Helen Martin explores our hidden world sand what’s so special and calming about the time spent within our homemade dens.
The sense of adventure, peace and tranquility found in a den is something that appeals to us from a very young age and it doesn’t leave us as we get older. Pulling the sofa cushions out, draping over a bedsheet canopy and taking in the supplies you’ll need to see you through your journey to distant lands; the comfort of home, but different, new and exciting. As you set up your torch and fairy lights, the trip you’re about to embark on is an exploration of your own imagination, a superhighway to wellbeing as you depart the real world to an inner sanctuary. The freedom is found within that safe cocoon, the sheets caving in slightly, the magical unreality of your life like this, and desperation to camp overnight with a big bag of popcorn and a flask of hot chocolate. To give yourself personal space allows your mind to wander, much like meditation. It’s somewhere unique to you and where that restless part of you will find calm, while another part of you is allowed to f ly, liberated.
The rise in den-style holiday accommodation; cabins, wagons, caravans and yurts, can be no coincidence. As modern life pull us outwards in every direction, there’s a pressure that makes for a desire to retreat somewhere detached from demands. Social media, emails at bedtime, the requirements we put on ourselves or have put upon us by others. It’s exhausting and it can leave us glassy- eyed and strained; a little bit wild. To find a haven somewhere, however that may manifest, whether that’s a wagon in Wales, or simply five minutes sat by a window nook, is bliss. The essence of self, restored. As you leave den-life and re- enter your everyday existence, enjoy the sensation of having travelled – revived calm providing strength.
Homemade dens are particularly special, as they are bespoke. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes with boulders and barnacles, that by their very nature should have those rough edges. Elaborate or simple, made with wood, wheels or windows. They are filled with personal comforts and artefacts that make perfect sense to you to have no more than an arm-length’s reach away. As busy or minimal as you wish, it’s whatever you need to care for you. We have found – and been permitted entry to – a small selection of homemade dens to find out about how each one serves a purpose. Shh, quiet now…