life in a tree house

Life in a Tree House

We have some unexpected visitors. A family with 4 kids. They were climbing down the mountain, struggling not to slip on their way back through the woods. The last thing they expected was to be greeted by two young people, standing in front of a little wooden house, in the middle of nowhere.

'Boomhuis' sitten in Ierland
‘Treehouse’ sitting in Ireland

 

a wooden house in the middle of the forest
The front door

 

 

“You live here?! Wow! How did you get your fridge up here?” one of the kids immediately wondered. I smile. “We don’t have a fridge”. The boy looks at me with big eyes. “And where is your tv?” “We don’t have one either, we live without electricity” Niko replies. “Then what do you do all day?” The little boy just can’t believe it.

 

 

Relaxing at night with candle light
Relaxing at night with candle light

 

Candles everywhere!
Candles everywhere!
Reading on the stairs
Reading on the stairs

I invite our visitors to have a look inside. They follow me eagerly through the door. With 2 adults, 4 kids and a dog, our little house is packed! They have to be careful not to step on each others toes while looking around. Not that there is much to see. A wooden desk near the window, that looks out over the tree tops and the sea. An old car seat that functions as a couch. Another couch and a big chair. A wood stove in the living space, our laundry drying above it.
A few shelves with lots of pots, plates and food. A bench underneath it with a little gas cooker. A sink. And candles. Lots of candles.

 

The living room and study
The living room and study

 

Our wood stove
Our wood stove

 

Our bathroom/kitchen
Our bathroom/kitchen

 

“Do you have running water?” the father asks. “Yes, we have a water tank outside” Niko explains. “It’s connected to the creek through a pipe line. Whenever it rains, the water from the creek flows through the pipe into the tank. Another line connects it to a tap inside the house. As long as it rains regularly, we have plenty of water. It only becomes a problem when it doesn’t rain for a while. If the tanks gets empty, we have to carry heavy water bottles all the way from the village to the house, which is a 40 minute walk. Luckily this is Ireland and it only happened once so far.”
“Oh good, so you can shower here”, the mother says. “Yes, we have a little shower, but it is very cold. We prefer to heat up water on the stove and wash ourselves in the sink or in that big bucket over there. With a bit of imagination, it’s like taking a bath.” The kids giggle at the sight of the white bucket.

 

Niko doing a wash

 

“I need to use the bathroom” The youngest boy looks around. I smile. “I’m afraid we don’t have one.” “Where do you go to the toilet?”. Niko and I wink at each other. “When we need to pee, we use a tree. There is also an outside toilet, but it can only flush the urine. We poo in a bucket and use ashes from the fire or sawdust to cover it up. When it’s full, we empty it in a compost bin further down the forest.” An expression of disgust on the kids’ faces. “I think I’ll wait”, says the little one.

 

the toilet

“Can we have a look upstairs?”, one of the girls asks, changing the subject. “Sure, but be careful on the ladder. It is quite steep.” One by one the children go up to our bedroom. It’s a beautiful mezzanine, with a small bed and books everywhere. Colorful drapes from around the world are covering the ceiling. “Cool! I want to have a room like this!” we hear the oldest boy shouting out.

 

The library
The library

 

The stairs to the bedroom
The stairs to the bedroom

 

The two floors of our house
The two floors of our house

 

“Well, thank you so much for inviting us in your home.” The father shakes our hand. “We don’t come across a house like this every day. Especially not one that is build on four tree trunks. It’s a real tree house!” It is indeed! A friend of us built this house years ago and now it’s known in the village as ‘the Tree House’.

 

Doing the dishes by candle light
Doing the dishes by candle light

The family leaves. It’s quiet again. Very quiet. So silent that we can hear our own heart beats. Far away from people and noises. Only surrounded by trees and carpets of green moss.
Niko and I look at each other and smile. It must have made quite an impression. You don’t often meet people who live in the forest without electricity. But we love it. A perfect temporary home to recharge before going on a big adventure around the world. A peaceful place with time to study and to enjoy the simple things of life. A cosy house to snuggle up and read by candlelight. A good preparation for not having electricity all the time and becoming aware of water usage when we’ll be in Africa.

 

Niko studying
Niko studying

 

View from the window
View from the window

 

Surrounded by trees and moss
Surrounded by trees and moss

Living in a tree house is amazing! Even if we have to poo in a bucket.

 

Life in a tree house - Journal of Nomads
Pin me!

 

You want to know more about our life in the tree house? We made a video about it!

 

 

Follow Cynthia - Journal of Nomads:

Writer, travel photographer, Panasonic Lumix Ambassador and co-founder of Journal of Nomads

I have Belgian roots but the world has been my home for the past 8 years. I'm an artist at heart and often get lost in my thoughts. I like to create some-thing out of no-thing and once I feel inspired, I'm unstoppable. I love telling stories and taking photos, showing the beauty and extraordinary of the world around me. Oh, and I love making the impossible elegantly probable. Once you realize that you're a creator and the world is your playfield, there's no limit to what can be done!

28 Responses

  1. Elaina
    | Reply

    The outside hasn’t a patch on the character of the house, you really did make it a home! You must of had quite the adventure living there, this is something I would love to do. Cut right back to basics or a longer than comfortable period of time and enjoy the simple things! Can I ask where in Ireland is this? I’ll have to have a look out next time I’m back in my homeland! 🙂

    • Cynthia Bil
      | Reply

      Hi Elaina! Yes, it looks a bit shabby on the outside but the inside was beautiful! We still think back with nostalgia at our time in this tree house. Life there was simple and peaceful! It’s located in the woods near Sneem, close to the Kerry way. It’s an hour walk from the village itself. I hope it’s still there because the weather has been very windy and wet and not sure if the house survived it! Where in Ireland are you from?

