to repel another attack! Without the will of King George to send reinforcement soldiers, equipment, arms and ammunitions to the island, the seemingly, eternally besieged garrison (or what was left of it) and civilians, were also running very low on food and supplies of all kinds and as a result, they very soon became week and undernourished. The lack of medical supplies meant that they were unable to treat the wounded and disease and illness had started to spread which was also taking its toll on the impoverished men.
Feeling completely marooned and realising that with the soldiers’ officers now dead and himself, the last surviving Royal Navy officer – a mere Midshipman – decided to take drastic and immediate action to save what was left of his brave men and last surviving civilians to prevent them from being wiped out by the indignity of starvation or illness or both. With the cross of St George waving hardy in his heart, he issued the order to abandon the island, return to the last remaining ship and set sail for the mainland, thus leaving it completely uninhabited.
 After a few years had past and with  England, France and Spain no longer considering that the hard and costly fought over island to be of any further strategic value, a new and more deadly kind of force (or more like a scourge) from all parts of the globe had come to occupy it… PIRATES!

Playing King’s and Queen’s

“An Englishman’s house is his castle”
– English proverb derived from Sir Edward Coke’s The Institutes of the Laws of England, 1628
It’s thought that the United Kingdom is home to somewhere in the region of seven hundred castles – the vast bulk of which were built in the Middle Ages, beginning after the successful conquests of William the Conqueror in 1066. Wales alone holds the world record for the highest number of castles per square mile. But what exactly constitutes a castle and why do we have so many?
The definition of a castle is actually quite loose and it’s one that has spurred debate from academics for many years but it is usually considered to be a large residence that has been fortified for defence purposes. The majority of castles in the UK were built in the Middle Ages, which is a period spanning from the 5th to 15th century. Construction really got into its stride after William the Conqueror was victorious at The Battle of Hastings – which any proud Brit will also tell you was the last time we were invaded (William of Orange was ‘invited’).
Historians largely agree that the reason that the Normans decided to build so many castles was because after the heavy losses suffered at the aforementioned battle, it was necessary to quickly consolidate their new power by building monuments of aggression at key strategic sites. They weren’t just monuments though as they provided his troops with a strong defensive base that allowed them to be guarded against any uprisings by the natives. This speed of building was helped by the abundance of labour and the fact that there was plenty of local materials to be had easily.
Man Made Hill
To begin with the castles were of a Motte and Bailey design. 500px-Windsor_Castle_from_the_Air_wideangle (1)A Motte was essentially a large man-made hill that had a wooden tower built on top. This would give the troops a great vantage point to be able to spot trouble coming from a long way off. A Bailey consisted of the living quarters and stables and the whole structure was then surrounded by a very high wall. It’s still possible to see evidence of this style of construction at Windsor Castle, although the
 original wooden Motte was replaced with a stone tower by Henry II in the 1170’s (see photo right).
The fact that the castle has been continuously in use for well over 900 years is a testament to how tough these structures really are. It’s no coincidence that the famous proverb above references castles as according to William Pitt even the King of England cannot enter a man’s house – and he’d certainly have a hard time trying! As a stark contrast to the cold, dark, impenetrable exteriors, the interiors were often lavish (see photo below) and made use of many fine materials. Only the finest master craftsmen were used in many properties and they worked with speed and integrity to build to most wonderful bespoke creations, from every piece of bedroom furniture to the kitchens and everything in between.
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It’s these supreme hand crafting skills and the attention to detail that most impresses us here at The Master Wishmakers and is something that we make sure is at the heart of everything we do. If we consider our Pretty Princess Castle we fully seal the outside from the elements with traditional construction methods, just like those you’d see in a real house today. We also give the exterior of the playhouse a thoroughly modern chemical coat to ensure that each customer is left with a structure that really will stand the test of time and become a real heirloom.
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Check out more details here and here.
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Everest: 60 Years On

“There must be a beginning of any great matter, but the continuing unto the end until it be thoroughly finished yields the true glory” – Sir Francis Drake

This very week, some 60 years ago, the first successful attempt was made to scale the infamous peak of Mount Everest. Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, as part of the ninth British Mount Everest Expedition, reached the top in 1953 via the South Col route from Nepal. Capturing the imaginations of adults and children alike, the duo opened a new frontier and paved the way for hundreds of more expeditions.
The awe inspiring height of 8,848 metres (29,029 ft) above sea level is only one of the challenges that a climber has to contend with. At this altitude there is also a noticeable lack of oxygen, which can cause severe headaches, confusion and a general decrease in brain function. This means that a person’s breathing may also be 5 to 6 times faster than normal. In an article for the Guardian newspaper, British mountaineer Stephen Venables says, “By the time we were approaching the South Summit… I was only managing two or three steps between each long gasping halt”. His effort paid off though and in 1988 he became the first person to reach the summit without bottled oxygen.
Another major obstacle our intrepid explorers face is the cold. Temperatures often reach well below -20C and at these temperatures the risk of frost bite can become a real danger. This is something that Sir Ranulph Fiennes can attest to having contracted frostbite on one of his hands after taking his glove off for a short period during his attempt to be the first to cross Antarctica in the winter. It would seem that he was right when he said, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.”
The first serious attempts on the summit of Everest began in the 1920’s and the equipment available could probably be described as primitive compared to the standard of today’s gear. The photo below is a comparison of the altimeter used by George Mallory on his fatal attempt in 1924 alongside a digital Weiku altimeter in a watch (right) which can be had for as little as £40.

Similarly below is a picture of the Bally Reindeer-Himalaya boot that Norgay wore in 1953. These boots were fastidiously handmade from shaved deer skin fabric and if we compare this with the Boreal G1 (right), which features technologically advanced materials such as Carbonglass and Neoprene, you can appreciate how far things have come along.

The sheer challenge, the near-superhuman feats of physical endurance, supreme navigation skills and ambitions somewhat larger than the peak that they set out to explore is what gave us the inspiration to produce Adventurer’s House and we take pride in dedicating it to every brave soul – successful or not – that took on the might of Everest. Each build is in itself a challenge, taking a team of four highly skilled craftsmen over a month to complete and like the tailor made equipment that our explorer’s used, each playhouse (or Wendy house for the more traditional folk) can be bespoke built to individual specifications.
Whatever your ambitions may be; seize them, seize the day and remember to see them through to yield the glory.
See more of the Adventurer’s House here and here.