  2. Renne Simpson
    | Reply

    WHOA! This was a really interesting post…idk if I could do it lol. At least not for a long time. Your treehouse looks super cool though.

    • Cynthia Bil
      | Reply

      We fell in love with the house the moment we saw it! And although having electricity (and internet!) makes it a lot more easier, there are moments we still miss our time there.

    • Cynthia Bil
      | Reply

      We fell in love with the house the moment we saw it! And although having electricity (and internet!) makes it a lot more easy, there are moments we still miss our time there.

  3. aCajuninCali
    | Reply

    WOW! I definitely could not do this for long! It looks super fun though. And that view is to die for! I’m headed to Ireland in a few weeks. Maybe I should try to find a tree house 🙂

    • Cynthia Bil
      | Reply

      Where about in Ireland are you going to? Ireland is so beautiful!! Go for a wander in the woods and you might find some tree houses there (and who knows what or who you will encounter too 🙂 )

  4. Melody Pittman
    | Reply

    Wow, you guys have it mastered. I can only stand to even camp for maybe a week at the longest. You must have real zeal to pull it off. 😉

    • Cynthia Bil
      | Reply

      Haha, well yes, it requires to become detached from certain comforts!

  5. Travelure
    | Reply

    Wow! I have only heard of these or seen some make-believe ones in a few glamping resorts. But this one’s neat!

    • Cynthia Bil
      | Reply

      Yes, this one is the real deal! Probably not so fancy looking on the outside like in the glamping resorts but beautiful on the inside! Want to find real tree houses? The Irish woods are the home of many remarkable houses (and fairies 😉 )

  6. Taylor
    | Reply

    Wow what an experience that would be. I think it’s something worth trying for everyone, including myself, even if for only a few days. To experience something like that, the simplicity, away from social media and electronics would be really beneficial to a lot of people!

    • Cynthia Bil
      | Reply

      That is very true! It wasn’t so easy in the beginning, it felt like a certain detox. But after living there for a while, I understood how important it is to sometimes disconnect from the outside world and to reconnect with myself and nature. You can imagine how overwhelmed I felt after we left the tree house and were for the first time since months in a big noisy city!

  7. Joe B
    | Reply

    Have always wanted to stay overnight in a tree house. Never thought of living in one! I think the quiet would get to me, but definitely seems like something worth trying.

    • Cynthia Bil
      | Reply

      The quietness could sometimes get to us. Our minds saw it as an opportunity to become extra loud! People go to meditation retreats like Vipassana to control their minds more, I would suggest to live in a tree house for a few weeks to learn how to be silent 😉

  8. Rob Taylor
    | Reply

    This is so cool. I could go rustic for a week or so, and maybe longer if I really found that I was able to release my western woes and needing more comforts.

    • Cynthia Bil
      | Reply

      It’s asked some adjustment in the beginning to leave our comforts behind. Imagine wanting to watch a movie on the laptop and the battery dies in the middle of it but nothing to recharge it 🙂 And a hot shower, that was something I missed, a lot! But it was definitely so worth it, an experience of a life-time!!

  9. FamilyTravelEscapades
    | Reply

    You are one brave, tough girl! I can imagine how cold it would get; esp. in Ireland! I get cold in my house with heat. I am sure you have had an experience you will never, ever forget and you get to get away from all the electronic devices and craziness we all live with.

    • Cynthia Bil
      | Reply

      Haha, thank you 🙂 It was an unique time and I will definitely never forget it! It was wonderful and so peaceful to live there!! The cold wasn’t too bad either: the house was very small and that little wood stove provided us with a lot of heat!

  10. Matthew and Heather
    | Reply

    So fantastic. I would love to visit this tree house!

    • Cynthia Bil
      | Reply

      It was a fantastic experience! We still think back with nostalgia! Ireland had a very bad winter: lots of rain and storm and it damaged the tree house a lot. The owner is thinking about taking it down and maybe rebuilding a new one.

  11. Marouan ben larbi
    | Reply

    It’s amazing to live this adventure. And the house looks perfect for me to meditate every day ! !! Niko again these experiences are making form us real Humans ! !! Good luck guys.

    • Nicholas Danis Bertrand
      | Reply

      Living in a tree house was indeed amazing, it takes you back to the essentials in life. It was a perfect place to meditate, no distracting noises at all 🙂

  12. Tom
    | Reply

    Your Tree House looked like a lot of fun. Hard to beat living in the forest! You may not have had a shower or regular toilet, but you had a nice easy chair, good company and it looked very comfortable. I didn’t see what you were eating for your meals, but the mushrooms i’m sure were good. Good luck on your next journey in France. I’m traveling in Cambodia and Thailand and hope to go to Vietnam in time for the Chinese New Year.

    Happy and Safe Travels….

    • Cynthia
      | Reply

      Hi Tom, thanks for your feedback! I loved living in the tree house! We got our food also from the local shop, which was an hour walking. There were many wild berries too, delicious! And of course the wild mushrooms. Have a great journey in Asia and I wish you happy travels too!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *